So, one challenge ends, another arises. As the song says, that's the way (ah-hah, ah-hah) I like it...
I placed top ten in Janathon, 6th place I think, which was a heck of a shock. I never entered for any sense of competition, just for something to give me the motivation to train early in the season and to give me a kick up the jacksy to do some work. I'm happy with my mileage and the effort I put in, I know the areas where I could have done more and the reasons why I didn't, I've shifted my view of my own limitations, I've run further in a month than I probably ever have in a year, and I've managed all of the above without injury. All good stuff. Really good stuff, in fact.
And now, with the lessons learnt from Janathon, we carry forward to the next challenge. It's a way off yet, but it's a reason to continue jogging, logging and blogging. And to express it the same way as the big piece of paper on my wall does (target visualisation, don'tcherknow):
On August 28th 2011, in the afternoon, I will be sitting in a cafe in Vielle Aure, drinking coffee and munching croissants, chatting to friends, having completed the Grand Raid des Pyrenees.
I'd said elsewhere that a road marathon held no appeal to me as a target, while a trail Ultra did. Well, through a friend, in recognition of the Janathon kick-in-the-bum, I've been offered a place at the GRP, an ultra-marathon which is generating a lot of attention as it develops from fairly humble beginnings 4 years ago. 1500 competitors this year, and the race entry is now sold out, which gives you some idea of how big it's becoming.
It took me a little while to decide. I'd said many times before that in Adventure Racing terms, running and trekking were my weakest disciplines. Excitable, incorrigible me saw the invite and whooped and hollered and danced; Sensible, logical me wondered about training mileage, asked a couple of good friends about their Ultra experiences, and picked brains. The former thought things like "how cool would that be! Big hills in the sun!"; The latter knew that 'big hills' equates to 'hard work', and 'the sun' to 'crispy-fried Pyro'. Neither of me could actually come up with a reason not to try, though, so I agreed with myself that it seemed only right to accept. Our formal entry was submitted yesterday, so we're on system green from here.
The race, though I use the word advisedly in my case, is the 'Grand' course: 80km (50 miles) with 5000m of ascent and a maximum finishing time of 25 hours. Both of me unanimously decided that the Ultra course, 100 miles in 50 hrs, was maybe more than we could chew for a first ultramarathon. Starting from Vielle Aure, the route ascends to the Pic du Midi, which looks stunning in last year's race pics, and around the areas of the Col de Tourmalet and the Hautacam, names synonymous with hard climbing, at least for cyclists. In 6 months time I will be ready for it, mentally, physically and technically, and in 6-and-a-half, I will be heading out onto the hills for the longest long hike of my life. And both of me are looking forward to it.
So, here's to the next challenge, whatever yours is. Cheers!