Things nobody really cares about but I'll comment on them anyway

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fly Fishing Take us Away...

Carter and I escaped the household this morning avoiding the IPTIP (Intense Potty Training In Progress) at our house and headed for the river. We took the garbage and recylcing and then tried to erase the traumatic memories of yesterday's playground accident and ensueing multiple doctor visits that resulted in the loss of Carter's top two teeth. Every day on the way to and from school I drive over the Watauga River on a low water bridge and look at the downstream side pool to see brookies stacked up there and often rising in the calm slick just before a major cobblestone riffle. We parked after our other duties and got Carter casting on the water with a couple of different lures while I strung up. Thirty minutes and many untanglings later I finally got on the water myself. The brookies were somewhat interested in Carter's offerings but never quite enough to strike outright. There was a lot of chasing but I doubt he was ever aware of any of it. All he knew was that he was doing a ton of casting without results. I worked the riffles downstream with an almost immediate hook-up with a sizable fish that played itself along just long enough for me to get excited before spitting the fly. Repeated drifts through the run brought no better results. After about twenty minutes longer with Carter's interest waning and him sitting down to wait til I'd had enough the fishing turned on. In the pool below the bridge I got my second hook-up and Carter realed in the nicest brookie of the day. No sooner did we have him back in the water and cast over to the same run for another immediate fish-on. Carter realed this one in as well. He was a smaller but fiesty brookie that had taken the larger stone fly nymph at the top of the rig. I pulled in two or three more alternating between the larger #8 stone fly and the much smaller size 18 bead head hares ear. On the final cast of the day I snagged a nice sized brown from the upstream side of the bridge. He looked to be pretty hurtin' though with blood coming out of his gills it looked as if he'd sustained some damage from someone or something else deep down. My size 18 in the corner of this mouth couldn't have caused what I was seeing. I got him back in the water pronto, but I'm not sure if he'll last very long. He did swim away stong. Hopefully he'll hang on. As for Carter although a little bored at the end he did admit that he had fun just being outside.

Two handed trout almost makes up for two lost teeth
(not really)

The smaller fiestier fish for me!

Fa la la la la la la la la la!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Snow Day Ice Scouting with Carter

Carter and I snuck out to scout some ice on my way to work this morning. We are into our fourth Snow Day already and it's only December 1. The conditions have been pretty favorable lately to ice production so I figured we scoot up to Linville and have a look see at BLC. I must say I had predicted it would be in much more substantially. This really makes me wonder about Daughton. On our way back from the overlook Carter and I stopped to run up the Flat Rock Trail. The rocks up top were a little slippery but the views of Grandfather behind us were well worth it. We had done this hike for the first time this Summer on our way down to Asheville. It was fun to get out on it today in light snow conditions. Looks like we're in for a full winter if this weather suggests anything.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Friday was the end of the grading period and a gracious school family had offered up a free team building opportunity for our staff. Not everyone was interested but the few that were came along and we had a blast. The McCoury's own and run Scream Time Zip-Line and they showed us one heck of a great time. Their staff was courteous and professional which of course allowed us to act like the middle school students we teach. But seriously the whole experience was great. We started on the more standard tour which included riding six separate zip lines back and forth across a deep grassy ravine. The next to the last zip brought you through trees before finally zipping down to the barn. We were shuttled to the top of the mountain in the signature Swiss Assault vehicles that the family bought just for the purpose. It was a pretty wild experience, but like a great story the final chapter of our adventure really made the day. We were driven back to the top of the mountain where we took a short zip over to the whole reason to be there, THE SUPER ZIP!!! 800 feet top to bottom and the ride lasted almost an entire minute of flying through the air suspended beneath our double axled pulleys singing out our speed over the cables. Now that's what I call a work day :-)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hill Climbs and Bouldering Comps...

Another glorious weekend in the high country. Perfect weather for the 2nd annual Howard's Knob Hill Climb (2 miles of pure hill) on Friday. Conditions were perfect. Bluebird skies and temps in the low sixties to upper fifties. Wayne and I were the only ones that I personally knew to compete in all three of the Triple Crown events. The race actually had a pretty decent number of runners and I was surprised that more people hadn't been up for all three. It started making me think I had a real shot at something until I saw a few other people with the characteristically low bib numbers that designated early registrants. I put the target on a few runners and lined up with Wayne for the start. Even though I hadn't run the Knob since last winter, I still had a distinct advantage from driving up and down it every day to and from work. And the few times I had run it gave me valuable information on where to walk and where to pick up the feet again. I made it the first mile when the gravel regains the pavement and then kicks up at a serious enough angle to bring almost everyone to a walk. I got passed by a woman who always seemed to race at my pace in the other two races. This is one of the people who passed Steve and I like three times on the 25k before I finally reeled her in for good on the home stretch. No big surprises on the climb. A lot of steep walking and plodding jogging got me to the final rising curve where I was able to inject the energy saved on the last walking section into a pretty decent pace that carried me through to the finish. Amy and kids drove past on that final hill and I caught them just before the finish line which was great as Carter ran with me up the final small hill into the finishing corral. 23:05 ended up being just good enough for third in my age group of 30-39. Again you've got to love a small town race. Of course to put things in perspective the winning time was 15:58. All in all a nice kick start to the weekend.

Saturday was the Hound Ears Bouldering Comp. I always do the safety/medical standbye of this event as a representative of our Rescue Squad. It's always a fun scene where I get to see members of the local climbing community at least once a year. Over 400 people from all over the Southeast showed up to enjoy "SPLITTER" sunshiny weather and temps in the upper sixties. I had some help in the morning with one of our younger members and we ended up getting on a couple of the roped climbs for fun. Most of the time I just hung out in or near the upper parking lot with the shoe reps. It's the same group for the most part from year to year and it's always fun just hangin out and catching up with these guys. Some of the more dramatic problems are also just off of the main parking area so you get to see some hard problems pulled with some pretty impressive top-outs on relatively high ball problems. All in all it was a pretty chill day. Amy even got to bring the kids up this year and we let Carter and Gracen scramble around on some low boulders. They had a blast. The scene at Hound Ears has gotten progressively better year after year. As I was standing around it was fun to eaves drop on all the conversations about problems completed. But one guy came up totally psyched with a completely filled out score card. He was a pretty big dude and he came up very proud of his card. He was showing it to one of the judges I was talking to, dramatically pointing with cigarette in hand, to a V1 which was his major accomplishment of the day. I couldn't help but think, "Right ON!!!" This is what this comp is all about. Here's this guy who is totally psyched having a great time and has found enough V0's to keep him happy for the entire day. Of course there are some people throwing down some seriously hard problems in the V9-V10 range but for the most part the Spray Lords of the past seem to have either left the scene or at least mellowed out considerably. I'll bet that same guy'll be back next year pointing confidently cigarette in hand at his latest accomplishment of probably a V2 or who knows maybe even a V3 and will be just as psyched. Or maybe heaven forbid he'll just come back and do a whole bunch of V0's again. Either way the event will be the success it has become as a great fund-raiser for the Carolina Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund. And I'll plan on being there again for my annual dose of bouldering.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Welcome to the world of Middle School.

If you just read the epic post before this then you need to read this tid-bit. So it's Friday and my friend Dave has been back at school for about three days. He has his pics of the race to share with the kids who have been super supportive. I mean how could you not be impressed by a teacher you see everyday accomplishing such an amazing feat. (OK other middle school teachers don't answer this question) But seriously. It's the next to last class at the end of the day (the day where Dave is actually moving around pretty well and well on the road to forgetting the amount of suffering it took to get through his race except for those nasty heel blisters he occasionally bangs into his swivel chair feet) and admittedly the one that most of the teachers find the toughest crowd. Anyway Dave is rolling through the slide-show (I know slideshow but seriously it rocks) and he shows Steve Ahn and John Moore finishing and then his own shots of coming across the line when... One of the smart aleck boys pipes up from the back with something about how finishing after Steve Ahn must mean that he really sucks. HELLO. Welcome to the middle school. No story or experience will ever truly crack the shell of complacency from our under-experienced charges. Nothing like a "gentle reminder" that no matter what you do you will never be that impressive to a 13-14 year old adolescent male. I don't share this to diminish in any way Dave's accomplishment, but merely to illustrate the challenges that we often face even in our own sheltered small community. Likewise I don't pretend that I wasn't as cocksure and self assured in my own way at this age(OK maybe I wasn't as brave as this guy was to say out loud the comment that seemed ripe for the picking). Dave was a little hot when he escorted our young would be comedian to my room. After a short talk with our hilarious comentator I realized there wasn't much I could reason with. He thought he was being funny in a really awkward unappreciated way I'm sure. And much to Dave's credit we were both laughing about the young punk before we headed out for the weekend.
Moral of the story: If you ever need a dose of humility or someone to take you down a notch(deserved or not), just stroll on over to your nearest middle school and see what kind of reception you get from your average student. Just also remember you were once in their shoes.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Wild Wisconsin Weekend

Where to begin??? How about the beginning. Friday after school I ran in the Valle Crucis Cub fun run. It's a nice 7 mile course that begins and ends in the parking lot of my school. The weather was good if not a little warm. I went out a tad fast in the first mile but quickly started giving it up to a slower pace with each subsequent mile. After mile four when the real hill started I knew it wasn't going to be a stellar run. I had been killing this course with the Triabetes guys all spring long but hadn't run over 5 miles since May. It was showing. Regardless I managed to power walk the big hill and get back up to speed by the tip top of the course, then pull a Dave Shack accelerating over the last rise and over into the downhill. I was closing in on a couple of guys and finally passed one at the last aid station at mile six. I felt sure he would overtake me in the end, but he faded in the last half mile. I almost caught one more guy at the finish but couldn't quite work up the mojo. I came in at a slightly less than stellar 58:31 or thereabouts. Once again the lesser goal was reached (under one hour) but I realize that to have loftier goals (like a 56 minute pace) you need to make some training effort to achieve them. Se la vie. It turns out that my time was good enough for 24th place and a nice little medal for the top 25. You gotta love small town road races. All in all a fun course but I should have been a little better prepared. I also didn't want to push it too hard because I knew what was coming after the run.

After some free Bandana's BBQ at the end of the race I said good bye to Carter, Gracen, and Amy, jumped in the car and headed to Reid Stewart's house. After a quick shower we hopped in his car with his son Benjamin and hit the road for Madison, Wisconsin and the 2008 Ford Iron Man race our friends Steve Ahn and Dave Shack were competing in. These are the guys I've been running on and off with for the past year as they trained to compete as a team of 12 type one diabetics. I hadn't been planning on attending the race until I had been talking to Heather Stewart our secretary. She was talking about how bad her husband (also a type 1 diabetic) had originally wanted to be part of the team but due to some health issues had been unable to make it happen this year. She also mentioned how badly he wanted to be able to see them race. I too had a huge desire to witness this inspirational performance. After a quick discussion I told her that if Reid was up for it I would be interested in road tripping together to be able to catch the race. After checking in with the boss I was definitely in and within a few days Reid had committed. He also wanted to take their first grader Benjamin along with us who is also a type 1'er. I have to admit that the idea of a 13 hour road trip with a first grader did not sound like the best idea. However as the weekend went on I also understood how important it really was for him to be there and see all of these other diabetics accomplishing something so impressive while exercising control over their disease. And to his credit I don't know many first graders that could handle an 18 hour day of cheering on racers as well as he did. But more on that later.

Reid powered out 12 hours of driving while I tried to hang with him. I lost the battle a couple of times but got to spend some good time getting to know him better while Benjamin sacked out in the back. We made it to Chicago just past sun-up and after a classic Cracker Barrel road trip breakfast I drove us the last hour or so into Madison. We hung out with Steve and family at the house we were staying at. The organizer of the whole team Michelle graciously gave up her house so the Boonies would have a quiet and comfortable home base. It couldn't have been located in a more perfect location imbetween the swim/ run course downtown and the biking loop. After catching up with Steve and then Dave who had come over to pack their bags for the transitions I gave up and took a nice nap in the back. I don't think Reid ever got any rest that day. In the afternoon I woke up and we all headed over to a reception for the friends and families of the Triabetes Team. It was a quaint get together where we got to hear the whole story of how this had come about. Let's just say that as with so many other incredibly powerful things in our world it started as an idea in a coffee shop. And like those other incredibly powerful things what made it really happen was the people willing to see it through to the weekend we were all now part of. After the reception Reid and Benjamin and I drove around to scout out the bike course for the next day. We found some good hills to spectate from and the easy access points (something that would pay off big time the next morning). Then we headed downtown to make sure we knew how to get to the start. We crashed out relatively early psyched for the race.
Sunday morning came early but we were all psyched. Steve left early to get driven to the race. Reid and Benjamin and I rallied and got out the door and over to the start of the race just in time. We parked a little ways from the lake and rode bikes down to the waters edge to watch the craziness of 2200 people swimming the first of two laps unfold. It was insane and we slowly made our way over to the transition area to watch the swimmers begin coming out of the water. If you have never seen an iron man or a triathalon period the first transition was high energy and singular focus for both racers and a small army of volunteers who helped peel wet-suits off the racers as they emerged from Lake Monona. The crowd was packed around the transition and I ended up only really seeing one of the team make the actual transition. The rest had been lost in the hoards of people exiting the water. Reid actually saw Steve Ahn and I finally saw John Moore although I can't be sure if the announcer hadn't called out his name if I would have. We were both wondering if the rest of the team was still out in the water and started getting really nervous as the cut-off time for the swim of 2 hours and 20 minutes rapidly approached. We stayed until the last swimmer to make the cut-off made it in with no time to spare. If you have a chance go to youtube and type in "The last guy out of the water" the crowd was going nuts when he made it and was an energizing start to our day as specators. At that point we realized that we must have simply missed them coming through. In wet-suits and swim caps with goggles it was almost impossible to tell anyone apart. We saw a couple of other Triabetes fans and heard the good news that everyone had made it through the first leg and all in good time. We were relieved and headed back to the car to head out to the bike course.

Pre-scouting the course enabled us to get quickly to one of the better viewing spots. Reid and Benjamin dropped me off first so they could head and get some snacks. I biked down to a good viewing hill after immediately seeing the lead rider for the team Bill Carlson rip through the intersection. (Bill was the first ever diabetic Iron Man back in 1983) This was his sixth Iron Man and he was leading the team. I don't know what else I can say except Ok well nothing, just let that sink in for a minute). A full fifteen minutes later I started seeing some of the other team members roll through aptly named Bitch Hill. Finally I saw Steve Ahn come through. By then Reid and Benjamin had made it out to the course as well as the whole Shack contingent. We cheered Steve through and then the following team members. Steve looked so strong and spotted me immediately at the bottom of the hill. All of us were wearing royal blue Iron Fan t-shirts that said Triabetes on them but he was smiling and having a great time. I was astounded to see Steve about half way in the pack of team members ahead of Iron Man veterans John Moore, Ann , and a couple of others. I figured that John would catch him on the run after having had an epic swim start complete with a blood sugar so low he was falling asleep in the water. Shack came through about 30 minutes behind Steve. He looked solid and in control though he baerely responded as I cheered him on up the hill towards his family (This was not the first time I had experienced "Silent Dave"). He did give me a sideways glance with just a hint of a smile to tell me that he was a machine. That he was! All of the team was looking in control. We were getting twitter reports that one of the leading members was out of insulin but he ended up just fine. After the initial cheering on Bitch Hill we headed into Verona where a whole street was blocked off for the race. We got some local bratwurst and cheered on the riders as they flew through the flat section of the course. Eventually we caught the team coming through on their second laps before heading back to the run.

After a quick drive back to the downtown area Reid, Benjamin, and I got on the bikes again and rode in search of the marathon course. After a quick stop for a beer and snacks we caught up to the team in various places. Again everyone looked strong. At one intersection I saw almost the entire team pass including Dave. He was dealing with IT band issues and in a fair amount of pain but still had a smile on his face when he told me how much it hurt. I got to ride along a little with Steve and John who had met up on the run and had decided to finish together. They seemed in pretty high spirits. I was able to catch them several more times on the course including their final turn-around for the home stretch of about 7 miles. I never saw Dave again but his family was out there cheering him on . Later I would find out he was pretty isolated on the course as he power walked faster than most of the walkers but much slower than anyone running. We headed for the finish line getting there in time to see several of the Triabetes team run confidently through the tape. Most of them had their Iron Kidz training partners with them as they crossed the finish line. (each team member had been paired up with a diabetic kid from around the country with whom they kept in contact with thoughout the year of training) The finish line scene was high energy. The announcer really had his act together as each individual came through to the announcement of their name, home town, and often tidbits about their life. It was made abundantly clear as each person came down that although we were cheering on an amazing team that was accomplishing something so incredible and meaningful that there was no lack of touching stories in the other competitors. It was a heady emotional experience watching so many people accomplish the seemingly impossible task of Iron Man. I think intoxicating is not an exageration. My adrenaline never stopped pumping all day long. Out on the course I even found myself asking the innevitable "could I do this" question. The smiles on so many faces belied the truth of what it must take to push yourself so far and so long. But then there were also the looks of utter agony. I imagined that these looks were the same as the ones I had worn months ago pushing through "JUST A MARATHON". It snapped me back to reality a little and reminded me of the recent conclusions I had arrived at in my own pursuit of endurance events. But back to our heros. After a few other Triabetes athletes crossed the finish line here came Steve Ahn and John Moore around the final corner picking up their Iron Kidz and Steve finding Zoe. I must admit I almost cried just watching this over the shoulders and heads of the throngs of people lining the finish. Both finished in just under 14 hours just as the sky started to spit at the crowd and finally release a steady drizzle that was unable to quench the high spirits of the finishers or the crowds. Quite the accomplishment I'm told. I caught up with Steve as he walked with Ashley and the kids. I saw utter relief and total satisfaction albeit with quite the dose of weariness mixed in with his expression.

Next we turned our attention to Dave. A quick touch base with Nate let us know that they had seen him at the final turn-around and at his courageous power walking pace would probably be at the finish line in about an hour and a half. We caught up with John for just long enough to congratulate him on not only finishing but also officially breaking the Hiatt blood sugar curse that seemed to plague him whenever I either ran with him or in this case simply happened to be in the neighborhood. We took the time to move our car closer to the finish just so we wouldn't have to stand around in the rain. But then the rain decided to quit of its own volition. We rode passed the Shack posse on their way up to the finish. They were in high spirits indeed. After the car shuffle we made it back in time to see Dave Shack (with IT Band issues and now giant blisters to boot) make the triumphant final turn, under the Iron Man Balloon and through the finish line. Reids wife Heather had been following the race all day long and had been our update person via cell phone. She had set up her own personal Triabetes HQ in her living room with two lap-tops and two phones running non-stop. Ah technology. I could almost here her celebratory cries all the way from Boone as she and our principal Wayne had stayed up late to see everyone finish online.

Words do little to express what I felt watching these guys throughout the day. I have never felt so much a part of something I had so little to do with. I learned so much in the past year about diabetes, determination, the hidden powers within people, and commitment to a cause and all this as a spectator. I feel amazingly blessed to have witnessed such a performance from such incredible human beings (most of whom I do not nor will I ever know). If you are reading this post and know anyone with diabetes please spread the word about TRIABETES. Also please check out the posts from the actual athletes themselves. Steve and Dave's blogs are both linked to mine and they have the rest of their teammates linked through their blogs. Also keep your eyes and ears open for the Triabetes Documentary that was created about the team.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Loving Where We Live

My sister, brother-in-law, and a friend of ours all came up to visit from Raleigh this weekend. They had all come up this Spring for the Banff Film Festival and it was fun to have them all together again. Besides any time Carter's hero (Uncle Kevin) visits its's a big occasion. Despite the somewhat depressing reality of having to go back to work on Friday after a very enjoyable Summer break, we quickly rallied with a great evening out at Valle Crucis Park with a large group of our friends for some grillin' and good music. We got home just in time to beat our guests arriving from the scorching piedmont.

Saturday morning Kevin (brother-in-law), Bill, and I headed up to Ship Rock by way of Bojangles of course. The morning was cool and surprisingly windy as we walked the parkway to the climbers trail. We were the first ones up on the cliff apparently and had our pick of routes. We settled in on the upper tier for a windy jaunt on Edge of a Dream (5.7). As I got out to the edge of the arete the gusts were buffeting me just a bit. It definitely woke me up and got the blood pumping as I placed a couple of extra pieces of bomber gear before turning the corner. I remember thinking if it stays this windy I'm not sure I'm up for Boardwalk. Shortly after getting there another group started setting up on Lost at Sea (5.8) right next to us. We took a few runs on Edge then packed up and headed down to Buffalo Nickel (5.7). This was Kevin's first and Bill's second multi pitch experience. By then the wind had died down but I still wasn't feeling up to Boardwalk. So we enjoyed ourselves on B.N. It's a great climb for a first multi-pitch outing. The belay is bolted and has a decent ledgy stance. It's a real do-able climb with some fun exposed moves alternating into a dihedral that makes you not feel so far off the ground. The summit is gained through a small cave that's blocky and fun. It's always nice to share an adventure with good friends. Bill and Kevin took everything in stride. We did fairly well with rope management and I was doing my best to display good multi-pitch practices. As we were topping out though the weather started looking pretty iffy. There was grumbling thunder behind Grandfather and a passing cloud started to spit a little rain on us. We weren't really able to savor the summit in favor a a hasty but still safe descent to get out of the elements. The double rope rap to the ground was uneventful save that it was only Kevin's second rappel. We had made him rappel off Edge of a Dream earlier so he would be ready for the big one. He did great and seemed to enjoy the whole show. The grumbing thunder was a bit of a false alarm as the clouds blew past and we were soon under bluebird skies. But, time was flying by so after a quick tour of the upper routes we hoofed it out and back home stopping only to pick up some Mellow Mushroom Pizzas to share at home. (Thanks again Bill).

This morning after a big breakfast Bill, Kevin, and I headed up to the crag below our neighbors house. I've been wanting to get on this for over two years and today was finally the day. We set up the ropes and I rappeled in while Kevin and Bill hiked down. Our first tr set-up was a little to the side of the main route but we worked the route below our rope line. It was pumpy but had decent holds and Kevin and I were able to top it out. Then I shifted the anchor and we all got spanked on the very steep and extremely pumpy main route. We made the short hike back to the house a little humbled to find that my saint of a wife and my sister had lunch all spread out for us. Shortly after lunch the guests hit the road back to steamy Raleigh. Amy and the kids and I went for a short hike up on the loop and on our way back collected enough blackberries for a small cobbler. All in all a stellar weekend to savor the blessings of living in Boone.

Bill climbing up to the first belay on Buffalo Nickel.

Bill at the first belay.

Bill and Kevin at the first belay.

Kevin rapping from the top.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A little fishing a little bushwacking

I met Jeff Tuesday morning to check out Upper Creek near the Linville Gorge. He had fished the upper section just downstream of the lower falls by himself a couple of weeks ago when I had to bail on him last minute due to some home project chores. He said that he was fishing near a church-bus group that was raising quite a ruckus and had heard about a trail to a lower section a mile or so downstream. We both planned on just a half day outing but ambitiously thought we could fish the whole section all the way to the falls and so we ran the shuttle and jumped off at about 8 a.m. on the trail to the lower section.

As you can see the scenery was incredible. We were deep in an isolated gorge for the entire time. The water was cool but felt good wet wading. It was a seemingly endless display of small runs and riffles with a nice smattering of big pools every three or four hundred yards. We started catching fish right away on bushy dries. Most of the sections gave you one or if lucky two shots at a fish. They would strike on the first or second cast and might even chase a second presentation but let's just say that we missed alot of fish.

But about an hour in Jeff cracked the code with his freakishly large and gawdy cicadia pattern. His first cast into a decent sized run brought at least three or four fish out of hiding at the same time all trying to kill this thing. A few casts and missed strikes later he pulled out this beautiful brown. I quickly tied on a chernoble ant and we were on terrestrials for the remainder of the day.

Even the fishing spiders had figured out that this was the place to be

The day was beautiful. The stream a dream and we made slow progress up stream as each run and pool contained many fish to tempt us. A few hours in we decided to attempt to make more headway stopping only at the most tempting pools and runs. The wading was great although the rocks were slicker than snot. I had on my wading boots with studs and felt while Jeff had a decidedly difficult time wading in his Keen sandles.

We were still catching and landing little browns and brookies from three up to 8 inches. We missed some nicer browns but pushed on. The shots below were the last two fish I caught for the day in the same hole. I had been having trouble with the calm water pools. I kept spooking the holes on my first cast and then chasing fish up to the head of the pour in unable to entice them. In this last hole I was able to set up my cast by first casting downstream getting the right amount of line out and casting up to the head of the pool on the first go. The reward was a twelve inch rainbow. The shot below with my hands outstretched has the fish actually in the water in front of me after I dropped him while Jeff was setting up the shot. So I turned back to the hole and did it again and on the second cast caught the smaller rainbow in the picture below. I tried for the hat-trick but it wasn't meant to be.

Shortly after these shots we made a much more urgent attempt to move upstream. As pretty and inviting as the stream was wet wading was not a very efficient mode of travel when trying to cover some ground. Not to mention the very slick rocks we were moving over were constantly threatening to twist and sprain ankles. Finally Jeff found a small trail that paralleled the stream with some flagging tape and we immediately started making good progress. But almost as soon as we started moving we lost the trail and then ended up in the second part of our adventure. The Upper Creek Death Bushwack. The next few hours had us battling our way through rodo thickets and steep slopes. Mind you we were also hiking with fully strung rods. After two hours we finally gave up and broke down the rods to make the incessant rodo groveling a little more manageable. By the time we reached Jeff's car my shirt was completely soaked with sweat and I was definitely toast. We had originally planned on a half day outing figuring we could get out by 1 at the latest. We reached Jeff's car at a little past three. A nice little adventure to end my official summer on and a must do albeit with some slight alterations.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Gorge"ous Day Out

Jasyn and I got out to the ampitheater for a couple of the tried and true stellar routes. The Daddy and the Prow. Due to a lazy morning start and having to be back for Carter's last swim lesson we had to cut it short of the tripple crown, though we looked long and hard at either the Mummy or the 5.7 Sister Seagle to the left. The Daddy was in the shade until the top but we did bake a little on the Prow. We had the whole place to ourselves for the entire time passing a party fo three on our way out just past four o'clock. Here are some of the highlight shots.

Jasyn starting out and on the first pitch after the scramble on the Daddy.

The Ledge before the top of the Daddy.

Looking over to the prow and Jasyn on the first pitch of the prow.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back to Center...

We've been back from our Western Road Trip for about two weeks now. We had a great time hanging out with family and friends along the way. Check out more details at the family site. A few highlights aside from good time spent with my Grandma, Mom, and brother were our first visit to Moab and Arches National Park. There was a ton of snow in Colorado and the temps were still on the chilly side. Good thing we'd all only brought one pair of pants each for the trip. Hanging out in Frisco at Amy's brother's vacation house both ways was stellar. It actually snowed on us while we were there the first time. We did do some fun short hikes with the kids at most of our stops. Carter is a great hiker and really pulled out all the stops during our second time in Frisco when he hiked up to Mt. Royal overlooking the town. That was a pretty serious uphill slog for a four and a half year old. Arches was fun as well with short hikes out to some of the formations that the kids seemed to really get into.

The big awakening on the trip for me was the complete lack of motivation to do any running. It's not that I could blame this on anything but myself. I just started to realize that there were choices to make. I'm sure Amy would have watched the kids if I had really wanted to run, but I also wanted to get out and do some fishing as well. In short it would be pretty selfish to expect her to just take on the kids all by herself several times each day. So instead I chose to fish and just hang out as a family in general. We were on vacation. Another factor was that I didn't really have anyone there to share a run with or help stay motivated. By the time we reached Ogden I was feeling pretty slothful and vowed to get back on the stick of running. However after a paltry 30 minute run our first day there I couldn't seem to be able to psych myself up for it. Enjoying my coffee in the morning while Amy went out for a walk or a jog was just too nice to give up. As we worked our way back into Colorado I found myself wistfully looking up at the mountains wishing our timing was different and that we were able to indulge fantasies of climbing some of those peaks. Alas we just didn't have the time or maybe I'm just making lame excuses but whatever the reason it just didn't happen.

As we came back across the flatter midwest and finally home, there was alot of processing going on. The trip felt strange and awkward and Amy and I both struggled to put our fingers on the reasoning behind it. The conclusions I have come to deal with a slight imbalance in this past spring. There was running and almost nothing else. I was able to get out and climb with Jasyn a few days after getting back to Boone. It had been over a year since I'd been on the rock. We just did Hindu Cush at Ship Rock but as I was laboring through the awkward crux I was realizing just what the imbalance had cost me. I'm not saying I regret any of the accomplishments in the past year. I am recognizing that they did not come for free and that the cost of a well balanced mountain life is a hefty price to pay for them. I'm obviously no super man and in order to run distance it takes a fair amount of time commitment to train and prepare. I learned much in the process probably most importantly that it is not in me to get out of distance running what I get out of other activities and so it is time to shift back to balance. It's time to do some more climbing with good friends. It's time to go fishing so that as Jasyn put it, " We get to have a good time without dieing." It's time to do a trail run because it's fun not because it's part of training for something bigger and better. It's time to stop comparing the height of our mountains with those we came across on our trip and create my own adventures in my own back yard. There are plenty to be had. And most importantly to find those adventures that can be shared with my family which are equally plenty.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Morning Masochism

So I decided to try and hang and train with the big dogs the last couple of mornings. We met at Valle Crucis to run the Cub at 5:30. Did I mention I'm not really much of a morning runner. Actually I'm more of a warm cup of coffee on the front porch kind of morning person. I've always been amazed at Steve's and then subsequently Shack's ability to get up that early and then work out. So I figured it was time to try and step up to the plate.
Yesterday morning was surprisingly not that terrible. I actually felt awake and energized by the beauty of the predawn in what would be a great day. We started off and I was very impressed by Shack hanging with us on a pace quicker than his usual. He was with us until about mile four and then Steve and I pulled away together on the hill. When we crested out at the cemetery and turned back to pick Dave up he was already turning onto the final hill stretch and looking pretty strong. We joined up on him and all ran the last section. Then SHACK ATTACK, Dave starts accelerating up the last hundred feet of the hill up and over the rise and into the downhill. I was in cruise hill climb mode and he totally dusted me. I had to race to catch up. We finished just under a ten minute pace as OSTAF was pulling into the parking lot. All in all a nice run to start the day with and of course the cocky thoughts began to flow. Before I could stop myself I was suggesting the same thing this morning.
All day long I was feeling that run and beginning to wonder if another was a good idea. That afternoon Amy reminded me it was supposed to be raining and nasty. Steve and I talked on the phone and avoided the very tempting cancelation to wait it out for the morning. 4:45 came way too early this morning, and the sound of water running through the rain gutters only made me want to roll back over and go back to sleep. I dragged myself out of bed and got my stuff together. The drizzle was very light and mostly just overcast. After meeting Shack and riding together through town it started to rain. But when we pulled into VC it had stopped. Steve rolled in and despite all feeling rough we headed out.
I was flagging in mile one. We started out at around a ten minute pace Shack again hanging tough. After a mile or two the pace quickened a touch but I felt slower. Again Shack was with us until the hill. This time Steve tested at the cemetery and just as we were turning around to pick him up Shack was cresting the final rise. What a monster. We regrouped and headed into the downhill together. I was beginning the final fade now. As we turned onto Broadstone and the final half mile Shack opened up a 50 yard gap on me with Steve by his side. I started to try and do a mild increase but he was still accelerating. I had to sprint to catch up to him by the Mast Store Annex with 100 feet to go and it turned into a three way foot race. We ended up finishing two minutes faster than yesterday thanks to Dave. I don't know how he does it but he is obviously built for distances greater than seven miles.


Monday, May 5, 2008

VC 25k

A beautiful day to suffer. What a fantastic race. Beautimous weather, sunshine, cool breeze, challenging course, and of course diabetic drama. I picked Steve up so he could get a bike ride in after the race without leaving a vehicle. All was good until the pre-race test. 280 while a great score in sports such as bowling is not a number I think Steve was excited to see on the glucose monitor. We started the race all full of ourselves during the first mile of gently rolling creekside running and then the hill began. Apparently just having a blood sugar of 280 is pure joy in and of itself but when you add a nice anaerobic sustained climb for 2.3 miles well then it's just ectasy. Ninja plowed through the hill. At mile 3.3 we hit the first crest at Rominger Rd. Steve's test was 260. Not exactly good news. A short recovery period and we were climbing again. He was hangin' tough though and in fine stoic form it was easy to forget just how uncomfortable he must have been. A test somewhere between the aid stations showed a miniscual drop to 240. At this rate of decline he would still be around 180 at the finish. From here though the course was a gradual descent. We were actually able to catch the group that passed us at the second aid station. We would subsequently pinball and yoyo between this group of about 6-8 runners for the remainder of the course. Steve started to feel better and the course floated by as the views became more and more impressive. At the second aid station Steves test was 140. A drop of 100 points in just over twenty minutes. Let the roller coaster ride begin. He started eating shot blocks. By the third aid station at mile nine manned by a former student and her Mom, Steve's plummeting blood sugar had stabilized at around 114. Keep in mind he would have to eat shot blocks continuously just to maintain this level. Nothing quite like feeling like poop, running up hill, and then crashing mid-course, and having to force feed yourself gooey cheweys like it was your job. Around mile ten we hit the river road. The long gradual uphill on rough gravel. We picked up a chocolate lab who paced us the remainder of the run a solid 4-5 miles of playful energy at my side. Into the final aid station Steve tested and remained just above 100. He crammed down a whole package of shot-blocks six gummy squares plus power aid. Then we rolled out with a clear mission of recatching and passing the group that had just sailed through ahead of us. And catch them we did just as we got to the sneak hill on Watauga River Road. The cliff shot I had taken at mile nine kicked in here along with some inner drive as the grade increased. I geared down and it felt like I floated the last hill pulling just ahead of Steve. Of course at the crest I was looking down at not quite the downhill I had been hoping for. The lab stayed with me and I managed to stay out in front of the people I had just passed. I saw a woman about 2-300 yards ahead of me finishing strong and was very content to come through the finish line by myself. Steve was not far behind. All in all a beautiful day. Steve and I cooled down a little before he took off for his "light ride" up through Willow Valley. All in all a great run. I can't begin to tell you how nice it was to run with a friend for most of the course chatting away enjoying the views rather than singing lame songs to myself in my head to try and maintain sanity and avoid thinking about how stupid running fifteen miles really is. Sorry Wayne! Kudos to OSTAF for Off The Couching it. Yeah great idea to ride 25 miles the afternoon before ha ha. Although I don't know if I would have been able to finish a fifteen miler in 6 hours under your self imposed training regimen. I still say you would have been better off with a couple of frosty carbo-beverages and nachos. And you still think you're not sure if you could handle a marathon??? There's no question in my mind.

Dressed for the event

Just passed past the second aid station

Two goofballs at the mile nine aid station. Steve cramming down shot blocks

Our lovely mile nine aid station volunteers look on as Steve psychs himself up for yet another gooey chewey.

Now show me great internal angst and self loathing!!!