18 Mar Becoming Ultra
I had the opportunity a couple weeks ago to run my first ultra-marathon. No – this wasn’t a lifelong goal or even a long held goal. At first mention by my friends I had little interest, but something stuck in the back of my head. We run together weekly. A few miles to a few too many miles – usually Sundays, pre-dawn. Sometimes by choice (never ending winter?) and sometimes by necessity (never ending summer?). What stuck out to me the most was the absurdity of it all. Trail runners are a fun group of outdoor adventurers who enjoy pushing the limits, exploring them, and finding new ones. It’s one of the few places you can show up to run 50KM at 630AM and those doing something crazier left a half hour before you go there! For a handful of hours the whole ridiculousness of running further than I ever thought I could was elevated to normalcy and unlimited snacks.
What signing up for my first ultra gave me was a goal. I am overall a very goal oriented person. I love to be able to write the last sentence of a story, go back to its first, and fill in the rest as we grow. The rest of this story unfolds over the course of about 90 days pre-race. Five of us decided to sign up and train together regularly. We slowly started extending our long runs, a couple miles at a time. 10, 12, 14+, then came the twenty mile runs. Each long run was a new high, a new furthest distance traveled, a new record on Strava and in our own minds. The training is what I enjoyed the most. Slowly increasing stamina, agility, and speed. Running for me and many I talk to seems to be a continuum of push yourself till you break, rest, recover, and do it all again. Injuries are inevitable but many heal within a few days and allow you to get back out and continue exploring.
The further out we get from the actual race the more I understand that the race itself was the least important part of the journey. It wasn’t the seven hours one day that mattered but the hundreds of hours leading up to it of training, pushing, and comradery. Not to say race day wasn’t important – 4am wakeup, 5am roll call, 630am race start. I had my Osprey pack, 1.5L of water and electrolytes and about 1500 calories worth of snacks. I had done a 24 mile practice run of about 80% of the course 2 weeks prior and felt pretty good about the overall distance. The practice run was on a drizzling 60 degree day and was one of the few days in the mountains I wanted to put my jacket back on after we’d been out for a few hours. Race day was the opposite – 85 and sunny, which made it even tougher. Between losing 2 weeks of training to sickness and a knee injury 2 weeks before the race – I was happy just to finish. I hoped for a time of under 6 hours which didn’t happen but in all I wound up in 35th of 95 at 7 hours and 3 minutes.
What does all this mean for UEC? Nothing and everything. Life up to this point has been a series of challenges I set in front of my self. Some are simple and take no effort while others are difficult, potentially unattainable, and dreams in the truest sense. Each day is another training to achieve that next goal or to live the dream. With all that’s going on in the world today it may feel like a dream or possibly a nightmare. What holds true is that this isn’t the first time the world has seen an invisible monster. Many other countries have dealt with these outbreaks before. It is certainly disappointing that we as a country are behind in terms of being able to provide care and even test possible patients. We have spent decades pushing for lower costs, moving production offshore, and creating throwaway products. I hope in this terrible time we can see the importance of supporting stateside manufacturing, paying livable wages, and creating products meant for good not garbage. While the products we sell in store are not all made stateside they are all made by small companies supporting skilled artisans in their native homes. I hope to see a small business, artisan, or local revolution occur over the next several decades. Slowly dialing back world supply chains to help support ourselves on a smaller scale and local level. It’s our job to create the world we would like to live in. Events like these make it painfully obvious how easy it is to disrupt or overwhelm a world supply chain.
At this time we will continue to remain open. Our schedules will be limited and hours reduced. We will continue to practice CDC recommendations for sanitation and sterilization throughout the office. We are well stocked on hospital grade disinfectants and will continue to disinfect all surfaces between patients. We recommend all patients above 65yrs old to stay at home until safe. We recommend patients who are not in dire need for an exam or urgent care to consider postponing till we have flattened the curve. Together we can beat this. Together we can all be safe.