Friday, January 01, 2010

Planning My 2010 Season

(Beach intervals with Martha @ Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara,
that big girl can run!)

One of my favorite rituals to ring in the New Year is to sit down and commit dates for my target races for the upcoming year. Not only is it a chance to reflect, but it's a great excuse to peruse the 2010 calendar with the staggering amount of trail races, ultras, triathlons, and century rides available. Oh, the places we will go! A full schedule is more than peace of mind - it's evidence that I choose to live in this world, instead of on it.

So how to choose from all the great races? I usually begin by reflecting on the previous season to determine which adventures "fed my spirit" the most. You know the ones - those shared experiences that have you aglow for days afterward, stumbling around work with a shit-eating grin on your face, deeply hoping that someone asks you about that ridiculous smirk just so you can tell them all about your adventure in vivid, undulating detail. Recounting the previous year (by reading my own blog!) often gives me a few tips on the right recipe of new friends, new trails, and new distances/formats that create this opportunity for epic experiences like these.

I took some nice long runs this week to ponder the 2009 season, and came to some interesting conclusions about where I had drawn the most inspiration:
  1. I enjoy a change of climates and terrains. Roads or trails, mountains or deserts, humid or dry, 30 degrees or 130 degrees, the varying extremes throughout the year kept the training fun and the races challenging. But could I mix it up some more? I haven't raced in a mid-west ultra, nor on the east coast. Add to this that I've never raced on a track, indoor or outdoor. Conclusion - challenge myself with some new locations and terrains.
  2. I enjoy a variety of race distances in the same year. 2009 had half marathons, marathons, sprint tri's, 50k, 50m, 100k, 100-mile, and even The Death Ride. Each distance presents its own challenge, and the variety keeps the training fresh and constantly changing. Could I stretch myself even more? What about racing all distances from the mile to the 100-mile? Conclusion - try and plan a year that contains everything from the mile to the 100-mile.
  3. I like to mix some favorite races with some new ones. I love new races, but it's also comforting to keep some favorites on the calendar too. It's like a comfortable pair of jeans that you always know will have that relaxed fit. Conclusion - make sure I have some favorites every couple of months that I can count on.
  4. I enjoy the "championship" races. This is a change from previous years, much to my surprise. Historically I preferred a series competition of 4-9 races like those put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs,, Montrail Ultra Cup, PA/USATF, etc, to help structure my season. This year I tried a few "championship" races like Western States (the default 100-mile championship), the Lithia Loop Marathon (USATF Trail Marathon Championships), and XTerra (National and World), and really enjoyed the new mix of people and all-or-nothing effort. But I'm not a fan of putting all my eggs in one basket with just a few target races. Conclusion - try a few more of these, but don't get too obsessed about any particular race.
On top of it all, I find my work is taking me to New York City (NYC) every couple of weeks and I feel like I haven't taken full advantage of this running community. I'm hoping to try a few races in the NYC area. Plus the biggest rule of all - leave plenty of space in the calendar for non-running fun with the family, last-minute additions, and rest.

So here's what I've come up with for 2010. Let me know if you're planning to be at any of these, or see some opportunities I might have missed for the gaps in between!

Race (Date):

1/7 - Indoor Mile @ The Armory, NYC - That's right, a mile on an indoor track! Although I'm not in shape for a super-competitive mile, I thought this race would be fun to broaden my horizons and check out the whole indoor track scene. It's a good way to meet some new faces in NYC too.

1/16 - Woodside Trail Marathon, Woodside, CA - My backyard trails, with a new race put on by Coastal Trail Runs. It's always great to share the trails I so often run alone, and I look forward to that first aid station in my driveway. Many of you know I like to sign up for races and not race them per se, both to ensure I get in the miles and feed my 20-shirt-a-year shwag addiction. This is just right!

2/7 - San Francisco Half Marathon, San Francisco, CA - A road marathon through Golden Gate Park, and also a regional RRCA half marathon championship race. Sounds like fun, and a great checkpoint for my 50k the following month.

3/7 - Caumsett 50k, NYC - The USATF 50k Road Championships, known for wicked speed and a competitive field of Masters runners. Happens to also be in NYC! This is my goal race for the first quarter of the year.

4/20 - Boston Marathon, Boston, MA - I just can't get enough of this race, and running it with my father last year was an all-time great life experience. My obsession was helpful this year since I signed up before the raced filled in record time. This year it will be the first leg of the "Boston 2 Big Sur" Challenge, where you run two marathons in the same week on either coast. Should be a hoot!

4/26 - Big Sur Marathon, Carmel, CA - Part two of the "Boston 2 Big Sur" Challenge, and one of the great US marathons. I had such an amazing time here at my birthday last year, let's do it again! If you're looking at this race too, be sure to sign up soon - it's already at 91% capacity.

5/1 - Miwok 100k, Sausalito, CA - The lottery gods only granted me one race this year, but I am thankful it was the wonderful and scenic Miwok 100k. I will happily be back for my third running.

6/17 - Dipsea Race, Stinson Beach, CA - The 100th running of the Dipsea is this year, making it the oldest trail race in the US. I've run the Double and Quad Dipsea, but never the original. Assuming I can get in, this age-handicapped 7.6-miler will be super fun.

7/10 - The Death Ride Century, Markleeville, CA - I am returning to the 129-mile Death Ride cycling century with the same crew as last year. The schwag is top notch, and they serve two for one beers at the end! For some reason, I have no issues recovering from this ride so I think it's going to be okay packed close to other events.

7/22 - USATF Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Sacramento, CA - My first foray onto the outdoor track, I will be running the Steeplechase. Given my lack of experience I doubt I can be competitive, but am looking forward to running a qualifying heat and getting a better understanding of the whole "track" experience.

7/31 - Burning River 100m, Burning River, OH - I was looking for a flatter 100m, something in the midwest, and this one happens to be the USATF 100m championship race this year. It sounds like a perfectly good excuse to try a very different kind of 100-miler.

9/19 - XTerra National Championships, Bend, OR - I had an awesome time at this race last year, and am hoping Christi and Sophie will join in on a week vacation in Oregon book-ended by two races. This is the first one.

9/25 - USATF 50k Trail Championships, Bend, OR - A brand new race in Bend, OR, will mark the return of the USATF 50k Trail Championship. After a week of visiting family and friends in Oregon, we will return to hit this race.

10/16 - Tussey Mountainback 50m, Boalsburg, PA - Another race I've heard great things about, and a chance to explore a new state near one of my work destinations. It is also a USATF Championship race for the 50-mile distance.

11/6 - Lithia Loop Marathon, Ashland, OR - I really enjoyed this race last year, much in fact to the perfect mix of a great running community, a town where I have a lot of history, and a gorgeous area. I will be coming back for the USATF Trail Marathon Championship with the family joining in the fun.

You'll notice a lot of USATF "championship" races on the calendar for me this year. The USATF schedule addresses a lot of my personal goals this year, and it just so happens that you can actually get IN to a lot of these races. I understand they aren't as competitive as other races like Western States or JFK, but they still should attract a good mix of runners.

It's a lot! But I seem to do best with a lot on the calendar. So much new experience here, I'm already giddy for the future pictures and blog entries!

I hope your new year is starting well.Wishing you the best for 2010!

- SD


  1. That's a lot of running, and a lot of traveling! Interesting that you are looking to the track as well. Does inov8 make a track spike??

    Do you have target times you are looking to run at these?


  2. Scott, over the past year, I've really enjoyed your blog. It's relevant, witty and very positive in perspective, focusing on the best of trailing running. Best wishes to you in 2010 (assuming that greater running success doesn't equate to less blogging!). Mark

  3. the armory is one fast track. enjoy it!

  4. How do you get into the Championships at Sac (track and field- I would LOVE to run steeplechase- and the Bend ORE 50k race?


  5. Mark - Thank you for the kind words! I sure enjoy writing it, and really appreciate the comments.

    Kate - Registration for the USA Masters T&F and the new 50k event haven't been opened yet. Just check those links over the next few months and it should pop up. Glad to hear you might join in the track fun! It will be a fun change of pace.


  6. Scott - in regards to the San Francisco Half Marathon, in case you've never been: it's quite a zoo. Parking's a bitch, and you've got to fight your way through the crowds to the starting line. That being said, once you get going, it's a great course.

  7. Scott - I have to echo Mark's comments. Your blog has had a significant hand in moving me from the road to the trail in my advanced age. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Enjoy the Burning River 100 it's a fun race I did it last year. It has a lot of hills, but is fast! I will see u their is year. I will not be that fast, I will be running the mohican 100 just the month before it, so we will have to see how I recover. Good luck on the New Year of racing!

  9. Looks like you're lined up for another awesome year of running, Scott! I'm excited to see the T&F stuff. I can't fathom how you chose the steeplechase, but the mile...oh the mile! Best race ever. I hope you've been doing your speedwork! ;)

    Wishing you a wonderful year!

  10. Hey, Scott

    I just posted a similar post about the upcoming season. What's right, what's wrong? Etc. I love the comment you made regarding, "races that fed your spirit". Those are the ones to do over and over. Thanks for that insight and all the best this year.

  11. Gary - Sorry, I forgot to reply to your questions! I would like to see how my training goes before setting hard core time objectives (or chosimg none at all). I still haven't run a sub-24 for the 100m, and the 50k National Team qualifier is 3:20 (which would be a 17 min PR improvement for me), and I feel like a 2:40 marathon is within reach. Any one of those would be a good stretch goal. For the track, it's "don't embarass yourself". :-)

    inov-8 doesn't have track spikes, but their f230 is a good road shoe. Perhaps with some home modifications?


  12. how about a list of races you'll be volunteering?

  13. Hi Scott - sounds like a fun year in the making! Good luck with training and the races :-)

    If you're in NYC that frequently, it might be worth having a look at the NJ Trail series...

    Rick McNulty (the RD) started organizing these last year, and now has trail races planned ranging from 5K to 100K; many of them less than an hour outside NYC.

    The 100K at South Mountain Reservation on May 22nd, in particular, is incredibly convenient to NYC - it starts a block from a train station that is ~30 mins outside NYC.

    Happy New Year!

  14. Scott, another race that is in the NJ Trail Series that may be a good addition to your schedule is a timed event. I don't see any on your calendar and it may be a new challenge for you.

    The event The 3 Days at the Fair takes place on May 14 - 16, 2010. You can run anywhere from 48 hours to 6 hours.

    Good luck with all your races and stay healthy.

    Rick McNulty
    RD NJ Trail Series

  15. Hry I'm doing Boston 2 Big Sur too. I thought I was hard core, but i bow to your hard coreness of doing all those races. Wow!

  16. too bad my h.s. reunion is in the fall or i would've done burning river with you this year. another year without a race with you --unless i run the steeplechase, which I will confess I will have to google to know exactly how long it is. good variety, good luck!

  17. we have a great series in chattanooga - check out!

  18. Hey Scott,
    I did want to point out that if you are looking for really fun races in the Mid-West for this year one of the funnest that I do every year (even though it is only a 20k) is the Dam To Dam in Des Moines, IA. Gives you a great idea of what it is like to run in Iowa. You run on top of a dam at a big lake, run through an area surrounded by corn fields (on the road) and run in an "urban" area. Lots of fun and fantastic post run festivities. Let me know if you are interested. I would even put together a pre-race meal Iowa-style for you :)

  19. Alright, I tried the Steeplechase...and will be opting for the 1500m instead. Really tough! Given my newness to the track, I think the steeplechase is a bit too much to take on. I would be face down in the water hazard for sure. ;-)


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