On my mind this fall...
September – it’s is over, eh? What did I do in September?
Heck, hardly exercise.
I, like my dear compadre Dylan Bowman, take recovery to the next level. Dylan and I recently realized we “recover” from big races similarly: we forget that exercising and being healthy, non-partying humans were ever a part of our lives. In lieu of training we restock our time spent with friends, family, books, and other hobbies. We get squishy.
BUT. THEN. ONE DAY we wake up and realize, wait, we miss running. We miss being fast and dedicated and responsible. Boom. Training for the next race commences.
I’m in that later phase now. I’m training for TNF50, also known as The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-mile Championships California. This race is so fast there’s no place to hide poor fitness. Improving on my 5th place there last year is a tough goal, but alas, that’s what goals are there for.
What else since the end of summer, since racing CCC? I’ve thought long and hard about my commitment and desire to do more in two spheres.
First, I feel that as a trail runner, I can do more in the fight to protect America’s public land. Most of this fight is currently geared towards protecting land that’s already protected. That means we’re fighting the repealing of protections. If you’re not up to speed on this, never fear, you can read about it at length here. I’m grateful to everyone who has responded so positively to this article and know that trail runners have a lot to give. Let’s keep it going.
Let’s also never forget that this isn’t the sexiest of fights. It’s an insidious one that basically means I have Senator Cory Gardner and Senator Mike Bennet (Colorado’s two senators) saved in my phone and at least once I week I call both of them and tell them my opinion on a current public land (or renewable energy) issue.
Usually, I urge Senator Garnder to speak up against Secretary Zinke’s recommendation to shrink 10 national monuments. I commend Senator Bennet’s track record for voting in favor of public land protections. I’ll also usually mention to both of them that without Obamacare, I wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance being a self-employed professional athlete. This week, I added that we need tighter gun control. Immediately.
I highly suggest you make calling your senators a weekly habit. We have voices. And telephones. And opinions. Let’s mix those suckers up into something useful!
Secondly, September has afforded me energy to return to my “academic roots” of tropical conservation. It’s been a strange few years being in Colorado—which is a strange statement itself because Colorado is my home—but my adult life took hold on coral reefs, not in the mountains. My passion for climate change mitigation wasn’t born in the Rockies, but in Bermuda and Palau where I spent two formidable summers mainly underwater. I studied how little baby corals are impacted by things like ocean acidification (a direct impact of climate change) and how they can better recover from big typhoons (which are intensifying due to climate change). In turn, I saw the effects of coral degradation at the human-level: people lose jobs in the marine tourism industry or in the fishing industry and people go hungry.
This December, I will return to the tropics and report on mangrove degradation, specifically in the Philippines. I’ll also return to southern Thailand to help with the 3rd year of Earthraging with English—a swim program for Thai kids started by my buds Haley, Brady and me three years ago.
In returning to the tropics I aim to rekindle and expand upon my global perspective of the communities and livelihoods that are most impacted by climate change. It’s not us in the mountains who will starve in as early as 50 years from lack of fish protein; it’s the poor coastal communities of the world. This haunts me. September gave me the time to remember things more important than my training or running or self-involved traveling. September reminded me that I am not special and my problems are pretty cush. I’m grateful for September.
Moving on to October, here’s to celebrating the positives in your life, to new training stints and to expanding horizons. Happy trails, friends.