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March 19, 2009

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
- Matthew 7: 7-8

Hey ... remember when I used to write about races on this blog?

In some ways, that seems like very long ago. However, as spring approaches and my huge goal race looms over summer’s horizon, there’s no escaping the fact that racing season has come around again, like a runner’s version of the circle of life.

Last year, I prefaced a race schedule post with the expression “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” It proved far more prophetic than I hoped for, as the Western States 100 – the event I built my entire year around - went up in smoke thanks to extensive wildfires on par with some crazy Biblical plague. So this year, I’m leading with a much more optimistic scripture passage; perhaps I’ll influence God into a little less capriciousness, and a little more compassion. (Its a longshot, but what the heck.)

With that, here’s the list. As in 2008, everything builds towards the main event in June.

1. Diablo 50M, April 19. Last spring, I entered this race after a full training week, and encountered the toughest 50M course I had ever seen (over 13K of climbing) on a day when temperatures soared into the upper 80s. Needless to say, it left me broken, beat, and scarred (random Metallica shout out! See video after post.) – and equally needless to say, it was the perfect prep race for a summer 100-miler. It’s also a wonderful event by the best trail running organization anywhere, Pacific Coast Trail Runs - and a race that should be on every ultra runner’s wish list.

2. Big Sur International Marathon, April 26. That’s right … I’m running Big Sur again. I’ll have more about this later on, so for now I’ll just say this: since Big Sur is only 7 days after Diablo, I will definitely be running this marathon as opposed to racing it in years past. (And if I keep repeating that promise to myself every day for the next five weeks, I might actually follow-through on it.)

3. Quicksilver 50M, May 9. I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m 95% committed – in other words, all the way committed except for typing in my credit card number. Initially, I viewed this race as a fallback option in case I didn’t get into the Miwok 100K – but when I lost out on the Miwok lottery, and started looking more at the Quicksilver site, it immediately started looking like a better option than Miwok. It’s one week later, which gives me some extra recovery time after Diablo and Big Sur. It has just as much climbing and is more likely to have warm weather to mimic conditions on the WS 100 course. And it’s close enough to home that I can just drive up on race morning and knock it out.

The only drawback in comparison to Miwok is the obvious one: Quicksilver is only 50M instead of 100K. Last year's Miwok race seemed like the perfect distance for that point in my training – so although the mileage difference isn’t huge, it’s one that will bug me unless I compensate for it somehow. I’m bouncing a couple of ideas around about running extra miles either before or after the race; if anyone has first-hand experience with doing this at Quicksilver, I’d love to hear from you.

4. Western States 100 Training Camp, May 23. I’m tentatively planning on attending the first day - for the 32-mile run on the major climbs of the Western States course - then bailing on the final two days of camp to catch up on some family time over the Memorial Day weekend. I know that there is usually a group of runners who tack extra mileage onto the first day’s run; as with the last item, if you know anything about a similar plan for this year, please contact me.

Those are the tune-up events, all of which are preparation for …

5. Western States Endurance Run, June 27-28. Um … you know what? I’m not really ready to start talking about this yet. Rest assured, you’ll hear about it ad nauseum as the date approaches. In the meantime, if you're really looking for a time-killer, feel free to scroll through the 10-part Western States Training Diary (on my right sidebar) that I published for the Monterey Herald last year.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe I’m right back where I was before: asking for advice, seeking the best path, and knocking on the door of the Western States 100 again in a few short months. My biggest hope this summer is for that door to finally be opened and welcome me in.


Music bonus! Although Metallica didn’t invent the expression “What don’t kill ya make ya more strong,” they’ve definitely staked their claim to laying down the coolest musical accompaniment to the phrase. It’s prominently featured in the live version of “Broken, Beat, and Scarred” that follows below. Although less than one year old, this song has rapidly become one of the most awesome ultrarunning songs ever written. (Click to play):

*Bible verses and a Metallica video in the same post … welcome to the dichotomy that is my life.


Backofpack 3/19/09, 1:53 PM  

Hey Donald! It's getting a little light here in blogger land isn't it? I think everyone is facebooking - as you mentioned a few posts back.

Anyway, take a look at Leslie's blog - she had a crazy adventure down your way that you might get a kick out of. This is the link to the first post:

Eric and I met her up at Orcas '08, then at the Death Race last summer. We're going up to Banff for another one of her crazy adventures this summer.

Looks like your WS plan is on track - I look forward to finally, finally getting to follow you there this year!

Robb 3/19/09, 4:26 PM  

Glad to see you giving a shout-out to Pacific Coast Trail Runs... they truly are the best out there.

robtherunner 3/20/09, 6:32 AM  

I think I might have been most shocked to see Big Sur on your schedule again. And you're going to run a race rather than race it. Very interesting...

Dave 3/20/09, 8:20 AM  

Our Dichotomies don't stray to far apart...anxious to hear about the adventures ahead.

good grace


Juls 3/20/09, 9:01 AM  

That is quite an impressive list. I was originally thinking of doing my 1st ultra (50K) at Quicksilver but now think that it is seriously too close given the climbs. I hope to do the 25K again. I'll have to hang around and look for you if I can. I'm now thinking of PCTR's Sequoia 50K that occurs in July. I'm hoping to train up for a good 1st ultra experience.

jen 3/20/09, 3:07 PM  

Sounds like a perfect build-up. I am glad to hear you are running Big Sur again! I hear they ended up with tons of extra strawberries without you last year. :)

Anonymous,  3/20/09, 4:54 PM  

How do you know what the words are to Metallica's songs?
Pop Culture Clueless in CV

mindy 3/21/09, 4:42 AM  

Glad to hear you're running Big Sur again! Looking forward to reading each and every race report. It's going to be a good summer.

Annette 3/21/09, 1:18 PM  

Good luck with your race plans - God willing, right? Yea, we usually don't know what's best for us. Good thing someone is looking out for us. :)

Looking forward to reading those race reports again.

Jennie Unger Eddy 3/21/09, 4:39 PM  


Guess who I sometimes see running in Marin... Lars Ulrich!

I will absolutely let you know the next time we are in your hood... we had been down there for a class Chris took out at Laguna Seca.

I hope your training is going well! I did my first Pacific Coast Trail Run of the year today - Pirates Cove. I am SORE. I admire all you ultra distance runners. They were FLYING past me, including Rick.

I am hoping for you all that no issues plague Western States!

21stCenturyMom 3/21/09, 4:56 PM  

Maybe I'll have to work the aid station at the Diablo 50 again just for old time's sake. We can refer to last year as the inaugural Mt. Diablo meet up and this year as the 2nd annual. Hopefully it won't be so stinking hot!

Rainmaker 3/22/09, 7:18 AM  

Very nice schedule. And a very very busy spring and early summer.

I'm looking forward to following you through these - especially WS.

Anne 3/22/09, 7:16 PM  

I'll keep my fingers crossed that everyone (and everything) behaves during fire season so this time you can finally knock Western States off your bucket list.

Gretchen 3/23/09, 11:01 AM  

Glad to know I'm not the only one who just posted a schedule. Looks like a good one! Perhaps we'll have a chance to say hi before Diablo. Don't post any pictures of my butt this time, okay? ;-)

Formulaic 3/23/09, 11:06 AM  

I know you just finally shook Bannister out of your system but..


Spokane Al 3/24/09, 7:41 AM  

I am glad to hear that there are almost more mountains in your running future. I look forward to reading about each as you reach the other side.

Dori 3/25/09, 12:26 PM  

I'm looking forward to reading your Big Sur race report. I'll be out of the country or I'd be running it. Have fun!

Alisa 3/25/09, 1:13 PM  

My husband is thinking of running an ultra at some point. I always like to read about which races others are doing. I think some of those may be a bit hard core for a first timer.

I don't think ultra's are in my future. I need to sub 5 on a marathon before I even think about one.

Anonymous,  11/22/09, 3:40 AM  
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