Monday, August 29, 2016

Focus On The Things That Matter

Sometimes we forget about the things that matter most.  It seems like the new norm brought on in part by social media, sensationalist news reporting and the ever growing narcissism of our lives is to be focused on others.  What others are outraged about, what they have, what they are doing and how they are feeling, to the detriment of our own introspection.

I've fallen victim to this far too often.  It struck me this weekend.  I had two longer, more intense runs scheduled.  One of hills, and the other of a long run.  You see, I'm signed up for the Bear 100 at the end of this month and I should be starting to taper.  Instead, I'm trying to ramp up my mileage and run up to it.

But for some reason, all I could think about was reading a book on my swing on my yard with the dog...and I didn't know why.  I know that if I am to have any chance of succeeding in the race I need to train.  I need to focus on cramming these workouts into my already way too busy life (which is extra busy because of all the talking and planning about doing the Bear 100 as well).  And somewhere in all that busy-ness, stress, planning, training, straining and logistic-ing....I said fuck it, when home early and read a book on the yard with my dog,

I wonder what this means?  am I focusing too much on what other people think?  Have I forgotten about what's important?  The Bear 100 isn't going anywhere and if I don't care about it enough to train then why am I going?  So I find myself at a crossroads.  Cancel the flight, enjoy the fall and focus on winter races or spend the next month stressing out about not being ready for the Bear and trying to cram for it.

I think what matters most is allowing myself to change my mind and do the things I want to do.  I think when running (not unlike running groups and friendships) feels more like a job than fun it is time to do some self-examining.  My mind isn't made up, but I do know what is most important, and I'm definitely starting to steer the ship to that more now.  Because it's just running.  And running is just a pastime.  It shouldn't feel like a work project I fear I won't finish.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On a plane home from Leadville.

Sunrise at the Leadville 100

This weekend I had a chance to do something I really love that is unique to the trial and ultra world  - crewing (Carrying supplies and meeting a runner at places along the trail) and pacing (running with the runner in later stages of a race to offer support and safety) a runner in a 100 mile race.  Our runner, Adam Benkers, was a Flatlander who had never ran mountains or at altitude before.  Nonetheless, he was pushed off the cliff to sign up for the Leadville 100 - the "Race Across the Sky," which happens entirely at it above 10,000 feet of atlltitude and has two 2,500 foot climbs to 12,600.

Adam, John and I had many adventures packed into a few short days in Leadville.  We reunited with our old friend Dusty (Pacer of the Century) Bill Dooper (Ultra running fan of the century) Patrick Sweeney (Beer mile Yoda) and Jen Coker (Boxed wine enthusiast) Vanessa and Shaky Runs....and so many more.  We were lucky enough to rub elbows with Leadville 100 winner Ian Sharman, Western States champion Tim Olson and Max King.  

Johnny D, Adam and Box of Wine
Dustball and Me

We raced a beer mile. (4 beers and 4 quarter miles). 

We discussed complicated race strategies while playing Yahtzee.

We attempted to climb a 14'er (Mount Quandry) only to be turned back at 13k by a storm....but we did make a new friend.  

We woke up at 4 am to see the start of the race and tracked it and our runner Adam all day. Eventually the effects of running at altitude caused him to miss a time cutoff, ending his day at mile 50. Nonetheless, we had an amazing time and it felt like we were in Leadville for weeks when it was only days.  

If you get a chance to pace or crew someone in a 100 mile race, Do It!!  the memories are priceless and they will last a lifetime. 

I am going to continue to try to post here weekly.  As some of you may know I am working on a book.  I am trying to get into the habit of physically writing more and this is helping quite a bit.  Thanks so much for reading!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fitness Posts and Narcisism

Last week I shared an article about a Science Daily article ( discussed a study that concluded that "Facebook status updates about their romantic partner are more likely to have low self-esteem, while those who brag about diets, exercise, and accomplishments are typically narcissists, according to new research."  Many people shared the post and there was a lot of discussion.  Some humor.  Some hurt feelings.  

I should in the interest of full disclosure state that I have never posted any workout related Facebook material.

Me being Awesome at the top of Pinnacle Peak

OK, I have.  But I really don't think the takeaway from the article was: if you post fitness selfies you ARE a narcissist.

Me being Awesome dragging my sled
I think the point that can be taken is that we should ask ourselves what our motivation is for sharing things on social media.  I do know several people that have told me my running posts have inspired them to start running.  That warms my heart.  I've also had several people confess that they un-followed me (or un-friended me) because it was just "look at me running" and "look at this awesome place I ran at" and "look at how awesome I am."  Although I'm not that sure what they are talking about.

Not just being Awesome but looking Awesome at the comrades finish
Over time I have started to think about my motive for my posts, and from time to time check back on my wall and ask "Is there too much me?"  Sometimes I fall short.  Sometimes I look back and say "wow....that's way too much you."  Other times I successfully try to find a way to motivate or inspire people without making it about me.

All the stuff between these hands is Awesome! (sorry Aaron)
I guess other signs that we might be a little too into ourselves are: posting every split, posting every workout, making sure we have the best selfie angle (i.e. if you apply makeup and get into a yoga pose you might be making it about you) posting every meal, posting 50 hashtags, etc.  Do we post about bad runs?  Do we post pictures when we fail?  I know many of us would rather be caught dead than have an embarrassing picture of ourselves show up on Facebook, but it happens. (Just not to me).

My Awesome shirt!
We should also address the "don't judge me" crowd.  We need to come to grips with the fact that EVERYTHING we put on Facebook is, to some extent, a cry for judgment.  I know we don't want to admit it, but each time someone "likes" our post they are judging it (favorably).  We need to come to grips with the fact that when someone posts something negative about us, they are also judging us, just negatively. (Not that this has ever happened to me).

Gordy agrees.  I'm Awesome.  #NotReally

So if you post your 5 mile run and you are more than happy to have 100 people "like" it and 25 people call you "beast mode" you should also be willing to accept the person that says "5 miles isn't that far" or "is this really something that needs to be on Facebook."  You can't say "Don't judge me, unless you think I'm Awesome!  *Note: Race Directors....this applies to you too.  If you are fine with being blown by 100's of satisfied runners you can't bitch about those runners that want to post about their disappointments too.

I think it would be a mistake to simply say "this article is dumb" or "I'm not a narcissist!!"  Instead, I think it gives us some food for thought about our relationship with social media.  No, I'm not saying over-think it.  No, I'm not saying change what you do per se.  But I think we could all learn a lot by looking into our behaviour, especially on social media, asking ourselves why we do what we do and making sure that we are being honest with yourselves and the Facebookland.  This is especially so as more and more of our life begins to be lived virtually.  

Next up for me, crewing and pacing at the Leadville as part of training for the Bear100 while trying to pump out a healthy dose of podcasts.  :)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Running Friends

If you're like me you have two (or more) sets of friends.  Running friends and regular friends.

Most of your regular friends are people you made a decision to become close to for some reason or another.  Maybe they were your neighbor, or you worked together.  Maybe you have a common interest or even a friend in common.  Nonetheless, the common thread with all of these people is that for some reason you decided to create and form a friendship.  These friendships ebb and flow at times based on your common interests.  You switch jobs.  You give up stamp collecting.  You move.  These friends also tend to change.  There are people in my life that were critical connections a decade ago that now....well... I can't even think of their last name.

Flatlanders Dog Days of Summer 8 Hour Fatass 08-06-16

It might just be me, but running friends seem different.  Obviously there are people in your running group or club.  They might start out like the friends described above.  But if you run long enough (meaning a long period of time) or long enough (meaning a really long distance) you might make a different kind of friend.  What I call my "running friends.

I can't tell you some of my running friend's names or what they do for a living.  I might not know the names and ages of their kids.    Nonetheless, the bond that you will make with people on the trails or on really long runs will be, in many way, more intimate than all of the other relationships in your life.  You'll tell them about your chaffage and diarrhea.  You'll tell them all your secret stories from your life, the stuff you would be afraid to tell anyone else, simply because it gets your mind off of the fact that you are suffering and will be for many more hours.  Some of these friends you'll keep in touch with on Facebook or Strava.  Others you won't even think of until the next time you bump into them at a race, and they won't mind your lack of contact at all.  You'll pick up right where you left off. There's just something about running friends that's different.

Sure, there are more than a few narcissists and drama queens and serial assholes, just like in any other social group.  But I submit that running friends are the best friends you'll have.  They'll know just what you need and when you need it.  They'll say the right thing to change your mindset.  They'll believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself.

So next time you are out on a 30 mile training run, or 3/4 of the way through a long race look to your left and look to your right.  You're next best friend might be right there, waiting for you to lean on them.