2015: A year in review

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 has come and gone. It’s hard to believe all of the promise that it held a year ago has already been realized (and potentially wasted at times as well). In my year-end review last year, (https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/2015-a-probably-disrespectful-retrospective/) I talked about highlights, lowlights and lessons learned. A lot of those remain the same, so I won’t re-hash them, and will instead do a little chronological review. But first, a couple of observations/resolutions/miscellaneous items. 1. I need to do more barefoot strides. 2. I’m getting worse at the beer mile. I need to shape up or retire. 3. Every run has a purpose. 4. I had kind of forgotten how much running for a team can make one push through some dark places.


March 22, 2015 – Oakland Marathon Relay with Jorge, Yiou, and Galen, We each won a trip to Hawaii and then I got to watch Shirtless Sean run a big PR in the marathon.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/272570315/overview


Hawaii bound!

April 11, 2015 – Lake Sonoma 50 Mile: 6:09:39. Ran what was easily my strongest race to date and came away with the win and a new CR. We’ll see how long that holds, as it’s gone down each year the race has been run. I learned a lot during this one, including finally realizing that I do have it in me to win a big race.

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/lake-sonoma-50/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/283626139/overview

And easily my favorite interview to date: http://www.irunfar.com/2015/04/alex-varner-2015-lake-sonoma-50-mile-champion-interview.html (thanks Bryon and Meghan)

LS50 Finish

Just toasted post-LS50 (PC: Jenny Maier)

April 20, 2015 – Boston Marathon: 2:28:14. Still not quite sure how this happened 9 days after Sonoma, but I’ll take it. I had a ton of fun (as I always do) in Boston. Biggest lesson: eat something after race other than beer and Moscow mules (thanks, Pam).

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/2015-boston-marathon/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/289204631/overview

boston marathon

boston marathon2

Hard not to have fun during the Boston Marathon. (PC for both: MarathonFoto)

May 9, 2015 – Got engaged to a wonderful human being named Rachelle. Spent 19 of the 22 hours leading up to the hike sleeping off something weird. Proposed on the 2nd flight of the Dipsea stairs and celebrated with a drink at Beerworks. And on a related noted, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be partnering with Fort Point Beer Co. in 2016! http://www.fortpointbeer.com/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/301403800/overview

engagement party

I’m not sure what’s going on here… But we did finish all 3 magnums. (PC: unknown)

May 17, 2015 – Bay to Breakers: Always a blast running with the WVTC centipede. A bit harder this year, as it came the morning after my and Rachelle’s engagement party where we put down 3  magnums of wine (mine, Devon and Dakota’s), all of which were courtesy of Tropical John and the LS50 (thanks for hosting, Topher and Kim!).

Blog: see next item

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/306760543/overview


Back on the chain gang (PC: unknown)

May 30, 2015 – IAU Ultra Trail World Championships: 9:21:00 (85k w/ 17,000ft+ vert). I finally achieved my dream of wearing a USA singlet in competition. The trip to Annecy, the atmosphere around the race, and the race itself were incredible. My teammates were awesome and we even brought home a silver medal. I found some really dark places fairly early on in this race but having the USA on my chest and running for a cause greater than myself got me to the finish.

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/2015-iau-ultra-trail-world-championships/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/315262976/overview

IAU race

This face about sums up my race (PC: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks)

IAU silver

Team USA takes Silver! (PC: iRunFar/Bryon Powell)

June 14, 2015 – The Dipsea: 49:35 (7.4 miles w/ 2,200ft vert). The middle of the 4-week/3-race gauntlet I set up for myself (IAU, Dipsea, WSER), I suffered in this one from my training for the longer stuff. I didn’t have the pop necessary to run as fast as I needed and had my streak of fastest times broken by Rickey and Gus (both fully deserving, as you can’t perform at your best in this race if you don’t train specifically for it and they did). Still, Dipsea Sunday is always magical and I’m definitely sad to be missing it this year (most likely).

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/the-105th-dipsea-race/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/325619202/overview

Dipsea 2015-110

Nearing the top of Cardiac (PC: Steve Disenhof)

June 27, 2015 – Western States Endurance Run: DNF. I told myself I’d drop if things weren’t going right and that’s exactly what happened. It took me a while to reconcile this one while still on the course (as it should – a DNF is never something to be taken lightly), but once I had the wristband cut off, I knew I’d made the right decision. My knees were unhappy and my head wasn’t in it at mile 30. There was almost no way I was going to make it another 70 miles.

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/western-states-2015-squashed/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/334386445/overview


Nearing the end of my abbreviated WSER journey (PC: Chasqui Runner)

Summer 2015 – Malaise doesn’t even begin to describe it. A shin issue I’d been dealing with (and trying to run through) since late May kept me sidelined much longer than I’d hoped. I spent a good amount of time on the bike, bought an enormous, heavy mountain bike in the middle of a particularly well-attended pity-party, and got reaffirmed how much biking uphill sucks compared to running. The downhills, however, are particularly delightful, as you just point the bike where you want it to go and you don’t even have to move your legs. How easy is that!? Finally was able to start running at the end of the summer, just in time to catch our Indian summer. I also thoroughly enjoyed the 1st Annual Widowmaker Invitation.

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/not-as-anticipated/

Bike race PC Ornot

My first bike race! It went up Mt. Tam, naturally. (PC: Ornot)

Fall 2015 – various cross country races and tune-up for Quad Dipsea, and my first bike race! Unlike bike racing, cross country is so much fun. I’m glad the SFRC crew got to see the beauty of red-lining for 20-30 minutes and then being done rather than slogging it out for 6+ hours. I’ve found that as I’ve moved into the longer distances, the shorter stuff serves to remind me what it’s like to run fast, and makes the longer stuff feel easier (mostly).

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/something-old-something-new-something-forgotten-nothing-blue/


Having fun in XC PC Bruce Davie

Cross country isn’t supposed to be this fun (PC: Bruce Davie)

November 28, 2015 – Quad Dipsea: 3:41:01 (28 miles w/ 9,000ft vert). This was my goal since August. Every run, workout, and race was geared towards getting me to the start line healthy and ready to go. This was one of those days when everything clicked and things went exactly as planned and I nailed it. I will look back on this race for years to come.

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/quad-dipsea-2015/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/441111088/overview

Quad last climb PC Jenny Maier

Last climb (PC: Jenny Maier)

Quad Finish PC Trop John

Finish (PC: John Medinger)

December 5, 2015 – TNF 50 Mile: DNF. Gave myself a free pass to DNF the week after Quad and while things felt surprisingly good in the early miles, it was clear by mile 20 that my goose was cooked and I cut my losses. Relatively easy decision.

Blog: see next item

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/445013083/overview

December 12, 2015 – Club XC Nationals: 32:17 (10k). Pain cave.

Blog: https://andmilestogobeforeieat.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/tnf50-and-club-xc-nationals/

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/449656020/overview

Club Nats PC Matt Trappe

Jorge hunting me (PC: Matt Trappe)

Club Nats PC Fernando

Pain cave. Thank goodness there were only 10meters left at this point (PC: Fernando)

Finally, I can’t forget my sponsors, who have supported me through good times and bad. They aren’t the reason I run, but they do make it a lot more fun (and delicious).

Gear: Nike: http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/

Fuel: PickyBars: http://pickybars.com/ (they’re freakin’ awesome)

Organization: Victory Sportdesign: http://victorysportdesign.com/

Representation: Presidio Sports Management: http://www.presidiosportsmgmt.com/#intro

Coaching: Carmichael Training Systems / Jason Koop



And to finish it all off, stats from 2015:

Miles Raced: 299.8 miles (109.6 miles less than last year, which if you want to go down the rabbit hole, can be almost entirely attributed to the 70 miles I didn’t run at WSER 2015 and the 30 miles I didn’t run at TNF50 2015). I also only finished 3 ultra races (Sonoma, IAU, Quad) while in 2014 I finished 6 ultras.

Highest Week: 99 (included Bay to Breakers)

Days off: 94 (compared to 50 in 2014 and 12 in 2013)

Weekly Average: 58.3 miles

Daily Average: 11.2 miles (vs 12.7 last year)

Feet Climbed: 353,098ft (1,302ft/day)

Tam Summits: 9 (21 last year)

Lifetime Total (that I know of): 30,033 miles

A few charts for those so inclined.

miles raced chart

annual mileage bar chartdays off and weekly total bar chartmiles by month bar chart

running log

I think this one says a lot – it’s a high level view of my detailed training log. The blue bars are days off and the red bars are days off due to injury. That middle section there needs to be avoided in the future.

About afvarner

Runner. Donuts. Sneakerhead. Not necessarily in that order. Nike Trail Elite. Picky Bars. Gu. Vicory Sportdesign.
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2 Responses to 2015: A year in review

  1. Markus says:

    Great ‘ol season for you mate. Looking forward to an exiting 2016!

  2. Pingback: Ultrarunning Daile News, Fri, Jan 8, 2016

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