Saturday, December 31, 2016

obligatory year end 2016-by-the-numbers-and-other-stuff note

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."  --Marcel Proust

Things I Learned This Time Around:
  • " would be a great pity not to make the most out of this opportunity".
    • 'well, then, harden the fuck up.'
    • 'that's neat.  tell me more at the finish line.'
  • why do I keep doing it?
    •  is it because true freedom is to leave routines in the dust, and tell the expectations of permanence to go fuck themselves?  
      • true adventures only happen with you not knowing what you will find.
    • or is it because it gives me space to think, like it did for Chaucer, Beethoven and Fassbinder?  you cannot trigger imagination without sensation.
    • i like to think that our greatest fears lurk in the same realm of uncertainty where introspection and extremely punchable norms exist.  when we leave the claustrophobia of civilization and the notion of control, we gain a context that truly reflects who we are and what stresses us out.  nature is one of those few places where you can only flow with it; you can't control it. but the neat thing about this is that it gives us room to grow and develop--but doesn't force us to.  
      • and that's the whole idea of growing up--we find ourselves way in over our heads, and then appropriately give up and crack, or heed the call to persevere.   order, disorder, and reorder. 
    • "Humility and courage can be deliberately sought out by participating in activities that involve a reach chance of death, fear, and the realization that nature in its extreme is far greater and more powerful than humanity." 
    • I haven't been right in the head for a very long time, but it's taught me how to 
      • process information quickly
      • motivate others
      • prepare for death or grievous injury
      • be afraid enough to survive
      • be selfish
      • believe
“It’s impossible to answer the question, why do you run. It appeals to many levels of a person. At the bottom there is that possibility of cutting away the unessential things, and reducing life to a sport’s parable. It is elementally simple, and something you can do in consonance with the earth, the wind, sunshine, what ever is falling on your head. It gets away from all the trammels of civilization and society. 
And when you are doing it, you’re doing something you wouldn’t be doing in your street clothes, because you would sense the imposition of society at that point. But when you are running, you expect the people whose rose garden you’re cutting through or clothes line you’re ducking under will also sense that liberation in you. Something about being out there running makes the world look different. It makes you expect the world will react differently to you. Yeah, it is the great leveler, the great democratizer, Toni. And as the running movement seems to be always reaching outward and gaining strength, perhaps it will result in a one-world attitude after all.”
    • When what you do is what you love, you'll be able to invest more effort and care and time and hopefully craft something tangible.  But I'm not sure I will ever need the attention that will ultimately end up manipulative in nature;  this blog pretty much only exists for me to remember trails gone by.
      • I'm very afraid of the possibility that I will corrupt the joy of trail running when I go after a sponsor or try to monetize this experience somehow.  
        • no, I am not paid to wear Bacon Bacon or Periodic Brewing colors during  my races.  that is literally for my own giggles and shits. 
      • There is a part of me that thinks Crazy Horse was right--cameras do indeed steal your soul.   It's hard for me not to take intrarun selfies but I'm getting better at it. 
        • Since returning from Georgia in December, I haven't taken a single selfie, and it feels amazing.  Of course, you get the occasional family member who thinks you're dead or dying or horribly disfigured, but that's manageable.
    • remember to smell the roses because every day is precious.
      • that also means that you should enjoy every sandwich.  
        • unless it happens to be nine pounds.  that shit will hurt.  for weeks.
      • sooner or later, this shit will get out of hand and it'll no longer be 'just' vestigal first-world wanderlust; but something much more uncharted.  
    • contrary to popular belief, i'm not indestructible.  I was tapped to take a leg for my company's team at the Banff Ekiden one week after TARC100 and I ended up hyper-extending my left leg on a stupid 2:59 downhill km1 which then turned into a bad case of ITBFS.  it only took a day of not being able to lift my left knee higher than my hips to finally listen to my body and take some time off to eat and get back into doing what I like to call 'aggro yoga'.
      • (we still destroyed the 2nd place corporate team by 20 minutes and got 5th place overall.)   
      • Cool Runnings was right--you run much faster on a relay team, when you definitely have people you can let down. 
      • it's amazing how quickly you can go from thinking you're having a killer year to just wanting to never ever run again.  i was lucky this happened with one race remaining in my year.
    Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
    • stuff happens.  life is not a disney movie.  you can be defeated by it, or you can change what you're chasing.  that's just how the world works--everything always changes.  but shouting for it to 'stop', or venting disappointment/frustration for an extended period of time, yields absolutely nothing.
      • acceptance isn't resignation, but denial isn't a valid coping strategy either. 
      • there is a part of me that wishes that things didn't come to me in my 20s this easy and this fast.  when life's fair, you just end up not knowing how much appreciation you should be giving these things and you end up giving none.
      • it's natural for us to compare ourselves with everyone else, but at the end of the day it's self-impeding.  
      • it's hard to look at the big picture every so often.  
      • sooner or later, you start to realize being concerned about others and always willing to lend a hand to someone is just a noble way of avoiding your own issues and needs.  fixing that requires the maturity to understand you're not wimping out.   
    • there is a part of me that hates the way I do aid stations.  I sometimes feel that racers' rugged individualism in running the race are compromised by a well-timed dark-roast espresso, or a mild ginger chew, or a shot of shine, or something else from my ridiculous loadouts.
      • but i usually forget this when i see the disheveled mid-packers strolling in at around mi65, looking absolutely like shit and smelling like death, but just looking for something to galvanize their steely resolve.  
      • what keeps me coming back is that shared generosity trumps egoism every single time, and it feels good to flip measured capitalist aid station portions the bird once in a while.  and you can't put a price on the gift of a new human connection established by profound solidarity, miles away from civilization.  
        • either that or I need my faith in humanity restored every so often.
      • having been on both sides of the wire now--i can definitely say for sure there is a beauty in watching the struggle against what sometimes appears to be near-certain failure.  it feels amazingly good to amp up someone who gets into your aid station seconds ahead of the cutoff with a caffeine pill and a moonshine chaser, prior to kicking them out immediately and watching them shuffle off enthusiastically into the dying light.  
    • i need to work on my pacing game.
    • ultramarathoners are a different bunch.
      • we are fucking gritty.
      • put us at an aid station and you won't find us giving a fuck about portion size or electrolyte concentration.
      • we talk to strangers.
        • it's always easier to tell dirt bikers to stay away from the race course for a half day or so...over beers and shine while you're getting your station set up.
      • we call bullshit, 'bullshit'.  
      • we run races built at kitchen tables, not in meeting rooms.
      • we know each others' mothers, daughters, fathers and sons.  we may die for each others' mothers, daughters, fathers and sons before dying for our own mothers, daughters, fathers and sons.  
      • we are a part of the mountains we run in by generations of family making a home and living alongside the trails we wander through.
    • i have a friend who once told me that it's not a real race until you vomit.  i like to think that it's not a real race until you want to quit two or three times--verbally. 
    “Running provides us with an opportunity to indulge in a kind of kinetic empathy with the world around us […] [It] changes who you are, and how you see, feel and sense the outside world. [...] There have been a number of studies which aim to accurately measure the various health benefits to be derived from spending a little time breathing the air of the forest. The neuropsychological effects bring about real changes in our nervous and immune systems.”  
    --Vybarr Cregan-Reid
    • Treadmills were originally invented to reform convicts.  Just saying, Robert.
    • you call it 'a shitty suicide attempt', I call it 'joie de vivre'.
    • you call it 'dropping a deuce', I call it 'relieving bowel cramps'.
    • you call it 'busy finding himself', I call it 'being geographically promiscious'.
    “Everything was absolutely perfect — I couldn’t have run a fraction of a second faster.”   
     --no one, ever
    By the numbers--the Strava ones, because those are the only ones that count:
    • Distance run: 5,100.1 km (lol!)/ 3187.6mi
    • Elevation gained: 118,896m / 384,034 ft
    • Time not spent crying into my office pillow: 22d 21h 7m
    • Pairs of shoes destroyed: 3
    • Active pairs of shoes at year-end:
      • at work: 8
      • at home: 11
    • Distance 'raced': 702k
    • Number of races run with trekking poles: 0
    Ultra races run:
    1. Big Bend 50mi (Jan 17)
    2. Miwok 100k (May 7)
    3. West Highland Way (June 18; 95mi)
    4. Angeles Crest 100mi (August 6)
    5. TARC 100mi (October 8)
    6. Rough Trail 50k (November 12)
    Unique summits/high points (according to Strava) I may or may not have peed on this year--first-time summits are italicized:
    1. Powderface Ridge, AB, Canada
    2. Moose Mountain, AB, Canada
    3. Morrowmount, AB, Canada
    4. Prairie Mountain, AB, Canada
    5. Grotto Mountain, AB, Canada
    6. Mount Vision, CA, USA
    7. Cardiac Hill, CA, USA
    8. Cox Hill, AB, Canada
    9. Jumpingpound Mountain, AB, Canada
    10. Nihahi Ridge, AB, Canada
    11. Compression Ridge, AB, Canada
    12. Mam Carraigh, Scotland
    13. Sulphur Mountain, AB, Canada
    14. Inspiration Point, CA, USA
    15. Mount Hillyer, CA, USA
    16. Wiwaxy Gap, BC, Canada
    17. Union Peak, AZ, USA
    18. Dixie Summit, AZ, USA
    19. Western Vista, AZ, USA
    20. The Tipoff, AZ, USA
    21. Cat Rock, MA, USA
    22. Noanet Peak, MA, USA
    23. Powissett Peak, MA, USA
    24. Strawberry Hill, MA, USA
    25. Oak Hill, MA, USA
    26. Hidden Arch, KY, USA
    27. Courthouse Rock, KY, USA
    28. Sawnee Mountain, GA, USA
    29. Black Rock Mountain, GA, USA
    Current 2017 event schedule:
    1. 7 January: Avalon Benefit 50mi
    2. 18 March: Northburn Station 100mi
    3. 22 April: Hyner 50k
    4. 3 June: World's End 100k
    5. 12 August: Eastern States 100mi  
    TBC list:
      • 28 May: Calgary 50k sub-5h pace bunny, again.  i'm open to any costume ideas, preferably relevant to Canada's sesquicentennial.
      • 15 July: Angel Creek 50mi
      • Either
        • 1 September: UTMB 
        • 16 September: Mogollon Monster
    Last year's New Year's Resolutions:
    • Take a chill pill this year and volunteer/crew at Canadian races only. Done, with the exception of relay races.
    • Only race meaningful epic shit stateside or somewhere obscure. Done.  Something about broadened horizons. And continuing to troll Europeans.  Not really, but a few were confused by my request to get heckled over in Scotland.
    • Come back to being a more positive person towards my races, and write less-emo race reports. Done, I think
    • Get back to Skyrunning.   Run some shorter stuff.  Work on my shitty vK skills.   Skipped over.  Didn't even race with my poles this year.  I don't think it's what I want in life right now. 
    • Run enough races to not warrant buying any new shoes during 2016.  Fucked myself over when I realized my mountain shoes weren't good for desert and Beast-Coast-softground hunnerds.
    • Bring back the Powderface42 halfway-point espresso station/dance club and its awesome crew.  done, and then some.  
    • Start routing my lunch runs around daily food truck locations.  done.  my stomach does not believe this is worth it.
    • More European-style run-scrambles!  I had one more than I did last year.  did that count?
    • Run the Quad again!  poorly scheduled and I chickened out.
    • Bourgeau to Sunshine via Eohippus in one day.  done!
    • Requalify for WSER/Hardrock and maintain UTMB point balance. done!
    • Crew or pace other runners at least once each during the year. done!
    • Continue to try to aggravate your FOMO. done, probably!
    This year's New Year's Resolutions:
    • Run the Quad again!  Ideally not a week before a race!
    • Buy no new running shoes or clothes during 2017.  Forsake not the wife of thy youth, or something.  Let everything in my wardrobe before 2016 be the coffers of my dreams, hopes and aspirations of 2017 and beyond.
    • Try not to die during Sinister 7 while volunteering; ideally without the use of psychotropics.  
      • also, ideally without tapping into my 15-flavor not-so-secret oreo menu.  it's never good to get high on your own stash.
    • Start monitoring heart rate variability for signs of overtraining.  Replace running with wine and aggro yoga accordingly.
    • Figure out how to get into Barkley, then sign someone else up who has no races that weekend.  
    • Be a little more grateful.  
    • Believe in myself a little more.  
    • Continue accumulating more trail friends.

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