Thursday, March 27, 2014

God Bless The You Es Hey.

Señor Juan's cottony plume of deeply exhaled breath coasts across the open door onto the terraza, a tired ghost embarked into the morning dark. He thinks of the awaiting day without anticipation. Señora María Jose lifts the heavy cast iron lid of the Belgian waffle maker, each doughy pocket's profundity sighing a gentle wisp of moist sweetness. Señor Juan takes a long, patient sip of mud black coffee, his eyes' gaze twinkling, but then lost into another frosty dawn on the mesa grande. María Jose lovingly cups the hot waffle in her worn hands and carefully lines its interior with spicy ground beef. A pan of piping hot huevos impatiently pops and sizzles, seemingly eager to make its home in the gridded burrow of waffle and meat. Señor Juan isn't dreaming. Breakfast is here. The Taco Bell Waffle Taco, like his oldest and most faithful mula, will accompany him on this day. This day that always was to be. This day that forever is.

What the fuck is so everything blazing and truth.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Columbia Trail Challenge, Back to U.S.A.

As I lay here on Monday morning in a hotel bed, my desire to either A) write or B) get up is decidedly low. However, I'd like to write down a quick post before my flight back to the motherland, otherwise I'll put this off for weeks again.

My last race in Chile was the Columbia Trail Challenge, a two-day event in the mountains between Santiago and the coast. A quick summary of this course: You do the Speedgoat 50K (although not at altitude) on the first day and then you about half of that on day two. This was one also of those deals where they have tents set up for you and they provide all of your meals. It's like being at a low-end resort where all of your recreation options or sight-seeing tours are extremely tough mountain races.

All of the Boss Jogging boys went, so it was a blast. 

L to R: Max, Me, Matias, Moises, Daniel

Day 1 was reported to be 42 or 44K, but everyone's GPS had it at about 49K and little over 10,000 ft. of up. Luckily, the temperature hit somewhere in the low 90's, already difficult race was made extra fun by long, exposed climbs in the merciless sun. For the first time in my racing life, I actually had to lay down under a shrub for about a minute, just to stop feeling like I was going to faint or puke. Still, the first day I managed to come in 6th (6:35) and with about a 50-minute (ouch) deficit to the winner. Daniel came in ahead (6:17) and Moises just in front of me (6:30). Max came down with a cold and DNF'd the first day. He got worse after a night of sleep and decided not to run on Day 2.

Day 2 was just a joke. 25K (or 27K) and about 5,000 ft. of ascent. From the day before, my quads hurt so badly that I was hobbling down even the slightest decline. The pain eventually became so much that I was audibly barking "FUCK!" with almost every step. It was good enough anyway to maintain my coveted age-group lead. Gotta love those agegroupers. 

Much more interesting to me was checking out Daniel and Moises's results. Daniel, being a stage-racing expert, calmly conserved himself for the second day and comfortably placed 3rd overall in the standings. Moises, on the other hand, had secretly squirreled away a pair of rocket boots, as he not only made up a ton of time on the second day, but he placed 2nd overall in the 25k race. As in, he still beat almost all of the fresh-legged 25K'ers. I was pretty blow away with that one. Clearly, Hoka One One has the makings of a pretty solid team down here. Max, you're gonna have to carry the weight of TNF on your own, homie. ;) 

Well, I couldn't have asked for a better send-off after my nearly 3 years of living, running and working in Chile. I made some great friends, saw some incredible places, and feel very grateful and lucky to have been able to have this experience. I'm excited about running in the States again, but I have a feeling it won't be too long before I'm back in Chile, lacing'em up against some of the best mountain runners in the world.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ratcheting Up the Catching Up!

Hole. Lee. She. It.

It has been precisely a coon's age since we last thumped the communal drum and came together for a bonfire-lit powwow, True Believer. Ahhh...It's so good to have you here finally. Come closer to the flames. Put your hands near them and get warm. I want you to be comfortable, T.B., because I have so much to share with you!

There, now! Much better! I can see your shadow cast by the firelight against the mud-daubed wall of our secret sweat lodge. You look amazing. Clearly, you've been jogging! Were you out there? Did you beat your feet against the earth, faster and faster, until they began to spark, catch, and burst into flames? Did someone see you? Did they see you in the dark as two circles of fire, spinning away into the night, only to be lifted, soaring into the sky, dragged by an unseen hand? 
Is THIS what you have been up to??

Well, cool. That's cool. Because, hey, I was doing that shit, too! Fuckin' flames, unseen hand, and everything, man! It was crazy!

And here's what else! It's what I was wanting to tell you but I couldn't find you in the sky, Brue Teliever!

So, let me start this in reverse. Instead of REGALING you with what I did in January, I will leave you open-mouthed and AGOG by what I did this past week and then go backwards in time. You will love it. I love you. This blogging shit is Stu. Pid. But Lord do I love this Damned-by-God MALARKY. Proverbs 26:11.

Whatsapp me your sins, my child.

OK. So, last week was my first week "back to training." Which means: Not drinking alcohol and eating food during every waking moment of my day. This return actually kicked off the Friday-before-last with me jumping back into my beloved track sessions. Imagine the track oval. Imagine a man casually jogging around it. Imagine this man is screaming and tearing out locks of hair from his head.

This is my dream. This is my nightmare.

The week proceeded smoothly and then POW! BAM! BANG! KABLOOIE!!

Max came to Talca and we kicked off a 5-day streak of wild, manic, limb-thrashing, teeth-gnashing, blood-squirting-from-our-eyeballs MOUNTAIN JOGGING.

First, we went to Altos de Lircay, the park near Talca and my very familiar stomping grounds. It was a delight to show Maximum K where I do all of my hacking and wheezing. He seemed stoked on it.

Max, making sure that not a single precious moment goes uncaptured. Nothing deserves a proper capturing like a precious moment. 


No blog post can exist without a photo of its author.

After three days in Altos de Lircay, we packed our things and boarded the ancient, deathwagon bus back to Talca. Quickly swapping out some of my clothes for camping gear at my shack-house, we jumped on the modern life super bus to Santiago. The plan? Spend the weekend with the Boss Jogging crew, taking photos and videos for our unofficial-maybe-official sponsor, Base Camp Outdoors who gave all 5 of us brand new Hoka's. Base Camp is run by Rodrigo "Canuto" Errázuriz, a great Argentinian-via-Chile runner who previously held the "O and W" FKT in Torres del Paine until Jason Schlarb took it down this year. I've been running in the Stinson Trail shoe and I'll have something to say about ALL OF THAT in the next week or so, I imagine.

So, upon arrival to Santiago, Max and I first met up with Moises Jimenez (who still doesn't have a blog but you can follow him on Strava). Moncho was recently ranked the #1 trail runner in Chile for 2013!!! Oh shit!!! 

Giant, french fries and sour cream thing. Fuck your diet!

Early the next morning, we met up with Matias "Trail Chile" Bull and Daniel "Clockwork" Rowland for a one-hour drive up to the mountains outside of Santiago. Matias is going to UTMB this year and Daniel (now very officially running for Hoka) is going to the insane-looking Jungle Ultra Marathon stage race.

Destination "Yerba Loca." How appropriate. One doesn't just SUDDENLY get the craving for french fries and sour cream, now does one?

The Bosses deep in discussion. Where should we go today?

Oh right. Yeah, that'll do.

Moises. Showing off Mountain Hardwear's vest, featuring an incredible ergonomic dreadlock-holder on the shoulder strap. Your dreadlock has never felt so secure. Zero bounce.

As the trail pitched upwards over a waterfall, the biggest peak and its glaciar were rapidly covered by swiftly accumulating clouds. Within about 30 minutes, the weather suddenly went from sunny and clear to very cold, hail, and freezing rain. With about an 1.5 hours back to the campsite, we high-tailed it back down to 8000 ft.

Max and Daniel, roasting our Marshmallow Shoes.

Drip-drying our gang signs.

All in all, it was a great weekend of camping with the homies, capped off by the BESTEST RAINBOW EVR OMG!!! XOXOXO!

"What did you do this weekend?"

"Ah not much. Me and some buddies went into the mountains to take pictures of each other in our new shoes. Then we all enjoyed a big rainbow before packing all 5 of us into one tent for the night."

"Oh. I see."


3 weeks ago, my childhood friend Brandon came down to visit with his girlfriend Meghan! First, they came ALLLL the way down to Curacautín to watch me race the Desafío de Senderos de Volcanes Marathon (about 9 hours south of Santiago in bus...oof)

Here we are in Parque Conguillío, on the shore of the lake of the same name, awaiting the race start. The weather was decidedly shitty. Shitty enough to cause the park service to re-route the race, away from Volcán Llaima (most active volcano in Chile, last eruption 2008) out of fear that the heavy cloud cover and high winds would make following the course markings too difficult. About 2 weeks previous to the race, a small group of people became lost during similar conditions and were found many days later, very sick and hungry, but otherwise alive (I think? I don't remember the story now).

So, the race directors were concerned. Fair enough.

Twerk shorts, hard at twerk.

I ran this race in 2012 and remembered the course. After a re-route up some very windy jeep roads, the route flattened out into some long rollers (pic above) before reaching the 3rd control point. I was in 3rd place at this time and, upon reaching the CP, the volunteers were eagerly pointing us off the jeep road and towards the volcano. "Hmmm," I thought. 

Sure enough, they had not heard about the course change and they had accidentally sent us (in reverse) up the climb to the volcano away from which the park service wanted to re-route us. "Oops," indeed. 

I could see 1st place about 20 minutes ahead, second place about 5 minutes ahead, and 4th just a couple minutes behind me. As the climb turned into a long, blustery powerhike, me, 2nd, and 4th all bunched together, trying to find the course markings with very limited visibility. We had long since realized that we had been sent off-course, assumed we would be DQ'd upon completion, but continued onward as it seemed the quickest and safest way to get out of the bad conditions.

However, after coming down from the cloud/rain/wind, the RD's had set up a makeshift aid station on the other side of the volcano and informed us that they were making (yet again) another change to the course on-the-fly and that we were still very much in competition. Myself and several other runners all looked at each other and then took off in a dead sprint. Game on, boyos.

In the final 5k's, all downhill, I managed to break away from our little group and pick up over 10 minutes on 1st place and hop into 2nd place overall (click "distancia 42k" to see the results).

No longer in the Free Socks Dead Zone of 4th or 5th place!! NOT THIS TIME!!

I won me $200 USD. Fuckin' A.

Certainly I was geeked about the money (especially considering how much I spent partying for the following two weeks with B and M), but more than that: I was super stoked about the race, despite the course problems and communication issues. I ran smart at the beginning, steady in the middle, hard at the end, and finished feeling great.

I hate to say this...but I think laying off of alcohol completely for 3 weeks beforehand played a big role in what I think was a successful jog outing.

Not to worry. I undid all of that health and fitness as quickly as possible afterwards!

Like so!

Biggest empanada I ever did see. Talca, of course. In the beer garden, we met a fellow estadounidense who owns a small craft beer concern in a tiny town near Talca. He gave us some of his secret stash of American Pale Ale (the only one I've heard of in Chile) AND a shot of 100% pure, good ol' fashioned moonshine. 

Completos afterwards (hot dog with whipped avocado, sauerkraut, diced tomatoes, and homemade mayo). Best drunk food in the world.

Disco de mariscos en Apalta with Diego and family. Last year we roasted an entire lamb. I love them.

Wine and food in Santa Cruz. I barely remember this wine tour. I think B stole a bottle or two of the "good wine" while the guide was ringing up our tabs. Worst behavior was par for the course during this vacation.

That about sums things up, I think.

Well, True Believer, I hope you can forgive me now for the long lapse in blog babbling! I was spending the past month either very fit and racing or very drunk and wandering! I don't feel like typing anymore because it's now noon and I want to go jogging.

I have just a few more weeks in Chile and the reality of moving back to the States after two months of "retirement" and 2.5 years of Chilean citizenry is looming very large! Fucking reality! You're no friend of mine!

In the meantime, I am back to running hard and drinking soft. It's a big change for me, but I think it's a good one. Suffice it to say: By not drinking alcohol, life is very boring and shitty but my running is strong and I lose weight like crazy. I have a very long blog post about addiction, running, drugs, etc. that I have been tinkering with during some heavy rumination in the days after the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I don't know what I want to say with all of that, but...well, we will see if I ever finish it! Heavy shit has its time and place and I'm not sure that this blog is the time or the place anymore! 

This is a happy place! A special happy place where you and I can smile into each other's faces and make the sun rise, set, and warm our naked bodies as we lay upon the whitest beach, along the bluest ocean, beneath the tallest palms, while speaking only the truest truth!

Even more than jogging at 10,000 ft. while take my breath away, True Believer!
May your every heartbeat pair sweetly with your every gentle footfall as you jog, bossly, into the greatest future that only you can fulfill!