Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Daily Chase: Vol. 55

It’s appropriate that the Badwater 135 took place this past week, because I’ve felt like I have been heat-training for it all week! I would love to tackle Badwater at some point in the near future, but running in 95 degree heat and humidity always gives me pause and causes me to rethink goals like that. Clearly humidity isn’t an issue at Badwater, but that only means the water leaves your body even quicker! At any rate, I finally feel as though I’m acclimated to the heat and humidity this summer, which is a nice place to be in as i enter full training mode for the Grindstone 100. The beautiful epicurean and I will be heading back to Minnesota this coming week to visit family, and I’ll have a chance to run the Voyager 50 in Duluth next Saturday, which I’m extremely excited to experience. That area and those trails hold a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to be back there!

Chasing42 Log: 20160717-20160723

Run: It’s been an interesting running week for me, with the humidity and intensity of my workouts. I took things relatively easy on Monday after a solid, vert-filled run on Sunday. The track workout on Tuesday provided me an excellent opportunity to practice turnover and pacing, and I felt great despite the extreme temperatures. On Wednesday, I got home a bit later and wanted a short but quality workout so I headed to a local park to do hill repeats and squeezed some serious vert into a 5 mile run. I took it easy on Thursday, and dialed back my 200 repeats with the group to a more reasonable pace to give my quads a rest after two hard workouts. Yesterday, curiosity got the best of me and I returned to the Newark Reservoir to see just how much climbing I could squeeze into a short workout. I managed over 1000 feet of gain in just over 2 miles, and I was smoked. This is going to be a great go-to workout for me as I gauge my fitness and leg strength leading up to Grindstone. I tried my best to honor the taper this morning and kept my miles more contained for a Saturday, but still got some good pacing and climbing courtesy of friends always willing to push things a bit. It was 90 degrees by the time we finished running at 9AM, and the temperature isn’t done climbing yet!

Thought: I’ve found myself thinking more and more about doping in our sport recently. Recent drama with Russian athletes being banned from competing in Rio have brought the topic into the spotlight on a world stage. However, they are certainly not the first instance of doping in our sport. I was saddened to see the news that a MUT athlete tested positive after finishing 5th at UTMB in 2015. I think that the ultrarunning community likes to think that we are better than all of this at times, and that our sport has a decidedly different, more community-focused feel than the running community at large. In general, I would tend to agree with this statement. You need look no further than the epic finish at Hardrock last weekend to know that there’s something decidedly different about our sport. Some folks have celebrated this fact, while others have bemoaned it as an end to the essence of racing. Our sport may indeed be much smaller, despite the significant increase in ultra distance races, but we are still just as susceptible to human nature. We are a competitive community, and there will always be people willing to cut corners in order to gain an advantage. The fact that we are talking about it more now certainly isn’t because it’s a new phenomenon. People have surely been looking for illegitimate competitive advantages for years. What’s changed is our ability to discover this cheating and to communicate our discoveries on a global scale.

I’m a firm believer in a zero tolerance policy. I applaud the work of Ian SharmanSage Canaday, Kara Goucher, and others to draw attention to doping and organize athletes against doping in our sport. There was plenty of talk about doping at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field trials, especially with regard to Justin Gatlin and other elite athletes that have tested positive in the past. There is no question that these folks are incredible athletes, but in no way should they be allowed to represent the U.S. on a world stage. Once you test positive, your credibility is never the same and that finding will always haunt you, as it should. The fact that we see suspensions instead of lifetime bans communicates a clear message of hypocrisy and double standards that only hurts our sport and the young athletes working hard every day to achieve their dreams. There are enough pressures on young high school and college athletes as it is, without them having to worry about whether their opponent is going to have a slight edge thanks to a sketchy coach or banned substance.

There has always been something pure, clean, and powerful about the sport of running. You have the ability to toe the line at any time, and leave everything you have out on the track, road, or trail. You push your body to limits and beyond, and embody the purest nature of the human spirit. Our sport is at a crossroads, and the decisions made by leaders in the sport now will decide whether running remains that pure test of determination, hard work, endurance, and strength, or if it becomes something else. There are certainly other issues at play here, such as athlete compensation, the politics of USATF and other organizations, and the overall economics of sport. However, doping is a clear problem with a straight forward solution. The only question is whether we will act, and truly embody the #chasing42 spirit!

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