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"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!

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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!

DCIM100GOPRO

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!

frankoshanko

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

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