Sunday, August 12, 2012

UTMB is out. Grindstone, Pinhoti are in.

Seven years ago in October Gaby and I wed at the Halcyon House in Washington D.C.  A swanky, at the time artist lived-in, rumored-to-be-haunted mansion located in the heart of Georgetown, punctuating a bluff overlooking M Street, the Potomac River, Key Bridge and Roslyn, Virginia.  I recall clearly the moments before we walked down a makeshift aisle and exchanged nuptials.  The feel-good emotions coming over me I instantly recognized as something to embrace.  I felt a warm, internal buzzing and wanted to remember exactly how it felt, never knowing how deep it might go or how long it might last. With no fear of neglecting our guests I rushed to the nearest empty room, away from everyone and locked myself in it.  As the ceremony began the buzz intensified and with it my senses rose to levels I’d never known.  Smells wafting from everywhere- from flowers, furniture, people, even the house itself- were all consuming and impossible to ignore.  Remote sounds I could easily pinpoint, tune in or tune out.  The feelings of touch and alertness were as equally profound.  Simply, I felt like what I imagined a skilled cat to live with; senses far sharper than those of an average human.  In fact, after the ceremony ended and before the reception began I still felt it and informed a few friends and family of just that; that I felt like a cat (which sounds kind of funny to admit) and the sensation was both unusual and intensely gratifying.  It was one of the more self-actualizing moments of my life by far.  It still is.
With the coming birth of our son in a month I fully expect to experience similar emotions and if I am fortunate they will act as the key to unlocking incredible, innate sensibilities that likely only surface a few times in one’s life, at best.  Also, I really, really look forward to welcoming the little guy.  Therefore, I have decided to withdraw from UTMB.  I simply cannot risk being on a mountain in France and missing out on such a monumental occasion.  Plus, most importantly, in the event he comes just a wee bit early, I must be present to support Gaby when she will no doubt need me most.  UTMB too would no doubt deliver flashes of self-actualization and wake filled memories worth reliving in repetitive thought but nothing like what I imagine the arrival of one’s first child will bring to the line.  UTMB can wait.
The flip side of this news is that Grindstone and Pinhoti are now on tap.  I’m excited to toe another Virginia 100 mile line.  Particularly Grindstone, since that was the last Virginia 100 I ran and its course I am confident I could run much faster.  Until then, it’s all about preparing for the little guy, gearing the training back up to pre-Western levels and kicking summer in its hot, sticky ass as it eventually walks out the door.
Here is a tune by Sigur Ros to inflate your sensibilities.  Visually, not a bad concert venue if you ask me.  Almost any time I listen to a Sigur Ros tune I am transported back to a summer, 10 years ago.  Lying down, at night on the hardwood floor in my home office with a bit of red wine in one arm and Gaby in the other.


  1. Good call, Neal. While really really fun, these silly races we run are not what truly matters in life. You're the Papa Bear now, and you've got a family to protect!

    Also, assuming your little guy arrives in September, you can be sure you'll be running Grindstone and Pinhoti with extremely fine-tuned sleep deprivation skills!

  2. Well put, Neal. We can't wait to meet him either!

  3. Aw, what a romantic you are, Neal! Three cheers for love and being there for great moments that only happen once.

  4. Cheers to you and to Gaby on your decisions!

    Our wee-she one is due just after Thanksgiving and I attempted to convince my husband to not miss a night of grad school when she comes. He looked at me like I was the most adorably loving alien around in silence til I asked, "it's not happening is it?"

    He also has given up all races after the City Creek Bike Sprint in mid-October, telling me, "I have a race...I'll be racing you to the hopsital!"

    Should you, Gaby, and Future Gorman ever decide that a re-run of Wasatch is in your future, please shout. This former VHTRC vol is now less than 1.5 miles from those great mountains, just a bit north of Kaysville. You all are welcome, any time.



  5. Our new addition came last week -- 2.5 weeks early -- so be ready! It was, and still is, amazing. I'm glad you have enough foresight to not want to miss it; certainly a good call. All the best to you and Gaby.

  6. We'll miss you in France, Neal, but you're definitely making the right call. UTMB will be there next year. The birth of your first born is something you can't really do over.