I got to thinking last weekend, which usually gets me into trouble, about my goals but hey isn't that what long runs are for?
About two years back I set a goal of completing a marathon in every state by age 60. So my phrase has been 50 by 60, well it's still my goal so that hasn't changed. I started this goal at age 50 with 3 states complete and some 20 marathons run so I was pretty sure I could do it. I was just bored with running Grandmas (and paying way too much for hotels) and Twin Cities. My original plan was to click off 3, 4 or 5 states a year and just kind of meander my way there. It was and still is, just a matter of coordination and trying to keep the number between 3 and 5 as a way to manage the cash outlay and vacation days required. So now almost 2 years later with 10 states completed, I am thinking about adding a few more goals in addition to this goal which shouldn't matter except...
Before I get to that, let me back up a bit, as this started a couple weeks back when we had our annual company picnic (this time it was a cruise up the Mississippi on a steam boat). I was talking to a couple of co-workers and they got off on the topic of bucket lists. One guy wanted to do something with piranha in the Amazon and then he wanted to climb Mt. Everest. As he talked about other things on his list, I gave it some thought as I have never had a list and probably never will but as they continued to talk I thought about the things that I still want to do and surprise they relate to running.
I thought about it a lot more last Sunday and I came up with the following; first, finish my first 50 at Surf the Murph this fall. For Surf the Murph, I simply want to finish and I hope to do it in around 12 hours. I have plenty of training yet to do and weight to lose to get there but I think it is doable, heck I still have almost 9 weeks to get there. The problem is even if I complete Surf the Murph in 12 hours, that is the cutoff for most 50's so I will need more training and additional weight loss if I am ever going to move out from the back of the pack to where cutoffs aren't my main concern and focus.
Anyway, back to my list. I decided I am interested in running the Superior 100 or at least the 50 and then I am kind of intrigued by Western States. Why Superior, well it sounds like a course that I will hate and yet love and it is in Minnesota so I am just going to have to do it, yes I can probably just do the 50 and figure out the love/hate thing but the 100 would be the ultimate test and adventure. As to Western states, I remember reading about it years ago and thinking how nuts they were and yet I was intrigued and wondered what would motivate anyone to do such a thing. Run on trails all day, through snow, water, all night, why? Now that was before I had ever run a trail race, now I no longer think they are quite as nutty, maybe a little but not as much as I once thought.
Now back to my problem, if I try to squeeze in 50's and even consider doing the 100's over the next few years then I will have to suspend the 50 state thing as doing both just won't work. I have struggled this year with some minor injuries which I think are a by product of doing too many things at once and not having a real focus to my training. Also with the 50 state goal as my main focus, I can't take the time to run many of the regional races in Wisconsin or Minnesota such as Ice Age, Kettle, Glacial, FANS, etc....
This is the basis of my current conflict everything I want to do takes time and money and I have a limit of both. So I either need to give up on the longer trail races or do out of state ones to qualify as additional states and then I can't do too many local ones or give up on out of state marathons and focus on the regional trail races. Trying to do both would just cause stress and over training and injuries and stress and who knows what other bad things. My concern with out of state trail runs is since I am always teetering near cutoffs, the last thing I want to do is go and run the Grand Teton 50k or 50 and have an issue with the cutoffs. I know I can do marathons on roads with no issues concerning cutoffs but trail races, well to be honest they worry me. That said, I don't like running on roads very much anymore and large marathons have absolutely no appeal whereas trail events have appeal and they normally don't have too many runners.
So what I am thinking of doing is focusing on these local races for the next couple of years and seeing where it gets me. I can always run a marathon if an opportunity presents, they just won't be my focus. An advantage of training for the local trail races is they are closer to home so the expenses will be lower and easier to work into the budget and I could even throw in some of the shorter distance ones without feeling guilty as my goal would be to become a better trail runner.
Now, if I do make this detour, then, I will need to finish up my remaining 40 states as time allows, say wait until after age 54 or 55 and then get back to working on them in full force. I might just have to run 8 to 10 a year but that shouldn't be too hard if the money and time is there. So my thinking is after I complete Surf the Murph, I will continue to work on the weight and continue to train during the winter, take stock of where I am in the spring and then make the final call. If I go towards the regional ultra scene then I will have to try something like a 50 at Ice Age or Kettle and see if I can get my time down and I would probably try FANS to get a taste of running longer. After that well, there would be Superior and if my times got down I could qualify for Western States.
So as of this moment in time, I am thinking of not worrying about out of state marathons for a couple of years unless things just work out and we happen to be in a state where I need one and instead focusing all my attention on becoming a better trail runner and a true ultra runner.
So no decisions until after Surf the Murph as I may have a day that says maybe I wasn't cut out to run that far or maybe it will actually turn out well and I will think this is what I love to do or maybe somewhere in-between, regardless I kind of like the thought of taking a break from the states and instead focusing on all the races in the greater Minnesota area.