One-Month Countdown: North Face Endurance Challenge - San Francisco, CA

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The latter half of the year has flown by and it is hard to believe that one-month from today I will be running the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area!  When I registered for the race back in July, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to travel and race in California.  However, the race being a full six-months out meant it was difficult to sustain my enthusiasm and my excitement slowly dwindled into a state of ambivalence.  Fast forward five-months to today, I find I have a renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement for running that has been absent since the fall of 2011 when I first began running seriously again.  I am so STOKED to run some gorgeous trails and see California for the first time!

2013 has been a phenomenal year for me both running and life off the trail.  I have managed to PR in nearly every distance including the 5k, 10 mile, half-marathon, and 26.2 in addition to completing my first 50 mile race, the North Face ECS Washington, D.C., and two additional ultras, Promise Land 50k++ and Iron Mountain 30 miler.  All of those performances don't even touch the day I had at Rock 'n' Roll USA in March when Michelle said "YES!" It has been a busy year and I still have 2-1/2 races on my calendar: Crooked Road 24HR in a little over two weeks, Ashburn Farm Turkey Trot 10k (I only count this as a 1/2 race because it's a "family fun run"), and the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship.

I'm slightly apprehensive about running the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship only two weeks after Crooked Road 24HR.  I suppose I should listen to my own advice when I say that "stressing is wasted time and energy."  There is no sense in worrying about what will happen between now and then and how my body will recover from Crooked Road 24HR.

Switching gears, this will be my first destination race or race that requires me to "travel."  I say "travel" because I often head toward D.C. for races but I do not consider those races traveling for two reasons: foremost, if you don't leave the state then in my mind it's not a destination race.  Second, growing up in the D.C. area and having my family still there means I have the luxury of staying in my childhood home and visiting with family, so although I'm "racing" I have additional incentive to select races in that area.

Considering that I have never traveled to a race means this will be an entirely new experience for me!  I'll be traveling alone to a state I've never visited and in a different time zone and in weather conditions that are hard to predict.  Further, the course and terrain will be entirely new and foreign to me!

I look at each of the aforementioned new experiences as a privilege and adventure.  I've been drooling over west coast runners, specifically bay area runner JojoReuland'sInstagram feeds and CANNOT WAIT to see the beauty with my own two eyes.  I'm super pumped about the Hostel I choose to stay at, the Marin Headland Hostel, which was a steal (I think - fingers crossed) at $28/night.  I'm sure I'll write an entire blog post about the hostel and travel experience aside from the race itself.  From what I can tell on the map, I'll be walking out of the hostel to the start of the race or at least be pretty darn close.  More to come on that but for now a kinda cheesy video about the hostel:

Another awesome opportunity the race provides is the chance to watch some of the fastest and best ultra runners on the planet duke it out for BIG money, or "big" in the sense of ultra running purses.  Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to see the 50 mile race unfold and catch the finish.  It'll be neat to put faces to the personalities and voices I hear on UltraRunnerPodcasts all the time.

Finally, I don't really have expectations for my performance.  I think that will ultimately depend on how I recover and feel two weeks after Crooked Road.  My main goal, and mantra for running, is to Have Fun!  Seriously though, what other reason is there?  Sure I would love to PR and place well but I think given the opportunity, I want to enjoy the event to the fullest and embrace the beautiful place I have the privilege to visit and run in.  Besides, did you read the part above about the best in the world?

So what should I expect?  Any advice from folks who have run the race before or have suggestions of what to expect or prepare for?  Also, I'm planning on renting a car but want to decide if I "really" need one?  Suggestions?



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