Reset, Reenergize, Refocus, Go!

In the last month I have ran a total of 8 days and 75 miles following my 31-mile drop at Fuego Y Agua.  For some perspective, 75 miles is roughly my weekly average.  The down time has been somewhat planned given the breathing issues I had in Nicaragua and somewhat forced with the new position I took at Hampton Creek Foods.  And over the course of this month as I have directed my focus and energy into my new job, I have had an opportunity to truly absorb the awesomeness of what we are going to accomplish.  What success can look like if we execute our vision.  What that can mean for the food system throughout the world.  A vision that unlike most other tech startups, will deliver meaningful innovation. A vision that I am outright fucking proud to be a part of.  This is a big shift from entering this year having my primary focus on my passion for running.  That focus made it very easy to draft up my optimal training schedule around the other priorities in my life.  Fuego Y Agua, Way Too Cool, Lake Sonoma, Miwok, Western Sates…  Barkley Marathons!  I had what I would consider a perfect 6-month lineup up races.   But things change…

So I am sitting here on a flight to one of our contract manufacturers; my mind shifting back and forth between ideas, tasks, plans, and goals for our supply chain and operations at Hampton Creek Foods.  Excited to work with a group of extremely smart and passionate individuals.  Content with my decision to pull out of Way Too Cool due to my breathing issue that I am working to correct.  Content with my decision to pull out of not only the hardest race in the world to get into, but the hardest race to complete; Barkley Marathons.  I have made huge adjustments to my plans already but have not come up with the master plan for tackling the big ideas I have for our supply chain and operations while also executing big plans for my running.  Something has to give, or does it? My plan is to, well, plan.  Set priorities, plan, monitor, and adjust.

  • Priority 1:  My well being and happiness, which at a high level translates into my health and the people in my life that I love.
  • Priority 2:  Hampton Creek Foods
  • Priority 3:  Running

When I list out my key priorities, running falls to the bottom of the list and it has not fallen this low on my list for a long time… scratch that… it has not fallen that low ever.  So what does priority 3 mean?  Something I love so much at priority 3 scares me.  It scares me because what if I cannot explore that passion in a way that fulfills myself?  But, why does priority 3 have to mean I will not have the time to fulfill that passion?  What would keep me from going big in all areas of my life? If running is priority 3, can I still make time for it in a way that makes me happy? Can I still compete?  Can I still explore?  What I arrived at is the reminder that if ultra running has taught me one thing, it is that limitations are simply a mental barrier we create and that those barriers can be broken in a big way.  I am reminded of this every time I tell someone unfamiliar with ultras that I run races that are 100 miles long.  So the answer is that nothing is stopping us from going big in all areas within our lives.  It just takes planning, focus, commitment, and the ability to deflect negative thought that might impact that.

So what does this mean for my running this year?  Well, it means to plan this year with focused intention and purpose.   I am going to focus on three key goals; one near term goal, one longer term, and one general goal  Goal 1, top ten at Western States.  Look at the entrant list this year and you will say I am crazy.  So, I may be crazy… cool.  Second is entering the Hardrock lottery for 2015, which means I need a qualifier.  As a birthday present to myself I am going to sign up for Run Rabbit Run 100.  My third goal is to make time to explore the Sierra’s and make sure I make time for the backcountry running adventures that I love doing.

-Marc

ps, Nicaragua was insane.  More pics and stories to come.

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March 5, 2014 · 1:49 pm

Fuego Y Agua Race Preview

Next week I will be setting off for Nicaragua to compete in my first international race; the Fuego Y Agua 100K.  Focusing at work has become increasingly challenging as this trip has approached.  I may or may not be writing this from my desk…  Not only am I excited about this epic race, but also our plans afterwards to explore the Western side of the country.   Treehouse hotels, beaches, surfing, coffee plantations, showing off my latin dance moves, jungles, volcanoes…  Damn I’m pumped.

I first heard about Fuego Y Agua after last years coverage on irunfar.com when a handful of fast runners showed up to race.  Nick Clark took the win and set a new course record.  I soon forgot about the race, until I started looking for an international race.  I made a goal starting this year that I would race overseas at least once per year.  I started looking at the big names like Transgrancanaria, UTMB, Levarado Trail, HK100, Etc…  Then I ran across Fuego Y Agua 100K.  The course… sick.  The flight… cheap.  The beer… cheaper.  I signed up immediately.

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Ometepe taken from http://www.irunfar.com and Photo by Ian Sharman

http://www.irunfar.com/2013/02/sean-meissner-and-the-fuego-y-agua-100k.html

http://www.irunfar.com/2013/02/2013-fuego-y-agua-races-preview.html

The weekend consists of 4 races; 3 running races at distances of 25K, 50K, and 100K.  The 4th is called the survival challenge and only had two finishers last year and is a 75K course with surprise challenges along the way.  Example, the race started last year at bib pickup when runners were told their bibs were in a boat ½ mile out in the lake.  Jump in the water and get it.  Climb trees, carry logs, dig up shit, solve problems to get water… its wild.  I am going to focus on the much more normal 100K…  because running 100K is way more mainstream right?

The 100K, 62 miles for those metric impaired folks, is ran on Ometepe Island.  It is the largest and highest volcanic island that resides in a lake.   The two volcanoes that created this island are named Concepcion and Maderas, which stand at about 5,000feet.  Maderas is Dormant, Concepcion is active and last erupted in 2010.  The climate and geography boasts beautiful arid beach front and lush rain forest, all of which we get to explore during the race.

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100K Course Map

The course is amazing.  It also is new this year.  The most notable changes are the new start in Playa Santo Domingo, running around the south side of Maderas, and climbing all the way to the top of the crater of Concepcion whereas before it stopped a good 500ft shy.  The race starts at 5:00am with a 2.5 mile section that is relatively flat.  This will provide a good opportunity to warm up if the balmy 80 degrees has not yet done the trick.  Immediately after this section we will start climbing.  And I mean climbing; a 4,250ft climb in 4.3 miles and includes navigating some thick jungle and sloppy mud.  You slide down into the crater, climb back out, and then descend the 4,250ft in 5.6 miles to the village of Merida.  After Merida,  the race runs around the south side of Maderas for 18.5 miles with only 1,200ft of total climbing… so relatively flat.  It hits Playa Santa Domingo again where the 50Kers stop and the 100Kers continue onwards for 3.7 miles towards Concepcion, the second major climb.  This climb is a brutal 4,600ft climb in 3.7 miles.  It then descends back down the same way and then runs around the south side of the volcano with a 18.6 mile loop with 1,600ft of climbing and ending back at Playa Santo Domingo.  So my estimate is that this 100K has about 12.3K vert, around 9K of which climbs 1,000feet every mile.  It will be interesting to see how my legs react on the flats as a result of the steep climbs.

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100K Course Profile

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Pic from a section know as the jungle gym. Taken from http://www.irunfar.com

Outside of an amazing course and race, this organization gives an extreme amount of time and resources back to the community.  It is so great to see an event like this making an impact on the local community.  The Fuego Y Agua race collects school supplies and gives proceeds from the race to support this effort.  It also has a trash pick up day a few days prior to the race to help clean up the local area.  Lastly, it also puts on a race for the local children called Calzado Kids (http://fuegoyagua.org/calzado/ ) the day following the 100K.   Overall, there are a lot of wonderful things coming out of this great event and RD Josue and team deserve a huge amount of credit for organizing such a great event.

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Calzado’s Kids Race. Picture from http://www.irunfar.com

I look forward to running this event and exploring the coutry afterwards.  This should make for a great post race write up.

More pics added.  I pulled these from the facebook page to give some context to the awesomeness of these climbs…

fuego climb 3

Photo Courtesy of Fuego Y Agua Facebook Page

Fuego climb

Photo Courtesy of Fuego Y Agua Facebook Page

 

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Kicking off 2014 – Pacifica 50K Race Report

This weekend I kicked off 2014 with the Pacifica Foothills 50K, a climber’s race that takes place in the coastal mountains that surround Pacifica.  Heading into last week I knew I wanted to get a long hard effort run in prior to Fuego Y Agua.  There is no better way to force a long run with a hard effort than to race it.  On Wednesday I emailed Tim, the RD, and redeemed my free race entry that I won in last year’s Lake Sonoma Prediction Contest on IRunFar.com.

Montara

Montara Mountain

The course is a sequence of 5 tough loops.

Loop 1 (7.6 miles, 1,750ft gain):   The race starts off immediately with the biggest climb of the day climbing 3.5 miles up 1,600 feet to the top of Montara Mountain.  Fellow quicksilver teammate John Burton was also toeing the line with me, which was good to see a familiar face in the crowd.  He had kicked my ass at the First Annual Quicksilver Beer Mile earlier in the year and this past year has had some great races, finishing Western States in 20hrs, 5th at Quad Dipsea, and 2nd at Headlands 50 to name a few.  The race started in good old Ultra fashion and we were off.   The climb up has about 2.5 miles of great single track trail and then hits a fire road for the last mile to the top.  I hit the top and turned around to head down with a focus to unleash my legs on the downhill section.  Downhill running is something I have specifically tried to work on.  I was flying anywhere from 5:30-6:10 pace and was happy to see that the work had paid off.  In my previous run down this same trail at Montara Mountain, I had a hard time pushing down past 6:15 pace.  I hit the aid station in about 45 minutes.

Loop 2 (5.5 miles, 1,500ft gain):  I got in and out of the aid station and continued on the second loop.  This 5.5 mile section has two climbs, 1 mile with 500ft gain and then 2 miles with 1,000ft gain.  The sun was out in full force and I kept thinking how lucky we are to be running in sunny 70 degree weather in Jan.  It was also great cheering on the 10Ker’s as they tackled this tough 10K course.  Otherwise the loop was un-eventful and I hit the aid station 13.1 miles into the race at about 1:36.

Loop 3 (7.6 miles, 1,750ft gain):  Loop 3 repeats the first climb.  The sun was out in full force so I decided to take two water bottles up the big climb with me.   My legs were feeling fine at this point, but my breathing seemed to be unusually laborious.  I notched back just slightly on the ascent again with the intention to let loose on the descent but as I headed down I could tell that my breathing was just off so I notched back slightly on the descent as well and made my way back down Montara Mountain.

Loop 4 (5.5 miles, 1,500ft gain):  Loop four repeats loop 2.  By the time I had hit the aid station coming down from Montara Mountain, not only was my breathing off but my stomach was feeling a little off.  I guzzled some Ginger Ale and quickly took off.  The first climb of ~500 feet was ok, but when I hit the second climb my breathing really became difficult. I set modest pace, which felt much more difficult than it should have, and I was thankful when I reached the top of that climb for a smooth 2 mile descent back to the aid station.  By this time pushing my pace was no longer part of my mindset.  I wanted to finish.  I came into the aid station at 26 miles around 3:30 cumulative time.

Loop 5 (4.4 miles,  1,000ft gain):  Loop 5 is a variation on loop 2.  It cuts out the first 500ft climb and heads straight for the 1,000ft climb that I had already completed twice.  I am not a loop kind of guy, so hitting the same climb for the third time was not appealing to me at all.  I left the aid station and in about one mile the climb started.  My breathing was even worse and while it was not that steep, I afforded myself several moments to hike and catch my breath.   I hit the top and cruised down the last 2 miles thinking of a chocolate milkshake.  I finished in 4hrs 18 mins, about 12 minutes under the course record set two years back by Leigh Schmitt, stuck around to see John Finish, and then fulfilled my chocolate milkshake fantasy.

Pacifica_Foothills_Course_Map

Pacifica Foothills 50K Course

It was a fun day out on the trails and a great tune up race for Fuego Y Agua 100K, coming up in only 17 short days.  I cannot wait for this trip to Nicaragua to run my first international race and explore the country, which is filled with beaches and jungle.

Cheers,

Marc

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2014 Races and Goals

I am going to start off by saying this year is going to be Epic.  For many of the popular ultra-races, they hold lotteries to create race entrant lists because they cannot accept all of the applicants.  Last year the race lottery gods were not on my side, failing to get into the lotteries of Way Too Cool, Barkley, Western States, Hardrock, and Wasatch.  This year has been a little bit different.   To make sure I did not fall to the lottery gods again, I started off by scheduling a 100K race in Nicaragua.  Then Western States lottery then hit and I got in.  Then the Barkley Marathons lottery approaches and… well…  yeah…  This year is going to be an adventure to say the least.

Race Schedule:

Late Winter:  I am kicking of the year with a trip to Nicaragua to race the Fuego Y Agua 100K on 2/7 held by RD Josue Stephens.  The race is held on the Island of Ometepe; an Island formed in the middle of Lake Ometepe by two Volcanoes called Conception and Maderas.  Conception stands at 5,282 feet and Maderas stands at 4,573 feet, both of which we get to climb.  With recent course changes, the course now adds some additional climbing hitting both peaks of these still active volcanoes, navigating through jungles of roots, scrambling, volcanic rock, and managing some rainforest mud.  On top of that, it is traditionally in the mid 80’s with as much humidity as one can take.  Not only is the course epic and the landscape incredible, but the event also serves as a charity to the local communities providing a trash cleanup day, school supplies donations for the children, and a free running event for the community.  All in all, Josue has created a world class event with a great mission.  This is one of three races I am most excited about!  Especially the part where I get to also explore the country the week following the race, taking in some beaches, surf, beer, and other adventures with Kristine.  I am not sure who will be toeing the line, but my goal for FYA is to win.  Last year there were a handful of Elite runners and I am hoping this year we will also have a good group up front to push the pace.

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Old Course, new course map still being prepared but will start at a new location and will hit the summit of Concepcion whereas the old course was shy about 400 meters.

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Ferry Ride to Ometepe with Concepcion in the background. Photo Courtesy of Run100s.com

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A section of jungle in the climb up Maderas, dodge roots, dodge mud, dodge monkeys.

Spring:  Following up Fuego Y Agua will be Way Too Cool 50K on 3/8.  Traditionally one of the most competitive 50K’s in the country, this year is no exception.  Alex Varner, Chris Vargo, Leor Pantilat, Jacob Rydman, Galen Burrell, Rob Bien, Brett Rivers, and I am sure others that I do not recognize.  My stretch goal was top 5, until I got into Barkley Marathons which will be held 3 weeks after WTC.  This beast is going to change my training plan so drastically, that I am not sure I will have the speed to compete for top 5 so I may need to adjust.  Barkley Marathons…  I don’t know what to say.  I was there last year to see the craziness that is Barkley Marathons and help crew for Toshi.  It was definitely an experience and I am excited to be going back to see the great people I met and for the chance to see what lies “Out There.”   The other impact this race… or run… or death sentence has on my schedule is that it is only 2 weeks prior to Lake Sonoma 50 on 4/12.  Again, I am not sure how Barkley will impact Lake Sonoma and for now am on the fence if I will even run it.  But as usual, it is drawing one of the bigger elite crowds with 20+ of the best runners in the country.  Rob Krar, Sage Canaday, Dave Mackey, Nick Clark, Ian Sharman, and so on…  We will see if I run it, otherwise will head up to Healdsburg to help out and root on my quicksilver teammates.  Following Lake Sonoma 50 will be Miwok 100K on 5/3.  Miwok is a great prep race for Western States on a very fun and tough course.  Ian Sharman, Gary Gellin, and Chris Wehan will all be returning and providing some speed up front.  My goal for Miwok would be a win, where I would need to make sure I race smart and maintain late race foot speed to meet that goal.  These three guys are animals.

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2013 Miwok 40K with Chris Wehan
Photo Courtesy of SFRunCo (Brett Rivers)

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Fun run finishers in 2013 – The Abbs. Look how happy Alan is!

Summer:  I have put into the Western States Lottery 3 years in a row and I am 2 for 3 in the lottery.  I really sympathize for those who are still trying to get in after 4,5,6,7, even 8 years (Sorry Mark Tanaka).  WS was my first 100 miler.  After running only 1 ultra, the headlands 50, I was inspired by Unbreakable and put into the lottery not expecting to get in my first year… I was selected.  It was not only amazing getting into WS100 on my first try but also having it be my first 100.  My experience there was incredible and the support I had from my family and friends helped pull me to the finish in 18:47.  I am coming back to the Western States 100 on 6/28 with more ultra-experience and am excited to not just run WS100 as I did in 2012, but race WS100.  Stretch Goal: M10.

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WS100 2013 pacing Jessie Haynes from Forrest Hill to Green Gate. I am going to try to channel Jessie’s AwesomeSauce this year.

After June, I am not sure what the second half of the year will hold for me.  I would like to do a lot more exploring in the Sierra’s on the JMT, High Sierra Route, Yosemite, Tahoe, Etc… I would also like to go to Colorado for the first time to either explore or race and see what all the hype is about there since I hear they have some OK mountains too.

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Lake Catherine at the base of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter. Hoping to take many more of these trips and bag these two peaks among others with these awesome dudes.

Goals Summarized.

-          Fuego Y Agua 2/7,  1st

-          Way Too Cool 3/8, top 5

-          Barkley Marathons, Finish (of course)

-          Lake Sonoma  4/12, Top 20

-          Miwok 100K 5/2, 1st

-          Western States 100 6/28, Top 10

-           Explore the High Sierra’s and Colorado – Bag some Peaks!

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2013, The Most Important Year In My Life

Up until last year I had not afforded much time to reflect on my previous year’s accomplishments, failures, and overall learning lessons.  I have always been a goal oriented person, creating high level goals that would drive how I wanted to approach the upcoming year and the changes I wanted to make in my life to improve myself.  My goals tend to build on each other from year to year so without reflecting on how I navigated these goals and if I met or did not meet these goals, I was in essence planning for only marginal improvement and sometimes planning for failure.  2013 has been a very hard year for me lined with achievements and moments that provided some relief during those hard times.  In full disclosure, I am currently going through the hardest time of my life.  A year full of lows, highs, failures, and achievements.  A year of personal reflection and personal growth.  It may be the single most important year in my life that I look back at and reflect on as the year that defined who I am and the person I want to be.  A monumental year to shaping my passion for adventure that I seek mostly through running, but also how it has shaped the person I want to be and how I want to live.  My running transcends into all aspects of my life so it is hard to separate the personal side and running side.  But I’ll attempt to keep this running related.

My running meta goal for 2013 was simple.  Become a sponsored runner.  This may sound contrived, arrogant, and shallow, but in my eyes it is actually the opposite.  I like to run.  Scratch that, I love to run.  I think that anyone who knows me understands that running trails and exploring mountains is an extreme passion of mine and is part of who I am.  I also like surrounding myself with good people and being a part of something that I believe in.  Lastly, I like challenging myself and competing.  So why would I simplify my overall goal to becoming a sponsored runner?  Because being a sponsored runner would allow me to do more of what I love with the people I want to surround myself with.  Do I need to be sponsored to do this… of course not.   But it would help to make it easier.  Say a certain race in the Gran Canaries strikes my interest, I may be able to get support to go to this race.  Explore a new place, hang out with people I want to surround myself with, and compete…  This goal is all inclusive.

So here is my 2013 of racing… 11 racing events, almost one a month.  To summarize the highlights, I had x3 1st place finishes, x2 course records, x1 2nd place finish, and x1 3rd place finish and 100 mile podium.  For my 2nd full year of running ultras, I am very proud of my accomplishments.  Here they are with a quick blurb for each…  Obviously there are areas where I am not giving credit to folks where credit is due.  This sport is much more than personal achievement…  it takes so many people to make it happen and starts with the support I have received from the people I love.

Ray Miller 50 Miler (4th place, 7:52) – I kicked off the season with Ray Miller, a tough 50 miler ran by Keira Henninger.  12K vert in 50 miles along the pacific coast… Epic!  I cannot say enough about Keira and the entire SoCal running gang.  In this race, I went out hard and stuck with Dylan, Timmy, and Hal for the first 23 miles until hydration and pace caught up to me.  I still finished 4th, but the gap between Hal and myself was large.  Primary learning lesson… Hydration.  Secondary learning lesson… don’t forget a head lamp (don’t worry Hal, you owe me). 

Race Report - http://iruntorun.com/2013/02/11/ray-miller-50-mile-race-report/

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Montara 50K (2nd place, 4:01) – I followed up Ray Miller with the Montera 50K, a bay area local race with 6.5K vert.  The previous course record was 4:23 set by TNF runner Leigh Schmidt.  I started this race gunning for 1st and the CR.  Sitting comfortably in 5th place on the initial climb, I started chatting with another runner.  “Hows it going?  My name is Marc.”  “Oh hey, I’m Leigh.”  Immediately I knew there would be a race for 1st.  I led for the remaining race until mile 25, when some confusion by the race officials stopped me to verify I was indeed ahead of leigh.  Leigh and I ran together for a mile, he gapped me by 2 minutes on the final climb, and I took second.  Primary learning lesson…  Shit happens.  Secondary learning lesson…  Sometimes it doesn’t matter.  It was one hell of a day and race!

Race Report - http://iruntorun.com/2013/02/26/montara-50k-race-report/

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Finish line with Leigh

Lake Sonoma 50 Miler (DNF) – Lake Sonoma was one of the biggest profile races of the year, collecting roughly 35 elite male/female runners for a showdown on Tropical John’s home turf.  I set into a comfortable pace with Chris and Karl for the first half of the race.  We also had Injinji support out there, which is always fun to have them at races.  30 miles in, my stomach turned and I could not keep food down.  This was a first for me…  I had no clue what happened.  I ended up deciding to drop at mile 35, my ego getting in the way of my finishing.  I mean, I felt like shit yes… but I could have finished.  Primary learning lesson, don’t quit.  Secondary learning lesson, watch what you eat the night before.  After some evaluation of all of the different variables of the race, I concluded the meal I ate the night before was not mild enough for my stomach.  

Race Report - http://iruntorun.com/2013/04/22/lake-sonoma-50-mile-rant/

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A usual scene leading Injinji teammates Galen Burel and Dave Mackey up a climb. C’mon guys, why are you so slow?

Miwok 60K (7th place, 5:27) We arrived at the starting line around 4:30am to learn that the course was modified and shortened to 60K.  When we started, Dylan, Gary, and Ian all went off at 50K pace.  Chris and I set a slightly more modest pace, but not by much.  I caught Ian at mile 25 after making a 5 mile surge and could see Dylan and Gary not too far ahead.  The surge was not strategic in any way, just some over ambitiousness that took over my body.  I bonked on the last climb, death marching 2 miles and stumbling down the final section of Dipsea.  Primary learning lesson, race more strategically in a way to conserve enough energy to finish strong while still having nothing left at the end (very fine line).  Secondary learning lesson, nutrition and hydration.  It was great meeting Tia, the RD, the next day as we put all of the race equipment away in their storage unit.

Race Report - http://iruntorun.com/2013/05/07/mini-miwok-60k/

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Running with Chris early in the race.  Shot by Brett Rivers (SFRUNCO)

San Diego 100 Miler (3rd place, 18:06) – This was my target race for the year.  Having ran my first 100 miler the year before, I had a much better understanding of what it would feel like, how I wanted to train for the race, and how I would run the race.  I first have to say that Scotty and Angela put on one hell of a race and adjusted to some extreme heat on race day (107 degrees I believe).  Jeff, Dave, and Rod went out fast.  At first I thought they may have not gotten the memo on the weather.  Brett was not too far behind them and then there I was trailing comfortably in 5th sticking to my game plan.  The morning was beautiful, the canyons were deathly hot, and the night brought some crazy headlamp complications.  Fortunately I had the best pacer in the business, Jeremy Johnson.  I had a rough spot for 10 miles as we climbed sandstone peak that easily sucked up 30-45 minutes of extra time.  But, in good 100 mile fashion my body recovered and I was able to get back to a decent pace for the rest of the race.  I was stoked finishing 3rd with the 6th fastest time in course history.   Jeff and Brett killed it!  Primary learning lesson, none of this can be done without the support of all of the volunteers, and my friends and family.  Secondary learning lesson, sticking to a game plan pays off. 

Race Report - http://iruntorun.com/2013/06/14/san-diego-100-race-report/

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Injinji love with Dave and Russell

Waldo 100K  (16th, 11:46) – I dropped at Waldo in 2012 at mile 16 when I had unbearable knee pain.  This year, I was coming back to finish and see the 45 miles of amazing terrain that I missed.  This race, which has been handed off from Craig to Meghan, has one of the best race vibes hands down.  I started the climb with my bud Jessie Haynes, who had recently placed in the top 10 at Western States (Animal!).  Jessie, David, and I started the climb up Mt. Fuji together, but I decided to stick to a unsustainable pace and took the lead.  I led David through mile 26, when my stomach gave in and would not hold anything down.  I puked a good 5-6 times and was toast by mile 35.  I took a seat at the twin peaks aid station for an hour debating what to do.  I had it in my mind that I would drop, but the volunteers would not hear it.  They settled my stomach and gave me constant encouragement, while throwing in the occasional puke joke.   It was the amazing volunteers who got me back out onto that course and motivated me to finish.  I also got to meet some pretty great people, including Joelle, who just rocked it at The North Face 50 on her birthday.  Primary learning lesson, finishing is finishing and feels really good even if you do not meet your race goals.  Note Lake Sonoma, don’t let ego guide decisions.  Secondary learning lesson, don’t expect words of encouragement from Scott Wolfe.  “Marc, you look like shit…”  “No shit Scott!”

Race Report - http://iruntorun.com/2013/08/19/waldo-100k-race-re-cap/

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Chatting w/ Joelle

Bass Bass ½ Marathon (1st, 1:24) – Highlight, dicking Caitlin Smith (Sorry Sam).  And don’t send me hate mail, Caitlin came up with the term.  Missed the Lon Freeman course record by 1 minute…  Next time!  This was my first sub 50K race in 2 years.   It was fun running fast and all out over 3.5K vert.   

Headlands 100 Marathon (1st, 3:12, CR) – 6.5K vert in 26.2 miles.  I ran hard from the gun and tried to hold on as long as possible.  My second sub 50K race this year, again it was extremely fun to throw down the speed.  Primary learning lesson, how to run through cramps successfully.  Cramps used to mentally kill me.  I found a way during this race to manage them.  

Race Report at bottom - http://iruntorun.com/2013/09/16/high-sierra-route-training-and-the-headlands-marathon/

Big Backyard Challenge (DNF, 18hrs) – Primary learning lesson, Laz is one sick dude.  Secondary learning lesson, I have a sickness for wanting to run in Tennessee. This race is set up so that there are 49 losers and 1 winner…  I was a loser after 18 hours of running. 

Lake Chabot 50K (1st, 3:32, CR) – Primary learning lesson, pay attention to course markings

Race Report at Bottom - http://iruntorun.com/2013/11/15/pre-tnf50-write-up/#comments

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Finish line with Kristine

The North Face 50M (24th, 7:31, PR) – Still evaluating the race.  A respectable time, but not as fast as I had wanted.  Also, a big thanks to John Burton for providing me company on the course and it was great seeing Joelle and meeting her friends Ryan and Graham.  They may have successfully talked me into racing up in Idaho this next year!

On top of my race schedule, I went on many adventures highlighted by running on the islands of Hong Kong, climbing in the Eastern Alps, crewing at Barkley’s, exploring Hawaii, fast-packing a section of the High Sierra Route with Jeremy, Toshi, and Sachin, and many others.  I also had a great time being a part of the Quicksilver Ultra Running Team, where we ran away with first place finishes in the PAUSATF mixed, womens, and overall team standings.  This is one kick ass group of people.

Climbing in Austria - http://iruntorun.com/2013/01/06/the-day-i-pretended-i-was-uli-steck/

Exploring Santa Barbara - http://iruntorun.com/2013/05/29/summer-is-here-go-out-and-play/

Exploring the High Sierras - http://iruntorun.com/2013/09/16/high-sierra-route-training-and-the-headlands-marathon/

Rant on Living Passions - http://iruntorun.com/2013/06/24/live/

Reflection in Tahoe - http://iruntorun.com/2013/07/26/reflecting-in-the-mountains/

Exploring Pt. Reyes / Reflection - http://iruntorun.com/2013/10/02/i-just-want-to-walk-on-clouds/

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High Sierra Fastpack w/ Jeremy, Toshi, and Sachin. Checking out our route to get over the distant pass to Mt. Ritter/Banner Peak (not visible).

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Top of Klettersteig in Austria after some fun/intense climbing.  Check out post for sweet pics!

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Outside Magazine Photo Shoot

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The yellow gate – Frozen Head State Park

So did I meet my meta goal?  Well, not exactly.  I was a part of the kick ass Injinji team, which I cannot begin to thank enough for their support in 2012 and 2013.  They represent everything I look for in a company and family.  I am lucky to be a part of their family.  I also met many smaller goals that I set for myself.  But in terms of my meta goal, it is unlikely that I will get a major sponsorship in the next 12 days.  However, in going after this stretch goal I was led to so many great experiences, met many amazing people, had great successes, and saw some incredible places.  This goal will carry over to 2014, where I will be racing in Nicaragua in February (Fuego Y Agua 100K), will run Western States 100 in June, and use Way Too Cool, Lake Sonoma, and Miwok for prep races.  Specific goals will follow in January when I have laid out my schedule and spent some more time reflecting on 2013.  I am happy to be exactly where I am at in this sport.  There have been some amazing people that have entered into my life in the past 5 months whom have forever changed me as a person.   A week ago I had enthusiasm for 2014 and I knew exactly what it looked like.  Today that is different.  Life can change instantly…  My hope is to find some stability in 2014 and take all of my experiences from this past year to make me a better person.

Cheers,

Marc

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December 18, 2013 · 8:26 am

Pre TNF50 Write Up

Dec 7th will be my 3rd running of The North Face 50 Mile race, a race that typically draws a very deep group of Elite runners.  For me this race has been somewhat of a challenging experience, having to dig deep just to finish with a time I was not necessarily happy with.  Maybe it is caused by the pounds of food I eat at Thanksgiving or the lax fall training pattern I typically fall into as the end of the season approaches.  While I believe I will be prepared this year, I can’t help be question if my endurance is where it needs to be to compete.

The first year I ran TNF50 was in 2011, my second Ultra (and second 50 miler) ever ran.  The day had perfect weather and I remember running out to the McKenna Gulch turn around as I watched all of the elite runners I aspired to be like run past me, most notable was Mike Wolfe with blood pouring out of his neck.  I was running much faster than my fitness had to offer and by mile 31 I was toast.  It took me 15 miles to regain composure and finish the last 4 strong.  It was my first Ultra learning lesson on pace, nutrition, hydration, and what not to do.  The second year in 2012, there was a wild storm that ran through the bay area right before the race which forced the RD to change the course.  The result was a very wet and muddy double loop course.  My pacing was aggressive but within control, but struggled to keep it up after a rough fall on the second pass of Pirates Cove that seemed to shake me up more mentally than physically.  The result was 7:10 46 miler, roughly the time I was hoping to get in 50.

I am really looking forward to a 3rd attempt at a strong race and hopefully running the full course.  Just in case we don’t, I will be running the middle section (best section) this weekend for a nice last long training run on my favorite trails in the headlands.

Last weekend I raced a 50K as a check in on my endurance and speed.  I came through the finish in 3 hours and 24 minutes with 3,500 feet of climbing; what I would call a very flat course.  I also set a course record.  I later learned that three of us took a little shortcut 2 miles into the race that resulted in running the course 1 mile short of 31 miles, so the RD added 8 minutes to my finishing time rather than DQ’ing me.  I still have the CR and i’m confident I could have stuck out an additional mile at my sub 7 min pace, but I can’t help but put a personal asterisk on my CR.  Still, I  was very thankful for this decision given the effort I had put to get my 50K PR.

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Finishing the Lake Chobot 50K

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Totally spent. It took me a good 15 minutes sitting here to regain enough composure to get up again.

Cheers,

Marc

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October Fun

3:00am Saturday morning,  I wake up shivering.  I was bundled up in my Mountain Hardwear speed light sleeping bag, which is only good for temps greater than 32 degrees and even that is a stretch.   It was 28 degrees and I was laying in the back of my Ford Escape, seats folded down on a thin yoga mat, wondering what I was going to do for another 3 hours before leaving for my run from Donner Pass to Tahoe City.   Thank god for Music.

At 5:00am I started prepping my backpack and ate a breakfast which comprised of a muffin, some beef jerky, and cold coffee I purchased the night before.  ah, this is the life.  I started off around 6:00am in search for the PCT in the dark.  Living in the city, you get used to the constant noise and light.  Its funny how it always seems so foreign to be in dark silence at first, but I always quickly adapt back into such a peaceful place.  People scare me way more than animals or anything else lurking in the forest.  The PCT was close by, but required some very minor bushwhacking to find it.  It took me about 15 minutes and then I was on the well-defined PCT highway.   Once I got into a rhythm on the trail I immediately recognized that I was feeling off, both in my energy and legs.  On top of that the chilly 30 degree wind kept things very cold and made it very hard to get comfortable.  This was especially true coming from the great weather we have been having in the Bay Area.  I know, the CA weather has turned me into a huge wimp.  Over the first 14 miles I climbed 4 peaks (Mt. Judah, Mt. Lincoln, Anderson Peak, Tinker Knob) and followed an un-named ridge line to an un-named peak for a total of 5,200ft of vert.  I sat down here for a quick bite to eat still feeling unusually fatigued.  What do I do?  I had it in my mind at this point that I would stop at Granite Chief and head down into Squaw Valley to call it a day (only 5 more miles).   But when I started up again, my fatigue hit me even harder and at that point realized that running the following day would be a bad idea given my upcoming race the following weekend.   The logistics to get from Squaw Valley back to my car seemed too daunting so I opted to run the 14 miles back.  I was definitely moving at a death march by the end, managing to get lost for 10 mins in the last ¼ mile between the PCT and my car.  I had been out of water for the last hour, so the Coke I had waiting in my car tasted so incredible!

All in all I had a fun time and saw some amazing scenery.  I will definitely need to complete this run next summer.

Next weekend is a race unlike anything I have ever attempted and a race format I typically would not be drawn to.  Not much vert, loops… yuck!  But, the stakes are high for the person who wins.  I am going there to win.  Here is the race description from the RD himself, Lazerus Lake

What: This is a different sort of Ultramarathon, where neither the time, nor the distance is predetermined.  The race will take place on a 4-mile trail loop. Beginning at 7:00 AM on October 19, 2013, a single loop race will take place at every hour, on the hour. Runners failing to complete a 4-miler within an hour will be timed out. Runners failing to make the start in any hour will be eliminated. The winner will be the last man (or woman) able to complete a loop within the time limit.

Last year went 27 hours, or 117 miles.  I have never ran longer than 19 hours straight, so will be in new territory as fatigue sets in.  And, this race format keeps the pace uncomfortably modest, so am expecting it to be a mental test.  1 winner, 49 losers, last man standing, high stakes!

Pics From This Past Weekend

Anderson Peak, 9,000ft

Anderson Peak, 9,000ft

Sunrise, Donner Lake covered by fog

Sunrise, Donner Lake covered by fog

Overlooking Soda Springs in the morning

Overlooking Soda Springs in the morning

DP_TC4 DP_TC6

Anderson Peak in the background

Anderson Peak in the background

Tinker Knob, Lake Tahoe in the far back

Tinker Knob, Lake Tahoe in the far back

Cheers, Marc

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October 17, 2013 · 12:27 pm