Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring in the air!

While it is still officially three weeks away, it is clear to me that spring is on the way.

And, with that, a clear uptick in the running vibe.

I spent the last week back east visiting my new school and enjoying the trails of Central Virginia. The crocuses were coming out and the smell of spring was fully in the air (you know the smell, it is that of life and death together).

This is, indeed, the time of year that I always turn to running in a more intense, more visceral way than any other time of year. Knowing that Western States is less than four months away always helps but what is more is the pure delight I take in the daily training, the daily exercise of coming into form, the daily ritual of getting better, even after all these years. While it may seem mundane to some, the daily grind of 100-mile training is what I live for and is, ultimately, what keeps me going day after day, mile after mile.

I have said for the past couple of years that the races are what make the training worthwhile but it is the training that makes the life worthwhile. So, as the dark days of winter give way to the ever-expanding light of spring I look forward to those runs that get easier as they get longer and longer as they get easier. For that, my friends, is what it's all about.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rocky Raccoon - Don't Squeeze the Sharman

I must admit, Ian Sharman's run at Rocky on Saturday turned my head. I've run Rocky three times and won it once. I also finished 2nd twice and one of those times was when Jorge Pacheco barely missed breaking Clifton's record. Yes, it's flat, fast, and, some might say, boring. But, I love the race and seeing how it unfolded this year, I really wish I had been there. Three guys under 13:30? Man, Kulak's ass must have been on fire!

Karl, dude, you ran a great race and got stronger as the day went on. Considering you come from the hills it was great to see you get after it in the flats. And, if it had been a 200 mile race you would have won hands down! Too bad you're running Hardrock because I bet you would love Vermont. Maybe next year!

Hal, you just keep doing it. To read Tony's story of the race you had him running scared like the grizzled veteran you are. Any race you're in, you're in to win. That's good stuff. And, I am guessing I won't see you soaking in the River this year:)

Tony, even on your A- day you made them work for it. And, given the fact that you pretty much run up or down all the time the fact that you did so well for so long going east to west says alot about you as a runner and has the rest of us quaking in our boots. It appears to me that experience is making you stronger, faster and better.

And, Ian, well, what can I say? I haven't officially met you yet but we've crossed paths twice. The first time was at WS 2010 when you passed me at Mile 87. You were, of course, polite as any Brit would be in the circumstances but I must admit the pass was impressive! The only solace I had at that moment was when my pacer told me "that's the British dude who beat Wardian at Comrades."

Then, just a few weeks ago we were both on Angel Island in the Bay Area. I ran an unimpressive 1:51 25K and you set the course record in the 10K. I guess that was your final tune-up for the fireworks that erupted in Huntsville on Saturday.

All in all, here we are and the stage is set for a great run-up to WS 2011. While I have long ago stopped pretending that I could compete for top-5, the top-10 goal remains a real thing. And, in the meantime, I love being a spectator in this sport that I hold so dear. As we roll into the final four months it looks like Geoff, Anton, Kilian, Nick, Zach, and now Ian are rarin' to go. Add to the mix Hal, Kaburagi and any number of others and we're in for a treat come June.

As for me, I am looking forward to howling at the Moon at C2M in March and rolling through the Canyon at AR50 in April. After all, the training is 90% of the run, right? AJW

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hardrock Dreams!

Sometime before the end of the weekend my family and I will finally be able to make our plans for the summer. That is, unless I end up somewhere "on the bubble" in the Hardrock Lottery.

You see, the best summer of our lives was the Summer of 2009 when we drove from our home in Idaho to Squaw Valley/Auburn and then off (the long way) to Silverton for Hardrock. It was a glorious three-week stretch of camping, fishing, running, and reveling in the mountains. We are desperately hoping to repeat the journey this summer. Of course, that all depends on the Hardrock Lottery Gods smiling on me. From what I can tell the lottery will take place sometime this weekend and I have two tickets in the mix (one for my one finish in 2009 and the other for my wait listed status last year). I had two tickets in the 2010 lottery as well as a result of my top-5 finish in 2009 but I am pretty sure that is only a one-year deal. So, given that there are about forty automatics, it looks like I'll have about a 1 in 4 chance of making the trip to Silverton in 2011.

Interestingly enough, there is a bit more intrigue going into this year's lottery as the results of the drawing will not only effect the field of who toes the line at Silverton but could also impact the starting list at Western States. While some runners have kept their cards close to the vest up until now several others have suggested that if they get into Hardrock they will skip Western States. I am not one of those as I really look forward to doing the Double again but I wonder if the Western States organizers are aware that as a result of a truly egalitarian lottery taking place in Silverton this weekend they could end up with a less competitive field than they might expect. Food for thought as I count at least six top runners who are in Western States and are also on the Hardrock lottery chopping block.

Nonetheless, I'll know a bit more about my summer plans in 72 hours.

Have a good weeekend of training everyone!