Monday, February 22, 2016

Dreaming Forward

"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward."

This quote by Rocky Balboa hangs on my door, i read it every morning before I leave my room... It is sort of my moment of reflection on the journey that has gotten me where I am today.. It my moment of appreciation..

In life I have taken my fair share of hits.. And even when I was knocked down and didnt think i would be able to get up I found something, someone, I found a reason to pull myself up and keep moving forward..

Homelessness and drug abuse was a big part of my life as a young man, there i was 19 years old dreaming of bigger things as I lay on a park bench staring at the stars, and waiting for the buzz to wear off so i could pass out and do it all over again the next day. I remember dreaming of freedom.. a fantasy where i could travel the world to exotic places, and experience different cultures. I dreamt of a world where waking up was the highlight of my day, waking and feeling inspired to just open my eyes and see what the world had in store for me.. I dreamt of this life.

All that dreaming was fuel for the life I live today.. I realized that without hard work dreams are nothing more than just that. And without dreams hard work is nothing more than just work.
I learned that anything can grow from hard work and a dream... No matter how bad it hurts and how low you get, as long as you keep getting up when you get knocked down, keep working hard and keep dreaming. Anything is possible...

 I have found "homes" in different countries, I have found family through a connection in suffering and travel..  On trails, in forests, and deserts, in the depths of the deepest canyons and on the tallest mountains, I have found my most valuable dream.. Myself.

Thank to that younger version of myself for getting up, standing tall, and for dreaming....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Moving Forward Part 1



For the past four or five years I have been in love with a sport that has taken me to many beautiful places and has introduced me to some of the most amazing people, who have helped shape my life.
I find myself now, 31 years old, filled with memories, and overflowing with dreams and passion. This path I set out upon many years ago has kept my soul and body fueled with an energy that is unmatched by any other.

 I no longer feel the need to race, to pressure my body into something it may not want to do. But rather to enjoy this gift with not only my feet but with my hands, my eyes, and most of all my heart.
After many difficulties the past year with a condition I developed, finishing races became harder and harder. I would show up to a race knowing that finishing was a long shot but I would still show, not to pin my bib number on, not to toe the line or even to show how tough I was. I was there to see a wonderful new place and most of all, I was there to see my family, the people I love most.


Time and time again the race would start, adrenaline would pump through my entire self as goosebumps covered my body. I would howl to the earth and feel amazing, running hard, pushing my body to stay in the front of the pack. As the day would progress my body would feel stronger and stronger, until suddenly my body would slam into a "brick wall". Cramping muscles would be the start, followed by a sensation of my internal organs boiling. Soon after, uncontrolled vomiting would occur, accompanied by bloody urine and then standing would become difficult. I would always have to push through to the next aid station as my vision would come and go and my limbs would go numb. Rhabdomyolysis is what my Doctor diagnosed me with.

This dark place became home for many days, weeks, and even months after most races. I tried to find home and comfort  in this pain, this darkness. But as I did I found myself losing myself, losing the reason I followed this path to begin with, losing the purpose of my journey.

The fun was gone.

As the races came and went, months went by, and my running took a backseat to work and other hobbies, snowboarding, climbing and art. All these other hobbies brought me a lot of joy but something was missing..

....................

I awoke one morning after a night of very surreal dreams, and decided to join my friends in the Copper Canyons of Mexico for my fourth and last year at the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon. How fitting would it be to run my last race in the same place I ran my first. I booked flights and organized a ride, next thing i knew i was on my way to the place where my spirit feels so alive and at home..

One night we were at our home at Entre Amigos, a hostel in Urique MX, we all piled into the kitchen and began to share tequila, stories,and ourselves.. We went around the room introducing ourselves.. Each person said their piece, until finally it was my turn... i stood up from where i was sitting, on the cold tile floor and I looked at everyone in the room. I said something like this..."If you came here for a race, then you came for the wrong reason. The smallest part of this whole experience is the thing that brought us here... This moment right here, right now, tonight is what its all about. Enjoy this moment.. We are all family, We are home and i am honored to have all you here. Welcome.. and thank you.."

In that moment many things clicked, I started to feel it again, the reason I travel, the reason I race, and the reason I run.

I was never supposed to be about what races I have finished or the places I came in. Some where along the way I became lost, and got caught up in "someone elses race". My race was never about any of those things, my goal always use to be to have the most fun, help as many as I could and smile more than anyone else. And if I succeeded in that, then I would win...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

…waking….

My eyes opened and peered toward the opening in my tent, a ray of sun shined through the dense leafy green underbrush that was proof of a moist, beautiful early summer. I rolled over, unzipped my sleeping bag and emerged from my North Face two man tent..
As I stepped on the ground, the squish of the sponge like moss was a welcome awakening for my cracked, dry, tired feet..
My arms opened to the forest with a large yawn and stretch, several cracks and pops came from up and down my sore, wore out body.
I chugged a cup of coffee brewed in my Jetboil, took of my shirt, tied on my Luna Sandals, and took off on the trail that was now my front yard.. 
Running on the trail, through the forest, jumping over downed trees and splashing through wallows of mud, my senses were tingling. 
The scent of pine, and dirt filled my nose as my heart began to thump.. Feeling dirt and dust kick up from the trail and coat my feet was a welcome gift..
I ran up hill and sprinted down, I laughed, and sang as goosebumps covered my entire body.
The gorgeous view filled my eyes with new life, as tears flooded in. I stopped looked out at the endless miles of beauty.. And asked myself why I had left.. Why had I chosen the path i was on.. and why I had returned to the place where i learned to love this gift. … There was no answer, at least not one that I could find in that moment.. I just knew that I was where I needed to be at the moment at that time.. With all the love of everyone in my heart..  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Start...

5, 4, 3…. I have been in this place many times before… The Countdown.. my heart starts to pound, goosebumps cover my body and I can feel the blood flowing through every vein in my body.. My eyes focus down the chute to the first of the course markings.. everything becomes quiet and so peacefully still….the rest of the countdown become a soft gentle whisper…   ... 2…  …..one… The ground begins to rumble, as my vision blurs, the sprint out of the start begins, as i become breathless.. The overwhelming spirit of everyones dreams in one place working toward one common goal, and one beautiful moment of shared passion.
As the blades of grass touched the sides of my feet i could feel the moisture of the morning dew awakening my senses.. We approached the forest and the contrast between the bright green grass and dense dark brown trees was surreal. 

We charged up rolling trail and down hills as my legs tingled and began to burn. No conversation was made between three of us who ran together in our pack.. Just this feeling of our shared love for trail, the thrill of the run and we continued to push each other.. 

The first loop was over and after slamming some coke, and some food into my face, we out again the three of us stayed in our pack until I throttled back. I kept the other two in my sight until we reached one of the last aid stations.. I unscrewed my cap off my bottle and surged forward I filled my bottle and in less than five seconds i was off.. 

Sprinting out to the final section of course, I ran hard and ignored the screaming feeling that was coming from my legs.. finally I could smell the finish.. I pushed and pushed until the trees parted and the contrast of the darkness of the forest, green of the grass, and beautiful blue sky appeared again. I was back to the start of where i would finish.. The start of something new, the start of a amazing adventure that had just begun.. 



A new PR was nice, top ten was great, and First in my age group was too. But knowing what was coming was the greatest award of all and to check off the first race.. it was time.. 
Up next Miwok 100K


Monday, April 28, 2014

"Houses are full of things that gather dust."

 I found myself  in the middle of downtown Denver, on my best buddy Justins couch..The sounds of sirens filled my ears and cars zoomed by. As I scratched the sleep out of my eyes and looked out the window, I saw the sun shining and its warmth was waking the green grass and trees with the most gentle wake up call.. I got up and walked to a coffee shop as Bob Marley filled my ears I made my way down the sidewalk, oblivious to the vehicles and people that were everywhere around me.


The day before I had left Winter Park. My home, and my life, Winter Park has been such apart of me for ten years, that place will always be with me as long as I'm alive..


But my adventure had begun and for the first time in years I was free.. No bills, debt free, and no work, made me feel so empowered and full of a energy I haven't felt in years filled my soul. I left most of everything I owned and packed only the things i needed for this adventure. And left without looking back..

It was so beautiful out that Justin and I decided to bang out some errands and then go for a run. We arrived at a park next to a busy highway, there was a paved trail that melted into well groomed dirt one that wound up and down a soft grassy hill. A cool, gentle river flowed next to the trail as a single track hugged the shore of the water.


Running through the long grass, the rushing water that filled river flowed past, crashed into rocks and the shore line.. I found myself becoming lost in this moment, cars, concrete, and the population no longer existed… I was the in the moment with nature,  dancing a soulful dance which no one could interrupt or cut in.. I felt honored and proud to be connected with such a beautiful thing..
This was just the beginning, I was truly free and alive, for in that moment the link with her was oh exciting and real… Here's to adventure!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The trail less traveled….

 The cold water wrapped around my knees, and the heat of the day warmed my skin as the contrast of the  two elements soothed my soul.. I crossed the Urique river in search of adventure and a trail that my sandals had never touched before..

Cows crowded the side of the hill, as cactus, thorns and briars littered the side of the loose gravely canyon wall..

I crawled and climbed up the steepness, sliding and slipping down the loose rock, until finally I was rewarded with my first view of the trail I had dreamed of..
The thin ribbon of trail hugged wall of earth as the opposing side dropped hundreds of feet to the Urique River below..
Scrambling and running up and up, the dust and dirt filled my nose with the scent of her sweet earthy perfume. I couldn't help but smile as I pushed myself up the treacherous trail, dodging and weaving uphill through cat claw thorns and cactus that called this place home.  

As time went on I found myself struggling and lost, trails split off in infinite directions, all I knew was that i was heading up, to the top of the canyon. I don't know why I didn't turn back, was it the allure of the unknown? Exploring a new place? I pushed on, glancing over my shoulder, enjoying the hostel, where all my friends were, get smaller and smaller.


Every now and then i would come to flat sections that were so beautifully perfect for pounding out some amazing miles.

video
I neared the summit, the view was absolutely incredible from here but the trail became extremely treacherous. Stopping to enjoy the view, I slowed to a crawl, at this point the trail was non existent. With the drop falling thousands of feet, if you were to slip the only thing to stop you would be a random cactus or the occasional cow.

Finally I passed above the shrubs and trees, I had reached my destination. The top of the canyon was a sight for sore eyes..  I sat on a rock and looked out over the beautiful place that has a home in my heart, I thought to myself… why did I come here? why had I pushed so hard to get there? But I realized I didn't do it by myself, he was there with me.. He was showing me a placed he had loved as well, a place so quite and so peaceful. This feeling was a feeling I wish I could share with everyone, the feeling of being truly free. Without a single thought in the world, this was it.. This was the moment when i realized where i belonged.. Where I belong isn't a place, it was inside me, and where ever i wandered i was home..

video

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Home...


 As my apartment begins to get torn apart and my life packed away into cardboard boxes, I reminisce about all the memories and time I've spent in this beautiful town.. Winter Park Colorado has been my home for ten years, its a place that has seen the best and worst of me. It a place thats seen all the growth i've experienced in this life.

As butterflies fill my stomach, I see what will be my life packed into a 62 L backpack, I start to feel awake, and filled with a new energy...

This overwhelming, all consuming feeling of wanderlust began a few years ago when I was on a hike in Mexico with my friend Micah. We spoke about the freedom that is strived for in many peoples lives. And of how some people over the years lost the passion for adventure, and how freedom and success aren't measured in material things, but rather in the relationships we make with the people we meet, and the experiences we share with those people.


Ever since that day I found myself waking up everyday with a feeling of wanting, and needing adventure.. A new world was opened in my heart and a new reality was in the works.

 For the next several years I did a lot of traveling and a lot of racing. I met a lot of great inspirational people and learned a lot about myself every place i went. Until recently home was a physical thing.. A apartment, a trail or a town..

But as I pack everything away, and get rid of most of my physical possessions, the definition of what home is becomes much clearer… Home, to me, is here and now.. Home is the people I meet, the places I go, and the collections of memories in my heart. Home is my family and friends, my home… is you…