Friday, December 7, 2012

Double double toil and trouble

I really should update the pictures on this blog. They're a bit old. I'm a bit older. Nah, I looked better back then. Had more hair too.

So I still run. Not as much but some. I ran Austin, Oklahoma City, A2A, and just recently Tulsa this year. Not a stellar year for number of marathons but not too shabby. I managed a 3:39 at Oklahoma City too so I can still bring it every now and then too. No major injuries this year but I did have a few knee pains that set me back a few times. All-in-all not a bad running year for old Willie. Good thing too because old Willie is leaving his 30s in a few days and venturing into the land of 40. Things will probably start falling apart and eventually I'll look as badly as Maurice. It's a depressing thought but there's not much I can do about it so I'll accept it with the grace and dignity that only a West Virginia born stubborn ass can.

There are many things I haven't done yet in my life. That list always comes to mind around birthday time but this year it's really on my mind since it's the big 4-0 for me. Most of the not-done items on my list are personal and you wouldn't understand them if I listed them. A few others are frowned upon by decent society so I won't list them here. My running to-dos are growing shorter but there are still a few out there.

One item that I have scheduled to complete this month is back-to-back marathons. I'm schedule to run a marathon on New Years Eve (my birthday) and then another one on New Years Day. The races are in Allen Texas and they have a super cool 2-piece medal. Should be fun. Except for my knees. I've kept this plan from them so far but they are twitching a little now so I'm sure they know something is up. I know they'll be fine so why worry them?

Anyway this thing goes it'll be an adventure so I'll get what I'm looking for even if I fall flat. A fitting way to run my last marathon as 39 and my first as 40. I'd say something about this being the beginning of the second half of my life but I don't think I'll make it much past 60 so already beyond half way. But who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Was it follow the orange and not the white or....

So I ended up in upstate NY for a couple weeks for work only 1 week after returning from Europe. It's getting hard for me to say I'm actually from Oklahoma since I haven't been in the state much lately. Anyhoo, I ended up here over a weekend so I figured I'd look for a race to run. I really wanted a marathon but couldn't find one anywhere near here. In fact, I couldn't find any road race longer than a 5k. There was, however, a 15k trail run just North of here. That's right, I said TRAIL. I hate trails. I get hurt on trails. Trails are bad. Those are my running dogmas. But when there's nothing else to run and only a lonely hotel room to keep me company even my dogmas go out the window.

The Forest Frolic 15k is put on by the Finger Lakes Running club. They also have a 7k but if I'm gonna run trails I'm gonna run trails by God! The thing about upstate NY is that it can be pretty hilly. Actually it's very hilly. I knew this going in so my race strategy was to go out slow and expect the worst. The other thing about upstate NY is that it's really green with lot's of trees. This makes trails narrow and overgrown.
About 150 people ran this race split about evenly between the 7 and 15k. A pretty good turnout for a trail race in the middle of upstate NY. I saw license plates from Virginia and South Carolina but wasn't sure that they had actually come from that far away. The trail itself was way off the beaten path. A couple 2 lane roads followed by a couple more gravel roads passed cattle farms and fields got me to the start. No parking lot, just a trail cut into the woods off the gravel road. Luckily I saw many other people were already there or else I may have left in fear for my safety. I swore if I heard banjos and squealing I was leaving!

The race started very informally with some course instructions. Since most of the runners were local the director made a lot of references to things I didn't understand. The one thing I did hear was to follow the ORANGE streamers and DON'T follow the white. Got it, Orange good White bad. That's all Willie needs to know. I'm off!!

The beginning of the race is downhill. Very downhill! It was an old grown-over dirt road with lots of rocks and run-off trenches. The footing was horrible for a road racer like me. I thought sure if this was the trail I was destined to fall many times. The amazing thing to me were the other runners that took down the hill with reckless abandon! The let it fly and didn't seem to miss a step. I, on the other had, was tip-toeing down this pile of slippery rocks like a grandmother. Screw 'em, I wasn't going to fall in the first 1/2 mile.

Funny thing about long steep downhills is that they so often lead to long steep uphills. Yep. Hit the bottom and immediately started going up. Straight up. Everyone was walking. We hadn't reached mile 1. We were walking. GREAT DECISION WILLIE! THIS RACE ROCKS! Mid-way up Mt St. HolyCrap, the 15kers get a choice of continuing straight up the hill or turning left and winding up the hill. The course is a figure-8 so it seems you can run either direction and get the same distance.

Pride is a stupid thing. Why doesn't the pride part of my brain feel the consequences of the things it makes me do? Stupid pride.

I'm a runner damn it! I looked that hill and the face and continued straight up the face of the mountain. Walking, of course, but walking straight up the SOB!

The trail narrowed down to.... well the trail really became the tiny bit of ground between the massive trees that surrounded us. I decided that I shouldn't be left alone out here so I picked a runner in front of me and decided to stick with them no matter what. The pain of trying to run fast would be nothing compared to the sure death that awaited me from getting lost and decomposing rapidly in this rain forest. The trail wound it's way up and down hills, across cricks (creeks for you high society people), through fern covered areas, and clear ground underneath tall pine trees. I will admit that it was a beautiful area. Not that I saw anything but the few inches of root-covered, slippery, muddy ground. Every now and then I looked up to make sure my "guide" was still within sight but mostly I spent the race searching wildly for some solid footing.

When I found a short period of level ground I noticed that the orange streamers were gone and there were white marks on the trees. The instructions I heard said white is bad, orange is good. WTF? My guide continued on without concern but I had to stop and make sure we weren't the only people on this trail. I had a momentary worry that my "guide" was actually a psychopathic runner slayer that lured their victims into uncharted parts of trail runs and ate them. That worry passed quickly because if that were true I would be happier with the quick death of being eaten than with the slow death of decomposition. Luckily all this morbid thinking was for not because another group of runners came around the bend and convinced me that we were on the right trail. So much for race-day instructions.

Eventually we made our way out of the forest and ended up on the road leading to where we started. This was a major relief because I was sure we were going to have to run up the horrible mountain road we ran down at the start. I began to like the race director again because of that little bit of joy. I finished in a respectable time and in the middle of the pack. I was happy with a good, hard 9 mile run through the NY forest. Oh, and, I was alive! And they had beer!

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I was walking through New York city yesterday when I passed a man and a woman in an embrace. I was walking through the NYU campus so I suppose they were college age and were obviously very much in love.

It was one of those things you see on the street that you just notice and then intentionally look away for fear of embarrasing them and yourself. Something caught my eye as I was about to look away though. The look on the woman face as she gazed into the man's eyes was amazing. While they held each other she looked up at him with eyes that said "I love you more than you'll ever know". Her eyes were loving this man with her entire soul along for the ride.

I don't know why I even noticed it but from that moment forward I began to notice the way woman look at men when they are in love. Women say so much more with their eyes and their face than men.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Old Adages

There are a lot of old sayings that I really like but I think my favorite is the one that goes something like, "To have a lot of friends, you have to be a friend". I like that one the most because it has proven so true in my life on so many occasions. It's also the saying that pops into my head when I'm feeling down because I've learned that the best way to cheer myself up is to do my best to make someone else happy. I suppose that leans more towards the saying, "The greatest joy you'll ever receive is when you are giving joy".

For me, being inwardly focused is a downward spiral that always ends up with my realizing where I'm at, who I've been, and changing my focus. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a long time for me to ride that spiral to the bottom and start climbing back up. The spiral begins to feed on itself and I move from the simple wanting something little for me to the eventual feeling that I "deserve" certain things and that people are obligated to treat me a certain way. It's funny that even writing that now makes me laugh because of the absurdity but I can live that way for weeks without realizing it and the absurdity that infects my brain.

The worst part of this spiral is the wave of discontent I cause to those closest to me. I'm fortunate enough to have wonderful people in my life that either ignore these little episodes or don't notice them. Still, I'll spend a large amount of time trying to get back into the good graces of many people once I hit the bottom of the slide. Most of these people won't even know that I am trying to climb back into their acceptance but, in my head, I'm constantly looking for ways to climb their ladder.

I suppose these cycles are normal and I can say that I've learned a lot about them and how to recognize them over the years. The most important thing I've learned, though, is how to end them quickly by implementing that old adage I started with. Be a friend. Listen instead of talk and be a friend. Suppress that ego and be a friend. Offer encouragement instead of advice and be a friend. Make a conversation completely one sided in the other person's favor and be a friend.

I'll be putting this into practice this week and I'll be you dollars to donuts (Mmmm donuts....) I'll be feeling better by Tuesday.

Thanks for listening