Monday, February 3, 2014

2014: A Running Preview

2013 was an incredible year for me.  I continually go back to that fateful day in August of 2012.  Heading out for a brutal 3 mile out and back near Thumb Butte in Prescott.  My first run since middle school, some 13, 14 years before. To think that in approximately one year from that brutal day, I would be running in my first 100 miler.
My entire adult life has revolved around the desire to explore natural wonders.  I am thankful everyday that I find myself living in one of the most amazing places on earth, and have enjoyed devoting the majority of my time in life to exploring and experiencing it. For years I had expressed this desire to explore in the form of backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, skiing/snowboarding, etc. For whatever reason, the thought never occurred to me on the trail to pick my feet up, and move a little faster.  I would see trail runners, and I even remembering often times scoffing at them, wondering, 'why are you running through it all?.'  I thought that in order to appreciate the wilderness, one needed to slow down, and take a longer look at the details.  I still in many ways believe this to be true, and is one of my least favorite aspects of trail running.  At the time though, I was unaware at how much MORE one could see through trail running, all be it in another manner.

In 2013, I logged more trail miles, more summits, and more adventures in the mountains than any other year, and I owe everything to running.  Trail running to me is an opportunity to be in the mountains, to experience and see more of them, and to appreciate every aspect of the natural world in an indescribable way.  I have said to many people over the last year that if all there was was road running, I dont think I would run.  Although I have fallen in love with the pure sport of running, it is and will always be second to the places that it allows me to explore.

The first half of 2013 was spent familiarizing myself with the sport of running.  I ran a few events for fun, but certainly did not consider myself a competitive runner.  It was not until after Texas, and my first ultra win, did I start to think about it as more than a hobby.  UROC and the Stagecoach 100 were my first real attempts at exposing myself to a competitive scene.  Still even at both of these events, I feel that they had a 'bucket-list' aspect to them.  I had never run as far as either of those races demanded of me on their respective days, and felt that at both events I was still a 'runner,' just barely cracking into the realm of the 'racer.' I am continually reminded of Jim King's infamous quote about Western States:

“They say there are three types of runners at Western States: the survivors, the runners, and the racers. Of that group I’d say that I’m one of the racers." 

I felt I was a runner all of 2013, and am hoping to push myself into being a racer for all of 2014.

I am incredibly excited for 2014.  With the expansion of the Skyrunning series to the United States, mountain running is growing exponentially and I am super excited to be a part of it.  I have met an amazing amount of incredible and inspirational people in 2013 via running, and cant wait to see them again at these events, and to meeting many more.  With about half of my schedule already set, I'm still weighing certain options for more races and traveling and exploration.

“Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.”  - Yvon Chouinard