I was at mile forty five of the Devil Dog 100 miler when I found out. It was a cold early December late afternoon and I came into the start/finish after my second loop cold, tired, and wanting something hot to eat. It was December 2nd otherwise known as States and Hardrock lottery day. I put in for both but thought nothing of it as the chances of being picked are so small it almost doesn't warrant much attention. I had maybe a 3% chance for WS and a paltry 0.8% for Hardrock. That is when Laura Mooney walked up to me as a sat down to rummage through my drop bag. Here is that conversation.
Laura: Hey how are you doing? I have something exciting I want to tell you! (smiling and pulling out her phone)
Me: Hey Laura, I'm doing ok just tired and wet (mumble mumble grumpy face etc..)
Laura: I have a text I want to show you! (shows me the screen on her phone which read this)
If you see Bryan Slotterbach
tell him he just got into Hardrock.
Me: Wha? What? How? Huh? What the fuuuuck?? (staring into oblivion)
I did not understand. I did not compute. I was almost halfway through a much tougher 100 miler then I envisioned and I'm being told I just got into arguably the most difficult 100 miler in the world (excluding Barkley which is not technically a 100 miler and is it's own thing). Laura's boyfriend another good friend Mike Yoder came over and said the text was from Tom Chobot and is legit. He would not joke about something like that. I sat there in a daze. Caught between the next 55 miles of the race I was in and trying to process this news. Honestly I was in shock. In my head all I could think about were all those Hardrock youtube videos I had watched over and over. I didn't feel joy but dread. I just kept having conversations to myself in my head that went something like.
Me in my head : "How can I possibly do this race? It's Hardrock! I am not worthy? I have done a few hard mountain hundreds but they are nothing and I mean nothing compared to the ultimate high altitude mountain run. Dear god what have I done?"
So for the next eighteen hours and three loops of Devil Dog I just tried to wrestle in my head the thought of doing a 100 miles in the San Juan"s. It was motivation to finish let me tell you.
I did finish in 30:08 and it was a great way to finish off my year of running. I had a great spring, a horrible and lousy summer filled with drops and DNF's and a great fall.
The three and half hour drive home up 95 was filled with tears and emotion. Finishing 100's always leaves me an emotional mess. It's funny that way. It's almost like I feel fragile emotionally. It's clearly the lack of sleep and exhaustion of going 100 miles on foot through the cold night, hitting mental highs and lows, hunger, pain, feelings of I'm not going to make it to feelings of yes I will, and joy and elation. It's here I would also envision for the first time myself coming into Silverton and kissing the rock. My god... Huddled over, tears of joy, seeing the clock with a small amount of time still on it. What would that honestly be like? I start picturing it! And then start balling in my car on the highway. That vision with my current emotional state opens the floodgates. That's when I start laughing at myself and to myself. Hey get yourself together dude. Snap out of it.
It's now December 9th as I type this. A week has gone by and the shock is still there. I have begun the history lesson of this event. It's time to study. Like a mid term paper that is due or a big final exam. Everything and anything must be absorbed and understood. The history must be read to fully understand the core of this run. How the mountains were formed. The history of the district. The mining and the suffering of the miners. How the course flows and why. The altitude and the logistics. The trails and how they were engineered and by whom. An entire encyclopedia of information must be understood before even pinning on that bib. Respect. Before actual physical training begins, one must have a full knowledge of this place. That is how I feel. Otherwise how can you train if you don't know? This is like no other challenge that I have done. I have eight months. And I will be using this blog to catalog my feelings and training. What I do love is sinking my teeth into a goal. And I love the process of training for that goal. I have drawn up an initial training plan which includes more mileage and more vert and more speed work then I have ever done. But I know I can do it. It will require getting back to 4 am runs during the week and possibly some doubles as I hit peak weeks. But I know I can do it. I know I can. But for now I'll relax and enjoy the holidays. Run enough to keep some fitness and then come January, it's on.
|Looking northeast into Silverton, Colorado, in 1895. Image taken from the base of Sultan Mountain. Photo courtesy of the San Juan County Historical Society of Silverton, Colorado. Courtesy of iRunfar|