Sunday, November 26, 2017

Turkey Trot

If the Canyon was not enough torture I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving morning.    I run this race every year to support the local charity --Graceworks and to remind myself of why I am a sprinter.   I am a sprinter because I cannot get enough air into my system to do longer distances....period. 

This year we did run the complete 5.0K course and I finished in 30:56, which was 13 of 43 in my age group.  I have always be trying for beating 30 minutes but I have too many excuses this year, and they do not matter because they are just excuses.  Last year they cut off a section because the lead out people screwed up badly.   We ran a 4.45 K last year and I was really fast in comparison!  The weather was substantially cooler this year with a race time temperature( 8:00 AM)  of 30 degrees and clear. There was over 3000 that started the race and it grows a little bigger each year.   The event is well organized and is easy to run if you are interested.  

I did run pretty hard this year with my heart rate average of 98% of my maximum  for the race and I needed to walk several times to get the heart rate below 105%, I pushed it, but there is not enough endurance in this frame to make it happen.  I am also a little heavier than I want. The Canyon hike added some poundage to my hips and legs, it is great to have the extra power, but in this situation  it is wasted strength.  That fact alone, tells me that training needs to be specific for every type of activity.    I did not have any soreness from the Canyon hike and I was generally rested and ready to go. 

Speaking of training, I am starting to think about getting my plan together for next season.   I am not completely resting, but I need to get some activity started to get the weight under control--I weight 201 right now and raced last season at 193. And as the next holiday approaches I will begin to get a little more serious about doing some real running and strength work to help out my legs.   I do a fair amount of core work now to keep the hips and hamstrings strong.  I have also been doing some pilates which I enjoy.  It is a great way to stretch out my lower legs and feet--I always need work on my feet.  

Now, on to getting the Christmas  decorations all assembled and hung up so Santa will want to stop by this year with some goodies.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bright Angel Trail Finale

This YouTube link is to a 10 minute video of our group finishing the Rim to Rim hike.   I was wearing my GoPro on my head and tried to give a flavor of the scenery and the physical nature of the hike.  The person behind me is Patrick Church our guide and we were yapping about various stuff as we finished up.

This link is for the trip to Plateau Point and Colorado River view


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

I just finished a fantastic adventure when a family group hiked the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim.  The group was 7 hikers and two guides.  The guides Chad Teerink and Patrick Church were fantastic hosts and a lot of fun to boot.  
Good Morning at Phantom Ranch
The hikers were my daughter Rosemary, step son Aaron, brother in law Buck (aka Glen) and his daughter (Heather) and her friend (Leslie). Emily was also added to group and she fit in very quickly to the quirky fun.   Emily was trying to go on another trip but her tent mate was having a melt down and just could not make it and she jumped in with our group because she was serious about getting to see the Canyon.   

The actual hiking is done over a four day period and is a great way to see the Canyon.   We used Just Roughing It outfitters from Phoenix to guide our trip.  In the past we had stayed at the Phantom Ranch near the river while hiking the South Rim,  but we could not get a room and decided to hike it instead.  JRI takes care of the permits needed to camp, getting you to and from the Canyon,  provides a morning and evening meal, and also provides the back pack, tent and sleeping bag.  The hikers need to provide their own clothing, personal gear, water containers and snacks to add some calories to your daily intake.  I have done little real hiking where you need a tent, but this trip was a lot of fun. The weather was fantastic.  60 and 70's during the day and 40 to 50's at night.  NO RAIN!!! Not too cold or hot and you could manage with just three lightweight layers. 

We had a meeting Friday night to get our gear situation worked out, meet the JRI people and also meet Emily.   Once you get your pack, sleeping gear and tent (Rosemary and I were tent mates--I provided ear plugs) you go back to the hotel to get your pack in order and get some rest.   The packing takes a lot longer than you think, everything is not going to fit and you must have some priorities on clothing and the other stuff.   We finally got it all assembled and the next morning at 5:00 AM we were headed North.  We stopped for breakfast and a couple of breaks including our first look at the Canyon when we crossed the extreme Eastern section as we headed for the North Rim.  After a quick lunch and final pack job, were we ready to descend at 1:30 PM.  My pack was 37 pounds as we headed to the trailhead, I had 3.5 liters of water and some dinner food to help out the guides.  They generally carry up to 70 pounds.    We needed to get to Cottonwood campground that night and we knew it would be getting dark as we arrived.   At 6:30 PM, lights are needed to hike a strange trail.

Once we got our packs fitted and ready we headed down and since it was my first trip down this side, I took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the view every chance I could.   The four newbies--Leslie, Aaron, Rosemary and Emily all did quite well and enjoyed the trip.   This group was not all experienced, but we had three marathoners, a bike rider,  sprinter and massage therapist in the group and we handled the physical part of the descend quite well.   The down hill is my weakest part of hiking and my IT bands on both legs were quite unhappy and were screaming from my hip to knee on both legs.  We pushed on and arrived at our campground right at dark and found that someone else had set up in our spot and we had to wait for them to leave and then we set up our tents and had some Western spaghetti for dinners. The camp sites are reserved from the Park Service months in advance and we let the guides handle getting the other group out of our area.   Noodles with  a meaty tomato sauce tasted pretty good with some cheese on top.   Patrick broke out some premade coffee to drink and I offered him some Baileys Irish Crème to add and he was kinda surprised that someone would bring some Baileys.  We split the coffee and  both enjoyed a cup of joy after a long day.

This group was pretty organized on the party supplies.  Heather and Leslie had 3 bottles of wine (one for each night), I had 8 ounces of Baileys, Buck and Aaron had bourbon and whiskey which totaled 40 ounces of spirits.  The guides had some cognac or something similar.  We had it covered.  Also, the second night we would be at the Phantom Ranch and they will have Bud and Tecate beers for sale.   That bar is one of my favorites-- you really have to want to have a drink there.   But, they really taste great and they take care of the empties.  In the Canyon you take care of all of your own trash--leave nothing.  I saw one cigarette butt along the trail and nothing else.   Everybody does their part.

Day 2 was going to be a lot more fun with no hard descents or climbs and we were going to visit Ribbon Falls. We had a great sleep,  and got moving after some coffee and breakfast. 
Home for 3 nights
  We still had to carry 3 liters of water, no water would be available until we reached Phantom Ranch that afternoon.    This day would be a short trip to Ribbon Falls and then a longer hike thru the "Box" section of the Bright Angel Canyon that leads to the Phantom Ranch.
Crossing Bright Angel below the Falls
We hiked about a mile and then dropped our packs and visited the Ribbon Falls.    The Falls is a very difficult trek for a look at a water falls, but it is a very interesting destination and one of the most fun parts of the trip. 

Ribbon Falls with Aaron and Rosemary
  After leaving the Falls we hiked to the Phantom Ranch and arrived around 2:00 PM.  We stopped in for a beer or coffee and snacks as lunch was getting prepared by the guides. The daytime hours are 8:30 AM to 4:00PM. I had a coffee and we then had some lunch and set up camp.  The bar would reopen at 8:00 PM and stay open to 10:00 PM after serving two dinner seatings.   We would return!

On our way around the Canyon to the North Rim we noticed the Colorado River was a bright green and looked pretty clean for a change.   After camp was set up, Chad took a nap, Patrick headed to the store and the rest of the hikers headed for the river ( less than a half mile from camp) where there is a  sandy beach.   The river was really pretty and Aaron, Buck and I waded a little into the river and it was cold!    Swimming?  Way too cold.   I checked later on the USGS data and it was 40 degrees.   Aaron had other ideas.  He struggled a bit and then just jumped in.  Is that bravery or crazy--not sure yet--I am thinking crazy.   I was next.  I took a stroke and was out--that was my 10 second bath for the trip. 2 down and 5 to go.  Heather and Leslie came down and Heather was wearing a bikini--she was prepared-- and in they went with Rosemary and Aaron back in again.  5 down and 2 to go.  Buck was using Emily for coverage--she was staying dry and he thought since she did not go in, he could stay dry too.  A few minutes later, Emily was in the water, Buck had to comply. According to Buck, she broke the 'alliance' they had made.  7 of 7 got wet.  Aaron was in for the third trip--he could not get enough of the icy green water.  The entire group took a dip and it felt really good, not something I would do that often, but why not take a dip in the bottom of the Canyon? This may be a good story someday while sitting around a campfire. 
Crazies ????

After our dip we headed back to camp, had some coffee,  a few cocktails and dinner of mac and cheese with tuna

.   When the Ranch opened up at 8:00 PM the entire group headed up for some beer and cards.  The Ranch now has three beer varieties along with wine.  The have Bud, Tecate and a Phantom Ranch IPA.  All three are quite popular at that location.  We played a game of 6 handed Oh Shit (cards) and it came down to the last trick.
Phantom Ranch waterhole and store
  If Leslie took it, she would win; if I took it, I would win the contest.  My 10 of clubs was good and I snuck thru with a win, a great way to close out the evening.   A happy crew returned to the tents for a little rest. Our trip is at the half way point.  The two guides do not use tents--they sleep under the stars to save weight in their packs.  Hard core, but the price they pay to be a guide in the Canyon.

Day three is a short day to Indian Gardens with the main obstacle--the Devils Corkscrew.  We got started around 9:00 AM and crossed the river and stopped to check out Bear Rock.  Bear Rock is named after Connie's deceased husband.  We stopped for a little funeral several years (2010) back to scatter some of his ashes in the Canyon and this rock on the East wall has the features of a man's face that can only be seen from the middle of the bridge where we had the funeral.   I think Bear Rock is an appropriate name for this formation, his energy is still there.   We powered through the Corkscrew and were at the Gardens in mid afternoon.  This group has a lot of hiking power and has a very fast pace.  Typically you hike at 1 mph, this group pushes 2 mph as  their pace!  This is the fittest group with whom I have ever hiked the Canyon by a ton.

Late in the afternoon we were going to head to Plateau Point for the sunset.   The point is 1.5 miles from camp and it is a mostly level trail and you do not need your pack--that trek went quick.  It was my first trip to the Point and the river is 3000 feet below you! 
2000 feet to the River from Plateau Point
What a view........  after our return, we had a dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, dried cranberries and dessert of pudding with graham crackers and Fluff.   Fluff was my highlight of dinner--just classes up the entire feed.   We also had to kill off all of our libations--absolutely no sense in carrying that stuff out!   My Baileys was already gone, so we worked on the Wild Turkey and Bourbon with abandon. I am glad to report, we did our duty and killed it all off and did not carry any dead weight out the final push on Day 4.

Day 4 is leaving day.  4.5 miles of trail and 3000 foot of elevation change to the top of the trailhead.  The first half mile is pretty easy and then all help breaks loose and it just gets hard.   The trail was dry and shady the entire way, but you are gaining elevation every step and this crew has a really quick pace.   There was no water on this section and we needed to have a least 3 liters to be safe.  There are two rest stops with potties and a lot of foot traffic of tourists and other folks trying to get in or out of the Canyon.   Our group absolutely rocketed out of the Canyon with Aaron leading the way.  We covered the 4.5 miles in 2.5 hours with two rest stops of about 15 minutes each!  The guides were covering the rear--too fast for them.  Although they were on the phone the entire last section because we finally had a signal to get any business done.  The marathoners and biker were about 5 minutes ahead of Rosemary and me.    Rosemary was  working with a minor knee issue that Buck helped with a brace and she finished in good shape.    Buck had surgery in the Spring to clean up some meniscus damage and brought the brace, but did not need it.  He was really strong the entire trip and the surgery was a complete success.
I was behind Rosemary--the sprinter in me needed a little more air than was available, but I finished pretty solid. I wore my GoPro the last 300 feet in elevation and I will see if I can get it loaded for everyone to enjoy. It is pretty interesting to watch and get a feel for how the final pushes develops.

When we made the top, there is chaos and a celebration. Making it up is a big deal each time.  My third summit and I am just as proud as I was the first and second time.  We had a group hug and took some pictures and then it was pizza and beer.   After we relaxed a bit, it was a 3 hour car ride to the hotel where we sorted our gear and went for the showers, a soak and a bed with sheets.   That night at the hot tub at the hotel we did manage to kill off several bottles of wine to celebrate the adventure.  Next day was rest day and then a trip home.  I was tired and needed some real rest.

My body held up pretty good for carrying a 35 to 37 pound pack 22 miles.  My birthday was two days after the finish, so a an almost 61 year old man help up pretty good.  My foot situation was so much better this trip--better shoes, socks with toes in them also helped immensely.   I did have a numb little toe on the right foot and I am not sure if I did if with my boots on or off.  I would switch to Croc slides at the campsite to get my feet a rest.   I could have jammed it into any million of the rocks on the trail.  In couple more years,   I will start thinking  about another shot at this Canyon thing, it is a tremendous adventure that gets in your blood and you just got to go do it!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our Journey

Life is a journey.   Some people make many trips, some people never come back to the same place twice and others will stay in one place and make a different in that place.  I have moved around a lot in my life chasing opportunity and I am very satisfied with that life. 
 I went to a funeral over the weekend of someone who stayed put and was a big influence on my life and was a neighbor for over 30 years when I lived in Cooperdale, Ohio.  Judy Cunningham was 75 years old and died last week and was someone who made a difference.  She had 6 kids, a throng of grand and great grand kids, was involved in building one of the best Brown Swiss dairies in the world and was a giver in the community.   She was also a fantastic neighbor and will be missed by a lot of people, including me.  I could ramble on about her cooking and chocolate chip cookies, but some people lead by example she could walk the walk.  Life in Cooperdale was better off with her staying and making a difference. She left me with some great memories and great friends.  Thanks Judy.

Creating some brilliant prose after a funeral is just not possible.  Your mind is tired from running through all the what ifs and shoulda, coulda,  woulda in your life and the lives of the people that you just talked to whose Mom or Grandma had just died.  I go to funerals to pay respect to the living and the dead, but  also to try and help get the healing started.  Healing takes years sometimes and you got to start as quickly as you can handle.   Everyone will move on to complete their journey in life and hopefully they can make a difference wherever they decide.

Later this week I will be putting on the 40 pound pack and leaving the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and heading to the South Rim with 5 other family members.   I hope we have a great trip and create some memories that will endure forever.   Three of us have been on the trip to the bottom of the canyon and three are newbies.   I am really excited for the newbies, they do not know what kind of an adventure they will be participating.   I have been taking 2 hour walks with a heavy pack to get ready and trying to get all the gear assembled.   I am nearly ready physically and my head will be getting there on the final ride to North Rim.   I love these adventures. Details to follow after we get back to real world next Tuesday.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Life and Art

Life and Art are hopelessly intertwined and that is how is has always been.  The cavemen drew on walls with charcoal to celebrate their bounty and lives.  Fast forward to today and we have digital pictures in our pockets and purses by the billion--celebrating our bounties--this will never change.  Pictures of kids, pets, loved ones, beautiful sunsets, friends, parties, medals from track meets--this is a running blog.    Family portraits have always been a staple of "normal" life.  Every parent and grandparents have the head and shoulder portrait that they had made at the local Olan Mills.  These pictures were retouched to eliminate any defects and highlite the stuff that needed to be highlited.  I have some in my attic right now from deceased family.  

Linda and I have never had the family "portrait" done because we just were not ready to take that plunge.  I had some work commissioned a few weeks back of Linda and it was supposed to be a Christmas present, but it was way too good to keep under lock and key that long, plus it needed to be displayed.    As soon as Linda saw the work,  and it is incredibly good, she commissioned a portrait of me as well.   The above is the portraits on display at the artist's home.  Matt Jenkins did the work and we are thrilled with these our portraits.   He uses drum heads as the media and adds bits of the person's life in the background of each portrait.   Just magic how this works.  Matt's mother was an artist and he is following in her footsteps and I wish him well as he builds his reputation.    These portraits will hopefully survive and will passed down to someone's attic in the future.....

My idea for a portrait was hatched when Linda and I were visiting Matt and Cynthia at a dinner party at their house.  They had recently married and we hosted a brunch on their wedding weekend and they were throwing a party to say thanks.   Matt had a drum head with a picture of Jack White that was bright and sparkly and just looked smart and unique.  I approached him about doing a Linda portrait and I thought it would be on wood--which he also does a lot of-but it is a 22 inch drum head skin.  I sent a couple batches of  pictures and added some story about her life and interests and in a couple weeks I got a text to come and check it out.  Nice!  Matt adds crystals on the pictures and he added some on Linda's glasses and they sparkle just like the pair she wears all the time.  It is lifelike! Sometimes,  way too lifelike..........

While we are on the art subject, we are redecorating our living room..  The new recliner has arrived and is in service.  Two new storage end tables are unpacked and in use too. We are waiting on a new sofa, and have relocated the TV,  and with all this done, we need to move all the art work in the living room to properly fill the wall spaces.  We have enough art to fill a 6000 square foot house, so we have to work hard at finding places to display the good stuff.  Many times, it is like a traveling exhibit is in our house and we change multiple pieces at once.  Time for a new exhibit at the Fly House.

In a couple weeks,  the Canyon trip is on the books and I am excited about the Rim to Rim adventure.  You never know when it could be your last hike to the bottom and I plan on making this a fun trek. Linda will go along and visit a bunch of family and one of her best girl friends. Linda does not do the hike, she will stay in Phoenix.   I need to get the heavy pack out and do some hiking work to get the knees ready. 


Saturday, October 7, 2017

District meet results

 We ran the Greater Nashville Senior Games last weekend at Brentwood High School.   I ran in 4 events and also high jumped in competition for the first time since 1975!    I won the 100 and 200 meter events and was beaten in the 50 by David Schmanski who was in the other heat and it was hand timed.  Last year I got beat in the same event by somebody in another heat..  It is hard to race them in another heat.  But it is just a qualifier.   I also ran the 400 in 80 seconds.  It was the fourth event of the morning  and I was getting fatigued at that point and I wanted to jump in an hour or so, so I did mail that one in.  Two gold and 2 silver for the morning was great meet already.
I had been playing with the high jump at Ravenwood and was clearing 53 inches on a regular basis and wanted to give it a try.  The last time I had jumped in competition was in 1975 when Mike Baker, Dirk Cox and I won the Newcomerstown Relays with a new meet record!   42 years later and here we go!  I was  competitive  and cleared 4 feet 8 inches and missed three times at 4' 10" and was out.  I recently got a GoPro and Linda taped some jumps and I will be working on my arm movement and getting higher.   The 4'8"  from what I can tell tied the Tennessee  state record in my age group and won the gold.    Total count of 3 golds and 2 silvers.  Pretty good day and I was whipped after 4 races in one day.

The outdoor racing season is essentially over and the  final results are in from the season and I did some digging on the Masters Ranking lists for my final numbers in terms of how I compared to the other runners in the US.  I will stay away form the global stuff, I did not get a chance to race them. 

The final outdoors results for the  season for me  were # 1 in 60, # 27 in 50,  # 19 in 100, # 13 in 200, # 9 in 400 meters  and 27th in the high jump.   Pretty darn good and almost all were USATF All American Standards which means a lot to me.   I also was thinking about the Top Sprinter for the season--which would be who had a national ranking in the 100, 200 and 400.  I put together an Excel spread sheet and nobody ahead of me in the 100 and 200 runs the 400 meters!   So , by default I should be the Top Sprinter --nobody else gets their butt out there and runs the 400!!  I think I will have to come up with an award for myself and see if anyone wants to take it away!

Last week I was in Miami Beach for a trade show and we did not have much for weather unless you like winds and rain.  The beach and water front are still in rough shape and they have a lot of clean up left.  Hopefully they will be ready for tourists by Spring Break.  We have another trade show there next March at the remodeled Miami Convention Center and I hope everything is repaired.  

Next week I get see June Rosemary again while on my trip for work.  Yea!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pinnacle Year

I was chatting with Linda this week and I told her that I thought that my 60th year was my pinnacle year.   I explained what really incredible things had occurred to me this year and she agreed and then added her Pinnacle Year which occurred in her very successful high school years.   Did it take me 40 years longer than her to get it together ??  Ummmm.... 

  1. June Rosemary arrived this year.     The first grandbaby holds an exulted place in everyone's family and she has taken that throne and it will never be relinquished.  I am very happy she is on that throne!
  2. Linda has made a massive improvement in her health and appears to be turning the corner on the pain that has plagued her of recent.
  3. I earned my first individual National event medal at the Senior Games in Birmingham.  That was a big bucket list item for me. 
  4. I also won a Gold medal at the USATF Outdoors Nationals in Baton Rouge in a relay.  Actually won two golds in that event.   Total medal haul for the summer was 2 gold, one silver and the bronze!!
  5. I ran in my first Indoor track meet and rally enjoyed the experience.  Amazing that it took so long to get to race indoors.
  6. I finally won a 100 meters in the State Finals in Tennessee..  I was a bridesmaid so many times, I just quite racing that event.  I may have improved enough to win it again.
  7. I set my personal best in the 200 meters since doing the Masters and Senior track. It has taken several years to learn the training and racing skills to get the time down to my current level.
  8. And lastly, I learned a very valuable lesson this season.  I was involved in three National events and one State Finals events and struggled with leg injuries for 3 of those events.  I found that racing is 90% mental.  Nagging injuries and pain do not slow me down.  Shut up and race, just do it and you will be fine.  It might hurt like hell for a while, but you are just as fast.  Lesson learned.

I think these results would be near the peak if not the real thing.   In my 61th year, I am going to work for a trip to Spain and run in an International Track event and be on the USA team.  And the peak may go a little higher, but June Rosemary is gonna be tough to top!   I am an engineer by trade and I love a nice graph with curves and peaks, we will see how this graph looks after next season. Stay tuned .