.... or maybe more appropriately, where am I going?! I guess it isn't all that unusual for me to go quiet blogging this time of year. Anyway...
2016 planning has been totally unlike the last 4 years where I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Having run Western States last year, a major life goal was accomplished and my thirst for continuing down the 100 mile path was quenched, at least a little bit. The lotteries were a total bust and everything I'd care to do in 2016 has filled up lightening fast. On something of a nostalgic whim, I entered the Wasatch 100 lottery and now await the results of that on February 6th. Should that go bust, there is a very real chance I am taking a year off of running 100s. It might be good for me, possibly exactly what I need to recharge the batteries. I have zero idea what I'll do in that instance. It will likely involve some type of trail ultra, but likely something short(er) and scenic. The thought of it kind of excites me, particularly since I am already training for speed anyway.
In the meantime, I am marathon training. My hope is to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2017, a pretty ambitious goal as well as one of my few remaining running goals. I am not taking this challenge lightly and far from certain I'll pull it off. The qualifying standard is 3:15 and I have once surpassed that, but I think it will take something closer to 3:12 to actually get into the race, which would be a small PR for me. Considering that was four years ago, it might be a BIG PR for me. I am quickly remembering how hard marathon training is and why I gave it up! The biggest difference is that there aren't B2B long runs to lean on for padding weekly mileage, the result is a lot more midweek mileage. That means less sleep and more cold, dark runs. Of course, there is also a lot more structure as well -- intervals, fartleks, tempos, progressions, etc... Honestly, I kind of enjoy that part. Once I gain the confidence to get out the door, the structure keeps me engaged and the miles pass quickly. Plus, I am a data geek and that gives me lots of things to consider later.
Another unique aspect of the marathon is the structured, hard long runs (aka specificity!). Most ultra long runs are not as challenging as a marathon pace long run in terms of recovery. I can run for three hours easy in the mountains and bounce back relatively quickly. But a 2-hour long run with pace has left me pretty wiped out on several occasions this cycle so far. Of course, over the course of the last four years I have optimized my body for that type of mountain running, so it makes sense that changing has confused my body.
One thing I have not changed is my diet. I continue to be disciplined in following a low carbohydrate regimen. The only difference between now and ultra training is that I have used a bit more Generation Ucan for fueling before some harder runs -- maybe six times now in six weeks. So I am not abusing it, but using it strategically when I have to hit a hard run or feel a bit low.
In short, I am in a bit of a waiting pattern on the trail and ultra front, but I am busy working my butt off for another goal. It has been a nice change of pace and maybe more of a challenge than I expected. It is a struggle to run 10 miles at 7:30 pace right now, I cannot fathom running 26.2 miles faster than that. The reality that I once did that blows my mind.