My first 100K by Wookie Kim

Today is technically the third day of my road trip. But I'm actually back in Baltimore tonight. I spent Friday and Saturday up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York running the inaugural Twisted Branch Trail Run, a 102-kilometer race from Lake Canandaigua to Lake Keuka. I finished the race in 15 hours, 8 minutes, and 2 seconds. In that time, I gained 11,004 vertical feet. This was my first 100K, and my first serious trail race. (I use the word "I", but the reality is that this was a team effort. Jeremy L., my unflappable running partner, ran with me the entire time; we even crossed the finish line holding hands.)

That I would begin the trip with my first ever 100-kilometer race, and my first serious trail race is a little ridiculous. This was not how I had originally planned things out. My original plan was to leave for the trip on Labor Day, so that I'd have one full week to recover from the race. But scheduling complications on the back end (i.e. relating to moving into my new apartment in DC), required that I start the trip tomorrow if I wanted to maintain the scale and scope of the trip.

I'm happy to report that the race went remarkably well--and that I'm still ready to go tomorrow. I've talked about execution before, and I can legitimately say that this was the most perfectly executed race of my life. It was also, by far, the longest and most challenging physical and mental feat I've ever accomplished. (Note: it was not the most painful--that award goes to the 2014 JFK 50-Mile, my first ever 50-miler, and my first--and last--time that I'll ever sprain my ankle 20 miles into the race and decide to run the last 30 miles anyways.)

I don't have time for a full race report tonight, since a lot needs to be done before I hit the road again tomorrow morning. But I'll share one video clip that captures just part of the craziness that was the Twisted Branch Trail Run. Below is a video I took of a segment of the course at around mile 32. This was certainly a nuisance to run through, but it was nowhere near the hardest terrain we covered during the race. That says something, I think.

 Tomorrow, my lease is truly up, and the parks of America become my home for the next 40+ days. First destination: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Here goes nothing.

On execution by Wookie Kim

Today is technically the start of my road trip, but I don't really see it that way because I'll actually be back in Baltimore Sunday evening. Today, I'm headed to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York for the inaugural Twisted Branch Trail Run, which begins at 5 a.m. tomorrow. The Twisted Branch is a 102-kilometer (63.7-mile) trail race with almost 11,000 feet of vertical ascent. It's going to be a hard day. I've been anticipating this day for almost three-quarters of a year now. And, with 16 hours to go, I'm ready.

There's obviously a lot of training that went into this race. But from here on out--that is, until I cross the finish line at mile 64--all I'm thinking about is execution. Prior planning and training only go so far. All the miles I've logged, all the sacrifices I've made up until now--they all mean nothing if I don't execute on race day. Execution, in short, is everything.

For the last couple weeks, I've been working on execution by tinkering with my race plan. I always start with a course elevation profile. I annotate that profile with significant geographical features, general milestones, and aid station locations. I write down numbers so I know exactly where I'll be and when. The plan also incorporates my notes on the race-day principles that I'll do my best to adhere to. I've been looking at--and will continue to look at--this one-pager over and over again today. 

My Twisted Branch race plan.  

The race plan might seem unnecessarily detailed. But this single sheet of paper does so much, not only to remind me of what lies ahead tomorrow, but also to prepare me mentally for what is bound to be an extremely challenging, but incredibly fulfilling, day out on the trails.

The Twisted Branch Trail Run marks the start of my running road trip. I couldn't have asked for a better challenge to kick things off. I am ready.