"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
Back to Back Marathons in May
May 9th 2009
I just read this quote in the new Triathlete magazine and really bought into its deeper meaning. Phrases like this inspire me to go out on my feet fighting, working, digging deep for all I am worth, not on my knees bowing down to physical weakness, life's set backs, discomfort or fear.
For hours today I repeated the "It's better to die..." mantra probably 1,000 times as I hammered, stride after stride over the tough, steep and muddy, McDonald Forest 50k course. I wanted to quit in the worst way, a number of times. I thought how easy it would be to quit. The pain would stop, I could go home and relax, recover, justifying my decision in any number of ways. Excuses are easy to come by, pushing through is not.
This course is difficult. In fact, I've read in a recent issue of Ultra Running Magazine, this is a race that ranks in the top 10 toughest 50k's in the U.S. as you gain 6,700 feet over 31.6 miles at times in gummy, slippery, energy stealing mud. Brutal. But today, the typical race conditions and related factors weren’t the only things weighing in on the challenge. Just six days prior, last Sunday, I ran the Eugene Marathon. Granted, I didn't run Eugene to go after my 2 hour 50 minutes PR of last season, but lined up mostly for a 26.2 mile training run and along the way I ran fast enough to qualify for another Boston Marathon. A win/win to be sure.
I figured between the two races, only six days apart, I could make up for some of those long training runs I missed while on the road. A calf strain has been aggravating but so far has been dealt with aptly by my massage (Trish Kluge 541-554-6673) and acupuncture therapist (Matt Mixer 541-345-5972) team. While maybe not fluid, light on my feet or pain-free, I've been able to make it to the starting line and once there, there is no doubt I will cross that finish line.
This week, I waited until Thursday, last day it was open, to sign up for McDonald as it took me that long to get over the soreness from Eugene and evaluate the status of my calf injury. I ran/limped a couple of days in between (Weds and Thursday - 6 miles each day) trying to work out the stiffness, with limited success. After Thursday's jaunt, I thought what the hell, I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't run, so might as well lace em' up.
While running today my legs surely weren’t spry taking off and my calf was bellowing. Ten miles in, with my blistered feet from Eugene lighting up, I questioned my decision. 31 miles is a LONG run. In fact I thought back to what my marathon-running-buddy Robb mentioned to me this week, "Cam, conventional-wisdom suggests taking off 10 full days of exercise after a marathon to let your body recover." My defiant, don't-doubt-my-ability response to him at that time was, "Dude, you can tell your conventional-wisdom buddies to screw off. I am running. Now I was thinking, "Damn, maybe those pansy conventional wisdomist do know what they are talking about."
I knew I'd be miserable, no doubt, but I've found I can handle misery. Me and my good friend Misery have become real close over the years. So by design, I got a killer, 5 plus hour long, hard mountain workout in today. Even with the back to back marathons in less than a week, I feel better now than I did last Sunday after Eugene. I have learned that your body will respond and adapt to almost any challenge you put before it. I have learned this in the mountains on long hunts, on the race course and in training in the blistering heat or in the driving rain. Our bodies are capable of amazing things....if we take off the shackles of doubt, toughen up, sacrifice and dig deep.
I am going to use today, Saturday May 9th, to begin my daily food intake/workout regiment. Many of you took a keen interest in my routine the last time I posted it up regularly on my website, so I think a sequel is timely. People might think it is too psycho, unrealistic, self-serving, unnecessary and that is cool, I have heard it all. What works for some, does not work for others. My only suggestion is to find something that helps you to be the very best you can be. Find inspiration somewhere, find what works for you and give it all you have. All I know is my obsessive approach works for me, it has changed my life, impacted others positively and most importantly has taught my kids that anything is possible...dreams come true every single day. Yours could come true too, but it going to take some hard damn work. And if you’re like me, that is fine.....just keep telling yourself, "It is better to die on your feet than to live life on your knees."
Note -- spending a few minutes on-line right now, looking for another marathon or ultra somewhere close for next weekend....three straight would be sweet!!!
Saturday May 9th
5:15 a.m. -- Up, shower, get ready for race.
6:00 a.m. -- Wake Trace up, have pancakes, banana, water and coffee.
6:30 a.m. -- Drive to Corvallis and the start of the McDonald Forest 50k
8:00 a.m. -- Start race. Run almost 32 miles, hurting pretty much every step of the way.
1:30 p.m. -- Race is in the books and now I am sitting in the cook shack/meeting area, eating soup, bread and drinking Mountain Dew. Talking ultras with my friend and Oregon ultra running legend Sean Meissner and fellow hunter/ultra runner William Swint. Great guys. Posed for a pic while holding my "5-year Mug" proudly. McDonald was the very first ultra I ever ran five years ago and so far, they are not getting any easier. That's alright, it is never about easy. Haven't missed this race since 2005...it is always my first ultra of the year. Great way to kick off prep for those tough, western backcountry hunts.
3:00 p.m. -- Home from the race, changed my sweating, nasty shirt, and got the bow out. Sitting on the back porch in the sun I shoot about 40 arrows as Trace cooks me up some bacon, eggs and toast (sounded good). I always shoot right after walking in the door from a race. This type of training is almost impossible to replicate but is paramount to the backcountry hunter. I have had to make plenty of shots at the tail end of long, epic hunts that this type of training prepares me for like nothing else can. Accurate shooting while exhausted....all part of the deal for a mountain hunter. I down a few glasses of water and eat a Weight Watchers cookies and cream ice cream bar. It has been about two years since I've eaten ice cream. After this morning, I am rewarding myself a little bit.
4:00 p.m. -- Shower, pop a few ibuprofen and take Truett over the Hayward Field where he is schedule to run the "middle school mile" as part of the Twilight Meet festivities. After finding a place to park we head in and find out the event has been rescheduled....he will run at 8:15 p.m. just before the U of Oregon men take a shot at breaking the collegiate record in the 4 x 1 mile relay.
6:00 p.m. -- Sitting down with the family and eat a few bites of salmon and bread, coffee and a cookie (still rewarding myself). Also, use the extra time to sign the signature page for the reprint of my book, Backcountry Bowhunting. Yup, headed to the printers again, which pushes the total copies printed to over 20,000. Thank you all so much for buying a copy. Your passion has changed the face of hunting. The signing process is made a little tougher as Taryn wanted to sit on my shoulders as I write my name over and over and over….
7:30 p.m. - Head back to historic Hayward...Truett runs the mile and is not happy. He didn't get the time he wanted but for a 6th grader, I thought he did great. Just to get invited is an honor....pretty much only the fastest middle schoolers in the state are considered. The middle school mile meet record was broke tonight by an 8th grader….4 minutes 37 seconds! Truett should be peaking just in time for his district meet coming up next Monday....he qualified for the meet last Thursday. BTW...the Oregon men did break the collegiate record. They can fly!!!
9:00 p.m. -- Time to lift weights before chilling out for the night. Shoulders and back....military, shrugs, lawn mower pulls, pull ups and rows. Been lifting six days a week with Tanner, my oldest, for the past 9 weeks. Trying not to put on weight but I am not going to stand there and watch Tanner lift.
10:00 p.m. -- Watch TV and eat microwave popcorn then some pistachios and water.
11:00 p.m. -- Answer emails and sign more book pages....getting close to calling it a day. I hate ending the day…too much to do, too much life to live. Tomorrow is Mother's Day & filming intros/closes with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation!!!
Just to crunch the numbers, today I consumed about 2,200 calories and burned 4 - 5,000. I weight 170 pounds, ran essentially 32 miles in 5 hours 30 minutes...most run/calorie burned calculators had me at 4,000 cals, one had me at 5k, but they all estimate flat running. Given the terrain and the conditions there is little doubt my body burned the top end of those calcs. Plus then I lifted, which was good for at least another 800. My metabolism should be jacked up for at least a day or two...I can eat free without regret!!!