Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall is the New Spring

Kind of a catch-all post. Everything and nothing at once.

I never liked Spring anyway. It's associated with new life and growth, but is really just part of a cycle. The grass trying to grow when there's still snow on the ground. The air is trying to be warm when it's obviously still cold. Everything is trying to reach the next level of maturity before it really can. The waiting is unbearable. It's ugly. Fall is where the beauty is. The finished product of a year of changes. Scars, growth, and beauty.

For me, Autumn is a time when I seem to flourish. By the time Summer is over, I feel exhausted and want to give up. Something great happens then. I do give up.

I learn(again) that what I'm doing and who I am aren't the same thing. It becomes clear that life doesn't have to feel like a constant uphill struggle unless I want it to. I'll try to relate it to running for now, since listening to a young man babble on about love lost and triumphantly regained is fairly obnoxious.

I struggle with my own waxing and waning motivation, and what it really means to succeed. As a runner, as a student, and as a man. When our greatest enemy is our own complacency, how do we seek motivation? What(or who) turns us back when we've become  alienated versions of ourselves? In the past, I've been lucky and able to dig myself out.
Sand Dunes will have to serve as mountain training for 4 months.

Falling leaves remind me of spending time in the woods of Northern Michigan with my father. I now choose to spend time accidentally disrupting hunters on state land running trails, but I like to think I'm keeping the deer moving. One thing I've learned in my time in the woods, though, is that being observant is more effective than being aggressive. Chasing everything at once doesn't give us much time for listening. If we don't listen, we have nothing to guide us. Setting goals and chasing them is wonderful. It's what makes us human. Making sure we're chasing the right things is what makes us happy.

After attempting to train all Summer, I've had a fantastic Fall. A self-supported run on the 47 mile Pictured Rocks Trail, A 50 miler with my friends at Woodstock, A 50 mile win at the Hungerford Games, and Even a 10k win at the Owassippe run just north of my house(Kelsey won overall as well, making it a great day). Small venues indeed, but being in a position to meet the challenge at hand is a wonderful feeling. I've been enjoying running and averaging 40-60 miles per week, nomadically travelling between Muskegon, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo for work, school, and sanity.

On the more adventurous side of things, travel and new places are on the horizon. I'll be heading to San Francisco in a month for the North Face Endurance Challenge. No racing for me(thankfully. this course looks like a bitch), but I'll be accompanying Kelsey out for the weekend for crewing and pacing(pacing for a 50? why the hell not?). I haven't been out of Michigan since July when I crewed for Dave at Kettle Morraine, and I can't think of a better trip to take. I should probably get my ass on the hills and track, since my runner happens to be training hers off. Seeing the total lack of boastfulness on someone's face when they count mileage out loud, "31 on Friday, 10 on Saturday, 20 on Sunday," is quite humbling, and reinvigorates my desire to see what I'm made of.

As far as my own running, I've decided that the best decisions I've ever made have been made hastily. In a timeline of about 20 minutes and 10 text messages, I was informed that the Zane Grey 50mile exists, is the the self-proclaimed "toughest 50 miler in the States," and signed up for it. Make no mistake, this was a beer-induced decision, but it sounds about perfect. I love mountain running(even if I'm in no position to train), but can't get to altitude readily. I haven't suffered ill effects below 9000'. I'm intrigued by the "graduate-level" ultras like Hardrock, but fuck all that clamoring to go pay a shitload of money to hike a distance I haven't really enjoyed covering yet. 50 miles is my sweet-spot for the time being. It's a distance I can truly run(dare I say "race?"), even on a more difficult course like Leadville's Silver Rush. Zane still has about 4000' more climbing, but I'm not good enough with numbers for that to scare me. Whether I try to actually compete or not will depend on how the winter goes. Slushy, frozen, choppy ankle-roller trails of Michigan Winter provide plenty of technicality to simulate the rocks of the Highline Trail. Heat? Well, I'm just kind of fucked, there. Lube up the critical areas, drink water, eat salt, stop crying. I'll have my best friend returning a favor of pacing duties, so I think she and I will just have to flatten the Mogollons out together.

Looks easy enough.

Somebody make me update this awful thing more often.
Just click publish and go to work for Christ's sake.