For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First Challenge!

I'm writing a book.  Not sure how many chapters it will have but it is going to be based around all of my musings on this blog, held together by my attempts at five ultra distance efforts this year.  The Arrowhead 135 was the first effort.

And it was quite the effort. Thanks Grant Mehring for sticking with me despite the gulf between or abilities.

A more detailed race report and maybe even a movie will be coming eventually.

Congrats to all the other racers and their loved ones (who's support is always invaluable) and all the volunteers and race staff that made the adventure possible.

It was brutal and perfect.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Arrowhead in two days

My ride
I'm frustrated.  The temperature during my projected time racing doesn't look to drop below 20 degrees fahrenheit.  This changes my whole strategy - what to wear, how to carry water, etc and makes me second guess many of my preparations.  But really maybe it's just the fact that i have a tendency to second guess my preparations anyway.

Grant came up last night and we went out for an hour on our fully loaded bikes to make sure there weren't any surprises.  All my gear is on the front end, something that the all knowing 'they' say isn't ideal but it seems to ride well enough so i'm not going to spend the time figuring out how to better balance my load.  I've found that the reality of aiming to be a jack of all trades means that I end up making do with a lot of less than optimal set-ups, especially compared with folks who specialize in one thing or another - such as winter bike racing.

No camelback, no drilled out rims,  an imbalanced bike, and a super jiggly headlight but she rolls when i press on the pedals and i think that will be enough to get me from the start to the finish.

I'm surprisingly calm, very little in the way of nerves.  maybe this is why people do the same race over and over again (not usually my MO) - to develop a level of comfort with all the logistics and have some sort of mental security going in.  Typically though, it's that mental insecurity that i'm seeking.

My ride at night
The calmness however is nice considering that i woke up this morning with pink-eye.  I was initially a bit distressed lying in bed during the wee hours this AM after i suspected my matted eye was significant, but what is there to do?  It's not a deal breaker.  My eyes were hammered when i did the race 3 years ago - worst case scenario is that i put a patch on the infected eye and use the other one.  The trail is wide and although the monocular vision may lead to a few more crashes, i'm riding on snow so the falls won't be too hard.  And if the itching drives me nuts i'll just take the eye patch off and let the eyeball freeze.

T-48 hours to seeing where this high intensity stuff gets me!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Going Visceral

Feeling everything at the 2010 Arrowhead 135
Arrowhead 135 is about two weeks away.  I love these two weeks.  I've done the event a couple times so i'm slacking on preparations but know i can pull it together quickly.  The fun part is the anticipation. The realization of impending suffering.  The worst case scenario waking dreams that begin creeping into my consciousness as i attempt to fall asleep at night.

It's exciting.  It makes me feel vibrant and alive and scared.  It's a challenge that will require immediacy but that will involve it by default - no need for me to cultivate an awareness of the moment in order to be fully present.  Instead, the moment(s) will impress themselves on me full force, demanding to be witnessed.  I will experience my entire body - my skin, by bowels, my muscles.  I will feel connective tissue and be aware of damage on a cellular level as the cold bites my fingertips when dexterity demands that i remove my gloves.  I will communicate sympathetically with my alveoli when the 250 micron diameter tubes are stretched to their breaking point - air molecules waking from their lethargic midwinter slumber   to ricochet energetically off their thin walls. I will respond to minute changes in force and acceleration automatically - without thinking about coefficients of friction - thousands of times as i careen down down and struggle up miles of snow covered trails.

I will listen to my heart, my lungs.  I will have long conversations with my central governor and alternate between sweet talking and bullying her into letting me have my way.  And after everything is said, I will - at least for a couple of hours in the middle of the night - let go of it all and just pedal mindlessly with little conscious awareness of anything, or memory recorded.  It's going to be awesome.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Catching Up

I'm very busy.  2013 is almost going to be like some massive year long challenge and I'm kind of excited to see how it all shakes out.  I'm sure there will be lots of failures - or at least a few - but fingers crossed I can keep em in the professional or athletic ambition category  and out of the family one.  That's always the goal I suppose, but it takes a great balancing act sometimes.

So what have i got on my plate besides training for and racing in a very mixed bag of ultra endurance type efforts this year (Arrowhead 135 bike race, a 50K trail run, a 27 mile swim, 30 hour adventure race, and possibly a late fall off road IM or something crazy)?  Well.....

  • Directing 12 races under ENDracing including the Uff Da Mud run, a pretty large scale event.
  • Managing a new Adventure Racing team
  • Acting as Executive Director of Ground UP adventures, a youth based non-profit, duties which include:
    • Project manager for Red River Boat House project
    • Manager of Youth Climbing Team
    • Climbing Club program director
    • CFO
    • Youth Adventure Racing Camp director
  • Home-schooling two crazy boys 
  • Tutoring mathematics to high-school and college students
  • Saving time for a family vacation in there somewhere
  • Saving money for a return trip to New Zealand next December
  • Keeping that balancing act going
When I think of the year in its entirety it totally freaks me out.  So i try not to do that.  Alright, back to work - one piece at a time.  Looking forward to every bit of it.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Power of Decisions (You Are the One)

I was turned on to a blog entry (before i took my FB hiatus) by a guy named Frank Forencich.  The post was/is brilliant and echoed many of my own ideas about 'training' and the problems that arise from our assumptions about health 'sciences'.  I highly encourage you to read the whole thing.  But what i want to talk about stems from one particular passage -

From Frank's site - "the exuberant animal"  -
a fresh take on healthy living 
In fact, we might even go so far to say that the proliferation of health information, advice and expertise is actually having a negative, disempowering effect on the very people it is supposed to be helping. Intimidated by the apparent complexity of health, fitness, nutrition and training, we balk. Afraid to take matters into our own hands, we give our innate intelligence over to others. Afraid to move our bodies, we hire personal trainers to hold the clipboard and count our reps. Afraid to make our own food choices, we hire nutritionists to tell us what to eat. At every decision point in the modern world, we come to a grinding halt, unwilling to take a chance with our own judgment. Awash in information, study becomes a substitute for authentic action. 
Now maybe I’m writing myself out of a job here, but I’m trying to make an important point, which is: You are the ultimate authority on your health and your life. No one knows your body as well as you do. No one knows your life story as well as you do. No one knows your predicament, your stress profile, your passions or your dreams. Your nervous system knows millions of times more about your body than any trainer, physician or computer ever will.
This got me thinking about decisions and the idea that 'deciding' plays a critical role in human potential.  What i'm suggesting is that once someone decides that they can do something, they've got a pretty good chance of being right.  Now i anticipate the immediate criticism that this is simply absurd - but this criticism is semantic: it hinges on the multiple interpretations of 'decide'.

In the above statement i'm using decide in a very strong sense - a genuine whole body and mind type belief in ones ability to accomplish a task.  Wishful decisions - the "i'm going to decide that i can run a marathon because i want to run a marathon" kind - don't count.  My strong sense of decision is based on the full information of this nervous system that Frank mentions - and as he suggests - is pretty much the ultimate authority.

Facts and observables about one's preparations are such a small part of the picture - they contain a fraction of the totality of things.  And so it is no wonder that taken in isolation they often lead to incorrect conclusions.  If I asked almost any fitness expert/trainer whether i could prepare for the AH135 bike race on 1 hour a week of training (only 40 minutes of biking), they'd, dollars to donuts, tell me that i couldn't.  Some of them (the good ones anyway) might come around if i explained in detail my history and my confidence in my abilities.  They'd recognize the unsung importance that this 'self-belief' - this genuine decision making - brings to the table.

But most would continue to bet against me - thinking that the body of objective, external knowledge based on observable, quantifiable data was the only thing that need be considered.  This knowledge isn't unimportant, but again, it is a fraction of the information that helps to determine my ability to accomplish any particular task.  I don't fault them, however - this is the story the health sciences and the general fitness community at large believe, and thus it is self perpetuating.  For the great multitude the belief - the act of deciding that they are capable of doing something, comes as the result of traditionally prescribed training - training which also produces this quantifiable data (training hours, miles biked, etc etc).  We learn, as Frank suggested - to put our trust in the numbers - to place our decision making power in the hands of others.

But i for one am not interested in such a model.  My life story speaks far more powerfully to me than the cacophony of voices shouting their wisdom at me that are happy to ignore it.  And so I agree with Frank whole heartedly -

I am my own scholar, my own expert, my own coach. 
I am the motivation.
I am the authority.
I am the trainer
I've got enough information.
Now is the time for action.
I can do this.