Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feb 17 - 23

2/17/2014
Mon - Green Mountain (1:17, 3000')
It's been a long time---six weeks, exactly---since I've done anything both weight-bearing and cardiovascular. So today's excursion up and down the front of the mountain was both unexpected and profoundly mood-altering. A solid week of freeze-thaw has turned much of the usual routes into treacherous water ice, but it also meant that I could finally get in a dry scramble on a Flatiron. After such a long time away from this (I haven't been on a flattie since early November) I just stuck to the moderate, mostly 4th Class terrain of the 2nd Flatiron before continuing on to the summit of Green. I was pleased to negotiate the downhill with basically no pain in my leg, and on my bike ride back home I was overcome with a sense of well-being that has been notably missing so far this year. I have 10 weeks until UTMF; if the past is any proof, it's enough time to be ready to race. Most importantly, though, is that even amidst my labored rasping and wheezing and unfit legs, I was just so happy---in some kind of deep, visceral way---to be back out on the mountain.

2/18/2014
Tue - Green Mountain (1:24, 3000')
I did another lap on the mountain this morning; today I was wearing a pair of the forthcoming New Balance MT110v2. The development process on this pair of shoes has been quite long and full of a few more than the usual twists and turns, but today I was really happy with the final product. Great grip with the slighter deeper lugs and new sticky rubber and really on-point lateral stability. I'm psyched to have a durable, everyday mountain shoe
          When I got back from my run UPS had dropped a giant box at my door, full of a variety of custom-built NB shoes. This is an (obviously) huge perk of working with NB, and the continual tweaking of my footwear is a tinkering process I really enjoy. I feel really lucky to have a company that will modify the stock model to meet my wide-ranging specific needs. Right now, I'm replenishing my stock of Winter 110s (but with a hyper-aggressive outsole) and building a racing shoe specific to the technical (sticky rubber and extra-supportive forefoot rand) and typically sloppy (fell-racing studs) demands of an upcoming Skymarathon.
          This time around, though, I had somehow forgotten to specify what sort of midsole heights I wanted on my Winter 110s, so the factory seemingly defaulted to the traditional 12mm drop of a generic running shoe (it's complicated to explain why, but on these particular shoes I had requested an old-school, super-simple, cut-sheet EVA midsole versus the more typical injected EVA midsole).
          At first I was chagrined and chastised myself for my boneheaded oversight, but then I realized it wouldn't be a difficult modification and--after a gym climbing session at Movment with Joe--biked down to McGuckin's Hardware for the necessary supplies: a pair of C-clamps, a hack-saw, and some industrial-strength bonding cement. Browsing the tools at the store, I had a few pangs of happy nostalgia for all the construction projects I completed with my Dad growing up back on the farm, but, most importantly, when I was slaving away over my shoes later that evening I was actually taking pleasure in using my hands and some ingenuity to rectify the mistake rather than just being disappointed that I'd committed it in the first place. Craft is important, and not something I so tangibly touch upon often enough.

Dammit! Previous custom version on right, current version I flubbed on the left.
2/19/2014
Wed - First Flatiron (:49, 1600')
This morning was my first scramble on the First Flatiron in almost three months. It was awesome; an over- and mis-used word for sure, but truly, this proud rock always inspires awe in me. It was my 135th lifetime ascent of the 1000' face, and the full-body engagement of scrambling is something that never ceases to deliver a more heightened level of joy and presence than what occurs during mere bipedal movement. I was equally pleased to find that, even after three months away (mostly conditions/weather-induced), my hands and feet located the regular holds nearly as effortlessly and comfortably as always.
          To be clear, this was technically only a half-lap on the rock. In an effort to accommodate the messy and variable footing on the trails right now, I wore a pair of shoes with super-aggressive lugs this morning (see above pic). The reduced surface area of pointy lugs doesn't offer nearly enough security on the bottom 400 feet of the First, which requires a lot of precise friction on relatively thin holds. As such, I hopped on the slab half-way up and took the still-classic Baker's Way route to the summit.  In the afternoon, jLu joined me for a quick lap on my favorite climb in Eldorado Canyon--the 6-pitch Rewritten on the Redgarden Wall (though I led it in three pitches)--and we had the route all to ourselves, a true gift on this uber-popular classic on such a pleasant weather day.

2/20/2014
Thu - Green Mountain (1:22, 3000')
A dusting of snow overnight was enough to hide all the ice, making the trails a terrifying mess today and precluding any scrambling. In the afternoon, I had a pair of sensory enhancement appointments--first, I learned about hearing aids and was set-up with a demo pair, then it was off to get my eyes examined in order to renew my contact lenses. It's been a little depressing over the last couple of months coming to terms with significant permanent hearing loss at only 30 years of age, and, quite frankly, my initial experience with the hearing aids was a bit underwhelming. Tinny-sounding and itchy, and still feeling like I'm not catching everything in a conversation. Plus, it's never good to be getting electronics wet…I may not be doing much running with these buggers, especially in the summer. Bottom line, preserve your hearing for as long as you can (not that I had any say in this situation). Medically speaking, we certainly haven't gotten the ear as well-sussed as the eye.

2/21/2014
Fri - I took today off from physical activity. Reluctantly, and full of angst. I went so far as to get suited up and even did a test jog down the street (amidst nearly 60mph wind gusts), but ultimately decided that my upper leg hurt just a little too much. This injury has proven to be far more stubborn than I would've guessed in the beginning. Instead, I spent much of the day plowing through Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. The Nobel Institute apparently voted this the Greatest Book of All Time, and at 1000 pages it has the literal heft to go along with such a literary accolade. I, however, am unconvinced. After more than 700 pages, I feel like the narrative has acquired a certain redundancy---here is Quixote engaging in yet another farcical, absurd altercation!---that is rapidly eroding my enthusiasm. I'll finish it, of course, but like whenever I get to the end of most classics of the literary canon, I'm afraid that I won't have absorbed everything I should've. I almost always feel like I'm missing something. 

2/22/2014
Sat - First Flatiron (:47, 1600')
The wind was finally more reasonable today. After more waffling over my coffee this morning---how does my leg feel? will getting out do more harm than good?---I finally hop on my bike and head up to Chautauqua. I run most of the uphill to the base of the First (uphilling doesn't hurt my leg) and despite a bit of an audience on this weekend morning, begin the scramble. Even after an extended spate of warm weather, a bank of snow gathers at the base of the First, so in the winter my traditional start to the climb shifts a couple dozen feet to the north, at the top of the stairs at the base. A modest ridge here offers good holds for my right hand, and after I step onto the face I spend a long time wiping the soles of my shoes onto my socks and the rock itself, trying to rid them of moisture so that I have the best purchase possible on the sandstone. It's my first time climbing the full face since early November, so I have a little apprehension about feeling comfortable on the frictiony slab.
          Within a few seconds, however, any nerves fade away and I'm almost instantly in a really pleasant flow state. All of my time in the gym over the last couple months makes the 55 degree slab feel even more shallow than usual, and I move up the rock with little effort, really glad that I decided to get outside. Once I join the North Arete, I pop over a bump in the ridge and am surprised to see a helmeted climber in the corner below me, fiddling with placing a stopper. I ask him if it's fine if I just jump over him (my usual tactic on this small ramp), he obliges with a smile, and a couple minutes later I'm seated on the summit, surprised that it's only taken me 14min. This is a typical time when I'm hitting the First regularly, but I thought I would be more rusty today.
          After the short downclimb, I decide to just hike back down to Chautauqua instead of running. My leg still hurts on downhills and I don't want to push it. The successful scramble mostly tempers my frustration, though, and all in all the short outing leaves me in a positive mood.

2/23/2014
Sun - Second Flatiron
In the morning, Boulder is cloaked in an icy inversion layer, which serves to thin the crowds up at Chautauqua. The fresh dusting of snow deters me from the First and I enjoy a spicy scamper up the Second Flatiron's Freeway route instead.
          This weekend, the Track and Field Indoor National Championships have been taking place down in Albuquerque, and I've been following the action on-line. I've been a hyper-geek about almost every aspect of the sport for almost 20 years now, but over the last decade--as more and more of my attention has been occupied by mountains--my interest has waned to a certain degree. Pure athletic performance inspires me, but there just seems to be less personality and compelling story-telling on the oval and the roads. I know that a certain one-dimensonality is required for success at the highest levels, but most of the sport's top athletes seem content to be portrayed as little more than generic robots.
          As such, I'm a bit torn when some fairly significant drama occurs during and after the women's 3000m (finally, a story with a little depth! but it all seems to just be a bunch of juicy gossip, too). Letsrun.com more than covers it---and, in my opinion---embarrasses itself a bit by continuing to position itself as the sport's leading tabloid (by being misguidedly convinced that they're merely "asking the hard questions"), but not even this can remove the fact that there does, indeed, seem to be a pretty glaring---daresay, even corrupt---double standard within USATF decisions at this track meet. Free Grunewald; she was clearly the best runner in the race yesterday.

Finally, I know I'm several years late to this bandwagon, but after owning literally only one of their songs for a few years ("Wet and Rusting"), I've really been enjoying Menomena's full catalog lately. A nice trio of tracks here:

30 comments:

TheBaldEnglishTeacher said...

Dude, ditch the classics and bust out some young-adult literature!

And yes, I'm being serious.

Two worth your time are Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

I'll be at Speedgoat...you can thank me then :)

Oh, and good to hear you're getting healthy again...

David said...

You covered a lot of topics today! Some thoughts on your thoughts:

12mm drop shoes from NB:
- ??? Doesn't NB read your blog ? :)

McGuckins:
- This might be the most bizarre store I've ever been to; kind of a throwback to the old general store. I think I might start doing my grocery shopping there...

Hearing + hip flexor:
- Bugger!
- My wife had her hip flexor partially severed as part of labrum repair surgery, and still has to be careful with it 9 months later (hip socket/bone/labrum recovered much faster).

Classic Literature:
- I read Moby Dick once, and came away with much the same thoughts as you with Don Quixote. Well, I actually skipped the chapters where Melville tangents off from the main narrative to describe whaling techniques (I would have bought "Whaling for Dummies" if I wanted a how-to book). Finishing that book was my personal white whale.

Letsrun/Indoor Track/robots:
- Mary Cain is living up to the hype
- Salazar is a bully (no newsflash here)
- Grunewald did not deserve a DQ, and was the class of the field
- Letsrun can't decide if they are journalists or fan-boys. But it is a good portal to follow the sport.
- I'm curious what you think of Nick Symmonds as the anti-robot
- BTW: Did you catch the USA Cross Country Championships? Terrible racing, but several great individual performances.

I'm done hijacking your blog now...

Dallas Green said...

Good to see you back at it.

Hearing Aid eh? Well look at it this way, as trendy as you are and seeing how many people follow you. (both your running and style) it will be easy to see in the near future that people will be walking around in Boulder sporting Hearing Aids for style rather than functionality...you may laugh at that comment, but just like so many other Hipsters around the area are sporting fake clear lens glasses for a certain look its not to far off from being a reality.

So consider yourself the pioneer of such and rock the shit out of em! :)

Last Note: Who is running UTMF with/against you?

Dan/Dallas

Dallas Green said...

O'l yeah last but not least..thanks for sharing/updating this blog...You had a mutiny on your hands last week from a lot of followers ha!

Jim Bruening said...

Edith Grossman's translation of DQ is definitely worth a try (if that's not the version you're reading already).
Jim

Arne Qvenild said...

Have a look at "Gold" by Chris Cleave.
Great book for periods of downtime.

tonydavis said...

110v2's....awesome!

Brad Williams said...

I've got to get something off of my chest. Sorry Tony if you don't appreciate this type of thing being done on your blog but does Dallas creep anyone else out? There are fans of Tony and then there's whatever Dallas is.

Dallas, of course I don't know you at all but man you come across so desperate. Try to possess some of that uniqueness and authenticity that you praise Tony so much for.

Jared Marinel said...

100% agree with Brad Stevens

Anton said...

TBET - I've read the Sherman Alexie (enjoyed it); I'll have to check out Green. My usual go-to is contemporary fiction (lots of Roth and DeLillo so far this year); I try and hit up the classics to keep myself honest.

David - The 12mm drop was a mistake; just a quick decision made at the factory…don't worry, NB knows what I like, haha.

Moby Dick is definitely on the list. A few months ago I was in Trident browsing the titles and opened Finnegan's Wake just for kicks. Good god. I came away slightly depressed knowing with basically 100% certainty that I'll go to my grave having never read that book. I'm hoping that my experience with James Fenimore Cooper will have prepared me a little for Melville.

Agree on Cain. Insane talent, pretty cool to witness. And as unsavory as Salazar is, you just know he's going to guide Cain through a spectacular career. Apparently USATF came to their senses finally and reinstated Grunewald. Letsrun is mostly guilty entertainment for me. I've visited that website basically daily literally since its inception in 2000. The message boards are a total riot that you just can't take seriously. Some golden nuggets of comedy on there sometimes, though. I was friends with Chris Lear for a while back in college when he was living in the Springs and randomly met the Brojos a couple of times…they're just giant running geeks like the rest of us but can't seem to figure out real reporting and journalism but still want to be taken seriously. Nauseatingly self-congratulatory, too. But, it is definitely the easiest and quickest way to get up to speed on what's going on in the road and track world.

I used to have a soft spot for Nick Symmonds because we would race him at Regionals in XC (he was totally mediocre at 8k, of course) and I thought it was totally rad when he finished 2nd at USATF Nationals in his high school singlet in 2006. Like, screaming at the television rad. D3 solidarity. I guess I give him credit for recognizing that you have to do more than just run fast if you want to be marketable, but beyond that he certainly doesn't pass the "would want to have a beer with him" test. Will Leer, on the other hand, is probably my favorite dude in the sport. D3 background (my best friend/roommate in college had a bit of a rivalry with him in XC, even outkicked him for the regional title one year) and doesn't take himself too seriously while still doing everything he can to be the best runner possible. Super psyched to see him having such a good indoor season so far.

Mark said...

@ Brad Williams & Jared

I agree with you. He's not only desperate but comes across like a creepy stalker. Strange behaviour.

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David said...

Will Leer not only has some real wheels (3:52!), and rocks an epic Pre 'stache (though he's starting to look more like you these days), he seems to be a real stand-up guy. The way he publicly responded to the Grunewald situation, despite his own Nike sponsorship, got him some bonus points from me. Kudos also to Jordan Hasay for doing the right thing (and USATF should send her some flowers for letting them off the hook).

Symmonds may not pass the "want to have a beer with" test, though I might have to make an exception for a beer mile.

Zachariah Newton said...

I always recommend John Gierach.

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Dallas Green said...



Just got around reading some of the replies...

Brad/Mark/Jared and anyone else including the Author of the Blog that may have been put off by my recent post/posts my sincere apologies.

I had no clue it came it off that way, I guess my VERY outspoken, and equally Dry sense of humor can lead to being misinterpreted esp. over a key board. I will try and install a much needed filter between my head and fingers before I hit the submit icon from now on.

I honestly didn't mean to put anyone off esp terms such as “Creepy" and or "Stalker"…yikes! Fail on my part! Far from the truth I assure you all, but perception is reality so again my apologies.

But in my defense, it is true about Tony's influence over people/athletes esp the town of Boulder! You would be surprised at how many Visor Buffs there are being sported with white sunglasses which is a not a bad thing I guess as far as Marketing. I mean once you get to that level of a spot light being copied is kind of expected within reason. So my recent post was poking some fun at this very trendy town. It was all meant to be light hearted. But I understand how that may have not came across as so. Also, my reply on his UD Blog was merely about him still being respected even if a new chosen path or sport (Proper/Traditional Mountain Climbing) becomes less a backup hobby when injured and more a front line sport instead of Racing/Running. All and all, it was either me being again very outspoken, and or very sincere but lacking a much needed filter….. I feel bad and little silly now that it came off wrong as it was supposed to be a positive thing HUGE EPIC FAIL on my part.

I will keep all above in check as we all move forward.

In summary, my sincere apologizes to all, and I will try and portray that with all future replies.





Buzz said...

The USATF has been notorious for it's ineptness since it was the AAU, and later TAC. In each incarnation athletes complain it was a bunch of old men living off the fees paid by young athletes. I believe the current media addiction to "drugs in sports" is misplaced; for every poor guy kicked out of the Olympics for taking a cold medication, there are 100 people taking huge sums of money, getting flown all over the world, basically selling their vote on which city gets to spend a few billion dollars to host the next Games. That's where the big time cheating takes place, not on the field.

Govan said...

I had the same problem with Quixote. Moby should treat you right, but if you'd like a taster try his Benito Cereno. It is one of the most intense short novels ever written. Give Bolano's 2666 a go as well, the mid-section of which will beat you senselessly over the head which I believe is the point.

Anton said...

Dallas - No harm, no foul.

Buzz - As disorganized as the whole mountain running space is, that doesn't really bother me. The USATF's latest high-profile shenanigans just make me that much more grateful how irrelevant they are in the off-road scene.

Court5km said...

Anton,

So glad to read your writing again. It truly is so eloquent and beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to compose your words in such a way that seems to be more and more lost in our culture. The fact that much of it is about a subject I love (running), make me connect with it even more. Love this:

"Most importantly, though, is that even amidst my labored rasping and wheezing and unfit legs, I was just so happy---in some kind of deep, visceral way---to be back out on the mountain."

You're word choices always jog the imagination more too-- cloaked in an icy inversion layer, the full catalog.. haha tha best!

Do you think you'll write more for magazines or other publications in the future?

And yea, the Track and Field Indoor National Championships were interesting this yr... I ran with Gabe in college @ the University of Minnesota and she has a pretty crazy back story and is definitely a fighter. & Will Leer is a bright spot in the sport. Awesome runner with great passion, authenticity and style. Not a lot like him around the track scene.

maCaifon said...

Hi Anton, I'm spanish and felt the same when I read the Quixote for first time. Here isn't optional for a student. We must read the Quijote minimum one time in our study years. I think this is a personal perception, but I'm not a literary expert hahaha.

Jillur Rahman said...

Nice song.I feel it deeply in my heart.Thanks for posting.

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Javier said...

Hi Anton!! 10 weeks to prepare an ultra?? Woow, it doesn't sound like "much time". Do you have an "intensitve" training for these situations or it's just the usual time to prepare a 100 miles race (for trying to win it, of course ;-)

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