Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Crow Awaits Us All

"Josh, how about a quick pre-marathon 'interview'? I say interview, but I think I only need to ask you one question: Are you ready?"

"Feel free to go nuts with it, take whatever angle you like. Talk about training, race strategy, how you plan on crushing the will of your opponents just after the gun goes off, etc. Sound good?"

The question was asked: Are you ready? 
To be perfectly honest, I'm more unsure than I've been in a very long time. To really elude to my true thoughts could admit weakness and of being vulnerable, and I just won't do that. I'll never bet against me, I'll never count myself out, no matter what. I have to be realistic. I haven't done any individual specific training for this marathon other than some solid long runs on the weekends. No workouts that would give me the feedback that would give me any clarity now. 
Throughout this process of getting to Sundays marathon in Burlington I have been asking myself a lot of questions and doing a lot of self reflection on my daily runs. In my vision quest for answers in the universe of nature, I've captured the attention of my beginnings from the Quarry of the Gods. Through my question asking I was presented, not with answers, but questions to my questions. 
In the booming ominous voice only my ears and body could handle I was asked: Where have all the good men gone and where are all the Gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?
This was a stealthy shock of electricity to my soul and I knew. I knew I needed to become a white knight upon a fiery steed. I need to forego my nights where I toss and I turn and I dreamt of what I was to need. 
The Old Gods smiled a sinister smile upon me and one spoke clearly: I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero, till the end of the night. 
Then the giggles of the fair beautiful goddesses chimed in a sultry whisper: He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast and he's gotta be fresh from the fight. 
I understood these beauties, they needed me to fulfill a destiny and they wanted me to hold out to the morning light, they wanted me to be sure and be larger than life. So far, all of the requests and questions were within my abilities. 
The Massacre of Sleepy Hollow is still fueling my confidence and the taste of souls still drips from my jowls. Relaxing has been the hardest part as I'm super anxious to hit the streets and see where my fitness lies. Do I go out to run 2:25, or play it safe (if it's considered safe and not too fast) of 5:40's? Who the cuss knows?!!! 
So I counseled my own again. Through a vivid dream I was reached and told that somewhere after midnight in my wildest fantasy somewhere just beyond my reach, there's someone reaching back for me, and the gods would be pulling me through the race if I needed them too. 
I would need to consider the elements. I would be racing on the thunder and rising with the heat I would be a Superman and sweep the goddesses off their feet. 
It was beginning to get clearer and clearer of my goal and what I would need to do. Up where the mountains meet the heavens above out where the lightning splits the sea I could swear that there's someone somewhere watching me through the wind and the chill and the rain and the storm and the flood I can feel the approach like a fire in my blood. 
I've convinced myself that, "I got this," and just need to get to the starting line. I feel like I have more people cheering and rooting me on this time around, which adds a bit of pressure. Well, in actuality, I'm the only one that adds any pressure. With a little help from my friends (Gods) everything will work itself out. I can only do what my fitness and physical capabilities will allow. The good thing is, I'm cussing awesome at subjecting myself to races and I will be able to tough, grit and grind. To all those thinking positive thoughts, thanks, to all those thinking negative thoughts: that adds friction and friction makes fire; so, also thanks bc I'm going to light a fire late in the race and will need that fuel! I'll need a miracle, but I'd rather be a hero. There needs to be a hero, and who better then the Last Hero Only Hope?!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Band of Misfits

Goodness gracious... As if the training couldn't have crumpled anymore, it seems to have. The training has been piecemeal and the realization that 26 miles (I'm not worried about the cussing .2) is a week away is starting to play with my brainwaves. I thought I'd be going into the marathon feeling godly, instead I'm feeling a shade under superhuman. 
To mock a friend, I'm not scared of the distance, ha, yet a bit unsure of the pace. In the beginning of March I rolled through the marathon of the 50k in 2:34, with hopes to get to this point looking at running 2:25-2:27, but in realization, WHO THE CUSS KNOWS!!! I have no idea what to expect which is both nerve racking and relaxing. It seems I need to rely on the good old "wing it, fly by the seat of my pants" like I do for the majority of races. As I wrote this, I'm feeling ok about it (I cussing have to be). 
I'm over road racing and most road races. I don't like training on the road. Here and there it's fun but living on the road cusses. The trails are where I want to be and really love the freedom nature brings. I don't translate to the roads the way I do to the mountains and trails. Races where I can change gears constantly and mix up the pace and efforts are where I feel the best and see the best results. Training with my girls out in the woods is the best!!! 
The last two weeks that followed Sleepy Hollow have been packed with 6 total track meets (4 with my team and I helped clerk 2 at for the HS) and I've lost some quality running days and will have a three week taper. Ha. My eyes are set past this race and I'll need to vision quest to walk with the gods I'm often associated with. 
I'll run smart and have a decent result, but not the results I'd like of mixing it up closer to the front. The race itself is a ton of fun (until the neighborhoods, but no one remembers that when they are asked to run again and again). 
Time to hit the quarry of the gods and seek my maker for some encouragement throughout the race. 

Vaya Con Basajuan Dios

And now I lay thee down to sleep... 

How the cuss is everyone (all 11 readers)? It's been wildly busy in the wilds of VT and I'm not sure where to even start?! Do I explain that my training is, well, just going? Do I explain that I'm training on anxious levels that are through the roof and training to one-up any and all competition? There's really nothing to explain other than I have been training within the confines of organized chaos, and I'm responding well to it. Or so I think with the limited scope and sequence. 
After the 50k I had my eyes set on racking up miles and introducing quality workouts. This was a cuss of an idea but never really happened. Instead I have been dropping some awesome runs, some great longs runs and supplementing workouts when I feel like it. The main goal was the first race on the mtn series, Sleepy Hollow followed by the Vermont City Marathon, then anything and everything. I really wanted to win this race, badly, and not only win but demoralize and really start the season like a kingpin boss. But the training left me insure of how the race would go. 
The training leading up to this has been great, excluding the week of, and I was highly optimistic, excluding the week of, and felt very confident, excluding the week of...
So, I ventured to the northwest corner if VT to Kasie Enman's house for the 10k trail/Mtn hybrid. It was going to be a gathering of a lot of friends (so I call them) and a lot of other great (and not so great) people, ha. The first people I saw upon my arrival were Jim Johnson and Kevin Tilton, they were also the two people I was most hoping to see, bc, like I said, I think we are friends. Voltron was in full effect as Greg came with me to spectate the show I had planned. We all decided to warm up together and it was great to shoot the breeze and catch up a bit. We all felt like cussing cuss. Kevin Tilton had a great thought as to why. He thinks that our bodies subconsciously sabotage our week when we know we have a race, in order for our bodies to HAVE to rest. This is genius and made a cuss load of sense. I immediatly felt better. 
The race field seemed to be jacked as well. This is where most of my anxiousness was coming from. There were a ton of great runners in the field. I wanted to win in the worst way, and really had to leave it all out there, as it would be a vital ingredient to my confidence stew I'm brewing that will lead me into VCM. Everything was going to have to go right in order to win, let alone be competitive with the stellar field. I also love killing and winning, so the balance of anxiousness to race and anxiousness of who was there was fairly even. 
Before the race I chatted with Greg and asked what he felt the race strategy should be. He felt that I should run hard where my strengths were. Well, seeing that it was a mud fest, on trails, with hills? It would be a tough task to do what I envisioned doing. 
The course is essentially 3 loops with each loop a mile up then a mile down. The conditions were ideal for me. Wet, tough, somewhat cold and a course where you need to change gears a lot. My race plan was to go out in the front and press the pace to feel who was going to respond and attack, attack and attack. I was going to attack the hills, attack the down hills and attack in between and force the pace or effort to be very uncomfortable and I was hoping that that would be enough to make it so I was competitive and had the finish I was looking for. 
About 5 min before the start I really felt that I was zoned in and could have killed someone I was so cussing fired up to race. It was a bit scary as I was in full on killer mode and so much that I felt awkward. Thankfully the race started and I was able to inflict my emotions. The first thing I did was get to the front and start the slow grinding press. It was evident the first 100m that no one was going to challenge me for the lead. Any chance I could the first mile I surged. 
I envisioned that I was 3 different runners, one for each of the elements (up, flats, down) and I told myself that I had to be the best at each discipline. I attacked the first climb and when reaching the top, I didn't recover yet I pressed as hard as I could, crested the hill and surged down the other side. This was incredibly painful as I had lactic acid screaming though me. But, I had to get away and break away from the field so much that there would be no way in Hades fiery hell that they could imagine catching me. I wanted to end the race right then and there. And I did. I climbed like a fire breathing dragon, sprinted down the hills and rolled hard on the flats. 
By 1.25 miles I had a nice lead and it was only getting larger. It felt great, I felt great and I was determined to keep the pain high and ride it out. The second climb was insanely soupy and tough and I was brought back into view of the field at times, this was short lived as when cresting the second hill I sprinted the downhill to really get out of sight and stay out of site. At 4 miles my lead was 90 sec. The last 2 miles is a ton of fun as the climb isn't that bad, it's on single track and then there is a long gradual down hill that feels like you're on a conveyer belt. It felt so great to feel like I was running wicked fast, so great. 
I had an anti-Murphy's Law day, anything and everything that could have gone right, did! Sleepy Hollow went very well and I'm extremely fortunate to have run well enough to win. It was great seeing a slew of mtn friends and this race did what it needed to do: validate my confidence (uh oh)!!! 
I've included the Level Renner interview. Some people might not like my honesty or obvious confidence level, but cuss'm. You don't like it, come on out and race... I have the utmost respect for my competition and if you don't want to know: don't ask...