Sunday, April 07, 2013


Beat and I went mountain biking today. It was blissful. The hills were green and alive. The trails were tacky and muddy. Biking felt great after all the running. I ran five days this week, 36 miles total (slowly, but it was all running, even up steeper hills.) Now my legs are finally sore, which is a definite improvement over inexplicable shiftlessness. Biking is hard, too. I just want to have power again, to pedal strong, and to run until my muscles actually hurt, rather than feel like my body isn't listening to me and is instead being defiantly lazy. Beat is in great shape compared to me; I just have to conclude that walking to Nome is good for you.

I'm not sure what's wrong with me. I don't think this is a rest issue, necessarily. I felt worse after a full day of rest (during a 6.5-mile run Wednesday) than I did today during a three-hour bike ride, one day after a hilly 9-mile run. Plus, it felt great to get out today, and breathe some fresh air after what feels like a week spent indoors (it's strange that I feel this way, given that I went outside for at least an hour most every day. But compared to my lifestyle last month in Alaska, this is a readjustment to a more anchored and indoor-based routine. Essentially, I need to go outside to stay emotionally healthy. The physical stuff is not as big of a concern for me, although I'd like to figure out why I feel so weak. I think it might be time to get the heart-rate monitor out and start doing some short bike intervals, to give me a chance to push the red line without that looming injury threat. Maybe that will get the adrenal system back online.

Keith taking a break from the daily grind of his job
In a recent comment, long-time reader Ingunn asked for a few updates about injured friends that I wrote about here. I suppose if I'm going to publicize the grizzly stories of my friends' injuries, I should follow up with the happy endings. The first is my friend Keith Brodsky from Banff, who was rear-ended by a motorcyclist while we were road biking in Yosemite last May. Keith suffered a lumbar fracture and a few other more minor injuries, and spent a quiet summer recovering from a broken back. But Keith made a full recovery and has been back at it for months. I believe he started biking again last October. He spent the winter working for a heli-ski company in the Canadian Rockies, and ski touring around Banff on his days off. Basically, Keith has been doing what Keith does best — living the dream in paradise. His wife, Leslie, completed her Pacific Crest Trail hike in November, and they have plans to bike tour around Utah in May.

Liehann at the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow
My friend Liehann, who crashed his bike on a pedestrian bridge and broke his femur in five pieces back in January, is also recovering quickly. He's back on the bike, although he's still taking it easy and mostly sticking to roads for now. It also will be at least three more months before he can run again. But he's still considering riding the Tour Divide in 2014, and may even feel strong enough for a longer bikepacking race later this summer.

And finally, Ingunn asked about my book projects. It will probably come as a surprise to no one that I accomplished close to zero progress on my books while I was in Alaska. I fear I may have even made backwards progress on my "Becoming Frozen" book project. After the Homer Epic, I spent a few extra days in Homer and had ample time to wander around on my swollen feet and ponder the words I've been writing about it. Of course I came to the conclusion that it's "wrong, all wrong." Since then I've been revisiting some of the early chapters to see where my visions diverge.

Oh, Homer. Why are my memories of you
so vivid and yet so hard to nail down with words?
This is an ongoing dilemma I've been having in my writing lately — I begin to disagree with certain aspects of it and want to dramatically change things around before I've even given my project a chance by simply finishing a draft. In other words, I hate almost everything I write. I didn't always have this problem, and I feel the need to do some serious self-evaluation about what's changed. I think part of the issue is the way I've turned myself into a "publisher" of sorts. Back before I wrote "books," writing was fairly effortless. "Ghost Trails" was initially intended to be a personal journaling project rather than a book. I wrote "Be Brave, Be Strong" as a sort of escapist coping mechanism when I was going through a tough personal time in early 2010. Those stories just flowed out and took almost no time to actually write. Now I can't look at anything I do without that intimidating "publication" threat looming over me, and it does create a mental block.

I need to get back to my roots of "writing for me," which is cliche but that's why I started these memoir projects in the first place. Who cares if they ever see the light of day? I mean, clearly I care, but that's not the reason I should be writing them. I do have some non-memoir nonfiction projects in the works, and also two potential collaborative projects, which I hope to start in the near future.

So there are my updates for now. I appreciate reader requests for content. They help me get around occasional blogger's block.


  1. I think you shouldn't worry about your projects. Especially now that you picked up all this new work in Alaska you should let it come to you when you're inspired. Perhaps this is what you're doing, and if so, sounds good to me.

  2. Yep. yep. Can relate to the writing angst. I finished three book length manuscripts and am shopping them, although seriously considering going the self publish route now that the line is so blurry. Just paralyzed about the next project. I think because the three were for me, but now I've finished those and was thinking more about publication.

  3. Aah, I feel like a puppetmaster!

    Very glad to hear about these successful recoveries - it's impressive how fast truly fit people heal from serious injuries.

    Also, I agree with Danni, let it come to you when you're inspired. Don't let your demanding readers (cough cough) bully you into stressing about your writing.

  4. While I am no writer like you, I could never produce a paragraph when not inspired on my own. The obligations I have with a couple, luckily, recognize it and never push things out of me. Recently, I was offered to co-author something, in theory, I am passionate about and researched already and wrote bits and pieces. But having a deadline put it in deadlock:) I am going to have to pull out. So, that said, good luck with finding your muse back, and if not - keep enjoying life anyway!

  5. Mary — congrats on finishing so many manuscripts! I'd be interested to hear more about your experiences in dealing with the traditional publishing industry as you shop your books around. I dabbled with that process in summer 2010 and was surprised by the sheer amount of leading I encountered that ultimately hit up against walls. I just expected to be told no by everyone but that certainly wasn't the case. At one point, I was certain I'd found an agent but she decided not to send a contract after concluding that my Tour Divide book was too "niche." "Only bicyclists read bicycling books," she told me, which is probably true.

    Even back then, though, self-publishing wasn't nearly as prevalent as it is now. I do wonder how the exploding indie market has changed how agents and editors treat authors. In a way, it's almost not their market to control anymore.

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