Wednesday, August 10, 2016

peak outrage

“i don't know about other people, but when i wake up in the morning and put my shoes on, i think, jesus christ, now what?”
~charles bukowski
just when you think you can't be more outraged by the very existence of the gop presidential nominee, you accidently glance at the day's headlines and realize you were wrong.

we've reached a point in our little experiment in democracy where the republican candidate for president can overtly threaten gun violence against his political opponent and somehow stay in the race.

we've reached a point where, instead of spurning their out-of-control candidate, elected gop officials insist he was joking.

note to apologists: this is not how decent people behave.

to review: 

during the gop national convention (if by "convention" you mean "dumpster fire stoked by angry, unintelligible mob"), delegates chanted "jail her," "kill her," and other christian-y, family values things.

one of the candidate's advisors (a new hampshire state representative) said the political opponent should be shot for treason.

the nominee and his campaign manager (if by "campaign manager" you mean soul-dead driver of the spiritual hearse) sought to delegitimize their opponent's certain victory in november by claiming the election is rigged.

and, most recently, the candidate said that a victory by his opponent would be so horrible, "second amendment people" might have to do something about her.

this, as thomas friedman writes, is how people get killed.

note to apologists II: you can't have it both ways.

establishment republicans can't say they love america and endorse this nominee.
conservative christians can't proclaim they love jesus but will vote for this heretic.
flag-wavers can't wrap themselves in the constitution and say this guy will defend it.

at this point, there are no more lines to cross.
"if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. although the second amendment people, maybe there is, i don't know."
~ the leader of today's gop 

Monday, August 01, 2016

bonk #WR50

the volcano abides.
"hey, how did your race go?!"
"not so great. i had to drop down to the marathon distance."
"um...there's no marathon distance at white river."
"now you tell me..."
some days you're the wind shield. some days you're the guy who starts his race report with a metaphor.

today, i'm that guy.

the stomach trouble started very early (mile 15), and i decided it was because i downed a gel at about mile 13. i've sworn off gels, mostly, on the theory that they make me want to puke.

still, feeling a little depleted by the long first climb at white river, surely i could get away with one harmless huma.


by the time i got to the corral pass aid station (mile 16.9) i was in full-on damage control mode. 
stomach: bad.
fuel levels: bad.
running form: bad.
overall status: bad.

i ate as much real food as i could handle at the AS, telling myself it would flip me upright over the next couple miles. that the bad was temporary and the good was still ahead. that soon i would be floating along in the zone whilst the miles flew by.


didn't happen.

the next 11 miles were an exercise in almost-but-not-quite puking, nearly tripping over all the rocks and roots, and a shameful failure to enjoy a perfect running day.

but the first 15 miles, man...the course was spectacular, temperatures were in the 60s, and i was cruising along easily with friends. life was good.


question without an answer: why was i carrying gels at all?
answer: because i'm an idiot (how 'bout that, there was an answer after all).

by the time i got to the aid station at buck creek (mile 27.2), there was no question what would happen next. spotting some nice people around a clip board, i walked over and said, "i resign."

i must've looked pretty sour, because none of them tried to talk me out of it.

and just like that, i registered my first DNF.
over the next several minutes i walked back to my car, cleaned myself up, and changed clothes.

not long after that my friend ian and i plopped ourselves down in chairs by the finish line and waited to cheer on our friends. 

eventually this bad day became a good day because lots of our friends were running and all of them finished.

in the big scheme of things, that's all that matters (well, that, and "NO MORE GELS EVER").

congrats, friends.
white river 50 mile


pearl-izumi trail n2, v3

song stuck in my head while i was still feeling good: 
"when i stop dreaming" ~ don henley

Thursday, July 28, 2016

relax #WR50

sometimes you can turn a bad run into a good run by "relaxing into it."

in my case this entails slowing down, paying attention to my breathing, and not paying too much attention to whatever distance i set out to do.

i'm going to be doing a lot of relaxing at white river 50.

Friday, July 15, 2016

vive la vie

just one more morning
i had to wake up with the blues
pulled myself out of bed
put on my walking shoes
went up on the mountain
to see what i could see
the whole world was falling
right down in front of me

~ gregg allman
My wife and I visited Nice, FR, in 2013. 

It is a city of great natural and cultural beauty, a place you could feel connected to and comfortable in no matter where you are from. In our time there the locals were welcoming and gracious; they helped us with our (very) limited grasp of their language, and spoke to us in ours when it was clear we were clueless. 

The city buzzed with the energy of the Ironman Triathlon coinciding with our stay; the Promenade des Anglais was full of sponsors and vendors and running gear and smiling people. Thousands of miles from Seattle, I felt completely at home. 

Today, in the anguished hours following another vile, insensate attack on the concept of civilization itself, I wonder how we humans have managed not to wipe ourselves out of existence. We've had plenty of chances over the millennia, and yet like cats with far more than nine lives, somehow we manage to hang on. How? 

I think it's because when things are at their intolerable worst, there are still people who remain civilized. They don't turn into snarling animals, they don't indulge their worst impulses, and they don't make a bad situation worse. They gather themselves and their loved ones and their dignity and their humanity, and they say, "Nope. Not gonna respond to barbarism by becoming a barbarian. Not gonna kowtow to the ignorant by burning libraries. Not gonna bow to the artless by setting fire to the Louvre. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not on my watch." 

We humans are a strange bunch. We are the only species that commits atrocities against our fellow creatures, and the only one to build universities and hospitals and museums. We run great distances, create works of miraculous beauty, send people into space, and occasionally cure cancer. 

We also kill each other in great numbers, without reason or regret. The disconnect is inexplicable. 

We live in dangerous times ~ but taking the long view, humans have endured much worse. Our ancestors would shake their heads in wonder at our first-world fear worship. A moment's reflection may be in order any time we see someone shouting at the rain and calling it a tsunami.

Stay steady, friends. Breathe. Know that things may get worse before they get better. 

Our job, our tiny contribution to history, is to make sure they do get better.


Monday, June 27, 2016

taylor made #WR50

all shoes go in, some don't come out.
at a respectable day spa, an hour-long mud bath costs, like, $95 bucks.

at the taylor mountain 50k, six hours in the mud is free, along with a creek crossing (3x, free) nearly 5,000 feet of climbing (free), and PBR at the aid stations (free*).

i ran the half marathon here in 2013, and remember thinking the course was fairly easy. clearly there were things about it i forgot.

i mean, i remembered the creek, but forgot about the significant climbing immediately afterward. i remembered the mud, but forgot about THE MUD.

the 50k course consists of two trips around the half-marathon course, plus once around the 5-milers' loop. thanks to mother nature and the good folks at evergreen trail runs, each loop felt continually changing and challenging. 

the most remarkable thing about this day, though, was how unremarkable it was.

to be clear, taylor mtn. 50k is a good, fun test; under any circumstances a worthy end in-and-of itself. but i didn't run it for that.

this 50k and my other recent long event (the teanaway marathon) were really build-up; training runs for #WR50 . 

even after training for #gw100k, i still haven't wrapped my head around such distances being stepping stones to something much longer.

if i intend to contemplate the limits currently whispered by the wackos in the back of my brain, i should probably get with the program.

(* gift with purchase, with entry-fee. restrictions apply. see store for details.)
taylor mountain 50k


34/55 (overall)
3/5 (M 50-59)

merrell all out peak

song stuck in my head the entire time: none ~ program overridden by lengthy conversation with remarkable local ultrarunner mike mahanay.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

social stigmata

"thafuck is wrong with you people?"
primates are social creatures.

this has been true since forever, for the simple reason that monkeys who said, "you guys do what you want, i'm going THIS way!" quickly became a meal.

to ensure the survival of the group/the tribe/the society, the common understanding has always been, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

this is true not just among primates, but most other species, whether they school, swarm, herd, gaggle, or flock.

historically, americans accepted the premise that our strength was as a collective of like-minded people, banded together to "insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare."

as immigrants and the ancestors of immigrants, we invited others from around the world to join us on this mutual journey, the logic of which was elegant and insistent, wired into our DNA.

along the way, of course, some individualists in the group had to re-learn how not to become a meal...

"They're my kids, and I say they don't need to wear seatbelts."

"I can have a few drinks and still be a perfectly safe driver."

"Why do I have to smoke outside, I'm not hurting anyone."

"I'm young and healthy, there's no reason for me to have health insurance."

nope. nope. nope. and, nope. 

you may be too foolish to buckle up, but your kids shouldn't have to pay for your mistakes. you can't have a few drinks and safely drive. your smoking does hurt others. you need health insurance so when you break yourself you can be repaired (and so the rest of us don't have to pay quite as exorbitantly for your care).

see, that's the thing about america: in order for the group to survive, sometimes small personal sacrifices are necessary.

this is one of those times...

"I shouldn't have to give up my guns, I'm a responsible gun owner."


your "want" for devices designed to kill is not superior to the right of others to live. 

you didn't pull the trigger at columbine and sandy hook and san bernardino and aurora and blacksburg and orlando, but your rapacious "want" for weapons helped it happen.

you may be too stolid or selfish or sociopathic to acknowledge the straight red line between guns and slaughter, but our kids shouldn't have to die for it.

your apathy over 33,000 US gun deaths each year tells elected officials you don't mind the carnage. your entitled self-indulgence tells gun manufacturers to keep up the good work.

as social creatures we are linked together, which is part of the reason we want you to step back from this cliff. mostly, though, we just don't want to go over the edge with you.

you are threatening the survival of the group.

you need to stop it.
"The common good is a notion that originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. More recently, the contemporary ethicist, John Rawls, defined the common good as "certain general conditions that are...equally to everyone's advantage."
excursus: the second amendment to the US constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." 

in other words, "keep and bear arms" all you like...while you're a member of a well-regulated militia (such as the US military or national guard). do not, however, pretend the first two sentences of the amendment don't exist and therefore condone an orgy of guns.

the decision in heller v. D.C. was "wrong and unprincipled," and is a marvel of judicial activism, which "conservatives" allegedly abhor.

"There is no better illustration of the abandonment of neutral principles by the Heller majority...than their cavalier disregard of what the Supreme Court has termed 'the first principle of constitutional interpretation' — that the Constitution must be read to give effect to every word and that interpretations that render portions of its text 'mere surplusage' must be avoided."

the founding fathers were not perfect beings, and they did not create a perfect constitution. to ensure domestic tranquility and the common good, the 2nd amendment should be repealed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

running a little hot

"do you like my party hat?"
photo by the folks at pronounce photography.
"this is not a standard marathon experience. when you're done, don't tell yourself 'i'm just not ready for a marathon.' that's not true. if this were a standard pacific northwest marathon experience, you would've finished 45 minutes ago."

~ me, to first-time marathoner todd thorpe, late in loop two
it was hot.

much hotter than any race i've ever run.

by the end, i was overheated and depleted. desiccated and enervated. and some other rhyming words. numb and dumb, maybe.

the first 13.1-mile loop of the teanaway marathon was a rollick in relatively cool temperatures through the teanaway community forest. logging roads revealed views of snowy peaks; soft single-track meandered through tall pines; runnable rolling hills gave way to green meadows between thickets of trees and brush.

man, trail running doesn't get much better than that.

it's almost a shame the second loop had to happen.

late-morning sun quickly pushed temps into the mid-90s, baking the course's exposed terrain. running from shade patch to shade patch in (or near) the trees became a thing i actually did, while constantly reminding myself to keep moving forward at best-possible speed.

at every aid station i filled my bottle with water, drank half of it down and filled it again, chugging cups of gatorade in between. i sloshed as i rumbled on down the trail, to repeat the process at the next stop.

at every step i was grateful for the paddling hat i put on at the halfway point. i'm pretty sure it kept my little brain from cooking all the way through by the end.

i was also grateful for first woman finisher julie cassata, who ran past me at about mile 20 (which i was power-hiking). her rock-steady pace reminded me i was supposed to be running this thing, which i proceeded to do.

as is typical, some song played on an endless loop in my mind most of the way, and i mentally composed a blog post about the day's travails. standing here today i don't remember which song, or any of the words from that post.

despite the elevated degree(s) of difficulty, the second 13.1 miles was still only as far as the first. inevitably the festivities concluded with a steep descent, a lope to the finish line, and a long splash in the river rolling by trailside.

these were without a doubt the toughest conditions i've ever run long in. despite that, my inner demons kept their big mouths shut, and there was no point at which i didn't want to be out there. my head was befogged for several hours afterward, but my legs felt remarkably good. in sum: i'm kinda proud of this one.
heartfelt thanks to the entire northwest trail runs team ~ especially the volunteers at the far-flung aid stations. they worked in the heat longer than any of us, and on this day that was no small matter.

related: this is a really fun course that i can't wait to run again. nice job, nwtrails.

related II: heading over from seattle the day before the race was the way to go. my night of solo car camping at the start/finish area was calming and peaceful ~ maybe because i had the whole place to myself. i need to do that more often.
the teanaway marathon


9/18 (overall)
2/3 (M 50-59)

altra olympus

song stuck in my head the entire time:
(still no idea)