Over the last 12 months my training was focused on one event, the Grindstone 100. It was here where I experienced my first DNF (Did Not Finish). Previously I wrote about how my crazy idea of arriving the day before the race from Taiwan (12 hour time difference) would work to my advantage with a 6:00pm start. While it did help me stay alert throughout the night, I fell apart during the day and had to drop because of the cold and being unprepared at mile 87.
I was finally going to complete those last 13 miles on October 2nd until torrential rains resulted in the U.S. Forest Service pulling all permits for that weekend in the George Washington National Forest.
The cancellation occurred on Wednesday after all my travel arrangements were set, my drop bags were packed, and I was mentally prepared to tackle this difficult race. In addition to the rain, it was going to be cold and miserable. Bob and I were strangely excited at these additional challenges but never got the chance to experience them in the Virginia mountains.
While I was disappointed at the news, I had another problem. This was going to be my Western States (WS100) qualifier. WS100 requires that you to complete a specific race in that calendar year to qualify for the lottery. In addition, each consistent year your name is not drawn, your odds improve as they multiply your lottery tickets the following year by the number of years you did not get selected.
Given my training and desire to get back to WS100, I had to quickly find another race by the end of the month to qualify. I found one that I wouldn’t normally consider but my options were limited.
Tomorrow morning on Halloween, I will line up with hundreds of others in the Arizona desert to run 100 miles on a 15.3 mile looped course. There are some benefits of running a looped course but I will say that this would not have been my first choice under normal circumstances for 3 reasons: the heat, the desert, and the fear of boredom.
The heat isn’t a condition that I would necessarily avoid but I would have preferred to have trained in warmer weather leading up to the race. That wasn’t an option here in Pennsylvania where the temperature has plummeted in recent weeks. The desert is an issue given my ulcerative colitis and the need to make pit stops during the race. Unfortunately there aren’t many trees or bushes to hide behind and this will require better planning on my part. Finally the idea of running loops has never been appealing. Fortunately we change direction each loop which allows us to see and interact with many of the runners throughout the race. The event is supposed to be a big party and I hope I can enjoy some of it.
Ironically the Grindstone 100 did get rescheduled for the following weekend after it was cancelled. Bob was able to run the race and finished in 27 hours 39 minutes. However a work commitment kept me from participating which was disappointing but the right thing to do.
In retrospect I can’t complain as I benefited from this change of plans physically. I had badly sprained my ankle in late September and it feels much better than it did on October 2nd. I also feel as though my training these last couple of weeks has gone very well. Finally, I am one point short of the 9 points need to run Ultra-Trail Mont-Blanc (UTMB), an amazing European race next year and wasn’t sure if I could get it this late in the year. Javelina 100 will allow me to earn the last point needed to gain priority registration for UTMB in August 2016 (check out the amazing video at the bottom of the post).
I believe that God is always present in every detail of our lives and that things do not happen by coincidence. This is not an easy concept to grasp and is particularly difficult in the midst of tragedy or challenges. However as I reflect back on my own life I know the Lord has always been there whether or not I took the time to thank Him or ask for help. This includes times that are as inconsequential as the events I mentioned leading up to this weekend or during times of real crisis.
I do not know what this weekend holds but know that I have trained hard and will do my best having faith that Jesus will be with me each and every step.