The world needs more running.
This is my first update since the election. It's no surprise that a lot of people are still bitching about the outcome of the election and forecasting the downfall of America. Blah. Blah. Blah. Whatever.
Americans need to watch less TV, especially the "news," and get outside more. Nothing helps me to break through the clutter and make sense of the world around me quite like running. It's my own private retreat. When I'm out there putting in the miles, it's just nature and me--whether I'm on the trail or on the road. I genuinely believe much of the stress and ills we experience could be alleviated if we just got active and surrounded ourselves with nature. Our problem, from my own eyes, is that we spend too much time doing meaningless stuff, like watching TV, listening to talking heads, worrying about who's president and Facebooking. Eventually this ridiculous crap dims our worldview, leaving us feeling hopeless.
Nine more weeks until I toe the line in Phoenix for the Arizona Rock 'n Roll Marathon. I'm excited for sure. My weekly mileage and time on my feet are holding steady at about 65 and a little over eight hours. My quality is super solid. On Sunday, I ran 18 miles mostly on the track, completing 4x2 miles at marathon pace (6:35-6:40), with one mile "recoveries" at about 7:40 pace in between. This was no easy workout. It really helped me that Anne, Noah and our dog, Nicholas, were there keeping me company. As I ran around the track, Nicholas chased after me while Noah kicked his soccer ball on the football field. We slapped high fives a few times.
After Sunday's workout, I felt quite ill--likely the effects of the Z-Pack I was prescribed for bacterial bronchitis earlier in the week. My stomach was a mess! This all brought back memories of the 2010 Leadville 100, which was my first Leadville. A week before the race, I was diagnosed with strep throat and put on an antibiotic. I took my last pill the Thursday before the race and made sure to eat a ton of yogurt to keep my stomach strong. Though I finished the race (in under 25 hours), I fell ill with massive stomach problems at the Mayqueen inbound aid station (86.5)--likely the after-effects of the antibiotic. It's amazing I recovered and went on to finish.
Overall, I feel good about my Phoenix training and where I am with my fitness. My one concern is with volume. When I'm gunning for a PR, my natural tendency is to jack up my volume and put in a ton of miles. This time, I'm resisting the urge for a ton of miles and am instead focusing on quality, which includes intervals, tempo runs and long runs. We'll see how it pays off on January 20.
When I kicked off my Phoenix Marathon training, I suspected that all these road miles would leave me missing the trail. While I've really enjoyed training on the road, a big part of me wants to get back to the trail. I'm trying to stay disciplined and do specific training, but I definitely see some trail running in my immediate future. Of particular interest to me is a trip down to Manitou Springs to do the Incline and then take the Barr Trail up Pikes Peak as far as I want to go--one of my favorite Front Range runs. I've run some amazing trails in Colorado, but nothing quite rivals the entire Barr Trail experience, especially the run back down the mountain. So, yeah, I may take that trip pretty soon.
I have it in my head that I want to break 25 minutes on the Incline in 2013. My current PR is just over 27 minutes. The Incline is, without question, the hardest single mile I've ever done. You're talking about 2,000 feet of climbing in a single mile, with an average grade of about 40%. It's lung busting, grueling, painful and fun--all at the same time! I'm not kidding when I say the Incline can literally kill you if you're not in decent shape.
Speaking of the Incline, I saw that the unofficial "record holder," pro triathlete Mark Fretta, got busted for EPO and is now serving a ban. I remember first reading about Fretta's amazing Incline "record," which has been mentioned by prominent outlets like The New York Times and Runner's World, and thinking how incredible it was to do it in 16 minutes and change. But now he's been exposed as a cheat. It's sad that so many pro athletes have resorted to cheating.
I'm super excited about plans for a long weekend in Leadville in late June. I'm planning to basically live out of my car and tent for three or four nights while running the 100-mile course and just enjoying one of the most beautiful areas on planet earth. By then the snow will be gone, allowing for some incredible training. At this point, all I can think about is doing that Hope Pass section over and over again.
I think often about what went down at this year's LT100. I know I should put it behind me--and in some ways I've totally moved on and my knee is back to 100%--but at the same time my DNF serves as motivation. Once Phoenix is behind me, Leadville will be all that matters. And, for the first time in my ultrarunning life, I won't care about my time. Yeah, I'm going to train hard, but what I'm really going to be after is that feeling of finishing. I just want to finish Leadville again. I want that third El Plato Grande buckle.