My last post was about dropping out of Run Rabbit Run 100. At no point did I ever question my decision to drop out and it never really affected me on any level. The only frustrating part was not using the fitness I worked hard to obtain over the summer… but on the upside I didn’t need to recover and could enjoy my favorite season, Fall, out on the trails.
My motivation to run has been at an all time high since then. My training for RRR was pretty conservative on the running front and I never felt like I was pushing my limits. I was too afraid of getting injured and not getting to the starting line so I held back. With no concrete plans this fall I have been running and pushing my running volume a bit and just having fun.
The week after RRR I was able to get a slot in The North Face 50 Mile Championships in San Francisco the first week of December. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do it but I decided to see if I could get in just so if I did have the motivation to actually train and race I had an opportunity. My plan was to just take it week by week and see where my motivation was.
Two weeks after RRR I jumped into the Blue Sky Trail Marathon up in Fort Collins. We had never been to Fort Collins so I figured it would be a good chance to check out the trails, test my fitness, and race out some my frustrations. I had an ok day out there, ran hard against some good competition, and was able to, barely, hang on to 2nd place. I never felt great and my head just wasn’t in the game. I didn’t have my normal “eye of the tiger” or willingness to really dig deep and suffer… which is the number one reason I love to race. I was just going through the motions which something I don’t like to do.
At that point I was pretty sure I was going to call it a year on the racing front but I still was super stoked on running… so I just kept running. I ended up with some solid weeks of running. I was having fun and feeling good. I needed to head out to SoCal for a work trip and we made it so we would be in town for the Whoo’s in El Morro 50k. Maggie and I met at that race 4 years ago and we thought it would be rad to both go back and race again.
Whoo’s in El Morro was fun!! My stoke to toe the line was back as soon as we started. There were some fast dudes running and I knew I would have to work for it if I wanted to be on the podium. Right of the bat a young dude went of the front. He was wearing is college team singlet so I knew the dude could run. I figured he was at least 15 years younger than me and sure enough he was… he was 23 and I’m just a few months from turning 39!!! The days of being able to hang with younger dudes are limited but while I still can I really enjoy that challenge of trying to battle them.
Up the first climb I slotted into 2nd place and at around 3 miles the leader already had a 1+ minute lead on me and the gap would keep growing. At mile 10 the gap was 3 minutes, at mile 14 it was 5+. After the mile 14 aid station there is a super steep descent followed by a super steep climb and then you descend to the turnaround. As I headed down to the turn around I was ready to get a split to see what the gap was. I was running strong and never really pushing too hard. I knew the second half of the race was going to be hard. I was stoked to see that I had brought the gap down to 3 minutes and the leader was looking bit rough. I was stoked.
I just kept doing what I was doing and running steady. 3rd place was about 4 minutes behind me at that point. As I started the climb to the 17 mile aid station I could see the leader up ahead hiking and I was running. I made the pass and took the lead shortly after the aid station and surged a bit. I got away… and stayed away for the rest of the race. I was definitely stoked on getting the win in 3:49 but also just that I was mentally, and physically, into it from the start to the finish. Maggie also got the win which was rad since we both won there in 2012 as well.
This was also my first race back at sea level since moving to Colorado a year and half ago and I have to say I could feel the difference. It’s not like I could much run much faster, which I am sure is because I really don’t do any kind of speed work, but I could tell the difference when I was climbing. Climbing is ALWAYS hard at altitude and you pace uphill seems limited by your heart and lungs as opposed to your legs. During the race I found I could climb and steady, tempo effort and it didn’t spike my heart rate like it does here… which for sure paid off during a race with so much climbing.
Our trip back to SoCal was rad. I got a lot of work done, we got to race, and also got so spend some good times with our friends. Thanks to Slater and Monique for hanging out with Fi while we raced.
My plan was to see how I felt racing WIEM and make a decision on North Face. Right after the race I was thinking I was done for the year and it would be good to end on a high note but after thinking about it a bit and talking to Maggie I think I am going to train for another month and give North Face ago for the third time. I raced there in 2012 and 2014… both years had gnarly rain and they’ve had to change the course. I am hoping I am not the curse and I actually get to run the entire, original course.
As for training… I am just going to run (a lot) and keep up with the Mountain Athlete strength work. I don’t plan on doing any running workouts but I do plan on running a lot with no fear of getting injured. If I go for it and end up injured I’ll pull the plug on the TNF… no worries. My goal there is to break 7 hours. The field is stacked and I know I’m not going there to race for the win or podium. I just have a personal goal of breaking 7 there that I want to accomplish. Both times I’ve raced there I’ve let the excitement of the race get to me and have gone out entirely too hard and have paid for it. Hopefully this year being a little older, wiser, and slower I can race smarter. We’ll see.