Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ready To Hit The Alpine

I'm back in Juneau now and feeling really solid about my running moving toward the "serious" racing season. Went out for an easy 24 mile run today in which I might have felt better than I ever have after 24 miles of running. It was one of those days that I would die for on a race day. Felt like I could run forever with almost no effort.

In a couple weeks I'll be heading out to New York to race the North Face 50 miler at Bear Mountain and then it'll be 7 weeks of final Western States preparation here in Juneau. I might not be entirely ready for the heat at Western States by being here in Juneau leading up to it, but there are few runners, if any, who will be running on as challenging and scenic terrain in their weeks leading up to Western States as I will.

I've got big plans for my training here in Juneau this spring and summer. I did a lot of off trail runs up onto the mountain ridges around here last year, but my craving for this year is to make last summer seem like the tip of the iceberg. I'm almost getting to the point of obsession with this. We still have quite a lot of snow in the mountains here, but more and more I'm feeling like a caged animal just waiting for the snow to melt a little bit more before I begin my almost daily assault of the high terrain in these parts. It might sound a little crazy but I'm so excited for the training that I'll be doing to get ready for Western States and UTMB that I almost feel like the races themselves are just a side effect of all the mountain ridge bliss that I'll be experiencing the next 4 months.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

1 For 6

I was finally able to get my California Jinx out of my system. I've never lost an Ultra marathon anywhere other than California but in California I had lost all 5 that I had run before yesterday. Hopefully this is the start of at least two California wins in a row.

The American River 50 went pretty well yesterday. It felt a bit too much like a road race for my liking, but I had a lot of fun with it nonetheless. I felt good most of the day, but I never felt really confident for any long periods of time. I kept wanting to find the kind of groove that I got into last November at Mountain Masochist but I couldn't ever quite get there for more than a few minutes at a time. I felt better as the tougher terrain came up in the last 20 miles, but unfortunately for my liking the tougher terrain was still pretty smooth and flat. I was physically pretty tired at this point, and at times felt like I was stuck in mud and could hardly move, but mentally it felt really nice to be on trails and climbing up and down a little bit.

When it was said and done I was able to pull away for the win (I took the lead for good with about 18 miles to go and never saw another runner after that) and squeak across the finish line in just under 5:50. I was very pleased with my race from a competitive standpoint, but I do still feel a little like my body is in early season form and will hopefully feel stronger and stronger as the season moves forward. Or perhaps it was the 30 miles of pavement that made my body feel a bit "off".

Monday, April 5, 2010

Laying Low In The Desert

I've been keeping a low profile down in the wilderness of Southern Utah for the past few weeks. Lots of running in the desert down around Zion, Capitol Reef, and Moab. These desert trails are a lot different than the trails I'm used to running on in Juneau. Very dry and hard as compared to the mud and roots I'm used to, but really fun and challenging.

For about a week after Way Too Cool I kept feeling pretty frustrated about my misfortune in that race but finally I came to accept it and take a lot of confidence with me from the fact that I ever even had myself in position to win that race. That wasn't really a position I ever expected to be in. Not to take anything away from Leor or Max. They both beat me in that race, as route finding is every bit as much a part of trail racing as the physical strength component. It felt good though to draw from the confidence of having been strong enough and fast enough to be in the position I was in 27 miles into that race. That experience combined with the great training I've had in the few weeks since then has me feeling very strong and confident going into The American River 50 this coming weekend and then on into the rest of the season. I've still got a ways to go to be right where I want to be for Western States but I feel like my path to that point couldn't have been any better than it's been in the past few months.