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Monday, November 27, 2017

Smothered Hope

I haven't been in a positive headspace.

The ongoing and "groundhog day" hip injury has affected my heart and mind. It will be coming on three years since the original hip labrum tear occurred and the process to get to today has been beyond frustrating and consistently stalled.

At the beginning of this year, I paid a thousand dollars to see my hip surgeon at his private practice next to Vancouver General Hospital. The appointment was worth it, as not only was hard information shared and discussed, but he put me in direct queue to get surgery via MSP and ideally a cortisone shot in August. I had hopes to run Hallow's Eve if the scheduled steroid injection was set up in time. It wasn't, so I didn't race.

I threw my hip out while putting my youngest son to bed several weeks ago and was bed ridden for two days. Thankfully, the steroid injection was already scheduled for two days after that. A saving grace indeed.

My right (fucked up) hip with the needle in it.
I got the injection finally on November 9th. It was a great day, as the anaesthetic completely numbed the pain and I felt completely normal for 24 hours. The following five days were up and down. Two days were poor under what they call "flare up" as the cortisone crystallizes before getting absorbed. Then it was great.

On a standard day, my ambient pain rating scale is between 4 -6. After a work out, I'm sitting between 7-9. Post cortisone, I'm between a 1 and 6. So it has benefited greatly, albeit a temporary band aid.

I'm scheduled for hip reconstruction surgery on the right side for early 2018. While the cortisone shot lasts, I intend to get stronger. I'm starting to get some light runs in and strength and conditioning the legs. At least by doing so, my recovery post surgery ought to be more rapid with less residual side effects due to overall weakness.

What is the issue? In short, the hip is fucked. My surgeon said, "It's wrecked. You can't do anymore damage to it." In our discussion he stated very frankly, that the labrum is torn off, there's no synovial fluid in the joint, and the inside of the socket is riddled with cysts. To fix it, they're going to do arthroscopic surgery, shave down the femoral head and hip socket, reattach and add tissue to the labrum, and flood the hip with fluid and drugs. If it works, which the surgeon gives a 70% chance, then I'm looking at 4 weeks of focused recovery. First week on two crutches, then a week on one crutch, and then a cane for the final two weeks until I get all my weight on my legs. Seeing as I already bust out the cane and hiking sticks at my youthful age of 43, it seems like the best bet.

I'm looking for light run/walks or brisk walks by week 5. I'm signed up for races starting mid-summer.

To be totally candid, it's been pretty shitty. The lack of social connection with my friends and running community has been deeply missed. I tried volunteering on a couple of races, but I felt resentment. I rarely reach out to my friends and have become somewhat of a hermit.

I had a couple of decent adventures, but always with massive repercussions. We did a side jaunt this past June to show a few of our friends the final 23k of the Squamish 50 race course. It was fun with many meaningful moments, but ultimately put me out for a couple of weeks of no activity.
I've been hesitant to get on pain killers. I avoid it when possible. Lotion based anti-inflammatories are my friend. So is alcohol. Not the rubbing kind.

This Monday morning, I felt pretty good. I had a nice 30 minute run with my wife. It was sunny and beautiful. We talked about how I'm optimistic for the surgery. I anxiously await the phone call to confirm the exact date. I'm hopeful to get my fitness goals and a large part of my life back. It's literally a day at a time. Sometimes I can get up the stairs, sometimes I can't. It's a weird place to be as someone who thrives on activity and pushing. I still teach kickboxing each Monday night. It's one of my passions and I enjoy the classes and students immensely. We find sanity where we can.

Trying to keep a clear and mindful mental state while staying emotionally grounded has been a challenge. One that I've not always succeeded at. Being in a dark state and disconnected with my own feelings has been hard. With work stresses changing (for the better since I left my role at Chambar and since returned to my previous workplace at Hart House), I've had the time, close colleagues and my own presence of mind to reconnect with important relationships and find renewed purpose. Call it my second wind on an Ultra where things have been going wrong. Except on this one, having a DNF is more consequential.

I've been working on quieting the mind. Lowering negative self talk and using breathing techniques to keep my mind and body from racing out of control. It's been effective and has allowed me to realize that it is through writing that I can express my artistic side and stay in touch with my feelings.

All too often, I present myself as unflappable; without weakness or the ability to seek help and assistance. Being a father and husband and leader in the workplace are cherished roles for me, and showing vulnerability can be elusive despite it being a strength, not a weakness. But how and when are often lost to me. So I hold it on like a mask, smile and laugh. Crack a few witty jokes. And a few "dad" jokes hopefully to shed some happiness.

Running has always been an escape for me. Somewhere where I could exert physical and mental energy. It was meditative and healing in a way that nothing else ever was for me. It took old pains and memories, and developed clarity of mind. I enjoyed the struggle. The moments that challenged me. I likewise enjoyed the successes. The rankings on Strava and being crowned as the fastest on a segment or moving up the ranks in a race. Those moments were not petty or ego feeding. They represented physical movement with a still mind. And I need them back.

In the meantime, I'm trying to remain both optimistic and pragmatic. I'm trying to deal with constant pain. Not daily or weekly, but minute by minute. And I'm trying to let the whole process of remaining strong, mentally, physically and spiritually not crack and let it all be for nothing.

So there it is, my absence in a single post. Vulnerability as strength.

Much love.

Next post will be post surgery. . . come wait with me.

Photo CreditsRosie Fraser (Unsplash), St. Pauls Radiology, Ricardo-Gomez-Angel (Unsplash), Denys Nevozhai (Unsplash)

Monday, August 22, 2016

#BringGordHome: Family Press Release

Monday Aug. 22, 2016
North Delta, BC
On Sunday Aug. 14, 2016 Gordon Sagoo went missing while hiking the Baby Munday Peak in Chilliwack, BC. Since then the Chilliwack Search and Rescue in conjunction with the Chilliwack RCMP and various SAR teams from the lower mainland have combed the mountain looking for Gordon. At this point they have decided to suspend the search.
The Sagoo and Jandu family would like to thank the Chilliwack Search and Rescue, Chilliwack RCMP and all the other associated SAR teams that have been involved in this search. Your courageous and tireless efforts have been nothing short of remarkable.
We have received an overwhelming amount of support from family, friends and the community. This is a true testament to Gordon’s character. We want to thank each and every one of you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your love, support and kind words. They are what has kept us going.
The family will continue the search privately via other channels. We have not given up hope of finding Gordon and it is important for us, and for all that have been affected, to gain closure. We express our deepest gratitude to everyone that has donated funds to this effort. Your generosity is what will bring Gordon home.
We need continued support in order to keep our efforts going. To contribute now, go to
We stress that we do not want any personal or individual groups going up the mountain to search themselves. If anyone does want to go on a hike in that area it is imperative to please stay on the trail and be safe.
We need to learn from this situation and do not want anyone else’s life to be put at risk.
For any future correspondence, or media related questions, we can be reached at

Friday, July 15, 2016

Not On My Race Weekend!

This post is straying from my normal, hey this is what I'm doing for running format, and delves into the political landscape of the local running scene. This blog has always been about a place to voice my goals and opinions, and that won't stop in this case. I welcome discussion on the following topic, as the discussion will help find the solutions. Keep in mind, I have friends on both sides of this conflict, and I do not place any of my observations or points below on them.

These opinions are my own.

Photo Cred: Brie Hemingway

Without further ado, here goes.

A week ago, the KneeKnacker Ultra, a storied and vital part of the local ultra running scene in Vancouver took place. The race starts in Horseshoe Bay and travels 30 miles along the Baden Powell (BP) to Deep Cove.
To say that it has gained popularity over the years is an understatement. The race is host to a lottery now, and gaining entry has become the holy grail for both local and international runners. KneeKnacker is a big supporter for trail maintenance, North Shore Search and Rescue and other very positive elements of the trail community. I know many of the key people, and they are amazing individuals who go above and beyond. This is part of what makes what happened a bit touchy.

KneeKnacker Facebook Banner

Many friends and local runners didn't make the lottery this year. So, doing what most Ultra and trail runners do, they support the race and its racers. Some ran aid stations, others crewed racers, and many were course marshals on what turned out to be one of the worst weather days of the year. They arrived early, did their thing, got soaked, and had a fabulous time.

Photo Cred: KK Lottery Losers Consolation Run Runners

As a consolation to the losers, two of my friends set up a private Facebook event called "KK Lottery Losers Consolation Run" the next day. It's unofficial, used no flagging, didn't get promoted outside of Facebook, and was basically a chance for some friends to run the Baden Powell and help each other out along a classic and well used trail system on the day following the race.
The popularity of this small event saw just over 20 people make the attempt. A few more decided to run bits and pieces depending on their time commitments and physical capacity. It was a fun run. The weather was perfect, and the group set off. A few racers from the official KneeKnacker race the day before decided to return the favour and crew their friends with supply drops and camaraderie.

Photo Cred: Kenzie A.

Then the pics starting coming in. The official race day pics and the unofficial next day group run started streaming everyone's social media feeds at the same time. The race pics looked like hell. Joyous, wet, and sluggish hell. The unofficial consolation run pics looked like glorious mountain horizon, sun and clear skies frolicking. So down comes the hammer.

Photo Cred: Solana K.
The Knee Knacker RD and planning committee send out the equivalent of "cease and desist". They state the following in a Facebook post:

"Please do not schedule an event on the BP trail on that weekend. And yes, that includes the day immediately after, as the perception is that it could be affiliated with our event. That could then affect our future ability to obtain permits and insurance.
- Do not use the “Knee Knacker” name/brand as part of your event’s name.
- Do not use our logos or likeness in any of your advertising or awards.

Okay, fine, the last two points are a given. So, renaming the run without KneeKnacker in it is easy. Instead, it can be called, "Consolation Run for the Race That Shall Not Be Named."

Also, a crafty person separate from the KneeKnacker made a (as in one to share) tongue in cheek trophy for the people who made it the whole 30 miles. Its likeness to the official Knee Knacker logo is clear, and in hindsight was a poor call, albeit in homage to the race versus competition.

The Trophy That Shall Not Be Named 

The demand not to run on the BP on the same weekend is atrocious!
When did a race committee or RD have the right to stop people from using the trail on the whole weekend? What about a local hiking group or a dog walking group? If they set up a Facebook event would they get the same message from the official race? Please don't walk your dogs on the BP trail, because we have a race that doesn't allow dogs and we don't want the permitting department to think we have dogs on the race. What about Mountain Bikes? The whole thing opens up a big can of worms.

I don't ever recall having to ask a race for permission to run on trails. 
Bandits, I can agree with. Illegal pacers, sure. 

Those all occur at the start time the race begins and end when the race officially finishes and the support is removed via cut off times or other logistics.

This overbearing (and in my opinion poorly directed) control was based on ego and fear, two things that have a tendency to inflame versus resolve situations.

Does past positive political capital in the way of history, trail support and SAR funding, that a smaller, less influential organizing body wouldn't have, allow for these actions and communications to take place? In my opinion, no.

What would have been a better way to handle the situation? How about this:

"Hey Guys, looks like you had a fun run on Sunday, and thank you for paying homage to the race that we all care about. I think it's great that you got a small group together and accomplished your goals and pushed each other to high achievements. At least the weather was better on your event day!
Having said that, can you please not use our logo and name in your event. It seems like a small thing, and I'm certain you meant no harm, but it does make our permitting tricky if the officials think our race and your Facebook event are related. Here's to hoping the lottery gods are in your favour for 2017! Enjoy the beer."

So what's the actual outcome? Well, everyone who ran on Sunday are guilted into feeling they are awful people. The same people who helped support KneeKnacker, who volunteer countless hours to trail awareness, who organize running based charities, who develop social development of the sport and outreach programs to help support the sport we love.

Why did this happen? The KneeKnacker are self professed "grassroots" and yet they took a very institutionalized approach to a grass roots social media based event. I see it as a disconnect of generations. Several years ago, the Sunday run only would have been made aware to the people who ran it, and their pictures would have been on Kodak rolls, taken to the pharmacy, and developed, put into an album and shared over a week later in a personal album. Now, those same pics hit the public airwaves WHILE the event was still happening, and flooded the social media feeds at the same time as the official race photos were being posted. It stepped on their toes. It stole their thunder in a manner and that hurts a bit when you spend a year planning a major race.

Despite our best wishes, after awhile, even grassroots events like the KneeKnacker become "institutions," and, as an institution, they must protect what they created, even if it means taking up arms versus the people who support their race.
An idea, formed by some runners to "console" the lottery losers and do a self supported, unofficial run the next day, became a threat. This event is allegedly not the only one that the KneeKnacker has taken issue with. What is their agenda? I would love to know, as it can not be solely based on the fear of permits.

The grassroots of yesterday is being overridden by the grassroots of tomorrow. It's going to happen more and more. That's the strength of Social Media and events based on individuals versus committees. Our running group We Run Mas has an anniversary run every November. Due to it's size, should I contact other running groups and tell them NOT to run on the same day as it detracts from our event? That's absurd, and what KneeKnacker did is likewise in my opinion absurd and unwarranted.

The fallout of this requires communication. One of the KK committee whom I know well, is an awesome dude, and whom I respect greatly has asked us to continue our discussion over a beer. I like that. Communication is always good, and is a key factor for this blog post. Opinions must be known, and I feel strongly that individuals and ideas that support the community are more important than institutions, regardless of where their roots started.

Giants of our Community
Photo Cred: Karen Samuelson

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Between the Ferns

Thinking Out Loud
(Al Quinto and I at Sea to Summit last year)

The year 2016 is a month in, and I'm still not strapping on a pair of runners and getting out the door.

Hence, it will be starting from scratch for me this year, and I'm excited and pent up about it. There's a nervousness when the time comes to start consistently running again, and that anticipation is an interesting challenge to deal with. I was listening to a meditation coach named Tara Brach and she was telling a Buddhist story. It went something like this:

Buddha was sitting under a tree. At the fringes of the forest, a demon named Mara, the Lord of Death, was dancing and enticing the Buddha. One of the Buddha's followers was running and screaming in fear, warning others of the demon at the edge of the woods. Buddha said, "Do not fear. Instead, say, 'I see you Mara. Come, and enjoy some tea.'"

The moral of the story is that in order to conquer a negative aspect in one's life, it must first be identified and named. Only then can it be controlled and go from having a negative impact emotionally and spiritually and made to have no power over one's mindful and present state.

So, what is the demon that haunts my next step? How is it affecting me and the ultimate goal to find adventure once again on the mountain?

The injury is not the impedance, it is only a temporary threshold that is disallowing progressing to the running state. One of the demon's limbs is the concern of re-injury. It's the fear of having to go through this again. When is the time right to start training? What if it's too soon? What if it's too late? Is there something I'm doing in day to day, or at work that is adding to the time required to heal? Is that level of activity with both boxing and restaurant helping or hindering? Are my supporting and stabilizing muscles, in tandem developing the mental fortitude with career challenges assisting me to re-enter the world of mountain trail running? These questions dance on the mind constantly.

The mind becomes a hamster in a wheel, spinning thoughts and making excuses, or falling into apathy and a lack of connectivity. The disassociation with my #trailfam has been really tough, and the identity that is defined largely by the individuals in We Run Mas is a massive part of who I have become. Staying true to that person, and the richness that the team has given me, I fear is slipping away. It's probably not true, but the demon lingers, and I must identify it so that it doesn't change who I am while the solitary mode runs its course.

I suppose another limb of the demon is confusion. One of the goals of this blog was to maintain an honest dialogue or journal of what being a runner is to me. It's a large reason why I toyed with, but ultimately denied, doing product reviews. I want to keep my posts raw, emotional and philosophical. There are a lot of places to go look up the next best running pack or a new pair of shoes. So Ultrainspired is more about the journey, and perhaps metaphorically the highs and lows of what being a trail runner is all about.

Being injured is harder than this anyday!
Fact of the matter is, I'm not very good at endurance running, and yet I still enjoy it. I've had my fair share of physical challenges (although I can crush a solid downhill when healthy). My mental challenges were always in check, except for now. Persevering through some hard races and training days was something that became a part of my fabric of being, and I embraced the struggle there.

I'm definitely feeling the stagnation of not running and miss the catharsis it brings. There's only so much that can be done to fill the gap, but at some point, you have to run to feel the sensations of running. Meditation, visualization, escape via cinema, short movies, blogs, running books and other associated tools can not replace the activity itself. The ability to reach Flow State through other means is elusive and remains a mystery. I sometimes feel it when writing, and on occasion at work during a busy rush or a creative meeting, but it comes nowhere near what can be experienced while being surrounded by the majestic forests that live around us.

And so, here I sit. Laptop in hand. Typing away and working through it all.
While enjoying some tea with Mara.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Enduring Injury, Training the Mind

When training for an endurance sport, there are many aspects that are being developed simultaneously. There's the obvious physical adaptation of developing soft tissue, muscular strength, metabolic efficiency, lactate thresholds and cardiovascular zones. The invisible, less measurable, yet arguably more vital components of mental fortitude, willpower, and grit develop with pushing limits, embracing struggle and allowing oneself to explore challenges that are beyond the scope of physical capacity. It's all part of growing and training spirit and perseverance.

So what happens when physically, you're limited by an injury that keeps you away from the sport that you're trying to grow within? How do you maintain the energy, focus and drive to achieve goals when one foot can not be placed in front of the other. The mantra of "relentless forward progress", synonymous with Ultra Running, and endurance sports of other disciplines, becomes impossible when the practice of practice is off the calendar.

And this is where I find myself at the start of the new year. With 2016, my race calendar isn't filled. I have no official registrations and my schedule is tied up with rehab appointments measured in minutes of time and kilometres to drive to appointments and budgeted costs versus time on feet, kilometres per week, and pace goals. In essence, the recovery process has become it's own training cycle. This got me thinking about how to think about injury. I've embraced it as a waiting game, allowing my hip socket to heal, and then starting rehab for mobility and conditioning. But perhaps I've been approaching it incorrectly? Is biding my time really the best way to wait this out and then gradually returning to the trails? It almost feels like wasted effort and the focus is almost entirely physical. Hence, I'm missing a component of recovery that is important to endurance training, and that's the mental game. I need to train the mind while recovering physically and maintain that edge so that as the next phase of rehab leads to the next phase of short runs with maybe ten to twenty kilometre weeks (small in the endurance training spectrum) I'm ready to meet the challenges and be ahead of the curve.

Feeling frustrated by an injury is a luxury I haven't allowed myself. The biggest frustration (I hate that term) is not being able to bounce on a trail or navigate a technical section of a trail in a playful and fluid manner. So I've stayed away, which has been a good thing, as I don't enjoy having to be overly cautious. This blessing in disguise has give me time to reset and look forward to other areas of development, and reading has been one of those. It's been the perfect time to engage in personal development exercises, listen to seminars, read up on mental coaching, and listen to the wisdom of business coaches, athletic coaches and spiritual coaches. I've had the chance to dig into music on a deeper level, and get in touch with lyrics and songs that have impact on me personally.

Playing in snow on Hollyburn with my boys
While staying in touch with friends has been harder to maintain, as they are all out playing on the mountains, and I'm not, I have had the fortune of many of them coming to dine at Chambar, and sharing in their stories table side. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have likewise been a source of connection on their individual adventures, and allows a glimpse beyond the glass. Sometimes, a picture or a post from a running mate can ignite a memory and the smell of pine or the feeling of a cool breeze can come back as though you're there in person. These kinds of visualizations and fantasies are beneficial, as it's easy to recall a moment, look back on a video or old picture and remind yourself of the joy that was felt, and the promise of it returning at a future date.
Team We Run Mas. Never alone.
I'm going to be forty two this year, and, while not having a "mid life crisis" as I am very happy with my life, I am reminded of my own mortality. David Bowie recently passed away, and yet there he was, in 1985 at Live Aid, at the age of thirty eight, vibrant and full of vitality. He was younger than I am now at that time, and now he is gone. Suddenly time feels very finite, and the moments that are yet to come are running short. This only spurs me on to develop a greater appreciation for what is now. Being mindful of each moment and allowing the enjoyment of this mental endurance training to last for as long as it needs to until the physical training can resume.

Being injured is its own Ultra. It lasts longer than you expect, has its highs and lows, and forces you to come to terms with many areas of your being. I feel like I am on the verge of a new discovery as I'm forced on the sidelines. The lack of goals to achieve this year on the running front is foreign to me, and I am forced to fill the space with new goals and unexplored territory. This mental exploration has been exciting, and layered in its turmoil. The struggle is ever present to stay focused and not lose track of what it is that I want to accomplish and prove to myself.

I guess it really just boils down to one metaphorical foot in front of the other.

Future's So Bright . . .

Monday, December 21, 2015

Chasing Excitement

Returning to the blog posts is an interesting moment. What do I write about, as this is a running blog, and fact of the matter is, I can not run.
My Strava log looks like a barren landscape, devoid of life. Empty space with zero weeks after zero weeks. The injury to my right hip, which I ran through from March to August finally hit its tipping point at Squamish 50 at the end of August. I had modified my gait so much to compensate for the lack of range of motion that the alignment of my hip, femur, lower back and all the way down the kinetic chain was messed up.

Out of necessity, I decided to do nothing for three months. Let the injury go down in swelling, and see what happens after that. During the process, I was in active rehab, engaging in massage therapy, acupuncture, active release, and chiropractic work, in addition to physical therapy exercises. The best result I encountered was with two old school chiro appointments that realigned my pelvis, which allowed my right leg to go higher than 45 degrees. Yay, I could go up stairs again without holding a railing.

One of the elements of being sidelined is the change of habits that occur in your lifestyle. The social aspect of meeting with friends on the trails, exploring new terrain, summiting peaks of mountains and having that connection with nature that trail running allows is all gone. The escape and return to a simpler state, where your relationship with a more silent you is easily achieved in the mountains, so how do you regain or replace that when the geography is no longer achievable?

I tried a couple of hikes, and the downhill returns were painful beyond measure, so it was too soon, even for a less impactful and slower attempt. Time continued to tick by.
I was fortunate start a new job at the end of September as GM of Chambar Restaurant which focused a lot of my energy into new challenges and reinvigorated my creative and organizational side. It also expanded my passion for coaching, connecting and developing individuals, so cerebrally I was able to destroy any potential boredom that could have occurred with such a dramatic drop in running activity.

We had our We Run Mas anniversary run in November, Year III, which was amazing, as close to sixty of us all showed up and laughed and frolicked through the trails of the North Shore. We did draw some disapproving glares for having such a big group, but hey, a once a year gathering of friends in the forest is what the community, and our group is all about. Many of us had achieved epic accomplishments, from injury recovery, Personal Best Times (like my Cypress race where I passed close to 40 people!), FKT's or a massive goal such as a first fifty mile to one hundred mile finish line! The anniversary run let us all decompress, enjoy each other's company, and share in some hilarious and heart-wrenching stories, supported by the love and care of those who know each other on such a deep level.

Just this last week, I saw Dr. Roberts at the Sports Science Centre at UBC (he's also investigating my gut issues) regarding the hip. He had access to my X-Rays and history, and his final assessment is I have a hip labrum tear. They don't recommend surgery anymore since the recovery time is the same, so it's going to be close to eighteen months of rehab and physical therapy to get back up to full speed.
I'll be able to start slowly, working in the 5 to 8 kilometre range and building back up over the next several months. Speed and aggressive downhills are out of the question for at least six months, and a close monitoring of pain will ensure the inflammation is not aggravating or causing more damage. Basically if it hurts, stop.

So this leaves me in a funny head space. I've always followed the mantra formula of "title equals activity." For example, "Writers write. Painters Paint. Bloggers Blog. Managers Manage. Fighters Fight." And of course, "Runners Run." As it stands, I currently don't run. I haven't "run" for almost four months. Yet, in my mind, I am still a runner. Physically, I am going to have to start from a new beginning. Chances of an Ultra for 2016 are not going to happen, so a realignment of goals is necessary; first and foremost being "get healthy." Work on the strength, balance and coming back stronger in every other way. So that way, when I do return to the trails, I'll be in a prepared state and excited for the new adventures and opportunities.

I am finding that so much of the work that I have done, mentally coordinated with the reading, flow state practice and spiritual development (not religious spirit, but more willpower, perseverance and getting to know the deeper "me") has allowed me the drive and vision to stay on course. I know what is possible in trail and endurance running. It has taken me to places both physically and emotionally that I never dreamed possible. I know that there is so much more, and I am yearning to discover what those secrets are, the unlocked experiences that are waiting to be unraveled and absorbed. This promise is unquestionable. It's what keeps me motivated for what is to come and I'm running towards it the only way that I know how; by chasing excitement.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Reload: What is Ultra Inspired?

When I first got into trail running, the aspect that lured me the most was play. I really enjoyed running through the woods. It reminded me of when I was a kid, hopping on my BMX and riding down the street in Coquitlam to a friend's place who lived on the side of the ravine. We would jump his fence and go trounce through the woods, sliding down slopes, climbing trees and playing Knights and Dragons. We would laugh endlessly.

Al Quinto, Simone and I at top of Shannon Falls on Sea to Summit
(Photo Credit: Gregan Dunn)
Returning to that childhood feeling through trail running definitely reignites that emotional state from my youth. A simpler time where nothing really matters other than the forest breeze on your face, the sound of the pine needles crunching underfoot, and the sunlight shining down between the gaps in the canopy.
I jumped into distance pretty quickly, with the 20 to 25 km long run as a benchmark within a single season, and felt great during those runs. Tired, fatigued, and expended but still laughing. Still ready to go at it again the next day. I enjoyed the shorter races, the 8k to 25k trail events that could take anywhere from an hour to three and a half hours depending on the course. They were challenging, I could redline the fast bits, and they required strategy and endurance. I'm analytical about a lot of things, and it appeased that desire in me to dial in pace, fuelling and technique on a race.

Then came the Ultras. I was so inspired by the concept of running for 50 kilometres or more. Being on the trail for hours, and (for my pace), perhaps 8 or 10 hours on a 50k distance. It was a challenging goal, and one that I knew was just out of reach for me unless I trained for it. I wanted it badly, but the work had to be put in. For those who may not know, my first race Ultra attempt was the Squamish 50 miler which ended badly at kilometre 53'ish of 80k. My mind wanted it, but my body wasn't ready. I have completed two Ultra races, and the distance four times, but always with immense struggle.

Living on the Edge with Marie Boucher and Jeremy Schwab.
(Photo Credit: Jeremy Schwab)
The biggest hurdle I've had is my gut. At times, I feel like it's taken over my life and this blog itself, it's such a monster. It's an issue that seems to evade explanation, and I've seen the gamut of experts, including a Sport's Nutritionist, three Neurologists, two Gastroenterologists, three sport's science PHD's and have received loads of advice from elite, mid pack and back of the pack friends and colleagues.
I've read every book under the sun from Noakes,  Fitzgerald, Daniels and Maffetone, as well as peer reviewed studies on endurance sport's physiology and training effects. If there's a podcast about endurance training, I've listened to it. The tests have been endless, from countless investigative blood, urine, and fecal samples, pipes down the throat, stress tests on treadmills, CT scans, MRI's, and Ultrasounds. There have been some anomalies, each given a different strategy for training. I've listened and adhered to the training prescriptions each time. They all end with IV bags as my body denies the time based exertion and stops taking in fuel and water.

To say it's frustrating is an understatement. In most instances, my legs and muscular strength is fine (aside from the cramping). I know I have to drink and eat more, but it's easier said than done. I can look at my water bottle, and take a sip, and it'll come back up seconds later. Same with calories, no matter the form it takes. It's hard to hydrate the body when that happens even if the previous hours were on point in both calories and ounces per hour. When the switch turns off, there's no turning it back on.

So this leaves me at a turning point. Fact of the matter is I only have so many mass implosions left in me. It's hard not only on my system, but also on my family. I also don't want to end up deep in the back country and hit that point of no return where help is challenging to get. It's not fair to my family or to my running friends to wonder if I'm gonna turn into a Zombie and become a liability.

It's July of 2015. Two years ago this month I completed my first 49km run. I did it on minimal fuel and water, and felt pretty good aside from some leg cramps. My threshold has shrunk, not grown, since that time, hence listening to my body is key. I'm going to pretend like I can't run an Ultra (which isn't too far from the truth) but not lose what it means to me. Inspiration.

My Wife Simone and I
This had forced me to do some soul searching. I'm thankful I can run for 4 or 5 hours and about 25 k with little issues. So that's where I'm going to reload. I am still inspired by the Ultra distance. By the challenges it produces, the adaptation it requires, and the mindset it requires to achieve such feats. The 100k mark is my ultimate goal distance. But not yet. I'm hitting CTRL+ALT+DELETE and resetting and reframing my abilities and get back to a "play" state of mind. I've developed some amazing memories and irreplaceable friendships along this continuing journey, from our running group We Run Mas, to being involved in the local trail running community on a deeper level than I had imagined or hoped.

We Run Mas aka Coolest Team on the Planet
(Photo by Simone Kumar)
I still love that moment of taking the last few steps to the summit of a mountain top, and seeing the endless views and vistas of the landscape, with only the sounds of your breath and the whisper of the trees. Descending a fast hill, covered in roots, rocks and lined with moss covered trees that witness your passing. Stopping at a mountain stream and rinsing your face, dunking your buff and feeling the crisp, clean water refreshing your senses. These are the things I love about trail running, and despite my Ultra goals for this year escaping into the distance, I'm still running towards it because I have to know what's beyond the horizon.

Chasing the Sunset
(Photo Credit: Jamie Douglas)