Bighorn 100....In the Beginning
June 19th will be a big day for this bowhunter/runner. On that fateful day, I will embark on my first ever 100 mile Ultramarathon, The Bighorn 100, which takes place in the rugged, Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. With over 17,000 feet of elevation gain, The Bighorn 100 is one of the toughest 100 mile footraces in the U.S.....it will be my first ultra over 50 miles (last year at the Bighorn 50 I finished 3rd overall) and the first race where I will be required to run through the night. A full day of running followed by a full night of mountain running and beyond sounds..."intimidating" among other things.
To prepare, this past Friday, the 5th, in the evening I ran 24 miles, Sat. I ran 33 miles, while filming the phone video attached to this post I ran 7 miles beginning at 2:46 a.m. early Sunday morning and in a few hours I will run 20 miles giving me real close to 85 miles in the past 48 hours (actually 90 with the bonus movie run...see below). Now that is pounding the pavement in a way I never thought I could. The crazy part is, even after all these miles, I feel pretty damn good if you can believe it....I am tougher than I thought I was. We all are. I just hope the training is enough? We will find out on June 19th.
What I do know....not only do some "Athletes Hunt", a catch phrase UA has made famous, but some hunters challenge themselves in crazy, over the top ways that motivate themselves and inspire others. With drive, motivation and hard work....all things are possible!!!! Even to a come-up-from-nothing bowhunter from Oregon like myself. You can achieve all of your dreams. I promise.....Cam
Check out the race at www.bighorntrailrun.com and night run video below...
After this evening's events, I feel inclined to address the "obsessive compulsive" tendencies I have been know to exhibit when working in endeavors I am passionate about. I get obsessive about shooting my bow, to the point where I won’t quit until I feel infallible. I know I have shot at animals with a smile on my face, knowing with a doubt the animal was dead and didn't even know it. Maybe I was overly confident, but mentally, this is where I've been before and a place I love to be.
In running, especially, extreme endurance running....I've never been there. Never until tonight that is. In trying to prepare my body for the Bighorn 100, I told myself, the more misery I withstand this weekend, the bigger payoff I will have during the race. I wanted to break myself down all the way mentally and physically, knowing that I have 12 days to recover, which to me is a lifetime. I have learned my body has a short recovery period. My "pile on the miles" plan originally was going to cover two full days. I figured if I did a tough 20 miles one day, followed up by a 30 miler the next, I would be good to go for the Bighorn, given the previous races I've run this season (back to back marathons in May, etc.). The problem I have is accepting when enough is enough. After that 24 mile Friday, I logged on to Map My Run and outlined a sweet 33 mile course with some great hill work thrown in. I figured if I just cruised and made the run last, it would take me about 6 hours. Perfect, I needed a 6 hour run after the four hour 24 mile first leg the day before. Problem was, that left Sunday (today). What the heck was I supposed to do all day Sunday? Yard work, grocery shopping? No.
Well for one thing I had the bright idea of getting some night running in, so I set my alarm for 2:30 a.m. The satanic alarm snapped me out a deep, deep sleep, I threw on some clothes, laced up my UA runners and was out the door doing a nice one hour loop on the dead quiet, ghost town like streets...7 more miles added on to my total. I was feeling o.k. and figured, you know, if I can break myself down even further, now is the time to do it. I went back to bed for a few hours then got up with Trace to have some breakfast and read the paper. Finally, I was able to head out the door. My plan was to head to the Prefontaine Classic over at Hayward Field were some of the world's most elite athletes were running and my dad was officiating the jumps. I made it over there, 9 miles into my run, just as the meet was concluding. Watching those world class guys gets me inspired. I have been going to Pre since I was a grade schooler. Sometime just peaking through the fence as I didn't have any money for ticket. The electricity of the meet made its way to me even way back when and did today just the same. Running by Hayward, I thought of Pre's quote, "To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the GIFT." Hammering away up the sidewalk from Hayward, I was energized. I passed my grandma's house (RIP), which is where I spent a lot of time listening to the roar of Hayward and powered up the steep grade of a street just beyond where Grandma Heloise lived. Making short work of the hill, I pounced down the back side, through Amazon Park, by South Eugene High, to Skinner's Butte Park where Tanner then met me on my Trek to ride home with me as I ran. The boys wanted me to take them to Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost so he wanted to help get me home quicker. It actually helped. With more spring in my step, I finished off the last five miles of my 20 mile run with increased effort. Tanner said, "Dad, you seem like you are in a pretty good mood." I was. I had done everything I set out to do on this my last big preparation weekend. It couldn't have gone better, but this is where my psycho-ness creeps in. I have a hard time feeling satisfied. Ever.
I am sure there is an official diagnosis for this....any therapists in the house? Anyway, I had every reason to feel content but I couldn't. After logging 85 miles in the last three days, which was equivalent to running more than a 26.2 mile marathon three days in a row, I expected to be spent. Not able to walk another step. Stiff and blistered. Granted, I was tired, but not exhausted. I didn't hurt. I expected to hurt and wanted to hurt, which to me would mean there was no mistake my considerable effort did its job. I was disappointed….I felt no pain. I couldn't help it, this made me want to run more. After a nice carb load dinner with the family, me and the boys headed to the movies, I bought their tickets, their goodies, got them set up in the theater and leaned down telling them, "I will be right back. I am going to go do that five mile loop along the river real fast, then come back in, get a Slurpee and watch the rest of the movie with you. I will be back in 40 minutes, tops." They were fine with it. Not surprised in the least. The know me. I took off on a perfect running night, and ran. And what is crazy, I felt great. My legs definitely felt like I'd done something, but man, I could still stride out and run strong. Not super fast, but fluid. I was so pumped. I can promise you, I had a smile on my face, just like I have before on the hunts, when in a zone. It is this feeling I chase, everyday. I wanted to keep going. Get in another 20 miler, but I thought of the boys waiting for me. Looking into the dark of the theater for my silhouette as I made my way to them. As it was, I pushed my three day total this weekend to right at 90 miles. Honestly, it is going so good, I am a little afraid something will go haywire...a blown achilles tendon or something cool like that. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Also, over the next 12 days, I have to fight the urge to not over train heading in to Bighorn. When I am feeling good, I want to push it. Hard.
Looking back on the photo in this post of me about 25 years ago (thanks Donnie Mannila), I can't believe it is the same guy. Way back then, hunting and running went together like oil and water. I ran to get in shape and knew it helped my hunting, but no one ever talked about exercise for the hunter. There surely was no huge athletic performance apparel outfit like Under Armour making the highest quality gear for the active hunter and projecting to all who will listen, "Athletes Hunt." The most I ever ran was a 10k. Then one time I entered a 7.3 mile race in Salem and guys though I as crazy for running that far just to get in shape to hunt the blacktail woods around home.
Then I ran a half marathon, then a marathon and now lately ultras. From there, here we are, on the cusp of my first ever 100 mile mountain run. I can't believe it! Neither can my family. My wife, Tracey, says, "Cam can't you just do the 50 miler? You could do really well, you won't have to run at night, that race will still drive your message home. And, people have kidney failure sometimes on those crazy long runs I’ve read." She makes some good points and she almost had me a couple of times. The problem, I have done a 50 miler. My goal is to find out exactly what I can do, where is my breaking point? Then just last night on the phone my dad offers, "Cam, you don't have anything left to prove. No one cares if you do a 100 miler." To that I say, ah but dad, you are wrong. I know full well not many will ever do a 100 miler or even have it as a goal, but many guys could be influenced by the standard it sets. Guys who on their regular run are feeling fatigued might think about my race and the challenges associated and find themselves pushing just that much more to finish their workout. That being said, on a personal note, this type of influence goes both ways. It is stories I hear from all of you that inspire me to be the very best I can be every day. I want to thank each and every one of you for the support and sharing with me your journey of bowhunting success and personal growth. Then of course, there are some guys that might offer this, "Cam is a crazy idiot. Why in the hell would anyone have to run 100 miles in order to bowhunt?"
Great question. My answer is you don't. I don't, nobody does. This is a personal deal because I know if I didn't push myself, I wouldn't be where I am today. Conventional wisdom in regard to hunt preparation suggests the typical 20 minutes of exercise a day, three times a week and shooting at 40 yards a couple months before season. This ain't gonna do it for me or for a lot of other guys that hunt the rugged west. Getting out of your comfort zone and finding out what you are really capable of is almost an awaking of sorts. I know I am an entirely different guy than I was 25 years ago and I owe it all to pushing my limits, expecting more of myself and increasing my pain threshold all in the name of hunting. Now, I would rather quit hunting than go halfway in preparation. It is all I got or nothing.
Bottom line, I am just a regular guy, with a job and a family and if I can find the motivation to work hard and reap the rewards of the hunt anyone can.
Thank you so much for all the support guys. If you have any thoughts on the subject you would like to share with me, please do, either here on my blog or at email@example.com.
Cameron R. Hanes