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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

FullSizeRenderFirst on the awesome Mill Creek – Bennington Lake loop last Friday. Glorious sunshine, crisp air, blood rushing, Annie’s healthy glow and mile eight passing much faster than the rest. Yeah! Fully alive! So sweet.

Then on the weights at The Rec on Saturday, alongside Nick, Jaslyn and Annie. Muscles pumping, adrenaline flowing, smiles growing. This is how we live, feeling the strength building, knowing it’ll serve us well in many ways. Like skiing and snowboarding! Embrace the cold!

In Martin Stadium, ass kicking is the new norm. Cougar power is exciting, encouraging and really fun! We too are crimson warriors, like our favored team. We play the next play to the best of our ability. We focus, train hard, eat well and get good rest. It is so pleasing to enjoy the results!

On Sunday Annie and I savored more sunshine during a ten kilometer run around Pullman. The cold wind reinforced our appreciation for modern amenities, like indoor plumbing with hot water!

Today, I have so much to be thankful for: great family,  friends, food, environment, co-workers, and opportunity! Today’s bonus was an eight mile run around east Walla Walla in sweet sunshine. It was a winery tour without stops. After inversions, clear days make my smiles full. Thank God!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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!).

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!

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!

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!

"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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Big Red and Super Peach, just before Bloomsday 2012.. What will be new for 2013?

Big Red and Super Peach, just before Bloomsday 2012.. What will be new for 2013?

I get to race again on Sunday! That’s evidence of a youthful heart, is it not? I hope my legs feel young and strong! Cool, clean air and clear lungs would be great too.

It’ll be fun and revealing, however it goes. I’ll see how I am. All kidding aside. Me, my shoes and shorts and twelve kilometers of rolling asphalt. Plus over forty thousand other people, firing energy into each others souls. I’ll feel alive! Eventually I’ll be out of breath, spent and then on a natural high! Along the way, a part of my mind may try to get me to slow down. Another part may want to press on, push the envelope and go to another level of exertion. It might even come down to a sprint to the finish, side by side with Annie. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Bloomsday is a rite of spring, a tradition of exertion, a display of wellness and a challenge to our spirits. It is short enough to attract diverse people, yet long and hilly enough to challenge serious runners. It draws me back, hoping that one day I’ll zoom up the infamous Doomsday Hill.  Will this be the year? Now I’m really getting excited!

"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!

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…..

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!!!

It was a microcosmically enlightening weekend.  Anticipation of our long-ass run, aptly named by Annie, reflected some fear, and much excitement. Finding Annie a bit ill was deflating, somewhat relieving, then disappointing. A fleeting fear of losing the dream passed by. Go with the flow leapt to mind. Who knows why things happen? It’s always important how we respond. I’ve had enough bad responses for this lifetime! We enjoyed a movie and retired early, sleeping long and hard.

Saturday brought our first experience with Recreational Equipment Incorporated’s periodic used equipment sale. We trailed so many people that I started wondering what the fire code limit was! We found the sale in the back parking lot, accessed by a parade through the store. So much stuff! There were great bargains on lightly used goods that weren’t quite right for the original buyers. REI’s ultimate money back guarantee also gave freeloaders a way to return heavily used items. Some folks will take advantage of anyone they can! It was fun to talk with the friendly and adventurous staff members and patrons. One dude told me of his trail running exploits in Vibram Five Finger shoes. Beware the pokes from rocks and thorns! I got a second pair of them for 70% off retail. Annie scored amazing deals on two pairs of running shoes, a wet-suit, a large backpack and wind pants. The check-out line was long, so we had time to shop for more cool stuff. I got another pair of Thorlo  Experia running socks (best!), a thin headband, a nice hydration belt and more gels. After hours of shopping, I felt tired! Maybe it wasn’t a good day for a long-ass run anyway? After some tasty curry, we retired to Annie’s apartment for rest.

Just as I was preparing to doze off…..”Daddy, it’s time to run!”  WHAT? Well, maybe we’ll get in a few miles, perhaps up to eight, but at least it won’t be a long, grueling run. “Just let me take a little power nap.” “How long?” “Five minutes.” Just long enough to prepare mentally. When my mind opts in, my body can follow. I mean that in the most extreme sense.

Because Annie’s a frickin’ maniac! We’re both stubborn enough to take on whatever the other one’s dishing out. You aren’t beating me! If you can do it, I can do it! This is seriously effective accountability partnering. Perhaps my only real hope to reach this goal?

Heather said the canal banks in Kennewick are great for running. She is right, but we started with a TERRIBLE guess on where to get access, on the wrong side of the canal.  After a mile or so of bushwhacking, bridge seeking and bark sparking, we limped back to the truck to try again. We discovered the Tagaris winery (owned by Taggares, but who’s really spelling anymore), causing hometown french fry factory flashbacks. We parked and tried again.  WORSE!  But hey, we stumbled another quarter-mile or so.  At this rate, we could be accused of stalling. The third time really is the charm! We got smarter, parked better and ran for a couple of hours. It was fun to feel our motors eat up the miles, building confidence while testing our growth.  We reached 11.6 miles when the sun was spent. So we trucked to the Columbia Center mall, prompting more flashbacks. I was a youngster when it was brand new. That Bon Marche’ was fancy! We learned that you can run 4.4 miles in three laps of the parking perimeter, which was especially rewarding with a mix of endorphins and sugar deprived bewilderment; EVERYTHING was so funny! Plus our spirits were soaring. We can run for three hours! We now believe we can run for five!

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

TC half shirts

Running fourteen miles yesterday was growth for Annie and I. It was a faith builder. We really didn’t feel like running the last two or three miles, but we did. Those last few miles were a growth frontier, a persistence test. Do we have what it takes to push to the goal? The run sharpened our mental toughness and extended our physical frontier, so that in a couple of weeks, we’ll likely be able to run sixteen miles. Will we feel the same after that run? I don’t know, but I’m guessing so. We’ve done four runs of eleven or more miles in the past month, and they’ve all been tough. Yesterday, it was hard to finish a short cool-down walk. We should have walked farther, but we could not.

Since that was so hard, what makes me think I’ll be able to run twice that far in a couple of months? The people who inspired me! All the people I’ve known who have run marathons before. You made it! You’re tough, mentally and physically. That’s the new me as well. I want to join your club! Without this commitment and the resulting accountability, it would be way too easy to give up. I want to see how it feels to climb this mountain!

It’s a little shocking to me, because I had limited myself to half marathons. Until last month, I hadn’t run one of those for over five years. I thought ten kilometers was far enough. Then I decided to move past self-limiting thoughts. I was cornered. How to escape? RUN!!!

r-STRESS-FREE-MARATHON-large570

Is running a marathon right for you? Can you really know before you’ve done it?

Some of us decide “no!” quickly, for a myriad of reasons. It takes too much time. “That’s insane!” It hurts to run (usually due to technique issues, which often can be corrected). The list goes on and on, sometimes driven by shortages of motivation, belief, openness, curiosity, awareness or desire.

Potential rewards? Empowerment, achievement, cardiovascular health, endorphin highs, cholesterol reduction and increased blood flow to our brains and other important body parts! Yay!

Since I embrace my running time as therapeutic meditation, I’m left with physical questions. Can I prepare my body without suffering life degrading injuries? How to really know? Am I truly in tune with my body’s signals? Is there more to learn and practice about awareness, refueling, recovering and stretching?

If I don’t try, will I fly as high? Is this a defining moment in my spiritual evolution? Are the forks in the road as pivotal as they’ve always been? Should I shrink or expand?

To run or not to run. THAT is the question! Where did I put those shoes…..

Half marathon chick!

Half marathon chick!

Survival. Working parts. Yay! I finished the 2013 Tri-Cities half marathon in around 2:08, or about seven minutes faster than my goal time. I remembered the advice about setting achievable goals and blew off the part about making them difficult!  🙂

For me, today, a half marathon is difficult, regardless of time. That became crystal clear later in the race, which is a time of discovery. Early miles are relatively easy and inspired. Later miles are tougher tests!

Annie and  I passed quite a few people as the miles rolled by, and our layers were peeled off. We were running each mile a little faster than the last, and feeling good.  The limits of my training began to appear after the ten-mile mark. I encouraged Annie to go for it; she had more spunk than I did today. She looked strong and youthful as she pulled away during mile eleven. My leg and groin muscles started to tighten up. I was determined not to walk, but my pace slowed. How much mental toughness did I have today?

As it turned out, people were done passing me, and I passed a few more, including the guy with a marijuana leaf shirt endorsing “Washington: the Evergreen State.” I wasn’t surprised to see him slow to a walk! Then a big guy passed me. Not fat, just big. After the last aid station, he was my inspiration. I needed a diversion from my mind’s games, so my new game was to race big guy to the finish. I guess I could have told him the game was on. But it was a race, after all! It turned out that he was more tired than I was.

I had to put on a decent show at the finish! Did they all really need to know how spent I was? Nope. I decided to show a little ending “speed.” I could have outrun every turtle I’ve met! Annie finished a few minutes ahead of me in her first half marathon ever. Way to go Annie! You’re the champion of the family! Just remember, there’s a 10k re-match in three weeks…..

Chocolate mousse cake

I had a good day at work. It came with some stress. I had a GREAT evening at the gym. It yielded a wonderful endorphin high! That’s only after pushing through five tough miles on the treadmill, with a progressively faster pace and an incline. The best things in life are not easy, but they are so very worth the effort!  🙂

Just before Bloomsday 2012

Just before Bloomsday 2012

I choose to be young at heart! It’s not the easiest path, but it’s the best one I’ve found. It’s so much better than lethargy, resignation, settling, etc. To me, it’s choosing living over dying!

I’m grateful for my amazing daughter Annie, who’s my accountability partner. We share a common goal of running the Tri-Cities half marathon in 13 days. Yesterday was a big test. Are we ready? Will we be able to run the entire race, or will some walking be mixed in? So a week ago we planned a ten-mile run for yesterday. It was intimidating and exciting for both of us. We are in good condition, earned by persistent commitment to regular exercise, in many forms. But we’ve emphasized variety in our workouts, rather than focusing on distance running. Running has always given me my best endorphin highs, but in recent years I’ve noticed more aches and pains. Life has been busy. I’ve done more weight-lifting, bicycling, stair-stepping, elliptical machines, walking, hiking and eating. I love the variety of life. But I’ve also gained ten pounds since my fastest running days.  More weight to carry around. Additional weight is not the best thing for distance running, even if it’s in the form of upper body muscle (okay, belly fat too). It’s been over five years since my last half marathon. My spirit is willing, but is my body able?

Hell yes! The realities of aging show that speed declines over time. This is a lame excuse to not fight back! I’m getting my run on!

The sun was shining, so I savored the hour-long drive to the Tri-Cities. Annie was ready to go. There was some wind chill and I really hadn’t brought the best layers; my mind had locked in on sunny and warm. So I ran with heavy sweats as outer layers on top and bottom, which I had brought for pre-run comfort. No excuses!

We followed our plan and kept the speed down. The miles rolled past as we talked, agreeing that the first hour was easy. We followed the Richland trails along the Columbia River, starting at Anthony’s and heading upriver. Though we planned on five miles each way, we went to the WSU campus before turning back; we were gifted a bonus mile!

Around six miles in, my groin started to tighten a little, and around the seven or eight mile mark we agreed that our legs were tiring. Accountability partnering would help us press on. Each mile becomes harder than the last.

Quitting is the easier, softer way. Our minds can dream up plenty of reasons to stop.  You’ve already gone eight miles; that’s plenty! Going farther could lead to injury. Moderation in all things. It’s time to rest!

So it takes mental toughness to press on. I know we have some, based on past experiences. One foot in front of the other. Focus on form, to avoid injury. Find the softest path. Breathe. Keep going.

Eleven miles! The last one felt brutal. Annie suggested stretching it out for the last few hundred yards, so she did. I was down to one speed. Just like the bicycles of my youth! She waited for me, and we hit the finish together. Drinks have never tasted better!

We believe we’ll be able to finish the race, anticipating that our bodies will recover and come back stronger than before. We may eat energy gels earlier on race day, and perhaps add another. There will be even more excitement. How tough will we be? How fast will we be? With some luck, we will see!  🙂

frankoshanko

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

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