On Friday I ran 8 miles for the first time since June. On Saturday I ran another 8 miles at Red Rock Canyon, 4,000 feet in the mountains. Today I ran 4 miles at Red Rock as fast as I could. This coming Saturday I will be competing in an 8 mile race at Mt. Charleston at 8,400feet. It will hurt. I will want to quit. i will question my sanity. But I will make it. Then, two weeks later, I will be running a half-marathon, 13.1 miles at Red Rock Canyon at elevations up to 4,700 feet.
All of that sounds crazy, excessive, one more indication of my impending mid-life crisis. Well, that's not the worst of it. Today I stumbled across this little baby: http://www.sincityruns.com/woh%20b.htm
The World of Hurt 34 mile Ultra-marathon. I am seriously considering doing it. It is on a dirt path, running through rugged desert terrain for a distance 8miles longer than a marathon and it takes place in 6 weeks. I could probably run a marathon in six weeks if I trained my ass off but an ultra-marathon?
Eight miles is the longest distance I've run since I sprained my ankle before the San Diego Marathon. My ankle is still not 100%. I am talking about more than quadrupling that distance in six weeks. I'm not even sure it can be done but damn if I don't want to try.
Why would I do such a thing? Because I need the challenge. Because safe is boring. I need to stretch myself and push myself beyond all previous limits. That's the only way I know to break the monotony, the redundancy, to add mystery back into my existence. Life must be more than work, eat, shit, sleep, repeat. No, being a father and a husband is not enough. No, working my nine-to-five is not enough. Even writing a novel is not enough. I've done all of that before and so have hundreds of thousands, millions of others. Only 3% of the population can run 13 miles. Less than 1% can run a marathon. I cannot imagine what the statistics must be for an ultra-marathon. They must be extraordinary. One in a thousand? One in ten thousand? One in a hundred thousand? One in a million? I want to be one of those.
Life must be extraordinary or it is a waste. That's why I write. I think that's why all of us do. I think that's what motivates all artists in fact. To live a life less ordinary. It is why I fought. It is why I train fighters. It is why I started my own business. And it is why I run. Because life must be about doing the extraordinary. It must be the type of life that demands impossible questions. Trust me, 34 miles of rugged terrain is going to force me to ask a lot of questions I never thought I'd ask and hopefully teach me a lot about myself.
Earlier this week Evan Tanner, former UFC middleweight champion, rode his motorcycle 100 miles out into the middle of the desert, ran out of gas, and died of heat exposure. According to his blog, Evan rode out there "where any type of equipment failure might cost him his life" because living life on the edge kept him sharp and made him feel alive. I only knew Evan for a very short time, he lived and trained for a several months at Hard Knocks Muay Thai which is the same gym I train out of. He began training for his big comeback the same time I did. We trained together once or twice, did some light-sparring, we are two different weight-classes so nothing serious. We never really spoke more than a few words to each other. He was a very solitary sort of guy. His comeback was not quite as successful as he would have liked. Neither was mine for that matter. Still, he never gave up.
I don't know what went through Evan's mind before the end, but I don't think it was regret. He lived his life to the fullest. He always challenged himself and pushed himself right up until the end. He could have died on his couch forty years from now having never done anything more than what every person he knew had done. His life could have been long and unspectacular. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he would have rathered his life was long and spectacular as I hope mine will be, but given the choice between long and mundane and short and spectacular, I'm sure he would have chosen the latter. I certainly would. Even if the choice is between a safe comfortable existence and a World of Hurt.