Apologies in advance for what will likely be a brain dump rather than a thoughtfully executed essay…
I made the startling realization yesterday that I’m running my first trail half marathon at Lake Chabot in a little over a month. Yeah, I’ve run half marathons before (two to be precise), but a trail race is almost always harder than a road race, and this one is notoriously hilly (~1700 feet elevation gain). Also, I have an irrational fear of hills, probably because 85% of my training is done around flatter-than-a-pancake Lake Merritt. So while I’m pretty confident about my general level of fitness, it freaks me out a little that I feel wholly unprepared for the hills. To try to deal with this anxiety, I signed up for the Tilden Tough Ten, thinking that 10 moderately hilly miles two weeks before Lake Chabot might be good preparation. Then the Gypsy Runner suggested that we run a hilly 10K (~1100 feet elevation gain) to prepare for the Tilden Tough Ten. And before you know it, I’m running 3 races in the next month. All trail races, yes, but with pretty different strategies/goals.
Before I go on, let me explain my thought process behind signing up for the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge in the first place. After the Oakland Half Marathon, I was super amped up about running and I didn’t want to stop training. I wanted to run another big race but not too soon… and then it dawned on me that I might actually want to run a marathon. Yikes!! Specifically, I considered signing up for the California International Marathon (CIM) in December. But before registering, I wanted to prove to myself that I could run a marathon. I tend to be more confident in my physical ability than my mental toughness, because every time I run more than 10 miles, I think to myself, “What the heck am I doing? Why am I putting myself through this? I must really be crazy.” Anyway, so the Gypsy Runner and I were already planning on running the 5K portion of the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge (it’s a 5K and a half marathon). So I thought to myself, “Well, if I can complete a tough half marathon trail race and still have the desire to run a marathon, then I’ll sign up for CIM.”
So now I’m looking at 3 races with different distances and each with their own challenges. For a while, I took it for granted that just because I was able to run a few good road races in the past couple of months that these trail races will not be a problem. I also took a more relaxed approach to preparing for these races because I have completely different expectations for trail races in general. For example, I don’t expect to PR in a trail race. But it’s one thing to have relaxed expectations and another to not really know what the heck to do in terms of training. I’m now trying to establish what my goals are and how best to train. I’ve never run this many races in such a short amount of time, so maybe I’m just trying to come to terms with that. For one thing, I don’t think there’s enough time for me to run hills AND do super long runs, so I might just have to do a little of both. *sigh*
Judging by past years’ results for these courses, my tentative goals are:
1. Cinderella 10K: 10:30/mile, 1:05:05
2. Tilden Tough Ten: 10:15/mile, 1:42:30
3. Lake Chabot Trail Challenge (half marathon): 12:00/mile, 2:38:23
There is a 3-hour course limit for Lake Chabot, which is pretty daunting. Oh well — worst case scenario, I “earn” my first DNF.
What about you? Any strategies for planning your race calendars?