The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘reflection’

Race Recap

This past weekend I did my second trail race, and it was not terribly fun. I’m glad I did it, and it was educational, but boy was it painful.

Here are a few moments/thoughts from the run:

  • On Trails vs Roads

Until moving to Colorado I only did road runs. These are very different, and I feel like I still haven’t fully appreciated how different. With roads I could get away with some bad habits: if I started too fast, some days I got away with it because I was just in a groove and I could end up faster than anticipated the whole time (see: every time I have PR’d), AND I could get away with not eating or drinking enough to replenish myself because I wasn’t out there that long …

For trails, neither of those work out well. My last training run that was good was 15 miles, and the last few miles of that my stomach felt very off. But, it was short enough and I had enough to eat and drink during the run that I got away with it. 15+ led to uncomfortable woes.

At the run on Saturday, a 25 miler, I hit my usual woes at mile 11 or 12, but this time I was in the middle of a 2 or 3 mile uphill climb. I should have sat down at the aid station at mile 6 and eaten more, and ditto the aid station at mile 10. But instead, I left 10 feeling good only to quickly go to: NOT GOOD status.

Thankfully the run boasted beautiful views, challenge galore, and friendly fellow runners. A woman asked me how I was doing, so I told her, and she and I walked together for a while and she informed me I wasn’t eating enough. She gave me a packet of goo (sounds weird, huh?) which was 100 calories of goodness. The trouble was, I think I had jumped on the eating enough bandwagon pretty late in the game and it was a struggle every time I tried to eat.

Lesson learned? Eat more, eat more sooner, eat more.

  • On Emotions

I ran a half marathon one time which was tough because it was very cold, raining, and I had been injured so I hadn’t trained up very well. The weekend prior I had flown to Arizona because my grandfather had passed away.

I crossed the finish line and immediately had to fight back tears. I was very confused by this, but then the fact that I was about to start crying and I was so cold my lips were blue and I was surrounded by strangers made me laugh at the absurd situation – it was odd. But, I realized later, the running probably took a lot out of me so I was more emotional.

Videos of dogs and soldiers make me want to cry, sappy things like that, but ordinarily it’s pretty rare that things will inspire tears. At the run, around mile 12 when I was feeling quite bad, I wondered if I would need to drop from the race … I thought about having 13 miles to go and it made me want to cry. I thought, “THE HELL? Who is this emotional demon who has invaded my body!?”

At around mile 23.5 I had already seen the finish in the distance. It was all downhill from where I was … not like, getting worse … but as in literally going down a hill. Anywho, I heard the crowd go nuts over someone finishing and again those pesky weakened body state inspired emotions popped up and I thought to myself, “wow, they’re cheering for some random person like every person is the winner.” And boom, the desire to cry was there.

(P.S. There was another group of true insano-s running FIFTY miles. They started 2.5 hours earlier than us 25 mile plebes, and it could be that the crowd WAS actually cheering for the first place 50 mile female finisher. That is one fast person.)

  • On Aid Station Snacks

Here are some things I had while jogging: pretzel bites, m&ms, some salted caramel goo (thank you again kind stranger), granola bar, lots of water with powdered stuff in it, grapes, and coke.

Ordinarily the menu of a coder (minus the workout goo) … but looking at that now, yeah, I definitely didn’t have enough calories. I was out there a bit over 7 hours, which meant I should’ve had lets say 1400 calories, I maybe got half that.

Mistakes were made.

  • On Friendly People

You know what was awesome throughout? How friendly everyone was, almost everyone there is not competing, they’re just wanting to finish. But even the fastest people were probably friendly too, I just never saw them.

The 50 milers went 25 one way, then 25 going the other way so us 25ers saw them rush past us. With almost every one of them I exchanged a pleasant, “good job” or “looking good” or when tired it was shortened to just “job.” The first place guy I just stared at because HOW ARE YOU GOING THIS FAST?

I ended up jogging/walking for a good while around the same people. One girl, graduating today (Sunday), who walked by a sign indicating we had 3.5 miles or so to go and she looked back at me and said the saddest ‘yay’ I’ve ever heard. It was hysterical.

Another girl I talked with after the run, she was friendly, smart, and I noticed she does not believe in shaving arm pits.

One guy, with about one mile to go, was going back and forth with me (passing each other) then we stopped and walked and he said, “we’ll finish together.” I said ok, cool. But then a half mile or so later he said, “ok, I need to stop, I don’t feel good.” He finished a few minutes after me, and we chit chatted after the run.

The volunteers at the aid stations were all friendly, weird, encouraging, helpful, and with an energy that my then tired brain could not comprehend. Plus, the snacks they had made were (presumably) amazing … snacks that, again, I should’ve eaten.



Moving is a great teacher. Sometimes it teaches you with general unpleasantness, but that’s ok. And perhaps my opinion is biased by my past of being an Army Brat and moving once every few years – so I’ve grown to like moving. Who knows?

This most recent move from Texas to Colorado made me realize something that I hadn’t before. People are like the game Jenga. When I thought of this analogy I thought it was profound, so I told someone and they said, “yeah, ok.” Perhaps it’s not so profound as I thought – but sometimes you need a blog post and so you go ahead and post about your mildly profound thoughts.

Here we go – people are like Jenga. We are composed of these blocks that are our friends, our family, our hobbies, our work, our own accomplishments, and even our stuff.

Moving is a great way to realize what your tower is composed of. This move took me physically away from a good job and a great set of friends and family, and a tolerable apartment. At work I was a known person, and I believe I was liked and people thought I was ok, and I took a fair amount of pride in that.

Now I am an unknown person at work and I need to work hard to establish myself as someone who is smart and can get things done. That’s fine, it’s good to force yourself into challenges.

Growing up I think my family was at the core of my own personal Jenga tower. And my toys and video games were probably a fairly major block as well. A move was disruptive, sure, but I still had my family (most importantly) and myself. As I’ve gotten older the tower is a little more complex now. My family is not one big block but quite a few smaller blocks with each member of my family being their own block, my in-laws involved, my friends are each blocks, my work is a fair-sized block, my home, etc, etc, etc.

jenga_distortedMoving caused a little disruption of the tower and when my wife and I got here, by necessity, each of us was a pretty darn big block for the other. And our home and our satisfaction with our surroundings became blocks too. We still have our friends and family, of course, but the distance changes things a bit.

To assist ourselves my wife and I have both picked up hobbies. This was a ‘trick’ my parents forced on my siblings and I, we always had to be signed up for after school stuff, usually at least a sport. New blocks come flying in and soon your tumbled tower is reassembled. When I was younger, because my family was so important, it only meant the top of the tower had fallen but the core of the tower had stayed intact, which made moving easier.

Now I have learned that work has become pretty important to me, and my tower took a bit of a hit when we moved (and ditto for my wife). But we’ve managed to start re-stacking the pieces, and introducing new blocks into our lives. It’s certainly a process.

What’s the lesson in all this? I suppose it’s that it’s good to have your personal tower composed of immutable things (or as immutable as possible). Hobbies that can go with you like reading or workout out, people, your own sense of self, and yes work is fine – but just be prepared to experience some growing pains when that changes!

Ok, toodles all. Take care to learn your tower and nurture it with strong blocks at the foundation, eh?


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