Monday, May 14, 2012

Running It Forward away from MIWOK - RIF Day 1

"One of the saddest lines in the world is, 'Oh come now - be realistic.' The best parts of this world were not fashioned by those who were realistic. They were fashioned by those who dared to look hard at their wishes and gave them horses to ride."
-Richard Nelson Bolles


My hair is on fire right now trying to pull last minute details together for this insanity of running 2,448-miles from CHICAGO to SANTA MONICA via the ROUTE 66 for education and health initiatives for under served and at-risk youth.  I can't tell you the last time I had a 3-week trip, or said in another way: 19-days away from the normal life routine.  In fact, it might be my first time ever going anywhere / doing anything for more than 2-weeks.  I am damn near a basket case right now.  While I love to be other places, I really hate the process of getting there (organizing my life, laundry, packing, pairing down what I need to a minimal amount of clothing and items, wrapping up last minute business details, etc.).  Add to this the fear of "how will my body hold up for 18-days of day-after-day long ROAD miles?"  Add to that the separation anxiety of being away from my dog and my Coyotes (save of course the 3 Coyotes I am taking with me) and I'm pretty much one big mess right now.  So any of you that think I'm fearless and have it all together, think again.  I am terrified.  Lucky for me this amazing program is attached to a worthy cause, and my desire to make a difference for these kids along the route by far outweighs my own petty and personal fears and apprehensions.

*sidetrack* I don't drink when I'm in the grip of fear (the rule, as stated in How Do You Know, by Reese Witherspoon's character Lisa is, "Don't drink to feel better. Only drink to feel even better."), but I do comfort eat.  I just broke open a box of Thin Mints and shall now tear through 1-sleeve. *end of sidetrack*

Man, those cookies soothe my trembling soul.  Back to Run It Forward!  There are so many crazy little details about this trip, coincidences that are like my little karmic reminders that I may have found my "true north". (In life's journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going and what is the right path for us personally. Knowing our true north would enable us to follow the right path.) Start, for example, with my marathon running: ran my 1st marathon in 2002 in Chicago.  My last marathon: the LA Marathon, where the finish line is essentially the END of the Route 66 (Santa Monica Blvd at Ocean Ave).  The first charity I raised money for was the NCCF (National Childhood Cancer Foundation) as children's charities are very near and dear my heart.  I've worked on kids health & fitness programs for years including but not limited to: NIKE's Cinco de Mile (we went to schools and took over PE classes to prep kids for a 1-mile race in early May) and the 100-Mile Club (Kara Lubin's program to challenge school kids to run 100-miles over an entire school year, cumulatively).

Now we are so close.  Kate, Keira and I flew into Chicago (and met Dave Carder & Sim) yesterday for a half-day of relaxation (and pizza consumption, Chicago-style deep dish, YUM!), prior to hitting the road (literally) later today. Tonight is a "shot-gun" start where ALL 5 guys will run a marathon at the same time.  One of us will start at Mile ZERO, another will get dropped off 26.2 miles down the road, the next 52.4 miles down the road, and so on and so forth.  I am really terrified about this much road mileage in one day, let alone the prospect of nearly 3 weeks of pavement pounding. Okay, I need to focus on the trails for a moment...

9 days ago (Sat, May 5th) was my 4th consecutive year running the Miwok 100k in the Marin Headlands.  It's been an interesting 4-year engagement (I have only run 2 races of some 250+ events in my life 4 consecutive years in a row, the other is the XTERRA Boney Mountain Half Marathon, also 2009-2012).  A look at the interesting changes in course and weather, and my times:

MIWOK 2009 - 10:13:18, 21st overall of 260 finishers
*renamed MUD-walk as it came down in buckets w/brutal cross winds
MIWOK 2010 - 10:19:04, 37th overall of 269 finishers
*opposite of 2009 with heat in the 80-90 degree range 
MIWOK 2011 - 9:45:13, 24th overall of 287 finishers
*some course changes moved ascent from 10k to 11k ups
MIWOK 2012 - 11:18:35, 24th overall of 264 finishers
*significant course changes moved ascent from 11k to 13k ups
So you KNOW that I finished, and how it held up.  Interesting to note that I was 1-hour, 33-minutes slower than the previous year (93-min, or 1-min, 30-sec PER MILE slower!) and I finished in the exact same place, 24th overall.  Now for what REALLY happened...

Wednesday seemed a normal day.  An office day with a few odds and ends crammed in.  Mike and Cassidy stopped by to get in a sauna session and easy spin out run around the Brentwood Country Club.  After a rather abysmal couple months of training where I got literally 1-run in over 3-hours / 16+ miles (and it was the LA Marathon, a semi-flat road race), I knew I wasn't in peak 100k shape.  Especially for a 100k that was boasting climbs into and out of Stinson Beach multiple times.  We were going to climb UP that Dipsea Trail after 26.2 hard trail miles, then we were going to descend it's suicidal single-track steps, roots and mud again post Mile 59.  A masochist's delight!  During that fateful 5-mile run, I got distracted by my beautiful pup Spirit and RAN chest first into a parking post.  I have a left collarbone made of iron, as it took the brunt of the impact (broke the skin) yet didn't fracture/break.  It was hilarious, in the moment. About 90-min later, I was in the fetal position on the floor of my apartment, back engaged in full spasms.  When I stood up, it was like someone twisting a knife in my low right back, I couldn't breathe.  Small problem: I had to coach at DISNEY that night and had MIWOK 3 days later.  Mentally, I was panicking.  I took some ibuprofen for the 3rd time in the last 2 years (I seldom take pills of any kind) and that got the back to stop spasming (if that's even a word), coached at DISNEY and set up an emergency sports chiro appointment for THU am.  Woke up... NO pain?  Led the THU Coyote run, even hiked, then ran a little... no pain???  Went to the chiro who says, "destabilized pelvis" and "not that big a deal" in the same sentence.  He adjusts me, gives me a pelvic / SI compression belt and says, "if ever running 100k over mountains is a good thing, you're good to give it a shot."  GAME ON.

I'd love to recap the race, step-by-step, but for now, I won't.  I'll say this: I was in about 50th position at the 26-mile mark (Stinson visit 2 of 3), and I spent the whole last 36-miles passing people.  I ran a slightly faster 2nd half after a very cautious and conservative 1st half.  It was by far my slowest MIWOK, yet of the 4, the one I'm most proud of.  I hurt (muscle fatigue) most of the race, yet was as mentally rock solid as I've ever been.  I was smiling and goofing off at every aid station no matter how bad I felt.  I hope I'm able to maintain that attitude and perspective throughout the next 18 days.

RUN IT FORWARD begins now.  If you haven't 'HIGH-$5'd' us yet, take a couple minutes and do that now.  Even a single $5 donation makes a tangible difference.  If you can donate more, please do.  Just reading this blog, I'm deeply appreciative that you're here, that you're sharing this information, and supporting this cause.  We need more people LIKE YOU in this world...