Temptation got the best of me on January 19. I was one week into a three-week running hiatus – the longest I’ve gone without running a single mile in years – when I pulled the trigger and registered for the Worlds End 100K, a race that had been beckoning me for months.
Two more sedentary weeks awaited me before my physical therapist cleared me to run again, but there I was signing up for the longest race of my life. I had four months to go from a standstill to toeing the starting line of a 63.3-mile mountain race in the rugged Pennsylvania wilderness. I wasn’t sure if it was a smart decision to sign up, but I couldn’t resist.
This race kept calling out to me, keeping me awake at night and tantalizing my mind with wonder. Could I handle this course? Could I go the distance? Am I tough enough?
I’m all-in on finding out.
Ten weeks have passed since registering, and the mileage has changed considerably. Zero-mileage weeks in January became 40-plus-mile weeks in April. In fact, last week’s result was a yearly-best 49 total miles with more than 7,300 feet of vertical gain and a 20.5-mile long run. Month-over-month, the numbers have climbed, too. A 43-mile total for January increased to 129 in February before sprouting to 173 in March – the second-biggest mileage month of my life (182 in June 2012).
At the same time, I’ve been a good PT patient, working hard in the rehab room and diligently doing my homework to heal my left posterior tibial ligament. The rigors of race preparation have kept the ligament from fully healing, but it has made tremendous progress and continues to get stronger as the inflammation fades away. In addition to treating the posterior tibial ligament, my physical therapist identified other areas of weakness, such as my right hip, which I’m now working to strengthen in advance of race day. He also has me doing balance work – lots and lots of balance work – to overcome a stability deficiency on my right side.
I haven’t had a training program for this race, opting instead to do what has worked best for me during the past two years and figure it out week by week, doing what I think I need to accomplish to be best prepared both physically and mentally when I get to the starting line while not being married to a rigid plan. So far, that seems to be working.
Tomorrow is the first day of April, 50 days before race day and the start of the final push. I have three races in the next five weeks, all of which are training runs for Worlds End. The first is the Merrimack River 10-Mile Trail Race on April 9, followed by TARC’s “DRB” Don’t Run Boston 50K on April 17 at the Blue Hills Reservation, and then (depending on how I’m feeling this close to race day) the Seven Sisters Trail Run – a rugged 12-mile trail race with 3,500 feet of vertical gain on May 8. After that, it will be time to taper for two weeks and then step to the starting line at 5 a.m. on May 21 – hopefully in good health and with a motivated mind – and find out what Worlds End is all about.