My Date With Sean O’Brien

I met Sean O’Brien back on February 1, 2014. Sean O’Brien made me question my sanity for the first time. Sean O’Brien pushed my body harder than it had ever been pushed before, up to that point. Sean O’Brien (almost) made me cry. I think my tear ducts were way too exhausted to even conjure up actual tears. Sean O’Brien was my first 50K finish and since that near soul crushing day, I haven’t returned. But that’s about to change.

With around 6,000 ft of elevation gain and loss, the Sean O’Brien 50K was my rude awakening into the world of ultra running. Technically, it was my second. My first attempt at that distance was on the old Leona Divide 50K course and I believe that was only around 4,000 ft of gain. However, this is only a guesstimate since at that time I wasn’t too concerned about how many hills I was about to climb. Elevation gain? Pfft. Whatever.

And that’s probably why I had such as difficult time at Sean O’Brien.

It’s funny reading my race recap of it and reliving that day. There are parts I don’t remember, and many parts I do. Like that time I was at the final aid station and some guy threw up there. That was interesting. I didn’t mention this in the recap, but I do remember that moment when the volunteer kindly told him, just need to hit the reset button. I also remember asking myself, is this what my running life has come to? Why yes it did!

Well, this time around, I’m preparing for an even ruder awakening because I signed myself up for the 50 Mile distance which garners a gain and loss of around 11,000 ft, give or take.

You could say, I’m a bit nervous about it, but I’m also pretty focused especially knowing the race is in 2 months. Now it makes perfect sense why I’d like time to slow down right? Yes, this is why! Precious training time folks. Precious training time.

Of course it’s not like this race just popped up in my head this week and I decided to do it. SOB has actually been on my radar since early summer. The first hint of doing it again came when I volunteered for it in February, but I didn’t seriously entertain the idea until around June or July. And when I registered back in September, I knew I was committed to it.

A few weeks ago, as I was reading a 50 mile SOB course description – since I turned around about 15-ish miles in the last time I was there – I felt a slight twinge of anxiety creep up. It’s not like this is my first dive into the 50 mile distance. I’ve already completed two 50 milers and a 100K distance, but SOB is in a slightly different league.

While the San Diego 50 has about half the elevation gain that Sean O’Brien has for the same distance, three loops at Javelina Jundred (61-ish miles) still has less elevation gain than San Diego. So this will mark my first trip into the land of distance AND elevation gain.

But you know what? I ain’t gonna sweat it just yet. I’ll do the sweating on the trails, roads, and treadmill, but until that day arrives, I’ve got to keep focused on the current task at hand: training. I mean, why stress out over something that hasn’t happened yet?

The truth is, if I show up on race morning (operative words “show up”), and I’m not feeling up to the 50 mile distance that day, I’ll choose to drop down to the 50K distance which actually comes with its own set of positives, but right now I’m focused on the 50 miler. Besides, anything can happen in the next couple of months and I’ve got to just see how training goes for me.

Either way, regardless if it’s 50 miles, or 50K (or anywhere in between because of that lovely thing called “time cutoffs”), I have a date with Sean O’Brien, and that date is February 3, 2018.

Thanks for reading!

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