MA and SJ

The last two days have been inspiration station! On Wednesday I heard that our local running shoe store was doing a fun run and afterwards Mark Allen, Luis Vargas, and Mighty Mouse Angela Naeth were doing a panel with Barry Siff moderating.

Please note here that although blurry, Barry is sporting a PxRx Hat. Boo to the Yaaa!

Then on Thursday night I had purchased tickets for a fun run and book signing with Scott Jurek in Boulder. He was showing a video and doing a panel chat and a reading. It was to be a busy few evenings, but with the opportunity to talk to some superior athletes and learn some stuff too.

Of course, I want to share it all here. Mostly because despite the fact that some of you read this…I read back on these things too. I like to get it all down before it fades.

L to R: Luis Vargas, Mark Allen, Angela Naeth, Barry Siff. L to R: BAMF, BAMF, BAMF, BAMF

Of course when they asked for questions from the audience my hand was the first one up (duh…overachiever #1 here). I asked Mark to give me some advice since I am 11 days out from CDA on what I can do at this point to set myself up for a good race. I actually phrased it more like “There are a lot of us here doing CDA, can you give us….” but really, I just wanted to sit in a room with him and pick his brain for about 18 hours. So yes, clearly the hay is in the barn at this point from a training perspective, but come on folks, training is only 1/2 of 1/2 of the battle. So what can we I do at this point? Here is what he said.

  • Make sure this week that you get everything for the race set aside in a corner of your house or room. Make sure you have enough water bottles, that the bike is tuned up and ready to go. Do all of that this week and don’t leave any running around to next week.
  • This weekend he suggested a 1:15 run on Saturday, followed by a 3:00 ride on Sunday
  • On Thursday of next week he suggested a 30 min swim, followed by a 1:30 bike, followed by a 30 min run. He said to get those done as early as possible in the day. The point here was to deplete the glycogen reserves 72 hours out of the race. He said they take 72 hours to completely refill and after this workout is when you should focus on getting the glycogen nice and full by adding a serving of carbs each day, don’t go overboard.
  • On Friday he suggested a day off. He said this was the most important day for rest so he would make sure to be in bed come 6pm and to sleep in the following day (Saturday) as much as possible (I find it interesting that the day you need the most rest is the day they keep you out until 10 pm with a banquet and mandatory race meeting)
  • Saturday he suggested a 20 min swim, 30 min ride, 10 min run all back to back to back, and then eat early and get to bed. He said sleep the night before is not a big deal. If it doesn’t happen that’s fine, it’s 2 days before that’s really important
  • He said to focus on hydration at least 3 full days out from the race. It takes that long for your cells to really fully hydrate. He also suggested over-salting foods during this time period.
  • He also advised against doing a lot of heavy thinking the week before the race. He talked about how our brain needs to stockpile resources for race day as well. So having a quiet mind and allowing the brain rest as well was important
  • He said the most important thing on race day was the ability to quiet the mind. He talked about positivity and how people always talk about having to stay positive in an Ironman, but he said that sometimes there isn’t anything positive to find in the situation. If you are hurting and struggling, there isn’t a lot of positive stuff to focus on, so he said that he prefers to quiet the mind, stop the chatter, and race. Once he figured out this skill, his racing took on a new dimension.

Those were the major points of his answer to me. He got asked another question about balance in life. He brought up that he loves to surf and someone asked if he and Luis advise athletes to take breaks on a weekly, or monthly basis to seek balance. There were some great comments from Luis and Mark on this one.

  • Luis said that something he sees interacting with a lot of athletes is the concept of honesty. You have to be honest with yourself and your needs. Different people need different things and part of this sport is assessing your own needs. He said most AGers do the sport as a hobby and a passion, and so they need to be honest with what their needs for a balanced life are.
  • Mark brought up an interesting point. He asked how many people went on a 6 hour ride last weekend? A lot of hands went up. He said “There is nothing balanced about a 6 hour ride.” On a day to day basis balance does not exist. He said that what he sought was balance over the year. So when he was training for Hawaii, the 7-8 weeks before it was all tri all the time. Nobody saw him unless it was in a training setting. But then after Hawaii he would take 2 months off and would see his friends and family, and have a lot of fun with them. He said his life was balanced over the year, but not in any one day or week.

Everywhere I had read that Mark was kind of a serious guy, but I didn’t find that at all. He cracked a lot of jokes and he exuded a very quiet and confident peace. He has that ability to relax a room full of people and to make the task at hand seem easier and more straight forward than you might have once thought.

I didn’t talk much about Ang. She was asked a lot of questions about her own training and her work with Mark. The talked about breaking her season into thirds and how that has helped her this year. I can tell that she is happy and thriving, which from a friend point of view makes me happy too.

So, last night was Scott Jurek. I went to the fun run with him and 200 other people that I didn’t know. But I did make some friends. These two were totally cracking me up and I’m sure that I’m going to be addicted to their YouTube feed for years to come. They were hilarious and adorable all at the same time.

When we got off and running I was in the front and Scott was right there. See…

And this is what it looked like behind me…

Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute…make all of your overachiever jokes now…


Okay, I got to talk to Scott a little, tell him I really enjoyed his book, listen to some things he had to say about his experiences writing it and going on this book tour. All in all it was well worth it to get to run a bit with him. He’s a really chill, and a really NICE guy. You just get that feeling straight up.

During the book signing he did a reading, and they had a panel discussion. This really got my thoughts flowing as I sat and listened to them speak about ultra running. As silly as this sounds, Ironman is about speed and the pain to go fast, the pain to turn yourself inside out, while all around you other athletes are posturing, walking, blowing up, puking, and then some of them passing you, hurting more than you, better than you. Ultrarunning is different, even for the guys at the top, ultra running is about pain. The genetic factor has honestly been mostly removed with ultra running and the guys who excel are uniquely a different breed.

The question was asked “why?” It always gets asked. But this time is was more like “What kind of sick demented person does 100 mile races and does well at them?” One of the panelists answered…At the core of it, most great ultra runners don’t feel like they are good enough. They hit the trails to either punish themselves for that, or to try to prove that they are good enough.

Damn. Someone finally sat there and told it like it was… only in ultra running. It was none of this CW BS “I’m just trying to get the most out of my body” (say it in a British accent…). No, at their core, anyone who repeatedly goes out there to F themselves up royally (do I need to repost the pics of my toenails from the Moab 100?) is trying to prove something. Either to others (that usually doesn’t work) or most likely to themselves. That point was discussed and it was dead on.

Why do people that clearly excel at things need to hurt themselves to prove worth? Well, for that you are going to need a chaise lounge and a few hundred hours. Sometimes, 100 miles on foot is just easier.

After the panel Scott stayed around to sign every single persons book, and I know that because somehow I ended up at the end of the line. He spoke with every person, he was genuine, he asked them about themselves. He was just a cool dude. He asked Annie if she was a runner. She said yes.

These last two evenings, while they threw me out of my routine, they were really good, and really needed. I have been really focused on the “work” these last weeks and I have worried about my fitness level, especially after the saddle sore incident. Following a new plan this year it’s been hard for me to feel like I am ready. I’ll say it, I don’t feel fit, not like I have been in the past. These last two nights I was reminded that good performances can come from a place of insecurity. They can stem from something to prove, to yourself, to others. So maybe going into this race feeling like I’m not “there” ┬áis an okay place to compete from.

Recent Reads

I really hunkered down this last week and did only what was absolutely necessary. I trained alone for all my workouts an just tried to simplify things down a bit. I was successful in putting to bed that panicked, I don’t have enough time, feeling. I feel better in that regard.

For those of you who see a lot of MAF work on your schedules…this ones for you. I almost rear ended the guy trying to take this one!

Annie finished Kindergarten this week. She is also almost up to my collar bone, and she is 6. It’s only a short matter of time before she passes me on her way up. We put her in swimming class this summer, in hopes of getting her into swim club soon. She’s a little fidgety and energetic so I’m hoping the swimming will help, I think of Michael Phelps sometimes when I can’t get her to sit still.

All the times we have dragged her to the pool with us has really paid off. Her first swimming lesson she was put into level 6, the highest level and her teacher told us she is ready for stroke school. After stroke school it’s swim club, so we are close! I can not describe the joy that watching her swim brings me. Learning to swim as an adult I have such an appreciation for the little swimmer in her. She’s so fearless. I was similar as a kid, just not in the water, not after my eye sight went south and I had to wear glasses. That was the end of the confident swimmer in me.

Since I have been laying low this week I took the opportunity to catch up on my reading. Several highly anticipated books in the endurance world have come out recently.

Chrissie Wellington – A Life Without Limits: Humm, I was expecting to be blown away. She’s a great speaker so I thought there would be a lot of rah-rah in there, but not so much. It’s more a story that is equal parts her life before Ironman as a civil servant, and her life during Ironman where she kicked ass before she even knew that she was kicking ass. You understand what makes her tick by the end, that’s for sure!

Rich Roll – Finding Ultra: I was pretty blown away by this book. I found it to be more genuine and real than I was expecting. It was inspirational, and he was really honest about the demons he’s faced. It was also interesting to read about how he found his way to being vegan, and I would say he is now known as Mr.Vegan hot endurance athlete. Quite a change from where he came from. I really dug his point of view.

Scott Jurek – Eat and Run: I think I pulled more usable gems out of this book than any I have read in awhile. Scott has won so many ultras in his life, so many 100 milers, and a guy who spends that much time with himself knows how to navigate pain. I dug his stories and I had trouble putting it down. He was also vegan before Rich Roll even knew what nutritional yeast was, and he provides a sort of real time tested look on it. I also like that Scott tries things, he experiments. Sometimes his races don’t go well. He doesn’t chase perfection, just progress. That was a breath of fresh air.

Any other good endurance/sports books anyone has gotten though recently? I heard Amanda Beard wrote a great one, need to download it. I want to start 14 minutes – the memoir by Alberto Salazar.

I’ve also been trying to eat really well. After the set back I wanted to make sure I got lots of good food back in my system.

Oh, I also signed up for another Ironman. You always gotta be thinking a year ahead with these things. This time, more that anything I really wanted to mix it up and go exotic. It may be on a shoestring, and we may be sleeping on the beach, but I’m so excited to get another punch in my passport for what will hopefully be Ironman #9 for me (after CDA and Kona this year). Oh, and Troy signed up too. Yes, the man who had never done a triathlon is now signed up for two Ironmans.

Well, that about sums it up. I’m a little less that two weeks out from Coeur d’Alene now. 10 days until I leave. They will go by fast, they always do. I hope all of you that are in your final workouts for this race are feeling fit and ready to go. See ya there.

Simple Prosperity Book Signing


Tuesday night I attended an author presintation and book signing by David Wann, the author of Simple Prosperity. It was an enlightening time and I came home refreshed and rejuvinated. I woke up Troy and we talked for hours about the direction our family has chosen to take.

Simple Prosperity takes a look at current social anthropology from both a society and an individual point of view. The way he welds the two together, weaving back and forth between the two, hammers home how we are neither separate from our neighbors, nor defined by societal expectations.

Values such as health, relationships with people, connection with nature, satisfying work, a sense of purpose, abundance of personal time, and freedom of expression are the real wealth, far more valuable than money and mountains of manufactured stuff.
– Simple Prosperity Excerpt

Last night David Wann talked a lot about cultural expectations. It was nice for someone to speak about being immune to those expectations, to be willing to appear foolish, all the while traveling in your own direction. This really hit a nerve. At times I feel a bit crazy for not owning a TV set, or a home. Troy and I always seem to be doing things a different way, but we don’t feel that our value system is that different than others. Family, health, shelter, stability.

David Wann’s book illustrates a new way of life that can deliver twice the satisfaction for half the resources. Check it out, and let me know if you enjoy it. I would love to get together a coffee group one evening to discuss this book a little more.

What to Eat

What to Eat, by Marion Nestle! Awesome, awesome book. Marion also wrote “Food Politics” and you can find her website here. This book travels aisle by aisle through the supermarket telling you how bad (and how good) everything is. It’s a huge book! It spans produce, meat, dairy, fish, cereal, baby food, oil, you name it. Troy and I both read this book. It’s the nitty gritty truth on why organics are better and why cereal boxes are allowed to call their cereal “Heart Healthy”. The politics behind the supermarket, including why all the items you need are always so far from the front door, was hard to hear. We are all numbers, how much crap can they sell us??? That’s the game. Troy and I have become much wiser shoppers and we now like to point out the advertising ploys. However, reading this book has made it pretty impossible for us to step into a Safeway or Kind Soopers, we get very frustrated (once you know their game, you don’t want to play it anymore). This book and this book alone was the deciding factor for Troy and I to revamp our eating habits. We now realize that we can vote with our dollar when it comes to purchasing our food…we like that!

An Inconvenient Truth

The new book by Al Gore. I read this while up at the cabin and I was totally floored. This is one of the most beautiful, poignant, and important books that I have read. It has spurred me to action. We as a world need to make some changes in the way that we lead our daily lives if we have even the slightest hope of handing a sustainable world to our children. Global Warming is a reality, we are in the midst of it. The most compelling part of the book to me was the photos that he had of what certain cities would look like if our oceans raised by 20 feet. It’s devastating, 120 million people would be displaced. There is a movie that Al created to go with his book which I would love to see (if I could ever get away to see a movie). Next time you are at the bookstore, pick up this book and at the very least leaf through it, if you are compelled…buy it. It’s worth it.

Not Buying It

I just finished an awesome book: Not Buying It by Judith Levine. Judith gave up consuming for one year to explore current American consumerism. She joined a Voluntary Simplicity Group (she was by far the most voluntarily simplistic of them all) and grappled with her desire for clothing, Q-tips, and going to the movies. This book is in no way a how-to book, it’s a self exploration book, and I couldn’t put it down. Here are some of the quotes that stimulated my brain:

“On average, someone living in a developed nation consumes twice as much grain, twice as much fish, three times as much meat, nine times as much paper, and eleven times as much gasoline as someone living in a developing nation.”

“Americans make up just 4.5% of the world’s population, but we use 24% of it’s resources, and emit 23% of the greenhouse gases that are dissolving the ozone layer.”

“In 1998 and American used 1,023 kilograms of oil or its equivalent and ate 122 kilos of meat. In the same year, his Bangladeshi cousin burned a thimbleful of fuel – 7.3 kilos – and ate a mouthful, 3.4 kilos, of meat.”

“The average North American household tosses four pounds of stuff daily.”

My favorite quote in the book (she is quoting Douglas B. Holt, a professor of advertising at the University of Illinois):
“In the postmodern marketplace “the ‘good life’ is not a matter of having a well-defined list of status goods,” he writes. “Instead, it is an open-ended project of self-creation. The idea is to circulate continually through new experiences, things, and meanings, to play with different identities by consuming the goods and services associated with those identities.””

That HIT HOME! What comes to mind for me: rock climbing, camping, mountaineering, backpacking, running, hiking, sewing, scrapbooking, knitting, swimming, ice climbing, the list goes on.

And finally a little clip of her concluding remarks:
“If I am a consumer first and last, all I can do to better the world is consume more responsibly – ‘buy green,’ invest in socially responsible businesses, and buy less. The other choice I have is to reject consumer as my sole role and reclaim my other public identity: citizen.”

In the style of “Not Buying It” I did actually purchase the book. I know it seems contradictory. But, in my defense, I did check to see if they had it at the library and they didn’t. I would, however, like to pass it along to someone else to read (Amy??), possibly in hopes that someone else will read it, and highlight the sections they enjoyed, write a few blirbs in it and return it for me to gain additional insight. Any takers??

Cool Book!

I got a great new book for Annabelle. It will be quite some time before she gets it but I thought it was so cute I couldn’t let it get away. It’s called Nature’s Yucky and it teaches kidos about some of the gross things that animals do and why they do them. I especially like the page that talks about how Turtles breathe out of their butt! Ha ha ha ha! I was rolling on the floor. Anyways, I thought it was a great educational book that plays to kids fascination with all things gross!

“The Climb”

I recently finished reading “The Climb” by Anatoli Booukreev and G. Weston DeWalt. It was written in response to “Into Thin Air” by John Krakauer about the 1996 Everest expedition where 8 people died, including the famous guides Rob Hall and Scott Fisher. John Krakauer was quite critical of Anatoli in his book and it was nice to read another point of view. It was so heartbreaking to read about the strength and heroism of Anatoli, yet to know in the back of my mind that he perished in an avalanche on Annapurna on Christmas day a year and a half after the infamous Everest tragedy.

One paragraph in the book really caught my eye. Anatoli was talking about what a strong client base the Mountain Madness team had and he described Charlotte Fox:

“Charlotte Fox, thirty-nine, and Aspen resident … was a highly qualified find for the Mountain Madness expedition. She had summited two 8,000ers [meters] in her climbing career and had climbed all fifty-four of the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado. Unassuming and secure, she was a team player, and Fisher regarded her as a true asset, somebody who could perform with a minimum of maintenance. She knew how to take care of herself in the mountains.”

This struck me because this could easily be my resume by the time I am 39, or even earlier. I identified with her (BTW she lived, but it was close) and it sort of hit home that I have considerable experience in the mountains. Troy always says that I am too modest about my climbing history, that he has to brag for me (and he’s not much of a bragger, well not really much of a talker either). Reading this book brought out a flood of feelings in me about my own mountaineering experiences, especially my trip to Peru in 2001 with my dad. I am slowly coming to realize that I have done (and continue to do) some amazing things in my life. My love for the outdoors (fostered by my parents) is so strong. I am so lucky that my parents felt the need to foster and fund my outdoor trips growing up, they have such a sense of adventure and I am glad I inherited it! I had a conversation with Annabelle while on a hike last week about what I hoped I could pass down to her. I hope that my love of the outdoors will rub off on her and that she will find as much solace, and reward in the outdoors as I have.

I highly recommend “The Climb” to anyone who has read “Into Thin Air”. It’s the other, less draumatic/theatrical version. And most likely, much more accurate, being that Krakauer was “being rescued” and Anatoli was “doing the rescuing”.