Somehow I got swept up into the competitive vortex and it was my own fault. If I never win another race ever again but show up to a lot of them, I'll consider it a huge improvement from where I am right now or where I was in the last couple years. I don't want to earn shame for a "slow" 100 miles (because that's the epitome of arrogance and the antithesis of gratitude). I don't want to earn shame for trying wicked hard and coming up short to say, 60 miles. I'm not my mileage. I'm not my splits. I'm not my ultra running percentage. I'm for sure a masochist and enjoy the things that suck possibly a little more than your average bear. I'm going to set up shop in my pain cave time share. It's been too long.
hike the safest, slowest run possible.
I expect pain but I don't want injury. I want to push my limits but I don't want to be a martyr for the buckle out of pride or ego. An ego can't even wear a belt buckle and a destroyed knee can't run and we're not as close to 3D printed new knees as I'd like. Therefore, run when I can, hike when I can't, be conservative and hyper vigilant about what my body is doing.
get pure gritty.
A pilgrimage back to my humble roots in the sport. If it hurts and it's tedious and I'm lonely or the last 50k will take 10+ hours, so be it. It's all part of the adventure I'm agreeing to have.
DFL will be an incredible honor, as will any finish. I am not chasing glory or speed. I am participating and that's good enough
get my nutrition right (I always eff this one up)
sip water/perpetuem once every five minutes in the style of Colorado 200 finisher Doug Long
150 calories an hour
don't get sick, don't roll over and die on nutrition or hydration
-bears and mountain lions
-starting line anxiety
-over sleeping and missing the start or forgetting major equipment (shoes, hydration, clothes)
-wasting my crew's time because of shit attitude or not finishing
-saying I'll be ok with a DNF but really be wicked disappointed in myself
-being unprepared physically
-4 am until sunrise
-being wicked cold and wet
-shame, despite my bravado about this being an anti shame campaign
-being a self pitying perma victim wimp
-sunrises that you were up all night to see
-hearing rubber soled sneakers on dirt, gravel, crunchy leaves
-aid stations and the amazing race volunteers
-hot soup at night aid stations when it's cold
-brushing my teeth mid race
-getting dirty, but sometimes using babywipes to feel fresh and rejuvinated
-5 hour energy when I'm falling asleep on trail
-drymax socks. You might say, hey, aren't you their ambassador? I'd say yes, but also it's because drymax socks are the best damn socks you can run in. And to put on a fresh pair mid race? Divine.
-Long conversations that transcend small talk with a stranger that you just meet but feel like you've known forever and then you realize that you've known each other for like 4 miles which sometimes might as well be forever
-taking a moment to really enjoy the view on top of a mountain
-being a part of such incredible events
-sitting down after a race
-the hours available to think big, grand thoughts while on trail
-seeing areas of the world I'd otherwise never have likely seen
-being able to look at maps or road signs that say Ashland, OR 50 miles and know that I did that once by foot (or had the chance and will return someday when appropriate).
-running at night without a headlamp or flashlight
-successful stream crossings
-shaking an angry fist and yelling Damn You Running on the Sun!!! (or Joseph Campbell) when shit gets gnarly and you're out there chasing dreams and following your bliss and it hurts so bad.
-When you saddle up with another runner and their positivity is exactly what you needed to get you out of a low.
-Thinking back on amazing runs with amazing people and telling their stories to new friends
-That moment when you realize your hallucinations are just hallucinations
-weekends spent being aware, dirty, and adventuring.
I ended the title with a preposition because I fear this may be the most pretentious ramble of a pre-race report yet.
The last time I raced a hundo was July of 2014. Since then, I've had the joy of a herniated disc and an ACL tearPCL tearmeniscus crush TBD undiagnosed mega painful knee injury. I've come back strong as hell from the back injury and learned much about posture, the nervous system, and spines in the process. Strong as hell got me feeling invincible, which led to the next major injury. It's been a few months now of an occasionally debilitating pain in my knee.
Once it hurt so bad a block from my apartment I hugged my bicycle to me as I slumped against a wall on the sidewalk and just cried and tried to not throw up or pass out. I considered calling a cab to get me the block uphill to home. A stranger got off his bus to check on me, and so I knew then I'd already made too much of a scene. Uber wouldn't have been fast enough so I pushed my bike and myself home. Strangely that same night I went for a run and lifted and then ran down to catch a baseball game with friends.
This is the only trident I earned, but Murph, I'll use it and my middle fingers in your honor.
My mom invited me to run a Murph with her and her xfit box and what the hell, I said yes. Murph is a hero WOD, where you run 1 mile, complete 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, and run 1 mile. Ideally you do this with a weight vest but that's Rx and you can scale as needed.
This is a review of the 5x5 stronglifts and of how I stumbled upon it.
(for the back story of why I started 5x5 and the physiological/emotional context, check out this post: What I see of a herniated disc)
April 22nd is Earth Day, and it's also my bike tour shove off anniversaries. In 2012 I set off from Yuma for Flagstaff, Arizona and in 2014 I took off from Washington to go across the country--all by bike. Arizona was a miraculous success--namely that it was incredibly dangerous and remote and I was too stupid and arrogant to know any better, but I survived and cemented Arizona in my mind and heart as a wild, rugged, terrifying and exhilarating place. Those four days that it took for me to cross the desert on my beloved bike were some of the most formative of my life and I knew that if I had survived Arizona in the late spring, I could survive any bike tour. I had my heart, legs, and tires set on a cross country excursion.
A year ago today and 2 years after Arizona started to impart her many lessons, I stop to celebrate and reflect on a crazy year gone by. Below is the write up for Day 1 of my cross country bike trip. Enjoy the preview of the upcoming book!
I was just coming out of a really really rough, dark, consuming, obliterating depression and I finally had some energy and believed that I would be around in three weeks so any steps towards anticipating life next month wasn't arbitrary. I bee-bopped down the street, jumped over puddles, sang, laughed at dogs (rudely to their damn faces), and chipperly greeted the convenience store clerk as I swaggered down an aisle. I had entered the little market to get a banana, which I thought would take the edge off the jitters I had, and I walked the aisles narrating my thoughts and ridiculous actions aloud.
I didn't see any bananas, spent a long time agonizing over if I should get a jar of spaghetti sauce for dinner (as in to eat just a jar of spaghetti sauce), and decided against it. I made one more swoop through the little market, saw a few packets of self rising yeast and thought it would be great to bake and boil my own bagels (I live in a TINY apartment with no kitchen so this would involve the herculean feat of borrowing/getting pots, using a community kitchen, actually cooking). As I reached out to grab this yeast and embark on the journey of home made bagels, I realized that two days ago I didn't have the energy to LEAVE my tiny ass apartment and didn't believe that the entire universe held even as much opportunity or promise as a bagel.
My hand fell back to my side and I walked out of the market, a bit more soberly than I waltzed in, but felt ok about how this wide strange universe has more wonder and mystery than we can ever even imagine on our darkest or our brightest days. Hang in there.
I rode my bicycle across the United States this past spring and summer and strangely found the energy at the end of the day to write massive amounts about my daily experiences. Every day I woke up, broke camp, pedaled east, reached depths of loneliness and freedom on the road, met interesting humans, found a place to make a camp, rigged a hammock, and then tapped out my day's thoughts and miles on my trusty iphone.
I started my 5x5 journey near rock bottom and what I assessed to be
scratch for strength and athletic potential. I was a couple months into
a herniated disc, an injury I sustained from lifting weights and
squatting (with extreme arrogance and poor form). All I knew was I
was in loads of pain and everything from sitting, laying, walking,
lifting hurt like hell. If you prowl the internet long enough you're
sure to get a lot of advice, and a lot of it bad. I went through a
whole host of things on my search for wellness, some of which are
terribly embarrassing and some of which just added to my levels of pain.
Side note: there is nothing
quite like having an injury and not being 100% insured to make you
really appreciate insurance, access to medical care, and a hope in hell
of a timely recovery.
I now floss daily! That used to be
just for pre-dental exams and maybe post popcorn but now I'm a flossin
fool. I have plenty of teeth and no teeth insurance so I have to take
care of what I got left.
I found a few people who
rejoined athletic and functional society after a herniated disc. These
people were athletes prior to the injury and were doing well as post
injury athletes. I wanted to be like that. The key for this seemed to
be to continue being an athlete and counter intuitively, strengthen and
stress the back instead of letting the supporting muscles atrophy and