It’s been a bit of a whirlwind spring! My training has been going really well, and my mileage has stayed close to my self-assigned schedule. I’ve kept my mileage up, and added in some additional strength and conditioning activity that will hopefully come in hand later this year. However, I have yet to toe the line at a race. For whatever reason, my schedule just worked out this way, and it seems like an eternity ago that I lined up in Arizona. This is my round about way of saying that I’m itching to get back to “racing”! As I watched the live coverage of the Boston Marathon yesterday and yelled at the computer as Meb made the final turn down Boylston, I realized just how much energy I get from the race environment. I never go out to win a race, but there is just something about being surrounded by other like-minded runners, all setting off on an adventure, that brings me a sense of joy that not much else can equal. This coming weekend, I’m heading down to Independence, KS for the Flatrock 101K and to kick off my spring race season, and I couldn’t be more excited. However, a few other thoughts have been rumbling around in my head, probably because I’ve had the time to let them rumble!
Wind Training– I’ve gotten in some good hill training, but more of my resistance work seems to have come from the wind this spring. Winter and “spring” in Iowa leaves much to be desired, but there’s something to be said for gutting out an 8:00 pace into a 40mph headwind. I’m not going to be dealing with any major elevation changes in the coming months, but I’m confident that I’m ready for much of what will come my way.
Hoka One One Decisions– I picked up the Stinson Evo Trail shoes a few months ago and I have over 100 miles on them at this point. I bought them with ultras in mind, and trail ultras at that. They are certainly the most comfortable shoes I’ve worn, but I’m still not entirely sold on them for my long distance endeavors. I’m not entirely sure, but I think the fact that I’ve been running in much lighter shoes (Montrail Fluid Flex, Mizuno Wave Elixir, Sayonora) has left the Hokas feeling a bit heavy. My legs have felt more sluggish than normal on some longer runs. However, I know it’s a different story when you are out on the trail and have been at it for hours upon hours. I’m fairly certain I’ll bust them out this weekend, but timing will be key.
Gear Considerations– I’m always thinking about the best gear choices for the run, and this race is no different. My biggest decision will be whether or not to wear my Salomon race vest, or stick with the more minimal Ultraspire Quantum race belt and a couple of handheld bottles. The course is obviously supported so I’ll have access to water and nutrition choices. However, the additional options that the vest provides might be worth it. I’ll give my Petzl Nao headlamp some work as well, which should make for some interesting trail miles!
Trail Trepidations– I live in the middle of Iowa. It’s been a long winter and there aren’t many accessible trails to begin with around here. This means I’ve spent far less time on the trails than I would have liked coming into this race. On top of this, the course description makes it sound as though this will be a rather rocky and technical course. My road miles will keep my legs going, but I’m going to have to snap into trail navigation mode pretty quickly to avoid spending some quality time on the ground!
This is the second running of the Flatrock 101K. The winning time last year was 12:07, which is not terribly fast. It’s a small field, and I’m sure it’s not drawing a huge crop of elite runners. However, this time still leaves me wondering just how long I’m going to be out there! No matter how long it takes, I’m wicked excited, and looking forward to having a great time doing what I love, and soaking up all of the energy that comes with a race environment.