Thursday, August 28, 2014

Opening Rumi's sails.

A rollicking breeze all day, wondrous light this evening, and now wildly restless leaves beneath a zillion stars tonight. I walked up the long hill in the field to unwind after a really confusing tumble of days. My dear old friend, Autumn, at last, had returned.

Hiding always feels in-season at the time of year. I wish I could become a shadow until about mid-March. Or maybe the smoke above the last great campfire. Instead it's as if I am stark and intentional, perhaps surrounded by imaginary water that can't decide on the state of its matter or the direction of its motion. Time looks up with a heavy head and expects that I feel a certain sad tug, but at least I know now not to trust it: I love autumn unimaginably.

On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. - Rumi

Weird body this week. Thorncrag should have felt charged but it just felt hot. (Hm, well, it was actually unseasonably toasty...but still.)  I walked instead of ran the next day. Today I got up and was made of cement but I ran a couple of miles before accepting my condition. At night I walked several more miles and felt much better. Unpredictability is difficult to plan for but what're ya gonna do?

I'll tell you what I'm gonna do: Not mind too much. My preparations will, regardless, soon be complete for the UXBA. Things never do go quite as planned, so we do the best we can.  (...And beyond that, we don't do shit. This remains me favorite ancient Jewish proverb.)

Why did I bother trying to run this morning when I knew it was likely to suck? Sometimes I remind myself of how lousy I've felt before other runs that turned out to be wicked great. The morning of this year's Pineland 25k for instance. But stuff can change quickly out there. (Sometimes I think that should be the official mantra of ultrarunning...) I find that I often think back to this particular Pineland for some reason, on bad-spine-days and such, and use it to justify, to motivate when the spirit is weak.

Last May's Pineland turned out to be a memorably great run and a big leap of distance for where I was at that time. Think I did almost 19 that day with all the extra running about, if I recall correctly. Knowing when to stop averts trouble, says Lao Tzu. Indeed, this skill is crucial and intuition deserves respect. I think knowing when to continue may also avert trouble. Those first 5 miles can indeed be the hardest, and often it is worth it to keep going. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kinesio Tape doesn't do shit.*

* Another blatant lie.

Here's what happened.  Not sure why but I was reading about kinesio tape the other day and could not help but think that this is one of those wicked dumb gimmiky products that comes in hot pink and therefore can't possibly do anything useful. Probably just another hypochondriac-enabling piece of trash that will end of in a landfill after having been useless for the short duration of its miserable and perkily-colored existence. There is no place in the world for this!  We gotta stand up! We gotta take the power back...!

Okay anyway so I stopped thinking about it and went to sleep shortly thereafter.

And then the next morning at hand therapy... the meeting was almost over and I was just about to leave after having spent most of the time, as usual, trying to somehow trick my therapist into re-inventing physiology and thus making my busted parts somehow heal faster. (Hasn't worked yet. Whatevs.) "Well, there is one more thing we can try," she said, reaching for a mysterious box and some scissors.

She then proceeded to do some arts & crafts, and then stuck the unique results to the sad hand. They tugged on it slightly but seemed innocuous enough. It wasn't hot pink so I didn't recognize it. "It's Kinesio Tape," she explained, showing me the front of the box, which features a picture of a human with tape covering a rather horrifying percentage of his body. I looked down at my taped up hand. Huh. Well whaddya know!

I decided to be a grown up (just this once) and leave the stuff on for a while to see what happens. I was curious, especially after my flagrant bullshit-based judgment from before. My therapist, she knows a thing or two, after all.

There were indeed way too many variables and way too tiny a simple size to do a proper experiment, but my main observation was that by midafternoon, the taped up digits were rather sore and extremely swollen, kind of like they were weeks ago. I took off the tape and stared at the situation and wondered -- what is it that it wants? More rest, more exercise, more compression, more ice? Less? If only it could speak...

The swelling could have been for any number of reasons.
Was the tape among those reasons? Maybe.
Was the tape helping to reduce or control swelling, (by providing extra stability) regardless of cause? Doubtful.

Did the tape do something? Yes. Not sure what, and not sure it was good, and maybe pretty sure it wasn't --  but yes.

I might work with it a bit and see if I can use its powers to my advantage. There's a new and very odd little dynamic splint device to be tried this evening, the usual compression and rest tonight with new version of static splint, and a day off from bass playing today but two sessions tomorrow... Just another typical and self-obsessed day, at this point, in the life of a bass player with a mind full of trails and a semi-bunk southpaw. Gig is in less than two weeks. Foggy but hopeful.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Play, the unplanned, and the unintentional.

This entry probably only makes sense in the context of yesterday's.

Running rarely meets you where you aren't. What a creaky morning! No major issues, just the post-longer-than-usual run feeling. It's a joy to feel that you've *done*something while also feeling uninjured.  Let this not be understated or go under-appreciated!  I muddled about at the farm, mostly in the gardens, for much of the morning. By late afternoon I finally decided I was uncreaky enough to do a short run. I ate some chocolate first because my nutrition strategy is flawless.*

* Riiiight.

The sun was intense and I set out on the road, thinking maybe I'd loop back through the woods, by Donut, for and easy 4 ish miles.

...But, a mile or so in, I started calculating. If I did 7 miles today, that'd be about 50k for the weekend. That would be a really nice little boost in my conditioning, and an always appreciated confidence-builder as well. My mind is on my new longest-ever run which is to occur in two weeks. The distance will be fine, but I would like the recovery to be easy as well. Now's the time to set it up.

I veered straight, ditching the 4 mile loop, and jumping onto my conveniently placed 7 mile loop. Fogchurch is hilly and difficult, and I am still (after 4.5 years of running it) learning how to love it. My body was in a funny place, partly feeling strong and ready to charge on the uphills, and then partly feeling totally out of juice, needing to walk, etc. I followed its erratic lead until mile 6 when I had finally reached the last long downhill slope section (at last). Then I felt like moving. I followed that lead as well. I played with turnover, and my pace began to decrease.

I hadn't planned to keep the humble 8:18 pace for a full mile but it felt right and within the realm of capability.  As it should at this point, indeed. The gentle slope toward home coaxed me along and I ended up matching my mile PR, by chance. A rather nice touch for what started out as an extremely sluggish, post-long-run run. Because it was downhill and on a road, however, I feel like it doesn't entirely count. Indeed it's a nice little thing for strava, but the truth for me is on the trails.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Big Brad Ultra and then more BBU and then more.

I love the first-fallen harbingers, the deep, red leaves that snap your eye with brightness. Even after the miles have converted my mind into a mirror cloud, the red pierces through it, its voice can be heard. Nighttime temps are dropping now. It's still very much shorts weather but there was no bug spray needed on the run today at Brad.

I set out on the BBU loop, figuring I'd do more than one but fewer than two of them. I started from the park as usual and followed a strangely-large group - Scout, Squirrel, John, Blaine, Nathan, Marble, Matt or Mike and a few others who I don't think I knew. I kept up for the first 7 miles but only because they stopped a couple times, and I scurried. This not-keeping-up thing is an odd phenomenon indeed. 

I'd done 10 miles already in a little over 2 hours which is actually fast for me, especially on BBU terrain. I tried to keep the momentum as I headed over Tryon (Hi Emma, Jeff and Andy) and up the power lines. I slowed down a lot and was glad the group was no longer around so I could go at my own pace without feeling like I oughtn't. In spite of kind of meh sleep last night, I was reasonably well-rested and well rested is, for me, when running feels good.

I found Scout and Squirrel (and much of the big group, still!) on Lunchbreak but kept going in the opposite direction as I was On A Mission. I visited my faux aid station that is DDR but then headed right off to the East Side, again, to see if I could find the loop on my own. After only a mile or so I saw Scout and Squirrel through the trees. I followed them back to the lot and we bid the intrepid Squirrel farewell. (I bet she was going to go tend to her huge gashes* from the plants*.)

Scout was thinking 8 more. I was thinking...yes. She put me in the lead at first so I could continue my navigational schoolin'. There are still places I am sure I'd have gotten it wrong if alone, but there are signs of progress too. 

It was unique to be in front. Scout says that I run faster up there but I wonder if it's just because after 19 miles my parts are warmed up better than they are in the morning, ie, when I am in back and struggling to keep up...  who knows?

"I feel strangely lucid," I announced at mile 21 ish. I had been waiting for shit to get goofy as it always will if I run long enough. A few minutes later my mind would indeed start to sag into the drifty weirdness. I was surprised that said perceived lucidity had lasted more than 5 hours though. (This weirdness was different than that rapid-displacement that I'd felt in VT. More on that later. I am endlessly fascinated by the multitude of distinct ways in which the mind will leave.)

We did a bit of Lanzo at the very end and I finished with 24 miles. Scout had a marathon. Mind goop aside, other parts felt pretty good. I was deeply tempted to keep going. I knew I could have done it...but I suppose ending *while it still feels good* is something it's time I practice... 

Brad always takes good care of us. We are so lucky to have this awesome place in which to run and run and discard unwanted dreams and run some more.

I drove about 45minutes and then pulled off to sleep for probably another 45 minutes before heading to the barn to care for the horses. Being exhausted after a 6 hour run is a really pleasant, though vulnerable, feeling.  I had no choice but to sleep until I was done.

I led all three horses home at once from turnout at Lynn's. Leading three is never a wise or safe choice but that's how we do it. It may actually be safer than splitting up the herd and doing two trips. Plus Bella is semi-comatose so it's sort of like leading two and a half. Leading two and a half isn't so wise either. Our guys are used to it and thus we continue in our lack of wisdom.

I love that I can lead 974lb Shen from the wrong side, down the road, with a barely-functional hand. Such a chill spirit. He never pulls, and he seems to understand that you have to either move, or not move, to figure out where to be. Dream, on the other hand, (literally - her rope goes in the good hand) sometimes pulls or turns around (I blame inertia) without considering that this never does any good. Fortunately she is fine when you get going. Bella, you sort of have to haul her in like a dead weight but we forgive her because she's just Bella. We are so grateful to Lynn for the use of her pasture but it is always a relief to get the kids home and tucked in.

Next weekend, I hope for some lengthy hikes, and the weekend after that, lots and lots and lots of miles.  I am kind of having a fatass on Sept 6th. I might bake something yummy to share and then run all three Bradbury dirt races, plus more. That will be the extent of the excitement. Feel free to join for any amount of time or miles, whoever, where ever you are.  

~6 hours
Hoka Stinson Evo Trail - great shoes but this pair is shot, new ones arrive soon
Darn Tough socks 
Shorts, tee, hat
Not enough bodyglide...! O_o
Nathan Intensity pack - meh
~90-100ounces of H20, with a total of about 4 scoops Tailwind and 2 Nuun tabs. 1 Luna protein bar and 1 maple leaf because that was what I had that was grabbable.  Lower concentration of Tailwind is less sweet (yay) and seems to be good with the Nuun but it does mean I have to snack a bit again.