Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Running with a younger me

I was running some of my favorite local trails the other day while listening to one of my favorite trailrunning podcasts. The topic was "if you could run trails with anyone who would it be?" Lots of typical comments like running with relatives or famous folks. Then one of the hosts said "I would like to run with a younger self from 10 years ago." I pondered on that for the rest of the run.

10 years ago I was still in the military and had just recently ran my first marathon. I was living in Colorado and getting ready to retire. I was running alot but mostly on roads and alone. If the me of now could run with the me of then I would tell myself this:

1. Run more trails. I lived in one of the most beautiful  mountain areas and I didn't experience it near enough. I regret that. I should run more trails
2. Run with more people. I was a solitary runner and why that has its place I run more socially now and that is much more fun.
3. Love your family.. We all love our families but in the last 10 years I have lost one of my Uncles and 2 Grandmothers. I hope they knew I loved them.
4. Take more pictures. People laugh at me know I take so many photos. But I want to remember.
5. Run an Ultra. I have run a lot of ultra marathons since 2009 I should have started earlier.

I hope I would have listened

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Runner's Flat 50K

This race was the renamed Running Village 50K. It is a flat and fast course upon which I set my 50K PR last year. 

Some highlights: lots of TeamRWB folks there running either the 10 mile,20 mile or 50K
Team members Brant Tharp and Rob Wagner set 50K PR
Our own Ross Salinas ran down the 50K leader with only 4 miles left in an epic race. Although Ross came in second by less than a minute he also set a PR in an incredible 3 hours and 21 minutes.
I got to run 20 miles with a very inspirational lady Denise Whiting who won her age group.

My good friend JD came in 11th overall in his very first 50K

I had a successful race no cramping and no walking. I finished 30 minutes slower than last year but 1 hour 25 minutes faster than the 50K I ran just a few weeks ago. My time was 5 hours 38 minutes 32 seconds. 

Good day

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Flaughless 5K and Quad Cities Marathon

Had a good race weekend. Saturday I participated in the Flaughless 5K, a race to benefit the Wounded Warrior Foundation. Myself and about 9 other folks rucked the race. I finished in 45:15 carrying a 35 lb rucksack, a 3X4 US flag and wearing combat boots.

The next morning I got up and drove to the Quad Cities to run the QC marathon. This was the 4 or 5th time I have run this marathon or marathon relay. This was also my 30th race of marathon distance or longer since 2004. I have blogged about this race so much I wont go into detail except to say there was an awesome group to Team RWB members at the race. I also finished 15 seconds faster than my goal finish time. I finished in 4:29:45. It was a good day. Here are some  pics.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rockcut Hobo Runs Triple Crown

This past weekend I ran the Rockcut Hobo Runs Triple Crown. That is a night 10K Friday, followed by a 25K the next morning, followed by a 50K the next morning. I originally heard about these races when I ran Kettle Moraine 100 last year. It was a blast. Here are my results:

25K-2:57:24 ( got a calf cramp at mile 2. That was fun)
50K-7:02:48 ( 3rd in age group also fun)

Here are pictures:

Obama salutes Marines with coffee cup in hand

I was going to write about a few other things today but then this.. This is an issue. And here is the issue. Respect. Respect for yourself as President of the United States of America, Respect as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and respect for those Marines that stand by the foot of your helicopter. Respect for every other Marine, Soldier, Sailor and Airman past, present and, future.

Some of my friends that have never been in the military think this is a non issue. I beg to differ this is an issue. Bigger issue than Russia invading the Ukraine? Bigger issue than ISIS threatening to strike our military members in their beds? No but an issue non the less. It is about respect.

When I was a private I was taught the proper way to salute. I was taught when and where it was appropriate. I was taught you never salute with anything in your hand. Never!! The salute supposedly started as a way for men at arms to show they had no ill will towards other combatants. Over the centuries it has developed to show respect.. that word again. Subordinates salute superiors and the salute is returned..mutual respect. Everyone salutes a Medal of Honor recipient and it is returned.. tons of respect. It was drilled into me over and over, you are not saluting the man you are saluting the rank/office. Show respect for the office.

The Commander in Chief saluting with a coffee cup in his hand just shows how wide the gap has gotten between our military and the civilian officials who are supposed to be guiding them. It shows a lack of basic understanding of the fabric upon which our military is based..respect.

He could have put it in the other hand and showed some...respect.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Throw Back: Thoughts on Germany

So I was looking threw my filing cabinet for some paperwork and came across several essays I had written in 2001 for my English Comp1 class. I thought I would share the one I wrote about Germany as it brought back some good memories.

Thoughts on Germany

Every morning I run through the German countryside and I notice how beautiful it is, and I think how much I will miss running here. With less than two weeks before I depart, possibly forever, I have been thinking about what I like and dislike about this country.

I like Germany because every street has individual recycling bins plainly marked for use.  This works because of the emphasis that is placed at the highest levels. Failure to recycle household trash results in a fairly substantial fine. Germany, as well as most of Europe, enforces these policies because they realize that they have finite resources and must conserve what they have. I wish the United States would adopt a similar recycling philosophy. 

I dislike Germany because German drivers are rude; they think going far makes them good drivers. Germans spend thousands of marks to go to driving school and get a driver's license. Unfortunately the first lesson they must receive is drive really fast and never let anyone ahead of you. German drivers will speed up to cut you off, so they can exit the autobahn ahead of you, instead of merely slipping in behind you like a courteous driver would. Merging is a subject definitely not covered in German driving schools. Asking a German to merge smoothly is like asking a leopard to change his spots. It all goes back to the German driving law number one: never let anyone ahead of you. So instead of a smooth traffic flow at on ramps or lane changes, what you usually get is a traffic jam, with everyone trying to beat everyone else. Traffic jams happen for no apparent reason. Traffic will be be backed up for miles, crawling along at a snail's pace, and then at some arbitrary spot, apparently chosen by the god of the autobahn, everyone just speeds up. "Stau" is the first German word my daughter learned.

I like Germany because Germany has a very sophisticated public transportation and walking trail system. The walking trails are highly utilized, as nature walking is practically a national obsession. I can go out my front door and walk or run as far as I want, without ever worrying about traffic. Literally hundreds use these trails to wander form village to village, leisurely strolling through field and forest. During the winter months many of these trails are used for cross-country skiing.  The busses and trains are clean, on time, and fairly inexpensive. With enough time and money you can travel to any country in Europe, using public transport. Once again this works because of top down support and the willingness of the public to embrace something that may be in the interest of the greater good. 

I dislike Germany because Germans have not, for the most part, discovered that great invention called the elevator. To get anywhere you have to climb the stairs. Because space is at a premium most buildings are at least 2 to 3 stories tall. That adds up to hundreds of flights of stairs throughout the country. Climbing four flights of stairs to your apartment, carrying groceries or doing laundry gets old real quick. This is why older German ladies have huge thighs.

I like Germany because Germans have well-trained dogs. They love their pets and treat them like children; it is rare to see a dog on a leash in this country. Most dogs are trained to voice command. By law, they must muzzle certain breeds identified as aggressive.  It is not often that a dog will lunge at anyone or so much as bark at a passing jogger.

I dislike Germany because Germans have 1001 ways to flush toilet. It becomes a game upon entering a restroom for the first time. How do I flush? Do I push this, pull that, break this beam, step on this? They also have this little ledge conveniently located just above the hole in the toilet bowl. What is that all about? Any business done, just sits there until you figure out how to flush the toilet. Maybe I am supposed to check for bugs or something, I don't know.

I like Germany because German food is always served very hot and in mass quantities. Germans use Krauterbutter on steaks. It makes the meat very tender and tastes great. They also make the best french fries (pommes frittes) in the world and they use them liberally. If you go hungry in Germany, it is probably because you are picky.

I dislike Germany because Germans have to worry about " Mad Cow" disease. I feel like I can't get a "Big Mac" at the local McDonalds without risking my life. Thousands of cows in Bavaria were bought by the German government and slaughtered to try and stop the spread of this disease. I still worry every time I eat any beef, even if it says it came from the USA.

I like Germay because German beer has a well-deserved reputation as the best in the world. Beer purity laws were passed as early as the 1600's. Germans love their beer, and every small village and large town seems to have its own brewery. Towns separated by as few as 2 miles may sell a totally different local brew. Lager, Pilsner, Weissbiere, Dunkel Weiss, Helles are just a few styles of beer available to tempt the palate. There is no social stigma attached to having a beer with your lunch, even during a workday.

I dislike Germany because Germans just don't get it when it comes to fast food. If you get food to go, the bag cost extra. If you get it to eat in, they give you real silverware to eat with. They charge you extra for ketchup packets and they don't put ice in the soft drink. Somebody should do a seminar on what the word fast means. Fast food here is not very fast.

I like Germany because Germans love a good party. Big street carnivals and fests are held at the drop of a hat. There is Oktoberfest, Bad Cannstadtfest, Fruehlings(Spring)fest to name a few. These fests have big-striped tents with long tables running the length of them. Waitresses walk between tables selling 1 liter Maases (mugs) of beer. There are rides and games for kids. Wurst, schnitzel, and pommes frittes are sold in great quantities.  Songs are sung and accordions played. Sparklers, roman candles, and professional fireworks accompany every major holiday or fest.

So as I prepare to depart, I am going to miss Germany. I am going to miss the bakeries, Ritter sport candies, Mezzo mix, and coordinated motorcycle outfits. I am going to miss castles, knodels, church bells and the mark rate. I am going to miss statues, fountains, Bavarian cow bells, and many other things unique to this country, but boy am I looking forward to eating at Taco Bell.

Just as a point of information I got a 95 on this essay. It is worth more to me know.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Evansdale to Robins FKT: The Execution

This is a run I have been wanting to do for a few years. It would be an estimated 50 mile route from Evansdale Iowa to Robins Iowa along the Cedar Valley nature trail. This is a rails to trails route so would be a mixture of pavement,gravel, and dirt with no more than a 2% grade. Easy huh? It would turn out to be more challenging than expected.

Woke up about 3 am to get in the car and take the ride north to my parents house. My friend JD had decided to accompany me on this adventure and it was probably good he did as attempting this solo in hindsight would have been a dangerous idea. Anyway we chewed down a a PBJ and made my way to the parents house. dropped off my car and my Mother gave us a ride the 60 miles north to the trail head. We arrived about 0500 and took off about 0515. At start time it was dark,foggy and cool, perfect running weather. The first 12 miles of the trail was paved so we ran easy but still managed a 10:30 per mile pace. We were both using Salomon S-lab 12 vests and I was wearing my new Hoka Cliftons. We talked and concentrated on the little tunnels of light our headlamps made. After about an hour the sun came up and the headlights got stashed. This was to be an unsupported effort so we were carrying all our nutrition and supplies in our vests. We were still well hydrated at this point so when we stopped to use the woodline we also walked a bit. So these natural breaks worked well in this first section.

The first small town we hit was Laporte City where we stopped at a small city park to use the restroom and fill up with water. This would be the pattern for the rest of the day. I estimated the next town was about 6 miles based on the map I had printed out. The map wasn't very detailed though and it also was starting to get wet from all my sweat. You forget the small things after not running an ultra for awhile,small things like putting your map in a plastic bag! We headed down the trail. Shortly after Laporte the trail changed to dirt. This was my favorite section as it was shaded and secluded almost like a trail run in the woods. This even though we were essentially running through cornfields and pasture. The trees along the trail blocked the sun and our view of the open country. Eventually we hit the next town of Brandon (Home of the worlds largest frying pan). Once again we filled up with water at a small park and rearranged some nutrition.

Taking off the trail started opening up. Shade got less and less and the sun got hotter and hotter. Now we were in open country. We were still running at about an 11:00-11:30 pace but the sun was taking its toll. We saw more more people as the trail started south and the day was getting farther along. We or I specifically estimated this section would be another 6 miles. I was wrong as it turned out to be a little over 10 miles. We were totally out of water when we hit the town of Urbana. We tried to stop at. City Hall but no luck getting any there. Luckily there was another park alittle bit down the trail and we spent probably 30 minutes filling up on water and cooling down. Onward to the next town.

Humidity and heat dominated the next section. We actually started employing a run/walk strategy at this point. Due to the unvarying terrain our feet,knees,and hips were taking a pounding on the fairly hard packed trail. Walking helped relieve some of that pain. I had some hip,calf, and knee pain that was migrating around randomly. JD mentioned some pain in his hip flexors. Eventually we arrived at Center Point. We were about 10 miles from our destination but this would be the beginning of the end. We refilled up with water at an old railroad depot building and JD mentioned he was concerned because he hadn't urinated in quite awhile. Once we headed off we were pretty stiff. We continued the walk/ run strategy but the running was getting slower and shorter in duration. I was having some good aches and pains and JD was experiencing foot cramps. But we pushed on. 

Approximately mile 41 the trail turned to blacktop. The heat radiating off this surface was brutal. Shortly after that JD, although running well, actually stronger than I was at this point, mentioned he was feeling nauseous,tingly, and his vision was blurring. This was not good as he started experiencing a significant bonk which could have been heat related or due to the lack of nutrition in the last few miles. We had basically run out of supplies between Urbana and Center Point and were running on fumes. We walked for about a mile to the next road/trail intersection and called for exfil. If this was a race potentially we could have rested at an aid station and continued the last 8 miles. However we had no aid station,no supplies and limited water. It was the smart thing to call it a day. We finished 42 miles in 9:45 hours. We also accomplished what I had intended. Bottom line I wanted to test my limits and push the boundary. We did that and it will be a great memory.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Evansdale to B Team FKT: The plan

I have been talking about running this route for a few years now. There is a crushed gravel/paved rails to trails route from Evansdale Iowa all the way to Iowa City Iowa if you can navigate it. It goes by several names as different trails and urban routes hook up. I have run sections of this trail, some many many times but i have never strung them all together. This weekend in honor of my 51st birthday I am going to attempt a Fastest known Time (FKT) on the Cedar Valley trail portion. It will be unsupported except what i carry and buy along the way. It should be a hoot. I will report back


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Freedom 5K and Mines of Spain Trail Half Marathon

Did a few races last week. A 5K in E Moline ILL and a Half Marathon in Dubuque IA. great TeamRWB turnout

The 5K was great ran with our QC field team leader and Veterans OutreachDirector. Also my Wife tagged along. Grahm was pushing his daughter in a stroller and I carried Old Glory. 

The Mines of Spain  half Marathon was tough and hilly as always. Great race as well. I ran with a fellow RWBer Denise for almost 7 of the 13.1 miles. 

Here's to more RWB fellowship!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Banya

I entered this story in a Veteran's writing contest at the University of Iowa. I received a polite rejection letter. Good thing I have my own blog. Enjoy!!

The moon was playing peek a boo behind the mountains surrounding the former Soviet military base in Bakhmal Uzbekisatn. I could hear the wind blowing through the pine trees surrounding the small brick building that housed the based sauna or banya. I watched as several of my teammates wrestled their Uzbeki counterparts in the snow that had drifted between the trees.
In November 2001 I was the Team Sergeant on a Special Forces “A Team” in 10th Special Forces Group. We had deployed shortly after the attacks of  9/11/2001 to the country of Uzbekistan to provide counter terrorism and humanitarian training to Uzbeki special operations forces or Spetznatz. We had been required to utilize a series of civilian flights as the War in Afghanistan had just begun as had priority of all military flights to the region. Our operation was a sideshow to the main effort.
Back at home base we had packed all the gear needed for a six month deployment in boxes weighing less than 75 pounds so we could meet the airline weight restrictions. We looked more like a bunch of college kids heading on spring break than a elite military unit deploying on a real world mission. Except for the crates of weapons and all the camouflage. The flight from Ft. Carson, Colorado to Tashkent,Uzbekistan took almost 24 hours . This did not include the 6 hour layover in Paris where I hired a cab and did a quick sightseeing tour of Notre Dame cathedral and the Champs Elysees. I managed to drink some coffee at a café within sight of the Arc de Triomphe, very bohemian.
Once we landed in Tashkent we cleared customs and hooked up with our liaison at the US Embassy. We procured some SUV’s and interpreters and took a 200 kilometer road trip through bandit country, eventually arriving at the military base in the Bahkmal region. Bahkmal was mountainous and primitive. To get to the front gate of the base you had to ford a wide stream that had no bridge. Our barracks had cots and cold running water. Our medic hooked us up a shower utilizing a bucket and hose. The heat was steam and would go off frequently. Power interruptions were common. The snow was deep as winter came early in the mountains.
We spent our days training the Spetznaz soldiers in marksmanship, close quarters battle, land navigation, patrolling techniques, and human rights policies. In the evenings we busied ourselves with more training or leisure activities like writing letters or reading.
One evening, after we had been in country a month or so, our counter parts invited us to go to the Banya or traditional Russian sauna. We jumped at the opportunity to experience this tradition. Not only would it cement our relationship with the Uzbeks it would let us experience our first hot water in a month. It was on like Donkey Kong!!
After training was over for the day and we had eaten our fill of the mystery meat served by the mess hall, one of the Uzbek platoon leaders came by and gathered us up for the trip to the banya. We grabbed our towels and wearing flip flops and running shorts we followed the LT down the snowy dirt road to a small brown brick building. There was no sign of its purpose other than a sheet metal stack coming out of the roof.
When he opened the door we could hear the Uzbek soldiers conversing in Russian and Uzbek as they lounged on plastic patio chairs in the combination dressing room and lounge area. Our hosts had smuggled in some beers and were busy inspecting the contents as they waited for our arrival. My teammates soon joined them as I explored the banya.
The banya consisted of three rooms. The aforementioned lounge and dressing area, the sauna, and a small pool that was about 10 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet deep. Our host told us that after sitting in the sauna it was healthful to jump in the pool. Eventually we piled into the sauna. Once we entered and sat on the hot wooden benches the doors was closed. A small brazier with hot coals and rocks sat in the corner producing a heat so hot and dry it took your breath away. Sweat instantly poured from my body in great rivelets falling to the floor as it dripped off my elbows and any other right angles my body had produced.
I am not sure how long I sat in the sauna but it seemed like a long time. Once I could stand no more I went to the next room and jumped in to the pool. That is when I discovered that the water was ice cold. My lungs spasmed and I swallowed some water until I got my bearings and calmed myself. The opposites of hot and cold were supposed to have a healthful and therapeutic effect on the body. I repeated this cycle 3 or 4 times until I decided to take a break and step outside.
It was when I stepped outside that I discovered the wrestling match going on amongst the trees. Several of my teammates had been convinced by our counterparts to experience the banya in the traditional way. This involved running from the sauna and diving into the knee deep snow. Eventually this activity combined with the beers devolved into wrestling. I stood by the building enjoying the evening, gazing up into the mountains and thinking about my family half a world away.
We would leave Uzbekistan within a month, in six months we would be in Kosovo, in eighteen months I would be infiltrating behind the lines in Iraqi Kurdistan. But that was in the unknown future, at that time and in that place I was living for the moment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

James Janos is a POS

So James aka Jesse Ventura just won 1.8 million dollars in his defamation suit against the estate of well known "American Sniper" Chris Kyle.   http://nyti.ms/1nZsOoN  James claimed that Kyle damaged his reputation in his book. Sorry jackass you did that yourself. From being a feather boa wearing professional wrestler to a wing nut governor from the same state that elected Al Franken to Congress you did that yourself. From claiming to be a Navy Seal when you were actually at UDT ( not the same thing and you know it) you did it yourself. Hosting a show on conspiracy theories you did it yourself. But ultimately sueing the widow of an dead American hero because he hurt your feelings you really did it yourself. You are the Jane Fonda of my generation. PIECE OF SHIT.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blackhills 100- My Second DNF

Not much to say about this race. We drove to South Dakota and got to have a very nice family vacation. The race not so much. Hope will not get you through a 100 mile race. I went in to this race under trained due to injury and still injured. It caught up to me. The course had over 18,000 feet of elevation change from 3500-6000 feet MSL. Due to torrential rains the course was covered in thick slippery mud. I slipped down a mountain at mile 25 and reinjured my Achilles. That was the end of my race. I walked 4 miles to the next aid station and dropped at mile 29. I did get some great pictures though.