After North Face comes and goes then all of my focus will shift to The Iditarod Trail Invitational in late February. At this point I am not really planning anything beyond this for 2012. This is such a large endeavor that I don't really want anything looming beyond it to distract me. I'm also well aware that If I finish the full 350 miles I might not have the physical (or mental) ability to run much at all for a month or two. I do have some races in mind that I'd ideally like to do in the late Spring or early Summer, but I won't decide on any of that until after I'm done with the ITI sometime in early March.
One thing I've decided for certain though, is that I am not going to run Western States again in 2012. There are several reasons for this decision, but more than anything I just want my Summer to play out a bit different this year than the last two years. Each of the last two years I trained hard all of May/June for WS, ran WS in late June, trained hard for UTMB all of July/August, and raced UTMB in late August. I've thoroughly enjoyed the training/racing each of these Summers, but this year I am looking forward to changing things up a bit. Right now I don't know exactly what this will mean. I haven't completely ruled out the possibility of UTMB again in 2012, but I think I will more likely do a different late Summer 100 miler. Any recommendations? I've also put in for the Hardrock lottery, and if I get lucky there that will certainly be a hard one to say no to, although the timing of the race would be almost impossible for me with some other things that I have planned already.
And beyond any of these races I'm really looking forward to 2012 likely being a year of less racing for me, and thus more time to get out and explore remote and beautiful places. Almost certainly I'm going to do some racing in 2012, maybe even a decent amount in the second half of the year, but I'm not going into 2012 with as much of a feeling of wanting to race once every month or two as I have the past 3 or 4 years. A bit of a down year (racing wise) should be perfect to give me more time to really explore the amazing mountains that surround me both here in Colorado and up in Alaska, and it should get me nicely motivated for some big racing ideas that I have in mind for 2013 and beyond. Then again this is all much further away than I ever really like to plan and could easily change just as soon as I'm done with the ITI.