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.


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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 Review

The annual review. They aren't getting any easier. Matter of fact I hadn't updated my training log in three weeks. HOW MANY MILES DO MY SHOES HAVE? I will never know for certain. 50 miles are lost to the universe.

2016 was a better year of running than 2015, which was cool because 2015 was lackluster. 2014 was still the best year. Will I forever live my life trying to run like I did in 2014? Oh my, I peaked in college when I didn't have anything to do besides run and party with my best friends. No wonder it was my favorite year. I'm also very nostalgic and tend to remember things in an exaggerated light. But 2014 was still the best.

I didn't run many races in 2016. I ran three ultras and a couple other races. I didn't run a 50k. Black Canyons was cool but that was February and winter still feels like the previous year so that doesn't really count. Siskiyou Outback was a killer weekend, one of the highlights of the year. Pine to Palm ruled, per usual. The Double Walmsey (R2R2R) was also a super fun adventure weekend. I did a good handful of 30+mile training runs for P2P, and they paid off. But I'd like to race a bit more in 2017. I'd like to run hard for some of the year, not just run forever.

Cool. We have that out of the way. I feel rushed. I always feel rushed these days.

Miles Vert Total Time
Jan 303.5 37,235 46:11:00
Feb 211.8 24,202 35:53:00
March 260.7 31,561 38:58:00
April 186.9 22,381 27:46:00
May 270.1 45,517 43:21:00
June 325.2 48,310 57:33:00
July 368 62,095 64:31:00
Aug 345.9 61,611 64:08:00
Sep 215.1 34,912 47:08:00
Oct 247.9 47.118 49:07:00
Nov 190.1 33,025 33:37:00
Dec 108.4 16,539 19:53
Total 3033.6 417,435 528:06:00

Opposed to 2796.06 miles,  435,296 ft of gain, and 474:33:00 time in 2015                                     And 3,673 miles, 575,833 ft of vert, and 630:37:32 total activity time in 2014.

So yay! I exercised more than 2015. I didn't finish my yearly goal of reading 12 books/year, but maybe I will this year. I said I'd run 3000 miles and I did. Then I more or less stopped. My calculation had 3,047 miles, so the computer lost a half marathon in there. Achieving 3k miles and PRing at the 100 mile distance at P2P were numerical highlights of the year. 

I haven't made firm running goals for 2017, because I'm more preoccupied with other stuff if you can't tell. AC100 will be a thing this year, and maybe Pine to Palm as a fun little double. 

Many cheers, 

The one and only Lowdermilk Productions. 

Monday, October 3, 2016


I wake before my alarm like my body knew there was trouble in the night. People connected to me had bad nights, and my empathetic conscious turns in the night. It's October, so it's fully dark at six am. Oh how I could sleep forever. I'm up before my alarm by three minutes, and that means I get to make egg burritos for breakfast and lunch.

I drive in silence. Across the bridge I turn on my phone. A voicemail this early, never a good sign. I purposefully procrastinate turning my work phone on this early for just this reason. If my day's going to ruined by someone not showing up to work, I at least want the peace of my 20 minute commute. But it's never peaceful. My anxious conscious turns before I unlock the gate to the yard. My foreman's called in sick, lingering dental problems causing no sleep. My empathetic conscious turned all night with him. I wonder how or if I'll be able to deliver today's job. It's ok, I had a great weekend. I'm resilient and unfazed at the Monday morning bump. I even laugh a little.

Before I get through Mill Valley I receive a text. A text before our 7am safety meetings is never a good sign. Someones going to be late or boss is adding to my to-do list. Working this early is high on my list of least favorite things. I should be running at this hour, not working. The text is a forwarded message from my climber. His son has an emergency heart transplant. He will not be in today. He had to fly down to LA in the middle of the night. My empathetic conscious flew with him last night, keeping me awake. I feel for him despite the business to which I need to tend.

It's my turn to lead the safety meeting. I forgot. I stumble through it, summarizing the history of ANSI safety standards. The morning passes. I can't focus on one task because there are fifteen to do. I don't really get anything done. I like the taste of my tea, but the flavor reminds me of when I was depressed last December.

I sell some work and meet a nice woman. Her tree's declining, is over-mature. I can't help but draw parallels to the people of this town and this city on the rainy morning. We're going to cut this tree like we're excising tumors. Cable the tree like we're stitching broken joints or broken hearts. I'm pessimistic in this automatic association, but I'm singing in my car which means I'm pretty happy.

I get back to the office. I forgot I had an online meeting with a company big wig. It's an hour of more red-tape. It's always more red-tape. Never-mind, I suck it up. The meeting ends and I go back to singing Modern Baseball so I'm pretty happy.

I get called into my managers office. High-strung woman complaint. Can I continue to work with her? I'm fazed by the question, like I'm unable to deal with her and I need to turn her over to one of the more seasoned vets in the office. I can deal with her. I can deal with anything...if I want to. I wonder if I should tell manager that I don't want to deal with this woman but I elect not to. Her headaches still make my salary. That's all work is. The more headaches you deal with the more money you make.

The phone rings for the twentieth time, interrupting my tenth task although the list has grown to twenty five now that it's 3pm. I get chewed out by an old militaristic customer because our prices are too high. It's not me, he likes me, it's the company. We're pricing ourselves out of business and there's nothing I can do about it but I have to listen to him lambast my company and my selling techniques for fifteen minutes. On top of it I have to give him a discount because he refuses to pay for my crew's travel time.

I'm starting to feel beat down. I tried to leave the office at 4 but it's now 5:30. I get back in the car. The Modern Baseball I've been singing has turned from happy to cathartic. My climber calls. He's almost crying. No health insurance, he has no idea how he's going to pay for his son's heart transplant. His country from which he emigrated was covering 70% of the expense, but two years has passed and they will no longer pay. He's having the worst day of his life. How am I supposed to stay positive? I tell him everything is going to be ok and he doesn't have to worry about losing his job right now. Just focus on your son.

I call my mom. I feel like I'm 16 and just got dumped by my prom date.
I flop down on my couch thats firm-comfy but I kind of hate it because I bought furniture and that means I'm permanent and can't run away. I am fully aware that if I continue to sit my mental will erode until I go to sleep frustrated and sad.
It's misty-raining outside which I normally hate. It's fitting for my mood so I put on my running shoes. I feel like I'm moving through quick sand. Oh yeah, I ran a 100 less than a month ago. I don't worry. I listen to music and run for an hour.