First off, if the weather calls for rain, wind, sleet, and you are running to the summit of a mountain, take a jacket for Peat's sake.
Next, running in the mud is not fun. Changing shoes will give you a chance to run in dry shoes for about 5 minutes, and then you'll encounter more mud than before so just leave your dirty shoes on. Save yourself the hassel of cleaning two pairs of shoes.
Third, you can keep moving forward even when you're sliding backwards down a hill as long as you can reach the sagebrush at the top of the incline.
Fourth, don't bother worrying about the time... thinking about how long you've run and how much longer you have yet to go is a bit overwhelming at mile 12, especially when its taken you 3 or more hours to go 12 miles. Ouch.
Fifth, when your Garmin flashes low battery just minutes from the finish, you will find another gear and speed up just to prevent your precious data from being incomplete. Next time I'll just have to run faster so I don't run out of battery juice.
Last, if you think staying up to watch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will be easier if you make up a silly list of reasons to run an ultra you're wrong. By now my body is so trained to get up early that staying up late is next to impossible. I'm writing this after falling asleep at the computer for 3 hours only to wake up at 2:30 a.m. and realize I've missed the show, bummer.
Alright, now as long as I'm reflecting on this past weekend, I thought I'd explore why one may want to run an ultra marathon. This in no way is a complete list, as there are many other reasons one may want to try and tackle an ultra. Anyway, enjoy these very serious reasons to run "stupid far" (a quote from one of my high school students I teach).
- Running is good for you, running a lot must be very good for you.
- Running is fun, except for when its not, then it becomes fun when you're done.
- You can smile at the office when your coworkers talk about being sore from their pickup game at the local rec or gym.
- Running a 10 miler becomes an short little recovery run.
- Its the only time in your life you can eat a whole quart of ice cream, a giant cheeseburger, 6 bananas, and an entire bag of chips and still be in a calorie deficit. (Ok, I exaggerated here, it was only 5 bananas...)
- You can look at the odometer on your car and realize that you ran farther this week than you drove.
- You will become an expert at removing calluses, blister prevention, and removing band-aids from your nipples without leaving a distinctive band-aid shaped red mark.
- You may see strange things, such as a 4 wheeler stuck in the mud as you run by in up to your ankles, mysterious bare-footprints charging up and down a mountain, grown men wearing tight leggings and discussing shoes like the designers on some corny reality T.V. show, surprised strangers who think they are in the middle of nowhere and then find themselves surrounded by hoards of runners showing up in the desert for a "training run," and women in pigtails and/or running skirts who literally can eat dirt and make tough guys look silly all while smiling and then darting off into the sagebrush to "water" the flora without a second thought (this is a combination of several remarkable women I have seen at the trails, not one in particular).
- Race directors Emily and Davina at Pickled Feet Ultras, nuff said...
- Camaraderie... you will not find any other events out there where everyone is rallied around such a common purpose and will celebrate your success with you in the most genuine way even though you just beat them or vice versa. Ultra runners are the amazing athletes but even better people.