After a year of discovery and learning, on both concrete and mountains, I've learned a lot about what I can handle in running shoes. Of course that also implies that I now know where I can test my limits and discover truly how far I can go and where my limits are. After 3 marathons and 3 50ks under my belt I am now comfortable with both distances, but it has left me wondering how far I can run.
Goal #1 (Attempted at the Ruth Anderson and 25-35 mph winds were harsh and the 50 mph gusts were even worse, so I settled for the 50k; Attempted at the Quicksilver 50m but stopped at the 50k, not ready mentally; think this distance shall have to wait until next year or until I can get my 50k time down to a more manageable 5-5:15) is to finish my first 50 mile race. Without ever attempting this distance there is no way I can predict what my time would be. My first attempt will be in April at the Ruth Anderson 50k/50m/100k in San Francisco. I love this format because it is a 4.5 mile loop course and you choose your distance while you are running. If, at the 50k mark, you are feeling strong and wish to continue then all you do is inform the race director and you can continue towards the 50 mile marker. Same for the 100k distance at the 50 mile finish. Oh, and the 50 mile distance has only 1,000 ft elevation gain. With this I can only hope to finish in under 10 hours. My second attempt will be much more difficult and it will all depend on how I do at the Ruth Anderson 50 miler on whether I attempt the 50k or the 50m in May at the Quicksilver 50k/50m in San Jose. This one has an elevation gain of 8,500 ft. for the 50m and the reason it will be much more difficult. Best estimate and goal will be under 12 hours.
This will be my first test on how well I am progressing as an endurance runner and will in turn either establish my limits or raise the bar and expand my horizon.
Goal #2 (Accomplished: 3:52:32 @ Napa Valley Marathon on 3/2/08) is to run a sub 4 hour marathon. I was on pace to do this at SF before my calves cramped up at mile 16-17 because of my lack of foresight to take salt tablets or electrolyte pills. My first opportunity to do this will be on 3/2 at the Napa Valley Marathon, one of the races that I have planned first and is one of my destination marathons for the year.
Goal #3 (Accomplished: 5:46:10 @ Ruth Anderson 50k on 4/19/08) is to run a sub 6 hour 50k, but since I ran a 6:09 at Rodeo Beach in December, I will also be shooting for a sub 5:30, which is doable I think. My first opportunity is at Pacifica on 1/19, but not likely since this race will be over 7,000 ft elevation gain (which I did on purpose because I wanted to do a somewhat comparable elevation gain to the Quicksilver 50m but in a shorter distance, and thus be able to see if I could have a chance at finishing it). Which leaves either the Woodside 50k on 2/2 or the Angel Island 50k on 7/5 to accomplish this.
Goal #4 (Accomplished: Overgrown Fatass Marathon on 2/10/08; Accomplished: Golden Gate Headlands Marathon on 4/5/08) is to run a trail marathon. No time goals here and this one is really a tag along to the other goals. A trail marathon will, of course, be harder than a road marathon because of the elevation gain, but not as hard as a 50k with more elevation gain. I can only hope to run one in under 5 hours. I hit the marathon mark at the Rodeo Beach 50k at around 5:09, so I see no problem achieving this goal. That being said I love the idea of a trail marathon, and not least of all because it is not as hard on the legs but still gives you a great satisfaction in running such a tradition and history rich distance. First opprotunity for this will be either the Los Gatos Fatass Marathon on 2/10 or at the Gold Gate Headlands Marathon on 4/5.
Goal #5 is more of an administrative goal that can help assist me in all the other goals. A base of at least an average of 20 miles a week should be manageable and will push me over 1,000 miles for the year. Still not too much by other standards, and I will of course shoot for quite a bit more, but it is a nice sounding board to base my efforts. Additionally, I will shift much of my training to hills and run many more double digit training runs that I did in 2007, which wasn't much at all (the most I ever trained in one sitting was 13.1 miles and I only did that twice, not counting the half marathon races I've ran), and I know I can run better in the hills and the longer distances if I trained harder and longer.
Last year I set 3 goals and met them all easily, so this year I set five goals, some harder than others. Hopefully this year's goals will have as much success as last year's goals.