Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 in review: another amazingly productive year!

In wine making you cannot have so many outstanding years back to back as they are too many stars from Mother Nature to perfectly align. When you think of all the variables getting into play in ultra running, there is a parallel to be drawn. Weather conditions at races, injuries, motivation, lack of luck in lotteries, race cancellation, recovery, stiff competition, impact of the other sides or priorities of your life such as family, work or other hobbies, there are many excuses to miss a year. That makes me feel even luckier and appreciative that I was able to miss the bad odds for another amazing running year as the numbers below show in a Fitbit-inspired design:
And with the 2013format:
I'm particularly grateful to the Ultra Running magazine voting board for noticing 5 of my performances in the age group category and felt very honored to even receive 2 votes in the very elitist Runner of the Year category (ok, 2 points versus 447 for Rob Krar which is of course well deserved but still making a list of 36 runners! ;-). And I got listed 6 times in the top performance listings: #11 24-hr at the North Coast Nationals, #17 24-hr at San Francisco Summer Solstice (my 100th ultra race!), #38 50K at Jed Smith, #85 50K at the Caumsett Nationals, #46 50-miles at Ruth Anderson, #55 100K at the hilly Miwok). It feels good to see that these results got noticed! ;-) Make sure to read other great articles in this January-February issue or, better, to subscribe if not already!

Overall, I ran less than in 2013 but that was actually a goal and I must admit that I still got caught up into trying to log 100K a week which I would have if not for missing 5 weeks of training in February and March because of a minor and not elucidated injury. In particular, I raced more but I ran less "training ultras" (a total of 32 ultras versus 37 in 2013). While I've read a few articles about the benefits of quality over quantity especially for Masters, I still think it's important to run ultras as part of your training program if you can, to keep building more endurance.

Do I have regrets? Sure! Like my disappointing Way Too Cool (again...), getting enough injured in February to derail my training for the 50K and 100K Nationals, my DNF half way into TRT 100, peeing what looked like blood at the North Coast 24-hour Nationals and getting a 52% UltraSignup grade at the Desert Solstice 24-hour which wiped out all the 2013 and 2014 gains in one single race, all this despite setting two noticeable records. Oh well, some failure is part of the big experiment that ultra running is about and showing that you try to push the envelope...

Looking back to 2014 (50 blog posts help my memory! ;-), I think the main keys to success are sustainable volume and variety. Both in training and racing. For instance, I had a disappointing Way Too Cool (finishing 5th in my brand new age group!) and Tahoe Rim Trail (DNF, dropping at 50 of 100 miles) but I was able to rebound in many other events. And while it becomes really hard to set new PRs on "shorter" distances, the faster of my motto and blog title, I can now explore longer formats and set personal bests on new distances or timed events. I also discovered the excitement of chasing age group records, leveraging the fact that there are so many records out there for each of our 5-year age groups.

All in all I know this isn't just about numbers, but that's one aspect I personally like about running as my main hobby and way to juggle a balance in life. The fact that I can measure things and see the results working and "playing" hard: this keeps me moving... farther and faster! Beyond these numbers, there has been amazing human experiences like meeting new people at races, training with teammates and club mates from QuickSilver and Stevens Creek Striders or even competing in a friendly atmosphere against other teams in our North California Grand Prix.

What about you? Did you manage to go any farther and/or faster this past year too?


M @readeatwriterun said...

I did! I BQ'd 3 times and PR'd twice. I ran 3 marathons and....

I also ran my first ultra! 50k within the 24h race at Across the Years on 12/28.

I ran 2 marathons and my ultra in 71 days (hadn't ever run 2 marathons in a year before!) and am now a Marathon Maniac!

2014 was a year of lots of work (as was 2013, but I was briefly injured - built a base that helped in 2014) and lots of great results!

I'm starting training for my first Boston after recovering from my 50k.

I'm enthusiastic and a bit nervous about 2015 - at age 48, I feel like I'm just starting to hit my stride, so it's great to see from what you're doing that one can perform and improve at our age.

Run on!

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for stopping by, @ReadEatWriteRun, you are such a prolific writer (blog/twitter)! And thank you for sharing your 2014 accomplishments, very cool that you'll be running Boston in a few months! Stay healthy until then to get the most out of it!!

Troy Windsor said...

I ran the most miles I ever have in a single year, 2014 to match the year.

Love reading your blog. Had the opportunity to meet you last year at Ruth Anderson.