2016: Exploring the Boundaries

2o16, for me, is going to be a year of “let’s find out.” I’ll be entering my third year as a runner, and since I’ve already accomplished far more than I ever thought I was capable of, I’m no longer hesitant, but curious, to see how much further I can push things. Never in my life would I have ever thought to consider myself an athlete, but if I can work myself up from a 5k to 50 miles, then just maybe there’s a little untapped potential that I only need to be courageous enough to dig into. Notice I didn’t say call upon like it’s something I command, no, I must dig. This is going to take work, and lots of it.

When I set out to push things in 2015 I thought for sure after training for and completing a 50 miler I’d be at my limit and ready for a well earned break. Not to stop running, but just to bring things back to a more “normal” level of running, so I left the second half of the year fairly open. I had one friend tell me I just needed to keep it going and go after my first 100 miler, and while I still don’t think I should have gone to that extreme, I recently discovered my body and my mind did greatly miss the higher mileage weeks. These past few weeks have been the first where my mileage has reached back into the 40’s and I feel great. Normal. I didn’t realize I felt off until I ramped my mileage back up and capped the week off with a 20 mile run and then all at once my energy and enthusiasm for running came rushing back. I even chased that with a 9 mile Winter Solstice run up Angel’s and Devil’s Rest the next night! All the doubt of whether I could or even wanted to push things further washed away. I was so instantly bit by distance again that I decided to close the year out with a 30 mile point to point run of the Wildwood Trail in Forest park as part of Team Red Lizard’s annual Purge and Splurge event. Instead of telling myself I couldn’t or shouldn’t do “x” because I haven’t done “y,” I just went for it. It wasn’t a race, and there weren’t cut offs, so there wasn’t going to be a need to really push the pace, but I felt like there was a very high probability that the day would end in a miserable death march. Thankfully, it didn’t, and I only had one low point that was easily remedied by some calories. Otherwise, it was a wonderful day spent with 8, at the time strangers, covering 30 miles of single track.

In 2015 I used the comfort of a training plan to guide me into uncharted territory, and while I’m still going to follow a training plan to continue the distance journey, I’m going to leave a lot more room for spontaneity and adventure. If training is only calling for a 20 miler, but I have the option to run 40 miles on the Rogue River Trail, I’m just going for it. If a weekend lends itself to a backpacking trip then I’ll skip the run and chase the new adventure. If I don’t lottery into a race, then I’ll plan my own adventure run, solo if need be. And since 40-50 miles a week is where I seem to feel “normal” then maybe I need to find out if I can bring my training mileage into the 60’s and 70’s and become an even stronger runner. This fire is burning hot and it only seems to want more fuel.

My first on the race on the calendar for 2016 will be the Sycamore 25k in Arkansas on February 20th. I was forced to DNS last year due to an ice storm preventing travel, so hopefully that doesn’t happen again, but my dad and I will be running this together to celebrate his 63rd birthday and retirement. This will be a distance PR for him, and it’s going to be a fun experience all around. Next will be the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k on April 16th. 9500 feet of gain for a 50k…ouch, but the trail and wide open views look beautiful! My goal race for the year is going to be the Mountain Lakes 100 on September 26th. I just need to find out what it’s like to cover that kind of distance and run for over 24 hours. The training race that fits my training plan the best is the Waldo 100k on August 20th. It’s a lottery though so I’m at the mercy of the luck of the draw there. My backup plan is to run the Timberline Trail that weekend, a 40ish mile circumnavigation of Mt. Hood. And I’m on the fence on whether or not running the Volcanic 50k on September 5th would be biting off more than I can chew right between Waldo and Mountain Lakes, but I guess that’s where the whole “Let’s find out” comes back into play. Who knows, I may very well break myself along the way, but we’re going to find out lol.

Cheers to an adventurous 2016!!! Bring it!

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