I started grad school in August 2008, soon after running my second ultramarathon. Little did I know, the next year and a half would be a running rollercoaster, with more downs than ups. When I wasn't swamped with school, I was often sick and never managed to get in regular runs, much less stick to any sort of training plan. I DNF'd at the Rock Creek 50k in October '08 with some serious IT band pain. In February '09, I managed to PR at the Psycho Wyco 50k, but in April I drug myself to some unspectacular finishes in both the Rockin' K Marathon and the Free State 40 miler.
Without any thought to this thing called the "end of the semester," I continued on thinking I still had time to train for my first 50, which was to be the Mt. Hood PCT 50 in July. You'd think I could get some training in between May and July, but my grad school advisor informed me that I would be presenting [results I didn't have yet] at a conference in July. So instead of training, I spent most of my time getting yelled at (his normal volume level) by my advisor. By the time PCT rolled around I was lucky if I could run 5 miles. I let Coleen have my registration, and I decided to crew for Nick and our other friends instead of running. It was pretty depressing to go and not participate, but I wouldn't miss helping out my friends for anything.
More recent history
In the fall I started thinking about a renewed attempt at a 50. I would finish up coursework in December leaving my only task in the spring to finish up my thesis. Summer seemed to fit well with this schedule. With no classes, I would have enough time to train in the spring and be ready by summer. I quickly selected the Headlands 50 which boasts gorgeous views along the Pacific Coast outside San Francisco. You might ask why I didn't pick something local, and my answer would be, nobody wants to run 50mi in Kansas in the summer. This is probably the reason there aren't any (that I know of). The Kansas City Trail Nerds host a 50k in July. Later in July, Lunar Trek, a night race which benefits the Pike Valley cross country team, ranges from 10k to 100k but does not include 50mi. As you can see, nobody wants to run very far in the Kansas summer, except maybe when it's pitch black.
About a week ago
Still riding a high from a good performance at the 2010 Rockin' K hosted by the Kansas Ultrarunners Society (KUS), thoughts of the Hawk 50 danced in my head. Friends said maybe I should have run the 50 instead of the marathon at Rockin' K. I'd been eagerly looking forward to manning the Beach Aid Station with Nick at the Hawk 50, but thoughts of attempting the 50 kept sneaking in. I'd been urging my friend and fellow runner, Sarah Henning, to run it, because she's pretty much a stud and is totally ready for it. She wasn't sure she could meet the cut off time and remained undecided. Several things came to mind.
- Maybe she would do it if she had someone to run with the whole time.
- Maybe I would do it if I had someone to run with the whole time.
- What could be more awesome than running my first 50 with the support of my running family close at hand?
I signed up for the Hawk 50, and in a flurry of eagerness, signed up for the Heartland 50 a few days later urged on by talk that it was nearly full already. Ultrarunners are a bunch of snake oil salesmen, huh? So as it stands the plan is, 1) Hawk 50, 2) Headlands 50 and 3) Heartland 50.