FRIDAY 8TH, MAY 2015

 

INTO EACH LIFE SOME RAIN MUST FALL
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

SOME PEOPLE JUST WALK IN THE RAIN, OTHERS JUST GET WET
– Roger Miller

Well darn they canceled the Quad Rock due to weather. The park managers decided that there would be way too much damage to the trails if they allowed the race to proceed. I guess that is always a potential for any urban trail race. Horsetooth and Lory State Park are very close to Fort Collins and Loveland. So close that they could be considered part of the Fort Collins / Loveland urban corridor. Not only did the park managers close the race to the event, they have closed both parks to everyone this weekend. My guess is that part of this closure is not just related to trail damage but also to potential liability and safety. You get a group of people out running a 25 or 50 mile race in rugged terrain with a lot of climbing, 5500 feet for the 25 miler and 11,000 feet for the 50, and add in the potential for snow and dropping temperatures in the afternoon on Saturday, well there could be some issues. I am writing on Friday afternoon and the temp in Lory State Park at the moment is 44 degree Fahrenheit. This could really lead to some hypothermic situations on Saturday.

I know how I feel after doing a 50 miler in good weather, not sure how I would feel after doing the same distance in challenging weather. It could become an issue of evacuation or rescue? I recall some friends that I made at last year’s Leadville Training Camp, talking about the previous year’s Silver Rush 50 trail race. According to them the race started off in good weather but towards the very end a large thunderstorm rolled in and preceded to drop what appeared to be “Biblical” amounts of rain, falling temperatures and small hail for the last hours of the race. They talked about how it became more of a rescue than a race for a lot of contestants. Or the time talking with a Steamboat Spring resident about the weather issues at the 2012 Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. Again it was during the last part of the race when a weather front moved in and dropped rain, snow, high winds and falling temperatures. Per this individual “the snow was falling sideways” and people were not prepared. Getting everyone off the mountain and accounted for was a huge struggle for race officials. A lot of participants needed to be rescued.

So what do you do when you have all the training in place, you have rested, you got off work, rearranged schedules, and you have put all the pieces in place to get ready for this one big day. And then it gets canceled!! Aggghhhhhhh!! Good question and I do not have the answer at the moment. It is like getting ready for a big wedding but then the bride or the groom backs out? Then what? Have your own party? I think that most trail races go off rain or shine, especially if the weather is good to start with. But when it starts with marginal weather to begin with, and the forecast is for it to get worse? Well then I cannot blame the park and race managers. Looking at the big picture I would make the same decision. I think tomorrow I will have my own party so to speak in Fort Collins. Maybe a 12 or 24 hour run in the city just to see how far I can go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well on a different note. I bit the bullet so to speak. Told myself that I would not pay that much for a sports watch, but what can I say? When my old Garmin Forerunner 101 gave up the ghost I needed a new GPS for training. My first thought was to just replace it with another Garmin which would have been the cheapest thing to do. But after thinking about it for a while I found what I WANTED, not what I needed, I wanted a better sport watch and that is what I got!  Wow I am glad that I did this.  I was currently using a Suunto Vector for elevation gain/loss measurements, a Polar FT4 for heart rate and the old Garmin for distance. After looking at different reviews I decided on a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. The nice part is that it replaced all three of the above units. I get elevation gain/loss measurements, heart rate and GPS. I have been using it for about 2 weeks with running and biking and so far I am very happy with it. But this was not the best part, during the research part of this purchase, I discovered the Movescount App, the Strava App and the App called “Lose It!” All three of these are amazing apps in and of themselves, but what really makes this cool is that the Apps all connect. The watch with the Movescount, the Movescount with the Strava and the Strava with the Lose It App. I feel that I get the same kind of feedback that I would get with a personnel trainer. Pretty cool. I am guessing that in the next 5 to 10 years, all watches will be App enable and the Apps themselves will be able to communicate with each other. It will probably not be too long before we all have our own personnel trainer so to speak but it will be an AI of some kind. This gives me a weird, scary, cool feeling all wrapped up in one. Only time will tell.

Well that is it for me this week. Stay safe, but play in the rain a little. See ya out there!!

Just a quick note the Quad Rock was reschedule for Sunday June 14th!!  Yea!!

 

 

FRIDAY 1ST, MAY 2015

 

“LIFE SHRINKS OR EXPANDS IN PROPORTION TO ONE’S COURAGE”
– Anais Nin

There are times that I feel like I have made decisions that are not in hindsight the best. Have you ever felt this way? The above quote is attributed to the Author Anais Nin. She was famous for her diaries or journals that span almost 60 years. Supposedly she started keeping a diary at the age of 11 and continued to write until shortly before her death when she was in her 70s. Amazing. Talk about the “examined life.” If you have developed the habit of keeping a journal or diary and have done this for a length of time, greater than a year or longer, I think you probably understand to some degree the quote attributed to Socrates. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” My guess is that after writing a journal for so long Nin understood this concept well. And at some point came to the conclusion that we make our decisions or we see life not as it really is, but who we are at that moment, what we are feeling, whether we have had an argument with our significant other, if someone cut us off in traffic, were mean to us at work, etc…. All our preconceived notions and emotions at that time, in that moment, determine the decisions that we make – good or bad.

Thinking about this, I have to wonder when in the moment of making a decision which would affect my life in a big way, where was I mentally? What was going on at the time in my life? And then to take this another step further I have to wonder when decisions were made for me or I was given advice, that in hindsight might not have been the best advice, where was that person mentally. What was going on in their life? Is it a wonder that any of us really end up doing the “right” thing so to speak. Maybe this is where part of the idea of “forgiveness” comes from. There are those of us that can and do egregious and appalling acts in their lives, but does that mean they should never be forgiven. Taken to the extreme, is life in prison more compassionate as opposed to the death penalty? Should there even be a death penalty? How can any of us truly be held fully and I mean fully accountable for our actions? When all of our actions are really dependent on our state of mind at the time that we committed the crime or error in judgement. We have all experienced temporary insanity at some point in our lives. It is another thing that makes us human.

Moving on to other thoughts, this was the last week of training for the Quad Rock. And I have to think about the above quote by Nin. I am hopeful that I will be able to do the 50 miles next Saturday. But I have to ask myself if I am truly ready to do that distance. Am I seeing my training and physical conditioning as it really is, or is it just wishful thinking? It is still early for me in what I call the running season. So it will be interesting to see how well I do on the course next weekend.

The above pictures are all from this past week. We had the usually sun in the AM and rain in the afternoon. The first picture is from Horsetooth Lake on Monday the 27th. It is looking South West from one of the damns. As you can see the lake is already full this year with spring runoff from the mountains. The second picture is from the Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area in Fort Collins. This was looking west towards the Foothills behind the city. This picture was taken on Tuesday. What a difference a day makes. Cool and rainy on Monday, dry and sunny on Tuesday. The bottom picture was taken in the Pineridge Open space behind Fort Collins. I have posted pictures from this area before but usually from one of the ridges. The picture was taken Thursday just before a small thunderstorm rolled through.

Now, after writing this blog for a few months I am reminded of how fortunate I am to live in Fort Collins with all the Open Space and Natural areas and interconnected trail system. You could not ask for a better place to work out. Well that is about it for me this week – wish me luck at the Quad Rock and that the weather holds. Last year towards the end of the 50 mile race a late spring snow storm rolled in and caused a few issues. Crazy. See you out there!!

 

 

FRIDAY 24TH, APRIL 2015

 

“Since the Bible and the church are obviously mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust them to tell us where we are going?” – Anonymous

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Seneca the Younger

“All thinking men are atheist.” – Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms)

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quite. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“The cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion is not intrinsically a religious endeavor. It has really a much more general pertinence and general applicability. You don’t have to be religious or buy into a religious doctrine to do it. This is why I think it is important to develop techniques that are secular and not simply religious in orientation.” – The Dalai Lama

 

I am no longer a Christian or have any religious affiliation. I am an atheist. Freedom, freedom and saying it again, freedom from the old religious quicksand that engulfs so many others. How fortunate I am. My God – if there was a god – that felt so good to say! Wow! I am an atheist. I am an atheist and I am free. What a relief. That took me a very long time to say. 53 years to be closer to the mark. I AM AN ATHEIST. Wow!

Growing up in Wichita Falls Texas I was exposed to the Southern Baptist way of religion. And until I was 20 years old I still believed in it. The bible was the word of God. And anyone that goes against it would be struck down and sent to hell. Literally – no ands, if or buts, you would go to hell. I literally believed this until College. Damn College it opened my eyes. The study of Geology and Biology – specifically the age of the earth, fossils that are millions of year’s old, and comparative anatomy started me down the road to that freedom. What I was learning could not be reconciled with what the scriptures and the “man” on Sunday championed. Just could not do it.

The field of study that completed the liberation was, of all things, Art History. Really – it was Art History – it helped me finally come to the understanding that all of what we take for granted in our religious iconography – has just been made up, copied, changed and adulterated in some form or another since time immortal. This includes paintings, drawings, decoration and ritual, architecture and most importantly writing (ex – the Bible, Quran, etc…). All of it has just been made up. Nothing in religion as in art is sacred.

Now this is not to say that I am not a spiritual person – you can be spiritual and not believe in any kind of religion or god. In fact, any meaningful activity or experience can be considered spiritual. Your work can be spiritual to you. Sex can spiritual to you. Painting can be spiritual to you. Hell even mowing the lawn has been described as a spiritual experience for some people. Long distance running is spiritual to me. It is a subjective experience in the pursuit of psychological growth.

So what is my philosophy on life? That is a good question and it took me 50 years to formulate an answer and I am not done yet. At the moment I would have to consider myself closer in Buddhist thought than anything else. But not Buddhist thought in the traditional sense with all the robes, rituals and religious dogma that has been placed on it over time. I am secular in Buddhist thought. Again, no robes, no rituals and most of all no religion. There is no consideration for the supernatural or reincarnation and karma is considered only in this life – your intentions, actions and their results. Some have called it a return to the original teachings of the Buddha – the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path. Whatever you say about it – I believe that it lays a frame work to build and live a more meaningful and compassionate life. A frame work that allows for the unique differences of others without the discrimination and judgement of others. Religion in contrast is about control and domination of the masses, disguised as kindness and compassion, but really more about control.

A philosophy or way of life that does not allow this will not appeal to some that are in charge or think that they are. Maybe this is the next step in human psychological evolution – the end of all religion and an adoption of a more compassionate and loving human experience?

The above opinions are mine and I am sticking to them for the moment. The bottom two pictures are from bike riding this past week. The middle one is from the Pine Ridge Open Space looking South towards Denver and the bottom one with the large Bull Snake is from the Redtail Grove Open Space, both of which are in Fort Collins. The day I came across the snake it had been a cool morning and my guess is that it just needed some warmth. The sun was directly overhead and the concrete of the bike path was quite warm. Ahhhh – the simple pleasures of just lying in the sun, even for a snake. Well that is enough for this week. Take care and hope to see you Out There!

 

FRIDAY 17TH, APRIL 2015

 

Time’s the king of all men,

He is their parent, and he is their grave,

And gives them what he will, not what they crave.

-William Shakespeare, Pericles

Time travel – now that would be something?! To be able to go back and change a single mistake, take the road less traveled, turn left instead of right, to relive your life with all the knowledge and power that you know now. This scenario if used in the right way could end wars before they start, stop environmental destruction before it occurs, and even stop cancer before it spreads to the rest of your body. How fantastic, how wonderful this would be. Right? There are some physicist that think this might be possible at some point in the future. And to me that is a very scary thought. Humans in all our glory are still flawed. That’s what makes us human – Too emotional, too independent and even when we have the best of intentions there will be times that we are wrong. No, time travel, as in going back in time, is not for the human race.

But what if you could go forward in time, so to speak? Not to actually jump forward in time but to live a much longer life? Indefinite even. No expiration date? An open ended life span – immortality? I must admit that I become giddy at the thought. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of acquired knowledge that would be gained by living more than one life time. Start in one field of study, work on it for 25 to 30 years and then switch to another, and then repeat it. Work as a social worker, become a doctor, an engineer, an artist, then maybe an architect, and on and on indefinitely. The combining of knowledge from multi-fields of study in one individual would make issues and problems that seemed unsolvable a thing of the past. Solutions would be put forth that we cannot even think of now. We learn by making mistakes and we would have an infinite amount of time to make them.

Change the human life span to an open ended one and you change all of society. The question of whether or not there is a heaven or hell would be settled. If you never die of old age, well, the only heaven or hell is the one that you create yourself while living. The power of religion over the masses would dwindle. Over population would become a problem very quickly but this would cause a huge uptick in funding for the space program. Time to get us off the planet and eventually to the stars. In the mean time we would be forced to become much better stewards of the environment. The excesses and abuses of the past would not be tolerated. The Supreme Court’s old adage of appointed for life would become a thing of the past. Serve 10 years and then someone else is appointed? Having and raising children would no longer be the all-consuming life draining event that it can be now. You could have your kids and cake too so to speak. Eventually there would be a downturn in all military spending. When you realize that you could live a thousand years or more, then getting killed in some corporate military debacle does not become as appealing, as if it ever was. I could go on and on but you get the idea. And for those naysayers out there, yes there would be problems, some very serious, but to use a quote that has been attributed to multi different authors, including Plato, “Necessity is the mother of Invention.” We would find a way.

Well that is about all for me this week. It has been a little cold and snowy the last couple of days but that is Colorado in spring. The top picture is one I borrowed from the internet and the bottom two pictures are of the Poudre River as it flows through Fort Collins. Take care and see you out there.

 

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY 10TH, APRIL 2015

 

Signs of Alien Life Will Be Found by 2025, NASA’s Chief Scientist Predicts

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,” NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said Tuesday (April 7) during a panel discussion that focused on the space agency’s effort to search for habitable worlds and alien life. By Mike Wall YAHOO! News

What? Alien life somewhere out there beyond our own biosphere? Really? Just because there are 200 billion or more stars in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. And that current research shows there might be tens of billions of solar systems (stars with planets). Why should there be life somewhere else besides earth? It causes me to stop and wonder. Are we so egocentric in our thinking that a lot of us cannot even envision life beyond earth – even if it is just a single celled organism? That in the entire Universe we are it? That no other sentient beings exist? What a colossal waste of space this would be if it were true.

Of course I do not believe this. I think that it is no different when Europeans were afraid to sail too far from the shore. That the ocean just dropped away at the horizon, that there were sea monsters, that the sun boiled oceans, etc… Of course part of the problem was their technology – squared sailed ships, inaccurate clocks and maps, etc…. But as it got better, most of those fears and worries vanished. That is what is happening now – the technology is getting better. And I firmly believe as the NASA scientist believe we will find extraterrestrial life, even if it is just a single cell organism. This discovery when it comes will be a game changer.

Some people have argued that if there is intelligent life out there why have they not contacted us? And that is a good question. My thought is that the distances between stars are enormous, really hard to get your head around and we are in a backwater so to speak of the Milky Way Galaxy. Also our planet may not be as “special” among other planets in the MWG. Only special to us of course. Or maybe Carl Sagan had it right. If you are an advanced species in the galaxy with the capability to travel to other stars and you came across Earth and humanity with all its issues: wars over religion and race, poverty, environmental destruction and generally man’s inhumanity to man. Why would you stop? I mean really why would you stop? Would you want to visit Syria, or the border between Israel and Palestine, or maybe you would be better to go to the Baltics or Ukraine? Oh I know: listening to the debate in this country and others over whether it is OK to be Gay or not? And if you were an advanced star traveling species why would you want to miss out on the “Superstitious dogma that is Religious belief.” No – I do not think that you would stop. I think that Dr. Sagan got it right.

Maybe, just maybe the discovery of Alien life in the Universe will help with the egocentric nature religion has given to people. The discovery of even a single celled organism outside of our own planet’s biosphere throws the whole idea of “we are the center of the universe” off balance. This egocentric view that religion has helped to instill will be a thing of the past. And in turn this will be the end of religious belief for most people on earth. Of course there will still be diehards that will try and keep the faith so to speak but over time as new discoveries are made their numbers will become fewer and fewer.

The other exciting possibility is the uniting of all countries, nations and people on earth. We will now be a world among other possible worlds. Exobiology will become a real science and not just a theoretical one. The human race will unite like never before in the face of real alien life. It might be the catalysis to push humanity out of the quagmires of religious belief and into a new and higher state of human development. Well this is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

The pictures are all from a trail called Towers Road in Horsetooth Mountain Park. HMP is just behind Fort Collins and is an incredible recreational resource for the surrounding area. Towers Road Trail is fantastic hill training. It gains about 1600 feet of elevation in about 3.4 miles and is very runnable all year long. When I took these pictures on Wednesday April the 8th it was a somewhat hazy day on the Front Range of Colorado. A cold front had pushed through the night before and we were getting a little upslope from the east. Enough to give haze and clouds but not enough for rain and thunderstorms. Temps were about 50 to 55 degrees at the time. The top picture is looking Northeast over part of Horsetooth Lake. The second picture is looking South towards Denver. The third picture is looking due East out over the lake and Fort Collins. The forth picture shows what the trail is named for. The road winds its way up to the towers at the top of the ridge, elevation about 7,100 feet. The fifth and final picture shows Horsetooth Rock and this landmark is what the park is named for. Early settlers to the area thought the rock looked like a giant horse’s tooth with a rough chewing surface and groove. But according to local Native American legend, Horsetooth Rock is the remains of an evil giant’s heart cut in two by the powerful Chief Maununmoku, thus protecting his people from the giant’s wrath. This last part was from the Department of Natural Resources Larimer County.

Well this is it for me this week. Have a great weekend and see you out there!!

FRIDAY 3RD, APRIL 2015

 

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
– Goethe

 

The Quad Rock is getting closer and training is coming along slowly. Too slow for my likes but what are you going to do about it? Now that I am a few years over the age of 50 I find that recovery takes a lot longer than when I was younger. Doing heavy workouts day after day can take a toll when you are 25 to say the least but when you are 53 it can be a recipe for injury. Last year was an OK year but could have been better. I did remain injury free until about the middle of August, but then I suffered an insult to my left knee. I believe it was due to over training and not enough rest. This year I am trying to train a lot smarter.

Last year’s late season injury started after a successful run at the Silver Rush 50 in Leadville. There I had improved my time by one and half hours in the 50 mile distance. For me that was huge. Riding on the euphoria from this race, I was really looking forward to another successful run at the Run Rabbit Run in September at Steamboat Spring. I took about 10 days off after the Silver Rush and was feeling pretty good when I started back training. This was around the first of August. After the personnel best at the Silver Rush, I really wanted to nail the RRR. So I had it in my mind that more training equals better performance and maybe that might have been true when I was 25. The reality was that I needed to train smarter, not harder.

While finishing a great trail run behind Fort Collins, I decided to push the last few miles a little harder than usual. And it was that decision coupled with a lot of running the weeks before that started the cascade. After the run my left knee hurt a little but nothing too painful. That should have been the first warning sign to back off. But did I listen to my body, nope, told myself that I needed to run the next day and besides the weather was beautiful. That next morning my knee was still hurting, so I told myself that I would still get out and run – but just make it an easy one. I told myself the same thing the next day and the next. Just do an easy run when what I really needed was rest for a few days. Not only did I not listen to the continued soreness in my knee, I was not getting a lot of sleep – telling myself that I would make it up later. The interesting thing was the knee soreness never really got any worse it just persisted – until about a week later. Well you can probably fill in the rest of the story. Sad to say but it took a good month and a half for it to heal.

So when I started training this year I wanted to do it smarter and just by chance one morning my wife told me about a new book that had just come out, called “FAST AFTER 50” by Joe Friel. Joe used to write an exercise column for the Fort Collins Coloradoan years ago when we first moved to Colorado and being an enthusiastic reader of the column back then – I immediately looked it up on Amazon. Man am I glad that I did. Since his early days in Fort Collins Joe has written and coauthored several books on training and nutrition for the endurance athlete. This new book shows that experience and the research that has taken place in the last 20 years on the older athlete. I am now into my second reading of the book and that is saying a lot. I cannot recommend this book enough. Especially if you are over the age of 50. I would even go as far as to say if you are over 30 then this book can help you. It is for all endurance athletes. Easy to read and easy to apply the principles in training.

Funny – I am not a religious man or even what you would consider a spiritual one but sometimes the “Universe” moves in strange ways. I wasn’t even looking for a new book on training, especially one for the older athlete – denial has always been one of my go to defenses against getting older. I just figured I would look through some of my older books and magazines on running, and see what I could learn and relearn about proper training. But there it was – the door opened – and just what I needed was offered up by the “Universe.” Crazy! I will keep everyone updated with how the training is going over the next several months. This year’s races are: Quad Rock in May, the Leadville 100 in August and the Run Rabbit Run September. Depending on how my training is going and how I feel I might add the Silver Rush 50 in July. But that might just be wishful thinking…. My mother had a saying when she was in her elder years: “Old age is not for Sissies” and she was right.

Well that is all for me this week. The pictures are from running the last few days. The top one is in the Running Deer Open Space looking west towards Long’s Peak, the second one is the Pelican Marsh Open Space and the third one with the Mule Deer is off of the Poudre River trail – all in the city limits of Fort Collins. Hope to see you out there!!

FRIDAY 27TH, MARCH 2015

 

ONLY THOSE WHO RISK GOING TO FAR CAN POSSIBLY FIND OUT HOW FAR THEY CAN GO.
– T.S. Eliot

 

 

Why do I run Ultras? That is a good question to ask. I mean why spend hours upon hours in training, so you can run 50 to 100 miles in a single race. To be so sore the next day that you sometimes need help just getting around. What is that about? Really? Have I gone crazy? Hmmm. I came late, so to speak to the Ultra Running scene. But from about age 25 I have always had the idea to do one but never had the time. Thinking back, it might have been related to age and a single button that changed it all. The big 5-0 transformed me – there are things that you tell yourself you will get around to, but getting around to them might not ever come if you wait too long.

When I hit the half century mark I was working at a Management Job in Health Care – it was not good for me. Very long hours in a position that has been likened to: “Trying to Herd Cats.” In the process of doing this job I gained 30 pounds in two years. The eye opener came one morning when I went to button an extra-large shirt and it did not fit. I am not a large man – 5’5″. So to be wearing an extra-large shirt in the first place should have been a warning sign. But we have a tendency to rationalize things. Luckily it was that one single button, midway between the abdomen and chest that got me to pay attention. So that was it – no more “feeling like a dog chasing its tail.” Made a plan to quit the management job, revaluated priorities, decided I was going to do an Ultra. Just that simple? Of course it is never just that simple but that can wait for another story.

My first Ultra was the Run Rabbit Run at Steamboat Springs in September 2013 – the 50 miler. I was 51 years old and scared to death. I had read several books on running Ultras, surfed the web for information, and subscribed to Ultra Running Magazine. AND I had trained. But the mind wanders into dark corners. I was nervous enough that I did not sleep the night before, almost talked myself out of showing up. The only way I got myself to the starting line was taking it one small step at a time: Just get dressed, make and drink some coffee, eat a muffin, just get in the car, drive, etc…. I eventually made the start. I was actually early.

Because it is September the 50 mile race starts in the dark. And if you are slow enough like me, it finishes in the dark. The day before the event – the race director Fred Abramowitz had a pre-race briefing. The one thing he said that stuck in my mind was “For you first timers, at about the 30 mile mark you are going to look down at your running shoes, which may be covered in vomit, and say to yourself why the hell am I doing this? That is the moment you must not quit. If you can get through this point you will make it.” This point or moment came for me at the Rabbit Ears turn around. I so wanted to quit. I had just run 25 miles and the realization that I had another 25 to go made me nauseated. But I remembered Fred’s words and continued – believe it or not – in a few miles things actually got better.

By the time I got to the top of the ski hill (Mt. Werner) it was dark and I was exhausted but there was only about 7.5 miles to go and all of it downhill – about 3000 feet of downhill. At this naive point I felt that I could finish this. That it was actually going to be a reality. That was until I started running downhill. In the back of my mind I remembered someone telling me that the downhill parts in the last stages of an Ultra can be the hardest. They were not kidding. Wow – I would run a little ways, walk a little ways, and run a little ways. There was pain in this descent, intense pain, but not pain like an injury. It could be more described as a “powerful soreness.” A soreness that you have to experience because words fail to describe it. When that finish line came into view, I became what can only be described as jubilant, euphoric, enraptured, and ecstatic. I have never felt this way with any other activity, except well, maybe a cardinal one? In Ultra’s there is a boundary you cross that you do not realize is there. When you successfully cross it your world changes. I wanted to dance, to sing, to shout out to the world that I did this and I am invincible! I felt on top of the world, nothing else mattered! Civilization could end tomorrow and I did not care. After that experience I was hooked on doing Ultras.

Of course, all of this only lasted for about 30 minutes and then I needed my daughter’s help to get back to the car and for her to drive me back to the motel. The picture below shows me at the end of the race in 2013. I was second to last in finishing and it did not matter. I had crossed the boundary!

Well, that is about all for this week – hope to see you out there!!

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY 20TH, MARCH 2015

 

“WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE TINY MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

My youngest daughter has been on Spring Break this week and we have been doing a little downhill skiing. On Monday we were up at A-Basin. Beautiful spring conditions, temperatures between 30 to 40 degrees, mild wind and brilliant sunshine. The resort was a little crowded but not too bad. The lower lift line was only about a 5 to 10 minute wait at the most, the upper lift was 5 minutes or less. Really could not have asked for more – well I guess you could have asked for a powder day. But, oh well you cannot have everything. The other nice thing about this type of spring skiing is that you do not need to be up at the crack of dawn to get first chair, you can sleep in a little bit. And actually getting there early can be detrimental due to the freeze / thaw cycle that occurs. In the AM the ski slopes are usually icy and as hard as concrete. But wait a few hours and they have softened up to a hard butter like consistency. Perfect for making beautiful sweeping turns. The picture above is at the top. The elevation at this point is about 13,000 feet. On Monday when this picture was taken, there was no wind for several hours and temps in the 30s. Hard to believe. In Fort Collins this same day, the temp was close to 80.

March in Colorado can always be a little unpredictable on the Front Range. One day you can have snow and temps below 30 degrees and the next day it can be sunny and 70 out. It can make life a little interesting at times. Fortunately that has not been the case this week. The Front Range has seen mild temperatures, cold in the morning (30s) and warm in the afternoon (60 to 80 degrees). Add in a little sun, clouds and some much needed rain and you have beautiful running weather. So when we were not out skiing, it was back to training for the Quad Rock in May. It was nice to not have to use the running tights or a jacket this week. The picture above is part of a trail run right behind Fort Collins in the start of the foothills. There is an initial elevation change of about 500 feet. You run up one hog-back and down the other side to Horsetooth Reservoir and along a trail that goes down to the East side of the lake. There are multiple trails in the area and you can make this a 5 to 20 mile plus run if you want. I am looking North to Northwest in the above picture. In the one below I am in the same position but look East out over Fort Collins. These pictures were taken yesterday on Thursday – the temperature was about 60 degrees, with clouds and sun in the area. And strangely enough – no wind. Simply just beautiful. I feel very fortunate to have this resource right in my backyard.

Well that is it for me this week. HAPPY VERNAL EQUINOX!! And have a great weekend – hope to see you out there!!

 

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY 13TH, MARCH 2015

CORPORATISM – the control of a country, state or organization by large corporate groups.

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I know now that I have been living in a bubble. A bubble that has been created by the merging of the government and the corporate world. I now live in the time of “Corporatism.” Until recently I never stopped to think about what it means to be part of a corporation. Working on the “patient side of health care” for the last 30 years my focus was very narrowed – when the work day was done so to speak – it came down to only one thing: Did we do the best that we could to take care of the patient. Nothing else really mattered. When hospitals changed from one corporation to another the only difference I saw was who signed my check. Yes I was living in the bubble.

Now whether you think it is the best thing since sliced cheese or put it in the same category as Ebola – like it or not – Obama Care as it has been coined, did one thing for a lot of us narrow minded, patient centered professionals – it woke us up! I had to ask myself: Universal Health Care for all? Why would this be a problem in the USA? We are one of the richest countries on earth. Surely we would be able to figure this out? Hmmmm!? So I started to read about corporations, how they started, why we have them, the good points and the bad points, and one interesting idea that related corporations and the public to Biology. The idea is that you can look at corporations and society as a symbiotic relationship. This I could understand. Besides working in health care I have a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology – where I learned all about mutualistic relationships in the animal kingdom. The disturbing part that become readily apparent is that these relationships are not endpoints. The environment changes, animal populations change, corporations change, societies change, people change – all this leads to instability in the relationship. One party becomes parasitic and this is where the problem starts. It is the same in the corporate world and society as it is in the animal kingdom. This idea is nothing new. The back and forth of corporate power and public welfare has been going on since the first corporation was formed. It is just in the last 20 years with the downsizing of government and concurrent deregulation of corporate laws that we have more of a parasitic corporate structure.

Every president and politician that has warned about, spoken out against, and voted for legislation limiting the power and influence of corporations has faced a backlash of negative criticism. President Obama is not the first and will not be the last. In my humble opinion, the best thing that we could do would be to strengthen the laws that restrict corporate power and influence. Are corporations bad – yes and no? Are corporations good – yes and no? It all depends on where you are at in the parasite (corporation)/host (society) pendulum.

Well I think this is enough for now. I encourage that you do your own reading on corporations to learn more. See ya out there!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY 6TH, MARCH 2015

“When one has been angry for a very long time, one gets used to it. And it becomes comfortable, like.…like old leather. And finally….becomes so familiar that one can’t even remember feeling any other way.” – From Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Episode – The Wounded)

I am an artist. Be it a struggling artist, but still an artist. It has taken me a really long time to make that statement about myself. Funny – I believe that I knew I was an artist since the age of about 5 or 6. But as the old saying goes: “The seed has to be planted on fertile ground for it to grow.” It has taken a long time for the seed to finally find that fertile ground.

A significant family member who was influential in raising me had a very serious anxiety disorder. In her struggle to cope with life and all of its vicissitudes she became very controlling. If there was something that you wanted to do but she did not feel that it was “Kosher” then by god you were not going to do it – under threat of corporal punishment. My childhood in Texas, the Wichita Falls area, spanned the years from 1962 to 1980 and real men and boys at that time did not do “Art” in the traditional sense – this is what I was led to believe. I was threatened with beatings, called names like sissy and queer and made to feel abnormal if I asked for art supplies or talked about art. The usual commit was: “Why do you want to do that are you queer, that’s for sissies, it’s not for you and besides you’re not good enough.” These are some the fondest memories of my mother. I can talk about this now because she is dead. She passed away due to cancer the day after Thanksgiving 2013. It was an incredible relief. I felt as if a controlling, dominating, dictating force had finally been lifted from my life. It was a good thing.

The ART seed did find some fertile ground in the late 1990s and is still growing. Kind of a stunted bush at the moment. Because of my childhood, the art that I do has a tendency to drift toward “irreverence.” It will not be me painting the pastoral nature scene unless there is “something” seriously wrong with it. It would need a sword wielding Barbarian or female warrior holding the head of some recently vanquished enemy. Yes – irreverence, disrespect, derision, mockery, sarcasm, fear, anxiety, etc…. That is what moves me to paint, to draw, to sculpt, to make art.

I learned two things in my art classes. The first one is that: “Nothing is sacred.” The second thing is that: “In Art – it’s all been done before so stealing is OK, original ideas are very, very rare. So steal it and just make it yours.” The paintings that I am showing here are “bad boy” characters from TV animation – Mo and Side Show Bob from the Simpsons and Stewie from Family guy. I have also include one of my first dragon paintings.

So that is it for me this week – training is still going good for the Quad Rock 50. Lots of snow in the mountains of Colorado this last week. Should be good spring skiing.