|Downhill running fun (although this was last year at Crate Lake)|
I've been working hard in recent weeks to bring together the inaugural US Skyrunning Series and am really happy with the races I've been able to join together across the country. This is now up and running at this website although the races themselves don't all have websites with full details and are not necessarily open for registration yet.
In the background I was also training to lower my marathon time after the slower running through the summer. I've always enjoyed all forms of running and come from a background of ball sports so it's only more recently that I stopped sprinting everywhere and started endurance running. Roads, trails, mountains, deserts, jungles - they all appeal to me - and if I stick to just one I miss the others. I'll admit that I have the most fun running when flying down the side of a mountain on technical trails, but it was good to get back into road running again too.
I decided to run the net downhill Tucson Marathon in Arizona, starting at 4,800ft and ending at 3,000ft, hoping I'd be able to cheat my way to a faster time. However, a combination of a lot of travel (including to The Running Event in Austin, TX, for Scott Running which was extremely interesting), some overly hard (but fun) runs and a headwind on the (surprisingly) rolling course meant I was well off my target. In the training I included some hard downhill sessions on Mt Diablo to really hammer my legs and these led to some painful sports massages! I did manage to destroy my 5k, 10k, 10 mile and half marathon bests on Diablo so was optimistic about Tucson. I felt relatively ok doing a 29:40 10k but the 48:51 10-miler was one of the hardest runs I've ever done. I wish I could hit those kind of paces on the flat and have even more respect for the Olympians who cruise at these speeds.
Tucson started with a fast downhill mile with the wind in 5:11 but then turned into the wind and things just got worse from there, holding on to a 2:37:03 with a poor positive split of 1:17/1:20. I usually consider anything over 1 minute slow down to be a race that was screwed up. However, it was my fastest marathon of the year and gives me confidence that the Grand Slam didn't break me!
So onwards to next year with just the Walnut Creek Half Marathon this weekend on my doorstep before some snowy running in Oregon over Christmas. I'm planning on including a couple of articles about Grand Slam and Leadville training before the end of the year so will post them when I get around to it.
Hope everyone has a great Christmas or whatever festivities you're celebrating. 2013 was very memorable for me and I can't believe how much happening in the sport in general. It's an exciting time to be an ultrarunner.