Sunday, November 27, 2011

3rd Annual Lose the Turkey Fat Ass 50k - Race Recap

The 3rd Annual Lose the Turkey Fat Ass 50k reaffirmed just how cool the ultra scene is. This year, marked the return of a friend, Michael Runner who had come to finish not only his first ultra, but his first Fat Ass event, a podcast listener from Florida who just happened to be visiting family, and a runner who had to ditch the upcoming Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon and run this.

Despite the promise of no fee and no aid, 15 people lined up in really bright colors heeding the warning that the course would veer onto trails and there may be hunters out on the course.

In the past, a fellow Fat Ass producer in the area had been kind enough to set up an aid station at the trailhead where runners would hit twice at the 5 and 18 mile mark and laid out a fat spread. This year, I was just going to place some water jugs at the trailhead, but a fellow ultra runner chimed in and said she had to start earlier then the start time and that she would open up her truck and laid out a fat spread for runners to feast on.

With temps in the upper 50's, the trails were in immaculate condition and even the hunters had to be impressed with the train of runners that were out there.

While people had complained about the nature of the course with it being too much road and not enough trail, I was happy to spend the 13 miles on my trails where I first cut my teeth.

As much fun as it was for me to notch another 50k and an unofficial official 2nd place finish, it was even better to see Mike finish his first ultra and that it was the Lose the Turkey Fat Ass was even pretty cool.

In the end, the course always measures a wee bit longer than a 50k, but I was happy to get out there and enjoy the day with some old and new friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What about tradition?

I would not define myself as a religious man. Yes, I attended Catholic school for 5 years as a youth and was an altar boy at one point, but that does not mean  that I attend church regularly now. Its just not how I worship.  One thing, though that I still carry to this day and is seared in my head is the point of tradition.

I was reminded this past weekend about tradition, as I was at church and noticed the altar girl walking by with sneakers on. Are you kidding me? Sneakers?? Even in my attend here, attend there state of worship, I would never enter a house of worship with sneakers on. Never. That goes against all tradition that I was taught as a youth. Tradition meant wearing dress shoes and slacks, think Sunday best, if you were going to serve or worship.

Tradition loosely defined is a ritual, belief or object that is passed down throughout society and still practiced or followed in the present. Tradition is why we will gather in a few days with our respective friends and families to share a meal and be thankful that we are able to all be together around the table. Tradition is not about abandoning the past because you are too lazy to follow a precedent that has been set before.

Is this where it starts? A failure to adhere to tradition as to why cracks begin to form in the very fabric of the way we do things?  I believe in tradition because if it hadn't meant so much to so many people in the past then why would it be called a tradition ? There is value in tradition.

Enjoy and embrace the tradition this holiday weekend with your family and friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Running Mount Rushmore (Books)

I would be remiss if I were to talk about a Running Mount Rushmore that did not include books as well. No doubt, the people I mentioned before  influenced me more than the written word, but that is not to say that I have not found inspiration or information between the covers of these books below:

Flannagan's Run:

Published in 1982, Tom McNabb's tale follows runners as they cross the United States in race very similar to the Bunion Derby in the 1920's. I came across this book at a resort in Mexico on vacation several years ago and was entranced. Immediately, I was taken with the tale of running a race across the country and following the tales of the runners in a day before GPS watches, mp3 players, and hydration packs. Some were running toward the hope of wealth, others were running for glory, and some were just running because that is all they know how to do.

The Zen of Running:

In its purest form, running is about enjoying the motion of moving forward.  This short book written in the early 70's might be considered "hippie" as the author is seen running shirtless, and with jean shorts, but  there is no denying the joy seen in his face and the grace fullness in his movement. To date, this was one of my favorite podcasts ( Episode 77) to produce when I read this book in its entirety.

Born to Run:

This book seems to be steeped in the forefoot of the "natural" or "barefoot" running tide having  found its way into the mainstream. When I first read the book though and why I have returned to it, is the simple joy found in the Tarahumara Indians and their respect for running. Take away all the medical information, media drivel about turning a quick buck on some new found "movement", and there really is a message about just running. Heading out the door, enjoying your surroundings and those that you run with.

Running and Being: 

When I stupidly threw away all my old issues of Runners World that contained the columns of Dr. George Sheehan, I began accumulating his books to return to revisit the topics and themes that be wrote about. If there was anyone that could be considered "the running philosopher", I would argue that you need look no further than him. His brutal honesty about not only his misgivings but also what running gave to him are what continue to draw me back to his readings.

So that is my list. Surely there are several others out there that I have read and are in my collection, but to date those are the ones that have meant the most to me. If you could choose running books that have inspired you, what would they be?

Friday, November 11, 2011

They might know me better than my wife

They might know me better than my wife. I get this way every time a pair of my running shoes nears the end of their life span. I reminisce about a span in which they have helped to protect me from not only elements, but myself as well.

It is with these shoes and others long since turned out to pasture that I have often composed many a thoughts. Most  have never seen the light of day, and for good reason. Some things are better left unsaid, and I have those shoes to thank. With their protection underfoot, I have been able to explore ideas and feelings out on the road.

They have heard me rant and rave about things going on at home and work, and prepare dialogue for conversations that need to be had. They have listened to me express my fears and frustrations about choices I have made and the ones still to be decided upon. They have done what they have needed to; just listen. Cheap to; I might add. Conservatively, at $90 a pair and lasting around 350 miles, that is the equivalent to roughly $1.50 a mile. You can't even buy a good cup of coffe and conversation nowadays for that price.
So in this sense, they might know me better than my wife. Would, I leave my wife for a pair of shoes? Absolutely not. However, many of those shoes have stories, ideas, and feelings explored and exposed that they will silently carry with them embedded in their soles.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Running Mount Rushmore (People)

Recently, I was listening to the Books on the Nightstand podcast, and they were talking about whom they would  place on their Mount Rushmore if they had to replace the Presidents with authors. Paying homage to those who had influenced them through the written word got me thinking as to who I would place atop my own running Mount Rushmore.

My Father:

 When I began running track back in middle school, it was my dad who bought me my first pair of running shoes. Soon, I was calling him at work to report to the second what I had run the 2.5 mile loop around the sub division in on almost a daily basis. He was an endurance athlete back then, and we would run and bike together when time permitted during the week. On weekends, we would race. Of particular note one time, I remember when we got into such a pissing match about who was faster on a short run a few hours before a race, that neither of us did well that evening. Those are the moments memories are made of.

He was the first person I called after qualifying for Boston and finishing my first 100 miler. We were able to share the road together again last year as we ran the half marathon in Detroit. I still believe we have miles to share.

George Sheehan

I was too young to fully appreciate the weight of his words at the time, and even now, after 20 years, I still find new meaning. When I began running, I sought out Runner's World to fill my appetite. Remember back when the only way to subscribe was to send in the little mailer you found on the walls outside of the supermarket? Each month I looked forward to reading the monthly column of a man who although much older, seemed to be speaking directly to me. He was able to clearly articulate the thoughts that we as runnes often have on the road and put them to paper. That man was Dr. George Sheehan.

When, I moved to the Seattle area for a brief stint several years later, I received a book of his from the people I was staying with, as they knew of my ritual of taking to the road. They said, the bookstore had recommended him. Over the years, I have added several of his books to my  running collection and I often return to reread them. I still  find new meaning in them as my understanding of life deepens and I look at running in the long view and not just merely tied up in the results of the next race.

Steve Prefontaine

Steve Prefontaine is a name that transcends running. His pure grit, determination, and blue collar values are ones that you don't have to be a runner to appreciate. Starting out as a runner in junior high, I heard mention of the name "Pre" but never really came to appreciate the man and his contributions to the running community until years later. My wife, in her running cycles, will often chant, "Pre, Pre" as her battle cry. I admire the man for not only leaving it all out there every time he toed the line, but because he also believed in fairness and standing up for what is right.

9th grade Cross Country Coach:  (sorry coach, no pic)

I will never forget the season ending banquet of my freshmen high school cross country season. When it came around for the coach to say a few words about my season, he started with, "When he showed up, he was shaped like a bell,...." Although, they may have sounded harsh to say in public about a pimply faced 15 year old, they were true. I learned a valuable lesson from the man who was not only my cross country coach but my advanced English teacher that year.

He taught me that through hard work and dedication that I could make something of myself. You could argue that your parents might instill that in you, but as an adolescent, I didn't want to hear that from my dad. I so wanted to please this man, an ex-Vietnam Vet, who would often yell, but I yearned for his approval out on the road and in the classroom.  I wanted nothing more than to take my soft, bell shaped 25 min 5k cross country time at the beginning of the season and work hard. By the end of the season, this desire had dropped my time to 21:10 and although I still was on JV, I looked forward to the chance of continuing to improve. It is still a lesson that resonates with me today.

So there it is, four faces would adorn my running Mount Rushmore. Who are yours?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

So this blogging thing....

Originally, I had entertained the thought of starting this AMAZING blog about RUNNING, FAMILY, and LIFE from a middle aged father of 2 back in 2007. Like anything else, I started off with a gusto, writing and publishing consistently. Whether or not, the posts were any good are certainly up for debate, but the thing was that I had made it a priority and CARVED OUT TIME to do so.

In  my youth, I had envisioned myself a writer at one time. I would devour books and then turn my attention to crafting stories. I knew little about plot, character development, etc, but that didn't matter. I made it a PRIORITY. What I lacked was PASSION to follow through.

PASSION is what I have for my family, running and life. However, I do think there is room in the pie to add one more ingredient: WRITING.

Over the summer, I started writing again. I made it a daily habit. I CARVED OUT TIME, to just write down thoughts or ideas and made it just over a month before school started up again, and PRIORITIES pushed writing to the back burner. This time though, there was still a flicker of PASSION from the month of writing and so here I sit today writing again.

One of my favorite runners and philosophers, Dr. George Sheehan, had talked about his running and writing in terms of a lump of clay. An idea may be formed while on the run or wherever, and it is like a lump of clay. No real form or heft and it is only when it is thrown on the paper that it can be formed and molded into something tangible. Maybe that is where this blog is headed. Taking lumps of clay that I find and throwing them against the computer.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

COT - Carve Out Time

The holiday season is off and running. How in a season filled with gatherings and events can you maintain or even begin a fitness routine? It's simple...repeat after me...COT.


Just as important as your work and family schedule, so should you place that value on your fitness schedule. If you don't have a fitness routine, this is a great place to start. When you plan out your day or week, it is easy for you to CARVE OUT  some TIME.  Write it down and block it off.  Make it something that you can't skip out on.  Make it a priority.

If its on the schedule, there is a measure of accountability. You have thought about it enough to write or type it in, so why not follow through?