Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;"

The title of this post comes from Shakespeare's Henry V and has been popping up in my brain every time I think about my third attempt to finish the Leadville Trail 100.

I officially started my taper today.  I'm done. The die is cast, and there is nothing left for me to do but stay healthy and acclimate to the altitude as much as I can.  To that end, as I write this I am wearing an oxygen mask, hooked to my Hypoxico altitude compressor, as I will for much of the week.  I have a couple of runs left this week before I depart this Saturday to drive to Leadville from Raleigh, where I will spend a week camping at the Sugar Loafin' Campground before the race.  My good friend and long time training partner, Tim, has agreed to road trip out to Colorado with me and split the 25+ hour drive.  He'll spend a day or two there before flying back to North Carolina.  It's hard to find friends that loyal.  Thanks, man.

I will spend the week leading up to the race breathing thin air, drinking lots of water, and keeping my feet up.  Then towards the end of the week, my crew will arrive - Karl on Thursday, followed by Wendy (my faithful, long suffering wife) and Paige, her best friend since middle school.  I have played sherpa for Wendy and Paige's multiple Ironman races, so they have agreed to come and help out in Leadville.  Karl has agreed because he's a lunatic, just like me. My kids will be back at home with their grandparents cheering for me.  All in all, I am supported by some amazing friends and family.  This attempt would not even be possible without them.

On Saturday the 16th, I'll toe the line and see if I have what it takes to finish this bastard.  The first year I was unprepared and had no idea what I was getting into.  The second year I had run the miles, but it wasn't my year for a variety of reasons, both training and performance-wise.  I have no idea what this year will hold for me.

People keep asking me if I'm ready and how I feel. I honestly don't know. I know I'm more fit and healthier than I have been in over 20 years.  I am able to run more efficiently at a lower heart rate, thanks to my amazing coach.  I have done lots of strength training and cross training in addition to all my running.  I am healthy and injury free (knock wood), but I still don't know if any of that will be enough.  I vacillate from one moment to the next throughout the day.

Here's what it boils down to -  I know I'm as ready as I can be, but I respect the difficulty of the race and don't want to take anything for granted.  As soon as I get overly confident, I know I'll get kicked in the teeth.  As I discussed in my race report from last year's DNF, I have learned not to fear failure.  I really, really don't want to fail this year, but I'm not as afraid of it as I have been.  If I do fail, I'm hoping for a spectacular failure.

I haven't decided whether I'll be posting again before the race. It all depends on how I'm feeling and if I feel compelled to share something.  So, if you don't hear from me again, wish me luck and send me all the positive energy you can muster on the 16th.  I promise a full report as soon as I'm able to type.

Thanks to everyone for reading.  I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Tennyson, which I think sums up my approach to this year's race nicely.

"Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

1 comment:

  1. I laughed at the line, 'my faithful, long suffering wife'...dramatic and yet, yeah, I could use that to describe Chris...well, husband :) Good luck, Ashby! You've worked so hard for this and I've got the whole family cheering for our favorite running coach!