Tuesday, November 29, 2011

24 hour ultramarathon part 2

24 hour ultramarathon, part 2:

I set my alarm for 3:30 AM but it droned for hours unattended. By the time I got back on the loop, it was 8:00 AM. I felt surprisingly fresh from just a few hours of fitful and guilty sleep. One problem I thought of the night before was an issue of tracking my distance ran. With no support team enlisted, I had to rely completely on myself for any problem I encountered (much like the first Maine homesteaders). For this tracking problem, the simplest solution would do. If you happened to be at the Duck Brook Bridge Thursday morning, you might have been interested to find a panting man bent over the low stone wall counting pinecones and pebbles and muttering numbers to himself. I picked up these tokens each lap to help me keep track and it worked. Another problem took me by surprise. That morning, after too many side trips to the car and back, I left my fig Newmans bag, water jugs, and rain jacket conveniently near the loop on the bridge wall. Every lap I grabbed a few cookies, chugged the jugs, and pressed on. But when I returned from a slow lap near noon, I discovered my gear moved and my figs STOLEN. I didn't believe my snack had been stolen at first, only misplaced as I so commonly do with everything else I own. Bar Harbor and the Park are pretty safe places, save for stolen bikes in the late Fall. Maybe someone misttok my stash of gear for an unlabeled lost and found, I do not know, but I do know now that I'm taking more than just physical risks by running long events without support crews.
In total, I ran about 45 miles over 10 arduous hours, give or take a few pinecones. With support from family and friends, I managed to raise over $1400 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

This Spring I'm hoping to plan a bigger fundraising event, including sponsorship from businesses around the island and support from COA and friends. Maybe I'll make a documentary about it too, or just a short film to spread around.

Thank you to my family and friends for another successful fundraiser. Now...time to hibernate through a cold Maine winter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

24 hour ultramarathon

During high school, I was really proud of running cross country. I would say, the other sports' rain delay is our prime time. We ran through snow, freezing rain, and swamped courses. Nothing stopped a XC race, save for start guns and lightning bolts.

After this ultramarathon, I'm reconsidering that motto. Wednesday night, the elements were against me. Cold, Rain, and Wind are a terrible trinity for an endurance run. At 6:30 PM, I started running around the Witch Hole Loop carriage trails. Not half a mile around, I spotted my first neighbor. A plump field mouse froze in front of my headlamp's glare. Despite only inches between us, he stayed frozen for three minutes. Guess nobody's moving much tonight, I thought. The loop I ran was 5 kilometers, the same distance as my old XC races. I hoped to run over 40 repetitions by Thursday night, but as my extremities started to freeze and I dragged my drenched clothes and cold muscles along, my frustration mounted. After four hours of running I decided to sack the night's run for better weather in the morning. Three words kept repeating in my head - Warmth is wealth.

Soon to be continued

Saturday, November 12, 2011

minimalist shoes and pain.

I've been running on and off in the New Balance Minimus shoes this Fall. They look and feel more like rubber slippers than anything I'm used to. After reading Mcdougall's adventure book, Born to Run, I imagined myself, after gradually wearing less and less cushioned shoes, running up and down mountains nearly barefoot. That dream was short-lived. I quickly learned that minimalist shoes don't have rock plates that shield my soles from blunt impacts. And I couldn't hop around every pebble I ran past on narrow mountain trails. The first time I injured my left foot this Fall, I was with my old teammates from high school, on the rocky Ramapo Lake trail near my house in North Jersey. One asked me, "So how are those shoes for ya?" to which I responded, "Oh they're great. I've been running in them for - OW!" A rock slammed against my foot with dizzying force. It was horribly ironic timing. I thought that, with more ground that I covered in the shoes, over time my feet would toughen, my rock-dodging skills would increase, and so on, but I've reinjured that same spot maybe four times over three months. Maybe it was magical thinking that kept me combining rocky trails and soft shoes. Undoubtedly, I find the Minimus shoes very light, flexible, and breathable. They let me really feel the ground, the texture, and the hardness. Wearing big cushioned running shoes after that is like a day on the beach - in a suit and tie.
Anyway, I've retired the Minimus shoes for only road running, which is what I'm restricted to after my last reinjury. It only takes a few days for the tenderness to go away though. After reading passages from a Tom Brown, Jr. guide to herbal medicine, I might try getting a hold of Knitbone, which is renowned for healing bones quickly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

24 hour ultramarathon fundraiser

I'm really excited to announce that next Thursday, November 17, I will be raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by running a 24 hour ultramarathon. I hope within that time, I can run 130 miles non-stop. But more importantly, I hope I can raise $500 through this CFF fundraiser.

Here's the details as I plan them:
I'll start in the early morning on Thursday. I'll run as many laps of the Witch Hole Loop carriage trails as I can.
- Support - I will prepare all the food and drink I'll need and bring all the gear.
I'm hoping a few friends might show up with food or run a few laps with me.

- Fundraising - I just set up a page on the CF Foundation website here:
Goals- I hope to run exactly twice as long as I did in the Round MDI Fun Run. 130 miles to be exact. That's a steady mile pace of 11:04 (near my pace for the Pineland Farms 50 Miler). 11 minute miles for 24 hours. Whoo! Without injury, I know I will easily surpass 100 miles. I'm so excited about this that I find it amazing I didn't think of doing it any sooner. It's November in Maine...Now I'll have to deal with near-freezing temperatures during Thursday night. No biggy, I'm used to bundling up.

Okay, off to print out posters and spread the word!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Katahdin 100 recap, last installment

After Abol Hill, we have a few miles of dirt road to get to the campground and we're walking all of them. Sikwni is visibly hurting, walking with a limp. Right as we near the finish, my mom insists on a group photo. Myself and probably others are impatient and exhausted but we tolerate the one minute for all to assemble. My mom takes a photo, then says, "Just one more..." but we've gone already. We enter Katahdin Stream Campground to the sound of a drum beating. We've finished our journey, I realize. I hug the others as I am flooded with many strong emotions at once. Everyone leaves in different directions for sleep and rest. My parents set up a tent for me and ask me questions for which I only have the mental energy to respond, "I don't care. I just want to go to sleep." My uncle and cousin have to leave for Long Island and say goodbye. Poor timing, I think. I'd wanted to thank them for joing me on this great journey and ask them about their experience but all I managed was, "Thanks." Then I'm in the tent, on a soft pad, and I am still. Rest has never felt so good.

I wake up in a puddle. The heavy rain outside is flooding my tent. I stumble outside and, oh, that cool wetness feels great. The rain washes the sweat and dirt and stress off my body. And then I turn to see Katahdin, a great giant looking over me. Finally the sky has cleared for us to see the mountain. Usually, the canoeists and runners can see the mountain dozens of miles before they near it. The view makes me so happy.

The Potluck that evening is wonderful. Ribs, corn, bread, chili, soup, fruit. Barry asked me to make a "natural, organic, and wholesome" dish for the Potluck. My family didn't prepare one in advance so my mom improvises a great tomato and mozzarella plate out of the trunk of my car. At the closing ceremony on Monday, Barry revealed that the Potlucks had been growing less and less natural every year, but this year's was very wholesome.

Sunday night, there's singing and drumming under the tarp. But I only hear the drums' muffled thumping from my nearby lean-to as the rain puts me to sleep again.

In the morning, everyone packs up camp and sits in a circle under the tarp for the closing ceremony. The fire burns near the circle despite the continuing rain. Barry's uncle, Butch, a Penobscot Elder, conducts a smudging ceremony. Holding a smoldering herb, he fans the smoke with an eagle's wing towards each person in the circle. Barry says that, to him, a smudging ritual puts everyone on the same page. A carved talking stick is passed around. On it hangs 29 eagle feathers carried from Indian Island on each of the last K100 journeys. Barry gives the one he carried this year to the youth of the group to put on the stick. Everyone is invited to talk about their K100 experience this year. Many, myself included, express gratitude for the warm and generous individuals that made this event happen. When handed the stick, I also want to talk about the significance of this experience compared to my weak condition when I was hiking in Baxter one year ago, but I get choked up before I can begin. Barry says a lot when he gets the talking stick. He says the health of the tribe is faltering and "elders are dying young." He challenges everyone to live this year as if they are preparing to run the 100 miles in next year's K100. The ceremony concludes with a tobacco offering. Others burn pieces of paper and fibers. I ask Barry later what significance that has and he replies, "Indian text messaging," with a chuckle. I gather from what else he says that the objects are symbolic of intentions or thoughts added to the fire, and they rise with the smoke like messages towards the spiritual world.
When the closing ceremony ends, we exchange hugs, phone numbers, K100 t-shirt orders, and go our separate ways.


Two weeks later, my former college teacher, Karen Waldron, asks me to come talk about my K100 experience to her Native American Literature course. The presentation and discussion among friends goes well. For some questions, I am tongue-tied and my thoughts come out in jumbles. Someone asks, "Is it challenging to talk about this experience with others?" I shout yes! The experience means so much to me that rattling off details or statistics or trying to summarize such a multi-dimensional experience is frustrating.
How fortunate and privileged I am to have this completely unique experience of a different people's traditions and spirituality.

To be continued...one year from now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

K100 Part 3

The night is dark with no moon, many stars, and clouds rolling in and out. The night is also very long. Walking makes it feel much longer. At some point, my stomach declares an all-out war with me and I'm taking frequent bathroom breaks. Steve and the others move far ahead. When I'm done, the idea of running faster to catch up worries me at first. But lengthening my usual shuffling to a decent stride is liberating and wonderful.

I count down the miles until the break mile. Rest becomes something my body tells me I need as much as water. The road crew sets up chairs and snacks as we come in. I imagine, to them, the runners look like a bunch of newly born fawns with the sorry state of our joints. After 75 miles, bending my knees or calves or any part of my legs is a great challenge. After we eat and drink and sit down for ten minutes, getting up and jogging again is like awakening from a deep sleep.

Late in the night, Steve and I get word that Barry and Sikwni have started running FAST. No one knows why or how they are doing this. They're even too fast for the road crew to catch them every mile. Steve tells me that when we get to a bridge soon, we will turn off on a long poorly-marked hiking trail that's hard to navigate in the dark. And Barry knows the trail best. Soon, the road crew is telling us that Barry is at the trailhead and wants to go on without us. I'm worried that Steve and I will waste time being lost in the woods so near to the finish. When we get to the trail, Barry's waiting for us. We all walk the trail together as the sun rises.
At the other side is a dirt road, and my family and the road crew is standing together, waiting for us. Someone mentions we're at the bottom of Abol Hill. Finally! I think. Barry and Steve have been referring to Abol Hill since the start. Something about runners and road crew members and canoeists and anyone else running up the mile-plus hill as a tradition. My cousin Christopher, egged on by his dad, steps up to the line with me. Looks like a friendly competition to me as we all line up together. I'm eager for a little excitement after a long night. Barry says it's only right that I call the start since I kept time for 26 hours already. "Go." Christopher and I get off to a great start. I have no idea where I'm getting the energy but I love it. Just when you think you can see the top, the road turns and another hill appears. Reminds me of killer hill repeats my high school coach made us do. Christopher is breathing hard and falls behind me just short of the top. I learn soon after that he had just eaten breakfast and hadn't stretched or even warmed up in the cold morning. What a strong kid!

To be continued.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

K100 part 2 continued

Katahdin 100 Sacred Run, Part 2.

Where was I...

Right. Barry's friend Steve is telling us great jokes. He says he's ran this before, twice unassisted. Wow.

Meeting the road crew every mile is getting on my nerves - it's easy to stop and break more often.

The miles slowly peel by like sun burnt skin. "Run." Count four minutes. "Walk!" Count one minute. "Run!" Barry said the youngest keeps time so I'm calling out the commands. This is for the best, I think. I don't like the walk/run method at all. Kills my momentum. Giving me the power to call the changes is comforting.

All day Saturday, we run a road that parallels the Penobscot river but the woods only occasionally allow us a glimpse of the water. Almost every mile, we hear the barks and snarls of dogs in yards. I'm glad Steve brough a dog stick.

Less than twenty miles into the run, my toenails hurt on every stride. I tell Barry and he asks what shoe size I'm wearing. I tell him my foot size and he says, of course, your feet hurt. Feet can swell up to a size and a half during an ultra. I make a mental note and change to my old shoes. Now my feet hurt less. Good.

At every mile, I stop at my family's car and ask Dad or Mom for food and a refill on my camelbak or whatever else I need. I'm eating protein bars, ham sandwiches, peanut butter cups, smoothies, watermelon, oranges, and bananas. I drink gatorade or an electrolyte replacement tablet dissolved in water. Or just water when the lemon-lime flavor gets old. Barry's group is eating more natural foods including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit

With only one task at hand, the hours blend together and day becomes night. Steve gets heat cramps in his legs and falls way behind. Someone suggests I go run with him so I do, and we end up running and walking together all night and all morning.

To be continued.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Katahdin 100 recap part 1

Last Spring, I sent a letter to the former chief of the Penobscot People, Barry Dana. I asked him to consider inviting me to a sacred native tradition that he had mentioned to me in a phone interview. Weeks later, he still hadn't responded so I called him one morning. He explained that he had just talked to the Penobscot elders and they agreed that inviting me was a good idea. The event, which is called the Katahdin 100, was held Labor day weekend. This is a small part of the story of my experience.

On Saturday morning, I wake up before four AM. My family drags themselves into the cars, and we drive to a church parking lot at the entrance to Indian Island in Old Town, Maine. We wait a long time. Barry Dana and friends show up late in a pickup truck and someone yells in good humor, "Are we early?" We follow them across the island to a clearing outside a cemetery where others are gathered. A young guy grabs a bow drill from a bag and starts a fire with just wood and string in minutes. I love it! I teill my cousin Christopher about the difficulty of learning the bow drill last Spring. Soon, 35 people, mostly natives, are circled around the small fire for the starting ceremony of the event. We all take turns offering tobacvco and prayers. Barry's mother offers prayers in the native language as the sun rises. Many ask for safety for the canoeists and runners as we journey together over the next two days along the Penobscot River. Our destination is one hundred miles away at the base of the sacred mountain Katahdin. Then, we start to run.
Barry told me the strategy a few days ago. Since no one has seriously trained over the summer, we will stick to a run and walk ratio of 4 minutes to 1 minute. We'll take a five minute break every six miles. The road crew, which feeds and fuels us during the run, will stop every mile for us. I'm initially disappointed to hear we are walking so often. I'd rather use momentum to carry me through the miles instead of stopping and starting over and over. I told my parents that I would start with the group, then break way when I felt ready, 25 or maybe 50 miles into the run. I never did break away from the run and I am grateful for it.

I run into my first challenge just after starting. Running behind Barry's daughter, Sikwni, I catch a scent that takes me back one year. I am in Baxter State Park, trudging along hiking trails behind a girl with the same scent. I can't think of anything to say. We hike in a sad silence. We were trying to repair a friendship with a long hike in a beautiful place but it won't work. Like the past three years, I have developed a severe clinical depression and have little spirit. Life is miserable.
This flashback is jarring and my focus from the run dissolves. What cruel luck to be reminded of sad memories like this. They bring to mind many stupid and shameful decisions I made once. Now I have countless hours ahead of me vulnerable to these thoughts. Lessons from therapy kick in and bring myself back to the present. We are running seven strong across the road. I've been ambitious enough to sign up for the longest journey I have ever made on foot. Unlike the past four summers, I am healthy, happy, and free of depression. I carry a wide grin today.

Barry runs in flip flops for over eighty miles. He says he's never ran more than eight miles in them before this. I am amazed and inspired to run light next year...
Check tomorrow for more recap!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pineland 50 Mile Race Recap

So the culmination of my senior project at COA was the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival 50 Mile race. When I registered for the race in March, I was nervous. I'd never run more than a marathon before and didn't know if I could last almost twice as long.

The 2008 MDI Marathon seriously wrecked me by mile 18 with leg cramps and hypothermia. The race volunteers restored my health by giving me all they had - hot liquids, their own sweats, massages. They said, you better stop, let's call the van over. Nope, I hobbled onwards and finished in 4:11.

I didn't train for the race the way I thought I would. Instead of logging high mileage, tempo runs, and track workouts, I ran how I felt. I felt good, I ran longer. I felt sore and tired, I ran shorter, slower. I ran with friends' dogs a lot. They kept thing interesting when no one else was up to running 6 miles over hills.
Once I interviewed a dozen ultrarunners about their fantastic transformative experiences running ultras, I knew I couldn't wait until the Pineland 50 at the end of May for my first Ultra. So I made my own course - around the perimeter of Mount Desert Islan. 65 miles. My first attempt was foolish and it hurt people and I learned hard lessons about responsiblity. My second attempt was glorious, I had so much support from the school and faculty and friends and family and I planned it all out. I fundraised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in honor of my cousin Christopher and raised over 11,000 dollars. Gave presentations at the local Jesup Library and Pemetic Elementary School in Southwest Harbor to a bunch of great kids. I asked what they learned and one girl, Emma, said " I learned that you can raise a lot of money by doing what you love and trying hard enough." Amazing. I'm not sure yet, but I think she spelled out what will become my first postcollegiate adventure. Professional fundraising. Inspirational running that raises money for good causes. My dream.

After all this, it finally came time to drive down to New Gloucester, Maine, and run the 50. I anticipated not just the race, but meeting friends I had interviewed over the phone. Like Mike Brooks. Past Firefighter. Ultrarunner, ultrafundraiser. Raised 10s of thousands of dollars each year for Camp Sunshine, a camp in Maine for terminally ill kids and their families, by running races like the Badwater 135 mile race and the Sri Chimnoy Society's 10-day race in NYC (running almost 500 miles).
Friends like Barry Dana. Former chief of the native Penobscot People in Northern Maine. Organized a sacred run for his people over twenty years ago called the Katahdin 100, held every September. 100 miles from Indian Island up the Penobscot river by boat, foot, or bike, to the base of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park (end of the Appalachian Trail). Following the paddle strokes of their ancestors, they run the course in honor of another. Carry an eagle feather 100 miles to the base of Katahdin where they give it to their honored individual and tell them a story of their journey. Once I heard about this event, I knew I had to run it in honor of my cousin Christopher. So I wrote a letter to Barry requesting invitation to the sacred run. A few weeks later, impatiently, I called Barry about the letter, and he said he'd just talked to the Elders and they agreed it was a good idea for me to be invited! I was overjoyed. I called my Aunt that I'd run this 100 mile event in honor of her son and she had a good cry over it. So going to the race, I was excited to meet Barry.
When I arrived at the Pineland Farms, I thought I was lost. Big brick buildings everywhere. School campus looking. Weird. The races were just starting. Hundreds of thin people in short shorts. One swath had all kinds of dogs attached at the hip. The 5k Cani-cross run with your dog. Next year, I thought, I'd love to do that. Met Barry Dana and his family. Met Mike Brooks too. Mike persuaded me to join the 5k at the last minute. The course is set on well-groomed ski cross country trails over steep bunny hills and tight curves. My highschool competetive nature kicked in halfway, and I passed over a hundred people before I finished. Unlimited FREE smuttynose beer after the race. Wow! Made friends with the race directors. Asked them about the weird campus. Used to be a "school for the feeble-minded." For mentally challenged folks but orphans were sent here too. After the school went under a few years back, new owners took over the 500 acres. They rent out the land, host weddings, grow potatos, meats, make cheese and sell it in their own Market. Pretty neat.
That night, I had to sleep in my car. Had a long talk with the old security guard about politics and all the problems of the US like wars and debts that my generation now has to deal with. Slept maybe two hours. My head ached, my stomach churned, and I felt feverish. Great timing. Woke up early, packed, sleptwalked to the starting line, nervous but not panicked. The race directors were right. The energy and vibe on Sunday was the polar opposite of the Saturday of short races. The runners in the longer races on Sunday were much more calm, quiet, and meditative. We lined up. Cow Bell rang. We slowly jog into the woods. At the first hill, I saw something for the first time. Everyone's walking. Never before in a race had I walked willingly. This seemed so odd and new.

I ran the whole race with Barry at my side. We talked about everything. His long-time passion has been canoe racing. He and his wife are national champions in the sport. Fascinating. We talked about motivation and inspiration and spirit and the absurdity and necessity of running. About how modern man has ruined all natural elements. Poisoned the water, the air. The value of things (the worth of all things measured against gold). He pointed to the painful gravel on the course. Yes, Man has even managed to ruin rocks. We laughed a lot during that race.
The dozen aid stations on the loops around the hayfields were manned by volunteers and local kids. Part of the race proceeds went to the most spirited aid station. There were brass bands and Christmas themed stations and everything in between. At the aid stations were sports drinks, water, cookies, gummy bears, cranberries, PBJ sandwiches, fruit, and even Coke (still carbonated, yuck). The volunteers were very compassionate and helpful.
The course was so natural and lovely. Grass meadows, hills of dirt, trees always overhead or nearby. 30 miles in, I dropped my shoes, socks, shirt, and hydro pack at the start line and ran free. Pebbles hurt my feet every now and then but I relished in the lightness of barefoot running.

Barry and I finished side by side in 9:34. What did it feel like? I felt old and tired. More tired than I've ever felt. Old because I matured through overcoming a giant challenge. Old because I knew myself better now. Like what I just read in Tom Brown Jr's early book...most people don't know their own abilities, because they've never tested them thouroughly. To know what you are capable of, is a wondeful feeling.

I tried driving home to Bar Harbor sleep-deprived and utterly wasted from the race, but I almost fell asleep on the road! I napped at a rest station, made it to my house, and slept like a baby. A strange side effect came a few days after. The roof of my mouth was pretty sore. Couldn't swallow fully either. I learned later from Marshall Ullrich's book on running across America that eating constantly all day can irritate the soft skin so a mouthwash helps protect the gums and skin. Good lesson.

This summer I'm working again at Journey's End Farm Camp near Scranton, PA. My COA friend Gina recommended I work there, and I've fallen in love with the place. Natural farming, Peaceful and harmonious Quaker values, well-tended animals, and this year, I'll get to go hiking with the campers for 2-3 days on the Appalachian Trail. Hard work, but the most meaningful I've ever encountered. I can't wait to teach kids about firemaking skills and herbal remedies and knot making and more theatre and improv. Phew, gotta remember to breathe. : )

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome back Kotter!

Hey blog, hey spectators,

I went without running for four days. I ended up in the desert of losing-my-mind. Running is absolutely essential to my daily balance. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Without running for a few days, I feel caged, clammy, antsy, and off-kilter. I could go out without food longer than I could go without running. What did i do to past the time? Bow-drill practice mostly. Primitive skills is my new hobby. And a friend enlightened me to how I can connect it to my senior project. Primitive humans ran before there were horses and cars. If they packed light, they could run. If they packed heavy, they walked.
I just watched a great movie called The Great Dance: A Hunter's Story. The film follows one San tribe of the Kalahari as they traditionally hunt an ungulate named kudu. Some are still primitive hunters, using expert tracking skills and poison tipped arrows to wound animals. Then they literally run the animals to death. For hours or whole days, hunters run and track the wounded animal. They say, "When you feel kudu with you, you are now controlling its mind." Assume the identity of the animal you chase. Think like it. Be like it.
This movie provides a great connection between running and primitive living. Another book that explores the evolution of human running as compared to other animals is Bernd Heinrich's "Why We Run." This book is a fascinating exploration of endurance physiology and evolutionary biology. More on this later.
Oh. I almost forgot. On a run the other day, inspired by the book, I thought of these word: The lion chases the gazelle. Lion is chasing life. So is the gazelle. When I run, I chase life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Journal entry

Here's a journal article from a few days ago:

Happy 4/20! No, I won't be smoking pot today, if you're wondering. I went for my run today with clean, smoke-free lungs, Thank God, and it felt wonderful. I took my friend's dog, Bear to the Witch Hole Loop and carriage trails. This dog is awesome: tame, yet still wild at times; playful yet won't bite your fingers off; obedient, yet still independent. We chased deer scents through the woods. He'd take off sprinting at breakneck speed and I'd do everything I could just to keep up. Rolled around in some mud (doesn't he ever get cold?). I'd like to film a run one time with Bear at my side, trying to capture the pure joy of playing and dancing with a dog. Sprinting downhill with wreckless abandon; teasing, jumping, playing, play-fighting, playing fetch, listening to each other's strides, breathing, and spirit. Of course, when he stopped to sniff and pee every five minutes, it was frustrating. But not because he stopped me but because he could sense more than I could out in the woods. Know what animals were around, what pheremones they were releasing. Bear is so much more aware of the WILD than I am. I yearn to have his sensitivities to scents and sound ranges and vibrations. I wish I could run like Bear - swift, efficient, so NATURALLY, with four legs, not two. Running on four legs would feel so primal - the closest I come to that is rock scrambling up and down mountains. What if man did learn how to run on four limbs again? Just create exctensions for our short arms? Woah. Heavy.

Scott Swann said I should think about writing some "documentation" of the Round the Island Run I did last Saturday, since he can't think of "anyone stupid enough to try that" historically. I might have done something no one else has ever doen before - how cool is that? I want to present my experiences to kids across the island, try to share the joys of long-distnace running. the ambition, the dreams, the worthwhile hardships, everything. Maybe inspire a few kids to run a little. Why? Good health and fitness, healthy lifestyle, can be less consumeristic, regulates your diet to some degree, can become a type of spirituality, passion, pastime (a glorious pastime), a social connector (!), a great way to travel and see the world and fundraise money for good causes, do good for others, inspire others to get healthy and fit, and use their priorly neglected bodies. Great way to appreciate the outdoors and your environment. Great sports of XC and Track. If you find any talent in it, you can get scholarships to colleges! Motivation and inspiration to others. I can tell them at "Katie" at Hunters' Beach who, after hearing my Round MDI Run story, said she'd soon stop smoking and start running again.

Update - I have since gone on many other runs with Bear and my other friend's dog, Cosmo, with much success and joy. More to come. Woof!

Monday, April 18, 2011


I finished the run. Took me a grand total time of 15 hours and 41 minutes. What I tried to avoid by starting earlier in the morning still happened - I was lost, in the dark, with a non working headlamp, getting called by the police, phone battery halfway dead, and tired as never before. Two deer materialized in my vision as I was exiting Schooner Head Overlook, and I started asking them for directions as well: Me - "Hey, do you know where Schooner Head Rd. is?" Deer - "..." Me (pointing to the other deer) - "What about you, sir...or ma'am?" Deer 2 - "..." Me - "Well...Okay then." (Shuffles back to Park loop). What I imagine they said afterwards was something like that (When I'm out of sight) Deer 1: "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" Deer 2: "Je ne sais pas..." Thankfully, Ken Hill called me just in time as I was headed the wrong way on the Park loop (towards Cadillac Mtn.) and steered me towards Schooner Head Road. "only 3.2 miles Steve" "3.2 Miles! Yes!" "Sarah Luke wants to know what kind of pizza you want from Reel Pizza?" "Everything!" 3.2 Miles? I could do that in my sleep. And since I had been awake since 2 AM Saturday morning, I probably would be sleeping quite soon if I didn't hurry. I pushed myself from a march to a slog. To a shuffle. Broke the metaphorical Forest Gump casts off my legs and TOOK OFF. Others thought I was really sprinting but I knew the truth - human flight. Get wings. Like that greek dude. My brain had turned into a pile of oatmeal throughout the day, slowing down my speech, my thoughts, my concerns. Even pain wasn't a concern now. My only focus was switching gears and getting to the village green to that ULTRA-PIZZA. My stomach juices jumped up and down with every step, awaiting a tasty thanksgiving dinner to satisfy cravings. I busied myself with calculations in my head. 11 minute miles. 3.2 miles....that's...35 minutes...what about 10 minute....NO...what about 9 minute miles...that 30 minutes. Lets go under 30 BABY! I shifted into higher gears with words and grunts. "Let's do this! ARGHHH!" (Scott Grierson taught me that one. He taught me to save my energy for the final push and then... Put the HAMMER down!) Jackson Labs' lights were in sight now. Less than a mile away! 2nd gear. Arghh! 3rd gear. Arghh! Ken Hill says I'm flying now. 4th gear. Arghhhhh! I morphed my body from an old-timers electric wheelchair into a MACH JET! How? I thought to myself. How is this possible after 15 and a half hours of running? The farthest distance I had gone before this was 32 miles. Now I'm running 64? Twice as much. Past Jackson Labs, Ken Hill goes ahead to the village green. The hours on the road find me again and I slow to a shuffle walk again. Less than a mile, less than a mile... I see flashes of light. People cheering, yelling, whooping, yelping. Dogs? I climb the curb, reach the stone circle, break to my knees, and kiss the damn thing. Right next to the bird poop, I expect. 15 hours and 41 minutes ago, it was dark and cold, just as it is now. Only Kelly Reid was there, snapping a photo as I crouched in a joking manner into the sprint position at that very circle. That was my take off. This is my landing. Alina puts something heavy into my hands. Says congratulations and heres a gift. I know right away - Pickles, my favorite. Sarah Luke asks if I need an IV at the hospital, if I can walk, if I need to be carried. I'm lucid enough to laugh. I'm fine, I say, I just need pizza. Then it's in my hands,it's so warm!, and I'm at the house. And I've fallen on the couch. I can only eat a few pieces before I keel over on my side and pass out. Rest.

Friday, April 15, 2011

First Post!

Great! I found my blogger account! Woot. I'm trying to kill time before my epic Round the Island run at 5 AM. I only have to kill time until 4AM when I will gear up and head to Jordan's Restaurant for a hearty breakfast before my 70 mile run today. 70 mile run. 70. mile. run. I have to say that a few times to really understand what it means. Ha. I'd like to use this blog to post online articles about ultrarunners I've interviewed and other information I'm finding out about while studying ultrarunning and speed hiking and endurance sports in general this Spring. It's my senior project! Can you imagine that, a senior project on endurance sports coming from me, the acting kid? the former SHY kid? the slowest varsity member in high school cross country? it all seems like a dream... : ) Anyway, I've interviewed around 18 ultramarathoners and speed hikers after 3 weeks. They've told me AMAZING stories about the limits of the human body, about the joys and tribulations of endurace events. Like the Hardrock 100, an insane ultramarathon through the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado. 66000 feet of elevation change, average elevation of over 11, 000 feet...That's over 2 miles high. Now to many people, that sounds as appealing as a sea urchin sandwich, but to me, my blood starts to pump, my head gets dizzy from imagining the lack of oxygen, and my heart, or my spirit, or whatever that courageous voice is inside me, screams, "GO FOR IT!" Push the limit of your body, your mind, your motivation and will power! In my mind, whatever doesn't kill me...will surely hurt a lot, and will be well worth my time. Whatever does kill me...well, I just hope its during a run. Not that I plan on dying anytime soon. It's just good to have a broad perspective about life in general, because you never know when ya gonna go. Can you tell I'm nervous about this ultra? : ) So I've raised hundreds of dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in honor of my cousin Christopher, who has CF. I started a donation page less than a week ago, and thought of this idea of running around MDI around 2 weeks ago. Phew, everythings moving very fast these days. Heres the link to my donation page where you can contribute: http://www.cff.org/GreatStrides/SteveHumphreys Alright, gonna gear up. Wish me luck. Peace.