June 28, 2013

What's Left on My Running Bucket List and Western States 100 Mile Preview.

I think I am finally content with the running career I have had.  For most of the past few years I have been dealing with my femur and now undiagnosed weird pain in left calf, hip and back.   I have been frustrated and disappointed I left so much on the table.  I have been upset since I haven't been able to find my rhythm due to stress fracture and age and work and self perceived stresses from all aspects of life.  I have had a hard time coping with the fact that I may never do the crazy adventure runs in the mountains I once so thoroughly enjoyed a few years ago.  But when I was out there running the odd 100 miles a week, I was never satisfied with my times or places throughout my career which in hindsight may have been the very reason I kept up a focused training regime.  So I have had a little chip on the shoulder the last few years. 

The thing I am realizing now is that most people would love to be able to have a running career like mine, to run the kind of times I ran (albeit there are some many faster guys and girls).  

I have run races all over America and the world in all types of settings.   From the 800 meters on the track to 50 miles in the mountains to backwater 5ks with free entry to big city marathons with 200 dollar entries.  To leading at an ACC championship setting to eating my own vomit at the Pikes Peak Ascent.  I have finished first many times but other times have finished 147th on a good day (Thank you division 1 cross country).  I read letsrun.com and wonder how many fast people there are running my mile time for 26 times in a row.  People see my marathon time and wonder the same thing.  It's easy to look around you and be jealous or not happy or think you suck.  

 I was in Singapore a few weeks ago decided to jump in with a French University student staying at the hostel for a night run to Marina Bay (arguably the best night skyline in the world).  He was a fit guy, in the equivalent to ROTC.  But I easily kept up comfortably at 7 minute pace.  After 10 minutes I noticed he slowed drastically.  After 20, he was walking.  Fried.  I then told him and the hostel owner some of the marathon times I have run and wowed them.  My college running friends are jealous of my post collegiate times.  I guess I should be too and not second guess the time I spent training while they were travelling or meeting their beautiful wives and starting families.    In Melbourne last month, I went out for a 45 minute run through the heart of the CBD and onto the Tan track for a loop.  On the way back I just decided to drop 6 minute mile pace through the crowded city streets because there were a lot of girls around.  Last October, I showed up at the starting line of the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon in Borneo to run a 23km mountain race.  Untrained, I was able to finish respectively (only 2 or 3 girls chicked me).  

I have been given a great gift in the ability to run the last decade (and a half).  I have just been narrowing my focus on one small instant of time in my running career where things sucked instead of looking at the big picture.

I have a massive list of events and trail races I would like to eventually do, far too many than I would actually accomplish in this life.  I keep getting the trail runner calender and its ridiculous how many events there are each weekend.  Literally dozens across the USA every weekend.  This is great for the sport but takes away from the underground appeal that it once had.  Like everything, people are marketing, promoting, and making money and the dynamics are changing.  There is a eloquent saying from the great Australian outlaw Ned Kelly (who I still don’t understand why he referenced all the time at every museum I have been to) that applies so well here: “Such is life.”

I could list some of the million and one races I would love to do and say that I want to run a marathon in every country in one calender year like Dean but I will just simplify it.  I may never been in good shape again but I am happy with the running career I have had.  Here are a few that would put the icing on the cake.  
  1.  Run a SteepleChase.  I never ran the event in college.  Even though I was tall, I don't think I was well suited to the event.  I was just good at staying relaxed and clicking off 400 after 400 at a steady pace for a long time.  I don't think the change of pace required or the ability to be tough and durable would have suited me.  Now I just want to do one to complete my list of long distance track events (coach in college sometimes called 5k-10k middle distance which I liked).
  2.  Run 100 miles.  I don’t know which one, maybe Western States since it has all the buzz right now.  But just to complete that distance would be an incredible journey.  I have done 50 miles at Old Pueblo and that was one of the most surreal experiences I have had- “did I just run 50 miles through the Santa Rita Mountains?”  Awesome.  So I could only imagine what 100 would be like. 
  3. Run a fast marathon in Japan.  Japan is where it is at for running at a sub elite level.  They have half marathons where you finish 80th place with a 65 minute half marathon time.  And there are marathons with a 2:27 or faster qualifier with 200 people in them.  
  4. Run Comrades marathon.  The largest ultra marathon (89km) in the world.  Fast guys run it.  Slow guys run it. 10000 people run it.  South Africa would be cool to visit as well. I would really want to be in fast shape to run this one but might have to settle for just covering the ground.
  5. Run Boston and New York City Marathons.  I am not liking what these big city marathons are becoming but those two are true spectacles.  I would love to toe the line some day.  
Western States 100 Miler Predictions.  

A lot of action on irunfar.com buzzing about the Western States 100 miler Tommorow.  I wanted to enter their prediction contest but I am too late.
Mens Random predictions:
  1. Rob Krar.  I can't bet against this guy.  Flagstaffer.  Ideal training grounds here.  He knows how to prepare.  He knows how to win big trail races (transrockies).  He knows how to run himself into the ground and onto the operating table.  He blasted through the Grand Canyon faster than anyone ever.  I have raced him and he is cool guy.     
  2. Nick Clark.  I raced this guy before at Pikes Peak.  Really nice dude and cool son.  I follow his blog and love his magical week earlier in June.  120 miles on the week.  Some hill work, some track work 8x800m @ 70 seconds, 30 mile long run in the hills at altitude with next day 20 miles.  Seems like a perfect week to me.  And he is experienced at Western and running and life in general.  
  3. Cameron Clayton.  I don't know anything about him but he has some faster short course times and I have no experience in 100's but a bias towards faster road runners and hope he nails it.  
Ladies really random guess:
  1. Emily Harrison.  I can't bet against her either.  Ran really well at JFK.  Flagstaffer ties.  Ian Torrence coached.  Knows how to prepare for championship races.  Ran at UVA.  I have talked with her a few times and really would love to see her win it.  
  2. Rory.  She seems like the girl to beat.  She seems happy all the time and I like those types of people.  I am secretly jealous of those types of people.  Good luck.  
  3. I don't know
I have huge bias towards the faster road runners and Collegiate Division 1 athletes.  I just think their ability to prepare for big, championship races is much better honed in than the average runner. There is a lot of pressure to perform and perform consistently at championship races in college.  But 100 miles is long way so who knows?  I just remember reading a study awhile back where they lined up a bunch of 5kers and had them race 20 meters.  There was a direct correlation to running the fastest 20 meter and the fastest 5k.  This may not relate to 100 miles races but the idea is there.  Ok, dumb study.  

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