Thursday, February 09, 2017

and if not...

"don't worry! as long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88 miles per hour, the instant the lightning strikes the tower... everything will be fine."
~ dr. emmett brown
the line between "fine" and "oh, fuck" is indistinguishable.

one moment you're feeling good, cruising along a beautiful trail, the next you're dunked in a cold lake wondering what the hell happened. right, marie norris?
running happy on orcas island.
photo courtesy of glenn tachiyama.

a couple weekends ago i ran the orcas island 25k, and on that day everything went right. 

the weather was dry and cool, the climbs up powerline and the mount constitution switchbacks were fun, and even though the course was longer than last year (yay, free running!), i still cut three minutes off my previous best time.

the weekend was spent in the company of great friends, much good food was eaten, post-race beer was drunk, and hilariously inappropriate board games were played.

peace of mind from those three days wrapped itself around me like a heavy quilt on a cold day, and for a while the howling of winds that had nothing to do with the island receded to manageable levels. 

all of that lasted, oh, halfway through monday morning. because that's what mondays do. still, for a little while...everything was fine.

then the next weekend happened.

and john morelock died.
"ignore the hard, the steep, the heat—it is going to be there, you just have to pass on through. you simply have to cope—continue to cope."~john morelock, author of "run gently out there"
i cried for him.

when the "john, you'll be missed..." tweets and FB messages started popping up on sunday morning, and the inevitable became real, tears deferred for months wouldn't wait any longer.

in a facebook post on nov. 14, 2016, john casually revealed he had peritoneal cancer, for which there is no cure.

over the next several weeks, as if nothing in his life had changed, he resumed his daily postsmost often gorgeous photos of pacific northwest waterways, wildlife, trails, and mountains, accompanied by deft observations on the state of the world.

john's accomplishments as an ultrarunner and gift for language made him a role model for an aspirant like me. his book, "run gently out there," is a guide to living expressed through the metaphor of long(long)-distance running (or maybe i'm projecting). re-reading it, once again i find myself shaking my head in admiration of his lissome prose.

john was a kind, generous soul with a steely core. he was a defender of our wild outdoors, stood with standing rock, and had no tolerance for the politics of ignorance. simultaneously, he warmly bragged on female athletes breaking records and barriers around the world (an act that's become a political statement in itself).
john running gently on the PCT.
photo courtesy of glenn tachiyama.

on january 29, john posted on FB for the last time. 

noticing his silence, countless friends began posting on his wall their shots of trails and trees and lakes and deserts. he was deluged with the kind of images he loved, from people who cared about him.

on february 4, 2017, he crossed one more finish line...and began his next journey.

those who miss him continue to cope.
"the sounds from the chopping board are muted in my half-lit room; garlic is peeled by hand, potatoes are sliced instead of chopped, the beans are snapped, not cut. i raise my head and see the hillside's solid white coat of frost, soon to be gone. what the moon had reflected on, the sun will now drive away with its first rays of light on another thanksgiving morning."
~ j.m. #rgot
orcas island 25k
45/270 (overall)
1/14 (m 50-59)
shoes: hoka challenger atr 2

song stuck in my head the entire time:  "long time gone" ~ the dixie chicks

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

bend the arc

“we are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. in this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. procrastination is still the thief of time. life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. the 'tide in the affairs of men' does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. we may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'too late.'”

― martin luther king jr.
it's been 50 years.

fifty fucking years since dr. king spoke with desperate power against the outrages of his day. and somehow, 50 years later, his words still describe our current, very strange circumstance.

that's some progress, isn't it?

the approaching inauguration (if by "inauguration" you mean "desecration of everything good you ever believed about america") reads like a pilot for an insultingly lowbrow pseudo-documentary.

it's amateur-hour here, people.

and, regrettably, it's situations like these in which lots (and lots) of real people get hurt and die.

as noted by boston globe writer michael cohen...

"We have a president-elect fully prepared to violate the Constitution. We have allegations that his advisers might have worked directly with a foreign government to win the presidential election and who could also, potentially, be blackmailed by that same government. We have a Congress indifferent to these potential crises and focused instead on repealing legislation that will literally cause the premature deaths of thousands of Americans. It’s a disorienting and surreal moment in our history..."

standing here today, the urge is strong to run out and to stop this disaster before it's too late. apparently, though, we've exhausted the constitutional remedies that might have headed this off.

apparently we're obliged to strap in and ride this thing down.
"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." ― MLK

i used to believe this. but today, what feels true is that an indifferent universe sits back and watches the pendulum swing from one extreme to another, with only fleeting moments of equilibrium.

what feels true is newton's first law, which sums up to "a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force."

it may very well be time to help bend that arc.
"O God, rather than rest on speeches and letters, instead may they serve as energy for the work still to be done. May they be fuel for the inner fire needed for us to help dreams be realized." jeffrey nelson

Monday, December 26, 2016

real work

it may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey

~ wendell berry
darryl is still there.

still living under the bridge a hundred steps from our house, still sleeping on the ground next to the stairs.

this time of year, whenever i step out the door and think, "damn, it's freezing out here," the thought is invariably followed by another: "i hope darryl is warm enough."

we do what we can. over the last three years we've given him sleeping bags, coats, shoes, gloves, hats, and lots of food. we visit regularly to ask him what he needs, and bring back whatever it might be.

what he doesn't ask for, and what we can't bring, is care for what ails his mind. in the time we've known him, he's demonstrated that sometimes he's just...not all there.

he speaks lucidly about his world 90% of the time; the other 10% it seems like he's experiencing a confusing waking dream. it's those times i fear for his safety. for his life.

and i don't know what to do about it.
we live in a country soon to be led by a president who mocks the disabled. a government that as a matter of policy demonstrates contempt for the least among us. 

the majority of us didn't choose this...but the vagaries of self-governing being what they are, this is what we got.

and it really doesn't matter. what does matter is doing the right thing, regardless. helping those who need it, and hoping we remain in a position to do so. because as noted many times before, anything can happen to anyone at any time.
"the clock of life is wound but once
and no man has the power to tell
just when the hands will stop
on what day ~ or what hour.
now is the only time you have,
so live it with a will
don't wait until tomorrow
the hands may then be still."
in the category, "you read about things like this, but..." we spent much of christmas 2016 in the emergency department with my father. what began as an innocuous inability to swallow a bite of turkey ended many hours later with a 2 a.m. visit by a gastroenterologist and an endoscope.

in between were an array of tests, scans, images, intravenous administrations, and other uncomfortable indignities.

the esophageal spasm was resolved, finally; blood work ruled out suspicions of an MI; ultrasound and CAT scan ruled out blood clots.

by happenstance, though, the CAT scan revealed a spot on one of his vertebrae. not ruled out: cancer.

since all of us were visiting arizona from someplace else this year, conclusive tests will have to be done when my parents return to colorado. the wait between now and then will be uneasy. when we know more, the real journey will begin.
by near-unanimous proclamation, 2016 has been a particularly unkind year. interrupted by moments of joy, certainly, occasionally interspersed with hilarity, too often darkened by outrage.

(let's list mass slaughter in syria, the disintegration of polar ice caps, a terrorist attack in paris, and the failure of american self-government as a placeholder for the "many bad things" that transpired. your list may vary.)

it's worth noting that countless fellow humans around the globe are too occupied with staying alive to weigh in on such subjects. we americans look on from a position of relative ease and observe the chaos; but really, we remain insulated and isolated from the worst of it.

however bad it's been, "2016" was just an arbitrary set of days filled with things that happened. people made choices ~ they acted, failed to act, watched a lot of tv. ripples emanated, dominoes fell, gravitational waves distorted everything, ever so slightly.

our job, as demanded by our privilege, is to help ensure "2017" doesn't make "2016" look like the good old days.

to that end, "now" is always a good time for the real work to begin.
whenever we bring him something, darryl says "thank you," and shakes my hand. i tell him, "you would do the same for me if the situation were reversed," and i believe he would.

eventually our conversation ends and i walk the hundred or so steps back to our front door. 

the distance may as well be a thousand miles.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

and so to sum up...

2016 in a box.
as a matter of pre-2017 housekeeping, some explanation may be warranted for the schedule noted over there. >>>>>>>

1. the western washington fatass 25k is not a race--it's a "fun run." this year, part of the fun included a lot of snow on the trails, and an off-course issaquah. i have no explanation.

2. as noted here, i did everything wrong before and during the cap peak mega fatass. yet just a week later...

3. ...came the best running day ever.

4. gorge waterfalls affected me for...well, pretty much all of 2016. the training was a significant endeavor; the event itself was the most difficult ground i've ever covered (literally and figuratively). and the recovery took longer than i ever imagined. what a ride.

5. soaring eagle was the first attempt to get myself back in the game.

6. the teanaway marathon was a hilariously hot step toward feeling sort of normal (as well as prepping for the white river 50-miler).

7. the taylor mountain 50k was muddy. very muddy.

8. ugh.

9. i jumped into the inaugural running of the paradise valley half marathon just to pin on a bib and remind myself what it felt like to enjoy running. it worked.

10. the run the bluff 10k is held in our neighborhood, which means it's kind of mandatory. it's also great fun to try running fast on legs trained to run long. pleasant surprise: within certain parameters, i can do both!

11. grand ridge half marathon: see #9.

photo by glenn tachiyama.
12. i ran the deception pass 50k last year, after which i made a mental note: "next year, do the 25k." because 50k that particular day was a slog. 

the 25k this year was definitely not a slog. in fact, it was fantastic.
there are things i would've done differently this year, preparation-wise. i ran more miles than ever, but my mental game was, uh, not as rigorous. i was fortunate to learn much about this subject from friends. it can be summed up in three words: keep moving forward.

will do.
as a matter of 2016 record-keeping...

deception pass 25k
31/216 (overall)
3/19 (m 50-59)
shoes: altra lone peak 3.0

song stuck in my head the entire time:  "my traveling star" ~ james taylor

Monday, December 12, 2016

miwok 100k

saturday, dec. 10:

i'm in the miwok lottery.

it's a western states qualifier, and friends report it's a fun, gorgeous course.

the actual lottery is tomorrow, and results are posted monday morning...hope!
monday, dec. 12: 


i'm now oh-for-three on my lottery events for 2017.

damn you, 2016.
moving on to plan C.

pine to palm 100m
javelina 100m

i mean, i could wait for 2018. but in the current political climate, would anyone care to bet on 2018 happening at all?

Friday, December 09, 2016

event horizons

current calendar status.
last saturday was the lottery for the western states 100!

i didn't get in.

today was final permit day for the gorge waterfalls 100k!

i have to drop out.*

time to reconsider...everything.
what we know:

i'm registered for the orcas island 25k on january 28, and the squamish 50-miler on august 19.

in between and wrapped around those two events is a whole lot of...nothing. 

meanwhile, registration has opened for several races on my "plan b" list. 

what's sold out? what's still available?? i don't know!

time to hammer together a schedule.

what we're currently considering:

fort ebey marathon — 2/25 (beautiful whidbey island course.)

chuckanut 50k — 3/18 (ack. sold out! i might still get in, tho.)
miwok 100k — 5/6 (lottery. western states qualifier.)
orcas island marathon — 5/13 (orcas island is one of my favorite places to run.)

smith rock ascent — 5/13 (new to me...i've heard great things.)

sun mountain 50k — 5/20 (my first 50k in 2014. one of my favorite ultras.)
western states training camp — 5/27-29 (the next-best thing to running western states?)

teanaway marathon — 6/3 (ran it this year. great venue.)

beacon rock 50k — 6/10 (like gorge, but on the WA side of the river.)

mccall trailrunning classic 40 mile — 7/15 (a good warm-up for squamish.)

and in their own category:

pine to palm 100m — 9/9 (western states qualifier. i've never run 100 miles.)

mountain lakes 100m — 9/23 (not a western states qualifier. i've never run 100 miles.)

javelina 100m — 10/28 (western states qualifier. i've never run 100 miles.)

nota bene:

yes, i'm aware some of these events are practically simultaneous. please refer to einstein's theory of general relativity to see how i will run all of them.

notes for feet:
* the family and i will be on a plane to hawaii that day.
† running calendar-related. i'm really not smart enough, nor do i have enough time, to contemplate everything.

i've never run 100 miles.

Monday, November 28, 2016

the how and the why

"They say that to train for and run 100 miles, you always need to know your "why." Without a "why," a reason, you won't finish. What they don't tell you is that some days the "why" doesn't matter. Some days, after you've worked a 50-hour week, after you've already gotten up every single day to run and to train—exhausted, tired, depleted, sore, and discouragedall that matters is your "how."

~desiree marek
like a poorly marked trail, my 2017 racing schedule could go a lot of different ways.

case in point: i'm signed up for the gorge waterfalls 100k, and in the dec. 3 lottery for the western states 100-mile run.

1. i got through the gorge 100k lottery, so i'm in! except it turns out permits for the event aren't approved for the date it's supposed to happen. so i may be out.
2. getting into western states on the first try, with one lottery ticket, is like, uh, hitting the lottery. i mean, some people wait years, with multiple tickets, and still don't get in.

best case: gorge 100k happens on a convenient date, i get into western states, and running gorge springboards me on to an amazing WS100 finish!

worst case:* i don't get into western states, and i have to bow out of gorge because the eventual date conflicts with our long-booked family vacation. 

leaving my 2017 running calendar pretty much...empty.
assuming the worst-case scenario, i have a post-it full of events that would make 2017 a fantastic year, running-wise (if not otherwise) ...

chuckanut 50k — 3/18
miwok 100k — 5/6
orcas island marathon — 5/13
sun mountain 50k — 5/20
western states training camp — 5/27-29
mccall trailrunning classic 40mile — 7/15
white river 50m  8/5
squamish 50m — 8/19 (update: in.)
why 100:

"Why are you doing this? Seems a bit extreme." ~ a well-intentioned friend

i got into the western states lottery because it's western states  and who knows if i'll get another chance at it. and because it is western states, if i were to beat the odds and get in, i would be all-in. i would find a way to get to the starting line with a fighting chance to finish.

the question is, can i say the same about any other 100?

i. don't. know.

standing here right this second, i'm not sure i can identify my "why," let alone a "how."

what i do know, though, is that the idea is intriguing enough to make me go, "what if?" and "why not?"

next step: let's go.

pine to palm — 9/9
mountain lakes — 9/23
javelina 100 — 10/28

* in the big scheme of things, not really the "worst case"
 almost — i'm definitely signed up for the orcas island 25k on january 28
‡ obviously some of these are mutually exclusive