First, the numbers.
Hours: 88h 06min
Hours: 664h 32min
A quick scan of these figures makes me think that nice, round year-end goals would be something like 6500 miles (a convenient average of 125 MPW), 1000 hours, and a million vertical feet of running. Or at least would be if I maintained roughly the same pace (in all three areas) that I have averaged for the first two-thirds of the year.
This past week I eclipsed the mileage figure that I achieved for the entire year of 2009, and I still have four months to go. Jocelyn has commented to me that it seems I finally figured it out this year. "It" being how to balance my running volume with my body's breaking point so as to maximize day-to-day happiness and race performance. This is not easy. Running is a tricky game because as runners we must repeatedly condition ourselves to ignore the little internal voices that implore us to stop, sleep in, walk, skip a run, so that when it comes time to actually listen very acutely to what our body and those little voices are saying ("you know, this tendon is a little bit sore...better back off here" etc., etc.) we're not very good at heeding their advice any more. But, I think I'm starting to get it.
For the past 10 days since Leadville, I've been resting. I've had a couple acupuncture sessions, my longest run has been 31min/4mi and I've done a run as short as 10 minutes. After a long spring/summer of training and racing, my head tells my body that I need it even though my body doesn't seem to think so. My legs have felt the best they ever have after a 100 mile event. Duh, you say, you didn't run 100 miles! You only made it 81! Yes, but last August when I only made it 78 miles I was absurdly sore the first 3-4 days afterwards and tired for about two weeks. I don't feel any of that this year, and, of course, that has me thinking quite animatedly about what my running plans might be for the remaining months of the year.
Right now, it's tough to say. With the end of August comes the end of summer, in my mind. Fall is likely my favorite season of the entire year. The weather is perfect and the trails are still largely snow-free. For these reasons it is tough to convince me that it is an appropriate time of year to take some serious down-time. Now that I'm back in school, I do know that my running will mostly remain quite close to home, as in, from my front doorstep. Chautauqua and all of its spiderwebbing trails are now a mere seven minute jog from my porch, so I imagine that Green Mt and very likely Bear Peak will once again figure quite prominently in my daily running scenarios. (Over the summer, Green had fallen a bit out of favor--only making it to the top 3-4 times per week instead of my usual 7-8--because there was so much high-country to be explored.)
As for racing, I only know for sure that I am interested in heading out to Marin in early December for what has become the yearly end-of-the-season showdown at the North Face 50 mile Championships. The prize money always attracts healthy competition and typically assembles a field whose depth can really only be rivaled by the Western States 100 in June. Considering how much fun I had there this year, there's no way I want to miss out on the action in the Headlands this December.
Before that, I'm keeping my schedule flexible, but am thinking of taking a crack at a couple of the more classic 50 mile races on the circuit: Firetrails and Mt. Masochist come to mind. Denver hosts a Rock 'n Roll Marathon in October as well, and seeing as I haven't run a proper road marathon in four years, it could be fun to pound the pavement for a couple hours. And, before the snow really starts flying, there are a couple of high-country loops that I've been eyeing all summer but haven't had the chance to get around to just yet this year: the Four Passes Loop in the Elk Mountains near Aspen, CO and the Buchanan-Pawnee Pass Loop closer to home here in our very own Indian Peaks Wilderness. No matter what, the change in seasons will certainly bring a change (even if only subtle) to my running.