Author Archives: Perseverance Runner

About Perseverance Runner

I have never been fast or blessed with hand-eye coordination. I am not the smartest person in the room. I don’t claim any special abilities. But I do have endurance and perseverance. These gifts have allowed me to explore the art of distance running and taken me to places I would have never experienced from the living room couch. I hope you enjoy this page as I share my experiences, reflections, photographs, and writings related to running.

When things don’t suck

Over the last week i heard a chorus of running voices talk about the things that suck in running making for the best stories. This may be true, but yesterday’s Seamus O’Possum 30K didn’t suck, and there is a gift in that too.

A year ago at this time i was having hamstring issues and limped through the Seamus, surprised to even finish. This year i ran without pain. That didn’t suck.

I did come in to this race a bit under-trained. I lost a couple of long training runs to the Great Flu of 2018. At mile 15 i could feel the tiredness in my legs, but by mile 16 i was back and i ran the last mile in under 10 minutes, leaping at the finish and tapping the finish banner. That didn’t suck.

As i drove to the Seamus, freezing rain pelted the car. Running for three hours in rain did not sound fun. But when a sudden “Go” was announced, rain turned to a light snow that made for a beautiful morning. That didn’t suck.

The last two trail runs I’ve done were so muddy that it was sometimes impossible to keep any footing. This resulted in a lot of walking and several falls in to the mud. Yesterday the ground was soft, but very run-able. While i tripped over roots several times, non of them resulted in falls. That didn’t suck.

As always, the proceeds of the race go to the local special Olympics. But this year, one of the athletes not only spoke to us, but ran with us. That didn’t suck.

I was greeted by friends, checked in by Cheryl who i ran with at the Ghost Town in New Mexico, and met new faces on the course. Running may seem like the most individual of sports, but it is the community of volunteers and gracious competitors that make it special. That certainly doesn’t suck.

There were two times (three?) i made wrong turns and probably added a bit to my distance. But, i spent the morning in a beautiful state park, on trails that two weeks ago were underwater from heavy rain. Being out among nature is a gift. That didn’t suck.

Certainly, dark moments of struggle make for great stories. But the gift of the day where things fall in to place doesn’t suck. Yesterday was one of those days.

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Seamus O’Possum race report

A glorious day at Delaware State Park as 100 possum herders ran on soft but relatively dry trails (in comparison to previous years) as snow fell on a crisp morning. We were led by a special Olympic athlete, made friends along the course, and finished amongst congratulations and handshakes:

Race Report: Frosty 14

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the sun. This Ohio winter has been cold and wet and gray. Most of the time, weather is a backdrop. Bad weather, little more than an inconvenience. Over the last week it rained everyday, with some heavy downpours on Thursday night. This created the conditions for one muddy race on Saturday morning.

img_9031Nearly 150 masochists runners gathered inside the visitors center at Caesar Creek State Park for the Frosty 14. Fortunately, it wasn’t a frosty morning. The temperature was a comfortable 30 degrees, spirits were high, and the national anthem sung.

The first mile of the race was paved and fast. I ran an 8:44 and was at the back of the pack. We turned off the road and on to a “trail” that was nothing more than a mud field. I knew the conditions would be difficult, but have never experienced anything like this. Out of 14 miles, I would guess we slogged through mud for about 12 of it.

My goal was to finish in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Despite the mud, I was in good shape for about the first 8 miles. The run was not easy, but it was fun. I was able to average 10 minute-ish miles for more than the first half. My playlist was kicking as I had selected punk, rap, and alternative songs related to love on Valentine’s week. Caesar Creek State Park is beautiful, as we circumnavigated the lake. Runners around me were friendly and playful and I was able to pass more than I was passed.

img_9038And then there were the hills.

To be fair, these are Ohio hills. I’ve run mountains in New Mexico. These were only rolling hills. But it is difficult to climb a hill whose side is soft and sloppy. For the most part, I had to walk up the hills with my feet angled apart just to get to the top. The downhills were just as slippery and treacherous and required a lot of careful navigation.

Carefulness is not something I am known for.

After having many runners fall around me over the course of the morning, I joined theimg_9034 fun. I first fell around mile 12, slipping while trying to run downhill. As I went down, my left calf cramped and I dorsiflexed my foot to relieve the cramp as I lay in the mud. A couple of miles later, with probably only a tenth of a mile left on the trail I fell on another downhill attempt. This time my right calf cramped when I went down. I was only able to get out of the mud with the assistance of a runner I had traded positions with throughout the day.

I did not cross the finish line in my expected time, but I had an amazing experience. Despite 14 miles of slugging through the mud, my legs never got tired. Despite falling twice in mud, my spirit never waned. I found a strength I didn’t know I had, in my body and in myself. This is why I run.

Dream Anyway: From 40 to 2,018

According to the interweb, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail.

So what.

The new year is a time to dream anyway. Today brings the opportunity to look at where we are and where we want to be and take a single step in the direction of fulfillment.

Since Thanksgiving I have run every day, part of a challenge called the 40 Days of Awesome. Some of the runs over these 40 days were memorable: the Winter Solstice race, coming home from a run with a Christmas tree, and almost getting arrested for trespassing at Arlington National Cemetery. However, must runs were less noteworthy. Simply a commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other, whether it was sunny or raining, wearing shorts or four layers of clothing. It was nothing more than perseverance and a commitment to relentless forward progress that brought the realization of 40 Days of Awesome.

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Running for 40 days is not really that significant. There are people who do much more important things. I hope I do more important things than run. But it is a reminder that all things are possible. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you most people fail or that you will fail. Every day brings the opportunity for a new beginning. Who cares how many times you have fallen short. Dream anyway.

Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

For me, with 40 Days of Awesome completed I begin a new journey to run 2,018 miles in 2,018. I have never run this kind of distance before, but who cares. Why not me?

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May you shine in 2,018, manifesting the glory of God in all you do and all you are. Don’t be limited by other’s darkness, let your light shine.

 

 

40 Days of Iggy

Since Thanksgiving I have been participating in the Runner’s Word challenge, 40 Days of Awesome. With New Year’s Day quickly approaching and this challenge coming to an end, it is time for a new challenge, 40 Days of Iggy.

Henry Rollins often refers to Iggy Pop as the undisputed king of rock and roll. For the next 40 days I will be listening to these albums as I run. They include Iggy’s discography, as well as Mr. Pop’s influences and favorites. Whether you exercise or not, I invite you to join me in the #40DaysOfIggy. Listen to one of these albums every day, your ears will thank you.iggypop2

  1. The Stooges, The Stooges
  2. In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra
  3. Fun House, The Stooges
  4. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, Marty Robbins
  5. Raw Power, The Stooges
  6. 12 x 5, The Rolling Stones
  7. The Idiot, Iggy Pop
  8. Bringing it All Back Home, Bob Dylan
  9. Lust for Life, Iggy Pop
  10. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
  11. New Values, Iggy Pop
  12. Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  13. Soldier, Iggy Pop
  14. Station to Station, David Bowie
  15. Party, Iggy Pop
  16. Star Time, James Brown
  17. Zombie Birdhouse, Iggy Pop
  18. The Heavyweight Champion, John Coltrane
  19. Blah-Blah-Blah, Iggy Pop
  20. Louis Armstrong, The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings Vol 1
  21. Instinct, Iggy Pop
  22. The Indian Runner, Various Artists
  23. Brick by Brick, Iggy Pop
  24. R. L. Burnside, Too Bad Jim
  25. American Caesar, Iggy Pop
  26. Pink, Boris
  27. Naughty Little Doggie, Iggy Pop
  28. Elwan, Tinariwen
  29. Avenue B, Iggy Pop
  30. Closer, Joy Division
  31. Beat ‘Em Up, Iggy Pop
  32. Adore Life, Savages
  33. Skull Ring, Iggy Pop
  34. Kick out the Jams, MC5
  35. Preliminaries, Iggy Pop
  36. English Tapas, Sleaford Mods
  37. Apres, Iggy Pop
  38. Gang Signs & Prayer, Stormzy
  39. Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop
  40. Roadkill Rising, Iggy Pop

Race Report: Winter Solstice Trail Run

I had a plan.

For the last two months I trained for the Winter Solstice Trail Race at John Bryan State Park, near Yellow Springs, Ohio. After the disappointment of city running at the Chicago Marathon, I longed to return to trails. I had never run at this park and it did not disappoint. The beauty of running through the limestone gorge, and along the banks of the Little Miami River, are the kind of things that make trail running special.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I practiced weekly double-digit runs. Creating negative splits, I’d run each mile faster than the next. I often ran home from work, starting at 11-something minutes per mile and finishing some 14 miles later around 9 minutes per mile. My plan was to race like that today, but Mother Nature has a way of disrupting my plans.

Rain started falling across central Ohio last night and did not stop this morning. The trails at John Bryan State Park turned to mud and the exposed limestone rocks were slick. The first mile of the race was a disappointment as 100-plus runners clogged the single track trails to a walk. At the same time, we had to navigate wet, moss-covered rock steps. Despite this frustrating beginning, over the next four miles I put my plan in place and ran each mile faster than the next, quickly achieving sub-10 minute miles. At the midway point I was happy with my pace and set a goal to finish the run in under two hours.

The trail had other ideas.

During this time, rain turned to sleet and sleet turned to snow. Runners in front of me chewed up the trail. My feet not only became heavy with mud, but it often felt like I was ice skating. I fell three times, once on a slick bridge and twice doing a hands-first Pete Rose impersonation on the trail. We also crossed three creeks, the final one knee-deep giving legs and feet an instant freeze. In navigating the conditions, the racing plan went out the window. In fact, by mile 9, I covered up my Garmin watch and decided to run by effort and forget the numbers.

And that is where the joy comes in. I have come to believe that the greater the obstacles, the sweeter the victory. But it is not just about reaching the finish line, but about finding joy in the journey. John Bryan State Park is beautiful. As sleet turned to snow, the voices of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “The Little Drummer Boy” together played in my ears. I thought about how both of these legends are gone and what a gift it is to be able to run in a gorgeous place with snow covering the rolling landscape. I ran, sticking out my tongue, and collecting snowflakes at the same time.

Almost the entire 12-plus mile course was in the woods. We emerged in to an opening, which meant the finish line was near. A woman came up next to me and startled me. We raced to the finish, playfully challenging each other. I finished the race well-trained, having run my best in difficult conditions, and with a smile on my face. I did not finish in the time I wanted. I had a plan, but something better happened along the way–a Festivus Miracle!

Best Albums of 2017

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Prophets of Rage said that bad politics make for great music. I don’t know if we can give all of the credit to politicians, but 2017 was a great year for music. Here are 10 albums I will be listening to for years to come. Check them out and enjoy!

BEST ALTERNATIVE: U2, Songs of Experience. This is a real album, as good as anything U2 has ever made. (also see Depeche Mode, Spirit, also as good as anything they have ever done)

BEST ROCK: The Fall, New Facts Emerge. I saw The Fall in concert 25 years ago and they had already been making music for 25 years. (also see Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold)

BEST ELECTROPOP: Lorde, Melodrama. This is no simple pop album. The New Zealander returns with a statement. (also see Halsey, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom)

BEST RAP: Logic, Everyday. Logic lays out the racial complexity of America with hope and joy, and he makes a powerful video (also see Eminem, Revival)

BEST R&B: Mavis Staples, If All I Was Was Black: At 78 the soul singer is as contemporary calling for social justice as she was in the 1960s. (also see Stormzy, Gang Signs & Prayer)

BEST FEMALE PUNK ROCK: Priests, Nothing Feels Natural: Because what the world needs now is female punk rock! (also see The World, First World Record)

BEST ELECTRONIC ALBUM.  Alan Vega – IT: Last year Bowie said good-bye with Blackstar. This year, also at 78, Alan Vega leaves us with a magnum opus that delivers the energy and passion of a much younger man. (also see Bjork, Utopia)

BEST PSYCHEDELIC ROCK ALBUM. The Flaming Lips: Oczy Mlody. Wayne is right, there should be unicorns! (Also see The Flaming Lips, Onboard the International Space Station. A
psychedelic version of a psychedelic album
)

BEST PUNK ALBUM. Meat Wave: The Incessant. My favorite “new-to-me” punk bank of the year. There are a lot of great songs on here, but the title track is my favorite song of the year: (Also see Sleaford Mods, English Tapas)

BEST ALBUM: Kendrick Lamar: Damn. The best rap album since Public Enemy’s It takes a nation of Millions. Kendrick creatively holds together personal struggle and systematic injustice. For a theological take on this album, check out a blog post by Noah and me.

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“This what God feels like” Kendrick in Columbus, Ohio