The Ultra – Part 1/ 5 (The History, The Goal, The Registration)

I recently learned that a number of running races have reopened for later in the year. To say I was a little excited is a complete understatement. That’s like saying the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was a pebble. The iceberg that sunk the Titanic was an ice cube. Lord of the Rings is just a casual read.

The first race in particular that I heard about is one that I have been absolutely *dying* to do ever since I changed provinces. It’s the Finlayson Arm. They have four distances, 28K, 50K, 100K and “The Double”. Of course, I’m looking at the 50K (which they indicate is more like 52.2K). That works out to 32.4 miles. It’s also a trail run (I do mostly road running) and up the side of a mountain. Not my forte.

In January 2020 I impulsively registered for a race that would have been 75K. Of course, at that time, I was already regularly running long distances. I went to the gym and swimming and yoga. I wasn’t afraid of training for an ultra-marathon because at that time, I was at the peak of training and had resources available to me for cross-training. I knew it would take work (how could it not!?) but I was starting from a place where I hadn’t spent the previous 15 months languishing.

15 months. Since C19 started, I slowed down. I walked or ran regularly, but I stopped all cross-training, gyms, pools, yoga studios. My distances slowly started to decrease, as did my pace and time. Last weekend I ran 10K and it was probably the longest distance I’ve done in months at once. A few years ago when I did the Banff Marathon I hadn’t been specifically training, I stayed up the night before and was still able to get up and power out 42.2K. Again though, I was coming from a place where I was maintaining myself. Since March of 2020, I have lazed about and certainly not pushed myself. Casual 6K or 8K jogs aren’t going to be sufficient for the endurance that I need.

I have three months to get ready for this race.

I’m starting from 10K in an hour. I have to slow my pace down to be able to keep up for 5x that distance. Yesterday I did 8.5K in an hour, which is a start. Today I plan to try a much longer distance. Last Christmas my parents bought me a weight bench and free weights so (although I have been using them), I’m going to have to plan an actual schedule for this. I have to buy new sneakers because the ones I have will fall apart on a trail.

All of this. Three months. The longest distance I will have raced to date.

I’m not generally a goal-setter, specifically. I like doing things and I like accomplishing things. I like looking back and seeing the successes I’ve had. I just don’t usually plan my exact route for my “future me”. I believe it was Lewis Carroll who said “If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter which road you take”. I love that quote. I occasionally make impulsive decisions and things turn out however they will turn out.

On Thursday I learned that this race will be opened again. Today, the day that registration opened, I registered. I have three months to be ready.

The person who I was on Wednesday was not planning for such a sudden future ultra-marathon. The person I was on Wednesday was anticipating a weekend of lounging around on the couch, reading, watching Matthew McConaughey movies. On a larger scale, the person I was in January 2020 who registered for the 75K ultra-marathon did not anticipate a global pandemic for 15 months. The person I was in 2018 did not anticipate an IT band injury that would limit racing, the person I was in 2019 did not anticipate a debilitating cold that prevented the last registered marathon before the world shut down.

We absolutely cannot predict what will happen for our future selves. Some of it will be hard. Some of it will be amazing. I think Lewis Carroll would agree with me if I was to say that planning only one course of action would only lead to hardships when a wrench is thrown in, whether that wrench is a pandemic or a seizure. It’s just about getting up, keeping going and hoping for the best.

Mr. Carroll was also epileptic.

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