Friday, February 24, 2012

Five Years Old

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

Foolish Questions

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

Heavy Metal

So health wise, I'm doing pretty good. Running is going pretty well. I got a 21 and 7 miler in this weekend. Ran into Brother Grub (ran three miles with him), Marcel, JT, and Jimbo; and Robyn, Nat and I did 3 miles together on the trail before I headed out for 15 more.

I have been getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and heavy metals. Well, not really heavy unless you consider that pills are the size of a Volkswagen. Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium pills. Electrolytes.

I am on an ultra-load regime of all three, and for about two weeks so far. After about a month, I should know what the effect is. I think its working. The blips are still there, but not so noticeable, less frequent. I am still rolling with it.

The plan for the year is getting fleshed out, and I'm sticking with it. No need to rush into another over-loaded racing year.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two Feet

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

Leaving It Out There

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 LOT on the trail, in a variety of ways.

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. Clinton Lake and Chippewa should be fun just because so many of the running gang will be there. Likely, gonna run the whole races with someone from the group just because.

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 50 Mile finish. In that order, too. I truly love pacing, because I get to run 50 miles supported, and for mostly free, and no pressure to finish. Plus the added bonus of running at night with people I love. My favorite shirt is my green Kettle 100, even though I didn't run the race.

The Calendar looks like this:

March 31st: Clinton Lake

April 15th Pace and crew Adam M in Pekin 100

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 TBD: Superior Trail Work days

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 50 mile

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


Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint- Exupery


Life is a comedy for those who think... and a tragedy for those who feel.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blue Digs

So I am finally back in good old Wisconsin. Ah yes.

(Yesterday's post was from the hotel lobby pc, and I apologize for the crazy formatting: I fixed it).

So, when I said I was living under a tarp, I wasn't kidding. Last minute, I went old school. I ditched the 300 dollar tent and went to Home Depot and bought a four dollar tarp. See pic below.

It worked fine, although I didn't have to face any rain in the Arizona desert, so I don't want to get too cocky about it. I used a cactus 'bone' to hold it up, as I didn't have a trekking pole.

It did give me 'shelter' from the sun, and gave me a place to keep my gear. Plus, it had the advantage of being able to see it from 500 yards away. The color was a direct contrast to the surrounding desert browns and greens.

It was a bit heavy, but there are silo-nylon versions that I will be investing in. Not much in the way of cost, something like 60 bucks gets the weight down to 22 ounces.

It was a good experience. I used the tarp to sleep in all but two nights, when I slept outside in the open.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Keys

For the last 6 days, I have been bloodied, scratched, poked, scraped, and generally harrassed by everything the Arizona desert could throw at me.

Temperatures from 25 to 88 (And that was every day).

Wore the same pair of pants.

Froze my ass off first night and ran back to the car for a thicker sleeping bag. Yeah. It was only 8 miles.

Lived under a tarp.

Slept in a giant plastic baggie.

Ran and hiked 50 miles of desert trails.

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.

Oh the stories.

Happy 22nd Birthday Petra. I love you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Measure

Its often said, "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line". There's an implication there that its always the preferred path.

What if the measurement of distance isn't feet or miles, but of the path of least resistance? Or the fastest time? Those paths, when you can't go over the mountain, but have to go around?

Or what about one that's more interesting? Then the best measure of the path is the crooked serpentine line of a river, the switch back path of a mountain trail; the intangible measure of the pure experience.

Straight lines are good for getting from A to B, but not if the journey is also part of the picture.

I am coming to realize that when things go the way I expect, there's a momentary satisfaction that the world is conforming to my desires, but the feeling is fleeting and I am left teetering on the 'what's next?' ledge of expectation.

And really, did you ever notice that life rarely happens in straight lines? At least those parts of life that make the best stories. Detours are involved. Unexpected turns.

My best analogy here is this: Straight rivers die. Not much life can be made or is found in a mill run. Life congregates in the turns, shallows, behind the unexpected logs and rocks. It thrives in the vegetation, which can't survive in a river that is only meant to carry water from here to there. A to B straight line.

I am headed to Arizona in about 7 hours. I am of course suit case over packed for every situation, but that will change when I have to pack down to a 40 liter backpack (Think large duffle bag) with everything I need for 6 days. I am going to have make some straight line choices that will probably lead me to crooked line life experiences.

But at least I'll have some stories to tell.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Winter Slumber

, slumbering in the open air, Wears on his smiling face, a dream of Spring!*

Appropriately, I slept outside on Groundhog day, on my balcony. I was testing whether my 50 degree sleeping bag, in combination with a heavy liner would be warm enough. The liner supposedly adds "up to 25 degrees". So, in theory, I should be good to 25 (50 - 25 =25). I even added an outer shell layer in the form of a bivy sack, which should have added even more. It was a fairly aggressive set up for this time of year.

It got down to about 29 degrees. CLOSE.

And, I did go to sleep. For about 2 hours. I woke up and I knew it was going to be a long night with that set up. I gave it up. I think it has a good chance on working in Arizona, when the night time shouldn't get to below 35 or 40 degrees.

I might need that furry guy's coat to sleep outside in Wisconsin weather.

*(from the movie, Groundhog day)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

why the caged bird sings

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom - Maya Angelou