11 March 2012

Way Too Cool 50k Race Report - Go For It or Go Back To Bed

Janeth Siva, Tim Stahler, and me, along with a giant dog (Hoover).  Photo Chris Jones

Stressful week.  Some business marketing with Active.com was a huge flop (and cost a lot of money - don't use them for marketing), had a couple weeks of dismal motivation, and I got sick as hell three days before WTC.  I was on the verge of bagging the race and just refocus my daily life and training for Miwok and the 100s coming up.  At the very least I had to readjust my goals for the race.  Initially, I wanted to go sub 4 hours and top 20.  That seemed like a stretch now.

I drove up to stay in Roseville with Patrick (thanks for the hotel, P!) on Friday, had a big dinner and giant beer and headed back to the hotel for a stuffed up, coughing, sniffling, sporadic night's sleep.
Looks like a drunk driving advertisement - hotel was across the street.
The weather was nearly perfect on race morning with temps in the 40s and dry with no wind.  I lined up about two rows back from the line in the crowd of 800+ runners and suddenly we were off and running 6 minute pace down the road.  I clicked off the first mile in about 6:15 and was in probably 30-40th place - it was going to be a long day if I tried to keep this up much longer.

The course starts with the Olmstead loop of 8 miles, which loops back through the start/finish with aid station.  During this loop I tried to relax and get into a groove but my energy was low and I felt like stopping after mile 4.  I caught and passed Jean Pommier, then Scott Dunlap, who also wasn't feeling well.  ITR's other half, Tim Stahler came up for the race to take [great] photos and offer support for everyone.  He was situated just after the aid station at mile 8.  I reached him in 56 mins, dropped my gloves and grabbed a filled bottle from him (thanks Tim!).
On Olmstead section.  Photo Peter Beck

Scott Dunlap…and camera.  Photo Tim Stahler

Photo Tim Stahler
Finish.  Photo Simon Gatrall
Shortly afterwards, Erik Skaden caught back up to me and we ran together for the next 10 miles.  He's a workhorse and was setting the pace strong along the river.  I just latched onto the Skaden Train and held on.  Unfortunately, I hit my first real bad patch at mile 18, which happens to be a substantial climb, so I sadly watched Erik and a couple other guys pull away.  The bad patch lasted until around mile 20.  I took in 300 cals of gels, two salt tabs and drank a bunch, trying to regain what little energy I could.  I was probably passed by five guys in that stretch.  Once recovered, I pushed hard and caught everyone except Erik (3:52) and Wes (3:53).

Grinding up Goat Hill (mile 25).  Photo NorCal Ultras

It came down to a race with the clock.  I kept wavering between believing I had a chance at sub 4 and feeling like it was impossible.  When I hit the last aid station at 3:53, I figured there was no chance but I shot through the aid station without even looking up and poured it on to the final stretch.

Tim S. was on the final 400 meters and snapped some photos.  Trust me, I was a lot more uncomfortable than the photos indicate.  As I sprinted towards the line, the clock clicked over 4:00:00, so I thought I missed it.  As in most cases, the clock wasn't synced with the race timing and I actually crossed the line in… 3:59:59.03 and 19th place overall.  For once, I was on the good side of a goal time.  I certainly am thankful under the conditions leading up to and during the race.  Full results.

Gary Gellin in the final stretch!  Photo Tim Stahler
Congratulations to Gary Gellin for executing one of the best races I've witnessed.  Running precise splits, making his decisive move running up Goat Hill, he broke Mike Wolfe's course record, reaching the finish in 3:27.  Julie Fingar and ALL the volunteers put on a clinic of how to produce a race.  I'm very grateful to them and enjoyed the day tremendously.

Thanks to Udo's Oil, Rudy Project, and La Sportiva.  Great companies and superb gear.

06 March 2012

Expand Your Focus

Expand your focus.  It sounds like an oxymoron, yet it's been a mantra of mine for a long time.

When I finally finished my college studies in late 1993 and took a job with Buick Motor Division and met a girl I thought I'd be with forever, something still felt missing.  In hindsight I recognize that I was still filled with the residual idealistic beliefs that all young writers experience, those deep beliefs that are almost reality because you have internalized them into every fiber of your being.  The creativity and passion that soaked those fibers was still there but here I was living what others felt I should be doing.  I felt caged in.

So, I began reading Dr. Wayne Dyer on my lunch breaks.  I'd go out to a chair that the janitor staff used in one of the garages (where the big execs parked) and I would sit in my ugly, charcoal grey, Brooks Brothers suit and read inspirational words, trying to find meaning or, rather, purpose to my life.  I would leave the stress and detachment of my stiff office, sit in a dingy, vinyl chair in a dark garage filled with expensive cars, and I would escape into a place I wanted to be, a place I needed to find.

Out of the dozen or so books of Dr. Dyer's that I read over the following months, one thing was painted in my mind every day and still coats the walls of my thoughts.  Whatever you focus on will expand.  Focus on the things that make you feel small and unhappy and that reality expands.  Focus on love, kindness, and your passion, and that reality expands.

I probably would still be working for Buick in some capacity if it weren't for those books read during the piled up lunch hours.  Dyer's books and, more precisely, his challenge to focus on what's important helped me break away from society's views of success and nudged my drifting life into a path with no set direction, yet with meaning and purpose.  I left Buick and moved to New York and that, as they say, was the beginning.

Since then, over these last 17 years, I've had to keep reminding myself to focus on what I want, what's important, because it will expand in my life.  It's challenging and once in a while puts oneself in compromising positions.  It works for nearly everything but sometimes it propels me beyond the present because I visualize what I know is meant to be and suddenly my focus is askew from the present.  When the present doesn't meet with my vision, like so many things that don't fit what you believe to be true, it offers the opportunity for growth.  Sometimes the present catches up with your expansion of focus and the frequencies hum along in parallel waves and things blossom; sometimes they don't.

When they don't, it's important to reestablish your idea(l) of what's important and begin the process of focussing on those things: passion, love, kindness.  Purpose.