Monday, August 31, 2009

I came across an open letter to Dean Karnazes that encourages the "Ultramarathon Man" to take a break from running. Far from the usual Dean-bashing that takes place in the darker corners of the internet, Byron, the author of the letter, appears to possess sincere respect for Dean. He lauds Dean's past competitive achievements, but cites Karnazes' three most recent races (two of which resulted in DNFs) as evidence of Dean's "problem"--racing too much. Byron concludes his letter with this passage:

No one will think less of you if you decide to bag your next however many races. Seriously, you've established your running credentials and they stand for themselves. If anything, continuing to race in the face of your current adversity could be a detriment to your reputation as a runner. You were a big man to drop when you needed to at Western States and even bigger man when you let Helen Cospolich tow you at TransRockies. Be an even bigger man and say enough is enough... for now. People will respect you for your discretion.

Anyway, I sincerely hope you seriously consider taking some time off from racing and maybe even some time entirely off from running. I'd love to see you roaring down some single track more like your former self come next spring.
Dean's not the only one going through a rough patch. Mark, the seemingly unstoppable Welshman, is also dealing with a running funk.

I don't know that I've ever been guilty of overtraining, but definitely over-racing. I think "The Quad" exemplifies that. 4 ultramarathons in less than 4 months was too much. By the time Rocky Raccoon rolled around, I was burnt out.

So this time, I've gone the other way. Minimal training. Long runs, yes. But that's it. No pushing it if it doesn't feel right. I guess I'll have to wait 6 weeks to see if it works.

Heartland Meditation and Focus

"The Edge.... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others--the living--are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later."

- Hunter S. Thompson

An apt quote for ultrarunning in light of Erik Skaggs' acute kidney failure following his record-setting victory at the Where's Waldo 100 km.

As I venture inside 6 weeks of Heartland, I'm entering the monastic phase of training. Although my (relatively) long weekend runs are coming to an end, the final preparation is just beginning. With the race looming closer on the horizon, I'll be eating healthier, drinking more water, getting more sleep. The goal is to drop about 5 pounds of useless body fat over the next month and half, arriving in Kansas lean and ready to run.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It’s not that Americans can’t win. It’s just sometimes we get obsessed with time. You can’t win a race like that.
Kara Goucher

(Thanks to Ed a.k.a. Bad Buddha for the quote and link to this article)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tales of the Heartland

Heartland is less than seven weeks away. And it is definitely on my mind these days.
There are several ways not to walk in the prairie, and one of them is with your eye on a far goal, because then you begin to believe you're not closing the distance any more than you would with a mirage. My woodland sense of scale and time didn't fit this country, and I started wondering whether I could reach the summit before dark. On the prairie, distance and the miles of air turn movement to stasis and openness to a wall, a thing as difficult to penetrate as dense forest. I was hiking in a chamber of absences where the near was the same as the far, and it seemed every time I raised a step the earth rotated under me so that my foot feel just where it had lifted from. Limits and markers make travel possible for people: circumscribe our lines of sight and we can really get somewhere. Before me lay the Kansas of popular conception from Coronado on--that place you have to get through, that purgatory of mileage.
Hiking in the woods allows a traveler to imagine comforting enclosures, one leading to the next, and the walker can possess those little encompassed spaces, but the prairie and plains permit no such possession. Whatever else prairie is -- grass, sky, wind -- it is most of all a paradigm of infinity, a clearing full of many things except boundaries, and its power comes from its apparent limitlessness; there is no such thing as a small prairie any more than there is a little ocean, and the consequence of both is the challenge: try to take yourself seriously our here, you bipedal plodder, you complacent cartoon.
-- William Least Heart-Moon, PrairyErth (a deep map)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A few aimless observations just before I attempt to force myself into peaceful slumber at 8:15 p.m. (Long run starts early tomorrow.)

Inglorious Basterds was vicious, violent, and diabolically delightful, and Tarrantino's best film ever. Yes, better than that other one.

Dan Jenkins may be the funniest writer alive today.

A person can eat pizza at a different, locally-owned restaurant in Fort Worth at least 6 days a week and each time feel like they are enjoying a distinctly original meal.

Spending 4 hours with a well-rested and rambunctious 2-year old boy is more exhausting than running a 4 hour marathon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Body Firm wants to Destroy Me

This morning's workout was capped off with a set I have informally dubbed the "8-Minute A**hole."

15 squats
10 push-ups
5 pull-ups

Do as many rounds as possible in 8 minutes.

Now, now, I know what all those Crossfit cultists are yammering. "Hey, that's a Crossfit workout cut short. We do that same thing for 20 minutes," says the lean, excessively-chiseled athlete in the sleeveless WOD t-shirt.

Yes, yes, of this I am aware.

But, in my defense (and I realize that I am likely making a defenseless argument, at least in the eyes--and heart--of the forged elite fitness fiend), the "8-Minute A**hole" did come at the end of 30 minutes of rather incessant exercise.

Free El Scorch Publicity

Everybody loves promoting El Scorcho:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work has been brutally invigorating the past 10 days. Temporary restraining orders, emergency hearings, injunctions... the hours have been longer than usual, but peppered with numerous Court appearances, arguments, and examinations.

On the running front, I plan to hit southwest Fort Worth for 26-30 miles early Saturday morning. I expect Jballs will make an appearance during the trek.

But can I really call such a paltry distance a trek?

Afterall, Miles is hammering out 100km in Oregon this weekend, while John "F'ing Grilled Cheese" Sharp is doing his fifth (!) 100 mile race of the year--and up in oxygen-deprived Leadville.

You see, friends? I'm not nearly as obsessive about this endurance running as some folks.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Body Firm Encourages Intensity

Dave decided to encourage Toben and me by posting a picture of us working out on his blog.

The picture is below, but first a bit of an explanation.

This picture was taken toward the end of our workout, after we had already spent a half hour trashing our bodies with high-intensity, zero-rest weight/cardio punishment.

To cap off the torture session, Dave rewarded us with Tabata Thrusters.

What are Tabata Thrusters?

I had the same question.

From what I gathered from the Internet (which we all know is an infallible source of accurate information), Tabata is the name of a Japanese researcher who discovered an interesting way to increase both anaerobic and aerobic pathways at the same time.

Here is how it works. Take one exercise and perform it in the following manner:

1) For twenty seconds, do as many repetitions as possible.
2) Rest for ten seconds.
3) Repeat seven more times.

That's it, and you're done in four minutes.

Oh, and that thing you're trying to brush off your face? That would be the floor.

One site sums it up like this: "The Tabata training method is so simple, yet so incredibly difficult, that athletes tend to try it once, acknowledge its greatness, and then vow to never speak its name again."

Tabata Thrusters are incredible amounts of fun.* Take two dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height. Squat down--all the way down, we're talking a DEEP squat--while keeping the dumbbells on your shoulders. As you rise up, press the dumbbells to the overhead lockout position. Repeat. Again. And again. And again.

It helps to have someone record the reps of each set for you because, well, you won't remember after you pass out.

ANYWAY... this is Toben and me somewhere in the middle of our 4-minute Tabata Thruster routine, which, I believe I pointed out earlier, took place at the conclusion of our workout.


* i.e., utter agony.
embarass

Although not a member of the cult, I do lurk about several CrossFit blogs and sites. Here is a particularly enjoyable quote I recently came across:

[Y]ou agree to give 100% of what you have. There are no excuses or second chances. Everyday, every moment is an opportunity to excel, to be more, to acheive your best. Do not squanders you time by going through the motions. Train hard and get results. At the end of the day, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you gave your all. If you don't have that level of committment, don't waster your time or ours.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Las Vegas is definitely not my scene. It reminded me of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras without any of the culture. Drunken zombies mindlessly burning brain cells and C-notes. (And yes, that is a description of me and the bachelor-partying crew in town for Willis D.'s pre-marital romp.)

It is good to be home.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Anybody want to join Jballs and me for a marathon before work tomorrow morning?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Some random things I encountered on my 30 mile, 4 a.m. run.

1 crazy, drunk guy running toward me and yelling, "they're trying to kill me!"

3 police officers who pulled up shortly thereafter and who I informed of the whereabouts of the crazy, drunk guy.

4 skunks in strike position.

1 torrential downpour.

1 random act of kindness.

It was an interesting morning.

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