Thursday, August 11, 2011


Being injured totally sucks. Just when I start to get my head wrapped around running now that I'm in the 8th month of the year my body takes a proverbial shit on my psyche. I ran a couple 70 mile weeks back in early July, my recovery from each run was very good, no issues whatsoever. Then during an easy 10 mile run, after a day off, my left calf muscle locks up tighter tighter than Scrooge's wallet. It literally came out of nowhere. 4 miles into the run, running easy 7:45 pace on very flat terrain I felt things ever so slightly tightening. I didn't think much of it. I decided to just keep running. I mean who hasn't had an issue creep up during a run, this happens often in some form to everyone and goes away. Well, 2 miles later my calf muscle was locked up solid and I ended up hobbling the last 4 miles to my home. Shit!

This has happened to me before. Right before the White River 50 mile last year a very similar ordeal happened with my other leg. I got some deep tissue massage, did some cross training and I was good to go. This time things are not quite as easy.

I took a couple days off, did some cross training. Still ran 45 miles per week or so, not a ton of miles, but certainly enough to offer some recovery. I thought I was in the clear. 4 days before my 8/6 50K I ran 9.5 miles at Lord Hill park. I ran what I thought was an easy pace, 8:20 miles which is actually pretty decent for that many miles with that much elevation. But again, it felt really easy. No issues with any muscles. I thought I was completely in the clear.

The next day I ran an easy 5 miles. Legs were only so-so. But there was nothing making me raise a flag concerning my calf muscle. The next day was where the problem started to make me take notice. The goal was to run an easy 6 or 7. I ran out to the turnaround, and was feeling decent, saw one of my friends up ahead and decided to catch up to him but he was running faster than I thought. I ended up running a 5:35 mile to catch him, ran with him for a mile and then after my run my calf was fucked. I knew right away things would not be good for the 50K.

That Thursday I slept about 3 hours, went to work, got some more deep tissue massage, went roller blading in the evening. Friday I got a good night sleep.

Raceday comes and I know my calf is not even close to 100%. But I am signed up so I figure I might as well try and see what happens. For the first 6 miles everything is fine. But I slowly start to feel the muscle tightening up. By mile 10 am in agony. I am running on one leg. Downhill isn't so bad, up hill completely sucks. To make a long story short I suffered like a son of a bitch, not fun! I was in 2nd at mile 27 when all that was left was 1 5 mile loop. But I had to throw in the towel. I was so pissed. The RD told me he would give me credit for a marathon finish but I was so disgusted with my time because I could barely even run for the past 10 miles, I just said "Just gimme a DNF." There were actually lots of swear words in the middle of the woods, maybe a minor temper tantrum or two, but no one was around and I was pissed as I really need my running right now.

The rest of the day I couldn't even walk. Literally. I had to use my other leg to push in my emergency break on my truck. WTF! Stupid injuries.

Now I guess I just need to let it heal. I took the Sunday after the race completely off, went out with some friends, had a couple beers and just tried to forget about running (not too mention all the other stupid drama) and relax. I've been cross training like crazy since thought, 1-2 hours each day either on the roller blades or bicycle, a couple more deep tissue massages, and things are starting to feel normal again. This weekend I will be in the back country of Rainier and if my calf locks up I am going to pull a 127 hours trick and saw off my frigging leg.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I think I finally turned the corner on this messed up year. After running a mediocre 39:30 10K (and the course was a bit long, and I haven't done official speed work in years) I feel like I am back on the horse. I have run 120 miles in the past 2 weeks, the body is recovering, and I am enjoying every run. I have a 50K to race in a few weeks, and tentatively am going to run a (hopefully) fast 50 mile in October, followed by a respectable 100 in November. Of course, the way things have gone this year everything is tentative, but I am optimistic that I will be racing more often and will hopefully find the fitness I had last fall. Things are looking up anyway, I hope this feeling extends to some of my other running friends going through not so fun times. It's been a tough year for a lot of people.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Crossroads

This is the perfect sign for everything I am feeling right now in regards to so many aspects of my life. On one side I have a huge chapter of my life I am trying to close, on the other side I have a chapter I am trying to open, and one that is bouncing back and forth all over the damn place. Hmmmm. How did I get here anyway? You think back to all the choices you make in life, and ultimately they bring you to the present. And really, life is all about choices. Each day you are constantly making decisions on how you are going to go about your day. Some are easy choices you don't think much of. Some are very difficult that affect not only yourself, but those you love or care about deeply. Somewhere amongst all of these choices you make you need to find some balance between living what your "true self" desires and what you think is best for those you care deeply about. There is never an easy answer life's most difficult questions. But I really think the bottom line is you need to make yourself happy and content in life, because if you don't it will eat at your soul, it will consume you, and when it is done consuming you, it will do it some more, and there will be nothing left of your life, or mind - or at least nothing left of your life that you are happy with. A person needs to be able to take steps in order to make sure they are living their own values, their own life, and not compromising their own sanity in order to pursue the happiness that life has to offer. I'm taking baby steps, and once I can close some chapters I think it will be so much easier to move forward. Be careful of your life's choices, people that don't let go can and will do everything they can to make your life hell, and oftentimes will hurt others in their quest to do so. Follow your intuition and don't be afraid of what you heart tells you, it can be smarter than your analytical mind.

As for my running, for something that is supposed to be such a stable thing in my life it often raises more questions than it answers. Like right now I have no idea what I want out of it. I have been running only about 50 miles per week, I have no races planned and really have no idea why I am running other than habit. I'm not really sure what distance I want to race. Do I want to try for a sub 3:00 marathon? Do I want to run a 1:22 1/2? How about a 5 or 10K? What about another 100 mile? I have so much unfinished business in so many distances that I could over analyze the hell out of any distance and create a reasonable list of excuses of why I want to run any distance. So now I just run. I do 20 mile runs here, some trail running there, mix it up with a little speed work and what do I get? I have no idea. I'm still trying to figure that out. Hopefully in a few days I can find some clarity in life that will allow me to tackle the simple issue of what the hell I want to run.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gorge Waterfalls 50K

I had no idea how this run was going to go. I wasn't confident in my fitness, my head was all over the place all week long. So much crap. So little me. Should I go? Or should I not go. The internal argument raged on within myself leading up to this day. What if 7 miles in I just didn't feel like running anymore like has happened so much recently? 24 miles away from my car in 45 degrees and rain is not how I want to spend any day. So after a very tumultuous week I decided to go - I guess the final decision was made on the Thursday evening.

Friday, the day before race day. Everything is good. I had a very good day leading up to the time I was to leave. And then about an hour before I was to drive south I decided to re-do my stupid Phone. It turns out that sometimes modern technology is painstakingly slow. I plugged my phone into the laptop at 2:00, figured I could leave by 3:00, 3:30 at the latest. Wrong answer. Beeeeeep. Try again please. OK, How about 4:00? Wrong. Shit! I was so stressed as I knew I was going to be stuck in traffic all the way through Tacoma now. (Insert lots of expletives at this point). It was almost 5:00 by the time I left my house. Yes, my phone took that long to update itself - but now I can text photos. Sarcasm coming up…. You got to be kiiiiddddiiiinnngggg me? WTF! Heading southbound my mind quickly starts to wander on missed opportunities. On my drive I pass "A" that makes me think of "B" then I pass "C" that makes me think of "D" and then my mind starts its roller coaster of internalizing and then luckily I run out of letters in the alphabet. I then pass the airport and finally…finally…I can clear my head. It's all good stuff from this point forward. Did that make sense? It does to me : )

The drive down was pretty uneventful overall. My iPod is busted again, yes, that is 3 busted iPods in 3 years. And one lost iPod. So I only had one CD, Pandora radio, and whatever was on the actual radio. And of course telephone calls but other than one quick call to get updates on all the sick, broken, recovering, or just had a baby relatives of mine throughout the country I just spaced out. Sometimes that is easier. Sometimes that is best. As someone I know pretty well likes to tell me far too often, "Mike, stop thinking!"

I didn't plan on making many stops on the way there. I did stop at Dairy Queen near Great Wolf Lodge to get an ice cream cone because for some insane reason I wanted one. I know I can't ever become pregnant, but I am assuming this is what a pregnant lady would feel like when she wakes up at 2:30 in the morning and wants to eat pickles and whipped cream - together. Don't most people have those the night before an ultra? Why the hell not right? Considering most of us are flux capacitors with Mr. Fusion's attached - our G.I.'s are usually a bit more resilient than the average person - mine usually is for miles 1-60 anyway, after that it's a whole new ball game, but that game wasn't being played this weekend.

9:00. Pull into the campground, get the gate open. Find a place to park. Since there are only 14 campsites in the area, most were full at this point. I just drove around, found the day use area, pulled back into there, and parked. No one within a couple hundred yards of me as far as I could tell. I still had email service, so took care of some of that stuff, made my bed in the back of my truck. Read my kindle. Relaxed. Meditated. Cleared my head. And slept. Pretty much all night too.

The next thing I know it's 6:00 a.m. and time to wake up. My body is stiff and achy as I slept like a contortionist, but after moving around, blasting the heat to get my core temperature back up to something close to normal, I felt OK. I drive my truck to where everyone else is about 1/4 mile from where I slept. Find a place to park, get my number, go back to my truck and blast the heat, put some running clothes in, look at the dime size blister on my heel that hurts like hell, decide not to wrap it or anything, pin my number on, fill my bottles, and then hop on the school bus for the little trip to the start.

The drive on the bus was relaxing. Luckily I inadvertently chose a seat with a heater, because all the windows on the bus were open about an inch, which let in the frigid air. Once we got to the start, I quickly noticed there was a line of about 50 people for the 2 porta potties. No way in hell was I going to wait in that line. So I find a place to set my bag down, and go for a quick run down the road. I need to warm up a little bit anyway, especially since the race started with a 2 mile climb with 1500 feet of gain - two things taken care of it once. That is being efficient!

Then it's time to race. Or run. Or play on the trails. Or trip and catch myself. Then trip and stumble. Then trip and fall. Repeat for 5 hours. Off we go…

The climb starts easy enough. The trail is actually paved for the first mile. My blister on my heel is already hurting like helll, but at least that gives me something to fixate because I am scared to death of this run. My fitness was a giant question mark to say the least. One run over 20 miles 3 weeks before the race is not exactly ideal preparation. I haven't run all that much elevation either. So I run with the usual suspects I always end up with in these things. And there were also quite a few people that I didn't know. But it's an ultra - most people start off way too fast, and I usually end up passing a bunch in the waning miles - I was just hoping that it wouldn't be me getting caught this time. Once we reach the top the trail quickly points down. And it's steep. And super rocky. Lots of quad killing switchbacks. Nothing that will lend itself to easy fast running. I would accelerate, slam on the brakes, accelerate, slam on the breaks, this repeating process had me worried about what the state my legs would find themselves in another 15-20 miles down the trail. Even when the trail flattened itself out it was hard to go fast with the rocks. Very technical - especially since I haven't been running trails much as of late.

My first fall happens somewhere around mile 8. I catch my foot on a well camouflaged rock and tuck and roll on my right shoulder. I also break water bottle strap # 1. My shoulder takes most of the impact and I can feel that I landed on it, but it's all part of the day. Carry on. My legs feel like crap anyway - so it is giving me something else to think about - as I am always thinking, fixating, and over analyzing every aspect of my life as it is. So for once it is just nice to tell my mind, "Just shut the fuck up and run." I do. And slowly, ever so slowly, my legs start to wake up.
Running from the while Polar Bears from the TV show "Lost."

Miles 10-20 were a blur, I don't remember much as I finally reach my Zen running state which is always my peak of blissful happiness. Alone in the woods. No soul around. Just keep following the well marked course. Listen to the rain. Gasp at another beautiful waterfall and enjoy the wakening legs as I run up another climb. Beautiful. This is what I need in my life at the exact time I need it. Then SNAP! Fall again. Break water bottle handle # 2. This time in one of the many rock gardens. And I was ever so careful of this fall to make sure I landed on every single rock that my 5 foot 11 165 pound frame could cover. There is nothing like the sensation of falling on 15-20 softball sized pointy rocks all at once. That hurt. Ouch. I actually took a seated 8 count as I gathered my wits. My left forearm was definitely hurting. Instantly I thought back to my mom that broke her arm years ago XC skiing and then proceeded to ski out so she could go to the hospital. But it wasn't quite that bad, so I just got up and continued my run. Mom is still tougher than me.

Then the trail starts to climb yet again. Who told me this was supposed to be a fast course? Grrrr!!! But it has felt that way all day. Between the downhills that were too steep to or had too many switchbacks to take advantage of, to the abundant amount of rocky terrain, this has to be ranked up there as one of the toughest 50K runs I've ever done. But I would also put it right alongside Baker Lake as one of my favorites.

Finally I get to a little clearing and I see some girl standing there and she tells me, "4 miles to go." And best of all there is some good fast downhill running to take advantage of. I finally can open up the legs and let them free; to me this is always the best and most fun part of running trails is when late in a race you can haul ass downhill, where for some reason I can always run faster than I could a 5K. I ended up covering the last 4 miles in a shade over 24 minutes. My legs which started off so poor, came back so strong, almost as if they were missing this sensation as well and were so afraid to commit to my mind as I haven't let them free like this in months. Sorry legs. But we are back now, back together, and we are going to have a good year.

The post race party was great also. Lots of people I haven't seen in months. It was great to see Gaby and trade potty stories about kids with Pam S. Had some great burgers cooked up by neo-BBQ master Kevin, re-connected with a lot of others and talked a bit more with Matt as he is one of my Mukilteo friend's good friends, and also a fellow native of New York state. Good times. Great memories. Lots of fun. Thanks to James and crew. I and my legs will be back

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My update

I have a race in 10 days. I still cannot tell if I am back or not. It seems like one day I can go out and run 10 miles at 6:30, and other days I just plain suck and the legs do too. I only sleep 4 or 5 hours a night so that probably has something to do with it. My mileage has been somewhere between 50-60 miles per week for the past month, which isn't too bad. The good thing about racing again is I think it will get back into the groove of things. It will be nice to be in a race atmosphere and hang with all the other ultra people for a Saturday.

I'm still not sure about running a 100 this year, I would really like to but there is just so much stuff that needs to be taken care of it is hard at this time to commit myself to training for one. And to be honest with myself I don't know if I am mentally capable of doing that now - although I would guess a lot of that has to do with the weather. Last year was easier to motivate myself because I ran Rocky Raccoon in February, Chuckanut in March, Capitol Forest in April, 12 hours in Redmond in May, Kettle Morraine in June, White River in July, Waldo in August, p2p in September, Baker Lake in October, and Ron Herzog in November. One a month like clockwork. And lots of miles at Tiger Mountain too. By the end of the year my fitness was amazing and now I feel like it is quite opposite of amazing. If I wanted to have a good August and September I am in the perfect position to do so. I would really like to run Waldo again, and am thinking about p2p even though the course was kind of lame - but the area and town are really cool - as are the people which is what makes running ultras so cool anyway.

I'll figure it out. I just need to keep running and eventually I'll get into the swing of things. Good weather will help.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ctrl Alt + Delete - Run

Every once in a while it feels like you get stuck in a rut and you know you need something to get out of it. Well, that was me and my running - among other things. I have been going through the motions of it, but not really enjoying it. Something was amiss. I couldn't tell what it was, what I needed to get that constant motivation where I looked forward to each and every run that just allowed me to feel the liberation and freedom of why I do it. Finally I just went back to why I run and something that has some deep meaning to me and no one else knows why that place is so special. I don't think anyone else would get it, but that's not important. What is important is that I do get it, I understand and feel that when I get to that certain place on this earth. I can see and feel inside my soul and gain instant clarity on just what exactly it is I need and am able to move forward and work toward it. In this instance what I needed wasn't anything physical, but metaphysical and spiritual. I have the physical tools. I just needed to be someplace that allowed me to think and feel what it is I want from life, both short and long term, and realize I've had the tools all along. I just needed something to make me realize it. And although I didn't have the time to spend that I would have liked to on this run, only 2 hours, it was enough to make me feel rejuvenated. I could move forward again after this run.

The run was really simple enough. Put the trail shoes on, and just start running the trails with no singular destination in mind but one. That one is a certain special place on the trails that are almost hallowed to me. This place signifies something deep within me that I just can't describe for reasons that I will not publically say. After about an hour of running I found myself in this special spot. All is quiet. I haven't seen a single person in over an hour. The only animals I've seen or heard are the constant chirp of birds flying in and out of the brush. The sky is cloudy but still the sun illuminates the clouds so they don't appear so sinister. I just stand in this spot and soak all in from my environment. I grab a stick and etch something meaningful in the sand, take a picture of it to help me remember, and then erase it from the easel of the earth. Onward I run. My mind is freshly cleansed and the clarity is instant. The rest of my run is enjoyable and peaceful. This is just what I needed and I once again feel motivated to train and face the daily hurdles of life. And most of all, when the hurdles feel to tall to leap, instead of just tripping and stumbling, once again I can just return to this place and reset my mind. Everyone should have this type of place on earth where they can find what they are looking for, or just be reminded of the simplicity and enjoyment that each day has to offer. Forward I run...