Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I've just returned from a 26 mile, 4 hour and 40 minute run in the mountains. It was my last long effort before Western States. Everything felt good and I think I am ready to go. It's a good feeling. A full feeling. I familiar feeling.

However, there is also something sad about it. I must admit, I like to race. But, I love to train. In fact, I think the reason I run races is so that I can train and not the other way around. I know everybody's a little different about this and I certainly don't claim to be one of those "it's-all-about-the-process" types but the daily ritual of putting in the miles on the trails and building up to a place where I can be ready to race is invigorating and immensely satisfying. It's the build-up and the consistency that I find so inspiring.

Preparing for an event like Western States takes patience and perseverance. Every morning when that alarm goes off and it's still dark and cold out the voice in my head whispers to get moving. I want it to shut up but it can't. A few minutes into my coffee and I am thinking of the hour or two to come. Quite simply, those early morning training moments are the highlights of my day. As much as it hurts, I wouldn't trade it for the world. The feeling of grinding up that first steep hill 6 minutes after leaving my house is brutal in the moment but absolutely essential to my well-being.

Now, as I slip into taper mode, my life will change. In some ways it will be nice. I won't need to get up as early. I can slack off on a couple of the climbs on my daily loops. Hell, I can even skip a day completely if I want to! Over the next couple of weeks I will wallow in the fun of the energy piling up in my body and the excitement building in my heart. But I will also long for the all-over body fatigue that is with me as I go about my life, the subtle pressure I put on myself to get a little better every day, and the steady, daily grind of training hard over and over and over again.

I guess, when all's said and done, if I had my druthers I'd train more and race less. Maybe, in fact, that is what I should do.


Anonymous said...

It seems like training more and racing less IS what you do. Aside from jamming WS and HR together, you have one of the light schedules of racing. I'm obviously not saying that's bad. I'd like to see you out at more events.

I'm the opposite, love to race, not good with the training (at least specified training).

You have it all together, now just stay fresh and strong. Good luck to you - sub 17!.

Derrick said...

Can I ever relate to the train more, race less thought. Just love the feeling of getting out there each day and spending some quality time with/on the trail.

Enjoy your taper...or as best as you can.

Good luck at WS!

Nicola Gildersleeve said...

I would agree 100%. When you race too much, you need to take more time off to recover = less time out on the trails (where we all really love to be for hours on end).

I know when I do too many races close together, it feels as though your hardly running because your constantly tapering and recovering...repeat.

Go get em' at Western...Hardrock will be such a blast!

Hank Dart said...

Fantastic job getting to this point, bittersweet as it is. Great training races, great consistent miles, you are ready.

Anonymous said...

I have thuroughly enjoyed your wisdom. I saw you running the Javalina 100 a couple years ago.
Wow, what intensity. Anyway, I teach Elementary School in Phoenix
and love trail adventure. I am volunteering at Western States and
look forward to meeting all enthusiasts of Ultra Running.yes,I
love to train ,Perhaps more then
worry about other runners at a race. I have completed 2 50K's and
my goal is to run the "Man Against Horse 50 miler in Prescott. What beautifull country and a great post BBQ

Hopefully We can meet at States



Sophie Speidel said...

A very wise post. I feel the same way about's like a puzzle each day and the thrill is being able to put it all together and watch it fit on race day! Looking forward to following you on the WS webcast! Have a great race!!!

ohionative said...

I couldn't agree more.
I often feel like racing is a formality of training. I like to race but I love to train.
Thanks for the great post.

Ben Blessing said...

I love when race day comes and I can't stand waiting, even though the thought of 100 miles is daunting. The legs are like a rubber band stretched and ready to be shot loose. I guess it's not so bad for you as for I, since you can do 100 miles through the mountains in less than 18 hours, while my times will be much slower. I am totally with you on the philosophy on enjoying training, as Ketchum/Sun Valley is a very pretty area, and I would love being able to train up there all the time as well. Good luck at W$ AJW. See you around.

robert.blair said...


Thank you for this post, and all others. Your site is a wonderful forum for runners to read, share, listen, and learn from.

I have not been running ultras for very long, although I have run trails for almost 20 years, and been running since my dad gave me Jim Fixx's, The Complete Book of Running, in the late 70s when I was in Junior High School.

I can say that I love to train. I am not sure about how I feel about racing in ultras yet though.

I think my favorite part of ultra races are meeting new people (before, during and after the race)who are as into running (or more so) than I am.

I love to run in naturally beautiful places, be it while training or racing.

It'll be interesting to see if I improve at all from year to year in racing times, but regardless I will enjoy trail running, for as long as my knees and feet allow me to do it. Hopefully for another 4 decades, into my 80s.

I have enjoyed losing 28 pounds since January 2nd of this year and having my heart rate fall from 76 to 54, and my cholesterol fall from 230 to 163, due to a better diet and all the ultra training.

Those are the biggest benefits to all this running for me.

Take care, and good luck in the WS100 race.

Anonymous said...