Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope all of the runners out there enjoy this time of year as much as I do (i.e. no focused running, lots of focused eating). As always, this is also a great time to look back over the past year and start planning for the fun ahead in 2013. I find the most enjoyable parts of ultrarunning are the moments of reflection after a race/year, and the promise and excitement of future adventures. It's the whole middle part --you know, actually running these horrible things-- that I find much less enjoyable, mostly because I can't run them on the couch with my feet up and a beer in my hand. Why I didn't decide to get involved in UltraRelaxing instead, I'll never know. I think I have the natural talent to get a sofa sponsor...
On the reflecting side: I didn't do a whole lot of running in 2012 (compared to previous years, that is...I still ran about 2,000 miles), but the miles I did cover were so very very enjoyable. First off, I shared a bunch of them with Sammy. Sure, it can be tough to find a like-minded running friend in your area to train with, but my solution of simply creating one myself* (*with a teensy bit of help from my wife) really worked out great in the end. Even though the running stroller was a sure-fire way to put Sam to sleep within a couple miles, his excited Goos and Gahs while awake always made me smile. I look forward to many many more miles and conversations with my training buddy in the coming years!
As for 2013, I'll be relying on Sammy's ever-increasing weight in the stroller to help whip me into shape for a few fun races. First up will be my triumphant (...and by that I mean "triumphant in a non-winning way") return to the regular marathon world at the Columbia, South Carolina Marathon on March 9. It'll be my first trip back to SC since my honeymoon, and my first visit to the capital city. My buddy Dan Hartley is the RD, so it'll be great to run the race he's built from the ground up in his home state. I'm hoping to keep my "speed goal" training going over the next couple months in order to get my finish time back down to something in the low 2:40s. I think that would be a great way to start off the racing season. It's been nearly a decade since my last legit marathon race, so half the fun of this thing will be the surprise of how it all feels after so long away.
After that bit of puddle jumping in SC, I'll be getting back in the Big Boy pool and heading out to South Dakota for the Black Hills 100 Miler at the end of June. I've wanted to run this race since it debuted a couple years back, and thanks to the support and excitement from my VHTRC club-mates, 2013 will be the year to finally get out there and enjoy 100 miles of trails in the Black Hills! Having never been to SD, I'm very much looking forward to both the race and the side trips to sight-see in the surrounding historic areas of Deadwood, Leed, etc..
After cashing in the bag-fulls of gold I'll undoubtedly find in my journey through SD, I'll play things low-key the rest of the summer back in VA before gearing up for my first trip back to the 24HR National Championship since 2009. Hard to believe my schedule has had me miss out on this super-fun event the past 3 years, but that streak will end in 2013. Already looking forward to running with so many like-minded (read: "brain-damaged") friends at this year's race in Oklahoma! ( I'm realizing now that by ending that sentence with an exclamation point I probably owe some copyright money to the Rodgers & Hammerstein heirs.)
All of this race talk has me excited to get out there and run a few inspired miles right now...but I know better. December is a time for putting off any and all runs when even the slightest distraction or more desirable alternative arises. ....What's that? A half-eaten slice of cold pizza and some old Seinfeld re-runs? I'll be seeing you another time, Nikes.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!!!