Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Exhausting Lifestyle of Running 100+ Mile Weeks

Tonight I slogged through nine miles of sore running. I'm not injured, or sick, and last week I did my first 100 mile week in a long time, maybe three years. I remember the days when I was younger doing 100 mile weeks and I remember the great workouts. Running 6:15 pace and having a conversation, running a 20:12 6k tempo, running 5:30 miles like they are easy. It's easy to forget the days like today, where every foot step was a struggle, when it is hard to get out the door, when 8 minute mile pace is as fast as I'm going to go. Yet as I struggled out there for more than an hour the hazy memories of soreness, exhaustion, and heavy steps came flooding back. All of those forgettable days I've had with those dreary runs, came back to me like a long lost fortune. Some people call these junk miles, but I did an 8k in 29:43 yesterday! Today my legs didn't want to run, they wanted more recovery. By running I slightly increased the damage, the microtears, in my leg muscles. My body will react by working harder to heal those muscle fibers and make them stronger.

There are a lot of lonely, forgettable, slow runs when a person is trying to be as fast as he can be. Yet in many ways those are the runs that make the race. When I am exhausted at hour 23 on December 10th in Phoenix, I really want my legs to keep running, and days like today make that moment easier.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bonking

Show me the ultrarunner who has not had issues. I don't think that person exists. It's too much of a painful lonely sport attract people like a giant party. It's not just finish lines and after parties. The vast majority of it is out on the road and trails, alone, putting in the work so that maybe hopefully for that one short moment everything will culminate in a personal record and I will have achieved something I doubted was possible year ago.

Case in point, I hit the glycogen wall hard this morning on my long run, very poor carboloading after my run yesterday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Grateful

I just finished watching "Black Hawk Down" for maybe the tenth time. I had an army recruiter in my dining room in the fall of 2003 and I am thankful that I did not enlist because surely I would have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. First of all, thank you to the veterans that have served so that we have a country where it is possible to voice descent. Second, I do not understand why you do it, why you go into harms way. Even as a teenager I realized that the danger of bullets and bombs was significant. That was ultimately why I did not enlist. If weather or conditions are bad in the mountains, we take a rest day, I've had dozens, but in a war, you have to go when it is time to go, regardless of the danger. Third, my appreciation deepens every time when a mountaineering person dies. Ueli Steck dying was a big deal for me, he was the best Alpinist in the world. If you take the risks, even 0.1% long enough, say 1000 days, the odds catch up with you.

When I was young and watched Kelly's Heroes and Midway war seemed exciting. Now that I am older, I cry. It's heartbreaking. Why do we do this? What is the point? The current drama with North Korea, can't we sit down with them, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and talk about what we want, and dare I say, our fears? I realize world peace will probably never happen, but I see movies like "Arrival" and I want it to happen. You can't threaten someone into being peaceful forever, the motivation has to come from within, when the person aspires to a higher standard.

As Josh Hartnett grows throughout the story his obliviousness is lost. It's hard to ignore the question, "what changed?" He did... what else? I am not sure. Frankly, if war only changes the people who directly experience it, we will never be rid of war. Many of the most peace loving people I know are war veterans.

I'm rattling on. I am grateful that despite the hardships I have faced in life, like my recent burglary, I still enjoy a life that is more privileged than the vast majority of the world, and I did nothing to deserve it. I was simply born in the right place and the right time to the right parents. Thank you God!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I was robbed.

Life = eventful. It's Sunday evening and I'm laying on my couch waiting for it to get dark enough I can fall asleep. I'm exhausted from my 12 day round the world trip to India via Qatar then South Korea and home via Japan. Last weekend, while I was gone I was robbed, my nice blue Trek Madone carbon fiber bicycle was stolen along with my Garmin Fenix 2 watch, my Cilogear 60L worksack, an iPhone 4S, and a 60 Whr battery. And my house was made into even more of a mess than usual.

I didn't run today, I'm exhausted from the travel. It was a five movie type of weekend, lots of laying on the couch. I read about Irma and watched the news and it's all so heartbreaking. My friends in Florida are probably being flooded tonight. I saw people in India that will never have the financial wealth and physical benefits I have like healthcare. And the person or people that broke into my house ransacked my medicine cabinet probably have a drug problem, something they cannot control. It doesn't make me angry, it's heart breaking.

Why me? I mean, why am I not the robber addicted to drugs? Why was I not born into a low caste in rural India? Why don't I have any running injuries at the moment?

I'll be just fine. Pray for those less fortunate than me.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 12, 2017

When You are the Bully

I've been on both sides of bullying. I've stood there and said nothing as people are bullied. I said nothing because I've been on the other side, made fun of for being short or whatever the issue was. After you have been bullied, it's really hard to voluntarily be bullied again. So you stand there chuckling along as people make fun of another person. Where is the love?

To apply this to a wider subject, to North Korea, we are the bully. There is no conceivable scenario I know of where they would "win" in a war. Fortunately, it's a battle of words and not actions at this point, but that's how bullying often is. It's all just words until something violent happens, and then people are left wondering why it escalated so quick. It's no surprise to the bullied and it shouldn't be a surprise to the bully either, but it always is.

My point is that I encourage you to defeat bullying in your life when you see it because it's destructive at school, in the work place, and in international politics.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Thoughts in My Head

The following is a rough stream of thoughts in my head:

I should just quit. I'm so bad at landing. I can do just about everything else in the plane I have tried but I'm up over 25 hours now, and I still haven't soloed, and I'm not sure the end of dual instruction landings is even in sight. I feel like a failure. But isn't this always how it is? Most things I try I fail at. I just paid north of $400 today, spent 9 hours 15 minutes total on flying, and while the flying under the hood was really cool, and I nailed it, the landings sucked. I'm confident I can get to the ground in one piece, without crashing, but the landing gear is going to need more frequent inspection. Why can't I do this? Why am I spending so much money on this? I have basic status on United and American right now, why am I bothering to learn to fly an airplane?

Learning is so tough. I mean, I try these things and while I like to imagine I'm a fast learner, I don't think I am, I'm just stupidly stubborn enough to keep at it after everyone else quits. Look at me! There are tens of thousands of people just in the USA that could run ultras better than me they just aren't stupid enough to stick with it.

This is so frustrating. I need some encouragement, but of course I'm not going to ask for it. First world problems right? I can't land a plane well. Boohoo.

Maybe I should try helicopters? After all you basically just set it down. How hard could those landings be? I don't know. What's the point?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Deescalating the Anxiety

In the past month there have been three instances where I consciously deescalated the anxiety of a person or group. One at work, one in the Bugaboos, and then one I won't mention the situation. I've done this for years, but only recently have I been able to articulate it.

What does it mean to deescalate? According to Google/Safari It means to "reduce the intensity of (a conflict or potentially violent situation)." Anxiety on the other hand I think of as self induced stress.

First I'll tell the Bugaboos example. The second pitch on Pigeon Spire my climbing partner comes up over the ridge to the belay and the look on his face said "I'M FREAKING OUT!!" So I asked him on a scale of 1 to 10 how much he was freaking out, and he said "SEVEN!! ... six." So I tried to get him to relax a bit by looking out away from the rock and potential fall, at the gear, taking a drink, and telling him how well he was doing, making a joke, and basically having a comforting demeanor myself. When he saw how unfazed I was he calmed down, and really enjoyed the rest of the climb. Those are standard ways to calm a person down, a more advanced tactic is to escalate the fear briefly for a minute or few second even, because showing that it was all a rouse, an act, often gets a person too scared to laugh, to actually relax a bit and laugh. However, that can backfire and I've been sworn at before when I misjudged that tactic.

Second we had a day at work where everyone seemed on edge and stressed out, myself included. So I told everyone how well they were doing, we went for a little 10 minute walk around the parking lot, and again I tried to tell a couple jokes to lighten the mood. It's easy to get the idea that our little thing we are working on is so critical, and the reality is it can wait, the world isn't ending. I think it worked, the mood was a little better an hour later, and the next day people were in pretty good moods.

So, when you see that others have fear and anxiety that might be preventing them from accomplishing the task at hand what can you do?

  • Be calm, speak calmly, don't express your emotions with yelling and anger.
  • Tell a joke, not a crude hate filled joke, but something light to ease the tension.
  • Compliment the person with the anxiety. It's hard to be stressed out when people are telling you you did a good job on something. 
  • Give the person something else to focus on, a small easy to accomplish task, that only takes a few minutes, like coiling the rope on a rock climb, or emailing me the contact information for a certain person at XYZ factory.
  • An advanced technique is to briefly escalate the anxiety for a few minutes, a facade really, but in the business setting use something that is clearly out of your influence or irrelevant to the project, because you cannot "invent" a true problem, like you can while rock climbing. Then deescalate quickly so that the person with anxiety thinks, 'well at least this is not as bad at that terrible thing happening!' Here is an example: not scared person, "Uh oh... I think the rope might be cut." Scared person, "WHAT!?!" Not scared person, "Sorry, my mistake it's fine, it's just the way it was coiled there. We are fine, look this rope is rated to hold 6000 pounds and it's in perfect condition."