I am also very excited to have more time for racing. Even with the busy schedule I keep working full time and volunteering, fitness has been a real priority for me, so I would say that my training has not fallen by the wayside. This past year, I took the time to train for a marathon, and I qualified age group for the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC) in Toronto, Canada this October.
With the new year, it's natural to start thinking ahead around planning for 2017. My big race of the year will definitely be OCRWC in October. I am very excited to have qualified and am looking forward to my first visit to Canada, my long distance trip in ages (since I have been spending my money over the past almost decade on school and improvements to my condo). I will plan to have my training "peak" around this event, though I have a few other things on the calendar that are sort of goal races and a few more items on the calendar that I signed up for with fun in mind.
As of the writing of this post, my calendar is as follows:
- Blizzard Blast: Blizzard Blast is an OCR around 3 - 5 miles in length. It takes place during a rather fallow time of year on the racing calendar and tends to offer a fun time. I love their Keg Kingdom obstacle, which has you swinging from suspended kegs. Definitely not a goal race. Instead it's a fun time to see some of my NES friends during the "off season."
- Polar Bear Challenge: Those who know me are well aware that I need little excuse to want to travel to Shale Hill in Vermont. Their February 8 Hour Polar Bear Challenge is a staple race, which challenges you to do as many loops of their 10K course as you can. This is February in Vermont. I have, to date, only been able to take part in this race once, two years ago. (Last February I was unable to attend because I had a Saturday graduate school class.) It was one of the hardest races I have ever done. The course at Shale Hill usually takes me around 2.5 hours. One lap in February 2014 took me almost 5.5 hours. This year, I'm hoping the weather cooperates and I don't have three feet of snow to contend with. This would make two laps a possibility. Honestly, I am not a cold weather person. Any winter race, especially one on a course as challenging as Shale Hill is not going to be a goal race for me. The main aim here is to go our, play, challenge myself, and have some fun
- O'Hartford 5K: My dad and I both celebrate our birthday in March. Two years ago, Dad, my stepmom, Lisa, and I ran the O'Hartford. It was a lot of fun! This year, Dad and I are again planning to celebrate our birthdays in this manner. Dad, Lisa, Ben, and I all plan to have a fun time doing this festive 5K run before enjoying lunch with Mom. A great way to celebrate turning 32!
- F.I.T. Challenge: A perennial favorite F.I.T. is a race that I never miss. I love that it kicks off the "race season," as I consider the summer months traditionally my peak time for OCR. I usually make a decent effort at this race. It's a barometer for me for how I'm coming into the season fitness-wise and what a great way to get things started!
- Ragnar Relay Cape Cod: Way back in 2014, Ragnar Cape Cod was my first event with the NE Spahtens. Four Ragnars later (three road and one trail), Ragnar Cape Cod holds a special place in my heart. 200 miles, three runs -- one at night. This is always a signature event in my calendar. This year, it will fall a few weeks before my May marathon, meaning that I should be able to say, for the first time, "Give me any legs to run; I can do the distance."
- Vermont City Marathon: Last October's Newport Marathon was my first attempt at 26.2. I had the joy of spending lots of summer hours enjoying the outdoors, logging miles. The day of the big race, I was faced with some of the most undesirable weather one could have: driving rain, wind, and temperatures just above 50. It was cold, wet, and windy. Despite it all, I had a great time. When my friend and colleague, Amy, asked who would join her for her first marathon, the Vermont City Marathon, taking place over Memorial Day weekend, I thought, "Why not?" Wouldn't it be nice to run a marathon in nice weather? The challenge here is going to be motivating myself to log long runs in winter temperatures. I'm a summer person and my energy and desire to be outside flags in the winter. Hopefully, training for May's marathon will be the motivation I need. Training begins next week!
- Ragnar Trail New England: Last August, I attended my first Ragnar Trail. Again, I was lucky enough to be on the NE Spahtens Ninjas team. (This is the NE Spahtens sub-team that I'm a member of for the Ragnar races.) It was a tremendous experience -- a great display of teamwork and a definite physical challenge. There is no way that I would pass up the opportunity to do this event again this year. Bonus points for the fact that it takes place less than 40 minutes from my house!
- Tough Mudder New England: I've done Tough Mudder three times. Last year, based on the expense and bad timing in my race calendar, I passed up doing Tough Mudder at Mount Snow, Vermont. Honestly, I missed it. Tough Mudder is a blast. It's an experience, not a race. It is very different from anything else on my race calendar. The obstacles are unique and innovative. Tough Mudder is less about the physical challenge of obstacle course racing and more about overcoming fears and putting yourself in interesting situations. I love how Tough Mudder mixes it up and am looking forward to adding this race back onto my calendar for 2017.
- Savage Race: Formerly a race brand mostly devoted to the southern region, Savage Race is making its way to New England. I, for one, could not be more excited. Savage will be at Carter & Stevens Farm in Barre, less than an hour from my house. I cannot wait to check out the new obstacles they have.
- Viking Obstacle Race 8 Hour Ultra Viking: Last year's Viking Hill Obstacle Race where I did the Viking Double (i.e. two laps of the course) was one of my favorite events of the year. For 2017, I was planning to do the Viking Double again; however, as luck would have it, they are offering two options for race weekend. The traditional Viking Race (with doubles, elite, and open waves to name a few options) is taking place on Sunday. On Saturday, an eight hour option is available. I actually thought really hard about this one. To forgo the race is somewhat sad for me; however, I plan to do an eight hour race at Shale Hill in August, and I think that doing the eight hour option at Viking will prove and excellent tune up. Also, I think there is the option for me to actually be more competitive in the eight hour race, which features penalties instead of mandatory obstacle completion. I still am not confident I can make the Dragon's Tooth monkey bars, and to lose the Viking Double again for one obstacle would be sad. Let's see how the eight hours go. (And, yes, it's a goal of mine to eventually get Dragon's Tooth!)
- Shale "Hell" Obstacle Festival: Could it get more exciting than a weekend at Shale Hill. No, it could not. This year, instead of having many races spread over the summer, Shale Hill is offering a mega race weekend packed with a schedule of events. Basically, I want to do pretty much everything (other than the 72 OCR and 48 hour ultra run), but I had to pick just a few. I ultimately decided on three things. First, the 1 mile lottery relay on Friday, since it would allow me to check out their completely new 1 mile sprint course at a very reasonable price. Second, is the big event for me, the 8 hour race. I'm doing the open one and not the mandatory obstacle completion version. I'm a bit sad to not be doing the 24 hour race, but realistically, I would probably only do 12 of the 24 hours with good obstacle completion anyway, and I won't do more if I'm just running and not completing many obstacles. As a result, the 8 hour is perfect. I know I can get in two laps. I'd like to start out for a third -- if I make it in time great; if not, I'm happy to have that lap not count in my totals but would like to try to finish it anyway "for fun." We'll see. The final race I'm doing is the Sunday charity relay. I'll have plenty of downtime between my three events, and I plan to camp out both Friday and Saturday nights and spend the time between races volunteering, supporting other racers, and just relaxing. This event is not for many months, and I am already in countdown mode. Can't wait!
- Obstacle Course Racing World Championship: Blue Mountain, Ontario, Canada. This year, I qualified to race age group in the OCR World Championships. I have qualified for journeyman before, but this is the first time I've been able to qualify for age group. It's also the first fall that I won't be in school. OCRWC started in the fall of 2013. I started graduate school in fall of 2013. Hence, I've been unable to attend. 2017 might be the last time that OCRWC is in North America, and it's a fall when I have no graduate school obligations. I cannot be more excited. I have signed up for both the Friday 3K short course and the Saturday 15K standard distance course. (I have not signed up for the team relay on Sunday, thinking that I might sight-see that day, especially if my boyfriend, Ben, comes with me to Toronto. Also, I have never been to Canada and seeing some locations beyond Blue Mountain might be fun. Though doing more OCR could be fun too -- I'm of two minds on this!) OCRWC is most definitely my goal race for the fall. It features a unique system of required obstacle completion where when one fails an obstacle one loses a band. I'm hoping to come back from Toronto next fall with at least one band around my wrist.
I'm hopeful that 2017 will turn into a personally rewarding year. I'm currently laying the groundwork for what I hope to be a memorable and fun race season. Fingers crossed!