I hope to have done it, anyway, by Sunday afternoon July 9th, 2023. All I’ve done at this point is signed up and paid the entry fee. There are eight long months ahead to be prepared for the Sinister 7 ultra marathon. It is 100 miles (161 km) with 6363 meters of elevation gain (20,876 feet). This will be my 4th ultra marathon. My first was the Mad Moose in Prince George, BC (2014). In 2015 I completed the Canadian Death Race in Grand Cache, AB. In 2017, the Beaverhead 100k ultra in Idaho nearly killed me, literally. I took a break after that (though arguably I started my break well before and that’s what nearly killed me). In 2019 I needed a couple back surgeries. In 2020, I started to get my legs back under me but 2021/22 have seen a retrograde in my fitness. Do I have what it takes to sustain the preparation needed for 100 miles?
The short answer is, I’m not sure.
This is the question I am most frequently asked when I tell people I’ve signed up to run an ultra marathon. I am not terribly fast or good at these events. The cut-off for the Canadian Death Race is 24 hours. I finished with an hour and a half to spare. The Beaverhead started out with 89 runners, 45 completed, I was 43rd. I’ve done other long distances and challenging trips in unsupported conditions too. There is something about pushing oneself to the limits of your mental and physical capacity that is, compelling.
Those that have been with me on these types of adventures can attest that I have more enthusiasm and drive than skill or sense would warrant. My preparation for events like these is generally inadequate or barely adequate. It shouldn’t come as a shock that I end up friends with people that are nearly the complete opposite. They have something special that I aspire too. The challenge of 100 miles is not played out in a couple days but over many months of preparation.
I haven’t answered the question yet. Let me frame things differently. I love an event where you see the sun rise when you begin, you watch it set as you push on, and you hope to still be going when it rises again. I like the feeling of utter and complete exhaustion. When your body comes crashing up against a wall and you refuse to give up, I like that moment of release when the wall dissipates and you find you have much more to give. I also like the real possibility that I won’t make it.
The plan is still taking shape. Step 1, sign up. I’ve been slowly ramping up my physical output over the last couple months. I intend to continue on that trajectory. On October 1st I ran a half marathon distance as part of a team in the Ironhorse 100. In the past month I’ve lost about 5 pounds. Ideally, I’ll shave another 15 pounds before race day. Every extra pound is a burden I’d rather not carry. This blog is part of the plan. I need an accountability check regularly. I hope to post at least once a month with an update on my preparation. We’ll count this as the October post and consider preparation began October 1. So how did I do in October?
Time: 58 hours 14 minutes (average of 2 hours 14 minutes/workout)
Most of these “workouts” are walking. I am more interested in training long than hard. I’ve got 30 hours to complete 100 miles. Most of that will be at less than jogging speed. I am under no illusions here. I’ll likely be “racing” cut off times. The competition is me and time. I just checked the participant list and I am currently the latest to register. I’m competitor 100. That feels right.
My workout plan is still taking shape and I am open to suggestions. The driving principles: long, low-impact workouts with plenty of stretching. Goals: I want to avoid injury, lose 15 pounds, and strengthen my core. Concerns: how to train for appropriate nutrition on course, and how to train for serious elevation gain when I’m living on the prairies…