Monday, August 31, 2015

New Realities: On Singlespeeding It and Trailrunning

No Wizards at Waverly Park
Last week I took a Western road trip.  I was actually conferencin' it up.  I drove west for what seemed like an hour.  The land grew flat and dry.  There wasn't a hint of a rise in topography that could be mislabelled as "mountain" so I knew I was penetrating deep into the Midwest...ern part of Kentucky.

Vistas of the West
I landed in Looeyville 'roun' lunch time and dropped into Waverly with the Simply Simple Bike (SSB).  I say "dropped"...but I followed the suggested ride from MTB Project and parked at the playground.  It was a haul up to the east end of the park.  Waverly was my first real test on the SSB.  To date I've only had it at VP and everyone knows VP lacks any vertical relief of consequence.

Alas, I walked one steep climb not long after pedaling away from the playground parking area.  In my defense it was steep and I wasn't fully warmed up.  I'm pleasantly surprised to say I rode everything else at Waverly. 

Comments on MTB Project indicated that Waverly is a fast trail system.  I would agree with that assertion.  Of course I was underfamiliar with the trails so I was not as fast as I would have been at, say, VP or CVP or even Skullbusted.  But I managed a brief look-see after a couple of miles at the GPS on my wrist and saw I was averaging 8.5 mph.  For the climbing that I had slogged up from the playground with a singular speed bicycle and a lack of know-how at that particular park 8.5 was pretty freakin' fast for me.

I remember a similar feeling of speediness at Ben Hawes.  Between the two I would say BH is flowier and faster, but Waverly is pretty darn fast.  If I were to buy me some of that familiarity I might be even faster there.

The singularity bicycle was a major asset.  I was worried that I would flounder when the going got tough.  That was not the case.  I was able to climb 99% of all climbs and I nailed the meager techy sections that popped up no problemo.  I did have to hop over a fallen tree and go CX style for a second, but otherwise I kept my feet upon the pedals.

I felt good on the SSB.  It's nimble and simble.  I didn't fret about forgetting my granny gear at home.  I didn't jab my thumbs at the air under my handlebars.  Obviously I spent time standing up on the pedals.  I didn't especially feel spun out at any point.  Maybe if there had been some doubletrack or if the trails had been less burly I might have suffered with spinny knees, but the gearing was great for me.  I might turn into a SS machine.


Full Cherokee

Cherokee was a short ride from the Hotel du Galtier.  I didn't want to go back to Waverly during the after work rush, but Cherokee seemed like a fun place to interrupt the normal flow of civilization.  I did not, however, ride to Cherokee.  I opted to drive to the park and ride.  Cherokee was busy when I rolled up.  After workers were crowding to the greenspaces to congregate, train for cross country, amble about with their pets, and so forth.  I knew I would need to be on guard.

I took off on the loop I rode last time I was in the ‘Ville.  I was familiar with it, so I went along mindlessly until I hit some techy terrain.  Focus ensued.  I rode solidly through some rocky sections and came out on the road pointed toward the Seneca side.  It took me a little bit to figure out where I was while working from memory of a map I had looked at online, but once I was back on the right trail I was a-blazin’ through the woods, rolling over more rocks, roots, and bumpity terrain as I worked my way back west toward the car.  The longer I rode the more people I saw.  But it was never onerous on the trail.

Really nice armored switchback
I blew one short hill because it was just too steep. Then I failed to ascend a long grinder up an easy, but steepening hill.  Finally there was an insurmountable log across the trail as I was near the end of the golf course section on the Seneca side.  Otherwise I was able to ride just about everything at Cherokee on the SSB. 

I had feared that the ungeared bike would hold me back on technicalities.  The exact opposite seemed to be true.  It forced me to focus on picking the right line.  I forced me to look ahead and plan my attack on the fly.  On a singlespeed you have to maintain momentum or ramp it up instantly.  I’m starting to get that.  I’m starting to feel it and flow with it.

Cherokee showed me I can ride tough trails on the singlespeed.  I’m definitely gaining confidence.

Running Man
Kipp suckered me into a bet that of he and I an Al that whomever couldn’t not meet their stated (arbitrary) personal running mileage goal for the month of August would have to buy the other two a round of drinks.  Or whomever was the furthest from their goal…or something like that.  The rules were poorly defined.
I was pretty much on track to meet my goal of a hundred miles with plenty of days to spare until August 18th when my Achilles tendon acted up.  I scaled back hoping a few days of rest would get me back on track so I could finish strong.  After four days of rest I went out a week ago and tried to do a sixteen mile easy trail run.  I managed six before the pain flared up again.  And so I laid off last week.  I did ride. The bike didn’t hurt me so I was okay with all of the hoopla mentioned above.
This past Saturday I ventured out hoping for the best but planning for the worst.  I chose a relatively flat road route to run.  I shot for sixteen and hoping I’d feel so good I could manage eighteen miles.  The first ten felt great.  There was no pain and I ran strong at a conservative 11:00/mi pace.  There was no speed expectation.  I simply wanted to cover the miles.
Around mile twelve a specter of pain creeped into my leg.  It felt stiff.  Somewhere after mile thirteen there was no doubt, but I was only two miles from home so I kept trucking along.  The pain was slight and manageable when I passed the mailbox so I ran another flat half mile beyond and then turned around to finish with sixteen.  That put me six and a half miles shy of my goal with two days.
I would say I rested all day Saturday and all of Sunday but that wouldn’t be true.  We started constructing a fence around our yard.  Saturday we dug forty-five post holes with a gas-powered auger.  Sunday we set about half of the posts after loading and unloading them along with thirty bags of concrete.
Early this morning I cranked out the final miles.  It didn’t seem like a chore until the last half mile.  I’ve never ran that much in a month.  One hundred miles.
I’m taking two weeks off.  It’s time to give myself a much needed rest.  If I can, I’m not even going to ride.  Rest, rest, rest.  Two weeks from this past Saturday will be another scheduled sixteen mile run.  I’ll have skipped a twenty mile run and I’ve already missed an eighteen mile run.  If I can slip back in at sixteen injury free then maybe I can skip on to the scheduled twenty-two the week after and be back on track.  I think I can if I increase my through the week miles as I go, and then back off when I’m on track.
I’ve pretty much decided that if I can successfully finish the Rough Trail 50k then I’m going to stop running for super long distances and go back to long distance biking.  It’s so much easier to do a hundred mile bike ride than a sixteen mile run.  I’m not giving up running…just running more than a half marathon distance.  But I want to do at least one ultra-distance trail race.
Then, maybe after a year or so of regular running if I am strong and healthy maybe I’ll think about doing another.  But it feels rushed even though I feel like I’ve been working toward this goal for the better part of a year.  I need more mileage before I go so hard.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Stupid Questions

Week before last I had the opportunity to check out the Berea cross country trails at Brushy Fork Park.  I believe the trails are used by the college CC team.  This is pure speculation, but it makes sense.  Last week I ran pretty consistently and had a good long run on Saturday (see It’s a Long Way Back to Leadville) even though it was my longest—and likely toughest—run to date.  
When I say longest I mean it.  Prior to Saturday my longest run was a half marathon.  Longest run, longest trail run, longest run with ridiculous elevation changes, etc, etc.  I tried a fifteen mile run last year but was thwarted by similar factors that affected me this past weekend.  Where did I fail?  The usual foul ups: ran out of water, didn’t eat well on Thursday and Friday, and have really not put in the miles.  The miles are coming.  The other two flubs will be remedied for future runs.
Anyway, back to Berea.  I was pleasantly surprised once I figured out where everything was.  The lower trails are nice.  Typical cross country course.  There was a swath mowed through a field and then a wide dirt path through the woods that gradually narrowed to wide singletrack, then regular singletrack and finally into darn nigh a bushwhack on the backside of the knobs.  But it was fun.

The back 40
It was a slow run.  I blame it on the unfamiliar area and a couple of false starts.  I picked up as I continued and a couple of my mile splits were pretty respectable.  I just didn’t pound it like the idiot I usually am.
And there’s the rub, really.  I need to incorporate more intentional training into my activities (find a good activity Brian).  I need to do some speed work both in running and on the bike.  I really, really, really, need to be hitting the gym and working on general and core strength.  Doing so would also help me drop more weight.  I’m doing ok now, but if I want to be serious about it I need to do more strength.
And then there is the new bike.  I sold Minus.  It was Dave’s fault.  He told me he wanted to sell his singlespeed mountain bike to fund wheels for his new build.  The more I thought about it the more it made sense for me to have a SS MTB in my cube instead of the auld road bike. There are many days I have hauled my geared MTB to LexVegas to ride at Vets, or Caps, or Skulls.  I decided if I could get $200 for the Bianchi I would make the swap.  Dave was only asking a little more for the MTB.
I had a taker.  Cash changed hands.  Then instead of a vintage sporty road bike I had a simply simple mountain bike taunting me from the cubicle wall.  I rode at VP soon after, but the trails were slippy and slimy.  My circuit was nothing to write home about.  Last Monday I went back.  My gut was off.  I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days (lingering effects from my 14 mile trail run), and my heart wasn’t really in it.  But the lunchtime temps were in the mid-70s and it looked like the rest of the week might not be as dry so I forced myself to drive across this side of town to the park.
Stupidly, I went hard.  I didn’t warm up.  I didn’t ease into my ride.  I took off toward the woods like I needed to ram my way through a line of invading Mongolians to find freedom.  Thankfully my processors were firing efficiently.  No trees were harmed in the carving of the trails that day I can assure you.  I nary nicked a sapling.
I drove it over humps and bumps and frequently took more air than usual.  After two rides I’ve stopped reflexively shifting.  My legs don’t withhold their power waiting for an easier gear.  I just go.  I just ride.  It’ll take a little time before the bike feels like an extension of my body.  The geometry is just different enough
Riding the SS is more like running.  You simply cannot gear down to climb.  And you can’t power down descents.  Once you get into a spin you lose the mechanical advantage of the bike.  You only gain the benefit of coasting.
What I wonder is how the SS will fare on the more rugged terrain to the east of where I normally ride.  Would I hate it at Cave Run?  Jenny Wiley?  The future Big Sinking trails?  I have scury thoughts like “what would it be like to ride a singlespeed at Leadville?”

Switching gears somewhat (ha HAHA.) my running for the month is shot.  I had made a goal of running a hundred miles in August.  And then my Achilles put a kink in the plan.  I’m holding steady somewhere around 75 miles but if I do the right thing and rest for a few days then there’s no way I’ll be able to make up the miles by the end of the month.  And that’s assuming I could run anyway.
I can’t afford to be down too long with this injury, so I’m going to do my best to heal it up right.  While I’ve still got time before Rough Trail 50k I don’t have time to waste.  Saturday was supposed to be my 16 mile long run and I managed 6 before I had to resort to walking.  I had laid off running for about four days after the first flare up, had no pain, and went out to put in my miles.  Nope.
Oh, and weirdly, out of the blue my ribs started hurting again.  I thought my injury of stupidity had healed up nicely and then for no apparent reason it flared up again too.  I’m falling apart.


Monday, August 17, 2015

It’s a Long Way Back to Leadville

I was running on too little sleep.  I’d realized I hadn’t eaten well the previous two days to carry me well through such an effort.  But somewhere between Chimney Top Creek and Sky Bridge Ridge I realized as I was running along Rough Trail in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky that the 2015 Leadville 100 mountain bike race was underway 1,300 miles west of the brutal climb I was struggling up.
I had been contemplating bailing on the return trip along Pinch Em Tight to avoid the climbs back out of Rush Branch and King Branch.  I’d still get my mileage, but it would equate to 3,400’ of climbing versus 4,400’ or so.  In fifteen miles of trail…
Leadville is what, 10,000’?  12,000’ of climbing in 100 miles?  Rough Trail out and back across Red River Gorge is a third of the elevation in a sixth of the distance.  Traversing Rough Trail one is almost always climbing or descending.  There is very little flat terrain on which to recover.  Rough Trail lives up to its name.
I felt fantastic as I traversed Parch Corn Creek.  As I neared the eastern terminus of the trail on Sky Bridge Road (KY 715) I was seven miles out from the car back at Martin’s Fork trailhead at the west end.  It had been a solid push with five typical Red River Gorge trail climbs.  I had written a big check by running so far from where I started.  Would I have the energy to cover the cost?
Climbing east out of Parch Corn Creek on Rough Trail
I stopped in the gravel by the trash can at the Sky Bridge Road trailhead and paused my GPS as I emptied my hydration vest of empty gel packets.  I had reached my Columbine for the day.
The words rang in my head: “All you have to do is retrace your steps back to Leadville.”  They were spoken by Travis Brown as narrator in Race Across the Sky 2010.  Every step I made to get to where I was at that moment had to be reversed.  Every knee pounding descent was going to be a soul-crushing climb.  Every climb I had fought earlier in the morning was going to be another body beating downhill.  I felt too good to care.  I took off into Parch Corn at a strong pace.  The descent went fast and furious.  I loved every techy section.  My mind was warmed to the effort and my feet danced over roots and around rocks as I turned my body back.
I finished the Leadville 100 on my mountain bike in 2013.  I missed getting a belt buckle by 24 minutes.  I had been so close.  I didn’t exactly give up on ever getting one, but I let the whole affair grow cold for a couple of years.  Last year I tried to forget on race day.  I unfollowed the LRS on social media.  I ignored tweets and facebook shares of the race.
This year I found myself acting out my own drama on Rough Trail.  It brought me back to a Leadville mindset.  As I climbed back out of Parch Corn to Chimney Top Road to begin the descent into Chimney Top Creek I knew I had it in me to go back and ride hard and strong.  As of this week I’m already nearly ten pounds lighter than I was on both of my attempts at the mountain bike race.  I know I’m in better shape.
Leadville is a long way away.  Physically it’s never been further from me.  Likely next summer we’ll be better of financial means to go back than we have been, but there is still a significant cost to returning.
And then there’s the lottery.  Getting back in is the crux.  If I don’t get in the lottery then the race might as well be on the moon.  I can’t balance my real life with this dream if I have to run around the country trying to claim a qualifier coin.  I would like to do Whiteface.  I would like to do the Rattler, the Barn Burner, and the Tahoe race.  I’ve decided at some point I also want to do the Silver Rush (Silver King) and if I don’t get in the big one that might be a good consolation prize.  But my luck I’d get a coin at the Silver Rush in July for the LT100 in August.
There’s the continental distance, the lottery barrier, and then there is my emotional distance.  How bad do I want this?  At times it does take hold of me and I want to go back and redeem myself.  I wrote a book about the whole saga.  And that book doesn’t seem finished without having done what I set out to do: claiming a Leadville belt buckle.
But how bad do I want it?  I want it more now than I did last year.  I didn’t care last year.  It was too painful to think about all of the things associated with the race.  But this year I am able to look back at it for what it was.
I took off on this quest to find confidence.  I’ve always struggled to find belief in myself.  I do not have a deep wellspring of self-confidence from which to draw.  Maybe it was misguided on my part to seek confidence in some athletic feat.  It seems to work for everyone else.  And it’s something I had not tried prior to that in my existence on this planet.  
I’m a lost soul these days anyway.  I don’t know what I want or where I want to be.  Returning to Kentucky didn’t answer any of my existential questions.  If anything it opened up a Pandora’s Box of questions I never expected.  Sometimes I think going back to Colorado would be a good idea.  I’m cursed as a boomeranger.  I won’t ever find happiness in one place.  I would desperately love to find a place I love so much that all I want is to sit on the porch and listen to the native birds sing.  For whatever reason I don’t think that place exists for me. 
I bailed on the way back.  I took Pinch Em Tight instead of retracing all of Rough Trail.  At 10.5 miles I ran out of water.  I had two climbs and 4.5 miles to go to get back to the car.  The sun was high in the sky by then, and I was beginning to feel the miles I was dragging behind me.  I remembered to dig deep.  I remembered that I’m better than I think I am and can do more than I think I can.  But at one point I also realized it was distinctly possible for me to collapse from dehydration.  I’m human.  I have limits.
I ran on.  Those last few miles I didn’t care.  I was going to run and finish.  It didn’t matter that I bypassed those two last climbs.  I was still going to get my 14 miles in.  I’m still going to do the Rough Trail 50k.  Yeah, it’s going to be wicked hard.
If I can put the belt buckle behind me then there are plenty of challenges for me close to home.  Not getting that belt buckle has unbalanced me.  I have few regrets in my life.  24 minutes in Colorado in the summer of 2013 are a huge percentage of those regrets.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Be a Candle, Not a Book of Matches

Summer is drawing to a protracted close.  In the Red River Valley school has started back up for the ‘15-16 year.  The heat lingers.  My training for the inaugural Rough Trail 50k has begun.  We’re fifteen weeks out now.  Despite my latest self-destructive streak I do feel really good going into this training stretch. 
For the next four months I plan on putting in more miles running than on the bike, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be riding.  Over the past two years when I’ve been running-intensive I’ve hit training walls—burn out and break down—so I don’t want to stable the bikes outright.  It might be that substituting some of my base mileage on the bike might be just the ticket to keep the momentum going.
Also, in the interim I have scheduled the Iron Horse half (registered) and the Cloudsplitter 100 (25k version) to keep me on track.  I want a half marathon PR at the Iron Horse but otherwise I have no speed expectations.  If I do Cloudsplitter it will just be for fun, and Rough Trail is going to simply be about finishing my first 50k.  If it goes well I might look to the 2016 Yamacraw 50k from a performance standpoint.  Likely I’ll never be competitive at that distance, so finishing will be a noble enough gesture for me.
Saturday I took my first real RT specific training run.  It was ten miles of tough hills.  I really needed twelve, but we had intended to also do the Midsummer Night’s Run in Lexington that night.  If you’ll remember last year…by the time I lined up for the 5k I had already run twenty miles in less than twenty-four hours. 
Last minute Bean decided she wanted to do the Fastest Kid in Town instead of the 5k.  I didn’t bemoan the lost running opportunity.  I felt a little run down.  But to be perfectly honest my recent long, tough runs have not resulted in the normal beat downs I used to take.  I’ve been able to walk away from them and function later in the same day and over the next day.  Progress…right?
The short story there is that she came in dead last in her heat (8 yo girls), but I assured her that she has always been a distance runner and not a sprinter, that if she wants to win sprints she’ll need to train for sprinting.  She seemed okay with that. 
She did have fun.  She met another girl her age and they slummed around waiting for the race to start.  At one point I saw the two of them doing pushups.  Not sure why…but whatevs.
On my run Saturday I knew I’d have five heartbreaking climbs in ten miles so I knew I couldn’t try and KOM any of them.  I needed to hold back on the climbs and open up where it was flat.  I kept thinking back to the cycling analogy of burning all your matches too soon.  By thinking that way, watching my heartrate, and intentionally pushing when it was prudent to do so I had a really good run.  I still didn’t break any records.  My overall pace was slow (for me), but in the end I felt good.
This past week my long run was supposed to be twelve miles and I ran ten.  Next week is fourteen.  I’ve got to step it up seriously and stay on track.  Letting my long runs flag has undone me in the past (Yamacraw).
While out on my run I pondered my book.  It doesn’t seem finished.  The whole Leadville or Bust story seems like it needs a grand resolution.  There needs to be a belt buckle in the end.  So maybe I’m just not finished with acting out the story, and that’s why I keep letting it go fallow instead of pushing harder to get it in print.  The story hasn’t finished so I can’t really tell it in totality.
I think next year I try to get back in. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stupid Don't Show Up in X-rays

Don't you hate it when you do something stupid enough that you need x-rays?  I might have aged myself five years in the blink of an eye.  Ten if the x-rays show anything.
I was in Slade on my bike.  I was hanging out on the porch of the Slade Church of God in the shade waiting for a guy I was going to meet.  I had decided he wasn't going to return my messages and may not be coming so I got on my bike to head home.  Instead of going down the ramp I had ridden up to get on the porch of the church I decided to ride off the two steps on the west end. 
As I dropped off the deck my right handlebar caught an upright post and I took a header onto the asphalt parking lot.
Instant pain exploded in my left elbow.  I couldn't breathe.  My head spun.  Of course I was wearing a helmet.  My chest hurt as I gasped for breath.  A host of potential injuries raced through my hyped up brain: broken ribs, broken collarbone, broken elbow, broken shoulder, etc, etc. 
I dragged myself back onto the porch and began shedding helmet, gps, unzipped my jersey...basically I went into survival mode.  I felt like I was in bad shape.  When my head was clear enough I ran through a list of people who might be able to come rescue me from my own stupidity.  Mandy was gone to Lexington school shopping for the kids.
Instead of calling a friend I waited it out.  My body started to unclench.  The pain started to wane somewhat.
I ended up meeting the guy I was there to meet, and then I headed home.  I had texted Mandy and told her my route.  She swept SAG in our new minivan (we have conceded all potential future coolness) and hauled me home.  By bedtime I was stiff and sore.  I felt like I was dying.  I concluded I had not broken anything, but I was pretty sure that I had done some soft tissue damage.
There was a planned training run for the Rough Trail 50k the next morning.  I got my stuff ready the night before in hopes I would magically heal overnight.  My hopes were not high.  But lo and behold Saturday morning I woke up feeling pretty darn good.  My elbow was extremely sensitive to direct pressure, but otherwise I felt as good as I do on any given Saturday morning.
About ten people showed up at Martin’s Fork for the run.  Speedy Al was one of them.  It became quickly apparent that I, Al, and race organizer Mike had the most local trail experience.  I won’t even suggest that my experience exceeds Al’s.  He has been running the trails a lot more frequently and over longer distances that I have in the past couple of years.  Where I have a deep experience with the trails and landscape, Al has an almost daily grasp of conditions along with a broad experience in the area.
I joked about my injuries.  Maybe it was a bit of a humblebrag, but I felt pretty good about the decision to go ahead and get ready the night before and commit to running despite my pain.  And then we were off.  Long distance trail running starts slow like a train.  There’s no reason to leap to the front or avoid hanging off the back.  Al and I fell into sweep mode as we ambled up Martin’s Fork.  It was easy conversational pace.  At the toe of the steep climb up to the ridgetop the group paused trying to figure out which trail to take and that’s when we jumped to the front and began a solid climb leaving everyone else far below.
I was time poor on Saturday so I knew my run was going to be shorter than the group’s.  But it was good to get out with other people.  Most of the time I run solo.  I enjoy solo, but I’m not a hermit.
After the third climb we gained Pinch Em Tight Ridge and the Sheltowee Trace. The group was going to continue on Rough Trail and return.  I had decided to bail on the ridge and take the Sheltowee back to the Grays Arch area, pick up Rough Trail and descend back to Martin’s Fork Trailhead.  Everything was going fine—I felt pretty darn good actually—until I hit the four foot wide, perfectly flat Grays Arch Trail.  With about a mile to go to return to the car a small root ambushed me, caught my toe, and sent me slamming into the sandy trail.
In the past, no matter how bad the fall has been, I’ve always jumped up and kept moving.  Even the time I sprained my ankle at Pilot Knob I bounced right up and started hobbling.  The clock was ticking as the sun sank on my stupidity that day.  But Saturday when I hit the ground I lay slack in the trail.  The energy suddenly evaporated from my mind and body.  I was defeated.
When I fell the second time I landed exactly the same way as I had the first time.  My elbow took the initial hit and my shoulder was jacked and my arm was jammed into my ribs.  Pain throbbed into my brain from every appendage it seemed.  I tried to laugh.  I tried not to cry.  Everything hurt.  I was covered in dirt and sand.  All forward motion…my perpetual motion machine of a brain…stopped.  Rarely do I pause in my relentless movement.  For a few seconds I was dead still laying there in the middle of Grays Arch Trail.
The thought of some family of hikers coming across me spurred me to get up at least.  I didn’t want to cause alarm or any fussing.  But nobody came along as I struggled to stand upright.  And as soon as I was bipedal again I took off at a defeated lope toward my car. 
My thoughts were dark like a bruise.  My ego was severely chastised.  I would have kicked myself for being so stupid except that it hurt to try and raise my leg high enough.  It hurt mentally.
I managed to settle into a rhythm.  My pace was reserved.  In my mind I was running only to get myself back to the car quickly.  Otherwise I would not have run at all.  I walked all of the steep techy sections.  I didn’t do anything to further jar my body or endanger my already banged up limbs.
I managed to function the rest of the day Saturday but only just.  I had no energy.  Sunday wasn’t much better.  Instead of feeling better as the day went on I just felt worse and worse.  The sore spots got sorer and stiffer.  Getting into and out of bed was an activity accompanied but much groaning and wincing.  I resolved that if I didn’t feel better Monday morning I was going to the doctor.
Late afternoon I was sitting in an examination room making the nurse laugh with tales of my weekend.  I relayed to the doctor my wife’s admonition that I’m too old to keep breaking myself like this.  He told me—bless his heart!—to not give up on the things I do.
I’m fine today.  There is lingering pain.  I know if I fell a third time I would probably cry and wet myself.  I’m just not going to fall.  I am going to run. 
I hate these kinds of setbacks.  I don’t want to give up, but it is very tempting to just pick out a spot on the couch and camp out there until I’m too far gone to care anymore.  I know I’d never be happy like that.  Better to grunt through the pain, deal with the scabs and bruises, and live an active life. 
A major positive that I've overlooked in my writing of late: I have been consistently faster in my shorter runs lately.  I've had two fairly fast 5ks in the past week and a half.  Both with a sub-9:00/mi pace.  I ran both in the heat and still felt pretty good during and after the runs.  Last summer I struggled to run faster than 9:00/mi on a good day.  Dropping a few pounds really makes a difference!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

River Dreams

Sometimes all you need to make the world a better place is a chainsaw, a weedeater, a small, flat trailer and a cooler full of Ale-8s.  Oh, and six able bodies with willing minds.

Last Thursday after work a bunch of us got together and cleaned up an old wastewater treatment site owned by the more diminutive city in Powell County.  We hacked, sawed, pulled, and heaved until we had a swath opened up between the street and the Red River.

It was a tiny step.  It was a huge step.
Instead of discussing things...instead of waiting for “someone to do something”...we just did what we saw needed to be done.  The truth is that we had the blessings of the city council to do what we did.  Heck, it was a city councilman leading the charge.  He brought the Ale-8s!

And so while we wait to hear back from KY Fish & Wildlife about our application for a boat ramp at the city park we have essentially created a take out four miles downstream which is a two block walk from the parking lot for our future put in.  Even if we don't get the F&W grant we have already improved access to the river.  And everyone that hears about what we're doing is excited and sees the value in doing these things.

I had an idea.  It quickly sprouted into a vision.  And when I started sharing it with other people the vision spread like wildfire.  Now it's everywhere.  Now we have full community support. 

The initial idea was to check with KYTC and make sure when they designed the new KY 213 project and bridge over Red River that they not shut us out from a future public river access.  They said “We can do that.  And you should check with Fish & Wildlife.”  I checked with F&W and found out they have a program for exactly what we need in Powell County: small boat access.

Eight miles below the proposed bridge is the Clay City Park which borders the river.  Somewhere between three and four miles below that is the aforementioned abandoned wastewater treatment plant which is still owned by the city.  The second two sites are a short walk overland.

And simple as that our community had a plan for developing access along Red River and reconnecting our communities with the river that they depend on for so much.

We now have a “Friends of” group with 120 Facebook members.  We've started planning a fall river cleanup and have a lot of community interest and support.  The solid waste contractor for the city has volunteered their services to haul off whatever we remove from the river.  Our state representative has pledged his support an help in our efforts.  He volunteered that.  We didn't approach him; he heard what we were doing and said he believed in it.

All of our elected officials are on board with this.  We have momentum and synergy.  It feels great to be part of something positive.  I can't take full credit for this, and I don't want to.  When I started talking about this the city councilman and another classmate of mine from the auld days asked what we needed to do to get this done.  I gave my suggestions and then encouraged them to take charge.  I have so much on my plate I didn't need to take point on another big project.  And I am happy to say they owned it.  They took it on and have begun moving this forward in ways I don't know if I could have on my own.

I planted a seed.  I gave a little water.  Now this beanstalk is growing out of control.  The more people that get involved the more energy we generate.  My only fear is that we'll run out of things we can do and fall into idle mode.  But I've already suggested that over the winter we should work on planning.  A planning document.  And maybe looking into more grant opportunities.

The most frustrating thing about all of this right now is that we don't own a boat.  The Chainring family wants to buy a canoe.  And maybe a couple of kayaks.

My hope is that a lot more families around here will want to buy boats in the next year.
Before and after shots of the take out site.  Photos were taken from essentially the same spot: