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.