Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Surviving Running in the Heat

Summer runnin’, had me a blast!

Okay, most of us don't have much of a blast when it comes to running in the summer. As for racing? Yeah, it takes a special breed to be able to peak on a hot and/or humid day. I’m not that special breed. In fact, I burst into flames like an ant under a magnifying glass when the sun comes out.

When you can see the sweat droplets in a picture - Yeesh.
It’s no mistake that virtually all of my best marathon times have come when the temperatures were in the 40s or 50s. There have been some extremely notable exceptions where a PR came on a hot day. All that leads me to wonder is how much faster it would have been if the weather had been cooler.

Regardless, because I run so poorly in the heat, and taking it to a treadmill is just not an option for me (I’d commit “runnicide”), I’ve had to learn how to cope.

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Ease Off the Throttle
 
I’ve had many races where I knew I was in shape to run a specific pace but knew the weather wouldn’t even come close to allowing me to do so. Rather than try to muscle through it at the preplanned pace, bonk in the middle, and crawl to the finish, I slowed my roll. By actively choosing to go at a pace slower than what I was ready to run, I didn’t have the collapse at the finish. Sure, the overall time was not what it could have been, but I didn’t need to visit the ambulance.

The general rule is: Above 55 degrees, for every increase of 10 degrees, marathon pace increases by 1.5 percent to three percent. In other words, there are going to be plenty of training runs and plenty of races in the hot and sticky months where it just isn’t going to be optimum for you to go all-out. Accept that reality and you’ll have a much better day.

You Simply Must Get Fluids
 
I’m known for being a bit of a camel. If the run is going to be less than 90 minutes, even in hot weather, I barely even think of taking a drink of water before I run, let alone taking water with me. But as the weather changes, so should your plans. I still rarely take water with me, but I know where liquid is available in case I need it. I also know that hydration is something you do before, during, and after the run, if you want the best results. Of course, too much liquid is a problem, too. But don't let the fears of hyponatremia (and the rarity with which it happens) keep you from getting your fluids.

Mix it Up
 
Use the summer to focus on your speedwork. Think about hitting the track. Mixing up workouts is a good thing and, in the summer when it is difficult to run long, going short and fast can be greatly beneficial. This is also the time to try different race distances. The summer allows for many more opportunities of racing a variety of new lengths. Never done an 8K? Hop in and set an instant PR, regardless of the slowdown because of the heat.

Know It All Helps

 
It hurts like the dickens, leaves you crashed on the couch or side of the road, and makes you wish for the icy cold hand of winter. Yet working out in this weather, if done right, will make you a better runner. It’ll make that cool, crisp fall morning where you put on your bib number all the more savory.
Remember that much we do as runners is, or should be, delayed gratification. We put in the hard work and effort when others won't so we can achieve the things others cannot. The sacrifices we make in these not-so-prime months will pay dividends in the future.

If you want that first sub-four-hour marathon or the first sub-20-minute 5K, the summer is where those dreams are made.

Go get ‘em.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pure Austin Splash and Dash Series 3 of 7

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 12; 7th Edition 
54.6 miles run and 3750 meters swam in races in 2018 races
Race: Pure Austin Splash and Dash Series
Place: Austin, TX
Miles from home: 13
Weather: 77 degrees;cloudy

When a storm called for a temperature drop of about 20 degrees for race day from the previous day, I was excited. Then I realized how accustomed to Texas weather I have become when "77 degrees" counts as something I am excited to race in.

Arriving at the race, I was in a very good mood. I had just finished a wonderful phone conversation with the race director of the Boston Marathon and friend  Dave McGillivray. Always a pleasure to speak with him and I was excited to hear about his new running book for kids and how well it was doing. Check it out here!

While my most recent race at the USAT Off-Road National Championship had resulted in a DNF, I was feeling good for this race. My swimming as of late had been better than a long time. I knew I still wouldn't win the race given the speedy wunderkind who live in Austin, as well as a few others  but I knew I should do fairly decent. When I first started doing this series last year I assumed I would do a few, get my feet wet literally and figuratively and steadily improve. That wasn't the case last year and I hadn't started off that great this year either. But we put ourselves in the arena to attempt to get better and that is all I can do.

Swim:

The overcast skies and cooler weather didn't make the water any chillier unfortunately. It wasn't warm but I knew I would be a bit sluggish at the start. The numbers were a little lower than normal for this race which allowed me to get a slightly cleaner start. In fact, after the initial burst of swimmers, I would say twenty yards in, I never wavered from my position in the swim. There was one swimmer right in front of me who I just couldn't seem to pass. I would get about waist high on him and then fall back. I decided that it felt as if I was swimming faster than usual so I shouldn't waste too much energy here on the swim. My run in this race has given me the most problems this year so I wanted to save some energy for that.

It is a real quick sum up of this entire swim to say that in his hip pocket is where I stayed until the final climb out of the water. We were separated just by four seconds as I stumbled a bit getting out of the quarry and regained my composure. For the first time since I have begun running this race, we had a timing mat as we got out of the water, giving us a true swim split  (instead of both swim and transition.)  Granted, I didn't see my time until later (I hit the wrong button on my watch like a moron) but my 11:42 is far and away the best I have swum in this event. Coupled with a not so bad :36 transition time (I stumbled putting on one shoe which cost me probably four seconds) and allowing the swimmer in front of me to run past me on the way up the hill, thinking I would track him down later in the run, and I hit the run at 12:12. If I ran the loops in 4:30 or less (which I was more than capable of doing) I would have my fastest overall time yet by a huge margin.

Run:

As I started the run I realized I had hit the wrong button on my watch. Fiddling with it almost had me going into a culvert ditch with a drainage pipe that ran under the trail. I veered off the stone path and had to deftly run around the pipe and stream and somehow miraculously did not break an ankle. Not a great start. Recovering, I decided to forget the watch and just run. As there is a clock at each loop I could do the math to tell if I was close enough to my desired pace.

The first loop was very pleasant for there was not a single soul to run around and no one out exercising to get in the way. I just had the one runner in front of me who was, much to my chagrin, steadily pulling away from me. I was hoping that I would catch my breath, settle down and soon I would be passing him.  I knew the first loop would tell me how hard I was actually running since I felt like we were flying. Upon finishing the first loop, I saw that neither was the case. I ran a 4:39,  which is just so frustrating. It was my very first aquathlon here where I ran my fastest run of all of these events. How that is the case is beyond perplexing. During the race, my first loop was a 4:25. To be so much slower angered me I am sure quite visibly to anyone watching.

The second loop gave me a chance to run around a few other runners as I tried desperately to open up my stride. I was obviously disappointed with how slow my first loop had been but passing runners always makes me feel better. Suffice it to say I find this course to be very challenging. The footing is uneven, there are some very tight turns, a few branches stick out here and there, and a beast of a hill on the back end always challenges me. Running just one second faster in 4:38 on this loop (compared to 4:23 in that first race) upset me all the more.

The third loop is where it gets quite congested but I knew it was four minutes of pain and I would be Unfortunately it was 4:33 of pain (compared to 4:20 in that first ever race.) I finished 10th overall in 26:11, having passed one younger runner and not getting passed by any. Forty-two seconds slower on the run when it should be forty-two seconds faster now that I know the course and every nook and cranny is a bit frustrating. I know I can be faster. I just have to keep plucking away.


Fortunately, I have another shot in a month. I doubt July's weather will be as hospitable as this race was but hopefully I will have figured out the right formula for success. I will never be fast in a short two-mile race and I know at age 42 I might have lost a step, but I refuse to admit that I can't drop this time precipitously, regardless of the heat, the challenge of the course, or anything else.

It's hard to beat a person who refuses to quit, they say.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

USAT Off-Road National Championship Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 12; 6th Edition 
52.6 miles run and 3000 meters swam in races in 2018 races
Race: USAT Off-Road National Championship
Place: Waco, TX
Miles from home: 100
Weather: 84 degrees; sunny, humid

I have two main goals when I participate in a race:
1. Give all I have on that day.
2. Don't get injured. 

As I just celebrated my 42nd birthday, the second axiom holds more sway than the first. I don't recover as quickly from, well, anything, anymore and I have less patience to deal with the human race if I am injured and can't exercise. So being injury free is paramount to my, nay, all of society's survival.

Which brings me to my DNF at the USAT Off-Road National Championship this past weekend. But before I put the cart ahead of the horse, let me describe why I had both a cart and a horse to begin with.

While searching local races about a month ago, I saw this national championship race was taking place just up the road. As I do not have otherworldly athletic ability and will never really participate in national championship races where the absolute best athletes compete per se, I jump at any chance to take part in an event like this. Three years ago, when living in Portland, OR I saw the US Mountain Running Championships were three hours away in Bend. I am not a mountain or trail runner, and I hate running uphills, but hey - National Championship race.  I took part, did about as well as I could expect (horrible), and was glad I did it.  I knew that an off-road bike being sponsored
by Xterra would probably be out of my league skill-wise but I figured I would give it a go.

A week before the event I did a 42-mile bike ride on my 42nd birthday, which was just long enough to be the second longest bike ride I have ever done. (It is only bested by two half-ironman bike rides. Yep, I don't ride often or far.) I had picked up my swimming a bit in the last month and felt even if I was mid-pack on the bike, I should do a-ok overall. Who knows what might happen if I held it all together.

 

Race Morning:

I got to the Cameron Park starting line way earlier than I needed to on the morning of the race, because I know how hard it can be to set up all you need for a triathlon. So it was better to be safe than sorry and arrive early.  However, even putzing around for a bit, I had 45 minutes to kill.  Unfortunately, this had me looking around at all the gear all the people who knew what they were doing had with them. I don't normally care too much what everyone else brings to a race but that is when I am aware what is in store for me. Seeing bike gloves and elbow pads, and bike helmets which looked like could protect the wearer from a meteor shower did little to assuage my fears. Fortunately, I was blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead.

We gathered near the start of the swim which was the lukewarm 84 degree Brazos River.  I was told the event had once been shortened because the water had reached 92 degrees. A swim being shortened because the water was too warm was a new one for me. Texas life. One of the guys next to me told me he had come from Denver and was shocked how I was pleasantly surprised that our 8 a.m. start time only had a temperature of 82 degrees. "I don't think we have hit 82 degree yet for the year," he mused.

Swim:

I scoped out a place to try and get an unhindered swimming start but found even in this wide river, there were still people all over each other. I guess those pushing to the front were good swimmers.  As the megaphone the RD was using had conked out on him (this seriously happens more times than it doesn't at races I have attended. How fragile are megaphones?) a quietly spoken "go" was our firing pistol.

Immediately I was caught in a tangle of arms and feet as bodies swarmed over each other. I thought perhaps the one thing I felt I would do well at today, this swim, might be a weak leg for me.  The swim was to begin heading downstream to a bridge, around a buoy, upstream past our starting point to another buoy further up the river before turning around and heading home. As I pulled a bit inside to try and remove myself from the bodies, I saw a few swimmers already out in front of me. I also saw plenty of swimmers to my right who were WAY to my right. Not sure why they started so far over there as there is no need to swim longer than you need. Maybe to avoid all the other thrashing swimmers.

When we got to the first buoy and began to swim upstream, I can honestly say I felt no difference in the current. In fact, if I hadn't known which way the river flowed, I wouldn't have even known there was movement. (Interestingly enough, I read in other reports from other athletes how they HAD noticed it.) I had heard someone say knowing the river helps as there are places where the current is stronger and can tell you I had never once in my life thought of that in terms of racing. (I also learned about a thing called "fetch" from the overall winner - and I actually still have no idea what he is talking about.  ) Talk about home river advantage!

Approaching the second buoy I was a little confused. I could only see a handful of swimmers in front of me and none had turned to come back home yet. When they finally did, I could only count a few.  Was I really doing that well?

Turning and heading for home, it appeared I was in the top ten. Huh. I finally was beginning to feel my groove and passed one last swimmer in front of me before exiting the water. It ends up I was seventh out of 126 men (and technically 40 women as well but they started after us.) In addition, while I am not necessarily going by my GPS, I will go by my time and there is no way that was only  1500m swim.

Transition:

There was a long tenth of a mile run on the road from the swim to where bikes were racked.  A bit further than I would like to run but it gave me a chance to get out of swimming mode and ready to bike. I didn't speed through the transition, as I wanted to make sure I had all my various accoutrements. I grabbed a drink of water and Gatorade from the station and was a bit bummed they were lukewarm.This would play in my decision-making a little bit later. (FORESHADOWING!) As an occasional race director I have prided myself on making sure drinks are always cold. That is so paramount to runner success, especially on a blisteringly warm day.

Bike:

I was pretty unaware of the actual bike course. I knew it was supposed to be hilly, twisting, and had lots of roots and cervices. I figured, worse-case scenario I would just take it easy when necessary and just power through. I came out of the transition right after another cyclist and was immediately on his heels (tires?). I didn't know we had about half a mile of payment riding before hitting the trails or I would have sped up a little bit to take advantage of the part I was half decent at. As it stands I passed him and another cyclist as we climbed a big steep hill.

I had rented a nice mountain bike from a store in Austin with shocks and bouncy bits and air canisters and lots of other things I had no idea what they were. What I did learn, however, is that getting "up in the saddle" as they say didn't really work on this contraption. Every time I tried it, I just bounced up and down on the shocks. No bueno.  Once I got to the top of the hill, saw the narrow entrance to the trail and motioned the two cyclists behind me to go ahead. I wasn't going to start out with two guys on my ass when I had no idea what lay in store.

Here is where I am going to cut this short. I am not going to describe every fall I took (at least four),
every time I almost fell (at least ten) and the countless times I trepidatiously scooted around one twisty-turny bend only to be confronted by a steep uphill that almost had me losing my manhood on my handlebars. All I know is that once I took a tree trunk full-onto the collarbone and chest.  I was certain I broke it as I came to a stop with a sickening thud. (Same overall winner from above in his recap mentioned he crashed a quarter of a mile in as well. I feel less bad about my skills now.)  I know I went over the handlebars twice. I almost went down about three ravines. I will say without a doubt that half of that was because of my inexperience of riding a mountain bike. But half the credit goes to this course which was absolutely ridiculous. I don't mean that in a bad way per se. If one had ridden it they would know what was in store for them. I did not and I am glad as I wouldn't have even attempted it.

After about the 30th rider who passed me (seriously) where I either had to pull over or just stayed over after a crash, I was beginning to wonder what I was doing out here. I thought perhaps I could just take it easy and go slow and make it out alive. The problem was that even taking it slow was dangerous. On one particular hill, I had pulled over after almost crashing and five cyclists went by in rapid succession. Then, this blur of a human, went down the hill like he was on rails. I have zero idea how he avoided ever hole, root, branch, rock, etc. and make it look like it was a sled ride down a water park hill.

I used this stopped time to take a long swig from my water bottle and drained the entire thing. I had a feeling the aid stations were going to just have beverages warmer than before. I was three miles into a nine-mile loop we had to do twice. Granted there looked to be about two miles on each loop near the end which would be easy to ride but who knows what the rest would have in store for me. Then, my last tumble ended it for me.

Just last year I had to get my thumb surgically repaired after I was attacked by two men at an intersection in Austin. I got my thumb caught in the shifter as I went ass over tincups and I felt for sure I messed it up. I sat there for ten seconds before I even tried to move my thumb. When I finally mustered the courage and could tell it was just sore, I knew it was time for me to call it a day. Sure, I think I could have pushed my bike the rest of the way and still finished high enough to qualify for the World Championship team (I am serious) but that was not why I was here.

I rode on and came to a road we had to cross. I asked one of the volunteers how I could get back to the start. Then I did the painful but smart thing and quit. I rode down the hill, passed the spot where we entered the trail, and found the referee for the event. I turned in my chip and stood there.

Finally I decided to go for a little bit of a run to just feel out my body and make sure nothing really was broken.  I have hurt myself before, gone to get x-rays and been given a clean bill of health, only to find out I did a doozy of a number to myself weeks later. (How do you miss this?!) After a short two-miler, it felt like I was ok. I won't rule out I somehow put my spleen into my stomach or something else just yet but all systems seem go.

The decision I made was correct. It still sucks. Then going to grab some consolatory food after the race I got a speeding ticket in some street that magically went from 45 to 30 for one block. That has nothing to do with anything other than let's just say the day was not a good one. In talking with a few people at the event, most of them offered consolation but at the same time told their stories of how they had continued on with a broken femur or a case of Black Death they caught at an aid station or how they fought off a lion, skinned it, and wore its pelt back to transition two before going back out to look for their arm. It is this kind of bravado which is lost on me.

There is absolutely nothing impressive about continuing on in a race where nothing but your pride is on the line when you are hurt or about to be hurt. Sure if you are stuck in the mountains and the only way down is to keep on going, then you should keep on going. But too often we applaud the efforts of people who soldier on when they were either unprepared, under-trained, or any of a variety of things where the "Come back with your shield or on it" faux toughness is paramount. I wonder how many of these people would be so willing to risk their health or well-being if there wasn't social media to tell them how epic they are.Well, I know I am not one of them. Think you are tougher than me because you would have kept going? Okey dokes. Doesn't bother me one bit. Even if our health care system didn't suck, it is not worth it to me to collect a non-precious medal or bauble, rather than return home unwounded.

But I went for a swim two days after my race and it was the best swim workout I have had since I was in high school.  So I have that going for me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

It's All About the Weather

Having been running races for two decades now, in every conceivable condition, for every conceivable type of distance, I can tell you what matters most when you want to have a good day: weather.

It is not how fit you are, what the course is like, what you ate the night before or anything else. Being under-trained, or overcoming a big hill, or puking out some bad food are often things you can't get over relatively quickly in a race.  But the weather on race day is the one variable which will bring you to your knees the hardest.

I have paid special attention to how weather affects performance mostly because of something very specific: I am horrible in warm temperatures. And by "warm" I mean basically anything over 60 degrees. So bad am I when the mercury rises in the ole thermometer that, I was asked to give a speech in Ecuador at a Gatorade Sports Science Institute on sweat loss. In addition, while there, I performed like a gerbil on the treadmill, doing a brisk 45 minute run, indoors, losing seven pounds in sweat alone. (I wish I could tell you how hilarious the owner of the treadmill, who was loaning it to the event, was when he continued to wipe down the outer plastic shell as I ran. Isn't that what the plastic shell is for? He acted as if I had Alien acid sweat that would burn through it if he didn't wipe immediately or thoroughly.  But I digress.)

In addition, I have Gilbert's Syndrome. A relatively mild disorder (if you listen to Wikipedia) it comes into play for those of us who do endurance sports as it affects one's ability to recover from strenuous activity. Since I put myself in situations where I push my body further than most people ever have, I would disagree about how mild it is. Nevertheless, you take all of what I have described and suffice it to say I look at the weather app more than I do anything else as race day approaches.

Of my top ten fastest marathons, only one came when the weather was inclement: the Steamtown Marathon in 2007. Run on the day that Chicago infamously had to blackflag its race for heat, how I was able to put this race out of the hat (after a wrong turn added extra miles) is beyond me. In fact, as I look through even the top 25 marathons I have run there are many different things which present themselves. I was in various level of fitness. I ran them over various terrains. Different elevations. Various times of my life. But one things remains the same: nice weather.

I don't say this without proof.  In fact, I have written down what the weather is for every race I have ever run. (They are all accessible on this very website on the right sidebar.) Over and over again, I perform best when it is cooler.

OK, so that is anecdotal. It is rather Dane-centric. So don't just look at what works for me.  Look at science.  Then look again. And again. Wherever you look, it shows you that when the weather is cooler you run better. If it is less humid, you run better. If it is less windy, you run better.

Obviously there are going to be some people who feel they run better in heat and when people just want to "feel" something, you can't tell them otherwise. But the science points to how our bodies warm the ambient air around us by 20 degrees when we run which is why we are told to dress for the run we will be having in the middle rather than the one we start with.  Otherwise, you end up sweating so much that your clothes get soaked and even if it is cold when you start, you will be drenched in sweat. Then when you finish you freeze because of all the wet clothing.

Note that with this analysis, I am primarily speaking about longer distances races. Shorter distance races like the 100 meter dash (which I still contend is more like power lifting than it is running) need a warmer temperature to keep those ridiculous fast-twitch muscle fibers from snapping like a twig. But the longer you run, the cooler you want the temperature to be. Again, don't take my word for it.  Read this exhaustive study here.  Researchers reviewed weather and race data from past Olympics and determined the ideal temp for elite marathoners was 49.4 degrees for men and 51.8 degrees for women. Athletes in sprint events fared better in warmer temps. For the 100m dash, for example, men did best when the race day temperature was 72.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and women excelled at 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Since they run so much faster than us mortals, elite runners are in the weather for far less time than the rest of us.  A person finishing in 5 hours for a marathon is essentially running in a different day than when they started, the way temperatures climb.

So, next time you are looking for that fast race, it may behoove you to check out its historic weather even more than what type of downhill course it has or anything else people use to determine how they will have a good time. Planning for the factor which will probably have the biggest impact on your race, shouldn't be left to chance.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Shut Up and Run

I have been told to "shut up and run." I won't. And I am not even remotely sorry.

I am mostly referring to taking a stance in the past few years to all the horrible atrocities which are going on around our country, mostly regarding those which touch on politics and minorities. In 2016, when trump (I refuse to capitalize his name) was showing that he was, at the very least, one of the leading faces of the Republican party, something I had been struggling with for years finally became quite clear. The vast majority of the Republican party leaders are horrific humans, with either zero desire to help this country, or such vast ignorance to how to get it done that their existence might as well be labeled as treason. In many cases, it is obvious their own desires have often led to selling out the American people and this country as a whole. I saw anyone who supported trump as an enemy of me and the things I stand for because, well, they were. I deleted hundreds of Facebook friends, cut ties with real life friends and family, and began to make it clear that I wasn't just a runner who would run.

My website has chronicled how my stances have cost me tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees, sponsorships, partnerships, etc in a post here. I will not go into that again but I do ask you read it. I couldn't have been more shocked to get pushback from people who agreed with what I was saying but refused to get involved. When I saw that reaction I knew I was in for a rough ride. I don't have a "job" per se. I have an occupation. It is one which relies on others to pay me. I was well aware I would be taking a hit in the pocket from people who either disagreed with me or were on the fence but I wasn't expecting it from those who were behind me. And behind me in such a way that they would gingerly peak out occasionally to see if it was ok to even say  "Yeah, what he said" before ducking back for cover.

When you criticize something, those on that side always retort with the "Yeah, well you would say that! You are a [opposite of what they are.]" When I criticized the Republican party the flamethrowers on the right seemed to not realize that until 2016 I was a registered Republican. When I pointed out the problem with guns in America, the ignorant labeled me a a libtard snowflake. This ignored the fact that I absolutely love shooting guns, grew up in a part of the country where I thought the first day of Buck Season was a national holiday, and absolutely know more about guns than most of them. (I'd link to my tweet thread about that but, well, I will get to that in a second.) I detailed greatly how I knew who the trump voters were, especially the real hard core ones, because I lived amongst them for the first two decades of my life. They were my classmates, teachers, grocery clerks, repairmen, etc. After all that time living with them, and the years since then hearing why they supporter trump, I didn't need any new information on why they were doing what they did. It was all quite clear.

For over two years now I have taken deep personal financial hits. I am not lying when I say it would have been SO much easier to keep my mouth shut. I am a white, straight, male. There is literally nothing better to be in today's world unless you want to add "rich" to the front of that description. Nothing is truly against me. Disagree? Well if you are any of those things, if given a genie in a bottle, would you change them? If you said yes, you are lying. The world is set up currently to make it far easier for someone like me to succeed.

But I was given a small niche of fame. A little corner I carved out by being semi-athletic in a sport North Carolina until it resembled a democracy again, to all the things I have already mentioned, I knew I was risking a livelihood.
which has a lot of people in it. I did a few things no one has ever been able to do before, was articulate enough to write about them, and gained a following. I took a huge risk by being so outspoken. From ending a personal goal of running a marathon in every state at 49  by boycotting

A sponsor with whom I have been working with since 2009 up and disappeared. Every other athlete that remained on their roster said not one word outside of "I like sports!" and toed the company line. I continued on. Through Twitter I amassed a sizable following and felt like I was helping make a difference. From supporting the crisis in Flint by buying t-shirts to rebroadcasting stories to my followers who might not have seen them otherwise, I still tried to keep as many of my athletic endeavors on the forefront as well. I did not wish to just be a provocateur but someone who also inspired and empowered others.

Then my Twitter account got indefinitely suspended. Why? Because I dared call out a white supremacist. Suddenly, one of the venues I had cultivated to get out my message, to earn paychecks, and do what I could was taken from me. Recently, I had begun to regain support from groups and organization who liked my overall message. A few paychecks came in. Things were looking better for me to continue to do what I do. Now, who knows?

I received death threats on Facebook. I received trolling on Twitter. I wanted to tell these people that I take them seriously but I am not one to stop. I have been dealing with assholes online for a decade. I have had people come after my livelihood, my friends, and my family before. In other words, bitch, I am the one who knocks. Do you really want to test the resolve and endurance of a person who ran 202 miles straight? Is questioning the intestinal fortitude of a man who competes in highly taxing athletic endeavors with Gilbert's Syndrome, a liver disorder that more or less says what I have done should be impossible for me, your best bet?

My point is, if I haven't stopped yet, I am not going to. I do not put myself on the same level of people like Colin Kaepernick who risked his entire NFL career to take stand. But I also didn't have a few million in my pocket when I started doing what I was doing. Nor did I have the national media there to potentially help elevate what I was doing.

Instead, I will continue to do what I can with what I have. I will fight for those who are not me. I will show compassion for ones with less, who have had so much taken from them, or never had anything to begin with. Ideally, I would love to simply talk about the tough times while running the entire coast of Oregon in a week's time. Or coming back from having been attacked by two men who fractured my face and hand last summer and qualifying for the U.S Aquathlon team. But I will not shirk the responsibilities that come with having more, of being able to do more, and pretend others do not matter.

If I can't make rent, or have to sell my car, or anything else, I guarantee you, I have been in tougher times. I grew up in subsidized housing. My father was crippled in a hunting accident right before I was born. My mother, who was bed ridden for three years a child with rheumatic fever had two open heart surgeries by the time she was my age to fix problems which stemmed from that illness. I'd rather not suffer and struggle obviously, but even when I wonder how I will pay for groceries sometimes, I at least warm myself inside by the knowledge I am doing what it right.

Want to see me shut up and run? Catch me in the middle of a marathon. I tend to talk less then. Otherwise, grab a chair because it is going to be a long ass wait.