With the Bandera 100k approaching rapidly, my training has entered the last week of high volume before I allow my body to absorb all it’s hard work over the past couple months. Since October, my training has been laser focused on this particular race. I can say with full confidence that I’ve never been this fit or enthused in any December of my life. Still though, the winter months have already begun to drag and I’ve found it difficult to conjure inspiring running that will keep me entertained for more than 3 hours at a time. The critical long training runs have not been as easy to come by, so I jumped at the opportunity to join in the festivities at Nick Clark’s Chubby Cheeks 50k last weekend.
A great group of people/athletes turned out and we had a fantastic day traipsing around in Nick’s enormous, wild, and beautiful backyard. I ran the whole day with Nick, Ryan Burch, and Jason Schlarb, with many cameos of various lengths by other very strong runners such as Dan Vega, Jason Koop, Nick Pedatella, and Dakota Jones. The course is definitely tough (~7,500 feet of climbing packed into ~31 miles) and the dicey trail conditions only served to further kick our asses. Exactly what I needed. According to my watch, we spent six hours and twelve minutes running through the woods on what was a fantastically sunny and mild Colorado day. I finished feeling really strong which was a very a good sign, considering I’ll have to run at least an additional 2-3 hours in Texas next month. Hats off to Nick for putting that event together. He was an excellent facilitator and tour guide all day. It was a great celebration and left me confident that my body and mind are fully prepared for a serious race effort in a few short weeks.
My initial focus in registering for Bandera was to compete for a spot at this year’s Western States 100. At first it seemed realistic, but the entrant list has since become increasingly deep to the point where it seems unlikely that I’ll be in the mix for a podium spot. It certainly won’t be for lack of effort though. This will be my first attempt at the 100k distance but I think the course profile and longer length will play into my strengths, and hopefully allow me to perform well. Either way, I’m sure to have a great time in a fresh environment with many kindred spirits which, of course, is priority #1.
The most exciting thing about Bandera for me is the fact that it will be the first time I fly the Pearl Izumi flag in competition. It was a huge honor for me to be invited to join their ranks and I’m beyond proud to represent this wholesome and local Colorado company. I’ll be joined in Texas by new teammates Nick Clark, Timothy Olson, and Darcy Africa – all of whom I’ve idolized since I began running a couple years ago. They are all far more talented than myself, so chances are I’ll take the role of domestique for team PI in what is sure to be a very fast peloton :).
After Bandera my race schedule is shaping up quite nicely. In February I’ll return to Moab to race the Red Hot 55k for the second year in a row. March will likely involve some rest and a just-for-fun local Skimo race called The Power of Four, before I travel to NorCal in April to race the Lake Sonoma 50. The only other definite on the docket right now is the Run Rabbit Run 100 in September, but I fully plan on making another trip to California for a different 100 miler in June or July. Of course, the hope is I’ll run Western States but the alternative will either be a return/defense at San Diego or a crack at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. Whatever happens, 2012 is sure to be big. I look forward to many new challenges, experiences, and friendships in the coming year. Fire it up.