Monday, November 30, 2015

merlin

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”   T.H.White

Saturday, April 4, 2015

M11

i don't remember much agony.

i was happy as fuck the entire day. i had a bib for states. i was healthy and running on my favorite trail. i was fortunate to have the support of good friends all day and a mindset of success. i remember being smart and patient. there is no story of an epic, scary fade or a crazy charge to the finish. yes, i was closing on karl, but that was a happy surprise that came late to me during the race. it felt good to spend the day so present in the moment that i was never aware of how close to that top 10 we were until really late in the day.

my M11 will always be a happy memory for me. sure, we "what if'd" but we all know it's mental masturbation when it's all said and done. i ran a haggin cup race on the 2nd hottest day in the history of the event on a few months of training. it still makes me smile when i think about it.

in the end, i ended up being lucky enough to run again in 2014. my goal was to beat 2-3 runners who were ahead of me in 2013 and run a faster time while still keeping that haggin cup mindset. all of those goals were accomplished, beating the M6, M10 and F1 from 2013 and not losing to anyone who i beat in 2013 and 38 minutes faster, at that. sure, it placed me M20 instead of M11, but more importantly i was 100 miles closer to that 1000 mile buckle that is my single biggest goal as an athlete. plus, i got to perform on our sports grandest stage. as for M11 in 2013, it seems like LB sums up the day quite well with his comment at the end of this video. for those of you with tickets to dance this year, enjoy the ride.


Monday, December 22, 2014

arivaca

bird hunting in arivaca, 1986.
i hated those early wake ups. the smell of the bacon and eggs. i remember buff starting to spin and whimper in the back yard as soon as his nose caught the scent of the shotguns as they were removed from the gun safe. my dad handled most of the prep and always drove while my brother and i slept. the road south had no traffic, which was rare.

my dad had a stressful job. the air force had him moving a lot in my early years. he had a family and few things available to him that was truly his time. he started taking me along once we came back from europe as a way to spend more time with his boys. i had so many things i would rather do on a air force base full of kids. bird hunting with my dad was never high on my list. when we started, i hated the long ride in the truck and my dad's choice in music. he was committed. he squeezed as much into every trip as we could. jump shooting ducks at sunrise, a day of quail hunting and usually a night time return home once we were out of water and food. we would spend entire days saying little else other than things related to the safety of the hunt. i loved watching buff work. he was ugly as shit for his breed. last one adopted out of the litter and he worked with a chip on his shoulder and a fierce loyalty to his people. he's still the best bird dog i've ever seen, and i've seen a bunch of them. i was ambivalent about the shooting, but watching buff work and being outside without any guarantees was what became my reason for going.

we never stayed to any trails. my dad taught me how to use landmarks and the sun to recognize where i was. we would do seemingly endless loops in the hills, alternating walking and watching the dog while scanning the ground for rattlesnakes. lunch breaks always on a rise often looking across into mexico. it was always hot. the gun was always heavy and my dad never seemed to be "ready to go". it wasn't greed, it was pushing the limits of his time to himself. it was his endurance. i would be exhausted by the end of the day, but i never faltered. he seemed to know just how far to extend us without breaking us and over 4-5 years we eventually would spend every ounce of sunlight out hunting and often returned to the truck in the darkness before the long drive back to the base. he may have been a country boy from north carolina, but he was never out of his element in any location.

a couple of years back, my dad texted me that he couldn't understand where my endurance came from. i think he was looking back on his impression of a runners traditional path and not realizing that the one he walked me down many years ago was part of the foundation. when i started trail running in college i never needed a map, because i knew where i was just by looking around. i never panicked about being out after dark, because i had found the truck by moonlight hundreds of times before. i appreciated silence and sweat. i learned that fatigue is just a start, not an ending. i've been able to run in strange places and always feel at home. there is no doubt that i've found ways to complicate it all over the years, for sure. the culture of our sport attaches false limitations, but as those melted away i found myself aligning with the lessons of those days spent with my dad in the hills south of tucson among the strongest impressions. a metaphor of the loops we once walked.

i've had some clutch guidance and mentoring over the years. the things that stuck never came from coaches, but rather from interpersonal relationships and from observed example given freely and with sincerity. trials of miles. we should all be so lucky in all paths in our lives, not just our hobbies.

i'm grateful i was asked recently when it all started. these are great memories for me to look back on. 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

set list for mt hood





photo by lady g





photo by priscilla barker

photo by priscilla barker


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

delirium tremens

returning from california and heading right into a very intensive summer of work has left me a little emotionally and mentally shell shocked. that, plus all the race reports i've read kinda sound the same. so i'll render some smattering fidgits in lieu of documentation for the time being on the 2014 western states 100

for the second consecutive year i have finished F2. last year pam beat me by 15 minutes, this year steph got me by 16 minutes. clearly i'm slipping in my old age

sadly, the twietstache was replaced with several runners showing up in squaw honoring borat, or captain jack sparrow. maybe they were all just honoring the original grand slammer, tom green, who had the best moustache and finishing moment of the entire weekend.

those foreign cats take western states as seriously as folks from the american river canyon. turns out, the event is known outside of the state of california.

with all of the well deserved attention that mill valley, california got for the performances of its runners at the race this year. i have just one little overlooked tidbit to throw in. since 2007; oregon: 6 california: 0

the grey beater is the taproom cap of 2014

michigan bluff remains the cooperstown of our sport on race day. 

lost in a drowned out philosophical quote that was taking far too long to recite was the fact that gordy might be starting his last western states. time waits for nobody.

10. the number of times since 2000 that my time would have placed me in the top 10 at western states. this year, it placed me in the reverse order of my bib number.  (that's 21st for those of you observing from observation peak)

channel your inner tropical john and say these words; "monkeyboy was paced by boner in sweat pants and the former king of cool." yes, i found my lewis and we are finally friends for life

it was nice to read a bunch of finisher reports this year instead of DNF reports. i think this may have as much to do with who wasn't in the race as it did with who was.
 
our sport is truly one of entertainment. prediction contests, lotteries. strava, social media, photographic and video documentation and access to athletes and information on an unprecedented level. that said, nothing beats the one on one interaction between athlete and volunteers before, during and after the event. i appreciate that the spotlight shines brightly on our sports best, but for me, my highlight reel plays out in the smiling faces of people who helped us all along the way. volunteers, crew members, pacers, starters, finishers and race staff; thank you for giving me your best so that i could give you mine.
 
finally...that look on ajw's face 10 steps from the finish line is one i'll never, ever forget. congratulations, my friend

escarpment (photo by gold country run)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

statesmas v 3.0

june 28, 2014 11:18 pm (photo by gtach)







"don't cry because it's over. smile because it happened." -dr seuss


Monday, March 31, 2014

revisting paradise

i found myself a bit ashamed to be blowing the dust off the top of the jacket. i opened the pages and fumbled through them, flashing memories from highlighted passages and notes, and handed the book over. the recipient was a young buck who was searching for answers on the PCT. i saw his thumb out on my way back down from a run at green lakes and he hopped in my truck, grateful and full of questions. after a night in the guest room, breakfast and laundry, i handed over kerouac's book before i drove him back up elk lake. i handed it over knowing i might not ever see that copy again, even after having it for over 25 years and i was okay with that. i was partially ashamed at the dust, realizing that stories like that aren't trophies meant to be harbored and owned, but rather shared. after all, like so many things in this world...we can't really take it with us when we go.

i was driving over to waldo and thinking about my time with that book. i read it in high school, a liberated copy of required reading from english classes past that was no longer required but optional. the copy still had the sleeve in the back page where you could "check it out" with the names of the other students and dates who had thumbed the pages before me. i had re-read that book every decade since my teens and every single time the impression that it left was a very different one and turning 40 a few months after giving it away i let it pass with out a second thought. social media, the web, cable tv and other written words were capturing my attention plenty, but rarely keeping it. plus, it never crossed my mind. previous readings had always been spontaneous, not contrived and i always respected the synergy of the timing of it all.

then, in december, a small package arrived from laredo from the ghost of sal paradise. the young buck, manny, returned it as he said he would. simple gesture. true to his word. a word he mentioned he probably would not have kept if he hadn't read the book and experienced his hike. he shared it with friends new and old before passing it back to me and there was a new index card in the back with the names of the few who had had it since me, in true spirit of the thing. i was ashamed by my lack of faith in it's return, and it made me think about what was behind that. 

i am amazed at how many kids and young people know the author but not the story. i opened the book, again, and read it as a forty year old and the impression, while now shaped by life's experiences, was as profound as it was as a twenty year old. it didn't elicit any great crisis or action, but rather aligned itself with some paths taken, mistakes made and along with good memories and laughter. most of all, sal was right when he said "the best teacher is experience and not through someones distorted point of view".

so here's to the mad ones, wherever you roam. burn, burn, burn.