Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Had to shorten our stay in the mountains. No run up there and the conditions were PERFECT.
A child's allergies, a dusty ass cabin and there you have it. However, we had an incredible xmas eve with incredible eats. And the gifts were spot-on.

My favorite is the little flask I got for flat coke I'm going to use for that last climb at Mission Gorge. The field is toast.

Got home today and hit the cross-country course in Mission Bay, rolling grass in my new shoes. The shoes felt light and so good. So I got after it. Glycerin 8s. Used for $20, I kid you not. I think they're $120 retail, new. Love them.

5 miles in sub 38min with a mile cd. Fartlek. Never that uncomfortable.
Now it's REALLY time to mix-in my long run. The program is steady now, time is ticking (early Feb. mountain run). My feet will really benefit from the longer efforts.

The jump-roping is helping a lot. And don't even get me started on the hoola-hoop.


At home, cabbage meatballs made by my Albanian father in law and a very solid double IPA. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hydration


A great time of year!


Huge winter swell . . . in the air?

Monday, December 19, 2011

I just read some commentary on a running blog

about how commentary on running blogs can symbolize a kind of pathetic voyeurism. He vaguely references all matters of blog discussions that people have about, I suppose, all kinds of topics relating to, in this case, the trail. He doesn't like the fact that the sport of trail running is being treated like a sport, as in the kind that people watch on TV.

This kind of bullshit mightier-than-thou player hating is retarded. Some people think this sport is being taken more seriously. People naturally "over think" certain issues when this kind of maturity occurs in a culture or business. There's more going on, more coverage (by more mainstream entities, not just blogs). I'm sure people like that can continue to find the blogs that only talk about VO2 max or a wet trail in Florida where there were weird noises coming from the bushes.

The bottomline is all of this blogosphere is commentary and analysis. It might be about training. It might be about a pair of shoes or a hydration pack. The blogger might even be talking about how a race went down. Hell, there might be a movie review that takes a critical turn and readers debate said criticism. The discussion might get spirited. That's the blogosphere.

But to hypocritically commentate about the commentary and in-turn stick your nose up at it and call it misguided, unwarranted, or somehow the work of some impostor or fake, said in the most vaguely targeted manner possible, generalizing the entire blog community minus your BFFs, is weak, poorly executed, and a cop out at best.

For Now

I am very stoked about last week's running. I got in about 50 miles (49.7 according to my log). I am battling a little PF niggle in the left foot that is, I'm almost positive, related to that foot's issues over the past 6 months. The PF niggle started back in 2008 when I blew it out descending a ~2000ft hill in my first trail half marathon. I've started jump-roping again and I think that will help. The various shoes I wear and of course the various surfaces have something to say about how my foot feels as well. I will do mostly flatter surfaces for now, but sneak-in some up and down trails for that kind of business. The priorities are clear. I would rather show-up to my first mountain race (15k, 2/8) without a lot of climbing/technical trail, than to show-up with a bunch of trail vert in my quiver but a gimpy foot. Thinking long-term here.

I really want to get into some Trail Commentary right now, but for now I need to organize my thoughts. AJW got everyone scrambling about some issues in the 100 that seem very interesting. I argued over the last few months that the sport has a split personality. That split manifested in another way on his blog and I want to pour myself all over it. I will write about it for an up-coming article I'm writing for a trail pub. Either way, it will find its way onto the screen. I am geeked for this. I can not wait for that 50k in March. 2012 the beginning of a huge bash consisting of long runs and long beers.

Yes the beer is flowing. I will post some pics but for now it's still Olympias between double IPAs. On that note: Rick Merriman is a fitness genius and an incredible mountain runner. He posed a routine of doing 50 crunches for every beer. That's my routine now. I do about 150 crunches every (other) night :)))

Thanks, Rick! This is no joke.

Let me machine-gun a few thoughts on the mainstream sports landscape. A few things there that have me trippin.

1) Interesting L.A. developments: The Clippers are eclipsing the Lakers and the Angels the same to the Dodgers. It's happening before your very eyes. Arti Moreno is a marketing genius. Pujols is a marketing tool, period. But they should do pretty well in the box score, as well. The Lakers and Dodgers are a mess. Make no mistake about that. Their leadership is in transition and/or in the toilet. The Clippers. Wow.

2) The media missed the big issue with the whole Lakers/Clippers/Chris Paul trade. No one is recognizing the fact that Kobe Bryant is, essentially, done. I hear people say he has another 4-5 years. These people are so diluted is funny. Did you see last year? He can't close games the way he's supposed to. The league is younger, he's banged-up, the shortened season will accelerate the demise and the team around him pretty much sucks. Kobe is done.

3) Tebow continues to ruffle feathers, which still I find fairly astounding. The guy is just doing a good job. He works hard. But he is as polarizing as the Kardashians New York Yankees. The best discussion I heard recently revolves around the necessary expertise (analytical skill) of those who have played the game. Indeed, people are posing that question: just because you played does not mean you are necessarily qualified to analyze the game. You might say that reverberates beyond the Tebow scenario.

That's it for now.

Oh, and if anyone has any thoughts on this (but I'm probably ordering them by the end of the night): I want a pair of inov8s that I can use on technical trail and grassy hill (I have found some local fell), but also run longish. I've owned one pair in the past, loved them, but forgot which ones. Santa is stud!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I am fat

We have so much food in this house. It's good food, I think, but my God. So this week is a bender of home cooked madness. Lots of killer salads. Stay. On. Track.

I'm trying to really drop some weight. And I am not going to not have a beer or two every other day. I ran today, the foot feels like it's back on track, so I am going to up the mileage and continue to lift a little, a little core, etc. I'm afraid that should read ". . .a lot, a lot . . ."

Maybe I'm just doomed to be the slightly chubby guy. I think the push of volume will solve a lot of this mess. I do like to eat. Period. And I like beer. But this guy has to get lighter sooner than later.

I'm like the guy with a 15 lbs weight vest who wants to return it to Sports Chalet but he can't find the receipt.

Cheers to that run today and getting after some longer stuff starting this week.


Friday, December 9, 2011

The North Face EC Championships Wrap

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile Championship 2011 is in the books. So, what happened? As far as my picks were concerned, I didn’t do too shabby. Although I mentioned D Jones as an outright favorite in SF in a recent post digesting his R2R2R FKT, paired with the rest of his nutty and gutsy 2011, I balked and fell for the ole Geoff Roes will find his big stage big race form once again. Roes at or near his best has so much appeal, I might spend another year looking for that immaculate into the wild form.

In the aforementioned “recent post” I called Jones the future of competitive American ultra. His 2nd and HR100 2011 and his shorter ultra chops make him so dangerous on just about any track. Only world-class studs (Chorier, M Wolfe, etc.) will be able to run him down on a good day. Remember the early century K Skaggs and Krupicka? Welcome to Jonestown. He’s only 21.

Then there’s Mike Wolfe. In the discussion that ensued post-race, there was talk of Wolfe for UROY. His 2nd at WS100, the win at Way Too Cool, strong showing at Miwok among others and, indeed, this guy is right there, especially considering the other candidates. Granted, I picked Wolfe to possibly win SF50, but I had the wrong dog. Jason Wolfe finished 8th.

The Endurables’ fantastic portrayal of the day gives us a nice perspective on how things unfolded out there in the Headlands. Stunning scenery. The gorgeous landscape was pretty fine too. Yeah, the scenery to which I refer is the peloton of world-class runners that battled across that dirt roller-coaster consisting of 10k of climbing, forest canopied trail, technical sections and the like. Jones and Wolfe exchanging blows for what seemed about 20 miles, with some of the literal who’s who of ultra and mountain running in their wake, makes SF50 an instant classic.

Mike Wolfe – the grinder who seems really smart and calculating (I think he’s a lawyer for God’s sake), strong and not someone you want to tangle with even if you do plan to inflict head wounds.

Mike Wardian – how can his race schedule have been auspicious at all going into TNFSF. I think a lot of people had him winning. I thought, in the end, he’d implode at the start. Pretty gutsy to run like that. . . almost every weekend!

Adam Campbell – A classy guy who ran an absolutely classly race. I am very disappointed that I didn’t see that although we all certainly missed a runner or two due to this incredible depth. I am really stoked for this Canuck mountain runner. And will continue to enjoy his stuff.

Jason Schlarb, one of my lucky 7, had a nice race, finishing 10th.

Alex Nichols, a popular pick amongst some Coloradans was apparently running really strong at the front when he twisted his ankle. Very unfortunate.

What about Laborchet off the front through about 20 miles with another Salomon runner (Vollet?) and then pulling-out? What was that?

We could go on and on. The bummer for me is still that Roes didn’t quite have the goods. I thought he did have unfinished business. I thought he was ready to crush some demons, salvage 2011 massively. Hey, top five is still fantastic; I just like his style and wanted to see him carve off the front. I remember seeing a tweet from iRunFar at about 25 miles, Geoff in about 3-4th place and Bryon saying Geoff looks “chill.” That sounded perfect. But it sounds like his energy waned and he just didn’t have the boost to stay with the mad dogs fighting it out for the win (and again, iRunFar’s coverage was great).

Other than those menial thoughts on the men’s race, overall I thought Salomon and mountain running showed-up big-time. Anna Frost is a huge talent. The fact that she in very recent times has competed victoriously with the women Skyrunners, and is now doing very well at the ultra distance seems pretty remarkable. I like Adam’s 3rd for Salomon, as well. The white suits continue to represent where ever they “lace them up.”

I did get a chance to see Rickey Gates' race report. In sum, he was calling for more of these ultra guys to step to some of the shorter, more classic mountain races ala Sierre Zinal and Mt. Washington. I love to hear that as it seems against the popular train of thought, the one that goes: "yeah, my grandma got chosen for HR100, so I'll be pacing her and the whole family is getting involved." Long live American mountain running.

What does this race say about 2011 and 2012? Last year, this race dawned an incredible trend of Salomon dominance that’s well chronicled. What trends might we see in 2012 hatched from the Headlands of 2011? Any thoughts on that?

I think last weekend’s race is a kind of coronation for Mike Wolfe who seems like a very legitimate world-class ultra marathoner. Maybe (other than Kilian) the best in his sport given what he’s done on big stages. Last Saturday had to be a big pint of confidence. I’ve heard others talk about him. I’ve gathered bits and pieces of some of his training that seems utterly world-class (big volume, big hills, blue-collar ballz). Certainly TNF has a fine leader in Mike Wolfe.

I’ve already waxed about Jones. He’s the future of the sport if he continues to enjoy it as much as he currently does. Mad game. Can run all kinds of tracks.

Adam Campbell is just another reason I want to visit Canada. That big block of ice, that purports to offer fantastic culture, spits out some pretty classy and down-to-earth athletic talents, specifically of the endurance tribe. We’re rooting for Adam all the way. Here’s to a big 2012.

Geoff Roes will be a very compelling athlete to watch in 2012. I’m sure he will have some superb races and results. No need to say anything else, really. Other than we're rooting for Geoff big time.

Looking forward to it all. What do you think about 2012? Especially as TNF50 Championships may have produced a couple of trends we can watch develop perhaps over the next year or so?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December

Tis the season. My odd job is going on break, the weather is cooler (as in I might want to ask for a new cooler for Christmas) and the children are giddy (which would include me).

Just had a birthday; got to spend a little time in Bevmo, a couple of sweaters, and a beenie. Oh, and a gift certificate for some running shoes. Pretty much as perfect as it gets.

The foot/ankle got a little spun when I twisted a couple of weeks ago in the midst of pushing some hills (~8000ft on the week which is like Himalayan for me). Running every other day to get this thing straightened-out. Just getting old.

This study was pretty conclusive. Not a huge fan of Hercules Double IPA. No head, good dark amber color, syrupy and a little hoppy but not that hoppy. I guess I'm just SoCal conditioned. No one beats our big hop style. Hercules reminds me of the Gubna, definitely a style issue.

Olympia kicked its ass.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco Championship 2011

It’s Friday (well, Thursday night really), the day before the biggest ultra of the year (2011 The North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco Championship). There are a few reasons why we should consider this race ultra big, or this ultra race big. That’s what I’ll spend the next hour or so chipping away at, that idea that we’ve reached at last the Marin Headlands and a field of runners will assemble in just a few hours that could absolutely, in the spirit so poetically described by Geoff Roes, explode trail lore. Imagine what’s at stake. We are witnessing a sport get defined, re-defined as its precocious limbs mature before our very eyes.

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships San Francisco represents the other half of this sport’s split personality. About a month ago, I explored the meaning of UROC and think some of those words apply here to this weekend’s race.

“What is the intent of [UROC]? This is a rhetorical question. The race is about the competitive nature of the sport. Period. Even more interesting: Geoff Roes is at the front of this campaign to create a race where elites are treated like elites and the race is centered around highlighting that competition at the front. Again, this sport is suggestive of two worlds: the down-to-earth just run and have fun and finish vibe, and the world-class Micahael Wardian v Geoff Roes vibe, or Jornet v Wolfe and Clark or Heras v Roes and Mackey vibe. It’s tough to deny this split personality in the sport.”

That is what is happening in San Francisco this weekend.

All year, every weekend, runners gather on myriad national and international trail to “race.” Most of these are friendly battles between friends and family members, or new and familiar faces just enjoying the outdoors. These events might more represent the local endurance challenge. The “race” might be inaugural or it might be 35 years-old. The spirit is better reminiscent of fellowship, of sister or brotherhood, of people of all walks of life sharing in the stewardship of our natural world and getting fit and having fun at the same time. “Winning” might not even be part of the local lexicon. A podium might be replaced by pints of craft beer; but the sweat and the beautiful feelings associated with giving it a go out there circulate like the good vibes of a people engaged in what I would call a new civic duty.

TNFSF50 certainly includes this same kind of friendly praxis, even amongst the elites (perhaps even more amongst the elites). Be that as it may, there’s a race going-on, one of world-class proportions, one so big it’s more germane to the competitions of ancient Greece, where epic battle preceded a celebratory feast.

This race has been well hashed and rehashed by the blogs. The folks at iRunFar produced a fine preview of the men’s and women’s race. The aforementioned renderings of Mr. Roes have people spinning on their bar stools. Adam Chase has been keeping us abreast of the Salomon scene, as well. Here we are, still in the tryptophanic aftermath of Thanksgiving, and, indeed, we have a lot to be thankful for. I am certainly thankful for the access we are all granted to so many stellar peeks at this sport’s elites (the runners, the managers, race directors, publishers, etc.). I am thankful for the blog as it seems to give us all an opportunity to articulate whatever odd ball single-track idea we’ve developed and hope to share with a few passersby.

The idea that this sport is indeed schizophrenic or of two minds (whatever you want to call it), is supported by this online presence. As AJW essays on the future of the sport with certain fundamental changes happening all around, in terms of corporate influence, etc., we have to be reminded that the sport is largely defined by the casual, neighborly discourse that exists on these webs, just like it is during those trail runs, at and after those hundreds of weekend races. Significant commercialization of all of that would be a tall order. Is some of this white-collar share-holder cologne distorting or undermining some of the trail discussions or the competitions? Perhaps. But the positive effects of these dollars are on display, as well: This weekend and any such opportunity we have to watch these elites battle it out on world-class trails has to be welcomed by even the casual fan. Viewing the MUT world in this open-minded way, I think, is imperative at this point. The sport is clearly changing, and Saturday’s race is another such example. But the sport is also staying the same, and every weekend of the year marks occasion for this argument in the abundance of ultra and mountain “races” in which we all get to compete.

Both worlds will be on parade tomorrow in San Francisco.

And this is how I see the men’s race going down: Above, I referenced a passage from an article I wrote about UROC. I make note of the role Geoff Roes played in that race’s organization (of course he played a pretty big role in the actual race, as well). I referenced that passage to evidence the parallels we see in UROC and TNFEC50. These two are especially similar in that they are geared toward attracting a large field by offering substantial prize money. Looks like we’re building a parallelogram: I see Geoff Roes winning this race, convincingly. He’s definitely had some close-calls at this race in the past. Sure there’s his back-to-back runners-up finishes in ’09 and ’10, but don’t forget about 2008. He was right there when the shit went down between Steidl and Carpenter. This is a must read from the event website archives:

At the bottom on the bone-crunching descent, at the seaside hamlet of Stinson Beach, Carpenter met his crew – his wife, Yvonne, and his six-year-old daughter, Kyla. “Last year, I’d come into a station and scrounge around a little bit for my drop bag,” he explains. “I’d lose a few seconds. And at this level you just can’t do that.” Still, Carpenter lost ground as the pack passed by like greyhounds, weaving through the quaint town’s streets before vanishing up the Matt Davis trail, heading 1,700 vertical feet uphill. This is when many runners felt Carpenter, who has built his legendary status running up the steep slopes of Pikes Peak near his home in Manitou Springs, Colorado, made his move and took control of the race. He quickly passed Steidl and soon came upon the others. “By the top I had wheeled everybody in again,” recalls Carpenter. “It was Geoff Roes and Shiloh (Mielke).” Carpenter, unsure of whether there were still some others ahead, turned to them and asked, “Gentlemen, who’s still ahead?” They replied, “Nobody.” And Carpenter pushed on. After a short out-and-back segment, during which runners could measure exactly where they stood (Carpenter, Skaggs, Steidl), they passed through Pantoll once again. Now Steidl had passed Skaggs, who had become somewhat dehydrated. At this point, Mile 30, Carpenter still held a two-minute gap on Steidl, but, entering the stretch run, and heading down into another deep valley, spectators wondered if Steidl could catch Carpenter. And, lurking only a few seconds behind, was Geoff Roes, hanging tough. They all dove 1,000 feet down the famed Bootjack trail, devouring technical trail like Tour de France riders descending the Alpe d’Huez.

Roes finished 5th that year in 7:12:35. That was the awakening of Geoff Roes if you ask me. His entire 2009 and 2010 were legendary. We all know that’s quite a run, which had already begun in Marin County in 2008 under the no less watchful eye than that of the great Matt Carpenter.

Team Salomon, which includes Rickey Gates, Christophe Malarde, Adam Campell, and the recently signed Matt Flaherty and Jorge Maravilla, look very well represented; and who knows if they might implement some team tactics to break-up what will be a very loaded peloton. Can Gates hang with Roes for 50 fast undulating miles? Can the Frenchman, or the talented Canadian? I don’t see it. Some see Flaherty as a real dark horse. If he were to win, that would be a huge upset. Some are picking Maravilla top 5.

The other runners I like this weekend are Dakota Jones, Michael Wardian, Jason Wolfe, Jason Schlarb, Leigh Schmitt and my big dark horse is Galen Burrell. Jones might have won last year and his 2011 campaign has been really solid. Knowing he can compete really well in such diverse conditions as Hardrock (2nd) and Sierre-Zinal (17th), races really well at this ultra distance, and just nabbed the R2R2R FKT, I really like this guy’s chances. Wardian is there because he’s Wardian. He absolutely could win this thing, but I don’t see him climbing with Geoff. Wolfe is a bit of an unknown to me, but I sense he has gobs of speed and climbing enduranc; he has some nice road and off-road results to his name, namely the Trans Rockies win. He could be tough. Schlarb was top five here last year and is apparently very fit and ready to rumble. Schmidt seems like a lock for this distance; he should have a solid showing. And, of course, the ultra inexperienced Burrell who can climb with the best of them and just spanked Leor Pantilat at a trail marathon in the bay area (and Pantilat doesn’t lose). I’m getting really good odds on my Burrell pick. There’s my lucky 7.

For the women, I’m really going-out on a limb here and picking Frost, Greenwood and Hawker to claim the podium. Based on recent racing though, how do you not pencil in these ladies.

A quick shout-out to Max King, wishing him luck this weekend going for another win at the Xterra Worlds in Hawaii; and a helpful reminder that TNF SF 50 would also offer some lovely trail travel this time of year, say, in 2012.

But it’s Roes with the huge win this year. He has unfinished business in Marin, and that is, I’m afraid, the way it is.

___________________________

This is also over at Trail Commentary.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bullying

The lager-only diet has its hands full. Them Belgians are tough.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stoned is the way of the walk



Lots of stoney runs and (for me) vertical going into the books this week. The runs are still right around an hour but the consistent running is where I'm at. Even if I was going 30 min a day, it would be good. With the added TRAIL (not treadmill) vertical this week, I'm getting stronger and feeling better about the work I'm doing. If I recover well from this week (two more days of solid work this weekend!), the vertical will continue as that's my focus. In fact, I have a February race with really steep climbs (short but a bitch), so I want to be really ready for that. However, I also want to continue my flatter running, working on the turn-over, pace, etc. Just doing steep vertical will not get it done for me.

Thanksgiving was solid. Went to Palm Springs again (every year) and got out for one run in the mountains for a little hike/run. Super steep, shooting right from the desert floor. The trails are very hard, stoney if you will. My allergies definitely get activated in the desert, I think due to the lack of humidity and the desert bloom. I can definitely feel the pressure. On the climb, felt like I'd just smoked-out. Adds to the light-headedness going UP! All in all, solid run and my wife was with me. Get it, girl!

Got back yesterday and hit the local trails for a solid 10k, 800ft. (which is a great trail equation). The rest of the weekend is running up and down, and good food and beer. Off to the farmer's market to pick-up some goods for my organic steak this evening with some really cold beer (we're supposed to hit the 80s today!). Endless Summer.








Be good!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winning!

Great way to kick-off the Thanksgiving weekend. Ran this morning with friend Toby. He's quite fit coming off a solid year of rock climbing, running along with everything else that guy does in the spirit of adventure and good beer.

We bagged Cowles and Pyles Peak this morning. Why I don't get my white ass out of bed every early morning and get the run done is beyond me. I guess if I don't have another fiend to meet at a TH, the pillow is just too cool. But then the early morning suffering takes the place of all that sleeping non-sense and I feel insanely ready to go. One less thing to do before miller time.

The altimeter, which has seen better days I'm afraid (based-on fading digital graphics, moisture seemingly inside the watch like it's perspiring with me during a run!) read 1856 accum for the little 6.2 mile trip that includes a couple of peaks. For a little morning run before work, this just gets me fired-up. And my feet, though a little beat-up, feel great overall. I rolled the ankle a couple of times, but that's status-quo. I'm just happy to say I'm finding that equilibrium again.

And with races on the calendar that include a lot of climbing (for me), I need more of this Winning!

On the way back from the trail I listened to Doug Flutie on the radio being interviewed by Dan Patrick. I wish I could post it. He completely echoes my Tebow post, all the way down to the point that people want him to fail. Winning!

I look forward to my new training regimen that starts after the Thanksgiving weekend. It's a dietary experiment. Right now, the plan is to switch to lager for some unspecified duration and see how that affects my build to this new level of fitness I'll need to destroy very steep trails and a couple of spring ultras. This will be quite new for me, being that I'm a tried and true aler. But I'm excited. Jon Teisher seems to be willing to help monitor my progress. I'm definitely excited for this new chapter in my training to be the best I can be. Winning!

I'll try to post some pics of the trails this weekend. Desert/mountain running in between turkey-beer buffets.

Cheers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tim Tebow

Why is Tim Tebow so polarizing? I am not an avid NFL fan (love the competition), but the news and discussions that emanate from league play paint a pretty clear picture of what people think of this guy. Living in San Diego, there might be a suggestion that the team for which he plays gets my attention because of its “rivalry” with the Chargers. I couldn’t care less about that. I follow a lot of sports stories, mainly those that have a good narrative, might have some cultural value, or I might just like certain players or teams because that’s how sports works.

Tim Tebow was an exceptional college quarterback. Those of us who know a little college and pro football history and likewise have even a tenuous grasp of the style each version plays (college vs. pro), know the difficulty a quarterback often faces going from jv to varsity. For instance, many college offenses include a very mobile quarterback, unlike the pro style where that position generally maintains a strong pocket presence, i.e., stays in the pocket ala Dan Marino or Dan Fouts. We could get all caught-up in the nature of this distinction, but in the end, the archetypal NFL quarterback is Tom Brady. The classic mobile college quarterback gone pro is Tim Tebow or Michael Vick (to keep things relatively recent).

This recent run of Tim Tebow (he quarterbacked a few games in 2010) has been very entertaining. In 2010 he had some success (“flashes” might be accurate) engineering the Broncos to a few victories. During this past off-season, however, he lost his chance at captaining the Broncos for 2011. There was a coaching change (John Fox took over and it’s worth noting he is a fairly conservative coach) and John Elway took the reigns in the front office, in some executive capacity; Elway, though many would consider one of the great classic NFL QBs, wreaked havoc on defenses throughout his career because of his ability to run. Despite Tebow showing signs of success in 2010 (along with two college national championships and a Heisman trophy), he had to compete for the 2011 job. That’s understandable given said history of the sports. To make a terribly long, boring story short, entering 2011 Tebow was 3rd on the Broncos’ depth chart.

This is a lot of background information on the 2011 Tebow show. One last point, from which we look to spring into critical discourse momentarily, concerns the competition for this 2011 job. He went from 1st to 3rd, essentially. And the commentary surrounding this fall from grace revolved around his unconventional NFL QB style. That was the easy talking-point for talking-heads. “His style explains this change of direction at QB for the Broncos,” or the ever popular “Tebow is just not cut-out to be an NFL QB; hell, look at him play.” As the story goes, Tebow eventually got a shot to start this year and to make another long story short, he is 4-1 and the consensus under-dog Broncos are inching closer toward winning their division.

The criticism of this guy has been unbelievable, despite his 2011 success. I want to venture a guess at why some talking heads are so critical of the guy. Understandably, there are those who support Tebow. Most Bronco fans probably love him, but I would bet money many of those fans are at the edge of their proverbial seat ready to jump from the band-wagon should he have a bad stretch. None the less, there are fans.

But the critics are hating on this guy; some, like Cris Carter, retired NFL wide receiver, refuse to even acknowledge Tebow as a topic of NFL conversation. He has, in the midst of this 2011 season, become a laughing stock. Tebow is a devout Christian. He wears this devotion on his sleeve. His parents are missionaries. Going back to when he first made the air-waves at the University of Florida, he has always talked selflessly about his faith, his commitment to the team and to winning, to working hard and to generally doing the right thing. He’s been moved to tears by his commitment to team and leadership. The guy, by almost anyone’s account, is decent, humble and honest, especially in the context of your typical overpaid professional athlete.

Why, then, the mean-spirited criticism? Why is he so polarizing? We know why people might like him. Actually, there are several reasons why. The harsh criticism just seems unwarranted. So many athletes and other celebrities have been masterful at becoming douche-bags by the crap they’ve pulled. What is so wrong with Tim Tebow? You have to take my word for it if you haven’t heard the trash talk. What has gotten into these windbags?

Here’s my theory: Tebow represents an ordinary guy and in a certain way that scares people who create topics and story-lines. Granted, there are certain qualities in Tebow that naturally rub some people the wrong way, but these people don’t or shouldn’t have a national television or radio audience. People at home, sitting on their couch might hate the guy’s pure image. They might despise is faith, especially the outspokenness of it. A lot of people distrust a guy who looks and sounds so true to his word, so “good,” self-less, etc. Given the number of people who have let us down, betrayed our trust, committed to the way of the douche-bag, this distrust is understandable. But we can isolate this guy and see that he’s been this way for about 5 years or so, and he’s just trying to do the right thing, seemingly pray and play football. We don’t have to root for the guy, but is it ok to bash the guy like this?

Again, I think he scares people. First of all, he is very unconventional. “Experts” rattle on about his throwing mechanics. They may as well just say “He sucks” because that’s the gist of their skills analysis. I think such unconventionality scares people. We all know change is not always welcome; put Tebow in that category. But I’ll just use this comparison to highlight the irrationality of the industry’s Tebow vitriol: what is the difference between Michael Vick and Tim Tebow? And what is the difference between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow?

My theory is that many a talking head in sports media (and fans for that matter) would prefer to talk about stars in terms of some kind of super-natural ability. If we can view these athletes as these sort of out-of-this-world talents, it’s a better story. We can push the mythology of the hero or villain. But either way, the athletes are very much different from us. I think this is a big part of the narratives that get written by the media. Since we’re talking about the NFL, this is very much a league of otherworldly athletes, some might even call freaks. These are giants that do massive battle on the gridiron. It’s so much more of a spectacle if we experience that not-of-this-world objectivity.

I don’t think Michael Vick’s talent is that much more pronounced than Tim Tebow’s. There was criticism of Vick before we found out he killed dogs, but nothing like that of Tebow’s. He is unconventional like Tebow. But still he was the definitive franchise QB. He hasn’t done squat in the NFL. Then we found-out he killed dogs. Then he went to prison. Now he’s signed a contract that could pay him over $100 million dollars. If you think these kinds of recognitions are based strictly on performance, separate from how the media portrays a player, you’re fooling yourself. In the end, Michael Vick is back in our good graces, as defined by how the NFL “views” him. Tim Tebow has not been in the league’s good graces.

Tom Brady is another classic “good guy” like Vick although Vick had to overcome his conflict, but he’s apparently redeemed himself quite adequately. Brady is you’re all-American QB. He’s in the traditional NFL QB mode. And he’s won Super Bowls. Can you relate to him? He was a back-up at Michigan, came into the league a back-up and then got a chance to play (like Tebow). The rest is history. Can you relate to this guy? Hell no. He’s been turned into a literal model of perfection. In fact, he is a model, posing here and there, married to one of the most beautiful international models in the world. You can’t touch that guy. Just like you can’t touch Vick. These guys are, in effect, untouchable. That’s what the league and popular media say.

Tebow is too close to home. He’s a guy that works hard. He talks honestly about team-work and effort and the blessing of the opportunity to play and win. He has a relationship with Jesus Christ. And he might even be a little awkward out there on the field (like he is talking about his faith – for some – behind the mic). He might not have the perfect mechanics. He might run more than a few broken plays in which he carries the ball, rumbling over defenders due to his desire to win and his 240 lbs frame. It’s unconventional. It might not seem very polished, or “professional.” But he’s working his ass off.

I am just sick of hearing about how this guy is bad for the league (and by extension, our community). That’s the argument. You might say it’s a talking point to stir-up debate. I have been listening for too long to fall for that. Commentators are making jack asses of themselves talking about how this guy will eventually fail, how his luck is running-out, his time is coming. Give the guy credit for just working hard and looking and acting like he’s supposed to (not how GQ supposes him to look).

For me, he’s inspiring because, by god, I can relate to him. Perhaps this inspires me to work a little harder. For the dip-shit announcer who says Tebow’s hopes are dim, this says way too much about that talking-heads’ self-image. For many, it’s a much better world if our models are out of reach. That way we have an excuse to underachieve.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Looking to Stir It Up

There's been a sprinkle of consistency on the running over the past few weeks. I am still dealing with a little left foot weakness, which is definitely related to my fascia in some way (the x-rays a month ago indicated that). If I walk barefoot for too long, especially mixed with a solid trail run in near-flats, the foot acts-up. But the running and the TLC on the foot are helping. After today's run, I feel great. I took yesterday off just to give a little rest. Good call. I have been thinking a lot about what I want to run (not race) this year. Sure I'm going to gobble-up as many Xterra Socal events as I can, but I'm talking about the next level. One thing I do know I should do. . .

SIGN-UP FOR A FUCKING RACE, YOU MORON!

This is really all I say to myself these days. I'm looking for a nice build-up to some summer suffering. Right now it's all about getting it done daily so I can drink beer and eat well. That, and keep encouraging my son to wear dark socks with his sandals. So proud of him.

I can not wait to write my post about Tim Tebow. I am so intrigued by the industry's reaction to him. I have lost a lot of respect for many a NFLer. Big deal. I just like a guy like Tebow who's everyone's worst nightmare.

Happy running and recovering, everyone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trail Commentary

This is also published at the Trail Commentary blog.

The results are in. At least from a few revealing events that have transpired over the last couple of weeks. Let’s start with what our burrowing Euro Bureau correspondent has to report. The Skyrunner Series is officially finito. The European Skyrunning Championships took place in Alicante, Spain on Saturday, November 5th with the Vertical Kilometer® del Puig Campana. Talk about earning your post-race beverages: the course amounts to one thousand metres elevation gain over 3.650 km distance with inclines that reach 35.5%. The race starts at 380m in Finestrat, ascending to the summit of Puig Campana at 1,408m, which stands overlooking the Costa Blanca. The 8 km descent is done at what we would assume a much more leisurely pace.

Individual and team titles were at stake. The European final is combined with the Swiss International SkyRace® which took place on June 12. Points are added from both races for the combined title.

Ranking after the first leg in Switzerland on June 12:

1 SPAIN – 326 points
2 ITALY – 298
3 SWITZERLAND – 170
4 RUSSIA - 152
5 ANDORRA – 142
6 GERMANY - 92
7 FRANCE – 86
8 GREAT BRITAIN – 80
9 SLOVAKIA – 74

The men’s race was dominated by the Italians, smothering the podium with Urban Zemmer, Marco De Gasperi and Nicola Golinelli going 1st 2nd 3rd. Zemmer set a course record, covering the 3.6k and 1k vert gain in 35:43.

A course record occurred in the women’s race, as well, as Spain’s “new skyrunning promise” Laura Orgue went 44:01. Oihana Kortazar and Corine Favre, women’s Skyrunning regulars (Kortazar the 2011 women’s series champion) finished 2nd and 3rd.

Ranking after the European Skyrunning Championships del Puig Campana:

1 ITALY – 630 points
2 SPAIN - 628
3 FRANCE – 314
4 ANDORRA - 312
5 RUSSIA – 238
6 SWITZERLAND - 150
7 GERMANY – 88
8 GREAT BRITAIN – 82
9 SLOVAKIA – 80

Italy and Spain certainly have asserted their dominance in this style of racing. The battle among Kilian Jornet, De Gasperi and 2011 Skyrunning Series Champ Luis Hernando at the recent Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon/Skyrunner SuperCup, along with the scuffles at Giir di Mont and Sierre Zinal between Jornet and De Gasperi, remind us of this year long supremacy. As the European cold sets-in, allow us to tip our hat to the magnificent racing that took place in this epic series and look forward to 2012. Stay tuned!

Now just a few quick remarks about some of the domestic professional trail: For the foreseeable future I see Max King and Dakota Jones dominating their respective schedules. No need to explain my King hypothesis. He is the U.S. and mountain running world champ, and owns his USATF “jurisdiction.” I’m interested to see how he’ll fair in more ultra events and whether or not he’ll take a few deeper cuts at races on the Skyrunning calendar, going head-to-head with those guys, and even getting to the start of Pikes Peak with some timely fitness. This guy is young and has barrels of talent.

That last sentence can also be used to describe Dakota Jones. Here’s another guy, like Nick Pedatella, for whom I could make a case for UROY. He ends-up a little light on the typical criteria, but I say, what the hell: if the award is truly up for grabs, then let’s say he has a shot and that TNFEC San Francisco championship has much to say about that recognition.

Look at this Ultra Sign-up card for a glance at this 20 year-old’s 2011 results. To make a long story short, he was 2nd at the disturbingly difficult 2011 HR100, beat some stiff competition at both Moab’s Red Hot 50, and the Pocatello 50, and was 17th at Sierre Zinal. That last one (definitely not an ultra) is really impressive, in my humble opinion, in terms of this guy’s potential.

Of course he just beat Mackey’s R2R2R FKT. His write-up is great. I think it gives a nod to the entire sport of ultra running in that IF more and more talented runners entire the fray, records (FKT) will drop accordingly.

I will have more to say about Jones in an upcoming column that previews the San Francisco ultra mayhem. With his GC exploits, Jones is a clear favorite (recall he was off the front for much of the race last year before being swallowed-up by some of the sport’s bests). But I will leave you with a reminder to keep an eye on Mr. Geoff Roes’ blog. There is a direct correlation between his writing and running. He is loving life, if you ask me. Which could be terrifying for any ultra running peloton.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Road (Ultra) Not Taken

Here is an article I wrote and published for Inside Trail, which I put on the older IT blog that is alive and well.
Any commentary will be published on both blogs. InsideTrail.wordpress.com

An interesting weekend of racing, so more commentary coming up. . .

What draws you to the trail? The fresh air, the mountains, the night sky chalk full of stars? Are much of your thoughts (conscious or not) consumed by a particular mountain? Why? What draws you to the trail?

Following a younger life of intensely competitive sports, I started triathlon back in 2002-ish, then decided to just run, did some road stuff, waddled my way to a 1:30 half marry, got hurt and ended-up on the trail. For good. Discovering the mature trail/mountain running culture was a little mind-blowing. Running up and down mountain trails seemed so logical. But why? It's not that way for everyone, as you all know. In my case, the appeal started when I was a kid. A few church camping trips turned into more camping trips. Then I joined the Boy Scouts. We hiked the Grand Canyon 2-3 times, hiked the Onion Valley to Mount Whitney route, consisting of about 5 x 10 miles a day, topping out at about 14,500ft. We had numerous other trail adventures to solidify my "natural" appreciation for the wild. But that's just me.

What draws YOU to the trail? Do you feel like you possess a particular mountain, or ever feel like a mountain possesses you? I am reading a book right now, Mountains of the Mind, by Robert Macfarlane, that explores this concept. After all, the author reminds us, they're just rock and dirt and ice. What is so alluring about that? The book's argument explains that we have made the mountain meaningful through our own perception; we've infused massive rock formations with parts of our imagination. That's what makes them, makes the trail, so captivating, which has been enough to die for. I can more or less trace my own life's meaningful relationship to the trail and mountain. Macfarlane and others have traced the relationship in much broader strokes. His study begins in 1624. George Mallory's letters to his wife Ruth during a 1921 reconnaissance expedition to Everest are certainly part of Macfarlane's proof. One particular day started at 3:15am and finished at 8pm. The men climbed across miles of glacial ice and rock, witnessed massive breakages of ice, the men transfixed by the scenery that would surround Mallory's death three years later. He ended this particular day writing a letter to Ruth, describing the day's exploits and saying at one point, "Everest has the most steep ridges and appalling precipices that I have ever seen. My darling . . .I can't tell you how it possesses me."

Indeed, this is a story about humanity. This story of trail and mountain obsession has no borders or boundaries, no particular citizenship; it discriminates not at all. Likewise, trail running and racing is about the human condition, and we have talked a lot about the international ultra and mountain running culture (that has been around for a long time). I have gone out of my way to make a case for the most recent wave of international competition that is taking place, especially in big events, the ones most of us eagerly anticipate, and follow, where most likely the various established trail and ultra media outlets are perched and ready to tweet.

So how long has this popular sport of American trail and mountain running been around? We know, right away, that the American version of the sport is not very old. In fact, the American trail ultra is a fairly new phenomenon. That's what I want to explore here in the rest of this article and perhaps more in the ensuing discussions. What prompted the collective move to the trail in this country for ultra racing? In terms of American off-road racing, everything else we've all been talking about - increased corporate sponsorship, international competition, awards and championships, governing bodies - is a corollary to what is happening at the most basic cultural level. Specifically, what prompted the move to the trail?

To be honest, the Chicago Lakefront 50 and reference to Bruce Fordyce's world record there in 1984 got me thinking about the road versus trail culture and the fact that in all of these discussions of the best ultra runners, etc., the road ultra (what's seemingly still breathing) is severely subordinate to the trail and mountain ultra in the public's perception. I wasn't compelled to undertake a significant research project, but I thought I'd do a little poking around to learn more about the road ultra. Besides, I had wondered why there aren't more road ultras that at least make the "headlines," the discussions "we" all have.

Again, I'm talking primarily American, specifically north American. There doesn't seem much to deny this trend. You have to find this a little puzzling, don't you? Unless you're resigned to say that money is the root of all evil ;)
The road up until the 1990s seemed to dominate much of the North American ultra race calendar. That's interesting. Just looking at the records compiled by UltraRunning Magazine for each of the popular ultramarathon distances creates a pretty clear chart of the popular American ultra running culture. The 100 mile records for men and women were set in 1997 (Andy Jones 12:05) and 1991 (Ann Trason 13:47). The 100k records for men and women were set in 1995 (Tom Johnson 6:30) and 1996 (Trason 7:00). 50 mile records were set in 1980 (Barney Klecker 4:51) and 1991 (Trason 5:40) and 50k records were set in 2011 (Josh Cox 2:43, which broke a 35 year-old record) and 1983 (Janis Klecker 3:13). By the way, I am aware that the magazine refers to these numbers as "bests," and that I have only included the more typical ultramarathon distances that we see on the "race calendars.

Most accounts I've heard suggest that as the trail began to see more race organization (we might just say as a general growth in the sport), runners almost immediately made the migration and the road ultra was soon left to wallow in the mountain trail's shadow. Amongst the fairly constant off-road chatter, I have heard fans practically yearn for a designed return to more road ultras on the premise that this surface facilitates a more even playing field, a better test of sheer running speed and endurance. The mountain or trail, as the argument goes, integrates other variables that benefit certain kinds of runners and vice versa. I suppose one could simply point to Josh Cox's 2011 50k "best" to suggest that more of these records would fall if the track stars and marathoners would line-up to take a shot at a few of these long-standing records. But the money is at the 26.2 distance and below. Be that as it may, money or no money, if someone mentions the word ultra these days, he/she almost certainly is referring to a mountain/trail ultra.

Race directors can certainly comment on the inherent cost of road race logistics. Population and sport growth make this kind of event very costly. Imagine organizing a 100 mile road race in and around even a smaller to medium-sized U.S. city. Given that so many people are riding the wave of ultra marathoning, a company would need to block traffic for upwards of 30 hours; police costs alone could apparently exceed $200,000. Is this logistical and financial difficultly what pushed ultra racing off-road? Or was the migration more meaningful, calling to mind a genuine love and (now trendy) appreciation for the environment? No doubt, the pull of the mountain is for real and people have been getting pulled to its bosom for generations.

So, back to the original question: What draws you to the trail? This has to be one of the more interesting questions posed to a demographic getting abused daily by a mountainous addiction. Secondly, what happened to American ultra racing that it so definitively moved from the road to the trail about 20-25 years ago? The mountain and trail has captured our collective human imaginations for centuries. The mountain and trail ultra race seems to have captured our American imagination for a better part of a quarter of a century. Is the story not quite that simple? Am I overlooking some significant pieces to this puzzle? Sure. But often a mere glance is enough to give one a sense of what is happening, even at a deeper level.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November

New month and a kind of freshness to the air. The running is getting consistent. Work has been really busy, so I've really gotten in only about 30-45 minutes a day. Although this usually includes some climbing, these short runs don't leave me feeling like I'm really getting much work done. Then upon waking-up in the morning, I feel great and can sense the consistency is working.

Read some interesting thoughts on training from the Fellrunr wiki page. I was falling asleep reading it, but the idea that the long run is for endurance and the short speed work is for aerobic fitness sounds like the usual drink but with a strong twist. I've been doing some shorter harder efforts here and there. And looking to get longer on the weekends. This should be a good general schedule: get it where I can during the week and longer on the weekend. Sounds really original:)

On the Inside Trail front, I am going to curate the blog InsideTrail.wordpress.com and Tim is going to work on the website he built with his friend, TimS.

I wish him well.

It's San Diego Beer Week!

You know what that means.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Update

The running is finally at some consistency though I may still take a day off here and there because of work.

Today was a solid trail 8 miler with about 1300ft. which seems pretty flat but it was anything but. It was work. I've a long way to go, but at least I'm getting out there and feeling like this is a perfect time for some racing may occur in December and January, for starters. I really want to toe the line with some fitness and earn my beer.

Time to start tracking the workouts. Time to get ready to watch game 7 tonight and enjoy some good brews!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Running

Got in a nice run here in Maui (wife's birthday present and we rarely travel, so this is GOOD).
Finding some trails in and around Kapalua. A lot of swimming with goggles and fins and had a nice 1:15 run with about 900ft. of vert. Super fun. Body (foot) feels pretty good.

Swam with a couple of sea turtles last couple of days. Very cool.

Life is good. I do have to get my act together over on Inside Trail. Too much criticism.

Trail is too good for too much of that. Can't wait to run tomorrow. Ez 45 min just to be safe.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Inside Trailing and Trailing

Check-out IT for a steady stream of trail news.

I have been getting after it on the trail, like an old man.
It's a slow go, but it's great to be out and about.

My recovery is just as keen: Birkenstocks, baby.

Barefooting is a young man's game. See you on the trail!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Salomon Running Interview

This is IT.

Meet Mr. Adam Chase.
____________________________________

On my running end, the foot is just not ready for much vertical. Felt it after hitting some steep stuff last weekend. Should have known. A flat run yesterday was great. Just going to up the flat mileage to get this thing strong again. Oh, and wearing shoes around the house has helped. Barefoot on hardwood and stone floors seems to beat my feet. No bueno. Shoe me!

Cheers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

UTMB Aftermath

(photo from Salomon Running)

Things got pretty interesting in Europe over the weekend.

Where to we go from here?

Friday, August 26, 2011

UTMB

It's been on over at Inside Trail.

Get your arse over there!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 Pikes Peak/Leadville and Commentary




Over at Inside Trail.

On a more personal front, two days in a row of steep trail. The foot feels good.
I'm looking forward to this, getting back on my feet and writing more about "the beat."

Fwiw, I've been enjoying a lot of killer Belgian beers. Great summer refreshments!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leadville Trail 100 - Preview


Get your comments into the discussion over at Inside Trail.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sierre-Zinal


Good morning and TGIF!
Please read the new article about Sierre-Zinal at Inside Trail.

I hope you're eating and drinking well. Either strong coffee, beer, or salads!




Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Inside Trail is Online

Trail and mountain running have been around for years, flourishing across the globe in so much uniqueness and tradition, in so many different climates and elevations, distances and purpose, among so many different people . At Inside Trail the plan is to curate the mountain/trail exhibition in a very committed way that speaks to the passion we both have for the sport and its humanity. First and foremost, this passion insists that the rest of the crazed dirty rockers out there share in this passion. This sport deserves a lot more exposure (news coverage, insight, etc.) and we know you all have a lot to say.

We will provide as much exposure to this world of trail and mountain running as possible, via athlete interviews, race previews and reports, commentary, gear reviews, and so on. What else will we include at Inside Trail? You tell us. For this to be truly cutting-edge (which is clearly the goal) and innovative, we need feedback from any and all readers out there. Starting now. Speak your mind. If you think you might ruffle our feathers, come across as a bit too out-spoken, then you need to get to know us. Keep visiting and reading. We have a lot to say, and sometimes we might say too much (oops!).

Either way, we take this sport and the lifestyle VERY seriously. We hope you enjoy.

Of course, this (www.matt-feet.blogspot.com) will remain my personal blog, which I will continue to use for more personal stuff. I will always direct people (the 1 or 2 readers I get) to Inside Trail for "the news," the work we're doing to provide readers with all things trail and mountain and ultra running.

We have posted a great and rare interview with French mountain/ultra runner Julien Chorier. Check-out his account of the madness at HR100 where he pulled-off a truly impressive win in historically brutal conditions.

Stay-tuned for tomorrow's Sierre-Zinal post. This European mountain running classic goes off August 14 (this weekend). That post will be followed by an interview with Nick Clark, whose trail and mountain podium grit is becoming the gold of our own market exchange. He's in-route to Europe as we speak to run SZ and then the UTMB. You don't want to miss that.

Next week we will have previews of Pikes Peak, Leadville and UTMB, but given the trail obsession running amok over here, we will almost certainly be digging-up other dirty goods to share. Please keep in mind that these posts are not the results of one's cutting and pasting from various race websites. It involves a bit more than that.

Inside Trail. Read. On.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Feat

I'm hanging-out with the kid a lot these days. I work at night, wife does the day shift, so the two boys get some errands done and hit the beach or pool. We live in a complex that has a ridiculous pool scene. Big lap pool (which I've been using), kid pool, and jacuzzi. NO RUNNING still. I have another week and a half or so before I will step foot on the trail. This sprain is ugly. Our complex has a little weight room, so I continue to do presses, squats and dead lifts. I'm adding to the routine. I'm enjoying it. I feel boringly solid, not strong, but as if I'm doing something.

Last weekend the wife and I had a date night. She had a certificate for a free massage, so we decided to cash that in while I tapped the joint's reflexology goods. Do you know of this thing: reflexology? The title of this blog is certainly a nice nod to the well-worn running apparatus. But I have a serious foot fetish, as well. I need to learn a lot more about reflexology, so I can tell people more about it, specifically.

I got an unusual approach this time around (I have had enough treatments to say this was not the norm). She is a Chinese gal who instead of using the more conventional approach of targeting the various reflexes we have in our feet that correspond to parts of our bodies, she used the Chinese Meridian. She did not ask for any personal information (am I injured, have allergies, illnesses, etc., that might help inform her treatment). I offered some. I am injured. I have a borderline thyroid issue (hypo) and I like Indian Pale ale.

Let's just say she ignored everything I said, absolutely destroyed my injured foot (meaning she wasn't shy beating-up both feet), and left me belly-up begging for more. The spot that addresses my liver energy (which relates to stress and irritability) and happens to be my "soft spot," the one my mom honed when I was a child and under her tickling tutelage, got torched! Loved it.

The foot is doing better I think. I've been icing. I paddle-boarded for about a half-hour last weekend, ran my kid through some soccer drills (and yes ran lightly), but other than that it's been swimming (no kicking), a little lifting, and sitting on my ass, enjoying the warm weather.

And the reading. I have a lot of research to do. My friend and I are itching to start covering at length much of the world of trail/mountain/ultra/adventure running (there's is a much more succinct way of saying that). He is running Leadville and I'm sure will be assessing that situation shortly. We have a stellar interview coming-up that Tim has brilliantly fetched - stay tuned to his blog. And we will be talking about Pikes and UTMB in the coming weeks, providing some commentary, opinion, etc. Why? Because we love it. And by golly we want to do it well.

So please stick around and share your thoughts. GZ has some great stuff going-on, especially with respect to Pikes. What a great time of year. Guys and gals are fit and throwing themselves into battle. Tim and I simply want to add to the delicious journey that is the trail. Stay-tuned.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The United States of Ass - Rant

My last post touched on some of the weaknesses of our culture. Let me say a few more things about this with an important concession. We call this complicating matters.

This (USA) is the best country in the world. This could sound really trite, simplistic, and insensitive (among other things). But it's true. I work in a profession (higher education) that has its big-time liberal tendencies. Believe me. And we have certain representatives of those liberal politics throughout our media saturated culture that give good voice to consistent cultural critique (sure, conservative folk criticize our American ways, as well, but I'm just stating the obvious about the American Left and it's historical criticism of various American industries, politics, etc.).

Despite all of that, this is a true land of opportunity. To deny this is idiotic. People still come from all over the world to build a new life, a better life than the one they had in whatever country from which they traveled. No denying this. Anyone I've asked (in higher ed., I come across A LOT of immigrants) says this is a great country. No question. End of story. We need to always remember this.

We need to remember this despite the fucking horrid political correctness deacons that would have us subdue our reasonable criticisms of other cultures' gross incivility. We have our corruption, our greed, our histories of racism and discrimination. But we, from my little hole in the ground, can be quite rational, civil and altruistic. Our military branches are great examples of this. I am more and more impressed by the students I have who serve. Their maturity is real and their sense of right and wrong steadfast. They best represent this country.

Unfortunately our pop culture gets all (most) of the headlines. We're better known for our Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen and Kim Kardashian.

I think Kim Kardashian is the most disturbing. . . I don't even know what to call it.
The I hate Kim Kardashian sites are out in numbers. Please visit one/them to vote? No, that doesn't sound right. Don't visit them. Don't even look at her. Never say her name.
What is she? Why is she?

This, unfortunately, is not what we see. We just see her fat ass and bleached skin.

Please go away.

Now that Le Tour is over, I don't have much to watch on TV, so maybe I'll go away.

Like my friend Tim, who has recently admitted that what he likes most of all about ultras is running at night because he feels more cut-off from the world than at any other time, I suppose I need to engage my running appetite.

I will, but I did hear back from the doctor today about my foot x-rays. No fracture, which sounds right, but a lot of swelling in the something plantar metatarsal area; and something about degenerative bone, which just means I'm getting old. I have been having pain across the top of my left foot, but I guess the swelling, the sprain, is in the plantar and the pain is just resonating to the top?

She recommends 2 weeks off. Nothing on the foot. And then back at it slowly. I have been dealing with this injury for 8-9 months. Have taken time off, but never completely. I will blog more about this because I had some other weird foot issues this past 8-9 months, so now it's kinda making some sense. Somewhere in there. . . Yo, Feet!



I have to keep lifting (loving that, thanks Lucho) and need to get my diet under control.
Holy shit.

I feel like Kim Kardashian's ass.

These Trends

Just finished cleaning my uzi.

Tiger Woods is physically deteriorating, which is the result of extensive use of steroids. That guy will go down in history as one of the biggest douche-bags for not only his sex scandal (which was hugely embarrassing and pathetic - would love to blog about that!), but, probably worse (since we're all so capable of forgiveness in light of one's "turn-around" defined by his/her #WINNING), because of his fall from the professional golf ranks. He's done. Jack Nicklaus' historic 18 majors will remain the standard and Woods, locked-in at 14, will just fade-out.

Certainly, people can attribute his fall to a mental/emotional state that's kept him from reaching that level of confidence that helped define his game. The scandal, the press, his ruined marriage to a seemingly classy gal and their lovely children. . . it's just too much for him. He's mentally fried and emotionally devastated.

Bullshit. The guy is over all of that marital/familial tumult. Hell, consider his values to begin with. He's not that devastated. He's already proved he CAN'T be. Sure it hurt. Did you see his caddy break-up? This guy moves-on as fast as a loser pervert hits on a diner waitress or a neighborhood teen.

He, like his buddy Alex Rodriguez, who's on the DL again and has already thrown-in the towel on chasing Hank Aaron's HR record (Sure Bonds surpassed Aaron, but Bonds is . . ..), is breaking-down. That's what steroids do. They're GRRRRREEAAAAT (Tony the Tiger voice pun intended) while you're putting-up those sick numbers, but eventually you gonna breakdown.

That will be an interesting lens with which to watch Lance age. I used to follow him on twitter and as of a year or so ago, he was training for an ironman. Then he wasn't. I'm not sure why he stopped preparing, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's physically not able to, especially given his standards of wanting to win a race like that.

Granted, different kinds of PEDs probably have different long-term effects. But many of these athletes start to breakdown physically. That's the way it is. Tiger fell out of the top 20 as of today. He's done. He's a cheating (on many levels) washed-up derelict. Long live The Golden Bear.

Like Tiger, I'm so sick of this economy bullshit. If you notice those few finance blogs on my blogroll, you'll see I'm just trying to tune-in to that cultural chart. Those guys are fairly tuned-in to the politics and economics of the world, as it affects their $$. This debt ceiling crap is basically just turning-out to be a lesson on how soft our President is and how completely incompetent is our congress. Enough said. There are no winners here. Our economy is a mess, and one could easily say it too is breaking-down from a long cycle of financial PEDs. In a year or so, I will be able to explain/critique all of this as a result of my home-schooling. In the end, anyone who says Obama put us in this mess is just a giant Boehner. But like I said, and most die-hard democrats would agree, Obama ain't the greatest leader. Period.

This global financial crisis is, well, global. The aforementioned blogroll has much to say about what is going on in Europe. They're in a heap of financial turmoil. Probably because they're having to be more realistic, for instance raising interest rates, etc. Hasn't happened here yet.

Let's generalize. Americans are just soft. On the trail running end of things, we have seen a fairly clear sweep of things in terms of the podiums of some of our big races. Roes' focus and determination (already chronicled) I think is on holiday, so that pretty much does it for our Euro resistance in that sport.

There was a discussion on a few blogs a while back after the NF50 in San Francisco. The issue was drug use. My take was why wouldn't it be an issue as purses get bigger, attracting more serios athletes. In Europe, the trail runners seem to be supported handsomely compared to similar type runners over here. Solomon makes my point given wins at WS100 and HR100. That'll be the trend, I'm afraid. Dakota Jones, Anton Krupicka, Dylan Bowman, Mike Wolfe, and whatever other young American you can find to compete in these bigger and bigger ultras most likely won't have what it takes to resist this Euro/international purposeful/professional surge of talent washing ashore. . .and dominating in these types of competitions.

Nick Clark is not an American in the way these generalizations go. He's a badass Brit who has put a very serious stamp on the scene as of late. Enough said.

And did anyone catch the win and beverageing by Mr. Darren Clarke at the Open Championship? He's an old dude who chain smokes and drinks like a fish. He won easily and stayed-up all night drinking. Came to the following day's press conference having not slept. Find the sound bite. Classic. Here's a pic pre all-nighter. Accepting the trophy. The Euros just know how to get things done. Generalizations. Often work.


Nick, Darren . . . either way, classic guys getting things done. In terms of golf, the last . . ..7 out of 8 majors? Have been won by non-Americans. Americans are just not getting it done out there. But an old Northern Irishman is, pint in one hand, putter in the other.

There are so many directions this discussion can go. I'm looking at the culture. The NFL and NBA are just so American and frankly, not that interesting. That's just me. Trail running, cycling, golf, tennis, soccer . . . the sports that I love are being dominated by Europeans. Expect it to continue, for the most part.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Whatever you think you can do or
believe you can do, begin it. Action
has magic, grace and power in it.
--Goethe

From the Joel Zucker plaque

My last post about Tim's HR100 race essentially highlighted the risk involved in that particular race (the 2011 version specifically) and suggested that it might be worthwhile to interrupt our congratulatory hoots and raise-the-roofs in light of the gravity of the situation. To my point, he got all kinds of pats on the back for his efforts. Mine was definitely a marginal perspective (and I did say "Nice F-ing job, dude" as well).

As is typical of this human world, the majority voice gets its word heard most and pretty much colors the overall impression of whatever is being calculated; the minority view needs more evidence or must simply persist using all means of strategy and eloquence and might in the end catch a small share of the ears dangling out there in the wind.

My reconciliation of HR100 concerns a discussion of what I want to call mountain ethos or mountain creed. The mountain, needlesstosay, has its own culture. That culture has a language, values, histories, laws, competing regimes, kings and queens, etc. It's a culture. And the members of that culture have a natural way of seeing the world that is particular to that culture, the histories, values, etc.

This may seem obvious, but what Tim did, or what AJW did at Angeles Crest 100 in 2004, or even what Eric Skaggs did to his kidneys a few years ago (shame on him!) are all of them understood as inherent/germane to this lifestyle of the mountain. So, the congratulatory emails and blog posts for Tim and other runners and hikers and climbers that have met some manner of crisis are true to the mountain creed.

In fact, these kinds of disasters are expected; there is no doubt an understanding that people will suffer trauma during such adventurous events as mountainous 100s (any type of ultra or endurance race for that matter). I think my last post works as a concerned reader saying, "wait, that's not as cool as you all think. In fact, I think that sucked." But in the context of what Tim was doing and what all endurance athletes are doing, especially ultra distance mountain runners, what he did is fairly courageous and, well, amazing (okay, I said it). We might even venture to say that what he and others did in that race is par for the course.

Chris' comments that Tim excerpted in his HR100 Afterthoughts post speak to this kind of mountain ethos. I have to copy them here:

"I hope you made it back to civilization alight and are recovering well. I just wanted to tell you again how impressed I was with how you stuck in with the race, and more importantly, how you handled yourself when things went south out in Putnam. I was glad to be able to be around and able to lend a hand to you and JT, but the person that saved you was you. If you weren't as tough and as well-trained as you are, you never would have pulled off a 2 hour wander in those conditions. At that point when we had to turn around and head back, hoping to find a flag to get us back on track, I've never had a more sickening feeling in my gut. Most people, even having made it as far as you had, lose it right there and I pretty much figured I'd killed you with that wrong turn. That you had the guts to turn it around and keep moving at that point is what made for a successful close to the evening.

All that crap aside, great work getting after the run and sticking in to the finish. I'll let you draw your own lessons about what Hardrock is and what it isn't, but in my opinion, the guys like yourself, Mike Mason, Christian Johnson, and some of the other legit racers who saw their goals and expectations crumble but still pushed on for the finish help define what the run is all about. It's not Western States, and never will be."

Heavy. There is no bullshit there. There's a very clear view of the world shaped in those words.
That's just one particular example of the mountain creed at work, carrying-on despite all kinds of hell in the belly of that whale.

I pasted a picture of Chris McCandless in my aforementioned post. I said Tim's report read reminiscent of Into the Wild. I might have been stretching that some, but Tim's incredible candor about his self-perception, the role his own insecurities played in that Hardrock ordeal further that connection between McCandless and what some ultra runners put themselves through to finish.

But here I bring-up McCandless for the way Krakauer makes vivid an extreme version of this mountain creed. Krakauer defends McCandless. His book is an argument that claims the boy is more admirable than many experts think. In his account of the boy's fatal journey, Krakauer supports his argument with references to Jack London, Thoreau, Everett Ruess, John Muir, and even Krakauer himself in his bid to climb Alaska's Devil's Thumb. There are other references as well, all of them made to somehow suggest that what McCandless did is just part of the mountain or wilderness creed. And yes, as is the case with some of his examples, death is part of the ethos of the mountain, the mountain character.

I would say one of the big ethical arguments of committing to such brutal trials of man vs. wild is man and woman's willingness to die.

Granted, I think my previous post was legit and I loved the comments some readers left. But I think I stand corrected, so to speak. We might agree that Hardrock should undergo some genre scrutiny (should it be classified as "trail 100 miler?"), but in the end that's not going to happen given the heart and soul of the ultra running community. That would be way out of character.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hard(rock 100) to Grasp


I had so much fun blogging a couple of weeks ago in the aftermath of Western States, and really wanted to maintain some consistency in posting some of my neurotic thoughts on so many things sport. I've started 84 different posts in my head only to fail to get to the keyboard. But seriously, I've been slammed at work. Grateful am I!

My latest excuse for waiting to post is actually a good one: I wanted to wait until a friend of mine finished Hardrock 100. There was a lot of build-up to this race, at least in the small virtual space where I sometimes loiter on blogger and twitter. The Matt Harts, Karl Meltzers, Dakota Smiths and Irunfars of the world were making their ways to Silverton. Of course, Tim was on his way having gotten into the race officially at the llth hour, as were Sir Clark and Mr. Jamie, Joe Grant, another Solomon sponsored euro, Julien Chorier (who'd been touted during WS100 and else where), as well as a whole host of other runners and fans (I have virtually no familiarization with the women other than Darcy Africa and Diana Finkel appeared to be racing mano a mano for the win).

So, granted, there was certainly some buzz, but I was by far most interested in how Footfeathers would fair. I got to see and kinda feel some of his pain at the end of the SD100 about a month ago. He talked in his race report about how he'd definitely been running and ultra racing consistently leading-up to this race in the San Juan Mountains. He wasn't going-in that brand-spankin new; he's been living and breathing trail ultra (read some of his interviews), legitimately. Or so it seemed.

Definitely read his race report, all of it. The best word I can come-up with now is "troubling" (I say courageous, brave, resilient, and ballsy too; but this 2011 Hardrock sounds downright dark, especially from my friend's perspective).

I started digging the trail back in 2008. I found the Lucho/GZ tribe and have been pretty dialed-in ever since. I started with 25k southern Cali trail races with ~3k vert and lovely views of the Pacific or Vegas and that was about as much as I felt like going. I trained with some ultra folk, did some big training runs in the Lagunas of San Diego county, but had not and still have not toed the line for a 50k or up (which is all going to change, I promise).

But my point is that despite wanting at some point to run an ultra marathon, I thought the 100 mile distance was foolhardy. I felt like the distance invited too much potential for genuine trouble. Sure, some elites might have a go and let her rip for ~20 hours, but the mid to rear packer had no reason to be there creeping so close to that edge. "You want to do 100 miles (or 135 from valley to mountain top)? Fine. But take a tent and some camping gear."

And the cherry on top was a picture I saw on one guy's blog, capturing one of the "highlights" of his travels during Badwater, I believe, where he's laid-out in a chair at an aid station, both feet in the air like he's giving birth, with two crew members attending to his feet/socks/shoes, and another handful milling about with various gear and refreshment. In my own naviete, ignorance (yet competitive soul) I thought this is pathetic. The dire condition. The dependence upon all of these friends and volunteers. Wow. Not for me.

I have changed somewhat. The blogging has kept that possibility alive, of my own pilgrimage to run something really big. And helping (in whatever slight way I could) Tim at SD100 definitely got me thinking. I'm going to run 50k and 50mi and there's an outside chance I try a 100, especially the one in my own backyard.

But then there's a race report like Tim's. It's tough to reconcile. I know these trials and tribulations define us, create us. We grow through and because of them. Admittedly, I think this race is different. Hardrock seems otherworldly, brutally harsh. Troubling. I haven't talked to Tim other than a couple of texts and a comment on his blog. I'm confused.

My gut says no way was that worth it. The breathing problems, the danger on some of the passes, especially the one on which "Chris" totally saved his phucking life. I'm blown away by the recklessness of it. The rapids, the lightning. The wet feet.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I firmly believe that. But I doubted it for a second while reading Tim's report. Of course, there were many runners certainly who fared worse than he. His report, along with some of the photos made me think of Chris McCandless. Spooky.

I would love to do 100 miles in the San Juans. On a long weekend. With a lot of beer. And a beach chair at my own personal aid station at the end of each day.

God bless Tim and the other survivors. Seriously.

PS
Stay-tuned for more: I'm wondering about a champion's true appeal. And, of course, the euros are coming? Wrong. They already own the place. . .