Aug 10, 2009

Steve's endurance bucket list

Kicking The Bucket
Of the runners I know who race prolifically, most have a list of "must-do" races, the events people resolve they'll do before they die. Typically included on these lists are the USA's most famous & prestigious races - Marathons in NYC & Boston, JFK 50, Western States 100. All of these events are very famous and closely watched by thousands if not millions of people. These are the big events, where even if the person isn't too enthusiastic about the event themselves, they still wish to do it, just to say they did it. I am no exception in this regard - I'm running the NYC marathon this fall because.. it's NYC. I've just gotta do it.

Sometimes, people also have much lower key races on their life lists. For me, Wakely was like that. About the only people who care about Wakely are friends of the people running Wakely. The appeal to me was its lack of attention - I often feel most at home at the gritty self-supported no-glory endurance events that don't think too highly of themselves. The laid back vibe is so refreshing in a world of strict rules and strict attitudes.

Having said that, I spent much of the first few miles of Wakely trying to forget the fact that, in a very real sense, each step I took deeper into that forest was the boldest of my short ultrarunning career. Yes, at 32 miles it is a relatively short race, but if something went horribly wrong, not only would I be screwed, but I'd put a lot of people tremendous inconvenience at the very least, and a few into a heart-wrenching amount of stress. It wasn't the most encouraging thing in the world to think about, but at the same time, completing wakely was something I needed to do; something I needed to prove to myself.

As I wrote in my report, I was completely alone for almost all of the race. Nearly 11 hours of me, in a remote wilderness that I was not familiar with, all by myself, trudging along, counting only on my own strength, endurance, and brains to get me to the finish line. I needed an experience like that. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, because if I could comfortably finish wakely at nearly 300lbs, imagine what I could do at 200lbs.

This brings me back to my bucket list. Wakely was on it - as an end in one sense, but also as a means to a several larger ends. Armed with the experience of Wakely, I am much more confident about the things that I'd like to do before I die, preferably while I'm still young. None are ambitious in an extreme sense; I don't have much desire to attempt a transcontinental run; but they are not insignificant tasks either. They speak to me, personally, in a profound way, and I'd like to share them with you. So over the next couple of weeks, I'll post 4 or 5 entries about some of the various things I'd like to do in the next 5-10 years. I hope you enjoy them.