Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Month in Review (December)

12/2009: 0 miles
12/2010: 49.5 miles
12/2011: 108.7 miles
12/2012: 64.6 miles
12/2013: 92.3 miles

My last monthly training summary was for... July. Wow, it's been a while. I almost didn't bother posting a summary for December seeing as my "training" during the month was very inconsistent due to travel, illness, and general holiday craziness. Instead of recording mileage I should've recorded the number of cookies I ate. That would've been more impressive.

I wanted to get a slight head start on training for 2014 because I knew that my main focus race would be in late June/early July-- either Hardrock, Western States, or Bighorn. I displeased the lottery gods once again and didn't even make the wait list for Hardrock. I actually had similar odds of getting into Western States even with only one ticket, but that didn't happen either. Disappointing, but no big deal in the grand scheme of things. I'll get into both races eventually, and I believe that each extra year of experience improves my odds of being successful once I do get in.

I'm excited for Bighorn. All the race reports I've read-- and all the folks I've talked to who've run it before-- speak highly of it. "Wild and scenic" seems an appropriate tagline. As someone who's only run one 100-mile course before, it's exciting to contemplate running a new and unknown course. A little intimidating, but mostly liberating as I'll have no historical splits to beat and (assuming I finish) I'm guaranteed a PR for the course. In my experience, running an unfamiliar race purely by perceived effort can be the most enjoyable and satisfying way to run-- even if you might've been able to shave off a few extra minutes with a more rigorous/scientific approach based on past results.

For me, the most intimidating aspect of Bighorn isn't the course or the distance, but the timing of the race. 6/20 seems damn early to be running 100 miles-- especially for someone who lives in Leadville. The trails around here don't generally melt out until mid- to late-May. If I simply move my traditional training schedule up a month how am I going to log 50,000 ft of vertical in April and May? A lot of snowshoeing up Mt. Elbert and racing down in the "lowlands" of Buena Vista, Ft. Collins, and Gunnison, I guess...

Here's what I've been up to since Leadville:

Green = long run, Bold = race, Yellow = bike (1 mi/10 min), Blue = snowshoe/ski.
After taking a full week off after Leadville, I just tried to keep it around 20 mi/week during my 15-week off season. For my fall race I paced my good friend, Alex, at Run Rabbit Run for 61 miles. That was much tougher than expected, but super fun! (We'll be running Bighorn together this year.)

Of course, during my first week of "real" training in December I immediately came down with a nasty stomach flu that took me out of commission for four days. Ugh. Not pleasant. Still, I was able to bounce back pretty quickly. The holidays took their toll, but I'm relatively pleased with what I was able to accomplish. I've been a little more unorthodox in my training so far, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing more than I have in the past. In particular, I've snowshoed 6.6 miles up Elk Run (1,000 ft of vertical) on multiple occasions. This workout is absolutely brutal in untracked powder, taking me over 40 minutes longer than I run it in warmer months. In the same amount of time I could easily run 12 miles on the roads around town, but I'm hoping the snowshoeing will pay off in the long run.

Backcountry skiing counts as training, right? In Second Creek Basin.
Most of my backcountry skiing took place during our annual hut trip. Each year, a group of 20 or so of us rent out an entire hut for 3 nights sometime between Christmas and New Year's. It's super fun. Generally we pick a hut near Leadville, but this year we traveled a bit further to a new hut near Berthoud Pass. Every year it's a contest to see who can haul the most ridiculous amount of food/alcohol up to the hut. Let me assure you that skinning up 800 ft in 1 mile carrying a 70+ lb pack is a workout! Oh. My. God.

Family portrait at Broome Hut near Berthoud Pass.
So, yes, their were some hiccups in my December training, but I'm feeling good. It's certainly way too early to stress out about missing a few days here and there. Luckily, I seem to have retained some of my fitness from summer, and I'm running my regular routes as fast or faster than I ever have this time of year. And, most importantly, I've still got the desire to train. I'm excited for all the races I've got lined up for 2014. My immediate focus is Smokey's Leadville Snowshoe Marathon on 2/1. That will be about, oh... 20 miles further than I've ever snowshoed before. It should be an adventure!

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