Browse Tag: Trail Race

Inspiration Needed

Scott Jurek
Inspiration

Inspiration Needed

Given that my level of physical activity has been so long for too long, as I wrote about yesterday, I felt in need of a book to read that would inspire me to get motivated and pick up the pace, especially in light of a 25K trail race on my horizon in April.

The first book that came to mind was North by Scott Jurek. The first reason this book is an inspiration is that Scott Jurek himself is an inspiration. Just look at some of these accomplishments:

  • Appalachian Trail Speed Record: 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes: 2,189 miles – 2015
  • U.S. record for 24-hour road run: 165.7 miles – 2010
  • 7 x consecutive winner of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run – 1999-2005
  • 2 x consecutive winner of the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon – 2005, 2006
  • 3 x consecutive winner Spartathlon 152 miles-Athens to Sparta, Greece – 2006-2008

That should be more than enough inspiration for any runner. Much more is listed on his website at www.scottjurek.com/about-scott.

My Connection

The second reason that this book is an inspiration to me is due to my long connection with the Appalachian Trail. I remember dreaming about hiking the whole trail as a kid before I ever set foot on it. It’s still a dream, but in reality my experience of the trail is limited to several miles in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on either side of the Delaware Water Gap. Even so, there is a certain magic I feel when I’m on the Appalachian Trail, a sense that if I really wanted to, I could keep going for hundreds of miles in either direction. I remember when Scott ran the trail in 2015. I followed him on social media. I regretted not being able to be at the Delaware Water Gap when he crossed into New Jersey. I read North when it came out in 2018. I laughed. I wept. I ran more. I’m trusting it will have the same effect on me on my second read.

Read more of my Appalachian Trail related posts at this link.

A Sign from the Running Gods?

So, I pulled North of the shelf. How should I break down the pages to finish before the Hyner Challenge in April? What about a chapter per week starting tomorrow, Saturday, January 2? Let me check the number of chapters: 17. What is the date of the race? Saturday, April 24. Let’s see how many Saturdays there are between now and then. January 30 will be 5. February 27 will be 9. March 27 will be 13. April 24… race day… will be… 17! No way! 17 Saturdays! 17 chapters! Finishing the last chapter on the day of the race! Perfect!

God help me run!

Where Are We Going? (It’s 2021.)

new year
Where Are We Going?

Helluva Year!

Where are we going? By most accounts, 2020 was a helluva year! The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted normal life. Politicians have disrupted life even more with draconian lockdowns and other not-scientifically-proven means (e.g., face masks) to control the virus by controlling people, while COVID-19 cases/deaths are the highest in those very same draconian states. Where are we going now? And by “we” I mean me and my family because that’s my number one priority.

But Doing Well

Thankfully, my family and I have done well in 2020. One of my daughters and her husband caught the virus. But they recovered with no problems. A few in my family have earned less of an income because of lockdown restrictions. But no one is completely unemployed. We all got the sacred stimulus checks from our governmental overlords. I got my second one today, actually. I figure, I pay too much in taxes as it is. So, thanks for the refund, Big Brother.

My wife and I took a big step forward in 2020 by buying a home. The financial planning and actions we had taken over the past few years paved the way for us to purchase a house during a year in which many folks experienced financial hardships. I am not calloused about that. Plus, after seeing the financial losses others have had has caused us to make additional plans to further improve our financial wellbeing.

My Personal Road Forward

First of all, my direction for for 2021 includes finding and taking the next step in my career. I have a fair sense of direction for this and I’ve begun working with a career coach again. My plans include certifications in WorkFusion Automation and ITIL, a return to regular blogging on my career website, and continuous business and technology learning (as always). All of this is priority numero uno because everything else dependents on my ability to maintain/increase my wealth.

My second priority is to make repairs and improvements to our new home. Our fireplace and chimney are scheduled to be rebuilt. Coverage for the cost of this was negotiated with the former home owner. However, since moving in, we discovered that the roof needs to be replaced. Estimates from roofers are in progress. We will have to break open a few piggy banks to cover this expense. Also, the dishwasher croaked and we hate the stove so much we want to kill it. There is painting and other repairs/maintenance to be done. The grounds need a thorough spring cleaning this year. A very large tree needs to be taken down. New flowers and shrubbery need to be planted. I’ve got my eye on English laurel to be planted between the pines along the western edge of our property.

Another priority high on the list is to address my physical condition. It’s really gone to pot. Potbelly, that is. I feel lousy. My physical activity has been reduced to almost nothing for reasons I don’t want to get into right now. So, I have a plan to increase my running and walking activities. I am registered for a tough trail race in April and another in September. I have a big hurdle of losing at lease 20 pounds and running more regularly to be in any kind of shape to survive those races.

Another priority that is needed for my mental health is to take more time to make art. I’ve been spending more time drawing and painting lately. What I really need is to spend more time organizing our garage. There’s enough room in there to dedicate an area as an art workshop. But some of the other needs around the house are higher priorities right now.

In 2021 I want to increase the number of books I read. I read only 23 in 2020. That’s on the low side for me. But to be fair to myself, I took three college classes in 2020 (Business Law, Principles of Marketing, Principles of Management) which included close to 1,000 pages of reading that I didn’t include on my list of books read. I will take another three classes in 2021. But I still want to up my personal reading game this year.

I was just reminded of another priority. It’s a priority above most other priorities and interwoven with many of them. I’m speaking of loving, teaching, and enjoying the company of a toddler. I was reminded of it just now because he is crying like a madman because he wants to bake and decorate cookies NOW. He saw kids on TV doing such. Those kids had made sugar cookies from scratch and were decorating them with sprinkles and icing and all kinds of jazz. I made a compromise: we will use a store bought chocolate chip cookie mix (too many other things to do to be making cookies from scratch) and decorate the cookies with tubes of icing. We will do so as long as he calms down while I finish this blog post and allows me to clean up my desk.

And with that I am off to start 2021.

cookies
Frosted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Slate Run 25K

The Mountains of Lycoming County, PA

 

200 + 16 + 200 = A LOT OF MILES!

Is getting up at 4 AM on a Saturday (making your wife and two-year-old do so also) to drive 200 miles in order to hop out of the car and run 16 miles worth of rocky muddy trails up and down big central Pennsylvania mountains crazy?

Most people would say, “YES!”

But as you can see in the pictures below, I was accompanied by 249 equally crazy friends! I don’t know how far anyone else had to drive that morning, but it’s a safe bet that a large percentage would have done just what I did for the opportunity to run in those hills. If you are crazy enough to enjoy running on the mountains for multiple hours, riding in a car for three hours is no big deal.

This is what I did on June 1 in order to run in the Slate Run 25K trail race in Slate Run, PA.

 

The face of a crazy man about to punish himself for 16 rocky, wet, muddy miles

 

Approximate number of miles I had traveled by the halfway point of the race… also how old I felt at that point.

 

And away we go!

 

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, But Not Many Feet of Elevation

Photos never do justice to elevation. The mountains never appear as tall as they are in person. And photos can’t convey the burning in your thighs when you are climbing up, up, up and then finally the ground levels out at a scenic view… only to round a bend and continue up, up, up. Your thighs burn and the pictures are silent about it.

The pictures also don’t show how good it feels once you get to the top of the mountain and you can run on wonderful single track trail for a few miles. Then your thighs come alive!

 

Crossing Pine Creek in Slate Run, PA

 

Someone had too much time on their hands. (Says the guy who spent 5 hours and 8 minutes traversing trails for the fun of it.)

 

Don’t slip.

 

How did this big rock get up here?

 

Up and up and up

 

The view is worth the climb.

 

Don’t jump.

 

I bashed a shin pretty good going down these rocks.

 

Approaching Aid Station #2 around mile 8

 

So Much Water!

There was so much water after the second aid station! The trail insisted on weaving it’s way back and forth across the streams, sometimes knee-deep. That mountain water was rather chilly! By the time I crossed a road around mile 10, my feet were numb. I mentioned this to a volunteer at the road crossing. Her response? “Welcome to Pennsylvania!” She also asked if I needed water, which struck me as ironic after I just complained about. She said the next aid station was only 2 miles away. So I kept plugging along.

After the road, the trail continued uphill through more water. That’s where I hit the wall. The 200 miles of driving caught up with me. My feet hurt from the cold water. There was no end of it in sight. I was no longer running. I was stopping more often. I started counting my steps, forcing myself to do 3 sets of 10 steps before I stopped to catch my breath. I got angry at myself each time and stopped at step 8 just to be a jerk to myself. The water was roaring down the mountain. I so wanted to lie down in dry silence. Someone passed me at that point. He said, “I think we’re getting closer to the top.” I sarcastically thought, “Aren’t we constantly getting closer to the top with each step? But that doesn’t mean we are close to the top!” I don’t think I said it out loud.

Near the top, the water slowed and quieted. I stuck my hat in and splashed water all over my head. That snapped me back to reality a bit and I continued on in better spirits.

 

I should have taken more pictures of the water. This was pretty much the last of it.

 

A look across to the area we passed through in the first half of the race

 

Peaceful. Sometimes I want to stay in the woods forever.

 

I finished 164th out of 250.

 

The Course

 

Enjoy Your Ride Home! Come See Us Again!

At 5 hours and 8 minutes, I hobbled over the finish line. Spasms in my hamstrings. Spasms in my thighs. Spasms in one of my calves. I moved like an ape in running shoes. But I finished.

Then I remembered: We still had to drive 200 miles home. We were a good ways from civilization. When we got to Danville we stopped at Wendy’s and I pigged out. (I pigged out for a bunch of days actually.) The spasms hit me off and on while my wife drove. Later she said, “Maybe you should give this up. You’re in pain and you don’t look like you’re having fun now.”

This race is scheduled for June 6, 2020. As soon as I shake these spasms I think I’ll walk on over to my computer. “Hello, ultrasignup.com.”