It's a new year, and I have some big plans in store. But first, let's take a look at all the crazy crap I did in 2018.
2018 in Numbers
Total miles: 2,138 miles (3,440 km)
Miles per week: 41.0 miles
Time spent running: 487 hours (20 days, 7 hours)
Total elevation gain: 520,113 feet (98.5 vertical miles)
Number of marathons & ultras: 8
2018 was the year where I finally admitted to myself that I enjoy mountain racing more than road racing. Case in point, I ran my lowest total mileage since 2014 but did way more elevation gain than any other year, nearly hitting 100 miles of vertical gain and loss. Here's a quick recap of my racing and other adventures.
My racing season started in February with the Mount Mitchell Challenge, which I treated as a long training run. This was the first time that Alex and I visited the Black Mountains, and the scenery at this race convinced me to come back again in 2019 (more on that later).
|Starting line of the Mount Mitchell Challenge|
One week later was the local Lenape 50K, where I again took it easy but still managed to hang on to 3rd place and snag a sweet home made trophy.
|Some fast dudes. And me.|
In April, I managed to PR in the marathon distance for the sixth straight year with a 3:12:56 at the NJ Marathon. However, I only managed to shave 2 minutes off my previous best after a full season of careful training, and this race convinced me that I don't particularly like road marathons any more. I will probably not run one in 2019.
|Feeling good around the 10K mark of the NJ Marathon|
Next up was the infamous Manitou's Revenge 54 miler, which was the first ultra that I had really raced since 2017's Grindstone 100. I was so nervous that I couldn't sleep at all the night before the race. On race day, I turned that nervous energy into some fast early miles, and I finished in 11th place with a 20 minute course PR despite a rough finish. Manitou's Revenge has quickly become my favorite race on the planet, and I am heading back in 2019!
|The course at Manitou's Revenge is somewhat technical|
In July, I headed up to New Hampshire's White Mountains for a solo adventure. I ran the Swan Song Loop, which is a 28 mile route that seeks out the most difficult trails in the Presidential Range. Rather than shoot for a particular time, I stopped for snacks and pictures along the way and really enjoyed a perfect day in the mountains. I plan to go back and run this route a little faster in 2019.
|View of Mount Washington from Boott Spur on the Swan Song Loop|
My "A Race" for the year was supposed to be Fat Dog 120 in August, but it was canceled at the last minute due to wildfires, which forced me to sign up for Grindstone 100 for the third year in a row. But first, I made a stopover at Frozen Head State Park to take on the Barkley Fall Classic 50K for the third (and possibly last) time. I put in a solid effort despite poor training and even poorer heat acclimation, and I finished just under ten hours, a 15 minute personal best.
|People seem to like this picture for some reason. I'm glad my suffering amuses you.|
Due to the cancellation of Fat Dog, Grindstone 100 became my only way to qualify for the annual Western States and Hardrock 100 lotteries. My 2017 race had gone really well, and I felt like I accomplished everything I wanted to do at Grindstone. So 2018 was an uninspired performance which was made significantly worse by a combination of poor decision making and tough race conditions. I finished in 27 hours and 59 minutes, by far my worst 100 mile performance to date. But I got those dang lottery tickets.
|Grindstone in 2017 when everything went pretty well. 2018 was not so pretty.|
Last but not least was the Hellgate 100K. Despite only being two months after Grindstone, Hellgate was a 2020 Western States qualifier. Needing only to finish under 17 hours, I took it easy and used this race as an opportunity to meet new people and see some new trails. I finished in 14:47 and got my lottery tickets for next year, which means I don't need to run any more qualifier races for a while.
|View from our drive down to Virginia. This was the most scenic part of the weekend.|
So here I sit with no qualifiers needed this year (Hardrock qualifiers count for two years). I can run anything I damn well please. That means it's time to...
...do some terrifyingly hard shit!
I'm planning three 100 milers this year. Each one will be the hardest race I've ever done at the time I attempt it. One of them is at high altitude. One is a brand new race which is expected to have no finishers. They are:
- Hellbender: 26,000 feet of climbing and descending through the Black Mountains of North Carolina (I told you I'd be back there!). In it's inaugural race in 2018, only two runners finished under 24 hours. One of them was Karl Meltzer, the greatest 100 mile runner of all time.
- Ouray: One of the hardest 100 mile races on the planet. Ouray involves over 40,000 feet of climbing and descending through the rugged San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The course climbs multiple 12,000' peaks, and the first half of the race is almost entirely above 10,000'. Can I finish this thing under the 52 hour cutoff? Only one way to find out.
- WTF: A new race from the RD's of Manitou's Revenge. WTF is an invitation-only Barkley style event which involves 108 miles, 40,000' of climbing, and long stretches of off trail navigation. It will be self supported and unmarked. May god help us all.
This schedule is extremely ambitious, and I'll admit that my heart rate spiked when I hit the "Register" button for all of these. But there's no point in playing it safe when there are so many adventures to be had. If I fail, I'll fail proudly and spectacularly. Happy New Year!
Full 2019 Race Schedule
(100 mile races in bold)
(100 mile races in bold)