Monday, February 21, 2011

A Golden Opportunity for a major Milestone
In this month's Northwest Runner magazine I made a big announcement through a new column, Fifty for Fifty, that I am writing for the next six months. My declaration? I'm getting old! My challenge? I will attempt to run my first 50 mile race to usher in my 50th year of living! The day and place of reckoning? The White River 50 Mile Trail Run--one of the more challenging, exhilarating, and exceptional trail running events in the country. I will be turning this journey-the training-preparing and running of this event into a fundraiser for the Washington Trails Association, too. And what better way to blend my love of hiking, running, trails, and the great outdoors than as a way to give back to an organization that helps make my lifestyle happen? I'll be announcing soon on how you can become part of the fundraising-and there will be ways for you to earn a prize along the way by joining in. For those of you who don't read Northwest Runner-here's an abbreviated version of my first column which announced my decision to do this event. I look forward to training with and seeing many of you on the trails and at the races in the next six months-and I hope that you will be part of the fundraising to help keep Washington's Trails in excellent shape and open to hikers and trail runners of all ages and backgrounds!

Northwest Runner magazine excerpt-

I suppose it was inevitable that the day would finally come when I would have to accept that—gasp—I’m middle age! While 40 may be the new 30, and 50 the new 40; new 40 or old 40, I’m finally there—middle age! Of course, we runners do our best to try to beat aging, but who are we kidding? Time keeps ticking away for us, too. But, at least we try to beat time in the process. And this time, since I have stopped beating my running times long ago, I decided I am going to beat being over the hill, by running over the hill. Lots of hills actually and 50 miles in the process! Yep, I’ve decided to mark my turning 50 milestone by running 50 miles.
Now if you’re a seasoned ultra runner, you’re probably yawning at this announcement. But if you’re a runner contemplating going beyond the marathon, and if you’re a runner staring at your own mortality, then you might be interested in this new column. For the next six months I invite you to come along with me as I prepare to run my first (and probably only) 50 mile run. My target race is the famous
White River 50 Mile Trail Run on July 30th. I actually turn 50 in May so I have two months to acclimate to my new age!

Those of you who are perfectly content running 5 and 10Ks—heck half and full marathons even, might be wondering, why am I doing this? Good question. I’m wondering about it too! But, seriously—I have always been aerobically active and always enjoyed a good challenge. When I was 18 years old I rode my bicycle around America on a 41 state, 9 month, 13,000 mile bicycle trip. The following summer I rode 8,500 miles on another cross-country bike trip. This time to Alaska via Arkansas (and the other states I missed the first time) and started back home (I was living in New Hampshire at the time) across Canada until I had to finish early in Manitoba due to sickness. The next year I biked east to Newfoundland polishing off my last Canadian province.
I eventually tired of cycling (but I still do it for fun, now!) and took up hiking and running. I’ve logged over 20,000 lifetime miles on the trail from Quebec to Argentina. And I make my living now primarily by writing about hiking. I’ve been running religiously since the late 80s. I ran my first marathon at age 29 and qualified for Boston at my second marathon. My third was Boston. Then due to injuries I fell out of marathoning.

I’ve returned since to the marathon, but I don’t train like I used to. After all I’m older, slower and fatter now than I was back then! I ran my 10th marathon in October of 2009. I didn’t run any last year as I was too busy hiking and researching a backpacking book. I did however log over 1,200 miles on the trail last year, and fit in 800 miles running. I figure 2,000 miles running and hiking should give me a solid base to run a 50 mile road race.

Mentally, I’m ready for this. I’ve wanted to do this race for some time, but my hiking obligations were always in the way. Now, my next manuscript isn’t due for some time and you only turn 50 once (thank God). This is the time to make this happen!
So, that’s it. I’m about to begin a long journey to successfully compete in and complete a 50 Mile Ultra Run. I’ve had 50 years to think about this! Bring it on!
(photo-still standing-barely-after doing a "training" trail marathon on President's Day Weekend)

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