By the end of 2014 I was craving a new adventure.
I wanted to take my running to a different place and do something that would be on a different level than anything I had attempted before.
The answer was Grand to Grand: A seven-day, six-night stage race that went from the North Rim of Arizona’s Grand Canyon to the Grand Staircase in southern Utah. The only things provided would be water and a communal tent to sleep in each night. I registered, and for the next two weeks I watched the YouTube video every day.
A month later I withdrew from the race and started researching divorce law.
As I typed the painful email to the race director to withdraw from the race, I made a pact with myself that I would make 2016 amazing. I told myself I would keep 2015 more local and focus on improving my running. And then in 2016 I would travel. I would take on races that challenged me as a runner and showed me places I had never seen before.
I’ve already accomplished the first half of that pact: This last year has been everything I needed it to be.
I managed to set a PR — personal record —in every distance from the marathon to the 100-mile trail race. Despite my “keep it local” plan, I traveled to South Dakota and then to Alabama for races. My “A” race for the year was the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama, which went amazingly, considering this year’s new features of constant rain, spontaneous river crossings, and the largest damned wasps I have ever been stung by.
More importantly though, I spent this year with runners.
Throughout my running career I have always trained alone; I would wake up early and get miles in by myself before work or wake up early on a Saturday to get in a long run in before 8 a.m. In 2015, with fewer obligations, I started looking for more races and other opportunities to run with groups. I joined thethe Virginia Happy Trails Running Club — the local trail running group. I spent a weekend working the finish line of the Massanutten Mountain 100 and volunteered for other local races.
All in all, I took what should have been a shit year, and made it pretty awesome.
About half way through the year I started to look forward to my running schedule for 2016. While I would still love to do Grand To Grand, it just isn’t in the cards for me right now. I have already qualified for the Western States and have one more year of eligibility for Hard Rock. While either of those races would be amazing, I only had one ticket in each entry lottery and those odds were a long shot. I went back to my original plan and started considering other races that would challenge me and take me places I had never run before.
(Let me preface this by admitting I am fucking idiot and for some reason must really hate myself.)
If 2015 was about improving my strengths as a runner, then 2016 is about testing that strength.
I am currently registered to run:
- The Georgia Death Race (May) which is approximately 68 miles with close to 40,000 feet of elevation change.
- The Big Horn 100 (June) which reaches elevations of 10,000 feet, temperatures ranging from more than 100 degrees during the day to below freezing at night, and offers run-ins with elk, deer, moose, bears, cougars, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes.
- The Bigfoot 200 (August) which is a 203.8-mile point-to-point race beginning at Mount St. Helens in Washington’s Cascade Mountain Range and finishing in Randle, Washington.
For years I have been told that I am crazy for running as much as I do — and I finally agree.
I registered to run a 200-mile race on the other side of the country. What the fuck is wrong with me?
Everything in the next few months will be built around finishing the Bigfoot 200. I believe that the best way to experience an environment is on your feet and I am in love with the idea of exploring a new section of the country by running through it.
I had a great 2015, and I have set goals that give me a shot at an even more amazing 2016.