I’ve spent the past month pondering a big, daunting running event. It’s in sand. In Arizona. Also, it’s 50 miles.
Yes, 50 miles. Yes, I know I am mildly insane.
It’s the Antelope Canyon 50-Miler on Feb. 24, and I would do the 50-mile option because the shorter distances don’t actually go into Antelope Canyon. They do pass Horseshoe Bend, but there’s no way I’m dragging myself back to Arizona unless I’m seeing Antelope Canyon. Here, have some pictures, which I stole from the Internet.
See what I mean?? I WANT TO GO THERE!
I’m not sure when I first heard about this event, but somewhere in my web wanderings a couple years ago, I came across the Grand Circle Trails website, and the Antelope Canyon race in particular. They linked to race reports, which I read and then moved on, because helloooo, 50 miles?!
Truth be told, I used to say I never wanted to run 50 miles — and that was after several years of crewing for and pacing friends at 50-milers. Then I ran a trail marathon in February 2013, conquered my first trail 50k the following month, and paced my friend Chris for 18 miles of a 50-miler in April 2013. It didn’t seem so far out of reach, and I began to think of doing the race the following year, or least pacing more miles when Chris attempted a 100-miler.
That trail running was apparently good for me, because I then proceeded to break all my previous road records, until my left IT band gave up. This significantly affected the odds of being able to run 50 miles, and then my best trail running buddy, Kristen (who was also saying mayyyybe to the 50), got pregnant — which was just as well, because I suspect I would not have finished the 50-miler due to my leg. Then Chris was hit by a truck while on his bike, so there went my offer to pace him at a 100-miler. That said, Chris has since gone through multiple surgeries and is currently training for Ironman Kona, so if that’s not inspiration to keep going, I don’t know what is.
Anyway, at some point about a month ago, I saw a post on that nefarious site known as Facebook about how registration for Antelope Canyon was opening July 7. The idea settled itself into my head and has proceeded to taunt me every day since. I sent the link to several people, and so far one of them has decided to do it, which has not helped me say no to it. In the two days since registration opened, I have been refreshing the sign-up page to see how many spots are left, and thus how much time I have left to decide. As I write this, there are 124 spots left, of 375 — last night, 140 spots remained. Oh wait, I just double-checked that link and now 123 spots are left. They do have generous refund and deferment policies, but if I’m committing to something like this, I don’t want to commit halfway.
I’m currently out of shape, but I spent this morning’s embarrassingly short run thinking up a list of pros and cons. And that’s where you come in: What should I add to these lists? More importantly, do you want to go along??
- I want to see Antelope Valley.
- The idea of a 50-miler scares me.
- 2008 marked my first marathon, so it’s only fitting that this would happen in 2018 — both in Arizona, no less.
- If I succeed, it will be before I reach a dreaded milestone birthday.
- Unless I volunteer for overtime, I will have three consecutive days off work per week, when I can attempt back-to-back long runs in daylight.
- My gym is open 24/7 and I have unlimited cell data, so I have no excuse not to do stairs and cross-training while streaming action movies.
- Odds of getting the race days off work are a little better at this time of year.
- I live 2.6 miles from a trail head. Heck, I live in Portland, a mecca for trail runners.
- Despite so many setbacks, I still dream of qualifying for Boston. Increasing miles on trails has proven to make me stronger and faster on the roads, so maybe this would get me back on the path to that pipe dream of a goal.
- Airline miles.
- It’s a lot of sand — about 30 miles of sand. It’s like the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon (here’s my race report) on crack.
- Training in Portland winter will mean rain and mud, and more rain and mud.
- There are no local trail marathons or 50k’s in December or January to use as training. If I get a weekend off work, I could travel to one, but odds are not high.
- Four days a week, I will be working 10-12 hours a day, plus an hour roundtrip of travel. At some point I’ll work days (probably a 5 a.m. or 7 a.m. start time) and at another point I’ll work nights (probably a 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. start time). I’ll still be on probation and training at work, which is my main priority, so sleep will also be a priority.
- I’ve only run one 50k, and that was in March 2013.
- I haven’t run more than 13 miles since December.
- What if I don’t get the days off work?
- I no longer live near my favorite running buddy.
So, who has opinions? And who’s in? Does it sweeten the idea if I tell you we’d fly into Vegas?