2012 has been, by far, my most satisfying year of running to-date. Comparatively, I actually logged less miles this year vs 2011, but what I believe made a significant difference in terms of performance and staying passionate, is how I invested those miles this year. Heading into '12, I wanted to make sure each mile counted or had value and was thoughtfully *spent* throughout the year (so that I didn't go "bankrupt" too soon!). Therefore, I began the year super-conservative with volume, inching my way up carefully so as to remain healthy and hungry for the heavy-hitting races I would take part in along the year.
Race - Miles averaged leading up
Way Too Cool 50k - 70+
American River 50 - 75
Quad Rock 50 - 75-80 (1 100mi week 2wks out)
Waldo 100k - 90 (highest volume week of '12 3wks out - 113) *Peak Race of '12*
After Waldo, my intention was to keep building and hopefully be ready to tackle the Rio Del Lago 100-miler. Clearly that didn't happen and I wanted to illustrate why as it was a good learning experience for me......
Only a handful of people know about this, but I actually didn't think I'd be able to run Waldo. You see, a few weeks out I shot up Foresthill Rd to lay the finishing touches on my preparation by running two quality repeats of Italian Bar (2.3mi's/2,550' vert). It's ridiculously steep, unkempt with loose dirt/leaves, and eerily secluded. Not even a mile into the initial descent, I slipped on some loose wood chips (not the best place to fall, especially going down a 20+ percent grade) and my right butt cheek landed perfectly on a sharp rock protruding out. I yelled out pretty loud in pain to the audience of trees witnessing this unfortunate mishap and lay there, wondering if I had broken anything? The pain was piercingly sharp and instinctively, I knew I shouldn't continue. I headed back up, but could only *half-walk*. Limping up this 20% grade, I formulated the pending e-mail in my mind to RD Thornley on how I probably wouldn't be able to run Waldo given my current state. It was then, that I started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Here I was, alone in the forest, limping up this ungodly climb, in pain, so close to my "A-race", and *so close* to a Western States spot given how confident I was in my fitness, yet wondering what would happen next, what type of damage I did, and would I be another year removed from running Western States?
I eventually got my mind into a good spot, being thankful for this gift to run and ready to accept that if I wasn't fortunate enough to run Waldo in order to pursue my dream of one day running Western States, that that was okay, because one day I would. As I let go of everything from my mind, oddly, the *cheek* released and I was able to run the last 1/4mi up the climb without hardly any difficulty.
Later that evening, the *cheek* felt more and more OK, so I decided I'd go bang out a long run. It's funny looking back to that day and seeing the tragedy of the event earlier that day, then being able to, later that evening, go run 18mi's at 6:55 pace on the rolling roads of Rocklin (say that 10x's fast).
The only bummer of it all was that I did compensate somewhat, babying the right cheek. This carried into Waldo where I noticed my left leg was more thrashed than my right. Further damage was done post-Waldo when I didn't give myself enough time to rest and recover (rookie mistake!) and began trying to up the volume while adding a decent amount of intensity with the William Jessup Cross-Country team (the season began just after Waldo).
Still not fully recovered from Waldo, trying to continue to train at a high level, and the thought of trying to run 100mi's seemed comical, at best. Therefore, I downgraded to the 50k in order to still rep New Balance Roseville and support the store. However, weeks out from RDL, I started hitting the weights again (alas, another added stress to the body!). It was after finishing 3 sets of squats after a 6mi tempo that my hip/IT band started bugging me. I've never had an injury before, this isn't a big deal I would tell myself. Well, after getting it *under control* it flared back up again 2 days out from Rio.
I can race a 50k, no biggie My ego reminded me. Looking back, I should have never run that race. It intensified the hip/glut issue for sure. And of course, after Rio, I continued to train pretty hard, *managing* the nagging pain at times while still getting in super quality training. After all, I had to run the North Face 50. Everyone's doing it!
Well, after bagging 15,001' of vert on Hilloween and the next day, running 18.5mi's at 6:46 pace, my body said, "Enough!". The hip wasn't getting any better and I had to humble myself and shut the season down in order to prepare for more important things next year - Western States!
So, with all that said, 2013 is almost here. And as I approach this next year of running, 2012 has taught me something: I'm not a guy who can race a lot. Why? I always want to WIN! Therefore, 2013 will consist of just 2 races (tentatively):
Lake Sonoma 50 and Western States 100
Post-WS, we'll see where everything's at.....I would like to do some sweet adventure runs over the summer (with Joe and/or Connor) and I've been itching to see what I could bust out in a road marathon with some focused-training. And that's really it. Anything else thrown in there will be only if it makes sense in alignment with the big picture (WS100). I want to give WS everything I've got and prepare the best I can. I've waited 3 years for a chance to run from Squaw Valley to Auburn......and I want to make the most of it.