A few weeks ago, I was reminded of a blog post, written by ultrarunner Mark Carroll after the 2009 Mohican 100-Mile Run:
"At this point in the race Wyatt Hornsby must have been running a bit scared. Wyatt had just done something that he must have envisioned on a hundred training runs over the past year. It was bold and it was ballsy and it was unlikely. He had run well back from the frontrunners all day long; keeping them just within range. This was a wise strategy. But just a while ago his patience, alertness, and knowledge of the course allowed him to take over the lead from Mark Tanaka of San Francisco and he was now irrevocably committed to pulling off his goal of winning the Mohican Trail 100 Mile Run. This was the work of a believer. Wyatt was a good runner. In fact he had finished in the top five in a local 50K race on this very course a few months ago. But this was Tanaka’s race and everyone knew it. Well, almost everyone. Tanaka was the genuine deal. He was a member of the famous La Sportiva Mountain Running Team. Wyatt was running ruthlessly. He refused to walk on even some of the steepest climbs and increased his effort time and again over the final miles. Think of Rocky climbing off the canvas for a knockout. Wyatt crossed the line to the delight of all skinny-low-heart-rated Ohioans, in first place in 19:52."
Needless to say, that got me fired up (my report from that race here). It reminded me of a time when I felt I could almost float over the trail. I ran fearlessly in races because I knew I was in such great shape. I knew that I could push myself super hard and still have gas in the tank for a strong finish. A lot has changed since then, and I'm not just talking about age. I realize that I have gotten away from certain training practices that really helped me then and that could help me now. I am working to re-integrate those practices. No need to talk about them here; the important thing is that I am doing them.
With 2017 coming to an end, I am starting to think about my race schedule for 2018. It has been a challenging year on a few fronts and I am excited about 2018. I recently heard a guest on the Rich Roll Podcast (excellent podcast show, by the way) equate the endurance athlete's life to a three-legged stool. One leg is their professional life/job. Another leg is their family. The third leg is their training. If one of those legs is compromised in any way, the stool comes apart and the athlete falters. One's life needs to be in balance--in harmony--for optimal performance on the road and trail. I am looking for harmony in 2018, and I feel that my heart is in a really good place right now, which is a good sign.
With that said, I managed to finish 2017 with a decent performance at the local Turkey Trot 5K. Despite very little speedwork going into the race, I pulled off an 18:48, good for sixth overall in a field of more than 2,200 runners and walkers. The five runners who finished in front of me were all high schoolers, so not bad. But let me tell you: 5Ks hurt! I am confident that, with proper training, I might have a shot at once again going sub-18 for 5K. I've started getting back to the track every single week, recognizing that it'll pay off in a big way in races of all distances in 2018. When it comes to speed, "use it or lose it." I am committed, as in ironclad committed, to running hard at the track weekly from here on out.
Also for 2017, I am on pace to finish the year with a little more than 3,000 miles. This will be my eleventh consecutive year with 3,000 or more miles. It'll be my lowest-mileage year of the eleven but I'll take it as I suffered through a really nasty knee injury in the early spring that had me wondering if I would be running and racing at all in 2017 (it's ultimately what took me out at Leadville this year). That little knee tweak aside, I am so grateful for the durability my body gives me every year.
Lottery gods permitting, 2018 will feature a return to the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run. If that's the case, I'll be lining up for my sixth finish. I am still chasing the 1,000-mile buckle at Leadville. At this point, it seems so far away. If the 1,000-mile buckle were parallel with the race course itself, I have just gotten to Winfield (the halfway point) and am turning around for the arduous trip back up and over Hope Pass. I am very inspired to get after it at Leadville in 2018.
If I get into Leadville, then I am confident the rest of the 2018 schedule will shape up nicely. I am looking at a potential outing in April to the Grand Canyon, where some buddies and I will run rim-to-rim-to-rim. I have always wanted to run the Canyon and am excited.
So 2018 could be looking like the Grand Canyon in April and Leadville in August. Add to that a potential Colfax Marathon in May and the Leadville Trail Marathon in June and that looks like a pretty good spring and summer schedule to me.
If I don't get into Leadville, I'll likely register for the Never Summer 100K, a grueling mountain race here in Colorado, followed by either Run Rabbit Run up in Steamboat Springs or Javelina Jundred in the hot Arizona desert. I am kind of leaning toward Steamboat.
Would love to hear what your race schedule in 2018 is looking like. Chime in if you'd like.