2017 has been a year of balance. I started the year recovering from a broken 3rd metatarsal in my right foot and I am ending it after dealing with some sort of mystery pain in the same spot as the break, which has left me walking to the finish line at times and even causing me to withdraw from other races. The balance has been to manage the pain through training and races while resting enough to heal the injury to get me to the finish lines.
In January, I decided to get back to running after breaking my foot the previous October. Mrs. C, another friend Dave Wiskowski and I accepted a generous offer from our friend Paul Sinclair to stow away on his boat for a ride over to Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California for our second go at the beautiful Avalon 50 Miler. The run was epic, as always, and we saw buffalo roaming freely along the course. The run was tough with little conditioning behind it, but to run again at all after a broken foot is truly a joyous feeling. I ended up finishing the 50 miles in 9:38:09 and was glad to have survived.
After being selected for a second year as an ambassador for the Los Angeles Marathon’s through race owners, Conqur Endurance Group, I opted to run one of their newest races, the Pasadena ½ Marathon. On a chilly and rainy morning, I toed the line at the Rose Bowl and gutted out a finish time of 1:42:38, which was good enough for 16th in my age group. I clearly still hadn’t found my groove or endurance.
Heading towards the Los Angeles Marathon in March, I knew I had to start dropping the weight, running hills and running with faster people again if I wanted a shot at a SUB 3 hour marathon. So Mrs. C went into action preparing my meals and I went into race mode as I dropped the weight and added the miles. Road marathons are a different sort of grind with high, fast miles mixed with fartleks, heart rate training and other speed-work. I did just ok in my preparation as I was using LA as a springboard for Boston. I ended up with a finish time of 3:27:16. This wasn’t exactly a barnburner, but it was progress and showed that I was within striking distance of getting that SUB3 in Boston.
Against my better judgment, because it was only 6 days after the Los Angeles Marathon, I chose to race my friend Sarah Mista’s awesome inaugural Rambla’s Run ½ Marathon. This just happens to be a pretty challenging trail race with a few technical trails to keep you on your toes. I finished in 1:57:37 and was lucky to have pulled through injury free.
So instead of just focusing on training for Boston, which was now less than a month away, I chose to race along side my Brother Mike who was running the Hollywood ½ Marathon. Again, my thought was to use this as a springboard to Boston, and it worked! My work was beginning to pay off as I saw my effort in the half marathon fall from a 1:42 in Pasadena in January to a 1:29:25 in early April in the streets of Hollywood. I was almost ready for Boston.
So the funny thing about the Boston Marathon is that you never quite know what to expect. I’ve seen rain, wind, freezing cold temperatures, been injured and have felt the heat there. And this was only my 4th time running it! This time we got the heat again. It wasn’t so bad at the start, but this was my first time starting in wave 2, which starts 25 minutes after that actual race gun goes off. So those 25 minutes you get the sun coming up higher and the temperatures rising. My saving grace was that I was in the very front of wave 2 and, therefore, had wide-open road to run in the beginning of the race. I pushed myself, but still came up short of my goal on the day with a finish time of 3:09:38. This was my 19th Boston qualifying time (BQ-15:22) but still not the SUB3 I’ve been chasing in Boston.
Mrs. C and I celebrate our anniversary in April. We tied the knot 4 days after Boston and this year decided to spend our anniversary in Europe on the way to run the London Marathon a mere 6 days after Boston. Oh, and for fun, we threw a side trip to Paris in the middle of the two races. Paris was awesome but London was a party! There were so many people running that it wasn’t exactly a PR course and I certainly didn’t expect to run fast. But somehow those English fans brought it out of me. I cruised the city of London in search of a party and ended up with my second BQ of the week and 20th overall BQ as I finished in 3:20:46. (BQ-4:14) Bring on the TRAILS!!!
Mrs. C and I decided to get right back into the trails after our Boston to Paris to London adventure. After all, she was going for her first 100-mile finish, just over 3 months later at AC100, which was also my next race on the calendar.
So we went at it with everything we had. So on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, we chose to train along with some of the best runners out there at the Western States Endurance Run Training Runs. By “some of the best” I am referring to Jim Walmsley, Jamil Coury, Kaci Lickteig, Jeff Browning and Chris Mocko just to name some of them. We saw most of the WSER racecourse and it made this race one that we both want to race even more. This event had us fired up for AC100
After a tough training cycle, Mrs. C and I were as prepared as we think we could have been. It was my third time running the race after a 24:12 (Second Sunrise buckle) and a 22:58 (Silver-SUB24 buckle) the previous year. I trained Mrs. C the same way I trained. I taught her the course by sections. 25 miles at a time, we grinded out the vert and we learned the technical aspects of the course until we were, as Dominic Grossman, described it as a “ball in the groove”. You get to know the trails so well over time that you just roll through it. I personally felt fantastic. That is until I didn’t. At mile 80ish, just after the crest of Mt. Wilson, my foot hit a rock. One of about a million of them. But this one hurt me as I saw “white hot pain” in my eyes. I hobbled into the Idlehour Aid Station and knew I was in trouble. I was till well on SUB24 hour pace, but I had to stop to figure out if I could continue the final 17 miles of climb and then through the technical descent to the finish. I was at that aid station for over and hour and 15 minutes being tended to expertly by my friend Pete Sercel, before deciding to walk to the finish. I walked that last section of about 17ish miles in a lot of pain, and after being in around 10th place, was only passed by 9 people to finish in 19th overall. So I definitely I earned that 33 hour finishers (SOLO division) buckle to complete my AC100 set. I won’t run that race again but next year I look forward to pacing my friend, and fellow Orange Mud sponsored athlete, Jake Jackson to his first AC100 finish after he has paced me for 2 years and Mrs. C this year to our finishes on the final 25 miles of the course.
After AC100, I had just under a month to get my injury sorted before the most epic and anticipated race of my life. I had to find that balance between training and pain to get myself ready for the incredible journey to UTMB. I made a fun decision to buy myself a mountain bike for cross training while my foot wasn’t at 100%. Although it wasn’t a major part of my training for UTMB, it absolutely kept my legs moving enough to give them a shot to make the journey around Mount Blanc.
If you’ve never been or don’t know, you should Google the 3d video of UTMB. It’s the real deal. It’s about 33K of vertical elevation gain, about 105 miles long, travels through 3 countries and showed me every type of weather you can imagine in a mountain race. I saw rain, snow, hail, mud, both freezing and hot temperatures and even fog and wind. It was ridiculous. I loved it. But unfortunately, my foot didn’t and I re-injured it coming down a particularly muddy descent at around mile 60 of the race. So I took the DNF with pride knowing I had done my best to balance and get as far as I possibly could safely continue. It was totally worth it and I will put myself back in the lottery for next year’s race to try again.
After the DNF at UTMB, I worked on my rest, recovery and training for the next 8 weeks to give myself a shot at finishing the last race on the calendar for the year, The Javelina Jundred. I rested quite a bit, dieted well and ran terrain that was similar to the course. That would be sandy and rocky trails that had about 100 feet or so per mile in elevation gain and loss. When I wasn’t running, I was back on the mountain bike, grinding the gravel on some good climbs. I really think this helped my overall fitness and propelled me to the result I ended up with at Javelina. Biking will remain a staple in my cross-training moving forward.
After all of the epic elevation gains of the year, I was ready for a relatively flat course. Javelina Jundred isn’t exactly flat with around 7k in gain over 100 miles, but what it lack in gain it makes up for in heat! It’s hot AF out there in that desert and we saw temps in the 104º range on the day. I was pretty out of shape as I had been balancing more to the side of resting and recovering then I had in training and doing the right things with my diet. I admit I had gained about 15-20 pounds and was still trying to work them off as I went into the race. But all I wanted was a finish. A SUB24 buckle was a secondary goal. As the day went on though, it was pretty clear that I had done enough to get both goals as I finished in SUB22 for the 100 miler in the desert. It was a great race with excellent support from the organizers and, especially from Mrs. C who selflessly crewed many others along with me during the race.
Now with all of the races of the 2017 behind me, I decided to take a real rest from running in order to heal my foot properly and get ready for an amazing and epic 2018. But this time I’m gonna do my best to do all of the races on two feet instead of one. Imagine how that might work out for me. All that keeps going through my mind is lose the weight, run with faster people, run hills and eat the VERT every chance you get! Fingers crossed for WSER and UTMB lotteries!! See you in the dirt!