31 March 2014

The Art of Race Planning

"When spring came, even the false spring, 
there were no problems except where to be happiest." 
- Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Garden of the Gods from Section 16
Oops, I did it again.

I may have let my racing enthusiasm get the best of me for the second year in a row. After taking about a month off of my monster 2013 season, I’ve been easing back into training since January. Problem is, with my season kicking off with Salida two weeks ago, I’m not quite where I need to be fitness-wise. My
achilles and hammies were sore for about a week after Salida and now that I'm recovered, I'm tapering (sigh). 

For the next few months, my races/runs are spaced 2 - 3 weeks apart, so I’m spending most weeks either tapering or recovering. It’s hard to improve my fitness when I’m stuck in that cycle. I’m also more prone not to recover well as I’m anxious to resume normal training, as I discovered after Salida.

So, I’m doing what I can to maintain my fitness and if possible, improve it when I can. Once Bighorn pacing is done (or Hardrock, if I pace there), I’ll work to improve my 50 mile fitness so I can feel better prepared for my hundo in September. Since my season will be ending in October instead of December this year, I should be in better shape when 2015 racing begins in Feb/March.

The weather's been great the past couple of weeks and the trails are drying out nicely. Got back out to Pueblo for a long run as well as Section 16 this past week: 

With my first ultra of the season coming up on Saturday. I’ve been pouring over race reports to get an idea what running in central Kansas is going to be like. I’ve been warned that this course is not flat. I’ll be running up and down rolling hills the entire day. If the forecast (partly sunny, light wind, 40’s – 60’s) holds, then we won’t be contending with the heat that they've had in prior years. Wind can be a problem and there’s no shade on the course. Also, we can expect sand, some short, steep climbs and several water crossings, two of which may be around 3 ft deep. Extra shoes and Drymax socks will be in my drop bag.

Though I’ll be taking it real easy in the first half, I expect the second loop to be another lesson in pain tolerance. I expect to be out there for 12 hours, so I’m gonna be hurting, especially this early in the season. It’ll be good mental training as I get ready for my R2R2R run at the end of April, which will certainly put me in the pain cave at some point.
My boy. Just because.
In other news, I had a FABULOUS 24 hours in Denver this past weekend with J-man. It was the first time we've been away together since the kids were born. Thanks to my running pal Sheila and her huz for watching the kids so we could enjoy some couple time. My friend Tammy had given us a free hotel stay so all we paid for was food. Speaking of which, it was all awesome. We had ate sushi appetizers at Taki Sushi (our fav was the “Sex on the Beach” rolls), had Belgian beers & fried food (don’t miss the beignets!) at the Cheeky Monk and afternoon tea the next day at The House of Commons Tea Room. Best 24 hours I've spent ever. Love my guy.
My favorite food
Our beers of choice
Love of my life
The other thing going on this weekend was the infamous Barkley Marathons – five 20-mile sadistic loops in what is considered the toughest 100 mile race in the world. As of last year, only 14 had completed all 5 loops within the 60 hour time limit -- an astonishing 1% finishing rate among the 900 or so that have tried. It's dubbed “The Race That Eats Its Young” and even seasoned Hardrockers and thru-hikers are given a dose of humble pie and felled after the first loop. Those of us not there follow the race on Twitter (#BM100) and even then, the info is sketchy at times. 

This year, the race started at 6:45 EST last Saturday morning and the conditions were lousy – rain, wind, snow, sleet and very cold at night. While I only checked a couple of times while on my Denver date, it was clear that the indomitable Jared Campbell (2012 finisher, Nolans 14 finisher and overall badass) was on his way to becoming the second 2x finisher after Brett Maune. By the end of loop #2, he had dropped everyone. Only four people completed the fun run (3 laps) in under the 40 hour cutoff. 

Just now, we got word that Jared made it to the yellow gate in a total time of 57:53. Amazeballs! Any time someone finishes a 100 miler, it's an incredible feat. But those that complete Barkley or Nolan's 14 in under 60 hours are in a special category of badass. Most ultrarunners don't have the mental fortitude to suffer for that long. Congrats to all the braved the course, got after it and finished as many loops they could. 
The Beast in blue (Photo: Barkley Marathons Doc Film)
And a quick shout out to Joe Grant and Jill Homer who participated in the White Mountains 100 this weekend, held in interior Alaska. Joe ran to a first place finish in an impressive time of 17:05 (course record) and Jill used the excellent course conditions to finish on her fat bike in 11:30. Awesome work!

Happy Trails,



  1. Good for you! It took us 15 yrs from childs birth til our first weekend away. Glad it didn't take you that long.

    1. No kidding! We resolved to do it at least once a year from now on. Even 24 hours is restorative.