Tuesday, December 6, 2011

North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship...my take!

I love trail racing. 

It reminds me I am still alive.

Rather than bore you with a total recap of my run, I will talk about the aftermath first...then hit a few highlights.

On the way home, I threw up.  Violently.  In secret and into my water bottle while stuck behind a jackweed looking for money for the $6 toll to get back across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I guess fate was smiling on me as I could have easily been driving 55 miles an hour on the bridge when the first wave of post race "I left it all out there" nausea hit me.  My 50 mile run dazed logic told me it would be bad policy to throw up two cars away from the toll booth on a Saturday night.  (Thinking that a guy throwing up out his window would be a flag for a DUI.)  So.... Looking around my car, I had no option other than an empty water bottle. 

Pulling into my condo's garage brought another barrage of sickness...unfortunately, there were people awaiting open car ports and my water bottle trick would not work.   (I will let your mind create the ending on that one.)  Not a proud moment...but totally real.

I reached my unit, opened the door and immediately the dawgs sensed something was a little amiss with dad. First, I smelled like a rhino and second, I was retching.  Lovely wife called me "grey" and asked if was all right.  I said, I feel great.  (Not a lie.) Then, I took a shower, drank a beer and went to bed.

Sunday, I laid on the couch.  All day.  I did not need to get up one time.  (Those of you who have experienced severe dehydration get the drift.)

My wife asked me "How much did you pay for this feeling?" 

$200 plus all the hours training.

But the true question my friends should have been "How much was the NF Endurance Challenge Experience worth?".  Back to that in a minute.

The race was really well put together.  The trail, the support and the crowds were awesome. 

50 miles.  26,000 feet of climbs/drops.  And for me 11 hours, 22 minutes of fun, pain and intense focus.

I would include in these stats three falls. Not just trips but "BAMMMM!s" complete with yells, profanity and rolling around on my back.  The last fall put me sitting on the back of an ambulance for 20 minutes getting my wounds cleaned up, ice on my leg and getting questions like "What is your phone number?  When were you born?  What is the name of this race?" to make sure that my landing on my head had not caused me to be more stupid than normal. 

The professional field buried regular schmo's like me.  The winner clocked in at a little over 6:15.  6:15!!!! for the equivelant of 2 marathons and a climb half up Everest and back!!!!  Crazy.  Still, I finished mid pack and felt really good about it.

So, you might be asking...what is so great about 11:22 of pain, falls, ambulance sessions, throwing up and an inability to walk for two days?

Because running a harsh 50 miles is a clarifier.  You are either up to the task of pushing yourself 50 miles, through self doubt, through pain or....you fold faster than a Kardashian wedding vow. 

In ultra running you have no one to blame or congratulate other than yourself.  You either did the time training or you did not.  You either calm the demons in your head telling you to quit and grab a beer or you don't.  It is one of the very few things I can think of that is not codependent on someone else.  You either gots it or you don't. 

Whether 50 miles on a trail is your bag or not.  You have to ask yourself...

What the heck are you doing to put yourself out there and on the edge? 

When was the last time you either succeeded or epic failed doing something most people don't even try to attempt?

Get out there!  

Try it...it will make you feel ALIVE!  Or, make you throw up.  (Even better...both!)  Either is better than sitting on your butt watching the world spin.

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