Monday, November 23, 2015

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News....

               Well, do I need to tell you how much it sucks getting old? I had a good, abridged running season. I ran the North Face 50, the North Face Half-Marathon the next day, and the Madison Marathon. The North Face series went awesome, even flawless. Some time after, maybe about a week, maybe two, I don't remember, my left ankle went wonksville. I don't know if it's a tendon issue or a tarsal issue. I got lucky and got an appointment for tomorrow with my doctor. Hopefully I'll have some answers tomorrow. In addition to that wonderful truth, I am dealing with some horseshitty maximum motherfucker anxiety. I skipped algebra today due to the fact that I know it would have been just the right thing to throw me in to a full-blown panic. So that also has to be addressed, although I am pretty certain my inability to run for two weeks is screwing with my body. There will be more to come when I find out more....

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Brand New Again For The First Time

               So, I decided to run a road race for the first time in a long time. It's the Madison Marathon in 5 days. I have run it twice before but not since they moved it to the fall, and they rerouted it away from John Nolan Drive. It is a lot of the same route, but utilized differently than I remember. For instance, the last mile was coming up West Washington Avenue, which is a long, slow incline, and one feels a real sense of accomplishment when they turn the corner at the square after scaling that hill. Well, now we go down West Wash first, so you really have to be present and focused so you don't come out of the gate too quick, which will be a real challenge with a descent like that. Late miles were by Monona Terrace and up Brittingham Park and all that is early. Late miles are on the North end, the final stretch is from Tenney Park. There is plenty of challenge in there though. We'll be hitting a lot of what I trained on through Maple Bluff so it will feel very familiar. Farwell is tough, but mentally I think I have the upper hand, being I know how to hit that thing. I ran it when you couldn't carve the hill into the sum of its parts, which means it will be easier than when I trained on it.                 I do have a bit of a wonky left ankle. Also my knee-caps start stinging a little, and I think it's from the last race....and maybe age. I may not feel like 40 most days, but eventually that shit catches up. So, I don't have the bar set too high. If I finish in 4:30 I'll be good with that. No PR, just a good day of running. Truth be told, I am generally not all that excited about road races since I started running trail races, but maybe I can find a little something in the 'autopilot' effect that comes with road. It's far simpler, less thinking. Just drink water and eat gel, run run run. Yay! Give me my bling! Now I just have to figure out what is next....

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Yes. Hell yes.

               Well, first races in 2 years, how did it go? As far as I'm concerned it went seamlessly. I ran the Wisconsin leg of the North Face Endurance Challenge. It was held in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, starting and finishing on beautiful Ottawa Lake. On Saturday I ran the Gore-Tex 50. My goal was to run it and finish it, relax and run. In doing that I was with in less than 8 minutes of a PR for my 50. I was pleased. At no point in the race did I wish I had a pacer or a crew. I had everything in order and all my contingencies were spot on. Let's be frank. That is not a normal occurrence, even for the well planned and the seasoned pro. Something usually always goes wrong. The worst thing that went wrong is that I almost forgot to deliver my drop bags to the station for delivery to the drop zones, which would've been catastrophic and would have completely altered the outcome of my race. However, I made it back to the car, grabbed the bags, delivered them, and got to the start with seconds to spare. But, this is the razor-thin difference of making or breaking in an ultra marathon. It is apples and oranges compared to the glossy, well stocked road marathons. The usual hiccups that come with running an ultra distance were there, but I expect them. A little GI distress here, which I quickly nipped in the bud with my beloved Gingins. Watching my fluids, what color is my urine? Am I taking in enough calories? If I'm hungry it's usually too little too late. So, it was a beautiful run with a few tears and chokey moments since this was my first race after taking an unplanned hiatus due to a broken fibula in my right leg. I finished in 10:50:23, I believe. That is very acceptable for the variables that were involved with this race.
               That evening I went to my favorite Italian place in the area that I always hit while running the kettles, Holi Canoli. They always treat me right. It was a busy Saturday night so I got in there just before 5pm to beat most of the rush, but even that was a packed house. I usually go the Friday before the race but I was bushed after setting camp and wanted to get to bed for my 50. I ate my pasta that I prepped and brought with me. Tonight though I had the shrimp penne in putinesca sauce, and a mitt-full of their ridiculous in-house made bread. I then shuffled my butt out the door and to bed for the next race on Sunday. I slept like a baby.
               Waking up was a treat though. I liked waking up at 6am as opposed to the daunting 3:30am the night before for my 5am start. The half marathon started at a respectable 8am, which might as well have been noon in comparison. At least I didn't have to start with a headlamp this time. Once I rolled out of my cot I had to get those legs working. I got dressed, broke down most of my camp, which helped loosen me up some for the run, then drove over to the start. Once I got over there my body felt pretty damned amazing. I was ready to rock. As the race started I rolled out slow and steady, letting my body open up. I walked my inclines, flew down my descents. But what is most notable is that on the last 3 or 4 miles, I was flying and I knew it. I didn't bother to look at my splits. I didn't care. After all, the goal for this weekend was to 'just run'. I wanted to enjoy every second of being on the trails again, among my tribe again. My goal was to finish in 2:30. I ran a 2:23:00. For comparison sake, my fastest road half is 1:47something. These are the kettles. Apples and oranges. After I looked at my splits, what I felt like on those last miles I verified. My splits were about 11:00/mile, yet somehow my final averaged out at 10 and change. I was running 9s the last bit, hills and all. So, 63.1 miles in a weekend, camping, exceeding expectations. It was a perfect weekend retreat with me, myself, and I. Perfect? Yes.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beast Mode: Engage

               I have been writing/journaling/blogging, just not here, so it's been a wee bit. I am feeling ready. North Face Endurance Challenge is in 7 days, and as I write this I would have finished my first ultra in 2 years. The last race I ran before I broke my leg just happened to be this exact race. It will be a homecoming. I am also running the half the next day. I am approaching this with open eyes and the only expectation being to get across that line within the cutoffs. I just want to be 'back'. I want to feel 'back'. I had checked out when I couldn't run. It was a pretty dark time. I am not at my peak obviously, but my diet is coming back, my running is increasing again. I miss the feel of being 'wild' running through the trees, seeing things that only I have witnessed being present miles in on a trail with no human soul for miles. I love meeting up with other people that 'get it'. I love running for hours at a time by myself, only to see someone pop out of the woods with a big smile on their face....as big as mine. I'm not sure, but I am fairly certain that I have never been happier than when I am running through the woods, through snow, rain, sunshine, climbing up switchbacks, running down ridiculous descents. Every bit of it is amazing.
               My body is giving me a little sass. My left ankle is safe, but achy. My right knee is achy but safe. It took me a bit more effort to stay on my diet and to get it back, mostly because I let it slide when I wasn't running, but the more I got back to it I was like, "Oh ya, I did eat that, didn't I?" "Oh ya, that is really bad to be eating while training, isn't it?" The more I keep my eye on the prize the better I'll feel, the quicker my body will recover, the faster I'll get' the stronger I'll get. It'll come. What is awesome is that I am a far more patient person at the end of all this. Just give me trail time and I'm happy. I'm not a religious person, but the trail is as close as I get to a church. It is sacred. Whether it is along a river, in the trees, up a ridge, through the sand, I want it and I want more of it. I laugh a little easier. I smile a little quicker. For me not running is death. Spiritually, emotionally, physically as well. My body tends to deteriorate quicker when I'm not using it for what it was designed for. It took me a long time to discover that because I grew up in a family that doesn't run, doesn't go to the gym, doesn't really take care of themselves. Sorry to my family if you're reading this, but it's true, and you know me. I am honest, and I am comfortable with the truth. I live the truth and i am freer because of it. So after that little digression, it took me until 2009 to figure out that I should've been running a lot longer, but quickly making peace with the fact that I am doing it now and there is no service in ruminating about what I didn't do or should've done. I have to commit to now. So that is where I live, and damn if life isn't getting pretty good. 40 can suck or 40 can kick ass, but one thing is for fucking certain at this point in your life, and that is that which ever way you take it, it's a decision. Whether it's conscious one or not, that is entirely up to you. So with that, I hope to see some of you out there swinging and running through the trees in a week. I hope you've experienced that joy. Yes, joy. That's a new concept for me, but that is for another post on another day. Love all y'all. Beast mode: Engage.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mr. Cranky Pants Needs a Runsy Wunsy.

               Today I had a case of the Mondays like none other. I hadn't run in 3 days. Now any runner will tell exactly what happened here. I know and you probably know. But for whatever reason, this time was way worse. I felt like I was going to explode. My anxiety was ridiculous. Now there are a few things going on to exacerbate that, like financial isuues, the start of the fall semester looming, my first race in 2 years approaching, 40-middle-age-thought-processes-why-am-I-here-I-am-a-stranger-to-my-own-family-I'm-unmarried-with-no-kids-what's-wrong-with-me-blah-blah-blah kinds of stuff. But, damn. This one nearly knocked me about. I had a full 8 hours of sleep, so I thought, 'What the fuck?' Oh ya, I haven't been able to run in 3 freakin' days. I did a fun 12.7 to ease the tension over some bike path that leads to some beautiful single track along the north side of Picnic Point to Shorewood on beautiful Lake Mendota. It was a learning experience. What ever happens, get a run in at least every other day, even if you're busy, even if it is 3 miles. Life is to short to miss a run and ruin everyone's day around me. They don't deserve Rabidman, and I deserve to be in my happy place. Run happy, my friends.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Relentless Forward Progress....a recurring theme.

               This week is going to be a big week for me. It will be the first week I have run more than 50 miles since my broken leg. Also this race I am preparing for, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50, is my first in 2 years. Incidentally, my last race was also a North Face 50. My body is starting to feel the effects of being a 'runner' again, and I feel like I am coming home.
               I got to run with Rob Krar last Tuesday and it was fantastic. I met him, talked to him along the run, asked him questions about TransRockies and about his ultra running training camp he and his wife runs. He is a genuinely happy man at this point of his life, as he should be. He is happily married to what sounds to be a wonderful woman that loves him very much, he just won Western States 100 for the second year in a row, he lives in Flagstaff, AZ in the mountains, there are a lot of reasons, and he radiates it. I also learned that maybe I should run with someone more often. I was running a healthy sub-8 and barely noticed it. It felt awesome.
               I get to run with Dean Karnazes on this coming Tuesday. I have met Dean before at the Speaker Series in 2011. He is a rather impressive man with a terrific story. He once ran 30 milers on his thirtieth birthday moderately drunk, with no more running experience than high school. Here is today with at least 3 books under his belt and the longest time running at one time. Last I read it was 300 miles, but I think he has since passed that.
               My first attempt at fundraising has all but dried up. I have been raising money to run in the New York Marathon and raise money for the New York Road Runners Community Champions. Apparently social media is not the be-all end-all that it's made out to be. I will need to come up with a new strategy, probably more hands on.
               I am looking for a race before October rolls around. I need to know what it feels like to toe that line again. Something smaller. I'd even consider a 5k. A half marathon I think would be about perfect, My rest days have been a bit trying since all I really want to do is run. Remembering what happened keeps me focused though. I do not want to go through another 2 year unscheduled hiatus. That was one of the darkest periods in my adult life. So, when my body says 'HEY! Jackass!' I listen, albeit rather cranky in the process. Every time I lay eyes on a trail or a curve in the brush I want to charge it. It is much like the rush I would get when I was young and skateboarded. As a skater you would eye pavement, stairs, rails, curbs, and it would call to you and beg you to attack it. Trails do that for me. The roll and twist of a trail would tell me to speed up, slow down, take the bank by force, and at once I am a kid again, and I am having a brand of fun long forgotten to most, and I realize just how much I've missed my friends, the trails.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Long time, no.....notion of anything, really.

               It has been too long, but just long enough. I have been through some shit, my friends. I haven't run a race in a long time. When I broke my fibula two Februarys ago, I got broken in more ways than I know how to count. I have always struggled with drinking off and on, peaks and valleys. I was sober for 3 years when I was at my peak. I didn't even think about it, until I went to my first meeting. I had an occasional beer, two at the most. I was always looking for my next run, next race, next trail. As far as I was concerned I was on top of this shitty thing. Many people can drink a little and stop. I am not, nor have I ever been, one of those people, barring the previous mentioned period when I had a handle on things. When I broke my leg, I checked out, and kamikaze banzai motherfucker, here I come. I knew damn well I was an alcoholic, always have. I just never gave a shit. It was easy to drink. Life was hard enough. You want me to stop drinking? Fuck that noise. The only thing holding me together and finally putting my mind and spirit in the black was running. When I broke my leg that had been ripped out from under me. I have always been shitty at a few things. Giving and receiving complements, taking assistance when offered, and asking for it when I know damn well I need it. Anybody that knows me knows that I'll be the first to help you, sometimes to my detriment, but my stubborn ass will not let you return the favor. This does a couple things. First it further isolates my extremely introverted ass. Secondly, it robs you of the joy of simply giving. There is gold in that moment. By shutting all of those people down over the years, I have robbed them of one blissful moment. I can't take that back.
               So, very quickly I found myself at the bottom of a bottle I couldn't keep full. If I had money, it was going to my bar tab. I was calculated. I knew I could stay out for 6 hours on this night or 8 on that one. The only reason I would stop drinking at the end of the night was because it was bar time, or it was the end of the after bar. I went to work with two hours sleep because I simply did not give a fuck and my priorities were set. Of course smoking and drinking went hand in hand. I figured I'm 40, if I can't run, fuck it. Well, there came a point where I realized I guess I'm not quite ready to die. Which, with my massive alcohol intake that I successfully hid from everyone except the regulars and bartenders at my neighborhood bar. By my calculations I would last another 10 years at most. At my age your body changes and people who don't shape up do indeed ship the fuck out. This time around, my heart was broken, my spirit squashed. I realized my prideful, arrogant ass is not getting out of this funk on my own. Not this time. This time is different. I asked a friend who has struggled with recovery for a long time for help. It was a game changer. She came through for me magnificently and I am eternally grateful.
               So....what now? No need for sympathy. Just letting you in. I'm a shot caller which means have no problem calling shit what it is. I'm on the right path. My body is in pain in all the right places today and I love the hell out of it. It hasn't been so long as to forget what sobriety feels like. My problem was I had one thing holding me up, and when it got swiped from under me I went back hard to the one thing that had always been there for me like my best friend, but not. So, I'm running again. Not ready for anything major yet, won't be as fast as I was ever again, but I have my eye some big stuff to come. I've got a far better support network, I'm eating a little crow, and of far more use to my community when I'm not drunk, hung over, or chacing my next drink. Who knows? Maybe I'll still make North Face in October. Maybe. But if I don't, I won't beat myself up too bad. Now I'm waiting to get off work to get miles in again instead of my first taste. Anyway it's good to be back.