Sunday, April 18, 2010

shoes, oh my shoes

Okay, so here’s the scoop: Two years ago, I was cooking hot dogs for my campers over an open fire when I caught my shoes on fire. They were my favorite trail shoes, and they burned up like slices of toast. I thought, “I will never love another shoe again. It is too painful.” I considered becoming like Pocohontas, shoeless and free.

But then I found the Montrail Rockbridges. I am in love again. Birds are singing. In the words of Celine Dion, “My heart will go on.” My heart has gone on.

Rockbridges are my favorite Montrails. They’re light-weight and breathable. They’re sturdy enough that they can handle technical trails, and they are just very comfortable. I have the purple-maroon ones. They remind me of eggplants. Every Italian girl loves her eggplants.

Sneakers are important when you regularly put more miles on your feet than your car. I love my Montrails.

Happy Pace Race 24-Hour Relay, etc.

On Saturday, I treated myself to an ultra—a casual race in Sandy Bottom Park, Hampton, Virginia. It was SO FUN, but at the same time a giant misadventure.

1-I left 80% of my racing gear back in D.C. Water bottles? I went old-school and carried plastic ones. Head lamps? Just two—my least favorite ones. Technical socks? Noooooo. I wore an old pair of my brother’s socks. I love his socks. You know what they say: You never really know a person until you run 60 miles in his socks. For shoes, you only need to walk a mile.
2-My GPS had no idea where we were going.
3-I accrued a major sleep deficit over the week. It was crazy.
4-I parked my car in a pile of road kill.

The race was great, though. It was one of those run-however-much-you-want or run with a relay team event, while fundraising for the American Cancer Association. Perfect! Part of me wishes I had stayed to run the whole 24-hour shebang, but I stopped after 60 miles, since running over 100 within 3 weeks of running 100 would be.....hmmmmm....less than salubrious, especially for my mental health. It's taxing. Oh, my gosh.

The first several laps flew by. I met a Chemistry professor named Mark. I was thrilled. I love to run with chemists. I met one at the Grindstone last year. We talked for a while, until he hit the wall and had to drop out. Unlike in racquetball, hitting the wall in running is not a good thing. Mark was fun! He holds the world speed record for dribbling a basketball while marathoning. Mark and I talked about spectroscopy. I asked him if he could tell me the chemical constituents of the dirt we were running on. He said, “No because I’m not a geek.” I said, “Ohhhh yeah. Me neither.”

Dirt is wonderful. A couple of years ago, my bio lab did a five-week microbial diversity study of Virginia hardwood forest soil. It was so enlightening. In a 50-50 mixture of soil and distilled water, my lab partner and I found approximately 270,000,000 bacterial colonies in 100 ul of our sample. And that was only testing for four types of bacteria! I was blown away. But, Mark, I am not a geek. Nerd, maybe. But not a geek.

The race progressed, and I passed the RD. “There’s a bull’s eye on your back,” he told me. Ahhhhh, why?! I was the hunted. The previous years’ winners were trying to walk me down, but I was LEISURE RACING. I was there for the love of the sport. Oh, so then I thought about Nicomachean Ethics for a while. Bull’s eye…you know. The mark of the moral virtue is a habit of the soul, concerning choice, and consists in OBSERVING THE MEAN, a mean such that a man of practical wisdom (phronesis) would observe. I was thinking about how if I lived a life in reference to the mean, I would have to be lazy and fight my inclinations to run. (AMERICA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? )

This is going to sound weird, but having that time running for so long alone with my thoughts…ummmmm…fine-tunes my intellect. There was this one time that I invented apple juice. I thought, “Apples are so delicious. I wish there were some way to…maybe…extract the liquid so I wouldn’t have to chew.” It doesn’t matter that it already exists because I invented it independently of everyone. Maybe that’s what Al Gore means when he says he invented the internet.

This run, I skipped my morning coffee and only allowed myself a single ibuprofen 45 miles in. I wanted to feel my body respond to the trails better and not be removed from the pain or exhaustion. One man ran by me and told me he was on vicodin. He had some left over from an old injury. Welllllllll, I just don’t think that’s okay. Actually, it really freaked me out. I prefer my reality unaltered.

Man in the zoo print elephant shorts, I salute you!

Man dressed as Prefontaine, mustache and all, I salute you!

Woman talking to every member of her extended family on her cell phone while running, I salute you!

Thanks for a wonderful time.
Upcoming races:
Old Dominion 100 (June)
Vermont 100 (July)
I can’t believe I get to live this life.

“I’ve had my run, and baby, I’m done. I’ve got to go home.” -- Michael BublĂ©

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A few thoughts coming away from the Umstead-100


Second place! And it felt pretty good. :)

1-I am pretty sure that ultramarathoning is the only sport which not only condones the fanny-pack but practically mandates it. So fun.

2-I love this sport because the people are so authentic. They all have an interesting story to tell. I think when you spend so much time alone in a pair of sneakers, it edifies you. It makes you stronger and more honest with yourself.

3-This is the only sport where you could run 99 miles in one day, and if you don't finish that last mile, you walk away having failed...even after running 99 miles. Hahahaha. Cool!

4-About 75 miles in, a lady yelled after me that my calves were getting sunburned. I said, "Thank you. That is the least of my problems right now."

5-The whole time, I kept thinking about how it only takes 18 hours without brushing your teeth for permanent tooth decay to occur. So, by necessity, I finished in 17 hours, 21 minutes.

6-Two men proposed to me while I was running. I said yes to both of them.

7-The race volunteers and aid station workers were so encouraging! THANK YOU!

8-When I hit 99.7 miles, I told my pacer (my little brother), that I had had enough and was dropping out of the race. He did not think it was funny. I thought it was SO FUNNY.