February 22, 2012

On Hand and Hokas

Yesterday I wandered into the koa-uluhe forest on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, via the Willwillnue trail. I’ve been looking forward to exploring some of the densely covered trails of Oahu, home of the Hawaii H.U.R.T. 100. This day I got my wish.

I didn't know what to expect, but I should have. Like the run-in with a wild boar. Have you ever sauntered into one of these things on a training run? I did. I should have known. Because posted on the very same web-site with the directions to the trail was this: "Wild hogs can be very aggressive, so it's always important to have the appropriate protective gear on and to carry an emergency first aid kit." Protective gear? Emergency first aid kit? How about a pair of Hokas and a Camelback?

When I saw the beast it was about 100 feet from me. I instinctively looked for an escape route. It must have noticed my reaction, because the beast started towards me.  Call it instinct again, this time I stepped toward it and let loose a gutter-like growl in its direction. It turned and fled like a stray coyote. My heart rate? Elevated!

I then moved along in the dim light under the lush canopy. It was still dusk and very dark in this tropical forest. Holding a rock in each hand, I hiked up the fire road looking for a mountain top. At various points power lines drooped over my head. I passed under them and the wind began to move swiftly. So swiftly it began to create a loud, angry hum, as if I wasn't supposed to be there. I quickly marched further up the trail anxious for the sound to diminish behind me.

I emerged from under the forest canopy and onto a narrow ridge. The path was so narrow and high above that canyons below that the trail looked to be suspended in the air.  I stopped several times to look around. I peered over the edge to get a glimpse of the valleys below. As I leaned over I could feel my heart jump. Over a thousand feet was all that separated me from the lush valley floors. I continued and the higher I went the steeper the narrow path became. I grasped fixed ropes that were fastened above. At one point I was on all fours, climbing on hands and hokas, making my way up to an invisible summit.  
Then, just like that, I stood in the clouds and listened to the wind blow. 

Sometimes I wonder why I run. Then, like this day, I am reminded again.  

February 15, 2012

When Things Happen for a Reason

Just the other day I was reviewing my miles and training hours over the last several weeks. Things have been going very well, so well I think was feeling my oats a little too much too early in the season. I know this because I had to wobble home Monday night after a run from a sore groin. It flared up minutes after doing 10 x 100 yard surges and a few days after doing several mile repeats at threshold pace. I felt great during these runs and simply let loose a little too much. How do I know? Not only did I strain my groin, but I woke up Tuesday morning with a head cold. In the time its taken me to write this, I’ve blown through a half dozen tissues. 

Due to my sore groin and head cold I haven’t run in the last two days. But this is a good thing, because my body needs rest too, and it talks to me when it needs to. It tells me things happen for a reason. 

What does your body tell you?

February 8, 2012

Wasatch Front 100 or UTMB in France?

Wasatch course (photo Matt Galland)
Now its decision time. Do I run UTMB August 31 in Europe, or Wasatch Front 100 miler in Utah the first weekend in September? I just got accepted to run Wasatch. So now I'm in a predicament. Run UTMB, one of the hardest races in Europe if not the world with 31,000 feet of climbing, or Wasatch with a mere 26,882 feet of climbing but a much higher elevation? Why not run both? Keep an open mind, right? I would only have to run 203 miles and climb over 57,000 feet in one week. Why not just throw in another race the week after just for grins. Yea, right!

I'm not sure what to do, but I am sure I'll have to pick one or the other. I'm leaning towards Wasatch. UTMB sounds like an amazing event, but it also brings some serious logistics with travel and family. My kids will already be in school so that might mean I have to go solo. Wasatch is an hour flight from where I live. I've wanted to do this race since I started running ultras four years ago. Decisions, decisions!

What would you do?