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The Road To Zion

10 May 2012 8 Comments

I have not posted in a while and mostly because I have been pretty busy with a new job but also from a change of pace and reflection.   This post is as much for me to get my thoughts organized and up to date as it is to bring in the new challenge on the road to Zion.

Over last few years, I have been increasing a lot of my focus, time and energy into going faster or longer in sport.  I feel blessed to be able to have the support around me from “the team” and the flexibility to pursue my curiosity for adventure and my personal limits.  Last year, I took some time away from work to spend a good part of the summer just_training.  While the training in itself lost luster, it was an opportunity for me to learn in an environment that I never thought I would be able to explore.  That provided some unique insight.  It also confirmed how much I was doing right in the previous years by following my intuition and thriving with the people and pressures of a balanced life around me.   For triathlon, fun was my guide and consistency was my focus in training.  I did not really think about it then but I put down some good work over the last few years.

The reason why it was so was because it never felt like “work”.  Training was a process that got me to the starting line of some of my life’s most exciting memories.  Last summer, I was beating myself up for not sticking to the training schedule or not taking it serious enough (because of what I was being told) and only managed to do a single triathlon all year long.  I also cut my year out early to deal with some tough questions to my motivation.  Its not the “what” questions that are difficult but the questions of “why” that are so hard to answer.  I put the chart up above because it is a good reminder that it is not all about the work you put in…  I did a lot of that training over the summer for a race that I never showed up to the starting line for.

I love to train and the time put in is a requirement (at some level) if you want to do what_it_takes but my motivation for training had changed. I was also well do for a break.  I had over 200 hours of RACING in addition to training in the last 12 months by the time that TransRockies rolled around last year.

I bring that up to bring up this…

Although the adventure and challenge is what got me into sport, it was the referential framework providing a simple example for life that got me hooked.  The phrases we use all the time about “the process”, “climbing a mountain”, “teamwork”, “the finish line” are easy to understand and grasp.  They also peel away our motivations, and, in some cases our character in a raw, shorter amount of time.  This has always fascinated me.

It was my original intention (as it is here) to share my thoughts and experiences about trail time because of curiosity about this life compressed in ultra adventures.  By the end of the summer many of those questions were answered and training was just about training.   I feel very fortunate to be able to do many of the things on my list and them turn out better than expected.  Traithlon, Adventure races with the teams I look up to like Nuun, Ultraman with the family and the top of the top – racing with my hero Paul at an international exploration stage race in the most wild place I have ever been.   To me, it was not about the place but who I was with and the truck load of memories collected along the way.  I agree with Dean Karnazas about structured training for training when he stated “ it reduces the run to a training stimulus, and I want it to be an adventure”.  The best “wins” in my life have always come from a balanced state when I am in an adventure with friends and the training just flows from the curiosity to explore the process, the journey and the present.

 

I learned that to execute this…

If I really wanted to get into a flow of winning, I need to cultivate the right environment for me to stay motivated for the task at hand.  Working, exploring, eating, laughing and suffering at the right work output with my ohana.  What I had to realize is that it is not fatigue that slows you down or causes you to stop.  It is boredom.  When you lose the spark of curiosity over the process or are not experiencing moments “out of book” excitement, the momentum (among other things) is lost.

Last year, I started working for a company that I truly believe in and that has sparked my passion for technology again.  It is challenging enough to keep me razor focused on the daily workload and flexible enough to allow me to be creative.  It’s a dynamic team I am proud to be a part of and I have been on a mission since I started.  I also choose to focus on public speaking more and my manager has been lining up opportinity after opportunity for me to practice.  I suck but I am getting a lot of practice!  With the extra focus on work including after hours I have had little time to train and my schedule was filled with travel in the first few months.    

One of the hardest lessons of my life has been learning to say no to myself and others but it is an absolute required skill that must be mastered to be productive.  I cut a lot out of my life and my training just switched to running here and there when I was traveling.  The simplicity of running with the deep technical workdays fueled a balance I was so thirsty for and most of all it fit my life like a glove.  Training was my diary more than a routine and I was taking my medicine.  I said no to a lot and I said no to myself often.  At the same time I was spending record amounts of time with Monique and enjoying the present like never before.

Like most things started, once you get onto the right team, into a rhythm and are in love with the process you go further than expected.   The road to Zion was forming for me to tackle something that has always been a goal – running 100 miles in a day.  If I could manage the balance and still exceed quota/expectations at work, not die trying from lack of preparation and have the right team to enjoy the journey I had little to hold back my overwhelming motivation to run and run and run.

I have never enjoyed the journey more into a race before.  Perhaps because I have perspective about looking back and realizing that it is the little things and faces along the road that become most meaningful when looking back.  Collecting images and memories from the last few months has been one of the best times of my life and as always just getting better.  The Zion was kept on the DL for most of my training and until a couple weeks ago I had no support.  I didn’t think I needed a pacer or crew and I just wanted to run but when my pals got word, Paul and Cat scooped up the biggest dream team I could have ever imagined for the race.  With Monique, Melissa running the fifty, Josh, Justin and me running the hundo I have no doubt it is going to be the party I have been looking forward to.  Having my hero Paul and the superstars Jen and James pace and crew for me blows my mind and melts my heart.  Just being on vacation with this team is a dream come true.

Which brings me to now…

Less than 12 hours until race start and I am being pampered and loaded for the biggest output of my life.  I am being told to sit, keep my feet up, feed my face and how I will do so great tomorrow.  We have enough horsepower in this house to get across the continent and I have to say, if I am nervous at all, its about the power of the team behind me.  On the trails of Zion I will get to run some of the best single track in the world with my friends and eat as much as I possibly can…How can running 100 miles be painful with this  crowd?  My thoughts are in order, my blessings are overflowing and I am ready for my kind of party!  Bring it on Zion!

 

8 Comments »

  • Super K said:

    Nice Slate! You are gonna kill it. Don’t forget your motivation when you are tired and maybe a little delirious. Be strong in your mind, don’t lose anything and don’t get lost! I’ll be cheering you from here. Wish I was there to push you a little too! Have a blast! K

  • Brian said:

    Sounds like you are in a great place. Have a great race and enjoy the adventure.

  • Aaron Boatman said:

    Kick ass bro. Loved the writeup. Keep a level head and know I’ll be cheering for you.

  • Sciarrilli said:

    Great post slate. I don’t know what to say bro… Wish I could be there with you. I will track your progress on from the links you posted.

  • mke corona said:

    well said Slater!

    you speak the truth and it’s refreshing!!

    Look forward to hearing the details of your next adventure-

    Mike

  • Paul said:

    Slater,
    Great post, very reflective. You are a true inspiration to athletes everywhere, I’ll be cheering you on from afar today!

  • Ryan Pearson said:

    Excellent post slater!! Your enthusiasm is infectious and it motivates the hell out of me. I’m stoked to follow you on this adventure. Party Hard!

  • Mark B said:

    Slater

    So interesting for me to watch you mature and grow mentally and physically and to start to reflect and organize your priorities in life as you get older. You should be proud of yourself and your amazing team mate Monique. BTW …. pursue the public speaking thing because I really think you have something to share and the better the delivery the better the message.

    Cheers!!! Go get ‘em!!!
    Benzie

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