“If it’s not fun, why are you doing it.” This was my wife, to me, the night before the Haulin Aspen trail full marathon in Bend, OR, on August 13th, 2022. You see, for some reason, the night before this race, I was an anxious mess. Snapping at my dumb ol’ dogs, getting impatient with seemingly everything, paying more attention to how many Maurten gels I was bringing versus brushing our daughters’ teeth… I was an asshole. I’ll just say it. This was all until my wife laid the aforementioned platitude on me, and I calmed the f*ck down.
It was really only about 10 mins before the gun that I truly felt ready to run Haulin Aspen. But the story of this race starts a bit earlier than 10 minutes prior to start. No shit, right…
“I Spent the Summer
I first registered for Haulin Aspen in April, when trail running was a bit of a newer endeavor for me. I was a weekend warrior, hitting Forest Park on Saturdays and Sundays, logging some decent mileage on the famed Wildwood trail and its many offshoots. I was getting my trail legs pretty fast, and realized quickly that running in the woods was far superior to the road if only for the fact that I was in FAR less pain after trail runs. Dirt is softer than road… go figure, Einstein.
Then June hit, and I decided it was time to part ways with my current job. Instead of a weekend warrior, I went full ham and started doing daily trail runs, feeling comfortable with 8 miles, then 10, then 15, then a series of 18+ back-to-backs over varying climbs and terrains, exploring Forest Park one singletrack at a time. (That time in the rain when a tick fell off my hat when I stopped to look at the map… that was a trip, man.)
Mediocre living vs. an Opportunity to be great
Between applying for jobs and sifting through the most ultimate cringe LinkedIn posts, and other social content, I did what any sane person would do:
- Planned my runs for peak temp times to build up heat acclimation
- Aimed for 55-65 mile weeks of running
- Took advantage of the Tracksmith sale
- Went to the Nike store 3-4 times a week for fun
- Started Leggggs
- Read books about ultrarunning, the Tarahumara, Scott Jurek & Killian Jornet, and Sherman the Donkey
- Overshared my run recaps with my wife and daughter
- Ate pizza
- Went to Bend, OR a few times
- Drank a ton of NA beers
- Ate pizza
Somewhere in all of this, June turned into a scorching PNW July. Then July, as it is wont to do, ebbed into August. And August is when running shit really got intense.
Fuck around and find out
Employment ups and downs, various family vacations, and just l-i-v-i-n life (maaaaaaaaaan), this trail marathon, the Haulin Aspen, looooooomed with the weight of a pending client presentation. It was material I knew, sure, but there’s always that little voice in your head second guessing your own expertise.
When August hit, I took the training from June and July, the 50+ mile weeks both on the road and trail, and decided to try some new adventures—seeing how long I could push my body without refueling. (What a dumbass idea in practice, tbh.) I really had no idea how I was going to handle this trail marathon, so I decided to try a few 16-18 mile runs in the heat with little-to-know gels on-hand, water/electrolytes on my person, and wearing only my normal running garb (usually just a pair of 4” shorts, no-show socks, my Invincibles (road) or Pegasus 3 Gore-tex (trail)).
I advanced my daily routes to include more climbs, taking to Council Crest multiple times a week, complete with 2-3 loops around the park itself and a few more laps around Fairmount Ave.
I don’t know what kind of harm I did to my body, or if I did any harm to my body by depriving it of fuel for the sake of seeing how far I could go, but from what I could tell, and still can, things were still firing on all cylinders. I was feeling tremendous, with very few slumps or really any fatigue. Really the only kick in the dick was when I attempted to run ~20 miles of the Wildwood E2E (starting in Washington Park, heading up to Nature Trail, and back…) but onlymade it 16 miles, and ended up stopping on a few hills (fuck you, Pittock climb) to, again, cuss the hills out. BUT THAT’S CALLED LEARNING!
With August now in full effect, like our friend Reggie, the anxiety of the pending race was taking hold. I lost a few hours of sleep here and there, started wondering if I was good enough for this race, obsessed over the prior years’ times (going back 3-5 years), and buying and returning new trail shoes, convinced my Gore-Tex Pegasus 3’s were going to boil me feet.
End of day, I was feeling ready, if not just slightly beside myself.
Race report and outcome coming in the next post.