Thursday, July 30, 2015


“where attention goes, energy flows.”
~ somebody

humans are screwing up the world at a frantic pace, and it occurs to us that it's probably a good idea to seek out some un-screwed places before they, too, are ruint.

the converse of this, of course, is that there are still some spectacular, unspoilt places out there, and we want to see them before we're ruint.

cuba, fer-instance. 
this guy visited cuba.
why not us?

until very recently, garden-variety americans were more or less prohibited from visiting this caribbean island 93 miles from our shores. because, communism. canadians and europeans vacationed there willy-nilly without turning into neo-reds, but not americans. they're made of stronger stuff than we are, apparently.

but, now! now american politicians are warming to the idea that decades of ignoring cuba achieved exactly nothing, and maybe it's time to let american corporations swoop in and disney-fy the whole place. because, capitalism.

it's our speculation that the speed at which disneyfication will occur will spin heads and break the island. and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be gone like arctic ice. thus our sense of urgency.

reasons to visit cuba, besides the through-the-looking-glass, so-50-years-ago cultural aspects:
this might be a good place to run.
just a guess.

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

"Complex geology and varied topography have given rise to a diversity of ecosystems and species unmatched in the insular Caribbean and created one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on earth."

"With the recent thaw in US-Cuba relations, it's easier than ever for American runners to participate in the Marabana Havana Marathon on Nov. 15."

there are other places we're contemplating, and for convenience they all begin with the letter C. i don't know why. coincidence, perhaps.

in no particular order...

see crete on your feet.

featured prominently in christopher mcdougal's new book "natural born heroes," crete is the birthplace of zeus and theseus and ariadne. also, see "cradle of western civilization." apparently you can get some darn good food in crete, as well.

and, trails.


the croatian island of hvar has been compared to anguilla, bali, bora-bora, and kauai. favorably compared, it's probably important to note. we haven't been to any of those places, but they don't begin with "C," so they don't make our current list. some other time, awesome places.

its history is tied to the greeks and romans, and its wines are alleged to be world-class. again, we've not tried them, but are willing to do extensive research.

and, again, trails.

not cannes. but definitely
somewhere c
ôte d'azur.

this is, i realize, a reach. cannes is a touristy french city, and not really our cup of C. but it is in the south of france, a region we would love to visit again. from aix to antibes to nice to vence...i mean, france. especially the wine and cheese.

and, trails.

restrospect: yes, i know. côte d'azur. thanks.

we have the energy for these places right this second. now all we need is the time and the money.

proper attention to follow.

Friday, July 17, 2015

fighting words

"What is it I really want to achieve? What direction will I go? What really excites me? What would I fight for?"

~ anna frost, 2015 winner, hardrock 100

"imma have a little nap right here..."
what do you think scott jurek did when he woke up on day 47?

that'd be the day after his record-setting, 2,189-mile journey on the appalachian trail.

scott (flailing covers): shit, we overslept! what time is it? gotta go gotta go gotta go...!
jenny: scott, it's okay! you finished! you're all done, baby.
scott (groggily): finished...
jenny: all done.
scott: i don't hafta do 50 miles today?
jenny: babe, you don't have to do any miles today.
scott (wipes tears): omigod...all done.
jenny: all done.
scott (pauses): wull...what do i do now?

jurek beat the previous record, set by jennifer pharr davis, by about three hours. three hours, over a span of 46 days, is a teeny-tiny slice of time.

but it's still quite a bit more than six seconds. which is the margin by which gunhild swanson completed the 2015 western states endurance race before the 30-hour cutoff. six seconds, over the course of 100 miles. if she lingers one second longer at six aid stations...she doesn't make it (intensely awesome video here).

and of course six seconds is more than one second. which is the margin by which bogie dumitrescu finished the 2015 hardrock 100 before the 48-hour cutoff. that's...well, that's just ridiculous. (heart-pumping video here).
anna frost won at hardrock, an amazing pinnacle at an event most runners never dream of, let alone reach. 

and while the others didn't "win" anything in their respective adventures, they still achieved something spectacular. they answered frost's elemental question, "what would I fight for?" and the rest was simply action becoming its own reward.

the kind of reward that is visceral and lasting and (the best part) accessible to anyone. 

"What would I fight for?"

it's a great, defining question, no matter how you apply it to your life. 

a couple friends of mine, for example, are inexhaustibly determined to run western states. their planning and training and resolve are constant and inspired. other friends are gearing up for different 100-mile races. a couple more are ironman triathletes, devoting enormous time and energy to the demands of those events.

i find myself awed by and slightly envious of these folks because, standing here right this second, i can't identify any personal goal i would fight for with that kind of passion. as you might imagine, this realization is somewhat, um, disturbing.

"the whole reason I do these things is to find that inner strength when I least expected I had it."
~ scott jurek

well, that's a reason. i would've thought scott had found that inner strength so many times by now that he'd need to make up some other reasons. ANY other reasons. 

but that's coming from me, the guy who can't think of that "one thing" that he'd go all-in for. who proceeded to get himself all sideways and inside-out because surely there must be something and if there's not then that's just laziness or some other failing to be remedied right quick.

and just when the inner choir was really getting warmed up ("unacceptable! unacceptable! hallelujah! hallelujah! un-ax-sept-ah-bullll!!"), my friend laura posted this: 

"we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

~ t.s. eliot

never underestimate the power of one quiet line at the right time. taking a deep breath, reading it again, the turmoil dissipated, and i laughed at me. eliot's quote reminded me of something i already knew, a lesson i had already learned, one that is apparently all too easy to forget.

in the same way we all learn at different speeds...we discover the things we'd fight for at different times. they may come and go, and change over time...but you get yours when you're ready.

the journey, the act of moving along the arc, is what prepares us for those moments.  

in the meantime, the exploration is its own reward.

gear up.

"cherish the experience. and hold the record lightly.”
~ jennifer pharr davis' message to scott jurek