08 June 2011

Up a creek without a paddle

0939: Physical therapist puts a patch on my elbow that will provide an electrical impulse to reduce swelling around my ulnar nerve. I ask her if I can still run with this on. Worried that I would sweat the patch off, she wraps it up with blue tape. It has to stay on for two and a half hours.

1020: Back at my room, I begin loading my REI Flash 18 pack for my run: proxy, mil ID, knife, matches, Gu Chomps, and CamelBak Antidote reservoir. I also stuff four Gu Energy Gels into the pockets of my running shorts, and pull on my Injinji socks and Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove running shoes. I leave a note which says, "Running Falcon Trail->Stanley Canyon->Stanley Reservoir. RTN NLT 1400." I learned that from Aaron Ralston.

My route (roughly). 4.02 miles one way, according to Google Earth.

Aside - gear info:
The Flash 18 is my go-to pack: it's my rock gym bag, my weekend bag, my daypack, my carry-on, and my hydration pack. Paired with the Antidote reservoir, it's great: the Antidote's center baffle keeps my water from sloshing around, and the bite valve is the best I've tried. Tucking the hose through the loop on the shoulder strap and then under the sternum strap keeps it from flopping around. Injinji socks are my new favorite: they let my toes move independently, and prevent blisters like no other. I won my Trail Gloves from Running and Rambling, an excellent minimalist ultra-running blog.

1040: I leave the southwest stairwell of Sijan Tower. There's a Security Forces SSgt walking towards the ECP, an M16A2 slung across his back. As I approach, he turns and says, "Snuck up on me like a ninja." When you run in minimalist shoes, you run quiet. Which could be risky when you approach armed men from behind.

1105: Reach the Stanley Canyon Trailhead. Take a one minute break in the shade to hydrate, then set off at a run up the trail.

1123: Down a Banana Blitz Gu. Hydrate. Continue hiking up the steep and/or technical parts of the trail, run where I can. Pass four high school guys going fishing. "Is this the way to Stanley Reservoir?" "Yeah, but you're only about halfway there." "Oh, man..." I run on.

1148: Reach the reservoir. Take an 8-minute break, watch the minnows swim in the shadows and four mallards on a double-date: two drakes, two hens. Not a cloud in the sky - the aspens shine a bright green against the darker green of the pines.

1156: Head back down. Meet the fishermen near the meadow. "You're a monster. Are you training for the Olympics?" "Um... nope, just out for a run." "Well you should try out. Beast." "Have fun fishing!"

1209: Stop to take off the electric patch. No noticeable difference in swelling. Down a Chocolate Outrage Gu. Those are good. Hydrate.

1217: Stop to clear rocks from shoes - stepped in a slide of pebbles and sand. Shortly thereafter, meet two guys and two girls I passed on the way up. "Oh my, he's already coming back down! That's how slow we are." They clap as I go by. One guy, out on the outcropping, shouts, "Expletive, is that the dude?"

1228: Reach the trailhead. Press through, back on Falcon Trail, back towards Sijan.

1255: Reach Sijan. Walk slowly up five flights of stairs to my room. Make myself two peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Grab a Gatorade from the fridge. Answer emails.

Awesome run. When I asked the PT if I could go for a run, I'm not sure she realized I meant a two hour, fifteen minute trail run with 2,000 vertical feet...

07 June 2011


I never realized how tiring it could be to teach someone to ride a bicycle. Bending over with my hand under the saddle, running alongside, up and down the road - it's harder than I imagined.

But it is totally, completely worth it. To see the glow in that six-year-old's eyes, to see the smile creep across her face when she realizes that I've let go and she's still riding, to watch her take off on her own... it's incredible.

My parents told her about how I learned to ride, up at Indian lake. When she crashed, I told her that she was doing better than I did when I was learning. "Yeah, I bet it was a lot harder for you, since you were only five," she told me. Then she proceeded to tell me about the comic she read that morning, the tears gone and the smile coming. Then her brother rode up: "Did you crash?" And just like that, the tears came back. I kindly told her brother to keep riding, and asked her about the comic. Then she got back on the bike.

"Okay, here's what's gonna happen, mister. You're gonna hold me with both hands this time." She's pretty demanding for a six-year-old.

But I learned a lot: kids have to know you're there, that you're ready to catch them if they fall. Make them laugh, and their troubles pass. Give them compliments - honest compliments - and their confidence grows. Look them in the eye to make sure they understand. Get at their level to talk to them - either squat down or pick them up.

Later, when her mom sent her and her sister to get ready for bed, she saw a moth at the top of the stairs, and she's terrified of moths. Her parents told her she'd have to get over it, but she was paralyzed with fear. 15 minutes later, she was still standing at the bottom of the stairs, crying. I picked her up and carried her up, approaching the moth slowly. I squished it with a finger, and it flew away. I told her the moth was harmless, that it was like a butterfly, that it couldn't do anything to her - it was so scared it flew away. Her tears began to stop.

But her sister noticed the moth was trapped in a light. "Is it gonna die?" she asked as her eyes got wattery.

Now I didn't know what to do. If I said it wouldn't die, the one would still be afraid of it, and probably start crying again. If I said it would die - which was true - the other would start to cry.

So I said that it would probably die. I picked up the other girl, now crying, and told her it was just a moth, just a bug. "But God made it and he wants us to take care of it," she told me.

Now what do I say to that? With a hug and saying "It's ok," she stopped crying. Now both twins were calm and relatively happy, and ready to get ready for bed.

Again, I learned that kids need to know you're there, ready to help them. And that I won't always have all the answers. Hugs will help, but they won't answer the question.

My fiancée - the older sister of both of these girls - and I have been talking about our kids. We both want to adopt as many as we have biologically. She wants 8. I'm thinking 5's the max.

I've always wanted to be a father. I love kids. I love teaching them, playing with them, comforting them. But having my own... it's such a responsibility. And such a privilege.

It makes me nervous - am I ready? No. I don't think anyone is ever "ready" for a child - dealing with two crying twins taught me that. But I know that God has a plan, and He'll give us as many children as we can handle.

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3