Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Goals for 2017

I’ve been having trouble setting goals for 2017.  That’s largely because there are a lot of things I’d like to do, but I probably can’t do them all.  Some of the races I’d like to do have conflicting dates, so I’m going to have to make choices.  Likewise, it’s hard to optimize your training for different types of races.  Training for a faster marathon isn’t the same as training for a rugged trail race.  My choice of races will ultimately determine how I need to train.

Since I can’t do it all, I’m not thinking of this year’s goals as a to-do list, but more of a wish list.  I’ll do as many of these as I can, but some may have to be sacrificed to make room for others.  How I train will depend on which races I choose, so I’m not setting many goals for the training itself.

Bighorn Mountain 100

I have a few monkeys on my back, and this one is the biggest.  I already have two DNFs on this course.  I should have been able to finish this race in 2014, but I fell into a stream during the night and quickly got hypothermic.  In 2015 I was injured.  I started the race against my better judgement only because I wanted redemption for 2014.  That was a mistake.  I dropped out after only 30 miles and made my injury worse.

This year I’m trying again.  Third time’s a charm, right?  I only have five more months to train, so it’s an ambitious goal, but I’m not getting any younger.  If I want to finish this race, I can’t keep putting it off.  I’ll probably consider 2017 to be a good year if and only if I come home with a buckle like this one.

Rocky Raccoon 100

The Bighorn Mountain 100 is a fairly rugged race, so I’d like to do an “easier” 100 first.  To help me prepare for Bighorn, I’ll be doing the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February.  This race is close to sea level and doesn’t have any significant climbs.  Aside from the distance, the only major challenge is avoiding tripping on all the roots.  Two years ago, I ran the Rocky 50, which uses the same trails.  That give me a good idea what to expect.

Photo by Monica Egner
This race serves two purposes.  Besides being a stepping stone to the more technical Bighorn course, it’s also a Western States 100 qualifier.  Bighorn is also a Western States qualifier, but it would be nice if I could go into that race knowing I’ve already qualified.

New Countries

Ever since 2010 – when I finished running marathons in all 50 states – I’ve run marathons in at least two new countries.  My goal for 2017 is to run in four new countries.  I’ve already booked the trips.  It helps that I was able to take advantage of a fare sale to get ridiculously cheap flights to Barcelona and Helsinki.

Minnesota Races

There are still six marathons in Minnesota that I haven’t done yet.  That includes two new ones.  Since there seem to be two new Minnesota marathons every year, I need to do at least three to make progress on my goal of eventually doing them all.  Accordingly, my goal for 2017 is to do at least three.

Qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon

In April, I’ll extend my streak of consecutive Boston Marathons to six.  I’d like to keep that streak going, but I’ve yet to qualify for 2018.  Last year my only qualifier was on a course that was all downhill.  I’m still not fast enough to qualify on a more typical course, and I don’t know if my race schedule will have room for a downhill race.  My best chance to qualify this year may be at Boston.  That doesn’t give me much time to train.  Since I’m already training for two 100 mile trail runs, this one will be a challenge.

Finish a Second Circuit of 50sub4

I’ve run at least two sub-4 hour marathons in every state except Hawaii.  Naturally, I’d like to finish that second circuit of 50sub4.

I’m doing the Aloha Series in just over two weeks.  That’s a series of four marathons in four days, with all of the races on the island of Kaua’i.  Ideally, I’d like to run one of those races in under four hours, but that’s easier said than done.

It’s unclear whether I’ll be in good enough shape to break four hours.  My broken rib in December really set back my training.  I’ll also have to contend with hot temperatures.  I ran five straight sub-4 hour marathons last year, but they all had cooler weather.  This one will also be a challenge.

Establish a Good Mileage Base

Training for a faster marathon is different than training for 100 mile trail runs, but for both I need to keep building my mileage base.  In 2015 I ran 2,851 miles.  My goal for 2016 was 3,000 miles, but because of injuries I finished with only 2,298.  Last year, I barely reached 1,500.  I’d like to get closer to 3,000 this year, but I have to be careful to build my mileage gradually.

I finished 2016 with two straight 50 mile weeks.  I also expect to run 50 miles this week.  If I can keep that going and build from there, I’ll be fine.

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