Sunday, January 6, 2013

Man with a Plan

A training and racing plan.

So I've been planning and scheming a little bit, and it has me more than a little bit excited for the coming few months.  I have reaffirmed my resolve to attempt to win an entry to Western States, aka WS100.

So let me explain a bit more.  WS100 is one of the premier ultramarathons in the country.  It's highly publicized, its a point-to-point race through the Sierra Nevada, it has a long and rich history, and to top it all off, it is essentially in my backyard.  Well, it starts at Squaw Valley by Lake Tahoe, about an hour and a half away from my tent, and finishes in Placerville, CA, about an hour away from my tent.  Since I started running long distances, running in WS100 has always been in the back of my mind.  I think what drew me to it most was the way some of the top ultrarunners talk about it- almost with a reverence for the race, and for the experience. 

The downside of all this is everyone and their mother wants to run the race, and entry is done by lottery only, months out from the race.  I knew when the lottery was happening this year, and I considered entering, going so far as to go through the Ultrasignup.com page with my wallet in hand.  But the entry fee, should you win an entry through the lottery, was just too damn much money for me to justify.  I mean, if I had a job that paid me a normal living wage, it would probably be manageable, but it is regardless a lot of money.

Disappointment.  Maybe next year?  But that damn thing is in my backyard!  There is one other way to get into WS100 that I haven't mentioned yet, and it is a bit absurd (for me, at least).  Gettin' a little crazy here.  WS100 is essentially a championship race in the Montrail Ultra Cup, self-described as the "most prestigious ultra running series in the nation," and you can use one of the other races in the series to win an entry to Western States.  You just have to come in first or second place.  No problem. Ha!  Unfortunately, many of the "elites," some of the best ultrarunners in the nation and the world, turn up to at least one of these races to win their own entries.  To be clear, I certainly do not count myself among them, nor would anyone else.  It all depends on who shows up on race day!  There are two races left in the series leading up to WS100 that are within the geographic possibility of me racing in.

The Lake Sonoma 50 miler is already full and has a waitlist, but the race is so completely STACKED it would be ridiculous for me to even attempt placing- kind of a bummer, since its only a couple hour drive away.  It has to be at least 20 elite ultrarunners deep.  That is going to be a really exciting race.  The other race, more like a seven hour drive away, is the Leona Divide 50 miler.  There are still open entries, and the race is not (yet) stacked with people that would crush me without blinking.  That's it!  I'm going to enter and attempt to win a WS100 entry at Leona Divide on Saturday, April 27th.

Honestly, I'm probably off my rocker thinking I can pull it off, but I've got a few months to train, and I believe that you can do anything you truly put your mind to.  I've got another little factor working in my favor, too- if the first or second place winners already have a WS100 entry, the free entries get bumped down the ranks to the first two people that don't already have one.  So you could potentially win an entry for a third or fourth place finish.

So I'm building a training plan that will hopefully put me in the best shape possible going into Leona Divide.  The key pieces for me will be to get there fit, rested, healthy, and injury-free, not overtrain, and to get a few races under my belt along the way.  Not necessarily an easy task.  I need to race a few times before then, not only because I believe that races are the best way to train- you really can't push yourself as hard in solo training as you would in a race situation, but also because I need to re-familiarize myself with race pace running.  It's learning, firsthand from yourself, how hard you can push yourself for how long.  Need.to.race.to.win.races.  At least I do. 

So after all that, here is a tentative race schedule, with the likelihood of me actually running in the race listed individually.  Like I hinted before, I'm essentially dirt poor, so I'm relying on the generosity of race directors to give me free entries based partly on my individual merit, but mostly on my willingness to help with the race in some volunteering capacity.  Gotta earn that entry!  I'm still waiting to hear back from most of them, but its looking like my first race will be at the beginning of February:

Disclaimer:  I'm not actually signed up for any of these races yet.
  • March 2, 2013: Old Pueblo 50 miler (near Tucson, AZ):  possible- I ran this last year and came in second place.  I think I can do better.
  • April 6, 2013:  American River 50 miler (between Sacramento and Auburn, CA): Edit: I'm in!!! Super stoked and grateful for the opportunity, and can't wait to race!
  • April 27, 2013:  Leona Divide 50 miler: inevitable
  • June 29, 2013: Western States 100: One in a million (...so you're telling me there's a chance!)

There is also race series put on by Coastal Trail Runs with many races near San Francisco that offer marathon and 50k distances, so I might throw another race or two in there, or they would be good races to do if I can't get into any of the above listed races.  A very tentative schedule.  And I would probably try to do a race between Leona Divide and WS100 on the off chance that I do actually win an entry. If all goes perfectly, I would probably try to run a different 100 miler before WS100, but right now, its probably more likely that WS100 would also be my first 100 mile race.

Well, that's that.  Now that it's on the interwebz, I'm committed!  Hopefully no one commits me to an insane asylum in the process.

All for now!  Leave a comment, send me an email, text, or give a phone call one of these days- the tent life is a bit socially isolating at times, and I love to hear from my friends!

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