So here I am, once again nearing the end of an intensive training cycle in preparation for another super-charged ultra-endurance race. This time, however, I won’t be tallying laps of a 16-km obstacle course in the midst of a cold New Jersey winter. Nope, this time I’m attempting to grind out one epic lap of a wet, muddy, 125-km course…a course that rises over three peaks with 17,000 feet of altitude change, all within a 24-hour time limit. This beast is the North Face Canadian Death Race (CDR).
Although my blog has been quiet for some time, I can assure you I have been very, very busy. Aside from wading neck-deep in my Ph.D. research and clinical training, I’ve also been working with local athletes on the side, helping them find their fire and focus within competitive situations. I’ve also been giving talks to various groups in the community, demonstrating how my WTM training has translated into positive gains in other areas in my life. To be perfectly honest, this past year has been the most enjoyable and rewarding year I’ve ever had. Along this path, I’ve met amazing people who have overcome incredible obstacles in their lives, who have shared with me their personal stories of adversity and triumph. There are truly some amazing humans out there that possess levels of resilience and drive that are almost incomprehensible. What a gift it is to be a part of your lives.
In terms of my own training path, I’ve been intensively logging the hours in the gym and on the trails, boosting my endurance and increasing my strength so my legs can actually carry me the full distance of this nasty race. As would be expected, I have endured many of the inevitable ups and downs that accompany training for an event like the Canadian Death Race. That is, I’ve sustained injuries and setbacks along the way. These are frustrating to say the least, but my training team has been very helpful in keeping me focused on what I can and can’t do. For instance, the Manitoba Marathon, which I intended to run this past weekend, was a no-go due to an earlier setback. Those are the breaks and I’ve had to learn to actively accept them.
But things are looking good so far for the Death Race! My endurance is far better now than it was for WTM. My core and legs are stronger, and my knowledge of what it takes to actually complete a 24-hour event is infinitely better than it was this same time last year. So I’m feeling optimistic about the CDR. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m terrified of this race, but I think that’s a good thing. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m convinced that the ability or capacity to harness fear, not get rid of it, is one of the most effective strategies for enabling a person to overcome (and even excel in) tough situations like these. I also know for a fact that the scientific literature on coping with anxiety would bear me out on this.
In terms of my current training regimen, each week I complete a 20-km trail run (6000 feet elevation change) in the Whiteshell area, a hill running drill at Westview Park, three endurance spin cycle sessions, and two resistance training sessions at Sport Manitoba. I’m also currently testing combinations of equipment and nutrition (this is pretty much an ongoing project). You’d never know it, but this training actually takes a lot of time and energy :)
Well I suppose this first blog post is going to be short, but I intend to update it regularly with my training info and photos from here on in. My hope is that you’ll check in once in a while and share my CDR journey with me. And, of course, let’s not forget that I’m competing in these events as a means of raising awareness about mental health issues in Canada. So please share this blog, my mission statement, and the Mind Your Mental Health website, with your friends and family, and let’s keep the conversation going.