Roger Thornhill’s McGuffin
Itâ€™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, Iâ€™m running my first ultra on June 3rd; The Hitchcock Woods 50k in Aiken South Carolina (childhood home of William â€œRefridgeratorâ€ 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; itâ€™s more than a marathon.
And how could I resist a race called Hitchcock anything? Iâ€™m a movie zealot, and Alfred was a titan of 20th century film-making. Iâ€™m pretty sure this has nothing to do with this race, or the Woods themselves, but Iâ€™ll still look for his obligatory cameo on the course.
Like any good ultra, thereâ€™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. Itâ€™s run on trails in the June heat of South Carolina. Ladies, let me warn you now that Iâ€™ll be shirtless.
But wait Dean, I thought you were trying to qualify for Boston. Shouldnâ€™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. Itâ€™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, Iâ€™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. Itâ€™s my launching pad for autumn marathon training, careening me inexorably toward Boston.
At least thatâ€™s the theory.
If you like the Hitchcock artwork above, you should hire Vince at Punsh.