That said, I like where my training is right now. I'm getting in about 70 miles and 10+ hours/week and have been seeing awesome results (anywhere from 5:55-6:20 pace) with my tempo runs. When we get more sunlight in the mornings, I'll be heading to the track for some fast stuff. By July, my training will involve weeks of 15-18 hours of running and power-hiking. With the benefit of having lived and trained at 6,200+ feet for a little over two years, I intend to show up at the Leadville 100 on August 18 in the best shape of my life--from head to toe. That's saying a lot--I was a beast in 2008 and 2009.
I have been mulling a major tweak to my 2012 schedule (technically 2013 schedule). I had originally planned to run in (and go for the win at) the Across the Years 24-Hour, which is in late December in Arizona. But I'm now leaning toward a PR effort at the Rock 'n Roll Phoenix Marathon on January 20. Technically that's 2013, but the training for it will all be in 2012. I have so much unfinished business with the marathon--mostly because I've underachieved at the 26.2-mile distance. My PR is 2:58 and I have two other sub-3's under my belt, but I think I'm fully capable of taking 5-10 minutes off my PR especially at a sea level race. Last April I was a victim of high winds and scorching heat at the Eisenhower Marathon, which deep-sixed a PR effort there (but, honestly, just coming off a serious injury at the time, I'm not sure I was in PR, much less sub-3, shape for Eisenhower). So, while I still have some relative youth to work with, I'm thinking a new PR at the Rock 'n Roll Marathon in January 2013 will be the big objective following the Leadville 100.
Other goals for the next 1-2 years:
- Break my 3:46 road 50K PR
- Do a 100K road race
- Break 1:20 in the half marathon
- Return to the Boston Marathon and break 3 hours there
- And of course break 20 hours at the Leadville 100!
When I train for 100s, it's not to finish, though that's always the over-arching goal. I train to achieve a dream--in the case of the Leadville 100, finishing in under 20 hours (which I used to always do in 100s back East but haven't been able to do at Leadville yet, mostly because Hope Pass kicks my ass every time). I sometimes visualize myself crossing the finish line in under 20 hours and telling my son to never, ever give up on his dreams, no matter how old he gets (visualization works). Dreams are about persistence and never giving up. To steal a quote from John F. Kennedy, I'll pay any price, bear any burden and meet any hardship when it comes to ultrarunning and achieving reams. I often recite those words when I'm out running in the cold and dark in the pre-dawn hours, when most folks are asleep or sipping on their coffee.
When you become an ultrarunner, you're taking on a lifestyle. Ultrarunning, unlike knitting or painting, isn't a hobby. It's not exercise, either. It's a way of life and, by that, I mean it's who you are. Ultrarunning, unlike recreational jogging, CrossFit, etc., permeates not only your life, but also the life of your family. I know few who are able to stick with this sport if they have an unsupportive spouse or apathetic family. I am fortunate to have a supportive wife. You have to be all in. Anything less and you're not going to make it. In today's world, where everyone wants to be comfortable and expects things to come easily, ultrarunning is quite rebellious.
I know some folks who've dipped their toes in the ultrarunning waters--maybe because they read an inspiring book--and didn't last long, because they weren't willing to make the sacrifices. And that's OK. People who stick with this sport do so because, well, running long distances defines who we are as individuals. It's hard to explain, but I believe I'm meant to run and that my running has a purpose I'm only now beginning to understand (to inspire people?). We're willing to make the sacrifices few others would make--going to bed early, getting up before dawn, running through rain, sleet and snow, enduring crushingly hard back to back runs, eating right, and gutting out the daily grind. We are runners who have a passion for traveling long distances on road, trail and, yes, track. We train hard because we love to race and we love the community of ultrarunning.
Now, let's go for a run!