Sunday, May 3, 2015

Look Good, Feel Good

Lake Sonoma

I wrote a fancy blog post about Lake Sonoma 50 on a plane, but it got deleted. Story short: it was hard, it was fast, I ran really well and happy. The first half of the race was spent cruising with all kinds of awesome friends. The second half was a solo-push to the finish. I had an epiphany where I finally realized that I can only do my best. Of course, I always knew that, but honestly did I ever really believe it? No, but during LS50 I finally believed that I can only do my best. I cannot compete with guys who run 2:20 marathons. But I can push myself to be my best, to do the best I can on the given day I have with the circumstances in which I arrive at the start line. I learned pretty early in my ultra career, from an old grizzled veteran, to never judge any runner. You don't know if a person is wholly obsessed and tapered and committed to this race, if they are just using it as a training run, as catharsis, as fun. When I crossed this finish line in 7:55, I knew I ran the best I could on that day. I was so happy following the race that I almost ended my season on that high note. The rest of the weekend was amaze, and the following week I barely ran. But aye, San Diego 100 is on the calendar.

Mundo and I happily crushing it at LS50.

Canyons 100k

Come May, and I'm at the start line of Canyons 100k in Foresthill, CA. This race was totally unplanned. I entered's contest for a free entry and surprisingly won (big thanks Eric!!). My training hasn't been anywhere close to ideal for the first time in my five years of ultrarunning; I was kinda freaking out about SD100, so why not go on a really long run? No way I woulda done an overdistance run solo, so the race format, on the Western States course, with Jack Finn who I convinced to run with me, sounded like a great bad idea.

My life has felt out of control lately. Work is moving me around different offices which means I'm unorganized and commuting a ton. Trying to be social, make things align at work doing very different things including selling, climbing, and plant health care, and trying to train had me feeling like I was constantly spinning. Last Monday morning I showed up at work in San Fransisco and was told I was working a double shift with continuing night sprays from 8pm to 6am at Stanford all week. And I just signed up for a 100k. Alright. Don't know how I'm going to do this but I will. I used all these excuses frequently with those I talked to pre-race. "I haven't slept. I have a cold. I haven't been this unprepared in any of the 30ish ultras I've run. Blah blah blah."

The packet pickup lady flat told me, "shut up and stop planting excuses."

Wow, I needed to hear that. Stop planting excuses. I have a bad habit of doing that. Call it sandbagging or whatever. Rudy, who cares dude. Running is running. Go enjoy the day. You're in a beautiful place with beautiful people. You don't have to prove anything to anybody. Just run. You know how to do that.

I finished. The human body is amazing. The course was gnarly with almost 15,000 ft of gain and decent in 63 miles. The first 50k flew by. I kinda wanted to stop but wasn't feeling bad enough to stop; I just didn't really want to run another 50k. But the aid station folks were spectacular and I skidattled outta there. It got hot. 85 degrees? First hot day of 2015 for this yay-area kid. I fell, I hiked a lot, then popped in some disco tunes, took some caffeine, and caught back up to Jack. I didn't totally destroy myself as the only goal was to use the race as a training run, no racing. I finished amazed with myself that I pulled it out. Standing at the keg minutes after I finished, I blurry-eyed said "that just happened."

Did it.

Take aways

I'm compelled to applaud the ultra community again. Everyone was happy! Doing what they love, the vibes exchanged were pure, warm, love.

Somewhere around mile 15 climbing out of a huge canyon, I felt strong. I felt content with myself and my body. My movement was efficient. I Something I'd never felt during running. I felt like this is where and how I belong. I am strong. I am confident and happy. That was such a relief...Mundo and I during Lake Sonoma kept quoting Deon Sanders' "look good, play good, paid good, live good, eat good." We put our spin on it which became my motto of late: look good, feel good. And I did yesterday at Canyons. Not to be arrogant because I haven't been that confident in California, but I was yesterday, and that means a lot.

Coming into Cal2 aid station, mile 40ish, I started to ask "what's happening?" but realized mid sentence that that wouldn't sound too good, so I asked "what's happening to the next aid station?" I sat at that aid for five mins till Jack caught me and we walked outta the aid until he took off. Moral: be smart and don't ask dumb questions where volunteers would realized you're way out.

Jack and I spoke a lot about mileage this weekend. We've been high mileage guys, but haven't been in the past 8 months. We're inherently a bit disgruntled as high mileage is put on a pedestal, but we concluded that it is not necessary for good performances. A relief, I no longer feel the need to try (and fail) to bust out 100 miles a week with a busy, real life schedule. I'm not in college anymore. I can enjoy running and run well on 75 miles a week. Running is cool for plethora of reasons, but one is that it's always changing. My relationship with running is definitely changing. I'll gladly skip an 8 mile run to go climb a 200 ft sequoia.

Cheers :)

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