Before embarking on my long run this Monday, I attempted to muster up some pre-run inspiration. For whatever reason, I decided to do so by watching videos of runners tackling feats that make my training and even the end-game of running a marathon seem about on par with remembering to brush my teeth in the morning. I successfully devoted just over two hours to showing myself that, as hard as I think I’m working, there are people that work way, wayyyyyy harder.
To start off I scoured Netflix for running documentaries and came across one called Desert Runners. It follows the journey of several people who decided to go for an ultra-marathoning feat that is crazy no matter which way you look at it: the Four Deserts Grand Slam. These people, some of whom had never run a marathon (and one guy, no more than a 10K!) signed up to complete four 250K (155.3 mile) races. In the most extreme deserts on the planet. In one year. Temperatures ranged from 130 degrees in the Sahara to -40’s in Antarctica (which I didn’t even know was a desert). The races were split up over a few days, meaning each day would include a grueling marathon or even more, in extreme conditions. Oh, and since you’re traveling so far and going through pretty unpopulated land, you have to carry everything you need to survive on your back.
The Grand Slam wasn’t a thing that humans did (and rationally so) until one guy decided he was going to try to do all four of the desert races, which humans remarkably were already doing, in a single calendar year. Because, why not? And that would be Dean Karnazes, a.k.a. “the Ultramarathon Man.” So after I had finished tkind of PR that I’m aiming for. From what I’ve felt on all of my “longest” runs in this training cycle it sure feels similar to racing 5K’s and 3K’s, it’s just taking a heck of a lot longer to be over the “hurts like hell” pain than it used to back when I could push for 10-20 minutes and just be done!
This marathon is most definitely going to hurt. I think all challenges have to hurt, at least a little. And maybe after this one is over, I’ll try again, and I’ll try to get faster. Or maybe I’ll try something longer. Or maybe this will be it for me. Who knows! Only time will tell. But this marathon, and every “fastest” or “longest” or “first”... each one just is what it is. The most a runner can do is give it everything they can, so that’s exactly what I plan on doing.
Next weekend I’ll be leaning a little on the shorter/speedier side in the St. Albans Sap Run instead of going long. 8.5 miles is kind of an unconventional distance, unlike a 5K, 10K or half, so I’m putting some extra thought into pacing and time goals. It’s part of the annual Vermont Maple Festival which makes even just attending the race an automatic win because MAPLE EVERYTHING.
Happy training, everyone!