I’m totally depressed. I woke up this morning and I was fat, dumb, and a sh*tty runner. Thank God, because I need to be reset, and I need to be reset often. I am not a fast learner and subtle hints don’t usually work, so its generally best if I can endure an emotional faceplant before I do anything different. Sunday morning I set my alarm for 4am, so I can make the drive to Shelby Forrest to meet what would be Brian Williams and Michael Synomas (aka Sherpa). Being that I have NO sense of direction, my lights on the Love Boat aren’t the greatest, and the GPS signal is spotty, just the drive was intense and scary. I would have liked to believe that the drive to Shelby Forrest would be the sh*ttiest part of the day, but that was far from the case. I arrive early enough to jump into Brian’s truck and have some conversation. After about 10 minutes, Michael arrives and we make our acquaintance. It was no surprise to find Michael to be a totally cool guy whose main objective was to have fun, while also being helpful and getting a little work done. Most of the people I have met through trail running seem to make the most of their time on the trail and enjoy the process. Brian said he needed to get 22-25 miles. He did not care if they were “junk miles”, he just needed miles. Comparatively speaking, all my miles are “junk miles” so this would make for a good day. My soft plan was to run the 25K Swampstomper course (15.5miles) and then probably drop, but MAYBE waddle another 7 with Brian. I didn’t have anywhere to be, so what the hell. Off to the woods.
I have ran at Shelby Forrest ONE TIME. I have only ran it once because I vowed never to come back. I remember it to be stairs made of knotty roots, and unforgiving terrain. It was seemingly straight ups and downs, and what little “flat” terrain there was sketchy at best. The time that I “ran” here, the ground was a bit wet and the fear of slipping was primary. My last visit here was almost exactly one year ago. I know this because I remember we were training for the Sylamore 50k, which is coming up in less than 2 weeks (abundance of curse words here…but more to follow). When I last left Shelby Forrest a year ago I felt so angry and dejected that I did not know if I even wanted to attempt the Sylamore 50k. The day after last years Shelby Forrest debacle, I can remember exiting the restroom at the gym and I saw Von Ralls, who was the guy who inspired and encouraged me to sign up for Sylamore in the first place. I WAS HOT. SEATHING. My words exactly were, “what in the fu*k made you believe that I could finish Sylamore? Why in the fu*k would you even push me in that direction?” Von casually stated, “you will be fine.” and went on about his business (possibly a bit concerned). I followed him for about 3 steps before intellectually and professionally rolling out the most mature rhetoric that came to mind…”fu*king as*hole.” This was not two friends giving each other a hard time. I was FUMING. In my head, I had it planned out perfectly. I was going to attack him. The combo would be a throat punch, followed by a shin kick, after he doubled over it would end with a Krakatoa elbow drop to the back of the head. To demonstrate my dominance, I would pee on his gym floor as I exited. The only problem being that I have stage fright, and would probably have to ask him to look away and turn the music up so I could successfully urinate. Anyways, that was in the past and Shelby Forrest would look different to me a year later. I would attack it more aggressively and enjoy the progress that I have made with running and strength training. BAHHHH. BZZZZZ. RRRRR. WRONG.
Shelby Forrest was awful, the whole damn thing. Awful. I started hurting 1/2 mile into it. My groin, my hips, my feet, hammies, and …well, it just hurt. I ain’t trying to be American Ninja Warrior. This forest was some kind Harry Potter themed bullsh*t. There were faces in the trees and roots that slithered like serpents, grasping at any foot attached to an even mildly distracted runner. I hear all these crazy things about the Red Loop and how difficult it is, and boy were they right. This stuff was insane. The only problem was, THIS WASN’T EVEN THE RED LOOP. I had not even reached the crappy part, and this was crap, like if you take two pieces of crap, butter it with a knife and crap, and put a piece of crap in the middle. That is the kind of crap that was happening right now. Brian and Michael were patiently waiting for me at various intervals, offering words of encouragement and even giving advice (which my grace while achieving advice is legendary). They kept telling me that the more I did it, the better I would get. Well lemme tell you, I am as good as I am gonna get on that bunch of bologna, cause I ain’t never going back. You sons of bitches can have it, cause I’m through with it. We are three miles in and I am ready to go home! But I wasn’t home, I had arrived at the Red Loop. It was seemingly just one mile climbs up and down in repetition, each more dangerous than the first. I just don’t do stairs well. My knee cap dislocated a few times when I was young, and I had to have a minor surgery. Instead of rehabbing at the weight room like I was supposed to, I ate sausage biscuits and gave redeyes to underclassmen while they were lifting and getting stronger. This resulted in a lifetime of going downstairs sideways, cocked at the hip, with very little bend happening at the knee for fear of dislocation. It is something that I am working to correct, but not something that I am comfortable with exercising in the Fire Swamp where rodents of unusual size are waiting to tear me limb from limb. I carefully turned and walked each step, one by one, while Brian and Michael bounced around like a couple of glue sniffing antelope on a new spring morning, each not breaking stride. I have had this same feeling before that borders between injury, fatigue, and just overall bad attitude, where I don’t know if the “right” thing to do is stop or suck it up. I chose the former and decided to bail. I told Brian that I was done, and he offered to come pick me up after he got back to his truck, which would probably be a couple of hours. Fortunately, we saw some of his associates earlier on the trail and a gentleman named Erick was kind enough to allow my fat, stanky ass in his vehicle and he gave me a ride to mine. Im forever indebted, Erick.
After all of this I felt pretty down and out. I was so frustrated that I was not any better than last year, or really even much lighter. What good have I really done for myself since last year? So instead of wasting a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, I went over my concerns with the most action oriented person that I know, which is Amanda. We decided that we would really tighten down and try to make some better decisions. I got on the scale this morning at 244 (which is about 10lbs higher than I was before Tunnel Hill) and I decided to make some changes. Maybe these changes will last a month, or maybe they will last until lunch. Either way, changes are being made. I have to find that balance of CrossFit and running. I have to get to that place where I love eating clean, because I feel so clean. Knowing that I have such a strong addiction to sugar, if I can get to the place where I am virtually sugar free for a couple of weeks, life gets so much easier and better, but damn its hard for me to get there. When I remove sugar from my diet my joints don’t hurt, I sleep better, my anxiety goes away, and I don’t get nearly as frustrated, but still I put it in my body. It’s a lifelong theme of mine. The Sylamore 50k is going to be an absolute beast for me, and scaling back to the 25k has entered my head, but that’s not me. I need to experience as much of it as possible. Many logical people would argue that if I am not ready for something then I shouldn’t do it, and I get that, but we all have different reasons for doing the things we do. Many of the things I do are NOT as much because I enjoy THAT thing, but because I need to AVOID other things. Running provides me with that distraction and release. Being I don’t drink anymore (and I LOVE to drink, for days and days and days and days), I need something to do for 8-10 hours on a weekend to keep me occupied. If that something needs to be romping around on some godforesaken mountain in Mountain View, AR, well that seems about as logical as spending 8-10 days in a detox unit somewhere trying to convince me family that i’ll quit for real this time. If traveling 4 hours to compete in an event where you will most likely finish last, but will be elated to finish sounds absurd, you have not compared it to my alternatives. I fear that there is very little I can do to drastically alter the outcome in time for Sylamore, but I can drastically alter the course of where I am headed overall. I thank God for the kick in the nuts, and for providing me with the overall miserable experience of Shelby Forrest, as well as the ensuing pity party to help me remember that change does not come about by wanting to change or preparing to change, but change is the result of doing things differently. Y’all enjoy your day, it’s gonna be a good one.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,