Saturday, April 21, 2007

Short Story, Hard Fall; New Vistas

Well, I haven't fallen for about a year on a trail run. All I can say is, "it was about time, and maybe long overdue."

This morning, while showing two newbies how to run on trails without falling on their asses...I fell. I fell real goooood, too.

I was on the "Eddy Trail" at Kill Creek Park, in the section with the most sharp rocks frigging possible...I looked down from the cliff to see a large owl in a tree..."ooh, how cool"...CRASH! My foot wedged under a rock, and I hit the rocks like a sack of sh!t.

No real harm done: I had a bleeding gouge out of my right palm, and a huge knot on my left elbow and left wrist. I continued the run and used it as an example as to why not to get flippant and take your eyes off of the trail without stopping, first. I'm still okay to do my long run on Sunday.

On another note - My son just loaded MS Vista on his laptop. He spent all of Friday trying to get it to work right, and to use I-Tunes. He's not real happy with it. He put it quite succinctly, I think, when he stated: "I get the feeling that I just loaded the largest virus known to man onto my poor, unsuspecting computer."

Peas out, homelies,
Bad Ben

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rectum? Damn Near Killed 'im.

Tonight I led a Tuesday night trail run at SM Park. It ended up being S & M Park, though.

I had some inner-thigh chafing on last Sunday's long run. I mean I actually wore my skin out to the point of bleeding. I haven't had that issue rear it's ugly head in quite a while, so it must have been a combination of sweat/clothing and circumstance.

Soooo, for tonight's run, I decided to "lube up" with the Sport Stick...or so I thought. I had it in my kit box in the back of my vehicle, (and it was nearly dark). It turned out NOT to be lube. It was a little lube-stick-like product container that applies in an identical manner, but was DEFINITELY not lube. It was a "sports injury" (muscle heating) product. Needless to say, once I had applied it to my chafing scabs, it was hotter than Hell. And too late. And it spread. Yes, it spread to other parts and pieces during the run.

Ultrarunners are used to a lot of pain dealt out in heavy doses over long periods of time. I knew I'd be okay, I just had to "ride it out." I don't think any one else realized I was in pain...I held many a conversation and even had fun during the run. I just blocked it out of my mind. And yes, about 2 hours after my shower, the sensation was finally gone. (Or maybe I've lost all feeling from my waist, down).

Lesson for today: Read your product containers before use!

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Friday, April 13, 2007

And So it Goes...

On Wednesday, April 11th, a wonderous voice and author fell silent.
And so it goes.

Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007

I read a lot of books in my youth. I would stay up past 3 a.m. many times to finish a good book. I stumbled onto my first Kurt Vonnegut novel at the tender age of nine. I couldn't get enough of his material, especially where I lived at the time, (on Air Force bases). So when we went to "town," I would scour all of the libraries and used and new book stores for his books. My mom didn't mind; she always encouraged my reading habits. Little did she know that "Science Fiction" and other genres of books might contain the word "fuck" in them, or promote differing / off-kilter views on life, the universe, and everything.

This man had a lot to do with how I turned-out as a "thinking" adult. So you can partially blame Kurt Vonnegut for this pile of conscious meat called "Bad Ben."

I will leave you with some Kurt Vonnegut Quotations:

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004

1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.
Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
Kurt Vonnegut

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.
Kurt Vonnegut - More quotations on: [Criticism]

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut

If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.
Kurt Vonnegut

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
Kurt Vonnegut

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
Kurt Vonnegut

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!
Kurt Vonnegut

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Cat's Cradle"

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004
- More quotations on: [Television]

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004
- More quotations on: [Television]

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

Humor is an almost physiological response to fear.
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
Kurt Vonnegut, Cold Turkey

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

During my three years in Vietnam, I certainly heard plenty of last words by dying American footsoldiers. Not one of them, however, had illusions that he had somehow accomplished something worthwhile in the process of making the Supreme Sacrifice.
Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
Kurt Vonnegut, Interview,

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.
Kurt Vonnegut, Novel 'Hocus Pocus'

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse V

How nice--to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rockin' K: 6-inches of Snow, Camping at 15 Degrees F

Wow. The Rockin' K trail Run.

Every year that I've shown up for this race, the weather has always been a factor. We've had "the wind year," the "rain year," the "heat years" and now the "snow year." Record cold temperatures made for an interesting trail run, and a fun time camping, too.

Kyle, my son and I decided to carpool to the run and camp out. We left about noon on Friday. Kyle had trained well and was looking for a decent race. Matt was going out to just get away from town, and to help crew us during the run. I was just looking to finish the damn 50-miler for once, rather than opting for the marathon option (like I have for 3 tries in a row). I haven't completed the 50 for 4 years. It's usually due to a pre-existing injury or illness, but this year I went to the race feeling fit and fine, for once.

Many Trail Nerds showed up for the race. The list was large:

50-Mile Starters:
Kyle "Famous" Amos
Greg "LeCompton Gee" Burger
Gary "Dam" Henry
Bad Ben
Willie "Ya Shoe, you betchyou" Lambert
Rick "Hyperbolic" Mayo
Paul "Chatterbox" Schoenlaub

Trail Marathon Starters:
Gabe "Buff" Bevan
Ed "Silver Bullet" Payne
Josh "by Gosh" Pool
Sarah "Forgiven but Still" Sinning
Krista & Richard "Cutest Couple Ever" Stigall
Julie "Swiftfoot" Funk

Caleb "Gumby" Chatfield
Matt "Coffee Whore" Holmes

Caleb is recovering from an injury, so in lieu of running, he was pitching-in to help Phil Sheridan at the main aid station. He's a true-hearted Trail Nerd. You can always count on Caleb to help out, whether or not he's running in a race. His dad Lonnie is always a big help, too.

My son and I took Friday off from work. We loaded up the rig, and Kyle showed up around noon. After a couple of in-town diversions, we rambled off on our 3-hour westward jaunt to Kanopolis State Park. Around Salina or so, we started noticing this weird white stuff on the side of the road. SNOW!!! There had been record cold temperatures, and it had snowed in this part of Kansas. We also found out when we arrived at the park, that it had snowed 6 inches on our course! This added an extra ingredient to the mix, for sure.

A preview of our course from the car window.

Sunset. Photo by Matt Holmes.

We were once again fed a delicious spaghetti dinner by Stacie Sheridan and her daughter, and had our little "trail talk" from Phil. After some good conversation, we decided to hit the rack and check out how cold the tent was going to be that night. I think we all slept okay, but I did have to get up at one point and put on another layer, and lay my coat on top of my sleeping bag. I also had a chance to see the stars in all of their glory that night, and listen to the coyotes sing.

The next morning I awoke with ice on the outside of my sleeping bag (from my breath). Must've gotten real cold. Actually, it dipped to 14F, that night. Kyle and I got ready and went through our normal pre-race routines. I decided to wear a thin layer of Capilene long underwear under my shorts. I might regret it later, but I could always take them off...right? We got up to the start/finish shelter early enough to find a close spot to park the Element. After another "Phil talk," we were off.

And we're off! Photo by Matt Holmes.

The course started out with the breaking of new snow, and the mud was frozen solid, so there wasn't much slipping going on. I got into a nice pace and held it. I ran with Willie and Julie from Topeka for a while, and had a good time talking with them. At a couple of early (low) water crossings, I pulled up my thin layer of long underwear to my knees. Willie asked if I was wearing "men's Capri's" at one point. I told him that I was a trendsetter, and he should probably carry them in his Topeka Running store. When we got to the manned aid station for the first time, I got to see Caleb. He was helping all of the runners. I opted for a little bit of mashed potatos, and they hit the spot, believe me.

From the aid station we went out toward the "Big Bluffs" loop. On the way there, we had to straddle some barbed wire fence, and slog through some 20-inch high drifted snow. Big Bluffs. As Gary "Dam" Henry describes in his race report, this section consisted of "three gnarly ascents in a short distance that require you to pull yourself up with your hands, using rocks, trees and cuss-words." Going down the hills requires some finesse, in this section. The views and scenery in this section were awesome, though.

After Big Bluffs, you head back in to the only manned aid station. Caleb fixed me up with some mashed potato and noodle soup. Once again, it hit the spot. Heading out from there, the course started to thaw in the sun. Sections were now getting slick with mud and fresh snow melt. In one of the downhill sections, I slid for about 10 feet (but stayed upright), and came to an abrupt stop with my right foot on a big, dry rock. My right foot could not be bent without pain, from that point on. I thought, "great, 8 miles to the main shelter, and my right foot doesn't work." From that point on, I tended to favor my other foot more, since I had no push-off with the right. I slowed considerably. Somewhere along here, Julie "Swiftfoot" Funk passed me like I was a rock or tree. She was finishing very strong indeed, in her first-ever marathon! (What a 'thon to pick for a first). Gary Henry, Dann Fisher, and Bart the Ultra-Dog passed me about there, also.

One of many water crossings. Photo sent by Gabe Bevan.

The last few miles have some interesting water crossings. The deepest one hit me slightly higher than my belly button, (and I'm 6-feet, even). It's also tens of yards across, and has shoe-sucking mud on the bottom that feels a lot like quick sand. I knew it was coming, so I was mentally prepared for it. I was still fearful that with the combined cold of the water and air, my "body parts" might retract like landing gear into my body, never to be seen again. To hell with "shrinkage," this was "private parts terrorism."

Gabe crosses "the deep one." Photo sent by Gabe Bevan.

After that crossing, I knew that I was only 2 miles from the finish. My foot had stopped hurting entirely (due to being completely numbed by the cold), so I could manage a fairly decent pace again. I ended up running in with 3 others, and finished the marathon in 5:45 or so. I thought about continuing on another loop to complete the 50-miler, but after taking my right shoe off and checking the functionality of my foot, I decided to cut my losses. (As it warmed up, it hurt like hell). The rest of me was fine though, so fitness wasn't an issue. It was a good decision. I have a busy running schedule, and I don't want to jeopardize myself pacing my buddy Patrick at Western States, this year...especially since he's funding my trip there.

I hung around the finish line and got to see the 50-milers finish. Tom McCullough (sp?) was 1st, and Paul Schoenlaub was 2nd, overall. Kyle was a little further back, but had a decent run. Ed had left me two "special" beers at our campsite. I sipped those while watching runners come in.

Julie Funk Finishes her first marathon and looks Stong! Photo by Matt Holmes.

Kyle Finishes the 50-Miler. Photo by Matt Holmes.

Dann and Bart. It was Bart's first 50-miler. Photo by Matt Holmes.

My son drove Kyle and me back to town. We stopped in Salina along the way at a restaurant called "Nacho Mama." Of course, we had to order nachos! We also stopped at a gas station, where my son remarked to Kyle that running from the car to the station's door was probably the only footrace he could beat Kyle in, due to his haggard condition at the time. Some tunes and comedy kept us awake for the drive home.

Once again, despite all of the difficulty, this is one of my favorite races to run. What makes it special is the Sheridan family, KUS, and the volunteers. And as an added bonus, the course is beautiful and challenging, as well

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Tres Nerdos Amigos: Rick, Gabe, Caleb. Photo by Matt Holmes.

The Shelter's Fireplace. Photo by Matt Holmes.