"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fancy a bit of a swim?

Why am I in a grocery waving a miniature Union Jack? You ask.
The answer is simple. Just sending a little love to Dave Cornthwaite and his team.
Dave once again had his passport stamped in the US. This time he is swimming 1000miles down the Missouri river. That's right swimming! He brought along a team with him this time to stand watch or more precisely paddle watch over him while he avoids all the dangers the river poses to a swimmer. The team is stand up paddle boarding on Lake Shore River Rovers (the same model Dave paddled down the length of the Mississippi river) and a Mad River canoe.
I've been following their progress and so far it has been interesting. They are doing this journey to raise money for Copp-a-Feel a breast cancer awareness charity.
Dave and the team still have a long way to go but they have grit as well as determination enough to see them through to the finish in St Louis.
You can learn more at swim1000.com.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cinco de Paddle-O: Preparing for the MR340

One in the morning there I was somewhere along the Missouri river between Jefferson City and St Charles, at some random boat ramp with my nephew Michael trying to get a little rest before continuing on our way.  Sleeping on concrete is always a bad idea because even though it seems warm at first, soon enough it will suck all of the warmth from your body along with your will to go on.  I swore I would never do it again after Berryman yet there I was.  As I lay there trying to get some rest going through the seemingly endless cycle of sleep, chill, wake I pondered the events that led me to this random boat ramp.

It all started with a Riverfront Times article in 2008 that ran with the title: Up Show-Me Creek: Blisters, hellish heat, a boatload of vomit and lots of painkillers. It's all part of the Missouri River 340 race.”  It seems like so long ago that I read that article that painted such a horrible picture of the race that runs 340miles from Kansas City to St Charles, Mo. At the time I happened upon the article I may have been in a kayak once or twice.  Beth had once suggested when I was in a fit of boredom that we go paddling in Grafton, IL.  I was down on the idea but since it was a better alternative than wallowing in the Sunday doldrums before returning  to work on Monday I reluctantly agreed.  We convinced Michael and his wife to join us and we all drove up to Grafton.

Once we got to the drop off point and out on the water though everything changed.  I was in heaven and as we paddled back down the river I had already made up my mind that owning a kayak would be way cheaper than renting one.  I had no real idea what the cost of a kayak was but I knew I loved being out on the water and if I didn’t buy one I would be wasting my money on rental fees every chance I could. Things didn’t quite work out that way though.  We rented kayaks a total of one more time, and that was it.  Kayaks were more expensive than I originally guessed, and finding the money was difficult.  It seemed like it would never happen.

When I saw the article about the MR340 I knew I had to do it, regardless of how awful it sounded.  It was a grand adventure one that I wanted to be a part of.  I showed my nephew the article and said we had to do it.  He agreed, and there it sat.  2009 passed and no MR340, 2010 was the same.  Now I had been busy doing other things in the time between, and the MR340 was constantly being put on hold.  In the interim however the word “adventure” was becoming a greater part of my life.  I competed in some adventure races and met some people who like me had outgrown the weekend 5k circuit and were looking for a real challenge, something with which they could test their mettle.  I even met some MR340 finishers.  I decided that 2011 was going to be the year!  If participation in the race was put off any longer it was certain to never happen for us.  I called my nephew and told him that we were really going to do it this time.  To my surprise he said that he had arrived at the same conclusion.  It seemed like nothing could stop us!  

I found a kayak on Craigslist, then a week later Michael bought a super crappy one from Costco.  We paddled together for a while and he eventually realized that he needed to upgrade to a better boat. My adventure racing friend Chuck decided that he was in too and arranged quite a few training runs for us.  Everything was on track.  We all had boats, and were training as much as we could. Then the flood came.  The message from Race Director Scott Mansker was like a punch to the gut.  The 2011 MR340 was cancelled because of unsafe river conditions caused by flooding.  Scott handled the cancellation like a true  professional, going above and beyond everyone’s expectations.  We were given vouchers for guaranteed  entry into the 2012 race.  So now it looks like 2012 will be the year, and it looks like nothing can stop us.  The flood did claim one casualty though.  Chuck will not be with us in 2012 since he has decided to train for an iron man triathlon instead.  Despite losing Chuck, a great training partner, Michael and I have carried on, continuing to train and move forward toward the goal of finishing the MR340.

That is what led me to this random boat ramp at one in the morning.  The concrete is so cold, I can’t sleep, and for a brief second I consider sleeping in my kayak but my behind is pretty sore from 16hours of paddling and I don’t think sitting in the boat would be a much better alternative than the concrete as far as sleep aids go.  

We have come a long way, not just today but in the years that led up to this, however the one thing we learned from our Cinco de Paddle-O adventure is that we still have a long way to go.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's My Excuse? I Don't Need One, and Neither Do You

Hey, I don't need an excuse and you don't need one either.  I always regret missing a workout (well not always if you know what I'm sayin').  I try to get them all in but sometimes I don't.  Who cares?

Yeah I know that people that are a lot busier than I am find time to get their workouts in.  I also know that there are people out there in way worse shape than me that get their workouts done, and there are people that struggle daily with one condition or another that makes their workouts monumentally more difficult than anything I do on a daily basis.  That doesn't mean I need an excuse does it?

What about you?  I don't know you.  Do you workout?  I hope you are getting some form of exercise because I think it is important.  If you aren't I won't ask "What's your excuse?".  I would like to know why though.  You might have your reasons but like I said I don't know you and I don't know what they are.

The Sweet Life

Yesterday I took some time to catch up on several tasks that had been halting my progress. Once finished with all my computer work I moved to a much nicer office and finished up with pen and paper. I also got some reading done.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ultimate Direction Fast Draw Plus Review

The following review was originally submitted to the June 2012 Red9Runners News Letter.

The hot humid days of a midwest summer have arrived making hydration more important now than at any other time of year.  As the mercury rises runners use every trick in the book to take in fluids while out in the heat.  Some stage water at strategic locations, others carry a hydration bladder on their backs, and some even carry a regular plastic bottle full of water with them.  There are many solutions but the important thing is to find a solution that works for you.

I dare you to find a better handheld.

For the past 5years the solution that has worked for me is the Fastdraw Plus handheld from Ultimate Direction.  I have been so happy with this handheld that I have never felt the need to use anything different.   I did have a handheld made by another company before the Fastdraw but it leaked and the valve was not easy to use.  On a recommendation from another runner I tried the Fastdraw and have never looked back.

The Fastdraw is a 20oz 100% BPA free bottle that comes with a Kicker valve and a hand strap with a small pouch.  The bottle itself is semi-transparent allowing the user to keep track of how much liquid is left in the bottle.  The hand strap is useful to help prevent fatigue when carrying a handheld and the pouch has enough room to carry a gel, ID, and a car key.  It will carry what you need for a medium distance run.  The hand strap and pouch are easily removed when they inevitably get gross, and can be washed with the rest of your running gear.  

ProTip: For days it is really hot fill the bottle a quarter to a third full and put it in the freezer the night before then top it off before you go for a run. 

The feature that makes the Fastdraw stand out from other handheld bottles is the kicker valve.  The valve is a soft silicone rubber bite valve that is simple to use and does not leak whether it is in the open or closed position.  Using the Kicker valve is easy, simply extend the valve to its open position bite down on it and squeeze the bottle.  The water or your liquid of choice really flows well, keeping you hydrated without missing a step.

If you are looking for a way to stay hydrated while on the run give the Fastdraw plus from Ultimate Direction a try.  Many people have told me that they cannot carry a handheld when they run, and at first I felt the same.  It was surprising how quickly it became second nature.  Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.  Like I said before I’ve been using these bottles for five years, and they have performed exactly as they should, truly the Ipod of water bottles.

ProTip: Invest in a baby bottle brush to clean the bottle and the valve,  and don’t forget to rinse the bottle after each use.

*I have no financial interest in UD and was not asked to do this review. Furthermore I was not sent a free sample to review. That being said If the good people at UD were to feel like sending me a little something as a thank you for writing this review like a free sample to give away I  wouldn't turn it down.

Storage for keys, a gel, or maybe both.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Something I've been working on

While I am out on the river paddling my kayak in the MR340 I thought I would take the opportunity to show everyone what I have been up to in my somewhat limited spare time.

The raft was supposed to be floated with four inner tubes underneath but while I had the tubes sitting in the yard two of them burst for reasons unknown.  Since I can't trust the tubes out on the river (yes this is being built for a Missouri river adventure) I will be using plastic barrels instead.