What I am into is goal-setting. I have a few personal and professional goals for this year, but for the purposes of this blog I'll just talk about my tentative 2014 racing goals. Here goes:
Break 3 hours in the marathon once again. The last time I broke 3 in the marathon was May of 2009 (a month later I won a 100-mile trail race--wow, those were the days). Damn, the years fly by. I tried to break 3 at the Arizona Rock 'n Roll Marathon last January but came up just a little short. This spring, with my 41st birthday nearing, I think I may once again go for sub-3. I have this crazy goal of trying to break 3 in three separate decades: 2000s--done (2008, 2009), 2010s--not yet, 2020s--we'll see. I've written on here before that I believe the road marathon is the hardest distance of all when you're racing with a goal in mind. Every second counts, and success comes down to pacing and having enough in the tank for that grueling final 10 kilometers. Sorry, but trail ultras, while really hard, aren't quite as hard as nailing a fast marathon time (fast being a relative term, depending on your abilities). If indeed I go for a sub-3 this spring, it'll likely be at the very downhill Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins. That will mean I need to start ramping up in the next few weeks, with March and April being pretty heavy. I need to decide really soon if that's what I want to do, because I'm not quite mentally ready to take on big weeks of running (80+) when there's still lots of skiing to be had. (UPDATE AS OF 1/21: I REGISTERED FOR THE COLORADO MARATHON!)
Break 21 hours at the Leadville 100. If you've been following this blog for a few years, you know I've been fixated on breaking 20 hours at Leadville. Last summer, I trained really hard and still came in with a 22-hour time. My problem is that, while I run at sub-20 pace for 80 miles of that course, I tend to lose a lot of time on the ~20-mile Hope Pass section. This year, with the right fueling strategy (going to experiment with GU Roctane), I believe sub 21 is possible. My one hesitation is that I'm pretty well "fat adapted." I try to use calories on runs as little as possible, but at the same time I need to be ready for race-day nutrition.
Stay injury-free. Knock on wood, but I've been free of injury for over a year now, save a foot deal that happened in November of 2012 and carried over into 2013. I think weight training and MAF have really helped me stay healthy. I also think I've found the right shoes for me--Sauconys, especially the Ominis.
Those are the goals for the year. The marathon goal is still rumbling around in my head but I'm feeling pulled to the Colorado Marathon in early May. Deep in my mind, I have this thing where I need to break three hours so I'll feel like a decent runner. Maybe it's an ego thing. When I feel like a decent runner, I have confidence that translates into better performances in ultras.
As a fan of the stop/start/continue tool, here are some things I believe ultrarunning as a sport needs to do in 2014:
- Stop talking about how the sport is growing by leaps and bounds. It's still a very niche sport that, for the most part, operates in the shadows. We've lost all perspective if we think this sport has gone mainstream.
- Stop beating on the Leadville 100. It got old fast.
- Stop saying the sport has gone international. There have been badasses from other nations for years. Ever heard of Bruce Fordyce? Yiannis Kouros? How about Don Ritchie or Oleg Kharitonov? Those guys could run circles around many of us today.
- Stop with the fixation on arranging the sport around the needs of the "elites." This sport isn't about elites; it's about like-minded folks enjoying the road and/or trail together, within the context of a race, and then enjoying a few beers afterward. I couldn't care less what the elites want, but I will say I enjoy watching them mix it up at races like Western States and Hardrock.
- Start getting more road ultras into the mix.
- Stop saying that race X or race Y has "the deepest field ever." That got old a few years ago. There have been many deep fields. I know it's hard for many to imagine anything being bigger or better than what we have today. But I think one could argue, as referenced by the international badasses I listed above, that the sport has been strong for a long time. Whatever.
- Stop talking about prize money. This will not be a big money sport anytime soon, because ultrarunning has little visibility in the "general" market and it's not spectator-friendly. But if it does one day bring in big bucks (which it won't), the sport will go to ruin. Big money=cheating.
- Start running and enjoying the gift on a daily basis. As a sport, we've come to talk too much (I've been guilty of this, too). We should run more and talk less.
- Stop with the ESPNization of the sport. This isn't the NFL. Enough already.
I'd love to hear what your goals are for 2014. Feel free to share them in the comments.