I like to think of goals as either primary or secondary. The secondary goals are ways to help attain the primary goals. Artificial to be sure, but helpful for me.
The 200 K elevation goal is a secondary goal. I already talked about some primary goals – mainly enjoying the high mountains. Another primary goal which I am at least considering is becoming adept at distance running in the high mountains. Maybe even a shorter ultra. I’m somewhat conflicted about this goal. At the most basic level, I enjoy running in the mountains, and would like to get better at it. The reasons to hesitate with the more ambitious goal of an ultra, even a short one:
(1) First, two lesser concerns – age and genetics. The fact that I’m 55 is less of a limit that one might think. Genetics (the fact that, despite certain genetic advantages, I’m not naturally an elite endurance athlete) ditto. Even with those limitations, I could accomplish a lot. Certainly running a decent 50K is possible with dedication. But my age does make recovery a bit more of an issue. Though ironically genetics helps there, I think. I’ve managed to progress very quickly from hiking only to being a decent mountain runner. But at the moment I’m seeing my progress stall, and I think that part of the reason is age related slower recovery.
(2) Other life responsibilities – this is the big one. Career and Kassidy.
(3) Do I want it enough to make the necessary sacrifices? I’m not sure. “Sacrifices” might include less hiking, as well as less time for other leisure activities. It will also mean a lot of early morning runs in the fall and winter (much harder than in the summer), running in the dark, maybe a lot of boring treadmill running, etc. Also perhaps a little less “vertical” – but that’s not much of a sacrifice, more a matter of properly ordering priorities.
We’ll see. The “tests” – can I build up to a fall trail marathon (tentatively aiming for Moab), and can I sustain my training over the winter so that I’m not starting from scratch next March? If I can pass both tests, I’m aiming for the Dirty Thirty next June. And then maybe an attempt at Nolan’s 14 next summer – not with the goal of summiting all 14, but perhaps summiting nine, ending with Columbia.
With no hikes planned for the next week, I hope to start concentrating more on my trail running.