Monday, June 10, 2013

#yolo in june

I tried hot yoga two weeks ago, which I believe I snuck into a blog post. I took a yoga class when I was a freshman in college, so some of the moves were familiar and I was not as lost as I thought I would be. I enjoyed hot yoga because of the temperature. Everyone that knows me (in the human flesh, not just virtually) knows that I love the heat. On a humid, 97 degree day under the beating Michigan sun I'm not going to be complaining - in fact, I'd love to be outside. I think this stems from growing up on a lake and being able to enjoy the heat rather than have to hide from it. This has helped me a lot in running, and if race day is hot and terrible, it works greatly to my advantage. But that's not what this is about.

What I didn't like about yoga was the central 'theme' behind it, which is (to my experience and extent of knowledge which, yes, is minimal) to listen to your body and find your center. I tried to do this, I really did. I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing and relaxed my mind.  ...And then I fell asleep.  When I opened my eyes, only 5 minutes had passed. I was still surrounded by at least 21 people, all who were dripping in sweat and doing a variation of the same movement - some fluid, some stuck in static poses. I wondered how anyone could 'find their center' in a room full of other people, surrounded my three ugly wooden walls and one of mirrors.

I went for a steamy run this past Monday, and for the last 4 miles or so I thought about this yoga experience again. I was already 13 in, and hitting the 'sweet spot', the comfortable groove that you finally find. I thought about how good I felt, and was completely embracing it. My mind was blank and tranquil, and the world made sense. I realized my center wasn't in an 80 minute yoga class, but somewhere in-between lush foliage, a quick cadence and a soft breath on a single track.

Last weekend, at Yankee, one of Mike's friends reiterated his own words to him, and they were something along the lines of "trail running is just play time", and I think this is true for most. Behind the hard pick-ups, the inevitable lows, and the peace of it all, it is play time. There is something bigger and better than life that is found in extensive time in nature, which is exactly what ultra runners experience.

I am surely not the first to think this, as Wordsworth proved it in his writing many times over.  He wrote that "The Child is father of the Man". As we get older we are ruled by the child within, and the more we please the child within, the happier we are. And isn't that such a childish thing to do? To play in the woods. To live only for yourself, to make yourself happy, to do what pleases you. In my acting class we had a group discussion on this as well. The work is called a 'play' because that is exactly what you are doing - you are playing on stage. You are feeding into (one of) the greatest child pleasures in pretending to be someone else, doing something else, letting your imagination rule your body completely. Going hand-in-hand with the imagination is the want, the need, to play outside. Of course you must add in others that drive people to run 50 or 100 miles at one time, but those can be quite individualistic and various. I do think that the Wordsworthian part is a kernel of part of the truth to ultra running.

There is one defining moment in my life where I have felt completely centered, and deeply moved by something inside myself, and that is when I was in San Francisco (over a year ago now) at Muir Beach. The picture above my blog is from there, and it's also my cover photo on Facebook, and it's also my lock screen on my phone. I think it's impossible to stare at that picture and not feel anything.  Something happened out there on those cliffs and it was the best thing that's happened to me, and I still feel it sometimes. After spending some time staring at it and remembering that day, I remembered the run that Sarah and I went on when we were out there, and how truly amazing that was. Running a single track with that kind of view is like equating the feeling if you were to drink shooting stars. I then remembered that TNF's Endurance Challenge runs along that trail. It's in December, and it's still open. I registered, bought a plane ticket, and snagged a free place to stay for the weekend (thanks Carley and Mike!). The race has been on my list for some time, and now I'll be able to cross it off. Who doesn't love 50 miles of San Francisco?

monday 17 at fort custer, steamy solo run in the late afternoon.
tuesday 11 - ran to meet Katie, ran with Katie, ran home.
wednesday upper body workout, 6 at al sabo with Joe and Steve, 4 at urban herd (painful)
thursday 5 solo on a small loop from my apartment.  got caught in an early morning rain.
friday 10 with erin and joe at custer.  had a blasty blast. 3 with cohen at the arbs.
saturday 8 with some Safari group people.  I think this was just a run to get people interested in Summer Safari.  I obviously am not, but I conned Joe into going and Katie went too, and also there were free bagels afterwards.  So.. how could I not. 4 solo at the arbs immediately after.  After road running with your typical marathon training people I had to get some kind of mental peace, so I went to the trails.
sunday 10 michelle at Custer, starting at 6:15.  I love running with Michelle.  I love running with everyone I run with regularly (which, let's admit, is about 5 people).  7 at dirty herd, I stuck with Shawn and we had a blast.  I was holding on to him for dear life by the end, but I kept up.
total mileage 85.  Not too bad.  Calves were real sore the last couple of days, but other than that, felt great.

other note:  got my hands on some of the S-Lab hands-free water bottles (I have no idea what their real name is) (thanks Steve).  They're kinda fun, something different, but I'd never pay full price for them.  They're ridiculously overpriced, as most things are, but holy shit.  They're fun but they're not that cool.  I found myself holding the little bottles just like a handheld anyway, and wtf do I need my fingers for when running?  I can get a gu out just fine.  The people at the Safari run were all about it though, which I can't help but laugh about.  Because, you know, of course they are.  Anything 'new and impressive and expensive' is something that they must have.  ANYTHING that might help them be faster.  "Water bottles that don't swish?  They're collapsable but don't hold that much water?  My fingers will be free to fuck with my iPod for my marathon?  Sold!  It must make me faster!"

The only way to run faster, is to run fucking faster.



  1. Such a good post - I can relate on so many levels... the trails are where Zach and I go to let go of the shit and de-stress; to "play in the woods."
    Love it.