I hope that this experience isn't going to be as painful as it sounds, but I think the name sums up pretty well the experience I'm about to have. HURT, a whole lot of hurt. Training for HURT is finished, and it's time to start this thing in the Hawaiian jungle. I want my off-season to begin. But there's this 100 mile thing in the way.
Training for HURT has not been easy. Training in November and December, when all of your running buddies are taking breaks during the off-season, and the rain in Oregon has begun in earnest, is not always fun. It begins to drag on, and the thought of weekend long runs becomes a downer, rather than a delight. The mud thickens, the snow line descends, and the more-limited options sound like sentences. Another run in Forest Park? Ugh.
The reason I put my name in for the HURT lottery was that flights to Hawaii from Portland are cheap, and a mid-January break from the Portland rain sounded like a good idea. It's way easier to get to Hawaii (5 hour direct flight at $350 round trip) than about any other place in the US. A good reason to go to Hawaii? Yes. But I've been reminded that people do go to Hawaii just to go to Hawaii. There is no 100 mile requirement to be allowed to visit. Alas, many of my trips involve running, so the thought of just lying on the beach for a week was not very appealing (why was that?). When I signed up I had no intention of running the 100 miles, but rather the now defunct 100K. I guess I didn't read the fine print very well, because the 100K drop-down option disappeared this year. Alas, that was months ago, and I've long been informed of my fate so as to properly train to do the whole shebang.
The usual 100 mile freak-out has begun, and the following panicky thoughts cycle through my head:
Crap! I'm out of shape. Why didn't I run more? Do more yoga? Lift weights (more than twice)? Will my ankle tendons be happy? Why didn't I get in any longer days? Spend more time at bikram and in the sauna? What was I thinking? I hate 100 milers.... I start comparing my training schedule to others, realizing what a slacker I am. Why didn't I put in some 120 mile weeks? Why didn't I spend 6 hours a day running? And then reality and a little sanity re-enters and I remind myself that I have a full-time job, and already spend a fair amount of my free time working out in some shape or form while attempting to maintain some semblance of a social life, and attempting to do a decent job at work. And that I should stop comparing myself to others.
And in looking back at the last cycle of training, it's probably been the most I've ever done. After 20+ years of running, I started keeping a log this past April, so don't have a good record of prior years, but I'd guess I'm running on average, more now than ever. After a recovery week post-JFK, I've averaged 71 miles/week for the past 5 weeks, with a high of 86 and a low of 54. Definitely not high mileage in the ultra world, but high mileage for me. Along with a bit of bikram on the side for balance.
The part I feel most nervous about is a lack of really long runs in the past few months. I'm hoping that muscle memory from the past year--during which I raced 2 50Ks, 2 50 milers, 2 100Ks and a 100 miler--carries through. Since Pine to Palm 100 in mid-September, I ran the JFK 50, with a handful of runs around 20 miles, including a 31 miler and a 25 miler in the past few weeks. Is that enough for long runs? I guess I'll find out soon enough. While my lack of long runs makes me feel like a slacker, in terms of total mileage my December total of 322 is the highest for the year (I've never claimed to be a high mileage runner....). I still don't feel quite ready, but I never do. I guess the technical nature of HURT scares me too, and I'm really curious to see just how bad it's going to be and how many times I'm going to crash. I do sort of like technical trails, though....depending on how many times I crash, of course.
A healthy dose of fear and self doubt.....that's how I'm approaching HURT. I just hope I'm in one piece at the end of it.