Connor Halliday fires a pass in Martin Stadium scrimmage, 4/19/14

Connor Halliday fires a pass in Martin Stadium scrimmage, 4/19/14

I don’t expect you to understand. Unless you’ve lived in Pullman, that is. Then you get it before I even say it!
GO COUGS!
There’s nothing like it. David slaying Goliath. WSU whipping USC. Which is more impressive?
It’s spring football, where hope fills the air. These guys are really growing!
Impressive athletes, top grade coaches and improved facilities: are we returning to the golden age of Cougar football? It feels like it to me! And the signs are everywhere:

Rose Bowl quarterback + All-Pro cornerback = Cougar greatness!

Rose Bowl quarterback + All-Pro cornerback = Cougar greatness!

Those gentlemen are Jason Gesser, the last quarterback to lead us to the Rose Bowl, and Marcus Trufant, perhaps our best cornerback ever. Marcus recently retired from a lengthy career with the Seattle Seahawks. They played in Pullman and won most of their games. They are two friendly men who truly know football. Marcus’ mother is very engaging too!
The stars may be aligning. Mike Leach, a talented head coach, has amassed excellent assistants. Together they continue to recruit progressively better athletes, both physically and attitudinally. Get on board or hit the road. Nobody’s dragging this pirate ship down!
Connor Halliday is throwing with precision. Vince Mayle leads a stable of remarkable receivers. Mike Breske ignites an army of awesome athletes on defense, including Darryl Monroe, Xavier Cooper and Daquawn Brown. Naming is almost unfair, because the breadth and depth of talent is impressive! I think Nick agrees!

Nick is lucky to be a Cougar now!

Nick is lucky to be a Cougar now!

Are the Cougars ready to kick some ass? I think so! Best time? When the Ducks and Huskies come to town! GO COUGS!

New toys! Yippee!!!!

New toys! Yippee!!!!

Wow! What a day! Do you want some background material?  Well, here it is anyway!

Fifteen years ago I was in self-induced funk. “I can see clearly now….” was not the song for me. I thought I knew a bit, but really I knew damn little. And I was dying fast. Proof? I tried to run. After one mile, I was out of breath, done for the day, and easing into comprehension of my situation. Then, lots of life lessons, which peeled back layers of the onion, opening my mind. In a newfound spirit of respect for my body, I took baby steps. Then more, and more, and more. Last year I finished two marathons, and I still love to run! So I’ve come to believe that excuses are tired rationalizations that held me back. Some still do. But sometimes my mind opens a bit more, like peeling the onion. Yesterday, we went bicycle shopping, because Annie needed something to ride in the Onionman Triathlon next month. After lots of fun talking with Justin, Steve and Michael at Allegro Cyclery, as well as test riding, Charles set the hook: “if a mountain bike is like a fork, you still need a knife!”

This brings us to today.

Yippee! I got a new toy! Why did I wait so long? Well, my mind held me back, as usual. Road biking is too dangerous, I thought, because of those few crazy drivers. Plus, I LOVE mountain biking, so I don’t really need a road bike. Well, I may have seen what those road bikers like, or perhaps an introductory glimpse of their passion.  Road bikes are fast! Today, I rode a hill that used to be hard on my mountain bike. It was like eating cake on the road bike, and that was after I ran nearly nine miles earlier in the day. I was doubly blessed. I felt the ecstasy of flying down a big hill on my new toy. Wow! I hate to admit it, but I even used the brakes on the big descent. But I’ll get better. Maybe someday I’ll even ride up a big mountain. My second mind opener was believing that I can handle two good workouts in one day. Can I believe in possibilities, even though they sometimes seem so far away? I believed I’d never run a marathon, after feeling like I was dying from a one mile run. Now I’m more open-minded. Maybe I’ll finish a triathlon…..

 

Annie's a mountain woman!

No, that’s not the devil!  That’s Annie!  She’s a mountain woman!

If the devil is that “voice,” I’d say he’s always there. But I’m getting practiced at telling him to chill out!

It’s a great year to be alive. I am around 1.8% older, chronologically speaking. Time truly does march on. Powerlessness!

But I’m now about 5% faster than last year, averaging two foot races. Effectively defying age? By my deductions, assuming aging naturally slows us down, I’m now around 7 percent more awesome than I was last year at this time. How cool!

How did I do it? Well, by ignoring that negative “voice” that says to ease off. Using age as an excuse is lame. It’s a good way to die prematurely. Believe! Push! Push some more! Recover with great nutrition and rest, stretching and cross-training. Push some more! God gave me this body to use to its fullest potential. Waste this amazing gift? No way Jose!

I now believe in an interval-focused training schedule. Since I’m (temporarily?) off the marathon carousel, there are more opportunities to run intervals. Simple logic says I must run fast to be able to run fast. I must train with speed to be able to run fast on race day. Ricky Bobby had at least one thing right: it feels good to go fast!

Another thing I’ve tried, by accident, is to run “blind.” No timing device to tell me my pace. Just shorts, a shirt, sunglasses and a willing spirit. It turns out that my heart and lungs know how fast they can go.

The two races Annie and I have run so far this year have had very different starts. The St. Patrick’s 10k offered a downhill first mile, teasing me to go out very fast, which I did. I was running like a kid. Yeah! But then the devil was fed. After about a half mile, my heart and lungs required me to slow down. So they started passing me. And passing me. Crap! How many are there? Dozens, as it turns out. Those folks that are faster than me! My mind said “shit!” I’m too out of shape and I just can’t do it. I might as well walk. Go back and train until you’re really ready. NOOOOOO! I’ve been down that path. Quitting is as addictive as drinking or drugging. They all drag you down to the depths.  That is no place to be. Just keep running dude! You really still have no idea what pace you’re going. I did have an Ironman watch, but I somehow missed the start button. It has no GPS and I wasn’t really sure what time was on the mis-set clock when we started. I didn’t bring the I-Phone, because it’s too heavy. But foot racing is not rocket science. You find what pace you can sustain and do it, pushing the inner voice that wants to ease off. Mental toughness plays a huge part in race day success. So I ran as fast as I could, getting passed just before the mid-point by a friend who I knew was fast. Either she had slowed down a bunch or I was doing pretty well. I found myself focusing even harder on mile five, the section when I slowed down last year. As I approached the finish, climbing the hill, I thought I saw a 49 on the clock. When I got closer, I saw that it was definitely a 49. I sprinted with an amazing burst, hoping to break 50 minutes. 50:01. Wait until next year! That was over 2.5 minutes faster than last year and a few minutes ahead of Annie. My streak continued!

The Badger Mountain Challenge is Annie’s home course. She stares at Badger all the time, as it overlooks her home in Richland. She trains there, in masochistic delight. She’s also my personal trainer, when possible, and she’s not into easy. Easy is a four letter word to her. She’s a get ‘er done type of person.

Badger just happens to be the devil’s home course too. It opens with somewhere around 1.3 miles of an uphill grind, often steep and even requiring some stairs. It could be called heart-attack hill, except we’re smart enough to walk much of it. It truly makes Bloomsday’s “Doomsday” hill look wimpy. After summiting, it’s a long downhill section of winding trails and roads, where we run very fast. Then a long, relatively flat section along the back side of the mountain precedes a gentler route up the second ascent. The capper is another long section of downhill curves, then the stairs and a sprint to the finish. 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) is not short and not brutally long. But the hills can sap your energy or trick you into excess walking. Toughness to run and wisdom to walk are important for most of us. Or just stay as close to Annie as possible! Her powerful legs are strong on the ascents and amazingly fast on the descents. I did well on the ascents, but she pulled away on the descents. She was determined to beat me, and so she did, by 33 seconds. Annie is the new family champion! She was 3 minutes faster than last year and I was 5.5 minutes faster than my earlier effort. We pushed each other to succeed. It was a beautiful thing, knowing that we’d given it all we had. Averaging over ten minutes per mile on this course  felt like averaging eight minutes on flatter courses. Badger is magnificently brutal!

It’s proper to note that Annie even beat me at my logic. She ran 3.5% faster than last year and she’s 4.5% older, making her arguably 8% more awesome than last year. I’m not entirely sure this logic works in her age class, but it’s my formula, so I should keep my whining to myself…..

With running, you can’t really sell bullshit. You’ve earned your condition and you  control your mental toughness on race day. You get to face your reality. It’s wonderful! So the smack-talking I do is self-motivational, as well as to prod others. It gets me out on the trails. We love to see each other do well, but we want to win! So, of course, we win either way! But there’ll be no losing without a fight. So y’all get ready for Bloomsday! If you beat me, I want to make you earn it! Run well!

Banana +  Recoverite = Bloomsday preparation!

Banana + Recoverite = Bloomsday preparation!

What if I know of real solutions for affordable health care, but nobody listens? What if I know of a simple cure for some types of depression, but no one hears me? Stress reduction? Better health? Peace of mind? Contentment? Freedom?

Maybe we all have to figure them out on our own, in our own time. It’s cool that the answers are real and widely available! They’re almost free, yet priceless. I hope you agree, in the most real sense of all, via actions. Live well!

Yesteryear, but you get the idea!

Who’s high on life?

Should I visit the Alps? Or other mountains? Before the lure of the desert seizes my spirit with warm weather fun?

My golf vacation was so fun! Pat and Lyn were so gracious, as always. Phoenix weather in January is roughly PERFECT for golf. They say April is even better, but I can’t see how. Perhaps the grass will be even greener and the air a bit warmer. Hmmm…… I’ve felt more ready for transitioning to warm weather winters. Age really seems to increase my appreciation of warmth, and aversion to cold. It seems progressive. But maybe not so fast…..

Over the past weekend, my Blue House Cafe transformed into a ski chalet! Nordic adventures of the past thirty years flashed vividly back. I entered a timeless zone, where the glide is everything. It’s a breathing meditation at a higher level. I understand more deeply why the Olympics now offer “skiathons.” Because they’re the winter equivalent of marathons! The evolution of the term is obvious, but the fun is in the feeling. I skied for hours on Saturday, excited to return to better health. Then the Olympians inspired me on Sunday. It just got better and better! When I’ve run marathons, the powerful endurance was awesome. But each passing mile typically got harder. With cross-country skiing, my glide improves the more I practice. It feels so good; I get addicted. So on Sunday, I played a mental game of calculating how much farther I could ski before turning back. When would the sun really set? Will I get enough afterglow? Hey, I just need to make it back to the streetlights by heavy darkness. Yippee! Press on! How fun!

So my aversion to cold, grey, and wet winter days was broken. I relived the glory of winter! I moved further towards appreciating the moments of my life, whatever and wherever they are. Work has been tough, but I’ve handled it better. I’m moving in the direction I want: be the best I can be, live proactively and enjoy the moments. It’s sweet!

Golf is no four letter word. It’s often called “Arghhhhhhhhh!” Or “dammmmnnnnnn!” Or other unpleasantries. Except when you hit one just right. Then it’s “ahhhhhhhhh.” Maybe “yessssssssss!” I’ll be back soon. That just feels too good. I want more. Like a sweet romance, it tantalizes, lures and hooks us. It will never be mastered, but I think I’ll try. As the sun smiles on my skin and the breeze cools my brow, I visualize a towering shot, rising high in the sky, threatening the target. Mastery of a moment, if only a single shot, suggests mind-pleasing possibilities. I’m the man. I can do this. I can excel at mankind’s most challenging game. If I find the sweet spot in my spirit, I’m opened to finding the sweet spot on the club head. One opens the door to the other, analogous to so much of life. So swing away. You’ll see just where you are. The truth is delightful. It points to exactly what to do next. We simply need to open the eyes of our minds. Namaste.

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In 2013 I learned to be more true to myself. I enjoyed my first ever marathons, standup paddling, greater freedom of spirit, more perspective, less fear and increased confidence.
I’m confident that the best plan for me is to reach out, smile, encourage, savor, learn and grow.
Yesterday’s intense leg weight lifting session rolled all of those together. So does work, and so can adventures. Mysteries abound; many are filled with fun! To at least some extent, they are what they are. I can choose to see the fun. More fun!

Invigorators!

Invigorators!

 

Race her? I think the blue house really fires her up!

Race her? I think the blue house really fires her up!

How hard can we push? How hard should we push? Claiming to be old and not pushing at all seems wrong for me. Pushing to premature death sounds lousy. How do you know how hard to push?

We missed out on cardiovascular exercise on Tuesday, so Annie and I did sixty minutes on Stairmasters at level ten on Wednesday evening, climbing 280 floors. That’d be a tall building!

Early Thursday, we ran three miles in the American Red Cross’ Turkey Trot along Mill Creek in Walla Walla. It’s uphill on the first half and downhill on the way back. It was around thirty degrees Fahrenheit, so oxygen was plentiful, as were clothes! It was tough to warm up, so the first mile served this role. 8:06 was a decent mile for me, especially uphill. I misinterpreted the voice on the Nike running app and thought I’d slowed down on the second mile, but I’d really sped up to 7:48, aided by half of it being downhill. I remember wishing I could go faster but staying determined to do the best I could, for comparison for next year. It seemed like I might be slowing down a bit, but I had no kick left when a guy I’d just passed sped up to pass me near the end. At least I’d finally post a short race baseline for 2013. The supposed 5k measured three miles on my device. My last mile took 7:12. I was pleasantly surprised. 23:06 for three miles, averaging 7:42 per mile, was slower than my 2006 three-mile best of 20:40, but better than my 2013 St. Patrick’s 10k average pace of 8:31 per mile. The Thanksgiving day race was only half as long, but I sense that I’m faster now than I was at the start of the year. Happier and more free as well. Yay!

I continued my winning streak against Annie. She whipped me by a long ways at both the Tri-City half marathon and the Badger Mountain Challenge 15k. I managed to best her at the St. Patrick’s 10k, Bloomsday 12k, Portland Marathon, Poplar 13k, Columbia River Classic 10 mile and Turkey Trot 3 mile. Mostly I beat her by small margins. It’s been a good year for the grey haired dude! I expect this reminder to motivate Annie, which could in turn lead us both to even better health. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So my running goal for 2014 is to go faster still.  I’d like to break 49 minutes in a 10k and 23 minutes in a 5k. Since we’re goal-setting, how about 1:55 for a half marathon and 4:16 for a full marathon? That should keep me busy. Throw in a round of golf with a score under 80 and snorkeling in Hawaii. That’d be a good year!

2013 is not gone, however. Maybe I can rock the Cable Bridge Run! Perhaps some skiing is in my future! We cranked another hour on the Stairmasters today, targeting level 11. Annie sustained it, totaling 300 floors. I eased off after 45 minutes and finished at 280 floors again. Is that a sign? Is Annie back on top? Yikes! I’d better get my buns moving! Or ease off, to be safe. I’m just not sure. But I’m digging the endorphins!

"Be all that you can be" is a habitual thing. Always do your best and regret will not visit!

“Be all that you can be” is an habitual thing. Always do your best and regret will not visit!

Smiles create smiles!

Smiles create smiles!

Once again, I choose happiness! My mind is still blown by the reality that it’s simply been a choice all along. No luck, no waiting for it to come. Just choose it now. Now! “Later” is just more talk. I love that many people keep reminding me of this free choice, because sometimes I forget, and happiness is way more fun!

Sure it takes practice. A pattern of negativity, whining and pouting doesn’t morph into refreshingly optimistic gratitude in an instant. Good things come to those who persevere!

I can’t deny that there are always beautiful, impressive, awe-inspiring things, thoughts, people, places and events wherever I am. The stark reality is that whether I appreciate and richly experience them is limited or enabled by my mind. My attitude, my openness, my closed-mindedness, my willingness and my awareness levels are key. Living fully is an option for all of us.

It’s not their fault or credit that you’re the way you are. Whatever, whomever and whenever. They can define you. Or not.

It’s a great opportunity!

What a bunch of blessings!

 

Hikers in September, runners in November. Have they heard of cars?

Hikers in September, runners in November. Have they heard of cars?

A week ago, I sought refreshment via a four-day break from work. Today, if felt like I was dying from self-inflicted trauma! These days “off” can be so hard!

I was disappointed in Washington State’s loss on the gridiron on Halloween night. Arizona State’s senior laden team was too strong for WSU. C’est la vie! It reminded me to appreciate ASU’s magnificence instead of dwelling on WSU’s inferiority. It was a perfect opportunity to detach from outcomes.

The following day, Nick and I lifted weights before attending Improvised Shakespeare, a taste of Chicago. The actors delivered vivid reminders of the cultural wonders of university life. Their quick wit, dramatic delivery and flowing humor were impressive, especially since it was all improvisation. After someone from the audience suggested “Naked in the forest” as the play’s title, Nick and I had our minds expanded and our souls enriched. I am grateful to Nick for offering me “one last chance” to attend the play with him, as I had planned to attend the men’s basketball game instead. I benefit greatly from diversity in my life. We found treasure in a place where he merely sought extra credit for his Shakespeare class. My heart smiled broadly!

I spent last Saturday watching more football and the first season of “House of Cards.” It’s a well done show and a great example of how not to be. It seemed a bit too lazy of a day. I recalled lethargic slumps in my early life. Hmmm. I’ve run a fair amount, but it still called to me. I knew it’d bring me peace and satisfaction. As always, it did! I went ten miles since that was the length of today’s race. Last Sunday, I spent over ten minutes on the first mile and nearly twenty minutes for the first two. Having warmed up, I ran some miles between 8.5 and 9 minutes per mile. Then I finished with my best mile of 8:15. That surprised me a little, because I was feeling pretty tired after six or eight miles. Ten miles took 1:29:50. 8:59 per mile average, on a slightly hilly course.

Today’s Columbia River Classic was a different story. Annie took it out pretty fast, so I followed her. After all, the first half was downstream, so a likely time to post some good miles! And so we did: 7:55, 8:20, 8:27, 8:32. “Hey!”, said my ego. 8:18 average per mile for the first four. On an out and back course, the leaders didn’t pass me until after I was over 4 miles in. It was fun to watch them run! Maybe I could hit my 85 minute dream time? Well, not today. 8:51, 8:50, 8:54. The beauty of those miles were the beauties that passed me!

Early on, it felt like I was truly racing, striding with ease, passing people, glowing in the sun. Now I was trudging. My body couldn’t quite deliver what my mind dreamed up. 9:15, 9:12. Looking over my shoulder. Were Mark and Annie about to pass me? Mental games. Walking sounds really good. Go! GO! Look, some people are walking. When your legs get tired, run with your heart! Maybe just a short walk, like the woman I’m playing leapfrog with. No wimping out! Well, I’ve slowed down so much, I won’t hit my goal time, so it’d probably be okay to walk. Get your lazy ass moving! Is it really worth it? Do you want remorse all winter? Well, maybe that’d be good for keeping my ego in check. Ready to eat crow?

The nine mile mark. Only one mile to go. Those perverts! Who puts the biggest hill at the END of a race? Sick bastards…… Someone’s gaining on me….. NO! This is a fricking race! So I gave it all I had. I think I sped up a bit. I guess that beats slowing down some more! 8:52….finish…..water…..my feet really hurt…..Yay! I survived another day. I kicked my ass! 1:27:07 or so. 8:43 average per mile. Nearly three minutes faster than last week. This speeding up plan is going to be some HARD work! But it’s worth it. Because I got to sit and talk with Mark and Annie, drinking coffee that Mark treated us to. It was so fun! Those two are really funny! And it wasn’t the last race of the year. We challenged each other to the Cable Bridge Run in December. Another motivator! Let’s get our run on!  :)

Re-match!

Re-match!

Who? Who? Who? Who?

Songs get stuck in my head. This three-letter question is key to me. It can open doors I really want opened. I simply need to figure out where they lead!

Proactive living is considerably different from reactive living. Making this change involves diving inside, deeper and deeper. When I find ugly, scary, lazy or arrogant, I can work to replace them with beauty, faith, dedication and openness. Because everyone wins!

I can expand my mind, if I’m honest and willing. I can learn, experience and believe. I believe that I can become more compassionate, wise, adventurous, dedicated, considerate, athletic and fun. More and more of the same thinking, activities and stubbornness aren’t likely to get it done. Surrender, faith and willingness to try new ways of thinking and experience new places and people and activities can really help.

I want better. I mean, my life is great! It’s gotten better each year. But I want better! Why not?

"A Very Poplar Run" 2013. Sometimes we ran through ridiculously treacherous bumpy fields.....15k was about 13k......hot dogs offered at finish.....but the scenery was nice!!!

“A Very Poplar Run” 2013. Sometimes we ran through ridiculously treacherous, bumpy fields…..”15k” was really about 13k……hot dogs offered at finish…..but the scenery was nice!!!

She woke me right up! I wasn’t sleeping, but I wasn’t really into it. I mean, things had started slow and messy, with disappointing developments. Then, there she was. My sparker! Now I had a mission! Follow Miss Superbuns!

Well, to be truthful, I’ve always fancied nice buns. Like at Thanksgiving dinner! And on many of the women who have caught my attention.

At foot races, there are some amazing buns! Today, around a mile or so into the race, she passed me. Wow! Ooh la la! I could follow those for a while! So I did. My pace quickened nicely. I really felt like I was racing! I felt fully alive! Should I chase her all day?

I don’t know if I made the right decision, but I let her go. Down the trail, faster than me. Off to inspire someone else. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sustain her pace for another seven or eight miles. But she got me moving! I ran a good pace while we were on decent surfaces. I fought through some energy lulls. And I found even deeper resolve.

I didn’t sustain her pace today, but maybe sometime soon? I feel doubly inspired to run intervals, lift leg weights, attack the stair-stepper and race faster. I have a mission! Healthily attractive, happy and athletic people are so inspiring to me! They help me want to be a better me. I like it!

Yes!

Yes!

When the above is at least somewhat true, I experience spiritual freedom. To whatever depth I get this deep in my soul, I am freed. No longer in a stranglehold of ego, fear, greed, lust, jealousy, anger or disappointment, I can be present to the presents of the present. That’s a very “good” thing! Ha!

Judging “good” or “bad” can really waste my time. I don’t get much time (there I go, judging again), so does it make sense to spend it in dismay, disrupting my spirit and having “bad” days?

What if some powerful people at work made decisions that cost the company many millions of dollars? Spouse/partner wants out? Loved ones die? Kids or friends or associates do “crazy” things I don’t approve of? Government can’t figure out how to run a country effectively? Team lost a big game? Or most of their games? Outraced, outscored, overshadowed or put down? This list could go on forever. The simple truth is that life has a lot of twists and turns, if we’re lucky enough to live on. The longer we live, the wilder it gets! Perhaps that’s because we think we know more. We learn a bit. We make judgement calls. “That’s good. That’s bad. They’re dumb. I’m smart.”

Perhaps everything just “is.” When I observe others, their judgements can be a bit entertaining and enlightening, because seeing them helps me see me. When I can admit that I’m like them, I can lessen my judging. I can move towards acceptance. I can savor the pleasures that are always available, even during the seemingly toughest times. It’s a matter of perspective, focus, attention, honesty and willingness. Logically, it’s a no-brainer. In application, it’s a constant challenge. My wish for you is enlightened freedom!

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That's a funny looking trophy.....

That’s a funny looking trophy…..

I don’t know how fast or how far I ran. Is there some cosmic significance in that? I know that I did run! Too fast at first, like a few other races over the years. I didn’t know what pace I could sustain and I get pretty excited at the start of races. The Nike running application on my device didn’t work, and I didn’t think to re-boot it. I forgot the oldest trick in computing: re-boot!

So I was running blind, in a sense. No pacing, other than feel. But racing is mostly about finding a pace that I can sustain anyway. The Crush Run course had some personality, meandering along vineyard roads and up and down many hills. But the portions that cut through fields presented dangerously uneven surfaces. Bush league, in my opinion. The course had many turns and was not well-marked, so I just followed other runners. Including when they went off course!  Somewhere, but who knows where? It became obvious when we entered anther field; this time the grass wasn’t even mowed. Now the running surface was uneven AND hidden. Not good!

The craziest part was when we crossed the finish line headed in the opposite direction of most other runners. It was a “pick your own course” race! That became increasingly clear as we compared stories afterwards.  Who knows how many different courses people ran?

The clock said I finished in 43:32. That would be nice! It’d be over 2.5 minutes faster than I’ve ever raced before, and my personal best came in 2005 at the Lostine River Run, a predominantly downhill course. This one had a lot of ups and downs. Perhaps my best clue came from the women who ran the same course as me in about the same time. Their GPS units said they were about a mile short of a 10k, so after some complaining, they headed back out to run another mile. Nice solution!

So perhaps I averaged around 8:26 per mile with a projected finish of just under 52 minutes.  I ran a 52:26 at the St. Patrick’s Day 10k early this year. Today’s course was tougher, so maybe I can still get back some of the speed I’ve lost. It’s a goal: try to defy the aging process. Just a bit? Or as much as I can! Watch out for Annie!!!

They said I won my division and awarded me a bottle of wine. This fits perfectly with how the race went, since I don’t drink wine! But as you can see, I know a bit about whine!

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Undeniably, much of life is far beyond our control. Yet it seems prudent to consciously develop who we are, instead of living reactively. Maybe we should work backwards? What would be cool on a headstone?

Adventurous, Believing, Calm, Daring, Enthusiastic, Funny, Game, Honorable, Innovative, Jovial, Kind, Loving, Motivating, Natural, Optimistic, Parental, Quenchable, Ready, Studious, Trustworthy, Uniting, Valiant, Wild, Xyzlacatotic, Youthful and Zesty!

Loving It Fully Everyday!

Annie, Pat & Jim. True Cougars of the Erickson clan, bleeding Crimson since 1965.....

Annie, Pat & Jim. True Cougars of the Erickson clan, bleeding Crimson since 1965…..

I’m trying to remember if this is a provocative piece or a football story. Hmmm.

Football wise, it might be a great tale! Small town universities with explosive passing attacks will face off Saturday night in beautifully small Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington, home of the Washington State University Cougars. At times mighty, yet often beaten by powerful programs, WSU teaches important lessons. We learn how to win and how to lose, which are important life lessons. One key part of losing is retaining hope. If we lose one week, bring on next week! We’ve suffered down seasons, but the program is again on the rise. This takes believers and doers.

Pessimism never got me anywhere. Optimism opened my life to a plethora of fantastic opportunities! I was blessed to attend Washington State University for four years. The Cougars are a definitive part of me. I attended graduate school at the University of Washington. It is a noble institution. But as true experts say, once a Cougar, a!ways a Cougar! Go Cougs! Beat the Beavers!

Portland Marathon 2013

Portland Marathon 2013

Yesterday was one of the toughest days of my life. How lucky am I!

Some people run marathons with very little training. We might call them silly; perhaps even laugh at them. Some of these folks post amazing performances, however. Such is the story of Zachary, Annie’s husband. He works full-time and carries a full-time college schedule. Despite minimal training, including no recent runs longer than six miles, Zach hung with Annie for most of the 2013 Portland Marathon, slowing only for the last few miles. His time of 4:58 was better than Annie and I ran at Coeur d’Alene in May, after substantial training. Who would have guessed he’d pull this off? Not me! Maybe it was the Lebanese food we powered up with on Saturday evening?

Zach's not crazy. I promise! Wait...am I a qualified judge?

Zach’s not crazy. I promise! Wait…am I a qualified judge?

Life is a bundle of richly varied experiences, which we can choose to learn from at our own pace. After moderate training for a marathon, then tapering, I felt pretty strong. 26.2 miles is a long ways, however, no matter how strong one feels. We all get to decide what pace to run. Portland’s lizard pacers offered help, but which group to choose? For me,  a targeted finish of 4:25 or 4:40? My spunky ego took the 4:25 sign in front of me at the start as evidence enough.

I soon learned two important lessons: (1) Many people bunch near the pacers, at least early in the race. (2) Pacers don’t stop for drinks or porta-potties. What to do? Get ahead of them! Having tossed out the good advice to start slow, I sped up a little more! The tantalizing feelings of strength and optimism fueled my ego and ramped up my hopes. Goodbye 4:25ers! I became mostly convinced that I should run faster while I was feeling good. I wasn’t a rookie, so I knew tougher times were coming. But why not make hay while the sun was shining?

Several minutes after a hairpin turn, as we met oncoming runners, I heard Annie yell “Go Frankoshanko!” I smiled and yelled back.  I did likewise for the dozens of people who yelled “Go Cougs” in response to my shirt. I kept a pace that felt good. So I enjoyed many miles faster than my ten minute per mile target. When I ran a mile in 8:40, I questioned the measurements, before realizing how much I had picked up the pace. Was I going too fast?

My muscles started to feel the effects around ten miles in. It’s a progressive thing, so I was curious how I’d hold up for sixteen more miles. What could I do? It seemed reasonable to keep running the best pace I could, hydrate often, eat periodic gels and see what happened!

Portland is a big race. Unlike Coeur d’Alene, there are a lot of competitors. It feels like a long version of Bloomsday. But as tough as Bloomsday is, this race is much tougher. Simply put, it’s three and a half times as long. Other runners can affect us, if we choose. Some finish strong and fight off the overwhelming, compelling urge to walk, especially near the end. But a lot of people do walk. I mean a LOT! Where do I fit in?

I didn’t want to live with remorse throughout the winter! I decided to stick with the winners! The truth is, I really couldn’t stick with many of them, including the 4:25 lizard who passed me late in the race. But I tried! I gave the race everything I had. There is satisfaction in that. My pain was real. My left leg almost gave out on one step. My right leg spasmed on another. Both legs felt the heaviest they ever had. My groin tightened. I had little energy. I was down to a plod at the end. It seemed like each step was a monumental achievement. The course just wouldn’t end! My 2:07 first half was followed by a 2:22 second half, including 13:08 on mile seventeen, which had the big hill. But I stared fear in the face and fought back. I gave it all I had! I was more tired, wobbly and spent in the finisher’s corral than I’ve ever been before. I had trained moderately well. I got what I deserved. I didn’t quit. I finished strong. It felt exhaustingly good!

Wildass Adventures!

I had just started to eye the post-race refreshments when I heard “Hi Daddy!” What? It was Annie. “How’d you get here?” was my immediate response. Post-race delirium and best-of-life surprise gave way to fatherly pride. She’d nearly caught me over the second half of the race, overcoming her knee injury, which limited her training, and her busy schedule of nursing school, work and homemaking. Perhaps our wild adventures helped? Annie and I each shed about half an hour from Coeur d’Alene, with less training. Annie, Zach and I all ran way faster than I thought we would. How’s that for miraculous?

The marathon couple!

The marathon couple!

The friendly people of Portland did many things very well, including water stops, a well staged start, traffic control, encouragement, shirt and medal design, space blankets and delightful frozen strawberry bars at the finish!

Today was a day for excruciatingly painful quadricep massage. The Stick is my best friend and my worst enemy! After work, I spent an hour at the gym lifting weights and stretching my leg muscles. I’m grateful for the pain.  It means I’m still on the road to a better life. I’ve seen no other road I’d rather be on!

Coeur d'Alene in May. How will Portland go?

Zach’s mountain biking/proof of cross-training photo wouldn’t upload. I have no idea if that’s a sign. Here’s Annie and Frank after Coeur d’Alene in May. How will Portland go?

It’s almost time for another big test. Portland’s marathon eerily feels like going home. But I’ve spent almost no time in Portland; I’ve passed through several times heading to the beach and once caught a plane there for the 1998 Rose Bowl game. I truly believe that “home is where the heart is.” So I feel at home when I’m with family and friends, especially when at places overflowing with fond memories. Martin Stadium and all of Pullman will always be my home, as will Othello Golf Course, Twin Lakes, the Erickson farmstead, Bennington Lake, Bloomsday, St. Mary Medical Center, Eagle Cap, the Selkirk Mountains and many other places. Any new place with family and friends quickly feels like home as well. It’s a matter of the heart.

I know some cool people headed to the Portland marathon this year. I’ll be traveling with two of them, Annie and Zach, and I may run into some of the others. But I may not. It may be beautiful weather, but it may not. I may feel strong and run well, but I may not. It’s a mystery, yet to unfold. But I think I’ll feel at home. Even if Annie and Zach weren’t going, I think I still might. There’s something about large gatherings of energetic athletes that fires up my soul. I’m learning to feel the kinship all people can share and it makes my journey more enjoyable. Maybe everywhere is home!

Passionate exuberance!

Passionate exuberance!

“Splendid” means “shining, brilliant, magnificent or excellent.” The suffix “fix” means “making” or “causing.” The suffix “ation” means “the action or process of doing something.”

Experts suggest to not fear success. Other say to dream big. Believe in yourself. Be confident. Well, they are right! I think it’s time for me to focus on splendification! I’ll believe it for you and for me. It’s up to me to do my part. I’ll do my very best at everything I do. I will commit to the baby steps that will lead to greater splendor. I will not fear, limit or shrink. I will glow like my creators desire. It will be splendid!

 

How can I describe the feelings I get while running, which range from euphoric to exhausted? I’ll go with freedom. Freedom from worry, stress, pressure, strain and fear. All is truly well. Smiles are abundant. Energy begets energy. Life keeps getting better. Work is easier. The need to judge others slides away. Even judging of myself. Bronzing skin basks in glorious sunshine. Supple muscles flow with their true calling. Belief grows, creating confidence. Positivity overwhelms negativity. Humor is abundant. Healthy people pass by, smiling broadly. This must be the path to heaven on earth!

Badger Mountain Challenge 2013. Smiling from the heart!

Badger Mountain Challenge 2013. Smiling from the heart!

Go Cougars!  Nick and Jaslyn enjoy college life.....

Go Cougars! Nick and Jaslyn enjoy college life…..

What a fun weekend! The new season tickets for WSU football are under cover; what a great bonus for rainy or snowy games.  This one was gloriously sunny! From high up on the western 5 yard line, Annie and I celebrated a lot of great Cougar plays after hooking up with the Ericksons for some tasty tailgating.  Then we rescued Nick from his job for an enjoyable late dinner.

After dropping Nick and Jaslyn off on campus and Annie at Lauren’s apartment, I picked a spot to park my subcompact RV. Okay, it’s really a 4Runner. It makes amazing mileage compared to RV’s! Comfort is a relative thing.  A sleeping pad fits in the back. Next time I’ll park on a  slight downslope to level the bed. I might have opened the windows a little wider and perhaps put a little less air in the mattress. A 24 hour bathroom would have been nice, but I made it to one just in time!

Annie and I worked out at the WSU Recreation Center; it’s fun to have someone help me push a little harder. Nick couldn’t join us but he sure did inspire us! He’s added amazing amounts of muscle in the past month. We were so inspired by his physique that we toasted our arms and tortured our legs. I could barely stumble around.  Then we hopped on elliptical/stair hybrid machines for some cardio work.  I pushed to my theoretical maximum heart rate, near the end, at 166 beats per minute.  I suspect my heart will beat faster, but the machine was dancing and the readout said “maximum speed attained.” It may have translated to “slow down and quit abusing me!” Who’s to know?

Let the good times roll!

Let the good times roll!

It’s over three weeks until the Portland marathon and I’m already loading up on carbohydrates. Am I too early? I didn’t want to procrastinate. It did taste really good!

Polish Pesto

Polish Pesto

Don’t try to tell me pesto is not a Polish dish. I have 50% Polish blood and I’m here to tell you my pesto is as good or better than any others I’ve tasted. This is not bragging; it’s simply the result of practice and starting with high-grade ingredients. The basil and green pepper were freshly plucked from my garden. Local sweet onions, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Portobello mushrooms, pine nuts and whole grain pasta, plus optional chicken breast. How could it not be good? Would you like some? Come on over to the True Blue Cafe’!

Reservations available if you can find me.....

Reservations available if you can find me…..

I just keep getting higher! Maybe it’s in my nature. How lucky can you get?

On top of Eagle Cap, with Lostine River Valley in the background.

On top of Eagle Cap, with Lostine River Valley in the background.

Annie and Linda and I hiked at least 28 miles over our three-day weekend. On Friday we hiked to Upper Mirror lake and pitched my new tent at a heavenly campsite, with views of Mirror Lake, Upper Mirror Lake, Eagle Cap Mountain and the Lostine river valley.  Annie was so excited to become a certified mountain woman!

My new tent saved us a couple of pounds of weight to carry!

A new tent saved us a couple of pounds of weight to carry.

We had a day to play while the rest of our group hiked up on Saturday, so we headed for the summit experience. Sunshine, exercise and smiles filled our day.

Like father, like daughter!

Like father, like daughter!

Do you think she likes it? I might call her Annie Adventure!

Spirit lady blossoms again!

Spirit lady blossoms again!

Gary and Laura and Chris joined us for a Saturday afternoon hike around the Lakes Basin before Mark and Georgia and Isaac arrived in time for dinner.  We shared tales and bright stars before sleeping hard and hiking to the summit again the next morning. We encountered more beautiful sunshine and then a few clouds.

Sunday morning service, Wallowa Mountain style!

Sunday morning service, Wallowa Mountain style!

Some of our lucky party were experiencing their first overnight backpacking trip ever. This wonderful place creates lasting memories!

Permasmile!

Perma-smile! That’s the Matterhorn on the right. I hear the view from the top of it is perhaps even better. Let’s go!

What better way to raise kids than this? We can do amazing things when we believe that we can. If we learn this early in life, how much more might we do?

4,000 plus feet of elevation gain over ten miles while carrying overnight packs? Kid stuff! Mark, Georgian and Isaac rock!

4,000 plus feet of elevation gain over ten miles while carrying overnight packs? Kid stuff! Mark, Georgia and Isaac rock!

What a life! Everywhere we looked we saw beauty. Can we apply this to everything we do? It’s there for the seeing; it’s just a little easier to notice in places like this!

Bring on the fun!

Bring on the fun!

Any guesses what’s next? Suggestions?

Living fully!

Living fully!

Oops!

Oops!

Curiosity took me on a new trail today; adventure beckoned! More excitement! But then there were punctures. Dozens of them! Oops. Maybe I should have been wary of tack weed. I pulled them all out, listening to the air ooze out of my tires. The goop worked. Yay! I lost half of my air. Thank God I’d put in extra pressure last time. I still had air in my tires! Ride on! I didn’t know how much air I’d lost until I got to my pump/pressure gauge.  I just knew I still had air! That’s better than some other times.

It's dangerous out here!

It’s dangerous out here!

Something told me to stay on “clean” roads for a while. That sounds a little funny, because I have two very dirty pairs of shoes from this weekend’s activities. It was fun to race up and down the hilly gravel roads. Then my rear tire looked a little too flat. I realized I’d better get home to the pump. Maybe I shouldn’t have raced 30 mph down the road to get there, since the tubeless tires can pop off the rim when the pressure gets too low.  It sure was fun! I filled the tires with air and headed back out for lots of pedaling.

Getting dirty!

Getting dirty!

It feels good to work my muscles. It also prepares me for a full life. I’m a lucky man!

Fresh air, fun and exercise! How good can it get?

Fresh air, fun and exercise! How good can it get?

Spicing up the 'hood!

Spicing up the ‘hood!

Do you have any faded shades in your life?

Boringville, USA

Boringville, USA

If you’re going to live, live fully! If you’re going to paint, paint vibrantly!

Our new happy color!

Our new happy color!

I promise myself that I will live passionately, choosing health, adventure, discovery and growth. It is a fine way to spend my gift of life. If you agree, let’s get wild!

This makes me smile!

This makes me smile!

I love this time of year! Amazing fresh fruits and vegetables fuel us up. Sunny and warm days fire our spirits. Cool, calm nights rejuvenate us. Long hours of sunlight hone our endurance. There are so many fun things to do! Annie and Nick and I have almost finished painting the exterior of our home. Now we have a little more time before college calls.  What shall we do for fun?

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Bicycling is cool cross-training. I can pedal hard for a couple of hours without feeling sore or overly tired. It’s fun, scenic, invigorating and healthy. What a win!

Weight-lifting leaves me sore, most often. It suggests a hint of masochism, mixed with egotism. Sometimes it feels great, sometimes it’s really hard. It always keeps me more fit, more youthful and better prepared.

Standup paddle boarding is a new addition to my life. It fits in beautifully with a self-propelled lifestyle, delivering great abdominal, back, arm and leg endurance training. It always feels adventurous to me.  Yay!

Nordic skiing has a very special place in my heart. I’ve skied into heaven on earth. The risk of cold, remote places is enhanced by beauty, adventure, invigoration, inspiration and wonderful endurance training. I love it!

Running is in my spirit, woven into my soul. It offers endurance or speed. Self-propulsion feeds self-confidence and a willingness to tackle new pursuits. Running opens doors to greater adventures, like awe-inspiring backcountry hikes!

Hiking with a heavy backpack, for many hours, feels like a marathon to me. I like that it makes me stronger. The process gets really tough. I learn mental discipline. I learn that “can do” trumps “can’t do” almost every time I really want it to.  The views are painted on the front page of the newspaper of my soul. Treasures!

Golf is the best game I’ve ever found. It challenges my mind in every way imaginable. It offers physical challenges in beautiful locations. It can not be mastered. I’m lured by the feeling of balls struck well. It’s been a busy couple of decades, but golf teases my spirit with a sense of impending reunion.

Volleyball is one of my favorite team games. It tests quickness, creativity, coordination and spirit. It’s fun to learn teamwork. Basketball and football are other favored team sports. The excitement makes these almost as much fun to watch as to play.

When I was a kid, riding my motorcycle was part of my daily routine. My bike gave me freedom and wild adventures. It got me high! I’m sticking with non-motorized bikes now, because I want to extend life if I can. But I still love to get high.

One way is water-skiing. Cold water slaps my face and everywhere else. Bam! The boat jerks hard, testing strength, balance and mental toughness. I rise above the fish and skim across the water, as free, wild and crazy as a teenager. Yeah! Hit it!

Who named them standup paddle boards? I think they’re just as much fun while sitting down, or kneeling. In fact, they’re great for laying down too. Personal, portable sun tanning stations. Nice!

It seemed like a good idea to try my sandals on the board, since they have custom orthotics to fit my feet. The theory was that my feet would not tire as quickly. Balancing was tougher, however. I felt unstable. So I sat down! I still got a great core and arm workout. One fun version involved paddling hard and fast on one side until I’d carved about half a circle, then switching to the other side. The result was big S curves and focused work for my muscles.  I liked it!

Annie lazed through my S work, but then approached for more paddling. I “accidentally” showered her with a well placed toss and the game was on! She was standing while I was sitting. She’s a natural on the board, so she approached me with a refreshing splash on my back. I fired back and paddled hard, trying to outrun her. She sped up, flanking me on the left. I pulled hard three times on the left, back paddled hard once on the right and darted off to temporary safety. Until we master the step back quick turn, sit down paddling offers easier maneuvering.

The movie “Mavericks” is fun to watch and great perspective on boarding in general. For now, for me, learning to paddle different water conditions is the plan. But who knows? Surfing sure looks fun!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat.  How sweet it was!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. How sweet it was!

Nick made me eggs and hash browns, one of my very favorite breakfasts today. It was awesome! Annie’s celebrating Zach’s birthday with open-water swimming and hanging with Zach’s family. How cool! Like any weekend, I had about 400% more ideas than I have time to fit in. But it’s all good! I’m watching some U.S. Open golf, remembering wonderful games played with my Dad in years gone by. We had some great competition, and memorable times. Now I’m enjoying hackysack, bicycling, running, standup paddling, weight-lifting, skiing and swimming with my kids, among other things. The activity is much less important than the chance to spend fun times together. I’m one happy father! I love you kids!

My Dad taught us much about family, honesty, commitment, nutrition, willingness, priorities, love, kindness, adventure, gratitude and fun. I love you Dad!

My life is sometimes a bit scary!  See what I mean? That’s me between Annie’s legs.

Jurassic Park 4 - it's a good thing she's nice. Maybe she'll carry me and my board back to the car.  But then crush it.....

Jurassic Park 4 – it’s a good thing she’s nice. Maybe she’ll carry me and my board back to the car. But then crush it…..

We tried the Go Pro Hero 3 surf mount today.  We also tried paddling while kneeling, sit-down paddling, lying down paddling and crossing over logs.  We saw two beavers, various large birds and a whitetail doe, very close by. We played in windy rough water, refining our skills, interspersed with calm water. It was more fun than ever!

frankoshanko

I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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