Thursday, December 31, 2015

obligatory year end 2015-by-the-numbers-and-other-stuff note

幽玄 - (-na inflection, hiragana ゆうげん, romaji yūgen).  noun.
An awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words. 


Things I learned this time around:
  • i really should have started this blog sooner.  sorry.
  • fresh air helps with thinking straight.  much better than a library or a quiet Starbucks.
  • everyone stops running eventually.  the real challenge is to rack up as many miles as you can before the final nail hits the coffin, and not as many miles as you can as soon as possible.
    • that means you don't have to run every single race in a year.  only run the ones that count; the ones that don't feel like a chore but rather something transcendent for yourself; the ones that make you happy on finishing not because you've gotten it over with, but rather you've achieved something meaningful. 
    • and phase them so they don't feel onerous.  junk miles are stupid and are a reverse type-II-fun kind of stupid feels.  it's amazing what happens when you start tracking your days by quality instead of distance. 
    • and maybe don't run when there's a forest fire nearby.  obsession is good for the soul but not that good.  
    • and always remember what you're trying to prove. 
  • burnout is real.  it pays to take time off to polish off your technique and get every detail right for your next effort.  
    • five hundred-milers in five months is a big achievement in the eyes of others, but it doesn't feel that way to me.   it should, but it doesn't.  it just felt like an incredibly dumb thing to do that unnecessarily brought kudos from others.
      • don't get me wrong--a part of me is glad I'm stumbling into 2016 with a higher baseline to work with than I did a year ago. 
    • success brings insecurity and so many questions.  what am i supposed to do now?  how can i show that it wasn't a fluke?  when do i do that?  what happens when that's not on par with what i did last?  will all my friends judge me when i most epically fail? 
      • then again, you can only bask in the praise you've already received for so long.  sooner or later you will just have to dive right back in, whether you want to or not.  strength comes through identity, and identity through rites. 
    • everyone also runs out of fucks to give eventually.  pick your battles and hills (to ideally not die on).   sooner or later participation is a bright enough light for you to see the other goals and aspirations on the horizon; sooner or later you'll toe the line enough to realize what your soul is actually hungry for.  
  • on a semi-related note, it appears 69 is my lucky bib number.
    • kudos to the Fat Dog crew for not letting me wear it upside down and thus counteract its positive energy.  (i know, that's not how it works.)
  • if my adventures have inadvertently caused your FOMO to go berserk, i'm sorry [not sorry].   
  • The Skyrunner's Manifesto
  • “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”  -- Greg Henderson
  • never change, Asahi, for I will always associate your taste with bagging summits.
  • the only time i really wanted to get off a mountain this year was during my only visit to Powderface Ridge this year--in the middle of JanuaryI was genuinely afraid of dying alone in avalanche/snowshoe/I-think-that's-technically-backcountry-that-time-of-year country dressed only in 4" inseam shorts, leaving a hilariously dressed body for the authorities to find 4-5 months later.  
    • of course, it only takes one jump outside the bounds of managed risk and predictable outcomes for you to do incredibly stupider things.
  • crochet shorts are an effective razzle-dazzle design for decelerating oncoming mountain bikers.  also to psyche out/troll Europeans.  
approximate translation: "fucking Canadian trolls and their fucking suicide pace"
  • on a related note--cold weather gear is only for cold weather.  heh heh. 
  • i like to think my dress code classifies as 'casually deliberate'.  
  • life is too short for you to be packing your post-run cooler with rice-brewed beer or beer that requires lime. 
  • everything is easier with good company.  Steinbeck himself said that you find more friends within mediocrity.
    • even if a group run is organized to be shorter/slower than you'd like it to be--there's always a chance you gain a new awesome recipe idea from it.  
  • never pass someone during a race without complimenting them and ensuring they're OK.
    • also, if the distance is shorter than a half marathon--never pass them unless you are sure you can negative-split them at your endpoint by at least 30s.  (thanks, Carl.)
  • deliberately coming into the finish line of a 100-miler simultaneously with two other people is weirdly hard to coordinate, even when given 20+ km to figure it out.  still worth it.
  • resisting the urge to buy anything at a shoe sale is as hard as remembering to fuel up during night sections of a race. 
this is happening far too often, apparently.
  • "P'kaw p'kaw, motherfucker" is an effective black bear deterrent.  
    • Racial epithets also seem to work well against underweight juvenile grizzlies, but check with your local demographic on whether that's acceptable or not.  (it probably isn't.)
  • trail maintenance.  IMHO you have to sweat on the trails as a steward before you can as a user.  
    • or just repent by throwing money at the cause, like the equestrians of West Bragg Creek.
  • despite being a deep pit of misery, I hate that the challenge of running another 24h race is still appetizing.
    • the first laps are always hideous.  
    • is it better to know how much time is remaining or to know how much time has passed?  the answer is always "SHUT UP, BRAIN, AND FOCUS".   
    • making laps as identical as possible keeps you sane...for a while.   
    • sooner or later, you measure time by gel wrappers and banana peels.   
    • it's quite amazing what a little sunshine can do to your anxiety of the night.   
    • I need to run more races like I'm constantly in second place with a shot. 
  • diaphragm training.  drafting off people can only get you so far, especially if you're breathing like a dragon. 
  • box jumps. 
  • box jumps during trail runs.  if you're on a multi-use trail and there appears to be a bike jump available--you must always take it.   
  • The Gary Williams Finish Line Pole Toss. 
By the numbers:
  • Distance run: 4926.3km
  • Elevation gained: 108,566m
  • Time not spent crocheting weird shit: 562h 24m
  • Pairs of shoes destroyed: 1 (-2 YoY)
  • Active pairs of shoes as at year-end: 13 (+2 YoY)
  • New pairs of shoes in my closet itching to taste scree: 2 (+2 YoY)
  • Distance raced: 1320.4km
    • Number of sky runs: 3
    • Monthly ultra racing streak length: 8
    • Monthly 100-miler racing streak length: 5
  • Countries subjected to my hideous running gait: 7 (Canada, US, UK--England/Scotland, Germany, Norway, Spain, China--Hong Kong)
  • Number of pot farms run through during races: 1
Ultra races run:
  1. Gord's Frozen Ass 50 (February 16, 50k)
  2. Georgia Death Race (March 14, 67m)
  3. Blackfoot (May 30, 100k)
  4. Lysefjorden Inn (June 6, 62k)
  5. Sinister 7 (July 11, 100m) 
  6. Fat Dog (August 14, 120m)
  7. Lost Soul (September 11, 100m)
  8. Le Grizz (October 10, 50m)
  9. Javelina Jundred (October 31, 100m)
  10. KUS 24h (November 14, 100m)
  11. MSIG Lantau 50K (December 6, 54k)  
Unique summits* I may or may not have peed on this year:
  1. Midnight Peak, AB, Canada
  2. Prairie Mountain, AB, Canada
  3. Powderface Ridge, AB, Canada
  4. Tooni Mountain, GA, USA
  5. Wallalah Mountain, GA, USA
  6. Licklog Mountain, GA, USA
  7. Gregory Knob, GA, USA
  8. Payne Knob, GA, USA
  9. High Top, GA, USA
  10. Clements Mountain, GA, USA
  11. Akin Mountain, GA, USA
  12. West Wildcat Knob, GA, USA
  13. Buck Knob, GA, USA
  14. Buckeye Knob, GA, USA
  15. Coosa Bald, GA, USA
  16. Brasstown Bald, GA, USA 
  17. Moose Mountain, AB, Canada
  18. Midday Peak, AB, Canada
  19. Sunrise Peak, AB, Canada
  20. Belmore Browne, AB, Canada
  21. Sunset Peak, AB, Canada
  22. Tiara Peak, AB, Canada
  23. Saskatoon Mountain, AB, Canada
  24. Ling Kok Shan, Hong Kong SAR, China
  25. Lantau Peak, Hong Kong SAR, China
  26. Keung Shan, Hong Kong SAR, China
  27. Ling Wui Shan, Hong Kong SAR, China
  28. Fan Lau Teng, Hong Kong SAR, China
* based on Strava's identification of prominent tallpoints on my runsthis disqualifies certain hills such as McConnell Ridge/Prairie Lookout and basically every mountain I ascended on every race I did that was not a sky run (seriously, Fat Dog?  UGHHHH), but makes sky runs all that much more awesome. thanks, Georgia and Hong Kong!

(how I managed to avoid the four mountains of the Canmore Quad this year is still beyond me.)

Current 2016 event schedule:

  • Big Bend Ultra (January 17, 50mi)
  • Miwok 100k (May 7, 100K)
  • Calgary 50K (May 29, 50K) - booked as 5h continuous pace bunny 
  • West Highland Way (June 18, 95mi)
  • Angeles Crest (August 6, 100mi)
  • One extra late-season small-scope >50k'er in the middle of bumfk nowhere (ideally back in the Southeast)
Last Year's New Year's Resolutions:
  • Volunteer more than I race. (RD friends who need help--help?)  Failed because I signed up for too many races, but at least I've perfected my course marshaling technique.
  • Be an aid station barista for a race.  Done at Powderface42 with shots of espresso!  Looking to return for 2016.
  • Manage an aid station with a dance floor.  Also done at Powderface42!  I think.  No one was dancing though.
  • Only run marathons during an ultra.  No races shorter than 42.2K unless it's a relay or a vK.  Done!
  • No more solo-effort road races.....after Frozen Ass.  Done, just barely--Le Grizz was forest road.
  • Sunshine to Shark in one day.  Balls.  Did all the sexy parts by reverse up to Assiniboine though. No it doesn't count.
  • Bourgeau to Sunshine via Eohippus in one day.  Balls.
  • Skoki loop in one day.  Done!
  • Bankers Hall to MacKay's Ice Cream 38k ice cream run on a weekday.  And back after chugging a cone. (Currently scheduled for Parade Day next year.)  Was jet lagged on Parade Day this year.
  • Summit Moose Mountain.  (I actually have no idea how I have never done this yet.)  Done!
  • Backside of Moose Mountain via Jumpingpound.  Balls.
  • Don't buy any shoes during 2015.  Definitely broken circa January. 
  • Qualify for WS again.  Done!
  • Qualify for Hardrock.  Done!
  • MOAR TRAIL FRIENDS Definitely done!
This year's New Year's Resolutions:
  • Take a chill pill this year and volunteer/crew at Canadian races only.  
    • Only race meaningful epic shit stateside or somewhere obscure.   Something about broadened horizons. And continuing to troll Europeans.
    • Come back to being a more positive person towards my races, and write less-emo race reports.  
    • Get back to Skyrunning.   Run some shorter stuff.  Work on my shitty vK skills. 
    • Run enough races to not warrant buying any new shoes during 2016.
  • Bring back the Powderface42 halfway-point espresso station/dance club and its awesome crew.
  • Start routing my lunch runs around daily food truck locations.
  • More European-style run-scrambles!  
    • Run the Quad again! 
  • Bourgeau to Sunshine via Eohippus in one day.
  • Requalify for WSER/Hardrock and maintain UTMB point balance.
  • Crew or pace other runners at least once each during the year.
  • Continue to try to aggravate your FOMO.   

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