Sometimes you just have to press the reset button. After nine years of running long distances--six of which have been spent doing mostly trail ultras of the 100-mile variety--it's great to start anew.
I'm back wearing stability shoes and light-weight trainers and, for the first time in months, I can actually feel the ground beneath me. At this point, I don't really miss my Hokas. Yeah, they're super soft, but Hokas just don't give my feet the support I need. I can't help but wonder if Hokas weren't somehow connected to my injuries of late. Instability in the feet often leads to soft-tissue injuries such as tendonitis in the shins, knee pain, etc. I'm not necessarily blaming Hokas; I'm just saying maybe I need more support in a shoe. So I'm going back to the type of shoes that I started out in so many years ago, with particular emphasis on weight (or lack thereof).
I've managed to mostly put my DNF at Leadville behind me. I still have feelings of sadness over what went down that day, and I'm dead set on being ready for next year's race (already booked our cabin). But right now I'm trying to get 100% healthy (free of all of the little aches and pains you develop preparing for a 100-miler) and ready for my Phoenix Marathon training. Phoenix is on January 20. Coming from 6,200 feet to a sea level city known for its nice weather in January (average temperature that time of year is in the mid-50s), I'll be looking for a new PR in the "Valley of the Sun." To say I'm motivated would be an understatement. But right now I'm being patient and allowing some time to heal.
I've always been a road guy at heart. I love the trail, and I love the mountains we have out here in Colorado, but I started out a road runner and many (but not all) of my most memorable races have been on pavement (e.g., Cleveland Marathon in 2008, Lt. JC Stone 50K in 2009, North Coast 24-Hour in 2009). I still believe that the greatest measure of a runner is his or her marathon time. At the same time, I remain hopeful that road ultras will make a comeback.
My last marathon was in April of 2011, when I finished fifth overall and first in my age group at the small-town but very charming Eisenhower Marathon in Kansas. The hot, windy weather that day really posed difficulties, leading to a disappointing 3:11. With Phoenix, I want to get my marathon time back down below three hours, with the added benefit of early entry in Boston in 2014. I figure I don't have many more years to try to best my 2:58 marathon PR.
The last time I was really focused on a marathon was the fall of 2008, when I trained for the Columbus Marathon. A few days ago I looked back on my Columbus training and it reveals the building blocks of a good marathon program--intervals, tempo runs and 20+ milers. Unfortunately, my training was a bit inconsistent, as Noah was just a few months old at the time. A couple of weeks before Columbus I strained my hamstring, but I still came in under three hours. The next spring I ran another sub-three as I was training for a 100-miler, but that marathon (Cleveland) wasn't a goal race.
So this fall I'll be 100% dedicated to Phoenix. I'm having a minor surgical procedure in mid-September, probably requiring a week off from training. But, other than that, I'll be banging out the miles and doing lots of quality. I know what I have to do--lots of 20+ milers, intervals and tempo running. The good news is that I can crank out a 20-miler in ~2:30 or better, starting from my doorstep. I'm super excited and hopeful for decent weather through December. Hopefully I can find a few half-marathons for tune-up runs.
As always, I'll be posting updates on my training. Yeah, it'll be good to put away my trail shoes for a bit and hit the road for some fast stuff, with dreams of a new 26.2 PR.