With such a busy year quickly coming to an end, it’s hard to not start thinking about what comes next. In the past year, I ran 4 marathons, raised $1375 for TAPS, joined Marathon Maniacs (#4482), and had a truly unforgettable experience running a Ragnar Relay with some really awesome friends. Best of all, aside from the usual aches and pains the accompany running and racing, I managed to stay injury free. Definitely a big improvement from where I was 11 months ago!
So… what’s next?
Part of me feels like I need to “top” what I did this year. As much as I enjoyed all the marathons I ran, I’m not sure I’ll run as many in as short of a time again. It’s
very difficult practically impossible to run to the best of your ability when you’re in a near-constant state of recovery. That being said, I know that I’ll run at least 1 – most likely 2 – marathons next year.
One big change from last year is that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do any major travelling for races next year. This year I was lucky enough to do 2 big out of state races (Ragnar and MCM). Unfortunately I’m not sure if that’s going to be in the cards for me next year. I work during the day while my wife stays home with our 2 kids. Previously, she had also worked 2 part time jobs – one teaching night classes at the university, and another during the day on Mondays which I have off. For a variety of reasons, she recently quit her Monday job. Overall we’re happy with that decision, but it does make the money situation just that much tighter for us. That may mean no big running trips for me this year, we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, I’m going to keep my eyes on in-state races, and hope for the best.
What do I have my eyes on so far, you might ask?
I really enjoyed the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon here in Anchorage, and I’m all but committed to running that one again in June. It’s a local race, so travel/lodging isn’t an issue. It’s also relatively cheap – as a local, if I register by the end of this year, it’s only $55, which is pretty tough to beat for a full marathon.
In the fall, there is the Equinox Marathon up in Fairbanks that I’m also thinking about running. Fairbanks is about a 7 hour drive from Anchorage, so I’d have to stay at least one night if not two. Next year will be the 50th running of the Equinox Marathon, so it would be fun to be there for that. Now, this isn’t a regular road marathon – it’s run mostly on trails, and has some pretty serious elevation gain (see below). Definitely not a course I’d be trying to set a PR on, but it sure looks like a heck of a lot of fun!
There’s one more “big” race that I’ve got my eye on for next year. I’ve quietly mentioned it to a few people, but have hesitated to write about it here to a larger audience. Why? Well, quite frankly, the whole idea of it kind of scares the crap out me, and talking about it out in the open makes it more real. So what race am I simultaenously the most excited and anxious about?
Yes, I realize that it seems a little crazy to jump into the ultra world with a 50 miler, where most would start with a 50k. There’s just one problem with that – remember the whole “I probably can’t afford any out of state races this year” bit from earlier? Well, I only know of one 50k in Alaska, and it’s in February and was already full when I found out about it. Which may not be such a bad thing really; the idea of running a 50k in February, when it could easily be -20° (February is typically our coldest month), doesn’t exactly appeal to me. Running 50 miles in the summer sounds much more pleasant. IF I end up running this race, I definitely plan on doing at least one 50k training run – though that still leaves 19 miles farther to go on race day!
As far as ultra marathons go, this one is extremely low-key. It’s a small field of runners (30 finished the 50 miler this year), there is no entry fee (though the race director does ask for a $20 donation), and with only 2 aid stations, is largely self-supported.
I’m definitely not yet committed to doing the 50 miler, but it’s certainly high on my list of possibilities for this year! I’ll readily admit that the idea of it scares me a bit, but I’m also big on pushing myself outside of my comfort zone – and this definitely qualifies 🙂