Healthy, but injured?

Since I’ve started practicing a more “80/20” approach to training, potential of injury has sunk so far into the back of my head. Giving myself a 5 day running week with the who less stress results of not running hard all the time has really kept me feeling physically healthy, far from burn out and sort of running with the notion that even if a little niggle does pop up, always having Monday and Friday off always lets rest and recovery fall right at the appropriate time.

Over the past few months the main goal has been to stay consistent with running, but most importantly, remain healthy in the wake of this atrocious flu season. With results from this past summer and fall, I was convinced that if I kept myself running the way I was, I’d be getting faster and a PR at Red Hot 55k (one week out) would be a given.

Here I’ve arrived at my taper and (knock on wood) the flu still hasn’t caught up with me, but this damn pinched nerve sure caught me by surprise. Aside from fighting the typical struggle that IS my left quad and hamstring along with that pesky PF, I thought I was golden and in the clear. Not really sure, even how to treat, deal with or figure this one out. I can run on it. And more than that, I can run uphill on it even better. Running seems to flare it up a bit, but not leave me in any more pain, post run, that I was before. If it’s a pinched nerve, am I risking anything pushing on? Last time I was dealing with the pinched nerve as a result of my degenerative disc disease I learned I have back in 2015, I was told, “don’t be immobile, keep exercising, work on strength and flexibility…” — what about running 33 miles through the unforgiving slick rock and off camber desert?

Some may say it’s the taper anxiety getting the best of me. Other may say, don’t screw the rest of my year (which I happen to have big plans for) by being stupid and running harder through something that can be more easily fixed if cared for early. For now, or at least for the next couple days, I’ll just keep easy running and cross training and come mid this week have to make some big decisions on the type of running that will happen on Saturday. I’ve ever begun considering a drop to the 33k, just from the standpoint of if the pounding becomes simply too much, it is that much sooner I get off of it.

In the meantime, I will continue with extra foam rolling, stretching, stim treatment and cannabis for pain/inflammation relief. Staying positive, remembering the year is long and there is so much ahead. I will see a starting line one way or another on Saturday. It’s just a matter of what state I show up in and what lessons there will be to be learned.

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100 miles; on roads

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It’s wild, to me, that I would almost have refrained from registering for a race like this based on what others think. Since moving to Colorado, I have been living a double sided running life. Fighting the stigma within my own head that, out here, in these wildly grown trail towns, road running is inferior.

“Oh, it’s just a road race?” … “It’s only a road race, so it shouldn’t be THAT hard.” … I began to fall for it. Long hard days on the trail are surely like nothing else. But as I’m beginning to become okay with remembering, so are your hardest, toughest efforts on the roads. Over the last four years, I began feeling like the running I had done prior to my move to Colorado — years of thousands of miles of road efforts — was just primer. It was just preparation for the “more challenging and MUCH harder REAL running” that occurs in the ultra trail world. I think I was being completely unfair. Unfair, not just to myself by falling for that mumbo jumbo, but for potentially, inadvertently taking credit away from all those out there, every day, first timer to professional, who are putting miles and hours and gallons of sweat from efforts into their very own roads.

The stigma within me has been squashed.

I don’t care anymore. Not what the over opinionated trail shoe rep at the local run club has to say. Or what the articles about the ultra trail races are spewing about the thousands of feet of vertical climbing or extreme conditions found at the average altitude in these adventures will do to someone. Of course I respect them all for exactly what they are and will never give anyone who tackles one of these massive events (which I still aspire to complete, one day) any less credit than they deserve. But from now on, I am going back to approaching running of all types with a fair perspective:

If you chose to give every last ounce of all you have in you to the mountains, the altitude, the trails, the vertical, then COOL. If I decided the same amount of me, nothing short of all I have, is going into 100 miles — or even just 5 kilometers — of roads, then that should be treated and respected in the same way.

Steve Prefontaine said, “A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.” And I think runners, both trail, road, short and long distance could all benefit from broadening their understanding. Understanding what running in all forms is capable of bringing out of an individual. When it all boils down to it, we’re all tackling that “trial of miles; miles of trials” John L Parker Jr. characterizes via the fictional Quinton Cassidy in the cult classic title Once A Runner. “You don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years.” It doesn’t matter if it’s pavement that moves you, or dirt, or rocks. We’re all in it because regardless of our deeper, more personal motives, there is something about self propulsion, testing our limits, and pushing to see how far and/or how fast we can go that really intrigues us.

This time, I have decided, it is roads that will carry me to new milestones. Back to where it all started for me. By no means will I forget to give fair and adequate time and to my new muses on the trail, but for my first 100 mile challenge, I will be spending time with the type of running that had me believing from the beginning.

 

 

A spark of motivation.

Every year around this time, something does it. A run, a sunset, a song – this time it was a photo. This time, every year, SOMETHING sets off this undying need for creativity. Right now I just wanna take photos, write stories, play my guitar, record songs, run far, build profiles… all because one photo, from one moment, came out JUST right. Most years, I ride the wave, the winter comes and next fall is the next best thing that could happen. This year, I am going to attempt to set a plan in action and ride this one right through. Here’s to finally doing something with this bottled mess of ideas and inspiration.

High Lonesome

Went and volunteered at a buddy's inaugural hosting of the High Lonesome 100 Endurance Run. As always, I'm so inspired by the heart, desire and will out there at a run like this one. 24k+ vertical feet of climbing topping at 13.1k ft in GNARLY wind, buckets of rain and just some straight up TOUGH conditions. It takes a different kind of person to finish any type of long distance endurance event, but the type of person it takes to go out and even toe the starting line of a "run" like this requires a different kind of heart, mind and guts than most people have ever dreamed of believing exists.

It's so hard for me to believe a finish line like this is anywhere in my future, but my thinking is, if I keep showing up and being so heavily moved by the people out there getting it done, I may, one day, have no choice but to try for myself.

Congrats to all who made this thing happen and with that all those who it happened for.

Here's just a couple photos I took from our aid station at about 10k ft, appx 55 miles in. Horrifying looks on faces do not negate the grit these folks have within.

Last night was something else.

A triathlete again.

I did it, friends! I drank a free beer today! Of course at the cost of finishing my first triathlon in Colorado and with that, my first in four years. I struggled through the swim, as always. That whole washing machine effect kills me. Gets the anxiety up and makes actual swimming a bit of a chore. I started at the very back of the pack, which helps with the anxious factor but not so much the catch up game. I got out of the water feeling strong and super excited to jump on my bike and give the wheels their first real good roll for their money.

Though I loved every second of today’s ride, getting off the bike and onto my feet is ALWAYS my favorite part of the tri, regardless of how great the ride was. I have a thing for running when I’m already beat up and man, I love running folks down who’d been kicking my tri shorts in all morning, otherwise…

Today was quite interesting on my feet, surely being my hardest effort since the calf injury, but man, reeling in whoever I could and cheering on the few who had it to sneak by… I was surely back in my glory.

Today’s finish line was SUCH a pleasure. I am looking SO extremely forward to building on this, re-learning some technique, training more and with that, harder… I have such a positive outlook after today’s go and am just so excited.

Boulder is a beautiful place to race, BBSC puts on a great event, Boulder Beer Co. is amazing for sharing their product and the only other thing that made today such a memorable valuable experience that it couldn’t have been without is, of course, the support of my wonderful girlfriend through this incredible journey and the presence of my new good friend and dare I say it, “training partner”, Luke…

Tri Boulder was a success. And gradual as this journey may be, I’m ecstatic to admit, I am a triathlete again. Here’s to another chapter in this ridiculous book I call, My Life.

 

Remembering the way

Four months ago, I finished my first 50 mile run. After a solid couple weeks of recovery I went for a run and tore my calf. It took a long three months before my leg was any kind of runnable again. In that time, I fell apart. I gained nearly 15 pounds. I stayed in more than I went out. I constantly felt sick to my stomach which ultimately, naturally lead to feeling sick to my mind. When I cannot run, I feel trapped. Claustrophobic. Like I’ve got no options. I was depressed to a level I hadn’t seen before. I went and saw a therapist to talk through some things. It was obvious, medication was a must. That’s when I bought my new bike – In 2012, I had suffered something like 6 or so months with a mangled shin and it was triathlon that kept me alive. Getting in the pool and on the bike, staying off me feet but still finding the means to put all of me into something so rewarding. Triathlon taught me what it was like to be so much more than I thought I could be. Taught me there more options than I ever realized. Triathlon taught me how to be more motivated and disciplined than I ever knew. It had me feeling sharp, inspired, ready to work hard, not just in training, but in life. I’ve never been the fastest out there. Nor have I ever intended to be. The only thing I’ve ever wanted out of training and racing is to know I am out there at any given time being the best I can. When I was at a loss, three months ago, I thought back to a time something else saved me, and it happened again. The swims and rides with good friends, ultimately leading to getting my running legs back and then getting to spend more miles with more good friends. The swim and the bike have made their way back into my life and hopefully this time, for good. Tomorrow I will step to the line of my first triathlon in three years, almost to the month. I promise you I will not be the fastest out there tomorrow and that is okay. The reward in being out there will come simply in just being out there doing the best I can. An extremely valuable reminder that sometimes it takes the lowest of lows to help you find your highest highs.IMG_3108.jpg

Proudest moments, you ask?

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My journal asks me questions; I typically ignore them. Tonight’s question was, “What is your proudest moment?”

I couldn’t resist…

Being I don’t have a picture of me turning back a half mile into the race – gasping at the wall of my own teammates less than 20 meters behind me, knowing Kevin was only 100 ahead – I figured, this one works. A display of what the day’s… YEAR’S… HIGH SCHOOL CAREER’S worth of work had accomplished. Our (school’s) first ever Central New Jersey Group II Championship. We worked hard and performed.

I can think of at least 100 other moments in life I could consider a particularly ‘proud’ instance. But this one stands out. This one was lived with others that understood what kind of work it took the rest of us to get there.

Running has so many meanings to me.

This here, though a couple years into the journey, was still the beginning. To this day, a very big reason I still do it…

A very big reason I still love it.

Milestones on the trail

It’s been some time. Figured I was due for a longer winded check in. A social group I follow on Instagram called “Endurance Junkies” posted the thought provoker: “Who raced this weekend, or who had a great work out?! Post in the comments! Let’s hear it!” … Kinda gave me the moment, laying in bed to look back at this past week or more (that I’ve been telling everyone has been my biggest to date) and realize how big it actually was for me. My response in their comments were as follows:

Ran an 8 mile portion of Beaver Brook here in Golden on Saturday morning. Probably some of the most technical, no fault stuff I’ve been on in the immediate area. Great views, plenty of vertical gain, even took a nice spill to add to the story book. Was a great run with some great company; just what I’ve learned living in areas like this of Colorado is all about. This run capped off my biggest trail week to date since moving here in May. It looked something like: 8 days, 55 miles, 2 sunrises, 3 headlamp runs, 1 trip & fall, a collection of new photos, learning experiences that couldn’t be replaced, emotional moments only the trail could provide, my first in person coyote family sighting, and just shy of 10k ft of vertical gain. All while maintaining a 40+ hour work week and a happy, healthy relationship. This land is giving; there’s no place I’d rather be.

During this week, I learned other things like: I can actually listen to music while I run. It fuels me and fills my soul energy which, for me, translates to more energy return on the trail. I moved in a way like I haven’t before with some moving music in my ears. I’ve learned even further to define the difference between what I am doing now and “TRAINING” as I use to… Theoretically, is what I’m doing TRAINING? Of course it is, by definition: the acquisition of knowledgeskills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. But to me, what training use to consist of was repetition. Circles on a track. Watches and times and miniature goals that needed to be calculated and succeeded in order to obtain the believe a specific end goal can be met. Technically speaking, is that what I am doing now? sure, if you must see it that way. However, through my eyes, this life has become something else. These goals have new meaning. Being on the mountain and on the trail. Being part of the wild as it is has brought me to a newer level of understanding as to what training really actually is. While being out there my objective has become blending with my surroundings. Being part of what’s around me. Understanding that I am a guest in this outrageous land I’m only just beginning to understand. I’m learning that by becoming emotionally tied with the ground and the land, by connecting with the wildlife, plant life and all other forms that inhabit this place, metaphysical, spiritual or what have you, I can truly learn and feel what it takes to become part of it. To move through it as if I belong in it. It’s no longer about time or, or distance, it’s simply just about being. By learning to be there and opening myself up, heart, body and mind, I am gaining a connection that will take me down a long, long metaphorical trail in this life time. I am elated to be seeing this the way I’ve begun to and I can only imagine how much more it may end up teaching me throughout this long incredible journey.IMG_2075

Here we go again!

The adventures of Mikey Mo(ab) continue. Below is a photo of last night’s celebration with a Moab Brewery Johnny’s IPA and some chinese food. The registration is final. Mom and Dad made Christmas come early this year with the best gift they’ve ever gotten me. On February 14th, 2015, the journey will take me back to the technical, slick rock, sandy desert trails of Moab where I will run 34 miles in the Red Hot 55k.

I’m beside myself excited and can’t wait for the challenge. But now for the bigger challenge, braving these snowy winter trail conditions and sub normal temps here in Golden!!

Here goes another. CHEERS TO TRAILS!

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