Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
This is gross
Yesterday evening, one of my toenails was itching, so I rubbed it. The toe nail came off. It was long-gone anyway, so when it fell off, there was no pain. I've been used to all my ugly dead and dieing nails. The one that fell off has a soft, clean-looking nail growing underneath. That's what seems to always happen. The nail starts seperating and starts dieing. Meanwhile, a new nail grows underneath. This disrupts the upper nail even more. How they can both be alive is beyond me, but then sometimes I swear there's more than a couple of nails all growing in layers like tektonic plates (for you geology geeks) one on top of the other. The lowest layer is always the healthiest. Some layers are totally melded together and are so thick knarly I have to file them with a rasp like I'm a hossler working on a horse.
And yet the skin on my feet has never been healthier. The only spot with thick callous is the tip of one of my toes that grew a tiny bit disproportionate to the rest in length. Even the heels and balls have healthy skin, even though they have historically had ugly callouses. It's hard to imagine all the miles that's been put on them when they look so healthy.
It was a decent Thanksgiving, even though I had to work... Started out celebrating Thanskgiving at lunch. Then I had to drive for half an hour to get to an unexpected computer job. Then another half hour heading back to Denver to friends to drink wine, play games, drink wine, eat desert, and drink wine. We even had some wine! What a bunch of winers! Ultra runners don't normally wine about anything - 'cuz we can beer any hardship!
I rode about 20 easy miles last night. It felt good to get the circulation going again. My butt hurts, though. I need to ride more often. I ate with the usual Tuesday gang afterwards. It was good to see most everyone again. Even the ones that were missing ended up meeting us at Chipotle. Except for Christine and Kristen! Got to see Chris and Brandy Monday evening.
Now if I can get myself to a Thursday trail run. Not this week. They're going to think I dropped off the planet. In spite of all the time I spend with the Tuesday group, I always thought of the trail running group as my primary circle. Being lame is so lame! I miss the night-time runs. I especially miss the Full-Moon Runs where we turn off our headlamps and run through the snow by moonlight, no one speaking. I want to do another surprise "aid-station" for one of the Full-Moon Runs. Cocoa and Schnapps on a crisp winter night without warning. I need to buy some butt-pants - those pants with big, fake butt-cheeks protruding out. What better garb for a "full-moon" aid-station?
It's been 10 days since the Rim Rock Run, and I'm still limping. It took nearly a week for the initial swelling to stop. During those first days, I soaked it in ice water for 30 minutes a night, and took ibuprofen to reduce swelling. Had to use crutches the first two days. This totally blows! Going bike riding tonight. My foot had been hurting so much I couldn't even ride my bike, until a couple of days ago. So at least I can get back to exercising again. Got to burn those calories off (I eat pretty well).
Last run of the season - whether I like it or not.
(Photos from last year)
After breathing 2nd-hand smoke for 5 days in a row, I ended up getting stomach flu in Vegas. The nausea started in the middle of Wed. night and kept me tossing and turning until the alarm went off. I thought it was just from all the smoke, not a virus. Thursday was rough. The nasea never got worse, but didn't go away. I signed up for the Rim Rock Run thinking it would clear up. But then the body aches and fatigue started and I was sure I'd wasted my $45 entry. The plane landed after 11pm and the taxi dropped me off after midnight. I went to bed before 1am Friday morning and slept until 9am. I was REALLY dehydrated by then! But at least the symptoms were mostly gone. Then I packed real fast (forgot my camera (sorry Brandy), called friends, arranged a hasty carpool, and left Denver again at 1pm. The whole time I was drinking Gatoraid. I met my friend Mike Stabler, who also has a Honda CR-V, and we opted for my car since I was bringing more stuff. We got to Grand Junction by 6pm, met Brandy and her mom, and went to grab our race packets, eat, and listen to the guest speaker. I slept on the floor in my sleeping bags. Slept real well - like a corpse. The next morning, Brandy's mom drove us all to the start. I didn't know what to expect of my flu-ravaged body. I felt okay and just went easy. Brandy stuck with me stride-for-stride the first two miles as we climbed up and up and up to the top of the Colorado National Monument. By the time I'd reached the top, I was warmed up and feeling well. I started hatching a goal. I trusted my legs. They like to run. They didn't feel like stopping. I pushed harder than I ever have, drank extra Gatoraid and ate three gels (thanks Brandy). I was passing people all along the way. I was speeding up. I decided to sprint all-out the last quarter-mile. But a few steps after passing the 20-mile marker, a sharp pain went up behind my right toes. It got worse. By mile 21, it was excruciating. With only half a mile to go, I was barely able to hop real fast. I looked pathetic crossing the finish. Got passed by a dozen people the last mile. It's embarassing to get injured, but I still managed to take 12 minutes off last years time, plus it was the fastest race-pace of my life. So that, to me, was LUCKY! Hey, my race bib number was: 777 !!!! Is that cool, or what?
Very fun weekend. But now I'm on crutches. Next year...gonna break 3 hours.
My friends have been warning me about the hookers in Vegas. Well, hookers aren't my style. Why pay for a woman that probably hates men anyway, when there's all sorts of normal women out there that like guys? I'm here for a Microsoft convention. There was this booth where a woman was handing out hawaiian-style lays made out of sea shells. So... I got lay'd in Vegas! Her name is Randi. Here we are after consumating our friendship. (She was a good sport for putting up with my antics and going along with this pun.)
In this blog, I try to give an idea of what kinds of doubts and questions I have about training for Leadville. The hope is that people who are also training for their 1st 100-miler will see that I have the same doubts and questions that they have. If they read this after I succeed, then they should think that if I did it, and I have the same weaknesses, then they too can overcome every obstacle. (My High School English teacher would berate me for that aweful run-on sentence. At least the paragraph has more than one sentence, right?)
The kind of experiences that I've had in my life that helped form my personality and temperment are... 1) Very unhappy childhood. Whether loved or not isn't important. I felt like an unloved nuisance who was tolerated at best and beat to a pulp at worse. So self-esteem was definitely lacking. 2) But this led to a loner life. I did stuff alone; I relied on no one. Life was lonely and harsh. 3) My family complains. Always has. If complaining was an Olympic sport, I think my family would've recieved medals every time - at least bronze. 4) I'm not sure if I'm ADD, or ADHD, or schitsophrenic, or what. I've asked various doctors over the years, and they discount any of that with just a few easy questions. Whatever, I was never "normal", but capable of A's in the right environments. usually I sufferred C's, D's, and F's. 5) I heard my entire years growing up that I was a "worthless punk" who was always inadequate. Too weak, disrespectful, etc. 6) My upbringing was in a neo-conservative religious family where obedience to a finite set of choices were the only options in life. They don't believe in seperation of church and state.
So wrap that up. In high School, to know me was like social leprosy. I was a nobody. The only time I shined was a few rare times I did something amazing in gym class, like more situps or pushups or one-handed pushups than anyone thought possible, or beating the state champ wrestlers, or running faster than anyone else in school. But I was never successful in track. My parents wouldn't let me join any athletic teams because my grades were low. My grades were low because I had no self-esteem or "gumption". My life was a constant message that we should be totally self-less and obedient. Problem with that is, if you live that way totally, then you don't ever have a clue what to do. You're a helpless - and worthless - lamb. I became a lamb to the slaughter - a sarificial lamb. I developed a self-loathing and habit of looking backwards, thinking backwards; always trying to deal with the past. After overdosing twice in High School, I got pissed. I re-evaluated. What I came up with, is that instead of being disrespectful, the problem was that I was actually TOO respectful! I was respectful to family and friends which weren't good for me. Drugs, I decided, were nothing more than a coward's suicide. It was an accident, but was it really? When you've been doing drugs for awhile, and you hate yourself, you really are praying - begging - for that accident, aren't you? Next time won't be an accident. If I'm going to kill myself, I'll stick a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger and do the job properly. I quit drugs, but I didn't suddenly like myself. There was a point where I consciuosly decided I was done; through with it. When you really, totally make that step, then you're already dead. The deed is just a technicality.
It set me free. If I've decided to kill myself, then what would I like to do before I die? If I'm already dead, then dangerous activities weren't a problem. I decided to climb Mount McKinley (Denali) solo. I never did, but the idea and the planning kept me focused and alive.
I quit college and moved out on my own, but still had problems. It wasn't until I was 28 years old that I actually got my feet under me. In most ways, my life began at 28. So now, 18 years later, it's like I'm finally a teenager - at the ripe age of 46! To prepare for Denali, I've been camping and climbing in Colorado year-round. Hey, if you can't deal with the worst Colorado has to dish out, don't even think about Denali. Denali has blown climbers (inside tents!) - entire camps - right off the mountain with up to 300mph winds. So, yeah, I camp and climb year-round. Denali is no longer a dream, but that's where my thirsts for winter originated.
I guess it made me tough. When you're up there, it's driven home the difference between a "need" and a "want". Most people, especially spoiled Yuppie Americans, can't make that distinction, and don't really know themselves. Yes, I'm a latte-sucking yuppie-puppie, but one of the few who's been tested. I've seen so much, and been so hyper-stimulated, that I now bore very easily. coming from a family of professional complainers, I've been bitchin' for decades. But in recent years, I've gotten real bored with my rants. Really, will I EVER SHUT UP? GEEZ! Now, family reunions kind of freak me out. Did I really come from these people? I've got a LONG way to go, but also I've come a long way.
When you ultra-run, you have lots of time alone, and you have to mentally-physically push yourself hard the whole way. It's like you're multiple-personality. Really, it gets crowded inside! You hear all these different facets of yourself, each with a different voice. At Goblin, NONE of them were whiners! What a milestone! Sure I had voices comment that I wasn't comfortable, but they weren't whiney, irritating groans that sucked the life out of me! And the other voices were awesome. "Dude! You're DOING this!" "Am I bonking?" "Well, things are still working." "Look, it doesn't hurt any more than it did at mile two. There's no reasons to stop, or even to slow down." And then some of the other voices were just silently watching the scenery. Like passengers on a commuter train. Just relaxed and soaking up the views and experiences.
Okay, have I scared you yet? Am I weird enough for you? I've met lots of ultra runners as "odd" as me. We're all different, but ultra runners seem to all share a certain common "bent". We're human; we bleed. But we don't tend to be normal.
Ultra runners don't tend to rest as much as shorter-distance runners. Anita Fromm says, "Rest is for wimps!" Rest is good, actually, when your body really asks for it. But if you eat healthy, live healthy, and think healthy, it seems the body rests up and wants more in just a day or two.