My last entry is about the AFC half, which will most likely be the best race performance of my life. It was exciting to go through that race, knowing how unique it was, and to have an outcome that even surprised my elevated expectations.
I managed to use the results from AFC to squeeze into the elite development corral at the Chicago marathon. I doubled my efforts and on 10/10/2010 I pulled off what will most likely be my lifetime best marathon. I also really enjoyed the entire weekend, being able to spend time with some good friends in one of my favorite cities (at least when the weather is cooperating). It was an intense and vivid way to bring together years of preparation, months of dedicated training and eating, and a focus unlike anything I've previously experienced.
The next 30 days were an attempt to return to the land of normal. It's not so easy to do when you spend months on edge, it takes a while to adjust, unwind, recover, and reload. I managed to tweak a hamstring 2 weeks after Chicago at the Lindo Lake dirt dog race, which helped "encourage" me to gain perspective. I put more time into yoga and swimming and less into running. I slept until the sun rose, and on my birthday I started drinking again. After a long break from "normal" I could see and taste life's simple pleasures with new vigor. I started drinking coffee, and I indulged in scones and muffins. Soon I had gained back enough to relinquish my recent nickname as "the guy formerly known as big dave". My jeans were getting tight, but I caught myself smiling, curious, and inquisitive.
For Thanksgiving, I flew to Honolulu to be with my father who cooked a turkey (I think Gerri actually cooked it) and we ate alone together for the first time in years. It was a special moment, father and son, at such different stages of life, and yet sharing a moment. I will remember that meal, and the many other ones we shared while I was home, as simple connections between two men who are both trying to navigate our way through a life, manage the unexpected twists, and find enjoyment and happiness.
I flew to Kona on Saturday to pace/crew for Hillary Biscay during her first attempt at ultraman. Things went about as expected and my front row seat to one of the tougher endurance races was a real pleasure. I think the highlight of that trip was not how strong Hillary was at the end (which is impressive, but I think all of her friends have seen so much toughness from her that we aren't surprised by it anymore) but observing firsthand how she and her fiance, Maik, interacted. I hadn't spent continuous time with the two of them before and I really enjoyed seeing their interactions and how their dynamic works for the two of them.
After ultraman I was treated to two more weeks with my father, where I observed him preparing for a dance showcase event that his instructor had been planning for months. At first I admit I did not fully understand the magnitude of the evening, but as we got closer to the performance I began to realize it was going to be a real show. Watching my dad perform to New York, New York was another lifetime highlight. I think I understand some of how a parent might feel watching his/her child perform in front of others. I felt pride and admiration for his hard work, and I have to admit I was fairly amazed at how polished he was able to be, how smooth and graceful he can be at the moment of truth. I know he has put many years of hard work in to be where he is today, and it was impressive to see it on display. Another great part of the evening was seeing how much he really enjoyed the entire event, the social dancing, the performances, and all of the interaction with his peers. It was a window into his world that I feel grateful for the chance to experience.
As my 2 weeks in Honolulu wrapped up, things seemed to speed up a bit. I managed to complete one full loop of the HURT course which took me over 5 hours. The highlight of that run/hike/stumble was sitting on the bench that memorializes Rod's dad's life and his love of running and trails. It was my first time on that section of trail and I didn't even know the bench was there, I ran right by it on the way down to Nu'uanu but on the way back I stole a peek at the sign and realized what it was and what it meant. We have a bench for my mom, but it is in a botanical garden that we just don't go to very often. I felt a special moment up there, on that little grassy knoll, overlooking ocean and skyscrapers, with a breeze and pure quiet. Thanks to Kent for making Rod and for Rod for inspiring me in so many ways, tennis, running, and family.
The end of my trip brought some good news, if you can call it that. I was selected for the Western States lottery, my 4th year of waiting to get in, along with Mike Buchanan who I paced last year. It is very helpful to have someone else motivate me through what will undoubtedly be some of the most grueling training I will ever attempt. It will be nice to throw pace out the window and try to max out on distance, as opposed to the measured efforts that are necessary for road racing. I had planned to take an extensive off season, but I guess that plan is on hold a bit while I get myself ready for the efforts of the spring.
So, as Christmas approaches, I feel refreshed, recharged, and that pesky hamstring is healing. I feel progress with yoga for the first time in my life, the faint glimmer of a 1% increase in flexibility and core strength, both tremendous areas of weakness for me. And I'm doing an ok job of seeking out new experiences, new friends, and renewing my existing friends, particularly ones who have known me for a long time who I've lost touch with. It feels exciting to be at this stage of life, to look forward to each moment in the future to fully experience the present, and to remember the past.