“Only you can control your future.” Dr Seuss
We (people like me) are rational people and we make decision that make sense. Sometimes it hurts, but we have to suck it up because people like us have only one gear in life, forward.
I am questioning a whole lot of things lately and I must admit I’m really confused. If I were to die right now, I would have a lot of regrets about things I haven’t done, missed, didn’t take the time for.
I am chasing big dreams but realise I am doing it at a great cost. Being goal oriented, challenge driven leads to missing out on the now. When goals are reached, quests are achieved, I look for greater ones instead of being satisfied and settle down. Why so?
Have I yet to reach my ultimate goal to be satisfied? What if I don’t? When will I know I need to stop without being frustrated?
I’m nearly 30 years old and despite full dedication and involvement, I personally don’t believe I have achieved anything worth the sacrifices. Yet I will keep trying.
I don’t know what the future holds, and that’s not without little fear that I will try to change my life, reshape it, rethink it so eventually one day, what I’ll have will be enough, and hopefully it won’t be too late so I can then create and focus on what really matters. Family and friends.
“You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re coming from”
Someone famous must have said something similar at some point, and if not, I’m sure Yoda has, so it counts.
Therefore I wouldn’t be able to clearly seek happiness in a near future without looking back at how 2014 unfolded for me. So let’s get to it.
Gotta be honest here, I have had a fucking fantastic year. I traveled to exotic and beautiful places to race on courses even my adventurous mind couldn’t design. New Zealand, Costa Rica, La Palma, Chamonix, Colorado, Montana, Arizona… seriously, who does that??
I’ve also got to know people better who each have enriched my soul for the better. Jo, The Frosties, Matt, Erik and Braz, the Flag crew (Rob and Christina, Shay and Brian, Alicia, Vargo, Paul…), Ethan, Nico, Yo and all the ones I missed.
It was unreal and I am well aware how lucky I am to have experienced so much, been given so much and felt such care and love.
The path within, a bumpy road to happiness.
I also had my fair share of dead ends, doubts, demons to fight, and facts to accept. The way forward requires to be inspired by people, but doesn’t mean you need to chase someone else’s dream.
I have been explained that my personality is to give and assist people in their personal quests, and there I would find happiness. For a challenge driven person like me, it is extremely hard to accept my happiness would only lay in my contribution to other people’s success. I don’t know if this is true or not but it took me a while to understand that one.
I always seek for the best, but for way too long I was seeking to achieve goals perceived by others as the best, and should I reach it, I would receive the ultimate recognition. As much as I must admit it made me feel good to reach a goal and please other people’s expectations almost more than the goal itself, it ultimately didn’t make me truly happy inside.
I understood that other people are other people, and life is way to short to care so much about what they think. I know now that my decisions will be made first and foremost to please the little guy (or little girl) in me. Friends and family will understand or at least accept it, and others… can think whatever makes them happy.
I did take a lot of time to step back and learned things can’t be perfect, all goals can’t be reached, and that’s just fine. Facing reality was sometimes painful but a necessary path for better tomorrows. A better 2015.
A 360° turn. Yes.
Some people will see it as the exact same direction, I beg to differ. A 360° turn allows to look around, learn, catch information and thus offer a different vision of the same direction. Knowledge unveils many details over the perception of the same view.
From a professional standpoint, I sold my first startup (Goodpeoplerun) and created a new one (Twiinkly). New teams were formed and amazing things are being created. I was able to learn from the countless mistakes I made during my first experience as an entrepreneur and put them to good use for Twiinkly. It worked and I’m delighted to share this experience on my free time, with such talented individuals who do share my perception of entrepreneurship and vision for the future, and I hope for years to come.
One of these lessons was to not rely on a startup financially and keep it as a hobby. First application of my new decision making process. Almost all entrepreneurs will say “you need to give it all, and go full time into your project to make it successful”, and my decision goes against this. So be it. If I can live a healthy life, have a job that excites me, I’ll be able to make better quality contribution to that side project.
I look forward to pursuing leads towards very exiting professional opportunities that will unfold within the next few weeks.
UnKnown. And it makes the journey even more exiting.
Bottom line, I reached in 2014 new heights of happiness, and was willing to compromise on other things to get there. I won’t be able to compromise anymore and thus know won’t be able to spend as much time in that blissful happiness in 2015 as I did in 2014. As sad as it sound to have a less bright tomorrow than today, I don’t fear potential withdrawal.
First because you have to be grateful for what you are given, and it was a privilege to experience and most importantly share such incredible and unique moments. Second because I found something much more valuable than intense yet random hits of pure happiness. Run free White Rabbit, I found the way. Wonderland be ready, I’m coming your way and very optimistic about that journey.
I wish you all the best for 2015, and may you find that path and enjoy all the small wins along the way.
I’m moving at a painfully slow pace down one of San Francisco must popular streets for tourists and weirdos alike. Haight street.
I’m carrying over half my weight between a suitcase and a large backpack, and yet, it’s a mental burden that’s truly weighting me down. Yesterday for the first time in 22 years of racing, I DNF’d. That alone would affect me but wouldn’t bring me down. However, being about to fly away from my beloved one and a good life I was getting used to, surely did. All good things must end, as they say. My entire body and soul were screaming in disagreement, aching against an irreparable change coming ahead. LEAVING.
I looked up for synonyms of that term : depart from, go away from, go from, withdraw from, retire from, take oneself off from, exit from, take one’s leave of, pull out of, quit, be gone from, decamp from, disappear from, abandon, vacate, absent oneself from, evacuate.
What an ironic situation I had gotten myself into. I made myself experience twice the pain of having to leave, or quit, two days in a row. First dropping out, and second flying thousand of miles from what had enriched my life for the past two month.
Sometime in early September
Plan was simple, find a place in the world I could call home for two month, to live a « normal » life, train, explore and carry on developing Twiinkly from a distance.
After being accepted into the Blue Spruce circle as one of their own, back in 2012, I had a standing invitation to come back. Good friends, a community of runners as welcoming as talented, Flagstaff it was. And it’s been good, almost too good.
Dry and thin air took a while to get used to but felt incredibly empowering once used to, made cold bearable, and the ever blue and sunny skies tricked my mind into a constant happy state. Weekend exploring the surroundings such as Antelope Canyon and the Wave around Page, the Grand Canyon or Havasupai Falls, daily trips to the magical and warm Sedona, or freezing cold and heart opening Humpfeys were many steps were taken, quick, slow, uneven, small and possibly the biggest one in my life.
Looking back, I was like trapped in wonderland.
Early on December 7th
Eric and I are cruising in the darkness of a too early morning, on our way to the start of the 2014 TNF EC 50 miler. We’re catching the green light to drive through the one way tunnel to the Marin Headlands, we find a parking spot next to the start, the weather is warm and the ground is wet. I’m feeling strong and rested. It’s going to be a good day, or so I thought.
After the lead pack took a start a wee bit too fast for me, I settle back and moved at my own pace up the first hill of the first lap. I’m not moving as quick as I’d want, but I know uphill isn’t my strength, so I’m not worried. First descent back toward the start to close the loop, and I come back right behind the lead pack that has been slowed down by an interesting concept: to ensure that each runner would do 2 laps, volunteers would draw a sharpie tick on our bib number… CHAOS!
Second climb and again, I’m falling behind the lead pack, as expected. The way down allowed me again to catch up and we were out on our third climb of the day. I realize I’m pushing harder, much harder than I did last year on that section. Nothing to worry about, I’m also in a much better shape I was a year ago. On the downhill toward Tennessee Valley, the dense fog makes it hard to see. Somehow I’m caught in a Nike sandwich Alex Varner leading the way and Chris Vargo on my heels, the visibility dropped, we charged.
Perfect transition at the aid station performed by surely one of the most experienced out there: Anna Frost. Empty bottles dropped off, full bottles picked up, salt pills, shot blocs and out I was.
As Chris and I chatted running down the road to the Costal trail, I remember saying “I’m a bit too fast but close to where I want to be”. I must have been right because shortly after I started feeling like absolute crap. I slowed down and my mind was racing even harder than my body. Questions popping about everything going on around me, runners passing me, runners blowing up, I had lost focus on my own race. That moment lasted only 10 minutes or so until I got my shit together and started moving again.
On the downhill to Muir beach, my brother from the US of A Timmy didn’t pass by me, didn’t run by me but literally flew by me! I didn’t realize at the time what should have been a big red flag. First that I was ahead of him at this point, and second that I was being passed on a downhill. Last time Tim and I ran together, I didn’t feel like I was that slow compare to him running downhill.
Bottom line, things had started to go south, but I ignore it and push the flat section on the single track along the road.
I see my crew that’s cheering me on. Second sign auguring bad things ahead, was I had to force myself to smile back at them. I’m usually all smiles.
The hill to cardiac is where I couldn’t fake it anymore. I was stuck, my legs felt like wood, I couldn’t breathe and I again started to ask myself all sorts of questions, and the wrong ones on top of it. What a shame to disappoint. My crew is out there doing their best to help me, how can’t I bring MY best? If I trained so hard and can’t run better than that, what the hell am I doing here? What did I do wrong? Will I get a second wind? I wasn’t allowed to mess up my last race with New Balance whose colors I wanted to carry high and proud one last time.
I kept pushing, saw Rob on the out and back, walking on the flat road section, and greeting me. Dang, it seems he’s having an even worse day than me and yet he’s still smiling. What a champ.
As I arrived down to the next aid station, I wanted to call it a day. But my crew didn’t give up on me that easily, and walked me into continuing. I had reached rock bottom inside, but Anna’s enthusiasm somehow got me back on track and I attacked that hill with everything I had, which wasn’t much to be honest.
Getting closer to the Pantol Ranger station, I bumped into a good friend of mine, Adam Chase who had come to pace another friend Josh Korn.
We chat for a bit, he knows me well so realises quickly I’m not in a good day. He asks me if I fell. I’m not sure what he means, I look at my clean legs and answer unsure, “No, why?”. His smiling face changes into a much more serious and worried one almost instantly, and responded “your nose is bleeding, Martin. If you weren’t aware of it, it’s bad news and you should probably call it a day”. Wise words.
You never want to push a friend into dropping out, unless they’re about to jeopardize their health.
I would eventually pull out at Pantol and catch a ride to Tennessee Valley to catch up with my crew. My stomach cramped when I made eye contact with them as they were there expecting me coming from the trail… I was devastated to have let them down, but was too messed up to be able to let it out. I zoned out, tried to eat something and stood there cheering as runners were passing by.
Later that day, I talked to a bunch of people, and few of them had dropped too, which was a ridiculous relief for me, even though I don’t race according to what other people do, it helped me realise that DNF is part of being competitive. You can have a bad race and decide to push through to cross the finish line and save your self-esteem, sometimes at high costs physically and mentally. Or you can drop out.
I had pushed through twice earlier this year, at the Mont Blanc 80k and two weeks later at Ice Trail Tarentaise. It had affected me so much that I was disgusted with running for the next month an a half. I wasn’t ready to damage myself mentally – and seemingly physically too – more than I already had, for a mediocre result for the energy spent towards that goal. It took me a long time to get over that first DNF, but I still can’t regret that decision.
Live and learn
Only because I knew I had trained consistently, eaten well, slept well, and rested well, I had the arrogance to believe I was guaranteed to have a good one out there. I wasn’t. You can’t take a good day for granted, fact. Tough one, true one.
I learned another lesson the hard way that day. This season has been more about learning from my mistakes than actually performing at the level I believe I could have.
Should I have the time to train decently for the 2015 season, I will stick to technical and tough sub marathon distance races. I want to run fast again, taste blood down my throat, feel the adrenaline pumping in my veins and stop making my body ache for days after a race. My race calendar is done, but is yet to be disclosed.
In the meantime, I’m back at training hard and got back together with my beloved mistress… She makes me hurt so good, we share rough sessions, during which I get at it repeatedly, with high intensity. Dear track I’ve missed you, it’s been too long.
One of the simplest yet wisest things I was ever told from a professional standpoint was “Business is People”. This has happened to be a verifiable fact I experienced almost on a daily basis since. My most interesting and fruitful business encounters have come from informal chats and relationship in the least expected situations.
I have only recently realised that it might be just as simple with friendship and life in general.
Whether they are the quiet neighbour that we have very little interaction with yet have been part of our lives for as long as we remember, or the very intense relationship we have had with someone even if lasted for a short period of time, the total stranger we have a conversation with in a coffee shop and plants an idea in our brain that will last for ever, I truly believe that all people we meet have an impact on our lives.
And since everything is balanced, the more you give and open to people, the more you will receive. I have received so much this past few weeks it’s almost ridiculous.
Find out soon more about two of my most memorable adventures this past month and an upcoming one I’m already delighted about.
However, my preparation up leading to it was far from world class when it came down to my running. I had lost my motivation for running and was still training because I had to, and not because I genuinely wanted to get out there and have fun loading up on endorphins.
So when I got a phone call to do the English comment for the live TV at the UTMB, I accepted not to give up on my however so precious race number for Kima to go and have what sounded like the experience of a lifetime. It was hell of a week leading up to the event and the few days of the actual exceeded my expectations. I’m glad I made that decision.
So here I was, flying to Bozeman, MT, absolutely unfit, having lost that fire that once made me run like a demon. I thus decided to have the most enjoyable experience possible, giving up on a performance approach.
Feeling quite good early on, I figured I’d run fast while I’d have wheels and try to keep it together once that 2 hours mark would hit, turning that run into the longest one in over 3 weeks.
Well, when my wheels feel off, they did. Hard. So my journey in the pain cave started and as expected, it just wasn’t as pleasant.
Things however took an unexpected turn as I fell off the trail after I had managed to go almost all the way down on the other side of Lone Peak. My forefoot kissed a rock for a bit too long, while momentum had me getting closer to the ground.
The always so optimistic runner I am tried to carry on running a bit faster to even my balance and avoid the inevitable. These few more steps only made me gain more momentum, I dived in. Hand and head first, rolled, bounced again and again, until I hit a pine tree 10 feet below. No time to assess the damage, both my legs instantly seized up. I screamed. It stopped. I try to get myself out of that tree. My legs cramped. I screamed again. I would later realise what a trick I must have pulled off to still be alive after such a fall.
I didn’t want to use that fall as an excuse to quit, and after I covered 2 miles to pulling myself back together, got my elbow fixed by a medic on the course, I sucked up the pain and dragged myself to that finish line.
More that finishing the race, I was looking forward to seeing familiar faces and get a full body check to ensure no more damaged had been done.
I ended up being fine, with a bunch of bruises all over by legs, hand, and back. Lucky. Arnaud Tortel did take a close look at me and confirmed I’d be fine. A special Patch on the elbow and should be fine within few days.
As a guest at the Salomon House for the event, it was a privilege and a pleasure to share these moments with top athletes and most importantly getting to spend quality time with people who I considered as friends already, yet whose company hadn’t had the chance to really enjoy.
The competition ended, and it was now time for a special event. An event where chrono and competition gave place to running free and campfires, the SaloMontanaFreedomTour was about to start.
In 22 years of running, this is the first time I have to face it.
Physical injuries are more common in our sport and usually fairly easy to identify and get a remedy for. This one is a different kind.
Whatever I do, I do it with my heart which is I believe how I can give my best. I have always loved running and most likely always will. Yet, after the Skyrunning World Champs 80k in Chamonix in late June, I was spent. Physically and mentally. I was thus looking forward to a short break before race Speedgoat 50k, three weeks later.
Change of plans stopped me from going over to the States and thus tow the line of my first race of the 2014 Skyrunning ultra series. Needing three races to place in the series, I had to fall back on Ice Trail Tarentaise one week earlier. So instead of a 6hrs-ish effort I should have performed at SpeedGoat 50k, I ended up dragging myself close to 9hrs on an unforgiving 65k and 4000m gain through high mountains and deep snowfields, sometimes head comes first !
Stakes of being “frosted” are higher than ever, and I am actually delighted to be spending as much time as I’ll be able to hold on for with such a strong and enthusiast person.
I have been discussing life styles with a wise friend of mine and it only started scratching the surface of such a topic.
We stuck to the nomadic aspect of it, and sure there was already a lot to cover.
What fired up our thoughts was the awareness of being fortunate to have options to travel the world. Not a lot of people get such chance, which is the first reason why we’d feel guilty not to fully embrace it.
It’s amazing at first, new places, new people, new races and challenges. It feels like being a kid in a candy store. Many options to chose from, and the allowance to get at it.
Just like candy eating though, have too much and you get sick of it. Being the family guy I believe I am, the thought of being away from home recently started to creep on me.
Missing out on family and old friends brings me back to reality. The brutal reality that time doesn’t stand still while I enrich my soul from all foreign encounters and feed my thoughts with opportunities and dreams.
Having the immense luck to have had my family together and close since I was born, I have always had this conviction that family will always be there. It’s not. People go and that’s part of life, and our discussion brought light on this simple fact yet critical to acknowledge. Why critical? Because you need to expect it so you won’t be taken by surprise. Live fully and without holding back, but with that fact in mind, so when the inevitable arrives, there will be tears but no regrets.
I will keep traveling as much as I can, especially because I have now built strong relationships with amazing people all around the globe, but I’ll also ensure to take some time off that vagabond life of mine to settle down for a good old chat, a beer, or simply enjoying the presence of my genetic and extended tribe that I’m grateful to still have around.
Keep on the fun and meaningless shenanigans, keep loving each other, don’t hold anything against anyone, because when it’s too late, there is nothing left but regrets.
I’m half sat, half laid down on my couch, looking out the window. It’s a fine day out there, perfect weather for a long run in the mountains. Sadly I won’t run for another month.
The pain has become so intense bending my leg, I gave up trying. I stay on the couch and suck it up. Work, emails, social networks, books and movies, at this point I have tried everything to keep mind away from a will to run becoming more oppressing. Will I turn insane?
This is what my leg looked like exactly a year ago. It wasn’t pretty, it was extremely painful. 3 weeks later I was running TransVulacnia, my first 50 miler and what kicked off a successful Skyrunning season.
Injuries are such an interesting state for the runner, here are some facts :
- We know we need running in our lives.
- We know about injuries and have most likely already experienced it.
- 87% of the time (totally made that up) we are the only ones to blame when it happens. We either ran too hard, too far, for too long and sometimes too soon causing the inevitable curse of the injury.
Any rational soul will lose sanity trying to figure out why we do this to ourselves despite our undeniable awareness?
By no means this post will give you an answer on such behaviour, but I have found a few cases where such drawbacks occur and seemed close enough to running to compare them with.
CASE STUDY #1
My first finding lied in economic crisis. I have a masters degree in business so why not try and look at that side of things after all.
DOW JONES during the 1929 industrial crisis
NASDAQ value before and after the “dot com” bubble
After an in depth analysis of some of the main stock market crises of the century (looking at pictures mostly) we can all see they have something in common. But let’s not draw any conclusion too early and carry on with the next examples.
CASE STUDY #2
To keep the youngsters with classic movie references in the loop, here comes my second finding.
Frank, during Mitch house party, lets out the infamous “Frank the Tank” for a glorious come back, an undeniable hight point in Frank’s life (and let’s be honest in American movies history too). A solid built up from the excitement of a first beer bang, to the most legendary solo streaking.
Sadly, the night long uphill trend reverses when he gets picked up by his wife out on a girls night, is made fun of by the girlfriends and ultimately is given the boot by his soon-to-be ex-wife. Massive fall.
CASE STUDY #3
Last reference is a really bad experience, well mostly bad but get funny with time. Getting totally hammered at a party. I hope many of you haven’t experienced this and I suggest you don’t. And for those who have, enjoy the ride back to the point where your memories faded.
You’ve had a long ass week at work or school, but comes the weekend and that massive party everyone has been excited about. As a runner, chances are you are a little competitive. Let’s just remember that for later. You’re out of your weekly duties, catch up with your friends, and gather at one’s flat to “warm up” before heading to the real party.
One song leads to another, one drink to another things get out of control and after the neighbours have come repeatedly to complain about the noise , it’s time to make a move before things go too crazy… Mind you, it’s already too late.
This is what the warm up felt like… yet this is us on the way to the party
Needless to further describe the party, not to spare you the disconcerting details but simply for a serious lack of it, until morning hits… hard. We often, but not restricted to, look like one of the following :
Yes, pretty pathetic.
So how did we get there? How could we be in such a positive, optimistic, ecstatic state one minute and brutally feel like our world has been turned upside down in a matter of hours?
Here is the process that unfolds in the three situations described above : A build up, a peak, a dramatic fall. Each of these dramatic fall was preceded by a long and steady raise, up to an un preceded high point. At this point, we feel unbreakable, invulnerable, we own the world and what another risky investment, a quick nocturne streak, or another drink could do to us ? The answer is : everything.
At this precise point, we still have the choice to step back and be wise, but the voice of reason that could have saved us, is quieted by our inner champ (this is the competitive attitude I was telling you about) who can’t get enough of such a pleasing high.
Back to running.
I believe a big part of the injuries we get as runners is caused by the excitement of hitting a new high in our training and/or performances. We feel great, better than ever sometimes, indestructible, and thus we forget about the basics such as rest, sleep and recovery.
I believe if we are not mentally strong enough to create a voluntary break in our performing upward trend chart, injury will catch up and do it for us. In 95% of the time (another made up stat.) we’ll come out of the injury just fine and will eventually get back to putting one foot in front of the other at an easy, fast and light pace. But in my opinion while these injuries force us step back, think, assess and question things which is really healthy, they certainly are not be the best way to do so, especially for our bodies and long years of running free in the mountains.
To wrap up this reflexion with an open suggestion, if you feel like a million bucks right now, how about cracking open a PBR, put on some good ol’ tunes, chill with your friends and family, sit back, reflect and get back at it a few days later… Stronger!
I’ll leave you to this, my girl is out of town and I have a trader’s party to attend.
I ran today, and I was bitching about it.
I went up a local mountain and faced over 30cm of fresh snow half way up… Not equipped for such conditions, I turned around and kept running down across and over trails that weren’t as covered in snow.
I got lost, hurdle few dozen of tree trunks, crossed countless puddles of mud, fell three times and got pissed at my cardio that kept falling off.
Result, I ended up running 2h30 instead of the 3h initially planned.
I think even my mum would give me shit for complaining about such things, so i certainly don’t expect compassion.
Yet, I found in a comment I received from a dear friend material to force me to step back and think for a second:
“At least you are running!! Think about all the people who can’t and the times when you were injured”
Valid point that hit me hard. I felt like a whining spoiled little brat and realized how true that statement was.
So true that I wanted to share it with you all. Go get out there and enjoy your runs just because you can, and that alone is a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted.
I’m sitting in the train on my way back to Annecy. I have now tried any possible position and just can’t find the one to put my legs into to lower the throbbing pain that they are inflicting me. Yes I did it again…
I only raced 30 little Ks today and yet I feel more beat up than after a 50 miler. Well perhaps the fact that the race took place on XC slopes and unevenly packed leading to few knee deep sudden steps, falls and swearing… a lot of swearing.
I knew after a 3 weeks break and almost no quality sessions for a month, I wasn’t going to be at 100%. But I clearly had underestimated how such an event would be unforgiving to those like me who wanted to be competitive without the proper level of fitness.
I did not enjoy that race. I lacked velocity and power and thus speed, hurt from start to finish for a merely acceptable result. So why did I part take in this race today?
I got to spend some time with my coach and New Balance France trail running team manager as well as meet one of my fellow NB athlete Julien Navarro (who won the 12k) up in Serre Chevalier. I learned from their talent and shared good time and a few beers, perhaps too many, and surely very little compare to what’s coming ahead this year. Worth every second of pain I’m experiencing right now.
Oh and I also bagged a copious amount of humility, that will come handy to help me push through hard training sessions as the 2014 season is about to get serious.
Hope you too can now and then get much more out of your runs than your endorphin fix and burned calories.
Till next time
Je vous avais prévenu, je vous parlerai sur ce blog de sujets liés à la course à pied, mais de temps à autres certaines choses sont bien trop exquises pour n’être partagées.
Cette pépite, je la dois à un couple d’amis qui au lieu d’aller skier, ont décidé de brainstormer sur les choses de la vie… Je vous partage donc le résultat aussi inattendu qu’hilarant: Il semblerait que dans tous les dictons que nous connaissons, il soit possible d’insérer “…. entre les cuisses, …. entre les fesses”.
ex : Qui peut le plus peut le moins
–> “Qui peut le plus entre les cuisses, peut le moins entre les fesses”
Comment ils en sont arrivés là, aucune idée, mais le résultat est probant. Pour vous lancer voici quelques exemples, n’hésitez pas à ajouter ceux que vous trouverez en commentaire, qu’on puisse tous continuer à se marrer ensemble !
“3,2,1… yeahhhhhhh, happy new year buddy!!? What would make you happy for 2014?”
Huh! Pretty damn hard to find an answer to such a deep question with loud beat on, boozed up people yelling all over the place while dancing with a too full stomach… So how about moving up such thoughts a few days to have a better chance to find meaningful answers to this question.
Yet again, how the hell do I find happiness?
Let’s fast backward the whole past year. Highs and lows, the trips, the adventures, races, travels, encounters, friendships, goals reached and missed, and all we wanted to do but will have to postpone to the upcoming year. What did make us happy?
To me, 2013 was a year of emotional highs. No surprise so far considering I always put my heart in what I do. Countless moments pop in my mind, moments of joy, of tears, of truth, of love. But if I had to pinpoint the one thing that brought me happiness, it would be just this: people.
I have been extremely lucky to travel the world and meet extraordinary people. From total strangers to dear friends, their interactions with me all created emotions that had an impact on my personality. I feel richer because of them, thanks to them. I am Jack’s random and satisfying support groups encounters.
Visual memories are always more meaningful than long description, so here are a few moments from my 2013 year of happy adventures :
Still too early to unveil my 2014 projects, I won’t announce a race calendar, professional projects nor my personal ones – this is where I draw the line of my private life ;) Yet I can tell you three things about it :
1 – Running, work and personal lives will once again be tied together.
2 – They will be dictated by these three fundamental notions : encourage new encounters, explore through the eyes of a child, receive through sharing.
3 – I’m pretty excited about it and can’t wait to share it all with you, readers, friends, partners, and family, through this blog and hopefully in real life.
To wrap it up, here is a piece of advice that I hope will serve you well. Whatever you aim at for 2014, please do it for the right reasons. The reasons that matter to you and you only. Don’t let yourself believe that it’s how big your dreams are that will make them more enjoyable to reach. There is no such thing as a “little” dream. So after you created them, you shall be more satisfied by sharing them and accomplishing them together with people.
I don’t know that for sure, but this might very well be where happiness begins…
All the best for 2014, cheers to open hearts to life opportunities and in the meantime 2014 starts, I’ll be perfecting my kitten and carrots stew.
“ouaiiiiiiis bonne année mec !!!!! Qu’est-ce que je te souhaite pour 2014?”
Difficile de trouver une réponse avec la musique à fond, les gens qui braillent, en dansant le ventre trop plein… alors pourquoi ne pas avancer cette réflexion de quelques jours, afin de trouver une réponse.
Mais au fait, plein de bonheur ça veut dire quoi ?
On passe en revue ce qui s’est passé durant l’année qui vient de s’écouler, on fait le bilan des réussites, des aventures vécues, des exploits accomplis, des rencontres effectuées, mais aussi de ce qu’on n’a pas eut le temps de faire et que l’on souhaite remettre au goût du jour pour 2014.
Personnellement, 2013 fut une année riche en émotions. Pas étonnant vu mon tempérament à mettre mon coeur dans tout ce que j’entreprend. Si je ne devrais retenir qu’une chose, ce sont les rencontres que j’ai pu faire et qui m’ont enrichies et ont influencées ma vie bien au delà de ce que j’aurais pu l’imaginer. Que ce soit sur les compétitions de Skyrunning / ultra que j’ai faîte à travers le monde, dans le boulot avec Goodpeoplerun et Twiinkly, mais aussi au niveau de ma vie personnelle, que pour la première fois depuis de longues années je n’ai pas entièrement négligé.
Quelques souvenirs parmi les nombreux bons moments que j’ai eut la chance de vivre en 2013 :
Il est encore trop tôt pour lever le voile sur mes projets en 2014. Je ne ferais donc pas d’annonce de calendrier de course, ni des projets pros que je vais poursuivre et encore moins de ma vie perso (ça c’est privé!) mais je peux vous assurer deux choses sur ces projets :
1 – Running, boulot et perso seront encore intimement liées.
2 – Ils seront axés sur les dimensions de rencontre, de partage, et d’échange.
J’ai hâte de vous en dire plus et partager tous ces projets avec vous, lecteurs, amis, coureurs, partenaires et famille.
Pour finir, un petit conseil à prendre ou à laisser. Quoi que vous décidiez de changer ou d’accomplir en 2014, faîtes le pour les bonnes raisons. C’est ce que ces projets représentent pour vous et vous seul qui importe.
Ne vous laissez pas convaincre que ce sont la taille ou l’ambition de ces projets qui rendrons leur réalisation plus épanouissante. Une fois que vous aurez déterminé vos objectifs, vos rêves, c’est véritablement en les partageant avec d’autres que vous prendrez le plus de plaisir à les accomplir. Et c’est peut être bien là que commence le bonheur…
Tout de bon pour 2014, et en attendant le jour de l’an je vais parfaire ma recette de terrine de chaton.
La finale du The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miles fût pour moi bien plus qu’une course de clôture de saison.
Pour commencer, il s’agissait de la première course sous l’étendard du Team New Balance . Un premier test de forme après 5 courtes semaines d’entrainement spécifique qui me donneraient une idée du potentiel à exploiter pour 2014.
C’était également de ma dernière chance de jouer des coudes avec sans équivoque le rassemblement le plus dense des meilleurs coureurs mondiaux d’ultra trail, et ce sur un parcours qui n’allait pas m’avantager de par son aspect peu technique et roulant… ça s’annonçait très rapide! Un dernier moyen de jauger mon niveau et surtout un souhait personnel de confirmer ma 8ème place à la finale de la coupe du monde de Skyrunning Ultra lors de UROC 100k dans le Colorado fin septembre.
C’était aussi pour moi l’occasion de lancer un projet personnel sur lequel je travaille avec un ami d’enfance depuis un peu moins d’un mois. Le nom : Twiinkly. Le concept : une frise de photos ordonnée en fonction du temps de la distance sur le parcours qui permet de suivre les coureurs et d’avoir un historique de toutes les photos après la course. Aperçu disponible sur Twiinkly.com.
Enfin, et sans doute la partie la plus importante, l’opportunité de retrouver et partager de bons moments avec un groupe d’ultra runners venant d’à travers le monde et qui sont devenus des amis au fur et à mesure des kilomètres partagés en course.
Rester en contact grâce aux réseaux sociaux est une chose, mais des rires autour d’un café, refaire le monde autour d’une bière ou encore prendre des nouvelles pendant la course (nous sommes de vrai pipelettes!) reste le meilleur moyen d’entretenir une relation avec des amis. Amis qui bien que faisant partie de l’élite mondiale en terme d’ultra running, restent des gens extrêmement simples et au grand coeur.
Voilà donc en quelques lignes ce que j’espérais pouvoir accomplir lorsque j’ai pris l’avion pour San Francisco le 3 décembre depuis l’aéroport de Lyon.
Ce n’est qu’en faisant le bilan à mon retour que je réalise qu’à vouloir tirer partie au mieux de ce trip, j’ai peut être voulu trop en faire… Du GAFFURI tout craché. Idiot. Donc le bilan peut être vu de la façon suivante : je n’ai pas réussi à voir tous les amis que je souhaitais voir et qui m’étaient chers, je n’ai pu lancer Twiinkly juste après la course et je n’ai pas finit dans le top 10 que j’espérait secrètement.
Mais vu d’un angle différent, ces objectifs manqués sont le résultats de m’être fixé de tels objectifs et d’avoir eut la possibilité d’essayer de les atteindre. Prendre le risque de manquer des objectifs ambitieux est précisément ce qui me comble et me permet d’avancer au jour le jour. Car quel que soit le résultat, avec le bon état d’esprit, on en sort toujours gagnant. Atteindre l’objectif est une victoire évidente. Le manquer et on apprend et accumule de l’expérience pour la prochaine fois.
J’ai donc décidé de retenir que j’avais déjà eut la chance de retrouver beaucoup de mes amis, que le premier retour que j’ai eut à propos de Twiinkly est très encourageant, et que bien qu’ayant loupé le top 10, j’ai été capable de parcourir les 5 derniers kilomètres en 16’18” (certes en descente sur 4km!) pour finir à 3 petites minutes d’un champion du monde de course en montagne, devant un coureur qui vaut 2h25 au marathon et cerise sur le gâteau, premier européen en 6h57’15”. Heureux le Gaffurax !
En “mode avion” pour le sprint final de 5k !
Pour toutes ces expériences de vie, il y a beaucoup de monde que je tiens à remercier. Toute ma famille de coureurs d’à travers le monde avec qui j’ai toujours un plaisir immense de partager même un bref instant, Greg et le gang Salomon et leur générosité et sens de la déconne aussi impressionnant que leur talent, Monica et Dominic de New Balance US qui m’ont respectivement équipé et fait l’assistance pour la course, le magasin San Francisco Running Company pour son accueil et avoir été le point central de rencontre ce weekend – si vous allez à San Francisco et que vous passez le Golden Gate Bridge pour aller dans les Marin Headlands il faut absolument que vous y passiez. Demandez Brett ou Jorge et ils vous expliqueront tout sur les meilleurs endroits où aller courir – mon coach Jack qui m’en a fait chier comme un russe pendant 5 semaines avec un beau résultat à la clef, vivement 2014, et enfin Lisa de chez TNF sans qui rien de tout cela n’aurait été possible.
Je vais désormais faire une coupure bien méritée, au niveau course à pied comme au niveau boulot, pour allouer mon temps à quelque chose que j’ai trop mis de côté cette année, ma propre famille !
Passez tous de bonnes fêtes de fin d’année, allez y à fond, gavez vous, profitez, picolez, faîtes vous plaisir, parce qu’en 2014, va falloir envoyer du lourd !!!
De belles photos vallent mieux qu’un grand discours, donc voici quelques photos de ma course:
Sur l’aller retour en milieu de course, photos par San Francisco Running Company : Je regardais derrière pour reconnaitre le parcours pour le retour :)
Quelques photos sur le parcours prises par mon “pacer” Dom:
Et c’est parti pour le sprint final de 5km vers l’arrivée (dans la vallée sur la partie plus claire), avec David Riddle à mes trousses et qui finira par me passer dans les derniers mètres sur la route
Encore 300 mètres sur la route en faux plat montant, partie finale qui aura eut raison de moi…
FINISH (toutes les photos sur: Twiinkly.com)
The TNF Endurance Challenge 50 miles in San Francisco has been much more than the last race of my 2013 season.
To begin with, it was my first race as a New Balance athlete, and thus first fitness test after 5 weeks of specific training with my new coach to have a preview of what 2014 could offer.
It was also my last chance to race against what was arguably the most stacked filed of ultra runners this year, on a course that would be challenging for me (very fast and non technical). I wanted to prove myself that my 8th place at the Ultra Skyrunning World Series (UROC in Colorado) this past september wasn’t an accident.
It was also a field test to launch a new very exciting web service – Twiinkly – on what I have been working on for about a month with a good friend of mine. More on that later.
Last but perhaps the most important part, having a chance to catch up once again with many of my ultra running friends from around the world. Sure I’m in touch with them through Facebook and Twitter but nothing compares a good old chat over coffee or lunch, at a local running store or even during the race itself. I am extremely lucky to call most of these ultra running mutants my friends, who with no exception whatsoever are also men and women with big hearts.
This is pretty much all what I was looking forward to as I left Lyon Airport on December 3rd for a short week in San Francisco. Only after I made it back to the place I call home though, I realized that I had once again created such a busy schedule for myself that I would hardly have any time to chill. Proper Martin GAFFURI style. Stupid.
Looking at this past week, I could say that I didn’t manage to catch up with all the friends I wanted to, didn’t launch the service I wanted to have online by now, didn’t place top 10 in the race as I secretly wanted to, and I feel like I should have spent way more time with my better half.
But that’s how I am, I have never been able to settle for average. I always thrive for exceptional, outstanding, extra ordinary, whether it’s in my personal life, professional life or as a runner, where the lines in between each are getting more and more blurry. I can’t help trying to make the best out of everything I do, or feel bad doing nothing. Problem is, I happen to do a lot of things and only push a few to full completion.
However, looking at these semi failures from a different angle, I see that they are just the consequences of high goals I had set for myself. Risking to miss a goal that was set too high is precisely what really matters to me and makes me happy on a daily basis. Taking the chance to make excellent happen (glad I got that one in!). Whether the outcome is a success or not, it doesn’t matter that much in the end, because with the right attitude, you win every time.
Reach it and it’s an obvious victory. Fail and learn, and you have a life experience.
And for that life experience, I would like to thank all the ultra running peeps I had a good laugh with, Greg and the Salomon boyz for their welcoming attitude, Monica and Dominic from New Balance who respectively geared me up and paced me for the race, San Francisco Running Company for being the central place to be and making it easier to catch up with friends, my coach for the obvious quality of his training plan and pre race psychological support, and finally Lisa without who none of that would have happened.
So I have decided to only look at things the better way. I did catch up with most of the friends I feel more than ever part of that global ultra running family, got to make business contacts about Twiinkly and already got few people on board, I still had a pretty awesome race : felt great the whole time and learned a few more things, and I the very short moments I have spent being in the moment with my girl have been the most meaningful of all and we created new memories that will keep my heart happy for the next few month.
But for now, I will allocate time to take a proper break, from running as well as from work, so I can fully enjoy the company of the ones I have left behind during this busy year, my own crazy family.
Happy holiday, merry Xmas to ya’ll !
Instead of a detailed race report, a few shots will be much more meaningful :
On the Out&Back by San Francisco Running Company
On the course, by Dom:
FINISH (Photos : Twiinkly.com)
The moment most of us have been waiting for has finally arrived. The 2014 Skyrunning race calendar is out for the Ultra series, ladies and gentlemen, there is some pretty effing exciting stuff !!!
Here are the 5 races that will host the 5 stages of the Ultra Series (Videos further down the article) :
1. SPAIN: Transvulcania Ultramarathon – 83k, La Palma – May 10
2. FRANCE: Ice Trail Tarentaise – 65k, Val d’Isère – July 11
3. USA: SpeedGoat 50k – Snowbird, Utah – July 19
4. ITALY : Trofeo Kima UltraSkyMarathon®, Valmasino, Sondrio – August 30
5. USA: The Rut 50k – Big Sky, Montana – September 14
Being a Euro, I’m actually glad that three races will be held on my side of the big pond. This will surely make it easier for travels and expenses, but also for potential training on the race course for at least two of them, over a long weekend.
Having races at TransVulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise in 2013, I can only be excited to see these races part of the series again. I know the course and this hopefully will play in my advantage. But to be totally honest, I’m really intrigued about Kima. A race that requires to climb down cliffs hanging out of metal ropes can’t leave you indifferent… oh wait, did I mentioned that it took Kilian 6:19 hours to win this 48k race?!! Yeah I certainly look forward to being part of this one.
Now, here is the big fat counterpoint of potentially ranking in the series without having to fly to America. The two races that have been picked in the US simply look phenomenal!!! Both races are directed by elite athletes and that alone makes a huge difference. They have been racing all over the world and looked for a truly technical course, at elevation, going up and over high peaks, so we can all grind in awe in front of such immense surroundings, and feel that pain from a damn lack of oxygen!! Breath taking in all sense, surely is what Skyrunning is all about.
Executive director Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti – plus all the people pushing behind the International Skyrunning federation – have once again done an amazing job at keeping the races with a true Skyrunning spirit and scouting for few newly born races that need all our attention.
So here is a question for you, what’s the most exciting time of the year ? Christmas season or Skyrunning season?
SKYRUNNING SEASON BABY!!!
Too much excitement, gotta go run up and down my stairs to get used to steep ass races.
’till it starts, keep on rollin’
“The cold had seized up entirely the shaking muscles on my skinny bones, water was dripping from my hair as a light rain was steadily poring on us. My numb feet were stepping in a puddle of mud trying to get the blood back flowing. We were all standing in line, packed against each other, a node in the stomach, waiting for a gun to fire and launch the charge.”
I never went to war, but my first XC race at the age of seven felt everything like it. As the years went by, I got used to such atmosphere, tangible tension and fierce competition. When you’re half bent over an elastic string that you know can slap your quad so hard you could bleed and all people around you are elbows out and geared up with 6 15 millimeters spikes under each foot you better be ready for battle. There was always strong mutual respect for the competition, but no mercy.
It taught me to be over confident in order to perform at my best, challenge my limits, other’s limits and eventually jump on that box for a few seconds of glory. This attitude I have developed while racing shaped up my personality, a lot. I don’t give up, I play hard and can last longer than a honey badger digging out a hive. I am Jack’s endless confidence.
After a focus on the World Skyrunning ultra series and a results beyond what I could have initially expected, such positive moments have been raining on me. First the result itself meant a lot to me. I had trained hard towards that single goal, and I reached higher. This was going to be my ladder for the next challenge.
The New Balance sponsorship. When you’re getting used to hanging out with pro athletes, team managers and this whole elite environment, you could take this for granted as a way to perform better. It’s not. I have been picked to join the French NB team and received their support.
Following friendly twitt-anigans with ultra runners about a race, pacing history and pope issues, Dominic Grossman, NB athlete and hell of a runner, shoots me a message to offer to crew/pace me for the race. This is precisely when I realized I hadn’t only joined the New Balance french team, I had been welcomed into the global New Balance Family. It rocks.
If you read all this and you don’t know me, you must think by now that I’m the most arrogant self indulgent jackass. And you’re probably right about the 24 year old version of me. That’s who I was, bulldozing forward towards my goals with no second thoughts about consequences, collateral damage and whatnot. And when the goal’s reached, move onto the next one without even appreciating what I had worked so hard to get to. It was all about the challenge.
Truth is, I’m 28 now. 4 years of entrepreneurship have shown me times of deep disappointment, faced countless NOs, taught that not everything works according to plan even when you give it all. So I have learned to step back and put down my game face every once in a while. Be able to let the guard down and appreciate, be grateful for the things I have. I have learned humility the hard way… the best way.
I acknowledged I was extremely privileged to be in the place I am now, because regardless how hard one shall work, great things only come from mutual efforts and support. Friends, family, my girl and now New Balance, I couldn’t wish for better support.
And for that reason I’m more than ever looking forward to catching up with good friends and make new ones at this low key race you might have heard of : The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miles in San Francisco :)
I’m ready to give it all, to go to war as I’ll toe the start line one more time, but I’ll keep in mind that piece of humility that makes us the Good People of the ultra running scene.
4 weeks to go…
Une saison bien remplie et à la clef un résultat inespéré auquel j’ai toujours du mal à croire.
4ème de la coupe du monde de Skyrunning Ultra. Certes il y a eu des absents, certains coureurs ont eut une mauvaise course sur une des étapes mais j’ai fait mes 3 courses, j’ai suivit les règles en organisant ma saison autour de ces 3 objectifs et ce classement est bien le mien.
Une fois redescendu sur terre, la question se pose. Que vais-je faire de ce résultat ? Comment transformer ce premier essai dans le monde du trail de haut niveau où je fais office de petit nouveau ? Comment me battre avec les mêmes armes que ces coureurs aux avants postes qui continuent à me faire rêver ?
La réponse était évidente, il me fallait un partenaire qui puisse m’accompagner et me soutenir. En prospectant auprès de quelques marques, c’est New Balance qui est apparu comme le partenaire idéal. Après avoir travaillé main dans la main pendant un an a travers Goodpeoplerun.com pour organiser des sorties course à pied en groupe partout en France, je connaissais et appréciais la marque et les produits.
Donc après quelques échanges avec le Team Manager Jack Peyrard, il a misé sur moi et j’ai le plaisir d’intégrer le Team New Balance France à partir de 2014. De nouveaux co-équipiers avec qui échanger et de qui apprendre, un team manager qui sera également mon coach et avec qui j’espère encore beaucoup progresser, bref comme Winnie L’Ourson, j’ai plein de nouvelles aventures à venir !
Comme à mon habitude, je ne tiens pas en place, et je n’ai donc pas attendu la saison prochaine pour porter les couleurs NB de la tête aux pieds. Je serais effectivement début Décembre au départ du TNF Endurance Challenge 50 miles à San Francisco, dernier grand rendez-vous international de la saison. A suivre donc…
Beyond their personal acknowledgement and continuous explanations on how fascinated by nature and mountains they are, the Ultra runners may just be more deeply connected to mother earth than they think they are.
A phenomenon recently observed within this one of a kind population, their body mutates and like flora follow seasons. For the fall season, it turned out that toes is the part of the body that gets affected by this mutation.
The season is almost over and many training and racing miles have been covered, introducing the mutation. Just like tree leaves, Ultra runner’s toenails change colour and end up falling as we can witness on the picture below… Eww gross!
We can’t wait to find out what kind of effects winter shall have on them ^^
Until then, jogg on!
2014 Skyrunning World Championship will take place in Chamonix France, hosted by the Chamonix Marathon.
There will be an 80k for the Ultra
The marathon will be the Sky distance
The Vertical K will be the Vertical.
And sorry for those who wanted to race the Marathon, it’s been sold out after few hours of chaos :(