Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 Race Plan: Down, Up and Around

How do you top running every Rock n Roll Marathon in a single year? Well, you don't but you can take on some new challenges that "rise above." For 2011, that's exactly what I plan to do. After running 282 miles over 8 Rock n Roll Marathons, 6 Rock n Roll Half Marathon and completing The Relay's 199 miles from Calistoga to Santa Cruz with 11 of my best friends. It was time for a break. But I'm now training for some of the biggest challenges of my life - some of the biggest challenges in running. I call it my Down, Up and Around tour.

It's earned that name because the challenges this year will take me down into the deepest canyon in the United States, up and over one of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains and around the largest lake in the West.

I finished my first 20 mile training run this morning, on the course I think is the prettiest in the world. It starts in front of the historic ferry building in San Francisco, goes out along the Crissy Field, up and over the Golden Gate Bridge, down into the quaint town of Sausalito, up through the marshes of Mill Valley and on to the town of Tiburon for a victory breakfast overlooking Angel Island and the San Francisco skyline. It's a 20-24 mile trek that rings the western edge of the San Francisco Bay with views the entire time. It rained most of the day but we didn't care because this beauty can't be matched and its a thrill to see it all different conditions. I do this run with my SMS friends at least twice a year and it never disappoints. Today was a light team of just John Rymer and myself who are both training for the first event of the year - the Golden Gate Trail Marathon. This mid-February run starts at the beach and takes you up through the Marin Headlands where you get sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the bridge. If you haven't spend time in Marin, you have to see the headlands. Incredible green hills with lush vegetation and oceanfront trails that will leave your mouth agape.

This even is a half, full and ultra marathon and runs a similar course to the Stinson Beach marathon where I ran my first ultra marathon, by mistake. I missed a turn along the course and ended up at the finish line after just 13 miles, when I was planning 26.2. With permission of the race director, I ran back out, repeated the original 13 and this time found the turn market I had missed before and ended up doing a 50K.

There will be no mistakes this time (I hope) but I may do the ultra again. Not because I'm switching sports and moving up to ultras but because I'll need it as a training run for the bigger event coming up in April.

After the Golden Gate event I'll be off in March to England for a work conference and on these trips I always scan the International marathon schedule for possibilities. This time, I'll be heading to Pembroke, in the south west of England for a small town marathon. I really like these events because I get to see a part of the country that I normally wouldn't see and meet the local running community who are always very proud of their town.

The only downside of doing this marathon however is that southwest England is pretty flat and I will be in strong need of hill training in March. Hill and valley. That's because April's goal is a biggie. Along with the other coaches on the summer Team in Training team, I'll be heading to Arizona to run the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim. This will be the biggest run of my career, covering over 40 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing and descending. It's hard to train for the Grand Canyon because there aren't many runs you can take that start with a big downhill and where you can experience over 80 degrees of temperature change in a single run. This will be a significant challenge for me and I'll be starting with a deficit on my fellow coaches. All of them are experienced ultra marathoners with at least a 50 miler under their belt. Yikes.

Assuming I survive this trip, I'll be taking a long break to recover - six days. because the very next weekend is The Relay. I can't miss this event as SMS has teamed with Are We There Yet? one of the original teams for the inaugural season. They have retained team #4 and we must uphold the consecutive streak of appearances. We're recruiting for this year's event, on the weekend of May 1st so please let me know if you want in.

After that, then I'll really take a break. No events planned until Up. Where the Grand Canyon will take me down, down, down, the next event does just the opposite, packing 13,000 feet of climbing into a single 13 mile stretch. Pike's Peak Marathon is one of the hardest races in America as you climb from the base up to the top of the mountain, then down the other side. TNT head coach, Terry Lee said this was the toughest race he's ever done, and he's completed the Western States 100 miler. Gulp!

So maybe May through August won't be as much of a break as it will be intense hill training.

I figure if I survive the Grand Canyon and Pike's Peak then I'll be feeling pretty invincible by September. Anticipating that I've decided to test my resolve with Around. In 2009 I took on my first crazy mutt-event challenge by running the Goofy Challenge in Disneyworld. This January event is a half marathon Saturday and a full marathon Sunday garnering big honkin' gold medals. I was nervous as could be about how I would feel Sunday morning and was planning on just finishing and not even worrying about time. After a 1:34 half I turned in a 3:36 full which is par for me. And we walked around the parks all day each day. So if I can do that, I surely can take on the Tahoe Triple. Especially if I am feeling invicible, like I hope I will.

The Tahoe Triple is a marathon a day for three days which when combined takes you all the way around Lake Tahoe. I chose to do this event in support of coach Cam from the TNT summer team who will be making his second attempt at the Tahoe 70, which circles the lake on that Sunday finishing on the same marathon course that I will be on. Assuming we both survive, the fin a marathon will give me a chance to support Cam and hopefully help him bring home a victory. And if invincibility passes from me to him, he can hopefully help me slog through to the finish.

That will just about do it for me for 2011, although I usually can't let the fall season end that early, so I might add on one or two other events. Under consideration are the Mesquite Marathon in Nevada, the newly added Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon. I'll decide later in the year if I'm up for these.

What are your plans for 2011? What keeps me going is always having a goal in front of me and shaping a training plan that ensures its success. And for me that means always running. I hope you will share your goals for the year here or at the SMS site and that you will join me for any of our fabulous SMS training runs. And even if you can't join us get out there and exercise in whatever way you enjoy. Good health awaits you.

My 2011 running schedule:

And Maybe:
  • Mesquite Marathon - Nov. 19 - Mesquite, Nevada
  • Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon - Nov. 5 - Georgia

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