That title seems a bit more onerous than I had originally intended. Maybe in parentheses it should say “subject to change” but such a small audience actually reads this blog that I hope you few that do will keep me somewhat accountable.
So here goes:
Skyline 50K – August 3rd
After Dick Collins Firetrails 50-miler, this is my favorite race in the Bay Area. I believe it’s the oldest continually running 50k in America, Sarah Lavender Smith wrote a great piece about it for TrailRunner magazine (find it here). The aid station volunteers are wonderful, the vibe is super old school, and the roast pig at the post-race BBQ is freaking outstanding (cracklins for days). RD Adam Ray does an amazing job at keeping it low-key but still is able to attract a few local fast runners. Great race for rookies looking to dip their toes into their first ultra!
Coastal 50K – September 20th
Point-to-point 50 kilometer race from Stinson Beach to the Golden Gate Bridge before heading back down to Rodeo Beach? Yes, I think I’ll run this again. I used this race as a training run for the Dick last year, but since I’m not running DCFT this year (got a friend’s wedding that same day) I’m just going to race it, full-on, taper and everything. It’s a great race on great trails, going up the Dipsea and Steep Ravine, hooking around Pantoll back to Cardiac then down into Muir Beach. Then up Pirate’s Cove to Coyote Ridge and Miwok down to Tennessee Valley. Then the long mellow climb out of TV on Marincello to Bobcat, up the Rodeo Valley trail to SCA then dropping under the bridge. Taking Coastal back up, you then drop back to RV and finish in the parking lot at the beach. 31 miles of Marin trails with about 7,400 feet of climb. It’s a great preview to some other marquee races in that area like the Miwok 100K or The North Face 50 Mile Championship, with a subdued atmosphere.
San Joaquin River Trail 50 Mile – November 15th
Found this on UltraSignup.com- it happens to be three weeks out from The North Face 50 so I’m going to take a ride down the the foothills north of Fresno for a little camping and give this race a go, a nice 50 mile training run as a warmup for a 50 mile race. Seems counter-intuitive, but I’m kind of bummed to be missing out on the Dick so I feel like I have to do one little road trip race last in the year to make up for it. It looks like a really cool out-and-back race on (mostly) single-track, and that time of year the weather should be pretty crisp. As for the Dick, two of my friends are running it as their first 50-miler so I’ll be at Skyline Gate early in the morning ringing a cowbell and shouting encouragement. Maybe I’ll be slanging pickle juice shots.
The North Face 50 Mile Championship – December 6th
I gotta do this race again. You might be saying, “what, you’re not going to run another 100-miler?” I’m going to wait to run another, throwing all my chips in again for Western States next year, and if no States then I’ll decide on another 100 for sometime around June-July-August-September of next year. But for now I really want to focus on “nailing” a 50-miler. I think I can go somewhere around 8 hours at this race; and I’m going to throw everything I have at training for TNF, then fully recover and rest around the holidays before ramping back up to attack another 100.
About that next 100-miler…
I’m hoping it’s States, but if not I’ll be looking at either doing the San Diego 100 (early June) again or one of the following races: Bighorn (late June; Wyoming), Angeles Crest (early August; southern California), Cascade Crest (late August; Washington), Wasatch Front (early-September; Utah), Pine to Palm (mid-September; central Oregon), Run Rabbit Run (mid-September; Colorado), Mogollon Monster (late-September; Arizona) or The Bear (late September; Utah-Idaho).
You may be saying, “wow, those races are pretty ambitious for a second 100-mile attempt”, and looking ahead that far may be putting the cart way before the horse- but I’m a much better runner when I’m working towards a goal, so putting my name in one of the aforementioned hats gives me something (hard) to work for. I feel like I have an idea what it takes to run 100 miles, so a mountain 100 would be both ambitious and challenging to try next year. Those are all contingent on me not getting in States (and which lotteries I can “win”).
It’s literally an entire year away from right now, so barring catastrophic injury I think those races could be a bit of a reach and they’d really force me to train harder than I’ve ever trained before; I know I have a lot more to learn about training for what comes after mile 70. That being said, let’s see what happens.
I’m also confident that I have another 100 in my legs, and if I stick to my plan of one per calendar year, I’ll have many years of running 100s left. My original idea was to run Rio Del Lago this November, but a 100 really beats you up- I was feeling it for a good 3 weeks after. That kind of recovery takes time, and I don’t think I want to put all my eggs in that basket just yet.
Another thing about those races listed above: they’re all on the Hardrock qualifier list, and looking even further ahead I’d love to be able to throw my name into the 2016 HR Lottery, so there’s another motivating factor.
Apparently I’ve also qualified for The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) with the points accumulated from Lake Sonoma, Miwok and SD100, so there’s a possibility (albeit a pretty extreme one because that race not only costs a fortune to enter but getting over to France would likely cost another small fortune) I could run that, but I’ll probably also wait on that (put it on the bucket list race)…
…and I’ve got some trips coming up in the near future that either involve running as the sole purpose OR involve me trying to shoe-horn in some running around the real purpose of travel, including (also subject to change):
Tahoe Rim Trail. Yep, all 165 miles in 4 days. Putting together an ultralight kit to attempt this. Not an FKT by any stretch, just going out on my vacation week to log a bunch of miles and get around the entire thing. Great altitude training, great views, great adventure. Might bonk hard and call it quits in Tahoe City, might not. “Embrace the great unknown and do epic shit”, I say.
Mt. Shasta ascent. I keep checking the Shasta Avalanche site as well as both the Avalanche Gulch route and the Clear Creek route on SummitPost.org for new comments (check out the most current webcams on this site, too). The blog over at Shasta Mountain Guides website was just updated less than 2 weeks ago, and they’re saying it’s good to go through Labor Day and beyond. Looks like the snow conditions are at their lowest in years and I’d still need some minimal gear like an ice axe and crampons, but I’m thinking an ascent would be awesome.
Honeymoon in Kauai. So psyched to get some runs in on The Garden Isle; I hear there’s a few trails here.
October 30th-November 1st
Yosemite. My partner has a conference here, and while she’s stuck in seminars and meetings all day, I’ll be out exploring. Would you believe I’ve never been to Yosemite? Entering my 8th year in California and it feels criminal to have never gone. I’ve been to a bunch of places just north and south of the park, but never in it. Crazy, I know. My friend Steve wants to get me up here earlier, however for a climb/run on Mt. Lyell. He calls it a very runnable 13,000-footer with an easy(-ish) scramble to the summit. Might make two trips there this year.
December 20th-January 4th (2015)
Extended East Coast visit. Looks like we’re doing the whole family thing; my peoples in Philly, Allyson’s sister’s family in Brooklyn and then her parents in western Massachusetts. I’ll bring tights and gloves and get some runs in, if there’s snow I’ll rent snowshoes (not really). Maybe re-create my childhood skiing on the shitty ice hills of eastern Pennsylvania. With my luck there will be no snow, and I’ll be stuck looking through stacks of old baseball cards.
So there it is. Looking into 2015, I’ll probably try to do lake Sonoma 50 again (going to a lottery this year, so maybe not), maybe Miwok again, possibly the Bishop High Sierra 100k and hopefully one of those mountain 100s I mentioned. I’m looking forward to checking out new shoes, new gear, getting up to altitude, etc. So here’s to adventure!