Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Midweek Tidbits...

…Feel pretty sore, pretty much everywhere, post-Chuckanut.  But that’s what happens when your mechanics are inefficient: you run slow and you run yourself ragged. 
Speaking solely about myself:  it’s shocking how badly you can “be” at running and still be “pretty good” at it.  I can’t think of a basketball player who stays out at the driveway hoop, firing brick after brick.  It’s not fun.  But in running, you get one foot in front of the other and the effort, and the notion of covering ground, feels pretty good, regardless of the physical stress – and, at times, outright trauma – you self-inflict.  Moreover, it’s remarkably easy at the shorter distances (generally, 50k or shorter) to “out-run your mechanics” with brute fitness and…guts.  My 18th place at Chuckanut reflects the notion that a chunk of fitness and sheer will can get pretty good results.  But taking those flawed mechanics to a 50M or longer and you’re in for inescapable pain and slow-down.
I won’t soon forget my first ultra, the 50-mile at Autumn Leaves in 2010: ticking off the lollipop 10K loops, and passing the time, watching my fellow sufferers.  Though I’ve been a racer for 16+ years, it truly shocked me what I saw out there: folks listing so far to one side, it defied Newton that they remained upright, and even a lady walk/jogging the 50 with a cane!  But I was no different: though a bit faster, I left that event with orthopedic exit-wounds (and the same listing!) that I dealt with for months after. 
A very lucky few are those who can run – day in and out – with utmost efficiency.  For it is those that get to truly feel the splendor of what running can be: floating along the ground, over hill and dale, with only the burn of molecular debt, or the progressive tugging of global fatigue.  I’ve been lucky enough to feel that for a handful of periods in my career, but thus far it has been fleeting.  I chase that mechanical purity, knowing that with efficiency comes not only bliss, but deadly speed.
As for Chuckanut ’12, I was way off: I’ve been working on trunk posture with my “sports medicine team” the past few months, but it seems that I had been subbing trunk flexion for a forward engagement.  That was causing my back to hurt and my right hip to over-work.  A week before the race, I corrected the lumbar curve; however, as a result I lost my forward engagement and was too tall!  Thus, I was back in my stride – early and often – during the race.  It wasn’t truly until the last 10K – when my calves would cramp, otherwise – that I got forward (“at the ankles”) and ran without, in essence, braking.  Sheesh. 
In short: I was braking while running.  It happens.  People do it all the time.  I did the running equivalent of racing 40K with my parking brake on.  Live and learn…
…Had a “snow-day” at work today – massive 6-12” dumping in the Willamette Valley floor today – forcing general chaos in town and a forced half-day off.  It’s shocking how much energy I have when I don’t have to push, pull, and talk the ears off twelve to eighteen patients a day.  That, and the recent revelation that another young, fast guy chose running over the daily grind, makes me wonder: Could I quit my job for running?  I guess….but usually that requires that A.) one actually be a top-level runner, and B.) that one have a sponsor of some kind.  Quitting my job would be like when Kramer “retires” and moves to Del Boca Vista (Phase 3) …or when he goes to Yankee Fantasy Camp.
…Speaking of, I am finally (yet still reluctantly) beginning to seek out some sponsorship.  I hesitate, because I often feel I need to run faster to be most deserving.  However, I also recognize:
1.)    I am a generally good and decent human being with respect for and commitment to the Ultra Running Community, and I am a positive contributor.
2.)    I routinely beat a significant number of sponsored runners
3.)    I cannot name another fellow competitor (near my current ability level) that does not have at least one (if not a half dozen) supporters
4.)    Race entry, travel, and gear are really expensive!
5.)    I have six figures of student loan debt with a house mortgage-sized monthly payment, and could use the help!
6.)    My cousin pointed out that I just don’t look quite as classy racing without a team logo, wearing – as he so eloquently put it – my “Hanes Pocket TeeJ
So, if anyone out there would like to adopt a positive Ambassador for their products, shoot me a comment or message, thanks!
AJW had his surgery a couple weeks back, and is quickly on the mend.  His rehab might get some mention in “Part II” of the Injury column on iRF.  Until then, he continues to pass the time as he usually does: passionately teaching and mentoring our youth, spending time with his family, drinking beers, and – of course – subtly (or not so-) rousing rabble. J  Mr J-W picked up on a comment from The Bearded Englishman in his weekly update (regarding his training partners and their WS chances) and ran with it on his Twitter feed.  Not sure there’ve been any takers on rounding out that Top 10 predictions yet.  Of course, it's all in good fun, and no one likes prognostication more than Mr. J-W. 
I’m sure what Nick was saying was the ultra running equivalent of, “My friends are so nice and pretty, they’ll definitely make Prom Court!”.  However, I am certain that he – as well as those same friends – know full well that there are a lot of nice and pretty girls out there this year, and someone (and, statistically, at least one of those four) will be left standing alone at The Big Dance without a date.   But that’s exactly why we race, right? J
…speaking of hot items, anyone else out there notice that Miguel Heras has quietly appeared on the entrant list for The Big Dance?  The race is becoming like an “Ocean’s Eleven” sequel: is there any talent left out there that they could possibly add?
Enough for now.  Stay tuned to iRF (in general, because it's great, and) for Part II of the Injury column next week!


  1. Only talent left out (that doesn't want to be left out) - Dylan Bowman and Adam Campbell. Ok, so there's other talent, but these are at the front of my mind for very different reasons.

  2. And now comes Heras. Wonder when he ever so quietly slipped onto the list. I do hope his inclusion was performed in accordance with the rules of the game, as explicitly detailed under the race's registration process. I'm sure that one falls under the 'international entry' clause which essentially leaves it open to the RD's discretion. To Bryon's point above - couldn't A.Campbell sneak in under the 'international clause'?

    Moving right along. How about this for a prognostication / wager: there will be more Colorado residents in the top 10 (boys' race) than Oregonians. I'd put a six pack of something tasty on the line for that.

    Your mechanics chatter makes my head spin...

    ~ The Bearded Englishman

  3. @Bryon- I'd love to see both DBow (who's signature move might now be moot with his alter-ego no traded to NYJ) and Campbell in WS. They'd add both quality and class to the event.

    @Nick: there are two areas in which Heras could've gained entry:

    -The "International Clause": this is usually only reserved for the first/only person from that nationality/residence. We already got some Spaniards...and, doesn't he live in the US? Not sure.

    -The "Reasonable Shot at Winning Clause": this is the ultimate litmus test for Special Consideration -- could you stand a shot at outright winning? It's a pretty high standard. I don't know for sure, but I *guess* this is how both he and Sandes got in. Don't quote me on it (AJW!).

    As per the Oregon v Colorado bet. That's a tough one. With Hal, we'd have a solid shot with Tim and Ian. However, CO has a ton of guys! There's your four in FC alone (and what if Dakota gets a slot at Sonoma?). And Dave?

    Ask me after Sonoma! :)

  4. TBE, I'm pretty sure that Canada has long counted as the 51st state in the eye of Western States.

    OOJ, I'm pretty darn sure Miguel still lives in Spain.