Monday, December 27, 2010

Ahhh, the holdiays!

We made our way from our home nestled in the woods in Alabama to New Mexico to celebrate Christmas with our families. This trip always conjures up mixed emotions. We love our families, but both my wife and I are a bit jaded by experiences here in our home town. When we arrived into town a week ago we decided that the next two Christmases would be spent in the comfort of our own home as it is way too hard to drive across the country with three kids, one of which is still in diapers and the other has a bladder the size of a dime.

But being here you feel the pull. I find myself running old areas, trying to find new ones. I catch myself thinking about how beautiful it is here. If only I didn't have to deal with the mentality of some people...but that is everywhere I go, the people that think they should be handed life on a silver platter, ones that are either afraid to or just do not want to work and give all they have to contribute to the community. Yet, those few seem to be the ones that poison places for me. Until now...

We went to church here. The Adventist church is falling down...come to find out, the Catholic church that was built in the 1600's that is a national historic site is also falling down and condemned. There was a rift in our church and though a site and earnest money was placed forth to build a new church the agendas of men took priority and the church never got built. My mind started working to how awesome it would be if my hone town had what I now have in Alabama. A campus with a lifestyle center, bookstore, church, dorms, a country life store and vegan restaurant town. Some thing to help the people here spiritually AND physically. How awesome that would be. My mind starting working to where it would go...just across the river 2 miles out of town where we could grow our own crops, a place that I worked a farm as a nine year old boy.

Through conversation with my mother-in-law I found that the site that had earnest money put toward it was not even a mile from where I am thinking of. Coincidence? I think not. He is at work here. I haven't the slightest clue of how to make it happen, but I do know that I would eat my words of "I'm never coming back..." with a smile on my face if I were doing the Lord's work. This town needs an Uchee Pines, but more so it needs HIM.

I have 24 hours for Him to tell me how to go about it, who to ask and where to find mentorship. The Across the Years 24 hour event is on the 29th, I have not been training more than 18 miles a week since Pinhoti, more along the lines of 5-8 miles meaning this event will be through faith on every level.

There are many things calling me back. People asking me about setting up races to help the mustangs that range close by. A gentleman that made my custom belt for Pinhoti has asked to sponsor me and about setting up a race in which runners would literally run with the horses through a portion of their range in a 50k. How awesome is that?

Friday, December 17, 2010

A role reversal

     How often is it that an individual that does not enjoy running, one that has very hit and miss experiences with running, is that one that digs a runner out of a funk? To be honest, I had never heard of it ever being done.

     I have been battling keeping my body in motion. There has literally been NO desire to run, zero, nada, zip. I haven't missed it, I feel guilty for not running, but not all that bad, more of a "man, I need to run" than anything. Overtraining? Who knows. I think it is a massive combination of many things, physical, mental, emotional, psychological. The perfect storm of why this deer should NOT be in the woods. Yes folks, I would much rather be farm fed right now...

    My dear partner, bless her heart. She is feeling guilt for me not running and it is not her fault. She is concerned, she wants me to be happy. Today she asked me to go to lunch with her. I had told her that I was going run, but quickly rescinded it because I really didn't want to. I wanted a big fat juicy meal instead. One that would make my only run of the week (a mere 6 miles at a decent 7:51 clip), fade in my mind, one that would make all the ones I missed the remainder of the week not matter at all.

     She asked me to run with her and then we would go eat and this was the compromise we agreed upon. Today her knees didn't hurt. She was laughing while running. She ran quite a few times at longer intervals than what we had set out to do. She beat her fastest time at 2 miles ever. Today I am glad I got out there with her. She had her first runners high when were done. The most beautiful words I have ever heard her say in relation to running was after we got into the car to leave..."Whew! I don't think I should be driving right now...I'm high." How awesome for her!!!

     I do know that she also showed me one of the many things wrong that is making me not want to run right now. I am lonely. Running has been a solo event for therapy, it has been a chance for me to "sort it all out". Right now though, I am in need of someone to run with. Maybe not to talk, only to drone on the sounds of our feet contacting the surface below. Possibly to sweep the miles away with meaningless conversation, or even the sharing of the deepest philosophies. The underlying variable is that I need to find a herd and get off the farm...

Monday, December 6, 2010


    This past weekend time was made useful in the service of many happy, and probably quite a few sore, runners. Saturday around noon we had gone to finally get my dear wife some shoes to run in other than her preferred low hikers she has been using. She has some other shoe shat are more appropriate but she wanted to keep those Now, she can have some comfy shoes for out and about and some to trash while running.

     Around 1 I left for Pine Mountain and met up with the Pine Mountain 40 miler RD Sarah Tynes, Tony G., John T., and Matt G. to start the marking process. Initially I had thought I was going to run the entirety of the course but thankfully (very, very thankfully), I was given a 7.5 mile stretch to mark solo and then run back to my truck. I got in a solid 11 miles, which is my longest run to date since Pinhoti. While meeting up and gathering instructions from Sarah I was enlightened to find out that John T. just opened a running store in Columbus. This is a great relief, but was a little late as we had just made the purchase for Amber not even two hours earlier...oh well, se la vie, at least we know she will need more shoes, as will we all eventually. I departed and started marking with a coupon for Big Dog Running Co. and a race beanie courtesy of Sarah.

      I managed to mark my leg without falling. Pine Mountain is a tough race, not for climbs, not for gnarly descents, but for leaf covered rocks and roots on narrow, sometimes precarious trails. The rocks will have your feet feeling like they had been caned for hours at the end of the day, the cant of the trail will torque your IT band and have you begging for the end with at least 10 miles to go. The joke is on you on this course which is what adds to the genuine, all-encompassing awesome ultra experience you will have. What I am leaving out is that you get to see 7 different waterfalls, breathtaking view of Pine Mountain Valley and Warm Springs, fall colors in full effect (which if you live in the Northeast is a plus if you LOVE'll get to see it twice!) AND...some of the best folks the southeast has to offer.

     Race day I get a bit of a late start but manage to get to the race before Sarah kicks the runners out the door for the start. Len and I head out to get some gas and decide that a little bite at HuddleHouse would do us well having to endure the cold and all while providing for runners all morning. That was one heck of a great breakfast, shared with a stellar man...who also happened to pick up the check (thanks again brother!). We headed up to Dowdle Knob to stage the drop bags and await the mass of the runners to pass through. The lead runner came through in just a shade over two hours...absolutely phenomenal, as much as I run these trails there is no way I could ever get there, not even in my dreams.

     A few hours in I finally get to see quite possibly my favorite club member. Jason R., this guy once weighed 400 pounds and took the initiative to take it off himself through education, hard work perseverance and exercise. He is the most trim I have ever seen him and looking strong! Pine Mountain was his first ultra last year and he was in a hurt-locker afterward. This year...he looked so strong and ran the entire last 4 mile stretch which can be daunting in some areas. The guy is a beast, and so humble, full of life and genuinely cares about everyone...everyone. I do not think that there would be anyone on the face of this earth that could possibly meet Jason and think negatively about him.

    After I got to see Jason roll in, give him a bro-hug and get him some Gatorade Len and I went back to the start and I then went and swept a 6 mile stretch of trail. Did I mention I run in Pine Mountain a lot? I do, I mean a lot. It is not uncommon for me to take off early and run 6 hours or more up here and then head home. Falls are not extremely common for me on this trail for that reason. I did re-learn two things that I already knew on this 6 mile stretch. This first being that drought causes roots to come to the surface in search of water here. The second is that the more time you spend running off the trail the less you remember to pick up your feet. The culmination of these two re-learned lessons ended with a beautiful face plant about halfway through. Needless to say, my knees were high for the remainder of the day.

     I made my way back to the start and met up with Len and Kerry D. to go back up to Dowdle Knob and start sweeping back the start. I would be stopping after 3.5 miles as I needed to get home to finish some homework I had.  We made our way down the trail and caught up with the last two runners. The attempted to let us pass but after informing them that we were there for their safety they reluctantly led us to the next aid station. In an attempt to take their mind off the pain and the impending drop that was to occur once we hit the next aid station I rattled on and on with Len, Kerry and the two runners about races to come, races past, the trail we were on and adventures I had experienced on it. I am not sure if it helped anyone else, but that 3.5 passed a lot quicker that I had anticipated.

      I made my way to the Start.Finish area for the last time for the day to let Sarah know I was leaving for the day and to thank her for another great event and letting me help. I hung a bit longer than I should have but still made it home in time to finish my paper...

     I think I am done with taking a whole weekend for long runs for a while. Next week is the club end of year party so that is my excuse there. I am missing my family terribly and my heart is heavy for the time I cannot ever make up that has been forced upon us with deployments and other trips.