To describe the emotions that coursed through my body on this past weekend’s run is not an easy task. I needed to work through some things and crack open my heart to find the joy in running again. I have been on numerous runs this past year and this past weekend brought back something that was missing from previous runs. I guess I like to run hard, push my limits and get the best out of myself. I enjoy a nice frolic just like any running aficionado, but there is something truly freeing when you unleash the beast within and get after it; the happiness even doubles when its muddy and sloppy, adding other variations to an already hard ass sport. I ended my 2014 season at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championship this past weekend and it has left me hungry for this coming year.
Photo – Myke Hermsmeyer
I’ve really enjoyed this past year of running and visiting beautiful places all over the world. I am blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy these experiences of running and traveling with my family and really take in all life has to offer. I wouldn’t change a thing.
On the racing side my year turned out fairly well. I just didn’t have any one race that went particularly great. Transgrancanaria felt solid, but I couldn’t close out the last few miles; I was ok with that, as it was an early season race and I was fixated on Hardrock 100, a challenge I did not take lightly. I really gave everything I had to be as prepared as one could be for a mountain run of that caliber. I had a rough run that day but still an amazing experience and a chance to leave my heart mesmerized by the San Juan Mountains and the people that make this event happen. I ran for 30 miles which felt great and then my body sort of just stopped on me.
At Hardrock I didn’t have a chance to give it everything I had. Over the past few years of racing I really enjoy creating something extraordinary that transcends normal day to day living, expands my mind on what is possible and opens my eyes and heart to the bigger picture. So I took off in search for the epic I was looking for.
I found myself in Chamonix running up and down from the valley floor to insane beauty on a daily basis, either training by myself, touring around with other friends or going for big family hikes, taking in the mountains and preparing for another hard race, UTMB. I felt confident going into the race and ready to let rip. Intending to let loose, I felt caged all day and so mentally and physically exhausted that I had to humble myself with my first DNF – Did Not Finish. I was ok with how this turned out as my body was letting me know I needed a break and to get my mind right if I wanted to continue enjoying running. I left UTMB not digging running and that’s sad.
Its intriguing to me how much of running is mental, not just to finish – as I’m stubborn – but be able to transmute suffering and struggles into consciousness, an awareness that leads to peace within every step and breath – the reason I run and enjoy pushing my spirit in such a way. If I wanted a happy warm feeling all the time I would just mediate for hours on end, however I’m intrigued by this physical and mental exertion that breaks the norms of comfortable, everyday living. In many circumstances life is hard and has its own challenges, but battling through utras is relentless and adversity has changed my life in many ways.
Photo Credit – Myke Hermsmeyer
For some years I was very lost. I was depressed, which is a bitch. It takes happiness out of life and can make you feel like Eeyore with a rain cloud hovering above you every moment. I’ve had my fair share of depressed days. I’ve come close to suicide on a few occasions and have definitely tried to drown out my sorrows with bottles of booze, pills and drugs that should have killed me. I didn’t think I would make it through my 20’s. I’m not the only person who deals with those demons.
The day before UTMB this year, my uncle took his life as he did not see a way out. It brought deep pain in knowing he could not escape his depression and his exodus needed the assistance of a gun. At least he was in the forest which he loved so much. It makes my heart hurt that I could not fly back right away to be with my family, not that I would have anything good to say, but I can hug and hugs do possess magical powers. I’m sorry I was not there family, I know I’m not back in Wisconsin enough, but I’m there with you all, through everything and I love each of you with all my heart. Sometimes I wish I could turn back time, I want those heart wrenching times to not exist. Overwhelmed and in pain, I can’t… Then I breathe, immersed in pain I search for the light. No matter how dark it seems, I scratch and crawl and breath until I catch the glimpse of light. I don’t give up and realize I am the light. The truth, the light, is within each of us and we can handle what comes our way.
I promised my family I would run UTMB for them, for my uncle; I beat myself into the mud till I couldn’t move anymore, until I was broken. I wanted to run hard for them, but I needed to choose to stop that day and that is hard to accept. I wasn’t enjoying running, I wasn’t being my best self. I was hurting inside but the light has never left, it’s always there even when I can’t see it. I am learning to let go and accept, something I know is a good practice but is not always easy to do. And I found that love again. I’ve realized purpose in things I can’t comprehend. I’ve lost some really amazing people in my life, people that are etched in my heart and are part of me, part of the whole. I feel their energy when I go deep, transmuting pain into the breath of life and all I can do is just be and live vivaciously each and every moment.
This summer of running needed some digestion and thus I took a month off of running. I wanted to regain that spark – that hunger to run hard once again. I have no problem getting outside for some exploring, that will always be there, but to be able to fire it up to compete with some of the world’s best, I needed to rest, to be still, to awake the strength I know I possess. This was the perfect decision and has ever so slowly bounced me back to where I belong.
After some rest, I started running again, this time with a coach. After my month break, I got in a few runs before traveling to Utah for The North Face Endurance challenge in Park City. I ran an enjoyable 50k on some beautiful single track, weaving through Aspen groves and spotting moose along my path. After a few days rest, I started working with CTS coach, Jason Koop, in the process of getting ready for this past weekend’s TNF EC championship race. I wasn’t sure how my body would respond, but I knew TNF wanted me to run at this race and I figured I would give it a try. I didn’t know what to expect or if my body would even cooperate. Koop helped a lot.
Into Tennessee Valley. Photo – Dominic Grossman
I started doing his prescribed workouts mid-October. I had a month and a half to try to take my thrashed and out of shape body into legs that could roll with some really fast dudes on a petty flat course. Shifting gears from Hardrock mountain climbing, it was time for some turnover, prescribed by doctor Koop with an emphasis on hard tempo work and an extra dose of rest. I think it worked out ok.
I didn’t really know what to expect come race day. Along with the training, I continued to work on our house, put it on the market, got it ready for 25 showings in two weeks, accepted an offer, packed up our house and moved/drove cross-country to Boulder, Colorado. Two days after moving into our new Boulder home, I was off to San Francisco to do a Speaker Series presentation at the Sports Basement and then race that weekend. Uff-dah, I’m tired just writing that out.
First hike in our new home.
Come race morning, I was rested and ready to test my legs out. I felt like I went out at a good effort – only a few minutes back from the leaders – preparing to pick up the carnage from overzealous speedsters. I did pick off a good amount of people, but didn’t have enough fire to do any real damage.
I’m super content with how the race played out, I really gave it all I had left for 2014 and finished out a very long season that started last January and celebrated the completion with many good friends in the Marin Headlands. Running in sloppy-muddy conditions with pristine ocean views and majestic forest intertwining with single track, I couldn’t ask for a better ending to the year. I could have used a little more during the last 20 miles as my energy was pretty low after a hard mid-race surge, but I was happy to get primal and let the lion out as I grunted through the last miles.
Happy. Photo – I run far
This run sparked my fire for the year to come and even though I plan to take some more time off of running, I know when I do start up again I’ll be good and ready to let it rip once again. This year has been memorable with many good lessons along the way. I continue to learn how to be the best possible husband, father and runner dude, it hasn’t been easy but it’s worth it.
As this year fades, I hibernate and await solstice sparking the return of the sun, longer days and mountain love to continue to follow my passions. It’s been a good ride and I’ve had lots of help along the way. A huge thank you to my inspiration and heart, my family of Tristan and Krista, they keep me rolling no matter what. I’ve also had huge support from family and friends crewing, cheering, helping and making every step before, during and after my runs that much easier. I couldn’t do it without your love n support. Thank you.
And a huge thank you to my sponsors.
The North Face provides me with so much and allows me to follow my dreams, thank you for all you do and for continuing to make huge strides in the gear I use on a daily basis. It’s been a pleasure working with you and developing excellent gear together.
EPIC Bars have been fundamental to my daily nutrition as I travel and explore the world. I will not travel without a few EPIC bars and an avocado. They have been breakfast, lunch and dinner on many occasions and having 100% grass fed animal based protein bars with me makes life and running flow perfectly. They are a perfect recovery tool and an incredible picnic on top of mountains. Give them a try, they’re worth it.
Vfuel gels, have worked for me and my tummy from day one. The new flavors they have added are now some of my favorite. Their endurance formula with MCT oil in every gel is exactly what a fat burner needs on a long day out to recover on the run. Their maltodextrin keeps me rolling as I need sugar for long efforts and it keeps me feeling strong and those bonks at bay. Enter code: Timmyfuel for 20% off.
Pocketfuel nut-butters are a staple of my pre race and run needs. Having some of their tasty chocolate or vanilla haze has me happy to jump out of bed and get my day going. Their cold-brew energy gels are a god-send for early morning races and runs. With a quick mocha energy jump start, I’m ready to go minutes after I ingest and the cold brew coffee mixed with coconut milk makes my belly feel warm and happy.
Injinji toe-socks have kept my toes and feet happy for years. I rarely get any blisters and having my toes spread-out to connect with the earth even when I’m in shoes has been the recipe for some great runs. I wear my Injinji socks all the time even when I’m not running, I love all their prints and styles they’ve come out with. Make your toes happy and get a pair today. Discount for 20% Off use coupon code: 20teaminjinji20.
Natura Health products have been great for performance and recovery throughout the years. Their Amino-max has all the essential amino acids and helps me work hard during the workout and helps me recover post run. They have been a part of my running for years as they’re based in Ashland Oregon. However we are parting ways this next year, it’s been a pleasure working with Natura and I wish them all the best.
Happy holidays to you all! I hope you too have had a wonderful year and are having the opportunity to spend some time with your loved ones the time of the year. May you be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. Thank you for all your support.
Here are some short videos: The North Face with “Curiosity” and EPIC bar with “EPIC”. I’m proud to work with such cool companies.