Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Mix Tape

The family had a lot of ups and downs in the last year, as did my running, and for the most part things are now in a better place than they were before.  I won't pretend to say that it was a "great" year, but it was an informative year for both my goals and desires for running as well as my priorities as a family man.  I've joked in the past that blogs (really the internet in general) are a place for people to bitch about nonsense and conversely make false proclamations of happiness.  An actual truism is that the rough parts of the past year certainly help to highlight the truly awesome parts of the year.

Xavier and I on our way to Mt. Sherman
In terms of running, I ran five races this year, and only ran well in one of them, Salida.  In that race I really struggled for the first 13 and last 3 miles, but it was still probably my best effort and certainly the best result of the lot.  I prepared, planned, and raced poorly for a majority of the year through Bighorn and had hopes of recharging and racing strong at the end of the year.  That didn't happen for a number of reasons, but life has its ways of throwing curves.  What the middle of summer actually brought was some much needed time in the alpine, my eldest's first 14er, pacing/crewing for Donnie's Leadman bid, and many beers with friends.

Pacing Donnie at Pb
Though it all I built some great friendships.  I can count Todd and Donnie, my two regular training partners, as great guys who help keep shit in perspective.  We went to the Grand Canyon together (along with Jeremiah and Greg) and Todd and I spent a couple of days chasing back-country routes this summer.  Those were by far the highlights of the running year; pure fun with a side of suffer.  I'm certainly looking forward to the new year's adventure running plans.  Often times the emails of route ideas ruin perfectly productive afternoons of work.

Todd acting appropriately
This past June also marked my wife's first 50 mile race.  A good weather day, smart training, and solid execution led to a great result.  The boys and I camped out on the course, and attempted to offer support along the way.  Really, we just made noise and likely slowed her down.  She was able to walk to the car afterwards, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for myself after my first 50.  Funny how things evolve, just a few years ago she was laughing at me for suggesting such an endeavor.  Now, she's another full blown convert to the ultra world.

The wifey, finishing strong.
Now, it's been 6 months since I posted anything here and mostly that was just due to a lack of motivation or desire to do anything here.  The fall was probably the most stressful time around the family for a multitude of reasons and we're still working out the kinks, but there have been some really cool moments mixed in.  Our oldest child, Xavier (now 5 years old), had been bugging us about being able to sign up for a "kid race", though he had little interest in a traditional 5K, insisting that it be a "mountain race".  We signed him up for the Rattlesnake Ramble, which was initially cancelled when the floods ripped through Eldorado Canyon.  However, after some recovery work, the race was rescheduled and Xavier got to run his race.

Doofus smile.  No idea where he gets that from...

One of the realizations I've had this year as a parent is that your kids will think whatever you do is normal.  My kids have no concept that ultramarathons are not mainstream.  While I certainly attempt to brainwash my boys (with great success, just ask them their favorite sports teams) I also try to encourage them to pursue whatever they find interesting.  For Xavier this means roughly every sport known to mankind.  For Oliver it means breaking shit.  Actually, that little one is a handful.  Attempts to steer his conniving genius have largely failed.

All together.
Now, where do I go from here?  I spent a good amount of time thinking about what my running priorities would be for 2014 after I missed out on the Hardrock lottery again (one of these years I might even make the wait-list).  I don't need a Hardrock qualifier for next year's lottery, and like most runners, I found myself racing just for the sake of racing a bit too much for my liking over the last two years.  So, I went through the list of available options and immediately ruled out anything I wasn't excited about.  I thought about the type of places I wanted to run.

Pretty much all the places I want to run look like this.
I also knew that I wanted to make extra room for an adventure.  No racing, just exploring with friends.  Some runners (mostly single people) can take these kinds of trips regularly, but those of us with families must balance the amount of travelling and time away from home.  Last year it was the Grand Canyon, a place I'd actively avoided until I could commit to doing it right.  Running R2R2R was the trip in 2013, and almost immediately on returning we'd pretty much decided that we'd try to find a way to do Zion in 2014.

Myself, Donnie, and Todd on the South Rim.  Photo by Jeremiah.
So, keeping that in mind, and working through the wife's racing/travel plans (she's planning a trip to the Methow Valley next summer) I decided on some races.

2014 Plans
March - Salida
May - Zion
June - Evergreen Mountain Run 
June - Lake City
July - Mt. Werner Classic (If accepted to CC100)
August - El Vaquero Loco (If not accepted to CC100)
August - Cascade Crest (lottery dependent)

Salida was an easy choice.  All things considered, it might be the most fun race in Colorado.  The town is awesome, the vibe is awesome, it's cheap, and it's beautiful.  At times technical, at times painfully fast, it's the perfect mix for a trail marathon.

Zion in May. Stoke factor is almost untenable.

Evergreen Parks and Rec put on great low key races for cheap.  I did this one back in 2009, time to return.

Lake City has been on my list for as long as I've been running ultras, and I had to forcibly decide to not race one of the Bighorn events this year so that I could make the trip to the San Juans.  I love Wyoming, and eventually I'll complete all the Bighorn runs (I just need the 30K and 50 miler), but it was time to do some more exploring and get after the solstice run.

Late July/Early August will be determined by the Cascade Crest Lottery.  I would love to run El Vaquero Loco, so if I don't get into CC I'm set on heading out to Afton for Ty Draney's annual sufferfest.  If I get in to CC, it's just a week too close, so I'll settle for my favorite race course in Steamboat at Mt. Werner.  This is a great race and would work perfectly in conjunction with CC.  The one race that missed out this year was the Standhope 60K.  I just don't think the travel aspect there works for me (this year).  Check out the course though, unreal.  Bucketlister.

Play in the mountains, it's good for the soul.
Obviously, if I get through the lottery, Cascade Crest will be the focus for my fall.  However, I'm not gonna let that derail any plans for alpine slogging.  Often the bummer for Pb runners is the desire to run the course for familiarity, and they miss out on the best season in Colorado.  I won't sacrifice that this year regardless, it's too good to pass up, and I've got some bucket list adventures close by that I'd like to tick off (RMNP traverse, Lost Creek, etc.).

If I don't get into CC, I might look into another late season option (The Bear/Volcanic 50 among the competitors), but I'll let that play out later.  For now, 'tis the season to prep for the fat ass down in the Springs by jaunting through the hills and drinking beer.  The wife and I got rec center passes too, so I'll be shooting hoops, climbing, and lifting a few weights through the winter months.

Lastly I'd like to thank the sponsors that willingly attach themselves to me.  I'm extremely grateful for the support from Drymax and Pearl Izumi.  I'm not a national class ultrarunner, and I don't get paid, but I can honestly say that the gear I've been using is gear that I would (and have) purchased with my own money.  I've worn Drymax socks for 4 years now and I've never been disappointed with them.  I've bought them for my dad, wife, and various other family members.  The company is small, and committed to runners. The ultrarunning community should be grateful for companies like Drymax that truly supply the sport with both great products as well as through sponsorship.  As well, I've been incredibly thankful for Pearl Izumi's support of my running, and their support of our fringe sport in general.  Long known as one of the finest cycling apparel producers in the world, their running gear has rapidly caught up in both function and simplicity.  Get your hands on the Ultra Short and you'll be glad you did.  I'm excited for all the miles I'll get to put on my trusty N2's this next year.

Now, I leave you in the capable hands of Oliver.

His winter plans? Sledding.


GZ said...

Hmmm, enough folks chat up this Salida thing. I might need to go to that party if I am around.

You had me at the truism though.

Nick said...

A blast from the past. It's alive!

We'll have to get together for a father/son mountain outing this summer sometime. Looks like Xavier has a similar passion to my boy. They last a whole lot longer when there's other kids to mess with.

See you in Salida, if not the Springs.

Gangels said...

Good times last summer.

Don't be too glum on Hardrock. Only took me 5 times to get in and Hessek still hasn't gotten in. Already looking forward to Zion.

Bigger and better in 2014!


Patrick Garcia said...

GZ, you gotta do it.

brownie said...

You forgot to mention the Bill Burr show that was your social highlight of '13.

Patrick Garcia said...

Nick- Absolutely, let's plan something when we get together next. Was planning on bringing the fam up for the FA, but the weather kept us hanging close to home.

Todd- maybe the Giant Killer and I will get in together. Working the angles to see if I can get out for pacing/crewing. Looking good so far.

JT- Yeah, and King's Chef was likely the culinary delight of 2013!

brownie said...

By the way, Semi-Rad is going to sue you for your use of the word "mixtape."

Jaime said...

Great post! Loved how real it was. Good seeing you at Falcon and hope to hang out a bit more in 2014!

Chris Boyack said...

Love that pic of you and Donnie at Pb. How can you guys run that fast and look that happy?!? I will forever be chasing that secret. Thanks for sharing the ups and the downs, and here's to a great 2014!