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Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You - 2011 Year in Review

Filled with it's share of excitement, ups and downs, and above all, fun -- 2011, my first full year of ultra running, has been a pretty damn good year.  A review of highlights, actually dating back to mid-2010:
*****
May 2010
A patient, a veteran ultra runner, jump-starts my long-time fascination with Western States.  In doing so, she informs me of the need for pacers.  I go onlnie and find a "needy runner". 

June 26, 2010
I crew and pace runner John Tidd at the epic 2010 Western States.  I get to see "The Big Four" come through Robinson Flat and Foresthill, then get my first tour of Cal St, and watch John cross the finish line at Placer HS for his silver buckle.  I'm hooked.  I decide to apply for the 2011 WS, without having ever run an ultra race

October 30, 2010
I complete the Autumn Leaves 50M in Champoeg SP, running 6:03, setting a CR, and getting my WS qualifier with a week to spare.  I'm hooked.

December 4, 2010
While riding the spin bike at work, hobbled by a tweaked left Achilles, I watch the WS Lotto online.  I turn it off after pick 180 and watch "The Office" instead".  I log back for one last check, to find my name amongst the chosen ones.  "Oh s$$t!"  A substantial crew and support group, friends and family from back east, quickly forms. 

February 13, 2011
At the Truffle Shuffle 4M in Eugene, I finally meet "The Eugene Crew", nearly all of them:  Lord Balls and The Queen, pre-race; I finish just in front of Lewis Taylor; afterward, we do a long cool-down to Dorris Ranch, where we run into Dan-O.  After that, I begin to attend the "Tuesday Night Hunt" from LB's. 

March 19, 2011
Chuckanut 50k: my first-ever trail ultra in Bellingham, WA, where I am schooled and humbled by some of the best trail runners in the world.  Britt does a stellar job crewing, managing to give me vital fuel without ditching my car on the dirt roads or getting lost (though she had to get directions from Geoff Roes when she wanders down the course at ~35K).  At the base of "Li'l Chinscraper", I meet Scott Jaime for the first time:

Me:  "Are you Scott  JAY-ME?"
Scott:  "Scott Jaime."

April 1, 2011
The Queen's 50th Birthday Bash at Whiskey River Ranch.  I get to see LB's and Queen's silver buckles for the first time.  My pants, on the other hand, sag helplessly.  I eat the "Cardiac Stack" -- a half-pound burger, fried egg, ham slice, sandwiched in a "bun" of two large grilled cheese sandwich.  I finish it.  What ensued was my second-most miserable evening of the year. 

April 7-10, 2011
American River 50 trip with LB and Queen.  We spent Thursday night in Ashland, meeting some great folks.  Friday in Auburn, I run the tail-end of the WS course for the first time, finishing at Placer HS.  Saturday: I get to run with Nick, Ian, Scott and Dave - albeit briefly, before 20 miles of gut-rot sets in.  Along the northwestern shores of Folsom Lake, I come across a guy hurting worse than me.  "Running SUCKS!", I say.  I ask his name.  It was Jake.  I offer him water and salt, then shuffle along.  An hour, 10K, and a lot of water and coke later, I resurrect and have a shockingly strong finish.  I learn an important lesson: never give up.  Post-race: have a terrific time hanging with the fellas.  I meet AJW for the first time.  We drain two cases of Sierra Nevada Pale. Revelry continues at the Auburn Ale House; I talk beer and running with Scott, Nick and Dave; "Tropical John" shows tremendous generosity and picks up the tab.  I now have two subscriptions to UltraRunning!

April-May 2011
As a result of poor mechanics during AR, I sustain a left knee injury.  I cannot train for the remainder of April and most of May.  With each passing day, more despair.  Britt is with me - on my futile, grumpy "fitness walks" along the Willamette in the rain - keeping my spirits alive.

May 18, 2011
I send an update to my crew: "It is highly probable that I will NOT be able to run on June 25th.  Period. ".  That act of surrender - without giving up - finally sets me free to go about getting better.

May 25, 2011
After a series of tests, no serious pathology is found in the left knee.  "Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'".

May 27-30, 2011
Michigan Bluff Training Camp with the Eugene Crew.  Britt and I drive down with Hannah.  We pick up Sam in Sacramento.  I bring my bike along, uncertain of what I can do.  On Friday, we walk/jog from MB to Volcano Canyon and back, 35 minutes total.  Saturday, Sam and I hike from MB to a mile past Last Chance, then run nearly the entire way back, save the climb up to MB.  Sunday, we go from MB to Foresthill and the entire length of Cal St, running nearly the whole thing.  The knee feels better every day.

June 10, 2011
I drive to Placer County to run from MB to Last Chance, and back, all the way to Cal St and Drivers Flat.  I meet Jake and he gives me a ride, running to El Dorado.  I cover fifty miles.  I see no humans and three "black" bears.  The next day, I walk from Robie to Highway 49 and back, too trashed to run a step. 

June 25, 2011
An amazing weekend.  Nothing more can be said that hasn't already been uttered, except for what I told the folks at the December "Reunion":  That day was awesome, not because of what I did, but because of who I got to share that with.

July 13, 2011
Eugene Beer Mile Champion!  6:15 worth of quick drinking and hard running. 

August 2011
Trail work for Waldo 100K, including a day spent filling a hole, and another clearing trail.  After years of taking, it feels good to start giving back.  "Hardesty Wednesday" is born. 

August 20, 2011
Waldo 100k.  It pains me not to run, but I wasn't ready.  I pace Rob Hendrickson to his first 100k finish.  I learn that being stubborn dick is both fun and rewarding as a pacer! 

September 10, 2011
McKenzie 50k.  My first win in a year.  Fun course, solid running, great post-race atmosphere.  A true "family event".

September 23-25, 2011
I attend a Gait Course in Seattle, put on by the Institute of Physical Art.  Incredibly helpful and insightful course.  I finally learn how to run correctly! 

October 2011
"Tuesday Night Hunt" resumes in full force in the fall, as LB trains for and races Grindstone.  I extemporaneously bring four cans of Li'l Yellow Pils for post-run, and a new tradition is born.  Dan-O begins churning out epic beer-tasting reviews (with such gems as "...it tingles the top of my roof" and "...it gets in my mouth real easy...") sparking a possible second career!

October 1, 2011
Three Sisters Circumnavigation, solo.  A tough but rewarding 50 miles.  GI troubles make this miserable.  Cold, foggy, misty conditions make it a little scary. 

October 21-23, 2011
WS trail running with Jake.  Friday night we run K2 + Olmstead and the last four of the trail at sunset, perhaps a bit too overzealously.  That next morning, Squaw Valley to MB, unsupported.  Tough, at times miserable, running.  DOA at Robinson Flat, but an amazing resurrection by Last Chance.  Seinfeld Trivia is born!  More lessons learned.  Post-run Sierra Pale at the Foresthill Sportsman's Club.     

October 29, 2011
Autumn Leaves 50k. Returning to where it all began, for the short course.  Hard, strong running, but more fueling experimentation with comical results.  Just miss the CR.

December 2-4, 2011
The North Face 50 in San Fran with Jake.  Great weekend.  Awesome event with great people.  Thematic of my experiences in 2011, it would've sucked to do this alone, but because I was with Jake and his family, it was a terrific weekend.  Played fetch with his dad's cat, which was bad-ass. 

*****
Overall, it's been an incredible year for running.  I've run in some amazing places and storied events.  More importantly, I've met and become friends with more great folks in the past year of Ultra running that I had in the previous decade-plus of roads. 

Thank you to those new friends, for providing mentorship and fun, and for making the ultra training and racing more of an adventure (or party) than training or work.

I also think it's helped bring me a bit closer with my long-time friends and family.  Thank you for being there for me, at tremendous cost to you, and for embracing and supporting something so important and special to me. And best of all, thank you for making the effort to truly become a part of the experience, thus adding unspeakable value and dimension to everyone's day, weekend, or year. 

Best of all, I got to share in most of it with Brittany (aka "Britten", or "m'Bestie"), who was there for the best and worst of times, providing support, encouragement, and criticism exactly when each were needed.  And she put up with a lot of this!  For that and many things, I love her. 

And while a year of ultra running has aged my face five years, it has aged my soul minus-five.  Thanks to those friends and family who made it such a great experience, and here's to a tremendous 2012!

3 comments:

  1. This ultra thing is crazy isn't? But a whole lotta fun with some cool folks.

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  2. July 13th was THE highlight I presume? Glad I got to meet you on and off the trail. Looking forward to more beer drinking sessions with you and other NW boys in 2012. Chuckanut round 2? I will buy you a beer later.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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