Friday, June 29, 2012
Since my first ultra in 2004, I have completed 68 ultramarathon events, which is a lot for someone my age. Crazy as it sounds, I know of other runners who have completed hundreds of ultras, and even as many as 600+ like Rob Apple. Of these, quite a few are one hundred mile races, which I'm sure takes it's toll on the body. Like anything else, I believe the quantity of races can sometimes take away from the simplistic value of a single experience. In 2010 Monica Scholz ran 25 one hundred milers to set a new record, and this year the power duo of Liz Bauer and Scott Brockmeier are attempting to break that record with 30 one hundreds in a single year. While the reasoning behind this amount of running is for record breaking purposes, I wonder how much healthy enjoyment can really come from doing something of such magnitude? Clearly, running 30 one hundreds is not for me, nor 99.99% of ultrarunners, but for a rare few it may actually be fun/"fun".
While I have run many races, I look back and realize most of them were not to race, or set a particular personal best. In fact, most of the events I have run were simply excuses to run in the mountains with friends for 5-8 hours and then have a friendly beer at the end. However, peppered in amongst the fun runs were a myriad of lackluster races where my body simply wasn't fit and conditioned enough to keep at it week after week, and month after month. I learned wise lessons in over racing, especially in my 20's when I thought I was indestructable and could run an ultra, some casual and some fast, every week.
Nowadays, I think I'd rather run two, or three really meaningful races every year. This is a little different than the focus race mentality in that previously a focus race was more about a performance, than experience, and I allowed myself to get caught up in split times and finish times. It's not like the times were all that fast to begin with. Now it's all about the experience of the run. It's the mental and physical journey that transpires within. There's no doubt that the experience can be more enjoyable when you are fit and feeling fast, but it allows for the lows to seem a little brighter when a race isn't going as planned. Perhaps this is all just a part of my maturing process as a runner, and dare say young adult.
Next year I am hoping to get back out to the Graveyard 100, Western States 100, and Leadville 100. The latter are two experiences I could do over and over again, regardless of the fact they are seamingly so over hyped. Am I drunk on the publicity Kool Aid, or am I just really eager to see how well I can truly run on two incredibly beautiful courses rich in history? And as for the Graveyard 100? Well, I am a sucker for a little punishment, otherwise I wouldn't be an ultrarunner would I?
Beyond these races, I am hoping that running maintains itself as a gateway to see great places and meet fascinating new people. Like Dr. Seuss said "Oh, the places you'll go!"
Quality versus quantity.