Two weeks ago, I posted about my shift from focusing on one big goal to another. Instead of chasing a Boston Qualifying road marathon time, I'm shifting gears completely. I'm skipping the Rehoboth Beach Marathon in favor of getting more quality trail runs in during the remainder of 2014.
And this winter, I'm heading back into the woods to train for one of the toughest 50k races on the east coast, the Hyner Trail Challenge, which takes place on April 18, 2015.
Why Hyner? Well, ever since I first heard of this epic race, I've been afraid of it. And who in their right mind wouldn't be afraid of an elevation profile like this for the 50k:
I've read race reports and seen photos of the last couple years, and always said that it would be "too tough" for me to run because I live in the flatlands of South Philly.
My biggest motivators are often the things I'm most afraid of. I never ever thought I could finish a 50 miler prior to 2013. And yet I did. One of the most important things I've learned from endurance running is that once you finally push yourself way past your comfort zone, it becomes a lot easier and more enjoyable to do it again.
I know training for this race is going to be challenging, especially if we have a harsh winter like we did last year. I'm going to head to the trails as much as possible, and do some serious incline/decline training on whatever hills I can find. After a year of focusing on my wedding and running low mileage on roads, I'm ready to ramp things back up to intense ultra training again.
The other not-so-secret reason I want to run (and power hike) the Hyner Challenge, is because it will be an excellent training run for another race that I can't seem to stop thinking about.
This race has been on my radar for a couple years, and I've heard amazing things about the beautiful, historic Laurel Highlands Trail it is run on. This race is also now one of the few Western States 100 qualifiers on the east coast, so it could be fairly difficult to get an entry. It's safe to say that most ultrarunners dream of running the prestigious Western States 100 (myself included), but that is not my motivation for running Laurel Highlands. I want to go out and experience one of the most difficult and beautiful ultra races on the east coast.
When I consider my 2015 plan, it still seems pretty crazy to me. I haven't run anything close to an ultra distance for about a year. But I am confident that with hard work and dedication, I will spring back to become an even better ultra and trail runner than I was last year. When I think about these two races, I get excited for the challenge ahead of me. Will I regret signing up while I'm running in the snow in February? Probably. But I know it will be worth it when I finish two of the most difficult trail races in Pennsylvania.