Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On a Roll

I'm organizing my life for the next 8 weeks of bar preparation.  My life includes the family.  So, this process involves organizing the family calendar as well.  

Sometimes, the family calendar prevails.  Sometimes, bar prep prevails.  It's a delicate balance of pursuit and sane, reasonable, delightful family life.  Actually, as I think about Marty and my lives, there hasn't been much balancing between pursuit and family; as if pursuit were done to the exclusion of family.  Our pursuits have only been "pursued" to the extent that the family does not suffer.  Otherwise, the pursuit is difficult to justify.

Yes, back to organizing, and pursuits.  I took a minute to organize some running photos and stumbled on this...

Pete and me on Sugarloaf Pass during the 2007 Leadville 100 mile race. 

So, organizing tonight led me to the issue of pursuit once again.  Pete and I are attempting Leadville again in August.  The training is tricky this summer; bar prep, soccer, track camp, wrestling with red faced boys, summer camps, filling holes in the siding dug by hungry woodpeckers, reading my daughter's blogs, bar exam, and lots more.  

In the most recent issue of Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Cantrell wrote about the motivation of ultrarunners who, he says, are notoriously successful people.  Cantrell says that our society abhors failure.  Real life has degenerated into an "endless series of suspense-free slam-dunks."  He suggests that the possibility of failure is actually appealing.  People run long races not because they can but because it's possible to not finish one.   I've been there, done that. 

I can fail at ultras; I can't fail with the family.

Great Writing

My running partner, Pete, writes some of the best blog articles out there.  His most recent "Afraid of the Dark" is exceptionally good and witty.

Everything I know about bears, I've learned from Pete.  Now, I can add cougars. 

A Walk to Beautiful

Late night. Finally in bed. Remote control. Power button. PBS. An unusual lingering. The language sounded like Amharic. 

Marty and I sat mesmerized until midnight. Shattered lives. Girls who are cast out. Ethiopian girls who walk, hitchhike, ride buses to reach the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. A source of hope. The movie: "A Walk to Beautiful."  

Wubete was 18, beautiful, married young, pregnant young, too small to give birth.  Labor, labor and more labor.  Injuries.  Check out this link to learn about fistula.  Cast out, she had no future.  

Wubete's surgeries did not work.  Co-producer Allison Shigo emailed me a few days ago after I asked about Wubete's current situation.  Wubete works and lives at Grace Village.  Check out her update.  Wubete is only a few years older than Addis.  Addis has said several times that if she were still in Ethiopia, she would be considered too old to marry.

How can we help?  Thinking, praying...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More on Monday

About 8 miles from the end, Pete remarked about how good  a Coke sounded right now.  About a mile later, he pulled off the trail.  It seemed like an unusual pit stop for Pete.  He dug around the base of a pine tree and pulled out an unopened can of Coke.  He had stashed it the night before.  What a great guy.

Yesterday, Pete and I did a 50K on the Ice Age Trail.
Started at his house, ran out 15.5 miles and returned to his house.
Very difficult.

Running the powerline

fields of flowers

some roads

lots of flowers

the 26.2 mile picture

along the river for the last few miles

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Recovery before the ....

Tonight, a storm blew through the Twin Cities.  The boys and I walked around the block to look at the clouds.  Little did we know that in Hugo, about 25 miles away, a little child would die and 22 would go missing.

We rounded the final corner just as it started to rain.  Once inside, it began to hail.  Beautiful pounding that makes a bright green lawn look like the middle of winter.  Afterward, everyone went out to fill their cup with ice and then diet Coke.  No damage to the car parked outside.

Tomorrow, Pete and I pick up our marathon Mondays once again.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little longer... about 30 miles.  We need a little break from Wild River State Park, so we're running on the Ice Age Trail near his house.

Following graduation, we took a few days to enjoy the Twin Cities.  Check out these new photos.

This week marks the beginning of 6-7 weeks of preparation for the bar exam.  

Monday, May 19, 2008

With Great Children Comes Great Humility

This blog is a direct response to my eldest daughter's most recent blog entry.  I'm certain that I won't get the last word, nor will I get the upper hand.  

In working with teenagers for 19 of my 40 years, one phenomena stands out; I possess incredible insight about myself, told to me from teens:  
I'm not a good shaver, the hair on my forehead is disappearing,  I make a strange "hmm, hmm" coughing noise with my throat, my knees are knobby, I'm "WAY TOO OLD" to be wearing those short, slit-on-the-side running shorts that I used to really like, I'm too mean, too soft, too critical of others. There are more.

But, when the teenagers I'm "working" with are kin, it gets really brutal... for me.
To make matters worse, the poison ivy break-out that started several day ago swung into full-force.  As a result, I've been battling oozing sores on my arms, neck and upper lip.  Yes, upper lip.  

Trying to 1) compensate for my itchiness and horrid appearance, and 2) convince my daughter of my COOLNESS after having read her aforementioned blog, I rattled off to her some of my more insignificant accomplishments:
1. Yesterday, I successfully completed three years of  law school.  
2. I can state with some credibility that I'm a good husband and a good father.  
3. I can also say that it is no longer a stretch to say that I've entered the ranks of being an ultra-runner.  

Her response... "I'm not the one with the yellow stuff on my upper lip!"

Humbled again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Race

This Sunday marks the end of a three year "run" at law school; a great run.  It is interesting, thinking back to 2005, that my ultra-running began during my first year of law school.  Maybe this served as a way to recover from law school, or a way to cope with law school.  Maybe that first semester of law school made me realize that I could endure pain over a long period of time and should apply that principle to my increasingly poor marathon times.  

What I find most interesting is how both have changed my life.  Both have introduced me to people I would have never met.  Both have given me opportunities I would have never had.  I think differently both because of the law and because of running for a long time.  Both require planning, and planning for multiple scenarios.

Our family is in another race as well.  Our "adoptive" daughter Addis, will have her second round of chemo this Friday.  It's really Addis' race, but we're all in it in some fashion.  It is changing our lives.  We have been introduced to people we would have never met, and really wish we didn't need to.  It is changing the way we think; requiring planning for multiple scenarios.  Opportunities?  We believe that in all things, God is working in 1000 different ways to bring Himself glory and give us joy.  We will wait and watch.

3rd Marathon Monday

We wanted desperately to end at the car and not have to "run around the parking lot" until the GPS said 26.2.  These flowers covered a marshy area on a new-found trail.  This trail gave us an extra mile.

This fascinating woodpecker art provided a nice break from running.

The 26.2 photo tradition.  
Joel: "Pete, you never smile for these!  Let's take another one.  Smile this time."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Running Prayers

Once upon a time, when I ran on the road more, I used to pray as I ran.  After about 21 minutes, I would fall into an automatic mode; the body was on auto-pilot and I could pray.
1 mile per kid, 1 mile for my wife: it forces one to pray creatively and pretty thoroughly.

But on the trail, prayer does not come easily.  Too much to monitor; rocks, uneven foot-falls, sticks, roots, water puddles, full on lakes (last week).

Now, here's what passes through my mind as I run:
monitor... how are the calves?  I'm cramping up again; can I wait a little longer before taking a salt pill.  Wow, there's the river.
monitor... hot? Take off the long sleeve shirt yet?
A ROCK!  Ouch.
It's not real calm, not real steady.

I'm not complaining.  

Running on a bad trail on a bad day is better than a good road on a good day.   
Trails are great: eagles, deer, squirrels, rabbits, trees, trees, trees. Endless trees.  
My knees love trails.  For the last two weeks, we have seen a total of maybe 3 people in 10 hours of running.  It's all good.

I just miss the praying aspect of running.

Monday, May 5, 2008

2nd Marathon Monday

These stairs greet us at mile 2 and then again at mile 21.  

Gravel road relief from rough trails.  At the turn around, we jumped on a gravel road.  We ran  a little past the Sunrise, MN cemetery, turned around and ran back to the trail.  A flat surface is sometimes a welcome break.

This tree looks like how I felt today...

Today's marathon photo.
Today's time was a little better: 4:48.00.  
We're still getting used to running a marathon once every week, and the trails are still pretty rough..