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Hangry Community

At the start of the year, I said my goal for 2019 is to run with joy. This has not been a joyful year. I broke my arm in January and that has been about the easiest thing to deal with.

In March I ran well, but two weeks ago I pulled my hamstring. So today I went out to the hangry race just to find joy. As usual, I found it in the running community.

A community of people who put a coat on me when I under dressed to check people in this morning.

A community of 160 runners, who raised money to feed hungry people.

A community of accomplished athletes and first time warriors, where there is no distinction between the two.

A community where I crossed the finish line behind a grade school age girl and a senior citizen woman.

A community where the strongest finisher was my neighbor.

A community where the race directors have enough sense of humor to tolerate my chiding.

Today I ran my slowest 5K ever, but found joy in friends, high-fives, selfies, and the beloved community.


My own personal possum

This weekend is my second favorite run of the year, the Seamus O’Possum 30K. I will be out of state attending my sister’s wedding. So, I ran my own personal possum today.

For those of you running at Delaware State Park on Saturday, a few notes for you:

  1. This is not last year’s dry possum course, there are some muddy parts. I don’t want to overstate it. The vast majority of the course is very runnable, but there are some shorter wet parts. Have fun with it, don’t avoid it. Splash in puddles like a kid and have fun!
  2. Park maintenance was out today trimming trees. I dodged them the second half of the run. Be careful around mile 11-12 for small random tree parts. The logs have been removed but there are lots of pieces that would make for tripping hazards.
  3. The water crossing is not as high as I expected after this wet Ohio winter. A little more than ankle deep, but not bad at all.
  4. Overall, the course is in very good shape, not a lot of logs blocking the trail. Yes, there is some mud, but that’s what we love. Wish I could be with you on Saturday, but I left you some footprints to follow.


For me, this was a great run. By far, 18 miles is the farthest I’ve run since October. Just over six weeks ago I broke my arm. Today I completed a 30K. A great day!

Running the Album: Love Hates What You’ve Become

Throughout music history, any popular style of music soon gets copied by many artists. Within any genre, there are groups that sound ridiculously similar (see Stone Temple Pearl Jam). So, when something new and fresh comes along, it is like a breath of fresh air that tears apart the music world.

luh_creditfrancescaallen_14-262x392In 2016, Lost Under Heaven released their debut album, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing. The contrasting and complementary voices of Ebony Hoorn and Ellery James play against each other with a tension that runs throughout their music. Spiritual Songs are far from the candy-sweet genre of most love songs. The lyrics are filled with struggle and hope, while the music is unvarnished and raw. My favorite song on the album, $ORO, screams against the empty promises of capitalist consumerism.

I am a voracious music listener, always keeping my ear to the ground for what is new, and Spiritual Songs is easily one of my 10 favorite albums of all time.

It has been almost three years since this monumental album arrived. LUH’s follow up album was recorded a year and a half ago and finally released last week. While the first album was a large work to follow, the new album, Love Hates What You’ve Become, does not disappoint.

The album starts with the song Come, more produced than anything they have made, butImage result for lost under heaven love hates what you become album it gets things moving quickly. Ebony takes center stage on the next song, Bunny’s Blues, and she plays a more central role throughout this album. Black Sun Rising and Savage Messiah offer very deep, soulful, spiritual gifts. The song Love Hates What You’ve Become provides the perfect blend of emptiness and hope in intermingled voices. But my favorite song on the album is buried as the second to last track, Post Millennial Tension, that will leave you wondering whether you should embrace life or hide under the covers of a fallen world. The album concludes and is wrapped up in a dark bow with the great song, For the Wild, whose chorus illustrates the contrasts provided of this band, “Simmer down and stand up, For the wild, for the wild.”

If you need some music to kick the frozen malaise off your shoes, and get you moving on a gray January day, nothing is better than getting Lost Under Heaven.



Top 10 Albums of the Year

Image result for Albums of the Year 2018

Last week I put out a list of my 50 favorite running songs of the year. While those are great songs to move your feet, albums are my real love. There is nothing better than sitting with a full-length album that weaves together a story deeper than a single song. This year was difficult to narrow to 10 records. Groups like Arndales, Grouper, and Starcrawler once made up the core of this list and got bumped. Also, make sure and check out albums by J Cole, Pusha T, and the Black Panther soundtrack–sorry Kendrick. Take some time over the holidays, disconnect from all that distracts you, and listen to a good album.

10. Camp Cope, How to Socialise and Make Friends: Just came across this one at the last Image result for camp Copeminute. Folk/punk/singer-song/Australian female angst coupled with penetrating lyrics: “I’m so proud that half of me grew from you, the broken parts too.”

9. Mary Gauthier, Rifles and Rosary Beads: The words from “Songwriters with Soldiers” set to simple country music. This lifts the curtain on veterans’ experiences and exposes the pain to light so healing may begin.

8. Bambara, Shadow on Everything: The opening act for IDLES carries more than their own weight in this clever, dark concept album the contrasts punk energy with Jim Morrison-esque vocals.

7. Sarah Mary Chadwick, Sugar Still Melts in the Rain: The former punk lead singer of Batrider bears her soul with only the accompaniment of an old church organ. Beautiful, sad, and hopeful.

6. mewithoutyou, untitled: history, poetry, and scripture wound together in the cry of an unravelling soul.me5. Ministry, Amerikant: Uncle Al provides the most attune soundtrack of political commentary of the year. The absurdity of the moment does result in powerful art.

4. Remember Sports, Slow Buzz: There is nothing slow about this album; this is an all-out sprint. In contrast to so much heaviness of 2018, this is light-hearted exuberance.

3. Exit North, Book of Romance and Dust: An album of deep emotions, strings and brass, four years in the making. One of the most remarkable records ever made. It is difficult to find, but worth the effort.

2. Lil Peep, Come Over When You’re Sober, Part 2, In January 2016, David Bowie gave us a look at facing death in his last days, Peep looks back from across the grave at the beauty and tragedy of life.Idles-Joy_as_an_Act_of_Resistance

1. IDLES: Joy as an Act of Resistance: The best punk album this side of 1977. The perfect album at the perfect time. IDLES are raw, fun, and socially aware. If you listen to this album, your foot doesn’t move, and your face doesn’t smile, you need to make some room for joy in your soul.

The running year in review

In 2018 I accomplished milestones in running that I never had before, but I didn’t fully get to where I wanted to go.

My overriding goal for the year was to run 2018 miles in the year 2018. I experienced a couple of setbacks when I got the Great Flu of 2018 and later when I was whiplashed in a car accident. However, I gradually chipped away at the deficits and was caught up by the end of July. In the late summer and early fall I added to my cushion and it looked like I would easily make it. Then, I came back too quickly and too hard from my 50 mile run and injured myself. I’m riding out the rest of the year in a “return to run” protocol and will finish just shy of 1,800 miles. While I didn’t reach my goal, I ran more miles in a single year than I ever have before.

Web-Banner-smallRunning increased mileage served me well. I ran in 11 events this year, the most I’ve ever done in a single year. I set a 5K PR and took first place in my age group at a 10K. There may have only been five people in my age group, but I’ll count it all the same. I also spent many hours at Columbus Metro Parks and on trails that fed my soul.

32968586_1963600673649950_5114476425063170048_nMy primary spring race was the Playin’ Possum 50K. Possum events and the Possum community are the best. While I fell just short of my six hour goal on a hot day, Possums are not about finishing time or place, but about making friends, having fun, and supporting the special Olympics.

My primary goal for the year was to run a second 50 miler. The quality of that run would determine what I would do in 2019. With the help of many from our church family, I ran the Columbus Marathon; and then, thanks to the Possum community, ran another 24 miles back home. I fell short of my 11 hour cutoff plan, but set a PR by half an hour.

Since this run went so well, I am going to take the next step in seeing what I am capable of doing. In June I will run the Eagle Up Ultra, 24 hour run, in Canton, Ohio. I don’t know what my body is capable of beyond 50 miles. I have some physical limitations from my 2013 bike accident, but am excited to explore the undiscovered potential inside me. Also, I am going to take another try at the Run the Year concept and planning to run 2019 miles in the next year.

In 2018, I reached for things I had never accomplished in running. While I didn’t always get to where I wanted to go, I got to places I had never been. In 2019, I am reaching even farther and can’t wait to see where my feet land.

Top 50 Running Songs of the Year

One of the gifts of running is the opportunity to be fueled by music. Adulting doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities to listen to 4 hours of music non-stop, except during a 20 mile run.

2018 has been an amazing year for music. This list of 50 songs could have easily been 100. There is so much good music, from so many genres, that it is impossible to listen to all of it.  The songs listed below are my favorite running songs of the year. There is a lot of good music that I listen to outside of running (see Exit North), but this is what pushed me through over 1,700 miles in 2,108. Selections have been limited to one song per artist, yet Kendrick Lamar’s voice is heard on here five times.

Enjoy and go for a run!

Listen to this playlist at:

50. What a Time to be Alive, Superchunk: If you can make a list of great songs this long, what a time to be alive!

49. God’s Plan, Drake: A million acts of kindness:

48. Better in My Day, Gazelle Twin, Elizabeth Bernholz shreds the myth of the glorified past with unrelenting force.

47. I Said Hi, Amy Shark: Amy invites us to ride on an emotional yo-yo

46. House, The Ophelias: Strong, all-female debut from Cincinnati.

45. (Hope) Is Just Another Word with a Hole In It, Nothing: While the vocals of this song are muffled, something about the drums turns my feet.

44. Hunger, Florence + The Machine: I’ll take another helping of whatever Florence is serving Image result for kendrick feat

43. Tints, Anderson .Paak: I don’t often listen to Anderson .Paak, but when I do Kendrick is Feat.

42. The Mantra, Mike Will MADE It: I don’t often listen to Mike, but when I do Kendrick is Feat.

41. Mona Lisa: Lil Wayne: I don’t often listen to Lil Wayne, but when I do Kendrick is Feat.

40. Love is Madness, Thirty Second to Mars: Jared Leto + Halsey = enough passion to pound any heart

39. Go with the Flow, Razorbumps: Debut release from Denton, Texas, the influence of Devo stretches across distance, age, gender, and time.

38. Make Me Feel, Janelle Monale: Prince lives!

37. Pressure, Muse (feat UCLA Marching Band): Because what the world needs now is more music Feat marching bands!

Image result for bunny's blues lost under heaven36. Bunny’s Blues, Lost Under Heaven: An appetizer while waiting for the new album in January, but I’ll take it.

35. Chun-Li, Nicki Minaj: I think Nicki may be losing it, but this song moves.

34. I’m a Man, Ty Segall, I often don’t get the hype of Ty Segall, but really like this song (Spencer Davis Group remake)

33. Almost Had To Start a Fight, Parquet Courts, I often don’t get the hype of Parquet Courts, but really like this song.

32. Abysmal Urn, The Oh Sees: A song whose beat perfectly matches my running gate. Lots of fun to run with.

31. I Like It, Cardi B: Mrs. B might be more persona than talent, but this song is a party.

30. ATM, J Cole: Mr. Cole lifts a mirror to a miserable world addicted to greed.

29. Birthday Song, Grouper: Be careful, Liz Harris’ siren voice will pull you in and shipwreck you on the rocks of despair. She is also an interesting visual artist (see image to the right)

28. I Shall Love 2, Julia Holter: A protest song that stands in the face of all opposition and demands, “I Shall Love”

27. Still Rolling Stones, Lauren Daigle: Rise Up! Yes, Ma’am.

26. I’ll Make You Sorry, Screaming Females: Love might make you sorry, but the Screaming Females never will.

25. Building in Flower, Innocence Mission, Soft, delicate, and powerful at the same time. Like a springtime stroll through an unsettled Van Gogh landscape.

24. Everybody’s Coming to My House, David Byrne: Once you go on a trip with David Byrne, you’ll never want to go back home.

Image result for sleaford mods23. Diet Gum, John Grant: Now with more raccoon proteins and life-affirming cockroach milk

22. Bang Someone Out, Sleaford Mods: Divide and separate, this is how it’s done, not just in the United Kingdom.

21. Nina Cried Power, Hozier: An Irishman celebrates American civil rights music and calls us all to live in to our own power.

20. If You Know You Know, Pusha T: A 1970s vibe with 2018 awareness

19. Tortoises all the way down, mewithoutyou: poetry, philosophy, and layers of sound that make my brain happy.

18. Sicko Mode, Travis Scott: Travis Scott is often too mellow for running, but this music fest features Drake, samples Biggie, and rocks.

17. APES**T, The Carters: While the album wasn’t Lemonade, this song shows Beyonce’s brilliance as she out raps Jay ZImage result for apeshit beyonce16. Over and Over and Over, Jack White: Jack will get your lungs blowing

15. All the Stars, Kendrick Lamar and SZA: Two of the year’s best voices blend together and pull us all closer.

14. This is America, Childish Gambino: The most important video of 2018 (of the century? ever?)

13. Ahead of Ourselves, Nine Inch Nails: Trent has been ahead of us for a long time, and still is. NiN continues to push the pace and we are running to try and keep up.

12. It’s Never OK, Sarah Mary Chadwick: Sarah’s music does not feature a fast RPM, but the emotional edge is more powerful than any beat.

11. Chloraseptic (Remix), Eminem: Revival may not have gone viral, but this is the jam!Related image

10. Life is Beautiful, Lil Peep: No one personifies the beauty and tragedy of life more than Lil Peep: a gifted artist who made this planet more colorful but left way too soon.

9. Monument, Bambara: The spirit of Jim Morrison lives on in a tireless punk energy.

8. Train, Starcrawler: If Arrow de Wilde doesn’t get you moving, go to a doctor. Get on board, the train is bumblin’ in.

7. Victims of a Clown, Ministry: A call to action… Let us all unite!

6. 100 Miles and Running, Logic: Logic on fire!

IDLES at Ace of Cups, Columbus

5. Dark Store, Arndales: Darkness checks in, it doesn’t check out

4. Cops Shot the Kid, Nas: The beat will get your feet moving and the social message will move your heart.

3. Calling Out, Remember Sports: Calling you out of your malaise and in to joy.

2. Samaritan, IDLES: The best thing to happen to punk rock since 1977.

1. X, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz & Saudi: Are we on ten yet? I live on ten.

Image result for black panther soundtrack



Race Report: Columbus ULTRA Marathon 50

Only 0.5 percent of Americans run a marathon in a year. Yesterday; I was ready to join that rank.

 IMG_2503My intention when I woke up race morning was to run 50 miles. This same weekend, I had planned to run the Fall 50 in Wisconsin, but we were unable to make the trip. Rather than lose four months of training, i decided to create my own 50-mile route, using the Columbus Marathon for the first 26.2 and running back to and around Hilliard for the last 23.8.


This year in Ohio we had no spring and now we have had no autumn. Two weeks ago, it was in the 90s, now I scrape ice off my car in the morning. Race morning was below freezing. I debated whether to wear shorts or compression running pants. I walked outside in shorts and felt fine, so went with that. That would turn out to be the biggest mistake of the day. In the cold, my leg muscles tightened up and never let go. I kept thinking that surely after 10 or 40 miles my legs would warm up, but they never did. All day long, I never felt like I found my natural stride. 


With these tight legs, I considered quitting at the marathon finish line. That would still be a solid accomplishment, nothing wrong with counting myself among the 0.5 percent. Or so my brain told me.


My friend Johnny Rutherford wasn’t buying it.


I knew Rutherford was tracking me and had planned on running with me at some point. I sent him a text saying I was planning on stopping at the finish line and got this reply:



Unbeknownst to me, Rutherford had also setup a chat group. While I was whining about my tight legs, he was lining up people to run the final 24 miles with me back to Hilliard.


Even by this time, I ran with several amazing people. The Team Possum motto is that if you get IMG_2505to the end of the race and haven’t made a new friend, you are doing it wrong. About two miles in, I started talking with a woman running next to me. She was running her first half marathon on a dare. A few miles later I found out the dare came from my friend, Jonathan Flores, who she works with. There were 18,000 people on the course and the first person I talked to is a mutual friend.


About 14 miles in, after the half marathoners split off and left the course deserted, I ran with a woman named Marilyn who was having a hard time. I gave her the two Motrin I had with me and we promised to pray for each other.IMG_2507


Not long after, a church friend named Sean ran up behind me. He injured his hamstring at Burning River 100, recovered from that to assist his wife, Julie, with the Columbus half marathon, and now encouraged me for about 10 miles. I probably pushed him faster than he needed to go, but we both would finish.


I came across the finish line while loudly rapping the Public Enemy song, “I shall not be moved.” Darlene met me there with some Gatorade and a peanut butter sandwich. She later said she didn’t see me cross the finish, but she heard my distinctive scream of victory. This marked the third time Darlene met me. She brought me food and hydration on the desolate part of the course around mile 22 and cheered with David and Stephanie Connor in German Village.


By the time I finished the marathon, I had given in to Rutherford’s persistent texting and was going to give the 50 a shot. I made my way out of the secure area, back to the Scioto Trail, and met Jennifer and our friends Jon and Lisa. Jon served as my crew chief for the day and helped me with gear change, nutrition, and hydration. Seasoned boiled potatoes, Nutella wraps, and Tailwind infused water had me ready to go. All day long, I managed my nutrition well. I began the race overhydrated (thanks to a large Tim Hortons coffee) and took three porta-potty breaks in the first 12 miles. However, throughout the race I ate before I was hungry, drank before I was thirsty, and walked before I was tired. The sweetness of tailwind got tiring, but overall I did well in nutrition and hydration management.


IMG_2521At my crew chief led stop, a fellow Possum known as Goat met me. Goat is a remarkable man who recently overcame a significant injury and successfully completed Hallucination 100. Goat ran with me for about the next 12 miles, keeping me laughing and entertaining me with his stories.


As Goat and I approached the Culvers in Hilliard we saw a gentleman with a Team Possum hat waiting for us. I first met Michael near mile 10 of the marathon. He asked if I was doing the full, I replied “that and some extra,” and in typical possum style, he gave up the next few hours of his day to help me run my final 13. A couple of miles later we stopped for another bathroom and nutrition break at Erin’s house. Wil made chorizo burritos (my favorite) and Gatorade waited on the table.


About 4 miles later we picked up a phenomenal runner and human being named Morgan. IMG_2517Morgan recently completed the Hennepin Hundred in just over 21 hours. She is amazing and in a class beyond me. Yet, she was so supportive and complimentary of me. She kept saying, “you don’t look like someone who has run over 40 miles”. High praise from a high-end athlete.


Michael and I dropped Morgan off with her husband at Heritage Park and headed toward downtown Hilliard for the last five miles to the finish. We made an ill-advised stop in the nicest public bathroom I have ever been in. The warmth of the bathroom contrasted the cold outside. In the short time I stood in the bathroom, my legs tightened up again and it took a mile to loosen back up.


Nevertheless, press on we did. While my legs were never right all day, I never once felt tired or winded. I had a positive spirit, energy, and experience all day. Although cold, it was a beautiful day that began with fireworks at the start line and ended with a beautiful sunset.


IMG_2519Michael and I ran the last two miles at a solid pace, finishing at the Beer Barrel. Jennifer, Erin, Wil, and Kye cheered. Cold beer and warm food waited for us. But I would have never savored this experience without the dozens of people who carried me on race day. The Possum community shined with its true colors, the church community rallied around me, and my friends and family fueled me with much more than potatoes and Tailwind.


Running may seem like the most individual of sports, but there was nothing individual about completing this 50-mile run. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of when I started running and this was my 12th marathon or ultra. This one is the most special of all, not because of what I did, but because of what we did together.


I am blessed beyond measure.