Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The lottery

Did anyone read The Lottery in grade school? I think they banned it in Texas, but I read it in college. It's a scary book. I loved it.

Everyone loved the Hunger Games too. Ryan has something like 16 entries in the Hardrock 100 lotto this Saturday. I honestly think that's how many Katniss had in the Hunger Games book. I joked about this the other day. It was nerd humor. Hardrock is the hardest 100 miler in the country. If he gets in, he will be in for a treat.

Anyway, I have a lottery coming up too. Friday, in fact. I have something like 3 out of 10 symptoms of something very bad. I have an MRI on Friday at 11:30. I should know shortly after if I draw out, or if I get lucky. Either way—my 30's fucking rock. So far, they've been nothing but charming: cancer, loss of friends, more Justin Bieber. Fuck it. I know I'm fucked. I can feel it.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gather ye rosebuds

Our first cold front blew in this weekend. I finally had a break between training and racing, so I really didn't need to run. But, I could physically see the cold front blowing in across the lake. So, I owed it to myself to go out.


I hit the Farmington Terrace trail. It's not long. But, you run above the city on the top of the mountainside overlooking all of the valley below, so it feels pretty epic. Five minutes into my run, I could see the salt billowing up over the Great Salt Lake, and the dark black clouds behind it. The wind picked up, and I knew: this might be my last run before winter.

Things change so fast, I know you know this. Partway through my run, I started thinking about ... things. I recently watched this fantastic TED talk with Steph Davis. She's this dare-devil, base-jumper, and she recently lost her husband during a jump. In her talk, she made some good points about risk. Avoiding risk, taking risks—what's better?

You know, it's funny.  You can live your entire life—playing it safe—and guess what? You're going to be just as surprised as the rest of us when everything you love is taken away from you.

Because, guess what? Everything you've ever loved will, one day, be taken away from you.

So, when the cold front blows in, and you are given the unique opportunity to see it coming–you better fucking run. Knowing that time is running out, that you only have a short amount left, can be a gift.

And, guess what. You. Yes, you.

You only have a short time left.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mt. Sneffels

Back when I worked for a running company, I was responsible for concepting the branding around our special finishers' medals. All of our "double" medals rewarded runners who completed two specific events. The idea was to tie the newer, or poor performing event (Colorado), to the larger, more established one (Utah). We had a cheeky brand that thrived on double innuendos, hence the whole "double medal" concept. When I came up with the Mile High Medal, I proposed the following double tag line:

Fourteeners and Fourteen year-olds.

Obviously, it wasn't picked up. Somehow, the idea of popping your cherry a mile high in an airplane, and joining the club, was more acceptable than the idea that Utah pioneers routinely married off plural wives as young as 14. I have a dark sense of humor (that might be an understatement) which is not always received well. Everyone has their own personal line of decency, right?

Well, this summer, I popped a personal cherry, so to speak, of my own. I summitted my first fourteener: Mt. Sneffels.

No, really. That's its name. Cute, right? Our running club organized a trip to Silverton, Colorado where we could play in the San Juan Mountains for a week, drink wonderful beer, and generally enjoy the high altitude. I'd never been above 11,000 feet before, so sleeping each night at 10,000 feet was pretty wild.

So, on the third day, we set out early to climb our mountain, Mt. Sniffles. It would be a hike/run of around 13 miles or so across some of the most spectacular terrain I have ever seen. We drove out on a road that literally made my head spin. I cannot believe my little car made it.
shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!

Most of the hike took place on old, abandoned mining roads. My friend Sami and I kept stalling to collect pocket-fulls of sparkly rocks. Seriously, it was like the opening scene of Snow White, where the dwarfs are collecting diamonds. We passed waterfalls and fields of flowers. It was stunning. But, it was fucking hard!

Mt. Snuffleupagus was in view, and we were approaching 12,000 feet. Glacial lakes and large summer snow fields became the new norm. I realized it took about two breaths for each step that I took. Within our group, I was falling behind in last place. It was everything I could do to keep up.

Around 13,000 feet, the group settled at a new trail head which would split along 3 different routes. We ate some snacks and took some photos. Ryan asked me if I was OK, and I realized that the altitude was having a huge affect on me. Short of breath, heart pounding out of my chest, dizziness and a general sense of dread: this is exactly what a panic attack feels like. If you've never experienced the wonderful side effects of social anxiety disorder, I strongly suggest you give hiking a fourteener a try.

Mt. Fluffy Bunny was now around 1,000 feet away. Just an easy scramble over a loose boulder field with large, jagged, pointy rocks that would tumble out from under your feet. You could stick to the large snow fields, if you preferred, and enjoy casually sliding backwards with about 1,500 feet of open, exposed air beneath you. This part took longer than expected.

We finally made it up to a thin shoulder between two peaks, with our goal, Mt. Fuzzy-Lumpkins to the left. A narrow couloir of snow, nestled between two vertical cliff walls was all that stood between us and the summit. Most of our group was smart enough to stay behind, but Ryan, Jon, Sami, and I gave it a shot.

sooooo cute!
Well, all I can say, is that it was sort of a shit-show. Every step we took sent us sliding backwards in fear. As the sun rose higher, our sturdy snow had begun to melt making it less and less reliable. It took some serious swearing and crying to make it up.

The summit
Yeah, we summited. Then we spent about an hour sobbing (Sami and I, at least) as we tried not to slide out of control on our way back down the couloir. Dark thoughts went through my head; I didn't want to do this. Why had I gone along with it? Would I really beat myself up later if I'd skipped the summit? I guess I will never know.

A magical slip and slide to our doom!
Obviously, we survived. Once we made it down to about 13,000 feet, the terrain wasn't too bad, although we'd periodically post-hole and fall beneath the snow into the jagged rocks below. It was kind of like playing the lottery where, when you win, you're severely beaten! It probably didn't help that I had filled my pockets and my already heavy camera bag with hundreds of crystals and rocks I'd collected.

So, that is my story of Mt. Slinky-Dinks, my very first fourteener. We summited. We survived. Pictures were taken. Alcohol was carried, but not drunk, and we were terrified for our lives. In any case, it was unforgettable.

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.