When Edwards and I met, he was in training for his 47th Birthday Challenge.
47 Miles on his fixed-gear road bike.
47 on-sight climbs
47 Miles on his single speed mountain bike
47k of Running
To be completed in 24 hours
He succeeded and I was so much amazed that I proudly and adamantly proclaimed that I would never do a Birthday Challenge!
Fast forward two short years and someone went and organized a Valentine’s Race in Moab called the Red Hot 50k. Only, it’s not just a 50k, they also have a 33k, and don’t it be it all that I’m turning 33 this year? Two days before my birthday I have the opportunity to run my first ultra which happens to be 33k for my 33rd Birthday.
Training for the Red Hot in the FREEZING cold!
I realize that for many athletes and most trail runners this doesn’t sound like much of a challenge. For me, it borders on “damn near impossible”. Let’s weigh the governing factors which have shaped my running career.
1. Auto accident #1: I broke my femur. The surgery required cutting through the length of my Gluteus Maximus and I still have two screws above my right knee and a rod that sticks out of the bone and into my hip. When these foreign objects catch nerves… it hurts.
2. Auto Accident #2: Two torn ligaments in my right knee, pelvis cracked in five places. Physically all it really did was add insult to injury (and further hinder my performance in sports that require strong, fast legs).
3. I am predominantly slow twitch muscle fiber which never really allowed me to shine in the sports people care about. Sure, I was always decent at The Mile but that never overshadowed my poor performance at Dodge Ball (or Baskeball, or Baseball, or Football, or Gymnastics...).
4. Recent knee injuries due to previous tears or new damaged caused by being old and active.
Needless to say, I don't run.
Darned but they don’t call it “The Birthday Pretty-Hard”.
So, the goal is 33k, before they close the course or - if I'm being ambitious - in under 6 hours.
There are days when I’m sitting around and think I’ll just get in the zone and run for however long it takes. Then there are days when I’m running and I think, “this is going to be impossible.”