On The Outside Looking In and Dreams of UltrarunningMar 24
Its only my first weekend on crutches, and I’m already jumping out of my skin. I’m not going to lie, this weekend has been tough. Not only has it been tough because I’m hopping around on two sticks that are chafing the crap out of my armpits and making everything a complete pain in the ass, but its been tough because so many of my former TNT Ironteam teammates are out there killing it at their respective training weekends and all I can do is watch. It was a big weekend for the TNT LA Chapters, with Ironteam heading up to Lake San Antonio for Wildflower Training Weekend, Ultrateam knocking out 40+ miles of the Leona Divide course, and TNT Greater LA Tri Team racing out at Lavaman. I’ve been forced to watch it all from the sidelines, on the PUP list, pulling my hair but but happy to at least have the opportunity to live vicariously thru my good friends.
I’m super stoked for so many of my former teammates that are crossing new boundaries. Whether it be the newest crop of ultrarunners that are forging new paths as part of the inaugural season of TNT Ultrateam or returning Ironteam teammates/coaches that are pushing a new crop of future Ironman athletes to their physical limits while testing themselves in the process, it brings a huge smile to my face to see the pictures pouring in on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. I remember thoses weekends well, and there’s really no way to describe them other than to say that there’s a collective understanding between those that participated that some pretty special things are being accomplished.
With that said, I can’t help but be frustrated. Its beautiful out…..so beautiful in fact that I’m insanely jealous of everyone that is outdoors enjoying the beauty that this world has to offer. There’s no better way to experience the world than by being IN IT, whether on foot, on a bike, or in the water. The world passes by so quickly when we’re living our everyday lives, driving our cars and caught up in the rat race and I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to see things from the unique perspective that training/racing provides. I appreciate it even more now that I’m stuck in this chair typing away.
As I’m sitting here listening to Alabama Shakes, I have to let you in on a little secret. I want to be an ultrarunner. Like so bad. When I ran cross country in high school, I spent endless hours running the fireroads and trails up in Porter Ranch above Northridge, and never felt more at peace. When I started mountain biking, my MB adventures took me to parts of LA that few people knew about. I felt like I had a secret that I wanted to share with anyone that would listen, but few did. I moved up to Topanga in 2004, riding my bike in the Santa Monica Mountains endlessly for the 2 years that I lived up there. Backbone trail became my best friend, and it made me love Southern California in a way that extended so far beyond just the beautiful weather, the beautiful people, and the beautiful way of life.
So as I see my friends posting pictures of The Hub, I can’t help but feel an unbelievable sense of satisfaction that the people I care about are getting to experience something I’ve known about for all of these years. But I also feel like the script has been flipped, as I’ve ridden those trails, I’ve hiked those trails, but I’ve only ‘run’ those trails in a limited capacity and feel like my experience is so different from what my friends are being exposed to right now. So while I have secrets, I know that they have secrets too, and I want in on them!
So what’s stopping me? Well for one, I’m obviously injured. But that’s short term (let’s hope). The bigger issue? Running HURTS. I want to run ultra, but I have serious doubts that my body is capable of withstanding the abuse. I’m too fucking big, my left knee is an absolute disaster (which is not conducive to trail running), I have the back of an old man, and I have never been able to sustain running into double digit miles. And did I mention I’m too fucking big. Luckily, at least one of these things is something I can control, and maybe….just maybe…..if I’m able to keep leaning out those other issues will become issues that are manageable. The pain is never going to go away, but if it can be come tolerable, then there’s a chance. And life is about taking chances, right?
This means that the next few injury plagued months are an opportunity. An opportunity to get healthy, an opportunity to watch from the bench and learn from those paving the way, and an opportunity to get LEAN. When I had ankle surgery in 2009, I spent 9 months wallowing in self pity as I recovered and it accomplished nothing. I have a chance to come out on the other side of this process in a better place, a place where my dreams of ultrarunning can be realized. In the meantime, there’s thousands of yards of swimming to be done, some substantial caveman eating, and who knows….maybe I’ll discover some new secrets to be shared with people along the way.