Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: The Important Stuff

Well, I did this last year and found it to be a particularly therapeutic exercise.  So I figured, why the hell not?  Let's dive into what I really learned from the major races, training runs, trips and pacing experiences that standout in my mind from 2011.  No waxing poetic.  No conundrums.  Just a concise summary statement of what it really meant.  

Given that I tend to associate the various parts of my year not only with the big events, but two of my other loves as well - I've decided to document the jams and the beers I was into at the time.  I know, I know - an ultrarunner who likes indie music and beer?  Real original.  But whatever, man.  Running, music and beer is how I order my life.

So, without further adieu, here's what stuck:

I put my head down in January and didn't let up for a single day.  I don't know that I've ever run that many days in a row ever, so I must be SERIOUS.  I prove I'm not obsessive by picking a random Monday in April to take completely off.

Typical pre-season training day.  Including the look of bitter exhaustion.
(photo: Dom)

Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale (formerly Full Moon) - I stocked up on this over the winter and rationed into the spring.  Like candy.

Bandida - Audra Mae  "I'll veil myself in black and steel, and battle at your side."  i.e. I'm gonna do it too!

Legit gear and a positive attitude can get you through a rainy, icy, slippery, flooding, muddy, whiteout, blizzard, freezing mess of a run.  However, when the aid stations are blowing off the ridge, volunteers are trapped in Rose Valley, people are missing and our pets' heads are falling off, they're uh.. gonna call off the little "race."

Game called due to inclement weather.
(photo: Dom)
St. Bernardus ABT 12 - Around this time, I got really into trappist ales and tripels. This one was the clear winner.

Hard to Please - The Weepies  The miles are getting harder, but this jam soothes my soul.

Surprising myself with a PR (wicked puking/pants peeing and all), despite having trained right through for a mountain 100, I decide that if it were ever my goal to actually train specifically for a road marathon, I could actually do quite well.  This will probably never happen.

El Pukador.
(photo:  shamelessly stolen)
Post-race IPA at the finish line, courtesy of New Balance.  They really do know 
how to make excellent happen.
(photo:  Andy Kumeda)

Harpoon IPA (pictured above) - How did I not say Sam Adams?  I'll tell you how -  the only SA I really like is their Winter Lager & that wasn't available on the tour. Which of course, was a real pissah.

Bizness - tUnE-yArDs  It is fun to scream weird sounds in the middle of the forest.  Yay tUnE-yArDs.

Following Dom around all this time has actually been worth it!  The snow, the elevation and the loooong climb are no match for my mountain legs built by Baldy.  (Unfortunately I followed his "stomach habits" as well, and commenced in the puking.)

Two blondes and a simply splendid day in the Sierras.
(photo: guy who used my iPhone)
The one, the only, Pabst Blue Ribbon - yep.

Swimming - Florence and the Machine  Flo and co. were great company for 10 hours in the Sierras.  I listened to this particular jam on repeat as I reeled in the woman in front of me... before everything went to shit:)

Training hard works.  Period.  Enter beast mode.

At one with the high country.
(photo: Dom)
Simpler Times - they were, weren't they? $2.99 a 6, bitches.

Shape Shifter - Local Natives  "Why does the soul hallucinate?  I've got control.  I shift my shape."  Around this time, I was all Local Natives, all the time.  So freaking excellent.

To this day, I still can't believe that what took me out was not an overuse injury but a freak accident, with the emphasis on freak.  I guess sometimes even when you're doing everything most things right, shit still goes down and that's just the way it is. Freaking yuccas, man.

My parents' way of commemorating the big event of 2012.
Hilarious. Really.
(photo: the pain in my heart)
During this period, I was so sad that I no longer even enjoyed the taste of beer.

Caffeinated Consciousness - TV on the Radio  When I first listened to 9 Types of Light, I was like, whatever.  And then I was like, why is my mouse mysteriously tapping to the beat? And THEN I was like, why am I screaming things such as 'Now Drop Yourself!' to random passerby?  Mmmm yes... good album.

I vividly remember breaking the news to June as we made our way down Cal Street:  if we don't pick up the pace right now, we're not going to make it.  Watching her nod, put her head down and gut out a performance that had her back 40 minutes ahead of the cutoff at the river was infinitely inspiring, and I knew I'd call on that pride in her when starting my own mountain 100 with an injury a few weeks later.

Coyote Crew commencing in the sexy.
(photo: dude who wiped the fuck out down Escarpment.  I saw you, bro.)

Rucky Chucky crossing - heading into mile 80 with June the Destroyer.
Hard to believe after three years of crewing and pacing - Ill be the one with the
white bib this year.
(photo: someone's pacer)

Andersen Valley Boont Amber Ale - one of my all time faves and fortunately sold at that grocery store where everyone get sandwiches before heading to Michigan Bluff. (Dad, take note.)

Got it All (This Can't be Living Now) - Portugal. The Man  It was extremely hard for me to choose which one of their songs I'd throw up here.  I went with this one, as it serves as a great reminder to "shake, shake, shake the night away." Always time well spent.

The people, the mountains, the challenge, the spirit, the beer, the sheer joy, the danger, the beauty in it all.  Yes folks, this is a life worth living.  Impossibly stoked to be heading back to Silverton in 2012 to help Dom take on the race.

Scrambling up the scree on Grant Swamp pass - soon to be repeated
in the race by the gentleman ahead of me, unbeknownst at the time.
(photo:  Justin Lutick)

There is simply no other caption for this other than, "WHEEEEEEE!!!!"
(photo: Justin Lutick)

Silverton Brewing Co. Ice Pick Ale (IPA) - does it taste better because we're over 10,000 feet?  Why yes.  Yes it does.

New Orleans - Trampled by Turtles  "She followed the man she loves, all the way to Altadena"  Creative licensing there with the lyrics:)


I'd follow this guy anywhere - even to Altadena.
(photo: Monica Morant)
No seriously, I guess what I'm left with is a more acute understanding of just how much the body is able to accomplish when the mind and heart want something bad enough.  No race has ever meant more to me, and I simply did what had to be done. Also, I'll never be able truly complain of pain after mile 80 again - which is nothing but a huge advantage.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA - I was rocking the shit out of this all summer. $6.99 a 6 at Fresh&Easy for the win.

Houdini - Foster the People  As pumped on Williamson.

I basically threw myself into this race at the last minute as a desperate attempt to prove I hadn't lost "it" in the aftermath of completing AC on a jacked up knee.  Success, first win and a fun day crewing the monster that is Lukas Temer enroute to finishing his first 100 (in first place).  Also, my nutrition and hydration was freaking impeccable in the heat - yay for that.

The lesson to be learned here is that you cannot lose when properly
equipped with the Olson/Tarneja combo.
(photo: Tyler Olson)
Michelob AmberBock - free hotel beer that is actually delicious.  I heart Embassy Suites.

Summertearz - Little Dragon  Became obsessed with Little Dragon for all parts of life - at work, in the car, on the trail, and solo dance parties in my living room.

So, there is this dude who loves me a lot, puts up with all my little idiosyncrasies and challenges me daily to do some really hard and incredible shit.  I am so very grateful for you, Dominic.  Bring it on!

Romantic weekend getaway in Palm Springs
(self-portrait: Dom)

Start at 600 feet & you can climb up to 10,842 in one shot. Yum.
(photo: Dom)
Shafly Pumpkin Ale - it's just about fall beer season. I spent this period of time trying various Octoberfests and pumpkin ales and finished every single one wishing it was a Shafly.

O, Evelyn - Owen  i.e. O, Panda Bear  (seeing him live next week!!)

I've said this before, but patience isn't my thing.  However, there's some definite weight in the whole "do what you can, when you can" thing and as a result of following that mantra, I'm proving to myself just how much my running and my goals mean to me.  Also, did you hear?  THEY PULLED YUCCA SPIKES OUT OF MY KNEE!

Crewing at Javelina, 2 days post-op
(photo: stolen from Jessica Fugulsby)
Maker's and Ginger Ale - I switched to the hard stuff. Obviously.

Don't Move - Phantogram   Have been loving them for months - but this new jam really takes the cake.

Holy shit.  There are a lot of really fast and really talented people out there and accordingly, I better get to work.  Did you SEE Anna & Ellie out there?  These guys did when they passed them…. yep.  That happened. 

Local heartthrobs
Newcastle Winter IPA - We found this at Ralph's for only $10.99 a 12. I have no idea how it was so cheap, because it's freaking delicious.

Walking on a Dream - Empire of the Sun  Step 1: listen. Step 2: Try to get it out of your head.  Go ahead, try. 

I honestly never thought I'd see the day when I was out running in the double digits with my dad.  I am so proud of him for how dedicated he's become to his daily runs and excited as hell that he's decided to run the LA Marathon next March.  Chatting away as we looped around Forest Park was really special and I can't wait to run 26.2 with him in 2012.

O'Fallon 5 Day IPA - little microbrew back home never disappoints. Dad's suggestion this year was freaking on point.

Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem  The tympanic explosion circa 3:10 has been responsible for what many a coworker and passerby have likely deemed as tourettes.

Looking back with a pragmatic eye, it would be easy to say that 2011 was largely a wash.  I worked really hard and then was badly injured before I ever had a chance to prove myself and what I'd created.  But if you ask me if I feel that I achieved my goals for 2011, I'd have to say yes.  You see, I looked at them (you can look too!) and no matter how much I want to say that I failed, quite simply - I didn't.  Here's why:  I've realized that my goals are always subjective.  I rarely set benchmarks related to time or placement, yet most of the time I get extremely caught up in all that business.  In short, I lose sight of my goals.  But if my true goal was to train harder than I ever have before and give my honest best effort at a beast of a race, well then, I'd say goal achieved.  Yucca and all.

That said, I think the thing I'll take away most from 2011 is how happy I am that my family has become more of a part of my running.  Make no mistake, my parents have always been very supportive of everything* just about everything that I've ever done - but this whole ultrarunning thing was just a bit difficult to grasp.  I remember speaking to my dad after my first 50 miler (Headlands, 2009) and hearing the shock in his voice that, 1) I was calling him so soon after starting; and b) I was perfectly fine.  And as I prepared for my first 100, they were a bit mystified by the concept of this actually being possible and not detrimental.
*Joan still brings up the time I dyed my hair dark brown.

After my dad came out to crew me at Ozark Trail 100 last year, he said that he then understood why I do these things.  He saw first hand that it is less about suffering and more about ambition and persistence.  But to his and any outsider's credit, how could you imagine it as anything but horrifically painful until you are part of it?  I'm happy to say that since then, my dad has run a few half marathons and now even some trail races and we talk often about our respective training and adventures.  My mom now even takes a less scornful eye when going through my pictures and reading about my weekend journeys… that is, as long as I call her each Monday to let her know I'm alive.  They both made the trip out to California last summer for Angeles Crest and were joined by my brother, sister-in-law and niece for a full family experience.  It meant the world to me for them to be there and experience the forest that I'd grown to love over the past few years.  And to see how involved and interested they became in the race and the people was just plain awesome.  There was a reason why the world of ultrarunning had become my greatest passion, and it was of the utmost importance to me that they not only understood, but had a desire to share it with me.

Clutch crew at AC100
(photo: Natalie Kintz)
However, even greater than having my family's support is hearing that they've set like-minded goals for themselves in 2012.  Like I said, my dad is going to run his first marathon - this from a man who when I ran my first preached that the human body wasn't made to go over 20 miles.  I went to some great extremes to prove him wrong and I'm glad he's wisened up.  My brother, Sgt. Eric DeSplinter, is currently serving his second duty in Afghanistan and plans to run the Marine Corps Marathon (also his first) next fall - never to be shown up by both his sister AND his old man.  His five-year-old daughter, the incomparable Chyler Star, is taking note of all of it and is turning into quite the little runner chick herself.  Accordingly, I've equipped her with a pair of New Balance trail kicks and taught her the ways of the run bun.  And probably most special of all is a goal my mom shared with me over Christmas.  She's had quite the rough go of it over the past year, and the beginning of 2012 isn't going to be any easier.  You see, she's having her second knee replaced and that shit is about one million times more serious than a yucca stabbing.  However, she's making it her big goal to be able to run the Run With Santa 5k by the end of the year.  I'm really proud of her for not just setting the goal of getting better from the surgery - but setting the goal to get better than she was before.  'Cause that's what it's all about.  Go, Mom.

Chyler Star - properly equipped for the trails.  On Christmas,
she told me she had run 2,066 miles; which seems like a good start.

Similarly, I'm setting a similar goal for myself in 2012.  I don't just want to get back to where I was in my training before the stabbing.  I want to go beyond.  I want to build upon yet another year of experience and hard work and become stronger, faster and generally more awesome.  Specifically, I want to go sub-11 at Miwok and sub-24 at Western States - to set a finite, non-subjective goal to it.  Also a legitimate goal is to not get stabbed.  Weekdays in the Santa Monicas and weekends in the San Gabriels should do the trick, and right now I'm just focusing on building back up to high mileage gradually.  Well... kind of gradually...

"Holy shit.  That's my name!"  - me upon finding out I had gotten in
to Western States.  (photo: Dom)
On the second day of the year, I finally just said, "fuck it." I was sick of my knee holding me back and I wanted to do something hard and long.  There are way too many innuendoes there for me to even comment.  Anyway, I threw all caution to the wind and headed out to run the last 26 miles of the AC course - the same miles that tried to kill me back in July - and prove to myself that I can work through the pain.  I honestly thought I would have to bail and hike down to the city earlier, but I'm happy to say that I made it.  The rest of the group was surprised at this due to the fact that I did it on 32 oz of water and 330 calories (and it was hot), but I was mainly shocked that my knee held up and I was running down all the hills. Even down Wilson Toll Road - although I have a feeling that was largely due to the fact that Elissa saw a big ass mountain lion there the day before and as such, I didn't want to be the slow one. The other awesome thing was that I proved that even after a month and a half of what could best be described as a "reintroduction to running" rather than actual "training," I'm proud to report that I'm not back where I was on Jan 1 of 2011.  You see, on Jan 1, 2011 I could still not run all the way up Upper Winter Creek out of Chantry without having to hike at some point.  On Jan 2, 2012 - I could.  That is saying something.

Of course, I'm still admittedly out of shape and have a lot of work to do - but hey, that's the fun part.  I've got an ice pack and a pocket full of dreams, so nothing can stop me.  Bring it on 2012.  



1 comment:

  1. Had fun on the last 25 of AC with you guys!!!!! Love seeing you healing up and get'n fast girl!