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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!).

"Three times up and down this mountain? Hell yes!"

“Three times up and down this mountain? Hell yes!”

We could have named her Adventure Annie! She’s fearless about challenges. I never know what’s going to happen, but it’s always something interesting!

How about three ascents of Badger Mountain, forty mile per hour gusts, swarming bees and 13.1 miles of rocky terrain? Just another Saturday. Vivid evidence that all miles are not created equal! This jaunt was as tough as last week’s eighteen miles, which had more hills than our previous long runs. We’re getting stronger!

That’s pleasing, in an achy way. We tear ourselves down to build ourselves up. Great material for microcosm man! Will I soon be marathon man? It’s been fun to watch our confidence grow as we take this journey. It’s about so much more than running. It’s pleasing for our bodies and spirits.

I played a lot of high school golf in high wind gusts. Sometimes I was glad to hit part of the ball. Whiffs are a little less embarrassing when you’re blown over by a mid-swing gust, but they’re still hard on your score. Not as damaging as getting blown off a mountain trail while running! Embarrassment passes quickly. Injuries tend to linger. Watch your step!

After our first clockwise ascent and descent, we ran the bottom of the south side, for variety. Then we met the bees! Thousands of them! We escaped with one sting each, swinging wide around their nests. But they filled the air, like the pesky little bugs near Mill Creek at sunset.  Adrenaline powered us on.

There’s something about pushing on through long runs, finding your toughness, running on when it’s just not easy. It’s empowering. Many things that once seemed difficult now seem trivial, easy or simple. The stakes have been raised. Belief grows. Horizons widen. Doors open. Faces glow!

We got our run on! We’re becoming fully alive! How about some fairways, lakes, mountains, oceans and more trails? Why not!

Young at heart!  Badger Mountain Challenge 2013.

Young at heart! Badger Mountain Challenge 2013.

Move over Bloomsday! There’s a better place to race! I mean absolutely no disrespect to Bloomsday; it is a first class operation. It will always have a special place in my heart. But the Badger Mountain Challenge is a better course! That’s easy for me to say now, having finished the 2013 race.  Ascending Badger Mountain twice made Bloomsday’s infamous “Doomsday Hill” look like a speed bump.  Kind of like a Sunday stroll in the park! Comparing the Badger course to Bloomsday, or any other road race, is like comparing mountain biking to road biking: riveting technical challenges combined with physical challenge vs. somewhat monotonous physical challenge.  Bring on the wild!

Annie wins!  2013 tally:  Annie 2, Frank 1.

Annie wins! 2013 tally: Annie 2, Frank 1.

We arrived to the race about the time the first wave of speedsters were taking off.  The porta-potty line was long, so we missed waves two and three as well. The rest of us started after waiting for our turn, so Annie and I were in the fifteenth wave or so. The race was brutal at first, climbing hard without a real warmup. I pulled to an early lead over Annie on our first trip up the mountain, but she passed me by on the first downhill section. She has awesome downhill speed! The course twisted and turned, climbed steeply and descended steeply, followed by a long rolling road next to an orchard. For us, walking was best on some steep uphill sections. The mental challenge was to remember to run when you could. We passed dozens or hundreds of people during the course of the race, after starting nearly last. Annie was mentally tougher than me today, pushing the second mountain ascent.  I realized I was a bit late with my second gel. As it kicked in, the course leveled out and I turned on the speed!  For the last mile or two, I was running like a youngster, and loving it!  I finished in 1:41, about 2.5 minutes behind Annie. When I said my goal was 1:35 for next year, she targeted 1:30. That’s tough competition!

The race was well-organized, had good food and a beautiful site. Thanks to all the volunteers!

It was so fun to run in the sun!

Finishing fast! Re-match!!!

Finishing fast! Re-match!!!


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

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