Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where exactly does this rabbit hole go??

Today's post is a total stray from the usual.  No training talk, no paleo recipes, no race reports, but...culture and introspection; specifically around music.

Music...it is a big part of my life, and always has been.  I'm the type of person who likes to have a soundtrack playing for just about anything I do.  I grew up playing the piano, and I really want to learn to play the guitar if I can find some time; hopefully this winter.  I can't think of a time when I'd rather have the TV on than have music playing in the background while I'm doing stuff like cleaning or cooking, or doing work.  When I'm at work I can't make it through the day without pandora, even if it is against company policy to stream internet radio.  When I am training alone I always bring music with me unless I'm on trails.  In the car, the music is cranked up.  My musical tastes span just about the entire spectrum with the exception of overplayed top 20 garbage and club/autotuned rap.

Lately I have been listening only to singer/songwriter, somewhat folk-type music (generally seems to fall in that category, but not a prerequisite).  This is a drastic change from what I would call my usual soundtracks, such as the Foo Fighters, Audioslave, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, any other hard rock, etc.  I don't know what my sudden draw to this type of music is stemming from, but the beat, the simplicity, and the lyrics just seem to strike a note with me (pun intended).  It started with Gregory Alan Isakov, who I've mentioned in this blog before.  As I have devoured all of his albums and started to find other artists, I have found myself continuing down this path of discovering music that is so un-mainstream, but ridiculously good. 

I discovered Gregory Alan Isakov by watching the Ride The Divide documentary about the Continental Divide mountain bike race from Banff, CA to the Mexico border.  His song called The Stable Song is in the movie.  Maybe it is the visual and emotional context that the song is presented in, or vice versa, but I find that the connection between the song and the wide open spaces along with the personal reflection and inner challenges that are such common themes in the movie have created a really powerful connection in my mind.  They have awakened a previously dormant need for this peaceful place in my mind that I seem to now always be longing to get to.  I find that this type of music and the feeling of being in the outdoors, living simply and for the day, go hand in hand in my mind.  They aren't necessarily what happens in my day to day life, but it is what I work so hard for at least 5 days a week with the hopes that I can achieve it for the other 2.

So who are these artists that I've been following down the rabbit hole?  Well, other than Isakov, I've been listening to Iron and Wine, Ray LaMontagne, Alexi Murdoch, the Lumineers, Ryan Adams (thanks to a good reco), Joe Purdy, Brandi Carlisle, Ingrid Michaelson and too many others that Pandora or Spotify play.  Do you know any others?  I'd love to hear about them!

Here's to discovery in whatever form it takes for you


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Getting ready for Xterra USA Championship

Sorry for the long time between posts.  Things are still busy at work and honestly updating this just took a lower rung on the priority ladder.

So, quick recap, the asian slaw was delicious (check the twitter feed for the recipe), I took a bit of a beating at Beaver Creek (vs. what I had hoped), had an easy week off to recover, and have now buckled down big time for the Xterra USA Championships (more on that in a bit) which is on Sept 22. 

I love the Xterra Nationals race.  The whole week leading up to it is a great time for me and the course is super fun.  We will leave on Wednesday, drive the 8ish hours to Ogden, UT and set up camp right on Pineview reservoir.  I think there is just something about camping and racing that is more fun.  I guess it is the total unplug from regular society, the computers and tv and blackberry and responsibilities and all of those other things that get in the way of just beign outside and enjoying life. 

We'll run the course Wed night, ride the course on Thurs, do a prep workout on Friday and go balls to the wall on Saturday.  Then those of us who didn't make it to Worlds can celebrate another fun year with the Xterra crew after the race.  Nothing like beers, a campfire, stories from the battle, and some of the most fun, laid back people I know.

Last year I put in some big weeks in the month between the Beaver Creek race and Nationals.  It seemed to work well, so I figured lets do it again.  So, I've put a couple of 17-18 hour weeks in with one more big one to go.  My body is absorbing the training well, and I'm having a good time really testing myself.  I guess that is why I love this sport so much.  It isn't where I place in a race, or how fast I go that really matters to me, but it is how much and how hard I can push myself and resetting where my limits are.  If I go faster or place better, well, that's cool too.  I'll try to put some stuff up about these big workouts when I can, and if I can remember to stop and take a picture of some of the great places these long rides and runs take me then even better.

Keep breaking down your barriers....and keep on living the good life.