Top 100 Running Songs of 2019

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What a great year for music. The year when music defied categories of gender, nationality, race, and sexuality. So much good music, get out and go for a long run.

Big thanks to Henry Rollins and his KCRW radio show, Iggy Confidential, and NPR’s All Songs Considered for keeping it fanatic. If you think there is no good music these days, check out these shows.

You can hear this playlist at https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/2019-running-songs/pl.u-1LdbC8ZlaER

100. Where the Action is, The Waterboys. Let’s go Mike Scott! Still good after all these years.

Related image99. Old Town Road, Lil Nas X. This is the song that has no end, it just goes on and on my friend.

98. Sympathy, Vampire Weekend. The enemy of my enemy has a kickin’ beat.

97. Bun Roo, Ice Cream. The man is keeping poor bun roo down.

96. Braindrops, Tropical F Storm. The Australian punk just keeps coming and is so good. This one is wild and wonderful.

Image result for lingua ignota95. Do You Doubt Me Traitor, Lingua Ignota. The first time I heard this song it came with a disclaimer from Iggy Pop that the song had been divided in two to prevent listeners from having a nervous breakdown. Be careful.

94. Pleasant, SebastiAn. I don’t speak French, but I love all these sounds.

93. T.V. Sorcery, Neurotic Mirage. When you get in to an uber and discover the driver rocks harder than Bad Religion.

92. Slow Mover, Angie McMahon. “Friend, old friend, it’s 4 AM
What are we doing in the street?” I am the slow mover, Angie!

91. Galleon Ship, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. We are not alone. Nick takes us on a haunting journey of communal grief.

90. Can I Go On, Sleater-Kinney. A powerful anthem of annihilation.

89. Distance, Beast Coast. Rap super group goes beast mode.

88. Ampliphaedies, Sunn O))). I could ride the edge of this drone metal all day long.

87. L’Île des Morts, Alcest. What happens when we die? No one can answer that better than this French black metal band.

86. Blind Leading the Blind, Mumford & Sons. Mumford grew up and got all heavy on us, bringing together Steinbeck and social justice.

85. Inhale Exhale, Anna Meredith. I don’t know what the BPM is on this, but it is PR material.

84. Help Me Lose My Mind, Neil Young and Crazy Horse. At 74, Neil and them are as powerful as ever railing against the man.

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83. Selah, Kanye West. I don’t know what is going on with Kanye most of the time, but this song rocks.

82. Trigger, Major Lazer and Khalid. A sad song delivered so smoothly.

81. The Runner, Foals. Loneliness of the long distance runner,
shadow, come closer, so I’ll go on further.

80. Take What You Want, Post Malone. How do Post Malone, Ozzy Osbourne, and Travis Scott get together? Are they members of the same book club?

79. Hungry Baby, Kim Gordon. What are you hungry for? Kim is dishing it out.

78. Dead Ringer, Yoke Lore. Who says you can’t have it all? Certainly not Yoke Lore. Interesting lyrics, voice, and beat that will keep you up.

77. Written Words, Hammered Hulls. Ian’s brother brings it home. This is really good.

76. History Repeats, Brittany Howard. Funky and political, one more time again!

75. Gloria, The Lumineers. Only The Lumineers can make a song about the spiral of addiction sound like a party.

74. Night Owl, Olivia Jean. Making the electric guitar great again!

73. Click, Charlie XCX. Everything about this song just clicks.

72. Favourite Cop, Ausmuteants. Yes, Ausmuteants, you are my favorite.

71. Bra Fie, Fuse ODG. This British-Ghanaian rapper takes the shackles off the feet of people everywhere.

70. Paténipat, Charlotte Adigery. The Belgium-Caribbean artist described this song as “If in life you feel tired and hopeless, throw out all the stuff that don’t matter in the end. Dance until you’re dizzy.” Or, run to this song until you’re dizzy.

69. Doin’ Time, Lana Del Rey. One part Gershwin, one part Sublime, one part Lana Del Rey, all parts awesome.

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68. Loves Missing, Iggy Pop. Iggy  Pop is 72 and still lives at the forefront of cutting edge music.

67. Good Morning Love, Common. No one can wash our pain away like Common.

66. Throw it Back, Missy Elliott. Missy kicking it old school and keeping it fresh at the same time.

65. All Day Long, Chance the Rapper. And we back. Chance comes out swinging with John Legend making a great song even better.

64. Fear Inoculum, Tool. Tool’s first song in 13 year clocks in at over 10 minutes and it is time well spent.

63. California Friends, The Regrettes. If this song doessn’t make you pump your fist in the air you must be in a coma.

62. Fine Mess, Interpol. This is a unique sound for Interpol with a different production and I really like it.

61. Terrorwrist, DJ Lord. A solid beat that will propel you forward.

60. What I Heard on the Pop Radio, Pere Ubu. Legs hurt? Body tired? Pere says to “shut up and take it like a man”

59. Taste, Ty Segall. Ty puts out a new song every time I brush my teeth, this is a good one.'King's Mouth," a Flaming Lips art exhibit, opens Saturday in Nashville.

58. All For the Life of the City, The Flaming Lips.  The king saves the day, the king dies today!

57. After its own death: Side B, Nivhek. A Grouper under another name is still awesome. 20 minutes of Liz Harris’ barely audible voice will float you through the miles.

56. Total History, FACS. There is something about the layered sounds on this song that makes my soul happy. This song is eight minutes long and I wish it was 80.

55. MILES, Jamila Woods. Miles Davis personified in a 30 year old singer, songwriter, poet.

54. Made with Hate, Prophets of Rage. So close, so close, so close, so close… to being great.

53. Shoulderblades, Girl Band. Irish experimental noise rock that layers a whole lot of everything.

52. Time, Free Nationals, Mac Miller, Kali Uchis. I really miss Mac Miller, there was no one smoother.

51. Slease, False Heads. Rock out with your broken self. I really like this tease and can’t wait for the upcoming album.

50. Fringe Runner, The Fat White Family. I am not sure why this song is called Fringe Runner, but it is cool and has a kickin’ beat. I like it.

49. Juicy Socks, Cherry Glazerr. As a runner I have had many juicy socks, none as enjoyable as this one.

48. father/ELOHIM, Le Butcherettes. A fun, driving song from one of today’s best groups.

47. American Dream, J. S. Ondara. A Kenyan born singer-songwriter beautifully sings an American protest song. This is the wonder of music in 2019.

46. Controlled Zone, Richard Rose. This is one strong jam.

45. Heaven, Avicii. A beautiful posthumous song from Swedish DJ made even better by Chris Martin.Wu-Tang Clan Logo Vector

44. No Cap, DigDat x Loski. Two South London rappers spit beat for beat.

43. Of Mics and Men, Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu are back and strong as ever!

42. we, diamonds, Dawn Richard. Shine on you crazy Dawn.

41. Pretty, girlpool. Trying to understand what this sadness means.

40. Lizzy, Starcrawler. Wait for it… there it is! I think Arrow is going to make you fall down.

39. Highlife, The Dandy Warhols. Sounds like I am 25 years late to the party on this one. I’ve been missing the high life.

38. Heartworm, Oh Sees. Some in-your-face, scream in to the mic, old school Oh Sees on this one.

Image result for omar souleyman album shlon cover37. Princess, Lil Peep. Come on, just send my man a text already so he can get some rest.

36. 3tini 7obba, Omar Souleyman. Nothing gets me moving like this Syrian farmer.

35. Cricket Chronicles Revisted, The Claypool Lennon Delirium. This song has one kicking beat. Just ask your doctor.

34. Lo/Hi, The Black Keys. A kicking song with one heck of a guitar riff.

33. Jesus’ Son, Priests. In this song she threatens to hurt someone. Then they announced they are breaking up, they hurt me.

32. Church, asia. This Belgian angel sings of just wanting to go to church, but her heart is empty and broken.

31.I Just Came to Pray, Sarah Mary Chadwick. My favorite song of the year. There may not be a driving beat to run to, but Sarah will hold your heart in her hand and squeeze.

30. Exit, Foals. Foals put out two really good albums this year. This song offers a dream of disconnecting from a world lacking in privacy and living underground.

29. Movement, Hozier.  Hozier is not only a gifted, soulful singer but a phenomenal guitarist and showman. When he moves, I move.

28. What do you want me to do? Bob Mould. Just keep putting out music that rocks this hard, that’s all we want Bob.

27. I Don’t Mind, Bob Mould. Bob breathes new life in to the Buzzcocks cover and continually demonstrates his ageless abilities.

26. Lux, Lumina, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete. The light of Mexican psychedelic indie music casts out so much darkness.

25. Do the Paranoid Style, Bad Religion. Every once in awhile Bad Religion dusts it off and shows they can still bring a furious beat and political critique.

24. Homicide, Logic (feat Eminem) Logic is one of the most talented rappers, coupled with Eminem this song will leave you awed.

23. What, Littlez (Smoke Boys) Remember when South Central owned rap music? Now the center of the universe is South London.

22. Vossi Bop, Stormzy. Stormzy is so hot he mentions Idris Elba in a lyric and he makes a cameo in the video.  They don’t get any cooler than Stormzy.Image result for stormzy idris elba

21.  Shcho Ty Sobi Dumaiesh? Dakh Daughters. What do you think? I think these Ukrainian women rock.

20. Simon Says, Megan Thee Stallion. Simply a great song to run to with all the running instruction you need: left, right, left, right, left

19. Juice, Lizzo. 2019 was the year of Lizzo. While she might’ve been everywhere don’t blame her, blame it on the juice.

18. Bad Guy, Billie Eilish. While this song certainly got overplayed, it mocks facade and toppled Old Town Road so it gets points for putting us out of our misery.

17. Offence, Little Simz. Kickin’ percussion fuels this empowerment centered British grime and she doesn’t care who she offends.

16. Split, Patio. Brash and in your face. Please repeat, please repeat.

15. Too Real, Fontaines D.C., Is Irish punk rock too real for you?

14. Sunday Driver, The Raconteurs. Jack White continues to single-handily hold up the mantle of rock and roll.

13. National Police Sh*t, Drinking Boys and Girls Choir. Who knew that South Korean punk rock could jam so hard.

12. Monsoon Rock, Amyl and the Sniffers. Australian pub rock was happening, and it was f’ing lit

11. Seer, Honkies. Nothing like psychotic, British country-rock to get your feet moving

10. Internationally Unknown, Ratboy. I don’t know where we’re gonna go, but this song will take you there.

9. Mercedes Marxist, Idles. The band of the century combines a driving beat, a punk attitude, and a personal critique.

8. Hey Sydney, The Scientists.  Don’t waste your breath!

7. This Land, Gary Clark Jr: Whose land is this? It is Gary’s land!

6. Post-millennial Tension, Lost Under Heaven: The best band you probably haven’t heard of asks how can we sing love songs at a time like this?

5. Doorman, Slowthai: My favorite rapper of the year with a punk edge who takes on economic disparity with a driving beat.

4. Nightmare, Halsey: Not your typical pop star, Halsey punches patriarchy in the throat and stands strong.

3. High Beams, Flume: Australian electronic-music combines with British grime rap to paint a different picture.

2. I Think, Tyler the Creator: Despite being thrown off by love, Tyler puts out my favorite rap album of the year with a Jim Henson reference in this song. It doesn’t get better than that.

1. Hong Kong to Amsterdam, Sneaks: Eva Moolchan combines punk-Black-feminist-queer-funk-rap-avant garde jazz in a raw sound and she is running a mile to see to it.

 

Tuscazoar 25 (errr… 26.63)

I used to think Ohio was flat.

I was born in Toledo,  lived in Perrysburg for the first seven years of my life, but only saw northwest Ohio. In 2014 I flew in to Columbus from New Mexico for a conference and was struck by the difference in landscape from the Sandia Mountains to the flatland of central Ohio.

Today I experienced that all of Ohio is not flat.

Runners gathered at Tuscazoar Boy Scout camp to run a 25 mile loop that included more than 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Some ran 100 and 50 mile varieties of the race doing multiple loops, I smartly restrained myself to one round. The first three miles or so took us down single-track switchbacks, leading to the next dozen plus miles of towpath and old rail trails in to the town of Zoar, finishing with 10 miles back in the hills.

Overall, the course was marked extremely well, which was quite impressive with 25 miles to cover. img_7204However, as I came out of the woods and in to the flat trail I came across an arrow pointing left and another pointing right and choose poorly. I ended up heading back up in the hills. In the end, I ended up running 26.63 miles, but I don’t think the race director, Eric, will charge me any extra.

Eric puts on a great race with an abundance of food and great aid stations. He organized the Eagle Up Ultra I ran in June, which featured the largest endless food buffet I have ever seen. All of the aid stations at Tuscazoar had everything you could want, supplemented with water stops in between. One clever station was themed as a wedding on one side, and when runners came back to the other side five miles later, they were treated to a reception.

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A pastor runs in to an aid station

While Eric puts on a great race, he is also an accomplished runner. In a YouTube video advertising this race he continually talked about how runable this course is. Perhaps for him and others with greater technical ability that statement is true. For a now flatlander like me, who could incorporate some more hill training, the last 10 miles were steep and I often had to walk to navigate rocks and climb over fallen trees.

And yet, it was the best race I have run this year. I have often crossed finish lines disappointed with a slow time or drained by a hot sun. Today I accepted what I could do and was at peace with making wrong turns and walking up and down steep slopes. I ran singing along to my all-time favorite running songs and crossed the finish chanting “The power of lard”. I made new friends and experienced the running community as a supportive place.

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It was a good day.

Favorite 100 Running Songs

Running and music go together like peanut butter and jelly, faith and action, and stripes and plaids.

In preparation for the upcoming Tuscazoar race on August 31, I have compiled a list of my 100 favorite running songs of all time (at least for this moment and in this mood).

What are your favorite running songs? Feel free to send me suggestions of songs I have missed. There is a lot of good music out there!

Listen to the countdown list at: https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/100/pl.u-JjpGuDWVzZA

100. The Distance, CakeImage result for salt n pepa push it
99. Split, Patio
98. Push It, Salt n Pepa
97. Badman’s Song, Tears for Fears
96. Rock Lobster, B-52s
95. Over My Head, Alabama Shakes
94. A Little Less Conversation, Elvis Presley
93. Good Golly Miss Molly, Little Richard
92. Bad Romance, Lady Gaga
91. Speed Trials, Elliot Smith
90. Runnin down a Dream, Tom Petty
89. Como Ves, Ozomatli
88. Green Light, Lorde
87. Goosebumps, Travis Scott
86. Tiny Town, The Dead Milkmen
85. Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil Young
84. A Good Idea, Sugar
83. Dead Inside, Muse
82. Ever Fallen in Love, Buzzcocks
81. Until the End of the World, U2
80. Jesus Walks, Kanye West
79. Sunday Driver, Raconteurs
78. Unchained, Van Halen
77. Careless Memories, Duran Duran
76. Run Like Hell, Pink Floyd
75. Ace of Spades, Motorhead
74. Fix You, Coldplay
73. Hard Sun, Eddie Vedder
Image result for under pressure72. Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie
71. Born to Run, Frankie Goes to Hollywood
70. Jubilee Street, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
69. Stand and Deliver, Adam and the Ants
68. California Love, Dr Dre and 2Pac
67. The Descent, Bob Mould
66. Get Ur Freak On, Missy Elliot
65. This Land, Gary Clark Jr.
64. Bad Guy, Billie Eilish
63. The Kill, 30 Seconds to Mars
62. Lazaretto, Jack White
61. Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
60. Land of Competition, Bad Religion
59. Modest Proposal, Youth Brigade
58. Army Nights, Sleaford Mods
57. Calling Out, Remember Sports
56. High Beams, Flume/Slowthai
55. Pump it Up, Elvis Costello
54. Train, Starcrawler
53. Be Nice, Julie Ruin
52. Nightmare, Halsey
51. Heart-Shaped Box, Nirvana
50. Can’t Stop, Red Hot Chili Peppers
49. Viva Las Vegas, Dead Kennedy’s
48. Search and Destroy, Stooges
47. American Idiot, Green Day
46. Mask Off, Future
45. Hey Ya, Outkast
44. Nuthin ta F’ Wit, Wu Tang ClanImage result for wu tang clan
43. Head Like a Hole, Nine Inch Nails
42. I Got You, James Brown
41. Peter Piper. Run DMC
40. Do You Realize? Flaming Lips
39. The Whole of the Moon, The Waterboys
38. Pump it, Black Eyed Peas
37. Let’s go Crazy, Prince
36. Heroes, David Bowie
35. Given to Fly, Pearl Jam
34. Paranoid Chant, Minutemen
33. All We Got, Chance the Rapper
32. Bad Man, Meat Wave
31. Hong Kong to Amsterdam, Sneaks
30. 100 Punks, Generation X
29. Blister in the Sun, Violent Femmes
28. New Day Rising, Husker Du
27. $ORO, Lost Under Heaven
26. Samaritans, Idles
25. Rise, Public Image Ltd

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24. Cold, Stormzy
23. Tearing, Rollins Band
22. Emperor’s New Clothes, Sinead O’Connor
21. Raspberry Swirl, Tori Amos
20. Juice, Lizzo
19. Rock The Bells, LL Cool J
18. London’s Burning, The Clash
17. God Save the Queen, Sex Pistols
16. Seven Nation Army, White Stripes
15. Out of Step, Minor Threat
14. Mountain Song, Janes Addiction
13. Dog Days are Over, Flo + the Machine
12. Rise Above, Black Flag
11. Killing in the Name, Rage Against the Machine
10. Sabotage, Beastie Boys
9. Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin
8. Welcome to the Terrordome, Public EnemyImage result for iggy pop lust for life
7. I Wanna Be Sedated, Ramones
6. Lard, The Power of Lard
5. Backseat Freestyle, Kendrick Lamar
4. Alive, Pearl Jam
3. Freedom, Beyonce
2. Lose Yourself, Eminem
1. Lust for Life, Iggy Pop

Burning River Relay

I’ve never waited until 12:30 in the afternoon to run in a race. The morning filled with the pent up energy of anticipation as I waited for my teammates to run the first two legs of the Burning River Relay.The 100 mile course winds through the rollings hills of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In the ultra world, the race is known for those who run solo for 100 miles, but also includes a 50 mile and relay option.

I was invited to join the relay fun by my friend, Michelle Rupanovic who later had to drop for surgery. Two parallel teams formed which gave us a tandem partner for the journey. Although I didn’t know anyone on either team, I was lucky to be paired with Carole Krus who is a strong, yet humble, runner who showed me a lot of grace.

After a short time of cheering people at the transition point, our teammates popped out of the woods and we were off. Our 13.6 mile portion of the relay included a little bit of everything. We started on towpath, ran through fields of corn as gunfire echoed to scare off the crows. Some short portions of ankle-deep thick mud nearly pulled off a shoe, but most of the afternoon was spent in the woods. While the course features continually rolling hills it is also very runnable. Never having run in this part of Ohio before I must’ve commented on how beautiful it is a dozen times. I even did my best Julie Andrews impersonation while descending the “Sound of Music” hills.

A couple of miles in, Carole and I picked up a companion. This young man had all of the energy and lightheartedness of youth. He was running the same 13.6 miles as us, but he had just started running and his longest run in preparation was three miles. He also was wearing a two year old pair of ASICS that were already causing a blister. However, his youthful energy was stronger than his lack of preparation and he soon left us in the dust. (Epilogue addition by Carole: To add an epilogue to your blog post, I saw the young man with the worn out Asics and blisters at Kendall Lake where our leg was finished. He was hobbling around barefoot with visible blisters and bloodied cuts on his ankle. He may had only trained for 3 miles, but he sped off down the trail after spending a few minutes with us and finished the 13.6 miles loooong before we did. He and his coworkers were running in two relay teams after raising $33,000 for the City Dogs rescue in Cleveland!)

A few miles later we saw someone running back in the opposite direction from us. At first, we stopped this man asking if he was alright or lost. Turns out he was running the solo 100 miles and was on his way back. We saw the leaders of the 100 running against us. They were in the 70-80 mile range and moving faster than us mere relay people.

An afternoon filled with natural beauty, good conversation and company, and a fair amount of heat and humidity soon came to an end. We descended in to the Kendall Lake Station and while others would run through the night, our miles were finished. But not merely miles checked off on a map, but friendships formed and memories created. Among the list of races completed, one segment of a relay may not sound like much in comparison. However, the joy of dancing over trails and being among creation and community is just as powerful in 13.6 miles as it is in 100 kilometers.

Dawg Gone Long Run 50K Race Report

I have often stated on this blog that the more difficult the obstacle, the greater the me4achievement. By this standard, Dawg Gone Long Run 50K is my greatest running achievement to date.

I signed up for this run after seeing a Facebook post advertising a few open slots, knowing that the rest of my family would be out of town. Registering for a race in the middle of July was an act of ignoring an often-learned lesson that heat is my kryptonite. Something happens when the thermostat passes 90 that drains my will.

Caesar_Creek_Lake_from_spillwayNonetheless, I naively ran into the woods of Cesar Creek State Park with 150 of my newest friends. The race started by crossing over the dam and 10 miles on the east side of the lake. I ran this trail a year and a half ago at the Frosty 14. My memory of this trail was of it being much more difficult. This memory was shaped by the trail being a snowy, muddy mess on my previous attempt. I was pleasantly surprised to find the hard-packed trail easy to run.

The first rule of running is that if you haven’t made a new friend you are doing it wrong. I spent the first five miles running with a cool group of people from Kentucky who had also ran the Big Turtle that I ran in April. This group was led by a librarian named Bob who was bleeding from his forehead from a fall at the beginning of the run. Thestepsre is no better way to start a long run than by following someone bleeding from the forehead. Unfortunately, they were on the 50 mile version of the race and our paths diverged, but starting the run making four new friends was an early win.

After finishing the east side loop, we crossed the dam again and ran two out-and-backs on the west side. This trail was more technical, with steep climbs, steps, and rocks. Switch back trails brought us to the banks of the lake with spectacular views. Fortunately, I had planned on making this a fun run and not worrying about the time.

me2For the first 18 or 19 miles I felt great. I knew the day was getting warmer but still felt good. I began to wonder if I had overcome my weakness in the heat. Then, the afternoon sun hit. At mile 22 I stopped at the main rest area and changed my sweat drenched clothes, wet socks, and muddy shoes. Feeling refreshed, I went back out, but by the time I got to the aid station at 24.5 I was ready to stop. The inside of my right thigh had been cramping to the point of seizing up and I was done. I came in to the aid station ready to call it a day, but my fellow Possum runner Jennie was not hearing it. She said, “what kind of Possum would I be if I let you quit,” wrapped a buff of ice around my neck, and sent me back out against my will.

Three miles later I showed up at the next aid station. I was greeted by the crew saying “you got here just in time”. I responded by asking if I was being pulled off the course for a time cutoff. No, but Jennie showed up again to make sure I didn’t quit. I was handed some type of iced coffee drink that I was told would be the magic to get me moving again. I don’t know what was in that drink, but it worked. I was in a dark place from miles 22-27, but got my mojo back from 27-33. (Yes, I know a 50K is supposed to be 31 bridgemiles, but in the trail world distances are often estimates and according to my Garmin I ran 33.1). The second rule of running is that it doesn’t always get worse. On the way back to the finish I overcame three or four more leg cramps, but in between that I could move again. Trails seemed less technical, food more tolerable, and I “sprinted” through the finish cones with my arms held high and the greatest sense of accomplishment I have ever had while running. This finish took almost twice as long as my 50K PR, but in the 80-some races I have run I have never overcome more than I did in this one.

me3There is no way I would have finished this race on my own. Throughout the day, fellow Possums and my new Kentucky friends encouraged me. People I didn’t know told me I looked great when I didn’t feel great. And, Jennie receives the award for aid station hero of the century.

Overcoming the greatest obstacles results in the greatest achievements. But, nothing significant we do is on our own. Achievements only happen with a little help from our friends.

 

Team Hope 5K Race Report

This has never happened before.

My approach to running this year has simply been to find joy. When I want to run fast I run fast, when I want to run long I run long. I have not been training to race, simply running for fun.

This morning I showed up at the Team Hope 5K, which raises money for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. One of our neighbors has a family member afflicted with Huntington’s and this race was organized to help end this disease.I did not show up expecting to race. I have not done speed work in over a year. I had already run 30 miles this week and planned on getting more miles in after the 5K. But when we got to the starting line I uncharacteristically found myself standing in the front. The race was very low-key, which I love. There were self-printed bibs and suddenly someone just said go.

For the first quarter mile I found myself leading the 5K. That has never happened before. It seemed strange. It was a hot morning with a relatively small number of runners so I wasn’t running all that fast. Soon, someone passed me. That seemed right. And yet, I was able to keep him within sight. About a mile later another person passed me, but I was able to keep both of them close. I wasn’t running full speed but was purposely letting them set the pace and waiting for the opportunity to pass.

Soon, the gentleman in first place started walking, taking a break from the heat. Maybe a quarter-mile later the other person walked, another victim of the heat. About a mile and a half in I found myself back in the lead. This had definitely never happened before.

As my watch beeped at the two mile mark I could feel someone behind me. He was doing to me what I had done to the others, running comfortably and biding his time until he would pass.

A quarter-mile later, he easily strode by. I greeted him with a hello and tried to engage him in conversation, hoping that would keep him close. He didn’t take the bait. As he was passing me, I started to formulate plans for when I would make a move in return. However, he passed me so effortlessly that I knew he would win. If I had rested before this race, done some speed work, or not have run 100 km three weeks ago, I may have been able to make a move, but he had me.

And yet, what unexpected joy coming in second. Not bad at all for an old man with tired legs. More importantly, I met some really cool people and spent time with some of our neighbors. After all, if you don’t make a new friend at a race you are doing it wrong. More important than all of that, this little raise raised $14,000 to end Huntington’s disease. And that is where joy is found.

Eagle Up Ultra

We are capable of so much more than we ever imagine. Yesterday, 650 runners and their crews descended on the quaint town of Canal Fulton, Ohio, to push beyond once perceived limits.

In only its fourth year, the Eagle Up Ultra has become so popular that by 12:30pm on Friday afternoon the parking lot was full. A tent city was created and the nervous energy of anticipation was palpable. Old friends embraced and new friendships were made as community gathered.

At 4:30am the next morning the hive stirred as people dressed, stretched, and fueled. Soon we gathered around the start, honored the service of veterans, and we were off.

The Eagle Up course is a five mile loop that paralleled a canal, crossed an overpass, and came back up next to the Tuscarawas River. The first 3-4 laps were perfect. My body felt great and the crowds of people at the start meant that I got to meet and run with all kinds of cool people. I felt so good that I began to think that if things continued at this pace I could maybe run 100 miles.

And then the heat hit.

The forecast called for overcast skies, and while that happened in Columbus, the clouds never came to Canal Fulton. With a relentless sun bearing down, the crowds thinned, goals adjusted, and the medical tent filled. I joined the ranks of the broken after 35 miles. Tightness in my quad caused pain in my knee that took the on-site physical therapist (thanks, Amy) about a half hour to work out.

After the long delay, I headed back out and the next lap was good, but the following lap defeated me. I came in after 45 miles feeling spent. My friend Jon showed up right as i was finishing the lap with a full Wendy’s dinner and large frosty, but it was all too heavy to eat.

After an extended dinner break and change of socks I went back out again knowing I had to at least get to 50 miles. Accompanied by my patient friend Cynthia, I felt like I had my legs back under me and dedicated myself to 100 kilometers. Jon got me to 55 miles and I ran the last full lap by myself, embracing the darkness of night. I loved running in the night and look forward to doing that again.

I came back by our “Secret Running Peeps” headquarters tent (thanks, Stan and Amy) and got Jon and Mike to do the last 2.1 with me. The out-and-back segment was marked by congratulating other people on the way out and receiving congratulations on the final mile in.

Eagle Up Ultra did not go as planned. The heat and humidity took many casualties and I had to temper my own expectations. But I set a personal record for longest distance run and time on feet. I faced dark moments with strength and proved the maxim that “it doesn’t always get worse.” Most importantly, I received the gift of being part of the running community where strangers pop each other’s blisters, joys and struggles are shared, and master race directors like Eric offer never-ending support.

We are capable of so much more than we think, not only because of the untapped potential within ourselves, but because of the generosity of people that surround us.

I ran this race supported by almost 50 people who donated to the leukemia and lymphoma society, raising over $3,000. As I ran, I thought about what I was grateful for each person and prayed for them. If you would like to make a donation, go to: https://pages.teamintraining.org/coh/yourway19/curecml

Light the Way 5K

Everyone has an inherent need to give back. Nothing makes us come alive more than helping others.

This morning 300-plus people from the West Ohio Annual Conference ran the Light the Way 5K. The race raised thousands of dollars to start new churches in the North Katanga Conference.

I knew going in to the 5K that I would not be running full effort. In three days I’ll be running the Eagle Up 24 hour ultra. I wasn’t going to expend a lot of effort just before my “A” race of the year. Instead, I planned on treating this like a pre-race stretch out run.

About a quarter mile in I ran in to my friend and Church and Community Worker missionary, Soraya Montano. Soraya does not often run, so I spent the next couple of miles helping her.

We soon found ourselves running in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm. Before the race started, the director said if we heard thunder or saw lightning that the run would stop and to come to the finish. However, I didn’t see anyone stop or take a shortcut to the finish. Instead, we laughed as we ran through flooded paths and embraced the joy in the journey.

I did make a detour to The Patio and left my phone with strangers, not wanting to fry it in the rain. In the last mile, i ran with two more people, helping another person get across the finish line.

In the last decade, I’ve crossed many finish lines with the help of others. Today, i discovered tie beauty of running without watch or music but seeking to give back in the way that so many others have given to me. In doing so, nothing made me come more alive than running with others.

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

 

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!