Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Then and Now: What’s Changed in Ultrarunning in the 10 Years Since the First Synchroblog

I have been invited to participate in the latest "Synchroblog" project. How exciting!

What is the "Syncroblog" project? Craig Thornley, aka "Lord Balls" (who is also race director for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run), explains here on his "Conduct the Juices" blog. The topic for this latest Synchroblog installment is "Then and Now: What's Changed in Ultrarunning in the 10 Years Since the First Syncroblog?" and joining in this topic are Craig, Scott Dunlap, Andy Jones-Wilkins and Sean Meissner. As far as I can tell, the first Synchroblog published on January 15, 2009.

Those who have been in ultrarunning since 2009 know A LOT has changed in the last 10 years, starting with the emergence of social media--now a dominant force in society. I ran my first marathon in 2004 and my first ultra in 2005 and in those days social media didn't really exist. In 2009, a growing number of folks were starting blogs and joining Facebook.

Putting aside the many changes that have occurred in my own running life in the past 10 years--namely going from a 35-year-old runner consistently putting in 100-mile weeks, running sub-3-hour marathons, and competing for wins and podium finishes to a 45-year-old dude who, while still fairly strong (all things considered), is definitely slowing down--I am going to focus this entry on...the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run.


I am going to show--or at least try to show--that 2009 was a pivotal year for the Leadville 100--a year that changed the course of the race for at least the next decade. But it wasn't just the year that changed the trajectory of the race; it was also a specific history-changing day: May 5, 2009.

Further below, I am also going to list some proposed improvements that I hope the Leadville 100 organizers will consider to make the race even better in the next 10 years.

But first, let's go back in time, shall we?

What Happened on May 5, 2009?
In 2009, Leadville locals Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin co-owned and operated the Leadville Race Series. They founded the Leadville 100 run in 1983. As the "jewel" in the spectacular Leadville Race Series "crown," the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run in the 2000s annually drew about 450 starters--among them uber-competitive athletes. These were the days of Anton Krupicka's dominance. Anton's legend grew from his shirtless, seemingly effortless wins in Leadville. He reportedly slept in a public restroom the night before his 2006 win.

The course back then had some key differences, though fundamentally it remains the same. Back in those days, you ran through the Halfmoon Campground (about miles ~25 and 75) and up and back down the dusty Winfield Road (miles ~48-52). Plus, the Leadville National Fish Hatchery was an aid station at miles 23.5 and 76.5 (it has since been replaced with the Outward Bound station). Quick aside on the removal of the Halfmoon section: a fatal Blackhawk helicopter crash, only days before the 2009 race, forced this change. I have never understood why the course has never gone back to the Halfmoon section.

So what happened on May 5, 2009...a day that marked a new era for the Leadville 100--an era that some say has been good and others say has been bad? On May 5, 2009, a blockbuster book by journalist Christopher McDougall came out. Entitled Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, the book would go on to sell over 3 million copies.


I will spare you a detailed overview of BTR--because you have probably already read it--but among its many stories were tails of some truly legendary Leadville 100 races in the mid-1990s, when Ann Trason endured epic showdowns against huarache-wearing Tarahumara Indians for the win. Adding to the intrigue, the book also told the story of how and why the Leadville 100 was founded in 1983.

Born to Run not only delivered Leadville to a mass audience; it also launched the relatively short-lived barefoot running boom. Anyone who ran the Leadville 100 from 2010 to about 2014 can recount many runners on the course wearing either Vibram FiveFingers or huaraches...or perhaps nothing on their feet.

The fame and intrigue that Born to Run brought to not only the Leadville 100 but also the town of Leadville could not possibly be overstated. A phenomenon, McDougall's book captured lightening in the "Leadville bottle." And this is reflected in the race registration numbers. In the 2009 race, with BTR only out 3 months, the Leadville 100 drew 498 starters--not far off from average but still the highest number in its history up to that point. Here's what happened in the next 9 years:
  • 2009: 498 starters
  • 2010: 647 starters (I registered in May)
  • 2011: 625 starters (closed out in January)
  • 2012: 795 starters (closed out in January)
  • 2013: 943 starters (closed out in January)
  • 2014: 672 starters (lottery instated))
  • 2015: 637 starters (lottery)
  • 2016: 650 starters (lottery)
  • 2017: 606 starters (lottery)
  • 2018: 712 starters (lottery)
As you can see, the Leadville 100 experienced a huge surge in registrations starting in 2010--as well as in web interest. From 2009 to 2010, it saw a 30% increase in its starting field. The 2013 race saw nearly double the number of starters as compared to 2009. If you're wondering why the precipitous drop-off in numbers after '13, we'll get to that shortly..... But the surge in interest was so steep that in 2014 the race instituted a lottery, now drawing thousands annually.

New Ownership
The surge in registrations for and interest in the Leadville 100 was only part of Born to Run's impact. The book almost overnight increased the "value" of the Leadville 100 and larger race series to the extent that suitors stepped forward with interest in buying the budding enterprise owned and operated by locals Chlouber and Maupin since 1983. Among those suitors was Life Time Fitness, a publicly-traded fitness club company.

In 2010--my first Leadville 100--Life Time purchased the race series from Chlouber and Maupin for an amount I have never been able to confirm. I ran in the last Maupin/Chlouber-owned Leadville 100 run on August 21, 2010. Quick note: Also in that race was the CEO of Life Time, who came up short in finishing the 100 in under 30 hours to score Leadman distinction.

Overall, Life Time did a solid job with the 2011 and 2012 races, though in 2012 it made a significant last-second course change, subbing in a new trail section between the near-bottom of Hope Pass and the Winfield aid station (where you turn around). While this change enhanced runner safety, the organizers announced it only a few days before the race, angering many runners who felt blindsided.

2013 Race
The 2013 race, which ended up being one of my best Leadville 100s, brought disaster to the "brand." Probably eager to cash in on the race's 30th anniversary and ongoing interest from BTR, Life Time let in many more runners than in previous years--a rumored 1,200 registered, with 943 at the starting line the morning of the race. Not only was the out-and-back course super crowded but many aid stations ran out of water and other key provisions. Plus, with many newbies on a course that is not appropriate for inexperienced ultrarunners, littering proved a problem. The 2013 race was a disaster.

In the aftermath of the 2013 race, the Hardrock Hundred dropped Leadville as a qualifier, accusing Life Time of failing to adhere to good practices related to "environmental responsibility, support of the hosting community, and having a positive impact on the health of our sport."

Understand that, going into 2013, there were rumors of Life Time marketing the Leadville 100 in its clubs nationwide. It also had instituted some really questionable promotional programs, such as a "CEO Challenge." Life Time had made the huge mistake of trying to further democratize a high-altitude, mountainous race that was/is really more appropriate for experienced runners, not your garden-variety gym rats. I am not saying that to be condescending. I am merely being straight-up that there is hard and even really hard...and then the Leadville 100. 

Transparency
In the wake of the 2013 running, Life Time instituted a lottery and began "capping" the field but few still know what the cap really is. Whereas with races like Western States and Hardrock, you know the caps, with Leadville you do not. My guess is around 775 to 800 starters, understanding that 10%-20% will no-show.

Additionally, with the lottery, which began with the 2014 race, Life Time never really explained its criteria, as compared to Western States, which is very transparent with its lottery. The Leadville lottery has never taken place in public. It is a process that, in my opinion, is in need of more transparency.

Life Time Bought
In early 2015, private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners purchased Life Time Fitness. With this purchase, Life Time became a private company.

Today, the race series is still owned by Life Time but rumors of its sale abound. Meanwhile, strange and seemingly off-brand sponsors have come on board, like Century Link, making some of us wonder if Life Time's investment in the race series has been cut, or maybe its interest has waned, forcing the series to seek sponsors to keep it afloat. I guess only insiders know the low-down.

A few years ago, the race also institute group registration for the lottery, angering traditionalists who decried such moves as akin to the Rock 'n' Roll marathon series.

Despite question marks about its ownership, the Leadville Race Series is still uber-popular, with many being denied entry via the ever-crowded lotteries for both the 100-mile run and bike ride, but some would say it's lost a bit of its mystique. I definitely believe its removal as a Hardrock qualifier cost the Leadville 100 some major prestige points.

The race still attracts quality runners, but is far below Western States, Hardrock and UTMB in terms of competitive fields.

The Next 10 Years!
Although it could be plausibly said by the purists that the essence of the Leadville 100 has deteriorated since Life Time purchased the series, it is still a great race that I love. It offers an incredible weekend in the mountains--an experience pushing you to the edge of your limits. While there are some concerning things going on with the race series, overall the Leadville 100's brand remains in tact...and I think that's largely because of the town, Ken and Merilee's ongoing involvement (thank God for that), and, of course, those mountains.

The race is still coasting a bit on Born to Run fumes. Rumors of a BTR movie have been circulating for some time, and quite honestly I hope it's never made. These days, you hardly see barefoot or huarache-wearing runners in the Leadville 100. It is now the age of Hoka.

Some really positive changes have happened, too, such as the new "surprise" aid station toward the top of the Power Line climb. The Mount Elbert water station, added in I believe 2011, was also a very positive change. Plus, the volunteers at the aid stations continue to be exceptional. Another thing that hasn't change is just how hard the race is! Plus, the town...it's awesome!

Summing up much of the above, opportunities for improvement in the next 10 years, in my opinion, include:
  • Create more transparency with the lottery, including a public name-drawing event similar to what the Western States Endurance Run has at Placer High School every December. It's a great way to build community and instill trust in the process.
  • Lock in the course and minimize changes. The section between the bottom of Hope Pass and Winfield has changed too much in the last 6 years. There needs to be more stability with this particularly critical section.
  • Create a board. I have been beating this drum for years but I really believe the Leadville 100 run needs a board of directors with some power--likely not going to happen so long as Life Time owns the series. If such a board exists, I know nothing of it. Look no further than Western States as a prime example of the importance a board can and should play in protecting the integrity of a historic race. If you're getting tired of me pointing back to Western States as the gold standard, sorry but it is the gold standard.
  • Institute a qualifier requirement. Leadville is a tough, tough race and one should be required to have completed at least a 50-miler--preferably a 100-miler--in the last year to enter the lottery. That alone would narrow the field of entrants.
  • Remove the CEO/Executive Challenge. It's ridiculous.
  • Remove the group registration feature. It's ridiculous. This is Leadville, not a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.
  • Move registration to Ultrasignup or another platform that is part of the ultra community.
  • If possible, return ownership of the race to the community. This is a race that locals should own. At the very least, it should be owned by Coloradans.
  • Stop with the random stupid things, such as denying Jim Walmsley a spot in the 2019 starting field because he didn't get in through the lottery. Save a few spots for invitations for the best.
  • Add an aid station at Tabor Boat Ramp inbound (mile 93). As hardcore as I tend to like things, I think an aid station at Tabor, which is about halfway between Mayqueen inbound and the finish, will enhance runner safety.
  • Create a prize purse. Unless I am mistaken, Leadville has the freedom to throw down a prize purse for the top finishers. Why not do it?
What changes have you seen in ultrarunning in the last 10 years? Comment to share, please.

Check out what my fellow Synchrobloggers have to say about what's changed in ultra in the last 10 years!

Today's Run - Monday, 2/19

With it being snow and single digits outside, I hopped on the treadmill and powered through 7 miles in 56 minutes. Felt good. Last mile in 6:58. It is going to be a very cold week.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 2/18

Easy Monday. Hopped on the treadmill for 4.25 miles in 40 minutes flat. Goal was to keep it very low-intensity, as in 10-minutes/mile. I always get a bit impatient going that slow so after the first mile cranked up the speed just a bit.

A little sore from yesterday's 20-miler but by the time I got off the 'mill I was feeling good.

Had a solid stretching session before and after.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 2/17; Very Solid 20-Miler!

All winter long I have been struggling in my long runs and in most cases my daily runs. I have felt off. I have felt achy. I have felt slow. My ankles have hurt. I have felt labored. Some days have been better than others. I have barely been able to run beyond 15 or 16 miles. It has been a tough winter on the running front.

But then this morning I got up and out the door and I ran 20.1 miles in 2 hours and 39 minutes. I hadn't planned to go 20 but halfway through I was feeling good--so good--and decided I'd go 20. My feet were light. My legs were responsive. My ankles were great! My breathing was on. It was close to perfect. 1,400 feet of climbing.

Oh, and on my 20-miler I had a small flask of plain water and no calories. Before my run, I did eat a breakfast burrito, though.

It is hard to believe that in my mid 30s I was busting out "easy" 20-mile long runs in 2 hours and 25 minutes. But that was then...that was at sea level and I was younger and fast. Today, I'm 45 and I live at altitude. So, when you factor all of that in, today's run was freaking awesome. Every so often you get those great days and when you do you must seize them! I am going to create more of them!

Ended the week with 61.4 miles. 382.1 miles on the year.

In reflecting on this morning's run, I am trying to determine if I did anything that set me up for success. Yesterday I did eat a whole can of wild-caught salmon. Maybe that helped? I slept well, too. I'm sure the good sleep helped. Who knows? But I am hopeful that today's successful long run was a breakthrough, both mentally and physically, after what has been a physically difficult winter.

***

I really enjoyed Billy Yang's podcast interview with Jason Koop. I believe Billy is one of the top content creators and artists in the sport of ultrarunning today. I loved this conversation with Koop and the call-in element was great. In particular, I found what Koop said about reducing intensity when you are increasing volume to be interesting. It was nice to hear an expert say that because it is hard to keep up with the intensity when your volume is high!

I continue to think about my 2019 schedule. I am eyeing the Colfax Marathon on May 19. I am signed up for North Fork 50K on June 1. I am eyeing the Leadville Trail Marathon on June 15. My Colorado Trail adventure would then be in late June. Burning River 100-miler in late July. Or maybe Javelina in the fall. I think I am leaning toward Burning River. I am about 85% there in signing up for a 100-miler. I think I am ready to make that investment.

Need to pull the trigger soon!

All these years later, this intimate portrait of Anton still gets to me (in the best ways).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 2/16; Colorado Trail Planning

Got out for 10 miles in under 82 minutes this morning. Two of those miles were at 6:40 pace. I felt good for a Saturday and this was my first 10-mile Saturday since before Leadville back in August.

At this point, I'm planning 18 tomorrow morning.

Later in the day, some snow blew in, dropping about 2 inches where we live. We're at 6,200 feet so I'm sure we got more than Denver.

I am well under way in planning my Colorado Trail hike this summer. The plan is to go from Waterton Canyon to Copper Mountain Ski Resort in late June--about 120 miles. I am willing to pay top dollar to go "light." As of now, between a backpack, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, stove, etc., I am at 10 pounds. I am probably going to "need" a solar-powered charger for my phone--it'll cost me about 1-2 pounds. Then there are other "essentials." My goal is to keep my pack under 25 pounds, which is not going to be easy but it's doable. Less is more so long as you're carrying life-saving essentials.

There's just one problem with my CT planning: I still need a partner. I really don't want to do it alone. I am very experienced on the trail. I'm very fit. I'm resilient. What I am not is experienced with backpacking and backcountry camping. Could use an experienced partner/partners.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 2/15

Didn't feel like battling the dark and cold so got on the treadmill and ran 7.5 miles in and hour and 1 minute flat. Felt good.

Intrigued to learn more about Bronco Billy's strength-building routine. What that guy is doing at his age is nothing short of amazing.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 2/14

6.4 miles in 55 and change. So nice to see the sun rising earlier and earlier but it's still pretty dark. I have pretty much resolved that, as an aging athlete, the cold is harder on my body than it used to be and so I just need to bide my time, stay in decent shape and, above all, remain healthy.

This morning I wrapped up an interesting interview on the Rich Roll Podcast Show. It's with Todd Herman and he's talking about the "alter ego effect." I get it, but if in this world we all had alter egos then I think it would be a pretty crappy world where few people could trust each other. Just because Bo Jackson, for example, had an alter ego doesn't mean we all should. In this world, one of the keys to happiness, I think, is integrated living and authenticity. Nothing against Herman but I'm not buying it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 2/13

6.7 miles in just under 58 minutes. Did the "Riva Ridge loop," which I always enjoy. Admittedly, I woke up in a bit of a foul mood and was not really sure why!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 2/12

Got out for 6.3 miles in a little over 54 minutes. My Garmin has me in "unproductive" mode right now. It seems to have a good pulse (no pun intended) on when I'm not feeling great. My stomach was still bothering me. It is so nice to see the sun coming up from the East earlier and earlier. Will enjoy it and then after Daylight Savings Time it's back in the dark for a short while.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 2/11

Easy Monday - hopped on the 'mill for 4.3 miles in 37 minutes and change. No issues but legs were a bit tired. Stomach is still not great--must have a bug of some kind.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 2/10

Intended to go for 18+ but pulled the plug at 16.1 as my stomach was jacked. Not sure what the deal was but I got insanely bloated about 5 or 6 miles in and had to stop and walk for a short bit. Pace was slow as I battled gut issues. Stomach never rebounded and bothered me for the rest of the day. A really off day.

Ended the week with 53 miles. Another meh.

While I ran, I listened to Joe Rogan interview Alex Honnold from a few months back on his podcast show. I don't get the hype with Joe Rogan. He's entertaining but...… His constant cussing, combined with the fact that he seems to never do his pre-homework on his guests (e.g., didn't even know Honnold has a foundation focused on solar), just kind of leaves me disappointed. He just doesn't seem that informed. Plus, during the Honnold interview, Rogan went on a tangent about supplements and wasn't even able to answer some of Honnold's questions about them. Meh.

The more I dig into the Colorado Trail, the more I realize that my initial goal of doing the first 120 miles from Waterton Canyon to Copper Mountain in 3.5 to 4 days, while feasible with a backpack, may not be a good idea. If I were running, yes. But with a pack on and with the logistics of setting up and breaking down camp daily, it may be cutting it too tight. I have been advised to consider more along the lines of 4.5 to 5 days.

Bottom line: What I am being told is that backpacking those 120 miles will be harder--a lot harder--than running them. That's OK. It's the backpacking and backcountry camping experience that I want. So if I need to carve out more time, OK. I just can't carve out too much time as it's limited.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 2/9

Felt good for a Saturday. Usually I'm pretty tired and hungover from a busy week at work. Got in 8.5 miles in 70 minutes and change. The majority of my miles were below 8-minute pace. Did the "Tomahawk loop," which offers some nice rolling terrain on dirt roads.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 2/8

6.4 miles in 54 and change. Overall, felt reasonably good but it was cold--about 9 degrees. I am really getting burned out on the winter.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 2/7

With it being minus 3 degrees when I woke up this morning, I hopped on the treadmill for my run. I have a rule against running outside when there is a fatal factor involved, such as this morning with below zero temps combined with ice. Ran 7.1 miles in 57 and change. Felt good. Last mile in 6:58--hardly worked for it. All good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 2/6

Managed to get in 8 miles in about 62 minutes this morning. Really jazzed to get in 8--my old standard for weekday morning runs. Did 4 intervals of a 1/2 mile each at about 3 minutes per. Sprinkled in 2 minute recoveries. While I was definitely on the slow side, I felt strong. I do think the dark and the ice slowed me down a bit.

A few days ago, I decided to double my daily consumption of branched chain amino acids. I first started on aminos a few years ago when I learned they were a key part of Paul Terranova's recovery between races during his very successful Grand Slam. Anyway, I'm now taking four capsules daily and I think it's making a difference as I'm noticing better recovery between runs. Only time will tell if this is the real deal.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 2/5 - Colorado Trail Adventure in the Works

6.6 miles in 55 and change this morning. My legs felt responsive--maybe the day off helped? I was tempted to get after it but will save that for tomorrow. The air was moist and had a bite to it. We have snow rolling in tomorrow.

I have been talking for years about a Colorado Trail adventure and I think I'm getting close to doing it. This would not be a run but rather a hike with a big pack and backcountry camping.

Recognizing that I don't have a month to take off from work and do the whole 486-mile trail in one go (I could only wish), I think I could do it in 4-5 big chunks over a period of a few years, starting with the first 120ish miles from Waterton Canyon to Copper Mountain, which follows some incredibly beautiful trail. I think I could do that stretch in 3.5-4 days, preferably in late June (might encounter some snow but all good).

Such a hike would be incredible training if I pull the trigger on a 100-miler this summer or fall.

More to come but it feels like this is becoming real.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Day Off - Monday, 2/4 - Mountain Lion Attack

After an 80something-day running streak, I took the day off on Monday. Kind of regretted it but more because I knew I was breaking the streak. Then again, why obsess over a streak?

Very glad this runner is OK. About five or six years ago, I happened upon a mountain lion on the Barr Trail going down Pikes Peak. This was a little past Barr Camp. It ran off so fast that it took me a few seconds to process what I'd just seen. It moved like lightning and yet was VERY big. I was terrified and didn't know what to do except just stand there. I inched my way down the trail over the next several minutes and then began jogging, looking back incessantly. It was a truly terrifying encounter because I worried that the mountain lion was stalking me and would eventually pounce, which it never did. When you have encounters like that, you are reminded of your vulnerability in nature and of the importance of staying alert, and yet trail running is supposed to be a release.

Also once saw a bear up near Indian Creek Campground. Possible encounters with wildlife are chances you have to take as a trail runner in Colorado. At Bighorn a few years ago, I will admit that I was a bit nervous about grizzlies.

Anyway, I agree with Nick Clark (quoted in the article) that rattle snakes are far more terrifying. I have had a few lunge at me over the years. They are scary.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Today's Runs - Sunday, 2/3 - A Seesaw Day as Far as Motivation

Not sure what the deal was this morning but I hated every step of what was intended to be a 17-miler. I just wasn't into it and so I decided to pull the plug and ended with a paltry 10.7 miles, feeling sorry for myself. The fact that none of the trails are runnable right now (they're mosh pits from the snow melting) isn't helping.

Over brunch, I told my wife I just didn't know what happened during my run this morning and I also told her I have been struggling with a lack of motivation all winter. I'll feel motivated the night before to run but then when I wake up...not so much.

I am sure some work-related stress I've been carrying around hasn't helped. It's not "bad" stress per se. We just have some gigantic projects on the horizon and, oh yeah, we're a short-staffed in a few key areas and trying to get those open positions hired. Being in charge of it all, it's hard for me not to feel stressed and--dare I say--anxious at times. The fact is that I do deal with occasional bouts of anxiety but that is because I'm one of those people who feels highly accountable and is driven to achieve big results.

So this morning, after brunch, I felt content that I was in fact burned out and needed to take a few weeks off to recharge.

And then the afternoon came and the sun was out and I decided--what the hell--to go for another run. 6.7 miles and enjoyed--no, loved--every step of it.

So maybe this morning my problem was just that I was feeling off. Maybe it's screwing with me that in the morning it's dark as hell and cold as Siberia (not really). Maybe I'm suffering from seasonal effect disorder and just need more sun. The good news is that it's February and in Colorado in February the sun starts coming out big time.

So 17.4 mores on the day (not bad) and 60.2 miles on the week (not bad, either).

Still no races on the calendar this spring/summer/fall except North Fork 50K. I may upgrade to the 50-miler but we'll see.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 2/2

I'm pretty sure the results of this study are highly questionable. Dog owners walk 21 miles a week? Nah--unless they live in Florida during the winter. I have lived in many places and it never fails: Come winter, very few people, including dog owners, venture outside. Then when the spring comes, everyone is outside and there are dogs everywhere. This study appears to have been self-reported. No way it's accurate. People are lazy during the winter, staying inside.

Got in two runs today:

AM: 8.5 miles on one of my favorite loops--the Tomahawk loop, featuring dirt roads and nice rolling hills. Felt good thanks to 9+ hours of very solid sleep the night before.

PM: 4.1 miles, with some of it on a local trail that was insanely muddy. Felt good. Weather was sensational--50s and sunny.

I am conducting an experiment and have doubled the amount of branched chain amino acids I'm taking to see if they give me a recovery boost.

Hope to hit 17+ tomorrow morning.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 2/1 - Western States Announces Transgender Entrant Policy

Woke up feeling better than the last few days and got in 6.5 miles in 57 and change. Now that it's February, there is hope for more sun in the mornings (and evenings). Looking out east, I can start to see it rising by 5:50am or so.

I am really starting to get the itch to run some trails but, alas, they are either snow- or ice-covered or insanely muddy. In a few weeks...…

***

The Western States Endurance Run has announced a new Transgender Entrant Policy. As expected, there are (disturbing) elements of the ultra world, which is supposed to be an inclusive community or so I thought, going bananas over the new policy. The comments on WSER's Facebook feed made me really sad. As with several things in life, I really question how many of the naysayers actually read the policy and thought about it--you know, using critical thinking skills--before rendering reactive judgment.

First, the numbers: According to what I could find, about .06% of the population identifies as transgender. That percentage is going up. If you carry that percentage into your average starting field for Western States (370 runners, give or take), we are talking about 2 runners who may identify as transgender and run in the gender division with which they identify.

The naysayers are mostly naysayers because they have a world view steeped in dogma and, as per usual, lack critical thinking skills. When they see something they don't agree with, they immediately get reactive and spout off their world view without really thinking through the issue, turning it over in their brains, and actually considering viewpoints other than their own.

Plus, do they pray over these issues? I do and what I hear from God is to be inclusive and welcoming of all who live in good faith. It is not my place to exclude; it is my place as a human to love, include and support others who are seeking to bring their best selves.

All that to say, the naysayers are a reactive bunch and what is being spewed on WSER's Facebook feed on this issue is just more of the same as far as what's going on in America.

In closing, it is a thoughtful policy. The essentials of the policy:
  • "A male-to-female transgender entrant can register for the race as a female provided the runner has been undergoing continuous, medically supervised hormone treatment for gender transition for at least one year prior to the race."
  • "A female-to-male transgender entrant can register and compete as a male with no restrictions. The only exception is female-to-male transgender runners can no longer register to compete as a female if they have begun hormone treatment related to their gender transition that includes testosterone or any other banned substance."
All in all, a very thoughtful policy.