Maybe it’s the mountains, the remoteness of the course, or the ruggedness of the trail that caused the race to linger in the back of my mind for so long.
Or maybe it’s simply the name – the Worlds End Ultramarathon – that I found so alluring.
I was intrigued by the race last year, and then it returned to my consciousness in August while running hill repeats in Erie, PA, during a stop along my move from Kansas City to Boston.
Since then, I thought about it almost daily. The temptation grew stronger by the week. Registration for the 2016 Worlds End Ultra 100K opened in November, and I found myself browsing the race website and list of entrants every few days. The race was filling quickly, and by early January I knew I had a decision to make: commit, or wait until next year.
I think I knew my answer all the way back in August, but on January 19 I finally made it official. The 100K race—with a capacity of 150 runners—had reached 141 entrants. I claimed spot 142. Within 48 hours, it was sold out.
I’m in. A gnarly course awaits with 12,000 feet of vertical gain and 12,000 feet of quad-busting descent. Now the work begins.
The first step of race preparation is to get healthy. I haven’t run in two weeks while going through physical therapy to address a posterior tibial ligament injury in the right ankle/foot that has been lingering since July. In some ways, I’ll be asking for more out of my body during the next four months than ever before, so it’s critical that I take care of the little things early to increase my chances for success in the long-term. My physical therapist, Adam Paggi of Paggi PT, has worked wonders on me so far. The ligament is getting stronger, and I’ll return to running in the coming week.
Once I’m running again, I know I may have to deal with the harsh New England winter. We haven’t had much snow yet, but that could change in an instant with snowfall so deep that the trails aren’t runnable. I’ll log as much mileage as I can on the trails, but I’m prepared to go inside if necessary. In fact, even though mileage will be important, the greater focus of my training will be climbing. There’s enough rocky, technical climbing and steep vertical on the course that I need to be ready for numerous long, grueling climbs, followed by fast downhills that transition right back to more vertical gain. I’m developing some stairclimber/treadmill brick workouts at the gym to get my legs accustomed to the frequent shifts of pace and terrain.
I have 17 weeks until race day, and 15 weeks to actually train before taper time arrives. I’m nowhere near where I need to be to take on my longest distance run ever on what I expect will be the most grueling course I’ve seen. But I’m confident that I’ll be ready by 5 a.m. on May 21.
Worlds End has been tempting me for months. I’m committed. Now it’s time to get to work.