I had my highs (Hellgate/Sun Mountain/Leadville) and my lows (Steamboat/Sageburner/Barr Trail) but in all I had a truly great time. I'd say that I learned a lot, but that would be understating it. We all get the question ("why do you do it?"), but I've found it's easier just to not answer that, or that I can't answer that. I'm not entirely sure why I choose to devote so much time to such an endeavor as ultrarunning, but I enjoy it, and that's the short answer I give if I have to.
Some of the better moments this year were the most simple. There was a run I did with my best friend/training partner Gunner outside of Twin Lakes, CO where we laid down on the side of the Colorado Trail at 10pm and just watched the stars for a while and chatted. Pretty cool to be out in the middle of nowhere with no light pollution and watch stars (well until what sounded like a bear...). Then a week later, pacing the unflappable Leila DeGrave to a stellar Top 10 finish in her first 100 miler. Good stuff.
I met a lot of great people, most much faster and far more accomplished than I, but found them to all be normal guys with a similar passion. Seemingly, the faster you are, the more humble you become. I wonder if this has any relevance to the fact that all of these guys have truly gone to the edge of the human body's limits, and sometimes they've gone beyond. I think that my experience in Steamboat set me up for a great dose of humility and as well a good run at Hellgate. As cliche as it is, we learn far more from our failures than we do from our successes.
As I consider 2011, I have a few races in mind that I mentioned prior, but also some that I might just bail on. So far the only races I think I know that I'm doing are Way Too Cool and Big Horn. I still haven't decided on Leadville, though I'm leaning towards it. I think I'll think it over for a week or two still before making my decision. I applied for the Runner's Roost Elite Team, but I don't honestly think they'll take me, they've shaken up their sponsorship program so I may not fit the bill anymore.
I would love to spend some more time in the Pike National Forest next year; a place I'm so happy to have found. Opportunities seem endless there. Anyways, I'm bouncing around a lot, but I think most runners are this time of year. No racing, no real certainty, and plenty of time to think makes us antsy.
Here is one thing I'm certain I'll do next year: I will put myself in a position to achieve things most people may not agree that I'm ready or prepared to do. This was (partly) the reason I ran so well at Hellgate, I trusted what I had done in my training, and accepted the fact that the unknown could either support or fail me. I am fine dealing with "failure" (if you can call it that), but I want to at least be in a position to do something great. I could run 9:30 mountain 50's the rest of my life and that would be fine, but I want to see if I can run them faster, much faster. If that means I blow up and limp home in 10 or 11 hours, so be it. I don't think I will ever be as fast as the truly fast guys who are our there winning every weekend, but I want to find out how truly fast I can be in the mountains over long distances.
I think I'll develop some goals because I think they're good to have, but I won't feel all that tied to them. I'll have to go back and check, but I don't think I achieved any of the goals I had set out for 2010! Primarily, I want to have a good work/run/life balance and be as good a runner as being a good father/husband will allow.