Thursday, December 13, 2012

No gifts part 2: charlatans unwelcome

Overall I don't have a strong sense of entitlement.  Presenting myself as something more than I am, or asking for something that I don't feel I truly deserve are things that make me feel disgusting, and unsurprisingly I find them difficult to do.  However, I do have a fascination with minimally accomplished, shameless, narcissistic, handout-seeking self promoters.  I admire their innate ability to do the things I find so difficult, and have a grudging respect for the number of people they're able to hoodwink and the places in life they are often able to take themselves.  Nevertheless, I do feel a basic gratification when a charlatan, identified for exactly what they are, gets the door slammed right in their face.  Even if that charlatan is me.  Let's proceed to the anecdote. 

A few weeks ago the great BSK sent out an e-mail to our yogging team with a link to apply for free complimentary elite entry to the Carlsbad HM or Marathon.  I did a quick scan of the elite standards and saw that they demanded a sub 1:12 HM or sub 2:30 Marathon within the last two years at a bonafide organized, timed, competitive yog (OTCY).  I have not yogged these times.  I have not yogged all that closely to those standards that any reasonable person would be tempted to make an exception.  I sent out a flippant reply-all e-mail to the team asking if lying was acceptable on the application and thought no more of it.  Then I saw Mr. BSK at a track workout and he encouraged me to ignore the standards and apply anyway.  Fluff up my accomplishments.  "Tell them who you are!"  Ok.  Sure.  That'll happen. 

A few days later I found myself chatting online with the Suffer Seeker, sarcastically talking about applying as an elite, admitting how disgusting that would make me feel, and bemoaning the fact that an OTCY in my back yard that I'd like to do is now so unappealing because of the near triple digit price tag that I'd have to pay just to compete along one of my regular yogging routes.  I surmised that as a relative front of the packer, I take up a minimal amount of resources, and wisted away for a reduced entry fee, perhaps $40, that would allow me to take part without being gouged.  The Suffer Seeker offered up an idea.  How about he spice up my elite application and submit it on my behalf, and I pay him the $40 when it was accepted.  Interesting.  A loophole around my conscience!  I need more of these.  I accepted the terms of the Suffer Seeker's offer, provided him some personal information and accurate OTCY times across varying distances, and he informed me that the application had been sent, with his overwhelming confidence that I would be granted a free yog.  The next day I received the following e-mail from the OTCY co-ordinator:

Hello Yogger,
Thank you so much for your interest in running at our 2013 Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon. Unfortunately your PR does not qualify for a complimentary race entry, even though it is a very impressive and respectable time! At this time, our half marathon is sold out but there are still a couple options for obtaining an entry:
· Partner with one of our official charities to obtain a spot- click HERE To learn more
· Obtain a bib transfer from a participant who is unable to run- learn about our transfer policy HERE.
· Our full marathon is still open for registration if you are interested in running a longer race.
Thanks again for your interest, and congrats on the new coaching responsibilities! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Take care,
I read the e-mail and was immediately filled with joy and warmth that radiated throughout my body.  Justice served!  Charlatanism defeated!  Sleazeball with loose moral underpinnings denied at the outer gates! I needed to thank this woman and pay my respects.  Not that easy to do without sounding bitter, so I took a moment to think and came up with this reply:
Thanks for the quick response XXX! You are absolutely correct in that my times are in no way worthy of a complimentary entry, and I commend your decision to keep a handout seeking charlatan such as myself out of the elite field. I've always enjoyed your race and I'm sure you'll put on another great event this year!
And she in response to that:
Thank you for one of the best responses I have yet received, and please don’t refer to yourself as a “charlatan”! Your time may not qualify, but your speed and endurance are still extremely admirable. You are surely no fraud.
Aww.  What a sweetheart.  But.  Let's call a spade a spade here.  I am the Yogging Charlatan. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Less Yoga, More Yog

So I tell the child, but she defies me.  Here she is practicing her craft with cousin Arianna, who is one month older than her.  Aside from the hair and melanin levels, I'm convinced they actually look quite alike.  I'm also convinced that if we could all find a partner and play in similar fashion to these two for just 10 minutes a day, all of the hostility in the world would cease and we'd all maintain a continous, cheesy, giggling euphoria right to our death beds.    

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No gifts

The last few weeks of my life have been a celebration of the idea that getting something, or giving someone else something that they don't deserve, especially when competition is involved, is just an icky, yucky, disrespectful abomination of everything decent people stand for and should be avoided at all costs.  There have been a series of events where I've had the opportunity to observe and celebrate this concept, but we'll start with the big one. 

Krispy Kreme Challenge West 2012
I won KKCW 2011 in dominant fashion.  It was an exciting victory for me.  The yog was respectable and the donuts just slid right down.  The future seemed so bright! I figured with some eating technique work I could shave another 1+ minute off the eating split, and if I was in peaking OTCY shape, probably yog 30+ seconds faster too.  I basically decided that this event would be my legacy in life.  I thought of all the small competitions that a single person simply dominates.  The club tennis championship from my youth that some guy won 14 times, Bill McDermott owning the Catalina Marathon for decades, Matt Carpenter unbeatable at the Pikes Peak Marathon for the last 20 years, etc...  Well, the Krispy Kreme Challenge West would be MINE.  Notice to all challengers; To be the man, you've gotta beat the man.  Woo!  So on to the race.

Last year's tutu was left at home in favor of a traditional Indian Diwali outfit, but I did break out the Prince style mullet wig again.  We showed up bright and early and I surveyed the small group of competitors warming up.  There were a few fit looking characters, but the main competition was Patrick Sweeney, the famed barefoot, vegan, aspiring alcoholic and owner of several oddball yogging titles and records.  Conspicuously missing from his trophy collection however is a KKCW championship plaque, having been denied last year by yours truly.  He had returned this year looking fit, focused, and ready for redemption.  We lined up and off we went.  I felt like shit.  A small group surged out and quickly gapped me, but they quickly came back and before the 1 mile turn around I had taken the lead.  After the turnaround, we got hit with a vicious headwind that just about stopped me in my tracks.  Ugh.  The very baggy Diwali outfit didn't help me much, but overall my lack of fitness and power just got exposed by the conditions.  Sweeney overtook me and I had no ability to respond.  I got into the eating area about 10-15 seconds behind. 

Last year's magic eating performance was not to be repeated.  The donuts got into my mouth and had no intention of sliding down my throat.  I had visions of repeating my long forgotten shameful performance of 2 years ago when I took 19 minutes to eat all of the donuts.  Trying to win this event, an event which is so blatantly obviously retarded in concept, seemed even more stupid while I was in the middle of it.  But two things allowed me to push away the negative thoughts.  First, I was secure in the knowledge that at some point I would hate myself for not forcing through the discomfort.  Yeah this was dumb, but I had known this for a while and still decided it was important to try to win, so no matter what I'm thinking and feeling now, I needed to trust my former idiot thoughts.  Secondly, the competition.  Mr Sweeney had made the trip from Manhattan Beach and taken a one day reprieve from vegan living to claim this title, and claim it from me.  Not providing legitimate competition in the face of such sacrifice would be terribly disrespectful and basically unconscionable.  So I forced them down.  Stuff stuff stuff more donuts.  Force swallow.  Gag.  Cover my mouth with my hands to prevent any regurgitation, and repeat the process again.  I got out of the eating tent first.

My legs were still dead for the second part of the run, but it was a little better being mentally prepared for the headwind on the 2nd mile.  After the turnaround, I kept track of the competition and was a little relieved when I saw Sweeney running by that I figured the gap was large enough that even if he ran a sub 4 minute mile on the way back he couldn't catch me.  I tried to keep a decent turnover into the headwind to still put in a respectable finishing time, waved to the throngs of adoring fans, crossed the finish line and puked.  A lot.  I knew at that point that I was done with this competition forever.  So fucking stupid.  I have since reconsidered.  To be the man, you've gotta beat the man.  Woo! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Walking Dead

I watch Walking Dead.  I know it's based on a comic but I haven't read it at all and have no idea how closely the show follows the plot line of the comic.  Anyway, the first season started off well enough.  I mean really, how can you go wrong with a zombie show?  Lots of thrilling violent confrontations and escapes and more gore than ever seen before on network television.  Sweet.  Then came the second season.  What a downer.  The plot slows to a halt, never getting anywhere because of an endless series of mini side crises and internal group conflicts, the longterm end goal/ survival plan is still completely up in the air, and there's not a single truly interesting or likeable character on the show.  Nevertheless, I was in too deep, so I've been tuning in to season 3, and I've really enjoyed it!  Where they've gone with it really justifies the tedious nature of season 2.  Frustrated as all hell in getting through the last season, I now find the show to be an excellent exploration of the fundamental nature of humanity, how we relate to eachother and choose to organize ourselves to maximize our chances of survival, and the struggle to find meaning in it all.  The longterm battle for existence in the face of the zombie apocalypse actually makes a great backdrop for this study.  Sure there are a lot of Lord of the Flies parallels, but the ubiquitous zombie threat really does add another dimension.   I can't remember ever watching a show or movie where I've had such disregard for the individual characters but been so fascinated by the evolution of the group as a whole. 

While I don't necessarily agree with the show's assessment of humanity, here's what we've learned so far:
-In the early days of post-apocalyptic living, many will attempt to cling to the higher ideals of civilized living.  They'll go out of their way to help strangers, and put themselves and the larger group at risk to protect individual lives under the principle that you do not leave people behind.  Some level of acknowledgment and respect will remain for individual property rights, and groups will experiment with democratic decision making. 
-As time passes and lives are lost, the higher ideals are shed.  People become more calculating and economical about the sacrifices that can be made for individuals.  Democratic decision making leads to gridlock and endangers everyone.  The alpha males battle for control.
-The groups that emerge as long term survivors are characterized by a single, dominant, authoritarian leader.  A new fierce tribalism emerges, characterized by tremendous distrust for any survivors outside of the group and a severely diminished respect for the lives and property of outsiders.  Rather than leveraging the talents of others to build a stronger, more sustainable group, the tendency is towards violence and scavenging of precious remaining supplies. 
-While most survivors come to accept the absolutely authority of the group leader as essential to their survival, there is the very rare outsider who seeks to neither rule nor be ruled and is content to rely fully on their own competence and abilities to continue to hack out an existence.  Go Michonne!  Libertarian to the end!  The groups have difficulty understanding how to deal with such a person, and they're definitely seen as threats. 

So there you have it.  As the season 3 episodes have gone along, I've greatly enjoyed noting the parallels between Rick's group at the prison and the Governor's at Woodbury.  I continue to wonder, are these common characteristics of the surviving groups really the foundation of any organized society?  Are the rest of our modern civilized principles just a facade, just lipstick on a pig?  Furthermore, as the characters struggle with their own desires to continue on, maintain relationships or bring children into the world, by not addressing any real longterm goal, the show instead asks us, hey, what really is the point of all of this?  It's just a question of severity of the situation, but really not so different for any of us when it really comes down to it. 

Anyway, it appears the show may be taking a turn, ramping up the plot developments with some exciting confrontations straight ahead, but I really hope they continue to explore some of these prominent themes.  It's been fun. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend Shit Shows

Shit show.  What a wonderful phrase. Undoubtedly one of my favorite in the English language.  The most popular definition in the urban dictionary is:

A description of an event or situation which is characterized by an ridiculously inordinate amount of frenetic activity. Disorganization and chaos to an absurd degree. Often associated with extreme ineptitude/incompetence and or sudden and unexpected failure.

Several other definitions seem to demand drunken debauchery and related behavior in order to render a series of activites a shit show.  Hm.  I guess.  I suppose everyone is entitled to their own definition, but that is never the way I thought of it and certainly not why I fell in love with the phrase.  The image that has always popped into my mind is of a late 19th century type traveling circus, where you could pay a penny to access a tent where some freak of nature would drop a horse sized dump right in front of you.  To me, anything in modern day life that elicits a similar reaction to what you would have felt sitting in that tent is a bonafide shit show. 

According to the urban dictionary, my behavior two weekends prior would probably more aptly fit the traditional definition of a shit show.  Making the trip up to Sonoma wine country to attend an old Taipei friend's wedding, I arrived on Friday to the rehearsal dinner relieved to be done with the 500something mile drive, giddy to be free of parenting responsibilities for a long weekend, and just generally cheerful to see an assortment of old friends, most of whom I had seen extremely sparingly or not at all for the last 17 years.  Accordingly, I drank like an overeager 14 year old whose parents are out of town, fearlessly mixing wine, tequila, whiskey and 9% beer.  Becky had similar inclinations but smartly destroyed herself within the first two hours and made it back to the hotel while I lingered.  I got a ride to an after party at some palatial estate my friends were renting that was tucked back somewhere amongst the winding roads and endless vineyards outside of Healdsburg.  When I inevitably found myself violently ill but sufficiently refreshed by an undetermined amount of time spent face down in the front yard, I decided that the optimal play was to wander off into the darkness, using the GPS on my smart phone to guide me what I estimated to be 6-10 miles back to the hotel.  After making it barely beyond the front gate, I looked at my phone to see the battery at 2% for just a moment before the screen went dark.  Fuck it.  I took my best directional guess and began running, dress shirt, jeans and dress shoes.  I'll never know for sure, but I believe I held a damned respectable pace for those miles.  Nevertheless, after a while I decided to explore the hitchhiking option, so every few minutes when a vehicle would pass I'd do my best to indicate my need for help.  Wouldn't you know, after only 20 or so passing vehicles and a few more miles, a nice guy decided to stop for me.  Turns out I was in fact going the right direction and was less than 2 miles from the hotel!  Becky was apparently worried about me.  Why, I don't know.  I'm a big boy.  Things are under control.  And in case anyone ever stumbles upon this blog, you're obviously wondering, so yes, I had to blow the guy.  But I was getting tired, and the terrain was getting hilly.  Those last 2 miles would have been tough. 

This past weekend however better fit my personal definition of a shit show.  That was what I was originally going to write about, but now I'm over it.  So I'll save that for tomorrow or whenever I get around to it. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I am in terrible shape

It's amazing how being in horrible shape can just kind of creep up on you.  I yog without a watch or GPS, so every now and then when doing a workout, after a repeat I ask someone, "hey, what was our time on that one?"  Invariably, I hear the answer and think, hmm, really?  It sure felt a lot faster than that!  Oh well.  GPSes aren't that accurate anyway. That mile repeat was probably 30 meters long.  And I shouldn't be killing myself in these workouts anyway.  I'm saving it for race day (even though I have no plans to race)!  Then, when I randomly find myself toeing the line at some OTCY and stink it up, I convince myself that I was holding back, sore, untapered and not ready to race there was no way I was going to put it all out there.  Then finally, there's an OTCY where I show up, put in a real effort, dig in mentally and work hard through the pain, push myself to the point of near blackout over the last 1/2 mile, then look up at the finish clock and see that my yogging has regressed about 3 years.  That's truly an awesome experience.  The satisfaction of knowing that I put in a real effort and didn't puss out coupled with the cold, hard reality that I'm terrible (even more than I thought I was) and that my best stinks.  The basic satisfaction of the good effort usually dominates for about 20 minutes before the stench of my horribleness starts taking over and overwhelms my senses over the next few days.  But, if I can resist the urge to make some obvious changes to the lifestyle habits that have brought me to this point, and instead decide to make the transition from regular drinker to borderline alcoholic and glutton, then the horribleness stops being a temporary situation and takes on a firm, permanent presence.  That's what I did and this is where I am. 

I look forward to defending my Krispy Kreme West title this Saturday.  Then look out Turkey Trot and Honolulu!  Racing season bitches! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Savor the victories

People often ask if my daughter is doing anything new.  Well, a few days shy of 18 months, I can't think of any more major "firsts" she needs to accomplish.  First roll over, first crawl, first steps, first major face plant and bloody nose, first teeth, first words, first dance moves, first poopy on the potty, all firmly in the rear view mirror.  Yet, despite the absence of any major firsts, her capabilities are growing faster than ever, to the extent that I'm beginning to treat her like a toddler much more than a baby.  Indeed, along those lines, I've decided that it is the time for the child to RESPECT MY AUTHORITUH!  Battle lines are drawn daily, and the combat is often ferocious.  Let's revisit a scene from the bathroom last night. 

Daddy and Maya are hanging out at home by ourselves, and Maya excitedly announces the need for a visit to the potty.  We hurriedly rush to the bathroom, get her up on her seat and await the fireworks.  She then requests to be read a book out of her ample pile of bathroom literature.  I begin picking up books, opening and beginning to read them to her, but she has her heart set on one particular book, and she denotes her displeasure with my choices by grabbing the books out of my hands and throwing them to the ground.  Battle line, drawn.  This aggression will not stand man.  The expression on my face and the tone of my voice go dark.  Deep intimidation mode baby.  I seriously explain to her that this is no longer acceptable, and that "no thank you" is the only acceptable response if she wants a different book read.  She averts her eyes to my ominous stare, and I move my face so close that she can't turn away.  She responds by raising her right hand and bopping me on my nose.  Extremely pleased with herself, she explodes into a giggling fit.  I double down on the anger.  I raise the volume of my voice and pelt her with a vigorous series of "NOs!!" and finger shakes.  I win a brief moment of silence from her, after which she continues insisting on a book, obviously after her current favorite, a large picture book full of Mickey Mouse and friends doing various stuff.  I grab hold of the book, begin to raise it, but instruct her that it's appropriate to say "please", and that I need to hear that word if she wants to be read the book.  She stares at me, and for a moment she presses her lips smack together as if she's preparing to make the P sound, but then she backs off.  "Out!!" she says, and slides herself off the potty, opting instead to grab the book by herself and plopping down on the bathroom floor to peruse it on her own. 

I sat there in silence, thinking over the severity of my defeat, pondering future strategies, and reminding myself that it's but a minor battle in a multi-decade war to come.  Then Maya looks at me from the floor, and with a hint of hostility and defiance still in her tiny voice, hands the book in my direction and exclaims "Peese!!". 

You're god damned right, Peese. 

Daddy 1, Maya 0. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Courtesy reminder to all NFL enthusiasts

The elite professional refs who are currently on strike also really suck.  Like, really, Really, REALLY suck.  There seems to be some confusion on this point, especially in the media, so I'm happy to be able to clarify things. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Preliminary Fatherhood Grade


Sometimes I am walking with my daughter, I’m talking to my daughter, I’m looking at her, I’m pushing her in the stroller. And sometimes I pick her up and I just stare at her and I realize my only job in life is to keep her off the pole. --Chris Rock

Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy 21st Mike Powell!

One of the longer standing records in men's track and field turned 21 yesterday.  In the 1991 world championships, Mike Powell bettered Bob Beamon's legendary mark of 8.90m with a jump 8.95m (or 29ft 4 1/2in).  Powell was jumping against Carl Lewis that day, who in additional to being one of the most unimaginable douchebags of all time, was almost impossibly good at the long jump.  Going into those championships, Lewis was riding a 10 year, 65 event winning streak, and on that night he gave the best performance of his life and the best series of all time, laying down 4 absolutely massive jumps.  Powell and Lewis were clearly a class above the others, though it appears that Lewis was even another class above until Powell unloaded his world record jump in the 5th of 6 rounds. 

(Record jump footage begins about 3:20 in)
I love this video.  I've watched it for years for inspiration or just a happy thought.  I love the focus, determination, and concentration of Mike Powell before the jump.  He's up against a guy who he's 0-15 against, and who is having the best day of his life, but he shrugs it off, believing he's capable of more, that it's still his time and today his day.  Then after nailing the monstrous jump, there's the initial emotional outburst and excitement but having to collect himself while waiting for the measurement, the short cut out to see the stunned, nervous look on Carl Lewis' stupid ass face, and finally the roar of the crowd and celebration after the world record is confirmed.  It's just perfect.  A concise video reminder of exactly what I love about sports and why we keep going out there.  Despite what the odds may tell me, work hard, prepare, go out with the right state of mind, and something special just may be in store for me today.  I'll probably never have a Mike Powell type moment, and if I do it'll be on a vastly reduced scale, but it's still a hell of a feeling to chase.  Well done Mr. Powell.  Hope you enjoyed another year on the record books. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Western States 2 month late yog report

More than 2 months since the race, I should probably jot down a few of my thoughts before they disappear forever out the back of my aging mind. 

Great idea to go up Monday and enjoy a week in Tahoe and acclimate to the altitude.  Tuesday morning run was death, Wednesday morning run was already feeling a lot better.  But really most of the week my mind was anywhere but on the yog.  Geronimo's beautiful, extremely bright, energetic, inquisitive daughter had me constantly on my toes, and often thinking about the current stage of my life and fatherhood and what I have in store in a few years.  It made me marvel to think about my own daughter, who at 14+ months of age had been making rapid progress by every metric imaginable, but I hadn't quite wrapped my head around how that exponential rate of progress will continue on and on (assuming I do my job).  The girls got along great and were pretty darn cute together.
I never felt good.  I never felt terrible.  The cold weather of the early miles didn't make for bad yogging, but were generally miserable, and numb fingers really screw you over when your plan is to eat constantly out of a group of 3 quart sized zip lock bags all stuffed within a single gallon sized zip lock bag.  I had it in my head that there was a lot of good yogging to be done once I got over the top of the first climb.  Not so.  Red Star Ridge was pretty tough, and since it was still relatively bunched up, it was kind of awkward to constantly pass and get repassed, be forced to hike when I wanted to yog, hold my bladder because I finally started to find a groove and didn't want to get passed again, bla bla bla.  My hamstrings cramped around mile 15.  Of all the things I expected to go wrong, this was not anywhere on the list, and had me pretty worried, because they're pretty debilitating.  Fortunately they just kind of dissolved with changes in the terrain.  When I got to Robinson Flat the dull aches were really starting to set in and the rain was pouring as hard as it had all day.  I didn't realize just how out of it I was until the medical guy at the weigh-in station asked me where I was from and I had to think about it for about 5 seconds.  What was the question, why was he asking it, and what was the answer?  Each segment had to be slowly, individually processed before I was able to blurt out, "uhhh, Carlsbad".  Damned pleased with myself, I was deemed fit to continue.  I saw the crew for the first time, and got sock, shoe, shirt changes as well as the addition of a trash bag.  My fingers were totally frozen and I was a completely helpless bystander in this changes process.  It was a ridiculously long stop, and I lost something like 23 spots between Robinson and Miller's Defeat. 

The section between Robinson Flat and Last Chance offers skilled and fit yoggers the chance to do some good work.  Being neither, I suffered through it.  Based on my previous 50 milers, I was expecting to feel good during this stretch and really have to focus on staying slow and saving energy for the canyons.  No such restraint was necessary, as the slowness came naturally.  It was around this stretch that I first thought about how much farther I had to go, how generally achy and uncomfortable I was, and how poorly I was moving.  I imagined somehow making it to the Placer HS track and receiving a silver buckle (I've never cared about this before) and got all choked up.  This reminded me of the Suffer Seeker saying he knew he was in trouble at Leona Yog when he saw a sign with some inspirational quote on it and he got all emotional.  Looks like it's my turn!  I laughed at myself and carried on. 

It was a relief to finally get to the canyons.  I caught up to Ben right as we were beginning the steep descent towards Swinging Bridge.  We had talked about starting the race together and hanging for the early miles, but I had lost him in the commotion before the start with my family and friends wanting picture after motherfucking pre-race cocksucking picture, and he had performed much better than me in the high country.  We stayed together for about a mile and I did my only non-pacer socializing of the race, and his comment that "This is a serious downhill course!" made me chuckle thinking about how the fun had just begun.  By the time I got to the top of Devil's Thumb I knew I'd be ok.  Only 7 miles to see my crew again at Michigan Bluff, then 5 more before picking up Dr E and heading for Cal St, and from there it would be an entirely doable series of aid station to aid station stretches that I was very familiar with.  Two things that I held on to the rest of the way were 1) Geronimo and the way he handled the last 40 miles a few years prior.  Total confidence, total calm.  I tried to convince myself several times that I was emulating his approach and moving as well as he was through similar sections, but upon a later review of the splits it was humbling how far off I was.  2) The American Hero, in a random online chat a few months prior, while discussing lessons learned from previous WS yog attempts, had said something to the effect of ,"I was so worried about what would happen to me out there.  I realize now there's nothing to fear.  It's just pain." 

It's just pain.  If you can wrap your head around that, nothing too terrible can possibly be in store for you.  The miles went on, pain lessened and worsened periodically, pacers and emotions changed occasionally, but I knew I'd get there and eventually did.  Geronimo took video of the home stretch.  I don't think watching my yog in that reduced state will ever fail to amuse me.  I guess not so bad considering the 10lbs of weight gain during the OTCY.  Perhaps 65 S Caps was a tad much. 

-Hanging around the ultra scene and especially the Suffer Seeker and American Hero, I kind of forgot that there are people out there who can't actually rip off the name of every Western States aid station backwards and forwards after 11 Bud Lights at the California Club.  I definitely didn't realize that to co-workers, extended family members, and friends of friends, I would now be "the guy who ran 100 miles".  It seemed like such a normal thing to do.  I never thought it would be so difficult to convince people that it's not that big of a deal. 

-I have no plans to do more 100 mile ultra yogs, nor was it a bucket list item that has now been checked.  Under the right conditions I could see doing it again, but I don't feel any great allure to the distance.  In fact, the amount of support one demands from the volunteers, crew and pacers during the OTCY is extremely humbling and for me a very uncomfortable spot. 

-I was pretty conservative most of the day, and don't regret that at all.  Robinson Flat, Foresthill and Green Gate were exceptionally long aid station stops, and I regret not being better prepared to get through those faster.  A cranky shuttle bus driver decided to quit and my crew wasn't able to make it to the river in time as a result.  Being cold and tired at the river crossing and not having the dry change of clothes I was expecting had me sulking and not giving an honest effort in the hike up to Green Gate.  I regret the effort I put in during that section.  Maybe 20-30 minutes total cost for those mistakes.  I didn't give a shit at the finish line, but wish I had that time back now. 

-I really want to see the American Hero get back there and have a satisfying race.  Hopefully I can be part of the team the makes that happen. 

-I do love Western States.  The effort it takes and the logistics that go into managing a point to point 100 mile yog of this magnitude is as amazing to me as the performances at the very front of the pack.  And you can tell just how much everyone who is involved with the event truly loves it.  It's just an incredible vibe to share in.  I'm entirely ok with paying $370 for the experience.  I'm sure they needed it.  I may or may not race again, but I'd love to become part of this OTCY in some way. 

-I didn't know Ben extremely well, but I enjoyed talking to him a lot, and hearing of his death in the Cordillera Blancas only a few weeks after the race was a stiff blow.  We had some similar personality traits, especially the analytical minds and passion for training and the outdoors, and I remember thinking to myself how easily I would have gotten sucked up into his lifestyle had I originally decided to come to UCSD for grad school (I choose Philadelphia instead where I mostly focused on being a boozing, bitter sports fan and degenerate gambler).  This was certainly not the first time that I've seen someone die far too young, but his passing more than any I can remember accentuated the temporary and fragile nature of my own life, something I know logically but rarely ever truly feel.  RIP.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Wisdom of the Chinese

As I was just about done inhaling my lunch plate and fortune cookie from Panda Express, I quickly scanned my "fortune" out of the corner of my idea and was blown away by how perfectly they had me pegged.  I even had the nervous tingles run up my spine as I sat there in stunned silence.  Then I looked at it again and realized that in my haste I had mistaken the "G" in the last word for a "T".  Alas.  Wrong again. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

PCT50 Yog!

What better way to celebrate my new windshield sticker than to exemplify it to perfection with my PCT50 yog?  That's obviously a rhetorical question, as there is no better way.  So that's what I did. 

Brief background.  I had not planned on participating in this yog, but the Suffer Seeker was so humiliated by his Leona yog failure that he arranged a free bib transfer of his entry with the amazingly accomodating race director John Martinez.  Martinez.  I still don't know who that guy is, but he's way up there in my book.  On to the yog report:

Pre Yog
I successfully emerged from bed around 3:15 and was on track to successfully get my shit together and ass out the door in a timely manner.  Everything going splendidly until my attempt to leave, when my parents' dog (we're dogsitting while they're in Costa Rica) escaped out the front door, out the open patio door (fuck me, how could I leave that thing open?!) and took off down the street into the darkness.  This dog is like a petulant teenager who thinks they want to run away from home, then realizes a few hours later they have nowhere to go and can't make it on their own.  But since she's a dog, Bella never learns her lesson.  And she's fast.  When she gets away from my parents, they make no effort to go after her.  Hopefully she comes back before dark, otherwise she'll be coyote food.  Wow, what an amazingly helpless feeling watching her disappear.  Do I even make an attempt to pursue her or just prepare the apology spiel to my parents?  Well, on this morning, the Yogger pursued.  And he captured, and returned triumphant.  I correctly guessed which way she'd go (not that hard), then used the laid back, I'm not really chasing you, just a cool guy out for a walk at 4am and hey aren't you a good dog why don't you let me pet you strategy for about 15 minutes until she gave in.  That's never worked before.  I still can't really believe it.  By far my biggest accomplishment of the last 10 years or so.  I got in the car still amped on the miracle I'd just experienced, picked up the Suffer Seeker and drove to the yog. 

What can you say about the PCT50 yog?  It's on PCT.  It's 50 miles long, although there were rumors of it being short.  It definitely felt like 50.  I didn't feel short changed.  And to be sure, there's plenty of yog to be had.  There was a fair bit of climbing, but the grades were moderate pretty much the whole way.  The stand out characteristic of the course was the tough, rocky terrain in several sections.  Given this terrain, and my previous decision that I do well with very little padding in my shoes, I decided it would be a perfect day to strap on my brand spanking new pair of painfully overpriced New Balance Minimus trail shoes.  For 20 miles, I smugly lauded myself for the toughness of the bottom of my feet.  Look at me, grinding through this rugged terrain with such a thin layer of padding.  What a real man I was.  You can guess how the next 30 went.  Ow.  Owwwww.  Not.  A.  Real.  Man. 

The Suffer Seeker's friend Todd had volunteered to pace me from 27 back home.  Mile 27 is on a section of course that just flat sucks.  Very rocky with a long slow upward grind and everything is really just starting to hurt.  I had not met Todd before, but a quick athlinks stalking verified that he is significantly more skilled at the yog than myself, and the pace I was going for the first few miles had me feeling quite embarrassed.  Eventually the downhill nature of the 2nd half of the yog kicked in and I was able to pick it up a little.  Slow.  Steady.  My feet.  Really. Hurt.  Todd was a great help.  Good conversation that helped the miles click along from around 30-40, then mostly comfortable, non-awkward silence and steady grinding as I grunted and groaned and slogged through the last 10.  It's the 2nd time I've been paced through the 2nd half of a 50, and while I always feel like I'll be fine on my own, it's humbling how much a good pacer can actually improve the experience.  Thanks Todd. 

The finish line was great.  Where was it exactly?  Not sure.  I made it to the road, still kind of running and looking for a clock somewhere when some guy yelled at me, "Stop!"
"Ok, so I'm done then?" 
"Yeah, you're done." 
"Cool, what was my time?"
"Um. Um."
Awesome. Love it. 

Post Yog
I finished feeling ok.  That was the goal.  Get through the distance at a pace that gives me confidence that I can go another 51 and be ready to drink.  After finishing the yog, I sat down for a minute, and when I tried to get up and walk to my car for a change of clothes, I was wrecked.  Just totally beat to shit.  I eventually made it to the car, retrieved the beer, and proceeded to drink it.  Post ultra yog beer is one of my new favorite things.  Just a great feeling.  Eventually Geronomino made his way to the finish, having enjoyed his time on the trail and conserving his energy for his 44 mile birthday run the next day.  Marty was there too and it was great to enjoy a few drinks with those guys.  Suffer Seeker made it to the finish line back from his volunteering duties a few minutes before I got there, and proceeded to attempt to fluff up my mediocrity.  For a few minutes I tried to give him a reasonable perspective on my mediocrity while he continued to fluff.  Those exchanges always amuse me.  Great day overall. 

Lessons Learned
I think I have the effort level pretty well locked in in these events.  I'm very pleased with how my stomach has been able to mostly hold together so far.  Finishing and being eager to drink alcohol is a good sign.  The "nutrition" plan seems to be coming around too, with the following observations made during PCT50 yog:
1.  Double chocolate donut from aid station #1 = Phenomonal.  Although it did make the remaining pop tarts in my bag harder to eat later. 
2.  Coconut water = Not tasty, but I really felt a lot better a couple miles later.  Must find a way to get this in somewhere at STCC 101. 
3.  BBQ Baby Back Ribs = Too much of a pussy to try to eat these in the later miles.  I'm deeply ashamed of this.  I can't believe I carried them for the last 10 miles and failed to work up the courage to give these a try.  Disgusted with myself.  I will redeem myself for this. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Leona Yog!

It can be fun to embarrass myself via athletic failures.  However, it's much more fun when the failure is spontaneous.  Sometimes I start the day with what seem like realistic hopes for a satisfying performance, then a few hours later I'm resisting the urge to punch some well meaning spectator who is telling me I'm awesome as I'm limping along and being passed by a 77 year-old polio sufferer.  THAT is fun.  Not training, giving myself no chance, and following through with the inevitable stink bomb of an OTCY has substantially less comedic value.  With that in mind, I signed up for a few ultra OTCYs to force myself to put in the miles that I couldn't muster the motivation to put in on my own and hopefully have some minuscule chance at the fast approaching STCC 101. 

A few weekends ago I kick started my STCC 101 crash training with the Oriflamme 50k yog.  It was fun.  Mostly uneventful.  I wasn't very strong, particularly on the long grind of a climb in the latter miles.  There was a guy who did the yog, then broke out his homemade beer and offered it to the group.  The Yogger accepted.  Then, upon seeing the slightly confused look on his face, I realized that everyone else in the immediate vacinity were people he knew, and that he was offering beer to his friends, not strangers.  Still, it was too late.  He gave me the beer.  I chose the Scottish Ale option over the English Brown.  It was in a 24oz bottle.  It was fucking good.  I think the guy's name was Wesley.  I like Wesley.  Oriflamme yog.  Not bad. 

Then last Saturday was Leona Divide 50 mile OTCY.  I made sure to bring my own beer this time.  The Suffer Seeker agreed to partake, and at the last minute Geronimo joined the fold despite not having an official entry.  Awesome.  2:30am meetup at the Oceanside park & ride for the 150 mile drive to the start.  Geronimo was there waiting, fresh as a daisy, while the Suffer Seeker arrived predictably late, half awake, congested, and generally looking like death.  99.9% of the population would have sent an apology text and stayed in bed, but on this morning, something told the Suffer Seeker to ignore his body, crawl out of the yoga abyss and come for yog.  He quickly passed out in the back seat and I got the chance to catch up with Geronimo as I drove.  I hadn't seen him in quite some time and I wish I could put into words how much I enjoyed getting his perspectives on ultra yogging, life, marriage, parenthood and education.  We made good time, I perfected my pre-race nutrition with a couple of cinnamon pop tarts and a Carls Jr breakfast burger value meal, and we got to the race start with an hour to spare.  I spent the rest of the time mostly trying to amuse myself and annoy the Suffer Seeker with talk of the impending yog.  I come for yog.  Why are all these people are here?  Do you think that they know that I am here for yog?  I think I need a sticker to put on my car.  Then they'd know that I yog.  I succeeded in amusing myself.  Suffer Seeker mostly ignored me.  Then we yogged. 

It was a pleasurable yog.  The course had a good mix of ups and downs, but mostly very comfortable grades and runnable trails.  My goals were to practice eating and drinking a lot and see how my feet felt wearing x-country spikes (without the spikes in them).  That stuff went really well.  I'm excited about doing more ultra yog in x-country flats.  Dragging around heavy trail shoes with my spindly calves really does take its toll.  Miles 25 to 30 had a steep down and back along fire trails that sucked pretty hard, but the rest of the day felt really good.  Great success!

Geronimo volunteered to be sweeper for the 50k and managed to get in 38 miles on the day.  SS fell behind me less than a mile in, had a generally miserable day and DNFed at mile 42.  I expected him to be enthused by his experience, after all, he had been given a big giant helping of his precious suffering, but this was not to be.  It turns out that my perspective about the joys of suffering and failure are much different than his.  I continue to find it interesting to see how much I, an INTP, and he, an INTJ have in common in the way we process information and stimuli, but just how different the end result often ends up being. 

Fun day.  I look forward to more yog. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

3rd overall in running

Last night was ninja yog night.  I got a request for about 90 minutes of hilly yogging with no major fast efforts, so above is what I came up with and e-mailed out.  A few short moments later I got an e-mail back from the Shoulder Toucher saying, and I quote, "I just got lost looking at it.  3 circles..."  Hm.  There's the starting point with the black dot, look for the mile markers in increasing order, and to me, it seems like one should be able to decrypt the route.  On the yog last night I told the Shoulder Toucher how I would love to look at that route through his eyes and process it the way he does.  Seriously.  I would love that. 

Last week I was thinking about the typical, excessively long race reports and the common personality traits of endurance athletes that leads to the urge to write them.  This week my thoughts  drifted to my appreciation of those who love the sport but are of a fundamentally different breed.  Shoulder Toucher for instance.  For some reason he signed up for his first Ironman race a few years ago.  Upon his return, people (who write volumes about their own races and voraciously dissect the experiences of others) wanted to know how it went.  "Uh, the swim was ok, I got to mile 40 on the bike, and, uh, it was terrible dude."  These days, after an OTCY, I know his recap will consist of entirely of 1) the identification of one of his ever expanding pool of informal rivals who was in the OTCY, 2) the admission of defeat to that rival or 3) "I crushed him!".  Sparse.  Exciting.  Perfect. 

Then there's Geronimo.  The man lives for ultrayogging.  Everyone who knows him is consistently amazed by the race schedule he lines up and then glides through with ease.  Well, last weekend he took a 2nd crack at Barkleys and was defeated again.  Darn.  I was discussing with the Suffer Seeker his likely recap of the experience.  Last year he injured his knee on the first loop and had to DNF.  All I could pull out of him for a description of the legendarily difficult terrain was "Not so bad."  Would he do it again?  With a sly grin on his face, "I must."  I've had the chance to pace him to the finish of a few 100s, and the thing that stands out is how completely unencumbered he is by the mental and physical challenges of the event.  Facing and conquering those challenges is what is so intoxicating to many ultrayoggers (I think), but Geronimo seems oblivious to that.  The guy is truly in his sanctuary out there.  Could you make the race longer please, because he really only starts to find his groove around mile 92.  A couple years ago he had signed up for the Brazil 135, but at the very last minute his visa was rejected and he was SOL.  Undeterred, he contacted the race director at Arrowhead, who found a spot for him in that race the very next weekend.  So.  Training for 135 miles of sloppy muddy hills in the Brazilian summer, but instead showing up at the coldest spot in the nation (having never trained in cold) for 135 miles along snow mobile trails pulling a sled full of gear that he didn't know how to use.  A race with a 60-70% DNF rate.  There's a frickin' novel waiting to be written about such an experience!  Well, we got his race report the following Wednesday, an e-mail titled "3rd overall in running" that contained a link to the results in the body.  Yup. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

4000 word race reports

Every so often, I think about these volumes of literature that endurance athletes routinely churn out after every race.  I ask myself, which contributes more to the existence of these recaps, the personalities of the people drawn to these events, or the very nature of the endurance race experience?  I never fully decide on an answer.  My first inclination is that it's the personalities of the participants.  No doubt, lots of similar personality traits amongst distance yoggers and tri fags.  Yet, I've been passionate about competing in sports since I was old enough to throw a ball, and only yogging has ever given me the urge to write a detailed account of a competitive experience.  Of course, when I try to identify specifically what about the experience makes me want to write it down, I can't quite capture it.  If I think about a tennis match, it's every bit as interesting or more than an OTCY.  The physical challenges, periods of surging and crashing confidence, momentum swings, fighting to retain and then losing focus, gamesmanship, confrontations over shitty lines would make for great stuff.  I retain vivid memories of matches from 15-20 years ago, but never have the urge to write them down.  Similarly, imagine a QB writing a blog about his in game experience that went into the detail that you'd see in a typical marathon report.  It has tremendous potential.  Yet, I don't know of the existence of any such thing.  Even when athletes put out their memoirs, the nitty gritty details about the actual in game competitive experiences are typically minimal.  Only endurance athletes seem to relish that stuff.  Whatever, it all makes for a good shallow lunch yog pondering. 

Well, with such thoughts swirling in my head, and with the Carlsbad OTCY approaching, I was reminded of my very first race recap.  Carlsbad OTCY 2006.  I signed up.  I yogged.  My on-again off-again x-girlfriend at the time sent a random social e-mail (I didn't yet do much texting) that amongst other things inquired as to how the OTCY went.  I seized the opportunity to write my very first race report, which I was dying to do anyway.  I dug up the e-mail:

my 5k was good.  it was definitely the best 5k i've run so far, much more so than last year when i felt terrible before the race and was dead after mile 1.  This time I was actually determined to not overdo it on the first mile and I think that was critical.  Everyone just goes tearing out of the gates and I had to make a conscious effort to just let them pass and fall back into a comfortable stride. 

About a quarter of a mile into it I realized my shoelace had come undone and I had to stop and retie it.  I was pissed!  Then I got behind all these slow people and had to waste a bunch of energy dodging around.  But I think my 1 mile interval workouts really helped because then I at least had an idea of where to exert myself and really stuck with it.  I passed the first mile marker at around 6:08 and felt pretty good about where I was at that point. 

By this time though I started to pass all these people who had blown themselves away with their first mile and were already dying, which sucks because it helps to use people around me as pacers.  There was one other guy who looked like he was pacing himself well and I ran with him for the next 3/4 of a mile or so as we started pushing past a lot of people.  The 2nd mile seemed to be a lot of incline, but I still felt good and was passing a lot of people and was pretty pleased when I hit the 2nd mile marker at 12:22. 

I lost the guy I was pacing with and pushed ahead for the last mile.  I just focused on my pace, passed some more people, and really probably could have pushed a little harder but since I didn't have a good idea in my head of where the finish was I didn't want to give that extra burst too soon. I had a lot left for the sprint at the end and crossed the finish line at 19:02 i think.  If I'm lucky maybe my chip time will be 18:59 or something.  That would be nice. 

I feel like it was my best managed 5k so far, but kind of like my philadelphia distance run where i went out in 7:12 miles and came back on the 2nd half in 6:47s, since I had so much left at the end I know I could have pushed more out of myself.  I mean nobody passed me for the last two miles of the race!  I guess I'll have to just keep racing and keep trying and see if I can figure it out eventually.  That whole idea about joining a club probably isn't half bad either. 

Well, the next time I saw her, she told me in no uncertain terms that my decision to write in so much detail about the race was FUCKING. WEIRD.  When she asked about the race, she expected no more than 3 words in response.  And to think, her claims of having run a 20 flat 5k in high school (later discovered to be an exaggeration) were the onus for my initial dabblings with yogging back in Philadelphia.  I guess the personalities that gravitate towards high school XC can be very different from those who pursue endurance events as adults.  I think she ended up marrying a guy who does not yog.  Probably a solid decision there. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

As a word document

The theme of my early morning today was prep work.  Up at 5:50 with the goal of cleaning last night's dirty dishes, prepping and making the french press coffee, bagging my snacks and lunch for the day, cutting the fruits and vegetables and loading them in the blender for my latest smoothie concoction, prepping baby girl's bottle, showering, shaving my balls, being ready to cuddle, change and feed baby girl when she woke, blending the smoothie, out the door and to work on time for once.  Doesn't seem like much but for me that's quite a challenge.  Anyways, right around 6:07 when I was midway through the massive pile of dirty pots, this scene I haven't watched in years popped into my head, right at the exact moment where he says "As a word document."  The rythm of the conversation up to that point, the tone, the look on his face...I just put those 5 seconds on a continuous loop and it kept getting funnier every time.  That's just the best.  6am, dark out side, in the kitchen in my boxers doing dishes and giggling uncontrollably.  Socializing with other humans is so overrated. 

Forgot to manscape and got to work 6 minutes late.  Nobody's perfect. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is how I do it

There's an activity called yogging.  I used to do it regularly.  Not so much anymore.  I'm not sure exactly how little, because I don't track these things, but it's minimal.   Also, in a feeble attempt to be a considerate boyfriend, I recently co-participated in a 10 day cleanse that involved a very restrictive diet.  This resulted in 13.5lbs of weight loss in the first 7 days, bottoming out at 162.5lbs and staying there for the remainder of the cleanse.  I didn't really want to lose weight, and was aware that if I actually knew the proportions of Fat vs Water vs Muscle loss that made up those 13.5lbs I would probably be horrified at what I was doing to myself.  I felt completely sapped of energy, and my few attempts at yogging felt like I was starting at around mile 33 from the second I stepped out the door.  Yet it was still enthralling to see the numbers dip day after day, thinking of the last time I was at that weight (16yrs old), and realizing that I was exactly 40lbs lighter than the first time I stepped on that same scale when I first moved to California 7+ years ago.  I knew there would be some disappointment in watching the numbers rise after the cleanse was over, and I'd think about what the scale would say each time I considered eating something that tasted good.  I didn't like the mindset that was developing, so the weekend after it ended, I ate a bunch of burgers and pizza, drank beer, and resolved to stop looking at the scale cold turkey.  Fuck it.  But before fully committing to my ascension back to my starting weight, only with more fat and less muscle, I signed up for Carlsbad.  Which brings me to my upcoming OTCYs. 

There are 2 OTCYs on my schedule.  First, the Carlsbad 5000 OTCY on April 1.  I decided to completely ignore the lack of speed work or volume in my training, my increasingly poor performances in my last 5 OTCYs, the fact that I generally feel like ass most of the time, and instead postulate that my newfound temporary 162.5lb frame will be able to fly in spite of it all.  Following Cbad, on the last weekend of June I have the STCC (Squaw-to-California-Club) 101.  This OTCY requires co-participation and completion of the less prestigious Western State Endurance Yog, followed by a 1 mile yog to the legendary Auburn dive bar California Club and consumption of at least one beer prior to last call.  Additionally, in STCC 101 official timing results, one hour will be deducted for each shot of tequila slurped out of the bellybutton of the Drew Barrymore look-alike bartender.  Barrymore's agreement to participate is unconfirmed but expected. 

So I got to thinking about these OTCYs.  I'm obviously completely unprepared and they won't go well.  Furthermore, this is exactly my routine.  I looked through my athlinks results the other day from the beginning.  Counting the OTCYs that are missing, I'm over 100 for my lifetime.  I'll give myself a pass on the first 20 or so.  I got my money's worth.  Yogging was new, I knew nothing about training, the learning curve was steep, the possibilities were wide open every time out, and it was exciting just to be able to yog several miles in a row at a pace that would have been an above average mile time in 5th grade gym class.  But around 2007 I decided that I'd try to learn something about training and actually make a point of improving.  Looking through each of the results, with the exception of perhaps 5 races in 5 years, it's all the same.  Mediocre results that were inevitable due to poor preparation.  So what keeps me coming back?  I can't help myself.  At some point, no matter how brief, I get an image of success and satisfaction with my performance into my head (realistic success relative to my ability level, I don't think I'm going to win or anything), and before I know it, I've clicked the mouse a few times and I'm signed up for another one.  I've never actually felt this theoretical sense of accomplishment after any OTCY, even the very few where I've actually prepared and performed well compared to my expectations, but I continue to believe it will happen some day.  This summer at Headlands 50 there was an awesomely low key finish line.  They had marked out a line in chalk in the mostly empty Rodeo Beach parking lot, and as I shuffled across the finish, the race organizer guy acknowledged me out of the corner of his eye without turning his head away from his laptop screen and said in a complete monotone "nice job."  I trudged over to a picnic table to enjoy some soup and conversation with the Suffer Seeker and the American Hero, and about 15 minutes later a young kid came across the line.  He was treated to the same uneventful finish line experience that I got, yet immediately upon crossing the line, he raised both clenched fists over his head and let loose with two of the most invigorated primal screams I've ever heard.  The specatcle was kind of comical, but at the same time I'm deeply envious of what that young men felt that day.  I continue waiting for it.  And on the other side of it, I have a very special place in my heart for all the spectacular blowup failures that I've piled up over the years.  My 2:55 2nd half of the Marine Corps Marathon, my multiple 2hr + run splits in 70.3s, my loopy death march in sideways freezing rain on Pikes Peak.   I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.  So when you think about it, aside from the waste of my time and money, and the insanity of repeating this process over and over, there's really no down side.   

Monday, February 6, 2012

Random Optimism

A funny thing happened last week as I was in a steady groove of being a total miserable SOB.  I decided to give that tennis league another shot.  Some guy sent out an e-mail looking for a match and I responded.  I'm not really sure why I did that.  I wasn't looking forward to it.  I haven't missed not playing.  In fact, I expected to play horrible, lose, and feel disgusting about the whole process.  If anything, I probably just figured I should practice forcing myself to do stuff I'm not excited about.  That stuff makes up the meat of life anyway right? 

So there I was on the court and everything is going to plan.  I'm stumbling around like a drunk and am quickly down 3-0 to my opponent, a 40ish Asian junkballer guy.  This guy was much, much better than the clown I accidentally played last time.  In fact, in many ways he was downright crafty.  Yet, as I was going through the motions, it was impossible not to think about my feeble serve and all the easy shots I was missing and compare it to the way the 17 year old version of myself would have dispatched this guy.  And that's when it happened.  These thoughts had the opposite effect of what I'd expect.  They didn't make me want to throw a tantrum, walk off the court and never play again, or just wallow in self pity.  I'd calmly play a horrible point, shank a sitter overheard, remember about how I never, ever would have missed that back in the day, and think to myself, "I'll get back to that."  It wasn't an intentional thing.  It's just the way I felt.  I became emotionally detached from the pathetic version of me that was playing out there and found optimism and confidence that I'd eventually recreate a version of myself that would make this game fun again.  Of course, as those feelings built, I was able to have fun in the moment.  I wish it could have made me a better player on that day, but nothing could save that.  It probably did make me a little bit more scrappy out there.  I was pretty amped up afterwards and had trouble sleeping that night, not because I was excited about coming back to win a long match, but because I felt total confidence that I'll be good at this game again at some point, and that will be fun.  Random optimism.  I did nothing to create it and nothing to deserve it.  It just came out and grabbed me.  Fun feeling. 

Oh, and my body was physically wrecked afterwards.  Forearms, Rotator cuff, deltoids, traps, obliques, hip flexors, calves, my NECK...all just hilariously sore.  It made me smirk to think about the exact inverse being true 14 years ago, when I could play twice as long and feel no soreness the next day, but randomly signing up for my first athlinks result, a 10k OTCY which I completed in 49 and change, left me sore for a week. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This blog is like life!

It started randomly with no real purpose, I never work at it so it never amounts to shit, and when it's gone no one will ever remember it.

A couple years ago I paced my friend Geronimo at Western States.  It was awesome.  He was completely unphased by the physical challenge of the race.  Total confidence.  Total calm.  We went from outside the top 100 at Bath Rd to cracking the top 50 at the finish line, comfortably shuffling past all kinds of physical and mental carnage along the way.  Geronimo has a blog that he very rarely contributes to, but in one of his last posts he equated ultrayogging to life, and made a number of apt analogies.  Geronimo's outstanding performance with such a ho hum attitude has been something of a running joke between Suffer Seeker and I, as SS last year and this year I take our own stabs at Western States.  "Yeah, don't worry about training for a 100 miler, it's just like life, sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes supported, sometimes on your own, longer the better, bla bla bla..." 

Anyways, surfing through the blogosphere a couple weeks ago I found another post from a very accomplished ultrayogger where she equated trail races to life, also with several apt analogies.  It suddenly hit me  that although these analogies always seems insightful, life is probably the most non-descript word out there.  It encompasses everything.  In fact, there's not a single object, concept, event or whatever that cannot be accurately compared to life.  It's a fun game!  Pull anything out of your ass, come up with the 3 ways in which it's like life.  This post started with example 1A.  Now I need to come up with some rules and make a drinking game out of it.  I should probably copyright it though before some shithead comes along and makes millions off it.