Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014, it's been real.

By Stephen

I would have never imagined that 2014 would unfold like it did. I raced and ran more than ever, became an RRCA certified coach and a Hoka ultrarunning ambassador, moved to Marin with my girlfriend, joined the amazingly talented crew at SFRC, and adopted two adorable blind kitties. Oh, and I got into Western States! Originally, I planned this post to be a North Face race report (I still might put one together for fun), until I realized how underwhelming it was recounting every climb and descent of the day. Maybe it's because I came up short of my goal, and I'm being petty? I had a good, not great race there, but everything seemed to unfold well. There were no periods of dark thoughts, nothing cramped, I ran smart early in the race, and besides a few stomach issues at mile 40, I finished strong. I don't want to take any finish for granted, especially considering how lucky I am to be healthy and to train and race as frequently as I do, and with my report taking a whiny turn for the worst, I decided to instead reflect upon my progress in 2014 and where I can improve in 2015.

Here are my 2014 stats for the curious: 3,186 miles - 464 hours - 378,788 feet climbed - 10 races (435 miles raced total)

Running has been an incredible journey, filled with excitement, growth, pain, and self-discovery. It's been a process of trial and error, during which time I've learned that food is my friend, not my enemy, and that maybe 150 mile weeks aren't entirely necessary in preparation for an ultra event. My biggest takeaway from 2014 is that consistency rewards progress. This was most obvious in my 8th place finish at the Miwok 100k in a time of 10:06. It's one of the first races where I saw a glimpse of my hard training efforts pay off, and outside of TNF 50 mile last December, the only race where I truly raced within myself. I never really understood what this meant, but now I sort of get it. Previously, I raced with the intention of running harder than my other competitors. However, since I don't know what their training looks like, how they feel coming into the race, etc., I cannot expect to simply outrun them. I need to toe the line in my best shape possible, knowing that I have done everything right: from training, to nutrition, to recovery.

I guess this is my long-winded way of saying that I've yet to have this experience. I've never felt fully confident in myself at the start of a race, either because I've missed a few key workouts, indulged in beer more than necessary, lacked a race strategy, or a combo of everything. The beauty of coming up short in training is that when questioned about how a poor race went, I can fall back on the cliches of going out too fast or not having included one more 30 miler in my buildup. In short, I can shirk some of the responsibility. In 2011 it was a struggle with disordered eating, in 2012 it was a struggle with too much beer and not enough recovery from 2011, and in 2013 it was overtraining which lead to plantar fasciitis. 2014, however, was the closest I've come to a "perfect" year in terms of consistency and injury prevention, and it's this momentum that I want to carry into 2015. Missed workouts and excess beers will be decidedly out of style, while Tam summits and miles with friends will bolster my confidence leading up to the big dance. Who knows when I'll be lucky enough to have the opportunity at such an iconic race? I'm hungrier than ever and have lofty aspirations for Western States, so I'm going to put it all on the line to see if I really can hang with the big guns, and to achieve this, everything needs to be in sync. #seeyouinsquaw

Run selfie with the Queen!

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