Chasing Anthony

Trail Running. It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s beautiful. It’s manic. It’s just like a relationship.

The end and ripe beginning of 2016 was about getting back into things that have been put aside for awhile. On New Years Eve, I agreed to meet up with recently christened local Hot Shot (by me at least), Anthony Jacobs for a jaunt through upper bull creek, lower bull creek, forest ridge, and St. Edwards and back. I met up with Anthony at an intersection located in one of Austin’s privileged neighbor hoods. Funny thing about Austin is that sometimes you only find obscure trail heads through word of mouth. Essentially, I felt like I was parking in a sketchy spot. Not because I felt my car would  be broken into by privileged Austinites but perhaps they might have my paint-less roofed Civic towed away. While skeptical, I was assured my car would be fine. After a short bout of stretches designed to target the core, lower back and thoracic cavity, we began our descent.

On my feet were a pair of brand spankin’ new Salomon Sense Mantra’s. Within minutes descending steep and technical pathways, I knew they were not for me. I am a big fan of Salomon’s S-Lab Ultra’s. They’re light, they promote a fore front strike and they just barely get by on some of Central and West Texas’ most rocky, technical and unforgiving trails. That being said, they’re a trail shoe made for racing. Personally, I know if the Salomon R&D department were to base their design off our trails, they probably would add some protective weight  to the shoe. Regardless, it works for me and I wish I purchased the monstrously priced shoe for my first (and so far only) 100 back in October, 2013. During this downhill moment, I mentally confirmed that I would have to invest $120 to  run like I’m suppose to. In Anthony’s words, “When you find your shoe, you find your shoe”.

We warmed up fast taking switch backs to the bottom of Upper Bull Creek. I didn’t feel terrible, but I definitely was unable to keep up with the speed demon in front of me. He went as far as getting his phone out to catch a moment of me galloping past what I’ve dubbed the, “The Art Tree”.

bullcreek
Taken right before I jettisoned the new kicks.

I felt fatigued in about 2 miles of downhill gnarly trail. We arrived at a quick moving creek crossing, drenched the new kicks  and pulled off for a quick breather. Stashed away in my hydration vest, was a pair of degraded S-Labs that I managed to save (or hoard, if you will). I slipped on the S-Labs and thoroughly hid the Sense Mantra’s off the trail to be retrieved on our return. Relief! I sort of felt light and nimble again. We crossed into Forest Ridge’s chain link entrance and began a steep ascent. I immediately noticed the consequences of running with shoes well past their expiration date. In a bad way, I felt every foot fall of the jagged limestone climb. This run would perhaps begin to feel longer than planned.

Anthony, would always be a minute or more ahead, but he was always kind of enough to pull over when we reached a fork in the road. At the first fork, he decided to take the shorter but steeper and gnarlier route up to a peak marked by a blue water tower. Once again, my body would remind me of my fitness level despite having two Forest Ridge Cruises on my belt. I met Anthony at the top swearing and requesting we take a short breather. He obliged me and asked if I wanted to further. I didn’t know I had a choice. It felt more challenging than preferred on the way up. The bottom of  St. Ed’s as the turn around point would perhaps leave me on the couch all day until it was time to prepare for the New Year’s Eve party that evening. Regardless, my ego agreed to a beating as we headed in the direction of St. Edwards. I used to be an Ultra Runner after all.

We began a gradual descent into the remaining portion of Forest Ridge and while fatigued, I felt stronger AND hungry. Second winds are good. We crossed into the St. Eds section with Anthony having to make a human-mandated pit stop. I was relieved to find my partner pulling out a GU and I took this as an opportunity to eat my Pemican bar instead of waiting to get to the bottom of St. Eds’s. We chatted for a minute or two and exchanged bites of each other’s nutrition. The GU was a straight up bomb of sugar. So while fully expecting to continue our descent, Anthony turned around back in the direction of Forest Ridge. Now, a few years ago I probably would be asking why the hell we were turning around, but  I didn’t say a word. While feeling stronger than ever at this point in the run, I wasn’t slightest amount of disappointment.I suppose we had different journey’s in mind but I quickly embraced his over mine.  Because I was able to keep up Anthony for a short while, my attitude further improved and we actually shared in some light hearted conversation for the first time in the cruise. This is how it used to be. Not this chasing Anthony shit!

I remained present in this moment as Anthony began to break away on the fire road. Our return trip took a more gradual descent towards Bull Creek. Anthony continued to thoughtfully wait at forks in the road and we even passed a few hikers along the trail. Descending technical and rocky terrain, my feet began to ask for relief as I bombed with half restraint. We met back up at the spot of the hidden Mantra’s, talked about the water possible being potable and began the final portion of the journey. While I had surges of energy complimenting the ascent, my feet (and now ankles) we’re starting to plead for forgiveness. The rocky terrain was starting it’s toll on the ankles. In an effort to protect itself,the sore spot on my left foot kept me from flexing naturally and my form was starting to go to hell. Anthony would get further away as we traversed some short but gnarly switch backs. Losing sight of him, I began to practice my echo location skills, “The hell did you go??!!”.  One final time, Anthony waited. I contained my ego that normally pushed me through pain. I think there’s a time when you sometimes have to run through pain (a race, for instance), but when you’re trying to safely ramp back into training after a year off, you have to know when you’re doing more harm than good.

“I’ve got to pull the plug on this one”, I whined.

“We’re almost at twelve, dude. You’ll thank me later”, he replied.

I didn’t say anything. With attitude going to shit, I followed him. Hitting twelve miles consisted of running a little out and back until the fancy little machine on his wrist stated we arrived at mile twelve. Thank you magical device from the future. We got back to the car and I swore a word or two.  Anthony complimented me and I shared today’s assessment why I wasn’t performing optimally. Excuses.

Either way, we managed to set up a New Years Eve tradition. We did a shorter Bull Creek run on December 31, 2014 and inadvertently scheduled a longer one on the final day of 2015. Anthony managed to squeeze a bit more out of my body than preferred but  he did a bang up job coaching my surly ass. Perhaps this was that necessary  suffer-run that would break me into the sport again.

I hope we do this on 2016’s last day.

Getting Stronger

Saturday (12/19/15)

Walnut Creek (Tha Nut) has always been considered “home base” to me.When all else fails and I need a solid trail run, it’s my go to. Especially in a time crunch. That being said, my trail running confidence and strength has grown to the+ point where I need more weight on the rack so to speak. Enter St. Edwards and Forest Ridge. For Austin, St. Edwards park and Forest Ridge Natural preserve provide moderately challenging terrain, solid climbing and around 11-12 miles of trail from one end and back via the longest route. After a brief reintroduction to these relatively lung busting climbs that previous Thursday, I decided my Saturday long runs needed to get out of the comfort of Tha Nut. St Edwards and Forest Ridge would fit the bill. I mention these two places exclusively but you wouldn’t notice a separation unless you observed a chain link fence. This is to remind you that you’re entering the Golden Cheek Warbler’s territory which is restricted from March to August (I believe). That’s a story for another time, friends. Other that that, the terrain, climbs, rock, flora and fauna are seamless.

Before my run, I performed some much needed hip flexor stretches on one of my Honda’s floor mats to avoid sitting on any loose rocks that the parking lot was infested with. Us ultra runners are a masochistic crowd, but when it comes to stretching, my ass needs somewhere tolerable to sit (since I’m sitting)! I headed out from the main parking lot/trail head and took a hard right where the trail was relatively flat in effort to get a proper warm up. If I were to head left, I would have darted straight to the hills which are short climbs in comparison to the Mountains I’ve climbed but are immediately steep and unforgiving. I ran into a few trail runners on this path (even recognized one),bid greetings and turned around at a dead end. I headed back to the hills and began my gradual climb towards the Nature Preserve. The Flexor was a nagging a little less this go around and my legs felt solid if a little fatigued on the way up. I believe I was feeling some residual fatigue from the prior day’s body weight work out. Usually I combined a cardio and weight bearing work out every Saturday but now that my Saturday runs were becoming “long” runs, I figured a second work out was starting to ask a lot from my body. Thus, my clever old self would transfer the weight work out to Friday. Because that’s what’ll keep the legs fresh! My plan was to get a decent long run and enjoy my accomplishment the remainder of the day. Preferably with a beer.

I continued upward, crossed into Warbler territory and felt much better  at the top compared to last weekend’s version of the same journey. In addition, the weather was just perfect. Low 60’s and low humidity  was a dream compared to the thick and muggy weather that I could cut with a knife a week before. I arrived at a fork in the road whose paths eventually reconvene but one route has you traverse a featureless fire road but eventually drops you down a steep and technical hill. The other side negates the fire road but is slightly less steep yet hardly less exciting. I guess it really depends on the kind of mood you’re in that day. I decided  I would get the fire road out of the way and and take the “gradual” uphill on my way back. On the way down I stopped and snapped a few photos for someone dear to me. I put the phone up and finished the hill at a reckless pace dodging rocks, dips and branches. I shouted a half enthusiastic, “Wooooo!!!!”. At the bottom where the two paths converged, I found myself saying hello to another trail runner. This was the third trail runner of the day to have more water at their disposal than I did. Was I pushing it with my single 20 oz. bottle? She warned me of wild hogs spotted in the direction I wanted to go. Perversely, a little down hill adrenaline put a bit of a half shit-eating grin on my face. I thanked her for the heads up and ran straight for the boars.

Heading down that direction, my rational kicked in a bit and some of that “brave” adrenaline turned into fight/flight adrenaline. Regardless, I was feeling pretty decent and having a cautiously good time. It was a similar to the kind of feeling I often got on my Colorado long runs deep in Leadville and Vail’s wilderness areas. It was some form of primitive instinct flowing through my vains. My focus would deepen and I felt alive in a kind of way I can only describe as animalistic. I finally reached the bottom where my turn around point was, took a few sips of remaining water and did a few essential stretches to each side of body targeting the flexors and ribs. No boars this go around.

I began my return in the direction I came from including a longer route back to the fork. I was definitely feeling stronger this time around. I approached the uphill with confidence and determination. There was none of that dreaded voice stating, “shit, here comes the hard part”. It’s amazing how attitude can change any situation. After re-summiting the same hill in the reverse direction, the rest of the journey was pretty much on auto-pilot. When you you know the remainder of your run is downhill and back to your car, it’s pretty easy to maintain a cruising pace and a positive attitude. Very optimal for entering the FLOW state, I’d say. Half naked and a little sun burned, I returned to my car with smile on my face. I drank some of my customized recovery formula and performed one final set of stretches to cap off the work out. Damn good run.

 

 

 

Playing w/ Logos

If you’ve read my first post, it’s merely an introduction to the blog and it’s essential topics. One is affinity for Electronic Music and Electronic Music production. I’ve been making techno and house beats for about fifteen years now and while I do not believe a club hit is in my future, I strongly believe my talent can somehow be profitable. Problem is, the music never leaves my work station or Honda Civic. Enter branding. While I’m just flirting with this concept, I’m not one to wait for the new year to begin my resolutions. I’m ready to start them now.

Please enjoy a few logo samples I’ve slapped together in the last 24 hours.

Drawing (9)

Future-RHYTHM

Future Rhythm-logo (2)

Check out some Future Rhythm musical concepts here:

soundcloud.com/brandon-scott-ostrander

 

 

REUNION

On Tuesday December 15, 2015, I met up with good friends for a little jaunt around Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park or “Tha Nut” as it’s known in my circle.

It had been awhile since Miguel, Anthony and I had gone for a group run. In my eyes, these two represent the young blood amongst the Ultra Community. They have few obligations, they love the sport, some of them have a ferocious determination, and well, they’re young. In other words, they can consume their competition in a racing scenario.

Don’t get me wrong, when you’re training for an Ultra, a bulk of your training will consist of solo missions, but it’s always nice to catch up with your buddies, push each other a bit and share the sport of running. I like running on my own, but a group run has a place too.

We met up at the pool lot and congratulated Anthony for his massacre on the Tarahumara at the Brazos Bend 100. I say this facetiously of course but I was damn proud of the young buck for besting some of the most elite runners in the world and running under 16 hours to take the win. We exchanged young-man like pleasantries and took off on the pool lot trail without any real direction. “Brandon, this is your territory. Why don’t you take the lead”. Wanting to take it slow and be unaffected by the cubs to go faster, I reluctantly lead the pack. I took them out for a warm up on Point Six loop and after some circling in the dark, we ventured out into Walnut Creek’s “canyon” which in my opinion is the only portion of the trail with any technical terrain. We slowed down to cater to Anthony whose ankles weren’t exactly in top form but it was a quick tangent. Afterwards, Anthony had no issues taking the lead and escorted us through a few ups and downs into the first Log Loop. The dude looked damn good for running one hundred miles forty-eight hours prior.

The log loop circled us back to a point in the trail we previously covered and after some struggling on my end, I requested to stretch on the power line structure we came across to. Currently, my running crux is a super tight hip flexor that sometimes extends into my upper back and at it’s worst creeps into my right shoulder and elbow. It gets to the point where Due to this lack of mobility, I’m literally consuming more energy to reach the same speeds as my colleagues. After a very therapeutic stretch session, I gave the all clear to continue our adventure. We roller-coastered through “Mark’s Art” and the “Tangle of Loops” until it finally met the foot of “Mondo Hill” i.e. “Piss at the “Top Mountain” as we so fondly refer to it as.  Anthony elected we pass on PATM, and soon we ended the run after a steep but brief hill back to the pool lot.

It was a damn good run. The boys pushed me out of my comfort zone, and the hip flexor appeared to be more forgiving at the end. In total, we ran 6 miles a few minutes short of an hour. We laughed and discussed our future running goals until it felt right to end the evening.

ThaNut

Photo Credit: Deborah Scharpff Sexton (FYI, we ran at night)

A New Brandon in 2015

So as you already know from my theme, I’m an avid runner. In fact I’m an avid runner with a dark past.  I got to the point that I could no longer run without pain-no matter the distance. I ran to the point that it became an addiction and I would get terrible anxiety when I was unable to run. It was time to take a step back and reassess the situation.

2015 was a time of working on balance and peace, exploring romance (more on that another time), working out smarter, eating smarter and living without running. The last one is particularly important because I literally had an addiction to running. My crux if you will. I could not let my body recover  based on the fact that I could not take more than 2 days off in a row.  My anxiety and my self-esteem levels would reach terrible highs and lows, respectively. With a combination of meditation , exploration of new workouts, improving my swim style and adjusting my diet, I was able to finish most of the year without a dependence on running.

Towards the beginning of 2015 I found myself at a desk job with the State of Texas and limitations to the kind of exercises I could perform, so naturally I gained weight.  The weight gain may or may not have been attributed to stress and depression. With a new life program implemented, I had to start slow and tweak along the way. I had to adjust to an additional 12-15 pounds on my body after several years of having a visible six pack.

Eventually, I was able to get a hold of my weight again and as I write this now, I’m about as ripped as I was at the end of 2013. I can’t tell you exactly what happened that got me back to my old shape, but the following changes in my lifestyle may have brought me back to old form.

1) More protein

One drastic change I made in 2015 was mastering the art of satiation. I’m not saying I was eating all the time nor was I over eating. I ate when I was hungry. Sounds like common sense but when I ran crazy 60-90 miles a week, I rarely followed this rule of thumb. For example, I would  wait hours on end following an evening run to consume anything at all. This had a lot to do with knowing I would always crash after a much needed gargantuan sized post-workout meal. I still had things to do after the work out, so my solution was to pound a cup of bullet proof coffee. Easy right? Caffeine and fat is exactly what my starving body needs not any…..say essential amino acids. I would attempt my post-exercise duties until my mind was gone and/or I could no longer perform. I’m sure this eventually messed with my metabolism, my recovery and my hormones to the point that weight gain was inevitable. What was my solution? I would eat when I was hungry of course. There’s probably nothing worse than not feeding your body something after a vigorous work out, especially if you hear your stomach rumbling. When I wasn’t starving after a work out, but knew I needed a some form of nutrition, I took a step out of the body building world. Say hello to the protein shake! How I could I ever forget one of the simplest steps out of the athlete’s book. For me, consuming a protein shake whenever I got the hunger bug was a revelation. It has been great as a mid morning snack,  afternoon snack and if I’m not quite ready for dinner, it’ll usually get me by until it is time. Personally, I feel few runners embrace the protein shake. I know that weight can slow you down, but doesn’t a frail body also do that? What’s the potential of a muscly runner with strong legs, core and thoracic region? Timothy Olsen comes to mind although I’m unaware of his complete diet. I do know he promotes Epic bars! You know, because what an athlete promotes is probably the only thing he consumes…So yeah, protein good! Eating when your body needs food, good! Listen to your body and feed it nutritious food!

2)Work out smarter

Several of my friends would most definitely say I work out religiously. I would personally say it gets the job done. I by no means think that my plan is end all be all. I could probably even work out smarter but compared to my past regimen, it’s night and day. Two years ago, my toughest days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) usually started off with an A.M. swim up to 45 minutes-1 hr in length. In the afternoon, a crossfit style type of exercise involving both weights and anerobic cardio. In the evening, a run of at least 9 miles with the potential of going longer. When I was training for a 100 mile trail race, I would substitute the swim with an
“easy” morning run. Mondays and Wednesdays were no slouch as they still involved a morning swim, a Monday lunch weight work out, Wednesday lunch yoga and a run in the evening.   Friday I “recovered” with swimming and yoga. Saturday I went for a run of at least twenty miles. I got exhausted just writing this out.That being said, this exercise regimen would not be sustainable. I would become constantly exhausted, I had a harder time falling and staying asleep, my body was probably catatonic, my sex drive was gone and my adrenals were more than likely fried. Enter a state of minimal recovery and a state of inevitable weight gain. It was time to work out smarter.

I always knew that I didn’t have to work out 3 times a day 5 days a week to have a chiseled body. What were some guys doing (or not doing) that built and maintained an athletic physique without this Ultra Runner’s work out regimen? For starters, most athletes (even ones with the most beautiful physiques) are maybe spending half the time I spent abusing my body. These folks were not going out for 2 hour runs or swims and doing a weighted session on the same day. If they were, they were at least cutting the cardio by half that amount. It eventually occurred to me that while vigorous exercise was important, so was recovery. Allowing your body to rebuild with the proper diet at the right time allows for the best improvements in your body. It would eventually become noticeable that I could do a body weight work out (which are extremely underrated) and up to a 45 minute swim and get the same perhaps even better aesthetic results. Currently, I wouldn’t be able to go off and run a decent 50 miler but I sure as hell am looking pretty good, again. At one point, a friend stated how volumised the muscles in my chest and arms were starting to appear. It would be the first time in a long while hearing that I looked muscly. Inversely,  that same friend mentioned that the same muscles shrank as I slowly introduced some trail running. I didn’t reduce my food intake, but I feel the cardio re-adpatation to trail running may have had a lot to do with. So I encourage anyone to find that right balance of cardio and weight bearing exercise that will get you the results you want. This also means do it in a  manner that doesn’t leave you consistently exhausted or without sex drive. I may just be re-iterating to myself here..

3)Meditation

Probably the biggest one of them all. I have a racing mind. I am what meditators call a right-sided individual. I have a hard time sitting down and doing nothing. The chattering mind invades my sleep to this day and about every aspect of my life. Why couldn’t I recover from exercise? Well it’s probably because I’m addicted constantly DOING SOMETHING, particularly exercise. There was hope. One random Wednesday during a bout of running detox madness, I decided to check out Group Meditation. In my past, I had spiritual experiences leaving me feeling on top of the world, but it was always temporary . Sometimes, the low was was worse on my state of being than the high. When I thought I had hit rock bottom, I went to the only convenient Group Meditation offered that fateful Wednesday. I fought off the old, “it can always wait until next week” excuse and went in with my tail between my legs. If I remember this day correctly, this “group” consisted myself and the moderator. I was not instantly cured of my plight afterwards but I left with a calmer mind, sense of hope and a re-introduction to spirituality. I still go to as many Wednesday and Saturday sessions possible and practice nearly every morning. On the days I don’t practice, I usually feel slightly off.  What have I experienced after a year of regular group and home meditation? A greater sense of compassion towards people, expanded patience, greater mediation of emotional and physical pain, improved self confidence and shockingly, a life without running.  I’m not a changed person, but I’m changing. When I hit those same lows, they seem to impact me less and at those times, I can always go to meditation. Word.

ON top of the mountain
Starting to feel like my old self again. August, 2015.

Introduction

So here’s my new foray into blogging.

I’m starting this personal journal as an informative guide and a self centered place for me to post whatever the hell I want.

What will the blog topics consist of?

I’d like to say it goes the way of my Podcast format (which by the way is called, “The Right Stuff Podcast”) which consists of a main topic which may or may not branch into several other sometimes completely unrelatable topics.

That being said, many of these topics covered in this blog will consist of:


Ultra-Running or my attempt to return to the sport after several plaguing mini injuries, muscle imbalances and lower back pain.

Electronic Music or my attempt to create some form of business from the Electronic I create.

This may also involve discussion with hardware and other artists I’m a fan of.

You may check out some of my jams from the Future Rhythm’s SoundCloud page:

https://soundcloud.com/brandon-scott-ostrander

Nerdism or Anything related to movies, science fiction, tech or anything totally geek-related.

Health or my lifelong journey to discovering the perfect recipe of nutrition, lifestyle, meditation and …coffee to maximize my full potential.

So thank you for joining me. I hope we can discuss some fascinating topics and grow together.

Regards,

Brandon

Other notable and relatable links:

https://soundcloud.com/the-right-stuff-podcast

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