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Why run 24 hours?

Why?

In three weeks I will be running the Eagle Up 24 hour ultramarathon. When I share this news with my running friends it is met with encouragement, excitement, and support. When I share this news with my non-running friends it is met with shock, curiosity, and bewilderment.

The question many people ask me is, why?

The answers to that are multiple.

First, running with the beloved community is my happy place. Just as some people find joy in golf or drawing or shopping, mine is found on the trail.

Second, is a basic desire to discover what I am capable of. I have twice run 50 miles and at the end of each I felt like I had more in the tank. We are capable of more than we tell ourselves. This run will be another step forward in to undiscovered territory.

The desire to discover what I am capable of is not only a matter of achieving a new distance, but also to experience what it is like to practice “relentless forward progress” for 24 hours. What is it like to physically and mentally push beyond 12 hours? How will I embrace the darkness of the night and the dark moments within myself? What will it be like to run toward the first glimpse of sunlight? “More than those who watch for the morning! More than those who watch for the morning! (Psalm 130:6)

Third, is a desire to be part of something bigger than myself. The running community is an unexpectedly wonderful place where support is generously given and achievements are commonly shared. In past runs, I have found great strength in running for a cause. This time I’ll be running for the most personally significant cause I’ve ever run for, the work to end leukemia. I will carry the names of each donor with me and that person will accompany me for one mile. During that mile, I think of that person and pray for that person, they are literally with me.

Running for something greater than myself is the strongest motivation. My legs might cramp, my skin might be covered in sweat, but when I lift my eyes up off myself, I find the strength to persevere.

Join me on this journey by making a donation to: https://pages.teamintraining.org/coh/yourway19/curecml

 

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Playin Possum Preview

A preview of next week’s race, from a run at DSP today:

– guess what, it has rained a lot in Ohio this year. The Lakeview Trail might be a little bit wet. Enjoy it. How many times as an adult do you get to splash in puddles?

– The grass on top of the damn levee has not been mowed. It is thick to run through. This is a great opportunity to do some ankle strengthening exercises.

– There is a lot of poison ivy out there. Dress and take precaution appropriately

– The creek crossing is deeper than previous years, but very easy to do. Plus, this could wash off any poison ivy.

– I made four wrong turns today and i am helping to mark the course next week. I don’t see how that could go wrong

– DSP is one of the most beautiful places in Ohio. You are going to have a blast. Forget about your watch or how long it takes, embrace the wonderful community and the beautiful nature. Have fun out there!

Big Turtle 50K

Overhurt, Undertrained, and Over Here

In ways beyond the scope of this blog, 2019 has been one tough year. Every day has seemed to bring with it another challenge that has left me in a place where nothing’s shocking.

Low on the list of problems has been a spate of running injuries. In January, I broke my broke my arm on the ice at Highbanks Metro Park. Three weeks ago, I pulled my hamstring in an ill-intended effort to burn off anxiety. Last week, I turned my ankle when I stepped on a large rock. With all of these injuries combined, I am greatly undertrained and about 150 miles behind pace on my goal of running 2,019 miles this year.

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Another hill around mile 29

Before all of this, I registered for the Big Turtle 50 in Morehead, Kentucky. In a rare moment of wisdom, I changed my registration from the 50 mile to the 50 kilometer run. Even so, it was not until Thursday that my physical therapist gave me permission to go. She made me promise that I would stop if I felt pain in my hamstring, not that everyone doesn’t feel pain in an ultramarathon. However, I went in to the run planning to walk the uphills and run the downhills to protect my hamstring. I just didn’t realize how many hills there were.

The run began at Morehead State University and traveled an out-and-back trail through the Daniel Boone State Forest. I looked at the elevation profile before the race but greatly underestimated the steepness of the hills. According to my Garmin, the run included 3,700 feet of elevation gain. Making it even more fun, a week of rain turned the steep slopes in to mud slides. Add 200 runners on to the trail, and significant portions of the trail were completely unrunnable (at least for my skill set).IMG_5191

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Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day in the forest. The weather was perfect and the trail adorned with purple, blooming flowers and yellow butterflies. Hard climbs resulted in magnificent views. The winding trail led runners to wade across streams dozens of times. Yet the course was really well marked. In 31 miles I never got lost once, with a couple of saves from the runners around me.

As the Possum adage says, “if you haven’t made a new friend you are doing it wrong”. I ran the first seven miles with a pack of 4-5 runners, including a Baptist preacher

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A Baptist and a Methodist pastor run in to the woods…

and two women with matching compression socks. A handful of Possums ran offering words of encouragement and a mid-run save with the assistance of a foam roller. Aid station volunteers were phenomenal. At mile 26 the aid station cheered for me like I was Scott Jurek setting a course record, not like the gimpy middle aged man near the back of the pack I was.

After one last climb and one long zigzag down the switch back trails, I was back on the campus and soon across the finish line. While I finished with the slowest pace I have ever run in any race, in many ways completing the Big Turtle is one of the greatest accomplishments. I successfully managed a series of injuries and one tough IMG_5198trail. My nutrition and hydration were on point for a day that started cool and got rather warm. In ideal circumstances, I would have trained better for steep hill climbs and descents. But, life has been far from ideal. Yet we keep putting one foot in front of the other with relentless forward progress.

 

 

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.

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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

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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.