McDonald Forest 7.2k Race Report

The McDonald Forest 50k was yesterday.  This is an event I typically participate in because it’s very well run and VERY near my home.  Plus, the race includes trails that I know like the back of my hand.  That being said I made the tough decision to pull out of the race early (aka, DNF – Did Not Finish).

For me I was using the Mac 50k as a way to check in with myself to see how the increased volume over the last several months was metabolizing in my legs and body.  Tabbed as a C-race (training race) I went into it with what I thought to be very few expectations.  Coming out of it, with a DNF in hand, I was given a much-needed wake up call for several reasons.  I had to get real and honest with myself.

1). Blood-work – just a couple of weeks ago I drew blood, for the first time in years, to see if there were any red flags that needed attention.  Two things popped up that gave me concern.  First, my testosterone levels are significantly below the average for runners.  Secondly, my hematocrit count is low.  My mistake in receiving these results early, before my follow-up appointment with my doctor, was that I did  MY OWN research as to what the results meant.  Bad idea.  Within 5 minutes of reaserching I was convinced that I had the Ryan Hall syndrome with chronic fatigue and anemia. For me, I should’ve waited to go over them with a professional so that I could get an accurate assessment as to what my numbers meant.  Therefore, yesterday, it was in the back of my head that something was drastically wrong with my body.  Luckily my follow-up appointment is the next week so I will have some concrete clarity as to what I need to do, if anything, to manage my numbers.  Lesson learned – don’t get on google with numbers you don’t understand and come to your own diagnosis.  My therapist warned me against this and I didn’t pay attention.

2). Injury – I haven’t been 100% healthy in a few weeks.  Then again, who  really is? I know that in our sport there is a certain level of pain tolerance involved.  However, yesterday, my left knee/calf was being wonky and I made the decision to respect the bigger picture in this venture and call it quits early before I made it worse.  I’m sure I could’ve kept going to get in a solid training run but doing so may have spelled greater injury and un-wanted long-term consequences.

3).  Ego – I thought that I had been doing a good job managing my ego lately but yesterday uncovered a glaring hole in this work.  One mile into the race my friend Cary turned to me and said that we had covered the first mile in roughly 5 minutes and 30 seconds.  “Fuck” I thought.  When the hell did 50k’s become more akin to marathons?  By the way I have never in my life run a 5:30 mile, ever.  Speed like that is not my strength. My ego wouldn’t let go of the faster guys in the front.  Therefore, I suffered.

4). Legs – By the top of the Powderhouse climb my legs were completely thrashed.  As in, I couldn’t move them, at all.  I cannot ever remember having that kind of sensation. My good friend Emily caught up to me at that point and mentioned she was happy to recover on the downhill.  In agreement, while heading down the descent, I literally could not move.  My legs felt like I was running in quicksand.  I had nothing to give.  Maybe it had to do with running the fastest mile of my life within the first mile of the race?  Yes, that played into it and also probably played a part in my further aggravated left leg.  Another cause for this is that I had not yet recovered from the last training block that finished up the week before.

So, what’s next?  For me it starts by reintegrating a sense of mindfulness to help me manage my ego that resurfaced yesterday.  In running out of control, being dictated by other people’s pace, I did not do myself any favors.  I know this for a fact. Next, I need to take care of my body.  This week is all about getting checked out to make sure I’m healthy heading into a huge adventure filled summer in preparation for Pine to Palm 100.  Lastly, I would  like to get an understanding of what my blood-work means, without the guidance of the damn internet.  That is a must.

In the past I would have felt like the world was crashing down on me if I didn’t have a good race.  In that respect I feel that I’ve come a long way as racing is not the only reason why I run, in fact, it’s not even in the top 3 reasons as to why I run.  Every experience at a race, or in life, can be an opportunity to learn about oneself.  I’m glad that I can see this more clearly.  Sure, I was pissed off for a bit.  Luckily, not soon thereafter, I was able to work through the annoyance of not finishing and process what I need to do to get back in the saddle to focus on the things that really matter to me this year.

So the process and journey continues….



Sneak Peek: Excerpt from chapter one of my memoir, My Friend Addiction

Chapter 1: The Road to Nowhere 

November 21st, 2013

Fridays before game days in Corvallis are my favorite. While working at the Hilton, the biggest hotel in Corvallis, I was privy to all of the pre-game action and anticipation for the upcoming football game. UW (University of Washington) was in town the following day to square off against the OSU (Oregon State University) Beavers.  David, my boss, and I had scored sideline tickets through the Beavs director of operations under current coach, Mike Riley. The last two football seasons, largely because of my role as Director of Sales at the Hilton, I had close ties with many of the OSU athletic teams. Having backdoor access to OSU that I did during those years fueled my ego to the fullest. I prided myself off of being known in the hard-to-break circle of coaches, donors, and athletes. I began to believe the assumption that I was pretty goddamned important.

Once my duties were tidied up that day before the game I snuck out the back door of the hotel to start “my weekend.” Football weekends were special to me. They were my reward for working so hard throughout the week. Plus, due to my sales team’s efforts that year, we were crushing our numbers in terms of our budget. So, why not leave a little early to get the party started? I deserved it.

This particular weekend was going to be extra fun and delinquent as I had several friends from Portland and Bend visiting for the game. With the glorious feelings of the impending excess that was about to occur, I quickly made my way to the nearest corner market down Western Ave. After picking a couple of stout IPA’s, I snuck into the yard in back of the store, where the homeless tend to congregate and sleep, found a nice patch of lawn overlooking Reser Stadium, to sit and drink, relishing in the fact of how far up the ladder of importance I had climbed in this little Oregon college town. Once this train of thought had sufficiently fed my ego, I called some friends to meet them out for drinks to continue some well-earned debauchery.

After having drunk myself blind the previous night, I woke up on Saturday morning not having a clue where my car was. Fuck, I must have left it downtown. I threw on my Orange and Black Beavs gear to go retrieve my car and pick up where I had left off the night before. The excitement continued to build as the texts from friends, who were on their way to Corvallis, began to stream in. This was standard operating procedure for most game weekends. Friends plus booze plus football games equaled all of the fun. The only way I could process the excitement was to swing by 7-11 and paper bag an IPA on my way downtown to pick up my ride. I must have looked classy as hell.

Later that afternoon, leading up to kickoff time, I had once again found myself clearly overstepping the bounds of intoxication. I had corralled all of my friends into the parking lot behind my hotel to partake in a hour of Carlos Rossi. I vaguely remember who was actually there; maybe my friends Rob and Mary?  my buddy Cole?  All I did know was that the gallon of wine that I had in my hand had to be finished by kickoff. I was cleverly persistent in making sure that would happen.

As the story goes, once I got into the game, again, being on the sidelines with the team, I began to embarrass the hell out of myself. A friend of mine, who is also in recovery today, recalls that I was being a blithering idiot on the sideline in front of several OSU donors and administrators. Apparently I had trouble standing up straight. My buddy, whom I did not know at the time, had approached the guy, who had originally given me access to the sidelines, to ask who the hell I was. My contact’s response was something like: “He’s just some dude that helps us out at the hotel.”

Apparently it got worse from there. As I found out later, at the end of the first quarter of the game, I had stumbled behind the sidelines and across the field, fortunately keeping out of the field of play, to a set of stairs that led out of the stadium. Apparently I had crawled on my hands and knees up the set of stairs next to the OSU Marching Band and in full view of the entire stadium to try and make a quick exit out of there, hopefully undetected. Epic fail.

Later that night I came to in the front seat of my car having not known how I had gotten there. On top of that, I was in a city park nowhere near where I had left my car before the game. Clearly I had driven in a blackout to my current location. It was 2AM. After clearing the fog from my eyes I noticed that there was still a half of a fifth of whiskey sitting in the passenger seat. Gratefully, I picked up the bottle, drank the rest of its contents and proceeded to once again pass out.

Five hours later I once again woke up. However, this time I was in my own bed. How the fuck had I gotten back? Fortunately I didn’t have time to assess the evening at that point because I had places to be.

That Sunday morning my running team and I were scheduled to pose for a photo shoot on and around the trails in Corvallis for a feature in a local visitors guide. Amazingly I arrived at the shoot in time, having somehow rustled my shoes and running kit together. After about an hour of being photographed, the thick haze of my hangover was beginning to fade. Somehow I was able to jaunt around the trails with my team to capture some iconic shots featuring the lush Corvallis outdoors. Once we wrapped the shoot up, I returned to my car to prep for the days run. With whiskey and wine still flowing in my veins, I completed a solid 20 mile trail run up and down the hills of Corvallis, trying to reflect on what the hell had happened the night before. Oh, and I felt great doing it. At the time I was totally oblivious to the shame and embarrassment that would arrive in just a few months