Roger Thornhill’s McGuffin
It’s inevitable. You run a few marathons and all the playground kids taunt you for not running something longer or tougher. A sucker for peer pressure, I’m running my first ultra on June 3rd; The Hitchcock Woods 50k in Aiken South Carolina (childhood home of William “Refridgerator” Perry).
This is the perfect race for me. The 50k is like the junior varsity of the ultra set; longer than a marathon, but not so ambitious that I have to adjust my Living Will.
One kilometer equals 0.621371192 miles. So obviously 50k comes out to precisely 31.06855 miles. Realistically though, I may run slightly less, or slightly more. This is a trail race, so distances are more like estimates. The point is; it’s more than a marathon.
And how could I resist a race called Hitchcock anything? I’m a movie zealot, and Alfred was a titan of 20th century film-making. I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with this race, or the Woods themselves, but I’ll still look for his obligatory cameo on the course.
Like any good ultra, there’s little fanfare to Hitchcock. Open to only 30 participants, it will be distinguished from a training run only by the pace and the presence of complimentary Gatorade. It’s run on trails in the June heat of South Carolina. Ladies, let me warn you now that I’ll be shirtless.
But wait Dean, I thought you were trying to qualify for Boston. Shouldn’t you stick to the marathon?
A fair question. I have failed to earn a trip to Boston largely because, in the upper miles of the marathon, I tend to fade like a 98 pound weakling with a nasty case of scurvy. Basically, miles 21-26 rudely kick sand in my face. Charles Atlas, save me.
So I have resolved to spend more time above the twenty-mile threshold. It’s simple defiance. Training for Hitchcock involves regular long runs ranging from 18.8 miles to 28.2 miles, all on trails. In a rope-a-dope with disappointment, I’m spending significant time in my breakdown zone. Failure will be my friend and trusted ally, until I blind-side it at tribal council and vote it off the island.
So Hitchcock is my McGuffin, the device that drives the plot. It’s my launching pad for autumn marathon training, careening me inexorably toward Boston.
At least that’s the theory.
If you like the Hitchcock artwork above, you should hire Vince at Punsh.