2016 was a crazy year for me. Finished school in December 2015 and then decided to take some time for myself. I don't even really remember making an executive decision to commit a year to running. I think that sort of just happened after a couple months went by. Enough money in the bank to get me by and after being stressed from school for the prior three years, running seemed like the natural thing to focus on. Those 10ish months I had to focus on running seem like so long ago now. Time becomes a strange concept when everyday is spent waking up, eating, running ~20 miles, eating again, napping, running ~6 miles, eating, and sleeping more. I loved every moment looking back at it. Now I am working full-time and trying to discover the work/life/running balance again like back when I was in school. It is tough to not think about running full-time again on a daily basis.
Many times over the course of 2016 I debated what the main goal for the year was. I thought at times it was to win a big race, to get a sponsor, or to prove myself. Towards the end of the season I realized I had accomplished my true goal, to prove to myself that I can compete at a top level. I have never really been able to do that in my running life. As a 15:59 track 5k and 25:30 xc 8k guy, it is pretty amazing to compete in ultras with low 4 milers and low 14 5k guys. I have thought about why this is possible and honestly there is no answer, but I can compete with them and that gives me so much confidence in my place in this sport. I still am unsure if accomplishing these finishes I had in 2016 require me running 200+ a week full-time. At some points in the year I thought that was true and towards the end I thought otherwise. I truly enjoy running 150+ miles a week consistently more than anything else in life but for 2017 I am going to need to find a balance. Maybe down the road I will be able to pursue this full-time for longer than ten months. 2017 is going to be a test as to whether I can stay competitive in this sport. I will be going into this year knowing wins are not impossible for me and not needing to constantly question my ability on the trails.
After Run Rabbit I did not plan to take a lot of down time. Just like most of my training it just kind of happened. I spent some time looking back at my training logs from my junior year of school to mid-September after Run Rabbit. Looking at those logs just blows me away. I don't think you really realize just how damn fit you are when you are deep in the middle of focused training...at least for me. 2014 (when I had not even done an ultra) I ran 5,318 miles for an average of 102 mpw, when the year before that I had only gone over 90 one time in my life. Then 2015 when I was booted from my xc team I ran 5,890 for an average of 113 mpw. In 2016 when I had no job I ran 5,410 for a 104 mpw average. I had not taken an entire week off since before 2014. I was so deep into running it makes life now seem so different. A lot has happened since even the end of 2015. Now living in a new area with a new job on a new adventure. Not racing for five months has pulled me away from running but given me a new outlook as I start to gear back up. I have given an incredible amount of time and suffering to running and still remain just a small flicker in this sport as a whole. That is what makes running so appealing, it is so unbelievably challenging to go from good to great. It takes so much more that is out of our control than just talent or work ethic. There are endless opportunities in this sport for self satisfaction and discovery while there are so few for course records or national spotlight. I have learned it is about chasing the right goals and sticking to a pursuit that brings joy while lighting the competitive fire when I need to. Everything else will fall into place.
Top 2016 Highlights:
- 5th at Lake Sonoma in 6:37 & getting robbed of that ticket :)
- Finishing my first hundred in 9th at RRR
- Ordnance 100k - Running 7:47 and still getting 2nd because Ryan Neely is a beast.
- 3:31 at WTC 50k then coming back the next week and getting 2nd at MUC 25k in a race I finished stronger than ever before.
Ran my first race since September the other day. It was the first Mad Moose Events race for Jennie and I. Pueblo Marathon just south of C-Springs. Was a really fun day and we were both so happy to be back to racing. I have only been gradually running 100 mpw to get back in shape with a few workouts here and there. I had told myself many times before I would not do a marathon unless I was fully ready for it but... I decided to say screw it! It was a great opportunity for a fitness check and to see how 100 mile weeks are working for me. I just wanted to have a fun day, not blow up, and have a hard effort by the end. Ended up running alone after sharing some miles with the second place finisher Shane Angelovich. I focused on running a pace I thought I could maintain and finish strong with. That turned into being around 6:15 miles. The second half I tried pushing more but it ended up being the same pace, usually how it goes. So honestly I think I could have gone out much harder for a better time, but I am happy with a good experience that leaves me wanting to train for a competitive marathon someday, rather than hating life at the finish. Glad to have got the w in 2:42, just over my low-key goal of 2:40. I was puuushing to get under 2:40 there at the end. The last 20 minutes of a marathon is a very strange place to be mentally, I enjoyed it. The course had more little hill kickers than my gps data showed. Fast downhill on pavement hurts! Proud to represent an awesome race organization like Mad Moose. Also, honey stinger gels are so damn delicious compared to other gels I have had.
Next up got some big goal races. Still need to pull the trigger on signing up for a couple.
- Quad Rock 50
- Silver Rush 50
- Mad Moose Pikes Peak 30k champs
- Ouray 100
- Leadville 100 (if I qualify, and if I am in for a crazy back-to-back)
- & probably Run Rabbit 100 again (cuz why not).