A Day in Downieville

So it’s been awhile since I’ve been on my dirtbike.

I attribute this to a whole lot of factors. But last weekend, with the help and urging of my dad, I got back on the bike for the first time in almost 11 months.

And I’m happy I did.

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A good ol’ ramble

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything! I am ashamed. But that’s okay because I’m making up for it by running! Kristen and I have been steadily improving as the weeks go by and I’m thrilled to see us progressing together. After a couple of weekends off from any serious mileage due to our Colorado trip (totally worth it!), we got back at it with a vengeance. This has resulted in about thirty miles for each of us last weekend and another (almost) thirty together yesterday. We both have aches and pains (Kristen’s knee still acts up randomly and my ankles feel more brittle than they should), but we’ve begun to be able to listen to our bodies at a new level. Listening (and checking our pride) has been the key to our training. Not being afraid to back off, walk it in or sleep a couple extra hours rather than get in a couple extra miles has made all the difference compared to training of years past.

With this increased knowledge and slowly increasing ability, I believe the addiction has begun to ramp up for both of us. Personally, running was not my first love. I grew up racing motorcycles. Comparatively in running, there is a definite lack of thrill. However, there is also an enjoyment that I have found nowhere else. The personal satisfaction is huge and something I cannot forget, especially with the goals that Kristen and I have this year. Running for me has always been more about personal curiosity (not a revolutionary thought in the ultra world by any means). And that curiosity is being satiated.

However, another major reason to run is simply because I love to be outdoors. Running gets me where I need/want/need to go (I sound like every ultra blogger/issue of Trail Runner Mag in this sentence too, but whatever). And yesterday, Kristen and I went where we wanted to go.

In San Luis Obispo, there are the known trails and there are the unknown trails. There are trails known well by the locals and there are trails that I know are there, but haven’t yet been able to find. Yesterday I found my favorite trail for the second time. More than a year ago a good friend of mine took me mountain biking on this trail. When I suggested to Kristen that we try to find it again and incorporate it into our long run, I remembered two things: I (kind of) knew how to get there, and that this trail was my version of awesome.

All I can say today is that I’m glad I found it. It was sketchier and more awesome than I remembered and it only fueled my urge to explore this magnificent area even further (Kristen liked it too:). It made thirty miles fly by like a half marathon. The unsettled weather of an impending April shower only heightened the excitement. In short, I loved every minute of it.

Speaking of abrupt changes in subject (training to trails to…this), is there a real point to all this rambling?

No. I’m rambling because I’m excited about running, I’m excited about my training, I’m excited about where I live, I’m excited about my relationship with the most wonderful girl in the world, I’m excited about all of my friends and family, and I’m typing this last paragraph while lacing up to get a Bishop Peak summit before it gets dark. And I’m doing that because I’m excited about life.

Maybe that’s why I love running.

Resolutions

A new year can be really exciting. A chance to start something new, give up something old, or have a good excuse for doing just about anything. 2011 is going to be big year for Cody and I, calling for drastic resolutions and tough goals.

I woke up about a month ago to news that has quite possibly changed my life. I had been chosen in the lottery for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. In high school on a random Saturday night in June when there was nothing better to do in the small foothill town of Auburn, I used to sit with Kristen and watch the top Western States runners finish at our high school track. Sitting there in the bleachers under the bright stadium lights, I began the thought process I believe to be common in humans when witnessing such a feat. Wild (and not all that inaccurate) imaginings of what those people must have gone through in the past day. Not surprisingly, as I lay in my warm bed that night and thought of the other runners who were still on the trail (and still would be when I got up in the morning), I felt a teeny tiny spark. It was small and feeble and flickering heavily, but it had its root somewhere deep inside me. From then on, no matter how hard I tried, I could find no reasonable method of extinguishment. There was only one thing that could to be done. And it had to be done.

With a relatively small ultrarunning career under my belt, I’ve got Western States looming above me just 7 months away. I’m having runner’s knee issues and I need a solid plan. First: give up something old. I just turned 22 and was never much of a rebel in high school, so drinking I guess is still pretty new to me. But hey, I’ve come to really enjoy a good beer (But who am I kidding? I’m in college and the cheap stuff’s good too!).

It won a Blue Ribbon

No more, no matter how many blue ribbons it has!

And I know it may be sacrilege in the ultra, trail and mountain community to give up the Sacred Nectar, so please forgive me in advance. It’s not that avoiding the occasional beer is going to somehow make the 100 mile distance easy, but when I set my mind to something, I prefer to commit entirely. By giving up drinking at least until Western States, I’ll be developing a unified lifestyle with one goal: finishing that damn race (and having “fun” doing it!).

So on top of a healthy diet, no alcohol and major attempts at developing a solid sleeping schedule (we’ll see how well my last two quarters at Cal Poly play into that plan), I’ve come up with a program. Crossfit during the week, road trips to various mountain ranges on the weekends for long, hilly days. The Miwok 100k will serve as a gauge for both Kristen and I in May. I’ll spend a week or two at our friends’ house in Las Vegas after I graduate for heat acclimation, and then I’ll shuffle forward for probably close to 30 hours to end up on a rubber track that I used to despise running the mile on in PE. Only this time I’ll have a buckle in my hand.

I know I’m rambling, but I can’t talk about all this without mentioning why I’m even here writing this. To be true, it’s all Kristen’s fault:) Kristen is the entire reason I got into running at all, let alone ultrarunning. Every success I ever gain and every mile that grows my soul (that’s what running does), I owe to her. Thank you Love!

For me, I wasn’t quite lucky enough to win a spot at Western States this year. I’m still aiming my sights high, though. I’m registered for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July. While I so wanted to get into Western States, I’m really excited to be looking at a 100 mile race at all. When I first started thinking about the possibility of doing an ultra, I knew that I would one day run 100 miles. I’ve always gone into my previous races with the thought that these were merely stepping stones before I reached my ultimate challenge. It feels a little strange that this is actually going to happen. I don’t know if the nerves have really hit me yet. It still seems so surreal that my dream may actually come true.

cow

I don't eat these guys anymore, or drink their milk.

Before I can run 100 miles, I know I have to get serious with not only my running, but with how I cross-train and with what I choose to fuel my body with. I’ve been vegetarian for over 5 years now and I love it. My body feels wonderful and healthy, and I love that I can make less of an impact of the environment based on my food choices. As my New Years resolution, I decided to take this one step further by becoming vegan. I typically eat this way on my own anyways, since most animal products are either too expensive, too high in saturated fat for my liking, or both. The one area that I know will be a challenge for me is sweets. I’m the type that can never resist cookies if they’re in the same room as me and I spend a ridiculous amount of time at the frozen yogurt shop, Yogurt Creations. But I really think this is the right step for me to make. Not only am I taking a stronger stand on my dedication to the Earth, but by cutting out food products that tend to weigh me down or make me feel bad, I know I can take my training to the next level. For all of you wondering, I also practically never eat processed foods and I try to eat a diet based on almost entirely whole grains and lots fruits and veggies, which I know plays a large role in my performance.