Monday, January 30, 2012

And I'm Back

Miss me? Well I certainly didn't mean to be gone so long. I'm back though and not just in blogging but running as well. Those close to me know that I take Decembers off and this past December was no exception. In fact I lived it up a little too much. My girlfriend was visiting from London and we ate well and often. I promised her great food in San Francisco and San Francisco did not disappoint. Ah well the extra weight I'm carrying around will only make my legs stronger and I'll be faster once it comes off. Who needs a weight vest if I have a weight waist! Gotta turn that negative to a positive:)

So a quick recap. Last year I went on a seven week trip to the UK and the Philippines, working and living in both places for September and October and I came back out of shape. That Philippine ultra I participated in on my last post, I was only able to finish that because I know what the second half of a 100 mile ultra feels like. I went into it with very little training the four weeks prior to the race and no heat acclimation. It was an event I couldn't pass up however and I made great memories that day and new friends. Like my step dad used to say, "my momma raised no fools that lived". It would have been foolish not to experience a race in the Philippines when I had the time and resources to do so.

After I got back I was in a small panic, I had big plans for the end of the year but in terrible shape. So I ran my butt off. The ultra in Cebu and the handful of runs I managed to do while I was away preserved something and that little bit of something was enough to build on. Two weeks after I got back in the end of October I was off to Javelina to pace my buddy Tony Portera for his fourth finish at Javelina Jundred. I was worried he was going to drop me or I wouldn't have been able to finish my 40 miles of pacing. We've done this event four times, the first year we were over 24 hours but the last three we got that sub-24 buckle. Then it was on to the Quad Dipsea two weeks later. Oh that race was a beauty. I knew I was going to be slower so I had paced myself accordingly. I figured I was going to be at least 30 minutes longer than my time the year before (5:09) and planned my splits based on the slower time. On race day I did hope for a miracle, that I would actually be faster than I predicted but since I wasn't I just stuck to my original plan. I finished at 5:47 or so. Just shy of where I thought I would be but I felt great the entire time. The week after Quad I paced my friend Lisa Klinkefus on her first 50-mile race at the Northface 50-miler. Klink is awesome, I paced her on her first 50k and I'm glad I was able to swing it for her first 50.

By the time Northface came around I was feeling pretty good again. A month of run cramming and events got me back in the groove but then it was time to shut it off again for the year. I like my Decembers off and despite my constant bitching about how much I hate how commercialized Christmas has become, I do enjoy the holiday dinners, get togethers and parties. Took December off and enjoyed my time with my girlfriend until it was time for her to return to London on January 9. I've been training hard ever since.

Besides giving me that mental and physical break from training and racing, these breaks also keep from taking my health and running for granted. Having to work myself back into shape in January and February reminds me how hard this ultra-running really is. It's easy to take for granted. Two weeks ago, on our weekly early Thursday morning Headlands run, I was dealt with a big kick in the butt. A hilly route that I normally run with the rest of the gang, I couldn't complete it without taking walk breaks, especially on the hills. I dragged myself all over the course and was dead last. I came back too soon, I had no business being there but it was a good reality check. This past Thursday I redeemed myself by running the entire thing. The fitness is coming back nicely. Losing it and having to work hard to get it back reminds me it ain't free or easy.

Big plans for the year? Well I'm officially signed up for the San Diego 100 in June…again. Love that run. I plan to run Quicksilver 50-mile before that in May. No planned races at the moment on the lead up to Quicksilver, right now I'm making up my mind on a March 50k. We'll see.

Well until next time.

Photo courtesy of Gary Wang. In the Marin Headlands, finishing up our Thursday morning trail run.