Andrew Fast

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On Running

By Andrew Fast

Traditions:  

In the foothills balsam root shoots.  Up through the soggy dirt and bolting for the sun, cherry blossoms in the back-yard pop, and at night a warm wind blows a new smell that makes me anxious--it all means one thing--it's time to race the Sunflower again.

On the first Saturday of every May, a couple hundred runners toe the line at a farm on the floor of the Methow Valley.  In early spring there is a short window, the northeastern slope of the Cascades grow a yellow coat of sunflowers—the trails are spectacular.  We run cross country for twenty six or so miles and finish at the Twisp Brewery for awards, open potatoes, and beer.  The race is my trail-running-Thanksgiving.  Sunflower is an annual rekindling with long time trail running friends and the first chance to test the legs on real high country.

I’ve shown up burnt out after a long winter, fit and at the front or undertrained and at the back.  Every year the race serves as a benchmark; a reminder that another year has gone by.  Traditions in trail running help to provide stability and bring folks together while we shuffle down our respective paths.

Solitude:

"I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude."  --Henry David Thoreau

The Mountains offer space to think, yell with excitement or scream in frustration.  No matter how I'm feeling, running wild in the mountains always makes me feel better.

When I set out alone the flow comes free and easy.  A lot of my pursuits are alone; the solitude is restorative.

Racing:  

I'm going to keep racing and trying to win until I reach a point where I can't get any better, and when that happens I'm going to get worse as slowly as possible.

When I race something primal turns on, epinephrine drips, and the only thing that matters is the present.

If a person is doing their best, comparing results to others is silly. 

Winning:

Winning is like getting barreled for the first time--a person spends the first while paddling around, flailing, and trying to stay out of everyone else’s way.  For what seems like an eternity I put in the time and effort—getting up super early and paddling out at first light but never quite linking it up.  Then when least expected you start to feel good, go for it, and swoosh--you're in there!

I feel fortunate to be able to train hard and race often.

I'll be searching for that perfect wave and trying to stay psyched forever.

Mentors:  

There is something inside that drives me to explore, but it’s the people I’ve met along the way that keep me inspired.  Old wise salty mentors bring me joy.  The common themes among them:

- They all have a loud inner child and laugh often

- They go after goals without inhibition

- They have a lot of experience

It’s inspiring to meet someone twice my age who is stronger, wiser, and still stoked on pushing their limits—we’re lucky to be in a sport were a lot of time is spent training and legends are easily accessible. 

A big inspiration lately has been my friend and room-mate Joe Puryear.  Joe put up a long list of first ascents on obscure peaks all over the world.  He passed away on an expedition last year.  He brought back a lot of inspiration from the mountains and put it right into his relationships.  He wrote guide books, articles, and worked with sponsors to create stronger gear.  Even though I didn’t know Joe for a long time, he was one of those folks that inspire you to do what you love and be your best.  Joe definitely went through life with a smile and it was contagious.

Comments:

Julie O'Neil, Thursday, May 10, 2012

Great article Andrew! Keep on running!!

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