Monday, April 20, 2015

Fifty Years Running

ORIGIN STORY  (be your own hero)                                                    

I started running in the spring preceding my thirteenth birthday.  It was an accidental side-effect of a bleak Winter spent delivering newspapers to snow bound residents of Bozeman, Montana. A friend, Dan, retired from the carrier business and bequeathed his paper route to me.  Everyday I would walk several miles to get to the start of the route, and then continue walking as I stuffed the Daily Chronical (daily comical) into the boxes and door jams of waiting readers.  I finished several miles from home.  Then, with the last paper pedaled, my stomach growling with hunger, and the short day turned to icy dark, I would jog back home in my high top Red Wing boots.

Those heavy boots would clack on the pavement, snap through the sheen of ice encrusted puddles, squeak and squawk compressing the soft snows, or crunch harshly through the frozen grasses.  Eskimos have many names for snows and Montanans hear many sounds of snow.  Running Montana snow required high leg action and produced audible clouds of condensed breath.  My juvenile mind would fill with thoughts of glory as I ran home, dreams of everlasting love and great successes in fields of science and literature, as I double timed my way toward warm food and Gilligan's Island.

In the spring the snows were gently chinooked away under the onslaught of tulips, and our Phys Ed teacher started sending us out to run the 2 mile perimeter of the school property.  I was happy to find I was relatively good at something.  My ugly green tennis shoes were much easier to run in than the work boots.  I was one of the first boys to finish which meant an early shower and being done with the dreaded PE class. School ended for summer and I followed my friend Dan into retirement from journalism.  I sat in the summer sun reading James Bond novels and idolizing Hemingway.

The next year my friend Steve and I abruptly decided to become hot shot milers, cut from the same cloth as our hero, Jim Ryun, who was widely expected to win gold in the upcoming Olympics.  Unfortunately Ryun contracted mononucleosis and his famous 'kick' vanished into viral RNA.  Steve and I had no real appreciation for the wide gulf between Ryun's innate talent and our own foolish egos, and no knowledge of actual training techniques versus our simple minded go-out-the-door and run strategy.  A strategy I still favor for economy although I have tried virtually every other reasonable sounding technique.  We commenced regular twilight runs marking laps around a city park named in honor of James Fenimore Cooper, the early American author.  To this day I enjoy evening runs the most, you can have your boot camp 6 AM calls for all I care. Later we developed a longer loop connecting various city streets to our Cooper Park.  We ran a decently hard pace without any watch to time our progress.  And also without any real knowledge of how hard it is to run a truly competitive pace.

We were in shape.  We could run, or so we believed.  So we went out for track at school.  Our first day as freshmen we watched the senior lettermen run sub 5 minute miles as we gasped for air.  On our second day we were introduced to quarter mile intervals.  We had trained only for distance but never for speed.  Our legs were shocked at the difficulty.  We quit track.

Steve and I quit track but we did not quit running.  We now realized the mile was too easy so we set our sights on the marathon.  We had seen this heroic distance run televised, the run where athletes wobble to the finish line, ataxic drunks inebriated on endurance.  Who wouldn't want to have a go at that?  We set out to run from Bozeman to neighboring Belgrade, about 8 miles away.  This was before Gatorade had even been dreamed of, Phil Knight was in diapers, and before anyone ever considered carrying a bottle of water with them.  It was a hot day and we stopped by mutual agreement just short of our destination.  Steve was bored and I was tired of trying to keep up with his long legs.  We called for a Mom taxi.  Steve went back to reading science-fiction and I turned from Hemingway to Steinbeck.

Steve stopped running, I think, you'd have to ask him.  I certainly continued running, albeit sometimes more and sometimes less.  Another spring rolled around and I heard about something called the Junior Olympics.  This was a State wide track and field competition, open to any competitor.  There was no need to be on the school's team.  Anyone could show up, pay a small fee, and race under their own banner.  My mother reluctantly agreed to drive me to Choteau, Montana.  We stayed in a motel and I ran around a few blocks to loosen up.  I had no idea that 50 years later I would still be driving myself around, staying in motels or sleeping in my truck, so I could pay a fee and run some race the next morning.

I arrived at the Junior Olympics and was distressed to find the mile was not an offered event.  The longest race was the 880, the distance of a half mile as proscribed in yards.  This was not what I wanted but there was nothing to be done for it, so I toed the lined.  Even though I had quit the track team, other students from my school who were present at the race were cheering for me, students who didn't like me but were now respecting me; my first experience with the sometimes perplexing nature of athletic camaraderie.  The gun went off and I was instantly struggling, my mouth full of cotton, and my legs filled with lead.  I ran the 880 in 2:27, good for 3rd place.  3rd from last that is.

Finishing that race was a confusion of emotions.  I went home my tail between my legs, unable to deny the envy I felt for faster runners, but nonetheless buzzed with the excitement of having dared to compete.  And to the present day every race calls forth this same neurotic mix of adrenalized satisfaction and the depletion of defeat.  I envy faster runners but do not resent them.  I encourage slower runners but do not pity them.  Run your own race!

                                                   Running with my feet
                                                   racing through my mind.
                                                   Across the red-brown cinders
                                                   I pace my thoughts to time.                     (age 15)

THE PLACES  (spiritual topography) 

Each run is a unique expression built like any performance art on the basis of a start to finish unity, an athletic subjectivity dancing through the objective world of humans and nature.  Runs may be purposeful or accidental, done for training purposes, or for social reasons, as ego driven races, or for meditative problem solving.  And in all of this the terrain is as varied as the runner, sometimes along an unyielding roadway dodging automobiles, and sometimes on remote mountain trails looking down toward the anthill of human endeavor.  All manner of hybrid surfaces are also run reflecting the jumbled nature of our inner and outer lives.

Runners create routes everywhere they go.  In Rio Rancho, New Mexico, that high desert sister city of Albuquerque, I found a few miles of bouncy hillocks following the great southwestern river, the Rio Grande.  Everyone knows what a Grande is thanks to the explosion of the latte industry, unfortunately the Rio Grande has been reduced to a trickle (Rio Poquito) where it enters Mexico,  thanks to American gluttony.  Running this Rio Grande trail I felt like a motocross rider, lunging to the top of each small rise, floating briefly into weightlessness, then stumbling awkwardly to the bottom of the next dip.

Giant cottonwood trees lined my suburban trail, their high branches adorned with mistletoe parasites and sleeping porcupines.  I loved ducking under the low lying branches while negotiating horse riders and mountain bikers.  If you run a neighborhood trail like this often enough, getting to know the alternate routes, the dead ends, the places frequented by drinkers and lovers and picnics with children, it becomes like an old friend.  You greet the trailhead, resume the working relationship, and leave with plans for the next time.  But things are always changing and sometimes you never see your old friend again.

I ran the Rio Grande when my son was a student at Enchanted Hills Elementary school and when my daughter was just a toddler.  He is now living on his own and she is in High School.  I left New Mexico in 2001 and have never returned to the southwest where even my nighttime dreams evaporated in the sun baked aridity.  I left Rio Rancho with a pain in my foot; a pain which had been limiting my running and which had been resistant to medical intervention.

I tended to blame my foot pain on the hiking and running I had done in the Aleutian islands, that remote archipelago of bush Alaska.  The smoky seas surrounding this volcanic chain both hide and silence the small commercial fishing village of Sand Point, the only inhabited corner of Poppov Island.  The Aleutians are known for their sideways rains which seldom cease.  The mud is deep and slick, the roads are always wet, and the clouds are impenetrable.  A harsh landscaped populated with a myriad of tundra minaturized wild flowers; lupine and pussy willows hunkering tight to the ground.

The only way to cobble together a run in Sand Point was to move carefully along gravel roads, across moldy boardwalks, and down bison trails cut through alder thickets.  Standard running shoes would have disintegrated in a week or led to certain trench foot so I resorted to my youth and wore instead a pair of hiking boots.  The abysmal weather and short winter daylight tried to inhibit my running but I persisted in chasing the dream.  During Sand Point's summer celebration I put on a 3 mile race.  I was the only contestant.  The bottom of my right foot started to hurt.

I was living in this extreme corner of the globe, living on the edge of the world, to work as a Registered Nurse.  I did my best to help the lonely drunken locals and their stressed non-verbal children.  And I tried to use my professional knowledge to solve my foot problem.  Thinking and running are natural partners as most runners can attest; two activities often based in solitude.  I developed a habit of thinking about physiology while running, first as a student in philosophy and later in nursing, at Montana State University in Bozeman.  I favored a 5 mile loop starting at my home and following the sidewalks of Story St., Wilson, Rouse, Peach, and Tenth.  Other days I would follow ranch roads out of town.  I would review physiology on my runs, not with the aide of any book or set of notes, but by thinking step by step about how my heart and kidneys were adapting to the stresses of running.  I would imagine the calcium ions moving around to allow my legs to move me toward my goal.  You can only conjecture how I meditated on my mitochondria.  Unfortunately, in Alaska I could not hit on any solution to my foot pain.

I moved to Hawaii for six months due to family illness (my wife is from Molokaii).  I occasionally ran a short native trail from the resort to a lonesome rocky point.  Running at times on sand and then on pahoe lava rock was challenging enough, but keep in mind I also had to watch over my shoulder to guard against a rogue wave carrying me off. It's a serious concern, and once, sitting at the beach with my son to watch the breakers,  I was barely able to rise and sprint away before a sneaker wave caught me.  One minute you're watching 7 foot swells break with locomotive thunder into surf, and the next minute a fifteen foot lump of seawater is towering overhead threatening to pull you into the prison of a rip tide.

The months on the friendly island of Molokaii went by with fewer and fewer miles of running.  My foot hurt, my son was an infant, and my wife's mother was dying.  So that even when I could run, I couldn't.  There are no guarantees of second chances in this life which makes it dangerous to play the waiting game.  But what else are you going to do when competing values and general limitations disrupt your plans.

Earlier in life I had run in the tropics as a draft pressured member of the U.S. Navy.  In the years of the Viet-Nam war I lacked the college tuition money to use in evading the draft like my friends.  Instead I joined the Navy to see the world.  I took up residence in Gantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba, that naval base we have long maintained, at considerable cost, as a stranglehold to irritate Castro.  It is ironic retribution for the mud we got on our faces at the famous Bay of Pigs.  GTMO is a remnant of the war of 1812 now known for waterboarding terrorists and as an excellent site for Academy Awarding winning motion pictures.

My favorite GTMO route took me from the enlisted barracks past the rock strewn pretense of a golf course until I could jump onto a series of trails.  These were not single track hiking trails, but wide swaths cut through the cactus and desert shrubs by Marine Corp tanks on field exercises.  Tank tracks leave a distinctive series of chewed up stair steps allowing a runner to bound along as if buoyed by rubbery railroad ties.  I deposited some piles of rocks at key intersections to keep from getting lost in the maze.  The tank trails would finally lead me to some paved switchbacks ending on top of Stephen Crane Hill (another author based place name) where a Marine guard post had a view of the entire base.  I would turn here and return before the sentries scowled too much.

I have been fortunate over the years to have enjoyed enough good health and motivation that I was able to run many miles in many places.  For example, I have returned to Hawaii several times to see family, and while there have run red dirt roads, the H.U.R.T 100 course (not the race), sea cliff trails, and the rural roads of Molokaii.  The timeless trails along the Istar river near Freiborg, Germany are much different than my tropical trails, yet I have run both.  I ran a high mountain trail in the Swiss Alps where I felt I could reach across the valley and touch the North Face of the Eiger, so famous in mountaineering lore.

In Japan I ran the incomprehensible streets of Tokyo from my ryokan to the beautiful campus of the University. I had to memorize a long list of landmarks and right/left turns in order to find my way back.  At the University of Tokyo I encountered large non-military groups jogging along in highly regimented formations.  In the more northern city of Mombetsu (another fishing center) my host introduced me to a route slipping past a large cemetery and through a city park before climbing up the local ski hill (yes, the chair lift is in the center of town) by means of dirt trails and massive wooden stairs.

It was on a trip to China, to provide my daughter a chance to visit her place of origin, that my luck ran out. I decided to run through the large circular park adjacent to the ancient walls of the city of Xian.  I reentered at the wrong portal in the wall as I started back toward my hotel.  Soon I was vexed and perplexed by the streets and the crowds.  I had become quite lost in the smogy humidity with my flask of water rapidly running dry.  Asking for help in the middle of a city of millions who do not speak your language is disconcerting in the extreme, especially when you discover even most police and hotel clerks speak no English.  I tried showing my hotel card to people but they either ignored me, shook their heads, or gave me contradictory information by pointing in every conceivable direction.  In my local mountains I may not always know exactly where I am, but I'm never lost.  I never seriously doubt that I can sort it out and return home.  But this was different.  I knew darkness was not far off.  A motorcycle almost hit me at an intersection, I had to brace with both hands to stiff arm the speeding windshield and vault myself onto the sidewalk.  An astonish crowd watched the idiot American but no one intervened and I was bordering on panic.  I fought past dangerous looking neighborhoods with wild paranoia about what could happen to a lost American.  Donor kidneys can be sold for $50K in some places.  I was finally rescued by a hotel clerk who did speak some English.  She took pity on me only after I drank water straight from a fountain, something even the Chinese will not do given their current sewage system. She called my hotel and my family came to my aide.

I moved from Rio Rancho to Waldport, Oregon to manage a rural health clinic.  My chocolate Lab, Coco, and I ran the Cape Perpetua Trails where we tried to establish a Fat Ass race several years before a real race started.  We ran 33 miles once from front door to front door on a giant loop down back country roads and the famed coast highway.  I ran in heavy rain and gale force winds with strangers stopping to offer me a lift home.  I ran the beach from Waldport to Yachats, and the highway from Newport to Waldport.  My foot pain was not cured in Waldport, but I started ignoring it and discovered nothing got worse.  In the end I just ran the pain to death; I was stronger than the pain.  So I ran the gnome infested woods, past magic mushrooms (Fly Agaric anyway) and past Jurassic ferns, treking on toward lost waterfalls and creeks of no return.  I climbed mountains of wildflowers, tripped over pebbles, ran in rain until my fingers were numb and never regretted a mile of it (well, maybe too much time away from my children). I have run with rattlesnakes, bears, iguanas, deer, tarantula, wild boar and hallucinations (but more about my friends later).  I have run through night blooming iridescent cacti, across aromatic sage brush covered hills, danced blindly through trail obscuring bear grass, stomped through the muck and mire of slippery slope arguments buried in muddy trails and I have pushed through chest high Salal.

Running has taken me around volcanoes and lakes, through fecund rotting rainforests, along knife edge  ridges, across cattle guards, balanced on icy cliff-side paths, and through the heat of the day and the chill of night.  I have run through the desert of deep depression, past the agony of divorce and remorse, with cramps and strain, while singing old Donovan songs out loud, while laughing at myself, and while enraptured with the profound physical joy of feeling my own animal power.  In The Dalles, Oregon, I ran Riverside Trail racing the barges as they pushed their goods down the Columbia River. I once started a race in the dark of the morning and after moving all day and all night the sun came up for the second time.  And I was still 25 miles from the finish.  That was not encouraging.  Yet somehow I persisted.

RACES  (finishes)

Runners seem to run to race, yet perhaps the races are just the motivation to run further or faster than we otherwise might.  Running is hard enough to explain and racing just seems to raise the stakes. A friend, who has completed several difficult 100 mile races, recently told me he races to establish confidence in his ability to travel alone through remote mountains.  A physician I worked with, with a non-runners attempt to express interest in my hobby, combined with clinical attempt at psycho-babble analysis, once asked "What are you running from; what are you running toward?"  I smiled and explained, "Running from the starting line to the finish."  It is that simple, although I admit the journey may become complicated.  But don't they all?

The ill fated race I ran in the Junior Olympics as an adolescent was the only official race I completed until I reached age 54, heading in the direction of senescence.  I did run a race during my stint with the Navy.  A rumor developed at the Guantanamo Naval Base of putting together a public relations navy running team.  A competition was set up to race a one mile path circling some baseball fields.  My friend, Bob, helped me train.  I turned out to be the only entrant and managed a 4:57 time.  The Naval team never materialized and I have read since that everyone claims they once ran a sub 5 minute mile.  Well . . . 

1980 was the year I worked as a fire fighter for the Forest Service (Forest Circus we called them, mimicking Ed Abbey).  I was on a crew based out of Quemado, New Mexico (200 people and a few crabs according to the sign).  Smoker jumpers from Missoula, Montana arrived to provide training for us.  They started by holding a physical fitness competition which concluded with a half mile run on a forest road of marble sized gravel.  I aced out the other short, wiry guy, with the bigger muscled guys and the women staggering along behind us.  The only unofficial race I ever won.

I avoided racing for many years not from a fear of competing but to avoid what looked like unnecessary and noisy hyped up crowds.  Races were too extroverted for me.  I lived in Billings, Montana for a few years and my neighbors would see my dog and I running our regular 6-8 mile routes near the sandstone rimrock cliffs.  They frequently invited me to run one of the 5K charity runs and I kept declining.  I went on vacation and used a watch to race myself on the trail circling Devil's tower.  I raced myself going up to Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota.  The influence of the stop watch.  I was unconsciously heading toward racing.

My attitudes or needs began to change when I moved to the Oregon coast.  I read Dean Karnazes' book Ultramarathon Man.  It was the second time in my life that I decided to run a marathon.  I started training, for the first time ever, following an internet plan from Hal Higdon.  Hal emphasized the importance of running three 20 milers prior to your first marathon.  I promptly tore my right Achilles tendon (85%). 

The Achilles tear was a painful, slow injury to recover from, and after 2 months I was barely suffering through the humility of 1-2 mile runs.  I eased into formal training and learned to use the internet to find races.  I decided to enter the local Newport marathon.  I had 5 months to prepare.  Day by day the Achilles gathered strength and in time I conquered the intimidating 20 mile distance.  20 miles still gets my attention despite having run it countless times since.  I ran a 5K in Eugene based on advice that you should know what it's like to be in a race prior to your first marathon.  Silly but not stupid advice.

The Achilles held up but as the date of the Newport marathon drew close I developed pains in both feet.  I refused to back down to the marathon challenge; after all, even Oprah had run a marathon.  I experimented with things until I discovered the feet felt better out of specialized running shoes and while wearing flat bottomed Converse All Stars.  The Newport marathon went well, if awfully slowly.  My son ran a few miles with me for company, and my daughter waved a candy bar at me chanting, "Chocolate, Daddy, chocolate."  I climbed the hill near the end of the course, in pain but knowing I was about 'to do it.'  I started the descent into the finish line and heard a young man scream out, "Nice All Stars, man."

I don't much like Oprah, no reason, just don't.  I refused to be one and done like her.  I refused to be so damn slow.  I entered a second marathon and qualified for Boston.  I ran a third marathon and finished second in my age division.  I ran the Boston marathon and had a good time despite the hype and the crowds and my father's misgivings about venturing east of the missippipi.  My fourth try at Newport was golden.  A lifetime PR and first in the 55-59 age group competing against 35 other men my age.  But what really felt good was at the finish line when two 40 year old guys came up to me and explained, "We thought you made your move too early, we planned to reel you in, but you dropped us."  I admit that was a damn nice compliment.

I had avoided racing for many years, and perhaps this was the reason.  Now I was hooked on the social reinforcement and the progressive improvement.  I had by now run my first trail half marathon where I met the ebullient Dean Karnazes in person.  The Siskyou Out & Back (SOB) became my first Ultramarathon.  Everytime I stepped up to a new and longer distance I was terrified of failure.  Others could do such things, but me?  I signed up for my first 50 mile race and driving to the race location I clicked the automobile's odometer to find out just how far 50 miles really is, on a flat linear surface.  This is what's wrong with the infernal combustion engine.  Cars create a false understanding of distance.  You cannot comprehend topography without touching it; a friends says #gottaearnit.

At my first 50 miler the race director, Olga King (then Varnalov), gave me Bib #1, apparently reversing the usual alphabetic order to start with 'Zeier.'  Perhaps she herself had been at the end of the list too many times.  At any rate this created some embarrassing confusion for me since some race directors reserve the #1 Bib for the previous year's winner.  I was frightened to even be attempting to run 50 miles yet other runners were yelling at me, "Number one, number one."  I shrunk back like a shy violet wanting to explain, "NO, I'm not THAT guy.  I'm just some guy."

At age 63 I look back realizing I have completed races at every standard distance from 1 mile to 100 miles.  I have competed on flat fast courses and on some requiring 23,000 ft. of climbing.  I have participated in famous races like the Hood to Coast Relay and in races only the most hardcore have ever heard of.  I have raced in fields of 25,000 athletes and races with a handful of competitors.  I have become such a serial Ultra offender that I have run more 50 milers than 5Ks, more 100 milers than 10Ks.  I was proud to win some trail series awards as this requires consistency over many races held within a calendar year.  I've never been fast, but this is such a relative term even in racing.  I was proud to win my age division 3 years in a row at the Vancouver Half Marathon.  The finishing times were not amazing but again I felt good about the consistency. I'm aging now and the pains are gaining as the times are slowing.  Every runner has a last run, and before that one last race.  The racing scene is becoming crowded, expensive, frustrating with lotteries to determine who is allowed to race.  I don't want to stop racing, but I would rather decide to stop racing than to have to stop.  Maybe it's time for more small group adventure runs, for long through hikes, for bagging a few peaks, or maybe I should really write that great American novel.  But there's always just one more race I want to do.  Sign up - show up - finish.

THE PEOPLE  (rainbows)

Running is a fundamentally solitary sport, both because it can be done alone, and because in many cases it is best enjoyed alone.  Running requires no team, no set starting time, yet requires great attention to all your somatic cues.  You must listen to your body's rhythm in motion.  Running is solitary from convenience and from physiology.  No one can directly help you.  Running also creates an opportunity to leave behind concerns of relationships and careers.  It takes you into yourself and out of yourself becoming solitary as a form of meditation.  What do you think about when you run?  Mostly nothing, or else I think about running.  I know a number of runners who are introverts deriving their psychic energy from thinking about nothing.  The majority of many runner's miles will always be found alone.

However, running is equally a tribal enterprise as expressed in training with a friend or two, or going on a happy group run, and when showing up for an organized race.  When a local race is held year after year there are always some new entrants, but there is also a core of regulars dedicated to that particular course.  This really creates the sense of a tribal unity.  Perhaps I started running races late in life from a need for more companionship.  I was an aging introvert seeking the tribal womb.

I do know running has brought me into contact with an incredible variety of fascinating people each with their own interesting style and story.  I treasure all my running friends for their determined positive mental attitudes, and for their acceptance of my own poor lost soul.  No one understands running except another runner.  Other runners require no explanation.  Runners just wanna run.

I have run with busy mothers/fathers who struggle to carve a few minutes from a busy schedule to find a few minutes in their happy place.  I have run with my own children, with elite level athletes, with iron workers, and with barnacle encrusted aging Ultra runners who helped create the first modern trail races.  I have run with other people's children when they were on a family hike until they decided to run with the guy who went flying past them.  I run with people who have the audacity to disagree with my politics, but running is running and I would gladly help change their flat tire if it came to that.

I have run with recovering addicts, with people struggling with weight problems, with those desperately seeking Susan (or Sam), with pot heads, with beer drinkers, clean eaters, dog lovers, and pranksters.  The tribe runs to the beat of a different drummer; at once primitive in its basic rhythm while thoroughly modern in zero drop GPS hydration technology.  As a group we are as contrary as a cat; eating like a vegan canary on anti-oxidants all week then consuming vast amounts of sugar, caffeine and banana sludge on the weekends.  We save the trails by refusing to car pool.  We try to get it right, but we are as flawed as any tragic hero you can name.

One running friend says, "If you want a sensitive man, talk to a gay man or a trail runner."  Another once remarked, "I know a lot of runners don't worship my Christian God, but damned if you aren't a spiritual bunch of folks."  There are always exceptions, of course, but on the whole the tribe is genuine in its tolerance, and many of the awkward and disenfranchised have found a home this community.  A romantic take I suppose, but it's my party and I'll idealize if I want to.  The tribe is a modern group, you do not apply for membership to it, and you are never kicked out.  You're simply in, or not in, as you see fit.  Runners just wanna run.

Runners just wanna run - I am fond of saying.  They hate injuries, accept horrendous weather, run on vacations, and hate non-running doctors.  Runners just wanna run.  We jump curbs, downfall, strep throat and atrial fibrillation with equal ease.  Non-runners debate about the nature of our senseless addiction.  We could care less.  Runners just wanna run.

My hat's off to those who helped give me 50 years of running:  Steve, Mom, Tommy, Mary, Sue, Todd, Lonn, Dre, Kevin Silvia, Brian, Mike, Sofie, Mark, Clyde, Jaymi, Brian, Fred, Sarah, Samantha, James, Sebastien, Katie, John, Bob, Cindy, Jim, Larry, Desiree, Aaron,  . . . . . and on it goes.  And I have deep appreciate for my cannine running friends- Yukie, Coco, and Tate.

Special thanks to Tom Hanks because apparently I look like him, otherwise why would people always yell "Run Forrest, Run."  Dumb ass rednecks!

MANTRAS AND MADNESS  (created, borrowed, merged)

What's the difference between a jogger and a runner?  A jogger stands at a red light bouncing up and down.  A runner stands at a red light looking pissed.  What's the difference between a runner and a trail runner?  What red lights?

What's another mile among friends?

"You have to forget your last marathon before you can run your next one.  The mind can't know what's coming." - Frank Shorter

If you run far enough something will start to hurt.  But if you keep running the pain will go away.  Then another pain will come along.  Just keep running and that too will go away.  But then a third pain will arise . . . . . just keep running.

"Honor the gift" (yours & others)  - Pre

You can always run another mile.

"You can rest when you're dead" - Jethro Leroy Gibbs

"You're running on guts.  On fumes.  Your muscles twitch.  You throw up.  You're delerious.  But you keep running because there's no way out of this hell you're in, because there's no way you're not crossing the finish line.  It's a misery that non-runners don't understand." - M. Costello

Climb up the hill, and fall off the mountain.  (uphill good posture and shorter stride, downhill don't fight the gravity)

"It's all part of it." & "Gotta earn it"  - Taylor Spike

Don't whine.  Unless it's really hard.  Then really don't whine.  And don't worry, it will get worse.

Keep going, it's only another mile.

Improvise, adapt, overcome. - Marines

One more mile . . .

More People &  Places  (can't find the photo of the guys I went around St. Helens with; no photos of Dre cuz we're too introverted or too busy with adversity training; no photos of Kevin cuz he's part myth anyway)


  1. My wife also ran with me at that first Newport Marathon.

  2. Nice stories, thank you for the suggestion. What year(s) did you run Newport? I ran it the first year ('99) and one other.

    1. First Newport was 2007, then next 3 years, skipped a year then #5.