LooseCrew-JeffO: Hard knocks


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hard knocks

Today gives us great weather in Denver.

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 neve
r "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.


At 3:14 PM, Anonymous John Wright said...


I enjoyed reading that very much. You are very honest and a good communicator through your writings. I have been trying recently to be more honest with myself and others. I come from a very conservative religious background myself as many people in the midwest. Therefore, I have struggled with many of the same emotions and keeping motivation in life. In this regard running and the outdoors has definitely helped as well for me. I feel however that I want to challenge myself a lot more then I ever have. I am not an ultra-runner (I might try that some day) but want to really improve at some of the shorter distances to middle distances. My biggest challenge right now is improving my strength and flexibility to the point where I can the miles of training. Hearing the challenges and motivations of others like yourself definitely helps to keep me on track.

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous John Wright said...

P.S. So I didn't understand. Are you going to do Denali still or not?

At 4:45 PM, Blogger JeffO said...

I no longer "plan" to climb Denali. It might happen some day, but who knows?


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