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Last night Amy and I watched the movie Unbreakable: The Western States 100. Our friends Pam and Mark Solon gave it to us. It was awesome, powerful, riveting, and inspirational. If you are a long distance runner, or athlete of any kind, you will love it. More after the trailer below.
While my experience with marathons is now extensive (22 to date), my experience with ultras is limited to one – the American River 50. I learned an enormous amount from my ultra – mostly about myself – and wrote about it twice – two weeks after the race in a post titled The Physiological And Emotional Fallout Of My 50 Mile Race and then six weeks later in a post titled I’m Finally Recovered From My 50 Mile Run.
While I’d love to try another 50 and even do a 100 miler, I’ve decided that it’s just not realistic or healthy (emotionally) for me given my current work and travel dynamics. I’m comfortable with that decision and have doubled down on the marathon running while tossing in some road biking (today’s ride will be 35 miles, the longest to date) for variety and mostly to amuse my partner Seth.
It was extremely powerful and motivating to watch this movie. The Western States 100 is the original ultramarathon that was first run by Gordy Ainsleigh in 1974 (he’s in the movie – and he is awesome.) There are four main characters in the race that the movie follows.
- Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon.
- Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska.
- Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado.
- Kilian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain.
Four amazing ultra runners (two undefeated) going after the win and a world record from the very beginning of the race. The movie does a great job of mixing drama with personality with footage of the race. While I don’t know any of the runners, I’ve been passed by Krupicka running in the mountains in Boulder (he’s easy to recognize) and I related to different parts of each of their stories.
As I look out my window in Keystone this morning I see a beautiful blue sky with a layer of fog in the meadow behind my house. The mountains are in the background. While I’ll be on a bike today getting ready for a week long bike trip (my first) the love that these four guys have for running will echo in my mind. When people ask me why I run marathons, it’s easy – I love to run. So do they. Watch the movie and be inspired.
Marathon #22 is in the books. I ran the Missoula Marathon today in 4:48:00. It’s my first marathon since the American River 50 Mile Race and it put the demons from the 50 miler firmly in my rear view mirror.
I was a little nervous going into this one as my longest run since the 50 miler was only 12 miles (last weekend). I’ve been running consistently up in Keystone the last month, but shorter distances because of the altitude (9000 feet), the hills (lots of them), and the trails (most of my runs). Last week was my first week over six hours of running and I got to around 32 miles, but I felt very light on the distance going into this marathon.
I knew I had a huge base from my training for the 50 miler but I hadn’t really started enjoying running again until the beginning of June. So I started off slow using an 8:2 pattern (8 minutes running, 2 minutes walking). It took a few miles for me to settle down but my goal was to do the first half in 2:30 and then see what I had in me.
I went through the first half in 2:31:38 right on target. I felt really strong and decided to just keep cruising to mile 18 and then open it up and see what I had left. Mile 17 was 11:34 and then the following miles were 10:19, 10:06, 9:57, 9:58, 10:11, 10:21, 10:02, 10:08, 9:14 with a 7:54 for the last 0.2. Eight of the last nine miles used an 8:2 pattern (I ran the last 1.2 without a walk break) so the times are even more powerful since my running pace during these segments was often sub 9 minute miles, which is very fast for me.
Basically, I scorched the second half. 2:16:22. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a big negative split (2:31, 2:16). While I was glad to be done, I had plenty in the tank when I crossed the finish and could have easily kept going for a while.
Missoula has been really fun. I can’t remember if I’ve been here before (I’ve been to Bozeman plenty) but it’s a neat town, the people are super friendly and smart, and there’s a budding startup community which I’m going to blog about tomorrow.
For everyone who has welcomed me here the past few days, thank you! For those of you who supported my random act of kindness for Justin Salcedo, we ended up raising $11,487 for him. Wow. Huge thanks and hugs to everyone.
And Amy, once again, you are an amazing sherpa. I couldn’t do this without you.
On my run this morning along the Charles River, I decided I was finally recovered from my 50 mile run on 4/7/12. The end of my run brought me by the Hatch Shell and I smiled, even though it was muggy, cloudy, and there were too many people around.
I’m now sitting in the Ritz Bar (they now call it the Taj, but that doesn’t work for me) a few hours later with Amy doing some writing while she reads. I took a break and decided to write up how the last seven weeks have been for me emotionally.
Basically, they’ve sucked. I wrote The Physiological And Emotional Fallout Of My 50 Mile Race two weeks after the race. I was tired, struggling with depression, but feeling like I had turned a corner. It was a nice fantasy – after a month I was still having wild mood swings, feeling very tired most of the time, totally uninterested in running, and generally feeling overwhelmed by my travel, work, and all the people around me.
I’d been through this before in my mid-20′s when I was very depressed for several years while running my first company. This was different – I haven’t felt depressed, but it was just over the horizon. Instead, I had a steady low grade anxiety all the time which would spike up for a few hours before dissipating. I’d feel ok and then suddenly be exhausted and want to take a nap. Or I’d just feel like canceling all my meetings and going home. I knew the feelings would pass, so I just rolled with them when they came up, but I didn’t deny their existence.
Other than sleeping a lot, Amy tells me that I’ve been fine the past seven weeks. Low energy, but not noticeably in distress, crabby, or difficult. I haven’t done a survey of the people I interact with on a regular basis, but I’ve been open about how I’ve been feeling and I assume the people close to me have been giving me some space. I’ve been keeping up my typical work pace with one exception – I’ve been sleeping in many mornings as I just haven’t been able to drag myself out of bed at 5am.
I felt something noticeably shift two weeks ago. Amy and I had a couple of wonderful days together in Chicago and then I flew on Sunday to New York. I spent the afternoon with a close friend whose wife is very ill, just sitting, talking, and enjoying being together. I went out to dinner with two CEOs we’ve funded and then had a good night sleep. I woke up Monday morning feeling a little flat, but by mid-day I felt normal and attributed it to being sad for my friend and his wife. I felt fine during the rest of my NY trip, I flew to SF for an extremely enjoyable dinner, and then spent the past 10 days in Boulder.
While it has been very busy and there is a lot of pressure coming from different directions, I’ve felt very normal the past two weeks. I’ve had a few anxious moments, but they are all tied to specific events and easy for me to process. My normal temperament is very stable and mellow, even when the shit is flying everywhere, and I’ve felt generally back in that zone. I’m running again and enjoying it and I haven’t felt like curling up in a ball in the corner of the room in at least two weeks.
As I’ve written before, running the 50 mile race was an amazing experience. But I’ve decided not to do it again while I’m working at the level and intensity that I work at. The training was too much but more importantly the recovery has just been way beyond what I feel like I want to process again anytime soon. So – it’s back to marathons for me, which I know makes Amy smile.
This morning I had a gritty, sweating, damp, dirty run down Bowery through Chinatown and back. It was a short run – only 30 minutes and my coach’s note for me was simple and clear: “One of those “throw away” runs that mean a lot to long term fitness improvement.” So I did it.
I’ve never run down Bowery. I’ve done the East River many times and ended up under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge, but I don’t recall ever seeing them from the top. The Manhattan Bridge totally surprised me – as I approached it I had a sudden flashback to running in Paris around the Arc de Triomphe.
As I was running, I realized that I’ve learned many cities by running them. I used to be terrified of Paris – now I love it – and I attribute that to running all over the city. Rome fascinates me and I can run through it forever, always discovering new things. I’ve figured out how Manhattan works through all of my runs over the years. San Francisco is less of a mystery to me now that I’ve run all around the city. And I’ll never get lost in Boston or Cambridge because I’ve ran the damn thing so many times.
After my run I had breakfast and then walked from the East Village to Times Square in the rain for a meeting. Muggy, damp, soggy, dirty, grimy, splashy, gritty New York. Lots of construction, lots of noise, lots of people. But something magical about it. The perspective on foot is always powerful, at least to me.
Two weeks ago I was at about mile 40 of the American River 50 Mile Endurance race.
Today I went for my first run in two weeks.
Physically, I was ready to go running four days after the race. By 4/11 my legs felt fine. I consciously decided not run for the first week so on Saturday 4/14, while at LindzonPalooza 5 with my dad, I contemplated doing an easy three miles on the beach. As I was changing my clothes, I laid down in bed. I woke up three hours late. No run.
Every day last week I thought about running before I went to bed. When my alarm went off at 5am each morning, I set it again for 7am (or 8am if I could get away with it) and slept in. This morning, I woke up after almost 11 hours of sleep and was still tired. And no, those 18 minutes to fall asleep wasn’t sex, I was just restless as I have been almost every night since my race. Apparently I had to pee at about 12:30, 3:30, and 4:30.
Today I decided it was time to get started running again. So I did. And it felt really good.
While my legs have felt fine, I’ve been completely exhausted for the past two weeks. It probably didn’t help that I spent the first week on the road (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and then San Diego) but I was home all last week in Boulder. I usually sleep 6 – 7 hours a night during the week and then binge sleep on the weekend (10 – 14 hours) but I’ve been sleeping 10+ hours a night for two weeks. And I’m still tired. As I type this, I could easily go take a nap.
As I expected, I’ve had lots of emotional ups and downs. The day after the marathon I usually feel really flat, followed by a really dark, pseudo-depressed day on day two after the marathon. By day three I feel ok and I’m back to normal on day four. While I know that pattern well, I didn’t know what to expect this time around after a 50 mile run.
On Sunday after the run, I was wildly depressed. I was alone – I’m sure that contributed to it – had brunch at Mel’s Diner in Sacramento, and then took a car to San Francisco. I got a massage at the hotel, got a veggie burger and a shake and then went to Hunger Games to try to disconnect from reality. It was Easter Sunday and downtown San Francisco was quiet, the Westfields Mall was closed except for the movie theater, and while Hunger Games was good, when I walked back to the hotel I was very lonely.
Monday was more of the same. I slept a lot, felt sore but wandered around a little, hung out at Fitbit, and had dinner with some Stanford students. But I was emotionally flat.
I went to LA on Tuesday and had three super busy days in LA where I hung out at Oblong, LaunchPad LA, MuckerLabs, and gave a talk in Valencia. I’ll put this time frame in the category of “manic” – I was tired the whole time, physically felt better, had plenty of up moments, but then at around 3pm every day just wanted to lay down wherever I was and go to sleep. At this point, I felt a dark depression looming – the activity with people probably kept it at bay, but it was lurking right beyond the horizon. Each night I tossed and turned for a while, which is unusual for me as I usually fall asleep right away, but when I slept I was out. Deeply deeply out. When I woke up, I was down, tired, and disoriented, but once I was around people I got back in the groove.
By Friday I was in San Diego with my dad. I was feeling a lot better emotionally, but the fatigue was still heavy. I took a three hour nap in the afternoon each day – not your quiet nap, but the toss and turn, sweat like crazy, wake up and have to take a shower nap. Hanging out with my dad was safe feeling and I had a great time at LindzonPalooza with a bunch of friends and a some people I didn’t know, but the heaviness lingered.
I was back home Sunday. I hadn’t seen Amy in ten days and we had a tough first 12 hours of re-entry. I was disoriented, cranky, and probably emotionally distant. That’s never a good way to be, especially when you haven’t seen your beloved for ten days. We had a tough night Sunday, woke up fine Monday morning, and tried again Monday night where we had a lot of fun together. She then left on Tuesday morning for Boston for the week so I was again alone.
My three P1s this week were (1) the Foundry Group annual meeting, (2) close a financing in a new company, and (3) rest and recover. As I reflect on the week, I accomplished all three (the financing will close first thing Monday morning). So that’s good.
I’m still a little tired feeling, but the kind of tired I have after working a long week. I have some anxiety floating around – not bordering on going to a bad place, but atypical levels for me. But underneath it all I have a deep stillness as I consolidate all of the physical, emotional, and psychological changes and experiences as a result of this run.
This has been a really powerful experience for me. The physical act of running 50 miles was about twice as difficult as a marathon. But the emotional act was at least four times as hard. And I’m still not sure I’ve really processed it. It’s taken me two weeks to feel like I’m back on balance with all the things coming at me every day and I know that I’m still tired. But now that I’ve got two weeks behind me, I’m contemplating a few deeper concepts that have been rolling around in my mind that were stimulated by this run.
Most of all, I want to thank everyone out there who has been supportive of this endeavor. A few people had a profound impact on the experience, but many people I know have contributed support, emotional energy, encouragement, and suggestions. Thank you.