The three organized runs I entered this past year were tremendously valuable as goals and training markers. They also connected me with some really great people. So when the Trail Maniacs Riverside 50k on September 9 was canceled, I switched gears and aimed for the last event of the year, two hours away at Hell's Gate State Park on Oct 28.
Then came the training. Hell's Gate is 1400 feet of elevation gain and loss ... per loop, with four loops. As the weeks went on, I became more and more discouraged at the thought of struggling up the canyon side for 5600 feet, for a distance that's intimidating even if it was flat.
Maybe I'll be able to do that kind of race confidently some time in the future, but not now. The thought made me increasingly nervous. This was supposed to be my life-affirming goal, my celebration of health and a marker of the end of cancer and the beginning of the next stage of life. Instead, it was filling me with dread.
Back when I first planned to run a 50k, in early 2015, I thought briefly of doing it self-supported, as much out of thrift as anything.
On a steep training run last week, that memory came back and I thought, Why not do that now? Pick something close-by, a bit flatter, maybe a week earlier?
So, on Saturday October 21, if all goes as projected, my post-cancer run will be at Indian Painted Rocks Park just north of Spokane. It still has significant elevation, in the neighborhood of 3500 feet. After running one 6.6 mile loop with its 900 feet of elevation with my friend Mark on Sunday, I can tell it's going to be challenge enough.
A few friends have already stepped forward to crew an aid station and cheer me on and possibly pace me for a loop or two.
So maybe it won't be as big an affair as the September 9th Riverside run would've been if it hadn't been canceled. I'm getting excited, and ready to move on to the next stage.