Monday, December 7, 2015

2016 Race Planning

It's official: I have run my last race for 2016. I finished up the year with my annual tradition of doing the Hot Chocolate Run, a local 5K that benefits the charity Safe Passage. I love this event -- it's a huge community collaboration that brings out many friends all of whom are supporting a charity that offers help to families who are effected by domestic violence. It's the one bit of fund-raising I do in my personal life each year. This December, I was able to raise $136!

With the 2015 season in the books, it's time to start planning for next year's races. This spring, I will be taking a Saturday afternoon class for my Master's degree program. This means that certain races I loved this year, like the Shale Hill Polar Bear 8 Hour and F.I.T. Challenge won't be in the cards for 2016. Disappointing for sure, but I will be able to catch up with those races in 2017 after I earn my degree, and there are many other races to enjoy. (Plus, my Saturday afternoon class is Descriptive Cataloging, and I am excited enough for it to make up for missing a couple of races.)

I like to plan, and, as a result, I tend to register for races as soon as possible. This helpful for keeping costs down, extra key in a sport that is as costly as obstacle course racing can be. My 2016 year will be nicely divided between #racelocal OCR events and some more running. This year I've found myself running a lot on trails without thought to mileage, pace, or anything other than spending time on my feet enjoying myself as much as possible. This has kind of refocused how I think of running. It's a good activity for relaxing and something I find I am doing more of and enjoying more when I do it. OCR will always be my main love, but I like the idea of continuing to mix in some running into my 2016 race schedule.

2016 Race Schedule:

January: Blizzard Blast (OCR) -- Sunday, January 31
Description: This is a fun 5K obstacle course race done in central Massachusetts in January. It's a nice off-season race that really nails "fun in the snow!" This year, for added whimsy, our team will be doing this race in onesie pajamas. I am usually not one for dressing up, but I am going to try my best for this. Look forward to seeing pictures of me in a Totoro outfit come January. Occasionally, even I think it's good to take a break from routine and do something out of character!


May: Ragnar Cape Cod (Running) -- Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14
Description: Ragnar is a relay run that takes place over two days and has runners covering approximately 200 miles. The Cape Cod race goes from Hull to Provincetown. 12 runners each take turns running three legs total. For me, Ragnar Cape Cod has become an annual tradition; one that I very much look forward to. In May of 2014, this was my first race with the NE Spahtens. It's a sleepover meets a road race. Great times with fun people are a certainty for my third Ragnar with the Spahtens!


May: Bone Frog Challenge (OCR) -- Saturday, May 21
Description: If there was a hometown OCR for me, Bone Frog would be it. The race is located at nearby Berkshire East Mountain Resort, around 45 minutes from my house. Bone Frog Challenge is a 9 mile obstacle dense race put on by Navy SEALs. Last year, it was one of my favorite races. With over 50 unique obstacles, it's a must-do race for anyone in New England.


June: Viking Obstacle Race (OCR) -- Saturday, June 11
Description: Viking Obstacle Race is held on a fixed course at Sunny Hill Resort in the Catskills of New York. Last spring, I was lucky enough to do a free training day at Viking. I loved it. The race dates for Viking Obstacle Race have never worked for me because they've conflicted with Tough Mudder. As much as I love the unique obstacles of Tough Mudder the cost compared with other races combined with the ratio of hiking to obstacles is making me take a year off. Will I miss Tough Mudder? Sure. But also, not really; I am looking forward to Viking. With over 30 obstacles on a 5.5 mile course, I'm looking forward to this race.


July: Shale Hill Relay (OCR) -- Sunday, July 17
Description: Anyone who reads this blog probably already knows that Shale Hill is likely my favorite place for racing and training. Last year's team relay was a blast! Get a team of three and tackle the ultra-challenging 6.5 mile 60+ obstacle Shale Hill course. Each person gets a third. Camaraderie = A+


August: 24 Hours of Shale Hell (OCR) -- Saturday, August 8 and Sunday, August 9
Description: Shale Hill's 24 hour race will be my anchor OCR of 2016. Last year, I did the 8 hour version and completed 2 laps for a total of 60+ obstacles and 13 miles. This year, I am going for the full 24 hours. It's too early yet to set lap goals. Three? Four? Time to research best-practices for training. Either way, this endurance event will be a good set-up for the rest of my plans for the year.


August: Ragnar Trail New England (Running) -- Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27
Description: Ragnar but on trails instead of the road. Think camping instead of time in a van. Think running through the woods instead of on streets. Sounds like a dream! When I got invited to join one of the Spahtens teams and take an open spot, I knew it was an opportunity I could not pass up. I cannot wait!


October: Newport Marathon (Running) -- Sunday, October 9
Description: 26.2. Yes, the time has come to commit to the challenge of the marathon. Of all the races I have planned for 2016 this one is the one that gives me pause. I've done OCRs that have taken me seven, eight, or ten hours, but it's the type of exercise I am optimized for. The marathon will require a special level of commitment. I'm reviewing training plans now and have cleared my Saturday mornings (before my Saturday afternoon graduate school classes) for my long runs. Let's do this!


For now, that's the plan. As you can see, my winter and spring are pretty low on races so as to accommodate my class schedule. If a Sunday race or two pops up, I might be tempted. As always, I am waiting on signing up for must in the fall until I see what my course schedule is like for the semester. Additionally, the marathon -- long awaited -- is a big commitment. My longest runs will be in September and, as such, I want to keep my racing in that month to a minimum. I am already planning about how I'll work around my August events for the marathon training, though I think that the endurance focus of those events should dovetail nicely with the training I need to do for my 26.2 attempt. 

Bottom line: It promises to be a fun year with some great challenges. There will be new experiences, such as the marathon and Ragnar Trail, and also enjoyment of classic favorites, like the races at Shale Hill. Now, I look forward to planning my training and then getting to get out to some races with the Spahtens!

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