Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Other Gauntlet

In June, I ran four marathons in four consecutive weekends.  That was, by far, the most densely-packed cluster of races I'd ever done.  I even went as far as to call it The Gauntlet.  It has now been outdone.  For, I give you:

The Second Gauntlet!!!

Wildwood Trail Marathon:  This one's in Portland, and it will be the flattest trail run I've ever done, and the flattest I'll do all year.  I think it'll be exciting just to run somewhere else, probably see a lot of new faces (you start seeing a lot of the same people at all the bay area races), and I think it's entirely possible that I'll break three hours in a trail marathon.  I've said that before, and it didn't work out, though I came somewhat close.  But this marathon has only about two-thirds of the climbing Big Basin had, so I think there's still a chance.

San Francisco 50-Mile Endurance Run:  This is, by far, the most ridiculous entry on this list.  The farthest I've ever run in a race is a 50k, managed less than a month before this race will take place.  I've "run" 60 miles in one sitting before, but I should point out that I was walking a third of the time and the whole thing was at night, with ideal temperatures, and on a flat track (and it took 12 hours).  This will be on a course that is no less difficult than any of the trail runs I've been doing.  I have no idea what my strategy should be.  I'm not even sure what to wear; the race will go on well into the afternoon, so my signature all-black look may not be the best idea.
If you were to ask me, "Physically, what is the hardest thing you've ever done?" I would be strained to come up with a good answer.  The most exhausted I've ever been was generally on events that aren't as hard as what I do now; the difference is now I'm in better shape.  So it's hard to say a particular marathon is the hardest thing I've ever done, when I now do them regularly, and harder courses at that.  I could say the half-Ironman I did, but I actually felt better after that than I have after several marathons.  Or maybe it was one particularly tough day on a bike tour.  I don't know.  But ask me again in a couple weeks, and this race just might be the hands-down answer.
But you get a belt buckle for finishing.  How cool is that?

Crystal Springs Trail 50K:  What makes me excited about this one is simply that it's one of the closest races to home that I'll do all year.  The race takes place outside of Woodside, a town I frequently bike through.  The area is gorgeous, lots of redwood trees (and hills, of course).  And I feel like I have to defend my stomping grounds.  Kind of the same sentiment I had about Horseshoe Lake.

Cinderella Trail 50K:  This is the course where I got lost - twice - earlier this year, then got passed less than a mile before the finish line.  I'm looking for some serious vengeance on this course.

Hood-to-Coast Relay:  Probably the most unique race I'll do all year.  Hood-to-Coast is a 200-mile relay race, run in teams of 12, where each team member is responsible for three legs of about 5-6 miles each.  Which means I "only" have to run about 17 miles, with a lot of time to rest in between.
Apparently word got around Google that I'm a strong marathon runner (mostly because a Googler named Larry saw me finish at San Francisco).  Google has a few running groups, including an official team with some very strong runners.  They've done this race before, and typically average a pace of < 6:00/mile!  That's about as fast as I go when I do speed training!  Then again, I barely go any slower in a full marathon (if it's flat).  I may be one of the weaker members of the team.
But the idea that I get a free trip to Oregon (Google pays for all accommodations), and all I have to do is go for a run?  Yeah, I could get into that.

So Gauntlet #2 goes: marathon, 50-miler, 50k, 50k, long relay.  Five races in five weekends, three of which are ultramarathons.  Whew!

...Bring it on.