Selecting the goal race – SRT 50 mile trail run

Today, I selected the goal race for the year. The SRT (Shawangunk Ridge Trail) 50 mile race on September 15th, 2018. Why? Well, it is 50 miles and close by… my choices are limited. But, after reading about the race, I can’t think of a more perfect way to hit my goal.

The Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) is a 70-mile hiking trail that traverses the entire length of the Shawangunk Mountains, from High Point State Park in New Jersey, where the SRT intersects the Appalachian Trail, all the way to the town of Rosendale, New York, where the trail ends just beyond a restored railroad trestle 140 feet above the Rondout Creek.  Along the way, the SRT passes through rolling hills, wetlands, rare dwarf pine barrens, sky lakes, waterfalls, and the distinctive white conglomerate cliffs of the Shawangunk mountains uplifted almost three hundred million years ago.

The race is fully self-supported, meaning it is a survival style race where I have to pack everything with me to make it the full 50 miles. That likely even includes water purification tablets after I refill my water from any creeks I may find.


Setting a pace for 2018

I was lucky enough to have built up quite a bit of PTO at work throughout 2017. This allowed me to take a much needed 10 days off from going into the office during the last few days of 2017. Being one of those people that struggles to “turn off” my mind from work, I used the time to reflect on the year professionally and personally. Out of this time off, I came up with 5 personal goals and 5 professional goals for 2018.

While I am not one to necessarily share everything in my life, the goals in both areas reflected around having more patience and improving my mental and physical performance. So what the heck does that mean?

I work at an amazing company with some amazing people. However, it is a startup, with a lot of money invested in the company, and a lot of pressure to succeed. While we have done well since the founding in late 2013, we are in the period that I like to think makes companies either great, or simply duds. Maintaining a high level of growth month over month is a challenge for any company. And continuing to accelerate it takes an immense level of focus, collaboration, and execution. I will likely expand on this later as I reflect with you all on my experiences, but thinking about what we have to achieve in 2018 makes me think that this will be nothing short of mentally demanding. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced.

I’ve often heard work in a startup or growth stage company referred to as “a marathon and not a sprint.” And while in many cases I believe that is truly the case, the goal for any company in our stage is to achieve escape velocity from the competition. So while not a sprint, I would argue in many cases it is far from a marathon as well. Building a business at our stage and reaching escape velocity takes long weeks, sometimes with minimal to no sleep, and a high level of mental stamina to think through the continued business challenges. If you think about it, many people can’t operate in this world. The constantly changing direction and business challenges are difficult for some to endure. So, while in many ways it may feel like a marathon, it is much more than that.

So where am I going with this post? I learned a valuable lesson in 2008 during the economic downturn. Struggling at work with the uncertainty, I knew it would take a new level of mental toughness to make it through. Not being very physically active, I knew I had to change my life, my physical endurance, and in turn, improve my mental endurance. I registered for Ironman Canada the next year, lost 65 lbs and went from never running, biking or swimming to completing Ironman Canada in 12 hours and 29 minutes the following year. That experience was invaluable to me. I learned what it feels like to push your body to the limit, and experience the sense of accomplishment that follows. In 2018, I wanted to feel that again, but more. I am up against a whole lot more this year, and needed a new experience to coach my mind and body through the year.

2018 is going to be my year of immersing myself in the world of ultra marathons. By definition, that is any run longer than a marathon itself, but my personal goal is to complete a 50 mile run in September, and wrap up the year with 1,018 miles or more of running.

Since I moved in 2015 to New York, I really haven’t been very active. A few runs and a couple spurts of dedication have probably gotten me to run 16-18 miles in a week, but I have a lot of catching up to do. In 2017, one of my goals was to drop 40 lbs, which, I have done. But now I need to get my physical stamina up to par.

I am a big fan of sharing experiences, so I hope anyone reading this will follow along through this journey. I will post my routines, feelings and just general learnings throughout the week as I get to that 50 mile date in September.