Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Looking forward, looking back

Blogs are pretty well dead these days, including this blog. But I felt like summarizing the year for my own good. A lot happened, a lot has changed. My running has changed. As I added up the numbers, my trail running and overall running dropped significantly, partly due to some injuries, and partly due to life. I'm not sure I'll get back to where I was, and I'm not sure I care. Anyways, I'll look back first.

I ran 7 shorter (5 miles and under) races throughout the year. I won the 3 that were on trails. There were no great times, though.

Ultramarathon-wise, I ran Mt. Mitchell Challenge in February. I was decidedly flat all day, feeling worse than when I ran the sister-race marathon the year before. But I still had a fun time and battled hard, finishing 3rd. The biggest memory is the last few miles to the summit- some of the iciest, most treacherous trails I've ever run.

I also ran Leatherwoods 50 mile in March. It rained all day and was by far the muddiest race of my life, with deep, slick mud on steep hills. Brian Rusiecki and I ran close for the first half or more, then he killed it at the end as I slowed down, partly to protect a knee that started hurting. Still a fun, wet race.

In May, I finally raced Massanutten 100. It was a unique experience as Jason Lantz and I teamed up (unplanned, undiscused) for about 90 miles of it, finishing together. I've never run that long with someone. The trail is technical but having someone to talk to the whole time makes it go much faster. It wasn't the best race I've ever had, particularly the middle 40 miles, but was a fun, rewarding experience. I wouldn't hesitate to run the race again, with the great course and organization.

The overall highlight was spending a week in Colorado with the Hardrock 100. I spent 3 days running with Cody before he went to the hospital, then paced Brit Stuart Air to a sub-36 hr finish, joining him for 25 hours of that. The scenery is truly spectacular. The race was memorable, including lending Timmy Olson my headlamp as we were in the middle of a brutal thunderstorm, being hypothermic in shorts while summitting 14k Mt. Handies, and seeing Stu tough out a bad foot injury. This will be a week I remember for a long time. I would love to run Hardrock sometime, though seeing the brutality is humbling. Hard to overstate anything about this race. If you're ever real bored, I'll show you my hundreds of pictures!

Laurel Valley was probably the highlight of my races, with a very hard-fought sub-six hour finish (after 2 previous attempts), one of the few on record. I'm very proud of that, especially when my right quad cramped up (first time I've ever cramped) with 2 hours to go. I'll retire from that race proudly.

I had planned to do Grindstone 100 and race the fast JFK 50 mile at the end of the year, but my broken toe derailed that. Then, I injured my knee shopping at Ikea (seriously) and put on an extra 7 or so pounds. I've got my work cut out for me to get healthy and in shape in 2015.

My 2014 mileage was the lowest in 5+ years at 3099. I won a few races but didn't place top 3 in a hundred (though I felt good about my chances at Grindstone). And instead of meeting my 26 Big Workouts goal... I did 7 workouts. All year. That's pretty pathetic. Plus I barely went trail running- not counting races, I only did 6 Saturday long runs in the mountains, where I used to average 20+. Increased family needs and a general lack of desire are cutting into the runs.

So where does this leave me for 2015? Right now, I'm registered for Georgia Death Race in March and I finally was selected in the Western States lottery. While it interferes with a family reunion, I won't miss it. My first priority is getting healthy, losing some weight, and getting back in shape (cue the "round is a shape" jokes). Baby number 5 is coming in February, so I'm sure my running will continue to be reduced. These days, waking up before 6 am for a run is borderline impossible. If I can train right and am healthy, I'd always like to aim for top 10 at Western. But if I'm not in that shape, I'll still run it and take what I can, enjoying the experience.

I'm eyeing a few other races in the spring if I feel they will benefit me for Western training. I haven't even considered fall races, though I should so I don't get shut out. Maybe I'll try to do Grindstone again, but who knows. Maybe I'll only race a few times all year. I've got a growing family, lots of work and church responsibilities- running is important, but not AS important. In addition, Pearl Izumi surprised everyone by disbanding their Ultra team entirely. A few of the bettter runners have been picked up by other teams. I haven't put any effort into finding a new sponsor. I have enough shoes for several years (seriously) and will enjoy the lack of pressure. Maybe something will develop if I race well at Western, but I'm ok either way.

I guess that's all for now. Adios.