But as we all know, it’s not always easy to just come up with a lesson from an adventure, or race, or challenge. And so, as I drove through the Northern California agriculture country, past Mt. Shasta, through Ashland, the Willamette Valley, Portland, Puget Sound, and finally home to Bellingham, my mind wandered from topic to random topic with little ability to focus on anything other than driving and the incredible spring scenery. But sometimes a little scenery and time to think is all you need.
The genius of the TV show Seinfeld is in its dissection of the completely normal things we each encounter every single day. I had just driven 850 miles on 2 bottles of water and a few granola bars, and got out to refuel the car once. Passing countless freeway off ramps I contemplated pulling over, taking a stretch break and buying some dinner. But every time I passed an exit, I read the sign of possible fast food options and told myself, maybe the next exit will have something better, the highway was just pulling me along. I watched the fuel gauge go from full, to 1/2, to E, eventually the low fuel light came on, and the car started dinging at me…I had 18 miles left… When I finally pulled into my driveway on a bone dry tank, unsure if it was am. or pm. and stepped out of my car with legs feeling like they’d aged 90 years, the lesson finally clicked.
Many of you know the Seinfeld episode where Kramer test drives the car (The Dealership). If you haven’t seen it recently, this quick clip may help tie this thing together.
Enjoy the exchange between neurotic philosopher Cosmo Kramer car dealership Rick.
KRAMER: There’s still some overlap between the needle and the slash below the “E”.
RICK: How long are you gonna go?
KRAMER: Oh, I’ve been in the slash many times. This is nothing. You’ll get used to it. Just, (Makes a popping sound) get it out of your mind.
RICK: Have you ever been completely below the slash?
KRAMER: Well, I almost did once, and I blacked out. When I came to, the car was in a ditch, and the tank was full. I don’t know who did it, and I never got to thank them..
Now I may just be suffering the afterness (yeah that’s a word…or at least it should be) of 9 hours of glycogen depletion, but I think Cosmo is sharing some wisdom here. First off, he clearly places a value on finding out exactly where the “limit” is. We push up against our limits, we extend our limits, and we think differently when we experience that space we didn’t know we could exist in.
Additionally, endurance sports are cool because as Kramer learns, doing hard things, and finding limits is impossible alone. In this case he takes Dealership Rick along for the adventure, and in the previous circumstance clearly receives assistance from an anonymous petroleum provider.
The first half of the race was fairly normal, I ran on a trail, I all watched an incredible sunrise over the American River, I ate some food, I got tired. I gave thanks for this place and opportunity and support from so many people. The first half of a race is just about getting you ready, ready to a point where you can start bumping up against that wall that you thought was your limit.
After Foresthill, things started rolling along. The descent down Volcano Canyon was really fun, climb out was really miserable, the descent down from Michigan Bluff to El Dorado was really fun, and the subsequent climb out was really miserable. With every mile I could feel the legs revolting and the mind becoming less and less polite in its requests to slow down. For a number of hours I got to bump up against an ethereal curtain, I got to move that line, to focus and to explore that blurry space.
I guess there in lies the beauty of a challenge. Finish on empty and find the lessons taught by that special place between the needle and the slash below the “E”
In perfect Seinfeld style and in a way I believe ultrarunning memes would be proud of, the episode closes with a final exchange between Kramer and Rick
RICK: We did! We pulled it off! I can’t believe it! Where’s the needle?
KRAMER: Oh, it broke off, baby! Woo, hoo, hoo!
RICK: Oh, Mr. Kramer, I gotta thank you. I – I learned a lot. Things are gonna be different for me now.
KRAMER: Well, that’s a weird thing to say..
RICK: I wonder how much longer we could have lasted.
KRAMER: Yeah, yeah. I wonder.. hmm.
Wonder on Friends.
Fueling, gear, #TEAMRIVS and more
Fueling went well today largely in part to cool temperatures and the new AwesomeSauce flavor from Spring Energy
, it has 180 calories and tastes like apple pie. Rather than just maltodextrin, spring energy is made from real food you would find at a grocery store. This particular flavor includes basmati rice, apple sauce, maple syrup, yams, sea salt, cinnamon and lemon juice. A major reason people have stomach issues is the body usually can not absorb 1000’s of calories of traditional gels. Spring Energy has rice, fruit, salt and natural sugars from maple syrup.
I also used my favorite dark chocolate coffee Trail butter
, Coca-cola, and bananas.
Photo thanks to Eric Schranz
Craft CTM Ultra:
could not be more stoked with this shoe. It is everything I want in a trail shoe for this kind of terrain. The upper is single layer engineered mesh which allows for much better ventilation and allows the foot to stay dry. This is the first race I have not had major blister issues and I think the vented upper was a major factor. The heel does not have a traditional hard plastic counter, which feels great, and still provides plenty of stability even on loose rocky descents. The outsole is enough to keep purchase on the dirt but still feels smooth on the road. The midsole is soft enough to protect the feet and legs for any distance, but also provides plenty of energy return. This shoe is versatile, comfortable and quick! Thank you to Craft Sportswear
for their support of athletes. I am both humbled and proud to be a part of this company and this team.
Big thanks to my coach Brett Hornig of Trails and Tarmac
for dialing in my training. This guy is meticulous, fastidious, has a deep understanding of endurance athletics and understands the dynamic nature of training and life. If you need some help getting your training on track, get in touch with us at TrailsandTarmac.com
Thank you to the whole Epic Endurance Events organization and volunteers. You guys did an incredible job designing a new course and offering support. If you are considering a 2022 ultra, I’d recommend this one!!
Congrats to everybody out there who raced! You are all an inspiration. And remember, your fuel gauge is on E, so go fill it back up!!