This is one of Jimís
favorite sayings, usually verbalized around mile 70 in a 100-mile trail race!
The more of these preparation notes Iíve written and the
closer our day of departure looms, the more nervous Iím getting about this
I have to admit that my confidence wanes sometimes. Itís a
monumental task Iím undertaking. Almost 2,200 miles, over five million steps,
about a million feet of elevation change.
Yikes. What was I thinking, indeed!
The first time I read David Hortonís book about his 1991 AT
speed record, ďA Quest for Adventure,Ē I was surprised that this very
talented ultra runner expressed so much fear of the distance the first few days
of his run. He had a very ambitious schedule since he wanted to set a new
He naturally gained confidence the farther he got. So did
all the thru-hikers whose journals Iíve been reading.
I assume I will, too.
THAT DEER-IN-THE-HEADLIGHTS LOOK
Several nights ago I had trouble getting to sleep. Iíve
never had a panic attack, but itís how I would guess one of those feels Ė tight
chest, shallow rapid breathing, a feeling of doom.
I knew what was causing it, too. It was my first real
serious DOUBT regarding this trek. It hit me suddenly.
The next morning, I was more optimistic about my ability to
complete this odyssey. I realized Iíve got to take it one day at a time. Iím
training and planning the best I can, being the obsessive-compulsive person that
I still am (less O-C than several years ago, though).
Veteran ultra runners often advise folks who are running
their first 50- or 100-milers to not get overwhelmed thinking about the entire
distance, but to break it down into manageable segments. That way of thinking
has helped me get through many ultras. I focus more on getting to each aid
station, e.g., than getting to the finish.
I can wrap my mind around those smaller increments so the
whole task is less daunting.
ONE STATE (!) AT A TIME . . .
I have to do the same with the AT Adventure Run Ė take it a
day, a week, a state at a time. Relish the milestones along the way Ė passing
each 100-mile increment, finishing up one state and beginning the next, reaching
the half way point.
Soon Iíll have run more miles than are still left.
And I felt better when I realized that if I cannot finish
the whole Trail this year because of a bad injury or a family emergency, Iíll
just finish the remaining miles another year.
My goal is to complete the trail this year in one segment,
but if it has to be in two or ten, Iíll get the job done. No matter how long it
takes thru-hikers to complete every mile of the Trail, they still get the
coveted ď2,000-milerĒ patch.
Iíve DNFíd ultras before with good reason, and it wonít
kill me if it happens on this Adventure Run. Of course, Iíll be very
disappointed. But if Iíve done my very best to reach my goal, Iíll be proud of
what I have accomplished, and make plans to get back out there and finish the
Iím going to hang up a large map of the AT in the camper
and mark off the miles each day, like those barometers fund-raisers use to
graphically show their progress toward a monetary goal.
After I start
the trek, periodically look at the AT map on each journal page and watch my progress toward Katahdin. Jim found a way to mark it.