Ah, January, the time of year when amateur athletes everywhere review their accomplishments over the past year and lay down their plans for the coming one. Why should I be any different?
Last year was such a major life transition (our second son off to college, selling the house, moving across the bay, leaving my job in the corporate world for an independent consulting company) that its almost insane how many and the caliber of races I ran. Something had to give and the whole idea of training sort of fell by the wayside. For the first time in 5 years, I ran fewer than 2,000 total miles, coming up just short with 1,946. However, I set a PR in terms of the number of those miles that were run in races at 932. That's nearly half my total miles!
I started last year with my first foray into winter racing, running a snowshoe race as prep for the epic Susitna 100. I ended the year with a couple of international events at TDG and Racing the Planet: Nepal (both of which I owe completed reports). I ran five 100-mile races, one 200-mile race and a 130-mile, 6 day stage race. I went into many of these, over-raced and under-trained, but once again, managed to finish everything that I started, though not always in the best of condition. It was a banner year in some ways and a bit unsettling in others. This year will be a bit different.
On paper, it may look like I am planning a repeat of last year if you look at the few events I have confirmed on my schedule. In fact, the bookends appear as slightly more extreme versions of last year's events. I head to International Falls, MN in 5 days for the Arrowhead 135. 35 miles longer than Susitna, significantly more hills and the potential for just as much cold. Considering it took me nearly 37 hours to finish "The Su", it is a safe assumption that this will take at least 2 full days with the possibility for a 60 hour finish. As it has been all over the lower-48 states, winter has been fairly tame in Minnesota thus far and one of the concerns for the event was a lack of snow. Things have started looking up (so to speak) recently, with significant snowfall and a number of sub-zero temps (a seasonal low of -26F thus far). It's still too early to tell what race day may bring, but it is certainly going to bring a challenge for this California racer.
The other event confirmed for the end of August is La Petite Trotte à Léon. This is sort of the "big brother" race of the famous UTMB. For UTMB's 166km (~103mi) distance and 9500m (~31,000ft) of climbing, PTL offers up a total 290km (~180mi) and 22,000m (~72,500ft) of mind-bending ascent! It is slightly less on both counts than the Tor des Geants that I completed last year, but with 12 fewer hours allowed. Oh, and there are no course markings and no aid stations along the way. You get a map and a GPS to find your own way around those rugged mountains through 3 separate countries. You can purchase food (and rest) at refugios along the way, but no other assistance of any kind is allowed. Travel is in teams of 2 or 3. Based on our success sticking together at TdG, Harry and I will be attempting this as team "Quit is a 4-letter Word". My good buddy, Beat will be out there on a team of his own as will Chris Marolf, whom I haven't seen since he moved back to Switzerland. It promises to be the most epic event I have ever attempted. The best part of it all? It's not really a race as they only track twho classifications: "finished" and "not finished". I can't wait!
I basically have very little else on my plate at this point except I am going back to the SBER 100 in Santa Barbara. I am limited both by finances and time to focusing on more local events. However, I waffled too long to get into San Diego 100 and I have no intention of repeating at TRT 100 after last year's race. Right now I am thinking that I want to focus on more self-supported efforts and am hoping to spend some significant time up in the Sierras above Tahoe and Yosemite this summer. In other words, my plan right now is to actually train for the major event on my schedule.
I hope everyone else out there has exciting and inspiring events on their schedule. Happy running!