Sunday, August 19, 2012

When the mind is clear, the body is calm, and the heart is at rest

It has been a while since my last post, life has been full of surprises and now I am back in Santiago, living, working, and running here.

Today I had the opportunity to run with a group of ultra runners based out of Santiago, Chile. To state it simply: it was one of the best and most beautiful runs I have ever had.

Our mission: summit Cerro Provencia. A small peak tightly nestled in the graces of the white soldiers they call 'Los Andes'. Cerro Provencia holds its own in technicality (according to running standards) and at some points was a (bit) dangerous in parts of the 25km climb and descent. That just adds to the fun right?

The beginning of our ascent
We made our way up the backside of the mountain, scrambling up some extremely steep cliffs. With a glimpse to our left we had a beautiful view of the Andes and to our right we had an amazing overlook of the entire city of Santiago.

The view to the left

The view to the right
As we made our way closer to the summit the winds were relentless and the trail was covered in slick ice. Needless to say this made for a very interesting descent!

The last push to the summit

On the way down myself and a fellow runner (Moises) burned our way down the trail. It was one of the most amazing descents I have had the chance to experience in my young ultra-running career. In comparing the steepness of this run to the the likes of the Bright Angel Trail head and North Kaibab in the Grand Canyon, I have to admit that the backside of Cerro Provencia is much stepper and more technical (which made for a couple close encounters with the rocks and my backside). As we floated down the trail head, riding the edges like waves, we were able to gaze upon the grandness of the snow covered Andes and soak up their prestige. It was a beautiful run and being joined by great people made it that much better!

Fellow runners Moises, Felipe, and myself (almost at the summit)
In total we were on our feet for around 3 hours and 30 minutes. 25km in 3:30 for a couple quick and young ultra runners should put the steepness in perspective!

I'm looking forward to many more runs on this trailhead and discovering many new ones with my new found ultra friends. The Patagonia International Marathon is at the end of September and I'll be training for it until then! I'm also planning on running the North Face Endurance 50 miler in October, which happens to be in my backyard.

Our view at the end of our run

Monday, July 23, 2012

My first Curranto

After my trip to Bariloche I managed to catch a mean case of Bronchitis. So this past week I have been indoors and resting (two things I am admittedly not a fan of). During my wait to get back to running and my usual workouts my family obliged me with a curranto...

Unfortunately my 8 or so months as a vegetarian had to come to an end with my arrival to Chile. Simply put, the people of Chiloé do not believe in fruits and vegetables and therefore it is almost impossible to get enough protein without consuming meat once in a while. On the upside, the meat in Chiloé is one of a kind. The livestock and poultry are treated to a standard that is a hundred times higher than the best organic farm in the United States and you can taste the difference in quality. Happy cows = healthy meat. However, I am looking forward to returning to my vegetarian diet when I head back to the US!

As of right now it has rained for 2 months straight on the island of Chiloé, with glimpses of the occasional sunlight. I am not a fan of the constant rain and have already reached the conclusion that I could never live in a place that has continuous rain after this stint at volunteering. I respect the rain and the water for all it provides, but I don't like it constantly pounding my house and not being able to see the bright smile of the sun when I wake!

For curranto education...see below

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bienvenido a Bariloche!

This past week was spent in the snow-caped mountains of Bariloche, Argentina. A city known for its beautiful scenery and tasty chocolate. The drive in on the bus was a once in a lifetime experience, with each winding turn emerged a new lake surrounded by beautiful mountains filled with lush green canopies.

I ran up one of the local peaks (Cerro Otto) twice during my stay and had a very lengthy run along the lake as well. Running up Cerro Otto was a beautiful experience. The mountain was covered in snow and the trail loosely defined in the winter, which gave me the opportunity to make my own way up the local slant. The runs were followed by a trip to the local chocolate factories and then a visit to a local brewery for some great brew.

Bariloche is an amazing place to live if you are an outdoor enthusiast. With tons of routes to climb, mountains to run, lakes to kayak and trails to hike...mountaineers can't go wrong with this Patagonian gem. It reminds me of Flagstaff, Arizona or a slightly smaller Boulder, Colorado.

Snowboarding on the top of Cerro Catedral

Rule number one of chocolate need a good mustache

Bariloche has some amazing graffiti and street art

As well as some amazing local brew at Cerveceria Manush!

One of the many amazing views from the top of Cerro Otto

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chiloté food is one of kind! Hasta Siempre!

Today I am in Osorno and will shortly be on my way to Bariloche, Argentina for some snowboarding and chocolate! I'm planning on doing some running in the midst of the Andes this week, as winter break just started and the real running is about to begin! I wanted to post a couple more photos of my new home (Dalcahue, Chiloé). One thing the entire island of Chiloé surely does not fall short of is amazing food! Between Pichanga, Curranto, Milcáo, and home made empanadas, you are bound to find yourself in a food coma after a visit to the local market!

With my host pops Richard, who happens to be one of the best chefs on the island!
Besides the amazing food, Chiloé is also known for its colorful and warm wool clothing. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fuego Fuego Frutillar!

Its been awhile, I have been doing tons of writing and unfortunately very little blogging! Things have been moving rapidly as I have been settling into my Dalcahue niche and finding my stride with teaching at my new school. Last weekend I was able to travel to Puerto Montt and Frutillar, where I did my fair share of running.

My morning run on a country side road in Frutillar bajo. On a clear day you can see the volcán Osorno across the Llanquihue lake. 
The sunset that we witnessed on our last night in Frutillar was absolutely amazing. I'll let the photos speak for themselves!

Perhaps the craziest night I've experienced yet in Chile took place in Frutillar. After a celebratory asado went horribly wrong, the house next door to ours (literally 40-50 feet) caught fire! We awoke to shouts and sirens outside our window as local firefighters (all volunteers) rushed to the near by lake to connect their hoses. The entire town of Frutillar bajo was standing outside within 30 mins, as the spectacle of something exciting usually doesn't arrive until the city hosts its world renowned music festival in the summer. A routine nights sleep turned into an all night wide-eyed escaped as we watched the power of this massive fire slowly grow and consume one of the most historical houses in Frutillar. There was something strangely magical happening here, as the contrast of the full moon outlined the silhouette of the monstrous blaze.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Dalcahue, Chiloé! A runners paradise.

After a long week of orientation in Santiago, Chile I am finally in my placement town of Dalcahue, Chiloé. A small and quaint fishing village located on the beautiful and lush landscaped island of Chiloé.  I will be teaching at a local high school in the capital city of Castro.

The people of Chiloé are humble, warm, and genuine. They welcome complete strangers in with open arms and friendly smiles. The town itself is a small niche in a sea of green hills and farms, surrounded by endless ocean. 

The rain and wind is relentless on Chiloé, but when the clouds slowly dissipate and the sun is allowed to shine his warmth upon the rolling hills....Chiloé looks a little something like this:

I took my first decent run today (being so busy in Santiago I barely had time for a quick jog), but in Chiloé....there is plenty of time to soak up the pleasant aroma of burning fire wood as you run through the country side. It is not common for people to run in Chiloé, so this explains the perturbed looks as I zipped past locals. The people, however, perplexed and surprised, greeted me with big smiles and warm 'holas'. Chiloé is a beautiful place indeed. A musicians dream land to compose, a writers dream land to write, and a runners dream land to run. For all the rain and clouds that constantly cover the sky, Chiloé has an abundance of warmth and happiness to keep anyone content.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Growing is Forever

Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

As we have evolved (or in some cases failed to), we have accumulated many misconceptions about our abilities as humans. In some instances, we have stripped ourselves from growth past certain ages with our tendency to grasp tightly around normalcy. One of our biggest mistakes is not learning from our past and instead continuing the cyclic repetition of a broken record.

The truth of the matter is that we never stop growing. Even at age 80 and above, we are able to learn, change, and flourish. It is accepted that once we reach a certain age monotony must be a constant in our lives. The stresses of every day work and repetitive lifestyles surrounded by mirror images inundates us in what seems to be a sea of self inflicted sorrow. Well my friends, I am here to tell you, this is simply not the case, nor should it continue to be accepted lightly. The beauty of life is that we always have choices. Without a doubt some people have more options than others. However, we all have the option to chose between growth or stagnation.

Every instance we are presented with choices, whether we choose to realize them is another story. There is so much to experience, learn, and do in this world. Be open to change and open to life. Just like the trees, we have decisions to make: which direction to grow, whom to lean on, and whom to appears we are not much different than our friends who provide us with clean water, air, and food after all. I'd say the only fundamental in life is to continue to evolve (grow). If that happens, I'd like to think, the rest will take care of itself.

"Life is permeated with possibility at every instant. What distinguishes one life from another is intention, the one thing that we can control." -Paul Hawken

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am here : Estoy aquí!

Just landed in Santiago this morning. I found it almost impossible to get decent sleep on the flight, so as soon as I stepped into the apartment I am staying at, the blinds where down and a 2 hour nap followed. After I woke up I took a stroll around downtown Santiago. Since my checked bags are still in Miami (for some reason they did not board the plane with me, I hear this is a common occurrence for arriving international flights) I needed to find myself a couple things to hold me over till tomorrow.

First impression of centro Santiago: Imagine a Manhattan on steroids, layered with a thick blanket of some tantalizing blend of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulfur. The city has just as much hustle as New York, with twice the congestion and twice the smell. With almost every turn of the corner I found my nostrils inviting either wonderful smelling street food (empanadas y sopaipillas) or knee buckling mixtures of awful stench (???).  As with any big city people move fast, heads down and destinations in mind. However, unlike any big American metropolis I have been too, Chileans seem to congregate in these awesomely big groups of friends (at least young Chileans). Cigarettes in hand, smiles, and jokes all around.

I passed by many carabineros (Chilean police) and have to say their entire persona is very intriguing. I've read and watched a good amount of their involvement with the ongoing student protests in Chile and just like the abuse that took place and is taking place during the Occupy Wall Street events, there is even more of that here in Chile. Carabineros literally look like standing military. Either on horseback, motorcycle, foot, or giant caravan, these elite Chilean law enforcers wear bullet proof vests and definitely look like they will not think twice about embracing the back of your head with the front of their night stick. There are tons of them throughout the streets, I have not seen a city with so many viewable police officers!

The sun is now gently setting over the smoggy horizon and there is a strange sense of comfort I have in this foreign city. Chileans are so welcoming and understanding (even as you butcher their native language and look perplexed when they give you directions at 100mph mouth speed), that it is easy for anyone to feel at ease in Santiago. I still could never imagine living in a huge city for an extended period of time (I need some green trees, blue skies, open trails and fresh air), but Santiago is definitely a place to get to know and I am looking forward to doing just that over this next week!

As soon as my luggage gets to me I will be off and running the city...planning to cover as much ground as I can before I head down to Los Lagos. Voy a explorar Santiago a noche ahora! (I'm off to explore Santiago by night)

Santiago de Chile

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Story for Tomorrow

a story for tomorrow. from gnarly bay productions, Inc. on Vimeo.

One of my favorite Chilean travel vids! A story for tomorrow not only has plenty of breathtaking shots, but a very powerful message as well. Hope you enjoy it! Finalizing all the packing tonight and will be heading down to Chile Wednesday morning! Por el Amor de la Vida!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Counting to Infinity

The closer my departure date gets, the more the restlessness builds. A mix of excitement, curiosity, naivety, and anticipation is all being stirred around simultaneously in the cauldron between my ears. I suppose this is normal for anyone moving to a new country!

I've been having my fair share of those future predicting deja vu mental scenarios lately. Vivid scenes that have me exploring a street in downtown Santiago or running up a volcano in Los Lagos. The mind definitely is not shy about showing the body where it wants to go! The connection between mind and body is something 'ultra' runners come to know very well. I have found many parallels between aspects of life and lessons I've learned while spending 6+ hours shuffling on my feet in search of the next aid station. One of them being this deep sense of continuity between what I'm thinking and what I'm doing. Often in life we find our minds running (no pun intended) at Usain Bolt speed, with a variety of thoughts flowing in and out, having no necessary relation to what we are actually doing at that moment. This is not the case when I am running for an extended distance. At a certain milage my outside thoughts fade and my sole mental being becomes intertwined with each stride and successive foot strike. This awareness is comparable to what many athletes consider to be the 'in the zone' feeling. However, there is most definitely something unique about this certain mental and physical blend of heightened consciousness achieved during long distance runs.

I believe the feeling is best described to outsiders as a sort of 'counting to infinity'. Simply start counting, with absolutely no goal in mind, by the time you blink and realize you've been staring blankly at the carpet repeating the number one hundred and fifty seven over and over again...the moment just before you realized what it was you were doing, is precisely what it feels like to enter this zen-like state of perception while running.

With 2 days before I leave for Chile and embark on this journey, leaving all that I know behind and stepping on that plane, it most definitely feels like I'm counting to infinity.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good luck SD 100 runners!

Wanted to wish all my amigos and amigas running the SD 100 this weekend a huge good luck! I was scheduled to pace 30 miles of the race, but due to my recent stint with mono I'm still working on recovering. This time off has provided for an interesting perspective and as a result has forced me to focus on the importance of recovery, rest, and adequate sleep before a big run.

Below is a video compilation of the Solomon running team's 2011 season, awesome work by Seb Montaz! Check out Seb Montaz's videography and photography, he is the film maker working with Kilian on his Summits of Life piece. Chile in 7 days! Vamos!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Krupicka on "restraint and patience"

Anton Krupicka on exercising "restraint and patience" in your ultra running career

Notorious ultra runner Anton Krupicka is known for his insanely high volume training runs. Sometimes reaching above the daunting 200 mile mark per week, Krupicka is no slouch when it comes to adequate preparation before race day. However, he is also a proponent of the sheer beauty of being and simply enjoying it all. Enjoying the mountains is not possible when one is injured and like all of us mountain runners know to well, injuries are common when you are charging up and barreling down slopes.

Leading Krupicka to the cognizance: “It has re-opened my eyes to just how necessary the mountains are in my life and that I need to exercise better discipline in the future to avoid injuries,” he concludes. “Restraint and patience.”

Our competitive nature that pushes us to greatness sometimes simultaneously consumes our ability to rationalize. Anton has found one of the most important lessons that ultra running or any passionate endeavor provides. It is not the accumulation of social acceptance, but the sheer feeling we get during, that provides us with this immense amount of satisfaction and clarity. As with everything in life, there are times to exercise "restraint and patience" and times to do the exact opposite. Just like Anton, we have to figure out which one applies and when.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summits of My Life Trailer

Awesome and inspiring trailer to Kilian Jornet's film 'Summits of My Life'. I highly recommend giving it a watch!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Packing for Chile!

Preparing for Chile! Currently, I am working on packing (which admittedly I am finding extremely difficult) for my move to Chile, where I will be volunteering to teach English with the English Opens Doors program. Excited would be a vast understatement, as I cannot wait to run, climb, backpack, write and explore the entirety of this beautiful country. I will be teaching somewhere in the Los Lagos Region, home to the massive Osorno and Villarica volcanoes...which hopefully (fingers crossed) are both runnable, with a pair of micro-spikes and a hint of "ganas".  

Volcán Villarrica (9,341ft)
Volcán Osorno (8,701ft)