Friday, December 21, 2012

Running Out of 2012

OK, so it's December 21st, 2012, the final day of the Mayan long count calendar, and the prophesied date end of the world.  However, we are still here, and my race calendar goes far beyond today.  2012 has been a very busy year.  By the time the year is done, I will have raced eight 5k's, two 8k's, three 10k's, a 15k, a 4-mile race, a 13-mile race, a 30k, two half-marathons, three marathons, two 50k's, 42.5 miles of a 210-mile relay, and a 50-miler.  I have set thirteen different PR's, including at least one PR for every distance.  I will have run over 2700 miles for the year, with nearly 400 of those being race miles.  2013, by contrast, will have far fewer races, but they all will be noteworthy.
My focus race for the foreseeable future is Umstead 100-mile Endurance Run on April 6-7.  100 miles is way beyond any of the challenges for which I have trained.  But, as I always do, I'm just going to figure it out as I go.  Volume...yes...I will need to maintain a high volume, but my focus will be not on just more miles, but more quality miles.  For Umstead, it will do me no good to do 16x400 on the track at vVO2max.  In order to prepare for the daunting undertaking of tackling 100 miles on foot, I will need to get plenty of practice doing just that...being on foot.  I will have to force myself to devote some training days just to walking.  I will have to rack up weekends of back-to-back long runs (B2Bs) where I am downright irritable by the last ten miles of the weekend.  I need to run through the night and in the rain and snow.  And I need to stay healthy.  Needless to say, such a grueling undertaking requires a lot of focus and positive energy, so I have supplemented my plans with other "shorter" ultras.  Frosty 50k (which was my first ultra) on January 5th and the Charlotte Ultra Run 50k (February 2nd) are a couple of "B" races that I will enjoy putting some focus into.  Both are flat and fast, and both present the possibility of a sub-4 hour time.  I most certainly will crush my old 50k PR of 4:57:59.  Later in the year, I anticipate doing one or two 50-milers.  Mountain Masochist sounds tempting, and I may want to see what the Boogie is all about.  Of course, the thought had occurred to me of returning to Prince William Forrest Park for the second annual OSS/CIA 50-mile Night Run...
But that's all far away.  Well, not exactly.  Frosty is only two weeks away and I'm already tapering for it.  Anyway, closer at hand--and still barely within the 2012 calendar year is the Freedom Park New Years Ultra Run 24hr, 12hr, 6hr, Marathon, and Half-Marathon, for which I won a free entry to the race of my choice in a random drawing.  Being that the Freedom Park event takes place a scant five days before Frosty 50k, I opted for the Half-Marathon.  Of all the goals I've set for 2012, the only one left unaccomplished is to run a sub-90 minute Half.  Now, on the last day of the year, I have a chance to do it!  Here's how it's gonna go down:
All of the races will take place on a certified 0.9859 mile loop.  The loop is relatively flat and smoothly paved.  In order to keep the same finish line for both the Half and the Marathon, the Halfers will start 0.2976 miles behind the start of the first full loop and then complete thirteen laps to reach the certified 13.1094 mile distance.  Yes, I am using an unnecessary amount of SigFigs in my preparation, but no one can say I'm not thorough.  I plan on maintaining a 6:40 pace for the race (1:27:24 projected finish), which works out to 1 minute, 59 seconds for the first partial loop to the lap finish line and then 6:34 for every subsequent full lap.  Therefore, I will be keeping an eye on my lap pace, but marking my laps on the same finish line every time to give me real-time +/- data VS my intended 0.9859 mile splits.
On another note, my current Half Marathon PR--which is from a VERY hilly course--would have me finishing two minutes before last year's overall winner.  This year, there are more participants, including one or two fellow contenders for the win, so a secondary goal for the race would be a podium finish.  I have taken the overall win in 5k's and 10k's before, and I have had several top three finishes (including one 3rd place 50k finish), but I have never outright won anything as long as a Half or longer.
We'll see...

Until then, Marry Christmas, a belated Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Solstice.  I hope we make it through the day and prove those Mayans wrong.