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.


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


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


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.


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.

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.

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