Sunday, November 16, 2014

Signing Off

I first started blogging in 2003 after returning to hiking New Hampshire's 4000 Footers. Back then my blog was on a .mac account and mostly just a collection of hiking reports from my trips in New Hampshire. My goal when I started doing this, was to simply share my adventures with people. All I wanted, in the beginning, was to show people what was possible. Normal People. Regular People. Out of shape or lost people. Because let's face it.. I was incredibly lost at 23 years old. Then I produced my film, and became a sort of public figure in the New England Hiking Scene. I loved it. I felt like I was somebody. I'll never forget the night of my film premier, a couple came up to me after just having purchased a DVD copy of my film.. and they asked me for an autograph. I was really taken aback, but at the same time.. life changed for me in an instant. 

I remember when I first met Tim Seaver, the now former NH Peakbagging Speed Record Holder. Driving home from his house the night I interviewed him, I knew I wanted to run Ultras simply because I wanted to BE somebody. I was incredibly unsatisfied with, and terrified of the notion, of leaving this world as a nobody. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with depression, and things I had been through in my past.. etc etc etc. So when someone asked me for an autograph.. I felt like I was there but not quite.. getting "closer."

In the months that would follow, I became even more vocal in the New England hiking scene. Sharing my thoughts and opinions around every turn.. let's face it.. that's who I am. Opinionated, Honest, Unfiltered. But with that came the unnecessary burden I carried of the same in return from those who shared a different opinion of my own. The community I was a part of soon would become polarized.. either you liked me, or you didn't. I realize now all these years later.. how much of an awful feeling that was.. and still is. I don't want the same thing to happen here in Colorado. 

Over the decade that I've been blogging.. I have been through a lot and all of it.. completely unnecessary but I cannot honestly say unwarranted. I have had websites created about me (sherpajohnisadouche.com), I've had people dress up like me on hikes and runs to mock me in their own blog posts and youtube videos, I've had mockumentary videos made about me on YouTube, I've had people steal my identity and make fake accounts online, fake profiles.. I've received countless pieces of hate mail through electronic means. To this day.. people still anonymously post negative comments/thoughts about me in the comments sections of blogs and websites.. where the post they're commenting on has absolutely nothing to do with me. 

The evolution of this site over the years has seen a shift in my intention as well. Again, in the beginning it was more about hiking and race reports. Then.. I started sharing my opinions. I fully understand that my thoughts and opinions have not always been with the grain, or in line with what most people believe or think. So with that sharing, comes a whole wave of negativity that while I never intended to receive, I rightfully did so mostly due to my attitude. However, at the same time, I've always enjoyed offering that different perspective. I've enjoyed making people think, question their own beliefs, change their views, or just engage them in the way that made them curious to understand.. 

I never asked for the negativity and the naive side of myself never expected it. Over the years it has become more and more tiresome to try and convey my thoughts and messages while still dealing with the ramifications of doing so. All of the things I've endured for the last decade.. continue to happen and the only way I can think of bringing it to an end for my own sanity and the sanity of my family.. is to pull the plug. There are other reasons as well...

Let's be honest... I've more than said my piece. I've said my piece about Lotteries in Ultra Running, I've said my piece about Leadville, my piece about Prize Money, my piece about the elites, my piece about the increase in the number of runners, the loss of old school, races that aren't "cutting it," race directors who I personally think aren't cut out for this, or whose actions affect others but in the end.. none of these issues are things that I need to worry about. None of these things are my battle.. yet.. I made it so. I fully and wholeheartedly accept the ramifications for the past.. but from this point on.. I am telling you that.. I refuse to let it be my future. I'll continue to let what I've built in HPRS to speak for me.. without my words.. just with my actions. 

I am who I am. I will likely always be opinionated, and honest, and unfiltered. But I realize that it needs to be in person. Who I am online.. is in my opinion an inaccurate reflection of who I am in real life. Think of how many people in your life you know this to be true for as well. Think of the many people in your life who are characterized wrong or misunderstood simply because they have a hard time conveying their thoughts in written form as opposed to if they do it in person with vocal and body language cues. Think about it....    This is the social world we live in. I do not know how many people or who the people who post anonymously are.. I don't think I even wish I did for fear of what I'd do to them... but I can tell you that.. I've done enough to myself. 

So from this moment forward, this blog will no longer be a place where I share my thoughts and opinions on anything really. It will once again, for the first time in 10 years, be a site totally dedicated to race and hike reports. Nothing more, nothing less. Just sharing the adventures in the hope that others will find inspiration to get out there and dare to push themselves further. It pains me incredibly to have to make this decision and actually implement it..

Recently, I've received correspondence from a fellow RD here in Colorado where he expressed his honest thoughts about me, that I am vulgar, offensive, and a condescending asshole. Sure.. my idea of fun is different than others. I can be vulgar. I can be offensive.. but so can everyone else. When people first reach out to me and tell me that they've heard great things about me.. I hunt for the truth, and many admit that their friends have also told them "I'm crazy, a little rough, but mean well." I don't want to be any of those things because deep down I know I'm not. Deep down I'm a husband, and a father, and an adventurer. Yeah.. I'm a little crazy, I'm a little rough, I mean well.. but I'm so much more. I'm definitely awful at personal PR.. 

As I continue to build what I consider to be my "cathedral" here in Colorado, my goal is for people to get a very accurate representation of who I truly am. Not who they've read about online. Not whose opinionated/asshole pieces they've read on various topics. Real Life. I struggle with HPRS because I don't view it as a business.. I view it as a community. At the end of the day though, if it's going to make it, if it's going to succeed, if my son is going to look up to me.. it's time to sign off.

And so.. I want to thank the many of you out there who have read this blog over the years. You've endured much pain coming from my fingers that type. You've been with me for the great moments and you've been there through the lackluster. You've seen me come close with suicide and death. You've seen me be triumphant in my personal goals. What you haven't seen.. is the real life pain and struggle that has come with it. I am so much more than words in a blog. I hope that many of you will stand up from behind your screen... and explore people in person. There's a wonderful world out there filled with a lot of great good people.. I hope by doing this.. some day, I can just be one of them

So until the next Report to share from "out there"...
Happy Trails
John Paul Lacroix

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Clarity

Back in March when my friends threw me the surprise party to convince me to be a race director, I was incredibly honest with them that night about my trepidations in regards to jumping into that pond. Some of them were expected, "I've been very vocal about RD's who make a killing off of races" to which they replied, "You don't have to make a killing off of one race, but you should make some off a few races." I continued with, "I've done this before and got screwed by the guy who was supposedly the 'funder' and 'help'" to which they replied, "but he's not here now and you learned a lot from your mistakes." But it was the next point that is was made me hesitate the most and to which this post is pointed at..

"I'm not sure that what I want to build, would catch on around here. I'm not sure it's worth the work. I'm worried that Ultra has passed it by, and now is the time for something different, something I don't really have a desire to direct." ...  To which they replied, "You build what you think our sport, what Colorado, needs John.. because we can tell you.. the sport, and the state needs it."

Despite having the backing of 13 of my closest friends.. I was, and still am, terrified of failing at this. There is no backtracking on things I've said, but there is a better understanding on my part for things I may have lobbied against. Experience is able to provide us with fresh perspectives. Digging for facts, discovering the truth, talking to people and most importantly, listening to them, affords us the opportunity to make more sound judgements and/or opinions. I've long had a collection of opinions out there about me. Since long before I became an ultra-runner, I was in the hiking circle of the Northeast. Before that I was in wrestling circles. Before that, it was soccer. Which leads me to my first big thought on all of this..

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

They've Taught Us Something..

I didn't have the chance to make it down to Silverton this past summer to participate in the Hardrock 100. Part of me is still waiting for my turn to be "chosen" to head down and become a member of the family. But I did live vicariously through a number of runners who did make the trek down there, be it to spectate, or volunteer, or pace, or run in the prestigious event. The stories they came back with speak volumes to me in how I envision Ultrarunning, and I do believe a few runners taught us something out there this year.

Killian Jornet was the odds on favorite to win Hardrock before anyone even showed up in town. I can't imagine the immense pressure that comes with being a runner of such caliber; showing up into a small mining town in a foreign land with all eyes on you. Killian's talents are certifiably undeniable in our sport. He is the best of the best right now, so long as it comes to mountainous courses. But he showed us so much more than just his talent at this years Hardrock 100. He showed us the kind of heart and soul that makes this sport what it is. A community.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The 33rd Birthday

Well.. today is my birthday. It's been a very long time since I've been a fan of my birthday. To me, it's mostly just another day in the long line of 12,054 days of my life. (289, 272 Hours) (17,356,320 Minutes)(1,041,379,200 Seconds).. and counting. For some reason, my birthday week always ends up being the week I am most depressed every year. I think the biggest reason, besides the fact that I suffer from major depression, is that I take time to really be retrospective and introspective of the last year and where I am in life when the clock turns to 33.

Since January 2, 2013.. I have had a job all of 6 months. At 33 years old, I am a few months away from having to sell my house, and move my wife and son back into an apartment. I am nowhere near where I thought I was going to be at 33.. no where near what I thought when I was an adolescent, a teen, a 20-something.. not even close. I can openly admit that I struggle every morning to wake up, and I struggle every night to fall asleep. I lay awake and do nothing but obsess about who I am, where I've been, where I'm going.. I wake up in no mood to "do this again." The only thing that keeps me going, is my wife and son.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The RD: Final Commentary

This is it, the final post in this incredibly long series of posts on Race Directing. My goal with this series was to offer up my own perspective on race directing. To share what I've learned and to hopefully dispel a number of myths that exist out there. I'll let you figure out what those myths are or are not. But ultimately, jumping back into Race Directing has continued to teach me about the changes in resource management, and the changes in ultra running. In this final post, I'm wrapping this series up with some thoughts, opinions, comments, and what-have-yous. Again.. this is a personal blog. It's a place where I get to share my thoughts and opinions based on my own personal experiences, and gained knowledge over time. You may not agree with what you read here, and I'm OK with that. To each his own.. take it with a grain of salt I guess and remember.. we as Ultra Runners have been encouraged for a few years now to "Vote with our wallets."

Monday, October 13, 2014

The RD: So How Did It Go?

On September 6th I hosted the first official race of the Human Potential Running Series. As part of "The RD" series here on my blog, I wanted to give an honest recount of how the entire event went from beginning to end. Any good race director should be able to take a huge step back, post event, and look at every little thing they endured. They should be able to honestly view it, addressing what went well and what did not, then suggesting changes for the next year based on their own honest feedback. Race Directors should also be compelled to ask their runners for feedback. Whether that comes from in e-mail form, or via Survey Monkey.

Even though I have been involved in race directing for a number of years... (Co-Directed some Peak.com Races in Vermont from 2007-2009, Directed the New England Ultras 50/100/200 Milers in 2008, and the HPRS Fat Ass Series here in Colorado) the race did not go off with a number of hiccups. There was a great deal that went well also, and at the end of the day I completed my goal. My goal was to direct a first year race that broke even or made money, and did not have the feeling of a first year event. We've all been to at least one first year horror story. This, was not one of them.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The RD: Bringing it all together

We've covered a lot in the previous 7 parts of this series on Race Directing, and you can find links to all of the previous postings at the bottom of this post. Again, this is just a synopsis of my experience in being a race director and I wanted to share the information because we as runners and constantly fed information that, well, just isn't entirely true. It is my hope that this post help dispel a number of myths and legends of Race Directing.

In this post, we're going to get right to it and bring it all together. You've made the decision to jump in, created a course, got your permits, purchased or borrowed most everything you need, incurred a huge amount of expenses, purchases insurance, shirts, obtained shwag and suckered volunteers to help. You event spent money on advertising and did what you could on a grass roots level to get the info out there. What else is there?! THE RACE!