Friends with the Monsters..
And the voices inside of my head. As Saturday approaches, the voices - the demons - have begun talking to me. Sometimes a whisper, sometimes a scream. 54 miles. It's the distance from Colorado Springs to Lake Pueblo State Park. Or the top of Wilkerson Pass... A long bloody way to cover on two wheels, let along two feet! Yet that is my goal. Traverse the trails and roads west and east of Fairplay, covering more then the distance of two marathons. Theoretically, it should be nothing. After all, I've run back to back marathons many times - once getting both under 3:10. Fifty two miles, in just shy of 24 hours at a pace much faster then I'm planning. But in this ventures, I had time to recover between races and took the recovery seriously. Here, nothing but continuous forward movement. One step in front of the other, no breaks between efforts and the the clock doesn't stop ticking.
As Saturday approaches, those voices are getting louder. Ever doubting, ever questioning - the demons make me nervous. It's normal to have some doubt and nerves as a big day approaches, without fear there can be no respect for the distance. And without respect, that is when you get into trouble. Despite the number of marathons I've run, I never approached one I was racing without respect for the distance and what could happen along those 26.2 miles. But fear? That is a new one for me. I was never scared of what lay ahead of me between the start and finish. I knew there would be great moments and I knew there would be rough patches. It was only three hours - hardly any time at all to get inside my head and allow the fear to build. But this? While it might be "just" the distance of two marathons, it will take me to time it used to take me to run four. A long time to be out on my feet. It won't be the longest time I've been in motion, that would be the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest. It also won't be the furthest I've gone into the mountains in a race before - that belong to Vapor Trail and the lonesome, dark stretch of trail over the divide.
This feels different. Maybe because I once was a fast runner, used to covering ground on two feet. It's easy for demons of the past athlete to make comparisons to the current self. Despite the fact that there can be no comparison - who I am today was shaped by the experiences and knowledge gained as a road runner, but I am not that athlete anymore. It is neither bad nor good - just a change brought by a change of focus. Maybe because July got here much quicker then I anticipated. After all, it's been a year since I decided to do this. Plenty of time to prepare - except for the unexpected setbacks that found me doing fewer base miles in December and January. The demons in my head point to those setbacks, warning me that it's always one step away from happening again. Even without the base miles I'd planned on, I've got the fitness - two wheels translates nicely to two feet (and back.) I'd like to think I'm stronger and smarter then I was when I was just a runner. And that is another area for the demons to mutter at me about. Am I really as prepared as I think? I've got the clothes, the gear - all tested for long runs without issues. Clothes for heat, clothes for cold and wet. I've covered everything, at least that's what I think. Shoes are set, socks selected, shorts and top well worn. Pack is comfortable and my handheld hasn't been bothering me for my long runs. I've done well with food - having found a few things that taste really good while running. So theoretically, all my bases are covered. From the training to the shift in mental stay and finally my gear - it's all ready and the work has been done.
Now - just to quiet the mind, tell the demons to shush and keep moving. One step at a time, one mile at a time. Be aware of the big picture but keep the focus on the smaller segments. I am ready.