2011 has been without a doubt my favorite year of running. It just keeps getting more enjoyable year to year. With that said, there are three particular races that left me feeling as though I could have run them better. I'm not saying that I didn't have fun or that my lackluster performance diminished the experience of each. No, it's that I simply came away with the desire to try it again.
Instead of chalking them up as poor showings and moving on to other races, I've decided to return to each in 2012 and see just how much I can improve. Here they are:
1. Bandera 100k (2011 = 12:10) - This was my first 100k and first ultra outside of Colorado. I ran it solo and encountered foot issues after the first 31 mile loop of running on rocks. I hadn't trained for the rocks, and I didn't know how to handle problems with my feet. The second half was painful and painfully slow, and my race report has a video that documents me saying I would never go back. Well, I'm going back, and my plan for the next 11 weeks is to run technical trails as frequently as possible. I was hoping to become best friends with Matthew Winters, but after my first 5:00 am rendezvous last Wednesday, I took a nasty fall on Dakota Ridge in the dark and whacked my knee. That officially soured our relationship. I think I'm going to be relegated to weekend duty in the foothills in order to get my rock training in. All is good with the knee, but had I not been dressed in layers due to the temp being 29 degrees with a nice wind, the fall would have been very messy.
2012 Goal = sub-11.
2. Moab Red Hot 55k (2011 = 5:16) - I was just barely recovered from Bandera when I ran this race last February. I started very conservative, picked things up during the middle, and completely fell apart at the end. I've got a few different ideas on strategy for this race, but I know that even having one run on this course will pay off in February. This course is astounding to the eye and soul. Registration opened in September and sold out in a day. I'm in.
2012 Goal = sub-5.
3. San Juan Solstice 50 (2011 = 11:48) - Hopefully I'll get into this one. It also sold out in a day last year, and I'm guessing it will go even faster in 2012. A big reason for me wanting to go back is to run the standard course. Due to snowpack issues, we ran a difficult, alternate course which was still amazing in typical San Juans fashion. The angst I feel about this race is due to getting off course and panicking when I got back on. My fueling was a mess and my mental state was all over the map. I know running focused here would lead to a much better result.
2012 Goal = sub-10:45.
I'll be running other races in 2012, but these are the ones that made the redemption tour.