June 26, 2014

Will's Quest - Running the Grand Slam to find cure for rare disease

Abby and Amelia - my nieces 
To My Blog Readers:

I’m asking for you help. Last week I launched Will’s Quest – my commitment to run the Grand Slam of Ultra running while raising money to raise awareness and find a cure for a rare disease my nieces suffer from. It’s called Tuberous Sclerosis, or TS for short.

If you don’t already know about TS, here is a snapshot:

It’s a genetic disease that affects 50,000 people in the United States, and even more around the world. TS typically means having noncancerous tumors in the major organs of your body – your brain, skin, eyes, lungs and kidneys. Tumors that form in the brain are the greatest challenge to quality of life and can cause uncontrollable seizures, autism, epilepsy, developmental delay, intellectual disability and depression. TS is also a progressive disease, which means that it can become more severe later in life.

Here is the thing. Running gives so much to us. More than we runners can really imagine. Once in a while it is important that we give back. I’m asking you to help me with whatever contribution you can make. My goal is to raise $15,000 from as many donors as possible. It’s not the amount that matters, it’s the thought that you took the time and made the effort. Click here to watch Julianne Moore Video describing TS. Click here to donate.

Lets help these kids and adults. The good news is research has uncovered new medications that can control the growth of these tumors. 

The TS families say they will “give everything but up.” And that is what I plan to do this summer running the Grand Slam on my quest for TS.

June 15, 2014

Bring it on vols. Let's get'r done!

Volunteering w Dev. C at Finish Line OC Marathon
This morning a glanced at my phone and noticed a friend request from the legendary Stan Jensen. Stan founded and still maintains one of the oldest and informative websites for ultra runners, www.run100s.com. The request was to join the Grand Slam of Ultra Running 2014 Facebook group. I started reading – or rather devouring - Stan’s site many years ago, well before running my first ultra. The invitation got my attention – shit, this Grand Slam thing is a big deal.

It’s taken several months, and now I’m officially qualified to run in the Grand Slam. The final qualification coming after submitting my $80 check to the director and seeing his email that my application was received. Wow. Now, as they say, the fun begins.

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve decided to attempt the Grand Slam without any crew or pacers. It just seems like the right thing to do. Maybe I’m being a little naive, but aren’t the hundreds of volunteers out there the real crew for us runners? I don’t know how this will play out, but I’m determined. And excited. And a little nervous,  but in good way. I need it to be this way. To rely less on others. And more on myself.

It was interesting to see the Vermont 100 just added a “solo” classification just in time for my GS. It allows no pacers and no crew. It’s also interesting that the European races generally are all solo races with no pacers permitted and crew highly discouraged. I got my first taste of this at UTMB in 2012, and came away with mixed feelings. Not so much because of how it impacted me as a runner, but more because of the impact it had on my family, who came a long way to see me run. The race officials were not accommodating to say the least.

I’ve come to learn in the months leading up to the GS that UTMB was a bit of a harbinger. Getting family, crew and pacers to four separate events taking place four different weekends throughout the summer some thousands of miles apart is, well, a bit daunting. And I need to take every ‘daunt’ I can out of the GS which is already daunting to begin with.

So, for the summer, it will just be me...and all my volunteers, or vols, as I'll refer to them in the coming months. What else is there to say? Bring it on vols, lets get’r done!

June 10, 2014

The Past Is Always Tense, and the Future Perfect

It’s now down to a matter of days. And the Grand Slam begins. Thing is the only race I’ve been able to think about is the first, Western States, which starts in two and half weeks. It’s kind of hard to think beyond this one. After all, it is the course that has yanked me around harder than a pit bull chomping on a rag doll. The descents, oh those descents. I cannot describe how they abused my body. And I went so willingly! Like a lamb to slaughter. I’m not going so willingly this time. Not this time.

Then Vermont. Yes, the deceptive little 100 miler in the Green Mountains. After getting lost twice last year and starting too too fast, I have learned my lesson. Right? No hammering down the 3 mile paved road. No coming in an hour faster then my plan in the first half. Not going to happen this time. Not this time.

I’m going to leave it at that. Leadville and Wasatch are taking place in another season, or so I am thinking. August? Way too far away to chatter on about. We must take these things on one by one. Live in the moment, because, as they say, the past is always tense, and the future perfect.

Keep it real runners.

June 1, 2014

Apples, Bodily Functions, and a Garden of Eden

Can you find the apple?
It’s called chunder, but when the natives say it it sounds more like chundah. In certain quarters it’s simply barfing, ralphing, yaking or even spewing.

Whatever the term, this bodily function is no stranger to ultra runners. The challenge for us, of course, is trying to identify all things that contribute to tossing our cookies, and avoid these things at all cost.

Of all the fruit in Eden, who among us would’ve guessed that the apple would be the forbidden one? The one fruit that describes the larynx in our throat (was it stuck in Adam’s throat?). Forgetting the religious connection, the apple has a metaphorical reputation that is, well, a little concerning. A reputation that became all the more concerning last weekend.

We were standing on the top of Mt. Baden Powell at the highest point of the Angeles Crest 100 mile endurance run, and we could see forever. When I looked around, everything seemed so surreal.  A gentle wind blew, and gliders soared in and out of the mountain’s contours. It was, at least from my perspective, our own momentary Garden of Eden.

That was the time Howard, one of the runners, pulled out an apple. Apparently not a good idea, as said by Rob M who remembered suffering by way of the apple on a run 40 years prior. But that bit of knowledge didn’t save the apple. It didn’t save Howard either. Eating the forbidden fruit in our momentary Garden of Eden had its consequences (please refer to the first sentence in this post now...).

Ok, lets forget the Garden of Eden for a minute. That apple was there just to lure poor old Adam to prove we humans are weak and will forever need redemption. Right? But why was Howard treated so poorly after eating an apple? Could it be the high fructose content in apples? Or could it be their high sorbitol content? Or could it be the fact that sorbital restricts the absorption of fructose, which can cause stomach issues even in people sitting on a couch at sea level?

One thing I’ve learned in the sport of ultra running is that there exists a tree of knowledge. Each branch on this tree is actually the knowledge of every individual runner. There are times we need to tap this tree of knowledge, and take notes. And there are times when we don’t. Which reminds me of a something Mark Twain once said: “man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

Don’t eat what doesn’t fall far from the tree!