Friday, December 26, 2008

I am it, again, tagged!

I have yet to respond to a tagging of last June but this one is about the 2009 running plans so it cannot wait. Thank you Rajeev and, by transitivity, Alan for the opportunity. In turn, I will try to reach out to some out of state runners, and aiming pretty high at ultra elites, and bloggers, hoping to learn more about their own 2009 plans: Anton Krupicka (we discussed the possibility of him running a few European races this year), Scott Jurek (I recently learnt that he will go to the Coastal Challenge, will he come back to Western States, like Lance Armstrong to the Tour de France?), Karl Meltzer (he is coming to WTC! But what's next before his return on the Appalachian Trail in 2010?). I'm also taking the opportunity to extend the tagging game and tradition to two runners in France, to see if the virus will take over there: Stéphane Couleaud and Vincent Toumazou.

Here are the questions:
1. What was your 2008 running highlight and running low?
2. What race are you secretly planning on doing (or contemplating) for 2009 but haven't made it known to the public....until now.
3. Where would you like create and direct an ultra that (to your knowledge) none exists?
4. What is your "primary" race for 2009?
5. What is the most exciting thing about your upcoming race schedule?
6. List your planned races for 2009
1. What was your 2008 running highlight and running low?

My best 2008 experience was to win Ohlone again, with my parents present on the finish line this year. It was hot and I was excited to get some heat training before Western States as well as being a defending champion. Of course, I know I was lucky with Jon (Olsen) and Graham (Cooper) not showing up that day despite being registered. I'm sure competition will be fiercer in 2009, despite the new date coinciding with the Western States Memorial Day weekend training camp.
The Coastal Challenge was such a new and unique experience, it was of course another big highlight. The second place at Rio Del Lago 100-mile felt good too. Also, I particularly enjoyed a few self-supported ultras in several regions of France last July. Overall, my 58 blog posts this year contain many positive running stories, I feel blessed!

The lows have been mostly associated with asthma (or pulmonary edema?) crisis, especially at American River and Helen Klein, where I had to walk many of 50 miles. There has also been my stupid injury of August (Skyline 50K) and the following disturbed race schedule of August, culminating with my first DNF, at the French Nationals of road 100K. I'm glad this part of the year was quickly erased by the successful Rio Del Lago run.

2. What race are you secretly planning on doing (or contemplating) for 2009 but haven't made it known to the public....until now.

Well, this is the issue with 2009: moving to IBM in February, I really don't know what my travel plans are going to be anymore. Like I say, running is only my second job, so the first one will dictate. With that, I decided to focus on our local Pacific Association USA T&F Ultra Grand Prix, assuming there will be little business travel involved or authorized (IBM is a big advocate of online and virtual meetings).

With that said, I registered for the Napa Valley marathon, which will be held on my birthday! Interestingly enough, I have run Boston in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 but I don't have a marathon qualifier in 2008 to run 2009 (despite running a marathon almost every weekend, now!). Furthermore, Boston will be on the Monday following Ruth Anderson, the race organized and directed by Rajeev again this year, which I plan to run for the third time.

So, overall, nothing fancy until July at least. If the season goes well, I hope to compete in a 24-hour event in the second half of the year. Oh, and maybe JFK too for a first East Coast ultra trail race?

3. Where would you like to create and direct an ultra that (to your knowledge) none exists?

I will play the sustainability card on this question and go for an ultra no farther than... in Cupertino. Rancho San Antonio, Black Mountain, I would love to see some competition on my training "play ground."

4. What is your "primary" race for 2009?

That has to be Western States. Although I realize that, just saying this increases the pressure. What I liked with my first Western States (2007) is that my main goal was just to finish under 24 hours, alleviating quite some pressure and allowing me to have a stressless race. Actually, with the level of competition to be expected this year, with 2 batches of Montrail Cup events winners, better not try hanging with the front runners this year. Given the low odds that I will enter Western States again in the coming years, I feel my main goal should be to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. I'm especially excited about having Max pacing me from Foresthill down to the river, as originally planned last June, with Adam (Blum) taking over on the far side of Rucky Chucky for the last 22 miles through the night. Besides going back on the Western States trail, additional excitement comes from all the ultra starts who will line up this year. More keep being added to the list, starting with Marco Olmo the winner of UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) for the past two years, at age 58 and 59!

5. What is the most exciting thing about your upcoming race schedule?

Hum, would the lack of surprise fit the most exciting criteria? ;-) Actually, nothing really fancy in my plan so far, we'll have to see what can be added during the second semester.

6. List your planned races for 2009

Ok, by now, you know about the Grand Prix. The list of events is not official yet but, based on last year's schedule, here is what my plan should look like.

  1. Jed Smith 50M
  2. Nappa Valley Marathon
  3. Way Too Cool 50K
  4. American River 50M
  5. Big Bunny Fun Run 5K
  6. Ruth Anderson 100K
  7. Miwok 100K (if I am lucky with the lottery)
  8. Quicksilver 50M
  9. Ohlone 50K
  10. Western States 100M
  11. Skyline 50K
  12. Headlands 50K
  13. Trailblazer 10K
  14. Firetrails 50M
  15. Helen Klein 50M
  16. Quad Dipsea 28M
You see, no big scoop, yet a busy ultra schedule. Let's see how the Big Blue story unfolds and allows for some additional variety in this program!

All the best to you for 2009, work, family and running-wise!


Anonymous said...

Heureux de se remémorer, photo à l'appui, ta victoire de Ohlone!

Scott Dunlap said...

Great schedule, Jean! Looks like I will be seeing you a bunch this year (Jed Smith, WTC, AR, RA, Boston, Miwok, States). Well, seeing the back of your head anyway.

Happy New Year!


Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

I might see you at Skyline, Headlands, and/or DC Firetrails.

All of those are under consideration for me, especially firetrails as my first 50 miler.

It's difficult for me to plan that far out.