Ah, that glorious time of year when you curl up with a cup of coffee, peruse the list of 500+ trail running and triathlon adventures available for the year, and choose the dozen that will define 2014. I enjoy this ritual every January (see '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13). There's something magical about seeing a race schedule laid out - it's proof that we choose to live IN this world instead of ON it. All it takes is a few entry fees, and I have enough adventure on the schedule to conjure plenty of motivation for training and boundless energy for family and professional life.
So, how to start? I find it's always best to take an annual 2-3 week break from structured training and reflect back on the previous season. What brought me the most joy? Which memories seared into my soul and can still bring a smile to my face? Did any experience have me longing for more, or wanting to revisit? Has my training peaked from running the same formats too much?
Then I take a look at the year ahead, and figure out what would best balance my work and life. How much stress/travel/family commitment should I expect? Would it be best complemented with an escape to a new country with all new people and languages, or to engage regularly with the same friendly faces? Would I thrive from structured training, or is it best to hang loose this year? My life mantra has always been "live life to have good stories" - any new places, distances, race formats, or other adventures that could add a few more fables?
My 2013 season started with a hunger for more big mountains and international travel, and I got that in spades. This year I am feeling the desire to stick closer to home, run with my local peeps in mid-distance ultras, and revisit some of the races that have helped defined who I am as a runner. Lots of contributing reasons for this: my work travel is back on the insane end of the spectrum (80+ flights/year), I'm turning 45 in April and getting all nostalgic, I would like to revisit some goals I had for 2013, and of course, the lottery gods have cast their vote. My healing collarbone (aka, "Frankenshoulder") is making it impossible to consider any cycling/triathlon adventures at the moment, so I'll put those on the backburner for now.
So with that, I give you my 2014 season:
Boston Marathon, 4/21 - Boston again for three big reasons. First, it would be great to have some closure after the bombings of last year. This year will undoubtedly be an epic weekend of celebration and healing for one of my favorite running cities. Second, my original beer-induced goal for Boston was to streak ten races in a row, and this will be #10! Third, my family has expressed interest in tagging along this year, which is a rare treat. So once again to Hopkinton!
Big Sur Marathon, 4/27 - The Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge is a great double - it puts these two races on two coasts just six days apart. In fact, I'm liking the concept of doubling enough to put three doubles on the calendar this year. Last year I was shooting for a Top 5 finish for B2B, only to place sixth by ~2 minutes (despite my best times at both races). I'm going to give a Top 5 finish another shot. My family will join for this one too!
Bay to Breakers, 5/18 - Sophie, my 7-year-old, says she wants to run/walk the Bay to Breakers 12k this year so I will crew for my princess. It will help keep my blog traffic up too, since "naked runners" oddly remains a top ten search term (other fun search terms regularly in the top 10 include "how long is a 50k", "Jenn Shelton bikini", and the classic "toenail fell off").
Cayuga Trails 50m, Ithica, NY, 6/1 - I'm a sucker for good pictures, and everything I've seen coming out of Cayuga looks amazing. It's also a part of the east coast wilderness I've been dying to check out. It happens to be the USATF 50-mile Trail Championship this year, so it sounds like a good place to test out being the new kid in the 45-49 age group.
Tahoe Rim Trail 100m, Incline Village, NV, 7/19 - Nostalgia (and a little luck from the lottery gods) brings me back to the place of my first 100-mile race. I didn't have a hundo on the calendar last year, and really missed its unique crazy flavor of insanity. Many of my favorite ultra runners will be there too - really looking forward to it!
Pikes Peak Double, Manitou Springs, CO, 8/17-18 - I had an incredible time at my first Pikes Peak Marathon last year, and learned a lot about how to train for a high altitude race. So I want to come back and do my second double of the season - the back-to-back Ascent (13.1 miles up) and Marathon (up and down). The Acsent is the WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge, so it should attract some global talent, and the Marathon always attracts the best. Manitou Springs is a special place this weekend, and I'm going to get as much as I can.
Flagline 50k, Bend, OR, 9/21 - My third double for the year will be the "Max King double", which begins with the Flagline 50k. I've been wanting to head back to Bend, OR, and now that this race is once again the USATF 50k Trail Championships, it's good timing.
XTerra Trail Running National Championship (21k), Ogden, UT, 9/22 - The day after Flagline, I'll be at the XTerra Nationals in Utah. I haven't done an XTerra race in a few years, and now that Quinn is nearing age 3, I think she would have a lot of fun. They really do a great job creating a kid- and dog-friendly environment. Count Sophie in for sure!
Fall 50m, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 10/25 - The Fall 50m is the new location for the USATF 50-mile Road Championship, and after accidentally clocking a 50m PR last October at Tussey Mountainback, I'm thinking another 50m PR is in reach with some focused training. This looks like a fun and fast course in a state I've never raced...perfect!
Moab Marathon, Moab, UT, 11/8 - This one has been on my bucket list for a while, thanks to the steep terrain and gorgeous surrounding area. Since it's the USATF Trail Marathon Championship, adding this one puts me in all the USATF middle distance ultras, road and trail. There's something about the USATF races that seem to bring out faster times from me, so I'm hoping for some good results in my new age group.
XTerra World Championship (21k), Oahu, HI, 12/7 - Another fast race I have been longing to return to that also conveniently comes with an excuse to "acclimate" in Hawaii just as winter comes. A great one for the family! Maybe if I'm feeling crazy, I'll tag on the Honolulu Marathon for one final double. ;-)
So there you have it - my 2014 schedule. I am giddy to get going!