Now that you've waded through my lengthy autobiographical backstory <or if you haven't, check out the 2 previous blog posts> , we can get into the real nuts and bolts of being nuts. "Fly by the seat of your pants" is pretty much my hallmark. However, the bigger and badder the endurance event, the more you gotta prepare... right? Well, yes and no. There is no doubt that doing a marathon, let alone an Ironman, 100 mile Ultra-marathon, or multi-day event requires a deep fitness base... but, after a certain point it really is mostly mental.
I'm sure that if I were more diligent in my training and took the terrifying challenges of these events more seriously, I would probably be much more physically prepared (rather than repeatedly having to dig to the bottom of my soul and beg God for mercy just to finish them). However, I bet like most of the people reading this blog, I am fundamentally restless and, therefore, never seem to be able to merely follow a simple freakin' workout and taper schedule. I've got to bite off new projects, try new things, dive down a million rabbit holes, and pack my schedule full of stuff that tends to squeeze out very important parts of a beautifully conceived training plan. This tendency has put me into a pre-race panic and an intra-race regret fest more often than I would like to admit. Oh, how many times I have said to myself before a race, "Am I insane starting a race feeling like this?" or found myself in the throws of breakdown during a race, having to put on my mining helmet in order to dig that deep.
This week is no different. I am about to run 4 marathons in 4 States in 4 days at the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathons. I haven't run a step longer than 26.2 in years and have never done more than 2 marathons (per se) in 2 days. And, at the finish line of the 2nd of those marathons, I collapsed on a stack of empty pallets with a swollen, dislocated left foot and literally cried... but I digress. Coming into this event, my total recent physical training is limited to 1 run, 1 time (6.7 miles) in nearly 2 weeks. I have, however, traveled to and from Atlanta, North Carolina, and Kentucky multiple times on little 6 hour jaunts, spent some time with my wife and kids, packed and sent cold weather stuff for transport to Antarctica, bought a new minivan to replace the one that was totaled in an accident just before Thanksgiving, made progress toward the Eternal Endurance Apparel line, and put in serious hours on the set of an upcoming feature-length coal mining movie.
Wait, what? A movie? Seriously?? Yes. "Mine 9" is a feature length independent film with plenty of the Hollywood bells and whistles, for which I have served as the "Technical Advisor for Coal Mining" in the script writing and now into the filming phases of development. How could I miss this stage? When do you ever get to train professional actors, help to craft realistic-looking special effects, and consult with prop, costume, makeup and set design pros on a subject you know inside and out? True to real mining, the set is constantly enveloped in dirt and dust, causing everyone involved to flee their 12+ hour days on set with black accumulations under their nostrils, indicating the certainty of blowing black boogers for days afterward. And, even worse than found in actual mines, the cast and crew has developed a dust-laden hack, which is almost certainly temporary, but will most certainly come with me to Marathon 1 of 4 in Arizona on Thursday morning and maybe beyond. To boot, I've been getting about 4-5 hours of sleep per night and eating/drinking whatever junk I can consume when I have a minute to spare between pouring water through the roof of the set to simulate water drips or tutoring actors on the fine points of Appalachian Mine Speak (a dialect with which I've become tremendously familiar in my career).
Not exactly the most prudent approach to 104.8 miles... or is it? While one could certainly be overcome by anxiety about this "worse than zero" brand of event preparation, I choose to instead view it as super-customized training for the rigors of the upcoming 777 Quest. After all, these 4 marathons aren't the main event, they are just a partial dress rehearsal. Why would I want to show up for these 4 marathons feeling all fresh and prepared? That would only give me a false sense of security when I get to the back half of the 7 Continents where nutrition, hydration, limber legs, adequate sleep, and all the rest of the niceties of modern human existence will be nothing more than nostalgia. It has really come down to this: comfort must be regarded as an enemy because I am always training. Like I said at the start, at a certain point, it's mostly mental... And if my belief, that showing up at ultra-endurance events in a physically depleted state provides priceless mental training, happens to help me justify my self-sabotaging tendencies... then so be it!
Eternal Endurance is founded on the belief that most endurance athletes achieve extraordinary things in their sports and also at home, work, and in their communities because they just keep pushing through. In the end, it's all training and preparation for bigger and bigger things- keep your attitude, bite off more than you can chew, and let it all make you a tougher athlete and a better person.
Stay tuned for daily race reports from the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathons December 8-11- it's sure to be a hoot!