Monday, October 20, 2014

You Can Call Me Al: Not A Race Report.

If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty when you call me
You can call me Al
Call me Al

I have a feeling I was not the only kid in the mid-eighties who looked forward to this video every time it popped up on the fledgling VH1. Or maybe I'm just a weirdo. Wait, I know that I am a weirdo. The song came up comically to me, again and again, as I arrived to a beautiful spot in Mexico during an intense thunderstorm, staying for a week with a friend I hadn't seen in two-and-a-half years, but "see" every day on the Facebooks of the interwebs.

 It's not a unique phenomenon to have everything happen at once, but boy, did I, leading up to this adventure. I moved. I was in a very burned out state, and I knew it. It feels strange but honest and freeing to admit that. I wanted to run but needed to sleep. Have two great jobs that make the difference between making ends meet, and not. If you knew me this time a year ago, or if you don't-my first job experience with my current employer was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I try to find the good in everything, and I struggled to find anything. Fast forward a year, and sticking out that difficult road led to the recent upgrade into a position that isn't everyone's cup of tea, but challenges me in a way I enjoy.

 I came close to saying, screw it. I'm not going on this trip. Oh, what a bad choice that would have been.

 It was a bridge from a what was a good transitional state in many ways, but a leap of faith out on my own. Time to not be rushed. Time to back up and be less critical of myself. Just time.

 I had smooth sailing on all of my flights to Mexico, but realized that due to my poor initial Spanish-speaking skills, the weather, and really having no idea where I was after riding the bus from the airport to Playa Del Carmen, I was a little freaked out about not knowing what to do next. Instead, I chilled out and just waited. After all, I'd made it this far. Lots of people travel all over, and this is, I'm sure, quite laughable. But, this was my first time traveling solo internationally, with my other trip out of the states being to the UK with my dad when I was a teenager. (He says I gladly accepted a glass of wine on the flight over when they mistook me for being older than I was...I do not recall this event.) Somehow, I did manage to get a text out and soon enough, my friend was there. It's pretty cool that the randomness of being at the same race (the Imogene Pass Run) a few years ago ultimately led up to the trip. You meet cool people running, and most are pretty kindred spirits.

 There's not much to the next week, but oh, so much. I was going to be very happy just to couch surf. The space I had was my own space...above and beyond what I'd ever expected. And we had communal space to chill out, eat, talk. That was great. And then it was just amusing when the place across the street...."un secto" as one of Elizabeth's friends called it-started their "show" and a frenzied pitch several nights a week.

 I also got my own photo opportunity, my shot at redemption. I didn't bring my "real" camera but did what I love to do, observing, taking pictures on my phone of things that interested me. We ran at sea level with 100% humidity. Really, it was there because of the daily rains, much like my days working for Disney World on their college program (20th anniversary trip was this weekend...IamnotthatoldIamnotthatoldIamnotthatold). I watched E play with two different bands. She trained classically but the girl has found her niche with rock and blues. It's good stuff. The guitar player in each band was quite Anton Krupicka-esque. I declared it a future requirement that any new bands contain one guy who vibes my favorite trail runner.

 I took a yoga class, open air, en espanol. I sheepishly admitted to not being a Spanish-speaker when she asked, and then, much to my relief, she did teach it nearly entirely in Spanish. I was surprised how well I "understood" without understanding each and every word. I was a little intimidated to try to spend pesos and be understood in the "Mega," which is pretty much like Wal-Mart or Target, but with motorcycles for sale, and an ice cream parlor, merchant stands, and ATM underneath. I finally realized nobody was judging me, or gave a shit what I was doing, and came to embrace trying to put myself out there. Speak in Spanish no matter how terrible it sounded. Ordering from the most amazeballs open air quesadilla shop, where I got as far as ordering everything competently before I blanked on how to say "to go." Then it poured rain, I sat down to eat there, and it didn't matter as I enjoyed just being.

I found the best spot on the beach, loads of Mexican families, kids burying their siblings to their necks in the sand. Guys going in the water in jeans. I could use a big word but it was just damned nice.

 Sometimes, I thought about nothing. Or read. I got all the way through "Wild," which I'd started several times but, like a lot of other things, just didn't take top priority until now. Here, I had nothing but time. Damn, that was good to read. I'd see kids who reminded me of my kids. I was missing them a ton but knew this was a rare opportunity to be where I was. My favorite race, The Other Half, was this past weekend, and it was big that I was able to decide, hey, the race will be there next year. I was just looking forward to seeing my kids and sitting in my new house with my kids, and my new cat. Hear that? That post-divorce dog I was going to get is a motherfucking cat. He picked me long before I picked him. And I wanted to hang with the cat too.

 I decided, some time during the week, that I am going to take another swing at 100 miles. I'm over the "failed at Leadville" mentality. I went out at the toughest spot, not because I quit, but couldn't move fast enough. It'll be something in the spring, in the place of a spring road marathon.

 I thought about school, doing something different that what I am doing now. Uncannily, I started Aron Ralston's "Between A Rock And A Hard Place." True to my impatient nature, I skipped ahead to some stuff at the end-where he's recovering from his 127 Hours here in Grand Junction, Colorado, at St Mary's, where I've worked since last summer. He's describing the view from the hospital roof (the "old" hospital, not the top of the tall, modern tower that was recently built), in my neighborhood, I read thank you's, the recreational therapist I know from the Life Center whom I'd refer to as "The Yeti" the way he stealths in and out from the pool over there. I laughed at how damned small the world really is, and that hell, you only go around once. Working at the Life Center, I'd started seriously thinking about going back to school to be a PT assistant or recreational therapist. I'd watched what they did. Talked to a few of them about their jobs. It would be a major undertaking. I enjoy my job but don't want to be in central scheduling forever. I also laughed that when Aron thought he might not never get out of there, he was thinking about talking to friends and having a big, salty margarita. Yeah, that's a good focus rather than your arm being pinned to a rock.

 When I came back, one of the first things I did was sleep a lot. And then I easily gave up my yoga cleaning gig-on a permanent basis. I'm still on as a sub but letting one thing go that wasn't a top priority was big. So, the yoga studio owner suggested it, but it was a good idea. She's right, I have about a million class credits there. I just need to go in and practice again.

I hung out with my kids and my cat, who went on a big wander right after we moved him. I know cats don't want to be found if they don't want to be found, so it was with great joy that my youngest kids spotted him and coaxed him inside. He's going to get to resume indoor/outdoor lifestyle soon, but he's also sleeping off an adventure. So, that's that.

I was sad to not be at The Other Half this weekend, but also not, when I woke up at 7am on Sunday after ten hours of sleep, knowing that I needed it, and that my friends had boarded the bus an hour prior. Oh, my competitive side is still there. I did look at results and see where my 2013 time would've landed me,'s just a race. It'll be there next year. It was much better this year to be seeing angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity and saying hey, hallellujah.