Monday, August 31, 2009

On a 20 miler today, I ran with Gary; a cool, kickass fellow runner who will be tackling Hundred in the Hood as well. We ran part of the race course, out on the dusty, winding trails near Mt Hood, and as we descended back down towards where the start/finish area will be staged, he yelled back to me: "Imagine this is mile 99.7 and how good it will feel!" It really put me in that future moment, and what a rush! All of the visualization in the world pales in comparison to actual visualizing that moment there, where it will happen.

Can. Not. WAIT.

The itch grows deeper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Okay, so I missed one entry. Sue me.

Quite un-shocking that I found myself on the sofa last night watching "Karate Kid" thinking, "CRAP! My blog post today!", as it was the only single day that I'm not running or working. I opted instead to pick up a new pair of shoes (another un-shocking piece of news), some Gu "Chews", have a BBQ sandwich and do some reading, then proceeded to hit a brew and view with Annie to view the latest "Star Trek" movie. Which was damned fine entertainment, I must admit. Our jokes feigning confusion between "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" never got old. Especially when Ann kept calling it "Star Track". Ohhh, the humor.

I ran 30 today, with 20 looming tomorrow, and it got me to recalling my first 50KM adventure not a handful of years back. I remember how completely thorough my training was (some things never change), logging every single minute to insure I wouldn't drop dead out in the desert. I was instantly swept back to the starting line, eyeballing the crazy people, wondering if I belonged, and the thrill of coming in a full 15 minutes under my "secret goal" of 6 hours, feeling fairly fresh, and smelling not so.

I remember my newfound friend, Bud, out during that first 50KM, calling it a "training run", and wondering what planet he called home, and now, just 4 years later, I can step out my front door, calculate my time, and head to the woods for a little ol' 5 hour adventure. And then awake the next day and pretty much run a road marathon. Having run a 22 mile trail run only 3 days prior.

30 miles is truly a mere training run.

I'd call myself blessed, but that sounds too 700 Club, so I'll stick with saying I'm incredibly lucky to be able to head to the trails, run 30 miles, shower, change, and not hobble around in the least. Although I was pretty slow as I walked into the brewery we hit earlier for dinner, but that's simply fatigue. Pft. A little fatigue never hurt anyone. Right?

And so here I sit, 4 weeks out from my second 100 mile attempt, wondering with great expectation when the day will pass that an "easy" 100 will leave me much in the same state of mind:

"100 miles with only 12,000 feet of gain? Nothing like an easy training run!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

"That's ultra!"

For those of you who haven't seen it, here is Andrew Jones Wilkins around mile 76 at the Leadville 100 last weekend, where he placed 9th. He also placed 10th at the Hardrock 100 in July and 10th at the Western States 100 in June. That's what he's talking about when he quips, "It's been a long summer."

Warning: Pretty graphic, but don't let it stop you. The ending of the clip pretty much sums up ultra running.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On Crap Beer and the Reward For A Long Run

It's my dirty little secret, and it's time to let it out of the bag: I LOVE a crappy beer post-long-run. Watery, low alcohol, with little to no taste. In Portland, this is the criminal equivalent to ordering a plate of dog shit at a 5 star restaurant. For, as you know, the Pacific NW is host to flavor-infused, carefully crafted, meticulously concocted microbrews; some of the tastiest, hoppiest, most intriguingly named (see: Pliny the Elder, Tricerahops, and Arrogant Bastard) brews on the 3rd planet from the sun.

That's Earth, for those of you who - like myself - attended public school.

But my taste buds want none of the floral essences, or the mysterious hop combinations after I've pounded out 22+ dirty miles out on the trails. What they want is to be treated like a 15 year old sneaking out to the forest preserve with his buddies to pound can upon can of skunk-ass beer.

And so here I sit, having just finished 3 hours and 40 minutes of scuttling up and down singletrack in the woods, with a Foster's beer can beside my keyboard. And it is GLORIOUS. The taste? Hmmm...have you ever watered down a Budwieser with 70% tap water? If yes, then you're getting the idea. If not, I recommend licking the sweat off an alcoholic bum, and imagining it with less body and taste.

On a side note: I'm 4 weeks out from the 100. I feel prepped as all hell to tackle this thing, as I've indicated, although I am a bit nervous about the lack of crew/drop bag access. The race directors had to reroute the course due to some LAME "Wilderness Protection Bill" (BOO, OBAMA, YOU FASCIST, SOCIALIST, KENYA-BORN, NON-AMERICAN, TREE-HUGGER, PRIUS DRIVING FASCIST SOCIALIST...this was an attempt at irony), but wow, EIGHT aid stations will have zero access to crew and drop bags. Which kinda leaves runners hanging by our asses.

One thing is for certain: Once I've crossed the finish, the night will belong to Michelob.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As you likely do not know, I do my two shorter runs at the gym during the week, usually on the elliptical, to give my body a break from the banging of the trails. Today, as I settled into my 6 miler, two middle-aged women were talking to my right, beside one another, and through my headphones, I heard the unmistakable sound of the whitest people on the planet trying to rap. The woman beside me:

"My name is Mary...
My husband's name is Mike...
the....uhhhh....hmmm...other day he did something
I just didn't like..."

This went on for several minutes, each of them taking turns. Sadly, I wasn't in the mindset to completely shut off my music and eavesdrop.

I believe they landed a recording deal somewhere around the stationary bicycles.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


When I lived in Los Angeles over an 11 year span, whether I was commuting to work, working, or commuting from work back home (I have just described an 18 hour day in the life of a Los Angelian), there was little time for "being". On the flip side, my life was busting at the seams with "doing", and reflecting back, I have no idea what I was actually "doing" besides getting to and from freelance TV writing jobs that left me creatively and emotionally drained. And not emotionally drained because I was creating meaningful, deep, soul-stressing programming. No, I felt sapped because I was actually putting together television shows that were complete and utter lies, posed as "reality". What I was left with at the end of my hour + commute to drive 16 miles (I once clocked 10k on the freeway and realized that even if I didn't push myself, I could still run it just as fast: 45 minutes) was an overall sense of "WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!?", which made "being" nearly impossible.

I always looked forward with great anticipation to my runs - before work, and long ones on the weekend - when I would escape the city to the mountains and...well, RUN. And that's all I did: Becoming a verb in those moments. "I *AM* 'running'," I'd muse to myself. The complete naturalness and ease that accompanied that feeling would soon rinse away my feelings of paddling upstream, as hard as I could, in a cardboard canoe with hockey stick for a paddle.

Having moved to Oregon and shirking the LA "lifestyle", I've found myself with time for Being, and my feet hit the floor every morning and I thank my lucky stars for it. Sure, there are challenges, but they're far more my speed: Which direction to steer a career? With whom to collaborate on creative endeavors, not to pitch to a network, but to create and see where they go? Being in this state of - er, ahem - Being has given my running a slightly different, slightly deeper meaning. No longer am I escaping the scramble to survive; I'm simply going to Be somewhere else for a little while, and do something I love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I've been inspired. And, as they say, blogging is 90% inspiration, 5% perspiration, 3.8% regurgitation, and the remaining percentage is comprised of potato leek soup and tap dance lessons.

Warning: These figures may be off by as much as 89%

Author Haruki Murakami's novel What I Talk About When I talk About Running has been in my hot little hands as of late, and - while I find it somewhat disjointed at times - it's put a whisper of a thought in my head about writing about distance running. So here I go: My plan is to write an entry/day leading up to Hundred in the Hood on September 26th; nearly one month to the day of the race.

I've noticed a shockingly obvious parallel in my life. As a writer, I've pumped out a few handfuls of short stories, some tragically lame poetry, and have about 4 unfinished screenplays forever living on my hard drive. But writing a novel? Sure, why not? It's only the most painfully long process you can put yourself through as a writer. I mean, why sketch a simple 12" x 12" portrait when you could paint a mural on the side of the Sears Tower?

I completed the first draft of my first novel and am currently rewriting my second draft. This is a little bit like beating yourself over the head with a Louisville Slugger, allowing the wounds to heal, and then beating yourself over the head with a hammer; slightly less painful, but it still leaves you groaning.

So I've tackled/am tackling writing a novel. And running? Why, I could try to train for my fastest road marathon/10k/5k/trip down the block, couldn't I? Instead, I choose to undergo training that can only be described as the most physically and psychologically transforming experience of a lifetime. Again: Why bust out a sub-20 minute 5k when you can drag your sad, sorry ass across mountain terrain for 25-30 hours?

I suppose I enjoy the "process" of both undertakings. The actual 100 mile race, the physical novel? Most excellent to experience, touch, sniff (okay, maybe just the novel). Absolutely. But how I get there is as of much, if not more, importance to me. How could I hand off a book to friends, loved ones, and complete strangers without first getting the idea, and then growing it into an outline, then writing the prose? And how in the HELL could I run 100 miles in a single day without planning, obsessing, recording, um, well, RUNNING all the way to the starting line?

Now, where did I put that hammer...

Quick post

I am so ready to run this 100.


81 miles this week. And I know that next week holds more.

Beat DOWN, I am. Whilst prepping a wedding.

Why is there still a grin on my mug?