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)

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

summer smart. summer not.

SUNday. ha ha. i see what you did there.
here are some
who like to run
they run for fun
in the hot, hot sun

theodor seuss geisel 
in preparation for #WhiteRiver50, i put a few summer races on my calendar.
but i didn't realize they'd be SUMMER races.

case in point: this sunday's teanaway marathon will be run on the east side of the cascades, near cle elum, WA.

where it's going to be full-on summer. ----->

a brief search of the internet reveals that daytime temperatures during another notoriously hot race, the badwater 135, average about 120F.

the good news: 94 is nowhere near that hot.
the bad news: 94 is still pretty hot.

while i'm not quite sure how to prepare for these conditions in the next, uh, three days, it's entirely possible #WhiteRiver50 will be run in similar conditions. so, this will be good practice!

{this is trouble.}

{scurries off in search of bédouin gear.}

Saturday, May 28, 2016

equivocal options

"we get the government we deserve."
"¡mira, mira! ¡alla, viene la tormenta!"
"what did he just say?"
"he said there's a storm coming."
"...i know."
no matter how it goes in the coming election, it seems unlikely to go well for america.

one of the presumptive nominees is an obvious, vulgar train wreck ~ a train loaded with anger and racism and misogyny and insolence. he is unfit to represent a cesspit, let alone a country that loudly proclaims "exceptionalism."

but by now there's no doubt he represents millions.

the other flaunts a remarkable résumé ~ the arc of her career is fraught with achievement and qualifications. but in important ways she seems less a democrat and more a corporate proxy. her carefully calculated public persona does not inspire and she is not easy to trust. when epitomizing "the leader of the free world," these are not qualities that leap to mind.

it seems impossible that the former could even be nominated, let alone win the presidency. but the closer we get to november, the more ominous and destructive that prospect becomes.

it seems impossible that the latter is the best a "progressive" party ~ representing the better angels and higher aspirations of our national community ~ could offer up in opposition.

no matter who wins, the losing side will pursue a scorched earth policy to cripple the victor. no matter who wins, years of escalating social and political fracture will follow.

as one who grew up believing in an america where "...the poor are not oppressed and the rich are not privileged," it's tempting to say, "we're better than this."

that sentiment is increasingly difficult to believe.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

engage (or, 65 days to #WR50)

until yesterday i was idly thinking about signing up for some summer races.

and, until yesterday i was having a hard time actually getting anything on my calendar.

then, yesterday, the nice folks at the white river 50 moved everyone on the 2016 wait list to the "you're in!" list.

i'm no longer idly thinking about summer races. 

today my calendar says: 
may 28 ~ soaring eagle 13.1
june 5 ~ teanaway 26.2
july 30 ~ white river 50 mile

also under consideration: 
june 25 ~ taylor mountain 50k
july 10 ~ white river corral pass loop 27.2

there will be many training miles in addition to these events. obviously.

but while i started training 22 weeks ahead of the #gw100k, today we're t-minus 65 days to #WR50.

don't know what i'm thinking.

gotta run.