Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Year in Review

“Real change is hard, and it’s not something that people usually look for. More often than not, it’s what we try to avoid at all costs. In many ways, seeking comfort is the natural way of the animal. But in the most important way, it’s not. Without discomfort, without risk, and without struggle, we do not grow. And life without growth is death. The longer we sit on the shelf, the faster we turn into the stuffed-animal versions of ourselves. Before we know it, we’re 100% plush, and “real change” is just another nice idea.
If you want something real, you’ve got to put in something real. Words aren’t real. Promises aren’t real. New Year’s Resolutions aren’t real. But action, work, sweat, pain, time and sacrifice—those are real.
Real change hurts. The process isn’t always fun. There will be days when you want to quit, and sometimes finishing the day takes everything you’ve got. But once you’ve done it, once you’ve crossed that finish line—no one can take that away from you, and the accomplishment lasts forever.”

As I am sitting here on the couch pondering this quote and how it applies to everything across one's life I started thinking about this past year my first reaction was, "Man that was a wasted year" until I really started thinking about it and looking through my photos.  It was actually a pretty awesome year!  Funny how the mind can so easily put a "not so great" spin on things as time passes without one realizing it especially when in the middle of a personal funk.   It was another decent year on the racing front even though I did not hit my main goal of sub 24 hours at Bighorn 100, the weather and mud had other ideas for me.  Got in a trip to do some more high peaks in Mexico and spent a lot of time in gym which for some reason has been sucking me in more and more lately which I don't mind.  Travels this year was not as much as last year but included trips to Georgia, Death Valley, Northern Wyoming, North Carolina, Moab, Taos, Mexico and of course all over my lovely state of Colorado as always.   Also got out of my comfort zone a lot more this year personally, professionally and emotionally which is a huge step for me.  It was a pretty awesome year and  I am thankful for all the friends and memories from these experiences, adventures and trips.  Anyways let's start the break down of the year with training and racing since that is the main focus of this blog, which is to catalog outdoor adventures for the most part.  I have branched out a little as of late on this blog talking about more personal and professional things in vague terms, maybe that will continue to grow on here and maybe it won't.  We'll see.....

Training: Not my biggest year by far in the running mileage, especially the back half of the year, but I sure spent a lot of time in the gym this year.  For some reason the gym has been calling me more and more every year.  Trying to fit in all different activities I like to do takes away from the jogging which everyone know is what truly makes me happy but it is worth it to me to be a more rounded and more functional athlete as I get older.  The bike was a non-factor again this year which needs to change here quickly for these numbers are not acceptable.   Here is how 2018 breaks down.

How does that compare to the past years?  Well this is an interesting view.  Now you can see what I mean by total hours still being up.  Four big years in a row, can the trend continue?  Can you tell what year I got divorced?  This is comparing the last 11 years in total hours.

Solid year in the racing department for the most part but the ongoing joke the past 2 years in the GOMs  (Grumpy Old Men) is this was another one of  "Shad's Years of Mediocrity" with doing so many different things and not really focusing on one race again but trying to do it all.   Maybe I will learn here soon that I need to focus more, if I could only get into Hardrock or Western States I know that the focus would happen without effort.  Anyways here is the list of all the organized races and/or events from the year.  Lots of great times and memories this year, I look back at this list and it just brings a smile from ear to ear.  From the travel to the burro racing to the big mountain climbing.  Of course the smile got even bigger when I started digging through all the photos on my phone (at the end of the post).  Damn, what a fun year it was and I am honored once again to have so many great friends and people in my life.

2018 Races/Events

Got in weak 19 books this year.  Of course some of them were zombie apocalypse themed books again and there is a trend of reading a lot military and climbing books, not sure what attracts me to those types of books but whatever.  Not sure where my book list will go this year either.  Just been a struggle to get my butt to read at night, I am so tired I fall asleep super quickly anymore.   After thinking about it a bit, I guess reading 19 books is really not that bad considering there was a period from the end of July to Thanksgiving where I hardly picked up anything at all.  Good to get back to it and feel like myself again.  I have discovered this year that I need to read pretty regularly in order to feel grounded and myself.

2018 Books Read
1. Karakoram: Climbing thru the Kashmir Conflict*
2. Speal: A David and Goliath Story
3. The Invictus Mindset*
4. Post Workout Supplementation*
5. Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World's Fittest Athletes*
6. Running into the Dark*
7. Arisen: Fickisms
8. NAVY SEAL Training Class 144: My BUD/S Journal*
9. Ueli Steck: My Life in Climbing*
10. North: Finding my way while running the Appalachian Trail*
11. Flexible Dieting 2.0: Philosophy for the Modern Athlete*
12. A Guide to Flexible Dieting (PDF book)*
13. How I Became the Fittest Woman on Earth*
14. Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller*
15. Travels with Charley*
16. Living with Monks*
17. Arisen: Odyssey*
18. Can't Hurt Me*
19. Wired for Love

Review of Goals for 2018: This year was a hit or miss year on goals again.
1. Re-qualify for the Hardrock lottery - Done
2. Re-qualify for Western States lottery -Done
3. Travel somewhere new for a race -Done
4. Attend at least one concert - Done
5. Read at least 30 books - Not even close (see above), went 4 months with no reading
6. Sky Dive - Fail
7. Leave the lower 48 states - Done, Mexico
8. Keep the Blog more updated - Could have done better, but like what I wrote this year, especially as of late.
9. Throw my hat into donkey racing - Did as many as I could which was most of them.
10. Backpacking on the Colorado trail - Fail
11. Deadlift 400lbs - Done

Now on to some "loose" goals for 2019
1. Re-qualify for Western States lottery
2. Backpacking on the Colorado Trail- at least 3 nights
3. Attend at least one concert
4. Sky Dive
5. Keep the blog more updated
6. Read at least 20 books
7. Leave the lower 48 states
8. Bench 225lbs assuming I am able to solve the bum shoulder issue
9. Get my Ham Radio license
10. Maybe another 18,000ft plus mountain

Year in Photos

Tonka's last snow before passing a week later
Mount Santias views
Mount Mitchell 40miler Finish Line

Gemma is not pleased with my travelling
Showing Avery my favorite secret pull-up bar
Right before dropping at the Georgia Death Race due to a bum ankle
Group jog with gym buds with my bum ankle
Exploring in Colorado Springs area
5K pain at the Boulder Rez
Eric and Neal at Collegiate Peaks
Ragnar Fun with gym buds
Clicking off the miles at Bighorn 100
Many lunch hours spent this year training with these 3 fools
Pacing Don at the Badwater 135
Fairplay Burro World Championship with some GOMs
Start of  Leadville Burro Race
Finished pacing Donnie to his Leadman finish
Buena Vista Burro Race
End of the 12 Hour GoRuck Boulder Challenge with gym buds
Fredrick Burro Race
Gym hike at RMNP
Running an aid station at the Moab 240
Visitor passing thru the aid station at Moab 240
Marie & Tracy going down Mount Sherman
Pyramid of the Sun- Mexico
Iztaccihuatl Peak in Mexico
Pico de Orizaba in Mexico
Tracy and Gemma on S Mountain on Thanksgiving
Skiing fun at Cooper in Leadville

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Brain Dump on Managing and Controlling Your Emotions

Another brain dump from all the things I have been reading and thinking about lately.  This has everything to do with me and what I am currently thinking about to make myself a better person to the people in my surroundings.  Everything I've been writing lately is directed at my own self reflection and I put it out there as a way of documenting my thoughts to myself so I have something to go back and read in the future.  I have many blog posts that are written as journal entries that I have not or will never share but the ones I do are with the thought that maybe someone else out there can relate to what I am currently processing.   Heck I have been working on this one for a while now.  So with that out of the way, here we go.......


As I try to train my mind to be still and to shut off my "monkey mind" either through mediation or exercise, I have become aware that our bodies “speak” to us as well.  Our bodies are giant energy producers and store of all this energy which is both physical and emotional.  The energy we most often store is emotional “baggage” that ideally should not be stored at all and which I seem to store a lot of.

How often have you cleaned your garage and thrown away junk that you were certain you would need “someday?”  Of course, this day never comes.  With energy stored as emotional baggage, however, the day comes when this energy haunts us in the way of fear, anger, timidity, jealousy, rage, a scarcity mentality and other negative beliefs and automatic responses.

Think of a stream, where it is shallow the water is choppy and turbulent, like our “monkey minds.”  Yet, in places where the water is deep, there is stillness and calm.  The master of the "monkey mind" exemplifies this stillness of mind and body.  Hence the saying “still water runs deep.”  In practical terms this means we have stilled our minds and emotions, hence have created the ability to separate ourselves from both internal and external distraction.

Clearly these emotions that prop up are not supportive of our goals in life of  peace and happiness.

What Does it Mean to Be Emotionally In-Control?
Consider how often we observe someone “losing their cool.”  Who is the loser in the following situation?

Subject A has a brief road rage incident and drives subject B off the road.  Subject B responds by flipping-off subject A then spends the rest of the day re-living the event at work and home, getting worked up each time.  Meanwhile Subject A goes his merry way and forgets the whole thing.  I would say that B, the victim, got the short end of this stick, wouldn’t you?  Lack of emotional control can literally ruin your day, and take other people with you.  Not ideal.

How To Develop Emotional Control
So, how can we develop emotional control? It is one of the more difficult challenges we face in life because the sub conscious side of ourselves is often deeply buried in us. Uncovering buried emotional baggage is often all that is needed to release it.

Here are some of my thoughts of developing emotional control:

The first and perhaps most effective skill to develop for emotional control is Listening. So often, we take listening for granted and do not pay much attention to it as a skill we need to develop. But have you paid attention to how well you listen?

Do you passively listen, while your mind wanders onto other things, such as a prepared response or other issues entirely? How often are we judging the speaker and consciously parsing and categorizing the information coming into our ears, without really listening to what they are trying to say?

Ask yourself how well you just listen? Is it from the surface with little awareness, or from the depth of your entire being, with your ears, heart and soul? Be honest. If you ponder these questions seriously, you will find that most of us have missed the boat on this one and get a “D” for listening class.

Listening should be with your whole being in PRESENT MOMENT. This type of listening necessitates that the mind is not running off on some fantasy or internal dialogue (control of the "Monkey Mind"). It also requires that our emotions are in check and not responding to the speaker’s words with the crap of stored emotions you might have that is not valid to what the speaker is trying to share with you.  Another words, put your shit aside and truly just listen.

The magnitude of this task can be daunting. Try it and you will see what I mean. The first step is to pay attention to how little we actually listen, then work on staying aware and grounded in every communication. The very act of improving our listening will dramatically improve our overall ability to communicate – suddenly we are a “master communicator” in the eyes of our friends and family. It also requires awareness of the rising and falling of emotions triggered by the communication.

Try this with your spouse or significant other if you want some immediate, and very positive, feedback.  It is much harder than it sounds.

Body Movement
Another tool I discovered in the past few months in developing emotional control is finding a form of body movement that links everything together.  Moving in a manner that links your breathing, concentration and “flows” your energy is enormously useful for developing emotional depth. I have been playing around with thinking about breath control while running, Crossfit and recently yoga to help find this form of movement/breath control that works for me.  Every person is different and needs to find what creates that connection for them.  Of course this is not of concern when "training" hard for a race for me but there is a time and place for trying to create this sort of breath connection within every training program, usually on the programmed "easy" days.

It is not uncommon to strike an emotional storage bank doing yoga or some other movement causing a release the energy for a major breakthrough. The release can be immediate and you can be caught off-guard, often completely unaware that the stored emotion was there to begin with.

Structured Therapy
Last but not least, Structured Therapy is a powerful process for clearing emotional baggage. Many of us have a jaded view of therapy and think it is for the weak of mind, or those who can’t “GUT IT OUT” through difficult situations. Not true.

Not only does it take a lot of courage to approach therapy, but my experience has shown that it is the mentally tough who do so. Therapy is a terrific way to get professional support to shed light on your hidden self.  It is a more direct approach than authentic communication and movement, but it takes time and some money.  I still check in once and a while with my therapy person that helped me in 2016 and 2017 just as a sanity check which I strongly believe we all need now and again.

I believe that combining all three of these tools and you will accelerate your personal growth tremendously. One maybe more helpful and put you on a faster track than another for each person has different requirements but I do recommend exploring all three of them in one way or another.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Is it Addiction?

So I get this random email from a previous co-worker a few weeks ago and it has been eating at me since:

Hi Shad,

i hope you are doing well and that life in 1480 is good!

Also, I wanted you to know that a couple of year's ago I talked to this guy and it has been a game changer for me..  I would encourage you to do the same.

Of course my response was: 

Thank you for thinking of me but all is well here, in the mist of a break before getting back to it soon.  Hope all is well and take care!

His response back:

Hi Shad,

things are great. .. i can tell from your response you aren't interested in dealing with the addiction (which is the standard response i get when I discuss it with my exercise addict friends)..however, i would encourage you to reach out to Dan and I think his first consult is free...
you might be surprised when you get un-addicted  of how much happier your are.. 

and, he is in boulder which is a lot easier!

Take care, 

It’s hard for me to reconcile in my mind that something I love so much can actually be hurting me. I fell in love with fitness really not that long ago, for I have only been running since 2005 or so and riding bikes and lifting regularly for only the past 4-5 years.  I turned 43 in November and nowadays it's Crossfit classes, running, more weight training, riding, running donkeys, Skimo, mountaineering and more of everything.  There is just not enough time in the week to get it all in.

But, most mornings getting out of bed is not only a practice in patience, it's one of resolve. I hurt everywhere at times: My hips are sore most days and my left shoulder has become the most troublesome thing about me lately. My left shoulder is throbbing most of the day and night. People in my gym joke that I sandbag because my shoulder injuries prevent me from doing a lot of movements, fine then game on.  But the thing is I give into my ego and do the workouts anyways and deal with the consequences later which usually means not being able to lift my arm above shoulder level for a few days (this is being addressed as we speak, more on that in a later post).  There are days I know I should stop but I don't, there are many classes or runs I should just skip but I don't.  My ego gets the best of me.

Why? Because I like reaching a peak and knowing it's not the top of the mountain; I relish the pain as much as I do the pleasure, and failure is one of my greatest turn-on's: If I fail today, you can bet I won't do the same next month. It is all my therapy, and I would feel lost without it. You may be thinking: Shad, do you do this every day? No, not exactly. I have sat on the sidelines when I know a particular injury will only heal with rest, and I've skipped out on a workout to sleep in instead of being at the gym at 5:30am Monday through Friday or missed a mid-day run due to a work meeting. So does this still mean I'm addicted? Maybe or maybe not, I don't know.  And if I am addicted is it really such a bad thing?

Addiction is a strong word, and when we think about what that definition means it's natural for our minds to go straight to drugs and food. It's when we add exercise into the mix, it starts to get controversial. For the most part, research on the topic is minimal, and most experts will say that only roughly three percent of the overall population suffers from an exercise addiction.

Now am I in that 3%?  Who knows, I guess in my mind it is defined by the company you keep.  How do you compare to your peers?  I have no issue taking the day off and sitting on the couch all day to read, but of course I have to be in pretty rough shape to do so.  Yes I may feel guilty for a bit but the bigger issue for me is not letting taking a day off turn into a habit, that is more likely to happen with me.  With all that said I think it is more of a lifestyle to me verses an addiction.  A lifestyle that I have worked hard to create. This includes everything from training, food, sleep, race, ect...   How about you?

Now this has hit home more than anything with this topic... If you can't tell from my previous posts, I have been a fan of Jocko for a couple of years now.  Enjoy..........