Sunday, November 13, 2016
Am I Still an Ultra Runner?
I have an easy answer to that question? I've become an arrogant bastard. I think I can run an ultra with little training. I think I've done so many I can coast through yet another. I think the rules don't apply to me. I'm special. Well, ultras don't feel the same way. Ultras don't discriminate. They don't care if you are fast or slow, old or young, male or female, white or black. They don't care if you've "done a 100 miler" before. If you have not prepared, they will eat you alive. Even if you've prepared, you may suffer the humbling experience of a DNF.
My problem is I'm disconnected from reality. I feel I can run 20-25 miles per week and be ready for a 50 mile race. Why would I believe that? Because I've become arrogant. The rules don't apply to me. Well, the rules do apply to me...and I've just been humbled again by Tunnel Hill. It doesn't feel good. I can rationalize and say "It just wasn't my day" or "I don't really care" or "I've done plenty of these, I have nothing to prove." Sure, I've done many ultras, but it sure would be nice to finish another one. And it would have been awesome to set a new PR yesterday. I actually thought a sub-9 finish was possible when I started. Clearly I was delusional...or simply arrogant.
I've learned my lesson. If you want to run an ultra, you must train for an ultra. In the last 12 weeks before Tunnel Hill, I averaged 21.5 miles per week. That's about 3 miles per day. Does that seem adequate for a 50 mile race? An 8-hour event? No. Time to face reality. I either need to give up on ultras or actually train for them.
Whether I run another ultra or not, I am an ultra runner. I can proudly claim that title. I've finished multiple 100 mile races. I've run 303 miles in one week. Not only have I completed many ultras, I've raced many quite well. I'm proud of my PRs. Breaking 24 hours at Umstead 100 was a magnificent accomplishment. Completing over 47 miles at Howl at the Moon (more than once) was great. I have a lot to be proud of, but that should not turn into hubris. I'm a simple ultra runner. We all still need to play by the rules. Train or go home...often with a DNS or DNF.