In Football I Believe This is Called a “Hail Mary”

I am gearing up for my first foray into the world of “ultra running” and yeah I picked a race with 8,000 feet of elevation gain but at least it will be cool and at sea level right? Wrong. When I chose the Tahoe Rim Trail 55k as my first ultra trail race I thought running with views of Lake Tahoe would be great and that I could go swimming after. I did not really take into account the fact that the race starts at over 7,000 feet and reaches almost 10,000 feet at one point. Living in Oakland, I also have pretty much completely forgotten about the concept of seasons. Specifically, I have have forgotten about summer and high temperatures. Given all the challenging characteristics of this race, one would expect anyone expecting to run it to be training their ass off in order to be as prepared as possible. In my case, you would be wrong.

Something switched over in me when I was sidelined for 3 weeks after the Boston Marathon. After the panic of not being able to run and losing fitness subsided, (or rather was subsided by drinking lots of beer) I kind of drifted into a state of ambivalence and denial. I planned lots of workouts, but when it came down to actually executing them, I didn’t seem to have the motivation and I was certainly in denial about how much fitness I was losing. I don’t want to make excuses for myself but I think I also just got overwhelmed. In between some personal stuff, travelling every weekend for over 2 months, starting a new job and having to look for a new apartment (in the Bay Area with 2 beds and 2 baths and that accommodates a dog– pshhyeeah right) I also had no idea how to train for a 55k trail race AND a half ironman at the same time. So I just didn’t make a plan.

If the past few months have taught me anything, I am not a person who can train for something difficult without an excel spreadsheet, at least one online tracking app and a daily training Journal. We kind of knew this already, but the theory had never been tested. Well, now it has. And I have proven that I can not just fly by the seat of my pants. However, this experiment has left me in a bit of pickle. I am basically 2 weeks out from what will probably be the hardest physical thing I have done in my life and I am not prepared. So now its time for the Hail Mary.

The TRT 55k Hail Mary

Wikipedia defines a “Hail Mary” as:
a very long, typically unsuccessful pass made in a desperate attempt to score late in the game
or
any attempt with a small chance of success
I think this applies perfectly to my situation. don’t you?
This definition is kind of depressing but at least they provide a positive example of the usage of the term:
“they beat the 49ers on a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds”
The Hail Mary probably officially started when I got back from Norway and went for a 7 mile trail run with 2,000 feet of elevation the morning after a 10 hour flight. Panic much? It continued when I traded a 30k trail race for The Loop and ran around 26 miles in 5 segments pretty fast to try to beat my legs up as much as possible. It will culminate this weekend as I attempt to get some high altitude, high temperature training under my belt in Arizona.
I have no doubt that July 19th will test my physical and mental limits in ways I have never experienced before. I have no doubt I will give it everything I have but will also be smart about my strategy and ability to continue. I am expecting to hurt in ways I didn’t even know existed but usually the things that are most worth while require the most work. If nothing else, I will get an awesome weekend in Tahoe with some of my favorite people.

2 Thoughts

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