Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Before I give an update of the past two weeks, I've got to explain the photos. This is one of Phil Mendoza's pacers at the Bear - Greg Shadow. Sorry Greg I cut your face off but it was dark. I guess there's not much explaining to do if you don't know Greg because you wouldn't understand. Greg paced Phil from Tony Grove to Franklin and it was timely because Phil needed a pick-me-up. See the dollar? Greg did a little dance for Roch Horton at Franklin - crazy stuff happens in the middle of the night! This has got to be one of THE best pacer outfits EVER! If you've got a photo of something better, I'd love to see it.
So after I decided not to do the Bear, I still had my travel plans which dropped me off in SLC on Thursday. And since I plan to go back to the Bear next year I decided I would help out as much as I could but most of all hang out with good buddies. I ended up pacing Phil Mendoza from 39 to 47 and 61 to 75 straight through the night. I was more than happy to help Phil. Not only is he a good friend but he has helped me countless times during the past couple of years. In fact, I remember the first time Phil paced me at Wasatch in 2005, he said "I will never do a hundred" Well we all know this ultra thing is highly addictive so I kept telling him it was a matter of time. Phil finished in 33.34 minutes for his first hundred - nice job Phil! I'm proud of ya!
As for me, for the past couple of weeks my Achilles has been sore so I have decided to take a month completely off from running. That month basically started after I paced Aric at Wasatch for 60 myles so that means I'll start back running minimally during the second week of October. In the meantime I have been swimming and riding a mtn bike to stay active and not become morbidly obese. I've been to the pool 4 times now and today I finally reached 1 mile... in 56:00 minutes nonetheless. I know it's slow but I took Tim Hola's advice thus I'm trying to concentrate on one thing each time I go. So far my breathing is better and becoming more natural, I'm breathing out of both sides every other stroke, I'm cupping my hands as my arm goes through the water, I can make it 4 lengths of the pool before I have to rest (100 meters). So as you can see this swimming thing is a learning process and it's fun learning. I find myself eager to get in the pool and become more efficient. The next thing I'm gonna work on is turning underwater. I'll keep you posted on my progress but for now it's 1 mile in 56:00. Oh and btw - Jaxon went to the pool with me today and he did 12 lengths of the pool - I'm pretty proud of him!
Last, I want to tell you about a book I just read. It's called Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. It's a book about people being in life or death situations and why some people die and why some people survive. It's a very scientific approach to understanding the mind and how we are wired. So for Christmas this year, all my family and friends are getting a copy of the book so they can better understand why I do what I do. Any ultra runner or endurance athlete always gets the question "why?" This books explains a lot of that and maybe now some of you who know me will understand me. I've never been able to put it into words why I do endurance events but Launence Gonzales did if for me so now I don't have to. Here's an excerpt from his book:
"D.H. Lawrence wrote that every year you pass an anniversary unaware: the anniversary of your own death. I've seen it so many times before, as adventurers circle and circle the spot marked X where they meet their own death, taunting it, teasing it, playing with the big cat. Never fool yourself into thinking you can tame it.
Sure, we do it in our ordinary lives, too - you can get killed on your lunch break - but we do it blindly. In our adventures, we engage fate deliberately. We choose a relentless and indefatigable opponent, while others pretend to be safe. We feel that our experiences are much more real, while seeing the masses as deluded in their complacency. When well-trained people are fetched off by fate during a well-planned and thoughtful expedition, there is no more ignominy in it than when an ordinary Joe gets hit by a bus. No one says, "He shouldn't have been walking there." But a climber named Karl Iwen, unfamiliar with Three Fingered Jack, a volcanic mountain in Oregon, which he was descending, left his companions, left the trail, left his ice ax strapped to his pack, and ventured out onto the snow, where he treated his companions to a spectacular show as he slid into the couloir and did a 600 foot impulse control, or what I call "the rapture of the shallow."
The perfect adventure shouldn't be that much more hazardous in a real sense than ordinary life, for that invisible rope that holds us here can always break. We can live a life of bored caution and die of cancer. Better to take the adventure, minimize the risks, get the information, and then go forward in the knowledge that we've done everything we can.
No, some people would rather not see it, but the bull is there for all of us. Some of us choose to pass the cape in front of its horns. To live life is to risk it. And when you feel the rush of air and catch the stink of hot breath in your face, you enter the secret order of those who have seen their own death up close. It makes us live that much more intensely. So intense is it for some that it seals their fate; once they've tasted it, they just can't stop. And in their cases, perhaps we have to accept that the light that burns the brightest burns half as long.
But I believe that if you do it right, you can have it all. I adhere to what my daughter Amelia calls the Gutter Theory of Life. It goes like this: You don't want to be lying in the gutter, having been run down by a bus, that last bit of your life ebbing away, and be thinking, "I should have taken that rafting trip..." or, "I should have learned to surf..." or "I should have flown upside down - with smoke!"
Pete Conrad was the third man to walk on the moon. He died in a motorcycle accident on an ordinary day. It took him a while to die as he went to the hospital. I wonder what he was thinking. I hope it was: I did it all."
AMEN! Couldn't have said it better myself