I’d like to say that I conquered a mountain this past weekend. I’d like to say that I came away tired but unscathed. I’d like to say that I met the challenge with flying colors. Truth be told…the mountain crushed my soul. It left me depleted. It pummeled me and then kicked me again while I lay on the floor.
Well…it was inevitable. The zombie apocalypse reached San Diego last Saturday and I drove down to join the resistance. It was time for another Goruck Challenge led by Cadre Beaux. I was excited to be doing my fourth Challenge in a new city and ready for the Good Livin’ that was gonna come my way.
Sunday morning. The alarm goes off at 5:15am and I proceed to pound the snooze button until 6:00am. My legs are a little sore and I am sleep-deprived from having rucked 16-18 miles Friday night into Saturday morning. Less than 24 hours later my clock is urgently telling me that I must get up, leave the warmth & comfort of my bed and hit the road. I am signed up for the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run and my alarm is reminding me of the dollars I threw down to register for this race. Economics is a great motivator. I jump out of bed in a flash and within a few minutes I am in my car driving north to Castaic Lake for the inaugural race of the 2012 Merrell Mud Run Series season.
10 weeks out to the start of the Spartan Death Race. Excitement is starting to build. The Grim Reaper awaits my arrival at the gates of hell…aka Amee Farms in Pittsfield, Vermont. Nothing better than hitting the trails for an all-night ruck with some fellow Death Racers, Goruckers and friends crazy enough to venture out into the chilly night for a dose of Good Livin’.
I admit I had some reservations about organizing this event for the folks at Team SISU (the group of like-minded racers, runners and cross-fitters I belong to). I had already done three of Joe Decker’s SUCK events down in San Diego…ass-kicking beat downs. And I wasn’t sure I had enough “stuff” for the group to do or that I wanted to lead it. But I wanted to do something to keep my mental edge about these cold over-night excursions since Joe’s next SUCK isn’t til the end of the month. So, I took my cue from Decker’s overnight rucks, made a list of things to do the SISU Friday The Thirteenth all-nighter in Griffith Park. Nine brave souls signed on.
I love the feel of the crisp air and the distant sound of the city going about its business when I run at night in Griffith Park. Hearing the coyotes, watching a large skunk waddle across the path, and discovering new trails is exhilarating when done after the sun has gone down. I pack my ruck with water…and bricks (for Good Livin’ – see previous posts on this topic) and I am off into the hills lit only by the moon.
“There is delight in the hardy life of the open.”
~ Teddy Roosevelt
Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America at just over 4300 acres. It is larger than Central Park in NYC…and with more untamed character than its Big Apple counterpart. For me, it is an oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle that I can easily and quickly escape to at a moments notice (since it is only 5 minutes from my apartment). Yes, there is Runyon Canyon in Hollywood (also a few minutes from my doorstep) but who wants to go to THAT dust bowl of dog poop and crowded humanity (especially on weekends). And let’s not even talk about the street parking nightmare. Fryman Canyon? Not bad…but it’s on the other side of the hill and not quickly accessible. Santa Monica Mountains, you ask? Great hiking, great views…c’mon, it’s next to the ocean! But, alas, not a last-minute decision type of place when living in Hollywood. Griffith Park on the other hand has the Hollywood Sign, the Bat Cave (!), the Observatory, remnants of the old LA Zoo (lion cages like in the Bugs Bunny cartoons!), a carousel, golf courses and, the best part…miles and miles of great trails to run. It is also never crowded even at peak days and times. And free parking is plentiful.
Last night I ran about 7-8 miles with my buddy Louis. We bushwhacked up hillsides, ran windsprints up steep inclines and blazed up and down trails with only the moon and our headlamps to light our path. The air was chilly but we worked up a considerable sweat as we ran past dog walkers, other runners and Sierra Club hiking groups. A few hours later we were back at our cars…a good sore creeping into our legs as the cold air hit our wet shirts and chilled our backs. Nothing like a great night run in Griffith Park!
Ruck On. Stay Muddy.
“Congratulations, your Spartan Ultra Beast application has been reviewed and you are being invited to register for the World’s First Marathon Distance Obstacle race to take place on November 22, 2012. You are a part of obstacle racing history. There is NO other event of this type anywhere in the world. The field will be limited to a small, extreme group of athletes and you are part of a select few invited to take part.”
And with THAT email I began to tremble and wonder if I was sane! This will be a marathon-length (more or less) obstacle race in Vermont – same place as the Death Race.
Actually, I am quite excited and looking forward to having a great time with many of the people I have met over the last year. Some of them I will meet in person for the first time.
Ultra…I’m coming for ya’!
Read more about the Spartan Ultra Beast here.