Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home, Bittersweet Home

Immediately after Leadville, I found myself on crutches, figuring out how to drive a manual transmisison car 1800 miles back to Michigan. My summer of living the dream was wrapped up with the an adventure that would have to last for a bit. Going back home to try again sort of hurts, but my crutches are currently leaning up against a Leadville 100 poster. When life gets tough, boring, arduous, or painful, I'll remember this.

The details of pace, how I was feeling, when I was feeling it, and other such information just seem a bit inconsequential. I'm writing a race report, but it has more to do with my own search for a level head than any runner jargon. So far, it reads more like a disjointed Jack Kerouac novel than a retelling of an ultramarathon. I don't write in this thing to stay relevant in the running scene or attract sponsors, so I'll just publish it whenever it gets done or when I'm sick of writing it.
broken after Leadville, wondering when I'll be able to run again. Turns out, not too long.

It wasn't until Wednesday that I was putting weight on my ankle. Must be time to jog it out, right?

6-7 miles of cruising around Grand Haven with Jason. Mostly roads and sidewalks, but we found some sand hills and singletrack as well. Kept up a pretty good pace and nothing hurt too badly, so we celebrated with beers. Nice little shakeout from Leadville(me) and Transrockies(Jason). Beers to follow.

2 miles - shin/ankle was burining a little, so I experimented with shaking it out with a little run. Flat roads are okay, downhills, not so much. Better keep an eye on that.

3ish mile shakeout with Joe and Alex. Two guys I haven't run with in about a year. Going for a run with them reminded me of why I used to be fast: I used to run every day, twice a day. Sore or not. It wasn't that enjoyable all the time, but two years ago to the day, I tied for 1st in my first 50 miler. I know the competition has gotten steeper, but I haven't risen to the challenge. It felt great to run a few miles of sandy trails with old friends.

26.2 miles + 13 miles.
I ended up running the North Country Trail Marathon last minute. I never bothered to check the rules about bib transfers, so I hope the trail racing gods take pitty on this broken trail hobo.
Mile 17ish of the marathon. Considering I was mid 100mler 7 days prior, I'm happy to have been upright.

The marathon started out great, since I decided that a sub 4 would be a reachable goal. My intention was to stick with Kelsey, but my legs had other ideas. The IT band started hollering at about mile 4. Stopping at aid stations and stretching it out/doing some skips kept the pain at arm's length. On the hillier section of the course, I stopped to stretch(it had to be done with increasing frequency at this point), and could no longer muster up the leg speed to catch back up to Kelsey. At this point I ceased giving a shit and started run/walking. I stumbled across a dude going the wrong way on the trail, only to realize that it was the one and only Evan. We run/jogged/dicked around for the remaining miles of the course and recited various rap lyrics. Finished the race in a totally uninspiring time, had a veggie burger, and cheered friends on for about an hour.

I've been using videos too much lately. What am I, one of those dickbag morning radio hosts?

Turns out, it was good enough for a 2nd place age group award. Cool beans.

After recovering a little, I hopped in my car to do what I was actually supposed to be doing. I met up with Jeff's family at the mile 14 AS to run the last 12-13 miles of the race with him. This was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I've been doing online coaching with Jeff since November. Since then, he's gone from a very casual runner to a machine. I barely recognized him when I saw him the night before the race. He by no means an "out of shape" looking guy when we met, but he looked fit and ready to kick ass. This guy had turned himself into a true endurance athlete in 9 months. It was obvious to me already, but I was excited for him to prove it to himself.

He didn't disappoint. Not once did I have to prompt Jeff to get moving. He ran every flat spot and downhill on the last miles of the course, and powered up every uphill so fast that I had to jog behind him to keep up. I'm sure he could tell his story better than I could, but the strength he showed on race day was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen. His beautful family was there to support him, he had his coach(me) by his side that last few miles, but there's only one person who brought Jeff from mile 0 to mile 50, and it was Jeff himself. He showed true grit and finished his first 50 mile race in 9hours, 28minutes, and 21 seconds. 3rd in his AG and 20th overall.

Some hard-earned hardware for Jeff Vander Kooi. I believe this was his third race...ever.

Success stories were all around this weekend. Alex Poulsen ground out his first 50, showing balls of steel and commiting to a run that wasn't quite going perfectly. He's a true champion for the resolve he showed on the course. Rick Robbins and Mark Robillard ran the 50 for the first time at NCT, after years of doing the marathon. They braved the afternoon heat, dug deep, and showed what they're made of. Ryan Hansard, despite being whacked out of his gourd on allergy meds, gutted out another impressive marathon. He's humble and affable, but he's got gumption most people only wish they had. Kelsey Gray kicked ass on a tough marathon course and won her age group. Monkey Mike Jensen knuckled his way to his first 50 after a night of drinking, as did his cousin Russ. Jon Burton, who I met on his way to kicking royal ass at Tahoe a month ago, placed third overall back here in his home state. I'm forgetting so many people. As you can see, inspiration is aplenty for me.

With so many people to draw inspiration from, it's amazing that I can be in such a funk myself. I'll have to let it ride and search for my own passion to light a fire under my ass once again. All these people taught me one thing this weekend: I need to think less. I need to feel more. Even as I wrap up this post, I feel different. I've been trying to find that balance between my intinsic drive to do my best and my ego's drive to be competitive. Instead of worrying about one being too dominant, perhaps I should let one hand simply wash the other, and go with the flow.

Jog on, Joggas.

Weekly total
50 miles total, and a marathon the same week as a hundo. Who would have thought?

It's been said on youtube.

I still don't feel up to writing a race report for Leadville yet, so I got lazy and had youtube do it.

First, I was rather homeless for the week.

In this scene, I am portrayed by Brad Pitt, which is an obvious choice of course.

After that week and a little mountain biking, I headed up to Leadville

2 hours later, The Baja and I squeaked into Leadville for registration with all the other runners.

After registration and some huevos rancheros, son of Ken Chlouber gave a speech that was quite honestly of this caliber:

Not a dry eye in the building.

Later that afternoon, my mom(from Michigan) and girlfriend came to town unexpectedly to support me. We went out for festivities.

about 3 hours later, the race started:

I'm nowhere to be found in this video.

2 hours later: Cocina Real's revenge I am portrayed by fellow Michigander Jeff Daniels.

Not. Cool.

40 Miles later I dance my way up hope pass, then had an interesting trip down, as Mr. Andy Samberg has reinacted here:

I came down to Winfield, curled up in a ball, cried a minute or 12, then reversed course.

I hauled mega ass into the twin lakes aid station, then my leg died. The Sun went down, and it got really cold:

yadda yadda yadda, lots of character building and being stripped of any remaining pride, yadda yadda yadda, limping 30 miles alone in the Colorado wilderness....

I'll get around to a real race report soon...probably.

Monday, August 20, 2012

13 miles - Cool weather on an overcast day. I had nothing to do and nowhere to go(I'm, ahem, in between houses at the moment). Baseline road to Mesa, to Bear Canyon and Green Mountain Summit. Ranger trail to Flagstaff Summit, and back down the Flagstaff trail. My initial goal was to tag all the peaks in the mountain park, but I was quickly thwarted by stern warning signs about fines, fires, etc. Thought about crossing anyway, but was greeted by rangers who suggested I didn't. No Bear or SoBo for me. I cruised rather effortlessly up the entire climb, which makes me feel pretty good about the upcoming endeavor in Leadville. I kept thinking "Okay, you can climb easy. Now remember to climb slow so you can stay hydrated and float the downhills." We'll see.

2 hour bike ride on the greenways and gravel bike trails around town. My running stuff was at a friend's house, so I rode around town, stopping at the creek and enjoying a day in the sun.

2 hour mountain bike ride with Sam. Fairly technical mountain trails with plenty of climbing. I loved spending my Summer running, but was reminded how much I love mountain biking. Covering more ground and going fast apeases the side of me that likes to go fast. The simplicity of running usually wins out, but if I ever hit the lotto(or find a sugar momma) a sweet mountain would be cool.

1 hour bike ride from the rec center, up the hill to NCAR(National Center for Atmosperic Research) just to kill some time.

Just a drive up to Leadville.

103ish miles. Leadville Trail 100. That's about all I have to say on the matter right now.

One of my highest mileage weeks of the year were done on 2 runs. Sounds about right.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Forgot the Weekly

I haven't had much internet as of late, since I'm currently "between homes." I'm planning on going home to Michigan, and have no idea what's in store after that. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year to run, no matter where I am. The cool weather and turning colors can't be beat. I was hoping to see a winter west of the Mississippi River this year, and I just might. Colorado isn't going anywhere.

I've been in search of a life that's short on possessions, but long on free time, purpose, and fulfillment. I seem to have missed the mark just a little. In a town like Boulder, even a meager lifestyle comes at quite a monetary cost. I've attempted to have my cake and eat it too, and I'm not ashamed to admit that its failed, albeit temporarily. I have a job that makes me forget that I'm even at work because I love it. I have free time to do all the running and biking that I want. What I failed to do is find a living arrangement for myself and my significant other that we agree on and are able to afford. Homeward bound it is.

When I first realized that I was going to have to go home, all I heard were warning bells and alarms. I felt that returning to Michigan was failure, running home with my tail between my legs to cower again in the safety of my parents' home.

...Then I realized that I was being a baby and it was time to grow the hell up. I had plenty of opportunities to replenish my funds. I didn't take them because I was having the time of my life. I'm forever grateful for the time I've had, and for the lessons learned. To live in a consequence-free environment is great in theory, but without knowing that our falls will be real, the risks will mean nothing. Leaps without the occassional falls become half-hearted motions, carried out without respect to the gravity of life. We live and die by the decisions that we make, and the world would be a different place if that weren't true. Basically, it would be a life of college.

I'm glad I have the chance to go home, for it means I have a home to go to. I miss my family and friends that made me who I am(not to point the finger to anyone else). I have no idea if I'll stay, return to Colorado, or go somewhere else entirely. I hear talk that there is a world outside of Colorado, afterall.

One step at a time for this bum. I'll be heading home sometime next week.

Oh, but first, a little jog across the Rockies. A summer of regrettably unfocused running will be culminated with some car dwelling in Leadville, and a crew-less, pacer-less attempt of the Leadville Trail 100. With a long run of 104 miles under my belt 1 month ago, I feel fairly good about this endeavor. I'm not fighting a seven week cold, the weather report is looking cool, and my mind feels much clearer. Since this opportunity was basically a stumbled-upon bonus race, I'm just going to trust my gut and follow the signs. I fully expect a struggle, but I'm ready to embrace it. I'm not in optimal shape physically, but hey, is a flabby asthamatic with a cracked kneecap ever? The beauty of life's struggles isn't in the finish, it's when we say "to hell with it" and keep going. The sting of a DNF doesn't come from the failed attempt at greatness, but rather the realization after the fact that we had more to give before quitting. If we can say without a shadow of a doubt that we gave it all before giving up, then there's no failure at all.

A little Michigan camping/hiking adventure from last Fall. Plenty of fun to be had anywhere.
I survived the Leadville 50 last year. By my calculations...oh shit, I was only halfway there. Slow down, eat more?
The beard is slightly longer, so perhaps better mojo this time around.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week Ending 8/5

I don't know why, but I feel the urge to get back into the groove of writing weeklies. This past week was a totally sporadic, unimpressive week of running, and no amount of blogger wizardry could make me look like an athlete. I pride myself in my skills of bullshittery, but I won't waste them trying to embellish my recent running.

Monday and Tuesday were mostly spent working and resting. Swimming, biking, lifting people, and light jogging were my exercise. As much as I hate to admit it, life without the serenity of a jog in the woods can be maddening.

Little more than a shakeout run around the neighborhood to test out some funky prototypes from NB. I know it's materialistic, but a shiny new pair of kicks got me out the door.

A legitimate double. 4 easy in the morning, a full day of work, and a jog up Green with Jason in the afternoon. We got a little turned around on the Saddle Rock trail and ended up doing some scrambling. How anyone could get lost on these trails is beyond me, and I managed to do it in a major way. Other than the getting lost bit, I ran every step, which is kind of unheard of for me. We made it to the top in good time, and bombed down the quickest route as the sun went down.

Easy jog again, in the 30 minute range. I realized that I haven't even unpacked my Garmin from Tahoe, and I didn't even wear it there. Maybe a little timekeeping would mix things up a little.

A hike on the 2nd/3rd Flatirons with Sam. Enjoyed some cool weather and floated along in the inundation of people in the park. I don't mean to complain. It's a great place, and everyone deserves to check it out, not just self entitled runners.

another double. Bike ride with Sam to Mt. Sanitas. I hadn't run the smaller of the Boulder mountains at all this year, since its a longer road run to there than the bigger hills. I forgot how much of a bitch that climb is. The only redeeming quality of the run was that I insisted on running every step, and actually did it, making it up in a hair over 20minutes. I think the unofficial record is Jornet's sub 14minute, so his record is safe for now. All I have to do is run almost 2min/mile faster...shiiiiit.

A speedy tempo 4 miler in the afternoon. Again, no watch, but I went by feel and ran as fast as I could on the singletrack next to the bike path in the dark.

Total: ?
A few hours of actual running this week. Considering two ultradistance runs in two weeks, I'll gladly take it. No injuries, no fatigue, and no complaints.

Coming home from my Tahoe experience, jumping onto the Grand Mesa course, and getting offered a spot at the Leadville 100 have put me into limbo. Do I get back into daily trails? Do I rest up and enjoy this feeling of being fit and energetic? My time for this stint in CO is running out, and I want to experience the local trails a few more times. I also want to give the notoriously tough LT100 a solid effort. Maybe shoot for a sub 24. The funny thing is that before attempting my first 100, sub 24hr was arrogantly viewed as a worst case scenario. I'd use the excuse of being young and cocky, but 25 is pushing it.

Since I've got a 28 hour long run under my belt, and have only 2 weeks until my next one, I'd better just enjoy some low volume cruises on some great trails until I give it hell one last time and go home a broke(financially), broken(physically/mentally) mess.

Blog posts without pictures and/or memes are boring. Have a great week!