Imagine that you are doing you first Ironman. But instead of 140.6 miles, it’s 273 miles. And all of that is offroad. And, only about 10-15 other people have attempted the race before, many over ten years ago when the days of the internet were very different. And so there’s no athlete guide, there’s no rulebook.
Hopefully thinking about that helps to explain why I’m not kidding when I say that for the last few weeks, if something isn’t: one of my athletes, my training, or the Long Trail, I may not have any idea what is going on with it. Which has, I admit, helped my mental health as I have been mostly checked out of the news in the “real world.” But I have had plenty to do to get myself ready for this adventure!
Vermont has shown itself to be a special place. The people are very kind, with an aura of toughness that is hard to match — I think that comes from the terrain and the long winters around here. Tourism is high – but there is a focus on experiences over materials for that. There is no Target in Vermont. Finding a nail salon for pre-run nails has proven to be challenging even! (dont worry, I’ve persevered) Living just two hours from DC most of the time, I have been grateful for this break in Vermont where things move a bit slower, often feeling more purposeful. My training hikes on the Long Trail have allowed me to meet people from all over. Since I was hiking smaller sections at a time, I would often pop up at different points on the trail, inadvertently following some of the thru-hikers. It became a fun game to see if I would catch them again, to hear how their last day or so has gone. Parents and their children, women out on their first hiking adventure, a retired woman out for a week – there are so many stories out there and so many paths that have led to this one. It’s really special and I am glad that I have taken the time to be out there and soak that in before I make a run for the record.
Recently I watched this video about FKTs. Don’t worry mom, the Matterhorn isn’t on my bucket list – I promise! And aside from some of it I feel being a bit misleading (the Long Trail is the longest trail in the US – not the AT! You can find out some facts about the Long Trail here.) it has some great information, and the point that you have to know the trail really hits home. When I came out here last October, that was one of the first things I told Hillary when we discussed how possible this would be. I knew I needed to know the trail to be able to take this on.
And really, that shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. I’ve never been such a talented athlete that I could just jump into an event and expect success. From my early days playing soccer where I remember countless hours running laps around my neighborhood to prep for our mile run test, to hours in the backyard with the kickback. To IM Lake Placid as an age grouper where I planned my own training weekend to memorize every inch of that course, by myself, on a weekend where it ended up that I had to bike through snow to get it done, and swim in a 55 degree lake. That was miserable, by the way. But you know what? I won my age group that year.
Over the last 6 weeks, I have gotten to know the trail. This time I definitely took it to a whole new level, but I am really happy I did. I feel super confident about my training and my fitness for the adventure. I have, quite honestly, no clue what to expect, and quite honestly no clue if our pacing projections will be true beyond even the first few miles. And for that I’m going to have to rely on my amazing crew that is flying in to help figure that out and keep us rolling. I think it is such an amazing gift to be able to take on something that is big and scary and you might fail. Just do your homework, and go into it being as prepared as you can. If you do that, if you feel 100% content with the preparation you have done, then the important stuff is already there. You have to allow yourself to sit in that space and find confidence in that to take on the adventure, allowing yourself to not have expectations. I find that often in coaching athletes, some of the biggest mental struggles come from when expectations and reality don’t align. So how about letting go of those expectations – especially in a situation where we have NO basis for what to expect! It’s going to be what it is. So sitting in that space where I know I have done all I can, is the best place to be until go-time.
So yes, the go-time is starting to come closer (but not too close yet!). I promise to post plenty of info on when and how to follow along as it comes. Stay tuned!