Almost Getting Killed While Running

Dear guy in the low rider who waited in the turn lane until I entered the crosswalk so you could gun it and cut me off,

1) I was wearing a reflective vest and a head lamp, I couldn’t have been more obvious.
2) Use a turn signal.
3) Hang up your fucking phone.
4) Giving me the finger was a nice touch.
5) 5:30 in the morning is way to early to be blaring mariachi music. I can’t think of a worse soundtrack to die to, except any rapper with a name starting in Lil.
6) I hope you get in an accident. I hope it is your fault. I hope you rear end a parked truck going 45. I hope the truck is transporting medical waste. I hope the doors are open and the cargo is unsecured. I hope the infectious waste and sharps containers fly out and break through your windshield. I hope the infectious waste lands in your mouth and the used needles land in your eyes. I hope your airbag deploys late and drives the needles in further. I hope you get a disease. I hope you get every disease. All of the diseases. I hope the medical bills bankrupt you and cause your family to leave you. I hope you end up in an iron lung. I hope you linger. I hope the last thing that happens before you die is your dick falls off, so that your last earthly thought is, “wait, did my dick just fall off?”

Whew. Ok, I feel better.

Ragnar Contest Entry 2

Ragnar runs these Facebook contests where they ask you how you would describe Ragnar to a friend. I’m going to have to accept that I’ll never win one of them based on my entries:

Have you ever bothered to peer past the shroud of what you consider to be reality? Have you stopped to consider that everything you know and believe could be carefully constructed artifice, designed to ensnare you in the web of the sensible and sane? There are hidden places, off the well traveled pathways. Places where where the fabric of our world wears thin and the truth bleeds through, resplendent in its terrible glory. The ancient ones sing songs that can scarce be heard unless you take the time to listen for them. Alone on a trail in the deep of the night, the sky begins to dance. Your mind strains to comprehend the nightmare unfolding before you. Things break free from the stars and crash down upon of world. In the distance you hear mad screaming, in time with the tune of the elder gods. It is then you know you are truly lost. You can never rejoin the ranks of your fellow man, for your humanity has been striped away, leaving a raw, ragged creature in its place. You keep running, for that is all that is left to you now.

Plus, you know… s’mores.

Gilbert Half Marathon Report

The first ever Gilbert Half Marathon was held Saturday, November 22nd, 2014. I decided a few months back that I would run it, despite it being two weeks after Ragnar Trail and the weekend after a trip to Disneyland with my children. I did this because I am an idiot and I apparently cannot read a calendar.

My training program for Ragnar mostly consisted of running when I felt like it and trusting that I am great and would not run into too many issues out on the trail. This was a terrible idea on many different levels, most notably that running on flat roads does not do much to prepare you for running up the side of a mountain, let alone several mountains. Those things are made of dirt and sharp rocks and cacti that yearn for the taste of sweet human blood. They offer very uneven footing and reward arrogance with bloodshed and pain.

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By looking at this photo, one could mistakenly believe I enjoy running. I sort of do at this point, which is as sick as it sounds.

I survived that experience, then jaunted off to jolly old Disneyland, which is a story for a different occasion. I will simply say that under no circumstances should you take a three year old there and expect to have anything other than a hellacious time. Basically, Ragnar and Disney were opportunities for me to be punished for my own hubris.

Welcome to hell, assholes!
Welcome to hell, assholes!

On to the Gilbert Half Marathon! I planned for this race by not running much since Ragnar. I got back from Disney on Sunday evening and realized I had a week until the race. It was taper time!

Hahahahahaha! I’m just kidding. I did a Tempo run on Tuesday, a speed workout at track on Wednesday, and then 5 fast miles on Thursday at the Road Runner Sports Adventure Run. I took Friday to recover. Hubris FTW! Somewhere along the way I managed to pick up a head cold.

Race day was actually very pleasant. 42ish degrees at the start, but I dressed with some arm warmers and gloves and felt pretty ok. The gun time was set for 7:30AM , which felt luxurious. I left the house at 6:30 thinking I would arrive in plenty of time, as I needed to travel a mere 5 miles. Only the course was run in a circle, and every street I tried to take to the parking area was already closed off. I ended up doing a complete loop around until I found the one ingress point, arriving at the parking area 20 minutes before the race started. The starting line was about 3/4 of a mile away, which meant by the time I got there the line for the bathroom was insane. Those two cups of coffee in the morning were starting to look like a mistake.

I met up with my running group, which was great. I had a couple minutes to talk before it was time to line up. The race director let us know they would start us in waves, with each pace group starting 30 seconds after the previous. Everyone understood the rules and was eager to follow them. No, I’m just kidding. The second they started the first group everyone surged forward and all hope of a graduated start flew out the window. The mayor of Gilbert was there to give us a brief talk before all civility and propriety flew out the window, which was nice.

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It was still cold at this point, so I look about as unhappy as I was

We started out running through downtown Gilbert, so I got to see a lot of familiar sights. There were a surprising number of people out there to cheer us on. From there we continued down to the power line trail, which took us through Freestone park, continued along the power lines, and dumped us out on Greenfield road. That winded us over to the canals, through Crossroads park (the start of the 10k), and meeting up with Williams Field Road. We ran along there back to Gilbert Road, then north on Gilbert until we reached the Civic Center. It was a fun, fast course. It was also flat, unlike Ragnar which my legs were thankful for.

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You can’t beat me, car! Oh wait, yes you can. Easily. My bad.

I had done nothing in the way of training for the race. Within the first couple of miles I had decided to ignore my GPS watch and just run based on how I felt. That turned out to be a wise decision. I did better than my goal time, which was decidedly unambitious. I suspect had I obsessed over the GPS I would have been much closer to that time and had a more unpleasant experience. I did need to use the restroom pretty much the entire time, but there were no real opportunities to do so.

Mm, mm! That is some fine looking back sweat!
Mm, mm! That is some fine looking back sweat!

All told, I ran a good race and had fun. I would definitely do it again next year. Just, you know, I would try to train for it better. Or at all, really. I would also try to avoid stacking my calendar so deep. With Thanksgiving coming up I have not had much of a break lately.

Ragnar Trails Endorses Racism

The following were recently shared on the Ragnar Trails Facebook page. It is a running group called Team Cannibals that wear tribal makeup and in one case full on blackface. It looks like young people, so I’m going to assume this was done out of ignorance, not malice, but the people running Ragnar’s social media presence should certainly know better. This is cultural ignorance/misappropriation at best, and worst case overt racism. Shame on the Ragnar organization. I am rethinking running their McDowell Mountain event if this is the sort of thing they not only endorse, but celebrate.

06/13/14 UPDATE: In fairness they did finally remove the video (I contacted them about it) but they did not issue an apology in any form.

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Wild Canyon Games 2014

I participated in the Wild Canyon Games – Lost Canyon earlier this year. It took me a while to get around to uploading the photos. I’d like to claim a technical difficulty or something like that, but truthfully, I just got lazy. I was part of a corporate team selected by my company because we had foolishly emailed a willingness to do it. Never volunteer, kids.

This is what it looked like when we arrived:

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Nice, right? I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. We arrived at around noon the day before to get acclimated to the elevation. I did a three mile run up and down some hills. It was a simpler time. A happy time.

This is what we woke up to:

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That is snow. It snowed. It was snowing. And it kept on snowing. This is Arizona. We don’t do snow. I don’t do snow, anyway.

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My 9 mile trail run was essentially being done in a blizzard. A blizzard I was woefully, hilariously unprepared for.

My glasses fogged over until I couldn’t see. I actually took them off and luckily another runner was willing to play my seeing eye dog. Thanks, Tyler! I stumbled and bumbled my way through over six miles when a race director appeared.

She told us the race was cancelled. For safety reasons. It was 28 degrees outside. 15 with the wind chill. It had been that way since before the race started. For over an hour. Now suddenly it was deemed dangerous. It had dumped over four inches of snow since the race began. I had frostbite. I had been taking turns alternately sweating with my jacket on, or freezing with it off. My hair was icicle dreadlocks. I couldn’t feel the left side of my face where the wind was blowing from. It was finally over.

She told us to take the shortcut back. We were three miles from the finish. I was eager for the shortcut. Excited, even.

I naively asked how long the shortcut was.

2.5 miles she replied. Oh, and for safety reasons we could no longer run.

Thus began a 2.5 mile freezing walk through the woods. Every part of me that had been sweating froze. Every part that was already frozen froze worse. By the time I got back to camp, I was mobbed by the race volunteers. I’d like to tell you it was because they wanted my autograph, but far more likely it was because I looked like death. I assume if I had looked like one of the white walkers from A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones for TV fans) they would have run the other way. They wrapped me in towels. They gave me hot chocolate. They performed my last rights when they thought I wasn’t paying attention.

I heard everything.

Mercifully, it was over. Or so I thought.

They decided to continue on with the games. So we did all the challenges. We got wet. We got cold. We went to bed.

The next day was the relay race. I would like to claim we put on a good showing, but… Nike brought in two pro teams. Adidas brought in two pro teams. The Christian organization that owed the camp brought in their college track and field team. We were a group of weekend warriors and desk jockeys against people who did this for a living.

We got destroyed. Not even destroyed. We were annihilated. They scribed our names in the firmament so future generations would know how badly we had been beaten. It was not a loss. It was a SHAMING.

That said, I would do it again. Just, you know, hope for better weather. Or bring appropriate gear.

Grand Canyon Double Crossing

Recently I had the (mis?)fortune of getting to do a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. For those who are not completely insane, let me explain. It involves starting on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking across and going “Hey, I’d like to be over there!” So you go down through the bottom of the canyon, come out the North Rim, look around, and go “I’d like to be back in the other place where I started from.”  You can rest, if you can call it rest, then repeat everything in the opposite direction. You can optionally go North to South and back, but the North rim is sort of… look, there is nothing of real notable interest there. I mean, there is a lodge, but it is only open part of the year and I can’t tell you the food is great, so South to North it is. I mean, the views at the North rim lodge are great, but after spending hours crossing the damn thing, the last thing I wanted to do was look at the canyon some more. At that point the canyon can go back to hell, from whence it came.

Hey, lets cross this. Twice.
Hey, lets cross this. Twice. Lol.

It is 21-24 miles each way depending on the trails you take, and 4000+ feet down and then back up twice. It is, quite simply, a completely asinine thing to do to yourself. I did this for fun, because at some point I lost my goddamn mind and this is just what I do now. It is too late for me. Save yourself.

It also tends to be hot. Bright Angel, which I take on the way back because it has more water stops than Kaibab, has nothing for shade. There is some at Indian Garden, but everything before and after that takes places in a blighted hellscape of rocks and switchbacks and sun. So much sun. Sun until you wish for an endless, interminable night to fall. Bring on the vampires. You know who was a Bright Angel? Lucifer, the Morningstar. I can’t say the the trail is misnamed.

Seriously, this is bullshit. What the hell am I doing here?
Seriously, this is bullshit. What the hell am I doing here?

I managed to cross South to North in 7 hours 37 minutes. North to South took 8 hours 28 minutes. North to South is easier, as far more of it is downhill and you lose 1000 ft of climbing, but it is also 3 miles longer and I cached my legs on the first crossing, so running the middle was done at a lower speed than desired.

Oh thank God I am done! I am so happy... wait, what do you mean I have to go back the other way?
Oh thank God I am done! I am so happy… wait, what do you mean I have to go back the other way?

All told, it was interesting adventure. I got stopped by mule trains, lectured by rangers, and yelled at by angry hikers because they were angry. I got nausea from my electrolyte drink at the bottom of the canyon that never really went away. I could barely walk the next day. I currently have an eczema flare up on my inner joints. I have cuts and bruises I can’t explain. It was dirty. It was grueling. I had a hard time breathing on the North rim climb. I ruined my trail shoes and will have to shell out another $120 for a new pair. My brand new hydration pack is crusted with salt and dried nutrition gels.  My running gear smells like it was worn by one of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings.

I am currently considering doing it again next year. Because, as I said, I have apparently lost my damn mind. However, I am still not an ultra runner. I refuse that designation. Those guys are crazy.

Relaxing on the bridge before the hellacious climb out on Bright Angel. This is the last time I truly knew happiness.
Relaxing on the bridge before the hellacious climb out on Bright Angel. This is the last time I truly knew happiness.