“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”. One of many questions my roommate Brittney posed to me last night as I nervously rambled off race details for Lake Sonoma. Up until that point, I’d had answers for everything- what fuel I’d bring, what the weather is supposed to be like, what shoes and gear I’d wear, if I was allowed to have pacers, etc. But this one had me stumped.
The past few days I’ve been nervous, anxious, excited, scared, worried about running my first 50-mile race. A ball of emotions and energy. I’ve been excited while flipping through course photos, cheering on Aron at her first 50 miler last weekend, and starting to pack up my supplies. Then I’m scared and nervous when I check the weather report, when people tell me how tough the course is, and when I think about running the final miles without a pacer.
To answer Brittney’s question, I had to run through all possible options… what IS the worst thing that could happen? It could hurt, a lot. It could be really tough, I could have moments where I want to stop. It could rain, I could feel alone on the trails, it could take me an insanely long time. But all in all, the worst case scenario doesn’t sound any different than a challenging training run.
As a runner, I’ve learned that every race is a question mark. How my body feels that day, the weather, the course, and just plain luck. I’ve had really good days, and really terrible ones. But I’ve never doubted that I love running. The races where I’ve had the most fun and done well are the ones where I’ve gone in with no expectations, a smile on my face, and am prepared for whatever elements are thrown at me.
So, In (less than) 4 days, when I step onto the starting line, I won’t necessarily have a plan. Don’t get me wrong, my AMAZING crew will be prepared with all kinds of fuel, gear, supplies, and things to help motivate me. But, I’m just going to do what I love: run. I’ve done it hundreds of times, I’ve run long, run short, fast and slow. I’ve run hills and flat, in rain, hail, sunshine, and wind. The only real difference on Saturday is that I’ll keep running and shuffling along all day.
There’s no point in looking at my watch or worrying about who is in front or in back of me, it’s just another day that I’m lucky to be running. During my training, I found my happy place on the trails. I found the joys of hopping over tree stumps, climbing to the top of the hill to find the prettiest views, and recklessly splashing in the mud. Saturday isn’t really a race, it’s a victory lap, a celebration of how I’ve evolved as a runner.
The worst thing that could happen? That I’ll LOVE it. Love it so much that I can never go back to life without ultrarunning.
Thanks to everyone who’s supported me, given the best advice and tips. And if you want to figure out how I’m doing on Saturday, I think Aron (@runnersrambles) will be updating along the way!