Sunday, May 31, 2015

Almost Dead in the Georgia Backwoods

Over the last ten years, I’ve been “fortunate” enough to do a number of races touted as “the hardest race in the world,” so when I received the following e-mail last December from “Run Bum,” the RD for the Georgia Death Race, I didn’t take it too seriously.

Well Mr. Macy.... YOURE GONNA DIE...
We shall see if you finish the race.
Welcome to hell. Hope you don't like switchbacks... because there arent any.
See ya in March
Run Bum
I’m a big fan of books like Seth Godin’s The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, so I gave whoever was behind the Run Bum persona the benefit of the doubt, figuring this was just a personalized version of ultra southern hospitality.  Plus, I liked that he used my moniker from years as a high school English teacher, even if if apostrophe use was absent.
You know you've signed up for a good race when doubt and anxiety begin to creep in, however, and they stalked me late at night as spring approached.  
What if the human bones shown on the race site were not just a cheesy Internet image from an ancient Egyptian burial pit?  
What if I got chased down by a giant killer kudzoo?  (If you’re like me and you usually worry more about snow avalanches in December than kudzoo, just google it to see what I mean.)
What if I was busted in ATL for carrying baggies of white powder.  “What’ch y’all doing with this powder?”  Looking around, I’d realize “ya’ll” was me, and the armed agent probably didn’t know what Vitargo was.
What if I actually kicked the bucket right in front of my two little kids, in Georgia of all places?
What really gave me pause, in truth, were the advertised 20,000 vertical feet of climbing (and 20,000 more descending) on the 68-mile course.  Even if the highest point in the race was a few thousand feet below my house, that was still a lot to tackle.
Come March, Mr. Macy and family found themselves in Georgia.  We made it through the airport just fine, and the pre-race BBQ we ate at a mom n’ pop shop in bustling Dahlonega, population 6,049, was some of the best I’ve ever had.  The Run Bum, as it turned out, was a pretty nice guy--even if he dropped more than a few F-bombs in the pre-race meeting.
My new book recommends increasing drive by using extrinsic motivation (“Find your carrot,” says Chapter 3), and 18-year-old Andrew Miller of Oregon ran pretty darn hard for the $1000 prize en route to smoking some experienced runners on a real mountain course.  Nice work, Andrew, and you’ve got “The Ultra Mindset” (and watch out for this young gun, everyone else).
As it turns out, in running and in life, the hardest race in the world is usually the next one coming up.  And by showing up day after day with a resilient mindset and positive spirit, I'm pretty sure you'll not only survive but also come out better on the other side.


Things haven been going well with book marketing, racing, and family life.  Our book launch at the Tattered Cover and charity ultra run went well; they had to bring in more chairs and more books, which I think are good signs.  The New York Times also covered the event, which was nice.

I was able to get the win at the Peak Ultra 50-miler in Vermont, which provided a great event and a real adventure course.

Our family quest to need less and do more has begun with selling our house, moving into our camping trailer, and (hopefully) beginning construction on our new, smaller home here in Evergreen, Colorado soon.

I'm looking forward to a variety of upcoming events, including the National Endurance Sports Summit at Princeton University, the South Dakota Festival of Books, and the Outdoor Retailer Show.

As many of you know, my good friend, Dave Mackey, who shared some excellent stories and advice in The Ultra Mindset, experienced a serious mountain running injury last week.  Dave is stable and positive as he recovers in the hospital; let's all keep rooting for him!
Thanks for reading,