Today is August 1, 2017. One month to the day of UTMB. I cannot believe it is coming so fast! The time flies by and I am afraid I will not be ready. Unlike any other race I have done in the past this requires so much more thought and planning. It will be the hardest course as well. It is an adventure of a lifetime and I am blessed to have this opportunity. I am a little scared too!
I first thought of this race in 2016 while looking for qualifying races for Western States. That year I turned 55 so my plans were to do ironman again and try to qualify for Kona. Yet, I knew I still need to put my name in for Western because I do every year. While reviewing races I came across a video of UTMB. It was of an eagle flying over the course. It was so amazing. Snow cover mountains and single track trails. Todd walked in as I was looking at this. I tried to turn off the computer because he thinks I am always plotting and planning something. He saw it then asked, “Why would you want to do ironman if you could do something like this? You can drive your car across the IM course but this is something you would never see.” I was surprised by his reaction and excited too. This was something I would love to do! So I changed my plan . To qualify for UTMB I needed points from 3 races. Points are given to various races based of the difficulty of the course. The harder the course the more the points. I already had points from Western States and Vermont. I only needed one more race. You have 18 months to gather all you need. I then signed up for Leadville 100 for the remaining points. When I returned home from that race I realized no points were given. I only had a few months to do another race so I went to Cloud Splitter 100. There I received what I needed. Dec 2016 my name went into a lottery for UTMB 2017. My name was drawn!
Being that this race is in Europe I found myself not sure where to start. I needed a plane ticket and place to stay to start with. I spend so much time looking things up, not knowing if it was a god deal or not. Finally, I just had to make a decision. I was wasting so much time and there was just to much else to think about. Most importantly, I needed to run!
My training plan was to keep it simple. Do a few local races but focus on running with all the mandatory gear. It is so much and so heavy I wondered if I would be doing any running. Maybe only a long slow jog or walk. I went to LBL for the 50 miler ( my tenth year there). This was nice to get the distance. I love that race! There I received a check from USTF Ky. for $500.00 to help with expenses. I could not believe it! I cried. Money is always an issue to me because I always want to do so much. I used the money for some of the gear I needed. I bought my poles first. Will Rivera ordered these for me from Running Soles. They are Black Diamond and very light weight. I felt this was something I needed to learn to use.
Next I went to Yamacraw to run the 50k. There I saw Traci Falbo who loaned me a few Nathan hydration backpacks to try. This was a great help. I put the pack on and filled it with lots of heavy stuff, a jar of peanut butter, red bull, and various other thing. This race I loved. I felt good during this run but it was still so far off and I had so much more to do.
I next planned to run a race in Eastern Ky. The race director offered me a free entry to help with my training. That was so kind! I knew this would be great training because of the hills of Eastern Ky. This race in the end did not take place but the gift was the same.
From that point I have spent most of my days running in Jefferson Memorial Forest. I run there at least twice a week. It is my favorite spot that is close enough. I have run with a variety of people and many of my BUF friends. Badass Ultra Friends, that is who these ladies are. I love each and everyone of them.. They each have an amazing story to tell. Someday I want to do a podcast with them so others can see who they are. I am inspired by these ladies. All of different ages and walks of life with the common thread of trail running. This is my world and really my family (along with Todd and my animals). One Saturday am we gathered to run and to my surprise many of the Buf gals were there. Michelle spoke and gave me a little suit case. Inside were socks, sword, phone charger, the mountains are calling hoodie, a book on trail running, a book on the Alps, beautifully written cards from so many people I love, and $1500.00 for a plane ticket for Todd. I was left speechless. We ran and I felt so loved. Who does this? And I know I did not deserve such a gracious gift. I can only repay them by doing my very best.
Now it is a month before the race. I have most of my gear. Quest Outdoors helped me with a lot of it. I can run with this crazy pack. I have learned to use the poles. I have done some 30 mile long runs and plan to run 75 this Saturday. After that I hope to drive to Colorado and climb using my poles. It is coming together one day at a time.
Now I am focused on my mental strength and spirit. Todd is unable to go with me. That means I will fly there myself and spend the first week climbing some mountains alone. I am a little nervous about this and wonder even why I am doing this if I cannot share it. Two of my friends will be there the during the race which will be nice! Today, while running I realized I am not alone and I do not need someone else to fill this void in me. I am loved and I love life. It is okay to be alone. My joy often comes from others but my strength comes from within. I will do this for all that have believed in me and for all those I love. It is a gift to be able to go and I will embrace it. The quote “Be still and know I am God.” comes to mind.
I wanted each person that has given so freely to know how thankful I am. You are my friends and I love you all. As time draws near and while I am there I will keep you posted.