I was on the phone about a week ago with an old friend and was asked about my plans for racing this year, to which I replied "Oh Boston in April and Hardrock in July." In my world these are two kids on different sides of the playground when it comes to running.
2017 will mark my 5th Boston Marathon and it will also mark my 4th Hardrock, a 100 mile trail race in Silverton, CO that takes place above 10,000 feet. So my friend then says to me "Do you ever ask yourself, when is enough, enough?"
Great question and one I think many of us can relate too. You would think that doing one race would be enough, let alone repeating it over and over. For me these two events stand out and are so worth returning to each year, but it is not easy. At Boston it requires a qualifying time and for Hardrock the luck of getting pulled in a lottery.
What is the pull then?
I know that for me, when I have run a race I have experienced something impactful in my running both mentally and physically and I want it again if only for the briefest time. It is the afterglow of finishing, that satisfaction of accomplishment, of doing what we set out to do and all in an atmosphere of excitement and opportunity.
Reaching the start line in Hopkinton is actually the finish line for me. My preparation is done. Each mile and each step had a purpose and brought me to that morning. I embrace the throngs of people along the course. Their encouragement is intoxicating. The course relentless and deceptively hard. The screams at Wellesley and the difficulty of Heartbreak Hill remain with me for 365 days of the year and there is nothing quite like that final turn on to Boylston....
I moved from Colorado and the San Juans 10 years ago but have been fortunate enough to do Hardrock 3 times, when once is enough for most people. I also know my character though and when I don't have the high snow covered peaks of the San Juans and cannot stare into their infinite landscape, I ache for them even more. The dirt trails and mountain passes, seemingly endless uphill climbs in the the rarified air and the bonding of 140 individuals who, for the briefest time are a family in those mountains.
Having a goal. Preparing for it. Sharing these events with those close to me. Remembering the pain and also the joy is what brings me back to both. Boston and Hardrock. Yes, they are fine wines on my shelf of running elixirs and I get drunk on their unique ingredients. Although I cannot feel the asphalt ribbon from Hopkinton to Boston and Kiss the Rock in Silverton but once a year, they are both in my blood and I will return. So my friend, to answer your question; enough will never be enough till they close the lid on me and place me in the ground.....