The most important thing I learned during my preparation for the War Eagle 50k is that I'm only good for about ten weeks of focused training. That means training for the Hearland 50 (on October 13th) won't officially start till August 4th. In the mean time, I'm free to run or not run, eat junk or not eat junk. As it is, I've been running quite a bit and not eating that much junk, but it's nice to have the option. It's also nice to think about races other than the one that's coming up. Here are a few I've been dreaming about:
Heartland 50: Half of the Heartland 100 course starting in Cassaday, Kansas, mostly on gravel roads. Tallgrass prairie with no shelter at all from whatever the weather is. The 100-milers start at 6:00 AM and the 50-milers at 6:00 PM, running west into the sunset. I'll check this dream off in October!
Rocky Racoon 50: Three 16 2/3-mile laps in Huntsville State Park, north of Houston. Mostly jeep trail and soft single-track with a 29-hour cutoff. I could walk it! It would be so much fun to have my mom and blog friends RDG and Soub at the finish. It would be especially fun to run with my sister on her first ultra just as she ran my first half marathon with me. (This would be a cakewalk for you, Jen. Seriously.)
Kettle Moraine Fun Run: 38-mile trail run near La Grange, Wisconsin, starting at 8:00 PM. It's actually the second section of the 100-mile course, the first section being the 100k race course which starts in the morning. I've never travelled in this part of the country and would love to see it!
Lean Horse 50: My old stomping grounds. This 50-miler takes place in the southern Black Hills on the Mickelson Trail, a rails-to-trails project with relatively shallow grade.
*Ouachita Trail 50: An Arkansas classic. A 50-mile out-and-back but if you're smoked at the 25k point, you can turn around and still get a time and a finisher's award for the 50k race. I'm told it can be damn tempting to do just that! From what I understand, they have an ambulance staged at the top of the hands-and-knees scramble up Pinnacle Mountain.
*Flat Rock 50K: Out-and-back on the Elk River Hiking Trail near Independence, Kansas. Everyone says this is super fun and a must-run for anyone with strong ankles. Their motto: If you look up, you go down!
*Virgil Crest 50: I would do some more shopping before travelling all the way to New York for a race, but from the reports I've read, I couldn't go wrong with this one. Lots of hills, I guess, and the pictures of the course are breathtaking!
!El Vaquero Loco 50k: A difficult course with 9000 feet of climbing at altitude near Afton, Wyoming. It's so remote all the aid stations have to be packed in. I'd love to get a taste the mountains away from the crowds at the Colorado races. The few photos I've seen are jawdropping!
!3 Days of Syllamo: Three-day stage race on the Syllamo Trail near Blanchard Springs in Northern Arkansas. Day one is 50k, day two is 50 miles, and day three is 20k, for a total of 96 miles with 26,000 feet of climbing and 26,000 feet of descending. Who wouldn't want to give that a try!
!Arkansas Traveller 100: Old-school 100 in the Ouachita National Forest consisting of a 17-mile loop on trails and an 83-mile out-and-back mostly on dirt roads, about 12,000 feet of climbing and 12,000 feet of descending. It's the only hundred I'm even thinking about, but I may attempt it as soon as 2013. A home-turf classic!
* Asterisk indicates a definite ass-kicker.
! Exclamation point is self-explanitory, I think.