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