Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Jemez 50 Miler

Fifty miles is my favorite distance. It's long enough to feel long, to need to pace yourself, to be faced with challenges that aren't over quickly, to still do some hard running, yet short enough to still be a human after the race, to be able to eat and drink and be merry. 100ks are kind of pointless, and during 100 milers you get to a point where you're completely over running and walking and you just want to be done. So I was stoked to sign up for Jemez Mountain 50 miler down in northern New Mexico. Darren, my old training buddy senior year of college, persuaded me to sign up. The race was fairly inexpensive, I'd never done anything besides drive through NM, I was looking for a spring 50 to dust off the rust, and the race was notoriously slow with a ton of vert. The course ended up changing due to fire restrictions (super dry and hot), so dropping some off trail sections and vert, but still it was a fun race.

I had some decent training with a 35 mile Catawba Runaround in VA, a 50k in Moab, and one weekend of back-to-backs. Then I re-cracked a rib doing tree work and got sick from too much work travel, which derailed me physically and mentally. Still, I was gonna do it. Week of the race I became nervous. This race is at altitude, it's hard, and I'd only done 5ish long runs in 2018. I over-complicated logistics, decided to make it easy on myself and just do drop bags and run with a pack.

Gasping for breath near 10,000 ft (cred: Jim Stein)


The 5am start came early, duh. While super early starts suck, I kind of like them because they get the first couple hours out of the way before you wake up. Clearly I was still sleeping when I fell and busted open my knee at mile 1.5. It was clearly a moment of: do I get pissed off and let this be a bad start to a bad day, or do I brush off this dust and dirt and click on like it never happened? I did my damnest to chose the latter.


I set low expectations for the race. While I wanted to be running hard in the top 10, I realistically wasn't trained/ready for that effort. I ended up running the first 30 miles in 25th-ish place, and worked my way to nearly 15th by mile 40 until I started to unravel.  I got dual side stitches in my stomach and couldn't run downhill, which not only felt awful, but was awfully frustrating. I ended up walking a ton of downhill and shuffled the last 5 miles to the finish. I estimate losing at least 30 mins in the last 10 miles. I didn't have the altitude lungs, and got overheated and dizzy around mile 42. I finished in mostly one piece and ate a bunch of burgers and enchiladas.

Takeaways

  • I'm very proud I didn't drop down to the 50k. I felt horrible at mile 20
  • I'm equally as proud of Darren CRUSHING to second place!
  • Running at altitude is really hard. I think traveling so much isn't letting me adapt to SLC elev. 
  • I love camping maybe more than running. 
  • Northern New Mexico is beautiful. (And CO, but we knew that)
  • 10:13 is easily my slowest 50 mile race to date. It maybe was the hardest. 
  • Despite the deep suffering for a few hours, I've already forgotten the feel, and my legs are fine
  • I checked my ego before the race and everything was OK
  • I still get pissed at 40-50 year old dude-triathletes in ultras who don't say hi and don't want to talk
  • Yeah, fine, I still like ultrarunning. 

I get to head to Germany and France for work/play here where I'll either run a lot or barely run. Either way it doesn't matter because I have a few weeks before the Wasatch 100 build really needs to start. As of right now, I'm definitely scared about Wasatch but looking forward to the training and exploring the Wasatch mountains. 

Cheers to listening excessively to Boston Manor for the past five months and being ok with your instabilities. 





Sunday, March 4, 2018

Winter

January and February were great. March is looking to continue the trend, but I'm not jinxing anything because let's be real, life isn't a positively trending linear graph. I'm vibing with what's going on now, and I'm still excited about my new Utah-based life. I'm learning so much about myself, life, and our country. I'm adopting the whole "let's be real" motto, because who wants to waste time? Do what you do intentionally.

I've been explaining to friends that there are generally two types of business people: the person who is self-righteously too busy to talk to you, to screw off, I'm a business man! And the person who is a real human just working a job to live their life, and hey, let's work together and get work done and not be miserable doing what we do. To me, the wide-lens viewpoint of business people is the former, but isn't it refreshing when you work with the latter? Let's all be good people, people.

The first two months of 2018 seemed filled with travel and activity. Running Up for Air 6 hours of Grandeur was a treat, as was seeing my Hokies in Moab for Red Hot 33k. That was a blissful glimpse of summer and all of the feels that warm weather brings. I forgot Chacos because I basically hadn't worn Chacos since 2014 (SF fog & drear). The Chaco life triumphantly will return in 2018.

I'm rambling, and I'm writing, because I feel like I have time! I'm in Blacksburg-- sweet, sweet Blacksburg--with the Chang's puppy on my arm, and I'm content. I can't have it all. My impressively wise foreman at Bartlett told me that immediately after I told him that I was moving.

Jorge illegally immigrated to the US without knowing a soul some 25 years ago and is now one of the most badass OG professional tree guys I know. Rather stunned, he asked me why I'm moving, "Rudy, you can't have it all. You can't have happiness and money and running and beauty and time and a family. Why would you leave what you've built here?"

Maybe Jorge's right. Currently everything is copacetic minus the lack of girlfriend. Sure I long for that again, but whatever. I was standing on top of a mountain, dreaming about another. If I can slay my job, running, and travel, I'm fine with that, for now. Rock and roll.

35 miles for a Hokie reunion, the only way we know how

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2017, you're in the rearview.

It's easy to forget things, like blogs and where you've been. I just read through my old yearly recaps, 201220132014, 2015, 2016, and I'm pretty happy and impressed. Even though the last three years of my life haven't been full-blown running-impressive, I've grown a tremendous amount. And isn't that the point of it all? Growth and development? There's a reason why adults aren't singly obsessed with one activity like the youngins are: we have jobs, different interests, families, whatever. On one hand it feels like life is utterly complex; the other hand it feels solely simple. I think the past couple of years I've made life complex and confusing when it doesn't need to be. I wrote two different edits of this 2017 review, but they were both sad and rambling, so I'll re-do and summarize.

2017 was off. I think most people can agree. I'm sick of thinking about it. I hope this post puts the year to rest. I ran 400 miles under my goal of 3000 miles, dropped from my only goal race and 100 miler of the year, became disinterested with my job, spent too many days and nights in bed depressed, and ruined a relationship. This posts feels eerily similar to 2015's review except I'm more angry about 2017, like I'm eighteen years old again. Now that that's out of the way, let's focus on some good days:

Triple Peaks, shredding MUC50k, camping above the ocean in the headlands, my crew at Leona Divide, Travis throwing up in a sandwhich shop after a Mt. Diablo long run, friends doing rad things, my rommates at Waldo, quitting my stable-as-fuck but stressful job, taking a new job with a rad company, running home way blurry in the fog with EZ on Halloween, plenty of good meals, moving to some actual mountains, learning how to ski. Quad Dipsea. New Years Eve.

2018 is going to be different. It already is. I don't feel rushed like I constantly did in SF. I'm logging more vert and less miles. I'm skiing, climbing, exploring, instead of being wholly focused on the running thing. I don't know if I'll even hit 2000 miles for the year. There's just too much other good stuff in the Wasatch than solely running. I feel more well rounded and fit, even if 20 running miles sounds long right now. I'm still working on my character flaws. I'm getting older. Life's not all bliss, but I'm trying.

When I left Bartlett, one of my grade-A clients said, "what, it's not wild enough for you here?" And no, it wasn't. The Bay is incredible. I still think about it most days, and the people invade my dreams at night. I feel like I left a little prematurely, but what's life without some risk? The Wasatch and SLC mean more wide-eyed moments, more scaring myself, more camping, more adventures, more toughness, more punk shows, new friends. 2018, you're going to be a transitionary year, and we're going to love each other, going to be happier.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dipsea, The Quad!

Hi, my name is Rudy and I just sandbagged the 35th annual Quad Dipsea.

Sandbagging (verb, "sand-bag-ing): the act of downplaying your abilities prior to race day then subsequently crushing the race. "Dmack is so fit but definitely sandbagging this race, so typical of him."

I averaged about 35 miles/week since Waldo 100k in late August, three months ago. That's the least I've run since I started seriously running in 2010. I happily told anyone who would listen that I'm in the worst running shape since I can remember. No workouts, a grand total of three long runs, a ten-mile running week, and more stoke for rock climbing than running has been my fall. I wasn't signed up for Quad until I put in my notice for quitting my job and additional spots opened in the race. With some peer pressuring from Aylwin and squad, I easily obliged to enter. I ran a fifty mile week with gusto, it felt huge, and then I had to recover from that week. Fast forward 20 days from signing up and I found myself at Old Mill Park in Mill Valley toeing the line with the bros.

Spoiler Alert: we finished.


The strategy was to run with Mundo. Mundo also didn't really train for Quad this year, and we're pretty similar runners as is, so I thought we would race together. Matter of fact, I didn't even think we were going to race, just run. I was legitimately nervous beforehand (a rarity for these silly things). A mix of fear and dread, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Was I going to injure myself? Embarrass myself? I didn't know what would happen on the stairs of the Dipsea. I was sore from rock climbing in Auburn the day before. Oh well, plenty of high fives at the start line, and we were off with no expectations.

The first lap was hot. Temperature wise, but also pace wise. I was sweating and don't think I could have ran much faster. I let the downhill rip after Windy Gap, and chugged along with short strides up to Cardiac, Mundo just in tow. We were thinking 1:10 even splits would do us well. Crossed the mat in Stinson in 1:06. Mundo dropped back and I ran my own race to the finish line. Dane, EZ, Josh, and Alex Ho ran near an hour for the first lap, which was just madness. I really didn't think I was even close to their race and that I was going to blow up big time.

I passed a couple people right out of Stinson, and started feeling good on the downhill back to Muir Woods. Back in Mill Valley I passed a few guys out of the gate and knew I was gaining ground on the field. I even told a volunteer I felt good (for the time being!). Nobody needs the play-by-play here, so I'll summarize. The rest was difficult, a high effort right up against my heart rate limit and lactate threshold, even though I don't know what those numbers actually are. I was in that zone where I was working really hard but also feeling confident and like I was going fast. Competitive juices, rarely seen from me anymore, started flowing. I battled with a couple of guys at the start of the fourth lap, finally overtaking them. At cardiac a bunch of runners were telling me that 2 and 3 were right in front of me. I knew it was Dane and Ezra. EZ's red shorts came into view just before Windy Gap. I put in an extra surge of effort on the initial paved downhill. EZ matched it. Unspoken, I knew we'd finish together. My last home race as a Bay Area resident, with the dudes I love running most with, unbelievably fitting, prideful, sad yet happy. Very much akin to Promise Land 2014. I won't sandbag another race, scouts honor.

EZ, less thrilled to be holding my hand than I


Thank you EZ, Mundo, Ayl, Alex Ho (winner winner!), Dane, for pushing me to sign up for Quad. And growing mustaches, however grungy. I haven't been much into running since August (or really July), so the Quad was positive reinforcement that perhaps I should keep doing the running sport. 2017 has been hard for me, mostly mentally. Rebecca stuck with it all and pushed me to find a new job. She knew that I wasn't myself. Now that I'm essentially finished with Bartlett, I'm not worried about work and have so much more energy. It's awfully sad that work indirectly made me miserable for many months of 2017, if you want to place blame, and now I'm moving to Utah. That sadness turned around to an upbeat last month with multiple renditions of send-off runs and hang-outs. Understated, I'm sad to leave. But I will always remember the feeling of living here, of spending hours on the Dipsea dirt, and finishing that special race with so many people I love, the good ol' Quad Dipsea. See you next year.

Quad Squad

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Waldo 100k Recap

(Editors Note: This was written the day after Waldo)

Fast forward two Saturday's from the failed AC100 and my mojo is back. I guess I left it in Oregon on the Pine to Palm course last year, cause it took me almost a year later to be back in that beautiful state to find myself at Waldo 100k. Oregon vibes are infinite times better than SoCal. I don't know why I was picking SoCal races this year, but I'm not doing that again. I've run enough races that I only want to do the ones that I find appealing.  Waldo has appealed to me since I moved west, but it's always near Pine to Palm so I've never put in. It's a small race, less than 150 people, with an awesome course and homey feel. (Read: no loud music and blow up banners and interviews and cameras). It's not flat and has plenty of singletrack. All things that I like in races.

Waldo was part redemption, part gut-check, part just-get-the-freaking-WS-ticket. Redemption because AC sucked, even if it was just my mindset. Gut-check because do I even like running anymore? Just-get-the-freaking-WS-ticket because I'm zero for five and I'm not letting my tickets expire. A massive shoutout goes to Salomon for sponsoring Waldo and letting me race.

I didn't set expectations for the race. I didn't really even look at the map or course description. I took the map with me and looked at it about five times mid-race, which was actually pretty nice to have. The course was beautiful. Big evergreens and hanging moss, probably 60/62 miles of singletrack, just gorgeous.

Highlights/notes:

1. I talked to almost everyone that I ran with, and was enjoying the company instead of pushing it away. Everyone knows this, but running with people is so much better than running against people. It seemed like most everyone at Waldo adopted this philosphy and was happy to chat while jogging.

2. Without expectations, I wasn't concerned on competing. Could I have finished two, three, or maybe four places higher? Probably, if I really wanted. But I was running hard as is, and stopped to take in the smoky views and lingered a bit in certain places to run with people instead of alone.

3. My roommate and her boyfriend, both oblivious to what ultrarunning races look like, volunteered to crew without me asking and did a great job boosting morale and giving me pedialyte and chips at a couple of aid stations.

4. The course was beautiful, but I did start to get frustrated near mile 40. The climbs are visibly climbs on paper, but on the actual trail they're insanely drawn out and low-grade. I would hike for 10 seconds then have to run for 20 seconds, then hike for 10 again. It was tough to get a rhythm when the trail grade's aren't consistent.

5. If it wasn't for the mild altitude (5000-8000 ft), I probably would have ran everything minus the last climb. 5 or 6000 feet isn't that high, but it is a difference when you live at the beach.

6. The last climb was dope. It was properly steep at the top, and I was enjoying pushing the hiking.

7. Camping at the start. Nothing is better than camping at the start. I didn't even mind the 5am start time which says something in itself.

A few years ago I would have been more concerned or worried about my placing or time. But now I was more relaxed and my mind was at ease. I could tell a few of the guys around me were trying to be competitive. I suppose I conceded a couple of places at the end, but I was at Waldo to find my mojo and get the states ticket, not to crush souls. I did find that mojo and that ticket, and am pretty pumped about it.

(Oddly enough, it's 7 weeks removed from Waldo 100k and I'm not really running. I'm the least running fit I've been since 2011. I'm still following all of the running stuff, but am not motivated in the slightest to get out and go for a daily run. Work has been stressful; I've gotten sick twice whereas I used to never get sick. I gave up on my 3,000 mile yearly goal. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm not forcing it. I don't know when I'm going to run consistently again. I've been biking and rock climbing a little bit but nothing steady. I'll come around at some point, but for now I'm taking that extended, non-focused, not even really being a runner phase for as long as I need it. Like actually. That means I'm running 0-20 miles a week, not 40-50. I'm also doing my best to not look at Strava, which is quite freeing. Will I quit running? Doubt it, but stay tuned to find out on this episode of "watching Rudy's life through the lense of running." ) 

Monday, August 7, 2017

What Happened at AC100?

Well, things didn't quite go as planned. Hiking up the first hill at 5am I couldn't get this lady out of my head--a customer who is quite demanding and overbearing. "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO SWITCH MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY. I NEED BOB AT 730AM ON WEDNESDAY. NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TREATED LIKE THIS EVER BEFORE. I WILL CALL THE HOME OFFICE ON YOU!" Her voice yelling through my phone was basically on repeat in my brain. I couldn't enjoy the pink sunrise. Long story short, I have every right to switch Monday and Wednesday, and there's nothing wrong with her plants. I get that she's an 80 year old woman who has an abundance of money and lives in Stinson Beach and probably has gotten everything she's ever wanted in life, but sorry, I switched my whole calendar (and subsequently my colleague's calendar) to accommodate you for Monday, and now you're trying to switch back? No. And you're going to complain about the price? Double no.

So that's just a microcosm of how I've been feeling. While the company I work for has many pros and I am thankful to have a job that's providing me skills to take elsewhere, the cons have increasingly spilled over into off-work hours. It's affected my training and relationships, and everything came to a head at AC. As soon as mile 5 the thought of dropping popped into my head. I didn't take the thought seriously until I got dual side stitches when trying to run downhill on the highway around mile 28. From there, the run turned pretty bleak and very un-fun. Even so, I was running pretty well. But I honestly got bored run-walking the 7 mile highway stretch. The thought of continuing sounded appalling. There was no alacrity. No pep in my step, just plodding along because that's what I was supposed to be doing.

I felt, and still feel, disheartened about the whole thing. I quit because I wasn't having fun. I feel like I let down my awesome crew of Rebecca and Franz who were both looking forward to pacing me later in the race. I told everyone that I was going to run 100 miles again, and now I have to explain why I stopped at mile 38. Not fun.

After my last blog post many people reached out to me via text, email, phone, and comments. Everyone was extremely supportive, saying that they understood my plight really well, and that the day was mine and I didn't have to worry about anything other than getting to the finish line. I really appreciated every single message. I was taken aback at the amount of love and support coming from my friends. Even when I thought I was distant from all of these people they all showed that they care, that this community is special, and that is a good enough reason alone to keep running. I'm not alone not wanting to run. And even though it's a sad thought, I'm not alone. Yeah, we all have our first-world struggles that seem big to us. They are big to us. But we're not alone. I made the decision to quit something that I started and I'm sticking to it. I wasn't meant to run AC100 this year, maybe never. And that's ok.

By the grace of Salomon, I'm going to run Waldo 100k in Oregon in a couple of weeks to maintain my states tickets. I'm more excited about this race than AC. I love Oregon and I've always wanted to put in for Waldo but never have due to its proximity to Pine to Palm. I don't want to run 100 miles right now, and I'm so grateful to Salomon for slipping me into Waldo. I started AC in the Sense Rides, and you should go buy some too. Plush, flexible, and protective. They'll make you want to run.

Not all of AC was terrible. I enjoyed the hike up to Mt. Baden Powell and the exposed semi-ridge running after the summit. The volunteers were fantastic (they defied my perceptions of SoCal people). I do like the AC route, minus the whole running on the highway part. I don't know if I'll go back, but it's a good race. I ran most of the 38 miles alone but did meet a couple friendly folks. I admitted to one runner that I was having some mental issues with motivation, and he told me "what's the point if it's not fun?" Multiple people have told me that before, and I try to force it too often. Did I quit to save my mental health or to further destroy it? I think the former, I hope the former. But we'll see. I hope to write more in the future. Thanks for reading. Redemption at Waldo in 12 days. I can swallow 62 miles.

Happy for this moment.      Photo: Terry Majamaki

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Pre-AC100 Update

I haven't written a blog post since early January this year, woah. That says something about my running I guess. Not super stoked. I started a few blog posts but stopped after I became frustrated every time I unsuccessfully tried to edit the layout.

How did the first 8 months of the year look? I'm calling it 3/4ths of a training year. I've run regularly but not entirely focused. That last fourth is a major difference when trying to compete, if only for the confidence. At this point in my running career I know I can do most things. It's more a question of if I want to do those things. I've skipped plenty of routine weekday runs (and even a couple weekend runs) due to San Francisco weather, work stress, wanting to spend more time with Rebecca, and just flat depression. Stress is a cascade effect and I haven't figured it out. Nobody has, or else we'd all be happy and crushing it at our jobs. For the most part I'm doing well at work but not happy. That's backwards.

I intentionally signed up for more races this year to make me run more. Turns out that plan didn't motivate me to train, just ended up with me very pissed off at 4:50am a few Saturdays before races. I ran hard at Marin Ultra Challenge 50k, Leona Divide 50, Double Dipsea, and Tahoe Rim Trail 55k. They were all solid results. Leona Divide was the goal race for the spring and I felt like I raced all 50 miles, which was good. Pacing Leif at Western States for the last 38 miles was also a major highlight.

Watching Leif run States, and Jordy/Brett/Trevor/JB at TRT100 reminded me that you have to run 100s easy. No training is ever really 100 mile pace. Everyone is the Bay Area just sprints all the time. Pacing a 100k is still dramatically different than pacing a 100 miler. And I'm nervous as hell for Angels Crest in two days for that reason. My confidence isn't high. It's going to be hot. I'm going to be tired. I'm already tired. Honestly it feels a little like before SD100 in 2015 where I dropped out and had strep throat. Except this time I'm not sick. I'm just tired. Mainly tired of work and the fog and being depressed. Summer flew by, and I haven't camped at all or adventured, the two things I need to make me happy. The weekends have all become races or trying to regain some semblance of rejuvenation before the never-ending work chaos begins again.

So my main goal at AC is to just be happy. I have 24 hours (more or less) to get the thing done, and that's what it is this year. Get it done. If it wasn't for a dumb race called Western States where you have to earn your tickets or loose them for entry, I would have pulled out of AC a month ago. I can finish the thing, I just have to want to do it. I'm hoping I can settle in after the first 10 miles, then just go on autopilot. I get to have a day-date with Rebs for 30 miles, then spend the darkness with Franz as they pace me to revelatory victory. Definitely looking forward to all of those miles. I realize this post isn't necessarily motivating, but it's 60 degrees and foggy outside when it should be 80 and sunny and that doesn't make me very happy. I need to move away from SF, ha!

A little honesty never hurt. Heart on sleeve or whatever. Now that's off my chest I'm going to pack, put my chin up, and go sweat on some dirt in the mountains. Go time.