It’s been a good week. Crystal and I braved the snow on Wednesday for a long run (just under 18 miles), and we went out to Fisher River today for close to 12. The good news here is that I seem to be holding together pretty well, and this was not a given when I began this journey to “something a little crazy.” This weekend is the Tsali Frosty Foot Fest, which offers an 8K, 30K and 50K. Rob, who is training for a half-Ironman, is working his way up on the runs and is going to run the 8K. Jason and Alison will probably do the 50K. (They crossed over to crazy a long time ago; hence, the comment on my last post.) I’m planning on trying the 30K. I’ve done a 30K before so the distance is not what worries me. My first 30K, however, was at Salem Lake, which is pretty flat and fast (unless you run a half-marathon PR in the middle of it– an entirely different blot entry). At any rate, Tsali is decidedly not a flat and fast course although as far as trail running goes, it should be fairly mild since it is primarily a mountain bike trail. There should be some fairly significant elevation change, but I’m not even really worried about that. Hiking is always an option; in fact, I have come to terms with the fact that short hiking breaks are keeping me relatively injury free– knock on wood.
What is worrying me is the weather forecast. There is a chance of snow in the Asheville area for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and the forecast for Saturday is blustery with a high in the upper 20’s. If you know me at all, you know that the words “blustery” and “upper 20’s” are not my favorites. I’m a big fan of warm things– fleece sweaters, wool socks, hot cocoa, fireplaces, liquor. So there is a chance that this race may not even happen, which depends on wind and downed trees as well as snow accumulation, but chances are, because trail runners are, by definition, insane, the race will go off as planned unless it is just physically impossible to get through. I know I can run 18.6 miles; I just really don’t want to high step it through calf high snow for that distance. But I will if that’s what’s required. It will be ugly and the time will, most likely, be shameful, but I’ll do it because I know I can. Again, if you know me at all, you know that I believe as Isaac does; “I sure would hate for anyone to think I’m a wimp.”
Jason told me that I needed to adjust my way of thinking for these longer races, and I think I’m beginning to see what he means. It requires a mental toughness that is a little different from the mental toughness required for a 5 or 10K. That’s part of what I really like about it, I think. Part of me is a little anxious about this new endeavor; I mean, for my age, I’ve been above average for a while (although I can’t touch many of my friends under the best of circumstances– a hazard of hanging out with really talented and tough people), and since these races seem to attract a breed of crazy, hard-core bad-asses, I’m afraid I will be woefully below average. But then I remind myself that these races do, in fact, attract the crazy, the tough, the gifted and blessed, and I realize that to even be among them, running across the mountains that I love so deeply is all that really matters. I’m not a genetically gifted athlete, but I have my own God-given gifts that will serve me well on my journey, and how can anyone feel bad about that?