Over the past month since the Vermont 50K, I've struggled with some confidence issues. Immediately after the race, I distinctly remember telling Josh I was reconsidering my goal of running the Stone Mill 50 miler. I told him I had never run a race as difficult as the Vermont 50K, and I could not even imagine running for another 19 miles.
Being the optimist that he is, Josh quickly handed me a beer and reminded me that my 50 mile race will NOT be run up and down a mountain like the Vermont 50K. He also reminded me that after my first 50K I said I would never do another one, and that now I was sitting here at the finish line of my second. Funny how he remembers these things that I tend to forget after a hard race.
After the pain subsided over the next few days and I re-examined my goals, I realized I did want to run that 50 miler. I wanted to run farther than I'd ever run before, and I wanted to feel like a "real" ultrarunner. (Yes, yes, 50Ks count as ultras. But if you hang around the ultra community long enough, one begins to feel a little inferior to all those runners who have run 50 and 100 milers.)
I've had some good training weeks since the 50K, and some not-so-good training weeks (ahem, last week I only managed half the miles I had planned.) But through the ups and downs of training over the past month, I've been ALL IN mentally. Have I still had some doubts about my training? Absolutely. I think that's pretty normal for every runner. But I haven't wavered from the position that I am GOING TO FINISH a 50 mile race, no matter how long it takes. My mind is ready to push through anything that comes up (barring any major injury/illness, of course.)
There are a lot of unknowns about this race. What will the weather be like? Will my fueling and hydration strategy work out? Will my body be able to withstand 10+ hours of running? I don't know the answers to any of these questions. What I do know for sure, is that in less than 3 weeks I will be standing outside a Maryland high school at 6 AM with a couple hundred other runners, waiting to run 50 miles and put any unknowns to rest.