Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ruminations with a view

processing miwok.
photo courtesy of ian burton.
peggy sue: you know, the world looks a lot better from up here.
michael fitz: the world is fantastic. it's the ultimate absurd circus. i am shot from a cannon into the energy.
peggy sue: what are you shooting for?
michael fitz: maximum intensity.

~ "peggy sue got married" screenplay rehearsal draft
there was no summer in seattle in 2011.

we were three weeks into august before we got a decent stretch of warm weather, and i was feeling a steady, low-grade desperation to recharge my solar batteries ahead of the long, dark winter.

i wasn't a runner then. unless it was up and down a basketball court, i simply didn't like running. but i figured i could put up with it for a few nice days while they lastedjust an amiable three or four miles three or four times a week. i never intended to give up my comfortable, fluorescent-lit gym routine. 

so, there's no real explanation as to how a week turned into two weeks, and two weeks turned into two months, and two months became nearly six years. 

there's certainly no rationale for three miles turning into five miles, and five miles unfurling into 62.

all i set out to do was soak up some sun.
my thoughts go wandering to strange places in the hours and days after running an ultra.

stranger, even, than during the actual event (which can be plenty peculiar).

for a week post-miwok my brain played a distracting game of bumper cars, bouncing randomly between subjects and emotions, without the courtesy of a "curve ahead" sign.

one moment i'd be driving to work, singing along with a random song, the next i'd be tearing up over the cat we lost several months ago.

there are probably sound physiological reasons for this mental odyssey, but clinical studies of such things are scarce.

if they did exist, the abstracts would probably describe the subjects' biochemical reaction to intense physical exertion, and the associated impact on mental function. 

the discussion section would likely end with, "further study is required, but we conclude that the mind is a weird creature with a wicked sense of humor."
"i had a fairly intense low, but i've been mulling it over and it turns out this thing we do is just bloody hard."
~ ian burton, after his 2017 miwok finish
sun mountain scenery.
it's quiet in the methow valley.

it's a literal, physical kind of quiet...and something more visceral. something to do with peace of mind. 

every time i'm there i want to stay. every time i leave, i can't wait to come back.

whatever it is, i just know i breathe easier when i'm there.

i signed up to run the sun mountain 50k before getting word i'd be running at miwok. since sun mountain is just two weeks later, i figured there would be no way i'd be recovered enough to run 50k. so, i asked the good folks at rainshadow running to give my spot to someone else and volunteered to work the race instead.

turns out that was a good call.

when race day rolled around, though, i actually thought i was feeling good enough to run. more than a couple times that day i said, "you know, i thought i wouldn't be ready...but i think i could've run today."

yeah, i wasn't ready. i know this because RD james varner graciously let me run the 25k the next day (thank you, james).

it was a blast, but it was also bloody hard.

standing here t-plus two days out...i need a nap. and, full disclosure: the bumper cars are back. they're having a blast, too.

it was worth it.
sun mountain 25k


108/299 (overall)
11/22 (M 50-59)

salomon sense pro max

song stuck in my head the entire time: "defying gravity" stephen schwartz
the road winds 
between the hills and the pines
some days it can turn on a dime
road winds without a "curve ahead" sign
it can leave the sweetest things behind

~ keith sewell

Sunday, May 14, 2017


what you get is what you see
open up your eyes
let it set you free
it all works out eventually
you gotta keep on keepin' on
i can rock and i can roll
i know i want to move 

gotta take control
watch out world cause here i come
and i can't stop 'til i'm done

bring on the day
~ charlotte martin, bring on the day
the pre-race nerves started two weeks before miwok.

i only mention it because i can't remember ever having pre-race nerves.

maybe i was making up for lost time.

training didn't go precisely as planned, see, and as my previous (and only) 100k didn't go as planned either, i started to worry a little.

"i've rolled my ankle four times in the past month."
"why have i rolled my ankle four times in the past month?"
"it's gotta be the shoes. i can't run miwok in these shoes."
"i definitely need new shoes."
"yes, i should totally run a 100k in brand. new. shoes."
"i need a new hydration pack."
"no, i don't need a new hydration pack."
"they're on sale, though."
"no new hydration pack."
"i haven't trained enough."
"this is the most training i've ever done."
"maybe it's too much."
"shut up."
in retrospect, there really were several little pre- and in-game mistakes that could've sent my day sideways.

in no particular order:

• forgot the pre-race anti-chafe (and failed to correct this error, even though i had not one but two opportunities at the tennessee valley aid station)
• left my handheld water bottle in the porta-potty at the cardiac aid station (mile 2.8)
• didn't bring enough tums for predictable stomach trouble
• stomach trouble became more of a thing late in the race than it should have

the 15:30:00 cut-off at miwok is an hour and a half shorter than at the gorge waterfalls 100k. it's also more than an hour better than i ran at gorge in 2016.

did i worry about that, too? hahaha, you bet i did. which is why my goal time was a completely appropriate 15:29:59.


as it turned out, none of these things mattered.

because for all the worries and mistakes and things i forgot, i DID remember to bring my climbing legs.

and that made up for everything.
the race day alarm went off at 3:30 a.m.

that's early for me.

fortunately all the pre-race gear was laid out and the organizing of drop bags was done, so no fancy problem-solving was necessary.

all i had to do was dress myself, get the drop bags in the car, drive from bolinas to stinson beach, find a place to park, walk to the stinson beach community center, and drop the drop bags at the appropriate drop-bag drop-off place.

and start running.

somehow all these things happened without incident.

next thing i knew, RD tia bodington was saying, "on your mark...get set...bake!" or something to that effect.
this guy. major distraction.

and we were underway.

i remember a slow start, climbingclimbingclimbing in a konga-line of climbers. i remember the bagpiper at cardiac, but didn't remember my handheld until i was past the point of no return. didn't matter, i had another bottle in my perfectly good hydration vest.

i remember running around the marin headlands for quite a while, and stopping in my tracks when the golden gate bridge and the entire bay area came into view.

i remember running past john fegyveresi, one of the 2012 finishers at the barkley marathons. we had seen him the day before, picking up bibs at the san francisco running company. "i think i know that guy," i said. "how do i know that guy?"

eventually i figured it out. 

coastal trail, above pirates cove.
photo by the peerless glenn tachiyama.
he's shorter than i thought.

i remember pounding the steep downhill to the randall aid station, thinking it was much farther than the alleged 1.6 miles. the climb back up felt much more humane.

backbackback on the out-and-back toward the bolinas aid station, along the coastal trail to the matt davis trail, then downdowndown again. "is there a finish line anywhere in our future?" i asked the guy just ahead of me. he thought so, and so did i, but it remained maddeningly out of reach. meanwhile the pounding from the steep descent was rattling my brain every step of the way.

finallyfinally i passed a volunteer trailside who said, "you're almost there, just a hundred yards to the road, and a hard left."

i'm not gonna say i didn't believe him, but i didn't believe him.

turns out he was telling the truth.

cowbells, people lining both sides of the finish chute, a big red digital clock, and someone was hanging a finisher's medal around my neck. people were talking to me, but i have no idea what they said.

then i saw my friend glenn tachiyama there, and knew i was home. he said things, too. but again, no idea what. thanks, glenn. amazingly good to see you there.

i found a chair, and was done.

one of the best running days ever.
many thanks to my excellent friend ian burton, whose been-there-done-that miwok experience kept me squared away for many, many miles.

congrats to ian, jon lumb and john maytum, who turned in sterling running performances.

thanks, of course, to glenn and tia for the guaranteed entry into the race via the tribute to the trails calendar project. without which, i wouldn't have had the chance to run.

much gratitude to tia and the entire miwok crew for a brilliant, enthusiastic race day.
miwok 100k


204/297 (overall)
28/45 (M 50-59)

salomon sense pro max (mile 0-49.2)
hoka clifton (mile 49.2-62.2)

song(s) stuck in my head the entire day: "bring on the day" ~ charlotte martin; "here we are" ~ jimmy buffet

Friday, May 05, 2017


aid stations + drop bags

course map + cutoff times

mill valley safeway:
english muffins

bib: sf running company/ before 4 p.m. 

salomon hydration pack sale at 7 hills
(genius gear idea: buy a new pack and wear it for the first time at a 100k race. brilliant!)
i have a bad case of monkey-mindcan't concentrate to save my life. can't even manage to listen to a song all the way through without realizing at some point i really didn't hear any of it.

(gazes out window) squirrel!

geez. i need to get my head right.
flight check-in/boarding pass
rental car
ian's phone#
jon's phone#

headlamp/new batteries
"what i talk about..." murakami
everyone takes four pairs of running shoes on a three-day trip. i'm not unusual. at all.

gotta run.