Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I Saw of the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

Pre-Race, 17-18 July

I pedaled from Washington to Vermont and the only thing between me and the beach was the Vermont 100 mile endurance run and a few days' ride to the shore.  I took a break from my cross country bike tour to run the Vermont 100 mile endurance run.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vermont post race

I finished the Vermont 100 yesterday and am overall very, very, very happy with the experience.  I came in search of a reset and restart for my ultra career and I think I did that.  I was 0% DNF, 100% in a good head space, and impressed with super quads from all that biking.  I am most happy with this: I set a time goal and missed it by hours and crossed the finish line anyway happy to be there (I'd heard rumors of seats and cots and the promise land did not disappoint) and didn't care to pick apart "mistakes" from my run.  I ran well, had to show some grit when stuff got gnarly, and didn't give a damn about finishing times while I was in it.  If I wanted to keep a conversation going, I slowed to stay with some incredible people in a low or two (both theirs and mine).  I actually managed to enjoy the miles.  It's been a while since I've run like that and with this tenth finish, I remember why I was called to do that first one.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Aloha to Austrailian Marathon Magazine Readers!

A while back someone contacted me about using a piece for their magazine and the day has come that it's now published out there in the internet!  I am excited to finally be a "published writer" and grateful for the opportunity to be in touch with more runners and readers.  I will soon be in need of a major project with the bike tour almost done and I'm thinking getting fast and reliable at the marathon might be it.  I'll be tracking down internet advice and training plans soon.  Let's be friends, Marathon Running.  

Pre Race: Vermont 100

Bike will take it easy while I race the VT100
 As Hardrockers limp away to ice their wounds and rehash stories of ridiculous endurance and mountain weather, those of us running the Vermont 100 enjoy a week left of fitness and non-swollen legs.  I'm excited and think it's for real this time.  My headspace differs from previous races in recent past because I'm not here because I forced myself or because I "need to."  I'm here because I have developed ridiculous quads and need to put these bad girls to use for good not evil. 

I'm excited. 

I got to hike a 17 mile leg of the AT (Appalachian Trail) yesterday with some thru hikers and I was happy with my fitness and how great it felt to be back on trails in the woods.  I really love mountains and forests and singletrack.  Every time I wear a headlamp at camp I get all twitterpated.  It's time to run a 100. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Be fearless--DNFs are the end of a race not the world

C2M tried to warn me but it's taken 3 years...
Ay mate it's not the end of the world.  I am so glad I got that out of my system.  There is something so corny about Thomas Edison's thousands of attempts to make a lightbulb before he finally made one.  Sure sure if he quit at attempt 208 he'd never have gotten there, ostensibly someone else would have, and we'd never have those damn overly sentimental posters that say things like but now we have thousands of ways to not make a lightbulb.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gem of Bike Tour Travels--Mill City Running

Minnesota became my midwestern oasis almost immediately upon crossing the western border.  No hard grudges against South Dakota, but I found Minnesota to be much more enjoyable and chock full of good people.  I also got my running legs back there, largely because I broke down and decided that it was time to get a pair of running shoes again.  I had the Ultra D-Day run coming up and I wasn't comfortable with the idea of a 100 miler off of thousands of cycling miles so I asked the google who sold running shoes in Minneapolis--specifically Altras which can be hard to find.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bike Tour Part II eve

Snow on the passes gave cause for a delay and a reroute south in April.  I dressed this morning in bright yellow and butt pad shorts only to make premature alohas.  It poured rain and threw thunder and promised to move north east along my intended route.  What is another day to wait for Day 46 and Act II of this journey?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ultra D-Day Trail Run

Tomorrow I leave for France to participate in the Ultra D-Day Trail run.  It is a 100 mile run to memorialize the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  June 6th, 1944 was a day that has not left the veterans and witnesses in the 70 long years.  I saw that exact same thing of the survivors of the Pearl Harbor attacks at this year's 72nd anniversary.  Veterans return every year to remember their fallen shipmates and connect with fellow survivors.  Most striking to me, other than this yearly pilgrimage to the far island of O'ahu, is that men choose to be interred with the ARIZONA and their fallen shipmates.  A Sailor this year was returned to his ship and shipmates after he lived for another 69 years. It is such a powerful statement of how these events shape and haunt a person long after the governments have pieced together treaties and moved on.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Despair is a ok on an adventure of a lifetime

I am entering my third week of this bike tour.  My experiences on the road have been both everything I hoped this trip would be and so much more.  It's been much harder and exhausting than I thought.  In my arrogance and naive planning, I didn't quite account for the physicality of moving 80 pounds of gear up and down hills or the effects of cumulative fatigue.  I think I anticipated everything after I cut my teeth on the Washington cascades would be a breeze.  

Some days have been easier than others and I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy doing hard stuff anyway.  Each day I wake up with a condensed and concentrated fatigue in my legs and each day I agree to hop back on for more miles.

Deep exhaustion and fatigue make for interesting rides.  It is during these miles when I am most tired and broken down that emotions manifest and run away from me.  They are free to rage out and I have as much control over their starts and stops as I do over the weather.  I'm mostly alone on these roads, which may contribute to my expressive volatility, but there isn't an audience in the world right now for whom I would fake tough for and hide evidence that I cry.  A lot.

For about three or four days last week I may have cried for more time than I didn't.  I think it was a culmination of physical exhaustion, skinny sleep, poor fueling, lots of alone time, huge runaway extrapolations, and having nothing else to do but come up against myself.

It can be lonely, desparate, grueling, and overwhelming out here but it can also be an adrenline rush, beautiful, peaceful, and so satisfying to have everything I need strapped to my bike, to meet such interesting people, and to see places at a slower rate. I sip this nation's beauty instead of chug.

Ultimately even when I'm about ready to buy any POS car or truck with a working combustion engine, I know I'm doing what I want to do.  I'm really glad I'm out of the navy and that I'm on this chosen, voluntary adventure.  It asks a lot of me and I'm reminded what people can do when given purpose and they provide the motivation.  I'll take the ache in my neck and shoulders or the stiff wrist long into a ride, the hunger, cold, saddle soreness, zapped quads, and sunburnt lips if it's because I'm choosing this path and not wishing away my days in relative comfort. 

There are things about the navy and Hawaii that I miss, but there was a whole lot about me that was missing when I was there.  Every day I get my ass kicked out here and it's hard to believe it's only three weeks in when I feel like I've been riding east for most of my life. Everyday I learn a little something else about the world and of myself and I'm liking the widened perspective of both.  I'm seeing things I like and dislike in both myself and this country, but like all things, if we are honest, there's the black and white and the million shades of grey, and to acknowledge them all is to harness a lot of potential.  

Here is to that even on this chosen, once in a lifetime adventure there are moments of great despair and of great stoke and of extreme boredom.  I'm grateful for the entire spectrum and that I'm not numb to anything right now.