Editor’s Note: In case you don’t already know him, meet Niko Viglione, Eagle Rock’s Human Performance Center Public Allies Fellow who hails from Purdy N.Y. Niko taught physical education at Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford, N.Y., where he worked as a track coach as well as with project-based adventure after-school programs.
Niko is a runner with a passion for going that extra mile — actually, a hundred miles in this case. He says life is too short to waste on living in comfort. People ask him all the time why he smiles during races, and he says he can’t help it. What this avid runner needs is a bumper sticker on the back of his athletic shirt that reads “Pain is good and extreme pain is extremely good.”
So let’s allow Niko to describe those pains — and his personal gains — during the second annual Run Rabbit Run 100-mile endurance race in Steamboat Springs, Colo., this past September. Here’s his story:
While there are many 100-mile courses out there, Run Rabbit Run offers the opportunity to race against the best ultra-marathoners (runners who race more than 26.2 miles) in the country and to do so in an absolutely stunning setting.
My six months of training for the 2014 event in Steamboat Springs, Colo., included many weekends of running 10 hours over the course of two days. I raced the 50-kilometer distance four times, the 50-mile distance twice, a 43-mile race, and a vertical kilometer race — which is the shortest race possible, gaining 3,200 feet in a kilometer. In all, I ran a total of 1,600 miles in over 200 hours.
The course itself totaled 107 miles, with more than 23,000 feet of climbing (and the same for descending), while spending most of the time at an average elevation of over 9,000 feet. My strategy was to not hold back like many first timers do. My best thinking was to run with a do or die mentality. I didn’t want to simply finish, but instead, to race, to run with the best in the country for as long as I could, and to see if maybe, just maybe, I could be the last one standing when the dust cleared.
The first 50 miles went according to plan, running well and moving up steadily through the field, on pace for a sub-20 hour finish with the legs feeling strong and spirits mostly high.
The highs and lows during an ultra however, are staggering to experience. You reach the lowest points — falling to the darkest depths and certain you can’t take another step and that to do so would be the utter end of you and that finish line is an utter impossibility. Then, as if a switch was flipped, the pendulum swings and you are reborn, legs refreshed and spirit renewed, as if a great weight has been Continue reading…