Racing as a 35 year old is done. Running in 2015 is nearly there so I will take this time to close out the year on the blog with some musings looking back on the year.
Looking back is pretty easy. By my standards it was a sub-par year. My performances at ultra distance races this year were horrible, granted my biggest victory did come at the Umstead 100. For most that would be enough, not me. I failed to finish a 50 mile so I didn't even sniff that sub-6 and had only one 50K. During a span, I was starting and DNF'ing races out of frustration. It was a vicious cycle that I would try to move past a poor performance by signing up for a new race. In the past, my strategy of putting bad races behind me in this manner failed miserably. Instead of trying to rebound from a bad ultra with an ultra, I should have tried shorter races that I would finish to boost my confidence. Over the course of the year, I was not on my game. From getting off to a bad start with being tired from work at Phunt to Bronchitis before Black Canyon to buying a house (impacting much of the year after the miracle of Umstead), I was behind the eight ball. What I really should have done was adjust my goals. Thankfully as the year has closed, I've managed to get back more into my normal groove stringing together some encouraging performances at the Bucks County Marathon, BUS Trail Mix Up 30K, Bryan Court 100 (60K) and the Wissahickon Winter Solstice 10K. Also, in October, I managed to run 14 seconds faster on the Stormwater Runoff course than in 2014.
With good performances for the bulk of the past 2-3 months, I hope the trajectory will start 2016 off right. Last year, I really talked about my goals. Not going to do that so much for the upcoming year. Why? Just to reduce the stress I put on myself. I'm a pretty wound-up individual and can beat myself up. So why give myself the burden of feeling unnecessary pressure? Not going to do it. (Ok, I'm likely to do it still but maybe this will be a tad less.)
My aim is to build confidence and structure my race schedule in order to accomplish this. For much of what I have lined up so far, all the races get longer. And the spacing will allow for me to do some shorter speed runs that 2015 lacked a little of. That will mean hitting pavement more but I'm successful at the longer stuff because I can turnover when I need to.
Goodbye, 2015! Hello, 2016.....
BONUS CONTENT: BRYAN COURT 100 - REPORT:
What do you do when your friends (who just happen to be twin brothers) decide to host a fun run that entails 100 laps of a .378 mile cul de sac in the middle of December? You show up to run said 100 laps, which is exactly what I did.
Originally, my life-partner in crime, Peg was scheduled to make the voyage from gritty Philadelphia to the suburban oasis of Wayne, NJ. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, the team was splitting up for the day. Instead, thanks to friend-extraordinaire, Maggie agreed to let me ride shotgun in sweet Suburu style for the trip up as she too was on pilgrimage to Bryan Court. Hers was even more impressive as it was from Wayne to Wayne. (It is as if the world had folded in on itself!)
Because of her bad-ass win at Brazos Bend 100, Maggie was only running 20 loops as she was teaming up with fellow international powerhouse Aly for the 2-person relay edition of BC100. (Maggie is the other IPH here, not me.)
Not only is Maggie an awesome runner, she is an awesome driver and despite my late arrival for departure, she had us up to the run location at the time requested by the RD's Otto and Jurgen. We were surprised that a large number of runners took one of the early start options. It was enough to make one think we were late to the dance. Within moments of our arrival, we were inside Race HQ staying warm and marveling a certain large wedding portrait. (Unless, you were there, you don't get to know.) Around 8:45, we were summoned for opening ceremonies that included both the American and German national anthems. Before we knew it, time had come to line up next to the official mailbox start/finish line to start our quest of feeling loopy.
And away we go....round and round.
Yes, the course as mentioned about is a .378 mile loop on sidewalks. Yes, the goal is to run 60K in this manner. Yes, you will lose count of your laps. Don't let all that scare you, the real danger was the technical section on the far end of the course which required a lighting quick descent of 4 curb-like inches within a manner of feet. This year, the beast of the course consumed at least two victims who were able to pull themselves up from the ashes and claim victory over the course.
One of the great things about the course at BC100 is that you get to see all sorts of people you know over and over and over again for hours. So while you are doing something so potentially idiotic (as in the 'why are we doing this again' sense) you are always amongst friends. (It does help that the majority of the starting field knew each other.) Also, it is never understated how having not one but two available bathrooms every 3/8's of a mile is so nice. Only potential problem there is that those facilities are warm enough to not want to go back out into the cold. (A dilemma I myself had to encounter late in the run.)
Do you want to hear about each lap? Of course, you don't. And I wouldn't be able to remember all the details either. I couldn't even remember the lap I was on half the time so why would you expect me to remember anything else? But wait, how do I know how far I had gone if I couldn't remember? The RD's thought of everything as they assembled a star studded team of lap counters who worked tirelessly throughout the event from the confines of their warm van. A few of the hardcore counters pulled up chairs next to the aid station (which was next to the start/finish, which was next to the van....you get the idea....it was all close.)
Apparently, I was going to fast on my loops as a couple of times, Otto's wife yelled at me to slow down. Her language was a bit saltier but you get the point. Maggie after completing her long slog informed Otto's wife it was my training pace. With a course like Bryan Court, there is always suffering. Going comfortable will lead to suffering by prolonging the pain and going fast will make time go faster but will hurt in other ways. BC is always ready for a beat down.
Eventually, (not to mention thankfully), it was over. I ended my self-imposed torture (simply because I was brainwashed by the RD's and a few others that doing this was going to be fun). 100 laps for 60K in 4:43:30. Considering this was my first 60K, does this count as a PR? Can someone else confirm to me how this works at this event?
After my collapse across the finish line, I stood myself up and braced against the mailbox for support as both outstanding RD's stopped in the middle of their own efforts (they were running too) to present to me a trophy and this year's Bryan Court 100 buckle designed by (ninja and) fellow runner, Elaine. We posed for pictures and then I went inside the house to warm up. It was now time to enjoy the other aspects of this festive holiday party that happens to have a 100 lap fun run during it. There may or may not have been a nap. (Ok....I admit it, I took one.)
As with all good things, it had to come to an end. Maggie and I had to get back to our respective homes to do some debate watching. So, off into the sunset (to be honest, it was already dark), in the Suburu we went.
And thus closes the end of the BC100 recap.
(Like a moron, the next day I woke up and raced a trail 10K.)
Monday, December 21, 2015
Thursday, December 17, 2015
With Lance Armstrong’s recent foray into trail racing (because lets face it, if it was just trailrunning we would not be having this discussion), debate within the MUT (Mountain/Ultra/Trail) community around doping has escalated on the heels of Elisa Desco’s late inclusion into the North Face 50 race. What do we do with those who have been found using banned substances? Do we let them in after they have done their time or do we let them in as many of the events we participate in have no governing body?
I’m far from supporting bring in a governing body like USATF.
Eric Eagan’s recent blog does a good job of putting in place parameters (http://trails2brews.com/2015/12/14/who-exactly-is-welcome/). If we as a community want to be supportive to people, we should include them. However, for being a convicted doper, there should be a scarlet letter worn. So, I fully support allowing a cheater to participate if they do not get an official result and are not eligible for any awards. Where I would go farther is that the individual (in this case, Lance Armstrong) nor any of his/her sponsors could not use anything from the event (images, name) to promote themselves. In this manner, the convicted athlete can get that sense of competition they may need in life and the fellow competitors do not have to worry that they could lose out on something to a person of questionable competitive moral.
A second part of this raises the question, how do we police/test in our own community?
I would like to see networks of race directors get together to pull together resources to do testing. (Maybe races can partner with research/teaching hospitals to get services free or at a reduced cost.) Since the resources are limited, have the testing be rather random. Amongst the group of races, rotate which races test every year. But do not do it in a true rotation. Spin a wheel or pull names out of a hat. Some years have more races test. In other years, less. Do not announce which races are doing testing in that year or even at all. For those of us hoping to be the top of our sport, we should expect to be clean and competing against clean runners. We should not act surprised if we are asked for a sample.
At the end of the day, all of us have a love of running. It is as inclusive a sport as there is and that is a mantle the MUT community should hold up on a pedestal. But we also have a duty to preserve the integrity of racing while keeping true to the roots of inclusion.