Saturday, May 03, 2008

The world at large

Date: May 2
Mileage: 19.2
May mileage: 113.5
Temperature: 41

Geoff called me from California today with some great news - he had a tough race at the Miwok 100K, couldn't sleep at all the night before, was battered by the "super hardpacked" trail, faded during the last 20 miles of the race ... and landed third place.

I thought I heard him wrong. "Thirtieth?" No. He said third. As in third place! In a field of 250 ultrarunners, completely stacked with many of the top names in the sport. Basically, Geoff had what he views as a bad race - well, maybe not bad, but not exactly at the top of his game - and still came out ahead of at least a few superstars. Scott Jurek I think came in just behind Geoff. I haven't been able to track down the results online yet, but it's pretty impressive.

Geoff's placement automatically qualifies him for Western States, which I understand to be the elite A race in this game. Unfortunately, the race falls one week after the first day of the Great Divide Race, so Geoff isn't even thinking about registering. He has his heart set on this GDR thing. Meanwhile, I'm trying to think of how I can talk him out of his dream bike tour. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see him tackle the GDR ... but I think he can do that any year. He has this opportunity now to steamroll into the national ultrarunning scene (and yes, in my biased view, he could steamroll into it.) And he's just letting the opportunity pass by. But, he never listens to me anyway, so ... eh.

Today I had lunch with a woman who tracked me down through my blog. Kate is a Minnesotan, in town for a few weeks as an Americorps volunteer, landed on my blog while she was researching the area and wanted to meet me. I felt really weird about an Internet stranger date, but we had a great lunch. We don't even have that much in common - she's not really all that into hiking and camping, although she's being subjected to it in a rather brutal fashion here in cold and rainy Southeast Alaska. But we talked and laughed and connected for a few hours before I had to be at work. She would be a fun friend if she had any permanent plans for Juneau - which she doesn't. But the experience of that brief connection made me realize that the Internet reaches deeper into my life than I even know.

I say this because I have been feeling heartbroken about Elden (aka Fat Cyclist) Nelson's recent news about his wife's surprising turn for the worse in her battle with cancer. I've never met Elden or his wife, but he has been very supportive of me in my comparatively trivial cycling challenges, and this news has hit me hard. Like many in Elden's legions of fans, I'm unsure how to react. How do you tell a man you've never met and a woman who doesn't even know you exist that you care about them and are thinking about them? The gesture is simple, but the emotions behind it are harder to qualify. I've never been the strong link in my interpersonal relationships, but I do know real love and support can connect across places as vast and vague as the Internet. So I guess the best thing to do is reach out.


  1. Jill,
    I think its great you meet with Kate!! I seen her post a comment on your blog asking for some of your time!!What she is doing is awesome.How fun would be if everyone tied to your blog.Would meet somewhere over the summer For Jill's Century Blog ride!! Thousands of riders would show up!!
    The internet is very powerful...and you feed it well!!
    About Geoff GDR WOW !!! I can only dream about that trip!!Skipping it not sure?? 3rd pl He a rock star!

  2. I hear ya, Jill, on reaching out to other bloggers. Strangers. I especially always want to reach out to the mom at this beautiful blog:

    I don't have kids, I don't live in Australia like she does, I am pretty sure she has never read my blog...but I always want to send her something for being so brave. But what?

    Meanwhile, I have received 2 awesome packages from bloggie strangers in Alaska, full of Alaska goodness, encouraging me to come when I am scared out of my mind.

    Ahh...the blog world.

  3. The pictures in your posts are absolutely stunning.

  4. We are all quite real behind our avatars. Fat Lad and his wife are coming to stay with me in September- all the way from England! Never met them before, doesn't matter. I do think the internet poses a unique challenge on our human condition, as if our emotional sensors are overextended. Were we wired to have empathy for "strnagers?" Is it too much of a load on our system? Sometimes I think, yes, it is too much. There's nothing to do about it, you already care, so there is no turning it off.

  5. I also read Eldon's blog (that's how I came to find you) and in the past few days I have experienced a hurt for him that I haven't felt since my own family dealt with cancer. It's a weird thing about the internet - our global community grows smaller each day. And while it make me feel a little strange that I feel this way about people I've never known, isn't it also great that, in this day of age, people still have compassion for those they do not know? It gives me hope that our human condition isn't as bad as I originally thought.

  6. We're wired to care, I think it is central to the orderly and positive progression of society.

    I too am just crushed with the news, but I think Fatty helps us all see that there is this whole other side to cyber relationships and it is much bigger and more powerful than the grimy business
    that the tele-news expose' shows give us. More than Nigerian money scams, or luring children into dark water, ths business allows us to reach out in very special, and very positive ways.

    Good for Jeff. GDR is a big deal. Sure Western states has 'star power' but don't think that he can't burst upon that scene somewhere down the way.

    Yr Pal DrCodfish

  7. hey jill, i'm stoked geoff got third but i'm not sure it's correct. the word on the street is:
    1st Dave Mackey
    2nd Jon Olsen 8:20
    3rd Rob Cain 8:35
    4th Scott Jurek 8:37
    5th Lewis Taylor 8:42?
    6th Eric Skaden 8:50
    7th Topher Gaylord 8:50

    i'm going to text msg him now and see what happened.

  8. Hart ... where did you get that info?
    I have from this source:

    1. Dave Mackey, 38, Boulder, CO, 7:53:19;
    2. Jon Olsen, 33, Modesto, CA, 8:24:13;
    3. Geoff Roes, 32, Douglas, AK, 8:34:02;
    4. Scott Jurek, 34, Ashland, OR, 8:38:17;
    5. Lewis Taylor, 34, Eugene, OR, 8:46:41.

  9. i got it on meltzer's blog

    but i stand corrected as i just emailed the ultrarunner link you listed.. amazing run by geoff.!

    i can't overstate how fast his time is! absolutely amazingly fast! congrats to geoff.

  10. Jill, I just posted a message to Elden's blog. I found him through you and have been wearing the pink jersey for a few months now. I know what you mean about it being hard to reach out to someone you don't know, but I think it does make a difference--to him and to you.

    BTW, my partner is Laura Conaway at NPR. She found out about you through me. Maybe someday we'll meet you in person. Until then, keep riding, and keep caring.


  11. Jill, your blog post was the perfect way to reach out to Elden and his wife. You done good!

  12. Jill,

    How do you tell someone you don't know that you care about them? You tell them - just like you did! While the internet is an interesting social phenomenon - relationships in the abstract perhaps - people seem to be built empathetic, some admittedly more than others! I think at bottom we recognize ourselves in others, and respond accordingly. It's the one element of the human condition that allows glimpses of beauty in a world that would otherwise be constant struggle.

    Congrats to Geoff!


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