Monday, September 26, 2011


A seed is planted in my mind. An idea, a hatch ling that won't go away.

I tried to reason with it. Then I fought it. I tried to push it out, make it wait.

The whine of the buzz saw. The grinding of the grist mill.

I tried to pound it down, but an organic thing isn't stopped by all the industrial gears of logic toothing away at it.

Sigh. So I gave in. I signed up. More details to follow (look right Brother Grub).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clang. Boom. Steam.

Clang. Boom. Steam. Three Running Stories

I have not made a habit of posting about running. Its not that I don't like to post about it, its just not all that interesting to me, its starts to sound kinda the same..... after a while. But, I'll make an exception for this week. I ran and hiked a total of 95 miles. My biggest total ever. By a long shot.

Chug chug chugging along. Riding the rail, life gets louder with the clang boom and steam of a rolling train.

CLANG: Superior, the rest of the story.

53 miles in the Superior Trail race. OK, the race was 52, but I got some bonus miles in due to getting lost. Wow, what an adventure I had. The race didn't turn out at all as I had 'planned', but I had an amazing time anyway. One of the best part was Jodie T. Jodie and I ran probably half of this race together, and I reported on it in my blog post over at the Lapham group site. I left a LOT of stuff out of that race report.

In short, let me say while I didn't do all that well in the race, and I hopefully helped out Jodie, I had my own motives to do what I did: I abandoned my race plan and stayed with a fellow runner to see her to the finish. So there was some compassionate, empathetic behavior going on from my part; I really wanted to see her finish that race.

I had two roads: one, in which I ran a sub-par race with a luke warm time. and Jodie does or doesn't finish. How would I feel about that had she quit? I would have second guessed any decision to leave her behind. The second, solution to my mind was to stay with her and give it a shot, and that's what I did. Did it make a difference? I certainly hope so, but I'll never know. The luke warm race result was easy to give up, and I have not had any misgivings for doing it.

Things are other things I learned on that run.

- Prepare and Execute. Don't let desire and expectations change your plan. THINK execution, not results.

- always have fun. This is play time, don't make a job of it by creating unrealistic expectations.

- Be prepared to fail, and not have it ruin your day. Be joyful in the efforts. Adjust your plan. Go with it.

- Every race is different! No two courses are the same, the conditions, everything. Every race is a gift, and an adventure.

- Stop trying to meet some time goal. Really, when I do that, I am running someone else's race. I don't frikin' care about TIME. I care about the effort. I will choose to run with who I want, and I will likely run with someone who is slower unless I choose to run alone. This, for me, is like family time. Learn something from whoever you run with. This is the gift. The time elapsed you will soon forget; the time well spent with someone you will not. Case in point: one of the best runs of the year, Pacing Angela. Time for me was never a factor. From today on, I refuse to predict any finish time. It has zero payback, its a no win. I'll take the time spent with my fellow runners any day.

- From today on, I refuse to wear a watch. Its not about getting there quicker, its about being here. Running fast and efficient doesn't get easier because you are watching a watch or GPS (that's the measure). I want to run with grace, the time takes care of itself as a result of running well; as a result of good execution.

BOOM:More Superior, being out there for the fun of it.

Robyn and I hiked for three more days on the Superior trail, getting in about 20 miles. OK, its not running, but it was moving, and that trail dictated a slower pace anyway. We hiked The Split Rock river trail, the area around Tettagouche State Park, and the area that leads up to Bean and Bear Lakes. We had great weather, and a great time doing it. We camped under the most brilliant moon, all three nights. It was so bright, that when the moon was low on the horizon coming off the lake, I had to actually shield my eyes while walking down a path.

STEAM: Running with Nebraska Bobbi.

I was set up to sweep 22 miles of the North face 50 mile course this past weekend. Brad B and I had started at Emma Carlin on the Ice Age trail. If you are not familiar with sweeping; the role is to get behind the last runner, and pick up all the course markings and arrows, as well as make sure the course is 'clear' of anyone out there still running.

I found a drivers license laying on the trail about a 1/2 mile into the job. It belonged to a woman from Nebraska. I put it into Brads pack for return later after our duties were complete.

After making contact with the slowest runner, we plodded along, picking up trash, removing flags. It was a glorious day, temps in the 60's, sunny. We came into the area at McMiller, which is a CC ski park, and suddenly the last place runner changed places with another runner, so we stuck with her for a while. Brad started to chat with her, and asked her where she was from.


Huh. Uh, lady, I think I found your drivers license.

Her name is Bobbi, and she was there with her husband, Ron. He's a nice guy; and we actually caught him at mile 40 after pacing Bobbi for about 8 miles. The two of them had 9.5 miles to go, and were now going to run it in together.

But there was a problem. They had made the last cut off, but the pace had slowed because Bobbi had hurt her foot. I radioed in about our situation, and the RD said they could keep going but it would be an unoffical finish if they came in after 6 pm. It was now 3:30 pm. So Brad and I decided to stay with them and finish.

It took three and a half hours.

Patience, and perseverance. You can't give it lip service, you have to live and breathe it to your core. I talked to Bobbi for several hours, to take her mind off the pain in her foot. She finished. With tears streaming down her face. She was grateful, beyond words. It was a cool sight, to see her tough it out. It was one of the gutsiest running performances I have ever seen. Reaching the finish line, there were no runners left, no one to cheer for Bobbi's efforts.


But, the North Face people were very cool. They hung out an extra hour, created a big scene at the end, music, tunnel of people with raised hands, and they saved them some food. Bobbi shivered in the cold, and we got her covered up and tried to get her to eat. They gave her a medal, I gave her a clothes pin with the flagging tape from the course. Her husband drove the van over, we got her in. they drove away, and Bobbi was smiling. Bobbi, Thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the lessons on perseverance. You are one tough cookie.

Station to Station.

Whistle. Whoosh. Stop. 95 Miles. All out.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Superior Tough

So later this week I am headed up to Northern MN for a go at the Superior 50 mile race.

I am a little nervous, probably more so than the first two 50 milers I ran in July (Dances with Dirt) and August (Marquette Trail 50).

The distance doesn't scare me at all. The fact is, I want to do this one really well. Maybe its not the best course to give that a go, but I can probably adjust the hours to put it into perspective. I am guessing, but I would think a 2 hour INCREASE when compared to say, Ice Age, is likely. So, a 12 hour race at SHT would equate to a 10 hour race at IAT. My real goal this year was to break 10 hours, so a 12 hour race at SHT would satisfy that. Ultras are tough, every course is different. Honestly, I'll be happy with 13 hours.

Its going to be tough, and maybe I am over planning a bit. I think sometimes we get caught up in the drop bags, race strategies, blah blah blah. (I'm already packed. Including drop bags and camping gear for the week after the race).

I am going to STOP over-thinking.

I am going to take my own advice, which is as follows:

1) Stop arguing for your limitations. You don't run by thinking. You run by NOT thinking.
2) You won't die if you start out too fast (because I NEVER start too fast)
3) The miles behind you are done. There is only one perfect path: the one that lies before you.

4) Just shut up and run.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I have made some changes to the blog here. I have added click able links for the books I'm reading to the right. the books will no longer appear in 'my list'.

One other major change, so as not to confuse anyone.

The title includes the word "psychology" along with "Buddhist".

Properly, there are many forms of Buddhism, including what I consider many unreasonable beliefs. Many Buddhists who view their beliefs as a 'religion', also believe in an after-life, or reincarnation, are heavily into ritual practices, and strict about their diet, to name just a few.

I decidedly want to clarify. I have no first hand knowledge of many of those Buddhist precepts, especially those that are surrounded by 'supernatural' beliefs.

I do subscribe to a deeper understanding of the Eight fold path, and the ideas that we are very much responsible for our own mental health. Karma, is not an external phenomenon, but one in which the waves our current actions affect our future emotional health. Living many lives is not meant to be literal in biologically dying and reincarnating, rather its the birth-death-birth of the constantly created self. "Who are you?" has many answers that change over time. That cycle can occur whenever 'pain' and especially 'suffering' is present. We are re-born all the time, sometimes multiple times in a single hour.

The Adviata principles and Buddhist leanings that perception is the basis of our own reality is core to my understanding, since these are testable hypothesis' and theories.

Much more on this topic.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Random Bits

I ran last night, and I got to my LPTR group late. I had some sense of urgency to run hard after a long day of Marketing Meetings. ("We shovel shit as good as anyone"). I often marvel at where I ended up, considering where I started. I was reminded of this again by a short conversation with two of the running group members. I admire both of them very much, in a variety of ways including the fact they are both good people and excellent runners. Considering that I got to the run 5 minutes late, I was actually quite surprised to catch both of them (Both tapering, for different reasons).

After some conversation about running and College, one asked me if I went to school. I answer with "no, I didn't". Then one asked the other "Do you have a masters degree?" and the reply was "yes, I do and I sell paint for a living". My response was, "huh, I didn't and ended up a marketing manager in a 7 billion dollar company".

And now I think how's that happen?

Afterward, I thought about my response, and how it may have been taken. I certainly wasn't bragging; I was marveling. at how random our lives can be. I've certainly had my ups and downs in my career life, and while I am in a higher level job now, I don't necessarily feel a sense of importance. On the contrary, I can see better the posturing, the politics, the ass-kissing, the maneuvering that goes on in a big company, especially at higher levels. I don't know how long I'll stay, but for now, here I am.

Double-D, for what its worth, I'd buy paint from you, or anything else you'd care to sell. I wish the bozo's I have to deal with had half the horse sense you've got. Damn straight.


"A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet"

"Words cannot carry the essence of experience, anymore than a fishing net can draw up the sea."

"A spoon cannot taste of the food it carries. Likewise, a foolish man cannot understand the wise man´s wisdom even if he associates with a sage."

I am constantly being tripped up by language as of late. I think about how experience is different that the memory of it, and especially the words associated with the memory of it. Then I start reading something, or someone, that really resonates with things I've experienced. Maybe that's it. Maybe the words can only draw the feelings if you've been there before.

Currently reading Desert Solitaire, by Ed Abbey. He good. He really good. He triggers all sorts of thoughts, many make me excited, think and think.


Speaking of words not being the emotions: Same thing with 'things' not being the experience either. I still obsessively shop for backpacking gear. What I really want to do is go back to the desert, or the forest. But since I can't right now, I plan, plan plan, look, look look, buy, buy and buy. I buy lots of stuff, try it on, look it over. Most of it goes back to the store(s). I want the experience of the wild, but all I got is the trappings. The tent set up in my living room is not a substitute for being out in the forest at night, listening to star light hit the trees. The backpack is replaced by the laptop on too many days. A 5:30 am shower is not the mountain stream where I want to be standing on a rock, feeling the rush of a waterfall reverberate my toes. Morning coffee brewed on a campfire at first light, not in a styrofoam cup on a 2 hour commute.


So Superior 50 Mile race is coming up, and I am really excited to go. I have plan to go out hard. I don't know how long I can hold it, but I want to push the edge really hard. I want to be shocked. Shocked out of the daily rut, of every day cars and television and expense reports and marketing plans. I want to be pounded down until I am so small as to only be a breath, a whisper of existence. I want to feel nothing, and everything. I want to remember my humanness. The need to eat, the need to stretch my limbs, the over-whelming urge to sleep, to be so tired I may collapse. reaching the edge, I'll hold on, hold on. Baby, got to hold on. Take bone-draining tired by the hand, and hold on.


I bought a Nathan pack recently for running. Its a decent hydration pack, and very popular. I hated it. I tried it, and I just can't make it work for me. I loaned it to a friend, and she offered to buy it from me if it works for her. The thing is, I don't need the money, and I would really like her to just have it if she really likes it and is going to use it. I don't know why this is, but when I can give something to someone, I really like to give it to them without taking the money. I hope it works for her, but if it doesn't I am sure I can find someone else in the group will use it. That's the important thing: I don't want to give it away if its not going to get used; to give it before I know she likes it, well, then it sits in her closet, un-used. So I didn't tell her yet that I want to just give it her. That way if she likes it, and really really wants to use it, it will feel like a gift of something she needs. Its not really altruistic giving; it comes with a hitch.


Fall is here. Autumn. Good running weather. Two 50's on my list, and maybe something more. Haven't decided what that is yet. No matter what it is, This. This is it. And I have a sense of urgency to feel it all, before I don't have the strength or ability to feel it, before I've lost the ability but not the desire and I'm trapped in my own skin unable to wipe my own ass or feed myself.

If I have one wish, its this: to DIE before that happens. I don't want to die, I don't have a death wish. I have a LIFE wish. I want to LIVE. And LIVE as LARGE as is possible.