"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors,
and let every new year find you a better man."
- Benjamin Franklin
New Year, new you? Or something like that?
Either way, I'm trying to focus on looking ahead more-so than continuing to dwell on the major races that didn't go how I wanted them to. Time to move on, learn from those mistakes, and find myself a better man in the process.
2018 started off with a new diet and a lingering injury. I've been battling some lower leg pain for nearly 3 months now that I think started at the Yukan Oceanview 5k/13.1 race since I came off long distance running and haven't done anything that speedy in many months. The leg flared up not long after. I had the same injury about a year before and with some PT it eventually went away. I've been seeing a new PT, which I wasn't thrilled about and the results are coming along I guess. Recently they started working on my back stiffness rather than the leg itself which seems to be helping. So, I'm optimistic.
Woo and I also recently decided to switch to a completely plant-based diet (vegan) after giving up meat last fall. I've always heard vegans say they "could feel a difference" or "felt so much better" after switching, but I didn't really believe it. Now, after going through the change myself, I can say that it is true. We are trying new things, eating better, losing excess weight, and overall feeling much better in the process! (Don't worry, we're getting plenty of protein!!) If you're interested in hearing more about our reasons or new lifestyle feel free to ask.
I've got my first race coming up for the year at the Black Canyon 100k out in Arizona. This is going to be super competitive and my first race against some of the very talented west coast athletes! I have been training through the leg pains, but not near the mileage I'd like to see coming into this distance of a race against some of the best runners in the country. I'm nervous, but optimistic I can hang with most of these guys and will hopefully surprise some people in the process.
This will be the first time I've done a race that will put me in the lottery for the Western States 100m which is definitely on the bucket list. It will also be the first of 3 races Billy and I will be doing in order to gain the required 15 points to qualify for the 2019 Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc (UTMB) running from Chamoiox, France. The points are given for finishing races based on difficulty and distance. The Black Canyon 100k race is worth 4 points. This fabled race is on the bucket list for almost every trail and ultra runner around the world and it boasts 170 km (105 miles) of running and over 10,000 meters of climbing (32,000 ft+) and must be completed in under 46 and a half hours. It's boasted as one of the beautiful and challenging races in the world.
After the Black Canyon I am scheduled to run in what I think is the Irish Mountain Running Association national championship event. The Wicklow Way Ultra, 130 KM (a little over 80 miles) will consist of a point to point just south of Dublin along the Wicklow Way trail and included over 10,000 feet of climbing. It's also known for notorious Irish weather (cold and rain), so that should be fun. The Wicklow Way is worth 5 points towards our UTMB qualifying. Hopefully I'll be able to get my mileage back up and work on some climbing before June rolls around.
For the final 6 points toward our UTMB qualifying I've registered for the Vermont 100 mile race, which is the most in-demand 100 miler on the east coast. It sold out in 15 minutes this year. I've paced a 3x champion, Brian Rusieki, the final 30 miles in 2016 and I have a good idea of what to expect from the course. I hope this will give me an edge, but I still need to figure out how to pace for only 100 miles without going out too hard or having gas left in the tank. This will be the challenge.
I hope that these 3 longer races will help me build mileage, distance, speed, and endurance to give another go at a few fall 24 hour races to get my qualifying distance in for the US 24 hour 2019 team. This will be a different approach as in the past and hopefully will end with better results!
I'm also excited to be running another year with team Hoka One One New England and to have found a kick-ass local sunglass company to represent in training and racing (more on that later)! I'll continue working with Garden of Life for great plant based protein supplements, nutrition supplements, and on the go snack bars!