Views of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens on a training run w/ friends in 2011. Photo: Joe Grant
Circumnavigating Mt. Hood w/ some friends back in 2011. Photo: Joe Grant
Often times people ask why I run ultra marathons and put myself through the sometimes perceived self-afflicted misery. I remember being asked by one of my uncles in Morocco what I won for first place in a race many years ago. He looked at me very puzzled when I responded, “a belt buckle”! Trying to explain why we do what we do is very often difficult to articulate or put into words but I am sure it is the intrinsic rewards rather than the external or materialistic “prizes”. Training for a mountain 100-miler demands some serious commitment and time spent out deep in the wilderness getting used to the rigors that the actual event will bring. It is so much about the journey rather than the destination and I was able to draw on that a lot during my long run at Western States 100 last weekend. It reminded me of a card that my mother sent to me in 1996 when I decided that I was not going to attend college right after high school. I kept this card in a shoe box as I moved (sometimes wandering) from Florida to Pennsylvania to Colorado to New York over the span of nearly a decade. While living in New York I pulled the card out of the shoe box and pinned it to my bedroom wall because I love the message so much. I was reminded of the wise words just by glancing at the beautiful photos on the card every morning when I rose. In 2008 my wife surprised me and had it professionally framed and it still sits in my bedroom to this day. I thought that I would just like to share it with you all. It goes like this: (more…)
“There is no greater source of discipline than the effort demanded in overcoming obstacles.” — Simone Weil
Three and a half weeks ago, a medical provider told me that it was unlikely I would ever run more than five miles again, and even doing that would take me several months. Two weeks prior, I hyperextended my left kneecap while sweeping a race course. My knee made a loud popping sound, one of those soul-crushing sounds that you know deep down means something bad, and I was barely able to walk. Despite rest, a steroid injection, aggressive physical therapy, and heavy doses of every anti-inflammatory treatment one could think of, I saw only minimal improvement. I saw medical provider after medical provider, but no one had a definitive diagnosis. In all likelihood, it was a severe sprain, probably to the ACL. Rehabilitation was going to be slow and only time would tell whether I would recover fully. I sat out my next race, the White River 50, which I had planned on being my Western States qualifier this year. Sad though I was, I knew it was the responsible decision. I accepted that I was going to lose my entry in the WS lottery and that I would need to start over next year. There would be other races, as everyone assured me, though it didn’t feel that way.
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