Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ultra Sitting

As an appreciator of all things epic, I feel compelled to post this even though it has nothing to do with running, skiing, or any other kind of mountain recreation. Rather this post revolves around epic physical inactivity. This past Sunday, my brother Jason completed a ten day Vipassana meditation course in Elbert, CO. Throughout the course of ten days, Jason was completely silent, and had zero human interaction. He consumed only one meal per day and spent the majority of his time traversing the deepest recesses of his mind in near constant meditation. Vipassana provides an avenue for "self-transformation through self- observation" with an emphasis on the relationship between body and mind. Participants in the course are forbidden to communicate with each other, practice yoga, journal or do anything else that might resemble activity.

I get restless in the time it takes me to sit and write a simple blog post, so the thought of sitting for ten days literally makes me squirm. I am in awe of this kind of mental endurance. From what I can gather, ultra sitting is a lot like ultra running. There are moments of near perfection and moments of utter despair and desperation. The mental discomfort this endeavor provided was apparently equalled by physical agony. Jason insists that sitting for that long over the course of many consecutive days can be excruciating on the physical body. Needless to say I am extremely proud of and inspired by my brothers accomplishments. I can't help but think I might have try this one day.

You can find more information on the particular course my Brother did here.

This was actually the second time Jason has completed a ten day course. He did an absolutely unbelievable write up about his first experience that I would highly recommend to anyone interested.

This past Sunday I was feeling far less accomplished than Jason. You see, Sunday marked the official end to Ski season here in Aspen and as such, every local is obligated to rage. Aspen Highlands Mountain is always the quietest of the four during the season and is widely considered to be a local secret because of its high snow totals and awesomely big terrain. On closing day though, Highlands turns into a full mountain party as thousands of people turn out to celebrate. It has become the best party of the year in Aspen and always attracts a colorful crowd. You can tell we had a good time (Notice the belt buckle).

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fruita, etc.

I accomplished my goal of getting a great tan in Fruita this weekend at the Desert RATS 25 mile race. I approached this race more as a fun, well supported training run but still managed to make it hurt a little bit. When the gun went off Tim Parr and Daniel Goding shot out front in hot pursuit for the $100 preem that awaited the first runner to mile 1.3. I thought about trying to stick with them but wisely chose to keep the effort sufficiently chill.

Timmy got the 100 beans and quickly slowed the pace significantly. Dan took the lead as Timmy and I fell into a similar pace up the initial climb. On the ensuing descent a guy I didn't recognize came blowing past us looking very strong. I was pretty sure that Timmy was the one to beat so I didn't feel tempted to give chase so early on. So, for most of the first seven or eight miles, Timmy and I ran in 3rd and 4th place chatting about our plans for the coming summer months. Timmy is going for the Leadville, Wasatch double. What a freak.

Soon enough we caught up to the leaders, who were also running together, and ran as a 4 man group for a bit. The trail flattened out here and I immediately felt more comfortable. I've found that all the road running I've been doing for the past six months has made me very clumsy and slow on really technical trail, particularly anything with a downhill grade. I'm hoping for a rapid spring thaw so I can get back on the local trails and build back the type of agility necessary to be a truly fast trail runner.

Anyway, I took the lead here for the first and only time of the day. Timmy was in tow and we quickly built a bit of separation on the other guys. We continued like this until about mile 12 where there is a short but steep climb to another flattish plateau section. Timmy jumped in front here and slowly began building a lead on me. He ran through the aid at mile 13 as I stopped to fill my bottle. By the time I was back on the trail he had at least a minute on me and I pretty much figured I couldn't catch a guy with his speed.

Still I gave chase as well as I could and ended up finishing a couple minutes back of Timmy in 3:11 which was good for 2nd overall. What a beautiful morning of running. This course is stunning. I am glad I didn't run the 50 miler however. Right as I was finishing we could really start feeling the heat of the day. It was probably only 65 degrees but, when you've been running in 20s and 30s for many months, it feels much hotter. Last year I ran the 50 in similar conditions and really suffered during the second half, especially since I had never heard of salt pills. I was a crampy mess and wasn't man enough to do it again this year.

I could only stick around at the finish for a few minutes and was happy to see Ashley Arnold, a fellow Roaring Fork Valley resident, crush the field on her way to the female victory. Ashley is a very strong runner. Look for her to be a dominant force this summer.

Huge congrats to Duncan Callahan on his convincing win in the 50 miler. He looked rock solid at the 25 mile turnaround and was apparently able to crush his second lap and finish in 7:38. Stout time on a tough course.

I highly recommend the Desert RATS series. The organizers are very passionate about putting on a quality event and it shows. Great aid stations, great marking, and great atmosphere. Pumped to come back.

I drove directly from the finish line in Fruita to Invesco Field in Denver for the annual CU vs. CSU Lacrosse battle. It was great to see all the old Lax bros again especially during a convincing Ram victory. I am officially on vacation until May 12th and couldn't be happier. Time to get in shape. Next is Collegiate Peaks 50 on May 7th. Fire it up.