I’m stubborn.  Once I get an idea in my head that I’m going to do something (or not do something), it’s pretty tough to get me out of getting it done.  Usually it works in my favor, sometimes, not so much.

Last year’s North Face Endurance Challenge was a good example of how this stubbornness manifests itself.

Last May I was signed up to run the Columbia Triathlon.  I trained pretty well for it and my body was feeling a lot better than it had at my previously triathlon the September before.  I felt so good, in fact, that  two weeks after finishing that triathlon I did something really stupid.  I tried to run the North Face Endurance Challenge (of the 50 kilometer variety).    I had signed up for it months earlier, not realizing it was only 2 weeks after the Columbia Triathlon.  I thought I would be able to train for both at the same time, do the triathlon and have my legs back in enough time and I’d be good to go.  I was wrong.  My longest run up till that point was a 18 mile training run, which was mixed with a series of walks and light jogs, and was four 4 weeks before the race (not exactly an ideal  taper).

Frankly, I wasn’t prepared enough and it showed.  Add that to the unbearable heat (over 90 degrees) that descended upon the DC area that weekend, and it was a mixture ripe for disaster.  I won’t get into the gritty details, but after nearly passing out from heat exhausting at mile 16, quitting at mile 18, un-quitting an hour later (much to the dismay of the paramedics) and hating life for the next 13 miles and 3 hours, I finished.

Yes, like I said, I’m stubborn.  I lost about 11lbs during the race, became badly dehydrated, developed blisters the size of pancakes on my feet and lost 4 toenails.  My kidneys hurt for hours after the race and it took me several days to feel somewhat normal again.

To summarize, that race kicked my ass.  Even though I finished, and believe me it took EVERYTHING I had to finish,  I still feel like that race got the better of me.

I wanted to run it again this year.  I wanted to come back and finish the race again.  Not dragging myself across the finish line out of sheer will, but running across like a champion.   This plan was foiled when I saw that my family’s beach week vacation happened to start on the same day as the race.   My family NEVER goes on vacation and I really didn’t want to miss this rare opportunity to spend some much needed quality time with them.  I was excited to have the opportunity see my family, but at the same time part of me still felt like I needed to go back and settle some unfinished business with that course.

So last week when my buddy Dave told me he was planning running it this year (his first ultra-distance race), it gave me the motivation I needed to change my mind.  I mean, I can’t let my good buddy run his first ultra alone!   So  I talked with my family and I found out we don’t even get access into the rental beach house until 5pm.  The race starts at 7am.  If it takes me 5.5 hours to finish and 5 hours to drive down, that should put me at the beach house no later than 7pm-7:30pm.    Not bad, right?

You’d think that with the race only 6 weeks away I’d be worried, but surprisingly I’m not.   Sure, I don’t have a good long run in yet, but I’ve still got some time to get some miles in.  I’m also in far better running shape this year vs. last.  I’m leaner, running faster and with less aches and pains.  Also, and this shouldn’t be overlooked, I’m not doing a triathlon 2 weeks before the race!    Not only will my legs be fresher, I can concentrate on just running and not having to worry about swimming or biking.

So watch out North Face 50k, Brian is back on the job and coming back to settle the score!