Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 - A Year Off

Well, it's been over a year since my last post.  2014 was actually a very big year for me, just not in regards to running.  In 2014 I got married, accepted a new job after 14 years at the same company, turned 40 years old and had a baby daughter.  So running was not a priority for me this year.  I haven't enjoyed getting so out of shape, but I just couldn't focus on it.

2014 Summary
My running started off well, but then went downhill.  On Oct 15th of 2013, 6 months to the day I turn 40, I started a running streak of a minimum 5km per day.  This lasted into late Jan 2014, then I ended it after 104 days in a row.  A brutal winter, two 'polar vortexes', an ice storm and near record number of days below minus 20 degrees for a winter, I'd run through it all and had enough.  I was in decent shape to start the year, as planned.

After my streak, I took a break and then started running sporadically.  The plan was to be in great shape for Sulpher Springs 100 mile in May, which was a month before our baby was due.  I was going to run the inaugural Laura Secord 100km in April, perfect timing to get ready for Sulpher. Then after running a blistering time at Sulpher (‘blistering’ by my own standards), I'd take it down a few notches and just stay in shape the rest of the year running a few races here and there, having fun.

Well, in Feb I found out I had a work trip the same weekend as Laura Secord, so I couldn't do it.  Without having the obligation to get ready for a 100km race, I found myself being lazy and not running much.  Before I knew it, Sulpher was fast approaching and I wasn't in shape.  I ended up downgrading to the 50mile race, which I ran for fun but was not ready for at all.

A month later, my beautiful daughter was born and then I found myself with no time to run anymore, not enough to be trained for anything anyway.  By the end of the summer, I was itching for a race so I signed up for Haliburton 50 mile 4 days before the race.  I then got very sick 2 days later and couldn't go.  Arg!! Probably a good thing, I was way undertrained and it would have been ugly.

At this point, the realization set in that I wasn't going to do another race in 2014, my half-assed 50 miler at Sulpher back in May would be my sole race for the year.  I would run a little here and there, mainly to stay in basic shape as I was still playing soccer once a week.  My lack of fitness was catching up with me at soccer games now too.  I was getting tired and winded way before I should be.

So, I basically had a year off of serious running.  I thought I’d still stay in decent shape, but oh well, I can dream… Oh yeah, speaking of dreams…

The Dream
I'd been waiting all year for Dec 6th, the lottery date for Hardrock 100.  Hardrock is the pinnacle of ultrarunning for me.  I would have to be in my best ever shape just to have a chance at finishing, as I have no idea if the altitude would kick my ass again as it did in Leadville.  Hardrock is much, much tougher than Leadville, so it doesn`t even make much sense for me to apply, which just makes me want to do it more!  Sick, I know.

The elevation for Hardrock is at the top.  Just below is Leadville where the altitude kicked my ass.

My run at Western States in 2013 qualified me for the lottery in 2013 and 2014 for the 2014 and 2015 races.  Last year, I`d made it to 10th on the waitlist.  This time, I had a 2.5% chance of getting in.

The Reality
Alas, it was not to be.  I didn’t make the lottery or the waitlist, so I immediately started looking at potential qualifying races I could run in 2015 to get into next year`s lottery.  The qualifying races for Hardrock are all 100 mile (or more) mountain races which are tough enough on their own, some even have their own lotteries to get in.  Excluding international races and other North American races for various reasons, there are 12 potential races I could do (in date order below):

Cruel Jewel – May in the Appalachians of Georgia, biggest climbs of any race on the list but low altitude.  Likely won’t do it, too soon and on my wife’s birthday!

Bighorn – Wyoming in June, not too much climb or altitude.

Angeles Crest – Outskirts of Los Angeles in early August, already sold out!

Fat Dog – 120 miles in Southern BC in August. Toughest race on the list, so definitely a contender.

Cascade Crest – Late August in Washington, medium climbs, medium altitude.  Lottery to get in.

Wasatch Front – Mid September in Utah, one of the toughest on the list.  Chris will be doing this one so I’d have company.  Lottery to get in.

Plain 100 – Washington in mid September, small race and no aid stations, must bring filter to drink from streams.

Run Rabbit Run – Northern Colorado in mid September.  Mid level climb, mid/high altitude.

IMTUF – Late September in Idaho.  Mid level race, altitude not too bad.

Bear 100 – Late September in Utah, pretty tough one.

Mogollon Monster – Northern Arizona on late September. Lots of climb, altitude not bad.

Grindstone – West Virginia in early October.  Lots of climb but low altitude.  This is the only possible driveable race at approximately 10hrs away.

Not sure which one I’ll go for.  Later in the summer or early fall would be best, more time to get ready as I can’t run for shit right now.

The Plan
Ah yes, one of those.  First, pick a HR qualifier in the next few weeks.  Next, hit some 50km and 50 mile races for tune up, training and fun in the spring, run a decent 100 at Sulpher in May, more races in the summer, then a Hardrock qualifier in late summer or fall (followed by getting into Hardrock in the lottery in Dec and then running it in 2016!).  Oh yeah, also go to work, raise 3 kids, change a lot of diapers, finish (aka start) renos on the house, lose the 10+ pounds I added this year, etc, etc...

I’m looking forward to hitting the local race scene again and hanging out with some great peeps.  Chris will be on a tear this year.  After trying to get into Western States countless times, his name was finally drawn, along with a bunch of Ontario runners, should be a great time.  Getting into Western wasn't enough, he's now attempting the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, which means running Western States, Leadville, Wasatch and Vermont in the same year.  He'll have some great stories to tell his C&C Running Factory clients.  Good luck madman!

Going to be a great year for everyone, let's do it!  I'll post again once I pick my race.