Friday, January 31, 2014

Reaching a 10-Year Milestone; What's Ahead in 2014

Last year was the 10th anniversary of running my 1st trail ultra, Pacific Coast Trail Run's Skyline to the Sea 50k (though the course had been renamed since to Big Basin 50k, since it only partially went on the Skyline to the Sea Trail and another race using that trail has emerged, which I have run twice.)

I more proud of another decade anniversary, that of my last DNF, when I was pulled from the race at mile 41 of the inaugural (PCTR) Diablo 50 Mile Endurance Run atop Mount Diablo by Wendell Doman the last Saturday of September in 2003.  It was really really hot all day and I didn't know what a salt cap was.  After a hellacious tortuous (as in winding) ride down to the start finish, I was transported to an emergency department where post normal saline infusion labs showed significant hyponatremia and rhabdomyolysis.  I was released the next morning though had to walk 8 miles or so since I didn't have any money or a car or family or friends to impose upon to the BART.

my first ascent of Mount Diablo ever
I have since accumulated less fashionably unpardonable running gear.

Since then, I have finished every single race I have started.  This includes not dropping down to a shorter distance even when permitted, and even informal semi to non-competitive fat-ass events.  Two close calls finishing "DFL"-- the inaugural Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile in 2006 (a little over 30 minutes to spare) and HURT 100 a few years ago (less than 5 minutes). Since I am getting slower, the next DNF since the 2003 Diablo will inevitably come, but I am very proud of this streak and what it took me to make it.

One caveat:  I disqualified myself from the results of the 2006 Whiskeytown 50k when I figured out (after the RD John Luaces awarded me with 2nd place overall schwag) that I had inadvertently missed a turn and cut the course.  I had decided to run the race literally a day or two before and hadn't studies the map.  As it turned out, there were no ribbons at the intersection, and the volunteers who was supposed to be pointing runners in the correct direction was peeing in the bushes at the time I passed through.  RD Luaces was very embarrassed about what happened, and I had to email him several times to expunge my name from the results.  So I am not counting Whiskeytown as a DNF-- since I finished, and the RD convinced me it wasn't my fault.

results with me right under Hal, before I badgered the RD to revise them
Admittedly I have only entered one race with a set distance over 100 miles, and haven't gotten to try Hardrock yet.
(By the way, I hold that not finishing all 5 loops of the Barkley Marathons should not count as a DNF.)

I am not quite sure how many races I have completed during this streak, since I am too lazy to count. (I can't fathom the meticulous tenacity of the lifetime mileage counters out there, especially the trail ultrarunners-- You just ran your 50-thousandth lifetime mile, you are SURE-- really??!!!)   My Ultrasignup profile has me at 120 finished.  Realendurance.com tallies 141 results, undoubtedly there are duplicate and missing races (especially fat-ass runs).

Perhaps this indifference to knowing my exact stats is partially related to a change in a change in my attitude toward racing.  My competitive edge has waned.  I find myself much less concerned with how I finish at races.   Maybe it is because I am resigned to the fact that I am getting slower, and there are so many more REALLY fast runners out there competing nowadays compared to when I started.  Or maybe once you've completed 100-something ultras, it all starts to get blurred.  I often can't remember my exact finish place or time just a week after finishing a race.  I am more into enjoying the scenery, pushing myself (to push myself), enjoying occasional conversations with other runners and their pacers, and when I don't have to rush off to be somewhere, hanging out post-raced.  But if some woman manages to chick me by a few minutes, or I don't make 13th place by a few seconds, I don't believe my dick will fall off, or a plague will strike already poor villagers in a small African hamlet.

small portion of previously accrued age-group or overall place awards
given the lack of available space in our house, maybe not so bad I am winning fewer of these

In early July I fast-packed the John Muir Trail with 4 other ultrarunning buddies.  Not as fast as Hal and Mike, but we were self supported, and my pack to body weight ratio was the largest in our group.  (I actually was the only one in our group to start at the beginning at Happy Isles in Yosemite).   It was very  very very tough, and even more amazing.  I am supposed to blog about this.  Someday.  I want to do more of this sort of quasi-endurance stuff.  A race format is not needed to enjoy these places.

Reds Meadow, near Mammoth Lakes
La Sportiva has renewed by contract as a team ambassador for my 6th year.  Which is always great, as I love their shoes, and the other gear and perks from them and severeal associate sponsors, whom I will try to better recognize here as I better do on Facebook.

some of my shoes
This upcoming year (2014) I have a lot of extra stuff on my plate.  Aside from the usual demands of work and family-- I actually was slightly relieved not to get into Western States for the first time in the 2014 lottery held last month-- next spring won't offer the time for an optimal build-up, and I wouldn't even be able to guarantee more than 3 days off for the race.  My hospital will be moving (early June), and work will most likely really suck for the weeks to months after that happens.  I have several big multiple-of-5 birthdays or anniversaries to attempt to properly celebrate in my family.   I have to study for and pass my board recertification exam in Emergency Medicine in the fall (this preempted my entering the lottery for the inaugural Tahoe 200 (mile).  Therefore, maybe I will not run, uh, 2 or 3 races that I would otherwise.  (!)   I definitely won't even try to catch up on blogging.  It is sort of disturbing and depressing how little of the information I am required to know for my field that I can review through (painfully) shortening a run by 1 to 2 hours.  Many would-be runners have trouble mustering up the discipline to regularly run.  Will I have the self-control NOT to run?

neglected review aids taunting me
I probably know most of this stuff, but failing would be a very bad thing.
Hopefully there will significantly more snow and rain, to end this drought in the West, the worst in recorded California history.  I am scare the whole state (particularly the forests) will burn down, starting in the spring.

I hope to see many of you on the trails.  Run safely and run far!

3 comments:

Olga King said...

Mark, happy anniversary! This is awesome! And I can totally relate to "after 100 of those things blur"...well, a little, at least where competitive spirit comes for sure. Your JMT looks great! Best to you in all that you do.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Hi, thanks, Olga! Hope to see you out there some time.

Alisa said...

Mark, it would be nuts to try Hardrock at your age! you would need to move in with Matt's dad & step mom for at least of month beforehand because whenever we've visited them in CO we can barely climb one flight of stairs for the first 3 days! 9000 ft is nothing to mess with! Same elevation as kirkwood?

You still have never tried really hard to get into the Marine Corps Marathon yet!
Love, your little sister