Yep, I’m declaring it. 2015 is the Year of the Ultramarathon.
I’ve been a trail runner since I first ran the rainbow eucalyptus-lined trails of Poli Poli on Maui back in the summer of 1997. Most of the time, trail running was just running for me. Something better than hiking. Almost flying. Once I moved to Portland, I began entering races, but I never had a desire to run a marathon (road OR trail.)
Something has changed. Part of it was the increased coverage ultras were gaining in Trail Runner Magazine, my go-to for trail porn, especially while living in super flat Florida. Part of it was that I found UltraRunnerPodcast, the BEST round-up of all things ultra and trail running. But I think mostly it was the abundance of elite trail runners in the PNW region. I saw pictures of super stoked muddy people on trails on Facebook, read race reports of
crazy brave souls running 100 freakin’ miles and volunteered at an ultra. That was it. I wanted to be one of them.
There are three weekends a year with races on Orcas Island. Two of them are for 25k and 50k distances, out of my league at the time of the race, and the other is coming up in April. Bellingham Trail Running Series directed by Candice Burt, is putting on the inaugural Orcas Island Trail Marathon and Festival on April 11 and 12 and I am registered for the half marathon. Candice is known for her
sadistic tough races and this half warns boasts 3800 ft of elevation gain and 3800 ft of loss for the half. (6200 gain and 6200 loss for the full marathon and 3100 gain and 700 loss for the 10k ascent.)
In non-trail racing news, I registered for the 2015 Portland Marathon. Do I run on the road? Not really. My friend Charity, super badass runner and Ironman finisher, casually mentioned a few months ago that she might be running the PDX Marathon and I let it slip to the back of my lazy mind. And then I got a message on Facebook from her. Turns out she registered the night before and wanted to know if I was down for it. I love this woman more than words can express (see past post here) so I did too. So, I’m
shopping for road shoes running on the road now and not just on my beloved trails. (I would be shopping for road shoes right now, but we haven’t decided on our “look” for race day. We all know that running is all about the cute outfits, right?)
But that’s still not an ultra I hear you say. You’re right, an ultra is any race distance more than 26.2 miles. Most people in the ultra community (yes, that’s a thing) agree that 50k (or 31.0686 miles for my non-metric friends) is the entry-level ultra. Wanna get yourself into what will become
an all-caps screaming match a heated discussion on the interweb? Ask how long a real ultra is.
I couldn’t possibly be ready for a 50k before my half in April and from mid-Sept to Oct 4th is sacred taper time before the marathon. I’d like to
squeeze in manage an ultra between early May and early Sept just in case I get injured, abducted by aliens or DNF and need another race to get in an ultra finish before the end of the year. (I love my job, but I have a weird yet super predictable summer schedule: off every other Sun-Fri and on every Saturday.)
Here’s my options as I see them now:
June 6th-Vashon 50k
Nov 14th-Grand Ridge
Dec 14(estimated)-Deception Pass (I want to run this race no matter what else I do this year.)
Why am I pushing for an ultra this year? Well, like Warren Miller is known to say: “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.” And I’m 40 this year. Time to get it done. (Hope I don’t end up living out his other great quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, failure might be your thing.”)
If anyone out there has any race suggestions, I’d love to hear them.