Thursday, February 16, 2012

2011 - Whoa

I know that it is a bit late and that everyone else has done their post-year summaries. However, I was just looking for a photo and, as I scrolled through the photographic timeline of last year, I smiled. I had so many great times brought to me by so many people. I am not always a go-with-the-flow person, even if I would like to be, but last year I was surrounded by so many fun people, that I just let it take me. These are the results...

January - In addition to a ton of fun training runs for my first 50k, I also had some time to get out in the woods with friends. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

February - My first Human Powered Brewery Tour as well as my first 50k at Moab's Red Hot 55k
March - Return to Moab for 24 Hours of Utah
April - Horsetooth Half

May - Ram Classic metric century

June - Teva Mountain Games, Bighorn Wild and Scenic Trail Runs (where I spectated and got roped into running the 50M this year), Exploring Colorado and Loveland Lake to Lake Olympic Triathlon
Me, post mud run at Teva Mountain Games

View from Dry Fork aid station at Bighorn
The Tomichi Trail in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. 1 mile 2000 feet of elevation change.

Don't let the smile fool you... I was hurting in the Loveland Lake to Lake Tri

 July - The Legendary run, bike, bike, run weekend... Saturday, my first Towers repeats after which I drove to Copper and road biked with Scott, Celeste and company on Sunday, Monday I drove to Leadville to meet S&C who were biking there, but I decided to take the MTB out on the legendary Leadville trails. When S&C arrived, we threw the bikes in the truck to go back to FoCo with Scotty and Celeste and I met FCTRs for a 20-33 mile jaunt on the Colorado Trail.
Day 2: Road biking in Copper

Biking Leadville Trails

Running the Colorado Trail with the A-May-zing Ean May
August - Running the Ute Trail with Cat, volunteering for Desperately Seeking Steamboat at the Wild West relay, crewing for Alex's crew at the Leadville 100, and the Lory Xterra.
Cat flying at 11,000 feet in RMNP

Awesomely 80s relay team

The most dangerous event at Leadville... Celeste and Kyle (she might be trying to kill him)
September - relay test run with Celeste, Dan, Scott and Cat
October - Blue Sky Marathon (my first trail marathon) and Runners without Borders (my longest run ever at 38 miles)... and Halloween.
Much needed aid from Coach C and Maddie

Arthur's Rock from the Petit route at RWB
Halloween Costume Progressive

November - Thanksgiving day run with Cat and Mary to cheer on our Trotting Turkeys, and Chubby redux run.
Ladies, racers and fan club

Brian grinding out the valley section of a long day on the Chubby Cheeks route

 December - Chubby Cheeks in the snow, 2nd annual VBM and ode to Ke$ha at the FCTR Festivus Party
Still smiling after a death-defying trip up Horsetooth Rock

It is all about the form, ladies
We don't just run. We dance!
And the year ended running Sarah to her 5k PR on New Year's Eve at the Resolution Run 5k.

No wonder I am tired!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Maybe it isn't so bad...

I was going to title this post "Not Ready" because I do not feel ready for any of the upcoming events in my life. Of particular note was my failure to complete a true long run this weekend. After 4.5 hours of picking our way down icy slopes and then watching the frozen ground turn to mud as the day warmed, Lindsay and I called it quits at 16 miles on Saturday. I knew I did not have the energy or time for another 16 on Sunday to reach my goal of 59 miles for the week, so I had to let that one go. After having missed my mileage goals for so many weeks in a row anyway, it probably would have been too much anyway. I would settle for 50 miles for the week.

Lindsay is a great running buddy!
I dragged my tired, stiff body to the trails on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I have not seen so many people on the trails in months. It was pretty exciting. I trotted up the A-hill and continued across to the ridge along the reservoir. I decided to take a new trail, which resulted in some bushwhacking and bouldering to get back on track without completely back-tracking. Along the way a nice lady yielded to me as I slogged up a narrow, rocky slope. She beamed at me and exclaimed "My, aren't you fit?!" Me? Fit? I mumbled something about how much work it is, and realized that I need to get better at taking compliments. I was also reminded that, although I am the least fit of my running buddies, we are a "special kind of crazy" (a quote from my boss) and I am still a pretty-darned fit individual! That little ego boost buoyed me through several more miles.

An hour or so later, as I returned to the highest point of my run and had just a few downhill miles to go, another encounter pulled me out of the pain cave... A fit woman who looked like she could crush me in any distance race commented on what a great day it was for a run... actually, at this point, I was dragging myself at a slow walk up the last slope... to which I replied "yes, it is. I just wish I weren't so tired." (are you getting the point that I am not so quick with the comebacks on the trail?). She said, "Yep, some days are just like that." Oh yeah. Some days are just like that! I can never be reminded of that enough.

About 1.5 miles from home, I really wanted to stop. I was feeling pathetic at 10 miles I was so tired! How am I ever going to run 55k at Moab in a few weeks? Mantras started running through my head... sometimes you have to suck it up and keep going because you've got to get home somehow... when everything in you wants to stop, that is the time it is most important to keep going... just keep swimming... They had the desired effect and I cruised home on the pavement at a super-quick-for-me 9:00 min. pace.

I decided to change the title of this post after doing a little perspective gathering. I ran 55 miles last week in addition to working and going to school. In that 55 miles, I ran about 10,000 feet in elevation. That has to be a record for me. No wonder I was tired. At Moab, I will have to run about 4500 feet of elevation in 34 miles... well, on Saturday I ran about 3600 in 16 miles... with the vast majority of the climbing done in the first 12... Ok... maybe I can do Moab. What about Bighorn? That has about 4200 feet of elevation over 50 miles and I have months to train (the poor folks doing the 100 miler have 13,000 feet!)... Maybe I can do that one too!

So, I don't feel as ready as I want to be, but it could be worse. I am going to make it through Moab and have a blast doing it. Rather than thinking in terms of improving my time from last year, I am going to set an alternative goal... like just trying to make it back to the car before my fellow FCTRs break into my beer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yes, I run for me.

Running is a funny sort of beast. Over the years, I have been a dedicated equestrian, alpine skier, and triathlete and was never had anyone say to me, "Oh, I like riding, but I can't because my knees (back, hips, pinkie finger)." When I embarked on a skiing streak (which lasted 28 days until the lifts were closed due to high winds), no one told me how "intense" I was being even as I braved some horrible conditions to maintain the streak.

Running is unique because it only requires the ability to put one foot in front of the other. Almost everyone has done this. Almost everyone has experienced running of some kind so they can formulate an opinion. If you have had a sandwich, are you able to formulate a judgment about all sandwiches? So it is with running. It comes in many different forms derived from many different purposes.

I started this blog post as a response to haters, but have decided to write it to remind myself and my friends why I do what I do. In the last week I have been called "intense" and "weird" because of my love of running. I don't think that a love that comes from a supportive, happy, healthy community something that needs to be criticized or minimized.

This week friend suggested that my life would be improved if I meditated and joined a "fun, active community" as she reminded me that my goal is to "run for you... no one else."  Clearly, this person does not understand that running is meditation for me. It heals me and allows me to quiet my mind. Sometimes it is hard and I get angry. Sometimes it is amazing and I feel invincible. Sometimes I experience both in one run. It is life condensed. But I am better after every run...

Better. after. Every. Single. Run....

While I am running I have trained myself to build myself up rather than tear myself down. The opposition of the physical and the mental creates a dynamic tension that drives me forward.

I get to do this surrounded by the best possible "fiends". They stop me when I need or want to be stopped. They give me the tools to keep going. They only feed the strong parts of me and they never, ever give credence to the weak, self-pitying parts of me. They create space for the kind of inspiration that an ungrateful person might think came from within. They drive me without pushing... and they do this while laughing, singing, smiling and basically being huge nerds.

I do this without forfeiting other pursuits. In order to work, attend school, walk my dog, ski and bike, I often have to plan carefully and run at odd hours. But, make no mistake, I understand that running is the frosting on my life cupcake. It is something that make everything else that I do sweeter, but it is not the only thing that makes a life. However, at the end of the day running makes me stronger mentally, emotionally, physically, and I has provided me a rich community. For me that is the ultimate goal in life.

So, after a week of struggling with detractors, I spent 2 hours with my community and I am back on track. I feel lucky. My hope for everyone is that they will find the kind of joy I get from running through mountains. My other hope is that I get to run, laugh, joke, and sweat with the amazing folks that keep me centered and ok for many, many years.