Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Damn Pinchie Bastards...

I don't have a good reason for running. In fact, I swore it off for a month or so this Fall. But, Jim's race was coming up, and I kinda wanted to do it. In fact, I had two options—a half marathon, or the 50K—and I needed someone to convince me to do the "smart" thing and run the half...

Well, my friends are a bit nuts. So, I signed up for the Antelope Island 50K. Last minute, No training. Whatever.

Fuck. Whatever. I figured I'd just see what happened. I'm not concerned with "finishing at any cost" or beating an old time, etc. If I fell apart, I could always drop at an aid station. It's not life or death. No worries. 

So, I showed up at the start, went through a few, awkward, "Hi, how are yous..." and we were off.

At the start, I ran into Harrison and tried to make an awkward joke about "first-place and last-place," but in reality, I just didn't want to be last. I was untrained, uninhibited and unrestricted: if I went all out and blew up, oh well. So, this funny thing happened. I started to run, and the sun started coming up....beautiful gold light cascading across the island. It was magic. It's always magic on the island, I swear to god. 

I realized before too long that I had run about 5 miles and felt ... good? I looked down and found two beautiful white feathers. I love finding feathers on the trail! I put them in my hair. Then, about a mile later, I found a Giant white feather! Oh. My. God. Why hasn't someone picked this up yet? (It never occurs to me that people don't get as excited about feathers as I do...) I filled my pigtails with silvery, luminous feathers and hit my first downhill. Awww yeaaaaahhhhh....Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

Running on Antelope Island is so weird. It's so much bigger than you think it is when you're there. The scenery in the Fall race is spectacular. You're so remote. And, it's so beautiful. And, here's the thing I realized as I ran...

I see beautiful things when I run. 

(I even came out the next week to photograph runners on the island, check it out.)

After the long, hot climb out of a huge valley in the back, I ran into a HUMR aid station where Jarrod had a cold PBR waiting for me. De-licous. 

I found the perfect spot to pee after I left the Sentry Peak aid station. You know how it is; the perfect spot is so hard to find. Anyway, I was heading out, feeling so happy that I was running strong. The first time I ran this course, I had a rough time at this point. This time, I felt great. ... Except, I felt something uncomfortable on my ankle and figured it was a rock or a goat head.

It got worse.

I looked down and saw a bright red fire ant. Fuck! It bit me so hard! I killed it quickly and checked for its buddies on my legs. In the next 10 minutes, it felt like someone was putting out a cigarette on my flesh. I must have stood in an ant mound when I peed. "Good," I thought. "I hope I drowned your family!" Damn, pinchie bastard.

Once I ran down to the ranch, I knew I only had 12 miles or so. I could do this. Heading to the next aid station, all kinds of weird things went through my head. I found myself thinking about OCD....the cute little disorder people love to say they have, but really don't. And, I realized it was something that I lived with, just like I live with my crazy hair, green eyes, or love for great beer. It didn't hold me back or make life miserable. So, for one hot minute, it felt OK.

I thought I would see Ryan at the ranch. But, he wasn't there. It's OK...I thought.

I ran strong to mile 20, where I spotted a small red car with what looked like a tiny white dog driving. It was Ryan! And, Sprocket! They were about to leave when I yelled out out our wolf call. Sprocket must have heard it, so the car stopped. I ran into the aid station where Sprocket ran out of the car all the way up to me. It was so cute and it made me so happy.

I hit mile 23 where Seth, Amy and Jeremy were manning an aid station. They gave me a beer and it was legitimately the most refreshing thing I have ever experienced.

From here on, the race was completely mental. "Run to that bush over there...let's re-evaluate how we feel after that rock," and so on. I knew I had 6 miles or so, and I did the best that I could. About a mile away from the finish, I passed very close to the fence where the buffalo, recently rounded up, were watching us. Most of them ran away as I approached, except for one.

He stood as close as you are probably sitting from your computer RIGHT NOW. His lip curled into a sneer as he looked deep into my cold, black heart with his good eye...I took a deep breath and told him, "I hope you've had a good life." It was...weird. I can't explain it. But, I realized he probably lead a better life than I had.

Anyways, I knew it was time to run it in. I could smell the barn and I was off. I ran in past my friend and photographer-extraordinaire, Lori, and saw the Farkas at the finish. Ryan and Sprocket where at the finish waiting for me, and my little buddy ran into the finish with me. 

I was so happy to be done. More so, I was happy to be with friends. I ate yummy buffalo chili that Karen made, drank beer and relaxed. AND - I was NOT last! In fact, I managed a PR by over an hour! 6:50 and change. Well, I guess all those damn squats and lifts at Bomber Athlete have paid off. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

I am the most boring individual that I know.

I'm having another mid-life crisis. Bear with me, I know I do this a lot.

Taking Sprocket for a walk on Sunday, I suddenly panicked about my life. I saw an old lady walking into the senior community across the street carrying groceries. It was afternoon, and I hadn't done anything with my day (life). Time was slipping away. I thought about her: Was this the most important thing she had planned today? Living out her senior years? In Farmington? Utah? Would she look back, perhaps in a diary, one day and read, "Dear Diary, today I walked to the store. Eggs were on sale. Spent the rest of my day in my living room. Alone."

I feel really small. What the fuck am I doing with my life? What have I put my heart into? What have I created that made a difference? Why am I so fucking boring? What do I do with myself? I didn't run. I haven't written the next great American novel. I haven't mastered a new song on the piano. My guitar is collecting dust. You get the idea.

A general sense of dis-passion is making me lose faith in myself.

I took a break from running because it had become all consuming; a relationship that had swallowed me whole. People associated me with running, overlooking the fact that I'm not very dedicated. Or,  that I'm not any good at it, really.

Now, I spend my afternoons on pinterest, or stalking my celebrity crush (I'm obsessed), or watching Netflix. I find plenty of time each day to groan at the people taking up space around me: snarky Davis County moms who hate everything except khaki capris, SUVs, and A-line hair cuts. I get irritated by selfies, bored by religions that encourage their members to prosthelytize on Facebook, and I rage against the liquor laws in my state.

In short, I've become the most boring person I know.

Here's my fucking selfie.
So, Tuesday night, I signed up for the Buffalo Run Antelope 50K, this Saturday. I'm not trained. My head certainly isn't in a competitive place. But, I don't care. Call it a "cry for help" if you will.

I'm not even sure why I'm doing it. I guess because it's a great race. I have good memories of running it in the past. But, also, because there won't be any repercussions if I don't do it, except that I will continue to grow discontented with my comfortable lifestyle. (Seriously, great job, good weather, happy days - it's not what I'm used to.)

I brought this up to a friend the other day, and she had two things to say to me. First, she gave me some running advice she heard while running with Cory Johnson, who said, "Don't let nothin' in that don't serve you." 

And, second, her own advice: "Just be kind to yourself."

So, that's what I am taking with me. That, and my new iPod, as I have lost yet another one. Wish me luck.

The selfie of a bored and lonely millenial. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Go for it.

This is a surrogate Motivation Monday post. I haven't seen one yet today on HUMRS.com and I felt compelled to write my own. Here it is. Disclaimer: advice in this post might be poor. Don't blame me if it doesn't work out. I cannot be held accountable for what happens to you if you take the advice, or if you shun it. Good luck.

This weekend I broke my arm. No, I'm not 8 years old. No, I'm not 90, either. I just got lucky.
Ok...that actually IS me at 8 years old with a broken arm.

When people ask me how I did it, I usually reply with something silly, like, "I was rescuing baby kittens from a burning building." Or, "It was a freak arm wrestling accident - you should see the other guy." Or, "I was wrestling an angry badger that had nothing left to lose."

In reality, I went for a long shot playing volley ball and fell on my wrist. Honesty, the fall was part of my original plan! I was gonna "Steve Nash" it, and land on my back after I lunged for a ball over the back of my head. What I didn't take into account was the fact that sand volley ball courts are designed for soft landings...and I wasn't on one.

Oh well. C'est la vie, right? I'm not upset about it (probably because it's not my ankle). It is what it is. I get a cast put on tomorrow. But, it has me thinking - because that's what I do. It made me think about the idea of "going for it". Really. And, that's my advice to you, dear friends. Fucking go for it. Take the shot. Order the fancy beer. Ask someone to dance. See what happens. It's better than sitting on the side lines. Granted, this is coming from the woman who now cannot use her right hand. But...

I said before, "...you should see the other guy." And, I meant it. The other guy is the version of me that didn't try for the save. It's the version of me that stayed home because I am horribly, and painfully, shy. It's the version of me that didn't sign up for the race because she was afraid she wasn't good enough. And, in reality, it's also the version of me that not everyone is comfortable with. Maybe you judge your friends on their ability to keep up. Maybe you are more comfortable with me keeping my mouth shut. Well, I can't really say anything to that.

After all - I'm too busy putting myself out there.

Monday, June 30, 2014

If All You Have Left Is A Walk...Then, Walk Dammit

Warning, this post contains the F-bomb. If that kind of thing bothers you, you should probably go somewhere safer. Maybe try http://vimeo.com/44895084.

When I gave my notice at work over a week ago, I told them I would not be available to work all weekend at Wasatch Back. I like to make my departures as devastating as possible, and didn't feel like the last few days of my employment would be best served lifting heavy tents out of a 100 foot trailer and doing trash runs from 3 am to 3 am the following day. Now that I had Saturday and Sunday free, I signed up for Logan Peak's wait list at the last second and got in. Ryan, Jon, and Sami also signed up and made it in.

I really haven't been running much the past month, but I figured I'd give it a go on the off chance that I would miraculously have a great day, pass all my friends, and score a new PR. A girl can dream can't she? Well, it didn't go super well. However, as part of Failure Club, it was a great learning opportunity  Here are a few gems of wisdom I gleaned during the process of failing miserably.

Lesson One: Don't ask stupid questions...I guess.

A friend had signed up for the race who said she couldn't do it. She offered her race entry on Facebook and I asked her if the RD would let her do that. She didn't know, so I emailed him. That was a mistake. I learned the hard way that you should never engage an RD in conversation the week before his or her race as they are likely to bite your head off and tell you that you taste like shit as they do it. I should have known better. I mean, managing an event with upwards of 100 to 105 people is really hard. Coming from a company that managed 27 of these events with 65,000 - 80,000 participants, I can verify that yes, asking about transfer policies the week before an event you had to quit your job in order to run is not a smart decision. I was going to ask why the RD never rents port-a-potties at the start line too, but instead I sucked it up and stood in line with 105 other people to use two park bathroom stalls covered in shit.

Lesson Two: If all you have left is a walk, then fucking walk, damn you.

There's something wrong with me. (No kidding, right?) No, really. I've been dizzy for the past two weeks. Maybe it's anxiety? Maybe it's cancer? Who knows, I have a doctor's appointment today to find out. I'm not pregnant. Anyways, I felt like shit running. I managed to pass three people after the first aid station, two of whom promptly quit and returned to the start in disgust. I walked with a nice lady (Heather) for the first half of the race as she was recovering from a burst appendix and I could just about keep up. I felt so dizzy and weak, I couldn't even run the downhills. This was pretty sad. I only run this race for the downhills. At one point, I seriously considered sitting down and hoping that a bear would come along and kill me. It didn't. Instead, Aric Manning came by and encouraged me. He did the HUMR bear pose, told some jokes, and reminded me to "Be Here Now." Damn, inspirational, jerk! Well, I guess it helped. It was really beautiful. There's a section you run through that is literally a giant meadow full of Mule's Ear sunflowers. The weather was cool (a miracle) and it was a pretty course. I kept moving forward knowing eventually I would hobble my way into the finish, where I had two beers waiting for me.

Lesson Three: Discarded gel packets that fall out of people's packs are like little trail prizes.  

I found a Honey Stinger gel on the trail, unopened. I ate it. You know what? It was really good.

Lesson Four: Even though you're pretty sure the tank is empty, check back every few minutes. You'd be surprised.

Honestly, I couldn't run the downhill into the last aid station. But I kept checking. I'd push a little, suffer dizziness and pain in all of my limbs, and start walking again. But, once I got to the aid station, I just said "Fuck It." This was my favorite part: a 4.5 mile technical downhill that freaks everyone out. I had added a playlist to my iPod called "Fucking Fast Downhill" which I turned on and then just took off. I didn't break. I sang out loud to my music. I passed a bunch of people. I screamed each time I almost stumbled. And, for some reason, I was able to do it. Maybe I was just smelling the beer, I mean, barn? Who knows. I had skipped the summit approach and made the race a 22-24 mile event. It hurt like hell. I can barely walk. But it's over.

Congratulations to Sami on kicking butt at her very first Ultra, Jon and Ryan for running a 28 mile mountain race faster than I have ever run a flat road marathon, Jim and Joel for looking strong and having fun, and Aric for coming back to racing with a vengeance.

Friday, June 27, 2014

June Sucks

The month of June sort of sucks. It's an insane month at work, racing season is in full tilt, birthdays and obligatory family holidays abound. I'm always a dollar short in everything I do. This year, June felt fairly overwhelming. I put my nose down and worked hard on the projects in front of me, so it was a surprise when something good landed on my lap out of the blue.

I was offered a new job at a company close to my house. I took it. I gave notice at my work on a Wednesday, the day before I left for a long weekend trip to Silverton, CO.

This is pretty much the exact reaction when I told my work I was leaving.

Silverton, CO is amazing. Ryan and I drove out early Thursday and met Jon and Sami in a little house that they had rented in downtown. An old mining town, Silverton has dirt roads, cute shops, and nice people. I loved it. We slept each night at 10,000 feet, drank awesome beer, and spent the days hiking and sight seeing. We climbed Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft) and visited with HUMR friends. I took some good shots. This is my favorite.

I've worked at my company for a long time. It's even longer when you consider that most people only stay about a year there. For whatever reason, it felt like I was getting a divorce. I knew it was going to be good for me to leave, but I still felt broken up about it. There were a lot of tears. Mostly mine. I'm looking forward to more balance in my life, being able to spend some energy on my personal life, not answering emails at ungodly hours, or working weekends like a carnie at race locations. I hope I never have to share a hotel bed with a coworker again, or take a nap in a cardboard box inside of a trailer after going 36 hours with no sleep (all true stories). Yet, somehow, I still can't imagine what my life will be like going forward.

When I gave my notice, I also mentioned I would not be working our biggest race this weekend. They had a finite number of days to use me, and it didn't make sense to spend that time unloading a race trailer and setting up tents. They agreed. Now that my weekend was free, I decided at the very last minute to get into the Logan Peak Trail Race. I'll be running it tomorrow. 28 miles of mountain goodness and a fresh start to my new life. I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and spending my weekends doing something really fun.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Call of the Wild

At work today I was looking for inspiration for some writing and found this poem. It's "The Call of the Wild". Again, I hate poetry. I swear. I know I keep saying that. But this one reminded me of running. Not because all I do or think about is running and racing. It's the opposite. 

In fact, I think the concept of racing and running can be tedious. Take ultras, for example. I consider myself an ultra-runner. I've never run a 100 miler. Or a 50. I'd like to do it one day, but I have to figure out the right reason to do it. Do I run a 50 miler because it's "the next logical step"? Do I need to do it? Is it true what I've heard someone say, that 50K runners are Posers? Posers? Really?

Wow. No, that's not it at all. It's not even about running. I don't keep track of my time very often, unless I'm looking at race results. There's nothing wrong with keeping track of your time, either. Don't get me wrong. This isn't one of those "You suck and you should feel bad" posts. I just think running and racing are different for some people. For me, it's about getting lost and being found in the desert. In the mountains, it's about going forth and exploring. In the forest - feeling small next to giants. 

It's the reason why I slow down so I can listen to the aspens when the wind stirs. It's running through streams, taking in the views, and being alone. Occasionally I'll run on the road and it's why I never walk if I see a cemetery. It's about figuring things out; it's learning lessons they can't teach you at a desk, in an office, at a church, in a bottle, or a frosted glass. 

The Call of the Wild

Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert's little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o'er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild -- it's calling you.

Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies).
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
Then hearken to the Wild -- it's wanting you.

Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew).
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things --
Then listen to the Wild -- it's calling you.

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching --
But can't you hear the Wild? -- it's calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling. . .let us go.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Celebratory Donuts & How did I get here so fast?

Here's the rule: If I do a race, I get to eat a donut. So...

Last weekend I randomly signed up for the Timp Trail Half. Ok, maybe it wasn't that random. I had nothing else to do. I've run it twice before and slogged through ankle deep, shoe sucking mud long enough to get my fill. However, this year's forecast called for less than 5% chance of rain. "Ok, I'll do it," I decided.

The previous years I've run this race I came in at 3 hours 26 minutes, and then 3 hours 12 minutes. I figured I should shoot for 3 hours. It's only a half marathon, and although there are big climbs, there are also some killer downhills.

So, Ryan and I got up at 3am and snuck into the Happy Valley area. Sitting in the parking lot, listening to the rain falling, I just couldn't believe it. It must be me; I must be cursed. Oh well. I was already there and have run in the mud before. I can handle it, I thought.

Fortunately, the week prior had been dry, so the course was in surprisinlgy good condition. It starts with a good climb and then heads downhill for a few miles on a road. I'd never noticed this downhill before because in the past I was always sinking in the mud on this section. I imagined Ryan getting to this point (his race started earlier) and thinking, "Lindsay's gonna love this!" And, I did. I found myself running really, really well. I felt strong and my legs moved fast and easy. I took in the scenery and found myself passing a lot of folks. I didn't even have my music on. I suddenly wondered, "Hey, I've been moving pretty well. I wonder how far I am? Three? Yeah, probably three miles in." Just then, I made it to the 6 mile aid station.

What? Seriously? That was...fast! And, really easy. I feel great! I ate some yummy grapes and took off while a handful of runners stayed behind. There were a lot of people doing the half wearing Hokas, carrying 2 liters of water, and many other provisions. It seemed like overkill. As I left, I turned on my music. Every once in awhile, my ipod will shuffle the perfect mix of songs. Today was one of those days.

My next challenge was a big climb up Dry Canyon. It was here that a lot of people I'd passed before caught me. I wasn't phased. I knew the race ended on a good downhill, so I just motored on. One more aid station, a bit of climbing, and I was on the high, flat section of the course just before our descent. A girl I had passed very early caught me and passed me. I had made some silly agreement with myself that I would beat her when I saw her at mile 3. Now, the chase was on. I kept her in my site and knew not to kick into high gear until I was closer. I cruised on some technical single-track, and finally made it to the last mile. This part of the course is steep. I turned a corner and there was my girl in front of me. She stopped,  just for a second, but she stopped to walk. Advantage: Lauck.

I took off and caught her. Then, a funny thing happened. I sort of caught and passed about a dozen other people casually cruising into the finish. I mean, like they were standing still! This was the best part of the course, people! A steep, killer downhill. Let it go! Have fun! I sort of felt bad about it. But, then I got over it. I wasn't gloating. I was just enjoying the descent. I crossed the finish in 2:49. I beat my goal and had a PR.

Then, I hung out, in Provo, and had a beer. In front of people. And children. I felt weird about it, like I was making a statement or something. I'm sure that's just me being paranoid. After all, there were other HUMRs there. I wasn't alone.

Ryan finished after a rough day of stomach issues in a respectable 5 hour marathon finish. We went home and I got my donut. It was a good day.