Tim VanOrden’s Running Raw Times – October 15th, 2008

A Huge hello to all my friends and supporters of the Running Raw Project.

In This Issue:
• The Little Victories
• Food Networking
• The Running Raw Buzz
• The Race Report
• The Training Log
• Upcoming Events
• The Running Raw Experience
• Your Support
• In Conclusion

The Little Victories:
As a troubled teen, trying to find my place in the world, my father told me that “all glory is fleeting“. It was a quote from General George Patton, who was remarking on the lavish victory celebrations of ancient Rome. Standing in the shadow of the US Bank Tower Stair Climb, now two weeks behind me, I finally understand the value of my father’s words. This race was to be a defining moment of The Running Raw Project. A race that could change everything… or so I thought. The setup couldn’t have been more Rocky-like. My confidence was at an all time low. I had “choked” in the two previous televised events. My personal life was up for auction. I was tending to a recently broken heart. The Food Network needed a grand finale for the show and was expecting victory. The two best stair climb racers in the country were entered – one whom I’ve never beaten and another who has NEVER been beaten by anyone in the U.S. The pressure was on. Fortunately, in a stair climb race there is only one direction to go – UP.

My victory in this race was one of the most startling in the history of the sport of stair climbing. A raw vegan at the age of 40 had come out ahead of the country’s best in one of the World’s most grueling sports. I had beaten a man thought to be unbeatable and set a new course record in the process. It was more than I could have possibly imagined… And it was all captured on television. I was grateful, I was happy, I was celebrated by my friends, peers and fellow competitors. So why didn’t my life magically change in that moment? Why did everything feel the same? Why was I not as happy as those around me? It was my moment to shine… why didn’t I feel shiny?

Today as I drove home from a limit stretching workout at the gym, it all became clear to me. We’ve been trained in this culture to believe in Hollywood endings and fantasy. That “someday” our lives are going to magically come together and everything will be perfect and we will live happily ever after. When we have “this”, or do “that” everything will be different. This race was one of those moments. I had set myself up. I had placed the responsibility of my “definition” on some outside force. Even in victory I had given my power away.

As I sat in my car contemplating this issue I was struck with a profound realization; it’s what I do when no one is watching that defines me. It’s the choices I make when I am accountable only to myself that defines me. It is everything that I do to PREPARE for a race that defines me. It is the mastery of the voices in my head that defines me. Ultimately, it is the choices I make in the every day average moments where nothing is seemingly at stake that defines who I am… the little victories, not the glorious victories that are celebrated in the streets with hugs, cheers, laughter and tears… Although, those moments do make for better photographs and Hollywood screenplays.

Food Networking:
As they say in Hollywood, “It’s in the can”. Meaning that after five months of filming, we are satisfied with the content on both sides of the camera and production of the show has wrapped. The editing process can be a laborious one, so please be patient as the brilliant production team at Al Roker Productions whips this show into shape. The rough cut that I have seen looks fantastic! I couldn’t ask for a more professional and compelling vehicle to spread the word of health and success to the masses and with a name like “The Fountain of Youth”, I’m certain it will get a lot of attention.

Air date to be announced.

The Running Raw Buzz:
XTERRA Planet Newsletter

The Race Report:
With the busy summer racing season behind me, I have moved into a more focused racing zone. It’s tower racing season now and if a race doesn’t include some serious vertical, I’m not interested.

US Bank Tower Stair Climb – Los Angeles, CA
The first of the three big U.S. tower races was a huge success for Running Raw. With a 29 second improvement over my winning time last year, I managed to edge out America’s top two stair climbers in this epic race and claim victory. Following the race, Terry Purcell, a man who had previously been unbeaten in stair climbing since 1996 voiced these words – “I think I’m going to have to go raw”. Read the full story here.

XTERRA Pt. Mugu Trail Race – Malibu, CA
Thirty-six hours after tackling the US Bank Tower, I competed in this challenging 18K (11 mile) mountain trail race. My legs and breakfast of fresh fruit served me well again as I blazed to victory in near course record time. Read the full story here.

Stark Mountain Hill Climb – Fayston, VT
The scenery was anything but stark in this test of uphill stamina. Fall foliage in peak display was the backdrop for this 2,000 vertical foot climb up the trails of Mad River Glen Ski Area in central Vermont. It was a choose your own course style of race – any which way you can to the top. I choose the 38% slope of the lift line as my path of beast resistance. It seemed to pay off, as I brought home my third straight victory. Read the full story here.

The Training Log – The Letdown and the Letup:
So you’ve just trained your butt off for a big event, and the event is now over. What do you do? How do you keep up the intensity? How do you train on the dark side of the moon? These are questions that I’ve had to answer on a daily basis as I ready myself for the Go Vertical Chicago Sears Tower Stair Climb on November 9th. The bar has been raised, the gauntlet has been thrown down and I enter this race with a target on my back.

Albeit beautiful, the fall weather in Vermont has tested my resolve. The wet, cold mornings are bone chilling. Deer hunting season has shut down most of my favorite trails leaving me to run on pavement or at the gym. Neither is very appealing to me. The result – a significant reduction in my training load. Some could look at this as needed recovery, and I often try on that perspective as well. Deep inside I know it to be otherwise… and that has lead me to introspection and growth… which is often more difficult than working out itself.

To compensate for my reduced mileage and training frequency, I’ve upped the intensity of my workouts. Throughout much of this journey, I have feared the hard workouts that must be completed in order to compete at an elite level. It’s easy to slack off and avoid the real tough stuff… the workouts that push me beyond my limits and WAY beyond my comfort zone. It’s easy to come up with excuses as to why I should take a day off or stop halfway through a workout. But as I’m sure you know, taking the easy route never leads you to anything extraordinary.

I’ve had to develop some “mental” strategies to make this endeavor less frightening. Among them is an exaggerated short-sightedness. I choose to focus only on the smallest task in front of me, e.g. getting out my shoes, laying my running clothes on the bed, getting dressed in said attire, and then simply walking out the door. When I focus on the small steps so intently, I don’t see what lies ahead, but in a matter of minutes I find myself in the midst of the workout cheering to myself “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”

The second tool that I employ is a rundown of my present physical and emotional state, quickly followed by alternative states to “try on”. If I find myself squinching my face and grimacing, I relax my facial muscles and make note of the new feeling when I do this. I work all the way down my body… neck, shoulders, arms, chest, stomach, hips, thighs, calves, feet, changing the state of each as I go. Then I start over and run down my emotional state and offer upgrades where needed. I choose how I feel during these intense workouts. I create my experience. Today while breaking through to new levels on the stepmill at the gym I chose to call my right leg “joy” and my left leg “ease”. As each leg fired I would call out it’s name in my mind and embody those two thoughts in my body and mind.

This has had a significant impact on my training experience. I won’t tell you that the fear and dread of a painful workout to come has completely disappeared, but I will tell you that I’m FAR more likely to do the workout as scheduled and actually enjoy the process. It’s somewhat of a spiritual experience to choose to push beyond my limits and choose to be present to what I am feeling at the same time and then author that experience. It’s not about choosing the pain, it’s about choosing the experience. When you choose the experience, the pain transforms… into what? That’s up to you.

With these tools in my toolbox and the celebration of my little victories each day, I move towards the Sears Tower race with a smile on my face.

Upcoming Events:
October 18th – Bisbee 1000 Stair climb – Bisbee, AZ
October 25th – Palm Springs Tram Road Challenge – Palm Springs, CA
October 25th – Raw Meetup/Potluck – Altadena, CA
November 2nd – Presentation – Tulsa, OK
November 3rd – Presentation – Wichita, KS
November 5th – Presentation – Kansas City, MO
November 9th – Sears Tower Stair Climb – Chicago, IL
November 9th – Presentation – Chicago, IL

The RunningRaw.com Experience:
Thank you for all of your great feedback on the new site! I’m still in the midst of updating pages and transferring information from the old site. Please check back often as I am committed to keeping you well informed and entertained on each of your visits to RunningRaw.com.

Paying it Back and Forward:
Please support my sponsors Larabar, Blendtec, Nutiva, Garmin, Excalibur, West Coast Labels, and Supercharge Me

Your Support:
Your donations help us more than you can imagine. Even very small contributions help to pay for event registrations, travel, etc.! Thank you in advance for your support. Your generosity allows me to do what I do and touch the lives I touch. You can make your donation through http://paypal.com to the address donate@runningraw.com. No amount is too little, and every dollar is greatly appreciated.

In Conclusion:
The Running Raw Project is taking off like never before. The stories you share of how Running Raw has made a difference in your lives inspires me to continually expand this project. If you’re excited about what we do and would like to be a part of the team, please get in touch with us. We’re always looking for new contributors, sponsorship and enthusiastic athletes to help make this project all it can be.

Please pass this newsletter along to anyone that you think might be interested in this journey. If you have any suggestions on how to make runningraw.com better, please pass them along. If there is anything you’d like me to try or blog about, send it my way, it may become a part of this journey.

Thank you for your continued support.
With Love and gratitude

Tim VanOrden

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