October 23, 2014

Find Your Adrenaline

The sound was unmistakable. Snaap! I knew it well.  Well enough to know there was no reversing what just happened. So we ran. And we ran hard. We were just a couple college kids on a mission - to find something many of us search for our entire lives.

That night we learned a little lesson. Kind of an obvious one looking back, but hell we were only freshmen. That being when the music of a live band abruptly stops at a raging party, people want to know why. Especially when the host of the party is a big-time college fraternity trying impress young co-eds.

Fact is, when we flipped that frat house’s main switch off, we didn’t expect to be seen, let alone chased. But there we were, two dopes standing in an alley next to the main power supply. We were caught in the moment. Hearing the sound of loud rock and roll music fade to silence, then to angry voices. But it wasn't until we heard the sound of footsteps closing in on us that we knew we found exactly what we were searching for.

I can see the dark figures to this day. The drunk mob running down the side of the house at full sprint. What happens next is a little fuzzy, but somewhere were neatly parked BMWs, a brick wall and refuge in the dark city streets. And adrenaline. Lots of adrenaline.  

I don't care if you are running from drunk mobs in college or demons in your closet, I say just keep running. Follow your instinct. Find your adrenaline.

It is the search that is the destiny.     

October 17, 2014

Gravity. In Second Person No Less

The mystery. The timeless mystery. You think about it, but even you don’t have the answer. Until it hits you. And when it does, you remember…that you always knew. You just didn’t bother to remind yourself.

You lean over to tie your shoe. It’s something you do a lot these days. The thought crosses your mind. Is it to escape? Maybe. To feel good about yourself? Could be. You move on. Down the bike path. Onto the dirt trail.  You’ve run here before. Along the river bed. Its getting dark now, because you left work after 5 pm. The animals start to emerge.

Gravity. It’s a strange force. The larger the object, the stronger it becomes. This is a law of physics just as much as it is a law of living life. The sun and earth. The challenges that you seek. The attraction isn’t just random. You know this. You know this because you’ve been to that place before. That place where you can see through all the bullshit that life throws at you. Where pain can easily bleed into pleasure, and back within a few breaths. A place where, you’re beginning to realize, no one really cares much about. Except you. It’s a selfish place. And that is not a bad thing.

When you cross the bridge, you can see down the canal. The steely blue color of the water is nestled in the reflection of the autumn sky. You are the only person in the world in this moment who sees this. You stop and feel your heart beating. The sweat drips down the bridge of your nose, and onto the edge of your lips. The salt on your tongue tastes good, like it always does.

Does it really matter whether a challenge is self made or falls, regrettably, right in your lap? Whether it is grimacing through mile 96 or grappling with a difficult situation in life? What really matters is that when you make it through a challenge, you are stronger because of it. That is just the way life is, in spite of all of its bullshit. It’s easy to forget this, and get caught in the smelly dung of it all. Challenge. Yes, it really, really does build character.


October 8, 2014

When Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

Published In UltraRunning Magazine (10/6/14)

Don’t know why I’m struggling with this one. I need to get a grip. Remind myself. It’s not like I’m putting the family cat down. And how would I know what that’s like anyway? We don’t even have a cat. I’m talking about a pair of shoes here. And wondering, when is it time to say goodbye?

It’s a little weird. To even be writing this. But I need to write it. I’m not sure why. Is it because I’m feeling really vulnerable right now, without a plan or a clue about to what to do? Or is it because I’m not ready to say goodbye, and looking for a reason not to?

Today, when I pulled my last pair Hoka Stinsons (original) out of a drop bag, I took a closer look at them. My trusted ones. I could see the ad hoc upholstery thread tightly clinched and holding the nylon upper to the thick rubber sole. Thankfully, the day before the Leadville 100, the owner of the house I rented gave me a cobbler style sewing kit equipped with this thread and a few massive, curved needles. I quickly went to work, sewing the upper section of the shoe back onto the rubber. I broke at least one of the needles as I dug deep into and out of the rubber.

I know. You’re wondering, why is he doing this? Yea, it’s a little out there. Most people with half a brain would just buy a new pair of shoes. Out with the old, and in with the new, right? If only life were that easy. What if this particular pair of shoes were the only ones I could trust? What if I’ve run seven 100 mile races in these shoes? What if I finally broke down to buy a new pair, but learned to my disgust the manufacturer stopped making them two years ago?

I rolled the dice at Vermont. My trusted ones were literally falling apart at the seems. So I started the race with the new “generation” of Stinsons, called the EVO. It was a painful experience. My toes were screaming like long tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. Thankfully I had stashed my trusted ones in my drop bag around mile 48. The change couldn’t have come soon enough. It was like unleashing a dozen masseurs upon my feet. All I could do was smile.

The sewing had worked wonders. My trusted ones made it through Leadville, and looked to be primed for Wasatch. That was when I noticed the tread peeling off the bottom of the sole. I applied industrial bonding glue and stacked phone books on them. Unorthodox for sure, but would they hold up? I made it to mile 50, noticed some more peeling, and reached to snap off the small section from the shoe. What snapped off was a little more than I bargained for. The good news? Hokas work pretty well with no tread.

I don’t know why I’m struggling with this one.

October 3, 2014


It’s not something I lose sleep over, but as the days sneak up on me so does the inclination to think about what’s next. Then I catch myself. Not so fast. It’s time to reflect. Enjoy the fall. Observe the changing leaves (yes we have a few of them in California). Hang out with all my girls. 

I figured it would be good to put a lid on this Grand Slam thing. I’ve written some 13 posts about the Slam this year. Why not one more! Gosh folks, what would a blog about ultra running be without excess?

Since this blog borders on excess, I figured it might be appropriate to say something here about, well, my excesses. Or maybe the better term is compulsions. Ok, superstitions?

Like, when I’m traveling, I always keep my hotel key card with me until I make it back home. For safe passage of course. I’ve got dozens of these laying around the house. I know this to be a real benefit because the last time I traveled without my key card I was on my way back from Seattle after running the Capitol Peak 50 mile. The hotel had real, old-fashion metal keys! So I couldn’t take one with me. I was pulled over for speeding on my way to the airport (warning only). And the plane had to make an emergency landing in Portland. I’ve taken to carrying these cards with me during my 100 mile races if I’m not returning to the hotel, like at Western States.

Or, like, when I race these days. I always wear the same pair of underwear. Green. Ex officio. Yes, washed.  And the same shirt. Same visor. Same hydration pack. Same shorts. Although I changed shorts this year after racing in the same pair since 2011 (it was a big step). Or when I put my shoes and socks on. Always the right foot first. Drop bags? Lets not go there. 

People ask me what’s next...now that the Grand Slam is over. I think it’s time to see a therapist.