I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s been a while. Mainly because not a ton has happened racing-wise since 2015 began and I usually focus my posts on races. I got back into running workouts, still under Koop’s guidance, and recently finished up a VO2 max phase which involved many rounds of grinding up Marincello, up to Coit Tower, and around the track 3 minutes at a time. That phase left me a bit more beat up than I had anticipated, and I felt as though I was constantly dealing with little issues that were cropping up one after another. First it was the area above my left knee, which forced me to take a couple days off following the Kaiser Half Marathon in early February. I ran a PR (1:07:56) there and 2 days later had a very strong 10 x 1,000m workout on the track but had to take 2 days off following that due to the pain in my leg. I was able to get it under control, thankfully. But then just a couple days later, two new areas started voicing their displeasure. My upper left leg and lower right leg (Achilles/Calf, specifically – felt like someone had their hand wrapped around my Achilles at times – lots of fun) posed minor problems through the last week of VO2 max, and once I had a couple of easier running days before breaking into the current tempo phase, I was able to control them too and they’ve held since (knock on wood). So now I’m about a week into the tempo phase, and I don’t know how long that will last, but I’m fairly certain it will take me at least through Lake Sonoma (April 11) and Boston (April 20).
Before moving forward, I want to touch on Kaiser. I was really happy with the way my race played out. I wasn’t sure of the kind of shape I was in coming into it, but figured it couldn’t go much worse than last year, when I attempted to pace a teammate (did a terrible job of it), my calf decided to shred itself about halfway through, and on the limp back down the Great Highway, I had to dive into a port-a-potty as I almost had to stop and poop on the highway itself. Not my greatest race, but it was PR at the time (as the only half I’d run prior to that was the Brazen half with 4,000ft of climbing yielding a slower time). So I was ready for a PR, I just didn’t know what it would be. I started out running a bit behind the lead pack and basically just stayed there. I was with a couple of others and was content to lead/be lead whenever we happened to shift places. I pulled away from a couple of guys when we turned on to the Great Highway and ended up running the next 4-5 miles with one guy. He gapped me by about 10m around mile 11 and I was content to let him go on ahead, but then someone from the other side yelled “Varner, you’re running too easily!” and I saw Jonas and his wife and they were cheering and I decided “No, I want to beat this guy.” You can even see where I made the decision on the Strava file as my heart rate ticks up right around mile 11.7 (https://www.strava.com/activities/249209907/overview). I ended up making a decisive move past the guy (don’t know who he was) and almost closing on Crosby (fist shake). At least he was running scared, or at least that’s what I heard from someone ::cough::Larissa::cough::
Looking later into spring, I’m really excited to open up 2015 at LS50. The competition will be strong and already having a spot in Western, I can do what I need to do and focus on learning more about the 50 mile distance. That will definitely come in handy in May, as I was picked to represent the US at the Ultra Trail World Championships, which will take place on May 30 in Annecy, France. It’s an 85k (53 mile) race with around 16,000 feet of climbing (close to what Western has in half the distance), so we’ll be out there for a while. My teammates will be Tim Tollefson (https://timtollefson.wordpress.com/) , David Laney (http://davidlaneyrunning.com/ ), Alex Nichols (http://negativesplit.net/wddf/index.html#!/page_Home), and Yassine Diboun (http://yassinediboun.com/) on the men’s side and Krissy Moehl (http://krissymoehl.com/), Amy Rusiecki (http://runningrusieckis.blogspot.com/), and Anita Ortiz (https://twitter.com/ortizrun) on the women’s side. I think we can do some damage and look forward to putting it all out there with these folks. More info here: http://trailrunner.com/trail-news/u-s-team-trail-world-championships-announced/. In case it wasn’t evident, I am freaking pumped to have made a US team. It’s been a long-time goal of mine (and I know the same goes for a couple other members) and I am also rather excited to get some more time in France, as this makes 2 trips there this year (CCC is still on).
I think the race will be a good springboard to Western States in late June, kind of how the NYC Marathon worked as a jumping point for TNFEC back in the fall. The biggest downside is that I withdrew from the Canyons 100k (http://www.runcanyons.com/) on May 2, simply because I think it would be too much racing this spring. I hope to run that race one day, as the course looks fantastic and the race organizers have been incredibly gracious with my decision.
And speaking of Western, I’ve got my crew/pacers all lined up for this year. Since Magda decided to go and qualify herself (congrats on the SOB win!), she’s going to be my pacer for the whole thing! Just kidding, but that would be awesome. No, my crew will be Rachelle (she did such a fantastic job last year without knowing what to expect, so this year will hopefully be easier), Vargo (who was my crew/pacer last year so he knows how to deal with the bullsh*t I’ll throw at him later in the race), and Tim Tollefson (who will be warned by Vargo what to expect when you’re expecting I get ornery). So get excited, kids. Time for round 2!
These two idiots (the one covered in mud on the left and the mug on the right) have volunteered to pace me at Western. The guy on the right even wanted to do it again!
And finally, since my last post was a look back on 2014, here are a few resolutions I made at the beginning of the year, but forgot to share:
- Listen to my body. I’ve done a good job of this so far, namely with the minor issues I mentioned that I experienced during the VO2 max training phase. Hopefully I can continue to do so and nip problems in the bud before they become larger issues.
- Thank more volunteers. Admittedly, doing so verbally is a bit harder in shorter, faster races when breath is harder to come by, but a smile, nod, or wave/thumbs up can go a long way in showing a volunteer that you appreciate their time.
- Be less obsessed with mileage (kind of). I mean this in a larger context, as in not pushing to get 9 miles on an easy day rather than 8 so that my weekly mileage is higher, or needlessly extending a tired cooldown in search of the same goal. If I can do that, I’m totally fine with letting myself run a couple of circles around a parking lot at the end of a 13.9 mile run to bring it up to an even 14 (like at the end of this run: https://www.strava.com/activities/239917350 ).
So I think that’s about it for now. I will be cheering/spectating at Way Too Cool in just over a week, so for those running, good luck! And if you’re so inclined, stick around Auburn Saturday night. Should be a good time 😉
And just for jealousy’s sake, here are a few photos from a couple runs this year: