The day dawned, cool and fresh and … early. I had been in Atlanta since Tuesday, so luckily the 4 AM wake-up call wasn’t as shocking to my system as it could have been (3 AM my time), but I still wasn’t delighted to be awake and racing. In my journal entry that morning, I cursed at myself for registering to race on my only vacation in over a year. Seriously, what was I thinking?
But not only had I signed up voluntarily for this, but I had specially asked to be added to the race and my request was accommodated. I had no choice but to show up.
In retrospect, perhaps I should have chosen an easier race, but this wasn’t exactly a mindful choice. On the Tuesday before race day (Saturday), I woke up and knew I needed to get away. To stay at home meant I’d continue to work and I needed to stop working. I packed up a suitcase, grabbed my hydration pack and a few pairs of running shoes, and I hit the road. I arrived that afternoon in Atlanta, immediately checked out Ultrasignup to see what races were in the area and found the H9 Dragon’s Spine with 99, 50, and 26.2 mile options. From the race description it seemed hard, which never really deters an ultrarunner. When I clicked to register button it looked to be sold out, which was just an additional carrot.
Somewhat relieved, I emailed the race director to see if there was a waitlist. He emailed back within the hour, saying someone had just dropped and the space was mine if I wanted it. I wasn’t exactly sure that I did want it, but I emailed back and said I’d take the slot. I watched myself paying the club dues and a race registration fee. Just like that, it seemed I’d signed myself up for a trail marathon. I mean, I’m not crazy – I did have a four-hour training run on the plan for the weekend, and 26.2 training run is about four-hours for me, so my logic was sound. But 26.2 is about a four-hour training run on pavement or a treadmill. This was 26.2 miles in the trails.