Monday, October 21, 2013

Cystic Fibrosis Climb Dallas

Saturday I raced in my third stair climb of the year (and only fifth ever) in Dallas, the 70-story Bank of America building, in an event benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The overall turnout was very low, there were only about 150 climbers, but there was good representation by "my team," West Coast Labels/X-Gym, with nine members racing. We did pretty well too, leaving with a combined five medals. I am pretty happy to have gotten one of my own, for first place in my age group, which for this race was a wide range of 26-39 (I was sixth overall with a time of 11:44). The other medals were for first and second overall male, third overall female, and first male age group 40+. However, we were all soundly beaten by Rolf, an elite climber from Austria who finished just under 9 minutes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mount Rainier climb with RMI

Careful readers of this blog (okay, that's probably nobody) might recall that while I did reach the summit of Mount Rainier in 2009, I did not stand at the very highest point, on Columbia Crest. I always meant to go back and remove that asterisk from my highpointing roster, but it was never a priority. Frankly, I figured I could skate by and finish the 50 state highpoints without having to revisit Rainier. However, when I was climbing Denali this summer, two other highpointers shamed me into admitting that I couldn't really say I had gotten to the highest point in the state of Washington. Since I already had a 2013 Rainier climbing permit (from when I did the winter skills seminar in February), and my climbing skills were honed after 20 days on glaciers, I figured this would be a good time to knock it off. Since I don't have a climbing partner, I once again climbed with RMI. I was kind of hoping to climb with one of the guides I had climbed with before, since I would more or less be jumping straight onto the mountain, but it was nice to get to know some new guides. Thanks to these great guides and much better weather than was forecast, I was able to stand at 14,410 feet, as high as I could have gone without leaving the ground. This completed a sort of "highpoint trifecta," climbing three of the most difficult state highpoints this summer (after Denali and Granite Peak, MT). Just based on how my legs felt afterward, Rainier was less challenging than Granite; Denali is in a whole different realm.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thoughts on Motivation (via Uptown Classic 10K)

That nagging voice. The one that says "Slow down already," or just "Quit." It has many names, but I like The Oatmeal's: The Blerch. I hear it pretty much every race I do. I actually have a little saying that if I don't hear it, I'm not going hard enough. It says "You can't possibly hold this pace, so just slow down now." I know this isn't true. I've been from extremes of intensity (namely stair racing, especially the Willis.Sears Tower) to extremes of endurance (14+ hours moving during an Ironman). A typical 5K or 10K is nowhere near that level.
But there's another voice. Its mantra is "Just for one mile," a runner's corollary to Alcoholics Anonymous's "Just for today." Just for one mile, I can run this pace. Don't worry so much about the mile after that. At least keep going until the Garmin clicks off this mile. Usually in a race, this voice (I don't have a name for it) wins. Most of the time, at least in road races up to half marathon distance (marathons and tris are a different story), when I do finish the mile I find I can keep going at that pace.
Today, I feel the Blerch won. Usually it waits until I'm a mile or so into the race before it starts telling me to slow down. Today it didn't even want me to leave the house. I defied the Blerch and went to the race. It was pretty quiet until about 50 feet into the race, and I thought I might puke. Nope, just a burp. My time for mile one was slightly slower than my goal, but it was at least in the ballpark. Shortly into mile 2 there was a water station. My mouth was parched, so I grabbed a cup. It went down wrong. I pulled to the side, coughed, got a sip down the correct pipe, and carried on running. I was sure the walk had ruined my chances of hitting my goal, but when the mile 2 time clicked off, it was only a few seconds slower than mile one. The Blerch had not won yet. Mile 3 was okay, a few seconds slower still. I may not be able to set a new PR, but I can still have a decent race. The Blerch took over on mile 4. I got to the water station and hit the brakes. When I did start running again, it was at a much slower pace. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that slow (I know plenty of people who would like their 'fast' pace to be my 'slow' pace), but it felt slow to me; more than a few people passed me. Really I had no desire at that point to chase or resume my earlier pace. The Blerch had already won.
Now, I do have legitimate excuses, such as racing a half ironman last Sunday, being a touch ill after getting a flu shot Tuesday, and resuming hard workouts too soon after a big race (speed work Thursday and stairs Friday). Maybe my body wasn't capable of a PR today, but it was capable of more. The mind got in the way.
Is anyone capable of performing an exorcism on my Blerch?