Compete or Just Complete

bagel show

Recording at Main Street Bagel…

Join us today on Elevation Trail with Tim Long and Gary David as we chat about competing or simply completing races – is one more desirable or admirable?  Is Dean Karnazes the origin of our sport of ultrarunning becoming more of a spectacle sport compared to a competitive one?  Find out how Gary did at his marathon last week also.  Thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy the show!

15 thoughts on “Compete or Just Complete

  1. Great show, as always. Some notes from my head & the interwebs:
    OLYMPIC TRIALS: B standard for women is 2:43, A is 2:37. (This is down from 2012’s 2:46 and 2:39, respectively.) Yow!

    COMPLETING VS RACING: Totally, totally agree on the RACING is hard, no matter the distance. I completed ultras from 1997-2005 and felt generally “fine” during them, and was consistently in the back 1/3 of the pack, sometimes fighting cutoffs. My goal at that time was to have fun, see my friends, and finish. This is on 30 mpw on average. When I took 6 years off to do road stuff, I built up to 60mpw in 2008 and WOW, what a difference. Took my 5K down to 20:44, half to 1:35, and full to 3:21. And those were really freakin’ hard on the body. I think there is a vast gulf in bodily system damage if one is doing 95% of LT (lactate threshold) for 2-3.5 hours at a shot, versus xx% for 8 or 13 or 24 hours. It seems like there is, minute by minute, far more damage when one is close to (or above) LT pace.
    My PR marathon was run at a pace range that varied from “yeah this feels hard” to “holy shit I’m going to break something in my insides”. And my first time at Boston, I spent the last 8 miles with quads that were cramping and threatening to seize up but didn’t slack the pace at all. I’m extremely proud of that, almost as much as I am of a long slog like Hardrock. In a way it’s like I experienced all the suffering of the 44 hours at Hardrock over 3.5 hours at Boston.

    DEAN KARNAZES VS GOOGLE: I think Gary’s google searching might be biased toward his own history. 🙂 When I search “hate dea-“, I get things like “hate dealing with people” and “hate deadmau5”. So… possibly some browser interference there.

    DEAN KARNAZES: Interesting thought that he’s the one that people have decided is the representation of ultrarunning. I wonder how different the view of ultrarunning would be if the designated spokesperson was someone ELSE who’s been around 20+ years like Karl Meltzer, or Ian Torrence, or Ann Trason, or hell, Mark Dorion. The view of ultrarunners would be shifted slightly away from a buff guy with something to prove and addictions to overcome, more towards that of slightly neurotic, twitchy, and just a tad obsessive. I think the “spokesperson” of ultrarunning is more likely someone who genuinely does not like speaking all that much if they can help it. Hmm.

    Again, nice job.

  2. As an ultrarunning sidenote to the Jimmy Jenson story, the weekend prior to the NY marathon, his pacer Jennifer Davis had just run Javelina Jundred down here in Arizona (and I know this from Facebook). I think I read in an article that she hadn’t been a runner until Jimmy suggested they train for a 5K.

  3. Great show,
    It’s a topic I have been thinking about a lot lately, I recently tried putting this on a thread on our local FB Group, but it was taken wrong and went a whole other direction then I intended. You guys nailed the topic! Well Done.

    • I also feel like any fame Anton receives is earned and not due to marketing, the guy is a super solid down to earth athlete who has had a string of bad luck…he ran a 5:09 at Speedgoat this year closing super fast on Sage. That was a outstanding performance.

  4. How timely. Y’all covered a couple of topics that I’ve been mulling over for weeks now. I DNF’d at the Bear 100 (my first hundo) when I was 99% certain I would get pulled for missing the last cutoff at mile 93. I had decided to try it since I’d been pacing 40-52 miles at numerous mountain 100s over the summer, not knowing if I had the speed to finish within the cutoffs or not. When it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to get an official finish, I decided to call my race and stop the damage, a decision I was ok with at the time since my primary goal was getting an official finish. For the past few weeks though, it has gnawed at me that maybe I should have gone ahead and a) let them pull me at mile 93 or b) complete the distance regardless of how long it took. I still think both decisions (to stop or go on) could be defended as good decisions, but I think my mentality as a runner has changed since then from running ultras primarily for the fun and enjoyment of it (completing) to actually pushing myself into a sustainable comfortableness and seeing what my potential is (competing).

    And as you both mentioned, all my non-ultrarunning friends were proud of my 85 mile “accomplishment”. While I ran/hiked/walked more miles than ever before, I didn’t get my goal. As I politely said thank you, I inwardly brushed it off. It certainly didn’t make me feel better about my failure.

    I too, ran a road marathon last month and for the first time, ran it as hard as I could sustain the whole way. It was pretty much a sufferfest to get my 14 min PR there. It certainly wasn’t “fun” in the way that all my ultras have been. I guess I’m realizing the the reasons for why we racs can change and I’m seeing that shift after only 10 months of ultrarunning. Completing was fine for me last Spring… competing against myself and those I can actually keep up with is more important to me now.

    Enjoyed the podcast, learning more of thebackground of Ultrarunner Mag, why Dean K gets a bad rap and strangely, even liked having the background noise from the bagel shop.

  5. Good podcast…. Sometimes when I get to the end of the podcast I forget the key points so I can’t make any comments. I should take notes or something. It’s fun to read the ultra list, hear Gary talk about the ultra list, then see Gary’s comments on the ultra list. I also tried to Google “I hate Dea……..” and I hate to tell you Gary, but I also got a bunch of other stuff before I got to Dean K. By the way, I read his book a long time ago and really enjoyed it. There are not that many good books by or about runners out there. Funny thing about books, all you have to do is perform some mega-feat like hike the AT or the PCT, or fall off a rock, then write a book about it and start up a mini-corporation and go on the lecture tour.
    Compete or complete. It seems like the majority are just into completing, especially the longer races. Probably a good thing….leaves more room at the front for the fast guys.
    Looking forward to the next podcast!

  6. Looks like all 7 of your listeners are commenting this time…
    Enjoyed the podcast, like usual. I have lots of good thoughts about them while I’m running and listening, but then forget them by the time I’m home in the evening.

    Yeah, Gary, I think you must google Dean K too much, cause he doesn’t come up for my searches on I hate Dea… And I’ve met the guy and think he seems nice enough. I figure if more people start trail running because of him, then that’s a good thing overall. Even though I’m now one of 3000 entrants for Western, reducing my odds yet again.

    Liked the Compete/Complete discussion. I’ve finished many races near the front and a few in the middle, and am amazed how quickly it transitions to just Complete amongst the runners. I don’t criticize DNF’s for other people cause everyone runs for their own reasons. That being said, I had one very shameful DNF, learned a ton from it, and try my best to never DNF again baring some major injury, etc. If I start, I finish. But it’s also easier to finish when you’re out there half the time of some of the other runners- the back-of-the-packers are the truly dedicated, tough folks.

    Keep up the good work. Enjoyed it. And I think I only heard one TK reference- maybe you can do the entire next show without any!

  7. “I ran a 3:05. A lot of people consider that to be a fast marathon. But I’m not going to go out there and peacock about it. I’m not going to brag about it.” Lol. Dude, you just did. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s call a spade a spade. Gary, you are a master of the humble brag.

  8. Enough with the complaints about newer athletes. How about doing a podcast on young leaders in our sport? Nick and Jamil Coury of Aravaipa running are both in their 20s. Not really in the same league as Aravaipa, but the woman putting together the Rocky Balboa Fatass is 25.

    • I don’t recall that this podcast “complained” about younger athletes, but agree that either of the Coury brothers would be great interviews…in fact, Nick was on Ultrarunnerpodcast back a bit.

      I did think about this podcast on a run the other day, and the idea of “just completing”. I guess the downside of “just competing” is a sport filled with runners not reaching their racing potential, but on the other hand, the inclusiveness and the feeling of community from “just completors” may be what saves the sport/activity from being an esoteric niche of trailrunning. Our family moved to AZ a year ago, so we’ve been meeting lots of new people, and my experience is that the phrase “I’m training for a 50k/50 mile race” is an conversation killer. Even people with a running background. If it’s not a spectator sport, and most folks can’t imagine doing it, I feel like ultrarunning’s “popularity” will run its course after too long, like adventure racing did.

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