Thursday, May 28, 2015

they should call it "urban time travel"

(actual photograph, inside
the sensory deprivation tank.)
" are suspended effortlessly in a super saturated solution of epsom salt and water within a light and sound controlled environment that reduces sensory stimulation and effectively suspends the effects of gravity on the central nervous system."

~ urban float

my preconceived notion about a sensory deprivation tank experience was that it would be a transitory, transcendent event. i was sort of right. 

the tank is actually a time machine.

floating in complete darkness, i couldn't hear a thing...but i could feel my heartbeat. relaxing into the weightlessnessmy mind quickly went to "the zone," where i became aware of being aware:
"feed me, seymore."

"my hair is touching the top of the tank."
"my foot is touching the side of the tank."
"i'm doing play-by-play of touching the tank. stop it."
"i'm giving myself in-tank instructions."
"this zone is just like the running zone. without the exertion."
"{random scenes from running at sun mountain and discovery park}"
"i'm composing a blog post inside my head inside the tank."
"time's up? what? that can't be right. i've been in here, like, 10 minutes."

which brings us to the point, such as it is. my brain's chronometer said ten minutes. the actual clock, unimpressed, said an hour.

inescapable conclusion: time travel.

administrative note: i was awake and aware throughout. i wasn't dreaming ~ this zone was something more and different. whether it was caused by temporary freedom from gravity, disconnecting from external senses, or a combination of other somethings, i accelerated into a meditative calm i've only achieved previously through activity like running or yoga.

in that state, time does weird things.

random, idle observation: the premise of "sensory deprivation" contradicts the necessity of depending on our senses to stay alive. an animal deprived of its senses tends to become a meal. quickly. like fast food, but with messy predation instead of a drive-through.

thankfully, urban float is not a jungle. at no time did i feel a threat from higher up the food chain. then again, who knows what was roaming the halls while i was entanked? with time travel, anything is possible.

i wonder, now, how long in the tank it would take to really get epiphanous. to reach out and touch the cosmos with the mind. two hours? four? a week? i'd be up for finding out, but that would cost about a zillion dollars. for that, we could buy our own tank and get completely zen. i'm sure our children and dogs and cats wouldn't mind us disappearing for days at a time.

then again...that money would buy a lot of running shoes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

testing my sunny disposition

"you won't keep feeling this bad."

"you won't keep feeling this bad."

("it looks like a sunflower, but it is, 
in fact, a massive solar flare.")

that's what i told myself, many times, during my go at the 2015 sun mountain 50k.

other things i told myself:

"boy, am i tired."
"it's, like, 100 degrees here."
"why are my water bottles empty?"
"how far to the next aid station?"
"why are my water bottles empty again?"
"why is my knee locking up on this steep downhill?"
"after this race, i am never running again."

these are not helpful thoughts in the middle of a hot 50k. but none of them were as troubling as this one:

"i'm going to drop."

yeah, that one was bad. for the first time in a race, i actually considered DNF-ing. 

maybe that just means i haven't pushed myself far enough or hard enough. that i need to sign up for an event that will beat me down and keep me down so i can "see what that's like." part of this trail running thing, after all, is to test our limits and see what's possible (or temporarily impossible), verdad?

on the other hand, f*ck that. i have a loving wife and kids and dogs and a job, all of which require me to be mostly coherent and on my feet.

so, i'm torn.

"you won't keep feeling this bad."
"i'm going to drop."
"why is my skin turning yellow?! oh, sh*t, i'm having liver failure!"
"no, you're not. it's the sunscreen. see? it washes off. idiot."

(come to think of it, i thought i was getting some weird looks from the volunteers on the course...bless them. now i know why.)

this is, of course, what happens when you debate with demons. they tell you the worst things imaginable, and as we know, the bad stuff is easier to believe. our friends, on the other hand, tell us things that can change everything for the better. that's what happened at around mile 17, where i saw bill sepeda waiting for his wife alley to run by.

"i'm tired," is all i remember saying as bill offered water and sunscreen and a calm smile. looping past him again mile 23-ish, we talked about the hilarity of faux jaundice, about resting in the shade, and i don't know what all else. i'm sure i used short words, and not many of them.

i don't remember feeling any better after these exchanges, but i do know they put different words in my head. "i'm going to drop" was not among them. instead, there was...

"it's not going to get any worse."
"you'll feel better ten minutes after you finish."
"keep moving forward."

thank you, bill.

a sign at the last aid station says, "5.8 miles to the finish," or words to that effect.

"less than 6 miles. how hard can that be?"
steep descent starts now.

ha ha. having run here in 2014, i already knew: plenty hard. because in between lies a bitter climb up patterson peak and its false summit, which reveals still more steep climbing. followed by a steep descent. not coincidently.

i don't remember thinking at all after that, except...

"don't trip."

i didn't trip. and a while later i found myself giving race director james varner a high five 
at the finish line. and then a double high five. and then kind of a side-hug. that got a little awkward. but i was really happy to be done.

sorry, james.

i finished 16 minutes off my goal time. less than 30 seconds per mile. less hiking, more running would've gotten it done.

and yet somehow i managed to finish first in my age/gender group.*  i don't know how that's even possible. i truly believe those people could've walked backwards and finished ahead of me.
"annnnnd...we're done."
(photo courtesy of daisy clark)

* important caveat: i got chicked big time by 50 y.o. joanne wild, from vancouver, BC. she came in at just under 5:18:00, to which i say, "wow." and "bravo." she finished 22nd overall. 

"these miles aren't going to run themselves."

2015 sun mountain 50k
55/150 (overall)
1/10 (m 50-59)
shoes: altra superior 2.0

i can't say often enough how awesome the people at rainshadow running are. so i'll say it again. they're awesome. they put on consistently great events, which gather some of my favorite people in the whole wide world. the friendships and memories we make are lasting and profound. i am so grateful for all y'all. 

let's do this again, soon.