Thursday, April 20, 2017

The story behind the book. Or WTF am I even doing here?

So if you didn't know, I wrote a book. It's not a big deal. It's a pretty short book, more of a booklet really. That's not the interesting thing. The reason it came to be is. So this is that story, the story behind the book.

Flashback to the beginning of this year. I found myself struggling with a lot of personal (non-running related) things. Watching the country devolve into a terrible dystopian reality show was stressful (America's Got Talent Racists! Misogynists! Homophobes! Xenophobes!). Work was stressful (in a bad way). Figuring out how to actually live with the person I married was stressful (in a good way, the kind of way that forces you to be a kinder, better human. See: Stop taking shit personally that is not personal. And: Rut-roh! In your efforts to avoid making the same mistakes you've made in the past, you've overcompensating so hard that you're venturing awfully close to kind-of-an-insensitive-jerk territory. See also: Don't assume someone else can read your mind, even if you think it's glaringly obvious that no, you don't want cold water thrown on you as a "surprise" while you are taking a shower).

When it rains, it pours. But even when it pours, I run. And I'm just happy to be out there. One stupidly early morning, I was running, generating neurons. You know, as you do. And I realized that I'm the best version of me when I'm running. It doesn't matter what happens, if I'm having a good day or a bad day, if running feels effortless or nigh impossible, I'm just excited to be there. Somehow I have become that (borderline insufferably happy) runner. I decided to figure out how it happened so that I could become that relaxed/non-judgmental/easy-going/insufferably happy person in the rest of my life. (Because I do not half-ass things. I am a whole ass or I am nothing!). So it began. I ran a lot. I thought a lot. I cried a lot. I felt all the feels. Like what the fuck am I even doing with my life? Things are sad and mean and I'm not doing anything to make them better. And I'm letting Pete down by not being the best life/adventure partner that I can be. It was heavy. Like there's-something-wrong-with-the-earth's-gravity heavy. But I kept running and writing and I found the things you can only find by getting lost.

I learn many things the hard way. I then forget and have to relearn them. That's why I'm always writing things down. This blog, the book, everything I've ever written is just me leaving little word breadcrumbs for myself to find my way back to I-Love-Everything-Land and Be-A-Better-Person-Ville. With my extensive vault of faults to work through, I'll probably end up being quite a prolific word-slinger. Apologies if you thought you were going to be rid of me anytime soon!

So I wrote the book, then spent a while hemming and hawing and realizing I could spend forever editing it to death. Instead I decided it was good enough and released it out into the world, where it could be ignored or judged or used as firewood. I do not care if this book is a "success" by anyone else's standards. If even one person gets even one iota of happiness or feels even one tiny inkling less alone in the world, it will be a success in my book (I could not resist using this expression here. Language, man. It's endlessly entertaining). I enjoyed the process of creating it and putting it out there for those who choose to read it. Most importantly, I caught a glimpse of an answer to the question, WTF am I even doing here? I'm not particularly talented at anything. But for some reason I have this gift of finding love and happiness in everything. So I'll keep doing that and sharing my experiences along the way. Because the world sure could use more love and happy.

Party on, my friends. As always, infinity of thanks for being here.

If you want to check out the actual book, you can find it on Amazon as an eBook Running For The Thrills: The art of running and living happy. Now available in a new print version! Or on Barnes & Noble as an eBook for Nook here. There may soon be an audiobook as well - I'm undecided on that. Feedback and opinions are welcome! Please share the links with anyone you think might be interested. I will now stop talking about this as I fear it's becoming annoying.)

running, happiness, ultrarunning

Lyric of the moment: "Let me assure you, friend, every day is ice cream and chocolate cake. And what you make of it. Let me just say, you get what you take from it. So be amazed. And never stop, never stop. You gotta be brave. All this beauty, you might have to close your eyes. And slowly open wide. And watch the sun rise..." ~The Weepies "All This Beauty"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Life is my running coach and running is my life coach

Running and being alive are two of my most favorite things. I've found that the lessons I learn from one are often applicable to the other. Running makes me better at life and life makes me better at running. Life and races are a crapshoot. I can do my best to prepare, but a lot of things - weather, other people, random acts of The Universe/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Whatever - are out of my control. Some days everything seems to go my way and I fly through my run or my life effortlessly. Some days I fall in a pothole/puddle/well of negative thoughts and wallow there crying until I get enough sleep/carbs/hugs/stupid adventures to restore my energy/optimism/sanity. Running and life are constantly teaching me lessons in letting go - of judgments, expectations and attachments - and in giving more - effort, kindness and love. They push me, at times with gentle nudges, at times with epic blows, to be ever stronger, wiser and more awesome. The flexibility, fortitude and fearlessness I've gained running the trails of my city help me to navigate the trails of my life. Learning from and overcoming the faults, failures and frustrations of my life helps me deal with the low points of a run and make the best of whatever happens. Sometimes travel plans or illness lead to a missed workout and it's Coach Life's way of saying Slow down, rest is important too. Sometimes my legs lead me to just the right place at just the right time to catch a beautiful sunrise and it's Coach Running's way of saying See how awesome life is? Relax and party on. I don't follow a set life plan or a training plan. But there's a method to my madness and a madness to my method that always seems to lead me to Awesometown.

Lyric of the moment: "Good and bad times we've been through. You got my back and I got yours too. All of my life you are in my crew. I'd do anything for you..." ~Transplants "Gangsters and Thugs"

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fortunate Cookie

Pete's had a bad cold since Friday and I was trying so hard not to catch it. But yesterday I woke up with a sore throat and a bad attitude. What am I, fucking Mar-a-Largo and all the douchebugs want to stay here? I felt annoyed at my body for being so very flawed and imperfect and not even being able to fly, even though I've spent the better part of 21 years trying. I felt annoyed at my mind for being so very flawed and imperfect and failing at all the things. But that was not helping anything, so I left that pity party early and went in search of chemicals. I didn't start this fight but I was damn well going to finish it. I needed to get some hardcore nutrients on that shit, so I pounded all the vitamins, tumeric, Cold-Eeze, Ricola lozenges and gross, licorice-y Throat Coat medicinal tea I could find. After work I picked up some Chinese takeout tofu vegetable soup (when I'm sick, nothing tastes as good as that soup and those crunchy noodle things). A fortune cookie told me "Everywhere you go, friendly faces will greet you."

And I laughed. Because it's true. So unbelievably awesomely true. It's like the Universe was telling me, chill, dude, you'll be fine. Suddenly I realized that every mistake, every perceived failure somehow led me to the exact right place and the exact right time to meet the most incredible people (and the utmost incredible Mozzie). All my flaws somehow led me to the very best places, led me to you. Maybe this ideal of the perfect, flawless, impenetrable self is overrated. Maybe I am me, maybe I am here because of my weird, wibbly wobbly timey wimey bits, not in spite of them. That cookie wisdom, man. It gets me every time.

(This post is brought to you by the letters NYQUI and L).

Lyric of the moment: "These things and more I wish I had not done.But I can't go back. And I don't want to. 'Cause all my mistakes, they brought me to you..." ~The Avett Brothers "All My Mistakes"

Saturday, April 1, 2017

19 miles of hill repeats: a series of increasingly terrible Haikus

With all the snow melt and rain, the trails are a sloppy mess, so Matt, Alison and I took our long run to the streets. Somehow this turned into the epically terrible stupid excellent idea to run Rich's Dugway hill repeats. For three hours. Because nothing could go wrong with that plan. It was, as they say, an experience. I've run the Dugway many times before but only for an hour at a time. That is more than enough. Well, until you have three hours and two friends to make it into an adventure. That's what they call it when your watch is all sorry, dude, ran out of numbers, your heartrate is just a sad black line now, right? Hills were run. Conversations and laughs were had. Until laughing hurt our abs too much. The house that always smells like pot smelled like pot. We saw a cat carrying a dead squirrel in its mouth. I wished someone would carry me around. We saw another runner, Doug on the Dugway. We ran for 3 hours, 14 ups, 2100' of elevation and 19 miles. I wondered how I'm ever going to be able to run more than double that at Many On The Genny in June. After many more idiotic adventures like this one I suppose. So until next time, I wrote a bunch of terrible Haikus about our April Fools Day/A Fool's Errand Run. Because these are my Saturdays, these are my awesome friends, this is my life. And it's the best.

Let's run hill repeats!
For three hours! Fun. So fun.
Fun as in insane.

Here we go! First one.
Shit. I'm tired already.
Sweet, sweet downhill. Yes!

Up, up, still more up.
Thank Ultra Gods for good friends.
Hills alone would suck.

That house smells like pot.
That cat has a dead squirrel.
Dugway's a weird place.

Up and down and up.
Watch says my heart rate is null.
Am I dead? Zombie?

Legs, everything hurts.
Focus on what doesn't hurt.
Hair. Eyes. Fingers. Boobs.

Still alive. Oh good.
Is this the last one? For real?
Nineteen miles! Damn!

So this is my life.
These are my rad, badass friends.
I'm the luckiest!

Lyric of the moment: "Well you'll only ever really know you're living if you're totally sure you're dying. Maybe we get where we want to go. I don't know....Well if I've got a leg to stand on. Then I'm pretty sure I can work myself up into a run. And I'll keep heading in your direction..." ~Against Me! "12:03"