Saturday, July 18, 2015

Liven Pain

I run to be here, and here is beautiful.

"…some people say I'm heavy, they don't know what I hide." Ozzy Osbourne (old tunes)

Sprinting over rocks, and roots, I feel connected to the trail. The trail has been there for me lately, or better yet, I've been there more and more, on the trail, with running shoes, my thoughts, and the emotion.

Some days I can't hide it, and I run from the gut. I run the fear and madness away and tap into the sounds of the trail, or the music in my earphones. I don't feel right if I don't get out there on the trail and run. I take everything in my life that's difficult, and I leave it behind me in the dirt, sweat, and tears.

"If the world gets you down, don't be afraid to wrestle it." Birdy (new tunes)

Chris Bender is a Hulk, and he is my strength conditioning coach at Fuel Fitness. As a trainer he is unbelievable. Last month while training for my first trail race, The Old Gabe 50K, I pulled a muscle in my back at the bouldering gym.

My first thought was Hulk would take it easy on me. I'd show up for my weekly session, complain about being injured, and I get away with a light routine. Easy and done, right?

Well, I call him Hulk Bender for a reason. Sure he's the nicest guy in the gym and everyone knows him, and I feel cool just talking to him, but he's been a strength condition coach for more than twenty years, and is amazing at what he does.

The three weeks I dealt with a back injury were some of the best and hardest workouts I've done with Hulk. Outside he had me sprinting up and down the sidewalk, holding handles out in front of me like superman, attached to the heavy car tire I was dragging behind me.

Then I'm inside doing half-squats, where the bar is raised half way up. Hulk is always paying attention to my form, and asking me how I feel, and if everything is ok. Then we move up in weight, until I'm half-squating so much more weight than I've ever full-squated before. And all this with a very painful pulled muscle in my mid back. (Disclaimer: Don't try this at home. Use professional help.)

My back felt better each week, and each session with Hulk made a noticeable difference. As an athlete I know the importance of not letting an injury take over. Growing up as a soccer player, I played some of my best games injured, and felt ripped off if I walked away from a game without a battle wound.

In the fall of 2001 I met Rob Smets in Denver at Larry Lancaster's Rock and Roll Rodeo School. Rob was our bullfighting (or rodeo clown) instructor for the three day bruiser. To this day, I have yet to meet anyone as intimidating, and real, as Rob. He's like a Samurai Warrior in a Cowboy outfit. The way he spoke was direct, and when he called out your name to jump in there and save the fucking day, you did.

Rob scared me. When we first met, I don't think Rob liked my pony-tail, and told me if I was some college drop-out, looking for kicks, to tell some stories, then I'd better get lost and pack my bags, cause I'm just going to get someone hurt…... I liked Rob, and his Texas attitude. I told him I was an ice climber, and just moved from Alaska. Then I told him I'd grown up at Montana rodeos, watching the famous Flint Rasmussen, and this was something I wanted for myself, no one else.

By the end of the three days, Rob and I got along so well that when I got hooked and cartwheeled by a huge bull, he laughed so hard some of the parents commented. Then everyone saw the grin on my face and he said, "look, I've been cartwheeled in front of huge audiences who laugh." Then he pulled me aside and said, "if you want to make a living, and you break some ribs, you have to take shorter breaths, because you don't get paid by sitting down." He spoke from experience, and that was exactly what I came for. Thanks Rob, huge respect.

So on a whim, I entered the Old Gabe 50K. I'd been trail running for about three months, and I was quasi training for something. My life has changed dramatically, and well, I don't do small things. In fact, I didn't know about the race until about three weeks before the event…….. What the hell, right? I'd fallen in love with trail running, and pushing myself feels good - but my backed ached like crazy, and at times I couldn't tell if the pain was down in my hip, or up in my back. Sitting was painful, but running felt good, so I kept at it, and began focusing on the race and wanting to finish strong.

Two weeks before the race I went to Adam Burke @ Spring Integrative Health for a massage. At this point I thought I needed chiropractic help, because things weren't getting better, and the pain sucked.

Adam assured me it was a pulled muscle, nothing spinal. He noted my rotated hip, my dominate right side, and we talked about body work, and how the body aligns for each person. The session was painful and took time to recover from. Thanks Adam. Therapeutic massage is one of the best forms of body work you can do for yourself.

The Old Gabe 50K is one of the toughest 50K's in the country. There's four steep climbs that cover more than 11,000 vertical feet. The trail is rocky, and there is not a single flat section over the 31 mile course. I bonked on the final steep downhill, from pain in my quads, and finished the race in 17th place with a time of 8 hours, 32 minutes. And yeah, I loved it.

It was great to meet the other racers, and my hat goes off to all of you. A few honourable mentions to the overall winners, Peder Anderson, and Becky Wheeler who set a course record, and John Hallsten who placed 15th overall and first in the men's senior. Inspiration, respect, good game, high fives and butt slaps all around.

Chris Bender @ Fuel Fitness
Injured myself bouldering again this week. 
Intense hour long work out with torn stomach muscle.
I would never attempt this without a professional trainer.
Every week is a new routine. 
Side-stepping sumo squats w/ ankle strap.

Keeping a runner's log.

Life is emotional, so I try to write it down as I go, but mostly
it's a waste of time.

Ran to this lake last week on a whimsical day east of town.

Race Bib, and the Amazing Grass performance enhancer.

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