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It feels so good!  It makes me want to do it more, to savor the delights. Why not?

Lately I have wondered if I can learn to do it even better. Will that suggest that I’m approaching my center?

There are many aspects of a smooth stroke, so it is easy to stray from the ideal. I can feel when the stroke is not right. I don’t always know what to do about it, however. This year, I have stroked poorly much of the time. It is frustrating and bewildering. But it also gives perspective on how awesome good stroking is.

Somehow, today my stroke was on. Not on every stroke, but on many. There are many ways to fail, but the good ones were so sweet today. Rising high into the sky, tonight’s wedge shots were mostly decent to good, while some were awesome. One seemed to be the highest, longest wedge shot of my life.  I was in awe that I hit it. I watched it climb and climb, seeming to rise 20% higher than the others. As it flew a great distance, I was engrossed in curiosity about what made it so different. Could I recreate that magic swing on a more regular basis? Will I move towards better scoring? The powerful draw of the greatest game has its claws in me.  I am hooked again.

There is much to remember: loose grip/relaxed muscles, appropriate stance, pushback/takeaway with an upright swing plane, and most importantly, balance.  Follow-through towards target, steady head, controlled swing length, hip timing, etc.  It’s really fun when all I need to think is “relax.” Then let it happen. I want more days when the ball flies straight where I aim. So I’ll keep practicing, and keep the faith. The high scores I’ve posted this year are not written in stone. They fade away fast, as fast as my mind realizes that my true destiny is to stroke it well. Though the scores are not my worth, they do paint a picture of my journey. I await its maturation.

FORE!

Annie and Julie are tackling adventure and wellness at every turn!

Annie and Julie are tackling adventure and wellness at every turn!

The full moon seemed to smile at me as the sun set, like an inspirational shift change. Despite the bug plastered windshield, it stirred sweet adventure memories and radiated wellness. What a fitting culmination to a full weekend! I tasted the riches of family, friends, travel, physical challenge, coffee, shopping, dining and peaceful rest. All is well!

Mark and Frank keep entering in a young guys division.

Mark and Frank keep entering in a young guys division.

It was pretty tough for a while. Bloomsday is a little like a plunge into an icy lake. Many people view it as a spring-time tradition. We see who we are. I was confronted with my past selves and I wished I could stride like some of them. And I think maybe I can. Or not. The mysteries will be revealed and created!

Adventure partners forever!

Adventure partners forever!

People are so interesting. We offer much and sometimes deliver little. Our potential is incredible. Our limiting beliefs dance with our willingness to try to be truly open-minded, fighting for the precious ground of our souls. We rarely know when we’re missing out, choosing to think that our opinions and beliefs are sacred, accurate truths. How silly we can be!

I may have done one thing right, or not. Bloomsday officials have a new ploy called “time up Doomsday.”  They measure how long it takes to ascend the brutal hill between 4.3 and 5 miles into the 7.46 mile race. It may be a good idea for some people to buy into this chase. For me, walking the entire steep part yesterday may have saved my life. I was red-lining, after zooming past hundreds of people on the steep downhill before Doomsday. I’ve learned that I’m very good on downhill portions, and I simply love to run fast. The mob hindered me during an early downhill section, but it thinned a bit and the course widened by the middle of the race. So I hauled ass! Then I accepted my need to walk. No, I would not post one of my faster race times. But I would still do the best I could on this day, and live to race again. Hundreds of people passed me on the hill. Many of them faded badly after the hill, and I passed them back. My ego loved the times when I passed guys who appeared to be about my age. Yay! I passed another old guy! How silly I can be!

I cannot adequately describe to you how good water, coffee and food taste after long runs. It must be experienced first-hand. It is amazing!

This is how Annie feels about Bloomsday each year and about adventure in general:

This is how Annie feels about Bloomsday each year and about adventure in general: “Let’s do it!”

I hate to run and then I love to run. It is so hard to go running. It is deeply rewarding to keep running. I love the high I get when I reach autopilot. It’s a zone where I can just keep running. All is well. No fears, burdens or anxieties. Great blood flow to all of my body, including my brain. Breathe in, breathe out. Absorb the sights, the sounds, the fresh air, the exhilarating power of trained muscles.  Ahhhhhhhh. This is good!

My ego wants to beat somebody. But just getting out is what’s truly important. Moving is rejuvenating, enlightening, inspiring and invigorating. It makes me better. I am so grateful I can still do it. What a rich blessing!

I found new trails on my run on Sunday and my walk on Monday. Adventure is good for my soul. It helps my mind open up a little. Maybe I’ll be more receptive to new ways of thinking. Won’t that be good?

After my run on Tuesday I showered quickly to rejoin the retreat team for dinner. On the walk there, it felt like all I had to do was lift my legs and they would automatically spring forward. It was kind of freaky after my autopilot thoughts. My muscles have listened and obeyed.  They just want to run! My refreshed attitude and energy boost were bonuses.

I think I’ll plan a trip somewhere new, play some new golf courses, try new activities, and meet some new people. Yes! Maybe I’ll even take a run…

Annie is lean and fast!  Here she is after smoking me by 7.5 minutes at the Badger Mountain Challenge, 2015 Hurricane Edition!

Annie is lean and fast! Here she is after smoking me by 7.5 minutes at the Badger Mountain Challenge, 2015 Hurricane Edition!

It’s a law of nature. Training hard enables running faster. Reducing training leads to running slower. It’s a cool rule, because you can’t steal speed. You can’t wish it upon anyone. You simply get what you deserve. It cuts out identity thieves and other freeloaders.

Annie has trained harder than me. She deserved to kick my ass and so she did. Hooray for her efforts and for justice in the world!

The Badger Mountain Challenge amplifies the disparity between the in-shape and the wannabes. I ran fast on the downhills, using determination and experience. The uphill sections tend to differentiate, beautifully so. Honest folks have to love it!

Annie’s been leading a life worthy of emulation, embracing regular, varied exercise and nutritional wisdom. She is a model of consistency. Each time I visit her, I make cool strides in the proper direction. I want more strides!

I slipped into ailments and distractions, also known as work, movies, overeating and settling for mediocrity. I feel re-awakened by Annie’s good old-fashioned ass-kicking and our day-after spin class leaders’ encouraging reminders: we must push to grow, you don’t know how much you can push until you try, YOU CAN DO IT!

Life deals out road forks. I see one here. Slippage or growth? Discouragement or encouragement? In short, live or die?

I hope to live, as fully as my mind can manage. I can learn from lots of people. There are many who teach me how not to drive, speak, write, eat and otherwise spend my time. There are fewer worthy role models. How fun to hope to hang with them! When they help me grow, to become a better version of myself, I become richer. I see the glow, feel the spark, embrace the excitement, taste the depth and hope for even more. It’s the best way I know how to live. Thank you to those of you who remind me what to do, because I forget. We can save each other!

Mountain man Frank brings it home in style (go gravity!).

Mountain man Frank brings it home in style (go gravity!).

I arrived at the airport today around 1 PM for my 8:15 flight home, after listening to some atypical whining at our leadership training. Early arrival avoided another day’s charge for the rental car and helped out my associates who needed rides. There was plenty of time to eat, read, manage e-mail and eat some more. Ultimately, our flight was canceled by fog in Walla Walla. Tim, one of our physician leaders, was also awaiting this flight, and he’d played this game before. We were first in line to re-schedule, betting on an 11:10 flight to Pasco, an hour from home, as well as the kindness of his wife who would pick us up. The thing is, this was a good day!

Maybe the “bad” days are vital for perspective. I remember enjoying Christmas and a nice long run the day after. Then I slipped into flu-like symptoms, followed by a sinus infection. Soon afterwards, I faced debilitating lower back spasms, accompanied by sciatic nerve pain. What had happened? Was I getting a little taste of what it’s like to be old and dying?

I tried rest and heating pads, muscle relaxants and OTC pain killers, movies and sleep. Two courses of antibiotics killed the sinus infection, but the back problem lingered. Then it got worse; I couldn’t even bear to go to work. Sitting in my desk chair after the arduous challenge of getting there seemed like too much. Would I get better or worse?

Small acts of compassionate kindness can be pretty big. My co-worker Sue mentioned to our Director of Rehabilitation that I was in a rough place, and gave him my phone number. Tom called me promptly that Friday and carved time out of his busy schedule to see me that day, a week sooner than my scheduled visit. What a gift! He manipulated my lower spine with twists and bends. The pain relief was significant. I was on the road back to life! I was able to take long walks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as do the backlog of chores and my assigned rehabilitation exercises and stretching.

I’ve had several follow-up sessions of physical therapy, as well as deep tissue massages, and my condition continues to improve, especially when I have the time to walk, stretch my back and legs and tone my abdominal and lateral movement muscles as prescribed. My new masseuse is the best I’ve ever had, so I’m back to regular treatments. I am moving towards life balance that I didn’t realize I was losing.  Running and lifting were good, but not a complete health solution. I am reminded of the need for balance in my life: yoga, stretching, massage and diet are integral parts of my wellness, in addition to strength and endurance training. Will this recent wake up call help me remember to do all these things, consistently, that make me well? I surely hope so!

What might the future bring? Will I run and golf again soon? Will I be able to to do whatever I want?

I think it’s time to dream again. Yay!

My race uniform and some of my rewards (the best rewards were breakfast with Mark and Linda and as noted below!).

My race uniform and some of my rewards (the best rewards were breakfast with Mark and Linda and as noted below!).

Golfing is not the best training for running. It may, in fact, be a version of insanity. But it lured me in. So I ran less and played more this year. Maybe I needed a break after last year’s collection of long-ass runs. Long-ass runs are character builders. They can turn nice people into cussers. They can also boost our confidence. They are hard tests.

Pesto is one of my favorite fuels. I love the taste and I can burn the calories during a long-ass run.  Double win! Basil grows in my yard, so pesto it was! It tasted so good! Would it help me run fast?

Hell yes! Well, it’s relative, of course. Fast to me is defined differently than it once was. But it is still fun!

Races are filled with deja vu. For me, mind games are inevitable. So we just have to win them. Against ourselves! Let the optimist win!

I surprised myself today, because I was willing to believe. Go for it and see what happens. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Can you live with that? I could crash and burn and have to walk to the finish. I could live with that. But what if I could keep the pace? Then I get to ride a high!

The young speedsters went out fast. So did some of us plodders. My first two miles averaged about a minute and a half faster than my recent training runs. So I started to dream about success. Hey! I should go for it!

I found my groove and kept a steady pace. It felt like a miniature version of a marathon. Focus on form, keep it steady, remember to fuel and hydrate and prepare for the mind games.

They always come for me. Thoughts of failure. Signals from tiring muscles. Memories of past disappointments. Fear of falling short. Freakin’ fears! Buzz off you damn fears! I CAN do this.

Each passing competitor spurred me on in the later miles. A new rabbit! Chase that rabbit! Mile eleven was my slowest of the day, approximating my training run average. My legs felt so heavy! My left foot was blistering. It would be so easy to walk. It would feel so much better. Or not, at least in the long run. Push! Go! Dig deep! When your body is failing, run with your fiery spirit! It’s only two more miles! How hard is that?

Mile twelve felt very hard, but it turned out to be one of my fastest of the day.  I didn’t know that until my post-race review, because it felt a little like hell. I kept fighting during mile thirteen, when a lovely woman passed me. The best rabbit yet! She pulled me to an even faster thirteenth mile. As I turned into Pioneer Park for the finish, Charles Stanger urged me on. He had blessed us all day with his musical bike parade. I owed him something! So I dug down deep. I had a little left. I sprinted to the finish. It felt fast. I’m not sure how it looked. I nearly caught my favorite rabbit! It was a win for me, because I beat my fears, and I ran my fastest time in years. What more is possible?

It felt too hard! Man, what a recurring theme! It’s a timeless feeling of deja vu; I’ve been here before, many times, over many years. There are easier, softer options: slow down a little, slow down a lot, walk, quit, devise excuses…

Excuses can arise from an early morning bed: a rainy day? Perhaps I’m meant to rest this morning? Or is that fear rearing its ugly head?

Today I hit an excuse jackpot. My right calf cramped less than two miles into the race. Good or bad? Just breathe in and out, sending relaxing thoughts to my muscles. Hmmm… was this a chance to run from the run? It’s not always easy living in my mind. So stay out of it if you can!

Using a watch to forecast results is easy for me. It can also be quite limiting. My GPS watch does much of what I used to do, creating opportunity for other thoughts. These can be devilish or inspirational.

Mile one passed in 7:30. Judgement commenced. Too fast! I did it again! I will only slow down from here! So mile two took 8:08. See how much I slowed down! Feel how winded I am! It’s all downhill from here!

A self-fulfilling prophecy? Mile three elapsed in 8:26. I’ll be crawling by the end! I’m out of shape from not running all week! I’ve gotten lazy. Shit!

Whoa! Finally, my free-wild-optimist fought back. I’m nearly half done and averaging 8:01 per mile. Not bad for my condition! I should do my best and see what happens.

Part of the beauty and challenge of the Balloonsday 10 kilometer course is the loneliness, especially coming on the heels of a mega-crowd road race like Bloomsday. Most Balloonsday participants choose five kilometers. The scarcity of ten kilometer racers leads to some big gaps. Mine was a lonely path today, creating a wonderful opportunity to choose between easy lagging and difficult pushing. Who am I to be today?

Lonely mile four took 8:15. Was I choosing to be all that I could be? Perhaps my fifty minute goal is too tough today. I should have trained harder! Why do I think I can push on race day without more fast-paced training? Still, I must push and do what I can!

The volunteers were so encouraging! The course was extremely well-marked. This is my favorite race of the year! But mile five took 8:16. I think I’m slowing down too much. I’ll miss my goal. I’m doomed! More waiting? Will I just keep on saying “wait ’til next year”? Wait a minute! It’s the negative thoughts that are holding me back! I can almost always push at least a bit harder. Do it now! Run free and wild! Be the spirited stallion! Go for it!

Hey, it’s true! I do have a little more to give. When I do so, I gain capacity to give a little more next time. My life gets better when my heart, mind and soul embrace faith and venture forth, fully alive!

Mile six took 7:48. I picked up the pace! Bring it home! I strode strongly to the finish, clocking 49:29. It was my best time in years and another step towards better health. Physically, mentally and spiritually, I must face the demons I meet with faith, perseverance and lots of smiles. It fills my journey with pleasure, which sometimes masquerades as pain. Namaste!

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.

IMG_0709

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!

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!

IMG_0487

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!

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!

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!

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!

Beautiful Annie savors God's incredible art!

Beautiful Annie savours God’s incredible art!

Can you train for a marathon by bicycling? Well it’s surely fun to try! I believe riding can be a key part of a wellness program. My heart desires variety, so I won’t be changing into a bikeaholic. But it’s fun!

That's me, enjoying incredible blessings!

That’s me, enjoying incredible blessings!

Annie’s husband Zach joined us for a ride in our favorite playground, around Bennington Lake. We pedaled our bikes from home to get there.  We are so lucky!

Zach refreshes with iced lemonade.  Yummy!

Zach refreshes with iced lemonade. Yummy!

I haven’t run for over two weeks, since the Coeur d’Alene marathon. Annie and I are trying to heal our foot injuries, before embarking on more running in preparation for the Portland marathon on October 6, 2013. It’s reputed to be an incredible experience. We have not been lying around getting lazy. Lots of biking, paddling, weight-lifting and other activities have kept us busy.  We’re loving bicycle season!

Technical riding is fun!

Technical riding is fun!

We tend to mix in single track riding, where we don’t prefer to race, with fast gravel road riding. It gives us a nice blended experience and chances to work on technical skills and cardio-vascular training. Neither of us prefer too much speed on the single track and the gravel roads allow side by side talking while riding.

Lost in time, in the zone...

Lost in time, in the zone…

Annie’s plotting her first ever open-water swim race this weekend. I think I’ll dust off the golf clubs, if I’m not too busy biking or standup paddling or ???? Life is so fun!

Wild thing!

Wild thing!

Thank you Lord for these amazing days! They just fill our hearts with joy and blood flow! Yay!

Biker chick. She loves it!

Biker chick. She loves it!

Fun in the sun!

Fun in the sun!

Ahhhh, summer. Long days, outdoor play and lots of fun. New toys make it even better!

Enjoying the good life!

Enjoying the good life!

The Amundson TR-2 is a nice board; seemingly quite comparable in performance to the Tahoe Rubicon we tested earlier. We added a Go Pro Hero 3 for fun. Silly mistake! Annie set the damn thing on rapid fire and caught the sequence of my first ever capsizing of a paddle board. Freaking technology!

Abandon ship!

Abandon ship!

Today we paddled two laps of Bennington Lake. We’re learning to relax the muscles in our feet. In other words, we’re getting relaxed in our minds. So the early dunking did not dampen my enthusiasm, despite temperatures around 70 with evening coming on. We wanted adventure!

Paddling uphill with a jet stream? Go Annie!

Paddling uphill with a jet stream? Go Annie!

We got our wish!  It was so fun to be able to paddle together. We’re plotting races against kayaks, long paddle adventures, nature photography, etc. Life just keeps getting better! I think we’ll run the Portland marathon. If my foot takes longer to heal, maybe I’ll walk it. It sounds so fun. I hope I find some time to golf, plant the garden, clean, etc. Or play more! Yay! Let’s get our fun on!

Shake it baby!

Shake it baby!

frankoshanko

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

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