This year, I've struggled to come up with numerous goals, as I have done in the past few years. But since training has started for Laurel Highlands already, I suppose it's time to commit to my 2015 goals. As I continue to think about what I really want to accomplish, there are only a couple of things that keep coming to mind, and they center around my big race this year:
"A" Goal : Finish the Laurel Highlands Ultra in June (70.5 miles) under 20 hours
Why 20 hours? Well, 20 hours is the Western States 100 Qualifying Time for Laurel Highlands, and hell, I'm not sure how many shots I will get at qualifying for the original and most prestigious 100 miler in the world.
"B" Goal : Finish the Laurel Highlands Ultra under the 22 hour cutoff
Let's be serious. If I finish a 70.5 mile race I will be ecstatic, WS 100 qualifier or not.
I have some plans of how I'm going to accomplish my A and/or B goals. Besides the higher weekly mileage and back-to-back long runs required to finish Laurel Highlands, I also have many mini-goals that I am shooting for to help me get through 70.5 miles on June 13th:
a) Hill training & Hiking
With about 12,000 feet elevation gain over 70.5 miles, this will be, by far, the most challenging course I've ever set foot on. It's unlikely I'll get out to the Laurel Highlands trail because it's about 5 hours away, so I'm going to train on as many hills as I can find near me. I am a huge fan of power hiking the hills during ultras so I will be practicing hiking up and down the biggest hills I can find. This won't be easy where I live, so I'm planning to make the most of the weekends to get to trails and mountains. I'm also going to make a point to run the bridge and find some stairs or treadmill inclines to get in some other hill training during the week.
b) Consistent Core Work
You can't read anything about running without hearing how important the core is for keeping posture and preventing injuries. Well, I haven't worked on my core in a long time. So thanks to the power of Twitter and the suggestions of my Oiselle teammates, I have a bunch of resources that I'll be drawing from to help strengthen my core. I'm aiming to do a short core routine 2-3 times per week.
c) Getting back to Yoga
There's been so many times in the past couple of years that I go to one yoga class and never return because the soreness afterwards is worse than after a 4 hour trail run. This tells me I have some serious muscle problems and imbalances. I was always flexible as a gymnast and cheerleader, but since becoming a runner, my muscles no longer want to stretch the way they once did. I've noticed this becoming an issue on my runs, with some pains popping up here and there so I'm hoping that a weekly yoga practice will help solve some of this.
I also have a few trail races already planned to help me get some supported runs in:
Chilly Cheeks 7 Miler (1/25/15): This one is purely for fun. But having done the similar Ugly Mudder race last year, I know that this is a tough and hilly 7 miles. Add some snow and it is a gnarly course. The nice thing is I signed up for the RUN215 beer bus to and from the course, so it's guaranteed to be a fun time!
Hyner 50k (4/18/15): This race is going to be a huge challenge. With about 7,000 feet elevation gain over 31 miles, this will likely be the closest hill training I get to the Laurel Highlands course. I KNOW this race is going to be hard, and I'm prepared to spend 8 hours finishing one of the most difficult 50ks east of the Mississippi.
Dirty German 50k (5/17/15): I wavered back and forth on whether I wanted to pursue the 50k or 50 miler here. I know the course pretty well, having run it the past two years. But as much as I would love to get in a 50 miler before LH, this race is only 4 weeks out from my goal and I don't trust my body will be recovered in time for my "A" race if I run the 50 miler. Instead, I will run about 20 miles the day before Dirty German, and then run the 50k the next day so I get in a nice, quality back-to-back long run weekend.
I think I've put together a pretty comprehensive plan to get me to my "A" goal for 2015. I cannot look past June 13th at this point, and I'm definitely not committing to any other races in 2015 after Laurel Highlands. It's going to be a long journey to 70.5 miles, but I'm excited push my physical limits over the next 5 months!