Friday, January 23, 2015

For the Joy

I remember reading Killian's book, Run or Die, last year and one particular part has stuck with me. I would quote it directly but I lent the book to a friend, who will remain nameless, who has not returned it (Laura!). Kidding, keep it as long as you need to, Laura. Back on track. The part of the book I remember most is when Killian recalls coming home from a run and recounting the day's adventures to his now ex-girlfriend. As he animatedly wraps up his story and finishes showing off his photos, he asks his lady friend about her adventures and she cries and says that it was wonderful but that there was no way to fully get someone to share in the feeling and thrill of the day.

I've felt this feeling so many times. No many how many pictures I share on Facebook, no matter how detailed my blog posts are, even if I personally sit with you and talk about my adventures there is no way to pass on the Joy that I feel when I'm out exploring. At my core, I am a "feeler" and though I can use my words to get others to know things, I'm always caught in a paradox of not feeling understood until someone feels what I am feeling. Getting someone to feel what you feel is very different than getting someone to know how you feel. Some writers have a unique ability to do this. If you don't know what I'm talking about read Jenn Hughes' piece from Trail Runner magazine about the Hardrock 100 here.

Lately I've been unhappy with my blog and I think it's because I've spent so much time writing about things instead of capturing the essence of the thing itself, instead of extracting the emotion I felt in an experience and impressing that feeling upon you, the reader. Normally what happens when I start monologuing about this is I stop right about here and hold the backspace key for a long time. Not this day. I'm no Jenn Hughes, though, so don't expect me to make you feel any great emotion. What I want to do is ask a question. People often ask themselves why they run. Regardless of the details, I think most people run because it gives them a Joy that they are otherwise unable to attain in daily life. The question I've been thinking about is what about running gives you the Joy?

The reason I've been mulling over this is because I have a lot of running friends who seem to get frustrated by certain things in their running that are taking away the Joy. For example, Cory has been angry after every run lately because his Garmin is not uploading his run data to Strava. Data can be useful in training and can bring you Joy as you see gains over time, but I had to "ground" myself indefinitely from Strava. If every run wasn't faster than the last or if I didn't get a "Queen of the Mountain," I became dissatisfied with my run. I knew if I was approaching a popular "segment" I would gun it (which is kind of like interval training), but the reason I was doing it was to show others that I was the fastest. Strava was taking away my Joy.

On my quest to shed all the things that diminish the Joy, I keep thinking about a blog entry that I wrote around this time last year about sponsorship. I've thought many times over about deleting it because if any sponsor read it, they would incorrectly assume that I never want to be sponsored. But this blog post has been one of my most popular reads and to delete it would be to hide something important that I thought was controversial. If I'm about anything, I'm about authenticity. So it remains... and if you're curious you can read it here.

Now I find myself in a seemingly hypocritical place on the Pearl Izumi Champions Run Team. It's not a sponsorship, it's more of an ambassadorship. I get a pair of free shoes and a singlet and in turn I continue to tell everyone how much I love Pearl Izumi's gear. The reason why I don't feel like a hypocrite is because I was doing these things anyway: complimenting people's PI shoes at races, writing PI shoe reviews on my blog, wearing PI shoes until they were dead, and using my decrepit shoes to pot plants in. This company's gear enhances my Joy so why not get some kickbacks from it and make it official?

Have you ever noticed that the harder the thing is, the more Joy you feel in the end? Easy things leave a taste in your mouth like black licorice, not horrible but not exactly satisfying. In search of Joy we went on a little winter running vacation this weekend. We were exhausted before we left and camping with two dogs in our rooftop tent for three days with lows in the teens and highs in the 40s sounded by no means "easy." Somehow we came back more recharged than if we had stayed in our comfortable home doing runs on our backyard mountain. In a futile attempt to share my Joy, here are some pictures.

At Kenosha Pass

South Park puppy pick-up

Old girl still has the moves

Chalk cliffs on the way to Salida

Salida Sunset

The view from our tent

Plenty of room in this tent

On the Rainbow Trail

Little pup tries to herd me

Got snowed out just a mile further up

Dry trails in Salida

Sweet Collegiates

Lots of snow in Leadville

Running around Turquoise Lake


Closest thing I have to digitally capturing the Joy

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy New Year

I'm not sure how what started out as a once a week blog has degraded into a once a month blog. As I was talking to my dad, the wise one, on the phone yesterday he said that I need to write a new blog post, and he's right. I have a whole bevy of excuses for why I haven't written and they are pretty good excuses. But I woke up early, got my run done, and now I'm going to try to quiet this restless brain and spew some thoughts on the page before work.

The picture above features my number one excuse for not writing. We got a puppy! We named her Acadia after the National Park we visited on our honeymoon, but we just call her Cadi. We have been told she is about a year old, but behavior-wise she has needed a lot of work. It's taken a full week but now she doesn't go to the bathroom in the house and she finally knows how to sit. She is a ball of energy and will try to eat the iPhone out of my hand so that I will pay attention to her. The trade-off for her rascally ways is that she is a trail-running phenom. She bounds ahead always staying within sight, she doesn't bark at other dogs (she actually tries to avoid them), and she has enough to endurance to go many miles. So far her longest run has been 7.5 miles but we don't want to push her too soon. Needless to say I'm exhausted but it is kind of nice having an adorable alarm clock to wake me up to run at 5am. Mayla seems relieved that we don't try to make her run anymore in her old age.

Old pup and young pup napping together

If I'm honest with myself, my main excuse is that I don't like how my blog has become all race reports and none of the deep, thoughtful things I used to write about. Back when my blog got only a few views a day I felt like I could empty my brain out because, lets face it, those views were probably my mom and dad. Now I get a lot more viewers checking out race reports and gear reviews, which is super exciting, but I feel less inclined to share the things I'm really thinking about.

Lets face it, if you know me at all or if you regularly read this blog, you know that I really struggle in the winter with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Living in Colorado has greatly eased the symptoms that I experienced when I lived in Wisconsin, but I've come to develop a coping mechanism that includes just not let myself think about things. If I'm feeling down, stop thinking about it. If I want to quit my job and be a puppy shepherd, just go for a run and deafen the thoughts with my iPod. I know the feelings will pass. When you feel the downward spiral begin all you can do is dig your feet in and refuse to be sucked down.

Depression is like that scene in the Princess Bride where they are walking through the fire swamp and Princess Buttercup gets pulled into the quicksand. I'm just going to assume you all have seen the Princess Bride because if not, what the hell have you been doing with your life?! Anyway, the princess is walking along and falls in and Wesley immediately grabs a vine and dives in to save her. They come clawing their way out gasping for air, obviously relieved and astonished just to be alive. That's what it feels like trying to return to the land of the living after going through depression. And you learn, wouldn't it just be easier to avoid the quicksand?

So what does this mean? It means that in the winter, I'm not running races and I'm not thinking things. I'm thinking: breakfast, run, second breakfast, work, puppies!, dinner, walk, bed. Doesn't make a very interesting blog post does it? So what's going to be on this blog the next month or two. Damn sure it's going to be pictures of puppies and nature.

One big piece of news is that I got selected to be on the Pearl Izumi Champions Run Team for next year! Basically not much will change. I'll still be evangelical about how much I love their shoes. But now I'll be using a lot more hashtags and I'll have a sweet singlet to wear at races.

As promised, pictures of puppies and trails:

Fog above Green Mountain and Dino Ridge

A glorious morning on Mt. Morrison

Cory the cloud walker

We dog-sat this guy, Jack, who convinced Cory that it would be ok to get another dog

Mayla got really excited about Christmas

She was really not excited about her antlers

Mayla came to visit at the bank a lot

And missed a lot of balls

We had some below zero days... nbd if we were in Wisconsin but we ARE NOT!

Someone told me on Facebook that I should have run through the Mines of Moria instead

We met the new puppy and, to Mayla's dismay, we took her home

Acadia wants you to know that I got on the Pearl Izumi team and that their shoes taste good

Someone appreciates the sun as much as I do

This face!

This morning on Green Mountain

Trail dog

Cadi went to check out the coyote poo

I can't stop taking pictures

Ok winter, I guess you are pretty