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Smack From The Back: Pre-Race Thoughts

Thomas MillerHeads up, Buena Vista, Colorado, here we come! In just over a week 300 of us mad, crazy trail runners will toe the starting line of the third running of the hugely acclaimed Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. In three short years this epic adventure has grown from 70 runners to an almost full field of 300.

Athletes once again will descend on the quiet town of Buena Vista Colorado in late August to test their mettle against some of the most accomplished trail and ultra runners in the world. Participants will come from all over the globe and race as teams of two to cover 125 miles and more than 20,000 feet of elevation gain. Both members of each team are required to run the entire distance and must stay within two minutes of each other at all times for safety reasons. The good news is that we have six days to cover the distance. The bad news is that we have six days to cover the distance. Bring it on!

The 2009 field represents the most competitive roster to date and includes such running legends as Dean Karnazes, Hal Koerner, Nikki Kimbal and Anita Ortiz. The start list reads like the who’s who of the ultra and trail running worlds. The pace at the front will be blazing this year and the competition ferocious.

In addition to those lightning-fast speed demons off the front there will be a bunch of us holding down the middle and back of the pack. As with just about all endurance races these days there are those of us who come just to enjoy the experience, and for whom the challenge is in training for and simply completing the distance.

When I wrapped up my blog following the finish of the 2008 race I thanked my wife, Monica, for her unwavering support over the last two years while she generously indulged me in my participation both personally and professionally in the 2007 and 2008 Gore-Tex TransRockies Runs. Here is what I said:

“In closing I would like to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to the people who made this life-changing experience possible. First and foremost my wife, Monica, who for two years running has tolerated the impact the training and racing had on my body and my mind. The only way I can think to truly thank her is to take her with me next year and have her run as my teammate. Now that’s love.”

Well, you know the saying: Be careful for what you wish for… Somehow in a moment of weakness and after several glasses of Chardonnay I was able to convince her that she could complete the distance, and Team Do Da Do was formed.

The origin of Team Do Da Do comes from Monica, who in the early days of training for TransRockies. She kept saying, “I’m sorry I’m so slow today. I just need to run at a do da do pace.” The funny part is that she would refer to that day’s run as if it was slower than any other days. The truth is there was and is only one pace and it never changed from day to day.

I’m so fired up to share this year’s race experience with Monica. I know what a life-altering experience she is about to undertake and I could not be more proud of what she has already accomplished in preparation for TransRockies. She rocked the training and is as anxious as the rest of us to hit the line on the 23rd. Oh, did I mention that Monica completed her first half and full marathons in her lead up for TransRockies? Wow! We both can’t wait.

Training for and participating in an event as demanding as the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run parallels daily life at least metaphorically. You take what the “course” or the “day” presents and you make the most of it. Just as in life a day at TransRockies rarely ends the way it began or the way you thought it would.

My participation this year will represent one of those daily opportunities to meet and overcome a new personal challenge. What began as a big question mark during last year’s race as I desperately struggled to keep my energy ended in a shocking diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.  Yes, that’s right: Diabetes. Huh? Me? There must be a mistake!

Now, to frame this up for anyone reading this blog who does not know me, I’m about the last person one would ever think would be handed down such a diagnosis. Let me paint the picture for you.

For the last 20 years I have worked in the health and fitness industry educating, motivating and inspiring others to pursue a healthier lifestyle. I’m 6’1, 180 lbs, have 5 percent body fat, and have completed nine Ironman triathlons, more than 25 Marathons, two Gore-Tex TransRockies Runs and a whole host of other running, cycling and triathlon events. I teach indoor cycling classes weekly and eat about as healthy as anyone I know. What the H is going on here? Genetics! UGH!

I can honestly tell you being a diabetic and continuing to participate in endurance events has been both extremely challenging and somewhat perplexing. How does one take in enough calories or, more specifically, enough carbohydrates without sending one’s blood glucose skyrocketing? Great question, and one I’m still trying to crack the code on. I have certainly had to explore other sources of energy and will discuss them further as the week rolls on.

Well, I think that is enough to get us to the start line. Thanks for tuning in; now it’s time to go run some more miles. See you all in Buena Vista on the 23rd with more “Smack from the Back”.

Happy Trails…

Thomas Miller is competing in his third consecutive Gore-Tex Transrockies Run, this year with his extremely adventurous wife. Thomas will bring us daily updates of his progress via his blog “Smack From The Back,” as well as photos throught the 2009 run which takes place August 23-28th.