Sunday, March 27, 2016

What I Saw of Badger Mountain

I huddled around the starting line with the rest of the starting field, all of us in the cold wind and compression clothing of some sort. I had nerves, which is a great sign. I've started a race or two dead inside and no good comes from running an ultra like that.  I forgave the discomfort of anxiety because it felt more right than numb or negative.  I sourced most of the anxiety to wearing a race number and not pacing anyone (therefore responsible entirely for my "performance") and also just that I've done enough races to know just how badly I can hurt.  I know I'm about to come up against some shit.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Usually I've signed up for hundred milers high as a kite, hypo manic, and optimistically romantic about the race, my ability to train and balance everything else, and generally the joy ride to the finish line.  Of course that never lasts long and isn't at all how races are run or many lives are lived.

Perhaps it's the growing up I've done but when I got the urge to race again, it was a very sober decision.  I was of course so excited after HURT and very inspired by just about everyone there and considered getting drunk in Waikiki and logging on to ultrasignup to sign up for many races in one whack.  Fortunately, I was whupped from pacing and instead was drunk from fatigue and passed out, much to my credit card's relief. 

A couple weeks later I was home, whupped again from work and class and some insane kettlebell challenge I set out for myself and generally convinced I was dumb, overwhelmed, and under capable of anything and everything I was shooting for.  In this moment of fatigue and with that much on my plate, I logged on and got my spot in a starting field for a hundred miler.  

The thing you gotta know is when you sign up for a hundred miler, you're signing up inherently to be very uncomfortable for long stretches.  You'll miss sleep, probably eat less fun foods than your friends, give up coffee, chafe, trip and fall, lose toe nails, come up against yourself in stretches of tedious lonely boredom, spin with your thoughts, be cold, be hot, be hungry, be thirsty, be sick...there are good miles and days in there to be sure but make no mistake, the things you'll do to adequately train and to suffer through for a finish will be acutely shitastic. 

And I wanted that.  I am seeking those opportunities in my life again, and more so than my usual grind of responsibilities and doubts and all the rest.  I want more grit and I want the chance to examine nebulous themes in my life.  Endurance for me is finding the time to find the questions.  It's been such a gift in my life, this quiet space and the community of ultra runners, and I'm kinda not so willing to go long stretches without it if I'm heathy (currently so, knock on wood).

It's been great since signing up.  I'm exhausted and raw.  I found myself on the top floor in the corner of the library curled up and just spacing, staring out the window and hoping like hell for any spark to get up and be productive.  I sat there, zombified, and realized I was in a rough spot in real life, and the realization that hit me on the Needles in Cascade Crest just made so much damn sense as that memory came back.  I'm burning the candle at three ends intentionally.  I'm pushing to be exhausted on purpose.  I'm in consequential situations and need to perform well.  I still want to be a good, humorous, nice human and play well with others...what I'm doing is hard and I saw that clearly and gave myself permission to just zone out for a hot sec.  On the Needles I gave myself permission to be as slow and steady as I had to be--I realized that I wasn't any more of a piece of shit than anyone else and that hill, those miles, this situation would probably tax everyone.

I wasn't super energized after that, but I was grateful that I'd arrived at fragile, exhausted, and still pushing.  I admire it intensely when I see it in people and like that I have even just a little of it for myself.  So I just let me be for a moment.    

And that's kinda where I am right now.  Burning the candle, chasing chances to practice grace under duress, and excited that I have purpose when I step out for a run when it's rainy, dark, cold, and all of the above.  

I think that's the crux of endurance sport--can you step out when it's shitty inside or out? Can you agree to that much discomfort? Can you just move along even when it doesn't make so much sense?  It's a skill that takes practice for sure, and I'm working on it with my miles, my swings, and my moments curled up in the sun in the fetal position in public.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What I Saw of HURT 2016: Pace Report

And so there I was, not really minding my business but crewing for anybody and everybody, when people started asking if I was doing anything? A runner needed some help getting out of the aid station and if I could pace. I worried about missing Doug but worked it out with her crew that I could pace her over to Manoa and then wait for Doug there or return and pick him up for his fourth or fifth loop.  I changed, got my pack ready, slammed some water, and shook hands with a young, nervous looking Liz.   After introductions we got out there for some miles.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pre race-- where my mind's at

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 tear PCL tear meniscus 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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What I see of 5x5 stronglifts and a herniated disc

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)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cross Country Bike Ride, Day 1

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!