Monday, August 29, 2011

Sawtooth Motivation

In response to my post "If Not Now, When?", I've been asked by Matt and now Scott to consider why I want to get to the finish. SteveQ also had a recent post to this effect.

I understand where this advice is coming from. When I went to grad school, I did so mostly because it was the next step after getting my bachelor's degree, not because I really wanted a post graduate degree. There were plenty of others like me, but there was also a group of students that knew why they were there. Often, these students were slightly older and had spent a few years in industry. I don't need to tell you which group of students tended to progress more rapidly to their degrees.

There is a tendency to step up to the 100 for a similar reason. It's the next step. To be honest, there is that aspect to my decision. I've done the 50 twice, now it's time to do the 100. However, if that were all there were to my motivation I could have chosen a different, easier 100, as many have suggested. Or a 100K. Or a 24 hour run.

 No, I want Sawtooth to be my first. But why?

A big part of my motivation is intellectual curiosity. I want to know what it is like, and I can't know by reading books or race reports. Trust me, I've been doing so for the last three years. I have to get out there and live it. Sure, it may seem like this won't help me when I get to Sugarloaf early on Saturday morning. By all accounts this will be a low point, where I may be tempted to think "Ok, now I know what it feels like. It hurts. It sucks. I don't need to know anymore," and be tempted to quit. However, I am prepared to tell myself, "No, this is what it feels like to get to Sugarloaf, this is not what it feels like to get to Caribou". Don't underestimate intellectual curiosity.

Beyond that, I admit that I want to be a member of the club. That special club of people who get to wear their red jackets because they have completed Sawtooth. Finish in less than 38 hours and you too can join this club. Who says hazing is dead?

Finally, there is pride. I have told plenty of people about my pursuit. Not to brag, because 99.9% of the people I have told could careless, but for accountability. My pride will help carry me through to the finish.

I said in my previous post that I don't know if I can finish. That is the intellectual truth. I can't know until I've tried. That doesn't mean I am not convinced that I can, that I will finish. Nor does it mean that I don't care.

In less than two weeks I will know that I can finish.


  1. I have no doubt that you will finish... Although, you might try to make it even more interesting by starting at least 5 minutes late... Worked for you at Marquette!

    Looking forward to seeing you out there...

  2. Ha! Not a chance. I'll be there early, so if anyone shouts "Is Ross from River Falls here?", I'll be able to answer this time.

  3. I feel like I'm a race or two behind you. I've done the Marathons, the 50k's and am working on my second 50 miler this at Surph the Murph this fall.

    I to am curious what lies on the other side curious of what I will feel, curious of what I will do and very curious how it feels to finish such an event. Though I would like to toe the line in 2 weeks I'm planning on taking on the Zumbro 100 this coming April. This should make for an interesting winter of training.

    Best of luck to you and enjoy every step. Looking forward to the pictures of the Red jacket.

  4. Thanks Chris. Zumbro is another good one. I paced a friend there for a lap last spring. My plan is to run Sawtooth and volunteer at Zumbro. I have too many problems keeping my training where it needs to be over the winter.