29 January 2010

Never Say Never Again...

You may be forgiven for picturing Sean Connery saying this in his Scottish brogue, but aside from the fact that my Dad came from Scotland, there is no association implied. But Connery was the best Bond for what that's worth.

To be honest, it was not so much a case last July of "never" as it was me saying "I think I have had enough for a while, so no Hardrock for me in 2010". The 2009 event did not go so well for me personally, it was one of those races that couldn't be over soon enough and it was all I could do to push through and finish the thing. I loved the run up to Governor Basin, but Did! Not! Have! Fun! for the next 17 hours it took me to go 35 miles from there until the end.

One of my tenets of ultrarunning is that nothing you say about entering a race again counts in the first week after you have finished one. Either the sparkling patina of "the best thing I have ever done" or, conversely, the bleak, shattered desparation of "I'm never doing that again" just don't have the same intensity after you give it a bit of time and your mind and body forget the relevant highs and lows.

And so it is that I found myself stuffing my 2010 Hardrock entry into the mailbox again last week. Am I excited? You bet - Hardrock is one of the most magnificent courses I have had the privilege to run, and it is a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends there. I have not forgotten the challenges I had running last year, but rather than push me away from the race, I have learned from what did not go well and will be better prepared this year.

My wife, bless her, understands me more than I do myself, so quietly nodded with a bemused "I thought you would" smirk when I indicated I was thinking of entering again. She sure is awesome to support me my Sisyphean ambitions. Of course, if I get in, this would be my fourth year running, which implies that should I complete the race, I would automatically apply again next year to get my fifth finish and the privilege that that comes with, i.e. automatic entry should I choose to go back. (Thanks, sweets!)

I was going to head back sometime anyways, due to my personal ambition to nail a top-10 finish there. OK - there, I said it. I am in the ballpark with a 14th and 17th place, and I was running about 10th up to Governor Basin last year (I know, I know - go hard early and pay later, but I won't get into the details here of how good I felt and the control I was in up to that point). Roch Horton was running right with me at Governor and he maintained his pace to finish 9th - that totally inspires me to go for a comparable result; Roch and I have run pretty close together in a number of events, so though I think he is an awesome athlete and better than me, I feel I might have a chance of a similar finish if I run as smart as he did. The other contributing factor to going back this year is that I really was intent on heading back to the Moose Ultra stage race again this summer, but it looks like the race is not on - a most unfortunate loss on the race calendar. Without that priority, my holiday time has freed up a bit to let me get down to Silverton again.

I'll be another eager mouse-clicker on February 5 when the lottery takes place, and would love to get down there again. However, if the odds catch me out, there is always Plan B....and that would still bring me a significant Quantum of Solace.

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