Monday, February 27, 2017

kettle bells

i thought of him often on saturday.

because fort ebey was john morelock's park.

so it was bittersweet standing at the starting line below the overlook, getting ready to run the fort ebey kettles marathon on the trails he called home. 

i missed seeing him there in his park ranger jacket, smiling a little nervously, as people he didn't know (but who certainly knew him) orbited admiringly around him.

i thought of him when things got a little tough on the second loop of the marathon course, and remembered this line from his book: "you simply have to cope—continue to cope."

that thought settled me down when i was feeling achilles pain for a few miles; it reminded me to suck it up when i was tired and not feeling particularly good at the last aid station.

i simply had to cope, and not let small hurdles turn into something bigger.

not surprisingly, his advice was good.

at the 2015 fort ebey 20-miler.
thanks, john. always.

running at fort ebey never disappoints. there aren't any huge climbs, but the course's 5,500 feet of elevation will sneak up and bite you. because there's no flat out there—you run up or down the entire day. and while the trails are generally PNW soft, there are long sections of roots and tight little turns happy to help you fall on your face.

in other words, it was a great day.

many thanks to the folks at northwest trail runs for a challenging 26.2 to start the year. eric bone and his team do a great job, every time.
fort ebey marathon
12/41 (overall)
2/8 (m 50-59)
shoes: altra lone peak 3.0

song stuck in my head the entire time:  "now that i know" ~ shannon mcnally

Friday, February 24, 2017

chuckanut redux

i'm on a roll.

first miwok in may, now the chuckanut 50k in march.

i signed up weeks ago, but was buried on the wait list. figured there was no way it would move far enough for me to make it.

it did!

my racing schedule is setting up nicely leading up to miwok, which is my "A" event for 2017.

all i have to do is stay healthy.

annnnnd...i just jinxed myself something awful.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


“on your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” 
metaphysical thought experiment
me: whoa. this is not how i thought today was gonna end.
coulda-been me (in a subtle but discernable international accent): not to worry, my friend. you're in good hands.
me (shrugs, nods): i have no idea what that means here, but...okay. (frowns) you're taller than me. why are you taller than me?
coulda-been me: a few years ago i underwent an experimental stem cell therapy intended to treat some forms of cancer. since it was funded by our foundation and was risky, i couldn't bear to see it tested on others. so i tried it on myself first. in addition to eventually curing those cancers, turns out it also optimized the patient's growth potential. apparently i was always supposed to be 6'1" and...voila!
current me: you have a foundation and you're curing cancer. and you're taller than i am. boy, i made some poor life choices, didn't i? what else am i missing?
coulda-been me (frowns a little, briefly): currently i'm managing the family's interests and our humanitarian relief efforts from offices in paris, stadt, and rome. it's a lot of work, but the rewards are endless.
me: you look fit. you still have time to exercise...
coulda-been me: it's remarkable what one can get done before the sun comes up...if one has a healthy diet, limits alcohol and sugar, and gets to bed at a decent hour.
me: so i've heard. (stares into the distance) maybe i should've slept in more. i just thought i'd feel more rested at this point in my life.
coulda-been me: action. reaction. as you well know.
me (nodding distractedly): no arguing that. 
me (deep breath): what happens now?
coulda-been me: now...i go back to my life, which is expected to last another 60 to 90 years. you, on the other hand...get another chance.
me (frowns quizzically)
coulda-been me (nods): you get to run miwok.
me: damn, man. don't ever scare me like this again.
Tribute to the Trails Calendar Race Entry Winner!
Congratulations! You've been selected as the winner of a guaranteed race entry to Miwok 100K! The Race Director, Tia Bodington, who generously donated the entry, is cc'd on this email. Please contact her and she will set you up! To be clear, you've won a guaranteed spot and are still responsible for the entry fee.
If you don't think you'll be using the entry, please contact me ASAP as there are many more entrants who would love to run the event.
Thanks for supporting the project and the trails!
Glenn Tachiyama
as reported previously, i wasn't selected in the 2017 miwok 100k lottery. 

but thanks to glenn and his tribute to the trails project, i got another chance.

which means i'm a few steps closer to being the person i could have become.

metaphysically speaking.

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 his 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