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).
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/
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.
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/
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.
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/
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
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/
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.