Monday, March 2, 2015

My Sh*t Show at the Phoenix Marathon

As the saying goes: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

I had all the best intentions when deciding to run the BMO Phoenix marathon this December: get back into a training routine after 6 months of just surviving through every run, emulate my very successful 2013 when I started the year by focusing on road speed, see what I could do at the marathon after a 3 year hiatus, and even spend some quality time with my brother who decided to run the half.  Ah, yes, they are all such good intentions, which is probably why I found myself in Hell at mile 16!

The intentions were good, but the downfall was the plan. I had done AC100, World 100s and two 50k’s in the previous few months so I had great confidence in my endurance and figured I just needed to hone my speed. Starting January 2 (I took the 1st off to recover from the Recover from the Holidays 50k. That’s right, I needed to recover from my recovery event), I began training, giving me six solid weeks plus two weeks to taper. No problem!

Well, there was a big problem. It took me a couple weeks to readjust to everyday training and to “buy in” to the whole concept of marathon training. I mean, I couldn’t do any speed work or a long run the week after a 50k race, right? And the following week, I got paged out of my long run after 7 miles. I mean, a liver transplant is more important than my training, right? I did a 10k the next weekend, which served as a good training run, but it was a weekend light on mileage. And the last weekend in January when we were down in California, I opted to run with Katie DeSplinter and Dom Grossman on the PCT from Wrightwood, rather than do a marathon pace long run by myself. I mean, beautiful trails with friends I don’t get to see that often trumps a boring scheduled long run, right?
Run cut short to evaluate a liver for transplant. At least I had enough time for a selfie!
A beautiful day on the PCT
Finally, by February I was ready to buckle down and do the scheduled work, but I had basically squandered half of my allotted training time. Still I was optimistic: I ran a half marathon at about the same pace as that January 10k, my tempo times were getting faster, I was doing the full Monday morning track workouts routinely. Well, I was in much better shape; unfortunately, I was really only in shape for 16 miles when I scheduled a 26.2 mile run! 
My bro and I ready to board the buses. Only we parked right next to the half marathon shuttles and I had to hike nearly a mile to get to my buses!
The BMO (pronounced Bee-Moe I learned) Phoenix marathon starts in the scenic, cactus dotted foothills outside of Mesa, though the predawn start made it hard to appreciate the views. It was a fast start due to 300’ of elevation loss in the first 4.5 miles, so I wasn’t concerned that my 6:25’s were faster than planned as I wasn’t even mouth breathing. Mile 4.5-6 was uphill but I backed way off almost to 7:00 pace knowing that I was still keeping to a sub 6:40 average. When the course turned back downhill, it once again felt so easy. We got into the flatter town roads on the way to the half marathon mark and I hit several miles right under 6:40, getting to the half at 1:26:34. The legs had those little twinges of fatigue, but I’ve been there many, many times and it didn’t seem too concerning. My breathing wasn’t out of control. Even if I ran the second half three minutes slower, I would still PR and I’d be happy with that.

And then we turned south into a solid wall of wind. The official weather stats were 12 mph winds with gusts to 23 mph. That sounds kind of wimpy especially after reading Geoff Roes tales of Alaskan blasts, but as a marathon runner with absolutely no education or relevant knowledge on wind, it felt really strong! ;) 6:41, 6:46- I was struggling to hit my pace. I tried to “draft”, I ate a gel, but in those two miles my legs went from feeling little twinges of fatigue to full cement seizure. Welcome to Hell! A very pathetic and very painful next ten miles resulted in a ten minute positive split and a disappointing 3:03:05 finish. The day of the race, I told people I thought I had blown quads, but based on my soreness (mild) and strength climbing stairs (fine) afterwards, I don’t think this was the case. Instead, I think the proverbial Wall claimed another victim.

The most prevalent theory on the Wall involves lactic acid production, with poor utilization and accumulation, which prevents muscle contraction and can lead to cramping.  Similar to how many ultra runners try to maximize fat utilization, marathoners can improve lactic acid utilization through training. Increased fitness can also raise the lactate threshold, or the pace at which a runner begins to produce lactic acid. In these ways, runners can train to avoid the Wall.

I spent much of the last 6 months running at low heart rate and following many of the guidelines in the Maffetone method. I will confidently tell you that Maffetone saved me. I was so broken at the end of the year and low HR/MAF training allowed me to not only keep running when I was so fatigued, but also to get through 100km Worlds fairly respectably and more importantly, it allowed me to fully recover. Plus, it is great "fat-burning" training.

But Maffetone has a fatal flaw: it only addresses one system of fitness. Maffetone claims that his method optimizes aerobic fitness and I will not dispute this claim. But fitness is a combination of aerobic abilities, anaerobic abilities, muscle strength and power, VO2max, lactic acid threshold, etc. And while MAF training may optimize aerobic fitness, all of those other systems go to shit. And that was my starting point for this round of training. The 4 weeks of truly dedicated marathon training was just not sufficient to develop all my systems or convert from being a “fat-burner” to being a “lactic acid burner.” I think the extra effort to maintain pace with the headwind (it was HUGE, I am telling you!), was enough to push me past my lactic acid threshold and my body wasn’t able to deal with it. CRASH! - I hit the Wall.

While it may have been a little arrogant to think I could get in shape for a marathon in 6-8 weeks when just about every respectable marathon training plan is 12-18 weeks, I still believe that a marathon at 6:30-6:40 pace is not an unreasonable goal for me. But in the future, I know I need to have a lot more consistency with marathon pace and tempo runs. I have spent the last three years turning myself into a 100 mile runner; I am going to need more than 6 weeks to transform myself into a marathon runner!

Still there are lots of positives from this whole event. I ran 16 miles at 6:38 average pace, which has got to be close to 16 mile PR (haha!). I enjoyed spending time with my brother, who PR’d in the half marathon and I got to see one of my cousins. I feel like this did jump start my fitness for the spring and I am excited to be back to the “heavy” training routine. And I am someone who gets super motivated by failure: When I dropped to a shorter distance in my first 50 miler, I signed up for a 100 miler. When I DNF’d Angeles Crest, I had it in my mind that I would go back for the course record (done!), and when I bombed at Western States, I came back so focused that I won the whole thing. So this is just one more thing to use for motivation and I am already thinking about when another marathon might fit in (late fall, using the base from 100km Worlds??). 

AND - I won the master’s prize! My brother told me at the finish that one “pretty old chick” finished ahead of me, but it turns out she was only 39, and so not officially old like me! While $300 is not much money and it certainly doesn’t change my finances, there is something very consoling about being handed a check! I treated my brother and cousin to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, because the money was just burning a hole in my pocket and we needed to live it up! ;) Plus, all-you-can-eat salad and ice cream sounded like Heaven after my ten miles of Hell.
Going crazy at Sweet Tomatoes! Just after this my cousin lost his glasses in the lake due to his uncontrolled laughter as I entertained them both with hilarious stories of fecal transplant in the hospital (it's a real thing, seriously! You can Google it!). I always know the appropriate things to talk about at meal time!
Spending "quality time" with my brother. He napped for three and a half hours which is twice as long as it took him to run his race. That boy knows how to recover! 
 Next up: Lake Sonoma in six weeks! Hmmm, that really doesn’t sound like enough time!
Podium! This other woman wanted to break 3:00 and ran a 3:16. We were laughing that we both got paid for having missing our goals by so much. As they say,"Half the battle is just showing up!" I hope to do more than just show up next time I run a marathon!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

On Sponsorships - Part 2

(This has been festering in my Draft file for almost a month. I started it soon after my first Sponsorship post, and kept meaning to edit it or add more - perfectionism can be so paralyzing! - but I lost my enthusiasm and it never happened. Still, I liked all the discussion from the first post, and felt like I had more to say on the subject. So here is my "raw" part 2 on how sponsored athletes influence sales.)

Recently Montrail and Pearl Izumi essentially disbanded their ultra-teams despite having several top level runners on their teams such as Ellie Greenwood, Max King, Amy Sproston and Kaci Lickteig. This change in marketing strategy by these companies begs the question: Do sponsored athletes improve sales?

In response to a previous post, Gretchen Brugman admits that after seeing Ellie Greenwood on her blog in a black puffy jacket, she immediately ordered one for herself. I do think elite athletes can influence impulse purchases, because impulse purchases aren't based on logic or need, they are based on wants and emotions. Having one top level athlete in agreement with the product you desire may be all the reason you need to go ahead and buy that item you have been longing for. 

Impulse purchases aren't necessarily bad - Gretchen says she loves her jacket and has no regrets - but when it comes to products that typically cost upwards of a hundred dollars (shoes, jackets, hydration vests, sunglasses, etc.), how often do we buy these things on impulse alone? More often than not, people do at least a little internet research before shelling out their cash. When making an educated purchase consumers may compare price, manufacturer's specifications and online reviews. But I'd be surprised if anyone weighs which top athletes are wearing the products they are considering.

Of course, for someone to consider purchasing a product, they have to be aware that product exists. And sponsored athletes may bring that attention to a product. But do sponsored athletes really increase sales?

Ken Michal noted in his recent URP interview that he thought it was cool that Dave Mackey wore the same shoes as he did, but as a back-of-the-pack guy what he really cares about is if the shoes work for other back-of-the-packers, not if they work for fast guys like Dave Mackey. I know when I got into this sport the three goddesses of ultrarunning were Nikki Kimball, Lizzie Hawker and Kami Semick, all sponsored by The North Face at the time. Those three were my heroes and I wanted to be just like them, yet I have never bought a single item of The North Face gear. To me, being like them meant training hard, performing well in big races and having lots of amazing running experiences; it didn't mean dressing like them.

I think most consumers recognize the success of the elites is due primarily to their hard work, natural talent, and gritty racing tactics and very little to do with the equipment they wear. We continuously watch elite athletes switch sponsors with virtually no change in their level of performance. And I don't think one has to be too cynical to think the reason athletes change sponsors has more to do with money than the products themselves. As I heard from one elite last year, "I really loved working with [company X], but the deal from [company Y] was too good to pass up." Similarly, as Montrail announced a cut in funds to athletes, most of their athletes quickly abandoned (sponsor)ship.

And it is hard to take recommendations from sponsored athletes at face value due to the inherent biases they have from being sponsored. Don't get me wrong, I am sure most sponsored athletes are with companies they believe in and are using products they really like, but would you ever expect them to recommend a brand other than the one they are running for? For example a Western States rookie runner recently asked me, Amy Sproston and Denise Bourassa for hydration pack recommendations and we all three recommended packs from companies that sponsor us. I know we are all quite happy with our packs and the responses were not disingenuous, but being sponsored means we may not have the same breadth of pack experience as someone who has had to go into a store a try out multiple packs before picking one, or even if we had two packs we liked, we might not mention one from a competitor brand. (For the record, I paid full price for my Ultimate Direction AK vest long before I was sponsored. Then again, I am probably telling you this to promote my sponsor. ;)

A Forbes study from 2012 showed that recommendations from friends or family had the greatest weight in determining what people purchase. Other promotions can influence sales as well. For example, Garnier beauty products got a bigger boost in social media buzz and sales after a coupon promotion than after announcing Tina Fey as their celebrity endorsement (but indeed there was a significant boost with that endorsement). Ace Metrix, a company devoted to television and video analytics, studied 2,600 commercials and found those with celebrity endorsements were no more influential (and in some cases even slightly worse) than those without celebrities. A study in the Journal of Advertising Research concluded professional athlete endorsement equated to a 4% boost in sales if that athlete was performing well. There was a lesser boost from retired or "non-winning" athletes. 

Ultrarunning is different than a lot of sports because it is such a "niche" endeavor. Even the best in our sport are largely unknown to those outside of the sport. But I think participants in ultrarunning feel more connected to the elites than the fans do in other sports. Because ultrarunning is so low-key, the elites remain approachable and relate-able. On race day, everyone lines up together and deals with the same hardships of the course, creating a sense of shared experience between the front runners and the rest of the field. The elites hang out post-race and eat the same post-race meal. And because sponsorship dollars remain fairly low, most elites still have day jobs and other obligations like the non-elites. Those that are able to subsist on running alone certainly aren't multi-millionaires living a life of opulence. And because ultrarunning is low key, most pre- and post-race interviews resemble an amicable conversation, rather than a formal press conference. For all of these reasons, I think many of the elites remain approachable and in some ways feel like "friends" with trustworthy opinions.

Because sales is about exposure and word of mouth, I do think the amount of commercial money coming into this sport will increase, especially as the sport continues to grow. BUT, I think this is going to be in the form of sponsors casting a much broader net with sponsorship opportunities trickling down to "sub-elites", frequent racers, and other visible but non-elite athletes. While sponsorship money for top athletes is  increasing, I think true "professionalism" in our sport will remain elusive. Due to the demanding nature of ultramarathons, a single athlete can only run a handful of races in top form every year. Add to that the fairly high risk of injury/burnout and it makes sense why companies would want to invest multiple small amounts of money in many different runners than a large sum in a single high profile runner. So while many were surprised and dismayed by the dissolution of of the Pearl Izumi team, their "grassroots" ambassador program is not without merit or business sense. Those athletes who are trying to make a living will likely need an entire list of sponsors to make it work.

There's a lot more money coming into the sport these days compared to when I was getting started. That's a good thing for promising runners looking to get some free gear or even subsidize their racing, especially for those who are willing to work for it and have high visibility amongst the fans. But I don't see runners getting rich off of sponsorship anytime soon, which means my job will continue to be my biggest "sponsor". ;)

So how do sponsored athletes influence your purchases? Do you ever think top ultra-runners will be able to "go pro" and earn enough to own a home or support a family? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Roaring Run Half Marathon

A good number of ultra-runners don't run marathons. They say they are too boring, or they aren't inspired, or they want to challenge themselves by doing longer distances. I think those excuses just sound better than the truth: marathons are really frickin' scary!!

When I decided to train for a marathon, I thought eight weeks would be plenty of time considering that I already had the endurance for the distance. But it has been more than four weeks and I am still coming around mentally to take on this challenge. You see, in training for an ultra, every day feels like a positive step getting me to the fitness level I want. But marathon training is a series of bitch slaps constantly reminding me that I am nowhere close to where I want to be. I go out for a hard effort that leaves me gasping for breath, only to see my cute 4 M tempo run didn't even hit marathon goal pace. It doesn't exactly instill confidence.

Which is likely the reason I was full of dread for the Roaring Run Half marathon on Saturday. It doesn't help that I ran my half PR (1:21:15) here two years ago so I had a very concrete historical data point for comparison. But I needed the workout if I ever plan to get where I want.
The race goes through the Larwood Covered Bridge over the Roaring River (actual river name) at mile 12.5 and had high school drummers pounding out an inspirational beat

The lead woman started at sub-6 pace (and held on for a 1:18 finish!), which is out of my league on my best days, so I was free to run my own race without getting swept into the competition. There was fatigue and slowing, but also a bit of mental ease. After gutting something out like the last 30 miles of 100km Worlds, running hard for a hour doesn't seem that bad. So mostly I just played little games in my head to pass the time and then it was over. But not watching the time did leave me rolling my eyes a bit at my finish time of 1:26:01. Oh well, not going to dwell on how lame that 0-1 looks right now.

Like the 10k two weeks ago, this is way off my best, but actually a bit better than I expected. And my 10k split was faster than the Cascade 10k. So I am going to call this a step in the right direction rather than a bitch slap reminding me that I am just a shadow of my prime self. Well, it it was both, but let's focus on the positive; I'll never make it another four weeks of marathon training if I don't!
2nd female, 1st old lady!

Post race celebration was a slumber party for Megan with fondue. I am also pretending that cheese and chocolate are excellent recovery foods!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cascade 10k

As of this week, I am officially training for a marathon! But all the tempo runs, lactate threshold runs and marathon pace runs scare me so I am racing myself into marathon shape instead (well, and doing some of those other things, too). I've got a half marathon lined up in two weeks.

The Cascade 10k is kind of a special race because I ran it in 2008 two days after deciding I was done breast feeding and I was ready to get serious about running again after having my kids. Two days is not very much time to train and it took all my effort to achieve a 55 minute finish. But I've come a long way since then! So no better place than to jump into training once again than the Cascade 10k seven years later.

Not much to say about a 10k except they are hard. Like by mile 2, I was ready to slow down. But I didn't! Well, not until the turnaround at mile three, when the wind hit us all straight in the face along with pouring rain. I did manage to cross the line before any other women, but mostly because the fast ladies did the half marathon. My time of 39:36 is light years off of my PR (37:20) and reminds me that I have A LOT of work to do, but it's a lot better than starting from a 55 minute 10k time.

So the win doesn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy but this week of training does. While I did three weeks with higher mileage than this week before Worlds, it was all slow miles. This was the first week in 6 months that I got in all my planned workouts including track, tempo, one day of weights (normally I like two, but I was scared with the race and my first week back), and a yoga session: 81 miles with no significant long run (I'm not worried about being able to finish 26 miles!). But mostly I am so happy just to enjoy running again and pushing my body hard without feeling destroyed afterwards.

Megan and Liam came out to race, too, only in the 2 miler. No racing for Mac- he's got a new coach who has him doing base miles only right now- but he volunteered. The course was incredibly straight forward for the two miler - run straight down a road for a mile and turn around at the cone - and with so many other people out, we figured this would be a good time to let the kids run a race by themselves, instead of jogging alongside them as we have done in previous 5k's.

Megan is just like me: no speed but a lot of heart. She wasn't racing for any podium spots, but she was about 5 seconds behind this girl as they came up the school driveway, and Megan gave it her all to edge her at the finish (for 6th place female) for an official time of 18:26 (Clock is off 15 minutes due to the half marathon early start and chip timing knocked off a couple seconds). She was all smiles at the finish. Afterwards she told me, "Mom, I was trying to run so hard I couldn't feel my legs at the end. It was like I was numb from the waist down!"

Things were a little different for Liam. He's never liked the cold and when it started raining right after the gun went off his happy attitude melted quicker than the Wicked Witch. He told me he had to walk because he was too cold to run. I tried to explain that that didn't make sense, but he was adamant that being cold meant he couldn't run. When I asked him if the race made him cry he told me, "Well, I wasn't crying but I had tears in my eyes." Let's just say, it wasn't his best race, but he finished (because he had no choice - he had to get back to the gym if he wanted a ride home!) I do feel sorry for him, but I also know he can be a big whiner. We took him home and got him all warmed up in our bath and then he was all smiles, too. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sponsorship Post Follow-up

Thank you everyone for the comments and positive feedback on the sponsorship post. The post got more than 5,000 views which is about 10 times the usual traffic on my small-time blog. And some of the comments were the nicest things anybody has ever said to me, so thank you. As Sarah, Liza and Scott said (all three awesome 40+ parent ultra-runners themselves, BTW), we relate best to people we find similar to ourselves. I hope to be an example to others that 40 isn't old (despite how many jokes I make about it!); that having kids is a reason to keep pursuing your dreams, not a reason to give them up; and that you can train even with kids and a full time job.

Sponsorship and professionalism are in their infancy in this sport and I think it makes sense that we as a community are talking about it and that we have a general understanding of it. Glad I could help start a conversation. And I do want to make it clear that in no way did I ever say 40 year olds aren't attractive! 

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a few other points of discussion on sponsorship that I'd like to cover as well as another little blog "series" I'd like to do. Of course, I'll still do all the personal race and family posts, too, but I really like the idea of "blog journalism." I enjoy the writing and I like the interaction. There's just not much to discuss after a race report and there are a million other ones already out there! I do apologize for not being able to respond to all the comments: firewalls at work prevent me from using FB or blogger during the day and my early bedtime means I don't always get around to it at night. Just know I appreciate all the comments.

Happy Trails (or roads, I am an equal opportunity runner)! -Pam

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On Sponsorships

It is common knowledge that ultra-running is a burgeoning sport, and with the explosion in participation there has been an influx of sponsorship money and sponsorship opportunities. Not only are some of the top runners able to scrape together a living from the sport, but there is a broader sponsorship net, such that one no longer has to be in the top echelon to get financial and product support.

So I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that no less than five times in the past few weeks have I heard something that went like this: “I am pretty good at ultra-running and have some awesome results. How do I get a sponsor?” Ok, nobody actually said it like that, and, in fact, in this humble crowd, three of these incidents were a friend or a fan asking why some other awesome athlete didn’t have a sponsor. Most recently, Eric Schranz of ponders why Traci Falbo and Joe Fejes don’t have major sponsors despite being in the top 10 for UROY voting this year.

But here’s what people need to understand: companies don’t give ultra-runners sponsorships because they are good runners, they give sponsorships to runners because they think those runners will bring attention to their product (and in turn more business to the company). In a nutshell, top runners aren’t getting sponsorships because they get good results, top runners get sponsorships because they get attention. Yes, these things are closely related since a great race produces a lot of media attention, IF those results are at races that the media is covering. 

And results aren’t the only things that garner attention. Companies are aware of an athlete’s social media presence: How many Twitter and Instagram followers do they have, do they have a blog (and how many readers does it have), how many ‘friends’ or ‘likes’ do they have on Facebook, Are they on Strava. Active on-line athletes have a much bigger influence an ultimately this is what companies are looking to leverage. One hateful letsrun thread questions how Sally McCrae could get a Nike sponsorship based on her racing history. Sally McCrae has a series of You Tube videos getting an average of 2,500 views a piece with one particularly popular one nearing 40,000 views. She has 7,000 Instagram followers and 3,500 Twitter followers. Her big smile, good looks, upbeat attitude and hearty laugh get her noticed at races. Teaming up with Billy Yang in Western Time, she got more attention for her finish at Western States (10th place) than pretty much any one else outside of the winners. Sally McCrae is not only a great runner, she is a social media super-star. Sally McCrae is a sponsorship dream.

One letsrun commenter chimed in: "[People] mistakenly believe that fast times result in money. Before the internet, this was indeed the case. Today being cool/popular through social networking gets you money." 

Other great examples of this are Jenn Shelton, Scott Jurek, Dean Karnazes and Anton Krupicka. Besides Anton, are any of them really running ultras any more? And yet they remain some of the most heavily sponsored athletes in our sport. Why? People know who they are - and not just ultrarunners. They have written or been in best selling books, they have big social media presences, and they are overall just very popular runners.

And it doesn't hurt that they are all good looking. Because looks get you noticed, too. Young, tan, chiseled athletes in the habit of running shirtless are going to have more companies seeking them out. Does this seem unfair? Well, I can tell you it kind of sucks to have a company basically ignore you because you "don't fit the image" they are looking for, but at the same time, I get it completely. Sex sells. Sponsored athletes are basically models for a company's gear and what company wouldn't want good looking models?? When consumers make a purchase, they believe that product will somehow make their life better. In the world of ultrarunning, the fantasy ideal is being young, carefree and able to run through the mountains all day. Models who have the looks and lifestyle that embody those qualities make it easier for a consumer to get the idea that a certain product will help them feel younger, look better and be able to run through the mountains all day. Who wants to buy a product that will make them feel like a 40-something year old who has to cut their runs short to get to work on time and take care of their kids? Most ultrarunners are already living that life!

But I also completely understand the desire for sponsorship. In 2009, when I started winning ultras, I was definitely keen to get a sponsor. It wasn't about the money or free products at all; I wanted the validation. But as I have gotten older and had more successes, I realize the running and the results are validation in themselves for all the hard work. Still, I am extremely thankful and appreciative for my sponsors. I have a huge amount of gratitude to Injinji, La Sportiva, Ultimate Direction, and Honey Stinger for supporting a pasty skinned, hash-tag challenged, plain Jane mom who is more comfortable running with her shirt on than off (my armpits rub. How does no one else have this problem??).

I still have lots of thoughts on the notion of ultrarunners "deserving" to be able to make a living off of their running (as I have seen in a few comments) and how much sponsored athletes influence the sale of products, but I'll stop here. I do think sponsorship is improving the level of this sport and bringing in more talent and that is a major benefit to the sport as a whole. But I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts on sponsorships in ultrarunning because I am sure there are many of things I haven't thought of (and talking about ultrarunning is almost as good as ultrarunning itself!).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Looking Ahead

So one week in to 2015 and I am happy to say I haven't tried to change my life in any major way. 

My friend Meredith came up with the idea of "15 for 15 in 15" meaning do something for 15 minutes 15 times a month for the whole year of 2015. I like this concept a lot, but I am guaranteed to fail at something that specific and with that much time commitment. I have a list in my head of things I'd like to spend more time doing: reading (actual books, not running related), writing, being outside in the winter for reasons other than running, organizing photos, decluttering the house, yoga/stretching, etc. Maybe I'll do more of these things in the coming year and maybe I won't. I am pretty happy with the Big Picture right now and I don't feel like I need to spend a lot of time changing the little things.

Of course, I have spent plenty of time dreaming of running adventures and upcoming races for the year. I am planning to start the year by pushing a bit out of my comfort zone. Yep, I am training for a marathon! Yikes! I have to give credit to Liza Howard and her "I am not getting any younger speech" for inspiring me to do this. I have no wild aspirations of OTQ but I'd still like to see what these old legs can do and I could certainly use a little speed injection. After that, I'll head back to the much more comfortable 50-100 mile race range. ;)

2015 Race Plans:
1/18 - Cascade 10k
1/31 - Roaring Run Half Marathon
2/28 - BMO Phoenix Marathon
3/14-15 - Pac Rim One Day with Megan (I think Liam and Mac are going to go/run this year, too!)
3/29 - Pacing at Gorge Waterfalls 100km
4/11 - Lake Sonoma 50M
May - a training 50k, probably MacDonald Forest or Sun Mountain, and a one hour track time trial (Titus van Rijn) for kicks and giggles
May 23-25 - Western States training camp
June 27 -Western States
July 25 -US Mountain Running championships?? - not really my thing, but it is in Bend, it might be fun to be a part of
July 26 - Aug 1 - Wonderland trail (pending permit). This isn't an FKT or even a fast pack, just old fashioned back packing and hanging out in the wilderness
Aug 22 - Pacing at Leadville. Wish I were running it but it is just too close to 100km Worlds
Sept. 12 - 100km World Championships, Winschoten, Netherlands. I have an automatic spot and Worlds won't be held again till 2017
Fall - nothing planned yet. Would love to get around Mt. Hood one weekend
Dec. 12 - Desert Solstice - what can I say? I am a glutton for loops!

I hope everyone else has great plans for 2015! Who's coming with me to any of the races above?