Last year I completed the Peak 30, and my friend Michelle did 360 miles in the Peak 500 race. As soon as she finished she said she would be back to get the full 500, I told her I would be there to help, this was well before plans of moving across the country happened. Instantly I blocked out those days and it was planned no matter where I was or what I was doing I would be there for the race. Then time passed…and now I find myself flying to Vermont on Wednesday to take on something like I have never done.
How it Happened?
As the year drew on life brought me to Utah, I did a lot more racing, and Michelle and I always talked about me pacing her at Peak. My initial plan was to use it as a training week for Racing the Planet: Iceland, remember that race I was going to do. Well life changed, plans changed, that race got pulled off my calendar for many reasons. But I was still going to Peak. Along the way talked with irunfar.com and lined up a gig writing about the race as I would pace Michelle. More time went by. When I told Andy Weinburg, the Race Director I would be there, he said you should just race! As soon as I told Michelle, she told me to do it. Well mulled it over, and mulled it over some more had a few conversations with friends, and found myself entered into the 100. My first 100.
About Peak Ultras
Peak Ultras are not like your typical Ultra. They are notorious on the east coast for their difficulty, not in elevation change but in terrain. Bushwhacking is par for the course, as well as rocky root filled ups and downs. It’s not a race you go for a PR in or one normally people take on as a first 100. The course is 10 laps on a 10ish mile course. I saw “ish” because Andy is known to have “heavy” 10 milers. It’s about 1200 feet up each lap and the same down. Rumors are the course is about 2 miles to the peak and then a meandering 8 miles down switchbacks and such.
The one thing to be said is it’s a beautiful hike (which I will most likely be hiking most of it) I know the terrain, I know the town, I know the people, and I have a relationship with the mountain. If there is any place I would want to make such a bold move it would be on Joe’s Mountain in Vermont. So while the trails will mostly be muddy, and I will be traveling into unknown territory in my racing career. I head to Vermont tomorrow with some butterflies but mostly excitement to see friends and spend time on a mountain I love.
For me life is about taking chances, and doing things outside your comfort zone. I have 32 hours to cover 100 miles or as I like to think about it 10 laps. I have been quiet about the race because it’s not something I 100% know if I can finish or not, but that’s what draws me to it. Most races I do it’s to try to get the best result, gone are the days of just completing a race. This race is about completion, the last race I did in Pittsfield was the Death Race and was a DNF for all the right reasons. I didn’t do that race for myself thus why it was so easy to let it go. This race is for me, it’s my journey and ultimately it was my decision to take it on. Some will laugh and think I am foolish for taking on the challenge others might find inspiration in it, for me it’s about one foot in front of the other, mile after mile, attempting to accomplish something I am not sure is possible but at the same time know in my heart it’s 100% possible.
In the last couple of races that went on for hours I finally learned how to be in pain while racing and go with it, feel it and accept the pain. I no longer find myself fighting the aches and pains in the long race. It took me 22 miles to warm up in a recent trail marathon and finished feeling like I could go forever. Mentally, I think I am in a better place than I have been in a while, long races give you time to think and reflect on yourself. Emotionally, I am the most calm as well as spiritually. If there was ever a time for me to step outside the comfort zone this is the time. So as I rest, eat, sleep and prepare to head east, I continue to wrap my mind around the task, and am actually gleefully looking forward to the challenge.