Monday, December 17, 2012

"is this another running story, Steve?"

Phew. I have been up since 7pm yesterday. 20 some odd hours awake. Among the things to blame is a nap I took yesterday (I keep thinking "this time it will be different- I will just take a little nap and go to bed on time..."), a homemade didgeridoo that is completely fascinating to learn to play, and some late night chocolate (burnt chocolate - when is that ever a good idea to eat?). Heh. My friends tease me everytime I tell a story because it always starts (or develops into) "so I went running the other day and..." Last week I realized I needed new trail running shoes. I was on a rockytrail, tripped over a rock slightly and caught myself mindlessly bending down to put my toes back in the shoe. The toeboxes were long since ripped out by similar trips and scrapes. I realized there were more holes than shoe material on my feet. Heh I went to Fleet Feet in Mahwah and bought a pair of the new Brooks Cascadia. I have never bought Brooks shoes before. I tried them on the rockiest nastiest trails I know in Ramapo Reservation in Mahwah - and I am blown away. I am so glad I am investing in my passion. If I hadn't, I'd probably have twisted my ankle on a mountaintop by now in those death traps I was holding onto before. My friend recently told me how I inspired him to start running long -distance and now he is training for a half marathon. I love that! Inspiring other towards better healthier more active and satisfying lifestyles warms my heart. I want that to be part of my legacy and what others remember me by. Remember - have fun on the run!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

24 hour run video

Here's a long-awaited surprise: my Mom discovered a video that she took on her phone from the 24 hour run last Spring. I uploaded it to Youtube:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back in action!

After a computer meltdown a few months ago, I've had to borrow others' computers to publish blog posts. In the summer, I spent hours typing a thank you letter to donors of the 24 hour run fundraiser last Spring, and I lost Internet connection and lost the whole letter. Sufficed to say, computers have not been my favorite machine lately.

The storytelling of the K100 has been on my mind lately. I haven't posted this year's story in full yet because I have been travelling a lot but also because I want to go into so much detail and only have small chunks of free time or patience for it. Truth is, the story I write here will probably not reflect the significance and profound richness of the experience I had. It will only be a summary. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Spiritual Journey to Katahdin continued

Thursday night I sleep in a tent next to the graveyard. A test of bravery before an endurance event, you ask? No, I just had nowhere else to crash. The opening ceremony started at 5 AM so it was convenient to roll out of bed and be there. My parents arrived just as the ceremony started. Lori's sister sang beautiful songs in Penobscot. Blessings were asked for the athletes on our 100 mile journey. A young girl's shoes lit up as she walked around the circle, giving everyone a rock from the gravel road underfoot. I looked around at a circle of 30 people. 30 committed individuals, here in good spirits, seeking healing for their loved ones. What a unique community I have entered. I thought back on my year since my first Katahdin 100 experience. I had been healthy and happy at times. I have been free of major depression - depression that had threatened to end my life a few years ago. That was my silent triumph.

Our group was ready to begin the journey. It was Barry, Lori, Sikwani, her boyfriend Nate, and me. Nate wanted to run and walk a portion and road crew the rest of the time. We were setting out on a three day journey by foot. I was giddy with excitement, talking up a storm. As we passed graveyard after graveyard, Barry told me they take this route around Indian Island intentionally, to pass by their elders.
Three minutes of running, two minutes of walking - for three days. That was the plan that Barry told me beforehand. I was fit enough to run the hundred miles straight, but that wasn't the point. As much as I wanted to show off, run fast, and challenge myself, the experience for me was sharing the K100 with Barry and his family and their road crew.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Spiritual Journey to Katahdin - Year Two.

Hi everyone.

The Katahdin 100 experience this year was very different from last.  Here's a few highlights.

I continue to run in support of my cousin with CF. He was unable to attend this year because he was recovering from lung surgery. My parents and I were sad he and his father were not there this year. In his place, he gave me a silver necklace with a cross that I could run with on the K100. Other athletes carry an eagle feather with them in honor of a loved one that needs healing.

I also ran this K100 in hopes of spiritual renewal. My grandma passed away a short while ago and spirits have been low. I am also looking for direction in my life right now, as I choose what to do next.

Barry Dana, the event organizer and good friend, told me he, his wife Lori, and Sikwani, his daughter, were going to all run the 100 miles. Cool, I thought. No woman had ever run the entire 100 miles, and Sikwani was up to the challenge. They would run 40 miles Friday, 40 miles Saturday, and 20 miles Sunday. Problem was, they were starting a day earlier than usual, on Friday. My support crew, Dad and Mom, couldn't drive up to Maine until Saturday. So I spent a few days calling friends, emailing whole communities in search of a support team for Friday. No luck. So, I planned for my last resort - to drive the route beforehand and stash drop bags on the side of the road every 15 miles. Last time I had used drop bags was while running around Mount Desert Island. Sure, at times, I was pretty hungry and thirsty, but I pulled it off okay.

Thursday I am driving up to Maine. My dad calls to say he will meet me Friday morning while I am  running. I am confused and speechless. He says Mom will drive from NJ to ME through the night and they will find me running on the road in the first few hours of the journey. Yes! I roar. I don't need to drive for hours in the car stashing drop bags, worrying about whether I'll find them or they'll be tampered with. Phew. What a relief.

To be continued.

Monday, August 6, 2012

24 hour run

At the end of this Spring, my parents and friends joined me in my dream - a 24 hour run fundraiser for the CF Foundation. Here is a brief story about that:

My parents decided to drive from New Jersey to Maine and back in a weekend to support me during the 24 hour run. My dad stayed up the whole night, heating up tea and ramen noodle soup to keep me fed, awake, and nourished while I ran. I couldn’t have picked a better place, time, or crew for this run. I ran on a 3.2 mile gravel path on the Witch Hole Pond carriage trails. There are many pine forests, beaver ponds, mossy granite cut stones, and treasures in this area. As I ran into the sunset on Friday, I heard a natural chorus sing their own melodies. First were the ditonal thrush songs, complex and shrill. Then the bull frogs groaned together. Finally the small peepers peeped so loudly, I knew they were the soloists of the chorus. At morning, the order reversed – first I heard the peepers, then the bull frogs, and then the birds.
The night was long and lyrical. I sang loudly to keep the animals away, but then I found my muse and enjoyed creating songs spontaneously that kept myself occupied. One song went:

Kickin’ lots of stones,
Feel it in my bones
Through the night.

And when the sun rises,
I’ll be 50 miles round.
And when the sun rises,
I’ll wear a smile not a frown.
And when the sun rises,
After the night.

Another song goes:

Certainly the morning comes suddenly
The birds will sing so sweetly
And I will rise completely.

These songs kept me going through a very long and exhausting night. At midnight I felt so worn out, I was fearing I’d need a nap or three, when I ran into my friend Dan who’d come to see how I was doing. He shook me out of my sleepiness and ran a lap with me. In the morning, he took over the job of caring for me so my dad could finally sleep a little.
Saturday I had told everyone I knew to come out for a walkathon while I was finishing my run.  Thankfully, a few friends attended and walked and talked with me. Also, people came on Saturday to enjoy the day in the park, found out what I was doing, and donated on the spot. I was thrilled to hear that while running. Nearing the end, my tired mind and body ached for sleep. Luckily, my friend Elena came to my aid and ran the last two laps with me on Saturday afternoon.

After 24 hours, I had run 90 miles. We have raised about $3000 from this fundraiser run.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Asticou Trail Expedition

Hi everyone!

I'm very excited to share the story of a long run I did Sunday. Over 6 hours of running, I explored, discovered, enjoyed, and reflected. Here we go:

I woke up Sunday sore from lifeguard training the day before. The instructor and I practiced rescues of submerged drowning victims. Diving deep, pulling victims to the surface - phew, it's tough stuff. And I'm glad I'm learning more about how to save people from drowning. It's a real life skill. 

I hadn't committed to doing a long run on Sunday, but it was the general plan. When I actually made the decision and started packing my camelbak full of snacks and water, I was exhilarated in my anticipation of the run. My mind surged with the warm memories of the Katahdin 100 mile Sacred Run last September, the Around-the Island run this time last Spring, and many other adventures. Some of the strongest emotions and energies I've ever felt have been before, during, or after these amazing experiences on foot. 

The private carriage trails by Seal Cove were my original destination. Apparently, you can't bike on these carriage trails but you can let your dog run without a leash. Northeast Harbor became a good spot to break for lunch. The best part of this run is that I never ran to the private carriage trails, because there was so much to explore on my way there and so much anticipation for running the Shore Path (on the Eastern shore of MDI) on my return. 

Sunday, for those of you who don't remember, was gorgeous on MDI. Sunny, not cold, and a little breezy. Unbeatable weather. 

I ran from Bar Harbor to Eagle Lake, and soaked in the beauty of the carriage trails there. I heard many thrushes singing. I wanted to find the North Bubble Trail but I must have passed it, and found myself running past Bubble Pond. I stopped at the Triad trailhead, ran past, then slowly changed my mind and ran back. Originally, I wanted to train for the 24 hour Witch Hole run by training over similar flat terrain but this was too enticing to give up. So I adventured up the Triad, which turned out to be a large rocky hill trail with a spot to look out from above. I passed a woman walking the trail, and she said, "You're obviously more fit than I am." Later, I thought to myself a response. "The real contest is to see who can enjoy the day more." I found myself at Jordan Pond and then at the Jordan Pond House. I dodged the stream of aged tourists and headed down Asticou trail.

Asticou was my favorite part of the run. I liked the exciting downhill twists and turns of the Asticou trail. I liked the smooth and mossy Asticou terraces, designed by Joseph Curtis a century ago, looking out over Northeast Harbor. I liked the protected little community on the side of Eliot Mountain, with hidden treasures like the Thuya Lodge and Thuya Garden. Having only passed by these places, I have almost no idea what Asticou means or what the community's history is, but I thoroughly enjoyed discovering them.

I got so hot running on the road on my return voyage. Thankfully, my friend Dan recently showed me a great swimming hole along Otter Creek that was perfect for cooling off.

My return trip resembled the last leg of the Round-MDI run last spring. From Northeast Harbor, I ran route 3 towards Bar Harbor, then hopped down to the park loop road and ran up the east shore of the island, known as the Shore Path. Running long-distance over the same ground, I found memories in my mind of last year's run that I never knew existed. I even remembered thoughts that I had one year ago. It was heart-warming to feel so strong and alive and in full contact with the contours of this island again.

What I realized most on Sunday was that Mount Desert Island is so vast and lush and varied and I want to explore each part as much as I can before I leave in June. And I leave a standing invitation to anyone else to join me in the exploration.
Take care everyone.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring is here!

Spring is here! Woohoo! My official walkathon posters have arrived from Arlene at the CF Foundation Greater New York Chapter. Very exciting.

Also, I like big bikes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trash man!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have this idea to trade community service for CF Foundation donations. So far, I've just been picking up trash in the neighborhood. This picture shows what I've gathered after only 3 hours of litter pick-up.

One day, I went to the roadside of Conners Emerson Elementary School and picked up trash there. The giant trash bag in my right hand is what I recovered over an hour. This week, the hill where I walked is being demolished (to put in a walkway, I've heard). When I was lugging the trash bag back to my house, my housemate Alex walked by and asked what I was doing. I told him, "Shopping...for trash."


Phew, I am tired these days. But not just from ultramarathon training. Let me explain:

For the past two summers, I have worked as a counselor at Journey's End Farm Camp near Scranton, PA. The camp is grounded in Quaker values, which I've come to greatly appreciate. The warmth of "a loving community and the joy of farm work" bring me back to camp every summer. This summer, the director is looking for counselors to hire with lifeguard certifications. He encouraged me to explore the possibility of taking a lifeguarding course in the few months before camp. I looked into it, and the local MDI YMCA offers Red Cross Lifeguarding courses, starting now! The Aquatics Director, Mark, told me I had to take a pre-course swim test and, in my excitement, I took the test, having not swam in more than six months prior. While I did fine on the 300 yd. endurance swim and the two minutes treading water, I sunk quite substantially on the rescue test. Swim 30 yards (quickly), surface dive twelve feet and retrieve an 8 lb. dumbbell. Swim on my back on the return 30 yards, all the while holding the dumbbell out of the water. Oh yeah, I forgot the catch: you only have one minute and forty seconds to do the rescue. I felt like a drowning rat pulling an extremely large round of cheese - I wasn't going to let go of the cheese, but I was slowly sinking.

It was humbling, and Mark agreed to let me start studying the lifeguarding curriculum and retest me in a week. Meanwhile, I'm committed to working on my strokes and finally submerging my head for a proper freestyle.

I'm also thinking BIG. Not only will I have a better chance at becoming a lifeguard by improving my swimming, I'll have a better chance at becoming a triathlon competitor as well, which is one of my life goals. Hopefully, one day, I'll be Hawaiian Ironman material. Keep dreaming, everyone!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Update #1

Happy Easter. Happy Passover.

This morning greets me roughly, as I find out just how many sore muscles ache in my body. I ran Saturday morning around 8 miles to the Schooner Head Road Overlook. Great wide view of the ocean (considering its low elevation). It was here that I remember the run around Mount Desert Island I accomplished last spring and the dark wet night I became lost at the Overlook. My, oh my, can one place look and feel so completely different as experienced during a dark confusing race night and a bright clear morning jog.

Oh, right. I'm sore not from the morning run itself, but from the exciting pickup soccer game at my college in the afternoon. I think the goals were less than 30 feet apart, which set me up for 1 hour of sprinting. Great fun.

I have been reading a book called, The Art of Encouragement, by Candy Paull, and it's wonderful. It's full of great quotes from a large swath of people, such as this one by Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

Appreciate what you have, motivate yourself better, forgive others, use fear to your advantage...This book has it all for "living life from the heart." Here is my appreciation of late:

To everyone who has selected "attend" on my "24 hour fundrunner" event on Facebook to show support for my cause, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, I thank you very much. Your support reaffirms my belief that what I am trying to do is meaningful and important.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

And awwwaaayyy we go!

I'm very excited to be planning my latest fundraiser run. A 24 hour race to support Cystic Fibrosis research. I attempted the 24 hour run last November, without much success. The weather was pretty terrible. This time, I figure the weather in mid-May will be much more tolerable for an all-day and all-night affair.

What I'm most excited about isn't the run actually. It's the creative fundraising I want to employ. I'm taking the advice of my friend Mike Brooks for raising money. He should know, since he raised tens of thousands of dollars for Camp Sunshine through running the Badwater Ultramarathon. And then there was the 6 day race in New York City he did. And the ten day...

Anyway, I have ideas. I'm thinking I can commit to community service on Mount Desert Island in return for donations to the CF Foundation on my fundraiser page ( ) and pledging a few cents to a dollar per mile for my race. That way, I am helping others and they are helping me (reciprocity). Mike suggested I enter every establishment in town and ask for a donation. At least it couldn't hurt. And ask to leave CF Foundation donation cans at the counter.

The CF Foundation has some great tips for creative fundraising too. One tip is to have a pizza lunch at the office for your coworkers. Get a pizzeria to donate a few pies and charge a five dollar donation for each slice. Or asking stores to donate a percentage of their sales for a day. That way, it's a win-win situation. I had no idea how endless creative fundraising could be.

My goal is to raise $5000 in 6 weeks.

Mike Brooks taught me a great thing about advocacy. By hosting a running event to promote and raise money for CF, I could be inspiring others to participate in other CF events down the road. Also, the more people that know about CF and the 30,000 children and adults it affects in the US, the more likely they are to help out.

I am very excited to flesh out these possibilities and form partnerships with local establishments. Ah, the promise of Spring...