Monday, December 4, 2017

2017: Up and Down


This year began with very high hopes and lofty goals. If you've been following along then you know how it went. I put together an ambitious schedule hoping for the best. There were successes, failures, mistakes, triumphs, huge disappointments and lessons learned. Mostly there were amazing people and unforgettable experiences.

A return to Tuscobia started the year. I had failed to finish there the year before but felt I had learned what it takes to complete the full 160 miles. I somehow did it and had the most intense spiritual (for lack of a better term) experience in the final few miles.

Less than three weeks later I was facing the Arrowhead monster. Much more remote and tougher terrain than Tuscobia, I was more afraid of this race than any other I had done. Again, I finished and somehow in better shape than Tuscobia. I was on a high. I felt like I could do anything.

Actif Epica is where I was finally broken and finished only through sheer will and the support of my fellow Hrimthurs. The trail conditions were difficult and the toll of the two previous races left nothing in the tank.

That tank remained close to empty for the remainder of the year unfortunately. I had the Grand Slam approaching and 4 months to prepare. What I ultimately needed was a break but I tried to get back into training for Western States. The training I did do was inadequate. Physically I felt slow and sluggish. Mentally I had no ability to push myself to even run a 2 or 3 miles at times. This is no way to prepare for a series of 4 premier 100 mile races. My quest for the Grand Slam ended quickly when I missed the cutoff at Western States mile 62 by 5 minutes.

At Vermont I was able to rally a bit and force myself to finish the race though I hated nearly every minute of it. With little motivation I still decided to carry on with the series but missed a cutoff at Leadville and straight up quit at Wasatch.
There was plenty of disappointment about failing at these races. I do regret missing my chance at the Grand Slam, combine that with the Order of Hrimthurs and do something remarkable. However, I realize that it really doesn't matter. My goals only matter to me and most people are focused on their lives. Whether I accomplish some arbitrary goal doesn't affect anyone else's life. I will look for new challenges and maybe someday try all this again. Maybe not. Either way, I think the point of all this is to line up and do the best I can each day, accept the results, and try to learn and appreciate the moments.


It is that time of year in the ultrarunning world when the final few races take place and we all start filling our calendars with events for the next year. The lotteries for Western States and Hardrock are over. After the last two years and the lackluster results of late, I decided to cut back on races next year. Then the silly season comes upon us. I add a race here and another there and boom. I have quite the schedule again. The list of races I want to run one day keeps growing and new ones appear every year. Friends run them, talk about them and then I want to try them. Someone even mentions a race and I am looking up all the info online and suddenly I want to run that one too.
So to cut the crap and get to the list, here it is:

December 29, 2017  Tuscobia 80  Rice Lake, Wisconsin
January 29  Arrowhead 135  International Falls, Minnesota
April 22  Glass City Marathon   Toledo Ohio
May 5  Grayson Highlands 50K  Mouth of Wilson, Virginia
July 6  Ronda Del Cims  Ordino, Andorra
August 10 Bigfoot 200  Mount Saint Helens, Washington
September 28  Yeti 100  Abingdon, Virginia

First, I know Tuscobia is technically this year but it is close enough. I'm "only" doing the 80 mile version this time which which will likely mean less hallucinations. I'm mentally not ready to go the full distance there again. It was brutal last year and I'm afraid of going to that mental/emotional place again so soon.
I was lucky enough to be allowed back to race at Arrowhead again and I'm really looking forward to it. I am going to attempt the unsupported option this year, meaning I get no aid, no entry inside at checkpoints to warm up, and all food and water has to carried. The post race buffet at the casino will be even sweeter.
The Glass City Marathon will by my first road marathon in over 3 years. I've got the crazy idea to try to qualify for Boston now that I have moved to a slightly easier age category. It will still mean going 20 minutes faster than my PR which will require some real running training instead of piling junk miles up.
Grayson Highlands has been quietly sitting on my to do list for some time. I finally have a space in my schedule to fit it in. There are a couple reasons I have want to do it. One, the race director also puts on the Georgia Death Race, which I loved. The most important reason, however, wild mini ponies!!
Grayson Highlands Mini Ponies
photo credit: runbum tours

Ronda del cims? What language is that? Where is it? The language is Catalan and the place is the Principality of Andorra, wedged in in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. It is a 100+ mile race that loops around the entire country and has over 40,000 feet of climbing and just as much descent. It is a Hardrock qualifier and looks amazing from the videos and pictures. I blame Scott from Ten Junk Miles Podcast for this one.

The Bigfoot 200 mile in August is my main goal race of the year. I have become more and more interested in these 200 milers since they popped up a few years ago. Finishing Tuscobia and Arrowhead last year made it seem more attainable. Also, seeing a few running friends do them made me want to join in the fun.

Finally, I was drawn to the Yeti 100 after meeting the RD, Jason, at Leadville and then seeing the design for the sub 24 hour buckle. It is a chance for a fast 100 miler and a perfect way to end the season.
How can you not want this? 

I'm sure there may be a random race or two mixed in there somewhere. I'm still trying to not overdo it. I'm positive I will be back at St. Pat's 24 Hour in October but that is strictly for fun, food and people. It is all approching very quickly and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out. I'd love to hear what you all are doing!


  1. Sounds great! Maybe I can get out to Bigfoot and run with you a bit! We can talk about it at Tuscobia!

  2. For sure. Plenty of time to talk at Tuscobia