Monday, December 31, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
It's not often I talk about these kinds of things, but this one is a biggie. She invited me to the ceremony, and I will be pleased and proud as a peacock when she walks up to get her diploma.
She done good.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Do you do what you do because you are compelled by personal accomplishment, a curiosity or inquiry, or for Fame and Glory?
If you do it for the first reasons, then failure does not bother you. You try, you fail. You try again. And again. Fame and Glory will come of the own accord, when success is reached. Failure, is always an option. If you do it for the latter, what price, what lengths will you go to, to succeed, or gloss over a failure? Do you make excuses, try to find the silver lining, or partial success?
In an adventure, I have heard it said, the two best times are the planning, and the bragging once you get home. I think that is truly the scope of the Fame and Glory seekers. It seems this is a modern, or recent thing, but then again maybe not. Did old-time explorers trump up their accomplishments? Did they do it for fame, or to satisfy the pressure of investors looking to cash in on the publicity?
I read Admiral Byrd's account of his time on the south pole. He really was driven by a curiosity, but then he also had to answer to investors. That is a pressure I'm sure he would have done without, if he could have.
Are we satisfied with our adventures? Or do the accolades of our peers mean as much as the thing itself?
It's a hard question. And be careful when alcohol is involved.
Monday, October 15, 2012
I ran the Kettle a few weeks ago. The whole thing. Southern Kettle Moraine forest, end to end, and back again. 63 miles. It took 15 hours, but time was beside the point.
It wasn't much. It was not a big thing. It was a small thing. Big things, personal things are shock waves through your system. Those things that you never forget. The birth of your children, the death of your parents. Marriage. Divorce. Big gain. Big loss.
Still, it meant something to me. I struggle all the time with trying to verbalize why, and what it meant to me. The questions come up about it. The usual questions really. "Don't you get bored..." Do you listen to music"... "why did you do it..."
Hard to answer, even to my running friends. But the answer to the 'why' is hard to verbalize for me, and when I try I get some quizzical looks, like I am some kind of spiritual kook. So I just shake my head and say "No, I don't get bored, or listen to music, I just run, and I just wanted to see if I could do it".
It's a hard thing for many to understand, but the first thing that had to go was other things to distract. Aid stations, drop bags, people. When there other people there, no matter how tired you are, you still hold onto that semblance of self, the persona you want other people including yourself to see. I needed to remove that. All of it.
I didn't want distraction. I wanted the empty. I listen for it. That moment when your mind finally shuts off so you can pay attention and listen. It is a wordless, quiet thing.
It wasn't about the mileage. It wasn't about conquest of a trail, or any competitors. I wasn't fighting, I was embracing. I wasn't turning away, distracted, I was looking. Really what I was after was something deeper. I wanted to open wide, and have the trail swallow me whole.
It all sounds kind of hokey. Kind of new-agish. But it's the most real I can write it.
Addendum, a quote lifted from iRunFar:
…the moment we peer beneath this surface of things, the moment we look through the tranquil reflection of ourselves and the clouds above us, down into the clear, fluent, unfathomable depth of nature, how startling is the silence of it, how amazing the flow of life, how absorbing the mystery. Unceasingly the essence of things is taking shape in the matter of things, and this unspeakable process we call birth and growth. Awhile the spirit and the matter fade away together, and it is this that we call decadence, death. These two happenings seem jointed and interdependent, blended into one like a bubble and its iridescence, and they seem borne along upon a slowly moving air. This air is wonderful past all understanding. -Louis Sullivan
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Polite culture dictates that I should not expect you endure my cigarette smoke, listen to music blaring from my house, or listen to me blathering on a cell phone.
So why is it OK for every bar, hotel and restaurant to have one or more TV's blaring all the time?
I recently stayed in a very nice hotel in Prairie Du Chen. Awesome hotel. Perfect service in every way but one. In the morning, while i was trying to enjoy the great breakfast they had out, the TV was blasting the CNN.
I even tried to turn it off, since I asked the other two people in the room whether they were watching it or not. They both were fine with turning it off.
The clerk behind the desk, however, insisted that it remain on. Even though she couldn't watch it from her station.
Why is it OK to make me endure the TV, and not say, a rap or country radio station? To me, it's still noise that I don't care for. Next time you have the chance, see if you can get someone to turn it off.
I have a dentist appointment Friday. Even they have TV's now. GAH!! I will insist they turn it off. I abandoned my TV three years ago, and I haven't missed it one bit.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The day begins with a certain kind of rhythm, and sets our course in a kind of tick tock pattern. BZZZZZ.. We wake. Breakfast, maybe coffee and a commute. Radio in the car. News, reviews, talk. More talk. Work. Get settled. Email. Meetings. Facebook. Lunch. Maybe more meetings. More Facebook. Commute. Home. Dinner. TV.
We are tired. 9 pm. 10 pm. Maybe we can stretch it to 11 pm and watch some more TV. Call it a day.
Weekends are not all that different. Maybe we have plans, maybe we have chores. Maybe we have events to attend. Summer time. Baseball games. Weddings. Picnics. Graduations. Maybe we look forward to that long run, that long ride. Summer. Fall. Winter. Spring. And so it goes.
All of it flows, like a waking dream. We move through our days, sometimes impatiently. Everyone trying to be somewhere where they are not. Gotta get going, gotta get there. got stuff to do, important stuff. Life stuff.
We beat the sun. We got to cut holes in our days. Tick tock, like a clock, the Sun moves it way to the west, and the end of the day. We sleep. And do it all over again.
Days pass. Weeks Pass. Months. Seasons. Years.
Now, the juxtaposition, to the night. We don't get many chances to see the night, the whole night. Night stops time. The stars and the moon move, yes, but it's subtle, like a whisper. Night is big, when you are outside away from the artificial day of incandescent lights. Its big, yet intimate. It folds over you. Caress.
Evening spreads itself against the sky, blends down to your shoes. If you are out there, at night, you know what I mean. Somebody turn on the stars. Pin holes in the blanket.
Once the blanket is thrown, time slows down. Minute to minute. Hour to hour. last forever. There is no where to be, other than here. Its one my favorite times to run. All night. The earth seems to pass beneath your feet. You don't have to chase this, let it come to you. It just comes, and stays.
This is even more true when you stay up, long past the twilight. your body, not sure what to do, reaches a point beyond tired. And then you can just stay up, locked into that moment.
Three times this year, I found that place. Stayed up all night. With friends, shared.
Got one more coming, up at Superior. Very much looking forward to it.
"Bring on the night. I couldn't stand another hour of daylight" (The Police)
Monday, August 6, 2012
Time to hit the road once again. This Friday, I drive to Colo, to pace a friend in the Leadville 100.
I get there a week early, so hopefully I will acclimate a bit. The picture above is Mount Massive, outside and south of Leadville.
Should be a fun climb.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
So it's been a while since i have posted. Work. Travel. Life. It takes time. So, a short set of thoughts here, and then onward.
I ran today, about 20 miles in four hours. Leisurely pace, for sure, with a couple new guys from the Lapham group. It was a good Ice Age Trail run, on a day that the temperature wasn't a million degrees.
Walking on the sun for the last month or so, not so much fun. Most of my running friends have been hiding too.
The nice thing about today was that I felt like myself again. Unlike when I ran on Wednesday with the group at Lapham, something I have been missing due to work. That day, it was HOT, humid, and impossibly close feeling in the woods, where normally you get relief from the heat. It just felt oppressive.
The day was supposed to be one of celebration; one of the guys was turning 50, and another had turned 50 a few weeks ago. So we had one of our little competitions. I totally, and completely sucked. I mean, between not enough sleep, too much travel, and the oppressive heat, I literally couldn't run. It was the slowest I had ever 'run' the black loop. Ever. I came in 27 of 35 runners.
What should have been a good day with good friends turned into; self-loathing.
Lesson 1: Most importantly, I discovered something about myself. I am competitive, and mostly with myself, but I STILL need the bench mark of other people to go by. It was HOT, yes. but where I placed in the group told m about my fitness level that day; my ability to step it up and lay some down. There wasn't much in the tank.
Lesson 2: I should have opted out of the competition. I think it's really OK some days to just say: I don't have it, and rather than turn in a dismal performance, just give it a pass for another day. So, I spent some time pouting about my crappy performance, fortunately, no one was listening and instead were enjoying themselves at the festivities. I got over it.
Lesson 3: You can't mail it in. OK, sometimes you can. By that I mean show up under-trained and unprepared and do well anyway.
Lesson 4: it's much more fun to listen to other people than to talk. The most fun I had was listening to Brother Grub talk about his backpacking trip. When I finally shut off the whiny little kid in my tiny little ego, I relaxed. I am sure I was much more fun to be around too. No one likes a whiner. Especially Ultra runners.
So, that is whats on my mind today.
So to all of you, have fun TODAY, because life is an adventure. Stop and listen, and look around once in a while. you'll be surprised at what you see.
"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or
catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I don't have many pet peeves (That I know of) when I drive, but I notice a rise in my blood pressure when people stop at a yield, when no one is coming. Clearly, they can see, NO ONE IS COMING. No reason to stop. Slow? Sure OK, but KEEP GOING. OK, I feel better now.
Form over function.
I bought a new vacuum cleaner today. It's an ordinary thing, you don't think about it too much. I could think of about a million things I'd rather spend a hundred bucks on. I love gadgets and good design, sometimes even over the function of something. I was really really tempted to buy what I'll call the ipod version of a vacuum. Steve Jobs was famous for clean lined, simple interfaces on everything Apple made. Sleek. Nice to look at, and use (most of the time). If Steve Jobs or the Apple designers had ever built a vacuum, this is what it would look like:
Monday, May 28, 2012
So I just got back from AZ, and brought along a surprise. I somehow managed to pick up an intestinal bug my last day there. TMI: It's moving through my system. I got more toots than a full brass band. So, on my Memorial day Holiday I got some time, while I lounge around and fart, to put a post here.
I am reading a book by Bill Bryson called "A Short History of Nearly Everything". I am to the part where he talks about the microbes in and around our bodies, the one's we use, the one's that are nice in some places but not so nice in others. I can't help but think about this intestinal bug I picked up, and where it came from. I was out on a run in Long Canyon in Sedona, and I was punctured by what I thought was an agave plant. This is also known as an "Aloe" plant. I wonder if that puncture lead to some bacteria releasing into my bloodstream. It hurt like hell, and the area around it was was sore and inflamed. It burned like nobody's business. Anyway, my point is that we think we are so healthy, and in a moment it can change that quickly. Was it the plant that made me sick? Who knows..In a way I just feel lucky it was only as minor, and if a short lived intestinal bug is all I get I am grateful. Intestinal Fortitude. Got some.
So they cancelled the Madison Marathon. Evidently, the organizers felt that the heat was too much for runners to take. Feh. To me, this just goes to show the degradation of the marathon distance in general. It's an every man distance now. My most recent marathon time puts me in the top 16% of the race, at age 50. It was a very lukewarm pedestrian 3:35. My 3:19 at Chicago was good for top 7%, of 33,000 runners. 20 years ago, that wouldn't have even been middle of the road. Anyway, back to my point. Now, everyone thinks they can 'run' a marathon, and expect organizers to take care of their every need, and ensure they don't get hurt or do something stupid. Sorry folks, but it's YOUR responsibility to ensure your own safety. The race is the race, the Madison Marathon should have gone on as expected and the runners should decide if the conditions warrant starting, or dropping out. Ultra runners know what I mean about personal responsibility. I ran a 50 mile race in July, at 95 degrees and high humidity. I adjusted. Have road marathoners ever heard of S-caps? do they know how to carry a hand held, or a Camelbak? How about slowing down to the conditions? If the Ultra distances ever start to turn into what the road marathon has turned into, I am switching to a new sport. Intestinal Fortitude. Get some.
So spent some time in Sedona, AZ. Beautiful trails, all over. Hundreds of miles of them. My only regret was not getting a four wheel drive vehicle. A lot of the more majestic trails have pavement leading right up to them. This makes it's easier for everyone to get to and enjoy them, but of course, that means bigger crowds too. If you didn't get there early, it was hell getting parking. Realizing this early on, I stayed on my 'central' time clock and rose every day at 5 AM pacific, which was 7AM central. This put my out there on the trails at 6 or so, and I could get the primo parking and be well on my way before anyone else got out there. It worked most of the time, except when the parking lot didn't open until later. Rather than go through these gyrations, I would have preferred to just drive into the back country, and avoid the crowds all together. Hence the need for a four wheel drive. I did one run, up Wilson Mountain, and it was fairly obvious I would have the trail to myself. It's a jewel, easy to get to, and HARD. AS. HELL. 4 miles up, 2300 feet elevated, from 4700 to 7000 feet. Pretty much the whole thing was UP. I guess the tourists don't have Intestinal Fortitude to handle something like that. Suits me just fine. let em go shopping instead.
I went to the Grand Canyon one day. It was amazing. Awesome. Spectacular. It was also overrun by tourists. It's a national monument to be sure. 5 million people every year. For someone like me, its much harder to enjoy when I feel like I am in a mall.: Heading down Bright Angel, fewer and fewer people to contend with. I understand the desire to run rim-rim-rim, it's puts you in touch with the soul of the place. Gets you out there, alone and away from the crowds. I am grateful, actually that such a place exists for both the tourists and the individualists. The tourists can look at it from afar, and take it all in. I have to touch, see, smell it up close. I am a dirt roller by nature. Speaking of which, even an individualist likes company now and then. I found this great running store in Sedona, where they really have Intestinal Fortitude. They got some, for sure. Read the two bios, they are good runners, and know the area well. The Sedona Running Company proves to me one other thing. If you read their page, you will see they have a sense of humor. Something I find common in Ultra folks. Here is a good example from the events list from their site.
It's also nice to know that there is actually a semi-organized event of this type. May 19, Grand Caynon R2R2R Start training now...This could be your chance to complete this Ultrarunning right of passage. Email Adam for details. Other distances available: Rim-to-river-to-rim (15 miles) Rim-to-rim with shuttle back to start (22 miles) Rim-to-river-to helicopter rescue (not recommended)
That's it for me today. I.m pooped. no pun intended.
Post note: One last thing. On Memorial Day and every day, a very large thank you to all veterans. My Dad (Korean), my uncles Howie Wagner and Bob Kushel (Vietnam) my ex-father-in-law Arlo Kanter (WWII), Rolly Royce, Scott Royce, Randy Hansen, and probably more than I can think of right now. Yeah, you got intestinal fortitude.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
I've been getting a lot of miles in lately. In my car that is. The trail? not so much. This week alone I spent 9 hours in the car. Ugh. The career thing has changed my habits a bit as of late. So its time for some adjustments.
For the first time in my life, I am going to live away from the epicenter of where I was born. Funny when you think about it. I have always traveled, to a whole variety of places in this country. But I've never called anywhere but Janesville Wisconsin home.
Now that's changing. I am moving away. closer to my work, so I can cut down my drive time.
We'll have to see how this goes.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Today at work, I bumped into a lot of stuff. Ouch. The people who consistently fly under the radar, don't care for people bumping into them and their world. They give you dirty looks, mostly.
EB White once said: I wake up every day determined to both change the world, and have a helleva good time. That can sometimes make planning the day difficult.
I say: succeed spectacularly or fail just as spectacularly. Flame on, flame out.
I guess I had some of both today. Now excuse me whilst I put some burn cream on the scorch marks.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I had a dream of my Uncle Freddy last night. I hadn't thought of him in years. I didn't know him all that well because we lived far apart, in many ways both physical and… otherwise.
So Freddy worked, all his life in fact, on farms. When the family farm was sold, all the offspring cast to the corners of the country, Freddy needed a place to go. So his closest sister took him in, and put him to work on a
Monday, March 19, 2012
Contradictions and random pot shots from a hotel room outside Chicago.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
When we have no real home, we're like an aimless wanderer out on the road, going this way for a while and then that way, stopping for a while and then setting off again. Until we return to our real home, whatever we do we feel ill at ease, just like somebody who's left his village to go on a journey. Only when he gets home again can he really relax and be comfortable. Nowhere in the world is any real peace to be found. That's the nature of the world. Look within yourself and find it there instead. - Ajahn Chah
Monday, March 5, 2012
I spent last week in Orlando at a trade show. My company held it, with all the customers and suppliers and employees coming in from all over the country. 15,000 people! They even rented good portions of two Dizney resorts for all of us to stay in. I discovered something: I am NOT a resort kind of person, especially Dizney (yes, I know I am spelling it incorrectly).
You are trapped. Like a RAT. once inside the resort you are very VERY limited to how you move about. Buses. Everywhere. You are not only inside a resort, but you are INSIDE Dizney "town". It's in Orlando alright, but quite literally Dizney is a town, with miles and miles of its own highways. You go everywhere by bus.
For an ultra runner and outside enthusiast, its awful. Every day, I had to wait for a bus to take me exactly ONE mile to the trade show. Some days, for all the logistics, it would take me an hour and half to move that ONE mile to get to work. There literally was no safe way for me to walk, unless I wanted to dodge buses on all the bridges. Plus, get arrested. Yes. The Dizney folks saw fit to tell you that YOU CANNOT WALK HERE.
But here's the good news. I was there to staff a store within the trade show that sold our company logo merchandise to our customers, suppliers and employees. I have a whole new respect for anyone manning a cash register, or working in the retail business. I worked about 25 hours in three and half days ringing up sales of hats, jackets, and shirts. Sounds like drudgery work, how can that be the good news?
Well, the store was set up as a funding point for a scholarship program. All proceeds taken in to fund people getting education in the skilled trades industries: "Tools for Tomorrow". Personally, I came up through the ranks, working in metal fab shops and warehouses for almost half of my career. I have a special place in my heart for those people who know how to DO. Do things, weld things, bend things, fix things. In this day and age when young people expect to make a living doing not all that much, its great to provide the means and ways for some to go to school and learn how to get their hands dirty. The CAN DO people of the world. The fixers. The people trying to rise above the rat race cycle of unskilled assembly line and white collar data entry sweat shops.
Over the course of that 3 and half days, we raised nearly $90,000 for that scholarship program. Now that was a week well spent, even in Dizney hell.
I'll be going back for sure next year. Maybe we can break 100 grand.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Have I ever talked about my running group, the Lapham Peak Trail Runners (LPTR)?
It’s such an amazing group of people. I have found that people who are ultra runners all seem to have this positive can do attitude. Maybe its that positive people are attracted to the sport, or maybe you just become more positive by running insanely long distances.
Every time I go to Wednesday night run, I am reminded of so many things that I love about them. To an LPTR member, life is an adventure. Exercise time is play time. It’s a pure joy; of being alive, of sharing that aliveness with others.
Hanging out with them, I have found myself thinking about doing seemingly impossible things I wouldn’t have considered before. I tend to be more ‘forward’ thinking, and not looking so much at my failures except for purposes of adjustment, or sometimes humor.
There are times in your life you see major changes in your path, your longer life path. Joining the LPTR group was one of those for me, and a very positive one.
I’ll never forget it, even when I can’t run anymore.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
"Letters to a Young Poet”, Rainer Maria Rilke
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
This is a disjointed collection, an ephemeral, wispy list of thoughts about relationships. But its real to me, and it makes sense. Words are so small, thoughts and emotions are so big sometimes. If we let the words try and define the emotions, they always limit, always truncate. Cut off the feet. Distilled. Crippled. We try anyway. That's the trouble with poets.
A relationship can't stand on its own. It has no feet. It has no tongue and it cannot talk. You must feed it, bring something to it every day, but not at the sacrifice of you. You, must be stronger than it, so you can feed and water it properly. Trim it, prune it, and yes even kill it if necessary. If you let it, it will defeat and distill you into a small caricature of yourself. It turns into a monster with a life of its own yelling FEED ME. It will suck you dry. Make you lie, make you sell your soul, or worse become a lackey subservient "for the sake of the relationship".
It lives and breathes from people; yet its fragile, breakable, like a whisper in the dark. It only gets its strength from us. We often think these things are strong, but they are not. We are strong. We can't sacrifice our strength for the sake of something that doesn't exist in the empirical sense. Its personal, and it must always always be a choice to keep feeding it.
Phew. Words and thoughts. I'm only as strong as my thoughts, because my thoughts as are all that I really own. That, and my two feet. These two things, are my only carriage. They've carried me a long way.
Maybe that's the secret I want share. Its not easy, but I don't have to walk it talk it like I am expected to; I have to walk it talk it like I was made to do. If the rest of the world don't like it, well, it can go to hell.
I'll send em a postcard.
Friday, February 17, 2012
So in light of my continued battle with electrolytes and electrical impulses in the ticker, this is a year that I am going to have to stay busy with stuff other than running ultras for competition and speed.
Let’s face it, I wasn’t fast to begin with, and struggled just to stay above the half way mark in many races. OK, so I won some AG awards. Whee. However, if you are a competitor even with yourself, you still want to go out and give it your all and know you tried. Spend yourself. Exhausted, done your best. Double D hates losing, I hate quitting on myself, no matter what my overall spot in a race. Leave nothing on the trail. Nothing.
But this year, I am leaving a
2012, is a re-direction of energies. Two ‘races’ on the schedule which I plan on doing, but no pressure to perform at such and such a time.
As of April 28th, essentially life is free to do what ever. Nice. No pressure, no races. Throw a 50K in here or there, but no pressure, sign up last minute sort of thing.
So what to do with time? Leave it all on the Trail.
Here’s the plan. Race Volunteer, Trail Volunteer, Pace. Work at races, and at trail building events. Do at least one per month for the year. Four pacing jobs lined up. And really, the two best events of last year were this: pacing Angela at Kettle, and the Dances with Dirt
The Calendar looks like this:
April 15th Pace and crew Adam M in
April 22nd: Trail Clean up at Rockport (my local haunt)
April 28th: Chippewa 50K
May 12th: Ice Age Volunteer Captain
June 2nd: Kettle 100 volunteer, pace Tina H in Kettle 100
June TBD: Kettle Moraine Trail work day
July 7th; Dances With Dirt Volunteer
July 19 – 26th: Superior Hiking trip
August 18th: Pace and Crew Adam M Leadville 100
September 15th: Sweep the North Face Endurance Challenge
September 23rd – 29th: Dark Canyon Wilderness, La Sal National Forest Utah Trail Project
October 7th: Volunteer at Glacial
November 3rd Pace and crew Jose V at Pinhoti 100
There are lots and lots of other opportunities as well, to help with trail building. Lapham comes to mind. So does the Kettle. Those trails have given me a lot, and I am going to put some back.
2012. Leave it all on the Trail.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
For the last 6 days, I have been bloodied, scratched, poked, scraped, and generally harrassed by everything the Arizona desert could throw at me.
Lived under a tarp.
Got drunk once. Bourbon. Really drunk falling down missed the fire by that much hit on the head by a giant cartoon hammer and had to be dragged to bed and poured into a sleeping bag drunk.
And on one clear night I slept in the open on a ridge bone of a broken mountain, with the stars on a flickering key chain entwined in my fingers.