I have been greatly enjoying the off-season. I took an entire month off by choice to allow my body to recover and long-term minor "tweaks" to heal before they become more serious, season-ending, overuse injuries. I have learned this lesson more than once the hard way from previous years.
The potential of the human body with time and dedication is amazing…. but it is not invincible.
The past few weeks, I have been focusing on activities I neglected during the height of the racing season last year, such as weight training and stretching. I am looking into doing some swimming a couple of times a week to maintain my cardiovascular fitness.
A large portion of heat for the log cabin we live in comes from wood we harvest on our land. There are enough down trees that we almost never have to harvest living ones. Splitting and stacking firewood is a lot of work but it does make for a great upper body workout! The old saying, "heating with wood warms you twice: when you cut it and when you burn it," is definitely true.
The 4 to 6 mile daily runs I have been doing feel like nothing compared to the long distances I did over the summer. The forest trails are all ice and snow covered. I look forward to a few months from now when they will be open again.
Yesterday, I went for a nice easy 12 mile run, my longest since the Javelina Jundred in November. It felt great. In the snow, I saw the tracks of mouse, squirrel, rabbit, fox, coyote, skunk, deer and turkey.
Some of the tracks were so fresh, they still had the deer and turkeys in them!
As I jogged home, the sun set below the ridge-tops. I noticed the Badlands off in the distance, 50 or more miles to the east, glowing in the golden warm twilight. I heard a lone great horned owl hooting off in the pines, followed by a couple of coyotes. Though I was beginning to get chilled, I was grateful to be there witnessing such beauty. Evenings such as this are why we run, even when it is cold outside and most others prefer to stay indoors close to the woodstove.
Just as gardeners look at seed catalogs and dream of the warm-green planting days of spring, now is the time that runners begin thinking about races for the upcoming year.
The following is a list of some events I'm considering:
When: February 14, 2009
Where: Moab, Utah
What: 33k and 50k+ (34 miles) trail runs
Why: Nice early season trail run in the scenic beauty of Moab. Haliku is thinking of doing this. It looks like I probably won't be able to because of a prior commitment. Maybe I can do this in 2010?
When: March 28, 2009
Where: Antelope Island State Park is on the largest island (28,000 acres) in the Great Salt Lake, Utah
What: 25k, 50k, 50m trail runs
Why: Early season trail run among the bison and other wildlife. Long cut-offs (12:30 hr:min to do the 50m).
When: March ?, 2009
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
What: 50k, 60k, 70k, 50m on the trails of the urban greenway.
Why: My family lives in Nashville. One problem, this course is primarily on asphalt… Ouch!!! My body is hurting just thinking about it!
When: May 9 2009
Where: Front Range of Colorado
What: 8m, 25k, 50k on the trails of the Greenland Open Space.
Why: I ran this in 2008 but finished with only seconds on the clock. Maybe this time I will be better acclimated to altitude and won't bonk so badly? It would be a great training run.
When: May 24, 2009
Where: South Africa
What: 87km (54 miles) on roads between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
Why: The oldest and largest (by number of participants) ultramarathons in the world. This is the "Boston Marathon" of road ultramarathons. OK, I am NOT planning on doing this in 2009 but I would like to some day. I was just checking to see if y'all were paying attention.
When: June 7 2009
Where: Northern Black Hills of South Dakota
What: 26.2 miles on the gravel Mickelson Trail.
Why: A local race that would make a good training run. It is a bit too close to Bighorn. On the other hand, this is only a marathon, so what the heck am I worried about? Marathons are only training runs! I could just jog it for fun!
When: June 18-21, 2009
Where: The Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming
What: 30k, 50k, 50m, 100m mountain trail runs.
Why: I LOVE the Bighorn Mountains. They were one of my favorite places to visit when we lived in Wyoming. It is close, only 5 hours or so drive away. I really would like to do this race in 2009!
When: June 27-28, 2009
Where: 5.8 mile loops on the trails in the Medicine Bow Forest just outside of Laramie, Wyoming.
What: 24 hour trail run.
Why: The 24 hours at Laramie 2008 was a blast! I would do again! If I do the Bighorn Ultra, however, then I will not do this in 2009.
When: July 11, 2009
Where: Pacific Crest Trail near Ashland, Oregon.
What: 50k trail run.
Why: It would be a good July training run leading up to Lean Horse. Plus, we could combine this with a visit to see friends! Ultra-running-friend, Dave Elsbernd, whom I met at Lean Horse 2008, may also be doing this, so I would get to see him also.
When: August 1, 2009
Where: Helena, Montana
What: 50k, 50m on trails and dirt roads in the Helena National Forest.
Why:.I've never done an ultra in Montana….not yet anyway. I could H.U.R.L. for training leading up to Lean Horse if I don't do the S. O. B. instead. I love these acronyms! Race Directors ceratinly have an unusual sense of humor, don't they?
When: August 22-23, 2009
Where: Hot Springs, South Dakota
What: 50m, 100m out and back on the gravel George Mickelson trail.
Why:.This is my local ultra! This one is a definite for me, barring any unforeseen circumstances such as injury. I have no problem completeing 50m or 100k, and have gotten lots of experience DNFing 100m… maybe Lean Horse in 2009 will be my first 100 mile finish? I sure hope so!
When: September ?, 2009
Where: Boulder, Colorado.
What: 26.2 mile marathon on dirt and paved roads.
Why: I ran this in '08. It all depends on how I feel after Lean Horse. It would be a good excuse to see Haliku.
When: October ?, 2009
Where: Hill City, South Dakoa.
What: 26.2 mile marathon on the gravel Mickelson Trail. Why: A local race, less than 15 miles from my home. I ran this in '08 also. It all depends on how I feel by this time next year. Of course, this is "only" a marathon. Why the heck shouldn't I do it?
What: 26.2 mile marathon on the gravel Mickelson Trail.
Why: A local race, less than 15 miles from my home. I ran this in '08 also. It all depends on how I feel by this time next year. Of course, this is "only" a marathon. Why the heck shouldn't I do it?
When: October 17-18, 2009
Where: Boulder, Colorado.
What: 24 hour run. 7.14 mile laps on pavement, dirt road and smooth single track.
Why: Haliku and Lisa ran this in 2008. Another reason for the entire family to take a trip down to Denver. Haliku is thinking of doing the Boulder 100m option of this race in 2009; if he does, I will plan on pacing him.
When: October 31, 2009
Where: 15.4 mile laps on desert trails of the McDowell Mountain Park north of Fountain Hills, Arizona.
What: 100k, 100m.
Why: I enjoyed my time at the 2008 race. Maybe next time I will wear a costume? I think I'll bring a larger flute to play.
There really are too many ultras and too little time.
There are many other events that I'd like to run someday such as Western States, Leadville, and the Marathon des Sables. However, I am still on the learning curve and would like to get more ultra experience first before I consider such races.
I can see how some ultrarunners spend their retirement traveling the country running one or two ultras per month. It is a great way to see the country and sure beats RVing. Unless of course you bring your RV to ultra races and let all of your ultrarunning friends use your shower. RVs are great then.