Thursday, April 21, 2016


Boston is just something you have to do as a runner. It legitimizes your running to the average layperson, and has a legendary atmosphere. For me, Boston 2016 was a checklist item and a time for SFRC offsite fun. I had mixed feelings about the race before it happened. Complete marathon training isn't super exciting or fun, so I didn't wholly commit myself. Running any amount of miles at 6:30 pace is something I just don't do, ever. I was able to fit in three or four solid road runs at about 6:45 pace. All said, I couldn't really expect myself to have a PR day (sub 2:52). Despite a virus, attending an after party show on Wednesday, a red eye on Thursday, a wedding on Saturday, a flight on Sunday, I decided I'd give it a shot anyway, because it's, well, THE BOSTON MARATHON. I had excuses, but I wasn't planting them to not even give it a shot. I'm over running like that. I can only do as best I can on the given day under my circumstances. I was trying.

So it was a dope week leading to the race. Rooming with Varndoozle, EZ, and the Big Stapler was a Seinfeld episode if Seinfeld was 14 years old. It was fabulous. We wore Goodwill suits to the start line.

Happy family

The race....well... I spent the first 10 miles getting constantly passed. Trying to hold 6:30s was just not happening. You're either on or off with the marathon, and I knew it wasn't a PR day when I split a 6:45 as soon as mile six. I wasn't doing much smiling, and was wondering if I should just jog or try to put something together. With no race plans in the near future I decided to try and keep it together. Plus the Wellsey girls had put a pep in my step. I felt good from about 11-14, then my quads blew at mile 16, which rarely happens to me. I chalk that one up to the virus I was not 100% over. Cardiovascularly I was fine the whole run, but the legs weren't having it. I caught the Great Dane at mile 22ish, and he hung tough with me for the next four miles, us repping SFRC hard and getting cheers from the crowd for working together, silently. I unintentionally kept elbowing him because my stride went to a wobble (sorry bro!). Dane outkicked me the last quarter mile and laid it all out there. I crossed a touch under 2:58. After chewing on it,  I'm content despite earlier goals of trying to run 10 mins faster than that. It was a tough day for most folks.

Emily, Misha, Paddy, Jorge, and birthday boy Jonas had great races. Despite the rest of us not crushing it, the post race endorphins were still there and we enjoyed ourselves. The Boston locals were awesome during the race (they're as mean as they say while driving). So Boston, you're cool for one day a year. I'm sure to catch you in the future.

....But in more important news...Pine to Palm round three this year?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black Canyons 100k

I just really wanted a microphone to drop.

I was running hard at mile 60 of 62, blaring some sexually explicit tunes, rapidly going back and forth from laughing to wincing. Every step shot knives up my quads, but I was caffeinated, rolling with my college buddy Dylan Hesse, and life was good. The 88 degree heat started to subside, and I wasn't just jogging this one in, no sir, we were running hard.

Black Canyons 100k lit up my radar in early winter. I yearned to mentally and physically get back into the game after a rewarding but exhausting 2015 Pine to Palm. With some easy self-induced peer pressure, I signed up for Black Canyons and started training. I put in about eight weeks of focused work and came into good shape. Running is much more fun when you're in shape and the miles come easy! Big ups to the SFRC bros and birds for the continual inspiration, community, and hard work. SFRC is no small part in contributing my continued love for this sport.

I knew as early as early as mile 20 that I was putting in a good effort, and that I was going to go deep. Coming into Black Canyons, I only had two goals: run gratefully, and leave nothing on the course. Long story short, I accomplished both goals. I'm very pleased with the day. It was tough, hot, and exposed. Running with Ezra, Denise (golden ticket after winning HURT last month!), and a slew of many other speedy runners made for quick miles and lots of smiles. The pop was in my step all day. I didn't win a golden ticket--I'm no "elite" runner--but I accomplished my goals and that is plenty happy for me. It was one of my best runs within the past two years, and I think I would still say that if I finished 20th instead of 13th.

I'm up and down on everything in life on a daily basis. Black Canyons was no different. Already running hard the first 60k, I elected to start the caffeine and music at mile 40 or so. I ran even harder, flowing through the windy and rocky singletrack. With every song I became more intense and emotional, fluctuating between catharsis and pride. With still 20 miles to go, I caught up to Ezra and Denise, me wide eyed and talking loudly. I realized I ran that previous section way too hard as they had about 10 mins up on me at the prior aid station. I took out the headphones and conservatively jogged the next section until I picked up Dylan to pace me in, who did an awesome job.

Ultrarunning is just so great because you can make it whatever you want. Sometimes it's celebratory, sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's not fun, sometimes it's healing. Many times, and at Black Canyons, it was everything in one.

Props to Ez for being down to shred, to Keely for crushing the 60k, to Dylan for crewing and pacing, to fellow Ohioan Michael Owen for blasting a fast time, to ice bandanas, to not eating 30 gels ever again, and to the 1975 for making songs about drugs that I relate to running. Strava.

Can I drop the mic now?


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jogging Through 2015

2015 was my third year of meticulously logging miles. Let's call it an... interesting... year of running. The first quarter of the year started well, then work got the best of me and the rest of the year went wobbly. I can't excuse my running performance by work, but my mental energy and penchant for running uncharacteristically decreased throughout the year. The low of the year was certainly San Diego 100. I had strep throat and found myself uneasy and uncomfortable in Southern California when I should've been sharp and stoked. Life had caught up to me. I'm having an increasingly difficult time coping with work/life/run balance. The more I care about running the less I care about work, and visa-versa. I'm not sure how to solve that problem. Happy to report that currently things are looking positive--I'm running more. I KNOW that I am happiest when I run a significant amount of volume. The more I am outside running, camping, being...

Without further adieu, the 2015 numbers. 

Inclusive Time 

Opposed to 3,673 miles, 575,833 ft of vert, and 630:37:32 total activity time in 2014. 

Significant differences. I realize that every year cannot be more than the previous, but 2015 was admittedly sub-par in the numbers category. I am motivated by numbers, so they are important to me. If you're interested in what happened in the individual months I'd be more than happy to discuss them with you. 

It was just a different year. A full year of working in the real world, I can't say that it was a bad year but I do have an odd taste in my mouth about it. I learned a lot about life. I went from doing manual labor to managing a a full crew. I went from infatuation to heartbreak to independence to dependence--"all the feels" as Kelly Summers would say. 

My best days were spent with SFRC or traveling or camping. My best days are spent with the people I love. My worst days were the regular days where I get into my head too deep and pressured myself unnecessarily. It is difficult to be confident in your running when you live in an ultra-mecca with 25+ guys way faster than you, but it is also very inspiring. You get better by surrounding yourself with people that are better than you.

I didn't meet my 2015 goal of running 3000 miles, which was almost all due to being sick in June, but that's alright. I didn't read a book a month either, which I'm going to try to do again this year. I did run with SFRC a lot more and have made some great friendships in that community. I love the ever-present stoke. When I am with the people I love life is good. 

2016 is going to see some positive changes. I'm going to average reading a book a month, and I'm going to run more than 3,000 miles. I'm also going to run at least one 100 mile week again. Attainable yet not easy goals. January is off to a great start and I'm ready to tackle the year with confidence. Let's go.  


Sunday, December 27, 2015

December Splatter

Newton was right. My body at rest will stay at rest. I'm a big believer in off time, especially after a huge effort like say running 100 miles or racing 50. Three years ago my "off season" was two weeks of doing absolutely nothing, packing on the pounds (something I also think is important, in a moderate way), getting way out of shape, then trying to force myself back into the shape I was previously. I ran my first ultra in February of 2011 , and after about 15 of them I started to think differently. You hear the logic from everyone: when you first start ultrarunning you don't want to stop. You're afraid to take off days, or just make excuses to not take an off day. After a couple of years, you welcome breaks, and maybe even take them for too long, as is my case.

Don't get me wrong, I still love ultrarunning. I like the exploring part the most, and the pushing yourself second. If I don't push myself I can still live, albeit crankily, but if I don't explore I'll go crazy. Ultrarunning has changed. It was changing when I got in the sport and it's continuing to change. Living in San Francisco where change starts, I'm honestly jaded on the sport right now. I'm not a fan of prize purses, of special elite treatment, of sponsors (admittedly because I don't get any of that and I know plenty of friends who do). Not a fan of blow up banners, too much media, self promotion, or even talking about PEDs. If any music is blasting, it better be gangster rap or EDM from my friends dancing around my car in the dark at 5am. Call me a curmudgeon. It's just one guys pessimistic opinion.

But anyway, sports move in ways that I can't change. I still love seeing my friends smash races. Plenty of smashing of late. Varner crushing the Quad CR, EZ getting second, running 50 miles the next weekend, then beating me by a 90 seconds in a 10k the following weekend (what?). Dbo, Jorge, SFRC crushing TNF50. My hella suave lady breaking into the national scene at TNF (!). Good old UltraVT folks Darren and Jordy Chang getting that 2/3 at special Hellgate. So many positive things to report, and for that I am thankful even if I'm not currently finding success in the sport. Outwardly OR inwardly.

I'm not finding any success because I'm not trying. I haven't had a good race since Lake Sonoma back in April. My best friend Wyatt Earp once told me while doing a track workout, "you know, you'll run faster if you just try harder." Well shit. He's quite right. Just try harder. It's actually that simple. I'm stuck running all my easy runs too easy, I don't do drills or strides anymore, and I get sick of talking about running after about fifteen minutes.

It's like my little-known swimming career. I was quite the dolphin, but stopped trying after I got fast, then just burnt out and quit. Please God don't let that happen to me in running. I've feared that from day one. Telling friends in New Zealand that ultrarunning is just one of my mental flings and physical obsessions. I'm not the person I was growing up and I'm not the person I was in college. I'm a whole hell of a lot more cynical and realistic, to my detriment. I don't like being an adult. Don't get me started on how overworked I think our nation is.

So I've decided that something's going to change. I'm going to give it the college try, cause I like who I was in college a lot better than who I am now (I was running 3,300+ miles/year). I signed up for Black Canyons 100k which is too soon, Valentines weekend. Actually pretty stoked on that, although I don't expect much in terms of numerical success. If just running that race jumpstarts some stoke and I'm in good shape and training in a disciplined manner, it'll be a success. Keely and Ezra will be there, so it's bound to be a party no matter what happens in the running aspect. I'm going to run some damn mileage and stop puttering around 60 miles a week. I don't expect to put up anything big for Black Canyons, but next spring someone please slap me if I'm not above 85/week. I like running high mileage, and I was a very optimistic person when I was running triple digits. I want to feel good, run good, eat good, look good, live good. So that's what I'm set out to do.

(Laughable year end numbers post in the next couple of weeks)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pine to Palm 2015

"One fast move or I'm gone," Jack Kerouac repeats at the beginning of his morose novel Big Sur. I finished Pine to Palm a week and a few hours ago, and Kerouac's quote fits my second experience at this terribly awesome endurance run. For Kerouac, if he didn't get out of San Francisco quickly, he knew he'd drink himself to death. For me, if I quit P2P, I knew I'd spiral into an extended depression.

My first running of P2P in 2014 was pretty freaking great. Fit from a spring and summer of high mileage, I ran a great first 70 miles, had a big blow up but still ran it in, finishing in 21.5 hours. The race went so well minus some of those blow up miles that I forgot how hard the course actually is. You only remember how the good moments feel. Sure you can remember the bad parts, but you can't remember how they feel. Feeling the bad moments, the aches, the pain, the mental fuzz, only happens when you're in the moment. So basically I forgot large chunks of the course until I was in the moment this year. Unlike last year when I didn't know what was up ahead, I dreaded leaving aid stations this year because I knew the toughness of ensuing climbs or descents. For this reason, I believe running a 100 without specific course knowledge is beneficial. No matter though, I was going to finish.

The field this year was less than 150 runners, opposed to 260ish last year, due to P2P not being a Hardrock qualifier this year. The smaller field reflected in the runners attitudes this year. At the pre-race briefing Hal, the race director, urged us to run with our fellow runners. I ran the first 30 miles or so with a group of great five dudes. Everyone was encouraging. That feeling of all being on the same team was crucial and what made the race fun. I wanted these dudes to run well and have good days, and I believe they wanted the same for me. It's absolutely silly to put negative energy out during any of these ultra events, especially when you can only do your best and can't influence others. So we climbed conservatively, my man Stroh leading a train of dudes with a light jog, me hiking the same speed in tow. That climb has to be one of my favorites--ever. The singletrack, high altitude (compared to the Bay), sweeping views, huge doug-firs, all blend for 8ish slow miles of bliss. The decent stayed easy, and soon enough our pack was back together on gravel roads, chugging along efficiently but not too slow nor fast. The temperature wasn't quite hot yet and the day proved promising--we were already through a fourth of the race and it felt like nothing.

Atop the first climb a few weeks back!

Three of us strolled into the first crew station together at mile 28ish. My awesome awesome crew of Keely (mah gurlfriend down from Portland), Wyatt Earp (college roommate and best friend in from Indiana), and Dmack (fellow VTech ultrarunner and comedian, new to the Bay Area) swapped my crop top for a new, iced one. Some calories in and calories for the road and I was outta there. This next section I had run with Keely a few weekends ago. It's the hottest section of the course and douchegrade. If I ran all the douchegrade on the course I would crash factually. So I hiked the whole thing while my fellow runners from earlier in the race passed me running. I was playing it smart, was digging in for the next 20 or whatever miles of douchegrade, was digging in for the heat that would hit. And hit it did! Soon it was in the upper 90s and eventually cracked 100, a record setting day for nearby Medford, Oregon.

I knew it'd get hot; I knew I wasn't prepared for the heat, living in San Francisco. Pre-race I kept saying all I need is to survive the heat then I'd be ok. But my goodness, the heat cooked me even with ice around my neck, wet t shirts, and sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. I stopped at sat for brief moments leading into the mile 50 aid station (the previous mile 40/42 aid station was a blast), and walked into the aid station saying "put some butter on me because I'm toast." My sense of humor was there and mentally ok, just frustrated that I couldn't really run because it was so dang hot. My hip flexors started giving me trouble from the extended climbs. I walked both up and down the 2 mile out and back to the peak. Crew had me sit for 15 or so minutes, trying to eat. Either Dmack or Wyatt offered me a beer, and at this point in the race my "crush-it" ambitions were far out the door, so I obliged on the beer. This moment was hilarious and a bit of a turning point in the race. Hilarious because I drank a beer half way through a 100 mile race. I'm not a huge beer drinker, I'd prefer a marg. Turning point because I needed water and calories and beer has both. Turning point because I knew I was pressing on and rolling with the punches, still trying to have fun. I saw a few folks drop at this mile 50 aid station, but I wasn't going to drop yet.

Beer. Mullet. Lowdermilk productions.

The next 15 miles solidified my race. I walked an absolute ton. My stomach and hip flexors were wonky. I started thinking about if I was going to finish the dang thing--I still had 50 miles to go. I put this song on repeat that got me thinking. If I quit, who the hell am I? I DNFed my last race (due to strep throat, but still, I didn't finish). If I quit this time around am I even an ultrarunner anymore? That's my identity man. My friends traveled here for me. My whole family is rooting for me. I'll let them all down if I quit. I'll definitely diminish in Keely's book, and I want to keep her. Most of all perhaps, I'd let myself down. I knew myself and I saw myself holing up in my room, staying in, not going out, spiraling into depression again, this time without my family, hating everything, numb to anything. I did not want that. I didn't want to say that everything is copacetic, a lie.

I thought all these things while seemingly alone in the middle of nowhere Oregon, dripping sweat on hydrophobic dirt. I'm a Rutemiller, damnit. I am an ultrarunner. I don't just quit. This quivering feeling in my throat started. One fast move or I'm gone. I'm not done as a person, as a kid, a friend, a boyfriend. Fuck that. I'm not done. One fast move or I'm gone. I might still have 40 miles, but I'm seeing this through.

The rest of the race didn't matter. The only question was how long it'd take me to get to Ashland. I had made up my mind. The temperature started to cool off, I was able to start eating and running again. I teamed up with a fellow runner and we ran to Dutchman peak, me headlampless with loads of encouragement from my crew. I ate a bunch of pesto pasta with a smile on my face in the passenger seat of my car. Our four person team high-fived and Wyatt and I RAN the next 15 miles REALLY well. However these last 35 miles hurt, they were some of my favorites of the whole run. Spending time with my best friends who I never get to see was another reason why I was still in this thing. Wyatt and I didn't talk a whole ton but we knew what was going on. We crushed it.

At mile 80 I picked up my wonderful Kangaroo after eating some more pasta. These next 10 miles are the worst of the whole race. I couldn't lift my knees any more, so they were coincidentally the most pathetic miles of my life. We climbed together and I was happy just listening to Keely giggle at me. I'd hit my toe on a rock and Keely would say, "who put that there!?" The scramble at the top of Wagner Butte was...pathetic... but awesome. We turned off our headlamps and looked at Medford, at Ashland, at the stars. Then we fell down the other side of the mountain. That trail is complete bullshit by the way. Something like, what, 15 HUGE blowdowns on the trail, I had to sit on the logs, physically pull my legs up over them, then fall on Keely on the other side bahaha. We cruised the last 10 miles surprisingly well, supper foggy-headed at 5am, asking ourselves what the heck we're doing. A fitting anti-climatic finish, and we did it.

Crew mile 42. Photo: Ashland Newspaper
Hokie love!

Running's cool. My friends are cool. Pine to Palm is hard. I'm content not training for a good while. Vibes.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pre P2P Update

Ahhh, a lot goes on, doesn't it? After my first DNF, San Diego 100 three months ago, I needed a solid break. I had strep throat which was diagnosed a few days after the race. I didn't dwell on the DNF one bit. Pretty quickly after SD I decided I'd run Pine to Palm again, but first it took most the rest of June to get back on track physically and mentally. I kept getting sick; I wasn't sleeping enough. Things turned the corner in late June, probably while hanging at Western States. I received news that one of the top arborist representatives (sales dudes) at work announced his retirement and I'd be moving into his slot. This meant no more physical labor climbing or dragging brush, but longer hours for sure. I basically had two free months before starting this new position. I started camping again. I went to Vegas, Portland, Shasta, Ashland, Yosemite. Had some rad weekends with this awesome girl, and some rad runs. My bud Chris Demasi and I announced that our happiness is directly correlated to mountains and sleeping outside. After a few months of mediocre happiness, I was back to myself.

So now I've put in an eight week training block of which I'm proud. It wasn't excessive but it was enough for me to feel like I'm in shape and can indeed travel 100 miles on two feet without being completely miserable. Without further ado in short-form, here are my pre p2p 2015 thoughts.

  • I'm excited. P2P is special for multiple reasons. I'm itching to go. I want it. 
  • I'm low-key confident I'm going to finish. It'll be hard at some point...points ;)
  • I'm curious. Second year running the course, I know where to play it smart. I think I was in better shape last year though. 
  • I want to be able to run well the last 25 miles. 
  • I am a bit scared of the heat. Temps look to be pushing 100. San Francisco gets to a crazy hot 80 three times this summer. I've had some heat runs, but I think right now my body is in cold mode. I'll employ heat-management tactics opposed to heat-training. 
  • Two of my favorite people are coming to crew: Wyatt Earp & Keely Kangaroo Henninger!
  • A surprise appearance by David D-Mack Macanick might be joining the crew!
  • Looks to be a decent field of runners. I'd love a top ten, but an enjoyable sub 24 hours is more important. I can only do as well as I can on the day I'm given. 
  • Vibes. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I'm not invincible.

I'm not invincible. Never thought I was, but now I know I'm not.

When I signed up for San Diego 100 back in January I had aspirations of running fast and finishing top 5. I had a great February, March, and April of training and racing, especially at Lake Sonoma. Running with the San Francisco Running Company bros (yes, we shred hella gnar) had upped my game and stoke. May took a bit of a downturn with some major work changes involving way too much commuting and stress. I needed to get out of the bay and took an awesome long weekend to Boulder. Still, I hadn't really felt good running since Lake Sonoma, but I did it anyway cause you can't fake running 100 miles. Wednesday of race week I started to feel really achey, especially in my kidney region and neck. Thursday I felt so terrible when I got home from work that I fell asleep at eight without finishing packing. I thought I might just be really sore from a tree removal I did Tuesday. I didn't feel good Friday. I forgot my race kit at home and scrambled to put together a kit of clothes and gear from my best friends (who rule). Nevertheless with all these dumb excuses, I was going to get it done, cause that's what ultrarunners do. A lot of times we don't know how we're going to do things, but we'll figure it out. We get shit done.

At mile five I felt this weight on my shoulders. One of those huge acme cartoon weights. Everything was taking effort. My heart rate was skyrocketing from simply jogging flats. I was thinking about work and all of the things I hate. By mile 10 it felt like I had run 80. Swallowing water was hurting my throat. My backup shoes that I was wearing, which I hadn't since March, were rubbing. I hadn't felt this bad on a run since I can't remember. I more or less walked the next eight miles to the mile 18.5 aid station. I asked a volunteer for her phone and called my Dad, saying on his voicemail that I was dropping. Honestly, it was an easy decision. I easily gave my bib and bracelet to the aid station captain. My body wasn't right. I was unmotivated and unhappy. I didn't have anything to prove; I felt like I was just punishing myself. Running should not be punishment.

So, now I'm heading home for my sister's wedding (yay!) and seeing a doctor. I'm still feverish and achey. I'm disappointed but there wasn't much I could do. Every step walking was taking effort. I feel worse for my friends who came out to the race for me. BUT! Jordan Chang, the best human being on the planet, repped the Hokies in spectacular fashion and finished 11th in 21:25 at his first West Coast ultra--so stoked for you Jordy.

Jordy pre-race bout to crush it! Photo: Chrissy

I try to be the person I want to be: positive, happy, inspiring. I try to live like a legend. But legends aren't invincible. San Diego was my 30th official ultra-race start. San Diego was my first DNF. At some point in your ultra career you're gonna DNF, and burning the wick at all ends for the past 10 months had caught up to me. It's back to square one now. I'm not going to run again until I feel excited about the prospect of running. When I do run, I'm not going to use a GPS watch or strava, not for a good while.

I'm not invincible. Never thought I was, but now I know. And that's alright.