Jan 082014
 

WARNING: This post is about my trail running goals for 2014 and contains some musings about how I’m going to achieve them. Most of you are probably not interested, and that’s… healthy.

BUT FOR THOSE WHO ARE (Hi Mom!), here’s the deal. The 2014 season will be my third trail-racing season, and I think that means that I ought to start shooting at some loftier goals. I have two years of trail running behind me. I think this constitutes a reasonable base of fitness from which I can start to try for some race performances that I would consider “good.”

South Table Mtn trail, Nov '13

So how’s that for specificity?  In the past when I’ve started a race, my goal was usually to get in a good workout, not finish last, and learn something about racing. I think these were very appropriate goals for my first two seasons, where the risk was that I wouldn’t be patient enough and would fail to understand that success isn’t built on one or two good training runs, and that you can’t reach your potential in one or two months or even years. Facing my third season, I think the time is right to put that base fitness to work and aim for something else in races.

I’d like to have some really good races this year where I do well against my past performances and against the field in general, depending on the race and on the field. So for example, concerning my two goal races for 2014:

Pikes Peak Marathon: I’d like to finish in under 6 hours. This would improve on my best time of 6:23 back when I was 28 years old (but when I was doing the race rather…. casually). I think this is actually a very modest goal, as it would require me to cut 43 minutes off last year’s time, 20 of which were spent sitting on a bench at Barr Camp trying not to throw up. Considering that my training for last year’s race included only one descent of Barr Trail and only one ascent, I think there’s plenty of room for better race-specific training this year.

The Rut 50K: Another race I’m repeating this year. Last year was a pleasant disaster (I felt miserable the whole time but somehow enjoyed it and finished), so there’s a lot of room to improve. I’m going to spend more time at Big Sky prior to the race and do runs on the course with my dog. The goal is to finish in the middle third of the field. Since the field might be dramatically different from last year on account of the Rut’s inclusion on the Skyrunner world series calendar, there’s a lot of uncertainty about this goal.

Two other races I’m repeating from past years are the Illinois Marathon and the Squak Half Marathon. No specific goals for these other than that I want to run them hard, and that I’m committed to finishing the Illinois Marathon this time (last year I dropped after 18 miles without any regrets, as it was purely a training run).

In order to race better in 2014, I’m going to rely on two major adjustments to the training regimen. First, I’m going to vary the intensity and length of my workouts more. Last season I was doing too many 1.5 -hour runs over similar terrain, without much variation. This year, I plan to run shorter, faster, longer, etc. over the course of each week and month to avoid doing the same workout over and over.

Second, I’m going to increase my volume. I need to do some 5-hour runs in training and not just in races. I’m going to do more Pikes Peak ascents and descents. Maybe a training round-trip or two.

So for the first time, I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t have some substantially better racing performances this season. It’s about time to raise the bar.

Pup licks on Green Mtn

Dec 062012
 

My most important trail-running goal for 2013 will be — wait for it — patience.

In other words, I want to improve upon last year, but I don’t expect to suddenly transform into a professional-level runner who wins races at any distance.  That’s just not realistic for anyone with the possible exception of Emelie Forsberg.  So here are a few things I’d like to accomplish in 2013:

1) Run a decent marathon-length race.  What counts as “decent” is that it won’t be like my 2012 Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, where I had to walk the last 10 miles of the course.  I’d like to try a 50k or 50 mile race, and I might try one in 2013, but I’m not going to fret much if the ultra distance gets pushed back a year or two.

2) Run the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon for the first time since 2001.  I’ll hope to get a good time, but unless I get a better qualifying time between now and next March, I’ll probably have to run those races in the second wave, which makes it a little more difficult.  If things go *really* well, I’d like to get a sub-3hr ascent time on Pikes Peak next year, either in the race or during a training run.

3) Run a race in Europe.  There’s a chance I’ll get to go to Europe next May, and I had initially thought of trying to get a spot at Zegama-Aizkorri.  Now, though, it looks like the timing won’t work out for that race.  So if I do go Europe at all, I’ll try to find another event.  Shouldn’t be that hard from what I’ve heard about the sheer number of races in Europe.

4) Have fun.  This probably means running a lot with my dog.