Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Good, The Bad, at least I'm Not Ugly

Jungfrau in Switzerland
Sorry folks, I was lost in the woods for a couple of months and was finally led out by a box turtle. Or I wish that was the case maybe. What follows are my false truths and I’m standing by them. Rob Livengood requested more of my foolishness this past weekend, so blame him. I expect a comment Rob.

Sage, me, Josh, & Galen with silver medals

In September I went to Switzerland to run the Jungfrau Marathon which was the 2012 World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge. I was part of the US Team with Sage Canaday, Galen Burrell, Zac Freudenburg, and Josh Ferenc; our team won a silver medal. It was a highlight running experience and great honor. Unfortunately, a couple of chupacabras attacked me around 18 miles and I struggled to the finish. For those that don’t know, a chupacabra is a mythical creature known for sucking the life out of goats. Personally, I can attest to their existence. Jungfrau was a great experience because of my teammates. You can go to my report on the La Sportiva website if you’re interested in more on Switzerland.

Early October, I had another bad race locally in Boone, The Knob, a 2 mile hill climb. Then some strange object fell from the sky and knocked me straight. Mid-October to December 8th seem like some magical dream. In mid-October, I ran North Face Atlanta 50 mile. I was second behind Hal Koerner, finishing only a couple of minutes behind him. He did miss a turn late in the race, so would have run faster. Still my time was less than 5 minutes off his course record time and Geoff Roes’s best time there. That’s not even the best part of the race. My back was quite good during the race. It had been rather bothersome from before Jungfrau up to North Face. My back seemed even better the day after the race, my legs were never sore. I had never felt this good after any ultra and seldom feel this good after anything over a 5K. I did strain my illiopsoas muscle at North Face, but I’d take that any day over a mild back issue.

So three weeks later, I went out to Moab, Utah for the USA Trail Marathon Championships. It should be fairly easy to guess how I did. I broke the previous course record and finished third. For those that don’t know that is my 9th third place finish at a USATF trail or ultra championship and 5th third while also breaking the previous course record. The competition was stout, fast stout, but at least it was a somewhat challenging course. Guys all around me had 2:15 to 2:22 marathon PRs. Mine is over 20 minutes slower as you can see in my Personal Best list to the right. Some felt the course was overly technical, it was not! I would consider it legit trail running. A few sections were highly technical, but I point to several races I’ve done that are harder technically. Rothrock 30K in Pennsylvania is much, much more technical throughout. I love Rothrock. It is on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup again by the way, yeah! Back to Moab, the course just did not allow you to set a smooth rhythm in very many places. I know most fast guys don’t like that. With that, I finished ahead of Ryan Bak and Kalib Wilkerson, a good day for me. Again, the back was great. For about 2 months it was as good as it has been anytime in 10 years, maybe more. Running was just fun.

My mental state of mind with running was enthusiastic and just fired up. On the drive to Virginia for Hellgate 100K, I was talking with Alison about much I was looking forward to the race and enjoying running in general lately. Hellgate 100K starts at 12:01 am and a lot can change in a matter of hours. I was feeling fine and running well, comfortably. Things started to feel a little off around 2 hours in. At 2:37, a huge pack of chupacabra leapt from the woods and pulled me to my knees. I suggest you avoid the chupacabra. I turned around and barely made it back to aid station 3. By the time we were driving home while the leaders were still moving to the finish, I was ready to quit running entirely. What had happened to the guy from 12 hours earlier? Since then my back has just been a wreck. It’s not that my actual back really hurts all that bad this time. I’m getting absurd phantom pains and muscle spasms all over. They are rather sharp at times. These pains appear and disappear randomly in either leg and down my right arm. I can’t find any pattern of what brings these back issues on or how to make it go away. It just seems to be my burden. I can just assume there is some lesson for me to learn from it. Or lots of lessons maybe. This seems a better attitude than surrendering to frustration and resignation. Alison and I were talking today about our perseverance in running. Alison has been getting going again after another suspected stress fracture for herself. That word, perseverance, seems to best describe the lesson that our running and racing teaches us. Both of us agreed that we wouldn’t mind learning how to deal with success gracefully. That would be a fun lesson to learn… I think.

How to use my Pilot Mtn. Challenge award post race,
 fill with chili.
We did both run and win a local trail 5K, the Pilot Mountain Challenge this past Saturday. Unfortunately, it did not feel great, physically. Oh well. Life is good otherwise so I won’t complain too much. I have good friends and family. I think that I do fairly decent job of enjoying life. I have a great wife, we have fun together, and she laughs with my foolishness. Plus running has been exceptionally good to me. My back just isn’t the most kind to me or my running. So no need to shed any tears for me, especially not if you read what’s below which comes with my usual warning. If I tend to say too much for you, you should stop reading. Do read on if you share my warped sense of humor.

Alison rides a turtle
Me, Zac, Galen, & Josh at Jungfrau Marathon

Now for your bonus - Does anyone ever heed my warnings?

Conversations taken out of context (though I’ll give some context so it doesn’t sound too absurd this time):

I said, “I wouldn’t put my penis on it.”
Alison replied, “I told you you wouldn’t want to put your penis on my radio.”
Alison’s radio was quite hot, literally.

From a conversation about 8 hours into our drive to Michigan for Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Commented and I look forward to many more postings! Here are two Romanian races that I think that you would like and probably do well in. I have not run this one but I know that it is the harder of the two (and more technical) and I have run this one and it was tough - I will be better next time. This website is all in Romanian and I would be happy to translate to see if it fits into your schedule. Good luck and see you on the trail. Rob