Over the past few weeks I truly have gone (ultra) crazy. Before this year I had done 1 run of over 30 miles. I've done three already this year with another one planned for this Saturday. Why the change, you ask? Well quite frankly, it's the best balance I can find right now towards maintaining competitiveness and staying healthy. While I have increased the length of my (ultra) long weekend runs, I've decreased my total mileage and the mileage of my weekly days. In fact, besides my one long run per week, all my other runs have been 10 miles or less. This has allowed me to work on my speed during the week while working on endurance on my long runs. Will it work? Will I still be able to race like I want to? Time will tell.
For the time being, I've signed up for some ultra races both to test my fitness against some great ultra runners, and to break up the monotony of running 3, 4, or 5 hours by myself.
The first race on the schedule is the Hagg Lake 50K. Normally this race wouldn't be considered too competitive but this year it looks like the Oregon ultra series will start off with a bang. Top contenders should include Lanny Gower, the winner of the Oregon Ultra series last year and Ruben Galbraith from Portland who set the course record last year at the Forrest Park 50K. Dan Olmstead, a 2:26 marathoner and course record holder at the Peterson's Ridge Rumble is also signed up. The toughest competition though, should come from Montrail athlete Max King who has won some prestigious ultras including last year at the American River 50 miler. Normally in an ultra race I would consider myself to have pretty good leg speed compared to the competition but Max blows away my PR's across the board. He and I are both undefeated at the ultra distances so something will have to give on Saturday. Truth be told, if I were a betting man, I'd bet on him, but I'm still going to give it everything I've got on race day.
The next race on the agenda should be the popular Chuckanut 50K in Bellingham, Washington. The entry list for that one looks even more stacked than Hagg. So much so I think it may take breaking Uli Steidl's course record just to secure the win. And finally, I've bitten the bullet and signed up for the American River 50 miler in April. This one should be the best test of all, as I've never run close to that distance before and the competition includes the previously mentioned returning champion Max King, along with Ultra-Running Magazine's Ultra Runner of the Year, Geoff Roes.
It should be an exciting couple of months to say the least. We'll see if I'm cut out for ultra running or if I'm just ultra crazy for putting myself through all of this...