A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I Think I'm Ready for the Grand Slam

I'm ready...I think.

With back-to-back days of long runs under my belt (17 miles in the Staten Island Greenbelt yesterday and 22 miles at Watchung today, Memorial Day) and my legs not tired at all, I think I can say I'm ready for this thing.

With four 100 mile races in 10 weeks, anything can happen though. There is such a huge unknown here that I really don't know what to expect.

Think about these:

1) Even with all the race reports I read about Western States, I still don't really know the course until I'm on it. I can get a feel for what running the canyons might feel like, but I will never know until I am there.

Deadwood Canyon, at the Western States 100

2) I know the Vermont course, and I did well there last year, but how will I feel like in Vermont 3 short weeks after doing Western States (if I finish, of course). In most of my 100 milers, my legs have come back to life after only a week, but I'll never know if my legs are truly 100% ready for another long run. As I stated before, I think I'm going to get to know my massage therapist real well. :-)

Me showing my sub-24 hour buckle at the Vermont 100 finish line last year (2012)

3) Each of these races will also drain me mentally. It's not the physical tiredness that I'm worried about. It's about if I can mentally take another mental ordeal of 100 miles with the previous 100 mile race's ordeals fresh in my mind. Mental toughness is going to be CRUCIAL in the Grand Slam.

 I have to go up what?!! (Chinscraper, Wasatch)

4) Leadville. Just the name conjures up images of me dying at Hope Pass. That race was by far the toughest race I've tried to do. And I'll maybe toe the start line with legs and mind tired from the last two 100 mile races. For me, I think Leadville will be the pivotal race in whether I succeed or not in the Slam.

Leadville start/finish line. Runners have to get up Hope Pass (twice) and Powerline hill, all at 10,000ft above sea level, to get back here under 30 hours.


5) Wasatch Front is by far the toughest of them all, and (of course!) the last race of the Series. Where the first three 100 milers have net gains of anywhere from 15,000 to 17,000 feet, this race has a net gain of 26,000 ft, almost one full climb of Mt. Everest. Although the race organizers give a more generous 36 hour limit to complete this race, the endless mountains are going to be tough. I am hoping that, at that point, my Grand Slam will almost be over and that I can really toughen up to get to the finish.

Wasatch, the most beautiful, and the most deadly, race. There's a reason why they call this race "100 miles of heaven and hell."


There are 28 other hardy souls doing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning this year, and I hope to lean on them for a lot of support, since we are all in the same boat together. Although the odds are very slim that all 29 of us will finish the Slam this year, I still hope that we can draw on each other's energies to actually make that happen.

33 days to go!

No comments:

Post a Comment