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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 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!).

 

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!

"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!

"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!

frankoshanko

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

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