Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In Retrospect - Why 2013 Was A Defining Year For My Running

I love a good story. The way that a simple tale, with simple characters, can draw you in and affect you so deeply that one can't help but retell it for years to come, embellishing here and there to polish the lore with an eternal quality. A good story bursts out of your heart like a song, shaped with words and images to be as loud as thunder, as bold as love, as delicate as a midnight kiss. A good story is immortal.

This is why I enjoy the annual ritual of new year's retrospect, looking back at a year of hopes, dreams, and adventure to craft a worthy synopsis. 2013 felt like an epic year, but why was it an epic year? The blog usually fights me on this; whereas its autobiographical nature is helpful in setting goals, it confuses my well-developed selective memory that instantly and conveniently rewrites my goals as soon as they slip from reality's futile grasp. But 2013...holy cow, 2013. It will most certainly be a defining year in my 10+ years of running. Despite missing nearly every running goal I set, it was the unexpected that brought fun and adventure, and set a whole new high water mark for how this sport can fill my soul. 

On paper, the year was kind of a bummer. On five occasions I came up one spot short of my goal, whether it was to score a single Skyrunning Series point by getting Top 50 at the Mont Blanc Marathon (58th), Matterhorn Ultraks (53rd), or Pikes Peak (51st), make the Top 5 for the combined Boston/Big Sur marathons (6th), make the Top 10 overall at the USATF 50-mile trail championships at the Nueces 50m (11th), or win the Masters at the USATF 50-mile road championships at Tussey Mountainback (2nd by 2 minutes). I guess it's good to set goals slightly out of your reach, but c'mon, couldn't I hit just one?!?

This was a tough year physically too, and I'm not just saying that because I have a robo-titanium collarbone installed at the moment. It seemed like my body was taking punches all year long. I took a knock on the head in Texas in March, cracked some ribs in Zermatt in September, needed an IV at the finish of Pikes Peak, and broke my collarbone in a bike crash in December. Thanks to injury, I had to cruise the Ironman Lake Tahoe and Silver State 50m rather than compete. I also had three DNS' due to sickness (Miwok, Bootlegger, and TNF50). Geez, Louise! Although a few injuries are to be expected, it felt like one injury will still lingering with the onset of the next. And I am no spring chicken these days!

(I got to know the med tents pretty well this year)
But then there were the upside surprises. 

Two unexpected PR's in the Marathon (2:44) and 50-mile (6:35). A 3rd at a very strong Fort Ord 50k, 6th overall at both the Oakland Marathon and Tussey Mountainback 50-mile. A finish at the crazy Ironman Lake Tahoe, which quickly ranked as the hardest Ironman ever, and the first (and hopefully last) sub-freezing swim I'll ever do. Any one of these accomplishments are worth cheering, particularly for a mid-40's dude like myself, but what I really appreciate is that all of them were surprises...most of those races were supposed to be "tweeners", not really goal races.

2013 was likely one of the best spectator years ever as well, whether it was following Ian Sharman and Nick Clark in their epic battle for the Grand Slam, watching Rory Bosio redefine what is possible at UTMB, Pam Smith and Zach Bitter with their world records, two sub-12 hour 100-mile finishes, watching my inov-8 teammate Alex Nichols keep the USA on the Skyrunner podium, FKT records galore, you name it. A great year to be a trail running fan! I felt it was a powerful backdrop to see our sport have such a defining year.

And then there's Boston. Ah, Bahston. It's hard to put into words what it's like to go from the glow of a marathon PR to the shock and devastation of experiencing a terrorist bombing up close, then knowing I'll never think of this race again without hearing the screams and sounds of that day. In fact, I didn't get any sleep at all until I got back on the starting line at the Presidio 10m (3rd) and the Big Sur Marathon (24th) later that week. Thanks to the love and passion of the running community, I got back on my feet quickly, and those races will eternally have a healing quality to me. The whole experience was shocking, but ultimately deepened my connection with the sport and was very rewarding.

(From the peaks of Chamonix)

(Team inov-8 rocks Pikes Peak!)

(Racing in Zermatt)
Then I soon found out how big that running community was. The global reach of the Mt. Blanc Marathon in Chamonix, the mountain people of the inaugural Matterhorn Ultraks in Zermatt, and joining Team inov-8 and historic runners from around the world for a stellar performance at Pikes Peak. The pictures, the people, the mountains...all simply breathtaking. I can't even read my Facebook news feed anymore with all the foreign languages from my new international running pals, but can sense exactly what they are saying since we are all cut from the same cloth (lycra?). The cup of my soul overfilled with each adventure, and helped me appreciate the little victories in life, whether that's getting our youngest out of diapers, celebrating 20 years of marriage with my amazing wife, or having my 7-year-old join me for our first ever 4-miler

(My girls, Quinn and Sophie Jane)
My life mantra has always been "live life to have good stories". 2013 definitely fit the bill, and is a good reminder that good stories abound even when your goals don't line up. I'm quickly learning the secret to a lifetime of good stories is simple - invite adventure and friendship into your life, relish in the ups and the downs, and be present in every moment. 

And, oh yeah, bring a camera!

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's see what 2014 has in store for us...

Cheers, SD


  1. Thanks for sharing! This post has been inspirational for me, in looking forward to getting out on the trails more often in 2014... and not worrying too much about what happens along the way! ;)

  2. Wow - I'd forgotten a lot of that; it's funny how close you came to so many goals! Very nice post - here's to hoping you have a fast recovery and get to start building the 2014 list soon. And maybe even hit a goal or two.

  3. Hey Scott,
    Thanks for sharing. I have to say I absolutely loved your blog about the Tahoe Ironman. I was laughing so hard while reading your recap! OMG! I loved the line about how now you know what it's like to be a girl on a bike. I shared with friends who also got a good laugh.
    But until now, I did not realize you were at Boston when tragedy struck. I have run Boston 9 times and I wasn't there last year because I didn't qualify in 2012 because it was so damn hot. Then the rest of the season I was focused on training for my first 100 miler, and so I didn't have time to train/run a marathon to get back there. But on the morning of the 2013 Boston Marathon I went out for a run wearing my Boston shirt and bumming about not beeing there. Little did I know that a few hours later I would spend the rest of the day glued to the computer watching the horrible events that happened that day. Since then I have vowed to get back there. And I will be there this year, raising money for ALS.

    More to come.

    But cheers to you!


  4. Very impressive year, Scott! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I enjoy reading about them. Happy New Year!

  5. Howdy. i got pointed to your blog from Runners World gadget review. Did read correctly you PR'd a marathon in 2:44? as in a 6:15 min/mile pace? thats incredible. Really enjoyed reading through your blog.

  6. Thanks for posting this review, right on time and despite your recent surgery (can you even type with both hands already?). Wow, such a contrast between the ups and downs, that's what comes with living to the fullest as you do! You don't even include in this review the strain of your coast to coast commute. All the best for 2014, looking forward to your new (challenging) goals.
    PS: missed you on Sunday at the PCTR Woodside, I assume we passed near your house, right?

  7. With these supplements my stamina has increased significantly, also when i wake up in the morning it only takes me about 5 minutes to wake completely up which used to take about 15-20 minutes.

  8. Wow! Good to know that your year was good from running perspective.


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