Monday, December 26, 2011

On The Surface

I noticed a crack on my front Carbon wheel about 10 minutes ago.

My heart sank.  This could derail my whole Epicman race.  I have no backup wheel set.  I have no money to buy another wheel.  I'd have to borrow a wheel and it would probably effect my performance.

The bad performance would, no doubt, cause me to be a complete failure in my eyes and lead to utter despair over how dumb I could be.

I worked out the equation (possible series of events)  to me being homeless and a burden on my friends and family.

Then I decided to really look at the crack.

It was really a harmless decal peeling in a strange way.

And so it goes.  The constant trials of beating ourselves up over false beliefs. 

Looking at things properly is important.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mindful Thoughts

Intelligence comes from awareness.  Just as emotional intelligence comes from emotional awareness.

I'm going to infer that physical intelligence comes from physical awareness.

Regardless, this all rests on awareness being synonymous with mindfulness.

Two weeks before racing Epicman I will tune into feeling my body instead of ignoring it as I pound it into submission.  (If I were a gifted athlete, I'm sure I'd be able to pound my body into submission while feeling it instead of numbing out.  There is a wise athlete!)

This leads to me trying to dial my mind into my body so that the distance becomes irrelevant.

Why?  Because I can't wrap my head around the distance of a Triple Ironman.

7.2 Mile Swim, 336 Mile Bike, 78 Mile run.

So because I can't be mindful of the distance, I have to really look into my body now.  (And get to know it as best as possible, because I have no idea what will happen then.)

For what is the entire event  but many millions of tiny moments that I have control over processing and interpreting? 

I will happen.  The event won't happen to me.

The triple ironman will be the unfolding of myriad nows.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's so simple...but goddamn impossible



Time I got something off my chest:  lofty words and ideologies are best suited for reminiscing - in the immediate we are too busy making mistakes.

I didn't get where I am by believing in myself.  Quite the contrary, actually.  But self-loathing will only take you so far, and I'm ready to take it to the next level. 

Setting your standards beyond your ability is destructive.  Essentially so.

It's all part of the Great Negation embraced by any drug addict.  When you are not yourself you are juxtaposed to your own Being - and any easy way out is welcome.  Blacking out becomes easy enough when you are tired of being awake.

I've seen beautiful perspectives pushing things.  But elevation is reciprocated.  What goes up comes down and the descent is proportional.  Essentially I've been on tour since I was in college.  I changed one rock n'roll life style for another.

But maybe perturbations between Myself and the places I inhabit are shrinking.  Two sine waves not in union produce a tempo with their disunion.  This was the push beat of my life this last decade.

And it isn't going away anytime soon...

...but it's reducing in intensity.  It's so easy to understand, so impossible to practice.

It's sounds so easy to stop when it hurts so bad.  But I'll have to be ridiculously fit before I get near stopping.  It's time to go home, when you arrive, I guess.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Mind/Body Divide/Union

The out of body experience.  The out of mind experience.  Where are you then when you have achieved both simultaneously? I can't remember.  I've only been there a few times.

I'll hypothesize that in this place you are engaged with the mind/body union, not the divide, and wrapping yourself around an unthought - engaged in a non-act of non-doing and therefore, you're on the road to great things.

I've blacked out a few times.  This is not this place.  This is the opposite.  I was totally present as my eyes rolled back in my head.

I am a monist.  Dualism has too much baggage - a world's worth, actually.  We compartamentalize Being into factions instead of letting it be undifferentiated lovers.

The only way to get there is to be where you are.  Allowing all the non-memories to seep in so that they can't be recalled, but only cherished.

I'm beginning to understand that pushing only can take you so far.  So, maybe it's just time to abandon the brakes.

Like dive bombing my Trek down Brandon Gap at 60mph.  There is a great letting go the first time you surrender yourself to the turns.  Vonnegut wrote of 'fates worse than death'.  Braking might be one such fate.  Worse than gravel and guard rails.

Endurance racing too often becomes a mall-metal, cock-rock song.  Like a Nickleback song it signifies a deprivation - a testament to testosterone and all that you've lost and are compensating for.

Endurance racing should be in the vein of Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht.  It should be written in the text Wittgenstein refused to write - for he believed 'of that which we can't speak of, we should remain silent.'

Maybe the minute you can walk away from the starting line you are ready to begin.  Then you don't have to overcome your body with your mind.  Suddenly such a notion is nonsense.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

EpicMan to Benefit Pittsfield, VT (Spartan HQ)

I am wrapping up my season, and 2011 too, for that matter, with what might be the greatest Triathlon spectacle I've heard of since I was first captivated by the Ironman World Championships at the fable location simply termed "Kona".  The privilege of participating in EpicMan on December 29th, still keeps me up at night in anticipation.  

7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and a 78.6 mile run.  Non Stop.  On the island of Oahu.  The cut off time…New Years - 60 hours after the start.  24 competitors to throw down and see who can get it done first.

Getting to the starting line of this event will be in no small part owed to the town of Pittsfield, Vermont where I have lived and trained all of this 2011 season.  And as I exit 2011 and head to 2012, I want to give something back to the town that stood vigil over my runs through the mountains.  The community here is something deeper than I've known elsewhere.  And this showed most prominently when Pittsfield was recently struck by Hurricane Irene.

I still pass the collapsed houses and properties on my rides and runs.  I still can’t ride without considerable detours and construction plaguing the trip.  I’ve seen resolve and strength in the people of Vermont that far outshines anything that I've encountered.  I am in admiration.

This is why I will be competing in EpicMan to raise money for The Pittsfield Hurricane Relief Fund, www.pittsfieldhurricanerelief.org, in an effort to help this town to which I owe so much.

So as I head into the Double Ironman this weekend in VA and as I ready for Epicman in December I am going to continue to point everyone to:  www.pittsfieldhurricanerelief.org.  There was an outpouring of support immediately after the hurricane, but this needs to continue.  Just like an extreme endurance event, focus and persistence are required.  We still have a long way to go to get back to where we were.

This is why I'm dedicating my racing of Epicman to raising money for www.pittsfieldhurricanerelief.org. Please contribute directly on that site or contact me as JasonJ@SpartanRace.com if you can help in any other way.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Bit Charred, But the Burnout is Momentarily Behind.



“And you can’t break through with the one that you want.”
Maritime ~ Parade of the Punk Rock T-Shirts


Wading onto the shores of the over-trained is common enough as to evoke no screams from the lifeguards.  And we’ll all, at some point in time, wash up unconscious and shaking on the rocks.

How many times can you go to the well?  When does evoked distress usurp your body’s ability to battle back?  When is bruised battered?  When is battered broken? 

It’s different for everyone.  And I can’t even begin to figure it out for myself.  As much time as I spend with my own body the more of a strange guest I appear when I try and speak open and intimately.

*
If burnout were purely a physical phenomenon, a concoction of muscles and tendons refusing to respond, a platter of strains and limbs polluted with lactic, then we could at least chart the problem with medical journal explicitness.

Personally, I’ve found, burnout takes on a more manipulative role as it firmly embeds itself into my  psychic regions and encamps before unfurling itself outward, systematically shutting down one system after another. 

Parasitic.

Burnout germinates as a repetitive Fuck My Life that accompanies all usual activities.  Some invisible element materializes from the atmosphere and settles upon every object - a patina of misery you can’t brush away. 

Burnout affixes itself within the deployment of hormones and serotonin, making sure it disrupts any standard operating procedure with outbursts and emotional conflagrations.

Burnout disembowels your favorite songs.  It weakens the syntax of language.  Burnout doesn’t wash off no matter how long you stand in the shower.

Burnout injects those established race goals with doubt and gags and binds all core beliefs regarding the timeless question:  Why should I wake up today? 

Burnout then complicates recovery on a cellular level.  You’ve been stripped of any motivation to workout first, and then your immune system starts operating like a that frenetic vacuum cleaner in your basement closet you refuse to throw out. 

I’ve been known to fall over rather embarrassingly, the composition resulting from my balance and leg musculature a knocked over Scrabble Board of confusion. 

But this is not the trying part.  Crying on the ground inexplicably trumps all in terms of embarrassment. 

Burnout sutures shut within you an amnesia of all your accomplishments to date along with a conviction that all is lost if you don’t get right back on the fucking track.

And then you do.  And prolong the misery.

*
In readying for Kona in 2006,  I didn’t trust the fitness that got me there.  I went skeletal and near anemic.  I remember crawling from my bed to the kitchen, propping myself against the cabinets trying to climb up to the Keurig. 

Battered into broken. 

It took me two years to battle back.

I did in 2010  when I broke my hip while overtraining.  Broken into shattered.

This time I ran away to a Swaziland hut for 5 weeks…before absconding to Vermont after finding Joe Desena’s passport on my return trip.

And now, during the last three days I’ve imbibed the compounded misery of those previous episodes before I finally recognized what was going on.  Again.

Has anyone ever learned his or her lesson the first time?  Can I have your autograph?  Saint.  Bodhisattva.

*
I hadn’t worked out in three days and the guilt was coiling like a stiff mattress spring. 

Internal pressure has internal cause.  “Remember that”, I kept reminding myself as I lambasted myself with accusations of dogging it.

But finally I stood firm and refused to elevate the damage and prolong the illness.  I went so far as accompanying my workout partner to the lake…

…and watched her swim while I was sprawled along the shoreline, too tired to stand.

And finally, as strangely as the untimely cold front blew in, it started to dissipate.  The fatigue dusting every action was beginning to catch in the wind.

This morning I woke up to a whole new Vermont.  Clean and crisp lines of thought caught at the fog covering the valley. 

I could taste my coffee.  Music took on its original tonality.  Words fell into place, syntax restored and semantics returned to boot.

Fuck My Life translated into Hello My Life (Damned As You May Be).

At least you’re interesting.  At least there are explosions in the distance to investigate. 

Once I’m strong enough to get there.



And then you go to your one shot to where you are.
Rouge Wave ~ Love’s Lost Guarantee



Monday, August 15, 2011

Tough

"The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching."
-Anson Dorrance

Racing is 90% preparation and 10% toughness.

Most people get it backwards.

(Oh.  And preparation?  That's the tough part.)

Race day romance is easy.

Sorry.  10th place was a pretty freakin' tough competitor, let me tell you.  Probably as tough as 1st.

1st was just better prepared.

If you really think your 'mental toughness' is the key to getting ahead on race day, you're probably deep in the mid-pack.

Wake up.  Almost everyone showing up is ready to go to the limit  more or less.  

In endurance racing we romanticize the 'grueling' or 'punishing' aspects of our sport.  And behave as if the only solution for success in endurance racing is getting ourselves in a transcendental mind-set brought only by watching the 6 Rocky movies on loop for a week.  

What is tough?  

- Get out there day in and day out when no one is watching - accountable only to yourself.

- Taking responsibility for your preparedness. 




Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Difficult Questions: Near Impossible Answers



Had a close friend and amazing athlete ask me those questions that we fail to confront.  They cause anxiety and paralysis.


We run maddeningly from one thing to the next slopping ink on our check off lists without a moments reflection as to WTF or Why(TF) we are doing it.


Taking am moment to answer these questions changes everything.  I've decided to post below my encounter with actually thinking about what I'm doing, instead of doing it...



What is your agenda?


1)  ADK 540 on September 16th-18th, 2011

a)  Finish race, foremost.  I failed to do this in 2005 when I was a complete greenhorn and was clueless about how to race an ultra.  I have to finish this race!

b)  Qualify for RAAM.  If my time is within a certain % of fastest ‘racer not already qualified for RAAM', I qualify.

c)  I want to be the first place ‘racer not already qualified for RAAM’.  I don’t know if I can beat the big boys, but I want to be in the running.


2)  VA Double Ironman October on October 7th-9th, 2011

a)  Finish race  to validate my entry into EpicMan

b)  Learn about my body in this new medium of racing.  I need to finish, so I can’t open the throttle fully.  But I want to push it harder and harder to the end and maybe crack the top 5.

c)  Finish within 24 hours.


3)  EpicMan on December 30th-January 1, 2011-2012

a)  Finish.

b)  Finish mid to front pack. 

c)  Make a name for myself as young gun at and event with the world's greatest.  This was invite only. 


What motivates your quest?

The primitive, possibly genetic, inclination for exploration.  There are no regions of the Earth for me to be the first person to arrive and conquer.  There are no Napoleonic conquests to be taken (not that I’m really into conquering peoples).

I thrive on conquering myself.  As of this nano-second there are regions of my body, my being, and my soul that are untapped and veiled from my consciousness.  They are waiting and perfectly content for me to live a life unexamined.

Is there a tangible or quantitative payoff awaiting?  Nope.  Just the fact that there is the possibility of unlocking more of myself is a call to action in and of itself. 

This second I cannot accomplish the above agenda.  But with ruthless dedication I can.

I can find that new continent.

I can found that new nation.

I can be that new level Being.

That is encoded into the exploration quest that is in our genes. 

And I believe within my body there is more than continents, planets, or even stars.




What are you trying to prove and to whom?

I’d like my actions (and maybe my reflections upon said actions) to rattle, irritate, confound, and, yet, hopefully inspire the apathetic despair I see in 99 out of 100 Americans who bought into a false dream about what living is.

I do have chips on my shoulder. 

Hopefully when I cross the finish lines I will see how silly, unnecessary, and actually counter productive they were.


Why are you trying to be successful at something that requires pain, suffering, and sacrifice to achieve at the highest level?


Anesthesized comfort and indulgence is cheap.  It’s a talking point everyone has bought into as being of value.

I can’t give any objective answer to this.  Only:

I want what I can’t have, what pain, suffering, and sacrifice prevents everyone else from getting.

Beauty comes in many forms, and it is always wielded by an artist.  That artist is doing something previously undone.  Doing the undone is never painless.


Is there a perfection of the ascetic life of a pro athlete that appeals to you?

Yes.  I was a self imposed ascetic from age 13 on.  I got my first bass guitar then and ruthlessly focused myself upon it as if it were a religious icon.

I went through two teachers and all their knowledge by age 16.  My third teacher was on another plane of existence.

Greatness is beautiful.  Greatness comes from committing to something beyond any conceivable understanding of the average non-artist.

Being an artist is being an ascetic.  It’s going after something greater than yourself.  Something greater than the money, white picket fence, and cushy life.  Something so amazing that consumerism is a laughable matter.

And in this lies a perfection.

My house burned down?  I can still play a Bach Cello Suite like no one else!

My car got stolen?  I cracked 36 hours in EpicMan!

My IRA went to $0?  I’ve lived life with deep relationship with actual Being in this strange cosmos.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

EpicMan



I feel honored that my dear friend (and wicked sick athlete) Mike Flarty, thought of me when he came across EpicMan.  It was a compliment of the highest degree that such an amazing event would bring my name to his mind as a possible entrant.

He suggestion to me was correct.  This race was what I have been waiting my whole life for.  The excitement I feel eclipses how I felt going into Kona 06.

Simply put:  Triple Ironman on Oahu, Hawaii on New Year's Eve.

Done.  Done.  Done.  I had to register.  My imagination was blasted to pieces...I want this.  I want to race this race with everything I have.

And a race this difficult, this brutal, demands every molecule of your body devoted to the cause.  Or you will just go down in flames...


*
The Race Director

Due diligence was in order before undertaking such an investment of training, travel, and over-the-top dedication to a singular pursuit.  A journey that would define my entire 2011 and usher in my 2012.

I did what any information hungry citizen of this world does:  Google it.

The most prominent name that comes up when doing so is Jason Lester.  Briefly, he's one Hell of a guy.

Take a gander at http://www.jasonplester.com/ !  You'll find more than enough to freak out and demolish your perception of normality.  I'm just happy to have had the chance to have been introduced to Jason, let alone invited to one of his races.

He's the first triathlete to get an ESPY.  (For the record, that was supposed to be me!  But if it has to go to someone else, he's a pretty good guy for the honor.)

He's done races like the Epic 5 (Five Ironman competitions in 5 days on 5 Hawaiian Island).  He's insatiable and doing races I'm years away from attempting.

Oh, by the way, he's racing with a disability, having no use of his one arm.  Epic man here.  Hence, more than qualified to put on the EpicMan.

*
The Race
7.2 mile swim - 336 mile bike - 78.6 mile run.  And the clock keeps running.  Last time I checked Hawaii was hot and humid.  Think it still is.

Will be racing from December 30, 2011 to January 1, 2012.  Possibly the raddest race timing I've come across yet.  

I once ran the Emerald Nuts Midnight 4 miler in Central Park on New Year's Eve.  Don't think it will compare.  (Tho a hellava fun race)



*
The Foundation

EpicMan will be benefiting Never Stop Foundation.  There philosophy:


The NSF believes sports and the arts help to create a blueprint for life. We believe all youth will flourish with a foundation that teaches and reinforces the following values and beliefs:
Discipline--Success is an outcome of hard work
Structure
--Reaching goals takes strategy
Giving Back
--Every person has a unique gift or skill that they can use to make the world a better place
Strength of Character
--Losing can be the key to winning
Teamwork
--It takes a team to WIN!
Self Reliance
--The journey to achieving one's potential is every child's own EPIC adventure

A truly great cause and I hope to help contribute to their funds with my racing.  Being a musician growing up I know the values instilled that last a life time.  I feel a definitive connection with Jason Lester's cause and am proud to contribute in whatever capacity I can.

*
The Reason I'm Doing This Race

I have been away from multisport for too long.  After my meltdown at IM KY last year which resulted in an ambulance ride I've been trying to get my mojo back.  (The broken hip that led me to bike WAY too fast because I couldn't run is healed and I'm ready to make my IM comeback).

The catch is:  I've done 6 Ironman Competitions.  It's time to step up to the next challenge.  I know I'm not genetically predisposed to running a 9.15.00 Ironman.  But I sure can keep trucking.

The entire early season of 2011 has been about going long.  And with EpicMan I am going to put that to the ultimate test.

I have been inspired by this event.  It speaks to me in it's scope.  It's on the very periphery of what I feel is possible.  It's very close to what I consider impossible.  

But in my heart I don't believe that.  I've got this.  

That is, if I push myself every day, every hour till then.  There will be no more sleeping through 5am wake up calls.  There will be no excuses.  No pulling off the 100 degree track workout early.  No skipping the transition run after a 150 mile mountain ride.
There is only trained and untrained.  And it is my sincere promise to myself that I will show up trained.
I've scheduled two of the hardest races I could find as preparations.  ADK 540 and VA Double Ironman (More on these in another post).  

It all adds up to EpicMan.  It all adds up to a chance at stepping up to a challenge that can break me...and the chance that I can walk away chin high, and knowing I did everything I could to break a race that is build to break everyone but the best.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ultra Essentials: Brooks Glycerine 9

My return to the road merited a new pair of road trainers.  What was I looking for?

Durability and enough shoe to keep ME from falling apart during 100 mile weeks.

If I could get this durability in a low platform shoe I'd be thrilled.  I'm not into clunky high heeled Asics design type wear.  (And I am surely not drinking the barefoot Kool-Aid either).

Brooks has always offered me a more in the 'less frills shoes' that I have appreciated.  The Glycerin has historically been a bit bulky and not worth the upgrade in price from the Ghost for me. However, putting them on the Glycerin 9 at The Running Company in Morristown, NJ I knew I had to take them out for a 20 miler.  They felt that good...

...and after a long run right out of the box...

Brooks got everything right (in my humble opinion) with the Glycerin 9 and it surely merits a close look at if you are a Ghost 4 fan.

This is not a racer by any means.  For that I will always stand by my Green Silence by Brooks.  However, for a high mileage show it's hard to believe how light the Glycerine 9 feels even if at 12.1 ounces.  It's a smooth shoe.

A luxury shoe without 'too much' shoe.

I have a connection with the road with this shoe.  I'm not being coddled -- I'm being respected as a runner.  No one is smooth enough to not need some cushion when running 30+ miles at a time and over 100 miles a week.  I need a shoe that offers the basics of injury prevention without completely removing me from the sensation of impact.  This keeps you honest in form and ultimately keeps you from abusing yourself.

The Glycerin is the heaviest of a shoe I will go...and they gave me maximum protection with it.  Worth every ounce.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day One: Jason, Meet Your Inner Italian Stallion


Day One:  Moderate Run.

Day One Run

Note to self:  You're pretty freakin' slow these days.  But that's ok.

Coming home for the first time in 6months has yielded some insight into just how drastically I was forced to adapt to ultra distance in the mountains.

Common consensus?  "Jason, you look huge."

(This is a misperception.  I'm the same weight.  I just managed to bulk up while slimming down.)

Healthy mountain air, I guess.

But I'm slow as Hell.  That's ok, though.

Rocky was slow as Hell, right?  It wasn't until Rocky III until he went to LA to train with Apollo that he lightened up.  He did a bit of speed training in Rocky II.  The whole chicken thing.



I'm positive that there will be nothing graceful about EpicMan.  Or even the double Ironman in October. Maybe for the first 8-12 hours.  After that it will be brute fitness and capability to take what's dished to my body.

Time to get to know my inner Italian Stallion.  (My Father was born in Italy, btw.  I can play this card!)

Running fast used to be running 5.45 minute miles.  Now it's 7.30.  Hell, 8.00.

Slow as Hell.  But that's ok.

If I can run 8 minute miles for 72 miles (after a 7.2 mile swim, and 336 mile bike) that will be FAST.  A chicken catching 10.5 hour triple marathon.

Micky would be proud...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

30 hours a week...

That is the magic number.

I've done this before and I'm going to do it again.  But this time with more discipline, rigor, and overall dispassionate intelligence.

To race a Ironman fast I was doing 20-30 hours of training a week.  That is NOT including time getting your gear together or breaking it down. It doesn't include stretching or showering.  It does not include eating.

That's 20-30 hours of straight aerobic and anaerobic conditioning on the clock.

Mileage is something most athletes dispense in an effort sound impressive.  But where are you doing your mileage?  Florida athletes can't talk to Vermont athletes about mileage.

Two different languages there.

But we all can comprehend 25 hours of quality lactic threshold enhancing swimming, biking, and running.

5 hours a day - 6 days a week.  30 hours blocked off on my calendar.

Inviolate times.  Sacred intervals sequestered from the day's stuff.

This does not mean that I will train 30 hours a week every week.  It means I can.  And it's on me to follow through.  No excuses but personal irresoluteness.

I made it available to myself:  my goal.

I can choose to sleep in or eat donuts during said 30 hours.

But that's my failure and my life to live.

I'm taking ownership.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Death Race Recap - Zombie Apocalypse in Pittsfield



Ripped, filthy clothing.  Drooling bipedal things.  Inarticulate gruntings and flailing hand gestures. Bleeding creatures struggling to their feat from the mud.  They keep falling on their face as they are without coordination - and they struggle to rise again and again.  

The Zombie Apocalypse.

But as you watch these particular zombies there are striking irregularities from our fabled zombie-lore .

Questions arise.  One is forced to ask, why are these zombies all wearing backpacks?  And why are they carrying logs?  Doesn’t that slow them down when chasing humans with their maddened, flesh-eating hunger?  

These undead do have axes (which are very useful in murdering humans) but do zombies kill with axes? No, death by teeth and claws are the standard.

But these zombies ARE convincing.  They don’t think to walk where one is supposed to, namely, a road or trail.  The zombies haunting Pittsfield stagger up and down rapid-laden rivers.  Or they go up and down mountains over primitively bushwhacked ravines.  This while perfectly good snowmobile trails abound.

Zombies?  Yes.  Also known as Death Racers.

25 hours into the Death Race one such zombie emerges from the woods by Roger’s Cabin.  He is shaking and howling.  The 30 lbs log on his shoulder plus the 40 lbs backpack strapped to him have evidently caused this non-dead walker much distress.  This zombie was shivering and not making much sense. 

(Of course zombies never do, do they?)

I was this zombie.  This Death Racer.  And I was about to pull out of the race.

*

I loathed my backpack from the start of the Death Race.  I was wearing it as we picked up a heavy rock, pulled it to our chest, and put it back down again.  100s and 100s of times.  5-6 hours worth actually.  Rocks up to what I can only estimate as being 30-40 lbs.  For we switched rocks.

Yes, another heavy object with a different shape.  How f'ing exciting.  5-6 hours!

For the readers that don't know:  I hate stuff like this.  Picking up heavy objects and putting them back down is how I’ve always described the ritual practiced within gyms across America, where people punctuated this ritual of picking up and putting down heavy objects, only to gaze at the size of his or her biceps in the floor to ceiling mirrors. 

I loathe such activities.

Well with a 40 lbs backpack, I’m starting my Death Race by doing everything in my power to forever traumatize my muscular structure.  Three day later my body feels each lift.  This is for me a nightmare.  A 6-hour upper body gym routine laden with a weighted backpack.

I know cyclists who bitch about a 6-hour bike ride. 

STFU.  That will be my response from now on.  With all good humor and mirth – and maybe an air of Death Race enlightenment.  Not that this is harder than cycling.  No, cycling 6 hours at tempo can be grueling.  

BUT, cycling is much more scenic.

*

After rock picking up and rock putting back down I took my backpack on a 2-mile walk upstream against a staggering current.  And then as I swam across a spring fed pond perpetually at 40 degrees 7 times – my swims only punctuated by carrying a candle around a field praying it doesn’t go out.

Zombies started to slow here, almost frozen.  Stuck to sides of the river bank scared to move forward fearing they might slip backward into the ice water.  Humans saving zombies soon ensued.

Then my backpack followed me over a mountain to do some wood chopping.

Did I mention that is was on again off again pouring rain?

How about the hypothermic shakes?

Or, I can’t cut wood to save my life? 

I was demonstrating this very fact as I stood there while Hobie Call caught up to me and passed me.  He did the whole task at this station while I tried to split 3 logs in to 24 pieces.

Here, while humping the backpack around I had to hoist a tree stump that was probably 30% of my body weight up the mountain and then down the mountain.  Midway I had to memorize a verse from the Bible. 

Try remembering your name at this point.  You're trying to remember why the hell you signed up for this!  You see, to play out Rocky IV montages in your brain:  YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THEM.

At this point in the race things got messy.  The shit hit the fan.  

I remember looking at a nearby tree covered in vines, surrounded by epics of ferns and saying, “Shit just got real!”  The tree nodded in response. 

Kneeling I rolled my stump as best I could.  I flipped it end over end.  Maybe I cried a little bit. 

Finally, you realize that you either go home or do what you have to do.  With the full prospects of a double hernia and no health insurance before me I threw that stump on my shoulder and went screaming through the woods, up the mountain and down – spittle and grumbles falling from my lips.

A zombie was born.  But one who just had faced failure and did not bow out…the first time.

That time would come.

*

Many of you know what kind of athlete I am.  But for you that don’t, let me in brief illuminate the ridiculousness of Jason Jaksetic being in the Death Race. 

Barn Beast or not, this scene is not for the likes of a former Ironman speedsters.

Within the first 5 hours of the Death Race I had done more ‘lifting’ than I had in the past 5 years.  

When I came to VT I came to get burly.  I managed about 10-15 pounds of burley and it didn’t translate into as much power as I hoped.

This put me at quite rough odds against the bigger zombies strolling around who were 235 lbs of sheer muscle mass.  They were using the stumps that killed me as tooth picks.

I knew that unless a 100-mile run without our backpacks was ahead, my race would soon be over against these guys.

*

Around the 20-hour mark I was carrying my second log up another mountain:  Rogers.  The ‘trail’ was a mixture of mudslides and pieces of lush forest somebody pretended to machete.  

(They maybe waved scissors around while they pushed themselves through the brush and fallen trees to mark the ‘course’ with ribbons.)

Heading up to Rogers I had to make up the time that I lost playing with the rocks and tree stumps.  I had to find Hobie.

I passed about 20 zombies on the way up.  

Dangerously tired zombies laying on the side of the course face in hands.  Sad zombies.

Others could only laugh.  Laughing zombies.

Most just raised a hand in half salute and I nodded and grunted in response.  Communicative zombies.

The rain had caused some serious deterioration of the ‘trails’.  I slipped once and slid a dozen feet down a hill beneath my backpack and my log.  (My bald scalp still shows bumps and scratches).

Certain things were becoming evident.

1) I was freezing cold.  I had started at the bottom of the mountain sweating and down to a t-shirt.  Now it was raining and I was chilling to the bone.

2) I couldn’t move my arms.  My shoulder blades were bruised and bleeding from humping logs about on them.  I couldn’t make a fist as my forearms were completely fatigued from all the clasping.  I was loosing motor skills fast.

3) I was MABYE 1/3 or way through race.  And there was a fuck load of wood chopping and lugging still heavier things up and down muddy hills.

*

So I mentioned earlier in this recounting that I burst forth from the woods at Roger’s cabin.  A zombie if ever there was any.  And there I saw the zombie bus stop.

Six zombies of the Death Race apocalypse were waiting in line for rides down the mountain.  They were out of the race. 

There was no talk.  Just acceptance.  Eyes read:

I gave all I could and I have nothing more to give.

I understood completely.  I looked down the mountain.  It was almost 6.30pm and it would be dark soon.  A huge thunderstorm of cold, cold rain was beginning to deluge.

I foresaw me unable to carry my log (but too stubborn to abandon it) lost on the side of the trail, unable to move or stay awake, freezing to death without shelter of even a rain coat.

I saw the rest of my season ruined with nagging injuries.  I saw that I didn’t have health insurance.  I started trying to guess what a helicopter evacuation would cost.

I pulled the plug.  I quit.

*

Why is the Death Race truly like a zombie apocalypse, aside from obvious appearances?

Because the Death Race is like beating down a brick wall with your forehead – something zombies can do.  There are three possible outcomes though:

1) Your neck muscles lock up and you can’t continue.

2) You knock yourself out cold and can’t continue.

3) You knock the wall down!  You are a finisher – one of the ten percent.


I realized I was #1.  This wasn’t a matter of ‘pushing through’ or ‘being tough’.  This was a matter of knowing that:

1) I was beaten.

2) I was underprepared.

3) I was not strong enough.

This is what makes you quit.  The Death Race is for the elite of the elite.  And a special elite. 

My Kona Ironman credentials do NOT figure in.  My age group record setting ultra cycling does NOT figure in.  My ultra-marathoning does NOT figure in.

I was a green ass-rookie who got his ass handed to him.  Bad ass endurance racer can equal miserably weak Death Racer.

*

And I can live with this with my chin up.  Why?

Because I gave it all while stepping to the plate.  I’m 50% on finishing my crazy endurance races this season.

What does this mean?  This means that I am pushing my boundaries.  This means I’m right where I should be.  I need to find failure to know I'm on the edge...the boundary.

So regarding the Death Race?  The Zombie Apocalypse?  I didn’t survive.

What a pleasure, though.  What an amazing event.  What testament to humanities' drive to push.  Push until you are half alive.  Till you are half dead.

Till you are truly living in a half-life that is more than most will ever touch from the safety of being a spectator.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Silence: The Strongest Euphemism


Fuck the euphemisms.

I've been shouting toned-down-reality within my mute shouting.

I failed.  Lost.  Broke.  Came up short.  

I went bigger than my capabilities.  Too short to ride this ride.  Go home.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect your medal.

Humbling?  Quite.  

I DNF'd the McNaughton 150.

It should be obvious at this point.  I haven't posted since pre race projections and plans.  

Surely, by this point, everyone can deduce that things didn't go according to plan.

Why the delay?  A simple fact of human nature to which I am now privy.

~

We are programmed to litter the data-scape with our accomplishments.

Photos of sonograms.  Relationship status changes.  Links to race results.  Notices of office promotions.  Wedding photos.  Anecdotes about the greatest nights of our life...

Even Friday is a proclamation of success.  "I made it to the weekend.  I live for the weekend.  TGIF!  The 5/7ths of my life I hate didn't get to me this week!"

Maybe it's time to announce the times we didn't make it to Friday, so to speak?

Photos of funerals.  Explanations of our relationship status changes involving our infidelities and other inadequacies.  Links to our DNF's.  Divorce proceeding announcements on FB?

People look at social media and proclaim the beginning of a confessional society.  People transparent and open about their secrets ~ leveling them out before the whole web.  An honesty and development of self reflection and confiding in others.  

Nope.  Only idealistic avatars for the most part run free on the range of our public face.

We confess only our successes.  

Wake up.  It's a farce.  

Where is rock bottom and failure in our resumes?  

~

And I'm as big a part of the joke as anyone.

And I'm ready to make amends and move forward.  

So, yes.  I bombed the McNaughton 150.  I was over-hyped.  

I wrote checks my body couldn't cash.

I let people down.  I painted expectations that were farther than my reach.  We can spout many many things and reach very few.

My absence from writing the last few weeks has convinced me of an irreparable shortcoming of the human ego to stand upon the shoulders of a failure.

But here that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I own my DNF.  I'm cultivating the DNF.  I'm ruling this DNF.  I'm ruling every DNF.

American Zofigen
ADK 540
Eagleman
Ironman Kentucky
McNaughton

And crafting this into pre-race supplement for the Peak 50 and the Death Race and a Double Ironman.

~

And each of these future events offers yet an other avenue for public disgrace.  

And my arms are wide open for it!

Rise upon your failures, stand upon them as a stack of bodies.  Bodies of former selves you've slain and are climbing upon.


Note to self:  get over yourself!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prelude to Overwhelming: Before the First Step…


I wish I could tell you why I do what I do.  But I can’t.  It’s an epistemological problem rooted in the inadequacy of language.

While studying philosophy in college I became preoccupied with the axiomatic principles from which everything could be derived.  The stuff buried deeper than Euclid’s five axioms and Riemann’s reduction of geometry to four foundations – those pesky parallel lines meeting after all. 

The substance that makes engraving symbols possible.

I was interested in the existence of 1 and 0.  Something and nothing. The elemental reality that runs my computer and yours.  

It actually runs everything you see and don’t.

For what are all the wonders of calculus without an understanding and explanation of what a number is?  Of what something is as to opposed a nothing (the indefinite article before nothing being a contradiction in and of itself)?

For that matter how can we get to a notion of information or data theory without granting a certain groundwork for existence?  The groundwork for groundwork. 

Kant’s metaphysics and Hegel’s labyrinths’ unravel under the weighty assumptions of their semantic architectures.

In my world everything comes down to:

~(a v ~a)

It is not the case that A can both be A and not be A at the same time.

An object can either be or not be; it can’t be something in-between.  This is the law of the excluded middle.

It’s the nature beneath all mathematics and language.  It’s cemented right into the fabric of your entire phenomenology and empirical existence.

There ensues a chicken and egg question regarding how we evolved to be dependent and interwoven with it

Does reality not have the excluded middle so we can’t see it?  Or do our perceptual frameworks not have the excluded middle so that reality appears not to possess it.  Stalemate ensues.


If we want to have sensible discourse the excluded middle must be left out.  That much is clear.

We really can’t spend much time talking about the banana that is both the banana and not the banana.  Not much get’s done between people speaking in paradoxes.  In nothing but Zen koans. 

That’s why the monasteries are awfully quiet, I’m guessing.

Wittgenstein finished his greatest work with the simple declaration:

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." („Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man schweigen.“)

And I’ll be mum, too.

Yet…

I’m going to run towards that which we can’t speak of.

That is the overwhelming.

That is the mind bursting tears and laughs simultaneous imbuing your fear and pleasure.  Of wanting to die you’re living so much.  The anxiety and dread of being a self and not being a self.  The pleasure and revelatory glory of being a self and not being a self.

To see and not see.  To step into the river and not be in the river.

Somewhere in the run it happens.  Mile 10?  Mile 45?  Mile 125?.  It doesn’t matter how far.  It can happen on your front porch.

Of course, I can’t tell you about it.  And you can’t tell me about it.

I just want to say that it’s overwhelmingly fucking beautiful to me.

That's why I do what I do.


Ultimately, it doesn't matter.  It's nonsense.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ultra Essentials: Supplements via Max Muscle


Where would I be without my nutritionist Matt Showalter?  (mshowalter@maxmusclenebraska.com)

Probably dead.

Ok - that was hyperbolic, but I never would have finished the snowshoe 100...and maybe I would have passed out in a snowbank...and THEN I'd be dead, maybe.  Anyway - Matt's nutritional and supplement wisdom is important!

If I could, I'd be like the Tour de France racers who spend their nights hooked up to IV's getting pumped full of fluids, calories, vitamins, and other important stuff.

Why?

Because the human body can only absorb so much stuff naturally.  And riding your bike they way they do day after day in the world's hardest race, is well, not natural.  It's not possible to do what they do at the speed that they do it 100% 'naturally'.  (Now, let's leave the whole doping question out of this discussion.  What I'm talking about is LEGAL.)

Well, there were no IV's for me to plug into during my 100 mile snowshoe.  Which, arguably is not a natural thing for a human body to do.

Training the way I do wasn't really a requisite of our hunter-gatherer ancestry whose genes I carry.  My digestive track can only process so many nutrients and break it into supporting proteins, carbs, and amino acids so fast.  (Disclaimer:  Nutritionists like Matt are rolling their eyes at all the technical stuff I'm getting wrong and my over simplifications.)  I need my 'foodstuff' delivered in the most effective way.

Fact:  I can't get the nutrients I need from eating food alone.

I need suppements.  Pills and magic concotions of fluids that get my dying muscles as much 'stuff' as they need to keep me alive when working out for 48 hours.

I will follow up with some of my favorite vitamins and supplements in another post.  For now, ask Matt.  He knows his stuff, and whatever it is you are trying to do - he'll get you there.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Just A Freakin' Number.

Disclaimer:  Touchy subject - probably worse than religion or politics during holidays after everyone is flush with alcohol.

13.1, 26.2, 140.6...

You see them all over the highway, proudly donned on the back windows of vehicles before you.

Honestly, I find them as uninteresting, uninspiring, and ultimately, less revealing that "I Love My -Insert Breed of Dog Here- ".  

5k, 10k, 50k, 100k...

Finally, American get the metric system...but for the dumbest of reasons.

"What's your distance?"  Runner.
"Sprint, Olympic, Half, Full?"  Triathlete

It's amazing what we cling to as a matter of pride.

And I wasn't immune.  I proudly slapped a 140.6 sticker on my car the day I earned it.  (It sat right beside a 'Buck Fush').  And I imagined myself careening down the highway with every driver pulling their foot off the gas pedal and fading away behind me enamored in my accomplishment.

"Look honey, there goes an Ironman!"

Let's look at reality.  Running a 14:00 5k probably hurts more and takes 100x more training than running a 12-hour Ironman.

Are there olympians and elites out there rocking 5k stickers on their cars.  I haven't seen them yet.  (I'm sure some swimmers have them!)

There is a sense of grandeur with going far.  And pride.  But where does it end?  Who is the most bad ass?  When will far enough be far enough.

Dean K ran 350 miles in 82 straight hours.  Where's his sticker?

Today I ran 31 miles...and you know what, I didn't even blink when I crossed the 26 mile mark.  Why?

a)  I was slow as hell and had nothing to be proud about 'marathon wise'
b)  It's just a number.  It is not hallowed.  It is not sacred.  It is not the end all.  It is 100% arbitrary.

Now maybe you started at a 5 k and dreamed of one day working up to a marathon.  And you did it!

You SHOULD be so freakin' proud of that.  You should tell everyone you know YOUR STORY.

But lay off this number business.  Here's a secret.  No one cars.  The only people who understand it anyway already have their own sticker and aren't impressed anyway.

I don't want to see 26.2 on your window.  I want to hear that you ran a marathon 3 years after becoming a double amputee.  Or that you got your 13.1 after loosing 120 lbs.

And what about 14, 15, 18, 36, etc.

Why don't we plaster these all over the place.  They are equally interesting, no?

I'll tell you what's interesting.

Running.  Or doing triathlons.  I think they are rad, regardless of the distance.  (Hobby stickers, such as 'tri guy' fall into the category of "I Love My -Insert Breed of Dog here- " stickers, btw.)

Overcoming your previous self doubts and exploring the limits of what you thought was possible.  That's interesting.

And that happens somewhere between 100 meters (Track and Field) and 3000 miles (RAAM).

Get out there and go earn your 15.6 and blog about your revelatory experience you had at mile 12 while the sun set over the mountains.

So trash this sticker business.  Do you know what they cost to make?  About 25 cents.  Now don't you really feel like an @sshole for spending $5 bucks on it?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

PTFU Day 3


Plenty tired.  Didn't want to train yesterday.  Thought it the perfect opportunity to try something new!

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey." ~Kenji Miyazawa

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

McNaughton 150 Rule #1 and #2 and #3 and #4



There's no right or wrong way to train for a 150 mile run.  Just prepare the f@ck up!  Rule # 1 for McNaughton training.


This ran through my head as I climbed on all fours up a 20% gradient in 4 inches of fresh powder while dragging a truck tire behind me.  It was filled with heavy, water-laden snow.

Maybe make a better harness than two loops of heavy rope that I threw my arms through.  This is definitely gonna leave a mark.


That was my next thought.

So it's begun.

Rule #2 for McNaughton training

Any run under 10 miles of trails require that I drag a tire for at least half of it - if not all of it.  I suppose I can drop the tire for speed work on a steep grade.  Then I wear a weighted vest

There is no way to go out and practice 150 miles.  There is no way to find the time to anyway.  So for two hours a day I'm going to prepare the f@ck up.

After 4 miles of dragging a tire through the snow I reached the tractor tire and flipped it up and down Joe's long drive way - while still dragging the truck tire.

Then I ran home - still dragging the truck tire

Rule #3 for McNaughton training

Fatten up.  I'm down to 145 pounds from 160 when I arrived in Pittsfield.  I've been so busy working and training I forget to eat.  I neglect this vital component.  Right now I could ROCK a marathon.  You only use glucose and simple sugars for the most part in an intense 3 hour or less run.  But for 150 miles you burn fat.  You burn muscle.  You burn your freakin' soul if you can get an ounce of forward momentum from it.

Maybe I'm just lighter because I shaved my big Vermont mountain-man beard.
This brings me to...

Rule #4 for McNaughton training
Last race is over - time to begin anew.  Lessons learned, moving forward.  No dwelling.  No attachments.  No nothing.  Brand new.

No rules.  Just prepare the f@ck up!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Video WOD - Natural Thermogenics




The ephedra craze has kind of run it's course.  There are all sorts of replacements on the market, the efficacy of which I cannot really speak to.  I've tried them but never really liked how my overall system felt and apetite supression isn't always the greatest of ideas when training 6 hours a day.  Not wanting to eat while your metabolism is articficially cranked through the roof might be a good idea if you sit at a desk all day and don't exercise, but I have doubts about it's use for an endurance athlete.

It was commented upon how much I ate during the 100 mile snowshoe.  At one point I sat down and ate half a pizza, two reubens, and a breakfast burrito and then went out for another lap.

If you think about it, this makes sense.  Not only did I have to burn calories to transport my body over and through the snow, up and down mountains, I had to burn lots of calories to just stay warm.

Caloric burn x2.  Thermogenics in a nut shell.

So then someone comments that they read some book, The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, and how this dude replecated thermogenics by crashing is core temperature and then working out while his body was forced to warm up.  Shivering = caloric burn.  Working out = caloric burn.  Works out to caloric burn x2.  Thermogenics in a nutshell.  I don't know if he used this phrase, but I'm calling it Natural Thermogenics.

Have I read it the book?

Nope!

Do I know if it's true?  Do I have any idea what Tim Ferriss actually did or was trying to say?

Nope!

Do I know if this is safe?

Nope!

Did I try it?

Sure did.

Hence this video was born.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Into The Overwhelming Part II: Chapter 1



The Overwhelming Part II

Chapter I
Mile 91

     Any amount of visualization will fall short.  No projection can prepare you for the severity of unraveling.  No fervent catastrophizing can steady you for the catastrophe of becoming unfettered chaos.  A catastrophe walking.

     Devastation comes.  When you have been severed from all your mentally cataloged paradigms of purposes you’d locked down and zip-locked in your brain to carry you through the race, what are you left with? 

     Not even hope.  It’s just too far to go.  There’s just too far to pull yourself forward.

     There is the all too real moment where you loose your shit.  You choke on the absence.

     Walking down the last steep decent of lap 14, dragging my right foot immobile behind me and the snowshoe raking up a mound around my calf, the voices in my head began to issue from my mouth.  I scolded myself for talking to myself.  I did so aloud.  I screamed at myself for being crazy.  Aloud.  Vicious circle.

     My head big-banged to the size of the mountain that was now drowning me.  Every tree moving in the wind and each explosion of river cascading around me began to take up residence inside me – all sense of self erasing into a throbbing, ultra localized yet non specific pain.

     My ankle was done, swollen out of bounds, and my left leg was collapsing under the burden of supporting my whole body. 

     Earlier the rainstorm had accelerated into a deluge and the rain then turned to ice.  The ice turned to white out snow squall conditions that erased all previous footsteps (more than half a foot deep) in less than 3 hours. 

     With all my weight on my left foot my race snowshoe (far from adequate to properly distribute my mass in these conditions) would punch through the snowpack that had been loosened by all the rain.  It was a balmy 38 all day.  It was now dropping below 15 but not fast enough. 

Beneath the 2 feet of snow was a swamp of water, ice, and mud.  More than once I had to take my immovable, frozen fingers in soaked gloves and dig my foot out – only able to roll over on my side in exhaustion after the effort. Only to repeat said procedure a few steps later.

     It’s hard to stay positive at a time like this. 

     I thought of laying down and going to sleep.  What should have been a two and a half hour loop was now pushing over four hours.  Folks at the barn would start looking for me soon.  I was only about 2 miles from the aid station.

     If I was on the course (and in that moment that was a rather less then certain hypothesis) they’d find me in an hour or so.  If they went the right way.  And if I wasn’t buried in snow that was falling fiercely. 

     I couldn’t walk anymore.  But I couldn’t shake the idea of inconveniencing a rescue party.  I just kept screaming at myself. 

     And falling.  That was the worst.
     
     You cry.  You bargain.  You give up.  You quit.  You get up again and keep moving.  Why?  Because you are alone on a dark trail in a blinding snowstorm and you’re cold. 

     Idealism dissipates to nothing more than some washed-out words of inspiration in a novel you can’t even remember.  How I was singing songs, every single word spot on, and I couldn’t even dredge the name of the band from the clusterfuck my brain was dissolving into.

There Is No Thanks Great Enough



It is a gross error to assume that endurance racing is a solo sport.

Even if you drive to the event alone, run it, and drive home only using the cruise control because your legs don't work, you are still part of a team.

It's the people that care for you and help you get to the start prepared that make you able to compete.  The thoughts of these people carry you farther than any selfish motive.  It's so easy to get lost in your moment out there, but that moment is nothing but the culmination of your support structure so 'I' must be interpreted as 'We'.

Especially, at an event where you are dependent on your support crew.  The people who are giving up their time and energy to try and keep you moving in your absolutely mad pursuit.

I've been silent about my 100 mile snowshoe for the last week even though much has been written about it.  I couldn't face it.  It was too much.

Well, I'm ready to start to confront what exactly it was that I did last weekend.

I snowshoed 100 miles in 62 hours.

That's it really.  But it is saturated in emotions, realizations, and feelings that I can't yet articulate.

So I begin my recounting in calling attention to the people that made it possible.

Thank you Carrie for seeing that I was fed and clothed when I could no longer figure those things out.  Thank you for letting me go out there to finish up against all your better judgment.  And better judgement it was.

Thank you Matt for looking out for me and doing a lap or two with me (I honestly can't remember at the moment...it's still fuzzy)

Thank you Andy for putting on such a great race.

Thank you Courtenay for winning in a record time of 35 hrs and with a smile the whole time.  For showing me what it means to be a great athlete.

Thank you Joe for taking me on that last lap and pushing me so hard and so fast I couldn't think about quitting.  I could only just be fully illuminated in pain and the moment.

Thank you friends for putting up with my disappearing acts when i get ready for these events.  Thank you for when I go into hiding after.

Thank you to my family for being the rock that makes doing anything possible.  Your support is the deepest thing I understand.

Thank you for every one out there who takes a second to think about things like this.  It gives me a sense of purpose, no matter how small that might be.

Thank you for reading.