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January 15, 2008

Tickling God

“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.“
- Origin unknown

That seems like as good a note as any to introduce my 2008 race schedule. Normally I’m pretty successful in accomplishing the tasks I want to get done - but I fully recognize that I’m always just one mishap or injury or catastrophe from any of this coming to pass.

Before we get to the schedule, allow me to review the ground rules:

First, I don’t race that often. Between work and family time and home projects and my annual 2-month hibernation from training, the number of weekends that I’m able to escape for a race can usually be counted on one hand. Not to mention, these endurance events get increasingly cost prohibitive each year – so the thought of entering races as training runs makes even less sense to me than it used to.

Second, I employ a single-minded focus in preparation for major events. I know some people (like this guy) who can hop from ultras to triathlons to marathons and shorter distance races and do fairly well across the board – but I’m not one of those people. I love having an eclectic resume, but I prefer to build all of my training around one type of event, then shift gears and move on to the next one.

It’s like the way jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is skilled in about 10 different genres of music, but never mixes them all on one album. He’ll record an entire blues CD, then move on to classical, then Dixieland, then big band, etc. Just think of me as the Wynton Marsalis of endurance sports, except, you know ... with about 100 times less talent.

Accordingly, my 2008 calendar is essentially split into two distinct seasons: the first half, built around preparing myself for my anchor race in June – which I might have mentioned here once or twice already - and the remainder of the year, when I’ll become a full-time triathlete again.

Here’s a quick overview of the races on my sidebar calendar:

Diablo 50M, April 12th: My first foray into ultramarathons for the spring, on a course that is generally recognized as one of the toughest 50-milers around. The run features 13,000’ of climbing (by comparison, the very hilly Firetrails 50M race I did last fall has just under 8000’), and the winning times from last year are over 9 hours (my Firetrails time was 8:45, and 34 people beat me). If you look at the names on last year's results list, those people aren’t chumps – they’re top-shelf talent who were simply slowed by the relentless climbs and tough terrain that surround the highest point of elevation in the Bay Area.

This will be a perfect tune-up race to test my hill climbing, and since the course runs so slowly, I won’t bother with any silly concerns about trying to PR – a mistake that was nearly critical in my 50M race last fall. In fact, I need to be especially conservative, because three weeks later I’ve got ….

Miwok 100K, May 3rd: This race was almost as difficult to get into as Western States – the online registration sold out in about 20 minutes. Miwok’s always been popular, and over the past year it’s been featured in a couple of magazine profiles proclaiming the beauty and difficulty (9500’ of climbing) of this course that traverses Marin County, the fertile crescent of trail running and mountain biking in the United States. It’s probably the best race simulation I can ask for before the big one …

Western States 100M, June 28-29: I know you can’t see this from home – but it was exciting for me just to type that out. I don’t really need to say anything else here – I’ll have plenty more to write about this race as we go along. Good golly.

Assuming I survive States, starting in July I’ll switch my focus to …

Big Kahuna 70.3 Triathlon, Sept 7: This was one of the most enjoyable races I’ve ever done in my life (and my race report from 2006 is at right). It’s tough to explain: it wasn’t the most challenging, or most rewarding, or most competitive event I’ve ever done – but from start to finish, I had an absolute blast. I can’t think of a better venue to return to the sport of triathlon after running my tail off on the trails of Northern California for the first half of the year.

That’s it – that’s the list. If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll note that one race is conspicuous by its absence. This will be the first time in over a dozen years that I won’t be running my hometown race, the Big Sur Marathon – and as you can imagine, I’ve got some additional thoughts on this topic that I’ll elaborate upon here shortly.

For now, though, we’ll stop here, and not let the list of what’s going to be (unless, of course, God has something different in mind) get overshadowed by what’s missing. It’s not the biggest race list you’ll ever see, but there’s certainly enough to keep me occupied from now until the fall. It’s also enough to fill me with worry almost every night, and to motivate me to drag myself out the door for training nearly every morning.

In other words, it feels just about perfect.


rick 1/14/08, 10:52 PM  

awww I don't do that many races but thanks for the plug.

Hey what a great line up. I might join you for that Diablo 50M and congratulations on getting in Miwok. Man I remember when you could sign up for that race in February. I'll probably be at Wildflower then Quicksilver the weekend after. Might see you at Big Kahuna as well, love that race.

Half my race plans are still up in the air. I might just map out my major races this year and keep everything else under wraps.

Darrell 1/15/08, 7:00 AM  

A nice focused list, just what I'd expect from you.

I hope your absence from Big Sur this year isn't an omen or bad karma for those of us you finally decided to get up there for "your race". You could always volunteer.

stronger 1/15/08, 7:29 AM  

I'd say that's a big list. Diablo race sounds great and that time of year it will be soooo green!

Taryn 1/15/08, 8:22 AM  

You are so inspiring Donald... I can't wait to read along with all your training and successes!

Makita 1/15/08, 8:32 AM  

Quality over quantity .... your list looks fun, inspiring, and challenging. 2008 is going to be a great year.

btw - Thank you for your comment regarding Bizz vs Portland. I think I'll wait and see how Eugene & Pacific Crest(?) turn out... if I BQ early, I'll do Bizz for the experience. :)

21stCenturyMom 1/15/08, 11:13 AM  

Good list. I think I might volunteer at Diablo to get some experience with aid stations at ultra races.

Are you doing any of the training runs for WS-100? They may not be races but they are definitely events.

DREW 1/15/08, 11:13 AM  

So you're labeling the mileage equivilent of, what, 7 marathons as light?


rick 1/15/08, 11:53 AM  

P.S. I had to see for myself. 13,380ft for a 50-Miler! (I need a place to spit my coffee). I don't think I've ever done a 50 that topped 10,000. Yeah I checked the 07 results page too, that's gonna be a long day.

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) 1/15/08, 2:14 PM  


That's a great list of 2008 races - you've got the best ones around SF Bay Area. We'll each other a lot - Diablo, Miwok, and WS. (Me know only running)

Look forward to seeing you at trails!

Btw, you have a wonderful blog.


Backofpack 1/15/08, 5:22 PM  

I need to let you know my expectations for you.

After WS, after you get the race report up, and stuff, I need a post that muses on the challenges of WS vs the challenges of an Ironman. Okay? I've been wondering about it ever since one of our local Ironmen made a remark about them being comparable. It doesn't seem reasonable in terms of hours - something like 17 hours for her vs 24+ for a 100 miler, but in terms of miles travelled, maybe so. You are the first I know who will have done both, so the responsibility falls to you. Heavy, I know, but you've got broad shoulders and can handle it!

Rainmaker 1/15/08, 6:11 PM  

Wow...impressive list of races you've got there. All culminating in the Big Kahuna! I had a blast doing that one in 2007, I agree - the run is just so much fun on that course. I wish all run courses were just like that...heck...I wish I could train on that course every day - swim, bike or run.

Deene 1/16/08, 7:50 AM  

a cool line up of races, we'll not lack for your entertaining reports or training stories. you don't have dipsea listed, or would that be a training run?

olga 1/16/08, 8:49 AM  

Diablo sounds like my kind of fun!!! I am jealous, what was I thinking? Next year - Diablo and Leona...I see you at Miwok!

momo 1/16/08, 10:22 AM  

holy smokes, donald, my feet hurt just looking at that line up. should we amputate your toenails now or later?

and you know i'm impresed, dontcha? big time. i cannot wait for the race reports!

jen 1/16/08, 11:07 AM  

Nice schedule. That Diablo Climb sounds absolutely brutal- I might have to come and watch you or volunteer just to marvel at the folks who do it. :) I'm interested to hear your comments on missing Big Sur this year- sounds like it wasn't an easy decision for you.

Crash 1/16/08, 12:51 PM  

Best of luck for WS - way way cool

Addy 1/16/08, 1:37 PM  

Sounds like a perfect schedule. Good luck with it all!

Annette 1/16/08, 4:11 PM  

An impressive list! Good luck with your training.

I enjoyed your quote at the beginning. . . so true. It's easy to get caught up in our own plans sometimes, but, as we know from experience, God can change that in a hurry! :)

angie's pink fuzzy 1/16/08, 6:35 PM  

sounds like a good plan

and i'm sorry, i don't recall hearing anything about this western states thing??? ;)

David 1/17/08, 5:01 PM  

Donald. Making the most of us feel like novices.

robtherunner 1/17/08, 5:55 PM  

I would expect nothing less than a well thought out race schedule that makes logical sense. The nice thing about you is that you even execute with near perfection. Hard to argue your logic with the results you put up. I look forward to the training leading up to Western States and all the interesting posts in between.

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