Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Beginnings and a nice memory

The week started out great. I received an email from a climbing friend from work who spotted my name in the March issue of Ultrarunning magazine. I thought this was odd at first, since I haven't run a race since November...but this was the annual 2008 year in review issue. It turns out that my VT100 time was the 38th fastest 100 miler in the nation last year, and they recognize the top 100. I think there are over 50 100 mile races in the country, so that's something. I feel quite lucky to be listed among the top dogs in the game. I know I could not run that time now if my life depended on it :-). In ultrarunning every 100 mile course is very different, so you have to consider the difficulty factor. For example, Rocky Raccoon and VT100 had quite a few finishers in the top 100 times whereas Hardrock 100 didn't have any make the list, so it's not exactly comparing apples to apples. They make an attempt to do a weighting factor for each course, and list the top 20 weighted finishes. Needless to say, I didn't make that list. Anyway, it was cool to see my name listed, and it's something I'll cherish for some time.

It's been one of the busiest weeks of my life, but also a great one. I'm transitioning into my new job, so have been working mornings in the old job and afternoon (into evenings) on the new one. I'm hoping it gets better when I completely shed the old job, but I think this is wishful thinking on my part. The good news is that I managed to squeeze in a couple early morning treadmill workouts and the regular 8 miler with Goat on Saturday morning. I also managed to squeeze in a few rock climbs this afternoon, so all is not lost.

Another great note is that one of my new team members is a 3:10 marathoner and Ironman finisher. Finally, somebody on my team that won't think I'm crazy. I'm hoping we can get out for a run sometime in the future.

All in all, I love the new job. I haven't worked this hard in a long time, but I haven't enjoyed my work this much in quite some time either.

As far as running, I've been focusing on shorter, but more intense runs. I find that it allows me to maintain a high level of fitness despite having minimal time to train. I also find that it helps me maintain muscle and not allow my body to tear itself down. I'd still like to take another crack at getting under 3 hours for the marathon...that 59 seconds is still hanging over me.

Hmmm...maybe this Fall ;-)

Hope everyone had a chance to enjoy the good weather this weekend.

Have a great week everyone!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A New Chapter

Do you ever look at your life as a chapter book? There's the chapter on early childhood, then the adolescent and teenage years followed by college days, etc. With the inception of Facebook, we can all see the people from various chapters of our lives. I get a real kick out of seeing pictures of my friends from high school and college. Some look the same, some older, and some actually look better. Some old friends I don't even recognize.

I feel like a new chapter is beginning in my book of life. As you all know, I recently became a Grandpa...but other changes have happened recently as well. I start transitioning into a new job tomorrow at one of our business units. I'm really excited about it. On the flip side, Dawn and I are no longer in a relationship. While I think it is probably the best thing for both of us, I do miss her at times.

Life rolls on...reality hits me when I see a leak in the ceiling or hear my Grand daughter cry. There's laundry to fold, etc.

This week, I didn't get in much mileage to speak of...Goat and I did the loop at the reservoir, and I got in some shorter runs during the week. I need to make a more concerted effort this week...especially with the new job starting up.

Ahh, the new job! Yes, I'm going to be traveling about 1/2 hour from home for the same pay, and working longer hours, yet I'm completely psyched about it. I believe it's one of those jobs you always dream about... I'll be leading a team of engineers dedicated to reducing the cost of commercial fuel cells. Basically, we need to prove that this alternate to fossil fuels is a viable business in order for our company to continue investing in the product line. I look at it as my opportunity to help save the planet (including the squirrels...remember Cheri and the saving the squirrels!). I am really excited about it.

So, today I was pondering all this while rock climbing with an old friend and his pregnant wife. The funny thing is....these folks are from previous chapters in my life. Pete was a business associate from a supplier for many years, then became a climbing mentor and friend. Next, we were there to support eachother through divorces (first him and then me). His new wife, Christine, dated me for a short period several years ago as part of a previous chapter in our lives. Things didn't work out with us, but eventually they started climbing together, then dating, and now things have really worked out for them. She is now pregnant with their baby, and I couldn't be happier for them.

The weather was incredible today, and we climbed at one of my favorite crags, Owl's Lair. Pete is a great climber, but is not currently in his best climbing shape. Still, he managed to send the Enforcer (5.11), a very difficult climb. It's one of the Connecticut traprock testpieces, and I've only climbed it clean (without falling) a couple times in past years. Christine was climbing amazingly well for being 6 months pregnant. I was a bit surprised to see her climbing, but she did great with her full body harness. As for me, I was just happy to be there. Natasha woke a rattlesnake in a crack right next to me. It was cool to hear the rattle as I'd never heard one. The Goat and Seabiscuit made a showing, and we all had a great time.

On my second try at the Enforcer, I made it with one fall and was satisfied. I knew I had gotten it clean in the past, and could get it again at some point this year. It wasn't high on my priority list. I climbed all the routes that I wanted, and was starting to think about packing up. Then Natasha asked me if I wanted to take another run on the Enforcer. I figured it was good to get the work out in, but didn't expect to get very far. I roped up, and headed up the intimidating face. Before I knew it, Natasha was yelling, "Great job!" I was pulling through every hard move without any hesitation. Then, I let out a big, "Woohoooo!" when I hit the top. How sweet it is....

While it wasn't that important for me to get the Enforcer clean today, it sure made my day a little brighter. I haven't climbed this well in a long time, and it makes me feel good about some of the climbing adventures I have planned for this summer. We'll see how that part of this new chapter goes....

So, a new chapter begins tomorrow, and I haven't been this excited in a long time. There's no doubt it will be interesting. The work will be challenging,watching my daughters, and grand daughter grow will be fantastic, and eventually I'll find the time to do the other important things in life.

As a wise man, Rudyard Kipling, once said, "If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of distance run, then yours is the world and everything that's in it...and what's more, you'll be a man, my son." Here's to filling every minute!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekends should be listed in the dictionary as "a time to complete overdue tasks, a time to recharge your batteries, a time to regroup, a time to spend with friends and family, a time to travel, and a time to realize your dreams. Yeah baby!

I hope everyone enjoyed the great weather as much as I did this weekend!

I like to start the weekend by getting some exercise. In particular, I enjoy going to a Hot Yoga class on Friday after work. This helps me to get out the stress from the work week, and puts me in the right frame of mind for the next 2 days. It's a great way to kick-start the weekend. After yoga on Friday night, I watched "Slum-dog Millionaire" with my daughters. Impressive movie, thought provoking...I highly recommend it. I've been to India a couple times, and it sure seemed to show the India I saw while I was there. I wonder what Americans from India think of the movie.

Saturday - My friend, Scottie, and I went to the Gunks for some early season rock climbing. I couldn't believe we were climbing with snow still on the ground and ice on part of the cliff, but we had an incredible day. The Gunks are a special place. I grew up within biking distance and spent a lot of time there in high school. Now, I go there as often as possible for climbing. Considering it was our first day out for the year, we climbed some sporty stuff. Here's Scottie warming up on the first pitch of "Sixish" a popular moderate climb.I led a new pitch and Scottie led a pitch that I had never experienced which always makes it more fun. Here's a shot of my after pulling the roof on "Drunkards Delight", one of my favorite climbs.We climbed 10 pitches on the day which is less than half of my personal record of 21 pitches in one day, but still pretty darn good for the first day of the year.

Sunday - Goat and I had planned to meet for a long run on Sunday at 9AM. I was pretty burnt from climbing on Saturday, so wanted to sleep in a bit. Goat called me at 7:45 to inform me that it was really 8:45....Damn! The clocks changed...I threw on some running gear, filled a couple water bottles and jumped in the car. Captain Bill had inspired me by mentioning that he had clocked in a 15 miler last weekend, and I wanted to test the legs a bit. Goat and I headed for Hublein Tower, and I was amazed that I was able to run the steep trail to the top without walking. Hmmm...maybe I'm in better shape than I thought. The north side was really icy, so we opted to head back and do the standard reservoir loop. Lots of folks out running, walking, and biking. Great to see so many people taking advantage of the good weather. We logged 14 miles in muddy and icy conditions in a bit under 2.5 hours. The pace actually felt pretty good.

I sit here tonight relaxed and fulfilled. I didn't get all my chores completed, and I have to get my lesson ready to teach class this week. Like everyone there are issues to face in my full-time job, and a lot of time is dedicated to family, etc. It's OK though. It was a good weekend, and we just need to get through 5 more days to enjoy another one.

Hope you all had a great weekend, and are looking forward to the next one, and the one after, and ....


P.S. - Thanks for all the great feedback on the blog. I'm glad so many enjoy reading it. I'm thinking of changing the name of the blog from "Ultra Steve" to something more meaningful. I'd appreciate any input on what you think would describe the content of this blog in a few words. Post a comments or shoot me an email. Thanks!