Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Different Breed

There is a different breed of person out there, and I met with one of them yesterday. The best way I can describe this individual is that he was a burly man comfortable in his own skin who confidently marches to the rhythm of his own drum. He does not need Facebook to define his identity nor a cell phone to complete him. There is not a stitch of fear within him nor any refrain from working hard. He is a simple man and a genuine provider with his family being his only motivation. Spare time for this man is never spent on the couch counting pixels on his television, he spends it instead working with raw materials producing handmade knives. This man is truly a different breed from the normal ebb and flow of our society, someone to take note of and someone to honor for daring to be himself. After meeting with this individual I began to ask myself if I too am a different breed of person. Besides my tenacious work ethic and disdain for Facebook, I trek through mountains in my spare time. My trekking consists of running double digit miles. Whether it is raining, sleeting, or snowing day or night I make my treks through the local mountains. Besides my trekking, I also tend to stick out a bit around the office with my polite declines of eating donuts and going out on fast food outings. I'm also not a fan of movies and am rather clueless on the latest television shows and entertainment news; I simply just don't care. I guess you can say I am a person of a different sort and run to the beat of my own song.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eudaemonia

Aristotle's concept of eudaemonia is the pursuit of a well-lived life. Without delving deep into his philosophical idea, it is basically the pursuit of happiness through virtue rather than through material acquisition. It is believed one cannot truly be happy in life with the acquisition of wealth, power, and beauty alone and must lead a life of virtue and good character in order to achieve true happiness. Fast forwarding Aristotle's idea into our modern day and one can quickly surmise we have by and large become a hedonistic society in pursuit of material acquisition at the expense of virtue and good character. Today's society has become consumed with the pursuit of a comfortable life, a life free of pain, challenges, and adversity. As a result, people have become weak, soft, and lazy barely able to cope with life without prescription drugs like Zoloft, Paxil, or Lunesta (not to mention the legalization of marijuana). Whenever we get a healthy dose of life we should embrace the pain and adversity instead of avoiding it, for these type of experiences is where our strength and character is built. When we overcome life challenges we become fearless and confident that we can handle anything that comes our way without cowering back into our comfortable corners. It is when we overcome that we truly experience a well-lived life.

Monday, October 27, 2014

iLife

It appears everyone has to have all the latest and greatest these days. They'll wait in line and jump at the chance to get their hands on the next hottest iGadget with all the bells and whistles that will surely make they're lives better. We now have a near inactive society of zombies wandering around with their heads down staring at a pale blue light in the palm of their hands. Instead of genuine face to face interactions with one another we have succumbed to a gimmick style reality that has slowly been sucking the life out of us. Rather than venturing to the top of a mountain to enjoy breathtaking views, people opt for the view from Instagram or Facebook instead. Some of our best interactions are performed through self absorbed postings on the internet that stroke our egos to a barely present electronic audience posting the same about themselves; it appears any genuine interest of another in their presence is a rarity nowadays. This observation has me concerned and I am seriously thinking about opting out of my iWorld and get back into life. I recognize the mild need for a standard cell phone, and as I was looking into downgrading to a simpler cell phone, I quickly discovered that the smartphone has taken over the market. My consumer choices was either a smartphone or a smartphone, which of course comes with the mandated data plan. It would seem we have been herded like cattle to go into a particular direction unbeknown to us the perilous direction we are heading. This type of iLife is not for me. Sure, I admit I have learned to appreciate apps like Runstastic and Lose It, and the convenience of online banking, but there was a time I was able to live just fine without them. Do I dare revert back into life as I knew it, or continue embracing our modern day iLife Apple has created. Can I reteach myself to calculate my miles by mapping out my runs and using a simple little watch rather than relying on a GPS app? Can I regain my lost ability to listen to the natural signs my body puts forth to refuel and rehydrate instead of relying on an app to tell me what to eat and when to drink water? Do I even dare think about severing the iPhone from my right hand in order to experience the true essence of life? Do I dare not to? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Season of Running recap

My season of running has been a wonderful experience that has brought on many changes in my outlook on life and running. During this season I learned to slow down and stop on occasion to smell the roses, quite literally. As I worked through some nagging injuries I realized my focus on running should never have been on the next race, but rather on the experience of the journey (translated: I allowed myself to walk when needed). This epiphany of slowing down to enjoy my journey on planet earth led me to run barefooted through grassy fields like a little kid. This was a very freeing experience as I got to enjoy the simplicity of life, all by simply running for miles through the grassy fields. I quickly fell in love with running barefooted and soon transitioned into the Altra Zero Drop shoes, which simulate barefoot running and allowed me to continue running like a kid; by the way, the Altra Lone Peak shoes are simply the best trail shoe ever. Anyways, as I continued further into my season of running I rediscovered the welcoming factor of the trails. The trails have once again engulfed me, drawing me into their arms, accepting me for exactly who I am without judgement or prejudice. I have once again been set free from this world and allowed once again to run free. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Season of My Running



This is the season of my running, which is defined as running without any agenda. There are no race goals in my future and no training schedules keep. It doesn't matter how fast or slow I run or how many miles I go. I am just running. This is my season where I simply enjoy the love of running, the season where I just lose myself within my runs. I want my season to be filled with opportunities of listening to the trails and allowing them to speak to me. Nothing mystical or spiritual, but simply soaking in the sites and sounds of nature. For example, the other day as I was running through a field leading up to the trailhead I noticed I was literally running side by side with a butterfly, the moment was surreal. The scents of the trails also have an alluring and soothing affect to them, but many times before they have gone nearly undetected, lost within a training regimen. Now during my season of running I have the opportunity to inhale the scents of lilac and honeysuckle and enjoy their soothing affects. Suddenly the trails have a noticeable sound of their own providing another world ready to engulf my own. The rustling of critters and chirping of birds are inviting in their own rite, but it is the buzzing of various insects and the songs of cicadas that transport me to the jungle of my mind. As I whisk past the lush greenery of a Kentucky summer I have the opportunity to high five low lying branches, the leafy hands of my greatest fans. Every rock and root along the pathway are no longer the nemesis to my runs, but rather have become more like familiar friends. If ever there was a moment when I discover my place and connection to our wonderful planet it is definitively while I am running the trails. This is the season of my running.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Rediscovery




Lately I have been nursing an injury worried about my amateur running career to the point of obsession. Scott Jurek I am not so I had to rekindle, or discover, my run. I have ditched any form of a running regimen or training plan and started going out to just simply run, nothing more. No longer do I track my time or pace and I now run without regard to the miles I am running. Basically I just go out and run. In my process of rekindling I have rediscovered my adventure. Now whenever I embark running on the trails I am engulfed into the experience and not into some training endeavor. I have rediscovered the simple joys of life like inhaling the scents of honeysuckle or fresh pine needles as I glide along through the forest. Simply backing off from a running regimen has allowed me to rekindle the joy of pausing to gaze at mountaintop views while vultures gracefully glide just overhead. My moments on the trails have become an undisturbed stillness that can never be extinguished, my secret place in the world where I can be me without fear of judgement or repercussions. Running the trails has ultimately been discovering my place in the world, in the universe, that I and nature are interwoven and connected in deeply meaningful ways. 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

One More Left?


There are many factors to trail running, everything from proper nutrition and hydration to proper running gear and attire. Trail running also has many dynamics to it, everything from challenging factors to the perfect zen moment (or runner's high if you so prefer). The trails also have a way of drawing you in and calling you back for more; more miles, more scenic views, and more exploration. My legs have carried me over 1,200 miles of trails last year, and the year before that; in fact, the previous two years before the trails were spent an average of running 1,200 miles of asphalt per year. I have basically ran nearly 5,000 miles in the last four years, and I am wondering if it is beginning to show. Lately my legs have grown tired and stiff which has caused me to contemplate if this is a reconditioning/recovery phase or if my body is needing a season of rest; and when I say rest I basically mean tapering off from the big double digit miles. The thought occurred to me today that I may only have one more big race in me, and when I say big, I am referring to marathons plus. Is there a shifting of activity gears in my future, or will my body fully bounce back for yet another round of endurance trail running? Dare as I might, if there is only one big race left in me may it be the ultra-marathon, a full blown 50 miler. Why the ultra? I suspect it'll provide the ultimate athletic adventure and memories of a lifetime. I am certain it'll provide never ending bragging rights as I would become one of the elite of the elite in the class of athleticism; only 0.00005% of Americans successfully finish the ultra-marathon distance each year. This is certainly a decision that only time will determine if I have one more left.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Welcome Back


Though there was a sharp chill in the air everything was noticeably greening up on my trail run today. Life is now being refreshed and renewed while making its comeback from those harsh winter months and it engulfed me as I ran through its branches. As I trekked through the forest floor the sunbeams began to dance along the way offering a measure of warmth. The trails had a welcoming factor today, much like an old friend happy that I had arrived, inviting me to enjoy our day together. Today was the day my leg was finally relieved giving me the freedom to enjoy the company of the trails once again. Today was such a good day. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

more than a million


It is estimated that a million earths can fit inside the sun and that nine billion suns can fit inside VY Canis Majoris.

 


This perspective of our planet only reminds me just how small we really are in this vast universe. If you stop and think about it, our significance is rather minute since we basically sit like a speck of dust in the corner of the universe. Ever since our existence it has boggled our minds as to why we are here, and yet to this very day there is still no ready answer, just opinions. As cognitive beings we have developed empathy, which has given us the ability to connect with one another, thus giving our lives a sense of meaning. When all our haughty self delusions are stripped away the only thing we have left is each other. Ultimately we cling to each other through our life journey regardless of our status on this planet; we cling because of our commonalities, we cling because of our determination to survive, we cling because we've learned to care. Why are we here? No one really truly knows, but we are here nevertheless on this amazing planet within an  unpropitious universe. We are here with each other and each other is all we have.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Slow Recovery

My slow recovery is weighing in on my spirit since my muscle strain restricts me to running only four miles. If I attempt anymore miles than that my muscle strain reminds me that I'm on the path of a greater injury if I push it, so I listen to body and don't. Taking the Jeep out the other day down the fire station roads in the Daniel Boone National Forest gave me glimpses of some of the trails I had previously ran. My heart sank a bit. You see, I have a deep longing to run the trails for miles on end but I am unable to do so at this stage in my recovery, but I needed to be engulfed in the natural surroundings the forest offers, so off in the Jeep I went. A drive to the end of the fire station road ended deep into the woods which led to a little bit of hiking. There I stood among thousands of trees as the deafening silence became a therapeutic session for my soul. It was as if the world suddenly paused and everything therein was alright. This is a familiar place in the world I love to embrace and apparently need to visit on a frequent basis.


Friday, March 28, 2014

My Place

In my desperate longing for the trails I ventured out onto the Pinnacles today, but my attempts were wrought with reminders of a strained muscle not allowing me to run as I once did. When I reached my favorite trail on the Pinnacles a flood of emotions rushed over me. Many times before I have ran down this hidden trail that threaded its way precariously down the side of the mountain, and yet today I was barely able to maintain a lite jog where I once flew. I just wanted to cry. Later in the afternoon/early evening as I was teaching class the window displayed a view of the Pinnacles, the very mountain range I had ran so many times before. At the moment I gazed out the window a turkey vulture glided by, and then another one, and then another. As I admired the view watching the majestic flight patterns of the vultures I felt my connection and place in the world, which is not specifically defined by running. Running is the activity I enjoy, but connecting with my roots is where I belong. I realized at that moment that my life journey is not defined by my choice of activity as much as it is by my experiences. 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Left in Waiting

The strenuous trail conditions added on top of 26.2 miles caused a severe muscle strain in my upper right thigh leaving me in a longer recovery stage than I anticipated. For the last two plus weeks I have been engaging in the typical functions of athletic recovery (i.e. stretching, foam rolling, icing, heating, lite cross-fit, and soft jogging). During this phase I have been passing my time away with various forms of modern media (i.e. iPhone apps/games, Twitter, Pandora radio, junk emails, and television), which I am getting pretty sick of. My time prior to this phase was spent alone out on the trails without any source media plugged into my ears; I run media naked, meaning, I never listen to music while I run. I am longing for those lengthy periods of time spent out on the trails away from all the media junk, but I do not want to over extend myself during this phase due to running the risk of further injury. Needless to say I have been growing a bit frustrated and a tad dishearten. Thoughts of alternative adventures have been swirling around in my head, everything from backpacking to canoeing; I have even considered mountain bike riding. My spirit is restless and my heart is longing for an active adventure, but my body is restricting me at the moment to advance into my next running adventure. Patience in this area of my life is difficult to manage, but patient I must be. 


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Two Down

I did it! I completed my first ever trail marathon, my second marathon to date, and what an adventure it was! Even though snow still ladened the ground the weather was perfect and the atmosphere casual. There were no antsy runners readying their watches looking to PR (personal record), but there were plenty of adventurers readying themselves for what was to come. Initially the trails were snow packed and a bit crowded, but the traditional thinning of the crowd occurred some eight miles in, which was hard to determine because there were no mile markers to indicate how far I had gone. The lack of mile markers concerned me at first, but this only led me into a zen like state on the trails where I simply fell into my running mode without regard to how many miles I was running. It wasn't until the seventh aid station when I gasped after being informed I was at the 22 mile mark; I was feeling pretty good at that point and couldn't believe I had ran that far because it didn't seem like I had. There was a wonderful mixture of great company and beauty on the trails that made the day seem almost surreal. The trail looped around a golden meadow before meandering along the lake's edge. Then the trails ventured into the forest along babbling creeks before catapulting through a series of mountainous climbs while bottoming out into the valleys. On the final decent from the mountainside the view became rather stunning as I found myself perched high above the vast lake below. As the morning wore on the temperature rose causing a significant thawing of the trails, which gradually became grueling. I sloshed through puddles of water and miles of mud, an experience only a kid at heart could love, and I was enjoying every minute of it. The last two miles of my adventure were trying and I admit I had to dig deep and run on auto, but crossing the finish line gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Overall I felt good, strong, and confident believing I could have gone further. Running a marathon at the age of 48 is about experiencing a life adventure and this one did not disappoint. 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Final Days

I am in the final days of reaching the apex of my trail marathon journey and there is, as there always is, a lot going on in my head. Several times throughout this week I will mull over the progress of my journey and relish in the memories of my adventure. Several times throughout this week I will mull over two quotes to help heighten my motivation:


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." Marianne Williamson 


“I’m gonna show you how great I am! Only last week I murdered a rock. Injured a stone. Hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick. I’m gonna show you how great I am! I have wrastled with an alligator, I had tussled with a whale. I have handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail. I’m gonna show you how great I am!" Muhammad Ali


Yes, I am a badass MOFO able to do what most wouldn't even dare dream of doing! One day I won't be able to do this, but TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Love/Hate Relationship

There is a love/hate relationship happening with winter right about now. The majority of the people in the US who has been experiencing the harsh winter conditions this year would all concur that winter just need to get the heck on out of here with its polar vortex subzero temps and it's never ending snow covered icy days; not to mention the high energy bills too! Well, today as I stood at the foot of the trailhead gazing up at the snow covered mountaintop, everything felt strangely different than it had in many similar days before. As the wind whisked the falling snow around my head I felt a type drawing to become a part of the winter scenery that was being produced right before my eyes. As I began running the trails at the base of the mountain I felt like I was being engulfed into a world only found in dreams. The fresh unadulterated snow quietly rested on every crag and branch creating a breathtaking scenery only found in photos, but today, even a photo would do no justice for what I was seeing. When I finally reached the first pinnacle point I noticed that the new pine growth on the baby pines were cradling snow within their upward bound needles creating the affect of giant snowflakes being suspended in mid-flight. As my wintery trek continued along the mountain ridge I felt privileged to be experiencing the wonders and raw beauty of nature. You see, many people on a day like this remain bundled up in their humble abodes and I couldn't help but feeling sorry for them for missing out on such a wonderful experience. When I finally reached the fourth pinnacle point I was stunned to be greeted by 35+ vultures circling just overhead. The gracefulness of their flight was mesmerizing and the moment was almost magical. As I made my decent off the mountain I roused many robins along the way, a sure sign spring is on it's way; this sort of made me a little sad, though I won't miss my high energy bills, I will miss running in a winter wonderland.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love Your Journey

I have officially entered into the tapering stage in my preparation for my upcoming trail marathon. In less than two weeks I will be making the final trek of my adventure (26.2 miles), and what an adventure it has been! This is not only the time I greatly reduce my mileage to allow my body to recover and recharge, but a time to contemplate what is ahead. Nerves can easily bundle during this time and questions surrounding properly preparing typically abound, but strangely enough I am not currently experiencing any of this. During this tapering stage I am feeling rather calm and I suspect it is because I have grown comfortable being on the trails. Whenever I venture off into the mountains/forest I am absorbed into a this peacefulness beyond measure. No matter the conditions of the trails, the type of weather occurring, or what day or night it is, the trails are always my place of serenity. As I reflect where I have been on my adventure, and where it will take me, I have realized that I have come full circle from where I started. I began my journey running the trails for the shear enjoyment and after all of my preparation I have discovered that I am still running the trails for the shear enjoyment of it all. Basically it comes down to this. Whatever adventure you are on, love the journey.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's next?

The winter thaw is finally here! The snow and ice is gone, the sun is shinning, and the temperatures are above freezing! Of course 1+1+1= mud, but that is perfectly okay with me. Taking to the trails after enduring the relentless winter we had was glorious and the sloppy, muddy trail conditions didn't even matter. About a 1/2 mile into my run I quickly realized I should have weaved when instead I bobbed. As I was navigating through some muddy slop I zonked my head on a branch that was hanging much lower this time around than it was the last time I was on this stretch of the trail. The aftermath yielded some slight redness on my forehead along with twisting and breaking my wimpy desk jockey glasses. I believe my journey to the trail marathon has officially been mixed with just about everything right about now. 


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Another one bites the dust

The winter weather this season has been relentless in providing many challenges to get myself prepared for a trail marathon. Well, to say the least, the past two days have been ridiculously cold forcing me inside once again to embark on a couple of dreadmill adventures. Yeah for me! (add sarcasm here) Anyways, I trudged on into the YMCA with a fistful of motivation determined to maintain my regime. After plugging my earbuds into the side of my skull (for sanity purposes) I confidently fired up the ole dreadmill and started running into the land of nowhere. In an effort to simulate an actual run I continuously manipulated the incline and pace controls to various degrees and levels; up, down, fast, slow, mile after mile I went. People came and went in my temporary world of nowhere as song after song played their motivational melodies into the side of my head. After nearly an hour on the ole dreadmill something suddenly felt funny under my feet. I initially didn't really think much about it and oddly considered the peculiar feel under my feet as a simulated trail condition (as if). It wasn't long before I began to notice a peculiar smell coming from beneath my feet, but in my macho determination I still pressed on. By now excessive sweat was accumulating around my brow so I wasn't too sure if I was really detecting a small plume of smoke below my feet (boy, I was really burning it up!). Well, it was at this point when my mathematical skills kicked in and I quickly determined that 1+1+1= turn this contraption off. Sure enough, when I dismounted the belt was strangely twisted and the motor was resting in peace. The woman on the dreadmill next to me looked in amazement proclaiming in astonishment that I had literally worn the thing out. I stood there a little stunned at first before smiling in agreement with her, that yes, I did wear out the ole dreadmill out! What else could I say? Guess I'll just chalk this up to yet another wonderful experience on my journey to the trail marathon. 


Friday, February 7, 2014

for the experience of it all

The other day someone remarked on how dedicated I was in pursuing my athletic goal of running a marathon and made the comment, "It just goes to show you, if someone wants it bad enough they'll do whatever it takes." After pausing for a moment I felt obligated to correct their incorrect view of me. I politely informed them that even though I am entered to run in a trail marathon next month I actually do not have any athletic goals. I explained that it has more to do about experiencing an adventure than it does with meeting some athletic goal. For example, just the other day I ventured out into the wintry mountains of Kentucky. The trails were laced with snow and ice as I started my ascent and it didn't take long before the whole mountainside was glistening. I was soon greeted by bowing trees ladened with ice and I quickly found myself running through frosted white tunnels of winter. My wintery mountain run suddenly became an amazing adventure only found in magazine pictures. As I crested the mountain I found myself engulfed by frozen fog, or this amazingly thick cloud, that shrouded me in white. Suddenly it felt like I was running in an ice cube and it was eerily beautiful. As I continued running along the mountain's razor edge clinking and crackling sounds began to drown out the wintry silence causing a shower of shimmering diamonds to rain upon me. My heart rate increased and my pace quickened in fear of something greater hammering down on my head. Though my descent was soon rewarded with my point of refuge, I was also saddened for having to end my ice cube experience, but I drove off satisfied knowing my journey will continue on another day.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

a side of life

Snowfall had blanketed the bluegrass once again and was accompanied by some blustery winds. These were not the most favorable conditions for a trail run, yet I still managed to trudge along making tracks through the snow for nine miles. There was the initial realization that running in four plus inches of snow was going to be difficult, and then the beauty of the morning settled in. Every tree stood in stark contrast against this ocean of white and the skies were the deepest blue I had ever seen. I jumped over frozen creeks while listening to the trees creak in the wind like old joints in desperate need of oiling. I noticed as I approached one of the frozen creeks a small sparrow came out from underneath the ice and flew away, which was a peculiar beauty all of its own. The snow became deeper the further I made my way up the mountain, which as you can imagine, made my trek more difficult. My efforts were not without reward with the beauty that awaited for me at the top; the view of our small artisan town covered with snow was breathtaking. What a wonderful adventure this was to run through the snow on a cold wintery morning. There I was doing what others would never dare, embracing the opportunity to experience life from a different angle. You see, this is a rare world with plenty of opportunities for each of us to experience, and no, I'm not talking about watching the Grammy's. Life is often found on the fringes of those places and activities most would never dare to tread. It was there on the side of that mountain with the cold winds whipping across my face as I trudged through what was now six inches of snow that I got to experience the raw side of life. Being alone with the challenges of the elements had brought a sense of urgency for me to press on in hopes of discovering a side of life few ever find. This was an indescribable moment strangely wrought with emotions, and as I crested the mountain I instinctively knew I had silently met with life face to face.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Something Worth Quoting

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it - Anon


Friday, January 24, 2014

Love where you are at

Kentucky is an amazing state, err, Commonwealth. It is no surprise out of all Kentucky has to offer that I enjoy the scenery the most. There is just something the way a huge crag of limestone looms over the tops of bur oak trees that truly takes my breath away. There is something to be said about following a winding creek along the valley floor and discovering a gem of cascading water as if it were welcoming you to Kentucky. The meadow ponds surrounded by bluegrass is truly a site to behold, but the welcoming and farewell of each day presents a canvas that would make Michael Angelo himself jealous. Kentuckians by and far are truly a breed all of their own, kindhearted and thoughtful traditionalist, but not without problems of their own. You see, of all the places I have lived I have fallen in love with Kentucky the most. It's not so much of a geographical location as much as it is loving where I am at in life. I have lived in questionable areas and in places of sheer sweltering heat, and now I reside in the great commonwealth of Kentucky. The one thing I have learned over the years was that wherever I happened to be living at the time, well, there I was. Sounds funny I know, but what I mean is that a new location never made anything better like one would think. A new neighborhood with new friends at a new job would surely make things a whole lot better, but it never did. How come? Well, because whenever I arrived at a new location my problems were soon to follow. Why? Because I was there. The change needed to be within me and not my geographical location. It basically comes down to the art of living life. Life is precariously unpredictable capable of dishing out both the good and the bad all in the same day, but the question is whether you will allow life to beat you down or embrace the good with the bad. You see, life is an adventure worth the living and there is nothing standing in your way to experience it right now right where you are at. You see, for me every moment is a memory in the making, an opportunity to engage in life, and I dare not waste it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Say a hearty yes!

"Big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." Joseph Campbell


As one of my favorite quotes I have discovered that most people would dare not risk going on their adventure. Albeit fear or laziness they unknowingly opt to watch life unfold from the safety of their comfort zone (aka the couch). Nowadays many people stare into the pale blue light of Facebook and Candy Crush for the ultimate prize of frittering their lives away. That picture on Twitter of pure green waters nestled among ancient pines is only a dream for most people, an unreachable destination only admired from their smartphones without realizing pictures do no justice for the real experience. People have basically settled. They don't seem to realize that it is impossible to capture life through pictures on the internet. Life must be experienced and embraced. If you cannot breathe it in or experience the scents of life it just might be photoshopped. It is perfectly okay to say that hearty yes to your adventure; the only person you need permission from to do so is you. Life is out there for the taking and all you have to do is say a hearty yes. Go ahead, your life adventure is waiting for you. 


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Darn Tough Socks

I am not endorsed by Darn Tough Socks nor am I being compensated to write this post. I am just an average endurance athlete who just loves to run. I run not for the competition but for the adventure. I average about 40 miles a week running around the eastern Kentucky mountains. The terrain here can be very technical at times and the last thing I need to be worrying about are my feet, so I basically require a top notch combo of trail shoes and socks to meet my running needs. After discovering the right shoe for me I toyed for years on discovering the right sock, which basically led to me to settle for an adequate sock. On a recent trip into the city I visited an outfitters store where the sales clerk highly recommended Darn Tough socks, and at $15 a pop I skeptically purchased two pairs. The next day I ran 12 miles and immediately fell in love with these socks, but the real test would be over time. It has now been two months and 328 miles later and I am a firm believer that Darn Tough socks are hands down the best sock on the market. No kidding! They are marvelous at wicking away moisture and they have an amazingly snug fit, which basically means no blisters or hot spots. Toe seams? None. Cushion in the right areas? Yes. Breathability? Of course! No questions asked lifetime guarantee? You got it! Synthetic materials? Nope, they're made of merino wool. Worried about that? Don't be. They are truly an amazing sock well worth the money. Run on my friend...


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Motivation

This is my transitional week in my preparation for an up coming trail marathon, which basically means I am increasing my mileage (and I can certainly feel it). As the mikes increase within any transitional week there also comes the need for some motivation:


There was a young man who wanted to make a lot of money, and so he went to a guru. He told the guru he wanted to reach his level of greatness. And so the guru said: “If you want to be on the same level I’m on, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the beach.”


So the young man arrived at 4:00 a.m. He had on a suit, but he should have worn shorts. The old man grabbed his hand and said: “How bad do you want to be successful?” The young responded: “Badly.”


So the old man told the young man to walk out into the water. It was waist deep. The young man thought: “This old man is crazy.”


The young man said to himself: “I want to make money and this guy has me out here swimming. I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard. I want to make money.


Then the old man said: “Come out a little farther,” and the young man did so.


As the young man was up to his shoulders in water he again thought: “This old man is crazy! He’s making money, but he’s crazy.”


The old man said, “Come out a little farther.”


The young man obeyed, but wavered as if he might turn back.


So the old man said: “I thought you said you wanted to be successful?”


“I do,” said the student.


So the old man ordered the young man to come out even farther, and when he did he pushed the young man’s head under water and held it down. Although the young man fought, the old man would not let him up. Just before the young man passed out the old man raised his head above the surface and said: “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”


I don’t know how many of you have asthma today, but if you ever had an asthma attack before and you’re S.O.B. — you’ve got shortness of breath — and you’re wheezing, the only thing you’re trying to do is get some air. You don’t care about no basketball game. You don’t care what’s on TV.  You don’t care about anybody calling you. You don’t care about a party. The only thing you care about when you’re trying to breathe is to get some fresh air. That’s it. And when you get to the point where all you want to do is be successful as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.


~Eric Thomas

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Red Carpet versus Muddy Trails

The top news story today was that the red carpet at the Golden Globe Awards had gotten wet due to some sprinkler system malfunction. Panic ensued  as organizers attempted to dry out the carpet before the movie stars arrived, well because, we certainly cannot have them walking on wet carpet. In retrospect to our recent arctic thaw followed by a significant amount of rainfall this seemed a bit ridiculous. The trails have been nothing short of a soupy sloppy muddy mess with zero opportunities of avoidance, unless of course I opt for staying at home to watch someone else engage in a sports activity (but where's the fun in that?). Isn't it rather funny that someone would not even dare walk across soggy carpet while I'm out there trudging miles through the muddy backwoods? The worth of differences is found in the destination. The red carpet leads to a world of make believe whereas the soupy sloppy muddy trail leads to the top of the world; well, at least to a mountaintop with breathtaking views. 


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Worth the face plant

Running the trails during the day in the summer months poses enough risk all of its own much less running in the dark with icy snow packed trails in the middle of winter. The decision to brave the elements of the later came off the heels of an extreme arctic blast and my restless spirit was more than ready to be set free, so off I went bearing my headlamp into the winter darkness. I could say the early morning air was crisp and vibrant, but really, it was a damn good morning for a frosty trail run. I noticed as I rounded the outer trail before heading back into the woods that the down tree covering the trail had been removed, and though I was scanning the trail with my headlamp I experienced the sudden impact of meeting the frozen ground face to face. I must admit that I was a little jarred by this unforeseen acrobatic feat, and upon my investigation of the newly cleared trail I discovered that a fragmented branch frozen to the ground was the culprit of my demise. With caution freshly imprinted on my mind I slowly resumed my adventure into the woods. As I followed the icy snow packed trail to the mountaintop I discovered an absolutely stunning view. There I stood overlooking the lights of our little artisan town just as daybreak began. The eastern mountains were ablaze with the sun creeping over its edges. The leading edge of the sky displayed several hues of red that transitioned into the deepest color of purple. Slightly above the skyline was the outline of the blackest clouds one could imagine as if they were billows of smoke. The mountains were afire and it was absolutely gorgeous. As I stood breathless gazing at the scenery before me I was able to easily surmise that it was well worth the face plant. 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Dreadmill

Old man winter has taken over the region forcing me to live in an arctic tundra for several days. The cold has been brutal and unrelenting to the least and has done a fair job at keeping my eager spirit indoors; I mean, who can honestly go out and run in subzero temperatures? Not me! So on day one of this arctic blast I opted for a crossfit day at the house; if you're not familiar with crossfit check out Spartanrace.com/wod. Anyways, on the second day of this arctic blast I was once again forced to stay indoors. In order to stay on track for my marathon preparation I mustered up everything I had within me to take my run to the treadmill, or what I would prefer to call the dreadmill. There have been studies on the differences between running on the treadmill versus road running, and even though I tend to agree that they are absolutely not the same, I dislike the treadmill for much greater reasons; the insanity factor. There I was in a confined area running in place going nowhere. There was no scenery, no breeze, no birds, no squirrels, no fresh air, no trees, no clouds, no sun, and absolutely no motivation. There I was running in a musty gym with a mirrored wall right before me and a television hanging directly overhead. Can you say "ugh"? It was awful and you should be feeling sorry for me. The only positive factor was the last time I ran on a treadmill was nearly two years ago and it will likely be another two years until I do it again. 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The places I run

The morning was crisp and cold when I took off running down the unfamiliar trail. These moments often provide for a more adventurous run because of the unknown awaiting before me, and today did not disappoint. Usually unfamiliar trails here in Kentucky yield monstrous climbs averaging a mile or more straight up a side of a mountain, but today I was greeted by a well groomed rolling trail instead. The snow covered pathway zigged and zagged lazily through the forest valley leading me through creek beds and pines before taking my breath away when I arrived at the frozen waters edge. The trail continued along the waters edge of what eventually became a massive lake that shimmered and glistened at me through the pines. As the miles progressed I was gradually engulfed by the peacefulness most everyone pursues and the calmness that followed was unrelenting. This was the moment when I arrived at the place where the affairs of the world could never touch me, a place where I am as free as I ever could be, a place I plan to revisit often. 


Friday, January 3, 2014

No New Year Resolution Required

It's that time of year again where we begin to see those trendy New Year resolutions. The yearly usuals are those hopeful 24 hour attempts to quit smoking along with the ever present desire to lose weight. I certainly commend every worthy attempt, but all too often people fall off the wagon as quickly as they got on. This is also the time of year when there is an influx in gym memberships which ultimately meet their demise by mid-March with the declination of gym attendance. These yearly observations has led me to surmise that New Year resolutions simply do not work. I think this is likely due to people forcing themselves into trying to accomplish goals they think they ought to do rather than desiring to simply do them. For example, there is a huge difference between needing to lose weight versus wanting to lose weight. The same applies to chocolate cake; I have to go without versus it's not proper fuel for my body. You see, it ultimately comes down to a lifestyle change. You either truly want to or you don't. At one time I was an overweight smoker who enjoyed eating fatty fried sugary foods while watching two DVDs a night. Then one day I simply grew tired of my lifestyle and made the simple little decision to do something about it. Over the next several years I made some little changes along the way that eventually ballooned into a huge lifestyle change for me. With grit determination I was able to quit smoking before gradually changing my eating habits without any diet plans involved. I began to participate in some menial outdoor activities which eventually led me into the gym to improve my physical condition. Before long I grew tired of the gym and fell back in love with the running of my youth. It wasn't much longer after that when I suddenly found myself training for my first marathon. I have sense graduated to running the trails and cannot seem to stop running through the Eastern Kentucky mountains. You see, my lifestyle change was not born on a New Year resolution, but instead it developed from a genuine desire to simply change. There was no special formula, just a simple step by step approach that gradually got me to where I am today. Happy New Year!