Run for life

These are just a handful of the people that leading up to and well beyond, but at LEAST the four years I was in high school, meant the world to me. In the wake of these tragic current events on our news and in our headlines, I can’t help but reflect a bit. It makes me incredibly emotional, sick to my stomach and sort of just unable to comprehend what it may have been like to tragically lose any one of these gentlemen — or anyone I shared the halls of my high school with — in the way the kids in these schools affected by these catastrophic have to watch their classmates go.

The footage on the news today sent me back to the halls of my school in Spotswood, New Jersey. It made my brain, in the most twisted way, imagine being in a scenario like the ones brought to life on our TV screens… and I’m just kind of a mess…

I run for a lot of reasons I run to feel alive. I run because I AM alive. And this weekend when I land on the starting in Moab, I’ll run for those lives lost. This race, this weekend, all 33 miles of it, are no longer about having made it there healthy, or uninjured enough to feel confident about a finish. But the miles I’ll spend out in the desert, my safe space, will be for the families grieving this weekend because their teenager, perhaps just like one the kids in this very picture, didn’t make it home from school today.

#runforlife

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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.

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.

 

 

Remembering your team

Training for an ultra in the winter can be challenging. It doesn’t just make you question your motives, but at times, quite possibly why you even do it at all. Out the door and back before the sun is even up, icy roads and trails — warm summer mornings becoming a distant dream… and through it all, I know that beyond the lessons and character building trials we spend pushing ourselves to uncomfortable limits in the winters grasp, it is us that ultimately gets ourselves there. Anyone will tell you, we’re the ones who put in the work that ultimately ends up getting us from A to B… but really we’d be remiss not to mention, recognize and to an extent, praise and thank the ones that we’ve spent many steps of our way with that are owed the biggest gratitude. It’s them who know what we’ve put in. It’s them that may have helped us rise to the occasion, early on a Sunday morning, to hit a soggy trail for hours before the rest of the city is even awake. Or perhaps out to a trail we’ve never seen before reminding us how important a fresh perspective can be. It’s them that we bury our pride in and thank within ourselves for the miles shared. Without them, this little world we’ve made for ourselves struggled to spin. These dudes here have played an integral role in me getting to yet another starting line. And as they will have their own starting and finish lines this year, I can only hope to play even half as important a role for them as they have for me. Cheers fellas. Thanks for reminding me what it’s like to be doing this for more than just myself.

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.

 

Into the mountains

Finally got into the mountains last week. Managed some imagery here that I was excited to take home and share. I’ve never seen Columbines like we saw out there that day. It was a fantastic hike up to Herman Gulch to Herman Lake. The weather was just right. The trail wasn’t overly crowded. And the sights were beautifully plentiful. Link below to the All Trails tracks to scope the GPS data, route and reviews.

Herman Gulch to Herman Lake

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Remembering the importance in risk

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Today, I handed Lynette my camera and asked her to take a couple photos of me getting roudy on the adult playground at 12k feet.  I’m glad I did.

When I look at back at this photo I think about what today really was. There were moments I was sad, angry, anxious, scared, happy, elated, enlightened… So much thought – SO many feelings.

Lynette and I did a rock solid 10 mile hike with my brother, in which I got to run a whole bunch. Back to her to check up and make sure she was still great and enjoying herself. Back up to him, a couple hundred meters ahead huffing at his first trip into the high country this year.

It wasn’t until now, looking back at the photos from the day, that I’m beginning to make sense of what the mountains really are to me. They’re my new muse. The thing I know the least about but as of late have seemingly desired the most. They scare me and make me anxious, especially when I can’t control my own well being while in them, or simply just the elements around me.

I’m realizing now, how important these trips into the unknown are for me to stay motivated through a time where mostly everything else in life has left me feeling an unfortunate blunder of repetitiveness – redundant – burned out – like I have no options and nothing to to spark that imagination that once fueled my desire to being bigger and better every day I was awake.

The mountains, at least as of now, are doing that for me. Peeling me from a downward spiral and reminding me what it is to take risks and dive in, not preemptively knowing the outcome – serious as it may be – and being intrigued… moved… terrified of that.

The mountains called me and I came. However long this stay may be, this fuel may burn, so be what it is. But for now I’m enjoying and learning how to be that wild, risk-taking believer I use to be. With any luck at all, the time I spend puting myself through whatever it is I am out there, will reflect massively on the life I show up to partake in the other five days of the week. Maybe I’ll even surprise myself and start living THAT part of my life with a new light and passion. The same way I have on the trails.

Just a quick one

Got out on and around Green Mountain in Golden this morning. I laid in bed contemplating the run, like I do, usually to no avail, so often as of late since starting the CPAP. But then I read some inspirational words by a friend that got my ass in gear and out the door for a real nice jaunt on the hill. Lots of friendly folks out this morning. Beat the heat. Got back and had an ice pop. Pretty flawless, I’d say.

Just throwing it out there: I’ve started a new social media venture. It is called The Runner’s Closet and will host gear introductions, reviews, race rants, trail route offerings, so on and so on. Idea is, I WILL NOT be responsible for the bulk of it and though it may take some time to get rolling to become what I’d like for it to be, it will be a shared community effort. Reposts of what others feel others can’t be without. The things we all use and why. There is SO much capitalism and consumerism in the running industry and as much as I’ve always tried to steer clear from it and run away as affordably as possible… Until I realized. I’m addicted. I love it. I spend so much money on running every year, because it’s truly something I enjoy spending money ON. It’s a rad hobby and enjoyable to get into. AND it doesn’t have to be ALL that expensive either. So with that, I figured, why not make a forum where we can all get together and post and share what it is about the things we spend out money on and use doing the one thing we love most? Find it on Instagram at @therunnerscloset.Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.08.15 AM.png

Just spent night 2 with the CPAP. I realize, I haven’t explained what’s lead to this unforutnate turn of sleeping events, however, what I will say at this point is that I’m so unhappy with sleep. Sleep and I are not on good terms right now. Got out on Green Mt this morning and man did I need that. I’m sore, tired and super fatigued. But some big long breaths on the summit this morning was just what the doctor ordered – actually, no. The doctor ordered artifical breathing through a rubber tube. I guess it was me that ordered the breaths on the mountain. Learning to deal with it.IMG_2626.jpg

Greetings From…

Today I am proud to have released new music for the first time in years that speaks volumes of where my heart and mind are at. These songs are a collection of nostalgic feelings with the one off hokey joke here or there. I’ve attempted to take it back and represent myself, once again, with the sound that taught me what loving music was all about. The art designed by a great buddy of mine, Adam Cutrone, is an homage to a place that put me on the map not just a kid with a dream, but a lost boy with a home. Though hesitant, I’m learning to admit that my days in this place and time are likely numbered, but out here, in Neverland, I’ll continue referencing these happy thoughts as a means to fly high and continue on knowing that home is there as I left it and will always be.

Listen to the music

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