I’m Back

A lot’s happened in the last year.

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All smiles while cooling off after the Bighorn Mountain 50K in June 2014

I’d had this bottle of beer that had been sitting in my refrigerator for over a year.

I didn’t know if it was a great beer, or if it was a crap beer; I had no idea, because I hadn’t touched it aside from moving it to a new refrigerator on 2 different occasions. It was a solitary 12-oz bottle of a Grand Cru ale called “The Beast,” an 18.0% ABV (!!) ass-kicker from Avery Brewing that I’d been saving for a special occasion that never came; a reward for something that I never quite achieved. I bought the beer in 2013, and when I moved into 2 different apartments in Chicago during Fall 2014, the last thing I packed up from my old apartment each time was this lonely little bottle of The Beast. It would exist in a non-refrigerated state for no more than 20-30 minutes, or however long it took to drive from my old apartment to the new apartment, before being one of the first things that I unpacked. It would sit at the back of the fridge, just waiting for that special occasion…

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s quickly rewind:

In late 2013 I encountered a bit of writer’s block, or maybe just a lack of motivation (take your pick), and I found myself running races faster than I could process and recap them to my satisfaction. With more races on the horizon, I told myself that I needed to catch the f*ck up on my recaps if I wanted to keep writing this blog. I found myself looking for some sort of external motivation, and on a lark I purchased a disproportionately-expensive single bottle of beer from my local Binny’s, deciding that this would be my treat to myself once I had gotten all caught up. The Beast went into my refrigerator, and I got to work. I banged out a stupidly-long recap about a 50-mile ultramarathon that I’d completed in August 2013, and one day later, while on a flight to Seattle, I made good on penning the recap of a follow-up 50K that I raced in September 2013. All that remained was to recap my upcoming weekend marathon double in Leavenworth, WA & Portland, OR (recapped lovingly by friend-of-the-blog Dan Solera here and here), and I’d be home free.

Until I wasn’t.

On October 5th, 2013, I fucked up my knee running the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon. Instead of resting, the very next morning I ran the Portland Marathon anyway (on said fucked-up-knee), which went just about how you’d expect. I finished the Portland Marathon, but it came at a heavy price. With my pain now exponentially worsened, I didn’t feel much like documenting my “triumphant” marathon double after that, and my knee refused to heal over the course of the next month. I limped along with daily jogs for the next 5 weeks after Portland, but on 11/16/2013, I called it quits on my daily beer-and-a-mile streak. On November 16th, I stopped running.

This was no small decision for me: from March 27th, 2012 through November 15th, 2013, I ran at least 1 mile and drank at least 1 beer for 599 days in a row. On Day #600 — 2,112 miles, 338 hours of running time, and 782 unique beers later — I finally rested. I still remember the feeling of relief when I woke up on November 17th, 2013, and processed the fact that my streak was over; there was no sadness, no disappointment, and no regret. That had always been the biggest question for me — how would I feel when it was all over? — but  I suffered no pangs of remorse or second-guessing. My legs and my liver needed a break. In accordance with a public promise that I posted in my old ‘About Me’ section back in March 2012 (“The day that my streak ends is the day that this blog dies, never to be heard from again”), I stopped updating this site, which had seemingly served its purpose and run its course. This blog was dead.

For a long time, life went on as usual. With lots of rest, rehab, and cross-training, my knee got better. I ran from time to time, but I mostly delighted in kicking my feet up and not doing anything. I gradually started running longer distances again, eventually leading to a pain-free Big Sur Marathon experience in April 2014, and I steadily built up my weekly mileage from there. And that was good enough for me. But then, after a break of I-don’t-even-know-how-many months, I found myself…missing the writing.

See, while I’d stopped writing during my period of self-exile, and for the most part had also stopped commenting on others’ posts (had to go COLD TURKEY, mates), I still kept tabs on the adventures of Dan and Jeff and Mike and Danielle and Glenn and Rachel, among others. It’s not like I’d stopped running altogether — between November 2013 and November 2014, I completed 3 marathons, 3 ultramarathons, and 1 Olympic-distance triathlon (NBD) — but I found myself missing out on that sense of being involved in the community, man. Before that time that Glenn didn’t kill us in Louisville (thanks again, Glenn!), which finally put a face and a handshake to one of the personalities that I’d been following, writing and reading about each other’s experience(s) was all that connected us. By giving up writing, then, was I still a part of the community? Was I still connected?

Friends Dan, Betty, the race director whose name escapes me, myself, and Matt after the Kettle Moraine 50K. Note that we did NOT run the 100-miler, I'm not quite that insane...yet

Friends Dan (NOT Solera), Betty, the race director whose name escapes me, myself, and Matt after the Kettle Moraine 50K in June 2014. Note that we did NOT run the 100-miler, despite the sign behind us. I’m not quite that insane…yet

It turns out that writing this blog had done me a lot of good between March 2012 and October 2013. Maintaining this space had introduced me to new friends, taken me across the country to places I’d never seen, and opened my eyes to whole new perspectives on running. If I’d never met Jeff Lung of therunfactory.com, I don’t think I ever would have contemplated running an ultramarathon, much less formulated plans to run 2 separate 50-milers in 2015. And in one of those sliding-doors moments, if I’d never run my disastrous 2011 Austin half-marathon with my good mate Dan Solera, I may never have given a shit about trying to get better at running in the first place. This run-blogging community has had a net positive impact on me, and I don’t think that I’m ready to walk away for good just yet.

So I know I originally said that I’ve give up the game if I ever broke my daily beer/mile streak, but fuck it, I’m back. I’ve got my legs back (sub-4 hour finishes in the 2014 Berlin & New York Marathon(s), followed by a 20:24 finish (156th out of 7,765 finishers) in a recent 5K turkey trot), and I don’t think I ever lost that touch of narcissism that allows me to talk about myself for thousands of words at a time. So if you’re okay with it, then I’m okay with it, and I’m back.

Chillin' the most in front of the Reichstag with Mike Sohaskey of raceraves.com after the 2014 Berlin Marathon

Chillin’ the most in front of the Reichstag with Mike Sohaskey, of raceraves.com fame, after the 2014 Berlin Marathon

THAT SAID, here are some key changes that you’ll be seeing to this blog:

  • I will no longer running and drinking every day. This is the big one, and this change is very necessary. If I so much as hint that I’m thinking about streaking again, I’ll pay for your flight to Chicago to come punch me in the nuts.
  • I’m bringing back Outdoor Speed Day. I only did it 4 times before, but Outdoor Speed Day was fun as hell and I miss it. On the last day of every month, I’ll run a mile outdoors and chug a beer outdoors, as fast as I can, no matter the conditions.
  • I’m going to keep my race recaps to fewer than 850,000 words. I’m going to try, anyway. I think I’m only at, like, 1100 so far in this entry. This is what progress looks like.
  • I’m now coming to you from idrankformiles.com. Do you feel how CLEAN this URL looks now, without that extra “.wordpress” smushed in the middle there? Damn, I sure do. That is a TIDY URL, friends. Take my $18/year, WordPress, and don’t spend it all in one place.

That, and I’ll probably be talking about beer more. We all good on that? Fannntastic.

You may recall that at the beginning of this entry, I was blathering on about a bottle of beer that had sat, impotently, in my refrigerator for the better part of a year and a half. Why did I bring that up? Well, shortly after I decided that I would be bringing back this blog, I felt that the time had come to bury the demons of injuries past once and for all, and finally enjoy what I’d been holding on to for so long. I recently brought that beer to a party and drank it as my 1,000th unique check-in on Untappd, and it was DELICIOUS.

The Beast poured a deep brownish-ruby color (I’ve really never seen anything like it in a beer before, it was pretty cool), and tasted of dark fruit, brown sugar, and all sorts of other delicious things while somehow not being overbearing or tasting overly alcoholic…and again, this beer was 36-proof. The experience of sipping on this particular sizzurp was undoubtedly colored favorably by a sentimental aspect, but in this moment, it was damn near the perfect beer.

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Pay no attention to the dishes in the sink. This was a party, and food was being made. Focus on the BEER

After I drank the beer that had taken up residency in my refrigerator for over 3% of my life (WEIRD TO THINK ABOUT IT LIKE THAT, BY THE WAY), I had to ask myself, why did I wait so long?

There’s certainly a forced metaphor that could be found somewhere in here, in that the beer may have tasted completely different if I’d drank it a year ago and not allowed it to further age in the bottle. Patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait, haste makes waste, etc., etc. I’m not going to try and take away any PROFOUND life lessons from how good a beer tasted, though, because that would be dumb and stupid (because beer)…man, I’m just happy to be back, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me on this trip.

My next race is The Huff 50K in Albion, IN on 12/20/2014 — I’ll see you on the trails, and if not out on a course somewhere, then save a seat for me at the bar!

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SIMBA.

 

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5 Responses to I’m Back

  1. Dan says:

    That’s MY kitchen!

  2. Hahahahaha – so, if we pay for our own ticket, do we get to do more than a nut punch?

  3. MedalSlut says:

    Well, this was a surprise in my reader this afternoon – welcome back! Although not glad to hear you had a knee injury, I AM glad that it’s all healed up; hearing stories of injuries defeated is keeping me going right now.

  4. Mike says:

    Hardly recognized you with the new URL! But damn, I didn’t know WordPress allowed race reports shorter than 850,000 words…

  5. JWH says:

    Well, its about time…

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