Monday, March 31, 2008

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go"T S Eliot

American Dean Kaznares is on the leading the Atacama Desert race. I am a huge fan of Dean, and really who isn’t. I was thrilled to hear he is attempting his next adventure the Desert Grand Slam. There is something amazing about Dean, I have been reading his blog quite a bit looking for inspirations and advise for my upcoming races and I am just in awe of his accomplishments. That in the fact that I have a huge crush on him, people that know me are aware that I am one of the few people that hardly ever is starstruck, I grew up in show business and at the end of the day everybody is like everybody else just very talented at a high profile profession, with Dean however is different, I am embarrassed to say, I seriously though about “borrowing permanently” his Oakley sunglasses ad at the Phoenix airport.

I highly recommend checking Dean's blog and the Atacama race report, even if you never plan on running anything close to what he is running I find it helps me focus in the basics, such as even if you are an elite athlete like Dean you win races (or take on a challenge) just by concentrating in putting one foot in front of an other one step at the time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Brazil 135 Ultramarathon

I am very excited to be writing today. Is kind of ironic how I promise the people around me how was going to be the last year I am doing ultramarathons but I am secretly planning my 2009 race calendar. I am scheduled to do Brazil 135 Ultramarathon in 2009, I had my interview with the race organizer Dr Mario Lacerda, and usually I am fighting very hard to let people know there is nothing wrong with me, with Dr Mario it was the opposite, I had to convince him that I was crazy enough to want to do it. The race is fantastic and well organized I am not sure why is not more popular with other ultrarunners. But that will be to my advantage of course. Dr Mario was a bit concern with my lack of experience, this is my first year after all, but I have the passion and that seems to make up for the other. Preparation is paramount but after 60 hours or running is the mental toughness that will get the runner though it. After I explained how I was found wondering in the mountains with mildly hypothermic and yet I sign to do not one but 4 this year, he was convinced I was motivated to get though the race next year.
Is hard to explain to somebody who isn’t into extreme running why a passage like the one in the race report will be so exiting to somebody like me
“Joao Sacks was found by his wife, on the Serra do Cacador mountain, a little ways before Consolacao. He had been telling all the other runners that he had already finished the race and would be having a celebration BBQ at a house he had found in a darkened alleyway near Consolacao: Pure Halucination!”
After reading it my mind was made, I wanted to be there next year. Who knows, I might make it to next year’s race report with hallucinations of my own! My excitement is also part of being able to meet fantastic people, because I have my kids full time with me I usually train alone, races are the only time where I am able to meet other runners. I have been pouring every race account form this year’s race and I am looking forward to meeting some amazing people at next year’s race.

Talking about fantastic people that race, my friend Oz Perlman was one of the nominees for Ultrarunner of the year by Ultrarunning Magazine, he didn’t win, the honor when to Scott Jurek, very well deserved but I was so proud to see his name on the list, Oz is such a talented athlete I am sure he will be up on the list very soon. A curious fact about him is that his works as a magician, a very good one too, I am sure he will have his own show soon, just like Chris Angel’s Mindfreak. Oz also a very fast runner, he just bettered his marathon time at sub 2:30!

I am amaze how a small decision such as doing my first ultra for charity last year will give so much meaning to my life. Passion fuels the soul, I am a passionate person by nature, it shows in everything I do, the way I raise my kids, do my job, with my family. ultrarunning gave me a tangible outlet to express that side in a way that it matches the way I feel on the inside. This is for real, this time I have found the real thing and I am not about to let it go anytime soon.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Best you can do is to fake it, sometimes you can’t make it on your own" U2

Canadian Running magazine just launched this month. I read it cover to cover. It was nice to read about local races and about local talent. Sure is not as glamorous as Running World magazine but it’s nice to read about other names in the running world that don’t get any press. Danny Kassap’s story is a fascinating one and I am looking forward to the stories of the people that I see at the local races. People like Jen Silverthorne, she won the Frozen Ass 50k, I have seeing her at other races and is amazing how easy she makes it look. Impact magazine also published its running issue; it was full of local stories as well. It featured ultrarunner Neil. We met for coffee after the frozen ass and I was nervous to meet him, after all he is a Badwater finisher, it almost felt like a job interview. He was nice and very helpful; he was concerned for my competitiveness and my mileage, he advised me to enjoy it more, ultrarunning is for the social aspect he mention. Neil wonders why I didn’t run with any club. As for the competitiveness it was a big no-no.” is not about competing, is all about being out there “. “ I am not sure” I responded, “I mean if its only about that and we NEVER feel competitive, why aren't we just walking mother’s day run wearing pink t-shirts with friends and family”. “We are choosing ultras, that tell me we are trying to prove that we are tougher than the average runner isn’t?” I am not sure he bought what I said, I have the feeling he truly is there for the passion of being there. He asked me to join him on a snowshoe trip and I happily wanted to oblige “well, I’ll pick you up at 7 and you will be home by 6 that evening” well, my abs still hurt from laughing, I can only hear my kids “sure mom, you need a break go ahead, we will look after ourselves, we will make sure we will NOT be on the computer all day and we will make a healthy lunch, no junk, we promise”. There are plenty of trails close by, just not as beautiful as going deeper into the mountains, I am happy just to get away for a few hours. Most of the time I start training at 5am before anybody is up to make sure I am away the least amount of time. “Well, when do you think you can get away” he asked “in 7 weeks maybe” I replied without blinking. The fact that I hardly know anybody on the races is because I usually have to rush home to my kids, they don’t come to my races, the races are to long and they get bored of waiting for me to run by, they prefer to stay home or to go to friends’ home. Is fair for me to say that I shouldn't be waiting by the phone.

Talking about heroes, I had lunch with my friend Rhonda, she wanted to talk to me about her trip to Africa. Rhonda is the most amazing woman I have ever met,she so private about what she does that unless you know her you will never know about the amazing work she does.

Rhonda travels to orphanages in Africa and brings things for the kids there, she has done it several times, always to the same orphanages she says because these kids need to know that we she says that she will be back she means it. " The kids are used to people not keeping their promises" she kindly told me. In her last trip she found an orphanage with blind and visually impaired kids she said, " I just don't know what to bring for them" I haven't being this happy in a while for something that it's not related to my kids. I offered to raise funds for equipment that the kids might need, such as a CCTV, Braille books, books on tape, Braille boardgames. The list of things that will bring a smile is endless but I am happy to offer some sort of help. After our lunch, she accomplished what Neil hadn't accomplished. All of a sudden what place I finish seems irrelevant now, how much I raise will give meaning to every run I do, if I can somehow bring a smile to those kids faces even for a moment will be a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life

I know small things like that doesn't mean the end to their problems, their hardship is long and quite sad, but she is trying to make a difference, Rhonda believes that even is she is able to make a difference on one of the kids, it makes it all worth while. We sat down there for a long time, feeling fortunate, she is adopted and understands her life could have been a lot different if her parents hadn't come along. I came from poverty in Mexico, all my life a saw the devastation and desperation poverty can bring, somehow, somebody made me believe I could have more and truly believe it. Sitting here planning the list of things I could get together to send to the kids in the orphanage feels strangely like home

Monday, March 3, 2008

You Know Your an Ultra Runner If...

A fellow ultrarunner and friend Kelly Dorey just send me this. I thought it was so true


You Know Your an Ultra Runner If...

By: Various Authors

1. Your wife tries to introduce you to your three children and you reply "Three?"
2. You spend more time in the drug section than the food section of the local market.
3. You wonder why they don't make all running socks a dusty brown color.
4. You have more dirt on your shoes than in your garden.
5. You think that flagel and ibutrophin belong on the breakfast table.
6. You get more phone calls at 5:00 AM than at 5:00 PM.
7. You don't recognize your friends with their clothes on.
8. You have more buckles than belts.
9. You postpone your wedding because it will interfere with your training.
10. You keep mistaking your boss for Norm Klein.
11. 6am is sleeping in.
12. Your feet look better without toenails.
13. Your idea of a fun date is a 30-mile training run.
14. You're tempted to look for a bush when there's a long line for the public restroom.
15. You don't think twice about eating food you've picked up off the floor.
16. You can expound on the virtues of eating salt.
17. You develop an unnatural fear of mountain lions.
18. When you wake up without the alarm at 4AM, pop out of bed and think "lets hit the trails".
19. When you can recite the protein grams by heart of each energy bar.
20. You don't even LOOK for the Porto-sans anymore.
21. Your ideal way to celebrate your birthday is to run at least your age in miles with some fellow crazies.
22. Your ideal way to have fun is to run as far as you can afford to with some fellow crazies.
23. You know the location of every 7-11, public restroom, and water fountain within a 25-mile radius of your house.
24. You run marathons for speed work.
25. You have more fanny packs and water bottles and flashlights than Imelda Marcos has shoes.
26. You visit a national park with your family and notice a thirty-mile trail connecting where you are with the place your family wants to visit next, which is a 100-mile drive away, and you think "Hmmmm".
27. Someone asks you how long your training run is going to be and you answer "seven or eight ... hours".
28. People at work think you're in a whole lot better shape than you think you are.
29. You actually are in a whole lot better shape than you think you are.
30. Your weekend runs are limited by how much time you have, not by how far you can run.
31. You always have at least one black toenail.
32. You buy economy-sized jars of Vaseline on a regular basis.
33. You tried hashing, but felt the trails were too short and easy.
34. You think of pavement as a necessary evil that connects trails.
35. You rotate your running shoes more often than you rotate your tires.
36. Your friends recognize your better dressed in shorts than in long pants.
37. You really envied Tom Hanks' long run as Forest Gump.
38. You carry money around in a zip lock bag because store clerks complained that your money's usually too sweaty.
39. Any time a plain old runner talks about her aches and pains, you can sympathize because you've already had that at least once.
40. You put more miles on your feet than on your rental car over the weekend.
41. You don't need to paint your toenails; they're already different colors.
42. You start planning the family vacation around races, and vice-versa.
43. When you start considering your next vacation location on the merits of its ultras only.
44. You spend you entire paycheck on running gear, ultrabars, and entry fees.
45. You miss a work deadline cause you just had to have that "one more minute" on-line writing to the list.
46. You become a quasi-expert on different detergents so as to not "hurt" your tee shirts.
47. You leave work early to hit the trails.
48. You wear t-shirts based on if you've had good work outs when you've worn them before.
49. Have a trail shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos envious.
50. You walk up the stairs and run down them.
51. Peeing in the toilet seems unnatural.
52. You start wearing running clothes to work so you're prepared for afterwards.
53. Running trail is better then sex. (even if you don't get any)
54. Vaseline isn't just for fun anymore.
55. When the start of a marathon feels like a 5K and you're wondering "Why is everyone in such a rush? Where the ##@@**!! is the fire?"
56. As an infant you were dropped on your head.
57. Nobody recognizes your power T's. Met a guy at the market the other day who was wearing an AR50 T. So was I. I gave him a hearty, "Ta-da." He said, "Oh yeah, I tell people we were all acquitted and the charges were dropped."
58. You sign up for a 10K and
a. you strap on your fanny pack because you never know where the aid stations are.
b. you bring your own drinks.
c. you bring potatoes and salt.
d. you start fast and a six year old passes you.
e. you are the only one walking the up hills.
f. you run it a second time because its not far enough to call a training run (and you were racing the first time through).
g. you are the only one around who is eyeing the bushes THAT way.
h. you punch the lap button on your watch instead of the stop button at the finish.
59. When "NEXT GAS 36 MILES" signs start sounding like tempting runs.
60. Your pedicure kit includes a pair of pliers.
61. Your number of toes to toenails doesn't match.
62. You drink from a water bottle at the dinner table.
63. You consider the mold and mildew in your bottles extra electrolytes.
64. You just found out Poison and Oak are words by themselves.
65. You see a 1 quart water bottle colored like an Advil bottle, and don't realize that it's not in fact an Advil bottle.
66. You know you're married to an ultrarunner when Valentine's gifts come from Ultrafit.
67. You know you're married to an ultrarunner when she helps you up and says, "Come on, suck it up, keep moving!" and you know she means it in love.
68. You know you're an ultrarunner when a prospective employer asks for a photograph and all you have is race photos.
69. You know you're an ultrarunner when the races you enter end in a different area code. -and pass through several different Zip codes enroute.
70. You know you're an ultrarunner when your crew tries to keep you motivated by saying, "You're in second place and only 6 hours behind first with 25 miles to go!"
71. You know you're an ultrarunner when you go to your 8:00 a.m. college geology class and you can use the salt crystals, still caked on your glasses frames from your early morning run, in your talk on the category of sedimentary materials called evaporites (and I'm not making this up).
72. You know you're an ultrarunner when, on the night of a bad thunderstorm and downpour, you ring for a cab, and your announcement that this is the *first time* you're not getting home under your own steam causes a stunned silence in the office.
73. You bother to argue about (discuss the meaning of) what an UltraRunner is!!!
74. when you don't finish on the same day as the winner.
75. your dogs can drink out of water bottles
76. When you meet the opposite sex you see:
a. A possible crew.
b. A possible pacer.
c. A possible search and rescue team.
d. A possible race director.
e. A possible source of race entry fees.
77. You ask advice of hundreds of people on a list, looking for answers you have already determined to be correct, taking hold of only those, and running with 'em.
78. Your wife asks you the morning after your first 50 miler if you're still planning on that 100K in five weeks, and you say "Sure!"
79. You strap on your water bottles and walk the hills... in a 5 K race and consider that your 10 minute pace is a blistering pace.
80. People praise you to the high heavens for being able to finish a marathon, and you feel insulted.
81. You do a triathlon and it is your RUN time that is slower than the years when you specialized in triathlon.
82. You are told *not* to run another marathon during the next few months (because that would be bad for your health), and you really follow that advice - by immediately sending off the entry form for your next 50/100 miler.
83. Somebody asks about the distance of an upcoming race and you, without thinking, say, "Oh, it's just a 50K."
84. You're running a marathon and at mile 20 say to yourself, "Wow, only 6 more miles left, this is such a great training run!"
85. You know you are a clumsy ultrarunner when after running headfirst into the trail for the third time get up and continue running even though you are bleeding and covered in maple syrup where your gel flask exploded and you have another 20k to go.
86. You go for an easy 2 hour run in the middle of a Hurricane and think it is fun to get wet, muddy and run through the rivers that were once trails.
87. You get to the 81 mile point of a 100 miler and say to yourself, "Wow, only 19 miles left!"
88. You try to tie double knots in your Oxfords.
89. You pass a swamp towards the end of a run and think 'How bad could it be?"
90. Livestock salt blocks look good after a run.
91. You're embarrassed that you've only done 50K's...
92. Your wife/girlfriend/significant other asks you if you want to have sex on any particular night and you respond with:
a. "sorry, I don't have time, I have to go running"
b. "sorry, I'm too tired, I just went running"
c. "sorry, I would rather go read all my messages from the ultra-list"
93. You go down a flight of stairs, uh, backwards, after an ultra and everybody laughs.
94. No one believes you when you say "never again".
95. You refer to certain 100 mile races as "low-key."
96. You number your running shoes to distinguish old from new, since they all look dirty.
97. Prior to running a difficult race, you check to see if local hospitals and urgent care centers are in your PPO.
98. The only time major household projects get done is in a taper or race recovery.
99. Everything in your life, everything, is organized in different sized zip-loc bags.
100. You call a 50-mile race "just another training run".
101. You think a 100-mile race is easier than a 50 miler because you don't have to go out as fast.
102. You say, "Taper? Who's got time to taper? I have a race coming up this weekend."
103. You're tapering/recovering, and you'd rather drive 50 miles to watch Ann Trason's heavenly running style for 20 seconds than the Super Bowl.
104. You have to rent a car to drive to a major event because you and your pacer own stick shifts and neither will be able to drive them on the return trip.
105. You actually DO drive a stick shift home with a severely pulled left hamstring
106. You meet someone of the opposite sex on the trail of a 100 and all of conversation is about what color is your urine, can you drink? and were you able to dump.
107. Ya know you're and ultra runner when a girl changes her tank and her bra in front of you and all you do is take another drink of water, look at your watch, get up and tell your pacer "Let's hit the trail."
108. On a long drive you see the road signs listing various mileages to different places and think of how long it would take to get there on foot rather than by the car your driving.
109. You've started a race in the dark, run all day, and finished in the dark (if your lucky).
110. Your non-Ultrarunning running friends look at you strange when you tell them that 10:00/Mile is a fast pace for a 100 mile race (not to mention most ultras).
111. You don't hesitate to lie down in the trail (anywhere) when you are falling asleep on your feet during the early morning hours on the second day of a 100 miler; and it feels so comfortable.
112. You know your an ultrarunner when you actually sit down and read all of the postings about, "You know your an ultrarunner when..." and can laugh and relate to all of the comments.