Saturday, January 02, 2016

Looking Forward to Racing in 2016!

1/1...the ultimate binary day of renewal. Time to pull up that spreadsheet of 700+ races that will take a lifetime to check off, and force progress with the annual race calendar! Man, I love this time of year. Few things anchor a life of adventure like a packed race schedule (see '06'07'08'10'11, '12'13'14'15). It is my recommitment to a core passion that endlessly fuels my optimism and serenity. Proof that I chose to live IN this world, not ON it. It is, in all honesty, the drunk-dial equivalent of online race sign ups that defines and solidifies the character that is me, against all odds and curve balls that reality will conjure. Sorry about that, Mark (Mark Gilligan, founder and genius behind who is forced to work 24 hours/day every New Years Day), but as is the case with thousands embracing the binary simplicity that is 1.1, I HAVE to throw down in the first 24 hours to make it stick. That is the gift that you give, Mark, and one that makes Santa Claus himself say " THAT is spreading the love".

So here we go...

2015 was an epic year of exploration for me, so it will be a tough act to follow. It delivered mountains and trails everywhere from Texas to Hawaii to Switzerland to South Africa to Italy, and filled my Facebook feed with new multilingual friends from across the globe. I raced distances from 4 miles to 100 miles, mixed up trails and road and mountains (360k vert for the year!), picked up a few AG national titles and one new PRmanaged to get hit by a deerfound one of my heroes face down on a trailwelcomed another hero to my backyard, pranced among naked people with my 9-year-old (my biggest hero!), outed myself as a stoner, and met a long lost trail running family member just in time to share his last few days before dying of cancer. My life mantra is "live life to have good stories", but damn, set the bar seriously f'ing high. In retrospect it was a little too much, which in my mind means it was absolutely perfect. Can't ask for much more than that.

So, 2016, what do you have in store for us?!? So far, it looks like this...

Camarillo Marathon, 1/3 - This is a local race near Santa Barbara that is flat and fast - perfect to try and lower my 2:48:50 Boston qualifying time before the 2/1 deadline. Gotta get that sub-1000 race number back! Funny how ego and vanity can take you to new levels, but doing so continues to raise my game at the ripe old age of 46, so I'm going to feed the beast and cross my fingers. This strategy worked well in 2015, and in retrospect it's largely because a "fast race" in early January keeps me a bit more honest through the holiday season when the wine and pie is flowing like a Syrian refugee crisis (ohhhh...too soon?).

Mystery Race #1, 2/1-3/5 - One issue with plotting a calendar annually is that I'm not always directly addressing my weaknesses. So this year, I'm going to keep this slot open to see what makes sense for the training, which could be the Napa Marathon/Jed Smith 50k/Caumsett 50k if I need speed, or Way Too Cool 50k/Fort Ord 50k/Montara 50k if I need some hills. Or perhaps, just some solid training blocks like a good coach would recommend if I actually had a coach. Phew! I feel better already.

Marin Ultra Challenge, 3/12 - Of all the races in the Marin Headlands, Inside Trail Racing (ITR) puts on one of the best with the MUC. I'm back on the ITR team for 2016 (WAA-HOO!) and it appears nearly all 15+ of the team members will be present for this one. Once again, the honor of having my ass handed to me by elite teammates the likes of Gary Gellin, Bob Shebest, Sam Robinson, Craig Shmidt, Erik Sorenson, Jennie Yeaman, Danny Metz, Kim O'Donnell, Chris Wehan, Luke Garten, Rayna Nelly, Mikey Jimenez, Victor Ballesteros, Chris Vizcaino, and more will prove to be epic!

Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, 4/18 and 4/24 - The Boston Marathon has been my "streak race" (11 finishes), and I just can't get enough of it. The whole race weekend, the history, the people, and the memories...I fear I might be in this one for life. I've got a handful of new friends doing it for the first time, and am thrilled to show them the ropes. And, per usual, it leads to the logical question of "should I also do the Big Sur Marathon six days later", which is a big HELLZYA (ultrarunners say "Awww, yeah"). B2B Challenge #7, let's do it!

Mystery Race #2, 5/1-6/5 - What does the training need to fine tune for my 'A' race in June? Hills, heat, distance, speed, etc??? There are plenty of races to choose from this time of year (Miwok, Quicksilver, Silver State, Cayuga Falls, etc.) but I think it will be best to make this choice on the fly. I only mention it here so that on the rare occasion my wife is reading one of my blog posts, she will know I'm going to disappear for a weekend, and yes, you can cash in your get-away weekend equivalent.

The Dipsea Race, 6/12 - As I shared trail running stories with my great uncle Ray Morris in his last few days on the planet, it was The Dipsea Race that captured his heart. In our last conversation, he handed me his 17 finisher medals and asked me to run this iconic race in his honor. Absolutely, Ray, will do and the honor is all mine. Whether I'm officially in or not, I will run the Dipsea on 6/12.

Western States 100m, 6/27 - Thanks to Scott Roberds and the generous folks at WS100 sponsor Microlumen, I'm returning to States!!! The race that has captured my imagination and tortured me through a decade of lottery losses, and once deliver the most impactful spiritual experience of my life. It is by far my 'A' race, if not the mother of all 'A' races, and I'll do what it takes to get a silver buckle this time. It could be another decade before I return, after all!

Sierre-Zinal, 8/14 - Of all the places my family has travelled, few have gripped us like the mountains of Switzerland. Before we even ended the last trip to the Jungfrau Valley, we were plotting our return. My globe trotting parents-in-law chose it for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, and it just so happens the iconic Skyrunning race of Sierre-Zinal lands right in the middle of the trip. Nice! A 30k race with 5k vertical...should be amazing.

Headlands 50k (USATF Trail 50k Championships), 8/27 - I complete screwed up this race last year thanks to no sleep and a redonkulous work travel schedule, but it has all my favorite sections of the Marin Headlands. Let's try again!

Lake Padden Half (USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships), 10/14 - I threw this Washington-based race on the calendar at the last minute in 2015, and was SO glad I did. Expertly run, very challenging with both fast and hard-climbing sections, and the fastest pack of runners to push you that one could possible conjure. I am really looking forward to coming back.

California International Marathon (CIM), 12/4 - Yeah, it's on the schedule AGAIN. And the probability of doing it, or any race that weekend for that matter, is practically zero. It's a California bucket list race for sure, so I keep putting it on the schedule (and paying $50 each year to defer). But every time I have inked this on the calendar, Christi pulls out her mega-ink-killing-eraser and asks me to cancel it so she can go on a trip with a girlfriend. Does she miss her friends that much? Yeah, she does. And quite honestly, she does "friends" better than anyone I know so I need to respect that. Perhaps because she is tired of me disappearing so many weekends for long-ass family-unfriendly races? Um, yeah, I'll have to give her that one too. Does she deserve it? Of course she does (and more), so I'm happy to cross out a race if it means that much to her. I'll have to admit that I kind of secretly love the whole "no, no...I'll just cancel my PASSION for you, because I love you" power exchange we do each year. When we draw the line in our family, SHE holds the chalk, now and forever. So here you go...a race to eee-race in a glorious dust cloud of family life balance.

Phew! I'm already exhausted and exhilarated. How about you? What races will pull you to your best this year? You deserve nothing less than something epic.

Happy 2016!

- SD


  1. Awesome Scott looks like a great year of speedy competitive races! Have fun at Sierra Zanal especially!

  2. Would always be good to have you back for Cayuga Trails but that would be a rough double back for Dipsea. You could stack Breakneck Point ahead of Boston for a pretty solid few day sequence and plug that gaping September hole w/ Bear's Resurrection if we get permitted for an inaugural running on September 10th. With you having run so many races over the years it's cool to see what you select for your year.

    1. I haven't ruled out Cayuga! Love that race.


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