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RTW Ruminations: April 20 – 2604/26/2015

MSV4/20/2015
Mon – It seemed like my morning was consumed with watching the livestream of the Boston Marathon, which was an extremely exciting race on both the men’s and women’s side. Pure racing like that will always make for better drama than time-trialing to a world record. I saw Jeremy Rodgers in the afternoon. Definitely some periostitus and a stress reaction, possible stress fracture. Can’t really know without an MRI, but, we both agreed, that wouldn’t really change treatment, so not worth the $1k+.

4/21/2015
Tue – Road Biking: Marshall-Lafayette-Baseline Loop (2:01, 31mi, 500′)
Near the end of this ride I was on some creek paths out east and I crossed Alan Culpepper out for what appeared to be a leisurely cruise. That name probably doesn’t really ring a bell for many, but he was one of those dudes that I considered an out-and-out hero when I was in high school and was myopically obsessed with actual running racing. Anyways, he was nearly unrecognizable in a ball cap and b-ball shorts, but his unique arm carriage was a dead giveaway.

[As an aside here, I should give a quick explanation about “b-ball shorts” in the context of running. This is a term of casual and light-hearted derision. For me, at least, it originates with one Kyle Skaggs, the day after the 2007 Leadville 100. Kyle had paced me the day before for the entire second half of the race (no small feat, considering: A) Leadville’s singular muling policy means that pacing is a bit more of an intensive task there than at other 100 milers, B) I ran 16:14 that day, which, the passing years have served to prove, is not slow, and, C) he had been up at 2:40am same as me, and crewed me for the whole first 50mi, which is nearly as stressful and exhausting as actually just running the first half of the race. Anyway.).

For reasons I will never fully be able to defend—but I suspect have/had something to do with clinical compulsion and a truly single-minded drive that anyone who tries to do anything well can probably relate to at least a little bit—we went for a run Sunday morning. We (meaning, Kyle, myself, and my girlfriend-at-the-time, Jocelyn, all wedged into a 2-person tent; this was six months before I bought the Roost) had slept post-race (and pre-race) in the Ice Palace City Park just over the hill from the finish line in downtown Leadville, so I hadn’t even showered yet, but was lacing ’em back up for an easy 40min jog from the Sugarloaf Dam out to the Boat Ramp and back. As if I hadn’t seen enough of that particular trail <12hr previous.

Kyle and I (not to mention, Jocelyn, who probably could’ve beaten either Kyle or myself in a 5K back then) were all serious runners at the time, not lowly ultra-joggers, so we unfailingly sported proper short shorts with pride. This morning, however, in deference to the admittedly casual nature of our perambulation, Kyle donned his Montrail Ultrarunning Team shorts, which probably had like a 5-6″ inseam and reached mid-thigh (the horror!) even after rolling the waistband sorority-girl-style a couple of times. With his trademark deadpan humor, Kyle remarked, “Well, at least now I’m ready to hit the hardwood…” and off we went. I seem to remember that Jocelyn then repeatedly heckled him to demonstrate his “sweet lay-up skills” for the majority of the run. Hence, basketball/”b-ball” shorts.]

4/22/2015
Wed – Mt Saint Vrain Skiing (2:52, 4500′)
I headed out earlier today, determined to be skinning before the snow had turned mushy, and I timed it pretty well. I was shuffling up the hill just after 7am and conditions were pretty ideal for most of the climb, with only minor clumping. Today was pretty awesome because last week’s storm dumped enough that I could get to within about 10′ of MSV’s 12,200′ talus summit (the most coverage I’ve seen all season), before ripping the skins and skiing down. It was a brilliant morning up high, and all the direct sunshine heated things up quickly so that the meager skiff of powder up there rapidly became sticky and difficult to turn in. Nevertheless, I persevered, and after a 1000′ drop off the summit, turned around and went back up for an extra lap. The snow was really getting sludgy after that, so I called it a morning and descended back down to the car, during which variable snow conditions (myriad patches of direct sun and shade) made things quite challenging for me with my vastly improved but still meager skills on the planks.

Today’s podcast listening was exclusively Radiolab and seemed to be even more consistently engrossing than usual. Everything from the post-modern nested regressiveness of pro wrestling and Don Quixote; to 1980s Cuban punks protesting socialism by self-injecting with HIV (what?!?!); to the heartbreaking grieving of an across-the-street, unrevealed Peeping Tom. Crazy stuff. The world is a fascinating place.

4/23/2015
Thu – I had a follow-up PT appt today for my shin, which prevented me from getting out skiing in the morning, and then all afternoon the skies threatened (and occasionally spat) with rain, so I never got out on the bike. Lame excuses, but it always takes me a while to find my exercise-regime groove when I’m properly injured. I’ll get there.

Today’s session with Jeremy was quick and basic stuff—targeted lengthening and strengthening of the soleus and flexors in my lower legs and feet—but are the kind of exercises that I need to be reminded of and held accountable for. Once a few weeks of non-running have quieted this thing down, I truly think it will be an assiduous dedication to this kind of tedious and mundane auxillary work that will eventually keep me healthy. I hope.

I also finished David Foster Wallace’s compilation of short stories Oblivion today. Holy moly. I’ve never really been into this particular format of fiction (i.e., the short story), but DFW elevated it to something else with this volume. Mr. Squishy, Good Old Neon, Oblivion, and The Suffering Channel were the highlights for me. He’s received much acclaim for The Soul Is Not A Smithy, but it just didn’t hit me the same way as these others. It’s pointless to try and select some sort of single emblematic excerpt and post it here; trust me, the characters and the inner worlds he constructs in his prose are uniformly and unfailingly brilliant. I could honestly go right back to the beginning and re-read the book straight through again.

4/24/2015
Fri – Allenspark Skiing (1:20, 1500′)
Bummer of a morning. Woke up early, skinning by 7am, turned around after only 45min of uphill travel because my shin fucking hurt. Like hurt, hurt. An ache that seemed to permeate the whole limb. Definite stress fracture ache (I’ve suffered through a dozen of those fuckers; alas, the last was almost ten years ago, but I still remember what it feels like). So—still firmly ensconced in the trees, didn’t even get to make it up into the sun—I ripped the skins and skittered back down the hill on what amounted to a sheet of rutted ice. Biking it is. And maybe the dreaded elliptical machine thinga-ma-jig. Mother of god.

A seemingly beloved bromide in the outdoor community is to refer to whatever it is you’re doing (running, biking, climbing, skiing, surfing, kayaking, four-wheeling, beer drinking, sidearm discharging, bonfire building, etc, etc) as “play(ing) in the mountains”. I’ve always reacted—if only internally—fairly negatively to the term “play” used in this context. I realized recently that this irritability arose, I think, from the fact that I felt that whatever I was doing in the mountains was somehow more serious, more essential than the infantile frivolity that I attached to the term “play”. Especially when I became so fortunate that getting out in the mountains became each day’s main task. When this happened, I think I became especially insecure about the connotations of the word “play” because I felt it somehow diminished the legitimacy of my everyday existence, where I’m ostensibly paid to go outside and simply play. I guess my inner Puritan can’t help but feel at least a little ashamed. You know, get a real job. Or at the very least, don’t openly equate yours with the activities of a bunch of children in a schoolyard.

The TED Radio Hour podcast I listened to this morning finally changed my mind on all that, at least a little bit. It’s really too much to go into, but for 53min an extremely convincing (and heavily research-backed) case was made for just how essential the inherently non-essential character of “play” is (basically, for our healthy development and evolution as compassionate, empathic social animals). I think this is probably what even that crustiest of all curmudgeons Dostoyevsky was getting at when his notorious Underground Man railed against the notion of man as piano key or algorithm, devoid of any caprice or whim. I’ve always found much inspiration and insight in George Sheehan’s writing, but until listening to this morning’s podcast I don’t think I ever really believed him when he wrote, “You can have peace without the world, if you opt for death, or the world without peace if you decide for doing and having and achieving. Only in play can you have both. In play you realize simultaneously the supreme importance and the utter insignificance of what you are doing. You accept the paradox of pursuing what is at once essential and inconsequential.” It’s an attractive theory, for sure.

4/25/2015
Sat – Road Biking: Superior-Longmont-Lyons Loop (3:13, 56mi, 1500′)
Only the second day on the bike, but it seems like it takes me about an hour to overcome all the negative thoughts and instead just get psyched on being outside, using my legs to cover a bunch of ground. This was a nice loop and one that I see myself returning to a lot in the coming weeks. The last 15mi from Lyons back into Boulder has got to be one of the most bike-intensive stretches of road in North America. When I joined the fray, I found that my 38mm knobby CX tires meant that packs of riders would coast by me on the downhills (less rolling resistance on a 25mm slick, plus my gearing is such that I spin out at 28mph) and then I would awkwardly re-pass on the flats and uphills.

4/26/2015
Sun – I awoke to claustrophobic skies and a consistent drizzle; it continued to rain all day, so no biking for me. I’m just not that committed. Yet. I briefly considered buying a one-month pass to the gym so that I could use the stationary bike and/or elliptical on days like today, but I couldn’t quite convince myself of the cost just yet. We’ll see.

—————————————–

This song is kneebucklingly nostaglic for me. Sure, the nature of the song definitely lends itself to that, but Gulag Orkestar was one of those albums that I had on repeat when it was released in 2006, and 2006 was a pretty pivotal year in my life. Heard this in a coffeeshop recently, so I had to go back and listen to it again.

34 responses to “RTW Ruminations: April 20 – 26”

  1. Evan says:

    Sorry to hear about your shin. As a frequently injured mountain jogger, i can assure you ellipticizing isn’t so bad, you can give podcasts your undivided attention.

  2. Joel Anderson says:

    Get that gym pass, you will not regret it while your stress fx heals. I am not a fan of the gym but the trails are muddy and the high country has a months worth of snow to melt. Heal up for Hard Rock.

  3. pablo says:

    “Biking it is. And maybe the dreaded elliptical machine thinga-ma-jig. Mother of god.” Thank you for that. I almost laughed out loud and woke up my wife sleeping next to me. I hear maturity in your humor. Good stuff. You’ll heal.

  4. Randall says:

    I’m not a trained physician, but I used to watch ER. You probably get advice all the time and might think I’m an idiot, but it doesn’t matter.

    Have you ever tried a regime of basic yoga? Not just when you’re injured. All the time. I’ve seen you run on video. You look tighter than a bass fiddle.

    Good luck at Hardrock, and you’re welcome.

  5. Obamacare says:

    Do you have Obamacare?

  6. Dave says:

    Re: Boston – I too watched the live stream, and was psyched to see my friend and local masters runner, Bean, on TV with the elite women, at least for the first mile or so. I have fond memories of running that race, so I tune in every year. It’s probably tied with the Bolder Boulder for the most fun road race that I’ve ever done; the crowds are phenomenal.

    Re: Culpepper – His 5th grader son is a chip off the old block, and dominated Melody Fairchild’s Landsharks X-country races this past fall.

    Re: shin/gym – bugger/ughh!

    Re: Obamacare – If you’re on a semi-affordable plan, an MRI is coming straight out of pocket due to the deductible.

    Good luck! Any chance of a Hardrock deferral?

    • anton says:

      Yeah, I’m (relatively) young and indestructible. Catastrophic coverage for me.

      There are no deferrals for Hardrock. It’s ok, though. Being healthy and able to run pain-free in the mountains is more important to me than any race.

  7. speranza says:

    I’ve gone through phases of waxing and waning David Foster Wallace admiration, but I would recommend “Good Old Neon” to anyone as the perfect 40-page introduction to what his fiction is all about. This is one of those cases where adjectives like “awesome” and “devastating” feel fully warranted.

    • anton says:

      Through no fault of his own, his work was/is definitely highly subjected to the ol’ hype-machine. But every time I read very nearly anything by him, I’m astounded. I totally get the criticisms–they’re not unfounded–but it’s pretty tough to deny his sheer talent and the obvious sweat that he would put into any given piece.

      • Brooklyn says:

        Have you read “Although of course you end up becoming yourself” by David Lipsky? It provides some great insight into DFW’s head, at a time when the critics didn’t yet have the chance to mess with it…

  8. Jon says:

    Just curious — why road biking and not mountain biking? — some of the best trails in the world at your disposal and an affinity for the mountains…It would seem to fit.

  9. Daniel Sheffield says:

    I can only imagine you dressed/outfitted with flip flops-running shorts, a buff cap with a UD Tshirt pedaling like a man possessed while Boulder Locals but serious bikers look at your in disgust cause your not sporting the proper (to them at least) tights, awkward helmets, with logos/stickers all over them as they race up and down from Lyons to Boulder and up Flagstaff road….Comical Relief I assume 😉

  10. Jackie Lai says:

    So sorry to hear that you are not able to run for a little while. For me, the mental anguish is way worse than the physical. I think I am addicted to something about running, maybe some kind of chemical that is released. Personally I can’t do the elliptical or go to a spin class (even worse!) Lifting weights gives the the feel-good feelings but not like running. I am impressed that you rode for 3 hours/56 miles on only your 2nd ride, my butt would never have been able to take that kind of beating so soon. When you feel ready to start running again, really ready, take one more week off, just to appease the injury gods.

  11. mtnrunner2 says:

    Great header pic. And the ski touring sounds fun.

    So, I’m running some mild hills on Saturday and I’m thinking about your shins. No really, I’ve read your posts for a few years now, I’ve my share of aches and pains, but I’ve never had shin pain of any kind. Granted I’m no sort of competitive runner, but what’s up with that?

  12. Mike Baetz says:

    Road biking uphill worked pretty well as hardrock training for troy howard. I remember an interview with him where I got the impression it was better than 50% of his training.

  13. Chris Cawley says:

    I see only one solution here: Hokas w/ long socks. I am personally enjoying a period of bicycling as my own chronic lower leg dealio persists.

  14. M says:

    not planning to write a book yourself?

  15. Albert Shank says:

    Hi Anton. I was just wondering if you had ever read “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing” by Phil Maffetone, and if you had ever considered a Maffetone or Lydiard type approach to training and racing. I always feel bad for my running friends and those who I don’t know who get injured, and I always wonder if they were to take a different approach if it would help them. Though I’m a very average runner with average ability, I sincerely believe that through good diet, stress management, proper rest and running primarily aerobically,that runners can remain relatively injury-free and do what they love without any substantial breaks. Good luck with your recovery, man!

    • Bradley says:

      I’d be interested to hear your views on Maffetone as well. His research helped pull me out of a pretty serious decline into overtraining. I now use a HRM pretty regularly and other biofeedback mechanisms as well.

  16. Weide says:

    Hi Anton,

    have you read Lizzy Hawkers book yet? She seems to love the mountains as much as you do. Really nice read and i was surprised that one whole chapter is about her injuries and stress fractures. I didn’t know she had 6 stress fractures, sound pretty awful. Even though i used HOKAs and they are not for me, as i tend to pronate and the softness makes it worse, i reckon they could help with stress fractures.
    I found them much softer then the New Balance Fresh Foam. I was injured a lot too, in the end i finally managed to stick to a 30 minute routine of stretching and mobilizing muscle groups as well as foam rolling hips, legs, tendons before every single run. It is annoying but it becomes routine. I haven’t had any real issues since.
    Hope you get better soon!

    Cheers from Germany

  17. David says:

    Something you might be interested in: https://instagram.com/p/2Q-mnWGdFF/

  18. austin says:

    Anton,

    give this a listen. I think you will find it muy muy agradable..

    https://xxyyxx.bandcamp.com/album/xxyyxx

  19. David Hill says:

    Hey man sorry to hear about the injury…but hope you don’t stop blogging. Been reading this thing for a long time now; its kinda become a habit. Letterman is leaving soon, then Jon Stewart too so if this blog also goes away I might have to drown myself in Renegade Hammer & Sickle :) Peace TK

    • anton says:

      Haha, this made me smile, David. Letterman…eh, who cares. Stewart…I’m already grieving. No worries, I’m working on it, just been surprisingly busy with all the biking–you have to do so much of it if you’re going to reasonably equate it with running!

  20. David Hill says:

    Sweet. Yeah Letterman grew stale but I’m older than you and have sentimental attachment to the guy from watching him back in high school. They would throw stuff off a NYC 5-story building (bowling balls, cans of paint, etc) and see how many guys in a bunny suit they could fit into a mid town H&R Block before being kicked out – that was cutting edge stuff back in the 80’s.

  21. Greg says:

    Anton,
    Curious to know what shoes are you wearing these days? I know you are sponsored by New Balance but what style? I have been on the NB site and saw your photo are those the Leadville 1210 v2? Thanks

  22. Barry Bliss says:

    Hoping Anton will write something about a guy that was one of my other favorite athletes, Dean Potter.
    Waiting to hear if the investigation turns up anything.

  23. Logan says:

    Nice post with the Beirut cut. Hey, maybe you have heard of this guy(and maybe even posted him?) or maybe not but it is definitely I believe up your alley, but anyways give Perfume Genius a listen. Just came across him this week, which is a crime, and the guy is stellar. First music I have come across in years that I can honestly say will be added to my road trip discs.

    Give “17” or “Dark Parts” a try. Ridiculously good songs. So when you want to comfort that ass of yours after getting off the bike saddle give these a listen while sipping some joe.

    Hope the health is looking up man.

    Logan

  24. Dave (Scotland) says:

    Hey Anton!

    Hope the recovery is going well…

    Loved the reminiscent story from yesteryear, more of those good buddy! 😀

    Any thoughts on UTMB?

    Dave

  25. Estanga says:

    gracias por Beirut post cards form italia.

  26. Mike Baetz says:

    With all this biking I see a long’s duathalon fkt attempt in your future

    • anton says:

      Definitely. Usually an ascent of the East Face is required so as to make it a “triathlon” (biking, climbing, running). Real climbers go up the Casual Route. Wanks like myself go up Kieners. I think Boulder-to-Boulder, on a day where everything goes right, breaking 7hr would be really close.

  27. malcolm mcgregor says:

    Hope the shin is improving. Injured or not you are an inspiration to many including older lads such as myself. Scottish hills not the same as mountains at Boulder but the fusion with nature is the goal – and one you’ve encouraged many to find

  28. Resurgam says:

    Your written word is so good, everyone would probably appreciate an honest account (at its rawest, shortest, most boring, etc.) on sharing some feelings on the current situation in your life.

    How do you feel, what do you think, how do you cope, where do you draw strength, good and bad day ratio, just being a mere human under the current circumstances. Something like that. As long as it is not an intrusion into your privacy, of course.

    Get well, be strong! On my bad or lazy days I get inspired by people like you, just to get out and moving. And appreciating a pain free movement per se.

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