You might consider my running hobby insane, but this past year was a lot of fun! I’ve been able to stay healthy and race in six different states – two road marathons, a 50K ultra, and several other events. In total, I’ve raced 12 times. Capping the year, I have a dream race this weekend on the South Island of New Zealand which is a 60K ultra covering the epic Kepler Track near Te Anau.
As a life-long runner, 2017 has been ground-breaking to some extent. I don’t feel invincible, but I think I’ve gained confidence. Two weeks ago, I won a 27K trail race in El Paso, which was probably the most technical course I’ve ever raced. In the space of 17 miles, the exposed desert course entailed more than 5000 feet of climbing, and a number of steep downhill segments on sketchy, scree-laden terrain.
In October, I was finally able to run a negative splits road marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia. Ask Anna – I was especially depressed beforehand, as my training got impacted by injuries which forced dramatically lowered expectations. Yet my day turned out surprisingly good, and it was so cool to see Washington D.C. again on foot after an absence of 11 years. And in August, I had the honor to pace my friend Juan in his fourth place finish at the Leadville 100, one of the country’s biggest and most iconic 100 mile races.
Not all my racing has been peachy, as I went off course and nearly suffered heat stroke at Bryce Canyon back in June. Although I came frighteningly close to not finishing, that harrowing day was an opportunity to grasp some valuable lessons learned. For the first time since my renewed interest in running got serious in 2014, I have been able to experience a fulfilling year. With the help of my wife Anna, great friends like Matt and Cindy Preslar, Juan Moran, the mentorship of Alex Ho, and many others at running events and on social networks, I’ve really lucked out with an incredible community of support.
A week out from the Kepler Challenge, I’m appropriately nervous, but optimistic. Invariably, it was stressful to gain a spot, yet we’re on track to making it a reality. I think training has been good, and last week I ran more than 10,000 feet of vertical climbing which was tough to do in the midst of a tough work week. Currently I’m tapering, which means my volume has been scaled back, although I am about to go run for two hours. Once again, I won’t really know the gains of training periodization until the race starts. But my goal is to run hard in the last 30 km after Iris Burns Hut, make some new friends, and really enjoy the whole day. Hopefully, it will be an inspirational, captivating and memorable day no matter the outcome.