Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Number 3 After 3 Weeks, the Final Race of My "Double Tri" -- Up in Smoke-- a Lesson in Contingency Planning for the Most Hopelessly Addicted

Since the RDs' announcmenet last Monday (August 31st) I've had ample time to mull over the cancellation of this year's Angeles Crest 100 Mile Run. This was to be the final installment of my 7-week long Tri-Tri: the Ironman distance triathlon (Vineman) I finished August 1st, followed by a trifecta of more challenging (each with over 20,000 feet elevation gain and loss) 100 mile trail runs, all 3 weeks part, the first (Headlands) only one week after the triathlon. (Lots of 3's, so maybe it's numerically appropriate to post this on 9/9/09.)

When people's homes are burning up or threatened, you can't justifiably feel sorry for yourself, and I haven't been. Although forests need burns to regenerate, the arson-caused fire is a tragedy whose impact has yet to be seen, probably beginning with landslides this winter.

If anything, when I heard the race was cancelled, my body was relieved. I was still so sore from Cascade Crest the day before. During that 100 mile run east of Seattle, every time I thought of running yet another of the tougher 100 milers in just 3 weeks, I would feel mildly nauseated, and have to force the thoughts out of my mind-- I was working enough just to get to the finish. Fairly quickly into Cascade Crest, I was feeling the effects of Headlands Hundred 3 weeks prior.

Of course, experiencing and working through this self-inflicted extra fatigue, was part of the point.

Soon enough though, I realized that once I had set the goal of getting through this crazy late summer race schedule, relinquishing the final leg would be too psychologically disappointing to endure. I had to find another hundred-miler. For most people, finding a replacement on another weekend isn't too complicated. My work schedule is more problematic, since to clear my schedule for Angeles Crest with a family trip, I had to commit to working other weekends.

So for the past week and a half, I've been surfing the web for a replacement run, looking at plane fares, staring at our ED's schedule, thinking through logistics. Wasting hours and hours. (Some of which I was hoping to use to catch up on my blogging.) Losing sleep time. Feeling anxious and cranky. Which I could only partially relieve with running.

I thought of flying the family to Chicago since both I and my wife were off for a week, and then I would fly to central upstate New York to do the Iroquois Trail 100 Mile Trail Race. While I pondered this and other options, Southwest tickets to Chicago doubled in price, on top of all the money to get to and drive around New York. It's way too expensive now to justify. Arkansas Traveller the first weekend of October also looked promising, and the plane tickets still reasonable, but by the time I seriously wanted to go with this option, my October work schedule came out and I'm scheduled for overnights all that weekend. Anything later that that weekend is too far from Cascade Crest to have that added achievement of incomplete recovery time, plus would be too close to San Francisco One Day. I figured I would be able to psychologically endure a repeated loop 24-hour race for the first time only if I could optimize my recovery beforehand. (Though I have been okay running 100 miles more slowly than I could if I were better rested, if I'm going to go for a repeated small loop race, I really want to do as many as I can.)

So finally I'm now two-thirds done rearranging my schedule to try to make Olga's Pacific Crest Trail 100 mile ("Hundred in the Hood") the last weekend of this month. Fingers crossed, wish me luck. Once again, it's getting to the start that's the hardest part. If it falls through, I'll do a shorter local race. But at least you all know that I tried, tried really hard, to finish doing this very stupid custom-made, mini Grand Slam.

Anyways, the lesson here is if it looks like your big race might be cancelled, you don't have time for wishful thinking. Imagine how you'd feel if things fall through and if you need an alternate race fix, quickly get to work on Plan B fast.


Gretchen said...

Yeah, boy, if you didn't do another 100 mile race this year people might start to think you were a slacker.
Hundred in the Hood should be a blast. Have fun!

olga said...

We'll be waiting for ya, Mark! Don;t you dare slack out! Hot pursuit! And yeah, I can't spell, correct me here:)