Since December of last year I have been focused on one race, Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (WS100) scheduled for June 28th. It is the oldest and most prestigious 100-mile race in the world. The course is beautiful and challenging as you climb 19,000’ through the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada and descend 23,000’ through the America River where temperatures can exceed 100 degrees. The last 6 weeks have been challenging and exciting as the race quickly approaches.
My Black Belt
After 9 long years of taking Tae Kwon Do with my kids, I finally earned my Black Belt on May 9th. While my two older children, Nicholas and Julia earned theirs in less than 6 years, it took me much longer for a variety of reasons. These included missing classes due to travel as well as occasionally taking time off before a race, after a race, or recovering from a running injury. During this time my family and I have watched many others quit as well as others who achieved this accomplishment in half the time it took my kids. However I am very proud of my perseverance despite the lack of consistency at times.
I believe it has and will continue to remind my kids and me lessons that are critical in life. One of these lessons that I know will serve me well in two weeks when I run Western States is the ability to persevere – to continue moving forward when I watch fellow runners give up or pass me by!
The Dirty German
I then ran the Dirty German 50 Mile race on May 18th as a training run for WS100. While I tried to remind myself that it was for training, I knew I had finished 3rd overall in the 25k for the same race last year. Based on that, I hoped for a strong finish in the 50 miler. That wasn’t meant to be and it was probably for the best.
I made several errors that included too much fuel, which turned my stomach as well as a pace that was probably too quick for the first of 3 loops. That was not the best strategy and those 2 key factors contributed to a much slower 2nd half and a finish that was way off my intended goal.
Despite this challenging performance, it was probably the best thing. I believe it humbled me as most ultras do and provided me with useful reminders as I head into WS100.
Faith and Western States 100
One of the most valuable lessons that I walked away with from the Dirty German and all my training is this: I know that things will never go perfectly but that I must be prepared for when, not if, things go wrong. It is a powerful reminder that I am trying to understand when it comes to my life and embracing my faith.
Being a Christian and trusting in the Lord doesn’t mean that you will not face trials of many kinds. It doesn’t mean that you will be more successful professionally than your co-worker who is an atheist. It is about trusting that God is always with you and staying focused on Him. It is a belief that must be strengthened through prayer and reading scripture so that we can better handle this when they go wrong, as they eventually will.
At Western States, as with any 100 Mile race, I know that it is not a matter of IF something goes wrong but WHAT and WHEN it is going to occur. It may be the heat at mile 34 or 43, my quads screaming at mile 47 or 74, my stomach may turn at any point, I may experience a pain that I never had before, and the list could take pages to fill. The point is I must not assume things will go perfectly but as in life, be prepared to deal with them, overcome them, and stay focused on the finish line. In this race I hope to receive a silver buckle at the end, but in life I pray it is a crown that will last forever.
I look forward to sharing my race report with all of you in just over 2 weeks!