Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the road to Badwater

"Now what shall seem the hill but a moment of surmounting, the height but a place to dream of something higher!"
-The Climb, Winifred Welles

I'm having a reality check. After successfully completing Rocky Raccoon 100 last week, I felt a surge of pride. I immediately wanted to sign up for other races. Big mountain races. I felt invincible. Now, I'm deflated. I realize that I am not yet ready for these bigger races that are out there. Rocky Raccoon was just one of many steps needed to get to where I want to be. I recognize my accomplishment in finishing, but I also recognize that there is still so much work to be done.

I have certain goals (Badwater). In order to achieve those goals, I have to be at a certain level. I have to be good enough. Right now, I am just not good enough. I'm not. That is hard to digest after a big race like Rocky. It's always hard to recognize your weaknesses. But, the truth is the truth. It cannot be ignored. 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon is nothing. Nothing. I mean, yes, it is something. But it's also nothing.

Rocky Raccoon is one of the easier 100 milers out there. True, there is no such thing as an easy 100 mile race, but consider this: there is really no comparison between Rocky and some beast of a race like like Hardrock. Get what I'm saying? Just because I did Rocky does not mean I can jump to something like Hardrock or Leadville without seriously altering and specializing my training. It's a matter of taking things step by step. Measured progress.

Could I have finished Rocky without my pacer and crew present? Probably not. Could I have done it on tougher terrain? Could I have done it without Lisa Smith-Batchen saving my ass at mile 40? I don't think so. I need to get to a point where I can do these things for myself. I need to get smarter about ultrarunning and I need to get in better physical condition.

This is not me being negative. It is me being realistic. I knew, when I started this ,that things were going to be difficult. I knew it was going to take a lot of work, and that progress would be slow-going. It has taken me two and a half years to do a 100 miler. How much longer will it take me to get to Badwater?

I don't know. But, I want to utilize my time as efficiently as possible so I can get to Badwater as soon as possible. I'm not saying I want to rush into things. Ultrarunning is about patience and discipline. My problem is not lack of patience. Nor is it lack of heart. I want Badwater more than anything. There has not been a day that has gone by in the past two years when I haven't thought about Death Valley. I want it so bad that it almost hurts.

But, I am my own coach. I train by myself. Help is all around me and I am so grateful for the people in my life that teach me what it is to be an ultrarunner. However, in the end, I am responsible for my own progress and retrogression. No one is going to do the work for me. This is my journey. I am the one at the helm.

So what am I going to do? Specifically, what am I going to do to get to Badwater? What steps am I going to take? That... That is something I need to think about... I have all the tools and knowledge at my disposal. Time to figure it out.


  1. I know exactly where you are coming from. I feel the same way and while I hate to dismiss my accomplishment at Rocky, I can't help but thinking about it as just dipping my toe in the waters...
    I don't desire Badwater (yet) but I would love to try even a Hill Country race, rocky, hilly, warmer...
    I wonder if all of this is "normal" after finishing a race...

  2. Young man... You have oodles of time to conquer all you desire in the ultra world. I only wish I had discover the joy of it when I was 25. It will all happen as it should. Enjoy each step and the progression as you move forward. You will do it!