217

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217. An ordinary number without much meaning to most people. 217 has recently become a number that will be the focus of my goals for the remainder of 2019. Not so coincidentally 217 is today’s date. Yeah, I’m that guy that’s focused on numbers wayyyyyy too much.

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217 is not the next big race that I’m running, nor the next big one 6 months after that. Those two races are 100-milers, one in Michigan in June and one here in Florida in December. Yes, those two races are going to be two of the biggest running challenges that I have attempted. Yes, those two 100-mile races have both been attempted by yours truly, both in 2017, and both earned me disappointing finishes. I dropped from the Michigan race after 85 miles and 23 hours and from the Florida race after only 52 miles. Those races have literally haunted me ever since. My mind randomly flashes me images of both courses, my struggles and accomplishments, and especially the moment I gave up. Yes, there was that nagging plantar fasciitis and bursitis thing, but I still gave up on myself.
That’s where 217 comes in. The idea behind 217 will force me to train differently and more thoroughly than the way that I’ve trained for 50- and 100-mile races in the past. I don’t like the idea of a DNF, or feeling like I gave up on myself, or questioning my ability based on my results. In order to give myself the best chance to avoid repeating history I found a challenge that will force me to get stronger for longer, get leaner, eat greener, and teach my body to ignore the fact that I’m getting tired because I’m just getting started.

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Yours truly at the start line for the Lighthouse 100. Lake Michigan in the background, 6/10/17, 5:51:24am 🙂

217 is a number that, other than one and 217, only has one set of factors (numbers that you multiply together to end up with 217). No this isn’t a math lesson. Those factors are the exact reason why 217 is such an important number right now. If you multiply 7 X 31, you’ll get 217. Why is 7 significant? Think days in a week. And 31? The American equivalent of 50 kilometers is approximately 31 miles. So, what exactly does all that number stuff mean? It means that I have signed up to run an event that involves 7 days and 31 miles. More specifically, I will be running a 50k on each of seven consecutive days from December 26th through January 1st. 217 miles. 350k. For seven days in a row I will be toeing the start line at 6am and running 31 miles.

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Fellow Marathon Maniac Edward Broadnax with his Savage Seven medals!

217. Not long ago 217 was an ordinary number with no special meaning. Right now, 217 is a number that scares me. 217 is also a number that is motivating me to be the best I’ve ever been. 217 will soon be a number that hangs its head in defeat as I put seven 50k medals around my neck on New Years Day. Medals that I hadn’t earned as of Christmas day just a week earlier. It’ll just take 217 miles.

The event is called Savage Seven and it’s held in Ocala, Florida every year during the same week. They also offer 7×26.2 and 7×13.1 packages, or you can elect to run one or more of the races without doing all seven. You can check out the event here.

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2017 Goals

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When it comes to running, the crazy things that I do are carefully planned out. No last-minute craziness here! Two years ago I set my running goals in time format: I wanted to be able to run distances that I had already run, just faster. In 2015 I set new PRs at the 5k, 10 mile, half and marathon distances, while running 237 miles further than I did in 2014. In 2016 I set out to focus more on long run training in order to tackle my first ultramarathon. My last long run before the ultra was Space Coast Marathon, where I PR’ed by 12 minutes and was able to do it with a negative split. While a successful 50-miler was the big goal for the year, I believe the marathon PR was a bonus and a direct result of the many 26-mile-plus long runs that I wrote into my training plan.

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What are your goals?

So what could I possibly have planned for 2017? I have three goals for the upcoming year, and for those who have called me crazy in the past, you’ll likely need that word three more times before you’re done reading. Santa didn’t bring much in the line of material gifts this year, but he left me a full dose of lunacy!

First up is a goal that I will start on January 7th and complete on February 5th. I am currently a member of the Half Fanatics (Saturn level) and a member of the Marathon Maniacs (Bronze level), and qualified for both simultaneously, giving me Double Agent status, level one of ten. I accomplished this two years ago by running 3 marathons and 4 half marathons in the same 90-day period. Back to my goal… I am going to be moving up to Double Agent level 3 and moving from Bronze to Gold as a Marathon Maniac by running 4 marathons and 4 half marathons within 30 days. I’ll be running the Disney Half and Full marathons (Goofy Challenge), Best Damn Race Jacksonville half, Shark Bite half, Clearwater Distance Classic marathon, Celebration marathon, Best Damn Race Safety Harbor half, and Tallahassee marathon within those 30 days.

That’s just goal #1 – there are still 11 months left in the year!

Goal #2: The race director for the Daytona 100 and Daytona 50 has announced a sister race in northern Michigan in June and I plan to do two things I have never done before. I will be going to Michigan and I’ll be running the Lighthouse 100 mile race. My goal is to finish the 100 miles of this race within the cutoff time of 30 hours. I’d love to bring that time down, but given the struggles that I faced near the end of the 50-miler earlier this month, and the fact that the Lighthouse 100 has “rolling hills” (where the Daytona 100 had max elevation of about 15 feet above sea level), I’m setting the goal 6 months out as finishing all 100 miles within the 30 hour limit. Also, at this point I have no idea if I will have a crew or will be running solo. Doing it solo will no doubt slow me down a great deal.

Have you called me crazy yet? But wait, there’s more!

Goal #3: Six months to the day after I run my second ultra and first 100-miler I’m going to run another 100-miler. I’m returning to the Daytona 100, this time to run the full 100 miles rather than the 50. Ok, so where’s the goal? In Michigan in June I plan to finish; in Florida in December I plan to finish in under 24 hours. I’m upping my finish time goal by a full six hours in six months. I plan on using the Michigan race as a learning tool to be better prepared and better trained by December.

Goal-setting is a good way for me to get the process started toward improvement. What keeps me on track is the accountability that involves my friends, family, and fellow runners. Even if you don’t know what it takes to prepare for a 100-mile race, I’ll bet you know what an excuse sounds like. If I’m throwing out excuses instead of miles, please feel free to mention it to me, however you see fit! I’m not setting big goals to try to be better than anyone, with the exception of who I am today, and that doesn’t sound crazy at all.