Sunday, March 8, 2015

Identity Crisis at Way Too Cool

I felt like I just finished Pine to Palm 100--low key happy but moreso relieved to be finished.

A mentally difficult day where I'm still ambivalent on the funness of the race itself, but an outstanding day in the post-race community! Immediately upon crossing the finish line with T.R. (an instant memory) I was slapping hands and giving salty hugs with all the San Francisco Running Company bros.

The SFRC bros! Gram by Maggie Tides

Feelings version
I think I was the most curious out of everyone to see where my move to California would take my running. Were my obsessive days of running over? Was ultra running just a college fad, something to occupy my time in the luxurious world of university? My addictive personality, and cyclic history of passionate burnout had me admitting to friends in New Zealand in the winter of 2012, "I think my running is temporary." Around mile ten of Way Too Cool 50k this past weekend I found myself wondering the same thing.

Moderately mad at myself for no good reason, I was asking, "What do I want out of running? Do I want to be competitive? Do I want to be fast? Do I want to win? Can I even do these things out here? Do I care? Does it even matter? Or do I just want to jog, adventure, meet cool people, explore new trails, and not be fat?"

Way Too Cool was an identity crisis masked as a race. After 20 something ultras I was questioning what I was doing. As my first ultra in the hyper-competitive state of California, I felt like I had to perform, to prove that I belong in the scene. Pre-race I made cover-your-ass excuses like I'm not tapered, Way Too Cool isn't a goal race, I feel like I haven't slept in forever, work is crazy, etc etc. I was overwhelming myself.

So when my first mile was 6:35 and I was somewhere around 75th place, my main thought was "ugh." The first eight mile loop consisted of thinking about position and looking at my watch a lot, not smiling. The course was buff, flat, not my specialty and not my liking. The only thing keeping my ass from slacking off was my new friend T.R., a SFRC bro running his first 50k. His exuberant stoke was rubbing off on me, keeping me hauling with him. I am SO thankful to have run with T.R. for most of the day. His fresh perspective on the ultra scene was refreshing like cucumbers on your eyelids after a hard work day. Despite my inner battles, T.R. and I worked really well together exchanging positive talk and encouragements. We ran the first 18 or so together until he took off on a climb. When the field thinned out around mile 15 I becmore more like myself and started to enjoy the run. I never felt great, but I never felt that bad. I'd been pushing pretty much the whole morning, but knew I could turn it up in the last ten miles a tad bit. I started passing folks and felt like I was finally racing and enjoying the sweet, windy, single track. I laughed at what the heck I was wearing. When I caught T.R. with a mile to go, I knew we would finish together, because that's what ultrarunning is. It's community. It's rad people doing rad things. It's a positive lifestyle, an optimistic outlook that thing's are going to get better, that life is worth living, worth striving and stretching for, not just gliding through.

The Crop Top. It's about to blow up. Just watch. Photo: Maggie

Still a bit ambivalent, I'm happy that I ran fast, enjoyed a beautiful California day, met some new friends, got out of my comfort zone, drank many a beer, and ended the day with a smile on my face. The SFRC crushed it. What Brett Rivers and gang are doing building community at SFRC feels so right. We're bringing different types of people together for the same love of running. We're learning from each other, pushing each other, having fun together, and improving together. The stoke is real! So for now, I don't have to decide what I want out of running. I get by with a little help from my friends, as some band used to sing. I'm excited as I know what I need to work on and that I have loads of room for improvement. See you soon at Lake Sonoma :) Vibe to this below.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Numbers, 2015 Goals

Oh man. What a year.

Month      Run (mi)     Vert (ft)     Total activity time (includes biking, strength, etc)
Jan          285.2           43,304         56:27:16
Feb          308.9           39,521         48:50:00
Mar          407.6           65,119         80:55:37
Apr          418.1           63,412         68:41:51
May         447.6          78,881          90:00:05
June        313.8          57,005         65:01:44
July         221.0           37,090         58:09:42
Aug         305.9           54,646         53:00:00
Sept         228.3           45,159         53:33:11
Oct          254.6           30,000         43:57:16
Nov         301.5           32,582         45:56:01
Dec         180.5           29,114         31:06:33

Totals:  3,648 mi       575,832 ft     695:44:21 (just under 29 days)

273 more miles and 100,832 more ft than 2013.
1,514 more miles than 2012 when I started actually running.

Woah. I have to say I'm proud and surprised with the sheer numbers of 2014. Pretty nuts in the difference between the first half of the year and the second, obviously because school ended and work started. March, April, and May? What? I remember blurry days of carrying my running shoes everywhere, running before class, between classes, and after class. Running with anybody and everybody. The stoke was so utterly palpable in Blacksburg. I've never seen anything so inspiring as UltraVT in the spring of 2014, and I'm so happy I was able to be a part of it. We crushed it gang. We crushed it.

June and July in Colorado was pure adventure and dirtbagging. Bighorn 100 was a letdown but still a surreal experience. I still feel it in my teeth.

September was struggling with my new scenery in Marin and saying screw it, let's go run 100 miles again. Wyatt helped me finish Pine 2 Palm. I still feel it in my stomach.

I'm unsure what 2015 will look like, but I know it's going to be a good year. I hope to train with San Francisco Running Company more and more frequently, hopefully finding some guys whose schedules mesh with mine to train with. The schedule is currently looking like Way Too Cool 50k in March, Lake Sonoma 50mi in April, and San Diego 100 in June. I'm supposed to move positions (and most likely offices) within my company in late spring or summer, so I can't say what's going to happen in the second half of the year. I hope to stay in the Bay. Will I hit these same numbers? Doubt it. Will I be a better runner with a more balanced life? I'm betting so.

My goals? Run at least 3,000 miles. Commute to work not by a car at least 7 times a month (as long as I'm in the office I'm in now at least. It's a 7 mile bike ride or a 6 mile run one way). Read at least one book a month. Stay injury free. Have fun. Travel. Crush it.

My dudes visited to close out 2014 <333333

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Half Year in Review Pt II

Half Year in Review Pt I.

Part two of the best summer of all time started in July. I found myself back in Colorado, this time with a LEGIT base camp in Leadville, thanks to Old Man (Eric Grossman). Grossman & Glove lived in a part of Virginia by Iron Mountain, so our "site" was dubbed "Iron Mountain High Altitude Training Camp," or "I.M. HAT C." All we did was climb 14ers. We were training, but with the sole focus of climbing big, huge, gorgeous mountains with good friends. We never pushed anything and almost exclusively hiked up and ran down. It was pretty hard to not just get up a 14er every day even though Glove and I were still in post-100 recovery mode. Nonetheless, IMHATC was a major success. Evenings were filled with Dale's Pale Ales. We cruised all over the place with no focus. Patrick McGlade, Darren, & Mike Jones were all in the fun too. I believe I tagged Mt. Massive (twice), La Plata, Mt. Sherman, Mt. Elbert, and Long's Peak (just under the summit due to weather). So great. At the end of July I moved into my new apartment in Marin, California. 

Like life does, life changed. I started working full time at Bartlett Tree Experts. I kept running and exploring every day, even after my eight hours of manual labor. I was happy learning new stuff at work and exploring after work. Towards the end of August I started to feel a little trapped (as I still vaguely feel that way), like I needed something big, another trip. You can't just cold turkey the dirtbag road lifestyle. I was flipping out and anxious about work all the time, I missed my friends, and I just needed something. So I texted Wyatt to see if he wanted an adventure, and of course he said "explicative, yes." So I signed up for Pine 2 Palm 100 miler. Adventure set, let's go. 

I started the month with my birthday and no work on labor day, so of course I ran for five hours. I had enough fitness from the spring and July's 14er expedition that I became stoked on P2P. So the first half of the month was la-la-land of pre-adventure thoughts. I then picked up Wyatt from the airport and we had an extraordinary weekend at P2P 100. The second half of the month was solid, the weather was still nice and I abstained from social media. I took 10 days completely off of running. 

The month started with friends visiting! One of my best friends from school and the ultra team and adventure club, Kelly Summers, stayed at my place for a solid ten days with her old roommate. Every day we did something fun right when I got home from work. We ate, drank, and were very merry. I was really happy to have friends from my old life in California and we soaked it up! Not concerned with running, the three of us went hiking a decent bit. We took a fabbbulous weekend trip to the PCT which was SO needed. I concluded I NEED mountains in my life. Marin has Mt. Tam, and sure it's a mountain, but, meh. I like Marin but it is not everything. To be truly happy I need real, proper mountains...Sometime this month I elected to get motivated and run CIM (CA International Marathon). It was nice to have a little bit of purpose in training again, but the training was not intense or full blown by any means. The end of the month was a work trip and a SPECIAL trip to Blacksburg which made my heart just so warm. 

I remember starting this month running the roads of Blacksburg, slightly hungover, just like old times. I popped into local delish restaurant, Gillies, and said goodbye to my good friends. The weekend was love. For the rest of the month I don't remember much on the running front. I won the Mt. Tam 30k with a hard effort on a cool course. Staying busy. Rain at the end of the month.

Rain, rain, rain, rain. And by rain I mean out of the 19 days so far in December, 17 of them have been filled with rain. Let me tell you that manual labor in the rain is probably one of the worst things. Ever. It is horrible. Terrible. Awful. It's comical for a day or two. But on the 12th day of wearing your never-dry rain gear and slipping up muddy backyards with 100 pound logs in your arms it stops being comical. Needless to say, I currently do not like my job. My mood is almost constantly cranky. I've been off and on sick all month. I tweaked my pelvis from swinging a stupid pulaski all day at work one day, which messed up my stride. I've been going to a chiropractor but it's still not 100%. I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I saw the sun without clouds in front of it. It feels like it was October. I will NOT be moving to the Portland or Seattle office. So I was not motivated to run this month. But I ran CIM in a solid 2:52:07 with room for improvement but happy for where I currently was when I ran it. The rest of this month has been and will continue to be chill, mostly running just every other day. MY FRIENDS COME SOON! Wyatt and Glove and Chrissy and Darren will be here for New Years. We're going to go on awesome runs and get wild. So the end of the month will be about 100x better than the middle of the month. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hasty Updates

With my last race of the year completed and no posts since September, I thought I'd write a short little update. I've been running here and there, consistently but certainly nothing crazy. I've been working a lot and am used to being a working man (read: I've become numb to the permanent fact that I'm awake at 6:10 every morning and working a minimum of 40 hours a week at a physically dangerous yet romantic but un-glamorous job that I typically enjoy and other times hate). I've been dabbling in the Bay life (read: city life, mellow Marin life, California girlfriend life [yes! I'm not longer dating running! (big deal friends)]. And I still use too many asides and parenthsis in my haphazard blogging.

After P2P 100 I indeed took the 10 days off that I promised. I proceeded to not really care about running but still did it here and there mainly for vanity and strava. I wrote an angsty blogpost that I didn't publish. I decided I needed to get motivated so I randomly signed up for Mt. Tam 30k, which was a hard effort and fun trail race which I happily won albeit against no competition. I also signed up for the CIM (California International Marathon) with intentions of running at least two workouts a week and throw down a respectible marathon time. I had not run a marathon since Richmond Marathon in November of 2011. 

2011, finishing a 3:05:xx

Of course I did not run at least two workouts a week in November. I've become proud with my manual-labor job, but it doesn't bode well for traditional training. About 75% of times when I decided that "today I'm going to do a workout" I ended up just jogging up a fireroad because that's much more enjoyable than running in circles around a track with a bunch of high school football players staring at you at the end of climbing and brush dragging day. 

I still made it work though, still running and still getting in two good marathon-effort long runs. Long story short, after coming up with a million excuses why I shouldn't run hard at CIM coupled with some pump-up texts from Jordy Chang, I told myself to suck it up and go crush it. Mom is usually right, and mom told me that I'm in better shape than I think I am. My initial plan was to run sub 3 hours, but friends were saying "uhhh, faster" so I thought I'd realistically run a 2:54. If you asked what I could've ran back in April, I would have said 2:45. But it's the end of the year and I'm not dating running. My cousin said I'd run a 2:52:38, so that sounded ok. I didn't fret about pace--it was NOT even, but when I saw anything above 6:42 I picked it up a tad. I ran by heart rate sort of. I wanted to average 160 the whole time, which is hard. I ended up running a 39:33 last 10k and finished in 2:52:07--a time I am definitely satisfied with but is not anything special. About ten mins worth of improvement if I so desire to go down the dreaded marathon path again. I ran a 1:27:11 first half and a 1:24:56 second half. I told myself I'd back half it all day long and I'm stoked that I did. It was kind of fun. I ran 12 or so miles from 13-25 with a couple of dudes who were really encouraging. I was happy to know that comradeship exists in road running occasionally, however fleeting. We vibed well together and they certainly helped my faster-than-expected time. 

I didn't get into the States lottery nor Hardrock, so I'm unsure what's up for 2015. I'll figure it out soon. I hope to run Miwok 100k, and maybe Lake Sonoma. Maybe San Diego 100. Ideally I want a June 100 and a Sept 100. I can see myself going back to P2P to put down a sub 20. For now, I need to sleep as I've been on the verge of sickness for the past couple weeks. December is guaranteed casual and January is guaranteed easy. I wanna go camping and do outdoorsy things without HAVING to run.

Much love folks. Second half year review is coming at some point, as is the numbers blog post. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Pine 2 Palm 100 Mile Race Report

One of the many gradual downhill gravel roads at mile 77 or so. That's where I found myself moving the to side of the road trying to throw up. I'm horrendously horrible at throwing up, but I was trying. My stomach had been uneasy for hours, and something needed to change. I'll try anything, so I bit an S-cap in half. Gagging, eyes watering, stomach probably too empty to throw anything up, I was spitting on gravel in southern Oregon, slurring together curse words.

Or maybe the aid station just a couple miles back from that failed puke spot. Where I sat icing my quads that were toasty to the touch, shivering, body undergoing a full blown shut down. Wyatt staring at me, hoping I can get up. 

But it was probably 200 yards from that aid station where the moment came--the moment which many ultrarunners look for-- the moment where you get the opportunity to see what you're made of. I had forgotten to take food with me from the aid station, even after sitting there for what felt like five minutes but Wyatt said it was more like 15 or 20. I was so cold even though it was 80something degrees outside. My body had been going through hot flashes for the past hour, and now my hands were on my knees, again. Head spinning, a moment of utter misery while Wyatt ran back to get me food. He had asked what I wanted and I'm pretty sure I muttered, "I don't care." He came back and I walked a few steps before I had to put my hands of my knees again. Then I said what I'd been thinking for the past hour and a half. 

"I don't see me finishing this Wyatt."

I was completely honest. I was dropping things, fumbling food, blurry eyed, and pretty sure going hypothermic. But you know what Wyatt said?


Hahahaha. Oh man. I can't remember how I responded but I think it was something like "I am a bitch!" I would have walked right back to the aid station and quit if Wyatt wasn't there. So no, I'm not made up of some far-flung tough-guy stuff. I just have a really good friend who didn't give up on me when I gave up on myself when I thought I was dying. 

Those were just the bad parts of the race. I'm writing them down so I don't forget how much they sucked. Up there was also mile 90 right outside of the aid station. Ten miles to go on a gravel road, 2am, and I couldn't move because my ass was chaffed so badly. My pin legs COULD run, but my ass wasn't having it. It wasn't pretty. It was comical and it sucked. Wyatt and I kind of gave up there even with three guys pretty close to us. We walked four miles rapping wrong lyrics to each other until we got passed. Then ran the rest in a glorious daze, both of us hurting. Wyatt had flown from Indiana, crewed me all day, then ran the last 35 with me. He was rocking best friend status before I picked him up at the Oakland airport Friday morning, but now...

Let's talk about the good parts of the "race!" I put race in quotations because I did not RACE this 100 mile endurance run. And it worked quite well for me. For one, 100 miles is really freaking far, so it's pretty foolish to focus on competition when the number one thing is to take care of yourself. Before I ran Bighorn 100 in mid June I was thinking of running Pine 2 Palm, but after Bighorn said nooo wayyy. I'd race a fast 50 mile or something instead in the fall. But once I started my job in the Bay Area I realized I didn't have the energy to train for a fast race. I'd rather just have an adventure. And buddy Jack Finn was running P2P and getting me stoked on it. So what the heck, I'll go run 100 miles. Oregon is sweet, I have no pressure on myself, AND Wyatt offered to fly in as he was aching for an adventure himself. So my former roomie and I had some good laughs catching up and driving to southern Oregon. We met some cool folks & barely made it to the start line on time. I joked that I was going to win the "most casual runner" award for this one. Never once did I focus on the other people around me, my position in the field, getting caught, or doing some catching! My goals for the day were to finish with enough time for Wyatt to catch his flight at 4pm out of SFO (so I couldn't run more than 26 hours), and to HAVE FUN! The latter required me to not care about positioning, and indeed made for a fun time. 

A good spot to sleep!

The first climb was huge. 5thou feet up, never really steep, but consistent and GAWGEOUS. I was somewhere in 30th place and It was fantastic. I possessed no ego. No "I got second place at hellgate, or second at PL, or whatever, I should be up there in front!" No, I knew from Bighorn that half the dudes up front are going to fade big time. I also knew that 100 miles is really far. Did I say that already? But the climb. Huge Doug-Firs in a recently burned area, fire retardant on the ground, single track. Mmmmm I was in love. The decent off the backside was steeper than the climb up the front, and I had to use my quads a bit more than my liking to brake frequently. Knowing none of the course, the next 13ish miles of downward trending gravel road was interesting which I banged out pretty quickly with nobody in sight in front or behind me. I basically ran the first 45 miles alone. 

Wait the race starts in five mins? Photo: Wyatt

On the road smoke started to become visible. A nearby 100,000 acre wild fire was causing a ton of smoke in the air, which made for some really eerie and entertaining light. I came into the mile 28 aid station happy and smiling. I was somehow 10 lbs underweight, which was definitely not true. I weighed in 15 lbs heavy than normal Friday evening--not something you want to see before you run a really long way. But, I would rather be overweight and undertrained than underweight and overtrained going into a 100. I undoubtedly gained some upper body muscle mass with my new job. I also undoubtedly gained a pound of fat the week before the race as I let myself indulge a little too much in lots of ice cream that was meant for after the race. Oops.

Hands full of goodness out of mile 28! Photo: Wyatt

The climb out of the mile 28 aid station was hot and smoky. I was moving well but slowly, which is A-OK for a 100 miler. I ate my homemade PB&J and hiked everything. You don't really ever want to move fast I think. Around mile 40 came a flat 2.2mile loop around a lake. I saw Wyatt before and after the little loop. A pleasant and quick 22 minute loop which included a pit-stop and a cool jump/dive in the lake, I was HAVING FUN! I locked eyes with Wyatt and gave him a big ol' smile. It's a good day.

Climb ~mile 30. Soft trails. Photo: Wyatt

Coming into the lake loop, mile 40. Photo: Wyatt

Soon I found myself at mile 50 a tad under 10 hours. That 50 miles had almost 14,000 feet of climb! What! (That's a lot). A little 2 mile out and back up to a peak to grab a pin flag, I saw about 10 people which was nice to see other runners. I exchanged encouragement, feeling good vibes. On the climb I felt fat and slow. Mostly fat. I sat in a chair for the first time all race at the bottom of the climb, iced my quads a little, and got back at it. Two dudes left the aid station right with me, and here came a big highlight of the race. Brian, Stroh, & I exchanged some great positive vibes and made good work on some slightly climbing road. We split up a little bit but would mesh back together. Stroh pulled away, really motoring and ended up with a spectacular finish, while Brian & I chatted about previous adventures while hiking & climbing. I was really chatty, a bit uncharacteristic. Having fun!

Mi 52. Pretty happy getting down some ultragen. Good hair day too. Photo: Wyatt

Getting up to 7,000ft and Dutchman Peak, I started to vibe. The high was mounting, crews were at the top of the peak, runners were descending, the sun began to set while pop songs blared from a speaker. I crested the mountain with a catchy unknown beat played through the speakers. I looked to the sunset and lifted my arms to a flying position, and briefly closed my eyes and felt the wind. Cloud nine. 
Pre-sunset from Dutchman Peak, Mile 65ish. Photo: Wyatt

Hungry, I started grabbing a bunch of food. It was past dinner time. Wyatt found somebody to drive my car to the finish and he could pace me the 35 miles in! Heck yes! We chatted and ran two miles downhill to where the car was parked and stopped to get night gear and clothing. Here came a pivotal mistake. I needed my PB&J and I forgot it. Realizing it a quarter mile out of the car, Wyatt asked if we wanted to go back for it. I said no. Dumb dumb dumb! Another mile or so down the trail I started to fade, out of fuel. We turned on our headlamps and almost instantly my high turned into rock bottom. We walked downhill on the PCT miserable. How things can change so quickly. Here came the low points previously written.

Real high, coming off Dutchman Peak. Photo: Wyatt

After the failed puke attempt, we settled into a 2 min jog/2 min walk routine, which turned into running all of the slight downhill. I started to bounce back after my initial sleep cycle weaned off. We started up the last big climb, and we got caught by a runner and his pacer. Wyatt was dying and I had a four miles out and back to a peak, so he waited for me while I ran with the runner and other pacer. Seeing a lot of dudes on the out and back made for lifted spirits and I chatted with the runner's pacer, probably too much for the runner's liking. I was joking, asking if he had any fizzy lifting drink from Willy Wonka to help me burp. 

Topped out of the climb, I ran the whole downhill, including the few slight ups, because, hey, all of the climbing is done. We still have 15 miles though. Don't think of that. A steep decent took Wyatt and I into the sleepy mile 90 aid, and the race was basically over. Although we still had almost 2 hours. Woof. The final four miles we ran hard, and I crossed the finish line a little after 3:30am. A happy occasion. 

I want to put some subjective grades on aspects of my race.

Pacing: B+: I did NOT go out too fast. I intentionally wore my heart rate monitor at the start, which I intended to wear for the first 28 but did for the first 42. I kept my HR mostly below 150, which is just a nice number that has a small amount of meaning behind it for me according to various HR algorithms. The pacing is not an A because when I felt really great at mile 60 I pushed too hard. A fine game btwn capitalizing on feel-good spots and pushing too hard when those spots arrive. The same thing happened to me at Bighorn where I got caught up passing folks in the 60-75 mile range and worked too hard. It is tough to learn that miles 80-100 matter a lot. I have much to learn in the 100 game. It is not my strong suit. I think I am too young to be really good at 100s. 

Legs/feet: B+: My legs felt pretty darn good, but my quads were toast early. I didn't put in any big miles for this race as I'm generally exhausted after dragging brush all day at work, so the late miles were certainly felt in the legs. My feet were good though after blisters formed and stayed on the tops of my pinky toes. I wore the same Solomon Sense Ultras I wore for the first 66 of Bighorn (that I wished I didn't change out of) for the whole time here at P2P. Injinji socks, which were my backup pair because my first pair were two lefts, as I had found out about 10 mins before the start while I was getting dressed in my car about a half mile from the start line. I developed an odd pain on the outside of my lower left shin that pulsed whenever I hiked after mile 60, but it was tolerable. I took three ibuprofen throughout the race: one around mile 50, one around mile 67, and one around mile 92. I took two tylenol or something while I was dazed out at the mile 74 aid station. I felt the ibuprofen pulsate through my legs instantly after taking it. That was weird. 


Stomach: B: I give it a B because I was able to eat every half hour almost throughout mile 70 or so. I ate a plethora of stuff, including gels, the whole time. The rating isn't higher because my stomach was uneasy from mile 65 on, like it didn't want to take anything else, understandably. Also my bowels were causing me to stop quite frequently in the first 50k of the race--something that's never happened to me in a race before. Imodium solved that problem eventually. The race was not overwhelmingly hot but definitely hot. I took electrolyte pills on a non-consistent basis. 

Mentality: A: So stoked on my approach to this race. No pressure on me. New trails, I was almost constantly engaged and present in what I was doing at the time. I focused on the process of the race and not the outcome. I was excited to run, unlike Bighorn where I wasn't feeling many emotions pre-race. I surprisingly only listened to music for maybe 2 of the 21.5 hours I spent running. I listened to music for about 12 hours at Bighorn. I was encouraging to my "competitors" and all around positive and happy for the other runners. The A is not an A+ because of my mega low point from ~mi 68-75, and that I was discouraged and felt fat on the climb around the half way point when I took my shirt off. Dumb. 

Overall: A: I accomplished my two goals for the race and really can't ask for too much more. Could I have run 20 hours if I didn't fade the last 25 miles? Yeah, but whatever. Starting work has made me realize that running is just running. It is a hobby. A hard hobby to keep when doing laborious work 8 hours a day. Running is not my job and there are thousands of better runners than me in the world. I do not seek to "go professional." I seek to better myself and I hope that I can continue to do so. That said, running is really hard with my job as an arborist. I'm making it a point for running to stay in my life, but it is not my life. I will not run another ultra in 2014. I will not run for 10 days. I have other things I want to do, like read. I am happy with a 100 mile PR on a tougher course than Bighorn--nicer trails and lots of road, but much more elevation change. 21:32:40 and 10th place. The top 10 is nice.

Beautiful & Smoky. Photo: Wyatt

Monday, August 18, 2014

Half-Year in Review

I'm way late getting on this, but after reading this midyear assessment article a month or so ago I thought, "yep assessing twice a year is such a great idea because we easily forget what happened 8, 10 months ago." Even though it's middle of August, I'm gonna stop at the end of June for sake of the "mid year" review. It's not going to be very long or revised due to time constraints (no longer a student to my dismay), and might be for my own purposes than the masses. You'll see a lot of the same positive adjectives.

Is it too cliche to say in every "review" article that it's been the best time period of my life? I suppose that is college. Unsure if I'll be able to say the same for the second half of the year, but really the first six months of 2014 were fabulous.

Cold as the ice queen this month! Started doing a few running workouts, which I had never really done before. Still remained in off-season mode, certainly not running a ton but still running for fun and getting out and moving. Started "Friday funday" which involved snow this month. Started last semester of school, noticeable changes there. Everyone being friends and just jolly moods everywhere. The ultra team and tri team started to mesh in a really fun way. Went camping one weekend in sub 15 degree temps--a first really cold weather camp for me. Great run that next morning trying to warm up with Dmack and Darren. Signed up for Bighorn 100.

Started logging consistent workouts, mostly on T/R/Sun. Started to see some drastic improvement in speed and 10k times only after a couple of weeks. Won Mt. Cheaha 50k in Alabama which I didn't taper for. Put zero pressure on myself for the race and it went super well. I think racing this close since a good down/rest period made me have plentiful endorphins and adrenaline to succeed here. Darren & I ran most of the race together quite quickly which showed us that we can run all 30whatever miles fast. The trip in general was just spectacular with good weather, good friends, and good running. Continued to camp a couple times this month. Skipped crewing Holiday Lake due to a cold (I think?).

The big miles started here, perhaps a little too early in the training block. I wanted a consistent high-mileage build for Bighorn, partly due to the fact that you have to run a lot to run a lot and partly because I had the extreme luxury of time. I previously had done a couple of months of high mileage for the Gstone that never was but now felt prepared to do it again and do it well. Continued to road/camp/party lifestyle. I picked up a part time job researching trees for a professor. A highlight was a wine party on Friday night that got a tad rowdy, then waking up at 8am, forcing Danny Luciani out of his bed, literally, and driving down to the Linville Gorge in NC. Weather was great, camping was great, the hiking/running was Type 2 fun, spectacular weekend. I remember being tired here and needed rest, but I went for the camp to keep racking up these east coast experiences while I could.

Ran Terrapin Mtn 50k and placed 2nd in a fast time, faster than I expected. Like Cheaha, Darren & I ran most of the race together. We did about 85% of this semesters training together. Unlike Cheaha, Darren was the one pushing me this whole race. I never felt bad, but I didn't have that extra boost that I had at Cheaha. Definitely because I had been running 90/95 mi/weeks the two beforehand and finished the Terrapin week at 100. No rest = less endorphins and adrenaline. We had a great crowd for Terrapin and it was a great event. That night after the race, the "adventure club" subset of UltraVT hiked up 2000' in our backyard hills on the AT and camped in a shelter with some beers. Cold but fantastic. Woke up and ran 10 miles which was pretty rough but we got it done. Again, great vibes this month.

The week after Terrapin Darren & I fastpacked some AT, putting in 15/30 mi days. Great fun staying active but not specifically running. I love fastpacking for this reason. It's not boring backpacking, but it's not concerned-with-time/HR/effort/etc running. Earlier in the month I did a solo short fastpack in NC Roan Highlands which was cold but fun to do that solo.

The month started with pacing Brett Sherfy at Umstead 100 and being uber inspired by him. The month continued with hitting multiple 100+ mi weeks, including 112 in there. I won a low-competition, hilly, road half marathon after running out of my mind and not really knowing what I was doing going out at 10k pace. That afternoon Glove, Mike Jones & I did a double and saw the sunset from a firetower. Special moment I'll remember. Stayed that weekend at Gloves. The travel continues. Went home the next weekend to see family. The following weekend was Promise Land, a favorite race, and raced hella fast, again with Darren. The vibes were totally on for PL. Looking back I think I adapted to the high mileage to the point that I wasn't as worn down as I was in March. Again, I didn't taper. Wasn't too disappointed at yet another second place finish.

The energy of May is always palpable, but this May was graduation month. Everyone was trying to squeeze in as much as possible, social-wise, so it was a great month of friends and parties that I'll always remember. One Saturday Mike Jones & I picked up a thru hiker and threw a party for him. On the running front, no May races, just really dialing in on the training and throwing down some really good Sunday day-after-long-run medium-distance tempos (usually 10 miles, thanks to Glove). My T/R workouts had faded a little bit, but Sunday was always there and Darren and I had been doubling most mornings. Late April/early May had a few memorable rainy easy morning runs that were oddly peacefully entertaining. Everything was meshing athletically and socially.

The vibes continued, but the golden age all came to a close in the middle of the month upon graduation. All the sudden BAM your daily life is gone. No more walking over to best-friend's houses on a Tuesday evening for a beer and movie, no more Saturday blackout parties or Wednesday bars, no more always being around everyone your age. I'll leave it at that as I could get a hella lot sentimental.

The end of May I found myself in Colorado with Darren & Glove.

June was the simplest month I've ever had in my post-high school life.  Living with D&G out of our cars or in Darren's backyard, our daily schedule was thus: eat, run, eat, read, nap, eat, read, run, eat, read, sleep. That is basically all we ever did. It was as fabulous as the Colorado mountains themselves. The training took a sharp turn obviously as dictated by the terrain, specifically when we spent the majority of our time in the unpopulated Sangre de Christo range. I strained my quad with 10 days of hard training left which really put a damper on my mind, but it eventually worked out. Life was simple, and we were living it. Put in a 28/35/28 mi long runs on consecutive weekends somewhere in there. I remember after running 28 up/down Pikes Peak, Darren and I ran a low 00:38 10k on a gravel path the next morning. That was wild.

Camped for a week and a half in the Bighorn Natl Forest by myself preparing for the race. Probably overkill, but it's fun to camp alone every once n awhile. The taper was hilarious as I had NOTHING to do in the forest besides read. One day it snowed and I spent 22/24 hours in my tent. I was sleeping around 12 hours a day, basically just napping all day long.

Ran an interesting Bighorn 100.

Crewed Glove at WS100 and spent some more time in California. The week inbtwn Bighorn & States was one of the greatest weeks. My best friend & roommate Wyatt Lowdermilk & I were just road tripping together, doing whatever we wanted spontaneously. Rodeo, saloon, ice cream, a makeshift game of pinecone bocci ball, accidentally running 12 miles instead of 6 after missing a turn in Tahoe National Forest, you name it. The week was abysmal for Bighorn recovery, sitting in a car most the time, but whatever.

Next Review will be at the end of December. Who knows what I'll be up to? Working for sure. I'm currently living in California working as an arborist. The transition is taking a bit of time to adjust to, but I'm getting there. I no longer have the will/time to put in 80+ mile weeks, and I'm currently ok with that. Having a new job is a fun new challenge in a totally different way and I honestly don't think about running when I'm at work. I'll probably write a blog on work/life/rest soon. I by no means have conquered distance running, but I'm such a newbie at the practical-arborist duties that the new challenge is more intriguing than running currently. The trails here are sweet. It is indeed TRAIL running, not mountain or technical running. 6/7 runs/week have been solo as I've yet to find folks my age, but the time will come, I'm attempting new things and trying to be patient with the transition phase. Cheers friends.

California Love

3 mis from my apt, Tam in the background

Play, not at work

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ebb and Flow

Oh how mindsets change so abruptly! After a bleak last blog post, I feel like I should glean something from my quick switch from not-excited-about-much to excited-about-everything. Changing scenery isn't always practical, but I'll take it when I can get it. What's the difference?

Mountaineering just means glad to be here
No climbing is required.
Simply from being in the mountains
It will arise spontaneously of itself,
For sheer joy in wild terrain.
      --Doug Robinson, 1970

Old man Grossman captures a gem

Vastness via Mike Jones

Some kinda party in Cheyenne, WY

School pals

Mt. Massive via Grossman