This time of year is one of my favorites, a time that I look forward to throughout the year. It is ironic, given how much I enjoy running, that I get so much enjoyment from a time when I do hardly any running at all. Perhaps it is the joy that the little boy in me gets from the Christmas season. I think a big part is that I don't have a schedule to follow - training or otherwise, which provides a much need mental break for me.
At the same time, I am anxious about the coming year and the goals I am already setting for myself in my mind. January is going to be a painful month with lots of track and tempo runs as I get ready for the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I haven't tried to race a marathon since I started ultras (not that my previous performances were races per se) and am curious as to what kind of time I can put up. I am hoping for something in the 3:30 range. While this is very slow for many of my blog readers, it would be a huge improvement for me and would be a terrific way to start off the year. I am not going to obsess about the time in training (yeah right) and will be satisfied as long as I give my best effort (and don't wimp out).
One thing I have learned from running ultras and the people I have met is that success can measured differently in each race. Those that can adapt as conditions change (including just having a bad day) are stronger both mentally and physically since they can "find the other gear" or be smart enough to even shut it down. As I look ahead to 2008, I want to continue to develop as a runner and improve my "running IQ" by continuing to run smart races that are within myself and maybe a couple that are on the fray.
The BIG goal for year will once again involve the 100 mile distance. I am going back to Massanutten to try and improve on the 35:02 I posted this year. It was my first 100 and that is a TOUGH course, but I still left a lot out there. I learned some very valuable lessons during the race that I have applied to shorter races but am anxious to see how I can improve. I also plan to adjust my training some to better prepare me. I am also going to try another 100 miler this summer - hopefully Cascade Crest in August. I want to try the longer distance multiple times in a year and also want to experience a race "out west" and Cascade Crest allows for both of these.
Stay tuned for a 2008 preview of sorts where I will provide more details about my goals for 2008. For now, I plan to enjoy a little time off from running so I will go into 2008 with a renewed focus and lots of energy for the miles that lay ahead.