I spent most of August doing two things, preparing for my trip to Europe and explaining to people the races I intended to run while there. The conversations began to follow a formula:
“Oh! You’re going to be in Europe for two months? Are you going to run UTMB again?”
“No. I’ve got one race at the end of September and another a month later.”
“How long are they?”
“The first is eighty-four kilometers and the second is about seventy-two.”
“What is that in American? Like, forty something….“
“It’s roughly 50 miles.”
“What are they called?”
“The first is called Cavalls del Vent and the second La Course des Templiers.”
“…..oh. Hey look, there’s our mutual friend!” grateful for a distraction. “Hey mutual friend!”
Mutual friend walks over.
“Hello good-looking and tan young friends of mine. What fascinating conversation were you engaging in?”
“Well,” says the first friend, “Dakota was just telling me about the races he’s going to do in Europe, Cabalstabet and some French thing.”
Mutual friend turns with interest to me.
“Oh you’re going over to Europe to race? Very cool! Are you running UTMB?”
“No, I’m doing two shorter ones instead.”
“Oh, how long are the races?”
“Roughly eighty kilometers.”
“Eighty kilometers? Let’s see, that’s… That’s a long way, probably.”
“Where are they?”
“Well, the first is in the north of Spain and the second is in the south of France.”
Mutual friend’s eyes take on a glazed look. “Wow, that sounds so beautiful. Hey, have you met Co-worker Bob? He runs some trail races! Hey Bob, Dakota is going to be racing in Europe this fall.”
Co-worker Bob comes over smiling. “Oh yeah? Are you running UTMB?”
Grinding my teeth, “No. The first race is called Cavalls del Vent and the second is called La Course des Templiers.”
Bob’s eyes narrow. “Huh. I’ve never heard of them. How long are they?”
“About eighty… Let’s just go with fifty miles.”
“What are they called again?”
And it was at this point that I would usually take the nearest chair and ask them to beat me over the head with it and just get the job done quicker. I learned several things from these encounters. 1) Americans have no conception of what a kilometer is; 2) Americans have enough trouble with English, and anything beyond that is asking far too much; and 3) Nobody in America has heard of any European race besides UTMB. To make this point clearer, and since I’d be surprised if anyone is still reading by this point anyway, I’ll make it visual.
Then again, once I got to Europe I encountered a whole host of new problems, primarily due to the fact that I am in no way exempt from the American label in the graph above.
That’s the course profile for the race I’m going to run this Saturday. For anyone reading this who may be unfamiliar with the metric system, those numbers on the left are called “meters” and you can roughly multiply them by three to get an idea of what the vertical is in feet. Or, I can tell you: according to Google, 6,000 meters equals 19,685.04 feet. And while we’re at it, I’ll add that 84 kilometers equals 52.195 miles. Here is a rough outline of my enthusiasm for this race since deciding to run it:
As you can see, my levels of psyche and utter terror stayed at a consistent 90% and 2%, respectively, from May through June. But starting in August comprehension began to dawn and by about the beginning of September (what we’re calling here the “Reality Benchmark”) two things happened: utter terror began to skyrocket while psyche started to waver.
The significant volatility of psyche combined with the steady rise in utter terror has had more than a few investors ridding themselves of stock and running instead to the much less risky Anna Frost (FRST). Then again, while Dakota (PREZ) is by no means a blue-chip, I’ve been yielding dividends of nearly 8% since April, and just released my latest training as well. Here’s a summary:
The secret to success, my friends. You know, it’s not easy living the running-and-travel lifestyle in Europe but, well, somebody has to do it.