About Kirk

My background is in education, specifically math. I have also spent over 10 years as a coach and been fortunate to be part of one of the premier softball programs in the country. Over the years I have developed a passion for logic and truth. Finally, I decided to write about it.

108 Years…

I met baseball in 1970 in a suburb of Chicago, Glen Ellen, and I immediately fell in love. My dad bought me my first glove and taught me to throw. I spent countless hours throwing tennis balls against the back wall of our house, playing every out of a full game, sometimes in extra innings, that the Cubs always won in the last of the last, with 2 outs. My best friend, Shawn, and I played baseball for hours in the corner lot. When the other kids went home, we would keep playing. We could play all positions at once and we always imagined ourselves at Wrigley. Shawn was more of a White Sox fan, but I’ll forgive him that error in judgement.

I spent some amazing summer afternoons at Wrigley Field. The smell of popcorn, hotdogs, fresh cut grass, and infield dirt still brings back memories of those days. When I couldn’t be there, I was in front of the TV at 1:15, WGN, Channel 9. The ivy on the brick always felt like home, and I guess it still does.

I saw Ernie Banks play his last game. I watched Billy Williams rob some poor slugger of a homerun long before Steve Bartman was around to get in the way. Joe Pepitone played first base with an effortlessness that I’m sure made him the coolest guy on the planet. Jose Cardinal stole more bases than anyone and made it look easy. Every year was the Cubs’ year and every October we all talked about next year.

The curse seemed real to us as kids, probably as real as it did the the old timers whose traditions of “We’ll get em next year” we carried on.
I learned to love the game and to hate it’s fickleness from the Cubs. I learned to do the figure 4 pop-up slide from the Cubs. It’s rare to see now, but a Cub did it in the Series this year and I knew we had it when I saw it. Something about seeing him fold his right leg under his left, sliding more on his shin than his backside, and come up as his lead foot hit second, brought back all of my childhood hopes and dreams.

The 2016 World Series had all the drama that a championship should have. Cubs drop the first, but take the second in Cleveland. A split is all you need when you’re on the road. Back to Wrigley and lose two. That wasn’t supposed to happen, but we took it back to Cleveland and had to win 2 games, one at a time. When you get to Game 7, anything can happen and it did. Leading off with a home run set the tone, and the 3 run lead was just getting comfortable when the Indians rallied in the 8th to tie. Had the game ended differently, there might have been a lot of speculation and second guessing about the pitching change in the 8th with 1 on and 2 out, but Allen was losing velocity and Chapman is an incredible closer, even on no rest… or not. Extra innings AND a rain delay just add to the suspense. The Cubs regroup in the clubhouse and come out to one last rally. Zobrist, Monterey, and Montgomery are names that will live forever now as themselves tha helped the Cubs break the curse.

As a kid, playing baseball was all I ever wanted to do. Watching the Cubs came in a close second. When I moved to California, I started routing for the Giants, and I still do, but the Cubs will always be my first love. I left behind my desire to play, but never my love of the game. I started by playing catch with my day (I still have the glove he bought to play catch with me), and played Little League, but never made the All Star Team. I think about these guys from time to time,especially during baseball season. I wonder if any of them kept playing as we got older. The toe-head kid in the front is Blake Hull, he went on to play hockey, like his father Bobby and his brother Brett. I wonder if the coaches’ kids, Jimmy Higgins, Gary Pritchard, and John Schroeder watched the series. I wonder if they ever knew how much I admired how easily the game I loved seemed to be for them.

I wonder if my old best friend, Shawn Rafferty, thinks back on the countless hours we spent playing baseball in any weather. Every 7th inning stretch I sing along with Shawn again “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” but my favorite time in my childhood was playing with just Shawn and I, in a torrential downpour, singing “It’s A Beautiful Day For A Ball Game” at the top of our lungs.
Truth be told, I don’t really believe in superstition or in curses, except when it comes to baseball. I have to believe that Ernie Banks (Mr. Cub) and Harry “Holy Cow” Caray were watching this series, maybe with a goat named Murphy. 


Gentlemen (and Ladies) of Sheldon High School

SSgangA new club was formed at Sheldon High School this year. Junior, Elijah Rasheed recognized that style, fashion, pride in appearance, and manners seem to be missing from many young people today and he wanted to do something about it. Partnering with Mr. McMorris, they formed The Gentlemen’s Club. As you can imagine, getting teenagers excited about a club focused on manners and dress is no easy task, but they kept at it until it was noticed by designer Scott Conner at Sterling Scott ties. Scott offered to create a line of ties specifically for Sheldon High school in colors and themes that exemplify Husky Pride. He offered us a promo code for 50% off and promised to give 15% of profits back to the school.

We gathered a few students and went to LA for a photo shoot and the ties were named for those students. We even had the club featured on Good Day Sacramento.

Our first efforts were to reach students, parents, and teachers. Then we reached outside the school into community, including businesses and the mayor’s office – if you see Kevin Johnson, ask him what Sterling Scott he wears! We soon realized that, even at 50% off, many students could not part with $50-100 for a tie, no matter how much they like it. Through generous donations from the Elk Grove Auto Mall, Crown Realty, and Les Schwab Tires we were able to purchase over 20 Scholarship Ties to give to students that would like one, but can’t easily afford one.

It was amazing to see all the Sterling Scotts at graduation. sterlingscottgradsWe are now able to give close to $300 to the Choir to help with their plaques that they have earned and almost as much to help with the cost of Sober Grad Night. We also have a lot more interest in the Gentlemen’s Club for next year.

If you would still like to purchase a Sterling Scott Tie at a discount, you may do so using promo code HUSKIES33 for 33% off anything on the site.

Buyer’s Remorse

Anybody spend too much at Christmas? Years ago, when I lived in the Bay Area, I would get off work on the last work day before Christmas, and do all of my Christmas shopping on the way home. I would go from store to store down The El Camino until I found gifts for everyone on my list. If I were left on my own, I would still wait till the last minute to do all of my shopping and then I’d spend way too much. I get caught up in the moment, swept away by the emotion, excited to give gifts that I know will thrill those that get them. Of course, the bills do come and I have to figure out how to pay for it all. Fortunately, my wife shops throughout the year and finds great deals on great gifts and sets them aside. It’s a different kind of excitement to find out Christmas morning what I got everyone, including her.

Maybe you’ve bought a big ticket item recently? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now you have to pay for it, and maybe you’ve started second guessing yourself. You think that maybe you can’t afford it after all. Maybe you wish you hadn’t bought it. It happens a lot. So much so that there is a legal loophole to get out of a contract. You’ve probably seen it. Anytime you buy something on a contract, there’s that little clause you sign that says you have three days to change your mind, but after that, it’s yours. It’s called the Right of Rescinder. It’s there so that if we get caught up in the emotion of the moment and buy something we really can’t afford, we can change our minds and undo it. It helps people avoid defaulting on debt and the horrible consequences that can sometimes go along with that. Although, even that does not always go as it should. I remember, a few years ago, when we bought our car. We had fallen victim to a bait and switch and ended up buying a more expensive car than we had wanted. We took it back within the three days and tried to return it, but they wouldn’t honor the 3 day right of rescinder. That was in 2007 and we still have that car. It turned out OK and that dealer has since gone out out of business. Not that that has anything to do with buyer’s remorse, but I did feel somewhat vindicated when they closed up.

So, anyway, I was thinking about this and connecting it to other choices we make and how some (many?) of those choices fall short of what God expects of us. We know we all fall short, or go astray. I was thinking about the Right of Rescinder that we have for the things we buy into that give us buyer’s remorse.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We buy into things that we shouldn’t. Some of those things we buy into are because we are deceived into thinking that something bad is good. Some of the ways we fall short are errors in judgement, lack of wisdom, or experience. Some are actual choices we make, where we know what we ought to do, but we don’t, or we know what we ought not to do, but we do it anyway. Paul suffered the same fate:

Romans 7: 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Maybe you have felt that way from time to time. I know I have. In some way or another, we all buy into lies the world tells us. I think there are three kinds of lies that we may buy into at various times in our lives.

“I’m not good enough.”

We know we are going to screw up, so what’s the point in even trying? Sometimes, when I’m driving, and a police officer pulls in behind me, my thoughts go to all the potential mistakes I could make that could get me pulled over. Am I speeding? Did I come to a complete stop? Did I signal? I know I’m going to get pulled over, maybe I should just floor it and run this stop sign and get it over with. Of course I don’t do that.

The world, and Satan try to convince us that it doesn’t matter what we do because we can never be good enough anyway. Of course, like all lies, this contains a certain amount of truth. We will never be good enough, but that is where Jesus comes in and His sacrifice brings us healing and and forgiveness. Since God sees us through the filter of the Blood of Jesus, we are good enough; not by anything we have done, but in spite of ourselves and entirely because of what Jesus did.

Do you ever believe you’re not good enough? Maybe you need to realize that Jesus’ sacrifice is a gift and not something we earn.

“It’s really not that bad.”

There are variations on this. Things like, “no one will notice,” and “everyone else is doing it.” We justify things we do like, being less than honest on our taxes or keeping extra change when we get too much at the store. I have noticed, in recent years, a trend among students at school that seems to be that “anything I can take without getting caught is OK.” It has become more obvious and more blatant, but don’t we all do that to a certain degree? “Everything’s legal, if you don’t get caught.” Right? Where do you draw the line? What is too much?

The world tries to convince us that some sin is OK, or, at least, not that bad. Jesus, on the other hand, taught that we should be perfect, just as our Father in Heaven is perfect. Clearly, not possible without His grace, but it’s still what are to strive for and justification has no place in it. Jesus justifies us, in spite of our sin; we cannot justify our sin.

Do you find yourself thinking that your sin is not that bad? Have you ever thought “at least I’m not like…” or, “at least is didn’t do…?” Maybe you need to accept that any sin is enough to separate you from God.

“That’s not what God meant.”

This is, literally, the oldest lie in The Book. The serpent told it to Eve when he said that God didn’t really mean that she would die from eating the forbidden fruit, but that she would become like God. We have many ways of buying into this lie too. We say that it doesn’t apply to us because the Bible was a different time and circumstance. We claim that people are being too legalistic. We interpret God’s commands to suit ourselves.

Jesus said:

Matthew 5: 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

So, clearly, every command is of equal importance to God. He never placed any priority of one over another. Do ever find yourself interpreting God’s Word in a way that excuses or permits something, or benefits you in some way. Think about how God really intended His Word to be understood.

Jesus broke it down into two simple concepts. Love God and love others. Yet, we still find ourselves making choices that benefit our own worldly desires. We still find ourselves buying into the lies that the world tells us.

In spite of all of this, Jesus freely forgave us all. He came to give us abundant joy. He came to free us from the bondage that comes from buying into the lies.

I think Paul summed it up very well in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 8: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

And, prior to this, in our memory verse:

Romans 6: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We all make bad choices sometimes. We all have regret. The Grace provided by Jesus means that our debt is paid. That doesn’t give us permission to make bad choices, but it does mean that we can let go of our past.

Truth be told, the grace of God means that Jesus takes away buyer’s remorse for the bad decisions we make, but our challenge is still to not buy into the lies.

 

You Can Only Get So Wet (Woodside Edition)

I love running the trails around Sacramento. They feel like home. I know what’s around the next bend in the path. I know where the water supplies are and the port-a-potties. I know where that root that I always trip on is and whether or not this is really the last hill. Sometimes, however, I like to get away and explore new trails. The Woodside Ramble is a 50k race in the coastal redwoods south of San Francisco.

Inside Trail puts on a good race, with the flavor of simpler races and smaller fields, on beautiful trails. The aid stations are far apart, but strategically placed and well stocked. The volunteers are wonderful and the organization was spot on.

Sometime during the night a storm moved in. We were expecting wet conditions, but I was hoping the predictions would be a little exaggerated. valleyfog groupTurns out it went the other direction. So we gathered in the mud, wind, and rain and set off into the woods.

The steady rain made short work of my gear, even my hooded rain coat that usually serves me well. I went with a short sleeve tek shirt, light windbreaker, and the hooded rain shell. I also had a hoo-rag on as a beanie for extra warmth. I wore running tights, compression socks, and gloves. My Hoka Mafates and Dirty Girls Gaters to keep some of the mud on the outside.

I saw a lot of people running in much less gear and, although I’ve done that with success, I felt the cold warranted the extra layers, even if it meant staying wet longer. As the day progressed, it seemed that I made the right choice. Although the shorter distances and faster runners could get away with less, others out there as long as I was were beginning to show signs of hypothermia.

The shelter of the redwoods filtered trailsome of the rain and protected us from the wind most of the time. Occasionally, a big gust would shake the trees and we would get a sudden shower or hear a tree, or part of one, fall near by. bigtree mud The falling trees were a little unnerving, and some became obstacles on the trail, but the accumulation of mud and water made the trail seem more like a creek in many places. By the time I reached the first aid station, at mile 5, I had already given up on avoiding puddles and just sloshed through them. The rain jacket was still holding out though and I was feeling pretty good.

The half-marathon started behind us and the fastest of those runners passed me just before their turn-around and were on their way back to the start. I didn’t need anything but a top off of water in my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack and I was able to get in and out of the aid station without really stopping.

I recently realized that I needed to improve my nutrition on long runs and started using Hammer Recoverite. I realize this is a recovery drink, but I am finding that the extra protein helps tremendously during the race. I mixed two scoops in 20oz of water on the way out and 3 scoops on the way back, keeping my other bottle free for clear water. I needed nearly nothing from the aid stations (a pbj, some potato chips, Mountain Dew, and a nutter butter cookie) and I didn’t stay long at any of them.

Some time between the first and second aid station, I saw the leaders of the 35k coming back. One of the first two had to be Lance Armstrong, because, apparently, he’s into trail running now, and he won the thing. I guess there is some controversy about that, but I couldn’t care less. Trail running is an all inclusive sport. If someone wants to run, let them run. That’s all I have to say about that.

rainrun

photo courtesy of AJ Photo

The trail became a constant slip and slid single track of mud, even though the rain had let up some and I reached the aid at 10.5 with 2:30 to make the 9 mile lollipop down to the bottom of the canyon and back up. When the rain let up and the wind wasn’t too intense, I could thoroughly the trail and the redwoods. As if the rain and wind weren’t enough however, and just to show who is really in charge out there, Mother Nature decided that the only exposed part of the trail was the perfect place to bombard a couple of us with pea sized hail. I was thankful for the extra layers and concerned for the other runner near me at that time. She was already saying she was extremely cold and I thought the hail would do her in. She trudged on, however, and finished a little after I did.

After the last aid, I was looking forward to amudfeet fast 6 miles down to the finish, but there are always more climbs than I expect and the trail seemed to go on endlessly. I finally came in to the finish at 8:08 (chip time) and that was fine with me, given the conditions and my training level.

The rain-soaked clothes left me cold and more chafed than I have ever been, but once I got a beer, in the warm truck, and some food, I was feeling tired, but fine.

Truth be told, I may need a couple days to recover, but any day that I beat the cut-off, don’t get lost, and don’t get hurt, is a good day on the trail.

 

all pictures in this post courtesy of Mailiyah Lee, except where noted- thank you!

A New Season

My new racing season began yesterday with the Woodside Ramble 50k. More on that here.

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Since AR50, last April, I was trying to take it easy and let my various injuries heal more completely. Perhaps running Born To Run 30 miler in May was not the best way to do that, but I wouldn’t have missed that either. Read my post about that here.

I thought this might be a good time to spend running with my son, Sean. We entered the Folsom Prison Trail Series and ran the 5k course together every week. senFPSHe was enthusiastic about it and I’m thrilled to find that he loves doing something with me that I love doing so much. Sharing this with him is reward in itself. However, the coach in me started encouraging him to improve and be a little more competitive. After the 2nd or third week I could tell he wasn’t enjoying it as much. The conversation went like this…

“Sean, do you want to get faster?”
“No, not really.”
“When you see someone ahead of you, do you want to pass them?”
“No.”
“Do you care if you are last?”
“No, not really.”
“Then, why are you running?”
“Well,” he said, “I like the trails and getting exercise, but, mostly, I just like being with you dad.”

I recalled my post about running for the love of running and wondered how I had gotten to the point that I was pushing so hard through injuries and trying to get into better shape that I was losing the joy of running. I didn’t push him any more. My summer became about spending time with my son on the trails. I spent more time volunteering and supporting others and focusing on being out there, whether I was running, walking, or just working at an aid station.

Injury timeout
After a year of plantar fasciitis, followed by a year of Achilles issues, it became obvious that rest was in order. I just can’t seem to rest as long as I need to. I changed my training schedule to only running on the weekends. Lots of stretching and rolling. Occasionally a short run during the week. Unfortunately, that put some weight back on, which made the weekend long runs slower and more difficult. After finally going to see the doctor, it appears that I have a chronic sprain and it’s just going to hurt sometimes. I told the doctor of my plans for the next year and he asked me if I really thought my ankle would stop hurting with all that running. I said no, but I hoped he would tell me that it wouldn’t get worse so I could just run and realize that it would hurt. He told me that that was probably the case. So, I run on.

More than I could chew
After taking June and July off and headlandsbeacha slow 20 miler, and even slower 50k, in August, I was talked into my first 100k attempt. SingleTrack Running put on the first ever circumnavigation of Folsom Lake, combining all of the trails I run on regularly into one 110k run. I knew I wasn’t ready for it, but if we never try to go further than we are able, we never really know how far we can go.

I toed the line at Beals Point and shuffled off into the dark. The course follows paved bike trail and sidewalk until Folsom Point and then drops onto the lake bed (the levy was under construction and the lake is nearly empty). I got there just before sunrise and the sky grew lighter as I made my way to Browns Ravine and beyond. I was feeling FLUTreally good at New York Creek aid station and was comfortably ahead of the cut off.

Winding along the single track towards Salmon Falls, I still felt good and was gaining time. I reached the aid station and changed shoes and clothes to accommodate the warming weather. That took too long and, in spite of others prodding me to get going, I left about even with the cut-off. I thought I could make up some time along the lake shore, but the footing was bad and running alone slowed me down further.

The first major climb was as the day started getting uncomfortably warm and I ran out of water. By the time I reached the Flagstaff aid station, they were closing up and I was 10  minutes behind cut-off. It was not a hard cut-off however, so I pressed on. The course immediately goes to pavement and on to the next long climb. Exposed and hot, I ran out of water for the second time and by the time I reached Oakview Drive, I was done. I was still only 10 minutes behind cut-off and I was given the option to keep going, but some quick math to realize that the pace I would have to maintain to get back on schedule was not doable, I chose to DNF. 56k. I never made it to the rest of my wonderful crew, but I appreciate them being there. Maggie, Matt, and Joel, you are all inspirations to me and continue to be so. I’ll get to you next time.

After some recovery time, I’m ready to start training again.

Truth be told, I have big goals for the next year, including a return to FLUT.

Dexter – Final Thoughts (spoiler alert)

I watched the first two seasons of Dexter on Showtime. In fact, I bought showtime for that show. When Michael Hall took a break from the show due to having cancer and following his divorce from costar Jennifer Carpenter, I was sure the show would not return. After I discovered that it had, I had missed too many seasons to get back into it. Until, earlier this summer, when NUVO showed the entire 8 seasons over 8 days and I recorded it all.

Now that I have finished it, I understand why many people did not like the end. No so with me, however. Although the show fell flat for a couple of seasons, it got interesting again when Yvonne Strahovski joined the cast and Dexter found true love. As the sickly romantic that I am, I loved the ending for several reasons.
1: The suspense never dwindled. Too many shows spend their last episode wrapping things up.

2: Being left alive leaves the option for a sequel. 

3: With both Hannah and Dexter still out there, there is still hope for true love to be rekindled.

Truth be told, I always hold on to the hope that true love will survive, or be reborn, even if it’s just a sliver.

Orange Mud HydraQuiver VP2 – Product Review

Earlier this year I ordered an Orange Mud Hydraquiver VP2 through Amazon. It arrived in a couple of days, thanks to my Prime account and I eagerly threw it on and went for a run. Now that I have put several hundred miles on it and answered many questions from other runners about it, I thought I would finally put together a review with a few thoughts.

There are several options, but I Orange Mud HQ VP2selected the HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 (VP2) which has a large pocket on each side in the front, a smaller pocket on each shoulder that closes with velcro, two 20oz bottles, and a bungee strap in between. MARP is $149.95. I also added the Modular Bag, which is held in place by a velcro strap and the bungee chord between the bottles ($22.95).

With numerous water carrying systems in and around my house, why buy another one?

I don’t like belts at all. They slide down and they bounce too much while I run. I have yet to find one that the bottles don’t fall out. I don’t mind a handheld (or two) for a short run, but I prefer to have my hands free. For longer runs, I had been using a 100oz bladder in a Camelback vest, or in a Mountain Hardwear Fluid 12, if I only fill the bladder part way. The problem with the bladder is that it’s difficult to clean thoroughly and not convenient to refill during a race without getting water all over everything else that might be in my pack. In other words, I just haven’t found the perfect system for me, yet.

Orange Mudd - 1The Orange Mud vest since high on the shoulders, making it move with me rather than bouncing independently.  When I first started using it, I could feel the bottles shifting up and down in the quivers and it made it seem like they might fall out, but they never have. The small pockets on the shoulders hold 2 gu packs each and are easily accessible while running. The larger pockets close with a bungee chord and a sliding lock to keep everything in place. These are large enough to hold a phone (even an iPhone 6 with a case), snacks, arm bands, etc. They could be used to hold additional 20oz water bottles if that is what you prefer. The addition of the Modular Bag gives me a clip for my key and enough room to hold a small amount of additional gear. The velcro strap holds the bag securely so the bungee chord can be used to hold a rain jacket. This was particularly handy when I got caught in a sudden downpour last winter. I could reach the jacket quickly and put it on without removing the vest or dropping anything in the mud.

There are adjusting straps in the front and in theOrange Mudd - 4 rear to customize the fit. By adjusting the rear straps first, and then tightening the front as needed, the vest can fit virtually anybody and feels light and comfortable.

People often ask me if I can easily access my bottles where they are. The designers obviously studied some ergonomics when they designed this. The reach to grab, or replace, the bottles is natural and easy.

Orange Mudd - 5

 

On race day 40 oz of water (or 20 water and 20 electrolytes) is enough to get me from aid station to aid station. You could carry two additional bottles for longer runs, if you don’t need to carry anything in the front pockets. The bottles are much easier to refill quickly and much easier to clean when I get home. With the Orange Mud, I get the best of bottles combined with the advantages of a pack.

Truth be told, I still use a handheld for short runs, I still use my hydration pack with the bladder for longer, unsupported runs, but for races or runs where 40 oz is enough, I love my Orange Mud.

Check out their line of products at orangemud.com.

corre libre

“If I get lost, or hurt, or killed, it’s my own damn fault.” – Micah True (Caballo Blanco)

There is a subset of distance runners that run trails, a subset of those who run ultra marathons, an even smaller set who run mega distances of 100 miles or more.

And then there is Born To Run.

BTR15 - 2I had read the book and fallen in love with the idea of running for the love of running. I know, there are those who think the book has created a cult following of people who really don’t get it and so they run around barefoot until they develop chronic foot issues and support some podiatrist’s midlife crisis (the upcoming movie will most likely perpetuate that trend) and those people are not wrong, but to see  campsitesome of the Rarámuri run and the free spirit that surrounds those who truly understand is a life-changing event. Even more so to become one of them.

My first Born To Run experience started when we rolled onto the Chamberlin ranch in Los Olivos. We checked in and found our camp site. Some of our friends were already there and had camp set up. We added our tent to the compound and settled in just in time to watch the beer mile. The party had begun.

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Matt with the cow head – “so far, so good”

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Crista the Owl – not yet known as the Wrestler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BTR15 - 17

Adam sporting the knitted shorts

BTR15 - 20

Clint chuggin to the beer mile finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

krista

Krista sporting one her awesome shirt designs, jeans and Luna sandals for the “whiskey” mile – she’s too cool for beer!

The event lives up to its reputation of being a “3 day party, during which a race breaks

It's not a party until someone is wearing a loin cloth!

It’s not a party until someone is wearing a loin cloth!

out,” but it is not about the party, nor is it about the race. It’s not about the live music, nor the dancing. It’s not about the wares for sale, nor about the games. It’s not even about the Rarámuri who traveled from Copper Canyon, Mexico to celebrate with us.

It is about the gathering of people, from all different backgrounds, to celebrate the freedom we feel when we run, at any pace, for any distance.

The 200 mile runners had started as early as Wednesday night and the party stopped to cheer them every time they passed through camp.

Friday morning we were awakened by loud Mexican music blaring from Luis’ truck as he rolled through camp, firing his shotgun at semi-regular intervals. I guess my alarm clock was not necessary. We were up and ready to go, going through our pre-race rituals and grabbing whatever nutrition we felt we needed prior to our race. My friend John had come along for the camp trip and took care of everything for me, securing the position of permanent crew chief for any future long race I may do. John prepared a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon and english muffin which i washed down with some coffee and orange juice. This is a little heavier than my usual pre-race breakfast, but I wasn’t planning on going out fast and the hunger I always experience while camping outweighed my habit of eating light on race day.

Tres Amigos at the starting line-- I never saw these guys again

Tres Amigos at the starting line– I never saw these guys again

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Luis – The Oath

At the start line, the 10, 30, 60, and 100 mile runners gather for instructions and to take the oath created by Caballo Blanco. The shotgun blasts and we are off. The first hill spread us out fairly quickly. The course is in the middle of nowhere, but fairly accessible. The genius of the event is in how the course is set up. All credit goes to Luis Escobar. There are two 10 mile loops and, although the course is described as a “figure 8,” its really more interwoven loops that cross each other and have several sections in common. Being able to adequately support a 20 mile course with only 3 aid stations demonstrates a beautiful efficiency. The stations are at the start/finish/turn-around point at the camp ground, and at two other points where the loops over-lap. This means runners see all 3 aid stations every 10 mile loop, but coming from different directions.

The trail, itself, is a combination of dirt road and single track, winding its way through a beautiful central California coastal cattle ranch, rolling up and down moderate hills, with BTR15 - 25 BTR15 - 26 BTR15 - 27 BTR15 - 28 only a couple significant climbs. I am running the 30 mile race so I see the first loop twice and the second loop once. I connect with a couple of runners who seem to be about my pace and we chat and run together for a while. Soon enough the bacon and coffee have done a number on me and I need to find a big oak tree. I always have the necessary supplies, but the lost time separates me from my new companions. I catch them again just before the end of the first loop, but they are running the 60 mile run and take a longer rest at the end of the loop, so I run on alone for a while. Towards the end of my second loop I come across a couple of guys who are out there in jeans and pacing their brother. I enjoy the company for a while, but I like to run in silence at times and they, obviously, don’t. I try to put some distance between us, but to my dismay, one of them would rather talk to me than pace his brother and he trots along with me.  It’s killing my vibe that he is running in jeans, a t-shirt, and cheap shoes. I mean, how can I justify all of my expensive gear when this guy is doing it in every day clothes? finally, he decides he should go back for his brothers and I get to enjoy the trail to myself for a while.

BTR15 - 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 mile "aid station" with our camp director, Steve

10 mile “aid station” with our camp director, Steve

 

 

I enjoy running with others, but the solitude and freedom of being on the trail with only God and His creation is really where I find my peace.

BTR15 - 30 BTR15 - 31 BTR15 - 32 BTR15 - 33 BTR15 - 34The second loop is tougher (enough that I’m happy to only do it once), but also more beautiful. I get to run most of this alone and I’m loving the changes in scenery as I run around the hill. Every turn seems to bring something new. Back through camp the second time, I fuel up on fruit and water and continue on the first loop. I feel energized to see my friends and know there is only 10 miles to go. Some of my friends ran the 10 mile and are already at camp. A few others are somewhere ahead of me on the 30 mile run, but haven’t finished yet.

Some of the highlights of my race, aside from the solitude, and the camaraderie (both of which were needed at the respective times), were seeing Manly Klassen, on his way to a 200 mile finish, bombing past me down a hill on my first loop. He’s been running since Wednesday evening and just keeps going like a freight train, and seeing Miguel Viniegras, from Porchi, Mexico, on his way to his 60 mile win. Miguel is running in traditional Tarahumara running attire and homemade huarache sandals. He is in great spirits and running towards an 8:23 60 mile finish. He glides over the dirt effortlessly with a smile on his face and not looking tired at all. I am finishing up my second loop, so he must be finishing his 4th. I will complete this and one more loop and he will complete this and two more loops and come in about 30 minutes after me. I don’t really care if I am that fast (that’s good, because I won’t be), but I want to develop that effortless form and that sense of freedom.

I finish my 30 miles and get my amulet. There is, understandably, a considerable mount of hoopla for the winners, but also for anyone who is running a given distance for the first time, or who has overcome a particular adversity, but for everyone else, whether you finish 2nd or 270th, the celebration of another finish is still there.

After a little rest and a little food, the party continued. The “world’s greatest wrestling match” to raise awareness for Wounded Warriors spurs impromptu wrestling matches which culminates in the, now infamous, Krista v Crista main event.

where does Krista end and Crista begin?

where does Krista end and Crista begin?

 

 

 

V found a patriotic friend!

V found a patriotic friend!

 

 

Bruce and Lupita

Bruce and Lupita

 

 

The live music continued and I got the opportunity to play with the band. They did a really cool cover of What I Like About You medlied with R-O-C-K In The USA and I got the privilege of playing harmonica  and singing back-up.

R.O.C.K in the What I Like About You

R.O.C.K in the What I Like About You

Nailed it! Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any video, but my friends had a lot of good things to say and there is nothing I enjoy more than entertaining my friends, except running.

The next morning we broke camp and headed home. Nothing left of our adventure except memories and some very full port-a-potties. John commented on the way home tha he is deterined to be back next year and run the 10 mile.

Truth be told, running is contagious and the freedom one feels from just letting your body do what it was made for is addicting. It’s difficult to put this experience in words, which is why it has taken me so long (almost 2 months) to write this, but it is an experience that I want to have again, and one that I think can only be exceeded by running in Copper Canyon… maybe next year.

Trusting God Through The Storm

About 11 years ago we bought a house. It was our second home and it was about as close to our dream home that we were going to get. It was walking distance to the school I teach at. The kids could grow up there and be able to attend the high school where I teach. It was a new home and a blank canvas. We could make it anything we wanted it to be. We felt really blessed to be able to buy this house and looked forward to many years there. With the financing we got, we were able to buy more home than we could afford at the time and my wife could stay home with the kids (we had a 2 year old and twins on the way). My teacher’s salary would go up, as it does every year and, by the time the mortgage adjusted, the house would be worth enough to refinance and my salary would be enough for the higher payments. It was a good plan and one we felt certain God had led us to.As we all know, mortgage rates jumped, home prices collapsed, and many salaries, including mine dropped. When our mortgage adjusted, my salary was not enough to cover the payment and we were upside down on the mortgage and could not refinance. The program for “Making Homes Affordable” didn’t and we were forced to sell our home in a short sale.

I was confused as to why God would lead us to this wonderful home and then take it away. I kept asking for answers and for clarity. What was I supposed to do now? I found myself in the middle of a storm that I didn’t see coming. I was suddenly moved from a place of security to a place of desperation.

In Mark, chapter 4, we read the disciples were in a much more dire situation. The literal storm that had come upon them suddenly, had them fearing for their lives… While Jesus slept, appearing not to care; appearing not to be doing anything.

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (?Mark? ?4?:?35-41? NIV)
In the midst of the storm, Jesus expected the disciples to know that He had it all under control. I think there are two significant points of the story. First, is that Jesus is in control and we should trust Him. The other, though, is that He is able to surprise us with what He is able to do, no matter how well we think we know Him.

Jesus calmed the storm and then asked His disciples why they didn’t trust Him. I’m pretty sure He has said that to me, as well, more than once.

This is not the only time Jesus taught about trusting God. Early in His ministry, during the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus compared our Heavenly Father to a caring earthly father.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (?Matthew? ?7?:?7-11? NIV)
Jesus tells us that is is OK to ask… no, He encourages us to do so. Our Father loves us more than any earthly father could, so, of course, He will give us what we need. Not necessarily what we think we need, but what He knows we need.

I still struggle with this sometimes. I know God loves me. I know He is able to do all things, including helping me through my storm, but why would He, when so many others need more than I do? The answer is there in Jesus’ message. It doesn’t say “those who really need it…” or “those who ask first… or loudest… or most often…” He says “EVERYONE who asks…”

Even me. Even you.
So, we moved into a rental, still walking distance to my work and the kids’ school. It was smaller, but a perfect home for us for the time being. We were able to set money aside over the next 3 years and rebuild our credit score. We always put God first and never varied in our tithing and offerings given through our church, where we regularly attend. This last year, God blessed us with a home to buy. No fancy financing this time. Not a lot of bells and whistles. Still, a nice home, in walking distance to school and work, with enough rooms for each kid to have their own. And a lot of projects to do to make it our own. I’ll be working on those for a while.
I can almost hear Him;
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

If you are not currently in a storm, you either have been recently, or will be soon. We all have storms. We all have doubts. Sure, we should be praising God and building our relationship with our Savior all the time, but it’s during these storms that we fall to our knees and cry out to Him. 

This is when we learn to rely on Him. It’s a common christian myth that God will never give us more than we can handle, but He will certainly never give us more than He can handle. At least some of the storms we face are because God wants us to rely on Him. He wants us to admit that we need Him.

Every time we cry out to God, it’s for a want of more of something. More security. More courage. More strength. More health. More love. More shelter. More wisdom.

James tells us:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (?James? ?1?:?5-8? NIV)

What is your storm? What do you need to rely on God for right now. Jesus tells us to ask… to seek… to knock. This is a natural progression towards answered prayer. Ask God in faith. Seek out the answer. When you get to the door, knock, and go through.

Truth be told, there will always be storms. Jesus will always calm them, if we ask.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (?Ephesians? ?3?:?20-21? NIV)

Early Morning, April 4

AR50readyArmed with all I have learned from the previous year and since, I feel as prepared as I could be for this years American River 50 Mile Endurance Run. Although I had battled Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis, I am feeling pretty good on this cold morning and ready to run.

Last year, I arrived late and had to park 2 miles from the start, barely making it back in time to start running. This year, I park at the finish and take the bus to the start line. I meet up with my buddy, Edd, and sit in his truck to keep warm. We early morning eclipsewatch the lunar eclipse and wait for the race to start. All checked in and ready to go, it is comforting to have time to relax before running.

I am fresh off a PR (although just barely) at the Way To Cool 50k and I had run the first and second half of this course to help me plan my strategy and coordinate with my crew. My main objective is to run more consistently. If my Strava graph is close to a flat line, I will consider this a success. My hope is to break 12 hours for the 50 miles. Those familiar with this race know that does not mean two 6 hour marathons. My plan is to finish the first half in about 5:30, leaving me 6:30 for the back half of the run.
selfieStrack As usual, I start out a little fast, but settle into a comfortable pace and enjoy the easier part of the run. I catch up to my friends, the Stracks, and sneak this selfie on the levee. Then it is onto the road and under the Johnny Cash bridge.

No more pictures though. My intent is to run comfortably, move through JohnnyCashBridgeaid stations, stay hydrated, and fuel smart. I opt for my Orange Mud Dual Quiver, rather than a hydration pack, because it is easier to fill and the two bottles allow me to carry water and electrolytes. I carry some Gu and some chews with me, but I am able to use what is available at the aid stations without slowing down. Peanut butter sandwiches, oranges, salt tablets, refill the bottles and keep moving.

Still feeling good at mile 10, I cross the footbridge and ARwalking bridgemake my way around Lake Natoma. I am wearing my old Hoka Mafate 2s and almost wishing I hadn’t because they are a little small and this part of the race has some downhill stretches that I can feel in my toes. Last year I ran the entire race in these shoes and I ended up losing two and a half toe nails.

The weather is about perfect. Cold enough at the start to wear a couple of layers and running tights, but not so cold that I am uncomfortable. I find myself running near Edd, who I know is considerably faster than me and feeling like I could run with him all day.

I am wrong! We hit the dirt and our first climb and back down and we are still together at the aid station at mile 17, but he leaves ahead of me and I will not see him again until the finish.

Up onto the bluffs, back onto the paved bike trail and into the best aid station ever (FTR at Negro Bar) I still feel good and still move through quickly. It’s all pavement from here to Beals Point and the half-way point of the run. Here I get to pick up my pacer, Stephanie and I indulge myself a longer rest. I change clothes for the, now, warmer weather, put on fresh socks, and my newer, slightly larger, Hoka Mafate 3s, and switch from my watch to the Strava app on my iPhone (since my Garmin has a 10 hour battery).

Completing the first half in under 5:30 (by 8 minutes), I feel in pretty good shape to reach my 12 hour goal. Looking back at the first half Strava graph later, it looks about perfect. The line is nearly flat at just over 13 minutes/mile and I still feel pretty fresh, but the technical and the steeper part of the course await me and, as I tire, consistency will desert me.

Although the terrain is not really steep, it is never flat and I find myself spending more time at aid stations. The Meat Grinder eats me up with it’s technical rolling hills and I see my pace slow more than I want it to at this point. Stephanie keeps me moving, however, in spite of this stretch having one less aid station from last year. I run out of water and am really dragging by the time I reach the Rattlesnake Bar aid station. This is where I am to meet Matt to pace me the last 10 miles, but he had a family event to go to and I learn he has switched out with my long-time running partner Dave who will push me to the finish. This is a welcome surprise, since this is the guy that got me started in all this ultra running to begin with.

I spend too much time at that aid station, but I get out and back on the trail, knowing that my 12 hour dream is out of reach, I set my sights on breaking 13 hours, which is still a half-hour improvement over last year.

I almost bonk at mile 46, a result of running out of water 6 miles earlier and the fact that AR50finishmy long runs have not been supported enough by weekday runs. With Dave’s help, I pull it back together and then hit the steepest part of the course. Mile 48 is another slow mile, but I push hard through mile 49 and sprint (sort of) to the finish. I felt someone trying to catch me coming in the chute, but I can’t let happen now, so I give it all I have left to cross the finish.

My second 50 mile race in the books at 12:57.

I plan to skip this race next year. I’m sure Ill find something else to run, but I want to return the favor and pace Dave for the same race.

Truth be told, I gave it all I had and I don’t know if I could run it any faster, but maybe…