Friday, August 23, 2013


I went for my first run in almost a week this morning.  I'll get to why in a short while.

Elizabeth and I spent last weekend in the high, wide, and handsome land of Montana.  I find myself being more and more infatuated with the large state separating Wyoming from Canada.  It's still very similar to Wyoming, but the towns of Bozeman, Missoula, and my personal favorite, Helena, have a decent sense of liberalism (one that does not exist in Wyoming), delicious beer, awesome trails and mountains, and actual restaurants in which to eat.  Bozeman is a little on the yuppie/tourist side, but Helena is, in my opinion, what Laramie could possibly be if it ever got its shit together.  

Laramie is a college town.  Not "cowboy", not "Old West."  College.  And a pretty dumpy one at that.  The first things one sees entering Laramie from any direction are a) pawn shops, b) liquor stores, and c) some sort of junk yard.  Or Wal-Mart, which is really the same thing.  I love Laramie and have made it my home for eleven years, but it has potential, I feel, to be more.  I just am not sure what that would take, and I don't think I'm willing to beat my head against "tradition" to achieve it.  I can just go somewhere else where it already exists.

That rant was not my original intention, but that's where my mind wanders every time I come back to Wyoming from somewhere else.  And in true Wyoming parlance, I could say, "If you don't like it, leave.  We don't want you here anyway."  Might be time to heed that close-minded advice.

We were in Montana for a wedding in Helena, with stops to and fro, of course, in Bozeman.  Helena has trails right on the edge of town with Blackfoot River Brewing close by.  Pretty much a dream situation for yours truly.  On a running related note, I am looking at Elkhorn next August.  Lots of incentive to do it.

The wedding and weekend were great.  I ate way too much good food, drank delightful beer, ran a little bit, and kicked it with some amazing, generous, and hospitable folks.  

Helena, MT.
Pretty lady with great beer at Blackfoot River Brewing.
And we looked damn good at this wedding.
Everything was great.  Then this happened:


This is the result of a piñata party gone wrong.  The wedding party took swings at a papier-mâché unicorn with no real success.  The bride stepped up to the plate, swung for all she was worth, lost the club (a broken/tapered 2x4 no less) and sent it sailing like a boomerang through the crowd.  It hit our friend Mariah, who was sitting on my left, directly above the eye, and clipped the side of my head on the ricochet.  I immediately started bleeding profusely, and after a few chaotic moments, we were put in a car and driven to the ER.

It took awhile to get admitted and all that jazz, but I did eventually get cleaned and stitched up.  No concussion or head trauma, just a nice, 3-centimeter cut.  Poor Mariah, however, was found to have a fractured skull that will require surgery to repair.  I apologize to her for not moving my giant head in front of hers.  Friends in Helena, you should definitely give my injury buddy a hug.

So, after that fun, we came home.  I didn't run because I wasn't sure how my head would feel.  It never really did hurt much.  When I got back, I remembered that for Valentine's Day, Elizabeth had bought me tickets to see my favorite band, Baroness, at the Bluebird.  I was also not sure how my head would like a loud metal show with moshing.  We decided to go anyway.


It was a great show.  I wore my earplugs and stayed out of the pit.  I will be sure to see these guys again when they undoubtedly come around in the future.

So, that's been a pretty eventful couple of weeks.  Classes start here next week, so all the students are back.  Life just got more treacherous in the Gem City.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Running Doldrums

I have once again been bitten by a lack of motivation and desire.  Since Bighorn, something has been a little off.  I just have not had the ability to get myself psyched up for running a bunch.  I've found it much easier lately to talk myself out of it, and when I do go running, I feel like I'm going through the motions with no real investment of emotion or love.

Elizabeth bought me a book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami.  In one chapter, he describes his first ultra, a 62-miler in Japan.  He focuses significantly on his feeling after he finished.  At the end, he claims he was merely happy he did not have to run anymore.  There was no great sense of accomplishment or pride regarding pushing through and finishing the race.  And after, he too was listless and unmotivated.

That is exactly how I felt at Bighorn.  I was glad to be done.  Nothing more.  I still, after having time to reflect about it, am not happy with it and I still don't feel that sense of accomplishment.  None of the, "Hey, I did this!  I finished!"  I did 52 miles, and all I cared about was being done.  Then I would go out for runs in the weeks after and just feel...nothing.  It wasn't boredom per se, it was just...blah.  I could do it, I could not do it.  I was totally apathetic.

That was an issue when I went to Rainier a few weeks ago (more on that coming sometime).  One of the issues I am having is getting myself ready mentally to go do something like that.  I'm exhausted from psyching myself up to go out and run that long and that hard.  I get too easily frustrated, and until I can calm down, or teach myself to just go with it, I'm not sure the ultra races are something I really want to do.  Racing in general even; it all seems tedious to me right now.

I am trying to refocus and just go run.  And if I choose to race, it's going to be much shorter.  Physically and mentally, I do believe that my optimum racing is to be done between 10K and 30K.  Once I get over 20 miles, I am an asshole.

I did, however, run the Wyoming Race for the Cure last weekend.  A road 5K is something I've done so much that it's almost second nature and requires little to no psyching up, so that was good.  And RFTC is important to my family, considering my mother and my aunt are both breast cancer survivors.  I first ran the race in 1999, heading into my junior year of high school.  This race, always held mid-August, has been a pretty good barometer for measuring fitness coming off summer training and heading into the fall cross-country season.  This was my fourteenth RFTC.  I have missed one year, 2011, because I was a groomsman in a friend's wedding.

I wanted to help Schabby break 17 minutes.  He has run every day for nearly three years.  However, he hasn't gone sub-17 in some time, something he lamented to me on a run recently.  So, I told him I would pace him through the race and we would go under 17.  And we did.  I took him through the first mile in 5:17, and implored him to hang on.  I did lose him a little on a hill in the middle of mile two.  I hoped he had enough to hang on.  He did, eventually crossing the finish in 16:56.  Mission accomplished.

Hungry Dogs.  Old guys.  Schabby and me around mile one, with Jerry not far behind.  Photo: Gabe Floud.

Me, I got myself into a battle with a couple of 17-year old high school runners.  Both kids made their moves too soon and I was able to out kick them at the end for 6th place in 16:28.  I am getting old (this was my first race in the 30-39 age category), and I still have a lot of stupid pride left.  The kids will learn as they gain experience.  I swear, I now rely more on muscle memory and wiles than I do on fitness or skill.  If those kids keep with it, they'll figure it out.  That said, I got beat by two 24-year olds, two 19-year olds, and an 18 year old.  But I cleaned up that 30-39 division!

Now that I contradicted my first paragraphs with my last paragraph, I will end this.  I will get something written up (with PICTURES) on my Wonderland Trail experience soon.  It will be short, much like our run.  And I will continue to get out a run what I can.  It's coming back a little bit.  

Here's a song that's awesome.