The road ahead . . . is a trail

April 23, 2008

Thanks to everyone who responded to my latest sob story.

One question worth asking at a juncture like this (i.e., after a particularly miserable race) is whether I should take a vacation from the sport. It’s not a horrible idea, but my answer is no. Over the last few months, my training has been more pleasurable than burdensome, so I’m going to keep training.

Training for what, though? My next race will be the White River 50 on July 26th. It appeals to me for several reasons:

(A) It’s a trail race. After focusing on the roads all winter and spring, the change in terrain and racing style will be refreshing.

(B) It’s not too technical. I’ll certainly lose some time to the mountain goats on the 5-mile descent from Ranger Creek to Buck Creek, but overall the course is not too hostile to road guys like me. That could change in 2009, however, because…

(C) Scott McCoubrey keeps threatening to make the second half more difficult. Thus 2008 could be my last chance to tackle the current, “easy” course.

(D) The course is familiar to me. I ran the whole thing in 2005, placing 3rd, and have sampled bits and pieces at other times. This experience should help me compete against out-of-staters with superior trail skills.

(E) The competition will be fierce. For the 8th year in a row, White River will serve as the USATF 50-mile trail championship, and the list of entrants already includes Lon Freeman, Eric Grossman, Jasper Halekas, Mark Lundblad, Brian Morrison, and Steve Stowers. And Mike Wardian has indicated that he may show up if he survives Western States….

(F) It’s easy to get to. With my confidence at a low ebb, I don’t want to spend a lot on travel and feel as though I need to race well to justify those expenses. (Incidentally, this issue also applies to my possible participation in this November’s World Cup 100K. If I’m selected for the U.S. team, I won’t go unless I can convince myself that I’m likely to perform respectably.)

(G) It’s over three months away. This gives me some time to really work on my trail technique, which could use some refinement (to put it mildly). I’ll say more about that in my next post.

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