Big Dog Backyard Ultra

 In the world of ultra running, miracles, or the miraculous is happening. Today is a big day, and it is not over yet.

Big\’s back yard is a last person standing race. Every hour on the hour, the runners toe the line for 4.1 miles. And this race keeps going until all but one runner is toeing the line. It is a fantastic race. The people who last the longest are in it to see where their limits are, but you need really good competition, someone whose limit is out there where yours is in order to keep going. Women frequently win this type of race, since they can bring competitiveness and willingness to persevere to the table. Strength and speed don\’t matter in this race. Hanging in there matters, and that is often a mind game.

This year\’s Big\’s has been going on for 2 days and 13 hours. 2 US runners are on course at the real Big\’s back yard (yeah, Big is a dog). 2 runners in Belgium and 3 runners in Mexico are competing via Zoom, and are still on course. These runners have run 60 laps, 250 miles.

Wrap your head around that. 

What sort of mental fortitude does this require? 

The two US runners still in it are famous, as well as very very competent ultra runners: Courtney Dauwalter and Harvey Lewis. Courtney did 67 laps at this race 2 years ago. Harvey has done 58 laps previously. So Harvey has gone beyond his previous best. Courtney has yet to reach her personal best. 

What will happen? I hope they make it through the night.

So, reaching your personal limits. I hope to test my potential in 2 weeks when I go in a 12 hour race. Keeping my body on course, at whatever slow speed, for 12 hours is challenging, especially mentally. When your feet and legs hurt bad around 35 miles, you ask yourself, \”why am I walking around this lake? Why don\’t I get in the car and go home. This is pointless.\” But if you give in, you never know what you can do. You didn\’t learn to go past your mental limits. I\’ve not gone past my limits, maybe ever, but at least for a long time.

NYC Marathon

It is 2020. Most of the races I like to go in have been cancelled. Instead, I\’ve had some virtual bucket list races. New York City virtual marathon s the last of my virtual races. I\’ve put together a cool swag display for 2020, the pandemic year, the Black Lives Matter year, the strangest presidential election year. 
I decided to do the NYC marathon today, on the first day of the race, because it is the last warm and dry day for awhile. Haha: warm. Just a couple of weeks ago, I would\’ve picked the coolest day. Now that it is mid-October, I\’m picking the warmest day. I got started at 7 am. A beautiful sunrise over Happy Rock Park.

You can check out my Strava here:

My overall time was pretty slow because of pit stops. I jogged the first 10 miles in 2 hours, then switched to 3×2 jog/walk pattern. However, I was pleased with the effort. My feet didn\’t hurt that bad and I  didn\’t get any blisters. I didn\’t have to drink as much Gatorade as when it is hotter weather, and no salt tablets were needed. 

To complete a virtual marathon, I actually need to prepare the night before and get up early just like I would for a real marathon. I need to let my body and brain know that this is a real thing, and we do need to get out of bed and get going. The virtual marathon hurts as much as a real marathon, but it is very lonely. My times are usually faster for a real marathon, because I actually race. By myself, I just aim to finish the distance without too much trauma. Since I need to provide my own aid stations, I usually pick a course where I go by my house or my car periodically. Today that meant 3 long laps. 

Most of the leaves are gone from the trees. Winter is coming. I probably won\’t sign up for any more virtual marathons. Once it gets real cold, I can\’t spend 6+ hours outside. And I don\’t want to use a treadmill for a marathon. I have a real ultra-marathon in 2 weeks. I may also sign up for some small marathons which I know about, in Dallas where it is warm. But I\’m done with the virtual business.

Stay patient everyone. The pandemic isn\’t over. 

A Great Day

 This morning, I woke up early. I was treated to beautiful pink clouds in the morning sky:

I spent 2 hours on a morning work block: writing. And then I went to a nearby state park to go running. This park has many hills, so an 11 mile run was quite strenuous. The leaves weren\’t too spectacular, but it was still beautiful:

This evening I attended by college class via Zoom. I am learning and I like it alot.

I\’ve been appreciating my life a great deal.

My next virtual marathon will be completed on Saturday. 

I\’m Not on Facebook or Instagram

 So… if I was on Facebook or Instagram, I would\’ve posted these pictures.

First, an awesome tree in fall colors which I saw yesterday:

And then, a butterfly sculpture I saw this morning. It is a butterfly made of butterflies:

And then, the swag I got for the Air Force Fight Fly Challenge. A medal for 5k, for 10k, for a marathon, and a bonus spinney medal for doing all 3. Two shirts, a patch and a bib.

Letter 10/5/20

 Dear Friends,

This evening, the president of the United States is saying how much fun the corona virus is, while sucking up drugs unavailable to the rest of us, unapproved by insurance companies. Meanwhile, in the interest of keeping myself safe of the corona virus, I quit my job.

I am finally Starbucks free, after nearly 2 years. I\’ve cooked thousands of bacon goudas, brewed thousands of batches of coffee, taken out thousands of bags of trash containing near a million plastic milk jugs. Lugged thousands of buckets of ice from the back of the store to the front of the store. I\’ve been obeying the orders of 23 year olds. Getting up at 3 in the morning to be at work at 4:30. It was humiliating, but I\’m also proud of it. The job ripped my psyche in two. What is a millionaire doing working here, like this, in such humiliating circumstances? But look, I\’m 61 years old and doing all this heavy lifting, time on my feet and keeping up with these babies I work with. 

So, it was awful and also great. But now I\’m more ready to do what I retired to do: be a writer, scholar and athlete. I\’m finally ready to live the non-corporate life implied by these activities. I\’m determined to read Jean Paul Sartre whether the world knows anything about it or not. I\’m determined to complete my leg lifts and bicep curls because it matters to me.

I\’m entered in a real race on 10/31. First non-virtual race this year. I\’m excited.

It is a beautiful time of the year. The trees are turning to fall. The weather has been clear and coolish.

Wear your mask and wash your hands. You are not the president of the united states but a single person responsible for yourself. No helicopter is coming to take you to the hospital.

Two snakes coiled together in the leaves: