Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who I am and who I ain't

So, last weekend I went over to try my luck at the Blue Springs 50KM. I could have also registered for the 50 miler (not enough long runs of late), a marathon (somehow that didn't seem appealing), or a half-marathon (gimme a break, if I'm making that drive it's not gonna be for a half). Dave Wakefield called me the night before the race with the course description: pancake flat, and he was very accurate. Compared to the wonderful trail system at Perry, Blue Springs is a cakewalk. So, an easy course, coupled with amazing weather, allowed me to surprise myself and finish in a shade under five hours. During the race I managed my heart rate well and pounded the electrolytes so my under-trained legs wouldn't cramp. With so many obstacles removed (weather, terrain, etc), I had plenty of time to think about what this season has meant and what I want from running next year. Some observations:

- A DNF at Heartland and Nathaniel's Run in late 2008 were the two best things that ever happened to me as far as 2009 has went. The DNF gets alot of bad press by some, but in my view you stand to learn as much from failing as you do from finishing.

- I must have looked at that Rocky Raccoon finshers medal 100 times in the week after the race. I don't know why, it looked the same every time. I guess it was just a big relief that I finally officially belonged to the ultra club.

- Free State was a blast, and I was in no way prepared for that much mud. I also was not prepared for tornado warnings ending the race prematurely, but the thought that I was capable of finishing was comforting. This was also the race where I learned that in some events, the gear you wear ain't coming out alive. Best to just bury it and buy more stuff.

- Berryman 50: I finally went into a race "ready". By that I mean I didn't call Willie Lambert three times a day the week before the race worried about cough/cold issues, nutrition, tapering bloat, sleep patterns, or the shape of my poop. A gear issue prevented me from nailing a good time, but I was encouraged that I had "matured" enough as an ultrarunner to understand that these things happen and the only thing to do was finish. This was also my wifes' introduction to crewing, and for her it provided some insight as to why I was either lifting weights or running 20hours a week.

- Pacing Western States: first look at a HUGE race, and first look at someone (Willie) digging deep. I am convinced that the ten hours we were out there will remain my all-time favorite running experience.

- And finishing up with Blue Springs, where I'm starting to be able to identify my strengths and weaknesses as a runner. While my pace is usually slower than 90% of the field, holding said pace is a definite strength I must continue to capitalize on. And I really like starting out slow, I'm not talented enough to blast off the start line doing 8mph. I'd like to see my training become more purposeful, making sure I'm doing the right workout at the right pace and intensity. I have had some highs and lows here, and just want to do a little work to make that training consistently productive and not as haphazard.

- While I don't necessarily view it as a huge opportunity, I need to resign myself to the fact that I actually like doing the bulk of my running by myself. I am envious of those who run in packs not just for the social aspect, but running with someone above my ability (read: nearly everyone who has ever laced up a pair of shoes) could push my own workouts. However, somewhere in my DNA there is a "does not play well with others" gene that motivates me to spend an inordinate amount of time alone. It's one of those things that you might not like about yourself, but you aren't willing to change it.

- I also have a 2009 goal around volunteerism that includes trail work. I love working the aid stations, but I enjoy Perry so much I need to do more to help with the upkeep. Need to get in touch with Lyle over the winter and see what we can come up with to keep me actively involved with the local trail scene when I'm not running. For now, I'm going to build some miles and get ready for next year...and hopefully my first 100.