The title pretty much says it all. Been kinda dead around here for, oh, 9 months or so. Which basically coincides with the neverending winter we had here in South Dakota. So, yeah, that's my excuse. It was too cold.
Okay, quick recap of what's gone down since the new year. First, and most importantly, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Not running related at all, but something that I honestly never thought I would witness in my lifetime. I've been a Seahawks fan since I was 7 or 8, so around '85 or '86, and I've seen a lot of really bad Seahawks football over the years. One near miss in Super Bowl XL and a few decent season before and after, but a lot of suckitude overall. The Hawks' sorry history, combined with hearing non-stop smack from all the damn Broncos fans around here, made it gloriously fun to watch the Hawks completely dominate in the Super Bowl. Boring as hell to the rest of America, but I was glued to the TV for every second of it.
I also started brewing my own beer. Again, not directly running related, but since so many runners (or at least runners I know) also drink beer, the two kinda go hand in hand for me. So now the free days that aren't spent running are spent brewing or bottling. And drinking beer (i.e., "rehydrating") of course. It's the ultimate recycling program, really. Drink a beer, clean the bottle, refill the bottle. I'm saving the earth one beer at a time. Future generations will thank me.
On to running matters, I tossed my name into two lotteries this past fall/winter. Didn't get drawn for Hardrock, nor did I really expect to (or really want to this year, honestly....just trying to build up some points for future lotteries). I did, however, get drawn in the Cascade Crest lottery, so I'll be heading to Washington (Seahawks Country!!) in August. I've wanted to run this race for a few years now, just based on the pictures I've seen, not to mention its reputation as one of the "old school" 100s. As a bonus, I have family in the Seattle area (hence my Seahawks fandom) and my dad lives relatively nearby in Oregon, so I'll get to visit some aunts/uncles/cousins I haven't seen in years, and my dad is going to crew for me, witnessing his first ultra in the process.
As for other races, Ryan and I take a trip to a 50 miler somewhere every spring. The last two years, that race has been Quad Rock in Ft. Collins. This year, we decided to shake things up a bit and flew down to AZ to run the legendary Zane Grey 50. And legendary it was. All winter long, as I trained in blowing snow and sub-zero windchills, I kept thinking that there was no way I would be prepared to run a 50 miler in the AZ heat in April (and when I say "heat", anything over 60 qualifies if you're an unacclimated South Dakotan who has just emerged from a 7 month winter). Turns out that wasn't a problem. We ended up running in what has got to be the coldest Zane Grey in the 25 year history of the event. Temps in the mid-30s, wind, rain, sleet, hail, snow, flooding creeks, mud....other than a plague of locusts (it was too cold for locusts) and the four horsemen (too muddy and rocky for horses), it had just about everything. Conditions were bad enough that they ended up stopping everyone at the mile 34 aid station, so it basically became the Zane Grey 50K. It was a good decision given the weather and I was more than happy to call it a day at that point. Of course, the next day we were golfing in Phoenix on a 75 degree, bluebird sky day.
The only other ultra "race" I have planned this summer is Bighorn. I signed up for the 50K right away when registration opened because I knew it would fill fast, but as it turns out I'm gonna be a DNS in that one. When I found out my friend Mike was planning on running the 100, I immediately offered up my services as a pacer. This excites me much more than the idea of running the 50K because, for one, I've already run the 50K, but have never paced, although I've wanted to for awhile now. Also, although I know Mike doesn't feel I owe him a debt, I would like to return the favor for him pacing me for the last 13.5 miles of Leadville last year after he had already paced 2nd place finisher Nick Clark earlier (much earlier) in the day. Hey, Mike might be able to claim that he's the only person who paced two runners in the top 150 at Leadville last year, now that I think about it. He should probably get a buckle or something for that. In any case, since I've run each of the available distances at Bighorn over the past 5 years, hopefully I'll be able to impart some course knowledge that will help Mike join the prestigious Rusty Spurs Club (sub-24, for those not down with the Bighorn lingo). Either way, there will be homebrew at the finish line.
And, of course, I'll be co-directing the 4th annual Black Hills 100 a couple of weeks after Bighorn. In the past three years of the race we've had severe thunderstorms in 2011, unseasonable heat in 2012, and damn near perfect conditions last year. Given how this year has gone weather wise, I would not be shocked to see snow this time around. You heard it here first.
Stay tuned for my next blog post. Could be next week. Could be 6 months from now. Ya never know...