Looking ahead

If you scroll down this page a little bit, you’ll see a box that reads “On the docket”.  It’s where I usually list my upcoming races.  For the first time in years, it’s completely empty — I don’t have a single race planned. (UPDATE 10/2: Just registered for Summit Rock yesterday!) This is partially due to being extremely cautious as I come back from a weirdly ambiguous hip/back injury, but also because I’ve been trying to decide what my goals are for next 6-12 months.   If you had asked me 2 months ago, I would’ve said I’d really like to focus on running a fast road marathon ASAP.   I really do feel like I’m capable of a big marathon PR, I just need the right course.  Throughout July and August, as I slowly started to run again, I kept wondering if I should sign up for CIM before it sold out and if I had enough time to train.  Then I snapped out of my fantasy world and decided that I needed to be 100% healthy before I start any kind of marathon training.

My next irrational impulse was to sign up for a fall/winter trail marathon.  That was one of my major goals for 2014 as a stepping stone toward the 50K distance.  Thankfully, my logical side took over once again and and reasoned that if I can’t even run a flat road marathon, then what am I doing signing up for a trail marathon?  Ridiculous!

Then, I accepted a new job, which will require me to switch from a part-time to full-time work schedule.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I hadn’t given into any of my impulses to sign up for a big fall race.  It’ll be hard enough to juggle a new job with much longer hours, let alone worry about marathon training.  Rest assured, I’ll keep running, but I’m relieved not to have to adhere to any specific weekly mileage or workouts.  One less thing to stress about.

That said, I do like to have races on the calendar to keep the motivation train going.  This post is more or less a rambling diatribe of the races I’m considering and the goals floating around in my head for 2015.

I had a lot of fun racing a 5K in August, so I think I’d like to run another one in the fall, perhaps the LMJS 4th Sunday race on Oct. 26th.

For 2015, my goal is to run a 50K.  There, I said it (finally).  I’ve been really intrigued by ultramarathons for a long time and I think it’s time to take the plunge.  Currently, I’m eyeing the Way Too Cool 50K (Auburn, CA; March), Skyline 50K (Castro Valley, CA; August), and North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (Golden Gate Recreational Area, CA; December).  I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to train for WTC, but since there’s a lottery and it’s difficult to get in, my bet is that Skyline or NFEC will be my first 50K.

Although the motivation is there, the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been running a whole lot of trail miles in the last 4 months.  My last long trail run was in May and marked the beginning of the ambiguous traveling injury.  Until last week, I stuck to running fairly flat trails or trails with small rollers.  I’ve done a few hilly hikes in the past 3 months, but I always kept it strictly at walking pace so as to not re-injure myself.  Finally, last Friday, I decided to take a lap around good ol’ Lake Chabot.  I still walked a decent amount of the ascents to keep my heart rate low, but it was definitely faster than hiking speed.  Best of all, my hips and back still felt good at the end of the 8.8 miles.  #WINNING

A gorgeous day at Lake Chabot. #trailrunlove

A gorgeous day at Lake Chabot. #trailrunlove

Then, on Saturday morning, I went on a fairly strenuous, 3-mile hike/run in the Marin Headlands as part of our friends’ wedding festivities (how cool is that, by the way??).  Two days later, I’m happy to report zero niggles after the back-to-back trail outings, with only my quads complaining just a little due to soreness/fatigue.  With that little test in the bag, I’m ready to sign up for the Summit Rock Half Marathon in December, which several friends are running as well, so it should be a lot of fun!

Group run on KS and RL's wedding day. (photo from RL's Facebook page)

Group run on KS and RL’s wedding day. (photo from RL’s Facebook page)

In addition to all of the trail running, I’d like to pick a couple of road half marathons for 2015.  The Kaiser Half seems like a good opportunity to try to PR again, especially if I’m not running WTC.  Plus, I’d like to see how/if this MAF training pays off.  Speaking of which, I’ve got a MAF test coming up this Saturday.  These last 2 weeks were really inconsistent training-wise, mainly due to Ragnar Napa, so I’m curious to see whether I’ve improved at all since test #2.

I think that, in light of my recent injury and the upcoming new job and schedule, I need to be more focused than ever before on what my running goals are.   For now, that seems to be one “A” race in 2015, the 50K, and maybe 2 half marathons.

Random photo of noodles from my last week of work, just because it's been too long since I last posted any noodle pictures. ;)

Random photo of noodles from my last week of work, just because it’s been too long since I last posted any noodle pictures. 😉  These are hand-pulled noodles, BTW, and totally delicious.

Questions for you:

Do you only sign up for goal races, or are you a “race for fun” kind of person?

Have you run the WTC, Skyline, and/or NFEC 50K races? What did you think?


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Goals
24 comments on “Looking ahead
  1. Kate says:

    This post made me so freaking excited, and now I am doubly glad I get to see you tomorrow!! Skyline is one of my favorite races and I will definitely run that with you!

  2. Dan says:

    I was getting uncomfortably close to that dizzying precipice where no more future races exist. Then I started slowly populating it with one here, one there, until I was back in familiar terrain. Not since 2009 have I NOT had a big race on the horizon. Not sure what I’d do if suddenly I found myself with zero races … would I even run? Is racing the only reason I run?

    Anyway, a 50k sounds like a very appropriate challenge. And don’t be like me — train on the trails and get used to the prolonged changes in terrain. Otherwise you’ll look the fool like I did in June.

    Glad to hear your body isn’t complaining these days — enjoy it!

  3. BT says:

    I’m excited to see how these goals play out for you!

  4. Grace says:

    Time to ramp up the trail training! 🙂 I think once you’ve settled in to the work schedule you’ll be able to figure out a good training schedule of sorts. Right now, between life, work, and ankle, I’m also staring down the barrel of a nearly clear docket for the foreseeable future (a 5K in November and then…another 5k with my college bestie in the spring? who knows). Yikes.

    Also, zhajiang mian? Om nom nom. Now I have a craving for hand-pulled noodles and it isn’t even lunchtime yet.

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, I think you’re right re: figuring out a schedule eventually. I think the first month will probably be the most hectic and then I’ll settle into a good groove.

      Is your move date still TBD? I don’t blame you for having a clear docket with so many balls in the air!

      • Grace says:

        Yeah, the move date depends on…husband’s fieldwork date/s, which are still up in the air; when we can get cheap plane tickets (that might entail travelling ON Christmas Day, but it’s a party); etc.! 😛 But it’s happening. I have in-principle visa approval – just need to schedule all the interviews, checkups etc.!!

        When do you start the new job?

        • Jen says:

          I actually enjoy traveling on Christmas Day – it’s the one day of peacefulness in the midst of holiday madness. Good luck with all of your arrangements!

          My first day is next Friday, the 10th. Kinda weird to start on a Friday, but the negotiations took longer than expected and they wanted to give me the chance to put in a 2-week notice. Little did they know that I put in my notice early, so I have 3 weeks off. Woohoo!

  5. Angela says:

    Heh, sounds like you’re kind of in the same place I am. 🙂

    I have heard only great things about NFEC (as long as it doesn’t rain…….it is apparently miserable in the rain).

    Moar trail runs!!

    • Angela says:

      Oh my god I think I successfully left a comment.

      • Jen says:

        OMG!! Maybe the blog gods don’t hate you after all? 😉

        Yes, I was thinking how funny it was that we both posted similar thoughts on the same day. #blogtwinz

        I’m actually pretty scared of NFEC in the mud. My trail shoes don’t have great traction. The advantage of Skyline is that it’ll be dry (but hot), it’s very close-by, and I’ve familiar with all of the trails. The downside is that I’m familiar with all of the trails, so it probably won’t be as exciting as going somewhere new.

  6. dlubi says:

    Congrats on setting new and exciting goals! I would aim for the later races since March isn’t that far away, and those other races sound like good ones! I’m always up for some trail running, so let me know if you need any buddies out there to hit the trails. I can also volunteer to bring my mountain bike and serve as a mobile aid station. 🙂

  7. Cathryn says:

    TeamRamsden signing up for crewing duties/pacing duties as required. That way I get to be part of the whole Ultra Running thing without having to do it myself!

    I think you should do WTC or TNF just because they’re the ones I’d like to do but you choose the right one for you and not me, obviously 😉

    • Grace says:

      HAHA Cat – I always volunteer at ultras, I love the atmosphere but I’m not going to do one myself for a while more!

    • Jen says:

      Heh, thanks for the support! I think WTC or TNF would be more fun just because they’re a bigger deal, but Skyline has a lot of upsides as well. It will most likely come down to what my body and my schedule are ready for come 2015.

  8. Jan says:

    I’m so glad you are starting to feel back to your old (I mean PRIOR not OLD) self! An ultra sounds right up your alley.

  9. Dominick S. says:

    Goal races only. Keeps me focused and intense during training. The only “fun” run I do is the turkey trot usually and that has a very specific goal. I may be up to tackle a 50k trail with you, keep me in the loop, the Spring would be perfect!

  10. Mike says:

    So many races, so little time! Hmm, seems like I read that somewhere…

    Most importantly, very glad to hear your hip and back are cooperating. Injuries are tough enough, but injuries that linger are a whole other category of suck. Plan away, and maybe we can collaborate on a future NoCal trail race!

    I know I’ve said (and written) it before, but the Endurance Challenge is my favorite trail race. So many distances to choose from, along with scenery (and weather, all three years I’ve run it) that’s postcard-perfect. Plus the swag is hard to beat. Which reminds me, I need to go post my TNFEC review…

    Looking forward to your Summit Rock report, since I’ve yet to run that one. Oh, and it probably goes without saying that I’ll run pretty much any race at any time for any reason and on any terrain, a fact I intend never to take for granted.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Mike. It’d be a lot of fun to “collaborate” on a future trail race – I’m open to coming down to SoCal to check one out too.

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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon

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