Monday, November 19, 2007

2007 Ultra Season Review

With the completion of Mountain Masochist on November 3rd, my 2007 ultra season is complete. This past year has been my first full year of ultras since "discovering" the sport last summer. It has been a tremendous year of "firsts" and I am very pleased with both my development as a runner and the improved fitness I have achieved. In short, 2007 was comprised of 7 ultra races, each of which played an integral part in my continued development as a runner. The focus for 2007 was the Massanutten 100 (MMT), my first crack at running a 100 mile race. Below are some notable highlights of my 2007 season.

January - completed the Frosty 50K and improved my PR at the distance by more than 30 minutes. Also used the race as a speed workout as I prepared for MMT.

February - completed Horton's Holiday Lake 50K and for the first time, ran strong at the end of a race rather than totally falling apart.

March - ran the Bel Monte 50K and completely fell apart. First there was an electrolyte issue and then dehydration. Managed to finish but ran significantly slower than I hoped.

May - completed the Massanutten 100, by far the hardest physical feat I have ever undertaken. The course was brutally challenging but crossing the finish line was surreal.

I took a much needed 6 week break from running during the second half of May and June. My body and mind needed the break and I was able to resume training in July with renewed energy and determination.

August - completed the Laurel Valley Trail Run, my first "unsupported" race and a huge mental toughness test. This was one of the more scenic courses I have run but the view was costly - 100+ degree temps!

September - ran the GEER 100K as a "comparison" to last year (this was my first trail ultra in 2006). In my opinion this was my best performance of the year. Although my time was roughly the same as 2006, the course was about 90 minutes slower (evidenced by comparative mid pack times). Also, I put together a "complete" race and felt strong from start to finish.

November - ran Mountain Masochist for the second time and was able to run 20 minutes faster than in 2006 despite not running near as hard. This was my 10th ultra race in less than 18 months.

My race times are still not where I want them to be but I am having a ton of fun and realize that improving my performance is going to take some time. I learned a tremendous amount during the year as I gained something from every race that I did. In a nutshell, I feel as though I became a much smarter and confident runner throughout the year. Two things I really hope to improve on next year are leg turnover and toughness. The first will require a little alteration to my training methods. The second will get better with time. I just need to learn to "suck it up" more during the "dark spots" in races. Much easier said than done. Overall, I am really excited about 2008 and hope to reap many benefits from all that was learned throughout 2007.

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