Showing posts from 2016

Starting Beats Finishing

I've got this sweatshirt. I wear it when I'm building...when I'm studying...when I need to get something done...when I lump out...and, sometimes, as much as it is protested against: to sleep. I've cut off the hoodie. The sleeves are too long. It's stained. It's too big for me. Those I live with roll their eyes when they see it. Noah calls it my "get sh... stuff (edited) done" shirt. I've tried to donate it a 100 times, but I rescue it, every time.
It's from Oil Creek, and not from a race I finished. But, it's from a race I struggled with. That shirt and I...we've got history. That shirt reminds me that I know how to get up when I’ve been knocked down.

As I sit, reflecting on my running year, I know there are less buckles than I had planned on receiving. I lost fights with gravity, earned a medical time-out, messed up my wrist; collected a bunch of bruises, both inside and outside, and added a couple DNF’s.I also ran my second fastest 10…

Have Fun, Dammit-Stone Mill 50 Miler

I had been running for about an hour.It was dark and although the weather report looked good for the day, my fingers were frozen in the pre-dawn cold.I could easily see my breath, but struggled to find the trail.A pet peeve of mine is running in someone else’s headlamp light.It causes me to cast a shadow into my own light and challenges my footing.To compensate, I tend to over think what I can control.I force my thoughts to logistics:How is my pace?Did I select the right shoes?Do I need to adjust the fitting on my gear pack?Happy I thought to eat some avocado the day before.Cautious that I am only recently out of my wrist splint.
Suddenly, I stepped out of my own head.I stopped the endless stream of boxes I was trying to check.Have fun, dammit.It rang loud and clear.Have fun.You love this---let yourself fall in love.Don’t try to stop and analyze it, it won’t make sense.Just feel.Just be.Just do.Just step off the platform and take flight.
I checked back in.The sun was rising over a ca…

Goodbye Old Friend

Train Porter: Please keep your hands inside the train at all time 
Mark: You ran THERE (pointing)
Porter: Hands inside the train, please
Me: shoulder shrug. Yup
Mark: Tiggs that’s VERTICAL
Me: I told you it was tough
Mark: Look there, that is barely a trail
Porter: For your own safety, please keep hands inside the train. 
Mark: Tiggs, that’s insane.
Me: Yup, and I don't think the Porter likes you.

This was our conversation during our train ride when we went to visit Oil Creek. Up until this point, all Mark had seen of OC was the finish line into the Middle School. He had no idea.

I had no idea. This course has been a part of my running repertoire from the start. It’s one of my go-to training locales and it kicks my butt every time I’m on it.

I’ve been cut, scraped, blistered, terrorized by bears, lost numerous toenails, and am currently sprained. I’ve been breathless. I’ve death marched and flew like I was weighless. I’ve hiked it and been enthralled by the “scenic overlooks” and rac…

This Too Shall Pass...Pine Creek 100

This is dedicated to a very dear friend, who unfortunately, has a few cells that went rogue.  She is the strongest woman I know.

It’s not about acting tough.  The trail doesn’t care how many likes you get or the image you try to present.  Your toughness must come from the confidence you build in your own inner strength.

It’s not about following trends.  It is about gathering knowledge and making your own choices based on what you know about yourself.

It’s not about prestige.  There is nothing glamorous about kneeling by yourself, alone on a dark trail, holding your own hair, feeling like you just can’t push any further.

It's not about inspiring. People only throw that word around when you are doing something they either don't want to, or don't think they can, do.

It’s not about how you physically look.    I truly believe outer beauty only radiates from what is inside.     

It is about knowing that life is messy.   You are going to get dirty, uncomfortable, beat up, challenge…

The Beast

"Runner discretion.  Please use runner discretion.   You will face adverse weather conditions, please use your discretion and keep yourself safe"  

That’s how the race directors start each pre-race meeting.  What they fail to realize is that the discretion of many of these runners should be questioned...thoroughly.

This race, which is really two races, is located north of Buffalo, NY.   Unfortunately, all of the stereotypes about Buffalo weather hold true.   We get snow.  We get bitter cold.  We get melting summers.   And, in the minds of the two race directors, we get the Beast of Burden.

The Beast, is run in both the winter and the summer.   In order to get the coveted “Double Buckle” you must run both.  In that order.  In the same year.   There are no exceptions.  The Beast doesn’t want to know your sob stories or excuses.

It sounds easy enough.   The course is pancake flat.  There is only one road crossing.  The only other obstacle you will encounter is a lift bridge used to…

113 Miles on the Appalachian Trail

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Teddy Roosevelt

Natalie is away at camp for two weeks.   Noah is busy with his job, training, and girlfriend.  Mark has muscle-show prep, work and a certification he is working on.  There was no need for me to be at home.  In fact, it seemed like Mark  was trying to get rid of me.   “You don’t have to rush back, ya’ know…” Ok, I got it, pose away.  I know those tans aren’t going to spray themselves on.

I had the priceless gift of time.

I set off for the Appalachian Trail.   The inspiration came from the most unlikely place, a Regents exam.  NYS does not allow us to see the exam before the students.  Normally, it is quite boring, and I feel like I am reading paint ingredients to disinterested students.   This time, it was about the Appalachian Trail, and I was enthralled.   My friend Jen caught me after the exam.   I don’t remember her exact words, but  they were something like, “I know you read the ELA.  When are you going?”.  I told…

When Things Go Badly...Montour 24

Noah works full-time,but has Wednesdays off.   A fact I’d forgotten, until he padded down the stairs at 11:11 (his number).  “You’re home!”  he said.  I’d just returned the night before from a much desired, very fulfilling, A+ training run.  “Let’s go to lunch”, he continued. I love my 1:1 time with my boy.  We talk about anything and everything.  Today’s topic was his next marathon.  “I’m just not sure why I’m doing it.  I don’t have the same reasons as last time”.  Granted, I found out he wanted to do another marathon on Facebook…’Today I start training for marathon #2’.  Wait...What??? do I explain it to the boy?  “Noah, you do it because it’s hard, but you are tougher.  You do it because you can learn about yourself.  You do it because once it’s done, no one can ever take it away from you.  Noah, you do it because you can.” Fast forward to the Montour 24.   This was another training run for me.   I registered simply to get in some heat training.  I had very loose…

Whiteface Sky Run: I Have Come Much Farther Than I Have to Go

No.  Not today.  Last year, I signed up for this race, completed half of it, and walked away.  I had the strength, but I also had my reasons.   I just couldn’t run through it.  I chose to say, “no”.  I took my ball and went home.

Fast forward a year.   I got my ball back and I wanted to play.  But, I was physically tired.  I didn’t get to sleep in as planned, the six-hour drive to the race was difficult in the pouring rain, and to top it off, I was woken by a bear as I camped.   I had reasons this year too, but I was going to race.

I teach my students about the three types of conflict in literature.   For some reason, they passed through my thoughts.

Man vs. Man;  I was going to push during this race, and it was a race.  But, if someone had more oomph than I, by all means, go ahead.  If not, no worries, I’ll pace you.  This was a race, but I was not in competition with anyone else.

Man vs. Nature:  What can I say?  Mother Nature is a bully.  Besides the bear, this time she threw rain, fog…

Running A Mile In My Shoes: 3 Days at the Fair

They say you don’t know a person until you run a mile in his shoes.I’m not sure about that, but I do know about running a mile over and over again for 6-12-24-48 or 72 hours.Three Days at the Fair is a timed race around a 1-mile course.To date, I have run this mile 466 times, including 115 this past weekend.I have it memorized. It may sound monotonous, but there is comfort in knowing the tail.  Let me take you on a trip around the mile.

Start/Finish-This is the happiest place on the course.It features the one aid station.They are known to cook to order and deliver hot food right on to the course.Nothing beats hot chocolate chip cookies at 2 am! The “HILL”-this thing will grown exponentially from barely noticeable, to OMG!Before you tackle the hill, you have the choice of stepping a few feet off course to hit the bathrooms or simply continuing on.

Tent City-Turn right at the hill, take a few steps, turn left for a few more, then one more right.Some of the superstars camp here.

Out and b…