Digging it all out

It’s been a while since I put time into either this blog or writing anything at all. There are a variety of reasons, but the elephant in that crowd is that last year I started a new business. Yep, I’m self employed. I’ve been working as a “tree guy” which is the humble brag for uncertified arborist.


Added to that rather sizable deduction from my time/energy wallet was the personally catastrophic collection of rejection I endured prior to changing gears. I know, I know, “everyone goes through it.” Still doesn’t change the fact that rejection doesn’t pay the bills and after a while it takes a personal toll that erodes one’s sense of self worth. I’m here to tell you that if you’re examining yourself through those lenses it’s a good chance you need to see an optometrist for a new prescription.

Today I went for my first run of the season. A three-ish mile jaunt into the park between scheduled events. I started feeling pretty low energy, but that changed as soon as the ol’ heart rate got moving and now that I’m done and stretched I’m feeling more me than I have in a good long time.

And that’s really what this is all about — feeling like myself. Feeling like I’m worth something to myself. So, now my challenge is to make it through the spring juggling the time/energy requirements of my work and the time/energy requirements of my family and the time/energy requirements of living up to my own expectations. And I can do that if I stay on top of all that budgeting and ensure priorities are adjusted as necessary.

I’m going to start keeping track of that rat’s nest of requirements here again, so earmark some writing and serious self examination into that personal economy. Get ready folks, we’re going for a run.

Secret Plans

I just answered the leader of my local writing group with this current description of my state of being. “Shocked, rudderless, angry, and feeling very solitary.” Up until I met with a physician yesterday I thought I might be coming down with a case of cancer, now that seems less likely, but yeah, still riding on my raw nerves.

And there are the election results, or should I say, then there is the expected Electoral College results. Mixed into that all the ridiculous and regressive ideas that have plagued our nation and held us back for so long. The result, I’ve lost skin, I feel flayed.

My friend Jefe recently posted this personal account of some of his troubles and it’s got me thinking. This is the same Jefe that has held the CTR course record since I started following the race and the same Jefe who has taken home top honors on the GDMBR too. Point is, the guy is a machine that gobbles up the miles and he’s always sort of been someone I look up to. But just like me, he’s recently encountered some challenges.

This present state of less than 100% has kicked my ass. Mentally it has crushed me. The past few months I feel like I have been pulling back on everything that has made me tick in the past. The passion for riding, racing and pushing boundaries has been so instrumental in keeping me moving forward, staying positive, and focused, has been subdued.

Since the seizures started. That’s the point I started to pull back, now every little twinge in my body gets treated a catastrophic sinkhole on the road to my health goals. And this messes with me, regardless of if I admit it to myself or not.

Add to this that my goals are somewhat divided. Often my responsibilities and my desires compete for my time and motivation. Balance is just a myth, a story we tell ourselves before we collapse into bed at night.

RAID Runner in Training

Here’s the deal, I’m never fully alive, never completely as mindful and living in the moment as when I’m trotting along some trail. I need to feel my heart pounding in my chest sometimes. I want to suck in chilly morning air that bites the insides of my nostrils. This is the way it’s always been.

The harsh reality I’m faced with is that I have very localized responsibilities. Kids, house, an aging dog, and now a need to develop our family’s independent sustainability for the impending doom of the Presidential shit-show consuming the country.

Since September I’ve been working on a slow comeback. I’m gotten religious about my Primal Endurance. I’ve been working with a coach as if I was new to the practice of running. I see my physical therapist regularly. I’ve lost weight, regained flexibility and swimming around the back of my mind is a long list of goals and ideas for places to go, things to see, races to enter, and trails to run.

Truth be told, I’m a long way away from racing or record fitness, but the motivation is still there. Besides, “winning” has never really been what it’s about.

But I can get out there, where I’m happy. I can run my butt off, run until there aren’t any more worries. I can be glad I can run at all.


Micah True “Caballo Blanco” Running Free

“I remember this photo of Ali, running along the beach, on the sand in combat boots, so his boxing shoes would feel lighter when he was in the ring. He said something about the fight being won in the gym, out on the road, long before he danced under the lights. Ali was my Hero. He’d rather go to prison, than go to war. I always respected him for that. He was a great fighter, and a great runner.”When I was 21/22 years old, I had been smoking lots of dope, drinking lots of booze, partying hard.
I always wanted to run free. And I wanted to do something. And, I couldn’t. It was hard. My throat was bleeding. I was panting and feeling like crap, and determined I did not ever want to feel that way again. I thought I was too young to feel that way. It was one of those turning points where you either live, or you start dying. I have had a few of those every seven or eight years. I go through the same thing. So, are you going to let it go, or are you going to live?”

-Micah True

Today’s inspiration is there to help you sure, but it’s more to kick myself in the shorts. Caballo was already an old horse when I ran into him, but as far as I could see he hadn’t been dying until he went.

Last November I hurt my back lifting a goddamned box of ski boots. I’ve been to the doctor, I’ve made trips to the PT, and I’ve even tried to get back out on the trail a handful of times since then. So, between the pains of growing a little older and that injury I’ve let my narrative diminish. I’ve watered it down with excuses.

I’ve always wanted to do something and now I’m not doing. Not doing anything. I feel like I’ve slipped and when I allow myself to think about it, even a little, I feel horribly depressed which makes all the aforementioned sensations feel that much worse.

Here’s the thing. I know what I need to do, I just need to find the cojones to do it. It’s going to be hard, but I’ve been through harder and even better I’ve got examples and heroes like Caballo to show me the way.

So, here I am. At this turning point.

Thanks Micah, much gratitude for showing me the way.

I Want to be a Mountain

There is rain outside, falling steadily on the patio. Internally I am not calm. My mind is not at rest. I rose early and have been anxious to patter wet and cool and happy down a muddy path somewhere high up. Anticipation is forming my day and soon I will pack Aral into the bulki and set off into the weather.

I just came across this film project on Kickstarter and I really want to see this (thanks Rain Shadow Running). It wins the internet today and for a long time hereafter. Watch their funding pitch and see these people and the places they inhabit. If it helps, think about me running in the rain.

KICKSTARTER from Women of the Mountain on Vimeo.

Tabeguache, Ahhhhh!

First thing I have to say about this run is “I can’t find my heart rate monitor.” The second thing I have to say about this run is, “Don’t talk to me about my heart rate monitor.”

Click on the image for details of the run

Yeah, I’m high five-ing myself these evening. It was a short run, only three miles and change, but it was fun running. And dry. Did I mention that the trail wasn’t a muddy, nasty mess?

Aral was a real trooper on this trip too. He didn’t nap, rather he cheered me on all along the way. His favorite was stoping along Raven’s Ridge to pee on a tree. I also think he liked running over the pump track at the end.

Good times were had by one and all.


Mud Month Has Arrived

Wow, it has been a while. The last time I posted a trail running related post was more than a year ago. Yeah, sure, there have been a number about running in general, but nothing about me actually running.

Bummer I know, but hey, there is good news. I’m back out on the trail again. Late at the end of 2013 two friends I ran with last back in 2009 compelled me (by the power of the Sun Sword) to get my ticket for the Canyon de Chelly Ultra. This has been one of a couple I’ve really wanted to run for a long time now, so it’s little wonder that I nabbed my place in the starting pack.

With all the moving and travel lately I’ve been hard pressed to get back into training mode. Everything has become measurably harder since about the middle of January. Worse it has been wearing me down from time to time too, but on Wednesday Aral and I packed the last of our stuff up in Ootek and left Boulder. We spent Thursday unpacking and organizing and then by Friday I was able to leverage enough time to take my first training run in a long, long while.

Aral still rides along in the Chariot like a champ, which makes any of this possible.

Right now we’re up on Glade Park house sitting for my parents. Yesterday I loaded us up at about nap time and hit the road intending a longer run along pavers and jeep roads on the Park. It was windy and chilly, but the sun was out and had warmed the snow cover that remains up top.

Click for detailed rundown on Strava

I wasn’t really thinking ahead like I should have been when I turned off on Holloway Lane pushing the buggy along at a reasonable clip into a head wind. The Lane was pretty squishy despite county maintenance and yet I trotted along to Black Mesa like a complete boob intending to traverse the lower road and then follow it down to the McInnis Canyon parking lot.

Not much past the second switchback I realized two things. First, I was already too far down Black Ridge Road to turn around. And second, mud month has begun here in ernest.

My new Brooks TrueGrit 2 trail shoes got tested in a profound and meaningful way. And at times, the build up of bentonite clay clinging to the buggy wheels weighed more than my child and gear stowed inside. I really had to huff it hardcore to clear this short-ish stretch of “road”.

And when I got back to 161/2 Rd I was beat. The next two miles I could only manage a jog at best and my pace suffered.

Incidentally, mud makes an excellent training tool. You’ve got to be very careful of your foot placement and drive your legs much harder than you would have to even in a pool. The resistance is amazing and the instability in the surface demands mindfulness.

Everything is cleaned and drying today. I’m really hoping to get out for a shorter run this afternoon (I will accidentally-maliciously schedule during nap time), but I’m going to stick to pavers for a while.

And Glane and Josh, if you read this be afraid for I have the power of bentonite getting me ready for CdCU.

Ants in Pants

It is a delicate balance that we all maintain, but somewhere between a life of pure adventure and the one with dishes and dirty diapers in it is the path I’m walking. Last weekend, in an attempt more to give Tess some time alone, I took Aral for a run along the front range. He was in the jogger, which he is increasingly ok with, and I ran and pushed him.

At one point, while heading up around Wonderland Lake I noticed a bunch of students making their way up the foothills with wings and harnesses and watched as one after another they brought their wings overhead and stepped out into thin air. I knew they were students because one after another they would hit a house thermal out in front of their launch site and go bumping right over it like it wasn’t even there.

Oh was i jealous. It was a hot, dry day and the potential for overdevelopment in the afternoon was extreme (in fact there were tornado warnings in Boulder county and elsewhere), but I imagined what I might do if I had a wing, reserve and harness of my own. Cloud streets went all the way to Wyoming and I sat there imagining the sunburn I would unavoidably need to deal with because of my epic flight.

Too bad I’m not flying right now, don’t even have a wing. But the fire has was lit again and has been smoldering since. Today some schmuck on FB stoked up the embers with this.

Sierra Safari from C Hilliard on Vimeo.

Now I’ve got a swarm of fire ants in my pants. I’m coo-coo for going and its a wonder I’m able to sit here and mash these thoughts out into coherent sentences. Man do I want to go. But that would require a major departure from this path that’s been working oh so well of late.

So I make deals with myself: stay right here, do the laundry and make sure everyone is happy and well taken care of and maybe in a bit you can head out for an evening of trail running some place new. The bags are packed, my GPS and headlamp are right here on the desk with me. Its just a matter of carving out that reward time.

Its not teaching some bright eyed kid to soar in Africa. It is not even a late afternoon of glassy air on Tiger mountain with a beer waiting as soon as the sun sets. But it is enough, its enough because I know this path is a long one and deviation from it means a whole lot of cross country running and no real guarantee I’ll be able to return.