New Year, New Races
Another year has come and gone and 2012 is looking to be a year of great races, challenges and opportunities.
A look back at 2011
My goal for 2011 was to scale back on signing up for “junk races”, meaning races I didn’t really care for and only signed up because it was flat/easy or other friends were running it. I also wanted to cut back on the number of road races and focus on trails even if it meant doing less races since the recovery time was longer. With this new found interest in ultrarunning, I came to peace that my times were going to get slower, and I probably wouldn’t be setting many PR’s this year if any. Lastly, I finally started to pay attention to what my body was telling me. I took rest days, multiple, consecutive ones when I felt burned out, injured or plain lazy. I didn’t beat myself over it and try to make up the miles. Coming to peace with this was probably my biggest achievement of 2011, more than setting a 3 hour PR at Mt. Hood 50.
I started the year coming back from my first 50 mile run at Northface in December 2010. Motivated and excited about reaching new distance territory, I began almost immediately looking for my next 50. The first day of January, I signed up for Mt. Hood 50 in Oregon and knew this would be my race of the year. Every race of 2011 was something very special to me, well, besides the Gasparilla Challenge in Tampa, Florida in February. I signed up on a whim, distracted by the amount of bling I could get over the period of 2 days. Needless to say, it was a boring race(s), and the trip to Tampa with Brennan more than made up for this lackluster race. If you like running 4 races on road on the same course, this race is for you.
The Dessert Dash group, whom I met in Vegas a couple months ago, came to L.A. to host a trail half marathon. This was a fun small trail race with a couple friends on the Backbone trail starting from Corral Canyon. I ended up 2nd female (told you it was a small race) with some awesome handmade medals.
In March, I organized completing the entire Backbone trail (68 miles) over the span of a weekend. It had been on my mind for a while to do something like this and it was a fun (sometimes stressful) process planning, executing and celebrating this achievement. We had a great group of runners both days and lots of memories were created that weekend. I ended up only running 26 of the 38 miles on Saturday due to stomach problems and the entire 30 miles the next day on Sunday. It was definitely a challenge coming back the 2nd day on tired legs, but so much fun and cheaper than signing up for a race.
April and May were the long awaited back to back marathons, Boston Marathon and Big Sur Marathon 2 weeks later (part of the Boston to Big Sur Challenge). Qualifying for Boston has always been a goal of mine ever since I started running so finally being able to run the marathon was a big deal to me. It was fun weekend hanging out with friends in a new city and an entertaining course. Not my best time at either of the races, but fun times spent with friends nevertheless. I plan on going back to Boston in 2013 depending on budget, but not a big deal if I don’t ever go back.
Done with road races for a while, I kicked off June with Shadow of the Giants 50K. I loved this race and can’t wait to go back this year. It was scenic, low key and beautiful, everything I wanted in a trail race. No medals, no speeches, no national anthem, just a simple T-shirt, reused bib numbers and a promise of hot food at the end was all we needed.
I also had my first taste of the king of ultras in June, pacing my friend Helen through her first 100 mile finish in San Diego. Crewing and pacing her was a phenomenal journey, one that I am excited to experience myself this year.
Shortly after pacing Helen for San Diego, I took off to Utah for the Ragnar Relay race. It was a scenic course, albeit a couple stressful logistical scenarios, but fun running in a new place and meeting other runners.
July finally came after months of waiting for this day with the promise of a spectacular race around Mt. Hood. And the race lived up to every single one of my expectations. I cut my last 50 mile time by over 3 hours and placed third female overall. I was able to hang out with my in-laws for the weekend who got to see me finish my first race in Oregon and also saw my friend finish his first 50. I felt great after this race, even ran/hiked a little the next day. I will definitely come back one day to do this race again and it makes me even more excited that I will be running Hood 2 Coast this year starting from Mt. Hood. To this day, Mt. Hood is still my favorite race.
In September, I did another Ragnar Relay, this time from San Francisco to Napa with 11 other amazing runners. We were dubbed “Ragnar’s Rapture” and came in the top 10. I had such a blast during this relay that we decided to sign up (and got in this year) for Hood to Coast in August from Mt. Hood to the Coast in Oregon. A guaranteed good time.
September was also a big month because it was my first time traveling to a different state to run, not a race, but our own solo journey on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier with 3 other crazy friends. This trip took months of logistical planning, booking flight tickets, renting cars and hotel rooms. Words really cannot describe this experience and pictures don’t do justice. Read the post here for all the pictures and video footage. In short, we ran for three consecutive days (Friday-Sunday), averaging 30 miles each day with over 8000 ft elevation gain. Breathtaking views, challenging terrain, amazing company, one too many salami sandwiches and a lifetime of memories, this trip was so special to me because it really pushed me to the limit and made me go beyond what I thought was physically possible.
With Wonderland under my belt, I started to think about the impending Northface 50 Mile Challenge in December again. Signed up for Santa Barbara Marathon on a whim as a training run, followed by Montana de Oro 50K. Really was not expecting anything from Santa Barbara, as I haven’t done much speedwork and have been focusing more on the trails than anything else. Much to my surprise, I ended up setting a new marathon PR (3:29) at Santa Barbara! It was a fun weekend with Brennan celebrating my birthday early with great food and an amazing race to boot. However, Montana de Oro was a whole different story. It was my first DNF (did not finish) and something no runner ever wants to see next to their name. Although the course was beautiful and I was stoked to be running on some different trails, my head wasn’t in the race and I gave up too easily. Hoping to change this attitude in 2012!
Feeling defeated and nervous about Northface, I contemplated dropping to the 50K distance, especially since I was sick going into the race. I decided to suck it up and tough it out, so glad I did because I ended up finishing almost 2 hours faster than last year’s time and feeling much better. Though, I can’t say the same about recovery. It was a rough week after this race and I took a lot of days off to heal my achilles and other sore muscles. Nevertheless, it was a great way to end the year with many friends who finished their first 50K or 50 mile race.
Looking forward 2012
Goals for this year remains somewhat the same as last year. I try to keep my goals fairly manageable, nothing too extreme (ha) as I don’t want to be setting myself up for disappointment.
- Focus on quality races
- Travel/explore more trails
- More adventure running
- Finish my first 100 mile race (maybe 2 if I am optimistic)
- Continue to respect rest days
- Strength train at least 1x/week
- Avoid injury
Races for 2012
1/14/2012 Avalon 50
2/25/2012 Ray miller 50K
2/26/2011 La Jolla 50k
4/7/2012 American River 50
4/20/2012 Ragnar SoCal
4/29/2012 Eugene Marathon
5/11/2012 Zion 100
5/26-28/12 Western States Training camp
6/2/2012 Shadow of the Giants
6/23/2012 Western States 100 pacing
7/21/2011 Tahoe Rim 50M (wait list)
8/18/2012 Waldo 100K
8/24/2012 Hood to Coast
9/15-16/12 Pine to Palm, OR 100 miles (depending on how I feel after Zion)
10/8/2012 Le Grizz 50 Miles, Montana
12/9/12 Honolulu Marathon
Only two road marathons this year, such a different racing calendar than my first two years of running. Looking forward to creating many new memories in 2012!