Friday, March 20, 2009

At Last, a Race Schedule

I know it’s standard practice to plan out the race schedule for the year in December, or at the latest, January. The planning, the dreaming…it’s all supposed to be part of the pleasure of the off-season. Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m the world’s worst procrastinator.

I had one great race already in February, but was still having trouble getting excited about the rest of my running plans for the year. One thing I did decide over the winter was that I do not plan on doing a hundred-miler this year. TRT was epic, and it was a great experience. However, it so dominated my every thought for the year, that when it was over, I didn’t have much running left in me. I was tired of training, and I didn’t know how to run without training for a race. So, this year a 100 miler is conspicuously absent from my schedule. (Don’t worry; they’re on the long term calendar.) You will notice instead, a number of shorter, local trail races that I think will be pretty fun, and will hopefully keep me motivated throughout the summer. My themes this year are “keep it local” (that’s standard for me—I can’t really afford to add travel expenses to all my race fees, plus there are so many great local races, why go somewhere else?) and “keep it fun.”

Today it is so beautiful, that I have moved the kitchen table and a chair out to the deck, and am currently typing this in short sleeves and sunshine. I didn’t bother hauling the deck furniture out of the basement since we are supposed to get a foot of snow tomorrow night, but for now, it truly does feel like the first day of spring! As such, I am feeling pretty excited about my race schedule. So without further ado, my 2009 race schedule:

Rucky Chucky 50K –March 21

This 50K is run on the Western States Trail near Foresthill. It should be a beautiful day, although there’s a chance of rain. The truth is, I am woefully out of shape after an illness following Surf City, and then a lot of “skiing instead of running” type of workouts. The two reasons I didn’t cross this one off my schedule are, number one: I am dying to get some dirt under my feet, and two: If I can’t finish this, then I’ll never be able to finish AR50 in two weeks.

American River 50 –April 4

This was my first 50 miler back in 2006. I like the course, and there will be a lot of runners. I had originally been hoping for a fast time when I signed up, but now I’m just hoping not to be a lot slower than my 2006 time of 9:28. How well I survive, and recover from, Rucky Chucky, will give me a good indication of how this race should go.

Billy Dutton Uphill –April 12

This is billed as the original “run what ‘ya brung” race. Athletes ascend 2000’ in 3.2 miles from the base of KT to High Camp at Squaw. You can use skate skis, striding skis, or snow shoes. This is sort of the winter equivalent of the Squaw Mountain Run. I will need to find some snow shoes to borrow for this. There is no way I am going to try skating it when I haven’t had my skate skis on all winter. Should be interesting, since I don’t really snow shoe.

Diablo Marathon –April 18

One of these years I will run the full 50 at Diablo. Since I am doing AR 50 just two weeks before, I decided to forgo it for the marathon again this year. Plus, after getting lost on this course last year, I need some redemption. I had also considered The River City Marathon for this day, but it’s a road race and, as stated earlier, I am just dying to get some dirt under my feet. Diablo was super fun last year, and I have no doubt that Sarah and Wendell will give us another great day!

Escape From Prison Hill Half Marathon –April 25

I have run this race for the last three years. I love the course! Typically I don’t race it because I go out for some additional training miles afterward. If I feel good, I’d like to race it this year. We’ll see.

Reno Rock ‘N River Marathon –May 3

This is a road race in Reno. I haven’t decided if I’m doing the half or the full marathon yet. I’ve never run it before, but I hear good things about it from people who ran it last year.

Silver State 50/50 –May 16

I have run this one for the last two years, and I like it. It’s a tough course, and it’s very close. That being said, I’m not totally committed to running it this year. If I do, I’ll probably go for the 50K option.

Auburn Trail 50K –June 6

Another event in the race series. I had a great time at this one last year, and look forward to returning.

Burton Creek Trail Marathon –June 28

Last year I won the first Burton Creek Trail Run, so I feel a little pressure about returning to this one. They changed the distance this year from a 20 mile run to a full marathon. Hey, I guess I don’t have to worry about losing my course record! It was a beautiful course, and hopefully this event will get bigger every year.

Tahoe Rim Trail 50M –July 19

What can I say, I love this race. Scenic, challenging, and the best aid stations and volunteers imaginable! I suspect I’ll be back to the 100 eventually, but for this year, I think the 50M will be plenty.

Squaw Mountain Run –August 1

This classic Tahoe event is 3.6 miles to the top of Squaw. It has a pretty big field—over 500 runners, and it’s the first race in the Tahoe Mountain Trail Run Series. (Can you call it a series if there are only two races?) I can’t believe I’ve lived in Tahoe for over 8 years and have never run this race. This is my year! I’ll trash talk myself all day about how bad I suck at running downhill, but I have to confess, I consider myself a pretty decent hill climber. This will be my chance to prove it.

Northstar Nirvana Mountain Trail Run –August 15

This 10K trail run at Northstar Ski Resort is the second race in the Tahoe Mountain Series. I’m hoping this is a good one with big turnout. I am excited to run some short trail races!

Lake of the Sky 50K –Sept 12

This is a beautiful 50K on the Tahoe Rim Trail starting in Tahoe City. Part of the series, it’s a beautiful and challenging course. (Notice that theme here in Tahoe?)

Emerald Bay Trail Run –Sept 20

Another short one (12K). It is also another new race for me.

Helen Klein 50M –October 31

This is a flat, fast 50 mile course. If I manage to avoid burnout by this point in the season, I really think I can run under 8 hours here. I somehow have this idea that if I can go sub-8, it will make me “fast.” Where do we get these strange definitions and standards that we like to apply to ourselves?

Run the River marathon –November 14

After running 3:28 in February, I decided that I should try to break my 10-year-old marathon PR of 3:26 this year. This is my only road marathon at low altitude, so this will be my chance. I love the American River Parkway, so it should be a nice course, and certainly a good chance to go fast.

Well, writing it all out there like that makes it look pretty ambitious. I have to remember that a lot of those races are fairly short, and some are really short. My biggest goals are to run 10:30 or faster at TRT, sub-8 at Helen Klein, and PR at Run the River marathon. That puts all my goals pretty late in the season, which is ideal. It also takes a lot of pressure off of Rucky Chucky and AR50, neither of which I am really prepared for.

I also feel the conspicuous absence of any triathlons. I really wanted to do the Olympic distance at Donner Lake this year, but unfortunately it is scheduled for the same weekend as TRT. I love that triathlon! I am considering a few of the local off-road tri’s in the area put on by Big Blue, as well as some of their adventure races. I’ll add them to my schedule in the sidebar as I decide.