Friday, December 4, 2015

Burn it Down.....

     This post has been a long time in the making – Id’ say about a year.  It started when I first noticed my Afib – my running pace just gradually slowed, run away heart rates, puffing and panting; my running was unraveling, and I hated it.  Through medications, and an ablation, with each run I’d go out and compare my results to the Doctor of two years ago.  Two years ago 10 miles at 8:15 was “normal”, and not that tough – my heart issues changed all that.  And every run was a disappointment in comparison.  It wasn’t long before I introduced walking to my runs – and with every run-walk Id finish in disgust, and self-disappointment – the old Doctor was gone. 

     I’m sick of this.  About a month ago I had an epiphany – I’m leaving the old Doctor behind – the new Doctor run-walks when he needs to; and strangely, I can keep this up for quite some time – it seems to suit the ultra-approach anyway.  But my days of BQ’ing are over, I know that now – and now all my PR’s have started over.  Not every run is compared to a 3:24 marathon in my mind anymore.  And you know, they seem to be getting faster as my heart heals – and I appreciate it every time I make a “new” PR, instead of just being disappointed that I’m not the same as I used to be.

     So the clip below encompasses this perfectly – The Walking Dead has had so many powerful, symbolic scenes, and this is one of my favorites.  The unlikely pair, a religious country singer Beth, and the Bad Ass Daryl, seem to over a few episodes form an awkward friendship.  They come across an abandoned house, and spend time in it reflecting on the past.  Their dreams and how they wished they were back there – before the apocalypse – and what was “going to be”.  And then it becomes clear, much like me, that if they live in that past they’ll only destroy themselves, because it’s over, and not coming back.  Then a very wise Beth says, symbolically, and literally “Let’s burn it down”.  The burning of the house of course represents leaving old dreams behind and starting over, for them, and for me.  Notice how they start the fire with a wad of now useless money – and I’ll keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to run at all….

I do feel sorry for anyone that doesn’t follow TWD – it’s not just about zombies!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

U-ha, Um Hmm....

Well, I've said before, and will again, the "Arts" are timeless.....  I came across this tune in, of all places, a Starbucks this morning.  I sware, Starbucks sucess isnt just the fact that they serve over caffinated coffee drawing you back in like an addict needing a fix, but that they seriously take the time to consider what works with the public - in this case, catchy music!

So unlike the "post-Beatles" period where the music is complex enough that you have to hear it a time or two before it hooks you, in these days there was a certain "simplicity" that I love.  I think this will get stuck in your head after only hearing it once, and man this teenage girl from literally the year I was born has a great voice!  Ok, give it a listsen, will only take once!  (The internet thinks this is country, adding further proof to my Country Music problem...)

So I'm only running about 5 miles a day after my "ablation" to stop my A-Fib, which best I can tell seems to be working.  Oh, the doctor said that after 3 days I could go back to "normal" activity, so I was ready to jam in training for my late season, but the Librarian "intercepts" this, and asks the doctor if he really understands what I consider normal.  Well, apparently (when I was not around) my doctor "decided" which I suspect really meant the Librarian informed him, that I need to limit my mileage to 5 a day for a few weeks (which is now over).  So back at it this weekend, although my training has been poor, I'm fat, and my pace is awful - but I still seem to have a bit of endurance left; we'll see this weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2015

I'm Coming Out.....

Well, I thought I'd kick off my first post after my time off with a topic that has nothing to do with running - it's far bigger than that actually.  I've decided, that I'm coming out.  Publicly.  To anyone who might read this - so here goes.

I've seen a lot of people go through difficult "out-comings" in my day, right up to the recent Bruce Jenner, also known as, well, some girl name.  Bruce can do it.  Why can't I?  All right, I'm building up courage, but I'll tell you, this is a far bigger deal than Bruce's "outing"....

Ok.  Deep breath.....

For years I've laid down posts about......  Country Music.

I'd slam it for being overly "twangy".  Depressing.  A throwback to a long lost era.  And it's true, most of it really does suck.

But lately I've discovered a song I can't help liking.....  Should it have been "non-country"?  No, this song is country, and frankly singing it any other way wouldn't work.  Both singers really push the country twang, and yet....  Well, I think this song is PERFECT! 

 Image result for country music

So, I'm coning out in a big, difficult, and painful way.  Yes, I apparently now like country music!  There, I just said it. 

So, I've come out as a Country Music Listener.  Whew, I feel much better now!  Anyway, I live in 'Merica, I can listen to what I wont.....  riiiight?

Ok, here it is, the song that put me over the edge.  I think it's perfect, and a GREAT running song!  The librarian gave me some complaint about it being about "friends with benefits", immoral, unethical and all sorts of other highfalutin stuff; I just like the melody.  I think this Blake guy might have a future, and Ashley's voice is perfect.  A bit "Dolly-Patton" rip off, but still pretty good.  I think she's done other duets with Kid Rock, and pretty much anyone else that's popular.....

So here it is - I hope it doesn't mess you up like it did me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Is This Thing On?????

All right - test..... 1.2.3........

Is this working?  

Is it time to start throwing down random, useless thoughts about disastrous runs, coupled with horrible music, and complaints about the trail slammer?

Maybe so........

3 Years since a post, and crawling out of a hole like a groundhog on, well, St. Groundhogs day, what are the first words from my mouth??????

KATY PERRY RULES!!!!!!!!    I told you all so!!!!!!


Fenix 3 SUCKS - Distance measurments off by as much as 20% in the woods, I'm going back to the Fenix 2....

OK, more to come.....


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Really, What is So Funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?

Ok, all right, I've had it now!  I've been taking some serious heat, and good natured ribbing of late on my "Left Wing" views - although the fact is that I'm very "fiscally conservative", but it’s true I think that we as a species have a long way to go to become something more than the animals we came from - yes, time to jump on my soapbox, just for a minute anyway...

Ok, I’m coming up on a year now as a vegetarian, although still eating fish - those may go soon too.  "Dr. how long will you keep doing this - it’s causing inconvenience?!"  Well, the answer is quite simply, 'forever'.  I believe in what I'm doing; I am not trying to force my views on anyone else, and simply trying to lead by example.

Yes, I'm driven to actually finish a 100 miler by the fact that I have over $10 per mile to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society riding on it!  Yes I push alternative energies and even make an arguably risky job change to support such a business.  And yes, I really do think that environmental issues are important - and heck, you never know, I may eventually simply decide to move my career to teaching, simply because I genuinely like helping students.

And yes, I run trails because I have a true love for the outdoors, and being a part of nature.  I do.  I admit it.  And I offer no apologies for any of these things!

So I like this song, and I hope you listen to it.  Peace!  Now I need to get going; there are tree's to hug!  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hallucination 100

Hallucination 100 Race Report

So this race report will be a bit different than most, as I modify it to try to help “non-ulta” folks get a feel for an event such as this, This run was a bit unique, in that I asked friends and relatives to offer up pledges, all donated directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, for every mile that I’m able to make.  Pretty encouraging, as I was able to pull together just over $12 per mile in total, so this run, unlike others this year, had some level of inspiration to keep moving!  Background is that it’s been a terrible year so far, with each race ending at a disappointing 62 miles, or some even less; frankly I was nearly to the point of convincing myself that 100 miles is simply out of my range – on the other hand each of those failures were surrounded by the usual for me; excessive heat and dehydration.  In any case, for anyone interested, here are the gory details.

Friday PM – we arrived at the start area a bit early in Pinckney and pupped our tent, checked in, pinned on my bib – the usual really.  This year there would be about 150 One Hundred mile runners starting; usually about half drop eventually, and this year would be no exception.  So the course is fairly simple; six loops around a 16.8 mile trail route.  There’s an aide station at miles 4 (call it a minor station, but still somewhat stocked), a station at 8 (marking the midway point, very well stocked, and in fact I have a drop bag there, stuffed with anything I could think of), and a last station at mile 12, which actually was the same station as the one at mile 4.  Of course “home base” included a fairly large station as well.  The course was on the “Poto” trail in Pinckney, although some I think was on the Silver Lake trail as well.  Fairly hilly, rocky and lined with tree roots (but not nearly as brutal as Leadville!)  

So after the usual social work with friends and the race organizers (it’s a relatively small community of us idiots), the gun went off Friday, at 4:00 PM, and off we went. 

Loop 1:  I was by myself for loop one, and started with my iPod on.  Of course I did hook up with folks from time to time and talked, but loop one was generally fairly quick; I (we) would walk up the very steep hills, run up the smaller ones, and run pretty much the entirety of the remainder.  At about 2 miles in, I was stung (as were about 5 of us) by a swarm of what appeared to be killer bee’s – I was nailed on the back of my right calf, and it hurt for about 5 more miles!  Other drama included the 4 mile aide station not being ready for the runners quite yet, so I rationed my single water bottle until mile 8, and the “burr” incident.  This happened when I decided to make a pit stop in the woods and of course went back about 20 feet, only to discover I had gone right through a patch of small burrs that were now completely covering my shirt and pants!  And these suckers scratched like crazy!  By the time I hit the mile 8 station I changed my shirt, and at the end of the loop I changed my pants (spares I had brought).  I had targeted 3 Hours 30 Minutes for this loop, and came in at about 3:20.  The sun was hot, but the air cool, so all was good – especially knowing that their “might” be some refreshing rain coming in the evening hours!

Loop 2: 16 miles in my pace had slowed, but not too badly – the day was young yet.  Headlamp on it was now dusk, then night, and I was moving along fairly well.  I was drinking about a water bottle of light Gatorade between each station, and somehow discovered that a half banana was doing my stomach wonders!  In fact I ate a half banana at EVERY station for the entire run; 12 bananas in total!  Also I would pick at flat Coke, potatoes dipped in salt, the occasional cracker, and even an Ensure or two (kept in my drop bag).  Ah yes, life was good really as the sun went down and my headlight came on – and then it started to “sprinkle”.  Of course sprinkle turned to rain, and by the loop 2, mile 8 station, it was a complete monsoon downpour!  The trails were becoming beyond recognition, and the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees – a number of runners gathered in the station under a makeshift tent waiting for a ride as they planned to drop out – I of course stupidly got my banana, filled up my bottle, and dredged out into the pitch black downpour on trails that were quickly becoming “un-runnable”.  The trick was to stay sure footed, use your light to see directly in front of you, and mostly I found prayer to be of help.  No getting around it, this part of the run sucked!  Only 24 miles in, and this was miserable.  On I trenched – I think my time ended up being about 4.5 hours for this loop, which was miraculous considering the conditions – finally made it back to home base, to get ready for loop 3.

Loop 3: Loop 3 was going to be very cool, as Caryn’s co-workers, and my friends as well Garrett and Andrea were going to pace me (for that loop).  I had run a “practice” night run with them at the local park, and they were nothing if not enthusiastic and supportive.  My goal of showing them how awesome ultra-running through a beautiful park at night, tearing up the trails at a blinding (loop 1 like) pace, was replaced by seemingly endless trudging through a steady heavy rain down trails that were for the most part unusable and destroyed.  We ran some, but not much, and it was COLD!  But both Garrett and Andrea were AWESOME!  They were great company, and tough!  Not a SINGLE complaint at all (unlike me, who complained most the entire time).  This ended up being by far my slowest loop at nearly 6 hours, but in hindsight it simply was not going to get any quicker with the conditions as they were.  Midway through the loop my batteries died on my headlamp, but we waited until we made the next station before Garrett put in my spares.  Seriously, this run belongs to these guys as much as me – they were encouraging, and simply fun to watch due to their energy!  (Which was clearly starting to wane by about mile 12, but I suspect that was more due to the awful conditions than tiredness). So nearly 6 hours for this loop – nearly twice as long as loop 1, but it’s hard to change the weather.  Word on the trail by this time was that a great deal of the field had dropped.  Except me…. 50 miles done – heck how bad can it get????  (Never ask that…)

Loop 4:  Loop 4 was cool as well, in that my coworker and friend Mike volunteered to join me.  Starting out a few hours before sunrise, he was set with his headlight and white shoes (which stayed white for about 5 steps!). As we headed off the rain was FINALLY stopping, but the trails were still a sloppy, muddy mess.  To make things worse, I was at a “low” point.  Maybe low sugar level, I don’t know, but I dragged butt for the first 4 miles, walking WAY too much!  Mike was patient though, and eventually I gave him the word that he can push harder if he wanted – I was just getting lazy.  And push he did!  Amazing the turn around, but soon we were running a considerable percentage, and clearly making back lost time.  Mike as always was great, a very sharp and simply good person.  We talked about work, but not much – about Germany and the world in general.  Mike made the loop go by fast, and we had the fun of watching the sun rise; by the time we were done it was Saturday morning, and it looked like the weather problems were past us.  I was still feeling relatively good, maintaining my banana and gator aide diet, only being sick about once a loop (which most always makes my stomach feel better), and while there were ups and downs, the company of the last two loops was very cool and helpful.  Unfortunately that was about to end, as I watched Mike walk away after our finish, I knew that it was just me again.  We finished very close to 5 hours, which actually turned out to be my time for loops 5 and 6 as well.

Loop 5:  Uneventful really, except frankly I was getting tired, and starting to show “mechanical” problems such as my feet, and basically every other muscle in my body.  I maintained the 5 hour pace though, and the weather while sunny, was not overly hot, so my usual problem of dehydration was non-existent (I was making pit stops frequently as well; a VERY good sign).  But this loop was were the mental part came into play, and unfortunately my hallucinations started back up on me (I seem to be very susceptible to this – cool how the mind can take simple shapes, turn them into an entire “scene” and add its own detail such as people, and a number of not so cool things).  Frankly, I was ready to be done, but reminded myself - $12 per mile – “Ed, you’re lucky enough to be able to do this – many others are not; do this for them, just keep moving forward”.  And I did.  And did.  And did.  Loop 5, 5 hours.

Loop 6: Ah the final loop!  And by far the worst.  Rocks in shoes that wouldn’t go away.  Screaming feet, and now screaming quads.  EVERY muscle in my body hurt.  I knew from a time standpoint I could literally walk this entire loop and still make the 30 hour cutoff time (I had about 7 hours to spare), but I was driven by one thing now, simply to be done – the sun had gone down for the second time on this jog, and I was now using my headlight that I picked back out of my mile 8 aide station drop bag.  I ran as hard as I could, but uphill’s sent my heart rate through the roof, and downhill’s pounded on aching feet and screaming quads.  I did the old “pain is just a feeling, embrace it, you’re almost done”.  Of course this lasted about 10 minutes!  But after again almost exactly 5 hours I crossed a very busy and party like finish line!  I must say, the support at this event was incredible, as many other people were running lower distance events such as marathons, half marathons, 10K, 5 Mile, and 5K runs – you bumped into these folks from time to time as trails were sometimes shared for short distances.  Always the same questions about sleeping, food, “you’re my hero”, and “what the hell is wrong with you?!”  But they all were very supportive of the 100 mile runners, and that always feels good, especially after hours of solitary running is dark, wet, vacant woods. 

When I finished at just about 8:30 PM Saturday night, I was actually able to sit and listen to the band playing 60’s cover music (very well in fact!) and simply enjoy being done.  A gal I’ve seen before came up to me and asked “Wow, what an awesome feeling of accomplishment crossing that finish line must be for you?”  Mine back simply was “I guess, but to me it was more an overwhelming feeling of YES, I’M FINALLY DONE!”  And then the usual body temperature changes; going from roasting to freezing, and repeat.  Barely able to move which led to an interesting drive home while Caryn drove.  I fell asleep Saturday evening in about 1 minute after hitting the bed, and Sunday (today) feel a bit hazed over, and continued sore, but that will pass soon – as I have the DWD 50 mile Ultra in two weeks!  A good day(s), and finally a decent finish (28 hours and about 36 minutes, I think).  Actually any pre-cutoff finish is a good one as far as I’m concerned!  The field seemed to scatter during the rain as quite a few people dropped, and it was incredible how much friends can impact success; and I know of no other way to put everything out of your mind such as work, a dissertation, and many other problem than losing them all on the trail.   

Yea, I guess the feeling of accomplishment is pretty cool, but really the $1,200 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society is even cooler.  And of course I barely mentioned the person that always is my biggest supporter, Caryn.  Without her I would never even find the start line – she is always there at aide stations for me (if not captaining the station personally) knowing what to give me and generally “thinking” for me when I’m no longer capable – then shoving me out of the station when I need to be shoved out. Caryn means the world to me, and without her none of this crazy hobby could ever happen.   Thanks to everyone who offered up donations to the LLS, Garrett, Andrea, and Mike who came up during some pretty ugly times (whether the ugly times were relentless rain, or watching Ed do the “ultra-death march” for nearly 4 miles.)  Thanks to all.  Time for a nap!  :)

Your Friend,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reader Feedback

I must say I am often inspired by the Trail Slammer - and this entry will surly prove it.  Today I plan to respond to a follower's question!  Yep, believe it or not, I have followers, and every so often, much like the Trail Slammer, one looks for insight on Ultra Running.  Training questions, mental fortitude, equipment, you know, the usual.  So today, I think it's time for me to give back to my followers - but first, an update.

Really its been a fairly decent season to date.  We went thorough the "event every weekend" phase as we do every May, so its been busy.  Started at Gnaw Bone; a 50 mile run in Indiana that I truly believe is the toughest course in the world - certainly tougher than Wasatch, and I dare say tougher than Leadville as well.  50 miles of relentless, very non friendly hills; the kind you struggle to climb 100 feet but then hope for the awesome downward section - but all it is steep and rocky, until you get to the bottom to do it again - repeat about 1,000 times!  Anyway last year I dropped at 31, and this year I was on track for that as well, but somehow found the mental strength to tough it out.  Terrible time, but at least I finished.

Next was the Bayshore full. that one was literally 6 days ahead of Kettle Moraine, so I went in without the Garmin or watch, and simply tried to jog my way to an easy 4 hour time (totally running how I felt).  The good news was that as fate would have it I crossed the line at about 3:57, right on track.  The bad news is I was convinced that I was really moving, and was doing far better than that!  (The first time I saw the clock was about 200 feet before the finish.)

The following Saturday I lined up for Kettle Moraine 100, but my only plan was to "see how far I could get".  I had run this two years back and the weather pretty much washed out the entire event, but this year I chugged on to finish the 100K - serious stomach problems all day, but I found that if I upped my percentage of "power walking" it was easier on my stomach, and I was able to make up miles in the later parts of the run.  So, I now am the proud owner of a little copper Kettle!

Generally this season is going pretty well, I have to say.  I think this is due to a mild winter letting me keep the training up a bit - I HOPE that the Trail Slammer will  be running Mohican this weekend, so I can pace him the back 50, which would be really cool.  This plan gets me on the course as the cool evening hours come, and by then the little fellow will be poop'ing out, so I should be able to keep up with him!  I'm even considering going down anyway, and pacing a stranger if they need help, if the TS doesn't make it.

Oh, so now to my reader question.  Mr. D. Karnsaz AND Steve R writes "Doctor, I know that you run with your music, and I think you mentioned you keep your I-Pod on an arm band, located up by your shoulder.  In doing this, do you find that you tan unevenly due to it blocking the sun?" 

Well Dean and Steve, this is a great question, and I get this all the time!  What I do, occasional, is wear the band on my left arm, allowing my right arm to tan during that run; HOWEVER, you need to put some sun tan lotion on that spot first, as it is probably very white, and susceptible to burning!  That part is not so obvious....   I'll tell ya, you won't get tips like this in Runners World!