4:58am, Saturday October 10, 2015
I’m standing in the courtyard of the Titusville Middle School with a hundred nineteen other people waiting to run 100 miles for the first time. I have been thinking, planning, and dreaming about running 100 miles for a couple years now. All of that time and energy has been devoted to this moment. Or rather the series of moments that is about to commence. All of the training runs. All the workouts. All the shorter ultras leading up to this one race. All of that anticipation building slowly day after day, week after week, month after month.
Now add to the mix that this wasn’t my first time at the starting line of a 100 miler. While my initial plan had this being my first 100, it actually ended up being my second. You see OC100 is fairly hard (“gnarly” according to their website) with over 17k of elevation gain and I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish it as my first race. So I signed up for C&O Canal 6 months prior, but had to drop at mile 69 because. . . well, because running 100 miles is apparently hard. Now I’m standing around with a bunch of other runners and I just know they’re all 10 year ultra vets with tons of 100 mile finishes. While I met the qualifications for race entry (50 mile finish), I’m not really sure I’m qualified to be standing here. Heck, I just started running a couple years ago and now I plan to finish 100.
So I stand in the chilled predawn morning and feel a nervousness that’s borderline terror. When I was a kid, I used to get very nervous before riding roller coasters. Waiting in line to get on the rides was pure torture as the feeling of nervous anticipation continued to build and build until I was finally strapped into the car. It took several years, and while that feeling never went away, I learned to love that feeling of continuous belly flips. But this was simply ridiculous. Looking down at my watch, I see my heart rate is already over 140bpm and I haven’t even taken my first step yet.
Eventually, the eternal five minutes I spent in that middle school courtyard came to an end. And with the end of my anticipation came the beginning of my hundred mile adventures. Some things truly are worth the wait.