Monday, May 20, 2013

Born To Run Fireball Suite

Welcome Veterinarians. And if you get hurt, lost, or die—its your own damned fault.

All had gathered for the Third Annual Born To Run Ultras, and spent their night hours building towards the inevitable Rosy-Fingered Dawn. There was a moment of silence following the five shotgun blasts which shattered the remaining dreams of the fitfully sleeping fragile eggshell minds. Then the Void was filled with ranchera drum-kits and button accordions singing of lost love, Tijuana, amor y duelo, all embroidered with other infinitive Spanish verb forms. 

The Born To Run Ultras is an exclusive lifestyle spa where the select can enjoy miles and miles of dirt, Merde de Vache Aromatherapy, Vinyasa-Flow Solar Immersions complete with locally-sourced wind-borne micro-abrasian defoliating treatments. The same whispering wind has rowdy siblings that will also turn your EZ-Up into a whirling airborne object. 

But enough of that! Four races were on tap: a 10mi flamer loop, a 50k, 100k, and for those so inclined, a 100-mile, all in convenient 10-mile insertions.  

Now usually at this point in the narrative there are falsely modest mentions of my own particular improbable accomplishments, embellished by borrowed-interest notional topics, misleading metaphors, and so on. But not today. I was not running. I was Backwards Walking a loop of the BTR course, being a living inspiration to all the runners who were thinking "Glad as fuck I'm not him—he's overdressed, loaded down like a rented mule, and going the wrong way!"

In any event, the pre-race trail briefing by Luis Escobar in full-on charro regalia, was the usual dirt, dust, getting lost, Skirt-Man, blah-blah-blah, and duly noted and agreed to by all parties. Or what remained after topical applications of Fireball and Beer-Mile the day before. And with another shotgun blast, all 420 starters swarmed through the start area, passing under the blissfully indifferent gaze of the piñata, who awaited her fate with a perky smile.

Other reliable sources will tell you that Patrick Sweeney swept both the Beer Mile and the 50k. There were other winners who would've passed me like I was the EZ-Up tent cut loose from its moorings and been found face-down, ass-up in a dry creek bed somewhere.

The 10-mile and 50k races were pretty well done by nightfall, and the 100k was finding its winner. Meanwhile the Tribes And Shit were gathering around the fire, ready to make dubious judgement calls with the assistance of Fireball— the distilled Venn Diagram where Tic-Tacs meet artisanal acetone. I'm certain the 100k and 100-mile runners were reminded every lap that they could've been curled up in the fire getting shitfaced. But no. Somebody had to take home the most bitchin' surfboard ever, and that was James Bonnett's 100 in 15:58.

At 12 noon on Sunday the course was closed, all stragglers were shot, and everybody went home—tired but happy. You can now all go back to your texting.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Your Hundo is 99 and 1/2 Short

This AC100 RaceBook photo crystallizes a lot of thinking I've been doing about hundreds over the last several years.

This image is of considerable drama and suffering.  I've seen art like this at the Louvre or Met—and the subject typically has arrows sticking out of them. Howie described it as:
"My proudest moment...Too bad you can't hear the hyperventilating or my talking to myself trying to calm my body down."
I used this image in the AC100 RaceBook to remind people that Angeles Crest is a tough race of the Old School. No blow-up run thru finish chutes, merchandising opps, timing chips and all the marathon blow-in cheese that have percolated into the 100-mile race scene. Its not Halloween on the course. There's fun, but ultimately its all business.

Contrast that with "hundo", a cheap shorthand reference to the hundred. Its an easy, slick, drawly, pseudo-knowledgable familiarization of a distance that really demands your full attention. "Hundo" has the same gravity as helium escaping from a flatulating balloon.

"Hundo" probably came from the web somewhere. I  recently saw it on a road-bike club-ride poster. They can do it, because their hundo equals 25 miles of your day as a mountain runner. And they get to sit during the downhill stretches.

But we're here at one hundred miles, on foot. Go ahead, kid yourself at your own peril, because  sooner or later every 100-mile runner will come to a moment like this. Whether you like it or not.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Lie Stripped Bare, And Her Bachelor Even

Yes, this is Christmas, but it adequately conveys the pathos of the time.
(I'm going to give trails and running a break. Check this nugget from 1989. I remember giving up a decent run for it. Maybe it was worth it, after all).
In spring 1989 I got dragged to an Est-seminar by my then-girlfriend, who was big on sincere self-help stuff. Her best friend E. was there, and she's a pleasant personality.
There are other hilarious details in this grotesque breakfast clusterfuck that occurred at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but they'll have to wait for another time.
The featured attraction to this soggy fuckery was a couple who were pimping their self-help book, something titled "Marriage Work Out" or similar. He was a tall, angular, pleat-fronted, smartass New York Jew. She was a curvy blonde All-American cheerleader betty—blonde, blue eyed, shiksa to the core.
So this intellectual jackass stood up on the platform, jingling the change in his pockets, telling us what a sinner he was. Stepping out on Her, recounting his moronic hookups while she gazed up at him, adoringly.
THEN. He realized he was Wrong! She was gonna dump him! Drama! They Struggled, And Shit. And out of this dross and slag, came A Book. Which was the point of their appearance, as they were going to be on TV later that afternoon, to pimp that book. Maybe Phil Donahue for all I know.
My eyes rolled back in my head, I thought I was gonna pass out. Why? Because back in the early '80s I'd lived in an apt bldg with an "open marriage" in the back apts. This fucked up threesome wrote a book about it, went on Phil Donahue, and lied, lied, lied about how fab it was.
Then it hit me! I saw them in their motel room, that very morning. He in his boxers, she in her boy-cut panties and Victoria Secret pushup bra. Having a knock-down, drag out argument. She was throwing shit at him, calling him a lying asshole, and he was hissing about how she was a needy tramp, and so on.
I was saved. The remainder of their pitch droned on. I watched their lips moving and knew they were lying. At the first opportunity, we broke for the exits at a run. Fresh air never tasted so good. We discussed this disaster. She busted up when I told her my revelation. 
And we never went to one of those again.