Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lost in Suburbia

by Matt Gray

Training for an Ultra is actually a great deal of fun . . . an adventure on every outing:

I'm not sure how it happened, but about ninety minutes into the run, I'm no longer on the High Line Canal Trail.  There's a puzzling detour sign at the end of a cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood. Sporting my classy jogger costume once again, I'm tempted to flag down the next car, but the passing stranger is probably more likely to call the cops about the sweating beast harassing the locals than give me directions.

I scratch my beard in contemplation.  The map pinned to the bright orange road sign doesn't make sense.  I just passed mile marker 29 (the trail runs for nearly 50 miles across Denver through an urban greenway). How could the trail go that way, into the depths of suburbia?  And why is there a detour on a trail anyway?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Daniel In the Lion's Den

For the last few minutes I've had this nagging voice in my head telling me to turn around and head back to the car.  Is the voice my muscles screaming for fuel from the Fig Newton's, or my mind wanting a lowered PRE from the chocolate covered espresso beans, or my body realizing the amount of elevation I'm loosing is going to make the return journey looooong?  My watch beeps: 10 miles have passed since I left the car and this motivates me to turn around and begin the long slow climb back to it.  After a few minutes, an old, brown sedan comes flying down the road from the Ramona Indian Reservation, I throw a chakka and smile as they pass.  Just after this I notice a line of fresh tracks on the shoulder.  So far I've seen: bobcat, coyote, fox, squirrel, but these are bigger and I immediately recognize the asymmetrical foot shape and triple lobed heel pad as Mountain Lion.  I look at my watch, it's been half a mile since I turned around, less than ten minutes since I was in this exact spot and there were NO mountain lion tracks.  I remove my headphones, throw my hands above my head and clap a steady 4/4 beat while hooting on beats 1 and 3, constantly scanning the 360 degrees around me.  My hypothesis is that the mountain lion was actually stalking me and the brown sedan moved it off the road.  When I turned around, I passed it and, with the wind at my back, I was able to safely return to my car.

On the drive home, I replay the morning.  Did I have any intuitive thoughts or feelings regarding being consumed for breakfast by a 140lb. cougar?  Maybe.  Before starting my run, I stopped to get gas.  While I was waiting for the pump to fill my tank, a truck pulled up and the driver said he needed gas, but had no money.  I told him I was sorry,  I didn't have any cash. Something moved me to my wallet inside the car to a five dollar bill which I pulled out. handed him and said good luck.  Not even a gallon of gas, I thought.  It's like Margaret and I each gave him $2.50 was how I justified giving a total stranger, who didn't appear to need my cash the $5.  Good karma for the day, I guess.  DG

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Get Into the Run

While the race is on the horizon, the "training" runs are just as fun and exciting . . . if they're not, what's the point. Matt's actively sharing some stories on his other blog: Enjoy the adventure with him!

It's Official

Daniel and Matt are registered for the Beyond Limits Ultra Race on March 16th.  Matt's trying to figure out a bit of a foot injury while Daniel is conditioning his running form to overcome some shin splints and a tight achilles. And the winter snow conditions don't make training easy.

In other news, to strengthen his feet, Matt started wearing "dress" versions of his minimalist running shoes. But on the 53rd floor of an important office building, a fellow ultra runner, whom he'd just met, quietly busted him . . . it's a secret society and we're everywhere.

The Metamorphoses of Running

by Matt Gray

Life has a way of metamorphosing: caterpillars transforming into butterflies; a love for the outdoors turning into an obsession; an unexpected health issue inspiring action.

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On June 2nd, 2012 I held my two-week old niece for the first time.  By far the youngest baby I’ve ever interacted with, and the first of her generation in our family. The immediate love for her, as I was told it would be, was remarkable and quite unexplainable.

Later that month, after that visit, my mom called to let me know that my niece had been diagnosed with Lymphedema: a rare disease for newborn infants.  The swelling in her leg had not been from an allergic reaction or a bug bite as we first assumed, but from a genetic mutation that kept her lymph system from working properly.  While it’s a manageable condition, Lymphedema certainly alters one life.  For a precious little human who has only been around for a month, that’s not a metamorphoses you are ready to understand.

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Within those same few weeks in June, I went out for a trail run, something I’d never really done.