This past weekend I hiked/ran 11 laps of Green Mountain in Boulder. It snowed, my feet were wet and cold, my legs were tired and it was hard. The story is kind of boring so that’s about all I’ll say about that. As Jason and I headed up my 11th lap around midnight he relayed that his daughter had asked him why his friend Eric was hiking Green Mountain so many times, to which is his only response was, ‘for fun’. The mind of a child is wonderful, she wasn’t questioning if it was possible or calling me crazy, she just wanted to know why, fair enough.
In this case the specific ‘why’ is that Green Mountain is one of my backyard peaks, I had a strong urge to get in a big day of vertical, it was logistically easy to self-support all day long and it allowed an easy opportunity for friends to come out and join me (and they did!). But really that’s way too complex of an answer and while it speaks to the ‘why’ of the single moment, it doesn’t speak to the ‘why’ of the bigger picture. Endurance sports are painful, exhausting, take up tons of time and can even tear us down into raw and exposed emotional states, so really why do we do it?
While there isn’t just one answer to this question, it’s still an interesting one to ask yourself now and again. For me personally it’s the challenge, camaraderie and underlying insecurities (These may not be your reasons). Sure one could avoid the pain and suffering that comes with an endurance event, but for those of us looking to push our boundaries, how can you really know what you are capable of until you hit that edge, crash and burn and are forced to drag yourself across the finish line tattered and broken? In this challenge you learn so much about yourself, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. The camaraderie is something that sets ultrarunning in particular apart from many other similar pursuits. To the outside world running may seem like a very individual activity, but ultrarunning in particular takes much more support and teamwork than one would imagine. Very few runners will run and/or complete a 100mile race without crew and pacers, training often encompasses long days on the trails with good friends, and even during those tough times of injury and defeat it’s our friends that help us through. Just like in life, camaraderie and friendship make the insane challenges we take on possible.
Now on to the last of my three answers, underlying insecurities, something that may not apply to everyone, but I bet many of you are also afflicted by this even if it’s hard to admit it. At some point in life everyone has been told they’re not strong enough, not fast enough, not smart enough or just plain not good enough for whatever the pursuit may be. This negativity can be taken in two ways; one can be discouraged such as to not put themselves out there for fear of failure, or one can harness the short comings to make themselves better and push themselves harder. Me, I hate being bad at things and when I’m pushed I tend to push back. There have been plenty of things in life that I’ve either failed at or not been wholly successful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to be better and to find that something you are really good at. Failure shouldn’t be depressing; it should be inspiring, motivating and a learning experience.
So Why? Because I can, because I want to, because I need to, but mostly because why not? If you don’t put yourself out there you won’t ever really learn the answer to that why. But now to the real reason for my madness. As most of my friends know by now I like to hike/run/climb mountains, especially really high ones. I completed Nolans 14 in 2012, but in the back of my mind there has always been the question of whether I could hang with the big boys on something much more committing. So after several years of learning routes, doubting my capabilities and being afraid of the enormity, I’ve decided to take a crack at the supported Colorado 14ers FKT for speed climbing all 58 14,000ft peaks. The record was broken just last year by Andrew Hamilton and stands at 9days 21hours 51min, or approximately six 14,000ft peaks each day for 10days straight, let that sink in…..
While I feel like my skill set lends itself well to this challenge, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare the dickens out of me. It’s a massive physical, mental and logistical undertaking, fraught with uncertainties, endless unpredictable variables and innumerous opportunities for pain and suffering, what’s not to like right? So obviously planning and training are already in full swing, more to come on the specifics of my attempt as the target start date of June 29th draws near. Thanks to Vfuel for keeping me powered through all these crazy long adventures and to all my friends out there for supporting my horrible need for self-approval that is endurance activity. For now, run fast, run healthy, but mostly run happy.
|11 laps of Green Mt||45miles||25,700ft||19hours 15min|
|Lap Times||1:35, 1:27, 1:29, 1:31, 1:29, 1:33, 1:40, 1:41, 1:40, 1:45, 1:58|