Hey everybody, hope you had a great holiday! I ate way too much cheesecake for some reason, it seemed to be everywhere I was. I also took an actual off-season, something I haven’t done since… I started running. I guess that’s the thing about living in the Bay Area- you can run right through the “winter”.
Now that I’m in Connecticut, we have actual winter. Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. Seems my biggest dilemma is to either run outside or hit the gym treadmill. Hashtag “runner problems bro”. Seriously, it was 11 degrees here one morning. My eyeballs froze in between blinks.
Another big dilemma is choosing races. We don’t have the “I can run an ultra 3 out of 4 weekends a month” thing offered by companies like Inside Trail, or Coastal Trail Runs or even a PCTR. There’s no Lake Sonoma here. Or Miwok. Or Skyline 50k. There’s no thriving trail scene centered around the greatest running store in the world, San Francisco Running Company. I actually have to drive more than a half hour to the start of races now. Bay Area/Nor Cal folks: you are so spoiled and I am jealous of you.
There, I said it.
What we do have is a few dedicated, small trail and ultra running groups splintered about New England and the mid-Atlantic.
So without further ado, here’s my (tentative schedule) for 2017:
February 25th: the Colchester Half, Colchester, CT
I really want to run NYC so I’m trying to qualify automatically with a 1:25 or better, so running this hilly half marathon to start the season makes sense. I typically like to start small and build every year, and I haven’t run a half since February 2014. I also would like to capitalize on this fitness I gained last year, so blasting a fast half sounds fun. Since the roads are plowed after snows pretty quickly, I’ll be either on roads or treadmill until we thaw- the local trails are no joke, ankles-breaking rocks and such under a carpet of snow does not sound fun right now.
March 25th: the Two Rivers Marathon, Lackawaxen, PA
A big net downhill 26.2 in the northeastern corner of my home state, I just really want to beat up my quads… and (hopefully) finally go sub 3 in the marathon. Again, NYC auto qualifier would be a 2:58 so that’s something to shoot for as well. I’m not feeling that lottery, or any lotteries in general after losing out on Western States again for the 5th straight year. I’m just going to sign up for races this year and actually run them.
April 15th: the Traprock 50k, Bloomfield, CT
I have to be okay with running multiple loop courses now that I’m here on the East Coast so here’s a three loop 50k in the Connecticut woods early after the thaw. Traprock is the term given to the volcanic rock outcroppings and ridges that broke through the surface of the Earth and cooled a few hundred million years ago that all basically run south to north along the Connnecticut River Valley from Long Island Sound up into to Vermont. This is how us runners accumulate vertical, by running up and down and over these ridges. New Haven sits between two of these rock formations, West Rock Ridge (about 1.5 miles from my house) and East Rock.
May 13th: the North Face Bear Mountain 50, New York
Have I ever told you that 50 miles is my favorite distance? If not, here we go- 50 miles is by far my favorite distance. It’s the perfect amount of time to go out exploring, 8 to 12 hours (mid-packer speed). You can see a lot in that time, and I hear the views from the ridges here are pretty sweet- the Hudson, the city off in the distance, the Taconics and Berkshires to the west. Hopefully I can get over there for some training runs- the first 25 miles are really technical and the second 25 are really fast. I like the sound of that!
June 17th: Manitou’s Revenge, Maplecrest, NY
I’ve heard this is not your typical 50 (54 miles actually), and to treat it like a really hard 100k. It has a 24-hour cutoff. It has something like 14,000 feet of climbing, on insanely technical trails- there’s chains and ropes. Sounds like more of an adventure run than a race. I’m in! (registration opens Feb. 1st)
August 12th: Eastern States 100, Waterville, PA
If you can’t do Western States, do Eastern States! This race looks brutal, and after last year’s Bighorn 100 it’s becoming more and more obvious that I like to do things that are really tough. If it’s not heat and humidity, it’s wasps and thunderstorms. Something besides the race itself will most likely present some kind of challenge, so the mental aspect of training will be key here- I see a lot of mid-day July runs in bank-robber costumes for heat acclimation, more night runs and possibly learning how to use trekking poles. I had a loose goal of finishing Bighorn in 27-28 hours (it took 31) so for this race, the goal is to just finish. There’s so much that can go wrong in a 100-miler, and having only run the distance twice I am seriously under-qualified to set a time goal for myself. Here’s some goals: just finish. Just enjoy it. Just endure. Those sound like more attainable goals than say, a 27-hour finish. Also, this part of PA is insanely beautiful and wild.
September and beyond…
I think I’d like to run another road marathon, those are really hard. Maybe Hartford in October? Maybe Philly in November? I’m already back in Boston for 2018 so I’d like to improve my corral seeding, so putting a fast(er) time on blast sounds cool and painful. I also think I’d like to do JFK50– I’ve been told if you do that one right you can run a really fast time and with the amount of people both running with you in that race and spectating, it’s really fun.
So there’s some options for the latter part of ’17. I’ve said this in previous blog posts and I’ll say it again: there’s a vibrant and happening trail and ultra scene on the Beast Coast, just gotta poke around!
I look forward to running these insanely rocky and technical trails with you all, and thanks for reading.