Saturday, June 30, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I failed in my attempts to enter this year’s Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 mile races—turned down flat because I had not yet completed a 100-mile race. Though three years ago I ran the 87-mile version of the Leadville 100, I was forced to drop out after my knees refused to carry me any further. Bottom line: I needed to run a hundred miles and the Bighorn 100 in the Bighorn National Forest near Sheridan Wyoming with no set criteria for entry met the bill. The race did eventually fill up, but that took a couple of months. I was in from the start.
Rebekka and I drove up from the Springs Thursday morning, the day before the race. After picking up my race packet in Sheridan we headed up Highway 14 to scout out the first crew access point (Dry Fork Headwaters Aide Station) and to find a camp site. We settled on a National Forest Campground a couple miles before Burgess Junction called Prune Creek. I had just about got the tent set up when a one-armed lady motored up in an ATV and unceremoniously told me we would have to move. “They were going to have to cut down trees due to the recent heavy rains and it would be unsafe for us to stay there.” I thought, well okay, assuming they would be working over a period of a couple of days. Just when I had dragged the tent over to a new site the workmen came up in a truck to start cleaning up the trees. One of them came over and said they would be finished in fifteen minutes and we could move back to our original site, which we did.
The race advertises itself as “Wild and Scenic” which is an understatement. The scenery is spectacular. The rock formations on the canyon walls date back to the Permian extinction with all subsequent geological eras represented. Know-nothing creationist bible thumpers eat your hearts out. The spectrum of our geological heritage is on display in the layers along these gorgeous canyons.
The race began along the Tongue River Canyon, then turned sharply uphill. My training partner Harry Harcrow and I ran together. Starting off conservatively we let a dozen or so runners take off ahead of us. On the uphill portion above Tongue River we steadily overtook 6 or 7 of them. Harry remarked, "This is a heckuva lot easier than the Incline", referring to our staple training ladder of the old Incline tracks that climb steeply for 1.06 miles above Manitou Springs. Once you have done the Incline everything else pales in comparison. I pulled in to Dry Fork, 13.4 miles, a few minutes ahead of Harry in 2 hours 28 minutes. Over the next stretch we mostly ran together all the way to Foot Bridge at 30 miles (5:30). I wasted too much time there changing shoes, losing and finding my watch, and general dilly dallying. The first woman pulled in to the aide station and left before I did. I finally left after 14 minutes, but Harry and Darcy Africa were long gone.
Along the three and a half miles to the next aide station, The Narrows, it was wet where the trail hugged the Little Bighorn River... I had little hope of catching Harry again, so I settled into a slower pace, but hopefully fast enough to reach the turn-around at 48 miles before it got too dark... After the Narrows the next aide station would be Spring Marsh. About halfway to Spring Marsh Jamie Gifford caught up and passed me. He later finished 5th overall. I kept him in sight and I think he was surprised when I caught up to him again at Spring Marsh. A lady at Spring Marsh told me I was in seventh place, but I had been keeping count and by my reckoning I would be in 11th at that point unless some people had dropped out. After the next aide station, Elk Camp, came the snow. There were about 8 or so patches of 25-50 yards of snow to plunge through over about a mile. The first and second place runners came by about this time separated by about 3 minutes. 30 minutes later and about five minutes before I reached Devil's Canyon Road (where Rebekka would meet me) Harry Harcrow was in solid third. At Devil's Canyon Road (47 miles) I dropped off everything with Rebekka, including my flashlight! It was getting dark... fortunately it was light enough that I was able to run the mile out and mile back to the turnaround at Porcupine Ranger Station. Back with Rebekka at Devil's Canyon Road again I put on jacket and gloves in anticipation of the long night ahead. It was a beautiful night--full starlit night, no moon--no wind, no rain. But it was a long night. I reached the Narrows just before 3 A.M. and Footbridge about 20 minutes to five. I forgot my flashlight at Footbridge and had to backtrack 100 yards to retrieve it. It was still too dark! The next three and a half miles to Bear Creek is the infamous "Wall", a steep uphill. Though it was hard, it was actually a resting time, because of the slower pace--I walked it.
After Bear Creek with the sun in the sky and 8 long miles to Cow Camp...lapsing into small hallucinations and in and out of consciousness I talked myself into allowing just stopping on the side of the trail for one second and closing my eyes for one second. I stopped, sat down, closed my eyes for one second--I am pretty sure it was only one second, got up and continued... I was not going fast... Where was everyone? Someone should surely have caught me by now. Only two runners had passed me from the turnaround until here... Then I saw three runners a couple hundred yards back...one would turn out to be a pacer, one was a woman, and the other was Paul Schoenlaub, who Harry had introduced me to very early in the race... They caught up and passed me before Cow Camp. When I reached Cow Camp they were all still there--I grabbed some food and left fast--they wouldn't catch back up to me for a couple of miles... then the long slog in the hot sun to Dry Fork and the next meeting point with Rebekka. Turns out she had not gone back to our camp site, but had driven straight to Dry Fork and slept in the car waiting for me. I think she expected me earlier, because she had run down to meet what she thought would be me 2 or 3 times already... My feet were a mess of blisters and hot spots... My ankle had started hurting the instant I had put on my second pair of shoes at Footbridge (mile 65) -- it was now red and swollen... 17.5 miles to go... I knew I would finish, but it would be hell... The sun was hot... I forgot to put on sunscreen... Rebekka ran back to get some... I was going slow enough that it was no problem... Now the 30K runners came from behind--they would run the same course to the finish... On the trail they would come behind me and say "excuse me", to which I would reply "which side",
Rebekka met me again at the trailhead to pace me the final 5.3 miles to the finish line. 5.3 miles of flat gravel road. I had to walk. My left knee was shooting pain every time I tried to run. Where was the 1 mile to go sign? Was it around that bend? No. How much farther than that bend? Long ways. Rebekka kept me going at 15 minute walking miles. I wanted to get the deed done! She kept look out for any 100 milers coming up behind, though it didn't do any good when one did pass me. Nothing I could do about it. Finally with about half a mile to go the gravel road turned paved and when I tried running the pain was gone and I was able to run in to the finish... in 27 hours 34 minutes. My first 100-mile race.
Upper Sheep Creek 1:42:35 1:42:35
Dry Fork Headwaters 46:00 2:28:35
Out 2:32 2:31:08
Cow Camp 58:14 3:29:22
Bear Creek 1:25:57 4:55
Footbridge 25:00 5:30
Out 13:52 5:43:52
The Narrows 47:09 6:31:01
Spring Marsh 1:41:33 8:12
Elk Camp 59:35 9:12:10
Devil’s Canyon Road 1:29:04
Spring Marsh 2:48:47 13:30:02
The Narrows 2:11:41 15:41:43
Footbridge 1:09:35 16:51:19
Cow Camp 3:46:18 20:37:37
Dry Fork Headwaters 1:59:40 22:37:18
Upper Sheep Creek 1:35:08 24:12:27
Lower Sheep Creek 1:18:26 25:30:53
Out 2:54 25:33:47
Trailhead 39:22 26:13:09
Finish 1:21:21 27:34:31
Monday, June 25, 2007
Lights flashing in my canyon as I relaxed in the hot tub--no thunder--just far away lightning flashing as the last vestiges of sunlight faded away...dark clouds gathering overhead...bats flitting in the twilight...
Netscape founder Marc Andreesen highlights the top ten Sci Fi writers of today.
Boulder High student calmly exposes Bill O'Reilly's hypocrisy.
Sci-Fi writer Charley Stross has a blog.
So does David Brin.
Charles Stross's Missile Gap novella is on online in full.
Bill Moyer's Journal covers K-Street lobbyists this week.
Video: nano-battery promises breakthrough.
The meaning of American Pie
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain. Scientists say these toxins are causing obesity, infertility...and worse.
Christianity hoax exposed; bogus belief system baffles western civilization for 2,000 years...Pope Benedict XVI made history today by unexpectedly dissolving Catholicism before a stunned crowd of thousands of believers. This startling decision can only be described as shocking, as millions of people were thrown into an acute spiritual crisis.
Dismal World: Photos from the not-so-happy world
Video: The World's Smartest Man
World without us
Mark Fiore: Amnesty Redux
Global Mind Change is necessary
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Your Comprehensive Guide to the gods: Godchecker.com
Amazing Sandcastles at Harrison Hot Springs Resort, British Columbia
NYT: Chinese Detainees, Freed from Guantanamo, are Stuck in Albanian Limbo
UK Telegraph: Former American Abu Graib Torturer: I blame myself for our downfall in Iraq
I am running the Bighorn Trail 100 miler this coming Friday. Here are some pictures taken on the course June 9th and June 10th.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I'm loving my new subscription to Robert Redford's Sundance Channel. They have a wonderful mix of environmental regular features, independent films, and progressive programming.
DailyKos: Iraq: Operation Déjà Vu
Monday, June 04, 2007
Herb Legg – A Gentle Man
Communications Committee Chair
For those who are new to Thurston County or Washington State you may not know about this gem of a gentleman who has dedicated his life to making the world a better place for the poor.
I’d arranged to meet Herb at his new residence, Providence Mother Joseph’s Care facility, where he’s been since a recent stroke. He told me he didn’t allow visitors but that he’d make an exception this time…”I was different.”
I was honored.
“First off, let me tell you that my religion is Quaker-Unitarian-Democrat. About all I need for religion is the Sermon on the Mount which says ‘Be nice to poor people.’”
I could see this was going to be a fascinating conversation. I’d not considered the Democrats to be a “religion” but I was willing to go along with it to see where it all would lead. Very quickly I realized I would be unsuccessful in leading the conversation in any orderly direction so I resolved to let it unfold naturally. What follows are bits and pieces of an hour-long conversation, an encounter really, with Herb Legg, a self professed “liberal Liberal.”
Herb was born in Tennessee and is the eldest of 10 siblings…plus one. One died at 3 months old after what was then considered a summer flu. His parents didn’t have the $3.00 per day to pay the doctor to treat his infant sister. After she was sick for several days they decided if she was alive the next morning they’d find the money somehow and take her to the doctor. Sadly, she didn’t survive the night. Herb recalls it affected the whole family deeply. “She was very, very young. It is why I believe in government paid health care for every person – repeat – every person.”
During the Depression, his family moved to Kittitas Valley around Ellensburg, WA. He graduated from Central Washington University, eventually taught there and was on the school board. A very brief and incomplete list of his many jobs and accomplishments includes working for the Washington State Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office. He served as a naval officer during WWII, was a lobbyist, a teacher, a city councilman, several-term state committeeman, two-term Thurston County Democrats Chair, and the State Democrats Party Chair in 1961. Herb Legg was and is an organizer.
“The three most significant events in my life were the Depression, WWII, and the Democrats.” I asked why he included the Democrats in the list. “It was a vehicle for doing something about my concern about helping poor people.”
“I practiced law in Olympia for 16 years, but decided I didn’t like it because, in order to represent my client well, I had to sometimes be mean to people. I didn’t like doing that so I quit and went into teaching.” Herb taught at several colleges including a “black” college in Dallas, TX, Central in Ellensburg and a community college in Seattle.
In a slightly more playful tone, he continues, “When I was teaching in Seattle, which was pretty laid back in those days, one of my students broke out a marijuana cigarette. He passed it around and we all, including myself, took a puff…I didn’t inhale.” -- I couldn’t help but recall another significant figure in recent history that professed similarly -- “But to show you how strict I was, my student started to light another one and I said that’s enough! Marijuana use was pretty casual, then. Nowadays they throw you in jail!”
Seeing an opportunity to talk about the local party, I asked him how the Thurston County Democrats have changed since he was Chair. He recalls the biggest dispute he had to deal with was the decision to move the Central Committee meeting from Saturday afternoon to Monday evening. This decision was made to accommodate those who lived in more rural areas and for whom coming to town for a meeting on Saturdays was a hardship.
“There were a lot of ‘Roosevelt Democrats—older people’ then and they would hold lunches and invite speakers to talk about important issues. Those older ones have stayed involved in one way or another.” In a serious tone he adds, “You have to get young people involved because these older people won’t be around much longer,” a concern we share and are looking for ways to address.
Turning to current issues, I asked what he thought Democrats should be concerned about today. “We need to change the national policy and work with the U.N. to do something about poor countries and we need to stop trying to be a policeman for the planet,” he said candidly. “WWII was the last time we were all united but I think we are united enough now and will stay together to make the necessary changes in our current political situation.”
Herb’s wife, Shirley, arrived just as our time together came to a close and he was eager to share with me the story of how they met. “I was teaching back East in a graduate program in North Carolina and one day I met someone named Shirley. We talked for 15 minutes and I said, ‘How’d you like to move out West with me?’ She said Yes! That was 30 years ago.” With a twinkle in his eye he continues, “Next to teaching and peanut butter I like Shirley best.”
I don’t know whether I found my answer to what a Quaker-Unitarian-Democrat religion really is but I suspect it has something to do with helping poor people. A worthy goal, indeed.