At the moment I am #29 on the wait list for the Cascade Crest 100 – Washington’s favorite 100 mile, 20,000 feet of elevation gain adventure to places such as the Trail from Hell, Stampede Pass, and the Cardiac Needles. Every name promises it will hurt and yet so many people want to run it that there is a lottery to get in and I find myself on a hotly watched wait list. I want nothing more than to join in the fun, however I find myself debating dropping out of a race that hasn’t even started.
Why? Well, I find myself struggling with a bad case of I can’t do it all. From January to May, I let life slide while I went and trained for hours on end in the mountains, running in the snow and building my quads and confidence for Jordan. During that time I signed up for my first 100 miler and figured that I would be trained enough from Jordan that I could come home and slide into the start line in August. What I should have done is run a 100 miler 2 weeks after I got home… I was a lean, mean, running machine full of confidence and miles. My body and brain felt great and I was ready. But my chosen race is 3 months later and that requires maintenance, which equates to roughly 50-80+ miles weeks. To a mother and fledgling business owner that equals a major time commitment. I love nothing more than escaping off to the woods to run free with my friends, but the rest of the world ends up waiting while I indulge in my favorite selfish activity and that rarely feels right.
The summer months provide a particular challenge in that Colin is home from school and I am traveling constantly for RPF. Even when I am home, Greg is working odd hours to support us while we get RPF going (someday I will write a blog on all that man had done to support my dream). Lately it seems like the only hour of the day that is good for running is midnight and realistically that is a hard hour to commit to consistently. And it’s even harder to find other wackos that want to train at that time.
So, I tend to get overwhelmed and want to throw in the cards. I find myself grumbling internally that many of my ultra running co-harts are either men or young women without kids. I also now completely understand why the ½ marathon is the most popular distance in the country for moms – hard enough to represent a solid challenge, but still a (relatively) light time commitment. I give myself re-assuring pep talks on the run that I am simply asking too much of myself – I need to set realistic goals and not reach for the moon and the sun at the exact same time. And I just about convince myself that I should drop out of Cascade Crest.
But here’s the thing…I hear this little voice in the back of my head begging me, saying “Jenn, I really want that belt buckle. I really want to run 100. This is the summer, you are ready, please do it.” And that voice isn’t pressure or expectation from anyone other than that little girl in my head who I know so well – the one who’s always pushing the envelope.
So, the internal debate rages on, but at the moment I’m not bagging out. In fact, I’ve doubled down on my goal and am now checking the wait list daily in the hopes that 29 whittles to 27 and so forth. Greg is helping me squeeze in runs whenever we can and I find myself phoning in from remote peaks to let them know I will be late for dinner (again). Motherly guilt is constant, but luckily I train with one lovely mother of 3 who tries to remind me that my child is not suffering – rather, he is happy and loved and is also learning valuable lessons from my training.
Will I get in? As Dr. Seuss says, it’s 98 and ¾ % guaranteed. Will I be ready? Well, I’m doing my best. I’ve got 7 weeks to focus on this monumental goal and I’m squeezing in every run when and where I possibly can. And if on Aug 25th I get to run, I will not perseverate that I have not completed every perfect training run I would’ve wanted. I will trust in myself that I am ready and that everything after 50 miles is mental anyway. I’ll follow little Orphan Annie’s advice and remember that “it’s what you wear from ear to ear that matters” – your brain and of course a big smile.
And I will show Colin just exactly what his mom can do – guilt free, with a wicked love for life, and a desire to achieve some big time goals.