Friday, January 25, 2013

"Know Thyself"...what I learned in 2012

This is a Mission Statement...Not a Memo.  

This post was supposed to be a Bandera 100K race report.  It was my coming out party on the national stage, where I claim my National Championship and reap the plunderings of being the best- blah, blah, blah.  Unfortunately, like another National Champion hopeful linebacker Manti T' January not only failed to enshrine me as champion, but came with a nasty slice of humble pie to go with my injuries.  OK, I didn't let some idiot convince me my fake girlfriend was still alive.  That is seriously being out of touch with oneself.  My lack of self knowledge was a bit more insidious.  It was motivated by greed and ambition.  Even though I "knew" the outcome, I went along for the ride, like I was watching a re-run.  Like poor Manti, I failed to read all the signs and listen to my instincts. 

The only picture I took at Bandera.   My campsite not 10 feet from Tim Olson's, but just 20 feet from at least one million portapotties.  What is it with Texans letting the crapper doors slam shut when people are sleeping?  Fitful night.
So what happened in Texas?  I quit around 12 miles into the race with a badly stained/ torn left calf.  Was I surprised?  No.  I have had problems in that area each of the past 3 years from November to June.  As soon as the Idaho winter comes, I have gone from solid to crumbling like flipping a switch. This year, the symptoms were all there:

1. Long training and racing season with massive damage and fatigue accumulated.  Check.
2. Super strong November with big power and miles trying to jam everything in before my trails get buried under snow.  Check.
3.  Soleus, posterior tibialis, and gastroc tightness giving way to knots and little tears up and down the lower legs.  Check. 
4.  Mileage falls, but I rest enough to go hard a few days later, making the injuries worse each time.  Meanwhile the intensity training continues, even in cross training, without any base/MAF training, completely erodes the base and turns me into a 10K runner/ Crossfitter.
5. Serious injuries up and down the chain explode as I soldier on in the face of mounting problems.  "Gotta get ready to race."
6. Hip flexor tendonitis, shin splints, calf strains, and the kiss of death for a runner- achilles tendonitis.  CHECK, CHECK.  CHECK YOU MORON!
7.  Try to race in January with all the injuries and lack of fitness and POP! goes the athlete.  

Didn't I do the same thing last year?  Yes, this pattern has repeated four times now.  What now?

Well, Texas was a colossal failure, but it is water under the bridge.   I have no emotional bruising or disappointment.  I had no spiritual connection to the race (big mistake) and I was just racing for the competition and possible cash (mistake) and I wanted to be on iRunfar.  There, I said it!  I wanted to be the big time guy.    I was willing to risk my career and health on pure pride and ego!   I lost my way.

Now, there is a message that is resounding in my head as I try to sleep at night: 


This sport is particularly cruel to those who fail in this simple edict.  It is this failure that chews up our champions and spits them out after just a few years on top.  I can honestly say that each time I have suffered a setback in training, I knew EXACTLY what was coming. I fed the rat/ scratched the itch anyways and I lived with the consequences.  I am living with my choices now, stewing on the couch, tearing my hair out, wanting to rip through the hills, just 5 months from the Big Dance.  The frustrating part is that I did know myself well enough to have seen this coming.  But, the temptation to splurge is huge.  The pull of the alpine is strong for me and I must binge from time to time.  The same goes for my competitive spirit.  Timing of these binges is the key.

Further adding difficulty to our journey of self knowledge is that we ultra runners have so many details floating around in our heads, that we miss the big picture: 

...continued healthful progression toward our ultimate potential.

If we focus on how many miles Nick Clark ran this week and that he ran Mt. Everest worth of vertical- we may feel the need to keep up.  Remember, it is not "Know Clarkyself."  It is know thyself.  Plato, telling his stories through Socrates, espoused self knowledge above all else.  He counseled his followers and adversaries that trivialities like mythology were not worth pursuing, because if he (Socrates) doesn't know himself, then how is the minutia of other things worth the effort?  Nick Clark's numbers might as well be mythology to me.  They are so out of touch with what is possible for me and most others, that they might as well not be real.  Focusing on what others are doing will only lead me farther from focusing on proper doses of training stimulus and the inevitable breakdown that follows when I listen to myths about who does what, versus my own instincts.  I know that If I am smart and listen to my body, I will be ready to roll come June 29th- regardless of what training some other athlete does.  It was in fact Nick Clark's recent blog post that reminded me of the dangers of over-aggressive training too early in the year and his commitment to stay light in the buildup to Western until the right time.  Nick deems 2013 to be the year of "DISCIPLINE."  He acknowledges that in the past he too has done too much, too early, and it has cost him.  This is just another way of saying that he will use his self knowledge, gleaned from failures of the past, to advance to the next level.  I believe he may have just found the secret to a few more years on top of the mountain.  It will be interesting to see if his pursuit of the Grand Slam comports with what his body demands.  Time will tell and the ultrarunning world will be watching intently. does one come to know him/herself?  We can fail repeatedly until our time has passed and we can think of what might have been.  Or, before the sand slips through the hourglass, we can carefully define our nature, our essence.  Boil it down to who and what we REALLY are.  Pursue our own truth and cut away the remainder.  This was a key concept for pursuing universal truth for Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.  They would ask..."Chair, what IS a chair?  What is it about a chair that defines its chairness?"  Then, after deducing the minutia from its defining characteristics, they would know the nature or "form" of what a chair is- the universal truth of its existence.  The chair is just an example they used because it is easy to grasp and easy to define its form.  Base/Pedestal/Legs + Thing where your butt goes = Chair.  A back would be nice, but a chair exists without one.  The aim was to boil down the nature of ourselves and of existence to this simple recipe.  I'm not sure I'm there yet, but after 33 years of life, I am getting to know my nature quite a bit.  The harsh lessons of being an ultrarunner either teaches you quickly, or you retire.

By pursuing my true nature, the simplest possible existence for myself and my family, I WILL: true to myself and stop trying to be the guy in the iRunfar interviews.  
...honor my truest motives- those that define my life and my nature. my gut and my warrior spirit.
...glimpse my potential...the one I have been eyeing for 28 years, when my father took me for my first run.

No more EXCUSES.  No more EGO.  No more BULLSHIT.  One, two, ten-thousand.  As my strength returns and my resolve fortifies, the path becomes clear.  On to Auburn.

B heads back into the sub-zero cold of the Wilson Creek Frozen 50K

2013 will be a big year for SCOTT.

Gorgeous powder day.

If you think you like coffee, you should try the amazingness that comes out of the AEROPRESS.  

Birthday Pumpkin Log Cake.

Poppin bottles.

Skater chicks.

Our Christmas tree harvest.

Still got it.  Katie spots.  Chalk dust chokes the air.

Earnin' turns.