Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ramp up the running, Achilles tendonitis rears its ugly head. I think this'll be an unserious spring season; taking it seriously starting off with an injury sounds like all sorts of stupid.

Probably means the blog will go back into hibernation. Oh well, such is life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

18 weeks to Ann Arbor marathon. Or possibly half marathon; I haven't quite decided yet. Whatever i choose to do, though, I've decided to give Jack Daniels' plan another try. Modified, of course, because it's insane.

After yesterday's 9 mile run and fencing practice, I decided to take it easy: 20 min on the bike and whatever yoga glow offered as their daily practice. It turned out to be a gratefulness meditation, which was timed for the holiday this week, I guess.

And I have a lot of things for which I should be grateful.
sore muscles
frustrating injuries
disappointing performances
hitting the wall
hitting the pit
hitting the abyss
overwhelming fatigue
upset stomachs
biting winter winds
and psychological trauma

... because in these things, I remember I am alive.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hungerford Games

There are moments in your life when things fall into place for all the right reasons, where the stars align and the people you meet are exactly at exactly the right time for something wonderful to happen.

That's exactly how I feel about this year's Hungerford Games 50 mile, and part of the something wonderful was me to come in dead last in the race. And I couldn't be happier about it, and not just because of the saying DFL > DNF > DNS.

Serendipity #1: Rick, Andrea, Bill and Jan walked into the hotel at exactly the same time I did. I held the door for them.

I had a vague sense that we were probably going to be leaving at the same time, but I stopped by Running Lab and chatted and shopped, and I visited rest stops pretty frequently to stretch my legs, and I just let things happen. It worked out perfectly for me to join up with them for dinner, packet pick up, and a look at the course to see what it would be like.

Well, dinner left a little to be desired, but that happens. At least, I didn't pay for my choice nearly as much as I should have. No GI issues at all, and considering I chose barbecue, it may qualify as a minor miracle in itself.

Serendipity #2: As I got back from dinner and was walking in to the hotel, my running buddy/coworker Megan bumped into me. She was inspired, I guess, by my Woodstock 100 mile experience to see if this ultra marathon thing might be something fun. It turned out that she and her boyfriend Ian were on the same floor, one number up from me- though halfway down the hall. The hotel had a few... curious feature that made me think it was put together by a committee.

Serendipity #3: Megan and I started off the race slowly, and in the first few minutes met up with Cami, who seemed to want to run about our speed. We struck up a conversation and chatted though the usual preliminaries over the first few hours. It turned out that Cami's father, sister Jamie, and nephew Sam were there to support her, and this played a big role in me being able to finish the race.

It seemed, for whatever reason, when I drank the water at the aid stations I would feel sick. When I didn't drink their water, I didn't have a problem. But it was a high 70°s and a 50 mile, and that's a pretty tough combination to try to go through without any sort of fluids (I didn't even try the Heed; it upsets my stomach even when the water it's made from doesn't).

Jamie, though, was able to refill my bottles from water she had on hand when we met up, which was often enough to keep me from getting heat stroke; or even really suffering from more than mild dehydration. I stuck with Cami for dear life- not just because of the water, of course. Good conversation makes the miles fly by, even when they're tough, through sand, hilly and occasionally horrible.

The heat got rough, but we got through it. A tear in my shoe let in enough sand to build a sandcastle, but these things happen. My right achilles tendon began to act up, and my compensation probably caused a muscle in my left knee to freak out. I wasn't able to fully extend my knee for the last 15-20 miles of the race. All part of the game.

The sun went down, and neither one of us had a light. So we kind of finished the 30-45 min of the race by feel and starlight. The scariest moment was a slight rise about 20-30 feet before the finish line that neither of us saw; we both had to seriously work to keep our balance. Easier said than done after over 13 hours plowing through sand. But we crossed the finish line together (though I tried to be slightly behind I could be the official DFL).

A lot of things had to turn out to make this race the truly wonderful experience it was; the hard parts helped define the truly glorious. The weather, though hot, was wonderful. The course was absolutely beautiful, perfect timing for the fall colors; well marked out but with its own challenges. We had to walk much of the last loop, but it wasn't half so much as I walked at Woodstock. And, of course, the people who help you through.

I'll end with a picture of Cami and myself at the end of the race, after night had fallen (Megan was feeling strong; she finished 20 minutes before us).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My first stamp: bit crude, like a child's first steps.

I'm okay with that.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harry the Runaway Horse

So, remember how I said I can't wait to try this again? Umm....

In a way, this was a twofer. I knew of one very easy find at a local college on my way home from work; unfortunately, I think someone not looking for it found it. Such is the way of the Letterbox, I guess. It wasn't where it should have been. I noted it at atlasquest and moved on.

Hess Hathaway Park was only a couple of miles away, on also on my way home. Even better, it's a park I've been wanting to explore for a little while.

The clue was kind of a Dylanesque stream of consciousness story: Which I won't go into.  I can say that during my search I failed to see quite a few of the landmarks; perhaps because I'm unobservant, or the undergrowth hid them, or I started off in the wrong place and managed to blunder may way to the box through good fortune. All are possibilities, and all may be right. But I did manage to get some nice vistas...

Geese! Geese everywhere!

A field mentioned in the clue

A tree: if you zoom in, there's a branch with a 90 degree bend that looks like it could be an "h". Could this be "h" mentioned in the clue? Hint: the answer rhymes with "Poe"

And yet, given time and a bit of perseverance I find this:

And Stamp my stamp:

This time getting the date right. If you look closely, I'm also trying my hand at being a bit more creative in my stamping. I can only get better, right?

Another fun adventure, exploring someplace new!

Things I learned:
-I really should have used bug spray. again. So maybe I should put "demonstrated not to have learned" as a section
-Things can change a lot; even relatively obvious landmarks can change, be hidden, or be less obvious given the season.
-even though I went over a mile out of my way, it was a lot of fun exploring a new place.

Things I'm looking forward to:
-A couple of three part boxes at parks I'm pretty eager to explore
- coming up with a slightly see simple stamp
- remembering to use bug spray

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Letterboxing virgin

Shopping, hiking through the forest, and christmas, all rolled into one!

My first letterboxing adventure consisted of a shopping trip for a stamp and ink, journal and pen. It was made possible by one of my favorite philosophies of life: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." If I wait till I'm perfect at something before I try it, I'm going to wind up never trying anything new.

So I found myself on those well worn Pontiac Rec trails; this time instead of running them I was figuring out the clues. To be fair, most of them I could see in my mind's eye as I read them:

"We're going on a hike today! Start at the picnic area, go to the furthest corner and park. Don't use the bicycle trail you will see from the parking lot. Instead, follow the sidewalk toward the picnic area. When the sidewalk ends, cross the sea of tables and grills, and you will find the hiking trail. Observe the description of the hiking trail markers. Pass 1 of the described markers.... be very careful approaching the second one.... and look both ways as you approach the third one. The threat is smaller here, but it's also quieter. Pass one more hiking trail sign without the designated marker. See the big hill? You can thank me now - i won't make you climb it. Instead, continue up what looks like a dry creek bed. You will see a very large, obvious tree on your right - that's not it. A little further, see one with a large wound on the side. Here is where our treasure hiker, loaded down for a much longer walk, decided to rest. 4/2013: Then he got back up again, and continued up the hill. At the intersection, he turned right and walked a short way to an out-of-place looking evergreen shrub. He decided that was a safer place to rest, and there he remains."

Hiking down the trail:

Some of my favorite country, though some hunters don't seem to like the idea much:

I found both the first big tree and the wounded tree that was the box's first resting place. I think I had noticed them prior to this trip:

But I followed the directions to the intersection to turn right. And wandered down the path, completely failing to spot any evergreen bushes on the side of the path.

I turned around and walked more slowly. Gave blood to mosquitoes and the occasional biting fly. Turned around again at the intersection and walked yet more slowly. Aha! A evergreen bush looking out of place. I poke around a bit, cursing at the thorny undergrowth which wanted it's donation of blood too. I resolved to bring gloves if the clues ever mention undergrowth. No letterbox. I notice that there's more evergreen a few feet away poke around more, this time with a stick.

No dice.

I think to myself: should I wait a few days till winter comes and kills off all the regular plants to try this one again? I wander dejectedly up and down the trail again hoping to spot another evergreen bush. On my fourth or fifth pass, I see a bush that looks much better positioned than the first I searched through. Trying not to be too obvious or get my hopes up too high, I look through the undergrowth and see the plastic box.

I reach with trembling fingers, pop open the lid and hesitate, wanting to savor the moment. So I grab my phone and take a pic:

And remove the lid. Just like a kid during Christmas; really, more anticipation than I've had from Christmas in a long while, *because* I had to get bitten, scratched and frustrated trying to find it.

I find the logbook and add my stamp (deciding not to show the letterbox stamp. If you want to see it, my advice is to go find it! :)

Sadly, messing up the date. :P It's a complicated process when you've never done it before, and I really need to learn my way around an ink pad and stamp a little better. Oh well, such is life.

So Things I Learned:
- I need a better bag for things like food and water. I started off hungry, and it only got worse as I was trying to find the letterbox.
- I really should have put on some bug spray
- gloves and a long sleeved t-shirt would've help me figure out that the first bush I poked around was the wrong one a bit more quickly.

Things I look forward to:
-Finding letterboxes in more unfamiliar territory
-getting more proficient and possibly making my own stamp
-dreaming up my own letterboxes to place at Pontiac and Highland Rec.

I can't wait to try this again! :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad