Week 1: Alaska Slam 2014
Duffyville is headed in a new direction. 2014 is my year of the “Alaska Slam.” For those of you not familiar, the Grand Slam of ultra-running is a challenge consisting of 4 premiere 100-mile races: Western States 100, Leadville 100, Vermont 100 and Wasatch Front 100; all within 12 weeks of each other. In order to participate in such a slam, one must gain entry into the Western States 100, not an easy or likely thing to happen these days. After listening to a Talk Ultra podcast http://iancorless.org/2013/09/19/episode-44-sharman-hollon-clark-clayton/ interview with Ian Sharman (Mr. Sharman completed the Grand Slam this past summer, winning the Leadville 100), not only did I find a new hero in Ian Sharman, but a new challenge. The timing of this podcast coincided with the final days of putting my name in for the White Mountains 100 here in Alaska; a race in which only 65 names are drawn to participate. Upon discovering my name was the 65th drawn, the Alaska Slam idea was born. I will complete all four Alaska 100 mile events in 2014: the Susitna 100 in February, the White Mountains 100 in March, the Sluicebox 100 in June and the Resurrection Pass 100 in July/Aug.
So there it is. I am putting it out there. It sounds foolish, exciting, egotistic and humbling all at the same time. It feels do-able and impossible, like no big deal and a bite bigger than I can chew. It makes me wonder who I think I am. I’m no professional athlete or even a talented athlete for that matter. On the other hand, it is one race, one run at a time. It is a chance to step out of the daily path that makes up life and shoot for something bigger. It is an accomplishment made of smaller accomplishments, but each of those smaller accomplishments takes commitment and perseverance and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And I am going to write about it, every week throughout 2014. The writing habit is one I have wanted to form for many years and this Slam opportunity seems like good subject matter. I want to remember what it was like, not the feeling of completing each event or even maybe the Slam, but the smaller moments of training, trails, shared runs, early mornings and sore body parts. I want to do something with the inspiration I find in the amazing people I run with, the writers I read and the elite runners I follow and admire. I want to discover and record what it is that creates perseverance, determination and stick-to-itivness so I can teach it to my children, encourage it in my students and extend it into other parts of my life. I envision this writing as part training log, part reflection, part narrative and part rant. Already I worry that I may not have anything new or interesting or clever to say, but I’ll never find out unless I give it a go.
I’ll be sure to post an entry once a week, but I can’t tell you where this whole “Alaska Slam” writing idea will take me. I hope to write about my dreaded sled, the northern lights, feeling strong, hallucinations, time on the trail with my friends, adventure and the new people I meet. I hope I don’t have to write about injuries, DNFs, failure, active release therapy and letting go. Whatever the topic, you’ll read it here first. I am committed to write, just as I am committed to train and give it everything I have.
HERE. WE. GO.