I have started San Juan Solstice 50 miler three times and finished it twice. The course is extremely beautiful but also quite difficult.
Generally when I am getting ready for a race like this, I have some trepidation. I remember those periods which occur in every race, from a 5K to a 100 miler, when I swear (SWEAR) I will never race again. Those periods when I am too tired, too hungry, too sore, too chafed, too bored and too hot/cold/wet/dry. Sometimes these periods last only a small amount of time but sometimes they last for miles and miles. Sometimes I only experience one of these periods but other times they come and go, wax and wane throughout the entire race.
The first time I ran the SJS was a big snow year. We went through deep, rushing, and FREEZING streams. Again and again. Our feet would grow numb and our legs would grow numb. Then we would run a bit and everything would thaw, just in time to cross the stream again. There was also a big snow field that had to be traversed and another that we ran down, slipping, sliding, skidding and wiping out. That year I shed my jacket after the first big climb. During the second big climb it started to storm. It lightning, it hailed, it rained. I almost froze. I had to keep going just to survive.
The second year I started the race I was just recovering from the flu. I was in no shape for running this distance at that altitude. I made it half way up the second big climb and it started to rain. I had a jacket this year but again I almost froze. I dropped out.
The third year I started the race was five years ago. The weather was great, the streams were low and there were no snow fields to scare me half to death. I remember the fantastic scenery. I remember the wild flowers and the camaraderie. I also remember being too tired to run the last couple of miles even though they were downhill. I remember throwing up at the end. I remember being too tired to take off my calf sleeves, too tired to eat and too tired to drink a beer. But mainly I remember the scenery and the feeling of accomplishment.
So this year, I am excited to run. I don't feel the dread that I expected to feel. Even remembering the exhaustion and nausea, I am excited to go run.
I sure hope this will be good this year.