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Nick and Jas 04 16 2016

What a day! Pullman is a town I love. After coffee, I ran a fun hilly loop around town. Towards the end, a carload of college students whooped and hollered as they drove past my half-naked body. How sweet of them!

After a quick shower, Nick prepared hash browns and eggs, which were tasty fuel for my hungry muscles. Then, Jaslyn and Nick and I went to Martin Stadium to watch the PAC-12’s most exciting team as they scrimmaged in glorious sunshine. Our beloved WSU Cougars have an amazing stockpile of receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and speedy defenders. It should be an incredibly fun season this fall!

Hungry again, we had chicken Caesar salads and pesto chicken pizza at Sella’s. Then gourmet coffee and shopping, before chest and triceps work at the Rec Center. When we were returning to their home, a lovely young lady said “G’day mate!” to me. The diversity makes me smile.

Then it was time for swing dancing in Moscow. Nick and Jaslyn love it and do it quite well. But I had to draw the line; my legs were toast after running, walking and standing most of the day. C’est la vie!  My arms matched them well!

Below is a sample of what we enjoyed at the stadium. Peyton Bender tossed accurately to River Cracraft early in the scrimmage. Strangely, one of the most sure handed receivers I’ve ever seen dropped this one. He more than made up for it later. Gabe Marks worked his usual magic, timing his catches perfectly to shield defenders from the ball, then making sweet grabs. Luke Falk tossed a perfect deep ball to Gabe for a touchdown. Bender and Tyler Hilinski threw well also. Even Justus Rogers launched a perfect deep touchdown pass. The defenders also made many nice plays, including a Charleston White pick six off Falk, among other turnovers. What a nice evolution of the Cougar football program. It really feels like the incredible success that Mike Price brought to Pullman is about to happen again. It could be so fun!

Bender to Cracraft 04 16 2016

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…

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!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Yours may be in June. Or not. I’m having one today. It may be the perfect day for it. To be clear, today is not as much about my privilege of being father to my children. I get those special days throughout each year, blessed with adventures, discovery and laughter with Nicholas and Annie. Today I’m thinking of my Dad, James Gilbert Erickson, the patriarch of this diverse clan I call family.

So it’s golf and gardening for me today. Pinochle too, if I can find it. NBA basketball would be right. I’ll dine on fresh asparagus and salmon later. My goal is to be a living version of my Dad! Well, if only I could have kept it in the fairways…..

Life deals hard knocks at times. Today’s round of golf played out like a microcosm of my life. I made three triple bogeys on the front nine. How? Value golfing! Why take only one chip on a hole when you can have more? Why play on the short grass, with clear paths to the greens, when you can easily find more challenge? Those trees were planted for a reason! Isn’t a circuitous life more enriching than a simple, straight line to success? Well, I’ve only had one path. The winding road has been fun! And hard. And depressing. And saddening. But enough of the tough. Today’s stark reality is that the triple bogeys are the good times. They are, after all, simply golf. Typically no blood or death. Besides, a tough time in life is still life. LIFE! The greatest gift of all? So I may have grown a bit today. After I’d chopped it around the first nine in 54 strokes, my newfound golfing friend remarked that he had more fun playing with me today than any of his other golf outings. I felt honored. Perhaps it was because I remained courteous, friendly and hopefully funny, despite the tally building on my scorecard. My highest score in over forty years was one of my most pleasurable days of the year. I was playing a game I love in perfect weather. I am a lucky man.

I parred our tenth hole, nailed a birdie putt after a sweet approach on the eleventh, and parred the twelfth. I was one under par for three holes on the second nine, after averaging double bogeys on the first nine (with no hole better than bogey). I was scoring as good on the back as I was badly on the front. The birdie was especially fun, but how I handle life’s situations is more important than what they are. I shot a pleasant 54 on the front and a grateful 40 on the back. So am I a hacker or a pretty good golfer? Attitudinally, I’m getting there. We’ll see what happens with the scores. Maybe there’ll be more birdies. Like the hawk that tried to scare us away from its nest today. That’s a double birdie day!

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!

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?

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!

Foot too sore to run? Get your bike out!

Foot too sore to run? Get your bike out!

Flat tire. What a great opportunity! Especially the three miles of pushing my bike home; it bestowed more time to talk with Annie. Ultimately, another lesson in patience, which must be needed. I’m grateful for the opportunity to ride for an hour and walk another, after my sore foot derailed our running plans. The fresh rain kept us off the single track trails, but fun is always available!

Rainy day? No problem! Fun is around every corner!

Rainy day? No problem! Fun is around every corner!

What a great toy! This Go Pro Hero 3 will be a fun way to document some adventures. Maybe we’ll be on the water soon! Where will the weather lead us?

Bennington dike. If there's wind, you'll find it here.

Bennington dike. If there’s wind, you’ll find it here.

What a fun life! What a fun girl! Just call me Mr. Luckyman……

I almost took a nap instead. I'm so glad I rode and pushed my bike home instead!

I almost took a nap. I’m so glad I rode and pushed my bike home instead!

Dueling Dashers

Dueling Dashers

Bladder challenges, heat training, a spitting egomaniac, sore feet, fit people, kind gestures, gray shirts, cute buns, limping, humbling and mind expansion.  Bloomsday 2013 was fast for Annie and I for the first two miles. The rest was spiritual growth opportunities! It felt brutally hot, exceptionally tiring and even painful. The low energy and pain were surprising, considering our training with good speed, effective recovery and best-yet endurance. Some days you’ve got it and some days you don’t! On the off days, we do what we can. On the days when we suffer pain, we search for reasons, solutions, rehabilitation strategies and relief. Is life tossing you some lemons? Lemonade is good! (but it’ll cost you $3 at the top of Doomsday).

Annie set a personal record for the first two miles, taking it out in 7:50 and 7:50, despite the crowded start. I was right behind her. I focused on keeping her in sight for the first mile, amid the mass of humanity, then reeling her in over the second mile. Then came obstacles: hills and heat.

Maybe karma kicked me after I belittled Doomsday Hill after the Badger Mountain Challenge. Perhaps it just wasn’t our day to go fast. After all, I’m not Ricky Bobby. I know we’ve put in a lot of training. To have my foot become sore on a short run, after faring well on longer runs, is perplexing. It certainly is confirmation that we never know what’s going to happen. How will we respond?

I managed to beat Annie to the finish line, despite a strong urge to pee for the entire race. We chose good starting positions over bathroom breaks at the start of the race; our strategy backfired! Annie was even more hydrated than me! After we got separated, I didn’t know whether she passed me or not. I only knew that for the last 5.5 miles, I had no zip, other than a short dash to the finish. I just couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen. But our 2013 challenge series just got more interesting, as we’re tied at two wins apiece. Where should we race again? What will offer a great climax?

How will we recover from our injuries? Annie has a foot issue that was compounded by new shoes. It appears that plantar fasciitis has returned to me after many years. It seemed to come on fast. I’m wondering about the cause; is it related to calf tightness, increased mileage, mechanical issues, speed work, accidentally running in old shoes or my residual ankle soreness? Should I run the marathon? Should I cross-train only until then? Taping?

Silver linings appear when we are ready to see them. Bicycling! Paddle boarding! It’s time for more passionate fun! No time is right to get discouraged. There’s too little time available! I’ll finish my marathon training on my bicycle, if I need to. I’ll do golf ball stretching, night splints, arch support, naproxen sodium, icing, etc. I’ll do all the seemingly right things, then see what happens. I’ll do my part as the mystery unfolds!

Another cool shirt!

Another cool shirt!

Frank Badger finish closeup

Am I like other smack talkers? Why do it? Mostly to: (1) increase the likelihood that I’ll follow through with the actions and (2) motivate some of you, including my long-run training partner, Annie. I believe it’s a potential win-win-win scenario. Those are my favorites!

Sometimes, I’m a legend in my own mind. I start thinking I’m the most important person I know. Mom, I hope you’re chuckling a little here. I’m working on bettering me to become more capable of serving others. If I’m on the wrong path, someone should tell me.

So Annie, I’m coming for you! I’ll be faster, better fed, tapered and energized! I’ll do intervals, hills, long-ass runs and stairs.  I’ll even do the leg weights! If this makes you work even harder, I win!

Has anyone  out there lost the belief, desire and/or habits of being the best possible version of themselves? If you get anything at all out of this post, I win again! I could really be on a roll here!

If all you learn is that I’m an egotistical, unashamed self-promoter, well, I win again! Because you’ll know exactly who you don’t want to be.  It’s starting to look like I can’t lose on this deal…..

It’s my choice!

I loved running the St. Patrick’s Day 10k footrace in Kennewick yesterday, for many reasons. It was fun to start strong and fast. My ego enjoyed passing some people along the way. My pride loved watching Annie finish with the best kick I saw, to beat out a woman who sprinted in her attempt to hold Annie off. I fed off the energy of hundreds of healthy people, assembled to celebrate the spirit of competition. I was inspired by the finely tuned bodies of the fast runners. I realized that the harder I work at it, the stronger I get, the faster I run, and the better I feel. This applies to so much more than running!

I choose to be strong, healthy, optimistic, adventurous, playful and fun. I choose effort, mental toughness, dedication, persistence and faith. I embrace challenge and resistance, just as I accept wind and rain. My spirit will soar like a sail on the sea, an eagle in flight, or a racer engaged. I will use healthy fuels to run faster, think more clearly and explore more widely.

I will enjoy this amazing gift of life, in the fullest way I can muster. I hope I always stay open to better and better ways to live!

St Pat's 10k 2013

Parasailing Frank

That’s me!  I’m a youngster, because I feel that I am. If I’m lucky, there may be time for being old later. If not, such is life. This youthfulness is really fun!

Stretching. Massaging. Toning. Pushing. Re-fueling. Resting. Meditating. Letting go. Researching. Imagining. Believing. Embracing. Accepting. Observing. Staying the course. Helping. Loving. Feeling. Joining. Solving. Releasing.

Joy! Beauty! Love! Excitement! Passion! Challenge! Desire! Success! Freedom! Blessings!

Kindness. Compassion. Gratitude. Sharing. Being.

Life is new, fresh and full of mind-boggling possibilities! Spring has sprung again, in a place that is dear to me: my soul!

Happy new day!

It’s an exciting time to be alive! We read and hear so many interesting things. I sense that the biggest challenges give rise to the most amazingly inspirational people! Sometimes life seems surreal, or fantastically unbelievable. Feeling love, in its many forms, for people, activities, God, beauty, nature, achievement, adventure, excitement, creativity, music, food, meditation and more, can be awe-inspiring. It leaves me happy, peaceful, satisfied, invigorated, inspired, challenged and amazed, at various times. Perhaps this is the meaning of life: finding, enjoying and sharing these loves. Can there ever be too much of any of them? Perspective pollinates the blossoms of our souls. We get it from each other, when we’re ready, willing and able. Openness is beyond ego, greed, fear and blame. It’s kin to willingness and humility. It’s the best way to go. Thanks for being in the know and inviting me to the show! Let’s show God how grateful we are!

Annie and I hiked up Badger Mountain yesterday. We were considerably later than expected, as we should have expected. Isn’t that the way life goes? All of the reasons we were late were awesome!  We had great fun picking out shoes and “The Stick” with Heather at REI; she is so helpful and fun! Then a delicious Thai Spice lunch, with green curry and spicy chicken and vegetables:

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Then we restocked at COSTCO. Ever try racing through a crowd? So it was 4:15 before we left the car to tackle the mountain.  Here’s how fun it was:

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The mountain adventure fired our spirits! I’ve been getting increasingly stoked about running and other adventures! Thank you Heather and Annie! Annie was much stronger climbing the mountain than me; I was breathing hard trying to keep up. Then she started RUNNING up the mountain! She may be a little more ready for the Badger Mountain Challenge than I am, but I’ll be there and I’ll be fired up about it!  Here’s what adventures like this do for my spirit:

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The view just gets better as you climb the mountain, of course.  If you are blessed with delays, you might even get smiled upon like this:

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The sunset was magnificent! Pictures can’t begin to do it justice. We made if off the mountain, in the dark, around six o’clock.  Going with the flow gifted a wonderful show!

What if I soar, right out that door?

What if I fly, all across the sky?

Why should I miss such a delicate kiss?

Why pass by another endorphin high?

Perhaps I will smile at Ms. Grumpy-head;

maybe it’s time her spirit is fed!

Shall I serve Mrs. Pain-in-the-ass?

Provide her with help, in lieu of more sass?

How to get through to Mr. Know-it-all;

what if he’s me?  Can I take that fall?

If pessimism rears up and darkens the day,

what will I do?  What will I say?

What about dismay?  What of despair?

How will I become a breath of fresh air?

Will I bring joy?  Will I spout love?

Riding a spirit sent from above?

I’ll try, yes I will, it’s the best plan I’ve found!

If I miss it a bit, I’ll do better next round!

I woke up again!  Yippee!  I’d dance around the house, but walking is hard.  Judging “good” or “bad” is truly beyond me.  How would I know?  I’m just me.  That’s freeing.  No pressures, just opportunities.  How to see them all?  Both opportunities and the myriad of ways to respond to them.  How to choose well?  How to expand awareness?  Culture wellness?  Open new ideas to polish older ones?  Humility, variety, discovery, adventure, curiosity, surrender, honesty, open-mindedness, willingness and acceptance?

Happy new day!   🙂

Frankly speaking, here are some of my beliefs:

  1. I can’t turn chocolate into muscle!
  2. Variety really is the spice of life!
  3. Our ideas and actions can inspire others.  Your blog posts inspire me!
  4. Belief, or faith –> positive change.
  5. Inspiration + action = success.
  6. Success –> more success –> synergistically better life!

Belief.  Faith.  Trust.  Confidence.  How self-limited are we?  Some of us do amazing things.  Are all of us capable of so much more?  What evidence do I have to support any claims?

Well, let’s consider physical achievement.  Obesity is a widespread health problem.  Do some of us feel that physical health is beyond us?  Other people can complete Ironman triathlons.  Were they destined to do so, or did they simply believe in health, practice healthy habits, continue to believe, and dedicate themselves to their chosen course?

Some amazing singers have jumped to the big time stage from shows like American Idol.  One day they’re a normal person with a normal life.  In a very short time, they become big stars.  They believed in their dream and found a way to make it happen.  I’m guessing many performers with even more talent have never become famous.  That’s just fine, if their path is what they wanted.

Many of us have big ideas about how to improve society.  It’s a bit tricky trying to control how others conduct themselves.  But we certainly can have faith in our own ability to live our ideas.  If they’re good, perhaps they’ll be contagious!  If I think the answer to the world’s problems lies in love, then I can practice loving!

There are thousands of impressive rags to riches stories.  Are the ones who succeeded simply the ones who never stopped believing and worked persistently?

I like to do a variety of things in life; perhaps variety really is the spice of life!  Does this lack of specialization prevent me from becoming great?  Perhaps, but should it be used as a rationalization to be less than my best?  Can I write something better than my best so far?  Can I work out just a bit harder, or in new ways?  Can I serve people better?  Can I listen more patiently?  Can I make tastier and healthier meals?  Can I seek out exciting adventures?  Can I do my best in everything I do?   Can I inspire others?  Can I find inspiration from their masterpieces?  Can we work together to do even more amazing things?  Look at what people have done so far!  They’re people like you and me.  Creative, open-minded, resourceful, inspired, dedicated, faithful, persistent, strong and loving people.  That sounds like us!

It’s autumn, so there is talk of football, holidays, soups and stews, sunny retreats, hunting trips and visits to the gym.  Today, it’s also “fall back” morning.  I’m magically up an hour earlier than I thought I was!  What to do with this bonus hour?  How about a nice, invigorating run?

I’ve run fairly often for the past fourteen years; never every day, but sometimes every other day.  In recent years, perhaps more like twice a week, as I love to mix in bicycling, weight-lifting, skiing, hiking, rowing, stair-stepping, etc.  But running is different from most activities for me.  Sometimes, it seems more daunting, perhaps almost dreadful.  Occasionally I start out on a run and feel tired, sore, weak, breathless or injured.  I’ve even bailed quickly a few times, reasoning that the time just wasn’t right.  More typically, I’ve pressed on, warmed up and flowed into a rhythm.  Nearly always, I’ve enjoyed inspired thoughts.  Quite often, I’ve welcomed a surge of endorphins.  The inevitable increase in blood flow is therapeutic for all parts of my body, mind and spirit.  I get high on running!  ( :

I sense that the Olympics are not finished with me.  I have enough unseen material on my DVR to stretch them out, and I ignored much of the news, so they’re good for me.  Plus, I’m hopeful that the spirit of the games will live on for as long as possible!  The top-tier athletes are looking good!  I’ve ridden my bicycles and ran often, so I’m feeling pretty fit.  Today I visit an orthopedic specialist to assess my healing elbow.  It would sure feel good to be able to do more upper body work, play golf, throw a football, play tennis, etc.

Yesterday I ramped up my ab work and today I feel good.  I want to seize this Olympic after-glow to break past mental barriers and reach new heights.  I can be better, stronger, faster and more flexible.  I can also be more enlightened, more adaptable, more patient and more creative.  Last evening I hopped on my Kona mountain bicycle and was totally enthralled with it again.  It had been several weeks since I rode it, after a tire blowout, a car flattening windstorm and the resulting separation.  I’m just as amazed all over again.  It is an engineering masterpiece!  I feel like my legs are powerful pistons when I’m riding it.  I zoomed around for an hour last night, passing sundown and many people, out for their evening walks, runs and rides.  I embraced the burn in my legs, the pull of my abs and the pumping of my heart and lungs.  I was like a kid at Christmas, loving the moment, as well as measuring my progress.  I was a believer, full of hope, dedication and zeal for the moment.  I was fully alive!

Wow!  It’s so amazing to me how life/God deals me what I need when I need it.  Or maybe I see what I need exactly when I’m ready to see it.  In any case, there are many lessons for me to learn along the path to a better version of myself.

Annie is so fun!  We went to our second concert in as many days on Friday, and it was incredibly inspiring!  Jo Dee Messina had more life perspective than when we saw her at the Pendleton Roundup concert about five years ago.  Marriage and giving birth to and caring for two kids changed her world quite a bit.  But she has not lost her love of the stage, nor has she lost her powerful voice, or her passionate delivery.  Asked if marriage had dampened her tendency towards man bashing, she suggested that it had only given her more material!  Jo Dee delivered humor, songs about bouncing back from life’s hardships, and commitment to her dream when others thought her career was winding down She was better than ever.  Richer in the ways that matter.  She was real and she was in her element.   The crowd was not huge, but we were passionate, and she felt the love.  Her encore lasted half an hour!  We all left richer, inspired and full of treats for our souls!

Annie and I treated our bodies to her amazing culinary creations:  whole wheat pizza, zesty pesto, protein cinnamon bread, red pepper humus and quinoa with vegetables.  My taste buds and my health are loving them!  We also organized my kitchen and rode our bicycles for 95 minutes yesterday on the Bennington Lake/Mill Creek trails.  I was excited to keep finding ways to better my life, so I went to “The Dark Knight Rises” last evening and ran five miles this morning.  I plan to continue the re-organization and purging of my possessions today.  It feels good!  ( :

How fun!  I hadn’t been to a concert for a while.  Ana stirred the idea, Annie checked the web and spur of the moment fun won out.  Yay!  The crowd was a bit small, but the music was wonderful!  It’s so invigorating to see and hear passionate singing.  As Josh said, the best songs are the ones about direct personal experience.  Some of his were about lost loves, a commonality for so many of us.  I could relate and heal at the same time I experienced a masterpiece.  Josh’s soul was beautifully illuminated by his diverse vocal talent and enthusiastic delivery.  We were fully alive!  ( :

Yes it’s a word!  I’m learning who and what inspires me, getting to know myself better.  I’m defining my dreams and optimizing my health, striving to be the best possible version of myself.  Endorphins fit nicely into this plan.  They help me feel optimistic, content, grateful, peaceful and successful.  So I feel best when I push myself.  Yesterday, after sleeping in and sipping coffee, I went for a run in the sun.  It was past 10 AM, so it was already quite warm.  I went without expectations of how far I would run.  My right ankle has been a weak link.  Heat makes running hard.  I was pampering myself to celebrate my birthday.  After walking two minutes, I felt the need to start running, before it got even hotter.  I focused on keeping my column straight, leaning the column forward and landing on the middle of my feet.  I hoped these Chi Running tips would help my body hold up.  I also focused on relaxing my ankle muscles, so I wouldn’t be fighting myself.  When I relax well, I can run farther.  I found some big trees that offered shade, so I fit them into my route multiple times, avoiding cooking my brain and sapping my energy.  Then, as I ran, I became mentally tough.  I found determination to make progress.  I remembered past running highs.  I recalled basking in the joy of being fully alive.  I felt the refreshing, almost cool, breeze in the shade.  I kept on plodding, left, right, left, right……

I diverted my attention from the heat, sweat, tiring muscles and sore ankle with mind games.  I strived to balance the benefits of achievement with the risk of lasting injuries.  So I targeted four miles, after feeling good to start.  Then I kept ratcheting my target up, checking in with my ankle, and relaxing it.  I ran for sixty-two minutes, or about 6.5 miles.  When I was done I felt so good!  I felt great!  I knew in my heart that my attitude would be good for the rest of the day.  I knew I’d made progress on my physical and mental health.  I knew that whatever came the rest of the day, my cup would be running over.  I had faith.  My kids chose to spend time with me, so it was a great day.  Today I’ll find ways to have another great day.  Perhaps a long bicycle ride?

Nicholas is very much like me in many ways.  He is also very different from me in some ways.  Both help him be a good teacher to me.  Our teachers appear from everywhere!  We can learn much from careful observation of others.

Nicholas has a very kind heart.  He loves people and is very good at reading them.  He loves to laugh and play.  He does not love chores, but is getting better about doing them, because his heart tells him it is the right thing to do.  Mostly, he wants to have fun!

Nicholas believes in clean living.  He’s chosen to avoid drugs and alcohol without having to go through the learning pains of overuse/abuse.  What a great running start on life!

Nick is strong and agile.  His quickness makes him a fun hackysack partner.  His creativity helps him invent new shots, keeping the game fun and entertaining.  He is also very good at tennis.  He’s at a higher level than me, though I give him my best when I get the chance.

Nick’s creativity helps open my mind.  He’s not afraid to challenge my thinking, which is exactly what I need.  Examining my database helps crystallize the positive beliefs and overcome the hurtful ones.  What a blessing!

Nicholas has blossomed beautifully in recent years.  He’s learned to eat better, study consistently and work earnestly.  He’s building life skills that will be crucial to his continuing progress.  He’s learning to balance more parts of life, though he has a very strong passion for video gaming.  Luckily, he also is passionate about his girlfriend Jaslyn, which draws him back to non-virtual life!

Nick is blessed to have good guidance from his older sister Annie.  It’s easier for him to learn from her at times, and she is a great role model and source of ideas.  She’s helped Nick become an excellent student and a healthy eater.  Those are wonderful gifts!  ( :

Annie inspires me often.  Her zest for life fires me up!  She makes me laugh.  She doesn’t let me take life’s ups and downs too seriously.  She loves me so much that she’ll suffer through my pity parties.  Luckily for her, I’m planning to be done with those! 

Annie thrives on life!  She lives as fully as possible.  We’ve enjoyed many adventures, competitions, shopping marathons, parties, games and gatherings together.  We LOVE to get high on exercise!  I mean REALLY HIGH!  Who could be as much fun as her?  How would I feel if I met someone who was just as much fun?  That sounds exciting!

Annie is the best cook in our little family.  The rest of us may not be world-class competition though.  Ha!  Annie really is a superb chef.  Her whole wheat three-cheese supreme pizza outclasses the New York pizzerias I’ve visited.  That’s saying a lot!  Her chicken quinoa was the rave of our huge extended family gathering.  My lucky co-workers, who enjoyed leftovers, were impressed.  It’s tasty, healthy, spicy and energizing!  Annie’s roasted vegetables are also awesome!  Her chocolate-banana protein milkshakes have become a staple of my wellness diet.  They may be even better when we add peanut butter!  Yay Annie!

Annie strives to be the best she can be at everything she does.  So she’s a stellar student and a ray of sunshine to the retired folks she serves at her job.  Who wouldn’t appreciate expressions of joy, compassion and encouragement?  Annie even tries to keep her home clean now.  That is a recent change for the better!

Annie’s now busy plotting more adventures for us to enjoy: river kayaking, camping, WSU football games, bicycling, running, nordic skiing, etc.  The more variety, the better!  That goes for activities, locations and participants! 

Live well!  ( :

My dad is amazing!  Like my mother, he passed from this world in recent years, but he lives on in our memories and in our characters.  Dad personified one of my most important, ongoing lessons:  actions speak louder than words!  His actions spoke beautiful tales, while it seemed to me that his tongue rarely did.  When we got him talking, he had wonderful stories to share about his life, tales of hunting and fishing adventures, getting stranded solo in a schoolhouse during a snow storm, growing up during the Great Depression, and a simple life in a large family.  The television show about “The Waltons” is believable to me.  Dad was not a persistent talker like me, and many of my siblings, however.  Maybe it was his humility, or his preference, but he spent a lot of time being quiet.  Maybe that’s how he learned so much.  Dad was a handyman, a mechanic, a farmer, an equipment operator, and whatever he needed to be.  So he was an electrician, plumber, appliance repairman, groundskeeper, painter, framer, concrete worker, welder, carpenter, bean counter and planner as well.  Dad was not afraid to take on new occupations.  He saw needs and filled them.

Dad loved science so much.  The Apollo space program was riveting for him.  Now that was some low definition television!  At least we only had three channels to surf.  This left much more time for important things.  Our virtual lives were based on imagination, without the computers.  I imagined being a professional quarterback and rivaling Jack Nicklaus on the links.  In retrospect, golfing with wounded body parts would have been tough! 

It was fun to see Dad in a relaxed state, because he was busy so much of the time, providing for our large family.  We got to help provide, by irrigating the farm, burning sage brush to clear the “back forty” acres, picking rock from the fields, weeding the garden, picking strawberries and raspberries, collecting the dreaded crab apples from the lawn, etc.  Who was the idiot who sold crab apple trees?  Must have been a make-work project after the Depression?  I think I still have a resentment against that tree!  Dad was most relaxed while fishing.  If you were lucky enough to be roused by him at 5 AM for fishing, you got his best, along with nature’s best.  Whitetail deer, bald eagles, loons, beavers, osprey, bears, bass and trout would fill your senses!  Now that’s a good life! 

Golfing was another of Dad’s passions that revealed his fun-loving nature.  He loved competition as much as I do.  His swing became consistent and he scored well, around the age that I am now.  I was a young whippersnapper with a penchant for overswinging.  My balls visited strange places, while his usually enjoyed the manicured grass of the fairways.  If you saw Bubba Watson’s incredible recovery from the woods to win the 2012 Master’s golf tournament, you can relate to some of the places I found myself.  My lessons were many, eventually leading me to a shortened, more consistent swing, that helped me to some excellent rounds of golf.  And to a better life.

Pinochle games were high on Dad’s list of fun too.  Except when someone took too damn long to play.  Make a decision and move on!  Are we going to waste our whole life waiting for overanalysis?  Rumor has it that I was one of the worst offenders.  I believe that I’ve grown a bit in this regard, so the rumors about me have morphed into tales of wild, outrageous bidding.  I don’t know how to confirm or dispute such claims, except via my mind’s reassurance that I’ve taken in more quarters than I’ve paid out.  This may be a dispute that is never settled, but continually researched?  I wonder sometimes if I’ve made bigger life decisions like a fast-moving pinochle game, when I should have tried a bit more analysis?  And the opposite as well!

Dad lives on in many beloved family members.  He is an awesome patriarch, even after death.  He died with dignity, setting right everything he could think of, and passing without fear.  Without fear!  Did he save our greatest lesson for last?

frankoshanko

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

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