When I was at school, I hated tests, unless it was a spelling test. The dreaded T word (which luckily, I could spell). Tests are funny things. They either prove to you and others that you know your stuff, and give you a feeling of confidence, or they highlight a gap in knowledge or a weakness, potentially setting you back, depending on your mind set. This weekend, I face an interesting test.
Despite my recent injury diagnosis (with the blessing of my sports therapist, whom I guess will profit from it anyway), I have decided to push on with my intention to run an ultra marathon. It’s not just any ultra marathon though. It’s been two years in the planning, and is probably the furthest distance I will ever run in one hit. At 102 miles (164 kilometres), it’s not a short stroll. With over 12,000 feet of elevation, it’s not easy.
It will be a huge test, mentally and physically. I fully expect my injury to give me grief pretty early on, so I’ll need to deal with that and push through. As mentioned, it’s also my monthly mile tally in one 24 hour blast.
This race in particular has been on my mind for two years. I can’t recall if I heard about it and just decided to go for it like I do, more often than not, or if I accidentally stumbled upon it. Either way, when I attempted to enter it, it was apparent that I needed to qualify, to prove I could go at least half the distance. Because of this, I began running ultra marathons, and thus discovered a lot about myself. I ran two in the first year, but allowed myself to talk myself out of entering the big one in the final two miles. My reason being, the way I felt then, after 53 miles, would I have the credentials to run another 50 on top of that? The echo chamber of my mind returned a unanimous no. So I had to start again.
One thing I did differently this year was entering the race before I ran my second ultra. That way, it was on my mind throughout the run, and talking myself out of it was not an option.
This week has been last bits of preparation. Marking up maps (the run is self navigated), looking at kit, reducing it down, looking at the route, working out pacing, ETAs at checkpoints – all exciting stuff. It’s also looking like I might have some support along the route, which believe me, on something like this, is a huge boost. I also decided to run for a mental health charity, so it’s not just myself I’m running for.
I’m trying not to see this as the end of a chapter as I feel in many respects my ultra marathon days are numbered (one smaller one next year potentially), it just means a shift in goals again. It’s been a huge year, and I’ve achieved so much that I’m immensely proud of yet can scarcely believe still.
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See you on the other side.