Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where My Peeps At?

There are a lot of moments that this Chattanooga Stage Race coming up seems really like a stupid idea. I think it's my company in friends and social media. I need to get this brain dump out, so please forgive the fragmented thoughts.

A lot of runner friends and acquaintances...

  • ...are doing their first triathlon (the bug has bit people hard this season).
  • ...are going further and harder in the triathlon world than they have before.
  • ...have taken up cycling.
  • ...are running 50 milers for the first time.
  • ...are running 50 milers for the hundredth time.
  • ...are doing their first marathon in the next year.
  • a few marathons a year and have one scheduled for the fall like they do each year.
There's a good chance that if you read this blog, and I count you as a Facebook friend or Twitter tweep, that you may fall in this boat.

And me?
I'm not doing a distance for the first time. I've done 20 miles before. Oh, but not 3 days in a row. Not on technical trail. 

But I can accept that this is different than a lot of friends' goals right now.  But it sucks, yes, that's the word, sucks, when the thought that dominates me isn't covering the distance. It is the obsession with time. 

And not a time obsession the way, again, a lot of runners get to have it - "Oh, I want a new personal record." "Oh, I hope to break 3 hours on this course."

No, it's a time FREAKOUT to not get pulled off the course. And Twitter friend Gene tried to console me with thoughts that the race director will be kind (which I certainly hope so), but he also made the comment that there were many more people my pace than 10 minutes per mile on technical trail.

And no, actually, that's just not true. This race gets FAST people. 250 of them. At last year's Day 2 of 22 miles, 90% of the finishers were a 12:35 min/mi pace or better on hard trail. WHAT?!?

I know I'll be last. I don't even mind that part. I'm on that cusp of the time limit and know that a lot can happen in 60 miles to cement making that cut each day or to burn that chance completely.

But right now I feel so alone. I really don't know anyone else in this situation at this kind of distance. I know it can't be, but I look at the fast times for this race last year, I look at my almost dead last place at Gorge Waterfalls 50K, my almost dead last place at Wild Hare 50k, how did I get here?

I've run 615 miles in the last 5 months. It's not like I attach lead weights to my legs. I've dropped 17 pounds in the year. I've gone from 30% body fat to 18.5% body fat in that time. I regularly strength train 3 hours a week with my trainer. And I am still one of the slowest people I've ever known out there in the ultrarunning circuit!

Am I doing something wrong? None of that stuff sounds wrong. Does no one my pace do what I do truly? Basically no one my pace tries to do 50Ks or stage races?!?

I feel like I don't belong. I feel out of all the circles of runners with those other goals. My awesome is defined differently at this moment than their awesome.

Yes, I sometimes feel like maybe I don't deserve to be there, deserve these goals. Then, I smack myself in the forehead and kill that thought.

It's looking as hot and humid as I feared it could possibly be for all 3 days. It's going to be a rough battle. How many people do you know trying to run 60 trails miles in 3 days and make it all in 16 hours max?!? This isn't a brag of "look what I'm doing"; it's a forlorn "what the hell am I doing here?"

We'll see as it all unravels starting June 15.


  1. You got this! You are stronger than you think and you have gotten much faster on trails. You need to give yourself more credit! :-) Can't wait to read the race report when you finish Chatanooga!!!

  2. You are pushing your limits so far - of course that's scary! You've been marathoning for, what a year and now you're an ultra bada$$ - keep that in perspective. You keep getting PRs and seem to be getting faster from your race reports. No matter what happens, you deserve to be there, you've certainly put in the effort training.

  3. I think it's awesome. I think you know this race is on my list for next year (not 100% sure, but it's on my wish list for sure). I love that you're going for new and different adventures. And I understand the "cut-off" zone. That's exactly how I'm thinking about Palo Duro. I *think* I can make the cut-off (otherwise I wouldn't have registered), but if anything goes wrong, it would be real easy to miss too. Honestly, it takes some serious courage and passion to go out at our pace and conquer these massive races. As most ultra peeps have said to me... time on your feet is what's important. Back-of-packers end up often logging at least double the time on our feet as the people winning these events... I think that just makes you double-badass for sticking with it despite the crazy number of hours. You're ready for Chatt. You've done the work, Jeremy has NOT been easy on you. You're as ready as you can be. Now it's time to, as a wise woman once told me, do the best you can with what the race day gives you. Anyhow... basically... I'm proud to be your friend. I'll be crazy beaming if you conquer this race and ready to be a shoulder if the race day deals you a bad hand. Go get it Libby!

  4. Not sure I can say anything better or more profound than Lesley. And I, too, have heard that phrase from a wise woman. She's pretty damn smart. I think you said it best when you said your "awesome is defined differently at this moment than their awesome." This is your goal and you're busting your ass to get it. I'm truly amazed at your dedication to training. And I think you're awesome and what you're training for is awesome. Go get it, girl!

  5. The scary is understandable. But it's also an immense feeling of empowerment after you've done it. To sit back and say "yes, no one in my shape/condition/age/experience does what I just did." Keep going strong!

  6. Hi Libby, I worried about not making the time cut offs when I did the TransAlpine race last fall. There was one day (our slowest day), where we hit a rough patch and I knew if we didn't turn it around, that we might be close to the cut off. There is nothing worse than the fear that you may not make it, not because you are incapable, but just because you are slow. I think you'd like my friend Theresa, another back of the packer who is around our age. Check her out on my facebook. She recently completed the Ohlone 50K in 11 hours (time limit was 10 hours, but she started an hour early). Be patient and keep at it! It takes years of experience to reach your full potential, so do your best to keep a long range perspective. We all fall short when we compare ourselves to other runners. It is easy to doubt ourselves when others think we are crazy for doing what we do. But as long as you have a smile on your face, just keep on putting one foot in front of the other! Looking within, I don't know how you can't help but stand on top of a mountain and shout with joy at how far you have come personally.

  7. Just go in realizing that the last place finish before cutoff is a very coveted position in most ultras and sometimes gets a special reward. :) Eventually you will get faster, especially if you do intervals along with your long runs. To run faster you have to get comfortable running fast. It's hard to do but you have the dedication and drive so I think you'll get there!

  8. Proud for you for even having the courage to start this race. That is where you awesome begins. You can do it, Libby. This is what I repeat when I start having negative thoughts.... I can, I will, I am... It does wonders for getting I can't out of my head! Best of luck for your stage race.