Sunday, February 27, 2011

Webelos in Colorado Springs USAFA

For those that are not aware I am an assistant leader in troop 317. We are the Phoenix Patrol and we have 16 active boys in our den. Our leader is Brent Hinkston and his drive and passion for service to the scouting program is amazing. We have quite a schedule for our Webelos this year and a visit to the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs was this months adventure for the Scientist activity badge.

(Cadet Chapel 17 spires 150 ft tall made of aluminum, glass and steel)

This was the first time on the Campus of the USAFA for the 3 of us and as we made the drive up the road past security to the visitor center we were impressed with how neat the campus looked on the mountain side amongst the pines. We were greeted by Colonel Beal who despite having a bad cold took us on a tour of the campus grounds including the "Cadet Chapel" (the most popular man made attraction in Colorado) and then over to the annex building where they have the Science and Astronautics school. We were given a tour of the control center where two active satellites are being controlled. Fact that I did not know...It take a satellite 1.5 hours to orbit the earth...

(All the boys at the Cadet Chapel with Colonel Beal)

(Inside the Cadet Chapel at the USAFA in Colorado Springs)

We then were entertained in the labs by fire, liquid and all sorts of scientists mayhem. The boys loved every minute of it and were awesome for the 4 hours we were on campus. Colonel Beal had several student assistance that help the boys make crystals, do several experiments and have a hands on experience with very intelligent students. I was somewhat jealous of the activities that they had planned and really was impressed with the effort.

(Pictures of some of the Cadets that helped us today)

Nearly 1000 students are accepted to the academy a year so the campus is very small compared to other collages across the US. We were able to pass the dorms where they live and see just a glimpse of collage life as a cadet at the USAFA. I have taken several pictures just to remember how great of a day it was and to thank those that made it happen.

(Josh with safty goggles a PRE-Cadet at the USAFA)

(Colonel Beal working on the Scientist activity badge)

Thanks Colonel Beal hope you feel better and to your staff and assistance.
We all appreciate it.

Sorry you missed this one Anne,


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Red Hot 55K in Moab Utah

(The gang before the start)

Trying to rap my arms around the idea of running an ultra marathon distance event before I raced a marathon was different and for me it worked. Last year I accomplished a 24 mile Moab Utah trail run and I had a blast doing it. A good mix of fun friends, radical challenge and wonderful scenery made it something that I for sure wanted to do again and improve on. The idea was thrown out at a party and the idea caught on and this weekend 13 friends competed in the Moab Red Hot 55K and 33K trail race.
The training during the winter was different for me since it was the first year I really had any goal to work towards in the off season. The other major bonus was that Anne was going to run with me. Long runs on Wednesday mornings, Red Rocks and the 4 big runs that we did made the training a journey that I was really able to enjoy. I wanted to see if I could adapt to long runs and get good results from them.
Race week was fun watching the weather change from blowing snow to rain to really cold back to snow. We loaded everything we would use for all conditions and headed down to Moab. The kids were excited to be on a trip again and after finding out that the condo we rented had a hot tub they were super excited to get on the road. Liz, Tyler, Sam and Jonah with a late arrival of my Dad made the stay really fun. I however came down with a pretty bad head cold a few days earlier so I was not as perky as I usually would like to be the day before the event.
Race morning started with the sound of rain outside our window and a body that just wanted to stay in bed. I talked to Anne the night before we went to sleep and I decided that I would feel bad staying in bed or at the condo just like I would feel bad running so I would try to run regardless of how I felt and just deal with it. I even put a plan together at 18 miles to turn back if it got too bad. Plus I wanted to see if I really could last in bad weather, sick and not on a prime day and today was defiantly that day. I put my clothes on and my Garmin HR monitor and watched it settle at 15 BPM’s above normal. Here we go!
The start and pre-race Ultra style is really chillin and relaxed. People are talking and being social and not a lot of drama is going on around us. We took a few group pictures and cheered to rally those around us and to our surprise it worked. The race started and off we went running straight up a mountain.

A picture of the start as we rounded the corner to start climbing

We were in the back and at the first picture spot were second to last. I was running with John, Keith and Beth and we had a plan to take it out slowly and build and have a good second half to make the whole day a sucess. As we finished the first climb I looked at Beth and realized she did not mean that slow and so we settled into a good “working” pace for the next few hours.

(A picuture of Beth, John and Keith at the first climb)

(Its hard to see but you can see the cars from the start and the trail way, way below)

Aid station number #1 was out of water by the time we arrived and I worked hard not to worry and relax. I have been working on taking the right mix of nutrition and did not have any water left when we arrived. Keith gave me one if his 20 oz bottles and I made that last for the next 5 miles until aid station #2. We really did well as a group and keep each other motivated and after about 7 miles started to pick people off and enjoy the day rain, wind or whatever the weather ended up being for the moment. We found Beth’s friend Laurie and the two of them keep us entertained for the next 2 hours. We had a great rendition of “Mandy” and some other Barry M hits. The only thing is the pace kept creeping up and after 18 miles I let the group know that we had made it to the point where anyone could take off and have the day they wanted. A few minutes later Beth and Laurie were off the front and John, Keith and I were happy to let them go. We had a huge slick rock climb and spent the next 30 minutes walking straight up hill. The three boys separated about 50-100 feet from one another and had our own quite time.

John and Keith on the huge climb of the day doing our alone time!

I was feeling ok at this point and really was pleased with how the day was turning out. I was good on my water intake and my nutrition was also working for me. I passed my bailout spot and kept going and was proud of the decision. I took my Garmin off my wrist and put it on my backpack to avoid looking at it and decided the day was going to be what I made it regardless.
To this point it had rained on us, the wind was really aggressive and so when we reached the cliff top of the first climb I wanted to take pictures of us all we had some in the group very concerned about being so close to the side with the wind blowing so aggressively. This day was also different because 30 minutes after we started Anne, Jewels and Nancy started the 33K. My wife was running a race at the same time that I was which was a Walton first. It was fun to pass the 5 hour mark thinking that they would be close to finishing. I hoped that Anne had a good experience and later that day I learned that she rocked the race course and everyone did really well in her group.

(Nancy, Anne and Jewles)

I kept my head down and kept trucking up the hill and just a bit later I could see the top of the climb with a much needed aid station. 22 miles done and a shirt change was in order along with some treats. The wind was blowing something fierce and so I did not stay long and told Keith and John that I was going to start going down. I wanted to have some more alone time and decided to put in my Ipod and see if I could get through the next two hours without hurting too bad.

(Me on top of the huge climb with the Colorado river in the background)

I started the decent and had Keith close and so I told him I was plugging in and would be on my own for a bit. He was working a blister and we did not see John so it was ok and I took off. I started to run down hill and realized I felt good. I mean that I really felt good like I have never felt this way after 5 hours of running before. I did not know what to do except just let it go. I started to lengthen my stride and pick up pace. I would walk the hills and run the flats and downhill’s and for the next 5 miles I mostly had downhill’s. I found I felt good, the best I had felt all day and so I did just what my heart told me to do and I ran, FAST. Just 3 songs later I saw what looked like Beth and Laurie with a few others and by the end of my 4th song I was right behind them. I did not slow down but had a funny exchange and keep running. Beth and Laurie were on my heels just a few seconds after I appeared and the 3 of us were running fast as a group. Beth warned me that it would not last and I should slow down but I did not care and just wanted to keep going. I kept myself plugged in and for the next 5 songs felt awesome, then slowly reality started to show up and by the time I hit the aid station at 29 miles was out of magic dust and my tank was empty. The volunteer at the last aid station said one more mile of climbing, one mile flat and three downhill to the finish. At the top of the climb Beth and Laurie agreed that we would finish together but the pace kept rising and by the time we were done with the flats I started to cramp. I asked them to finish and I would come in at my own pace.

(Our fearless leader pointing the direction to go!)

I walked and drank and walked and drank for the next 15 minutes and then started to feel better. A few minutes later I could hear the sound of cheers and I felt close to the finish line. I looked back to see Keith just above my one turn and yelled for him to catch up so we could finish together. He started to say I needed to go because he was so tired and just as he finished that comment we rounded the corner and saw the finish line and ran in together. Beth and Laurie had come in 10 minutes earlier and Anne and my Dad had not made it to the finish line so for me it was a buzz kill. It was not about the finish but the journey and today I had quite a journey, one that I will never forget. 55K (33-34 miles) 6700 ft of elevation gain and a full and happy heart, I get why people do this sport.
The day was great, when I got back to the condo I was greeted with the sounds of laughter in the back yard. I passed in a very limping manner the front door and walked to the back yard and as I turned the corner I saw my 3 kids splashing and having a blast in the hot tub. They stopped just long enough to ask how the race went and then were back to playing what ever made up game they were playing before.
I wanted to see if I could do a long distance event and have good time and perform well and I felt that I did. I now feel like I can do long distance events and look towards the future for the next epic journey. I have a plan that required a good result in Moab this weekend and with all the challenge with health and weather and still getting it done was a big huge success. Remember I pay to do this, I came home with a tee shirt, pictures, LOTS of stories and a burning fire to keep going. Bucket list caliber of weekend for sure.
Beth, John, Keith, Nancy, Jewles, Heidi, Andrea, Steve, Randy, Anne, Andy, Jackson, Josh, Lexi, Jane, and others thanks for being a part of this journey with me. I loved the training days and the end result. My Dad told Anne and the girls that because the weather was bad he would wait for a bit in case they wanted to turn around….When the fire is burning within it really does not matter what conditions you are in you just keep going one step at a time, collecting memories that will last forever.
I love you Anne you are my sunshine!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Mary Jane/WP State of Mind

For the past 5 years I have been getting 1 to 3 of my children in the car with games and toys and snacks to keep them happy on the drive to the ski resorts. The past few years Anne has come with me and so it was a family ski day almost every Saturday. I am proud to say that I never paid a dollar towards ski instruction and took that task on by myself (brothers included).
I started with Jackson and we were excited to come home and tell Anne of the gains that he had on the day. For nearly 3 years it was just the boys while Anne and Lexi would stay home and miss out on the fun.


Anne came up "just to try" and found out she was pretty good and could ski the beginner hills. I was told by ski patrol the following season I could not carry Lexi and she needed to ski on her own. This actually happened at the top of a lift in the afternoon while Lexi has fallen asleep on my shoulder.
The next season we started our 3rd and final skier and she picked it up just as fast as her brothers. Jackson and myself transitioned to snowboarding and started again on the beginner hills after learning from some YouTube videos moved up the the blues and just last week took on our first black on snowboards. I told Jackson he could switch years ago once he could ski any run on the resort. I promise I took him down some pretty radical runs to make sure he was able to ski anything and he killed every run.

Rockstar 1-Rockstar 2


This year is almost half over. We have finally found equipment that is the right size for Anne and now she is rocking the hills. Lexi is all on her own and so the family last week skied together in the morning and had a blast.


The new chapter for me came in the afternoon when the older kids wanted to go ski and board the harder hills. For so many years I stayed behind and sent Jackson or Josh with them while I was with the younger kids. Not this week, I was able to go with the older kids and we went to the rail park and had a blast all afternoon. This was such a joy for me and to know that I now have the rest of my life to ski with my family is AWESOME. It is hard to put into words how I feel about family ski day and how hard the past has been and how sweet the future looks. I figure that I will work hard over the next few years to put it into words every time I have an epic day but be warned I expect many of them in my future.
Go team Walton!!!!

Love you Anne,