Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Other Six

taper: ta·per \ˈtā-pər\ (vt): to become progressively smaller toward one end, to diminish gradually

Hit with yet another head cold (how many is that this year?), I certainly haven't gradually diminished my miles. My running after Mt. Diablo could better be described as a cliff than a tapering off. Once again I have to console myself with the reminder that I have been getting some forced rest before my big race as I spent more time in bed than on trail.

How did I come to this sorry state of affairs? What manner of daemon remained at work after my run in with the devil on the weekend?

Keeping with the biblical allusions, my fall was due to something reminiscent of the earliest sin on Monday. I picked up my son from basketball practice at noon and we stopped at Panera Bread for lunch. Trying to avoid the dreaded "I ran an ultra, I can eat anything today" syndrome, I opted for the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad and chose the usually-quite-healthy side option of an apple. The salad was descent, but as I walked toward the car, I took the first bite of the apple. It didn't taste quite right. It wasn't rotten. It just tasted a bit more acidic than usual. I thought maybe it was maybe my taste buds being weird so I tried another bite. Nope, still "funny". I forced myself to eat a little more as the salad left me still a pit peckish and I wanted to deter myself from making bad food choices later in the day. However, the apple started to turn my stomach. I rolled the rest in a paper napkin and put it aside. Well, the rest of the day my stomach just didn't feel quite right. Not wanting to go into nasty details, I'll just say that by that evening, I was making frequent mad dashes for the nearest restroom. Not a pleasant experience, especially in the middle of grocery shopping after work.

The stomach thing was cleared by the next day, but I think the combination of food poisoning and the recent ultra left my immune system in a pretty vulnerable condition. At least this is what I attribute to my coming down with this nasty cold. I'm sure the deeper truth is that I am being punished for my sins. I mentioned hubris during my race, but lets see how I've managed to live up to the rest of the deadly sins over this past week.

Sloth: Well, this one is pretty obvious since I did almost nothing especially in terms of exercise since the race and coming down ill. Furthermore, my son had a basketball tournament on the weekend which meant I spent most of it sitting as well.

Wrath: I could say I that I was angry with myself. However, that's a bit of a cop out and anyone who has seen me at one of my son's basketball games knows that I am prone to the occasional outburst when the ref makes a bad call (please place in your mind an image of my wife rolling her eyes at that bit of understatement). Let's just say I am a passionate fan, OK?

Gluttony: Between the basketball tournament and Father's Day, it wasn't exactly a weekend of eating well. Good habits go out the door when the routine is interrupted. Besides, I'd never seen a carrot cake pancake before. Come on now, what's not to like about that? Carrot cake! Pancake! Still not convinced? Oatmeal-spiced pancakes filled with diced Granny Smith apples, raisins, carrots, coconut and crunchy walnuts. If that doesn't sell it then how about three simple words. Cream cheese icing! Just go vote for it and celebrate IHOP's 50th anniversary.

Greed: Well, I did spend a pretty penny on gear Friday night at REI so I was pretty obsessed with the acquisition of material things. Among other things, I bought a cool insulated bottle, a very versatile piece of head/neck wear, and multiple pairs of the Nuwool Ijnijni Outdoor Tetrasoks. Of course, the greed sin could also refer to the little fortune cookie prediction I have been carrying around in my wallet since Sunday. Usually they are quite general and vague, but this one was very, very specific. It reads, "you will have gold pieces by the bushel." How do you like that? Tell me if that wouldn't have you reveling in wanton thoughts of greed.

Envy: Hmm. This is a tough one because I don't see myself as a particularly envious person. I have a pretty darn good life so what's to get all torn about? I told my son that all I wanted for Father's Day was to watch him have a good tournament. He played the best he has in some time and his team ended up winning the whole thing. I could say I was envious of those who actually got some running in this week. But, even there, my wonderful wife insisted we do a little run on Sunday evening when we returned home. A nice easy 5 miles on the levee trail. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the most Aristotelean of Christian philosophers, described envy as "sorrow for another's good". While I am, in fact, a confirmed atheist, this particular sentiment certainly expresses something that, in my personal philosophy, I would rate as one of the highest moral sins. Especially since I tend to see "hatred of the good" in many areas of our society where our predominantly egalitarian-obsessed culture does not. But, this is not a post on philosophy, it is about confessions. And, truth be told, I catch myself in envy, in many small ways, all the time. Perhaps its envy of those people who can eat the stack of pancakes and never gain weight despite lack of exercise. Maybe it's wishing the other team messes up rather than just wishing my son's team plays better. In whatever its manifestation, it is so easy to get caught up focusing on others rather than being at peace with all the good that exists one's own life. The reminder of Disiderata has always hung on a plaque in my family's bathroom since I was a kid and it always reminds me of my father. Happy father's day, Dad. Sorry I couldn't spend it with you.

Well, there you have it, my sins. Huh? What's that you say? Lust? I forgot lust? Come on now! This is a family-friendly blog. I suppose I could post some barely-safe-for-work photos of myself nude on the trail like my friend Catra. Somehow, I think the feelings they would evoke in my readers would be anything but covetous. I'll just stick to good old "gear lust" as something with which I am a bit more comfortable. I also bought a new Nalgene resevoir for my Ultimate Direction pack. These are my favorite replacement reservoirs and the smaller size should be perfect since I plan to carry one handheld as well. We also purchased a Silva Tech4o accelerometer watch for my wife. She thought the GPS units were a bit much for her. We haven't tried it out yet, but it claims 95% accuracy and I'll report on it once we test it.

OK, that's enough about gear for now. I'm getting a little warm just talking about it all :-). Speaking of warm, I really need to figure out my drop bag strategy for Bighorn soon. I will be taking Wednesday off to make sure I have everything together. Besides just having to deal with the expected cold, wet, muddy conditions, we have now been informed that the course has been changed. It turns out that they still have quite a bit of snow up in the higher elevations so the planned turnaround point has been altered and we will be doing an extra loop to Riley Point (8500') early on as well as an extra out-and-back at Footbridge and another trip up the steep 2.8 miles to Riley on the way back. Also, the final turnaround point has been up to Leaky Mountain since the snow starts where that final climb would have been. I think a picture will say much more than any of this description ever could.

Aid Station Closed:

Am I worried?
A little.

Am I excited?
A lot!


meredith said...

Great Post! I wish you a quick recovery from your illness and a great taper :)

Victoria said...

Good Luck this weekend!

Baldwyn said...

Hey Steve
I'm tagging you for a 5 question running survey that's going around!