Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Rules of Endurance

When I start an ultra event be it running or biking, I imprint three rules into my brain:

1) Stay positive
2) Be nice to my crew
3) Quitting is not an option

In this “special” ultra in which I’m currently participating, I stamped these rules into my brain right from the start. It has been tough, but all ultras have their ups and downs and I expected that. I have stuck to my rules (not exactly 100% on the first two though) and will continue to stick to them through the finish.

With five months down and one to go, I started thinking about life after treatment. With my current energy level and lack of red blood cells it’s hard to imagine running or riding in the mountains again. So I asked a doctor friend of mine what kind of recovery time I can expect. He sent me a study that wasn't very encouraging, but that study turned out to be special cases. He conferred with two specialist who both agreed it varies, but normally 2 - 4 weeks. My doctor confirmed that prognoses also.

The good news is that I’ve been pretty atypical throughout this entire adventure, so I’ll keep pushing the envelope as much as I can. It looks like I won’t be racing this summer, but I’ll play it by ear. I have my eye on the American Discovery Trail Marathon  on Sept 5 (my birthday) and if I can get some decent training in and feel like I can push it, I’ll go for it. In the mean time I am committed (and signed up) to run with “Team Colorado” in a 6 day ultra marathon run called The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica starting on January 21, 2012.

During this down time, I’ve had the opportunity to read a lot of books. I just finished “Running on Empty” by Marshall Ulrich. Marshall is one of the most accomplished ultra-endurance and adventurers of all time. This book is about how at 57 years old he ran from San Francisco to New York City in 52 days. That’s an average of over 60 miles a day for 52 straight days! Marshall, over time has put together the “Ten Commandments of Endurance” or “Marshall Law” as some call them, based on his experience and incredible accomplishments. They are:

1) Expect a journey and a battle
2) Focus on the present and set intermediate goals
3) Don’t dwell on the negative
4) Transcend the physical
5) Accept your fate
6) Have confidence that you will succeed
7) Know that there will be an end
8) Suffering is okay
9) Be kind to yourself
10) Quitting is not an option

Great advice for any endeavor. Perfect for this one.

Here is a video clip of Marshall’s incredible run across the USA. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Week of Firsts

Dogs are the best. Yesterday, (Saturday April 2) I was having a typical Saturday since I started treatment in that it was almost noon and I was still in bed. Roswitha and Max had just returned from their run and Max blasted up the stairs, tore open the curtains to let a beautiful day shine in on me, jumped up on the bed and started giving me puppy kisses. I think he said something like “It’s a glorious day outside; I think it would do you a lot of good if you take me for a walk.” OK I have to admit I might have exaggerated on the curtains, Roswitha probably opened them. There’s also a good possibility that it was her that mentioned taking Max for a walk. But he DID give me puppy kisses. Dogs are the best!

This week was a week of firsts and has been very encouraging. Before I started treatment there were few things that gave me the absolute joy that running and cycling did. When I was out running or riding my bike, I felt like a little kid out exploring the world, or a dog let loose to run his heart out in a field of rabbits; pure bliss. I haven’t had that feeling in months. Practically every run, every ride has been a real test of my will. I don’t enjoy them and I can feel wiped out for days if I push too hard. But, I continue to get out there and keep the faith, that when this is over I’ll love running & riding again.

One of the firsts this week was (after Max’s puppy kisses) we went out on a 2+ hour hike in Ute Park. Contrast that to last Saturday and many Saturday’s before that, where it takes all of my will power to drag myself out of bed at 2:30 – 3:00 PM, force myself to do what I call “my 90 year old man shuffle” around the neighborhood, then spend the rest of the day sitting in the kitchen, with my head buried in my hands, or laying on the couch, or going back to bed until about noon Sunday. It is during these “old man shuffles” that sometimes I think about those incredibly epic runs with CRUD and those great mountain bike adventures with Sharon, Dan, Kara, Nick, James, Ralph & others in the past. It sometimes seems like that was a different life, and I was a different person. It’s during these times that my morale can get low and I wonder if I’ll ever be able (or even want) to do that stuff again.

Another 1st Shorts & T-shirt Weather!

This week, again another first, I was feeling unusually good by Wednesday. Now I always feel somewhat better by Wednesday but never GOOD. Thursday, I rode my bike to work and felt traces of my old self again. I actually enjoyed the ride, felt a hint of strength on the small climbs, and even sprinted through a traffic light. (It was green). I didn’t feel wiped out until later that evening, and Friday morning I had an enjoyable “run” in Ute Park. I even “ran” (probably a better description would be “didn’t walk”) the hills, and again, felt traces of my old self and my past love and joy for running! And I felt GOOD at work!

Now this is all very encouraging and inspirational for me. So much so, I started making a list of races for my come back. I know I probably won’t be competitive this summer but my goal is to do some epic races, enjoy them, and finish. It’s been a bit of journey and it ain’t over yet . 17 weeks down, 7 to go. I don’t know what the next 7 weeks will bring but if I have a couple more like this, I’ll gladly take em. Oh and by the way… dogs are the best!

And here is a heartwarming dog story

Family dog kept watch over missing 2-year-old overnight