Training for a race as tough as the Bighorn Trail Run takes a certain amount of crazy, grit, discipline and sometimes just plain stupidity.
I realized the last part as I finished up Run #3 of my 4x4x48 Challenge (4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours) around 3 AM the first night. I had “napped” for about an hour after finishing up Run #2 around 11 PM and dealing with slight dehydration, an inexplicable late night hunger and the inability to fall asleep knowing I was getting up in about two hours to head out for another run. As you can tell from the above picture 3 AM isn’t a great look on me.
It only got worse. By the time my second 10 PM run rolled around I was feeling more and more like a zombie, trying to figure out what to drink, what to eat and pulling my shorts and shirt on backwards. As I finished that eighth run I realized I had four more runs to go, a measly 16 miles, yet another 16 hours of this circle.
I ran Run #9 at 2 AM dangerously dehydrated and exhausted and then spent the hour after returning from the run on the toilet.
Through it all though I realized that I was getting stronger. My 2 AM run I averaged 9:20 per minute miles. Run #10 was my slowest as I walked for probably two of the 4.3 miles I ran but I completed them and vowed to eat and get a nap.
Run #11 was a stronger run and then my final run at 2 PM, 44 hours after I had started this adventure I ripped off another run in the lower 9 minute per mile pace.
This is what it takes to finish an ultra marathon. It takes a ton of sacrifice, not just by the runner but by the significant other. It takes beating your body up and doing things that cause pain and discomfort and doing them time after time after time.
And to think we do this all because this is our hobby. This is what gives us life and makes it all worthwhile.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my ultra marathon lifestyle because I know it is a great analogy for my life as a whole. If I’m not willing to do more than what it takes to finish a long race, what makes me think I can finish this great race called life, which also takes endurance, discipline, sacrifice and a different mindset.