It’s a little over a week until Christmas, which means a lot to celebrate. I know quite a few other bloggers have posted their “Christmas Wish” Lists, so I don’t want to bore you too much. Last weekend, I posted about my Top 9 favorite items/grub to use. This week, I’ll keep it short and list my Top 5 Bay Area running routes. Keep in mind that while I know there are other routes in the Bay Area, these represent routes I’ve run personally. In no particular order:
1) Mt. Tamalpais- Only 2600 ft. of elevation gain the ocean, but its compressed into a short distance, which makes this a favorite for training for big climbs in races.
2) Mt. Diablo- It’s much further away from me in San Francisco than Mt. Tam, but Mt. Diablo in the East Bay packs a close to 4000 ft. elevation climb which will definitely test me prior to major races with a large uphill component.3) Dipsea Trail- 7.1 miles one way, but a two way trip yields 5000 ft. of elevation gain and 5000 ft. of elevation loss. Its varied terrain, high difficulty, and quiet trails are great after a stressful week.4) Novato (San Marin area) to Pt. Reyes- 40 miles roundtrip from my parents’ home is a trip through wide open diary and farm land in Northern Marin. It is a road run, but peaceful nonetheless.5) San Francisco Twin Peaks- 7.7 miles roundtrip from my house. It’s 900 ft. of elevation up and down, combined with incredible views of the ocean and downtown, make this an easy choice for this road route.
I’ve also set forth my proposed 2008 race schedule in the lower right hand column, which doesn’t necessarily set it in stone, but it gives a clear idea of where I want to go and what I want to accomplish this year. One notable
2008 Rocky Raccoon 100
2008 Boston Marathon
2008 Badwater Ultramarathon (if accepted)
2008 Angeles Crest 100
These are races that I consider “review” points, races where I can evaluate my progress towards reaching my long-term running goals. While some of the other races in the year may prove to be more valuable in evaluating this due to the unpredictability of long-distance running (particularly ultras), each of these races represents very different types of challenges as well as premier events where the competition will hopefully fuel a higher level of performance. Rocky Raccoon is a flat, fast trail course which will give me a baseline for my speed on the trails in an early 2008 race. The Boston Marathon is a road marathon which, although challenging compared to other marathons, will give me a chance to “let it fly” compared to the ultra scene. My goal prior to Badwater is to run a sub-3 hr. marathon as a sort of speed development goal.
Accountability and Game Plan:
As a sort of accountability for myself, I have decided to post my training on a week-by-week basis in 2008. While I always give myself the flexibility to adjust to life events, I want to accountable for the type of training that leads to the type of results I desire. I will start at the end of next week with this past week and next week’s training.
I hesitate to put down specific hour goals here for each race. It’s not so much that I don’t have goals; it’s that I do not want to boast about things which I have not done. While I believe that I am capable of much more, I can not speak of “talent” that is unfulfilled.
However, to give you an idea of how I approach each race, I go into each race with specific race plans that are geared around multiple goal tiers. It might help in your own goal setting as you push the limits of what your body is capable of. I caution those that are reading this to make sure you apply this appropriately to the particular race.
The first tier is a very low baseline. For a 100 mile race, considering the unpredictability of the endeavor, the first tier is almost always to finish. I know there are other runners that would rather “DNF” than show a poor race time, but I believe this would hurt the integrity of my personal purpose in ultrarunning. While this does not preclude me from a DNF (of which I have 2), I consider a DNF only acceptable for me when my health is threatened or I miss a cutoff while recovering from an unspecified maladie.
The second tier is a more conservative goal tier. It accounts for the occurance of some bigger issues (nausea, major muscle pain, major joint pain). The third tier is the training tier, which my training has been geared for. It represents a bigger step forward and fits with my running development plan and yearly goals which I discussed in a previous entry.
Finally, the forth tier is a stretch goal. It represents a clean race, with few issues. With the emphasis this year on negative splits (faster second half than first half), this would represent close to even splits for the first half and second half of a race (dependent on the overall layout of the course). Anything beyond this is usually gravy on top. While I expect these goals to change as my running ability changes, this provides a framework going into a race. If I feel terrific after the first half, maybe I pick up in the second half. If I run into issues in the first half, maybe I have to reset the race goals. It’s such a fluid process. Going into the race, I examine splits from previous races and use them to match my tiered goals. I take into account the terrain and profile of the course as well, and how they play into my relative strengths/weaknesses.
Ok, that does it for me. As always, run strong, finish well, and God bless.
P.S. I found this inspirational story, which further reinforced my focus on “Finishing what I start”. It’s a reminder to me to follow the words of Paul in the New Testament about finishing the race:
October 20, 1968, Mexico City, Olympic Stadium, 7.00 P.M. The closing ceremonies had just been completed. The spectators and athletes, still warm from the euphoria of the celebration, were gathering their belongings to leave the stadium. Then the announcer asked them to remain in their seats. Down the boulevard came the whine of police sirens. From their vantage point, many in the stadium could see motorcycles with their flashing blue lights, encircling someone making his way toward the stadium. Whoever it was, he was moving slowly. Everyone remained seated to see the last chapter of the Olympics take place. By the time the police escort got to the stadium, the public address announcer said that a final marathoner would be making his way into the arena and around the track to the finish line. Confusion was evident among the crowd. The last marathoner had come in hours ago. The medals had already been awarded. What had taken this man so long? But the first sign of the runner making his way out of the tunnel and onto the track told the whole story. John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania, covered with blood, hobbled into the light. He had taken a horrible fall early in the race, whacked his head, damaged his knee, and endured a trampling before he could get back on his feet. And there he was, over 40 kilometers later, stumbling his way to the finish line. The response of the crowd was so overwhelming, it was almost frightening. They encouraged Akhwari through the last few meters of his race with a thundering ovation that far exceeded the one given the man who, hours earlier, had come in first. When Akhwari crossed the finish line, he collapsed into the arms of the medical personnel who immediately whisked him off to the hospital. The next day, Akhwari appeared before sports journalists to field their questions about his extraordinary feat. The first question was the one any of us would have asked, "Why, after sustaining the kinds of injuries you did, would you ever get up and proceed to the finish line, when there was no way you could possibly place in the race?" John Stephen Akhwari said this: "My country did not send me over 7,000 miles to start a race. They sent me over 7,000 miles to finish one."