I can't believe it has been 3 months since I've posted to this blog. Well, actually I can. Three months ago, work upgraded the filter on the 'puters and blogs, or anything with the word "blog" near the web address or main page gets blocked. I'll be honest, blogging was mainly an "at work" activity, so....there you have it.
This however, requires an at home write up. I want to record my thoughts on this topic before and after, for future reference.
I will take a quick paragraph (or two) to catch up what I've done since Pine Mountain and then I'll make the announcement. Okay, lets see. I ran the Pine Mountain 40 miler in December. Awesome. See previous blogpost. Then in January, the trail version of Dumber & Dumber (Me & Tommy) completed the Weymouth Woods 100k in 12:56. Great race, awesome volunteers. If you are looking for a good "1st 100k" this fits the bill. 14x4.5 mile loops. Aid station at the start/finish & halfway through the loop. You are never more than 2 miles from a table. I didn't even carry a handheld, didn't need it. The Sean & his clan made an appearance, very cool!
Then in February, just when you thought Lloyd & Harry couldn't possibly be any dumber, we ran the Laurel Valley section of the Foothills Trail. This is a 33 mile section, one way in, one way out. You are pretty much fully self-supported. We had a blast. It is hard. One word to describe LV, "steps" Literally hundreds, probably in the thousands of railroad tie steps that are built into the sides of these mountains. Up & down all day, for about 7500' of gain over the 33-34 miles. Took us just over 10 hours. Honestly, Laurel Valley deserves it's own report...maybe after I sweep Claude's race in August.
Enough of the fluff, here is why I broke the seal on the 2012 blog...
I got into the Barkley.
It feels weird to type that.
This is a bucket list race for me.
I've covered it here before...but here is a brief overview of the race from Matt Mahoney's site.
The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 59,100 feet of climb (and 59,100 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race, more than the 33,000 ft. of climb at Hardrock, and more than the 45,000 ft. at Nolan's 14. Since the race began in 1986, only 10 runners out of about 700 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff. The Barkley consists of 5 20-mile loops with no aid except for water at two points. The cutoffs for the 100 mile race are 12 hours per loop. The 60 mile "fun run" has a cutoff of 40 hours, or 13:20 per loop. To prove you completed each loop, you must find 9 to 11 books (varies) at various points along the course and return a page from each book.
I can't believe I got a slot. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not immediately get a slot. After the 35 entrants were selected, the weight list was posted. My plan all along was to enter my name into the race, possibly get on the weight list and improve my overall chances for next year's race/weight list. So on that awesome day back in December, when the weight list was published, I was shocked to see my name sitting at #10. "Did that just happen?" was all I could think.
It is widely accepted that if you are numbers 1-10 on the WL, you will get a slot. Yes, I received my email this past Thursday, informing me my number was up.
I'm excited. I'm scared. I can't fully express the range of emotions I have felt in the last few days. I have been training like I was going to get in(explaining the Laurel Valley run and the 4 hour powerline climb I did 2 weeks ago) I even spent the day at an orienteering meet working on my map/compass skills. I've been working so hard, I'm coming into the final stretch hobbling. ITB flare up this past week and a mild ankle sprain yesterday. I don't care, this is the Barkley!
I do not suffer from grand delusions that I will finish 5 loops in the alloted time. It tells me right on the entry form that I will fail. We all fail (well, except for the 10 finshers in 26 years) The Barkley eats it's young. My pie in the sky goal is/was 3 loops. Offering complete truth, I will be over the moon to finish one loop in the alloted time and start on my 2nd loop. That is what I want.
I've been devouring information about the race. I've been doing it for the past 2 years, but even more over the last 2-3 months. I've reread Frozen Ed's book. I read race reports. I've talked with a few local runners who have run it. I even watched Charlie Engle's 5 part RW/YouTube piece. I picked up on something last night while watching that. The interviewer asked Laz what he thought was a key to finishing, "focus" Laz said. 9 out of the 10 finishers had masters degrees or higher. (Hell, I think one of the finishers is a rocket scientist!) The finishers had the ability to stay dialed in over the entire time.
After finishing a 2nd course at the orienteering meet today, I was thinking about the importance of "focus". I did really well on the (very easy) beginners course. I did so well, I got over confident and failed to plan my route for the intermediate course. I figured it was 5km and I would just cruise through the controls and be back in no more than an hour. I struggled out of the gate, I spent 15 minutes looking for the 1st control and at least 20 minutes looking for the 2nd control. Almost an hour had gone by by the time I found the 3rd control...I had 10 more to go. I needed to stop, reign it in and think. Pay attention to the landmarks, use my land nav skills. I caught up to a JROTC kid(named Tyrese) and he was just as turned around as I was, we teamed up to find the next control and I instantly understood why people team up at Barkley-just felt easier with two heads. As I was slowing myself down mentally, focusing only on the next 100-200 meters, everything fell into place. I managed to find the remaining 10 controls and finish in 2 hours.
I will need to carry this lesson to be "successful" at Barkley. Sure, I'll take some time to enjoy the company pre-race, but I need to remember, I am there for one thing - to run loops. I've been given a gift not many people get. I need to make sure I take complete advantage of it and approach the prepwork in a business like manner. This race is about exploration, I have an opportunity to push myself to the edge of my "limitations" and see how I respond. I was exchanging texts with a friend yesterday, he said it'll be a beat down, I won't be the same. He's not the first person who has told me that the Barkley changes people. I'm interested in meeting the person who comes out the other side.
I don't know if I will update between now and "Fool's weekend" but I look forward to coming back here and reporting how it goes.