High Lonesome 100 is 3 weeks from today. That means I’m on my final training push, with two more long runs left, one of which is tonight (getting in some dark miles). The final push is of a long trainings cycle like this is always tough. My body is starting to feel a new kind of tired, and I can be emotionally tired as well. It’s the place where getting it all done is the hardest.
I love ultras. There are so many variables and things that can and will go wrong in a race of that distance. That’s a lot of what I love about longer races. I can plan all I want, but problem solving and adapting is always part of the deal. Training is the same. It’s a crazy jigsaw puzzle. What is the course like, what kind of training do I need to prioritize, and where in the world am I going to put it? (Conveniently I work with a coach to solve the first two questions.). It’s the third, where does it all fit.
Training is a lot. I’m not an elite. I’m not going to be an elite (and even if I was, in this sport, I’d still have a job outside of running). A pretty standard question is “How do you make everything fit: kid, work, and training?” This often comes from other runners who are asking for themselves. Ultra runners are normal human people, most of who are balancing these things. The answer to that then begs, is all that time worth it?
The honest answer to how do I fit it? I just do. There are some things that work in my favor. My husband and I own our own business, so a lot of work, but I can be flexible with my hours. The biggest external factor, my husband is a magical unicorn trailing rainbows behind him and shooting glitter from his eyes. He is my biggest support. He’s all in. We talk about my schedule over and over so that we put my training in places that work for both of us, moving things around when necessary. That means I move things, not skip them.
It’s a hard answer because there’s nothing magic to it. I just prioritize training with family help. That means my social life revolves around other runners. It means running at the hottest time of the day if that’s where it fits. 5am long runs, and occasional night miles. It means knowing I’m putting in all of the work, while knowing that I can also always be doing more. It does take a lot of time. That time has been given as a gift from my family.
That’s the problem with that final training push for me. I’m tired and still getting it done; and because I’m tired it’s a great time to reflect on what else I could have done, and is this worth it? What runs could have pushed harder during, what hills shouldn’t I have walked, what other foods should I have tested? Was this worth the time, because what if I don’t finish the race? A unique very real possibility in 100’s that I really shouldn’t be worried about. Just focus on the finish.
That’s it though. I’m just tired at the end, and I should be. So I remind myself, yes this is worth it. Getting out to train becomes a little harder at the end, but I do it and am glad. I love training, so I’m not going to let those few hard days derail all of the prior work. All of those variables in ultras, part of preparing for them is to train when it sucks, when it’s raining, and humid, and I’m tired.
My friend Nick Panda asked to film one of my training runs where I was doing hill repeats at a park he works for. He used it for a larger piece about how amazing the Johnson County KS park system is. A couple of days ago he sent me this video, which is pretty special to see. So is it worth it? Absolutely, and I’m almost there.
**and seriously, my husband is the absolute best human person I could ever ask to partner with