I’m now looking to next year’s races, and just signed up for my first timed trail race: the Wild Goose Trail Festival 36 hour race, put on by Sassquad Trail Runners. The idea is to run as far as you can over the 36 hours. The elevation gain over 100 miles is 11,275 ft vertical up – and the same down. I’m also signed up for the World’s End Ultramarathon 50k and the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run 50k, both with ~6000 ft elevation gain/loss, and the Tahoe ultra is mainly at an elevation of over 8000 ft. These all have new things for me: new distance with the 36 hour race, very technical trails with World’s End ultra, and high elevation and heat with the Tahoe ultra. If an old (in years only!) engineering professor can do these, think of what you can do!
As I always say – Get out and push yourself, move out of your comfort zone, and try something hard. It can be physical, mental, or emotional, and the goal is to attempt something you have never done before and the outcome is uncertain, such as running a new distance (yes, you can DNF), taking a class in a new topic (yes, you can do poorly on the coursework), or standing in front of people and giving a talk (yes, you can make a fool out of yourself). Uncertainty in the outcome helps you focus and prepare, and if you put in the work, you will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.