It’s wild, to me, that I would almost have refrained from registering for a race like this based on what others think. Since moving to Colorado, I have been living a double sided running life. Fighting the stigma within my own head that, out here, in these wildly grown trail towns, road running is inferior.
“Oh, it’s just a road race?” … “It’s only a road race, so it shouldn’t be THAT hard.” … I began to fall for it. Long hard days on the trail are surely like nothing else. But as I’m beginning to become okay with remembering, so are your hardest, toughest efforts on the roads. Over the last four years, I began feeling like the running I had done prior to my move to Colorado — years of thousands of miles of road efforts — was just primer. It was just preparation for the “more challenging and MUCH harder REAL running” that occurs in the ultra trail world. I think I was being completely unfair. Unfair, not just to myself by falling for that mumbo jumbo, but for potentially, inadvertently taking credit away from all those out there, every day, first timer to professional, who are putting miles and hours and gallons of sweat from efforts into their very own roads.
The stigma within me has been squashed.
I don’t care anymore. Not what the over opinionated trail shoe rep at the local run club has to say. Or what the articles about the ultra trail races are spewing about the thousands of feet of vertical climbing or extreme conditions found at the average altitude in these adventures will do to someone. Of course I respect them all for exactly what they are and will never give anyone who tackles one of these massive events (which I still aspire to complete, one day) any less credit than they deserve. But from now on, I am going back to approaching running of all types with a fair perspective:
If you chose to give every last ounce of all you have in you to the mountains, the altitude, the trails, the vertical, then COOL. If I decided the same amount of me, nothing short of all I have, is going into 100 miles — or even just 5 kilometers — of roads, then that should be treated and respected in the same way.
Steve Prefontaine said, “A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.” And I think runners, both trail, road, short and long distance could all benefit from broadening their understanding. Understanding what running in all forms is capable of bringing out of an individual. When it all boils down to it, we’re all tackling that “trial of miles; miles of trials” John L Parker Jr. characterizes via the fictional Quinton Cassidy in the cult classic title Once A Runner. “You don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years.” It doesn’t matter if it’s pavement that moves you, or dirt, or rocks. We’re all in it because regardless of our deeper, more personal motives, there is something about self propulsion, testing our limits, and pushing to see how far and/or how fast we can go that really intrigues us.
This time, I have decided, it is roads that will carry me to new milestones. Back to where it all started for me. By no means will I forget to give fair and adequate time and to my new muses on the trail, but for my first 100 mile challenge, I will be spending time with the type of running that had me believing from the beginning.