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

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Patrick Albert: Adventures in Metaphor

This video captures a brilliant moment in the history of, well, me.

When we are presented with an obstacle or challenge, as easy as it may seem to overcome, it is necessary to maintain a proper balance in order to do so.

That's a metaphor in case it was lost on you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Struggle: Truth Behind the Lies

If you watched my last video you may remember that I laid out a plan for the coming week where I was going to hit the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  The plan was to also clean up my diet a bit and start eating healthier.  

None of that actually happened.

When I made the video I really meant what I was saying, and at the time, in that state of mind everything seemed on track.  What happened?  I'm not sure exactly.  A combination of things I guess.
I was honest at the outset when I said I struggle with fitness.  Don't we all?  I know there are people out there who work harder, and have more stacked against them than I do, and yet they still make it to the gym or fit that run in where ever they can.

But let me tell you something about that.

Just because someone else has it worse than I do, doesn't make my struggle illegitimate.  If that argument has any validity at all then there can only be one person in the world that is worse off than everyone else and thereby gets a free pass to make all the excuses they want.  I imagine that person has never seen a gym though and their chief concern is probably where to find clean water on a daily basis.
While I meant what I said in the last video, I feel bad for not following through.

On a positive note, I have been more active in other pursuits.  I've been land paddling, SUP'ing, running, and cycling.  Although on the run last night I strained my calf again so I won't be running until it heals.  I should have known better than to push it when it was already tight.

My diet is also coming along.  It's not great but I have reduced portions, and replaced some of my go to snacks with healthier alternatives. 

Here is something I am proud of: It has been four and a half months since my last Dr Pepper.  I've been tempted a few times where it was really hard to resist.  The strongest pull was after I cut the piece of my thumb off.  Leaving the ER I really wanted to stop at QT and get myself a Dr Pepper, after all I had just been through a traumatic experience and deserved a treat.  Luckily I came to my senses, and my resolve held.  If it hadn't I'd probably back up to three or four a day by now.  

I wish I could apply that resolve to other areas of my life.

So in summary:

  • Lies
  • Guilt
  • Struggle
  • Activity
  • Pride
  • Hope

  Oh Yeah, I actually did make it to the gym yesterday here is proof!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Land Paddling

Yesterday I did a little Land Paddling, and decided to make a short video to show everyone what it's all about.  Land Paddling is cross training for Stand Up Paddle Boarding but it is also a fun way to get around in it own right.  It is also quite the head turner.  From their expressions I could tell that some people thought it was pretty cool, others thought I was an idiot, and some couldn't wait to tell their friends or family that they saw some weirdo pushing himself with a stick while on a skateboard.  I enjoy it quite a bit I'm thinking about getting a board more suited to land paddling from Billy Lush Brand who are on the forefront of developing land paddling into a viable fitness activity.  Their boards are wider allowing a more natural SUP stance which is easier on the body allowing for equal paddling on both sides.  In a staggered stance on a regular longboard while paddling on both sides is possible most paddling is done on the front side.  This unbalanced approach led to a little strain in my right shoulder.  I'm almost healed now but that wider BLB board is sounding better all the time.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Struggle: Episode 3

Last week I robbed you of the chance to see another video and maybe even hinted that this week the video would be something special.  Well, it is different, somewhat.  Maybe I didn't realize how much work is involved with video production.  It takes a lot of time to throw these things together, stick with me though because they will get better.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Struggle: Picture Edition

The footage I shot for this weeks video was out of focus, so no video this week.  It really kills me too because it was going to be a really good episode.  I filmed it right after riding my bike and with all of the endorphins flowing through me, talking to the camera didn't feel totally awkward, and I felt more like myself.  I'll try to do something special for next weeks video, but I'm working on two classes right now and generating content for a couple of different sites so I am stretched pretty thin.  I like video though so hopefully I'll get the time.

My view from 4am this morning.

I've made it to the gym twice this week.  My plan is to go on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for now so I am on track with that.  I've been riding and running more lately.  My thumb is healed enough to get back out on the water.  Overall I'd say I'm doing pretty well.  There is still plenty of room for improvement though.  If there wasn't it wouldn't be a struggle now would it?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Struggle: Episode 2

I meant to get this out yesterday but didn't like the footage so I re-shot it all.  In the future I'll try to mix things up a bit.

Thanks for watching!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Struggle: Word Edition


Something I have been lacking.
Back in the day, before the wheels fell off I was never the best or the fastest but I had heart.
Lately that seems like the missing part of the puzzle.

How do I get it back?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Welcome to the Struggle

Welcome to the Struggle.  I plan to document my struggle with fitness in hopes that it will keep me on track, and maybe inspire someone who is also struggling to get fit.

The video explains it, so watch and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Friends are Hilarious, My Coworkers Not So Much

Returning to work this week is certainly a disappointment but even more so are the low caliber nicknames that have been shopped around for me.  Really poor effort on their part.
Over the past three weeks I have been the butt of some well crafted puns, jabs, and wise cracks.  The level of comedic talent among my friends is astonishing especially since many of them don’t seem very bright.  They know who they are, well they probably don’t.  Anyway I was surprised by the quality of their efforts.  

Some of my favorites according to Kate:

Princess: Thumbelina

Cartoon character: Thumper

Fairy tale character: Tom Thumb

Song: "Thumbwhere Out There"

Commercial: Mounds/Almond Joy (Thumbtimes you feel like a nut...)

Food: Thumbkin pie

Casey was quick to point out that my favorite Happy Days character was Fonzi.
Any guesses as to what my favorite social media site is?
If you said Thumblr you’d be correct.

That is just a small portion of the comedy gold I’m talking about.  So when I got back to work I was kind of expecting a new round of thumb related comedy.  There was some muttering about the people who abducted me cutting my thumb off and mailing it to my family.  A good premise but it wasn’t taken very far and ended up falling flat.  I had to give it one and a half thumbs down.
Then it was decided I needed a nickname.  Why not?  They were all uninspiring, and the one that got the most traction was, wait for it...Mitre Saw!  
How bad is that?
They were quick to point out that the person being named has to hate the nickname, and the more he hates it the more it will stick.  I don’t hate it.  It is pretty egregious but I don’t hate it.  Mostly it makes me sad that they couldn’t come with anything better.  Sad for them.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meeting the Mississippi Challenge Crew

Re-posted from 100+Project

Sam, Matt, and Harry had been gradually making their way down the Mississippi, and I had hopes of paddling with them for a day.  They seemed up for it and I was excited because since I got the stand up paddle board my kayak has led a lonely existence.  Once the accident happened I knew paddling would be out of the question, but maybe if it healed enough by the time they arrived I could manage a short stretch.  There was hope after all.
Unbeknownst to me during this time they really quickened the pace because they had to reach St Louis by July 11th because they had secured a free room at the Embassy Suites downtown and had a full day of media scheduled for the 12th.  Their arrival caught me totally by surprise and because of previous commitments I feared I wouldn’t even get to swing around and say hello.  Messaging back and forth on facebook I learned that they planned to leave Saturday morning, so the best I could do is wish them luck on their journey.  I was kind of bummed especially since I missed Rod Wellington when he came through the area.  There was little I could do though because I was already booked up.
Saturday afternoon I was checking the hits on the website and saw that someone on the Embassy Suites network had visited.  Thanks for the hits guys.  So they hadn’t left after all.  I went to their facebook page and didn’t see anything new and then by chance checked my messages.  There was no indication that I had a message but I clicked it any way and there was a message from Matt asking if I had some floor space where they could crash.  It may sound really strange but having people over really causes me a lot of stress, and not in the usual way when you have to apologize for the speck of dust on the otherwise spotless floor (not a description of my floors).  Real stress that keeps me agitated and on edge.
If I couldn’t have them over I would do the next best thing, put them up for the night in a hotel.  I knew they were keeping their kayaks at Harbor Point marina (home of the egregiously wrong display of the American flag) so I got them a room in Alton nearby.  In hindsight I would have gotten them a room closer to home in case they needed anything.  They managed fine without me though.
I picked them up downtown we were both easy to spot, they in their Mississippi Challenge shirts and me in the bright yellow Adventure Truck.  I apologized for two of them having to squeeze in the back of the cab.  It has one seat that folds down from the side but I don’t think it was ever intended for real use.  They managed just fine and were very thankful for the help.  After checking in at the hotel we went out for dinner at a nearby Mexican place.  Harry forgot his ID so was not able to drink a beer with us.  He ordered a mountain dew but got a pepsi and just went with it, maybe after living on the river anything beats water.  Dinner was great and Harry insisted on paying as a thank you for me getting the hotel.  Afterwards I felt like I should have taken care of it.  I can be social awkward so sometimes in situations like this I only realize what I should have done too late.
Sam is happy not to be in the back.
Sunday morning I met them at the hotel, and after the laundry was dry-ish they compressed themselves into the back of the truck and away we went.  They made their preparations to get back on the water after a couple of days on dry land.  Packing away food, and stowing gear in its proper location.  They were sorry it wasn’t more exciting but I was just glad to be able to help.  I think adventures like this are important, especially in this country, where many people have lost the adventure spirit, due to being stuck on the travelator, mindlessly moving them forward through life without a stop to see the possibilities all around.
Loading up.
After they launched I went to the Alton Lock and Dam in hopes of getting some pictures as they locked through but was told I wouldn’t be able to get close enough to actually see them in the lock because of the current security level.  I stayed for a while anyway watching the river from the levee trail.  I tried hard to see them but if you’ve ever looked across a body of water you know that without a good reference like a boat or buoy your perspective can get all out of whack.  I never saw them.
Leaving the Marina
While I was waiting to catch a glimpse of them I saw a guy on a fully loaded touring bike down on the road.  I snapped a couple of pictures because I had my camera already in hand and then didn’t think too much more about it.  After giving up on the up river side of the lock I went to the see if I might spot them on the down river side.  When I got there I saw the guy on the bike, and as he rolled past I asked how far he was going.  He said, “To Maine”, without blinking an eye.  His name was Kevin and he also told me that he started in Oregon.  To him it sounded like a good excuse to take four months of work.  He was riding a Surly Disc Trucker too (same bike that I own).  He said the bike hasn’t really given him any problems which is great to hear.  I have yet to really put my bike to a long test so it was good to see one out in the wild and thriving.  I said goodbye to Kevin and he was on his way.  Like I said before I think adventures like this are important, and it made smile thinking that at the moment I had lost one sight of one adventure I stumbled across another.  Life is funny like that sometimes.
Kevin, on his way to Maine
So Sam, Matt, and Harry made it through the Chain of Rocks and Port of St Louis and are currently spending a couple of days in Cape Girardeau.  Meeting these guys was a real treat as they were both gracious and generous.  I wish them the best of luck on the remainder of their journey down the Mighty Miss!

They are making this journey to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity that helps get wounded British soldiers back on their feet again.  Truly a worthy cause.

Thumb Bit, I'll Miss You

Re-posted from 100+Project
Today I said my final good-bye to Thumb Bit.  It was a small private service attended by friends and family members.  Even though I have come to terms with the loss, I will always feel like a part of me is missing.


Instead of flowers I ask that a donation be made to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation St Louis Chapter.  To make things easier on you just click the donation link in the header.
Thank You!  If Thumb Bit were still with us it would give you a big “thumb’s up”.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lazy On My Own Terms

Because I foolishly cut off the tip of my thumb with a mitre saw I'll be spending some time away from work.  In most cases time away from work is a blessing.  I didn't grow up wanting to become a slightly below average air conditioning mechanic, so when given time apart from the grind I rejoice.  This doesn't mean that my days off are always jam packed to the gills with one adventure after another each one more exciting than the last.  More often than I would like to admit they are spent napping on the couch whilst burning through a season of some random show on Netflix.  Even though I consider that time a total waste on another level it is satisfying just to take a day and do nothing.  I fully realize that I take far too many of these "Do Nothing" and should probably get out and do something, but as Mike Horn says, "Sometimes it's easier to lay down and die than to keep going".

Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but the analogy is sound.

Now that I am bound to inactivity until I do a little more healing all I want to do is...SOMETHING!  Being lazy on my own terms, while not necessarily good for me in the long run is a somewhat enjoyable pursuit.  A break from all the demands of the world.  All the while though it is a choice.  I know that at any moment I can jump up and go for a nice long ride or a run or any number of other possibilities.  By "any moment" I mean after I finish this episode.  I can't leave before I find out if Enterprise get those new plasma converters.

Now that I am forced to chill out and be sedentary the knowledge that at any given moment the best I can do is mosey on into the kitchen for a snack or a glass of water, is leaving me a little empty inside.  I want to go do something!

Being lazy on my own terms is way more satisfying than being lazy as a result of my circumstances.  I think I will mix things up today and plant my ass on the love seat rather than the couch.  That sounds like quite the adventure now doesn't it?

Adventure vs Adversity

Thursday I had an ambitious day of multisport planned.  I wanted to get some video of me on every non-motorized vehicle I own in order to make a really cool edit for promotional use.  I got a late start, but was still eager to get some footage.  Below is a video I made from the footage at Highland Skatepark which sadly ended up being the last footage of the day.

I had a really great time.  I may be fat and have almost no fast twitch muscle fibers but being on the board has a way of shutting everything out, and allowing me to flow.  I may not skate on anything close to a regular basis anymore but I'm still a skater.
On the way home from Highland I decided to try out some land paddling.  First though I needed to build a paddle, a decision I would soon regret.  Paddles cost between $100 and $200 so making one seemed like a great idea.  All I needed was a long dowel and two rubber ends, simple.


I guess I was in a hurry because of the late start and when I was cutting the dowel I managed to cut the tip off of my left thumb instead.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!
So off to the emergency room we went.  Because of the way I sliced it there was not much they could do, and they said to change the dressing twice a day or more.  Luckily I got to see the hand surgeon yesterday and he gave me some great news.  The best course of action that will allow me to retain the most function is to continue with dressing changes.  It will take a while to heal but as long as there are no complications I won't need surgery.  So in the grand scheme of things I am pretty lucky.


It's too early to tell how this will affect the hike in Sept.  Hopefully I will not have to use my vacation time while I am healing, and can save it for hiking instead.  If the hike gets cancelled then this year will be a wash as far as big events go.  I have some other ideas for fundraisers in development though so maybe I'll manage to raise a little money.  So far '13 as not been my lucky number.


Many people have asked to see pictures of this gruesome injury, but I won't be taking any until the healing process is well under way.  Believe me you are better off, some things once seen cannot be unseen. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

I Know I'm Overweight But Thanks For Pointing It Out

It's no secret that I have let my self slip into a sedentary lifestyle over the past twelve months and as a result I have packed on the pounds.  I feel like a family of Inuit people could survive the winter on my blubber alone.  Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration but I am currently the heaviest I have ever been. I'm not happy about it and since I have survived five weeks now without any Dr Pepper I decided to make some other changes to my diet to help shed some of these unwanted lb's.

So today I was feeling good about the course I've plotted.

Then I had a real WTF moment.

While waiting for the elevator one of the new guys at work who I have never spoken to struck up a conversation.  He was looking at my badge and said, "You look a lot different than the picture on your badge".  I wasn't sure what he was talking about but whatever.  "I guess so" I replied.  Then he said, "Looks like you gained a bunch of weight".  This was the WTF moment I'm referring to.  What would possess a person I've never spoken to before to say some shit like that?  I'm not even going to mention the fact that he looks like he could outweigh me by 70lbs.  That's like a big fat pot calling the heavier than you'd think kettle, black.

I didn't go cry in the corner, I didn't go eat a bunch of donuts, If there were any rage I certainly  wouldn't have balled it up and used it to fuel my determination to get back in shape.

The take away is that some people are just assholes.

I still feel good about the direction I'm headed and what's his name can't bring me down.  Maybe I should bring him a box of donuts as a reward for being such an astute observer.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

xx2i Sunglasses

As a JV member of ROCK Racing adventure racing team I get to enjoy a few perks.  One of my favorites is the occasional pair of sunglasses from XX2i Optics.  Finding a pair of sunglasses that I feel good wearing is no easy task.  My wife can attest to that.  In fact she has vowed never to shop for sunglasses with me again.  I have one of those faces that makes a comfortable pair hard to find.  Years ago I found a cheap pair at Walmart that fit me really well so I went back and bought seven pairs.  When the last pair died an honorable death I went from pair to pair never really happy.

That a good looking pair of shades!

When Chuck and Robin (the varsity team) gave me the first pair of xx2i sunglasses a couple years ago it wasn't exactly a match made in heaven at first.  But now I can't imagine wearing anything else.  The glasses fit great and are very comfortable and easy to wear.  I am currently on my third pair, and while they are showing some signs of age my first pair is still in serviceable condition.  One of the cool things about this company is that they stand behind their products.  One of the ways they do that is with a 365day return policy.  That's right they give you a whole year to decide if you like them or not.  If you don't then just ship them back for a full refund.  How cool is that?  But wait there's more!  If you decide you want to keep them They have a lifetime warranty.  If you break or scratch them, send them back for a replacement all you pay is shipping.  I'm no expert on what other companies are offering but that sounds like a sweet deal to me.

The protective case is really nice.

These are the first pair of sunglasses I have ever owned with interchangeable lenses.  They come with dark, orange, and clear lenses.  I spend a lot of time in the woods and the orange lenses are my favorite because they are great in wide variety of lighting conditions.  The option of having clear lenses at night is a bonus.  While serving in the Army I turned around during a night exercise and walked directly into a the end of a low hanging branch that poked me in the eye and scratched my cornea.  I definitely get some use out of the clear lenses.
If you are in the market for a new pair of sunglasses give xx2i a try.  You won't be sorry.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Canceling My Dr Pepper Appointments

It has been four weeks since I last had a Dr Pepper, or any type of soda for that matter.  I guess you could say I was addicted.  While being addicted to Dr Pepper won't deplete your savings, land you in jail, or push your family away, constantly losing the battle of will with your addiction takes its toll.  About a year ago I decided to relax my diet a bit.  Not that it was ever good, but I decided that I would be okay with a few Dr Peppers in moderation.  The plan was stop after a week or so.  The "or so" part turned into a year, much of which was spent struggling with trying to stop, and feeling more and more powerless and out of control.  The harder I tried to stop the more I consumed.  The bottle I drank at lunch turned into a bottle at lunch and one with dinner.  Those two bottles were joined by another at break.  Before long the diner bottle was accompanied by an after dinner bottle.  I was consuming 1000calories everyday in Dr Pepper alone!  I always felt bad about it in a self-loathing sort of way.  The days I tried to break the cycle are too numerous to remember.  There were countless times when I would tell myself, "Today at break, no Dr Pepper" only to find myself in the store with one in my hand.  "What the hell is wrong with me?", was my thought on several occasions.  I would immediately begin bargaining with myself.
"Okay, since we're here and all, go ahead and drink it but tonight you have to go for a run."
-"Sounds fair."
"Agreed then, Dr Pepper now, and a run after work."
-"We got this!"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Big Woods After the Storm

After the major storm that swept through the area Friday night it was necessary to go out to the Big Woods to survey the damage.  After every big storm there are fallen trees and limbs that need to be remove from the trail.  Occasionally re-routing the trail is necessary as well as rebuilding bridges.  Fortunately this time no re-routes or bridge building will be required, unfortunately however the number of downed trees and limbs is great.  It will take a massive effort to get everything cleared.  Luckily there is a work day planned for June 9th.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Rt. 66 10k

I may not be running Kettle Moraine tomorrow but next weekend I will be running the Rt 66 10k in Edwardsville, Illinois home of the 100+Project.  The MetroMilers do an absolutely fantastic job with this race.  Every year it just gets better and better.  So if you are in the neighborhood you should get signed up and get ready to run.

I hear that there have been some changes to the course this year but I have been assured they are only minor tweaks as opposed to a full blown re-route.  In the past the course has always been fair, not pancake flat but not brutally hilly either.  If you've never run a 10k before this would be an ideal start.  The 10k is a great distance because it is long enough to feel the distance yet short enough to feel comfortable with pushing the pace.

Because I haven't done much running this year I will be out there just to have fun, and possibly wage a little guerilla warfare on the Team Godzilla aid station.  Around mile four the Metro Tri Club puts on one of the best aid stations in the region, if not the country.  Armed with water guns and silly string the plucky group of volunteers welcome you as you exit the MCT tunnel, with refreshing water and sports drink.  Most people are good sports about the water guns and silly string and the worst punishment is dealt to "friends" and fellow Metro Tri Club members.  That being said don't think you will escape without getting a little bit wet.  It really is a party atmosphere that people talk about all year long.
If you have a water gun of your own maybe you'd like to join while a dish out a little punishment of my own as I run through.  Last year it was a lot of fun, but I think this year they might have something special planned for me.

It really is a great race and I hope you can make it.
See you there!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Great Ideas

Ever have a good idea for a post?  I'm talking about a game changer.  The type of post that makes people stand up and take notice.  An idea that is so ground breaking that there's no need to write it down because something this profound is impossible to forget.  Have you ever had an idea like that?  Well have you?

I have.

But I forgot what it was.

Maybe I should have written it down.  Actually there is no maybe about it, I should have written it down.  In this modern age we live in I really don't have an excuse for not writing it down.  Pens, pencils and paper are no longer exclusively the tools of the ruling elite, they are readily available for even the most lowly among us to use.

I get a lot of ideas, and from now on I will be writing them down in a book I bought specifically for that purpose.  Ideas, even the great ones can be ephemeral if they are not given a place take root and grow into something real.  Most of the ideas that will go in my book will not be spectacular but maybe one or two of them will be great.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bicycles, not just for recreation

There are five grocery stores within a one mile radius of my house.  For years I have been threatening to ride my bike to the store for groceries.  The ownership of a Surly Disc Trucker complete with Ortlieb panniers has left me with little excuse.

This morning I used the last of the milk, the nature of milk being what it is replacement was assured.  On the way home from work I could have stopped and did my shopping but I had already decided that today would be the day I used my bike for something other than fun.
I got everything together and was on my way.  I was careful to make sure I didn't forget anything, lock, reusable grocery bag, you know bike stuff.  If I keep this up I'll bring the panniers inside and have the bagger load them up but I didn't want to look like a hipster.  This isn't Seattle after all.
With items purchased it was out the door and time to transfer them to the pannier.  Everything fit fine so there was nothing left to do but roll home.  On the way to the store the goal was getting there as quickly as possible so the most direct route was chosen (the same route I would have driven).  The way home was more lackadaisical and circuitous.  I cruised by one of the other grocery stores to check if they had a bike rack (which they did), then hopped a curb in Kohl's parking lot and rode down a little grassy hill, then behind the Sylvan learning center.  From there I rode by Qdoba and wondered why I never eat there.  Through the Arby's parking lot and by the pool.  Back in the residential area and on the home stretch.  The route I took home reminded me of when I was a kid, and used to ride my bike all over town.  My mental map of O'fallon, Illinois had alleys, parks, and greenways featured just as prominently as roads.  I knew which parking space in the Mcdonald's parking lot had the best transition to the Hardee's parking lot.  I knew where the city crews had piles of rocks that could be used as sweet jumps.  I know I got at least three feet of air one time.  Those were great times in my life and I was glad to revisit them.

When I got home I put the bike in the shed and the milk in the fridge.  It felt good.  Dare I say right.

Riding a bike to the store to get some milk is not a new or innovative idea, but still worthwhile.  Try it and see how you like it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I haven’t said much about the tragedy in Boston, and make no mistake it was a tragedy despite what Bill O’Reilly would have us believe.  The president called it a tragedy so Mr. O’Reilly had to be contrary as is his way.  In response to the president calling it a tragedy O’Reilly said, “It was not. It was a vile act of violence, designed to kill innocent people, including children…This makes me sick.”  No shit Bill, but a tragedy nonetheless.
Contradictory reports are still coming in and it is unclear what the facts really are.
One thing that is clear is that the runners will overcome, the American people will overcome, and Love will overcome!

I'm gatherin' up my friends today
And those who recognize the face
As the vision that changed my mind
From hate to faith
Was as simple as grapes to wine and
Sweet as
I'm gatherin' up my friends today
All these hookers and soldiers and swine
And would be saints
All alone in their rooms that sparkle in
Their eye
Play a song that they'll come outside
To see if

Love will overcome
If this love will make us men
Love will draw us in
To wipe our tears away

The day that I was so sweetly sung
By the wind and the thunder moved by
The feelin' of being lived was so strong
The giver became the gift, all one
The day that I was so sweetly sung
The wind seemed to whisper softly, "oh
Don't wait for the seas to part or
Messiahs to come
Don't sit around and waste this chance, to
See it!"

Love will overcome
If this love will make us men
Love will draw us in
To take our fear away

Love, hey, yeah

Love, this day now, this day that I was so
Sweetly sung, I know, I know that
Love will overcome

Love will overcome
If this love will make us men
Love will draw us in
To take our fear away, wipe our tears
And all my friends are here
In the city I sing my song
In the face of the hooker, the soldier, the
I found it, I found it, I found love!

Love will, love will, love will,
Over come

Monday, April 1, 2013


I am proud to have been chosen as a SayYesMore ambassador.  Such a simple and elegant philosophy that anyone can embrace straight away to add life to their years.

I have something that I have been putting off for a while but in true SayYesMore style I will put it off no longer and get started.  Look for updates soon!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Graveyard Gravel Grinder

My friends and I are in total agreement that adventure is cool and mini-adventures are a great way to celebrate minor holidays and other special days.  Some of our past mini-adventures include the Epic Leap, and Columbus Day of Discovery.

Our latest adventure was conceived by Chuck.  He got the idea to find all of the old graveyards in the Weldon Spring/Bush Conservation area.  He bought the topo map of the area and plotted the coordinates.  There are many old graveyards because the whole area was once a town but in 1948 the Govt acquired the land for a munitions plant.  You can still see remnants of the old town with the occasional fire hydrant, well, power pole, etc. showing up in the middle of the woods.

We agreed to meet on Sunday March tenth, the day we spring our clocks ahead.  Not quite a holiday but a special day just the same.  It was raining when I left home but the temperature wasn't too cold so I drove to mound where Chuck and Lori were waiting.  Before long Robin, Russ, and Kate arrived.  We were all accounted for and ready for another adventure to begin.

It was a great day for an adventure.  We didn't find the last graveyard on our list but there are more and we will find them next time.

Here are a couple links to ROCK Racing's video and SuperKate's post:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Career Day!

Did I ever tell you about the time I met a primatologist?

Oddly enough it was during my enrollment in a primatology course at SIUE (I guess that's not so odd after all). Our instructor thought it would be a good idea for us to speak to someone in the field because her area of specialization was archaeology. She happened to know a primatologist and invited her to come speak to the class.

Jen Rehg came to our class and blew my mind. Not because she was such a compelling speaker, and not because she was an awesome primatologist doing ground breaking work that would shake the foundations of human identity for generations to come. She blew my mind because she was a regular person with an amazing career. How many times did I fantasize about having an awesome and fulfilling career only to have it squashed by some naysayer who was looking for a parade to rain on? I always thought special people did special things and that I was destined to work in a supporting roll. We need kennel managers and maintenance workers too you know.

There were subjects that I was very interested in while I was in school (did I mention the Ober honors award in philosophy) but succumbed to the old tired logic that philosophy or archaeology wouldn't pay the bills. I could kick my own ass when I think about it. I ended up leaving school during my last semester to go out into the world looking for a job. I doubted my Liberal Studies degree would land me a job so there was no sense waiting. Even if it did land me a job, what type of job would it have been. Philosopher? Primatologist? No. It would have landed me a job as a drone somewhere in Sector 7G always hoping to make a little more money, and to rise incrementally higher in the corporate flow chart until one day maybe, if I were lucky, I could retire and draw a modest pension. How is that different from where I am now? It's not.

I think the take away is this. You can be what you want to be!*

 The asterisk is meant to symbolize that there is always a catch. No matter how much I want to be the King of England it will never happen.

 Chase your dreams, but know you may fail. Always remember though that there are people just like you and me who are living their dream because they chose to ignore the naysayers and kept on pursuing their goals.

For more information about Jen Rehg you can read her bio from SIUE, here.  She has done some great work in South America.  Chasing monkeys through the jungle sounds like fun doesn't it?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Falling Rocks!

falling rocks back
When was the last time you fell?  Not metaphorically either.  Literally when was the last time you fell?  
For me it was just this morning.  I was running on the trails, my foot caught a root and down I went.  I twisted my body to take most of the impact with my elbow and my knee.  The first instinct is to reach out with your hands to brace your fall in this situation but since I was carrying a handheld water bottle that wasn’t an option (On another fall long ago I did brace with my water bottles and was stunned by the force with which my Gatorade was squirted out of each bottle.  Since then I have avoided the bottle brace).  Landing with a thud I laid there for a moment, audiobook still going in my headphones but I wasn’t listening.  As I laid there on the ground in a pile of myself I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be able to fall down.  I was out in the woods running by myself on a cold winter morning with nothing but some carefully chosen layers and the winter sun to help fight off the chill.  Seemingly I could have laid there forever, but the miles left to go brought me back to reality and soon I was upright and moving again.
Running this morning was not easy, it was not fun, and I did not enjoy it.  Even so I was glad to be out there and glad to once again have the opportunity to fall.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snow Day

What is it about running in the snow that is so special?  I wouldn't mind if the snow stayed all winter long.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The SHITR Promised a Challenge and Delivered

Not long after the 12hour run back in November, Chuck and Robin of ROCK Racing told me they had an idea for an unsupported trail race at Lost Valley in Weldon Spring.  It sounded like a great idea, and I was all in.  What could be better than a trail half marathon in January?  Simple, a trail half marathon in January at night!  To make it even better they told me that in lieu of an entry fee they would suggest participants make a donation to the 100+Project.  How awesome is that? 
The SHivering Icy Trail Run was set and word of mouth spread so fast that the parks department contacted Chuck and wanted him to get a permit.  I was kind of down on the whole permit process because I have had some unfavorable dealings with low level bureaucrats (don’t ask me about the permit for my shed) but everything went smoothly and the permit was issued.  Saturday morning Chuck and I met up at the Mound and proceeded to mark the course.  We rode our adventure bikes to make it go faster but it still took a lot longer than I thought it would.  The day was warmer than I thought it was going to be and I had on way too many layers.  When Chuck stopped to put up a reflective square I would peel of more layers.  The warm temps were kind of bumming me out.  This was supposed to be an event to be endured not some joyful romp through the park with smiles and good cheer, that’s what road races are for.  I was assured that the temp was supposed to drop and that it would also rain, however because our weather has been crazy lately I wasn’t convinced. 
I really didn’t help too much with the actual marking but a least Chuck didn’t have to go out alone.  I made it home with just enough time to eat take a short nap and get ready to leave again so I could meet up with Robin to carpool back to the Mound.  Because of the warm temps earlier in the day I decided to wear shorts.  Plus since there was now a 100% chance of rain, running in wet shorts sounded better than running in wet pants.  By the time we got to the Mound the temperature had dropped considerably and I was rethinking my shorts vs pants strategy.  More and more people started showing up and I hopped from group to group (literally) while trying to stay warm.  To help stay warm I put on my hoodie and decided that I would run with it. 
When it was time to start Chuck and Robin called everyone over, took a group photo and gave some last minute instructions.  Forty three people showed up to run the SHITR.  Being around a large group of likeminded individuals always makes for a grand time even in horrible conditions.  The route started with a dash to the top of the mound, which I am told is the highest point in St Charles county.  The wind was whipping across the top of the mound and I was glad to have my hoodie.  At the top we turned around and headed back down, this was when I noticed the first rain drops.  The rain had come after all, this was going to be miserable.  Excellent!  Coming down from the Mound it wasn’t long until we were on the Hamburg trail and the decision to wear the hoodie was proving to be one layer too many.  I ran down the Hamburg trail with Chuck, we were hoping that we marked the trail well enough so no one would get lost.  When I stopped to take off my hoodie Chuck kept going and Kate caught up to me.  I ran with her and Josh for a while then Josh rolled his ankle and told us to go on.  Kate and I crossed the creek and hit the single track.  I was putting a gap on her and would yell back  when I got to a particularly difficult part that was extra slippery or rocky.  It wasn’t long before we caught up to Chuck.  At the end of the first section of singletrack was the turn for the short course.  I noticed one of the reflective markers I had hung earlier had fallen on the ground, so I replaced it and continued on my way.  The three of us ran together for a while longer until I decided to stretch my legs a bit.  The next section of singletrack was a total nightmare!  It is new and not worn in yet, and with the rain and the camber of the trail it was muddy and slicker than ice.  Up until this point the rain and the cold weren’t too hard to deal with, but once we hit this section of trail, having to slow down to deal with the mud was allowing my core temp to drop and I was starting to get cold.  To make matters worse I have only been on this section once so I was unsure how long it was before it joined back up with the older section.  I ran as hard as I could while still being careful not to fall in the mud.  Soon I caught up to Russ and then Luke.  We ran together for a long time and I was glad when we got to the older section of trail for two reasons, first because there was no more off camber muddy mess to deal with and second, there was a long hill.  Normally I am not that fond of hills but in this case it was the fastest way to raise my body temp.  Not long after we reached the top of the hill I told Russ and Luke to be on the look out for the mystery task.  Because simply running was too tame for this group Chuck and Robin told them to get the name off the tallest tombstone in the old cemetery.  I think people enjoyed this aspect of the race, although with the rapidly deteriorating conditions I don’t think anyone was asked about it at the finish.  It was still worth finding though.  Luke and Russ spotted the cemetery easily enough because of the reflective tape Chuck and I placed earlier.  We respectfully entered the cemetery and got the name.  We met up with Robbie in the cemetery and we all headed back to the trail singing “Sweet Caroline”, the name on the tombstone. 
Now the thing about this next section of trail is that to me it all looks the same even during the day so at night this problem was compounded.  The first time I ever rode at Lost Valley I flatted out on a sweeping rocky curve in the trail.  It sticks in my mind because it was the first flat I ever had to change in my adult life.  I felt totally inept and it seemed like everyone was wondering why it was taking so long.  They weren’t wondering that though because everyone there that day was a decent person.  My friend Krystal offered me a GU packet to boot up the punctured sidewall, the problem was I didn’t know why she was giving it to me and it took a minute figure it out.  Seriously, I felt totally incompetent.  Eventually I got it fixed and we continued our ride.  This story is relevant only because every time I am on this section and come to a sweeping rocky curve in the trail, and there are a few, I think “Hey this is that spot where I flatted”.  It makes judging distance impossible because I know that I flatted close to the doubletrack.  Every time I come to one of those sections I think I am almost to the end and when I realize I am not, the effect on my psyche is cumulative.  
Luke and I were cruising along pretty good and had left Russ and Robbie behind.  Luke was running really well especially since he was wearing an old pair of Nike Free’s since he forgot his trail shoes.  He was slipping and sliding so much that I felt bad for him.  At one point he slipped going up a small incline and his foot flew backward with such force that had I been a step closer he would have kicked me in the face.  I can clearly remember seeing the sole of his shoe in the light of my headlamp.  Soon we made it out of the woods and on to the doubletrack.  This meant that we were on the home stretch.  Being on the doubletrack meant that we were exposed to the wind which made the conditions that much worse.  I kicked up the pace in an effort to keep warm and Luke and I ran together until we ran into the Smith’s who were hiking the short course.  How badass is that? Lovely night for a stroll eh?  I stopped and walked with them for a bit and Luke kept going.  Once I noticed my hands getting cold again it was time to run.  This time getting started was harder and I realized that I had made a critical error.  I should have kept running with Luke.  I was getting cold and my gloves, well all my clothes really were soaked through, and not offering much in the way of comfort.  My thighs were starting to sting from the exposure too.  I realized then that these conditions could very easily turn into a survival situation if someone got lost.  I hoped that everyone behind me would find their way back to finish without harm. 
I ran as much as I could and when the trail began the long downhill the thought of picking my hoodie up had a curious affect on my mood.  I was anxious to reach it because even though it would be soaking wet I could still use it to help insulate my hands.  At the same time though I knew from experience that when it gets wet like that it weighs close to eight pounds, and I would have to carry an eight pound weight another mile and a half back to the finish.  I guess I would have to take the good with the bad. 
When I reached the bottom of the hill I ran over to the rock pile and grabbed my hoodie.  It was soaked and very heavy like I knew it would be.  I wrapped it around my hands and started the long climb back to the Hamburg trail.  My hands were starting to feel better, which only highlighted how bad everything else felt.  The hoodie kept sliding down under its own weight rubbing against my legs.  After a while I stopped and put my arms into the sleeves so it would be easier to carry.  I tried to power up the hill but I just didn’t have it in me so I just did the best I could satisfied in the knowledge that once at the top I had around one mile to the finish.  Back on the Hamburg trail it seemed like it conditions were even worse than on the doubletrack.  I wanted this section to be over as quickly as possible but all I could muster was a slow shuffle toward the finish.  I kept going and after what seemed like the longest mile ever found myself back at the finish. 
When I crossed the finish line Robin, Lori, and Susan were there to cheer me on.  They were the best finish line cheerleaders!  Those were some awful conditions to run in but standing around waiting for people to finish was just as difficult.  Truly all the volunteers were the unsung heroes of the day.  After finishing all I could think about was getting warm and dry.  I was done being cold and wet.  I went to the back of Robin’s van to get my clothes and found Robin and Susan standing there trying to keep warm.  All of the cars were occupied, so I was trying to figure out how to get changed without giving anyone a free show then I looked to my left and saw Russ strip down behind his van and change.  I was so envious of his now dry clothes that the next time Robin and Susan went to cheer someone in I did the same.  I was almost dressed by the time they made it back but I didn’t care because like Russ I now had dry clothes on.  I saw an empty spot in Chuck’s jeep so I hopped in there and warmed up a bit, while eating some cookies and drinking a beer.  Jacob was warm and toasty in the front seat.  He took the short course and had been finished for over an hour already.  I wanted so badly to go cheer for the other people that were coming in but getting back out in the cold was not on my to do list.  Eventually there were only a few left out on the course and I got ousted from my warm seat because Chuck had to go pick up Christina from the lower parking lot.  She was totally badass for doing the whole loop, and not short coursing it.  She is way tougher than me.  Chris and Kerri were the last across the finish line and we headed out to El Azteca to eat some Mexican food and share some stories.  I heard Goldmember pooped his pants!  He got a special award for that.  I still don’t know the story but I’m looking forward to the Team Virtus report so I can get the low down.
The restaurant knew to expect us but I think it was still a strain on the wait staff so I left a really good tip for their efforts.  There were so many racers still there when we arrived, probably 20 or so.  Dinner was great and I didn’t want it to end.  It made me a little sad every time someone got up to leave.  It was a dinner party where no matter where you sat you would be next to an extraordinary person with a great story to tell.  I sat next to Bill and Joe, two great guys, way faster than me but I won’t hold that against them.  The food was great but soon it was our turn to say goodbye and we piled back into Robin’s van and headed back home. 
I think it was after 11pm when I finally got home.  I dropped my bag of wet clothes at the door, cleaned up a bit, and slid into bed.  Beth asked how it was and I said. “Awful, just awful”.
Truthfully though it was awesome, awesome in a way that only the people sitting around those tables at the Mexican restaurant could understand.  We had all endured something together and even though I didn’t actually talk to every single person who was there I still feel a bond with everyone of them, and that is something you can’t get from a road race.
Thanks goes out to Chuck, Robin, Lori, Rob, Jacob, Susan, and everyone that made this race happen.
We raised a lot of money for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America St Louis chapter through the 100+Project.  I am  honored and grateful that ROCK Racing decided to include the 100+Project in their race. 
If you missed out on the race this year then you should totally feel jealous, and if you see someone trying to merge in traffic with a SHITR decal in their window you should give them room and allow them to move because they are badass and deserve your respect.
Next year the SHITR will be even better!  Don’t miss it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who Is?: Robin Rongey

Who Is Robin Rongey?
When Patrick asked me to write a post about “who I am”, I kept thinking, I really don’t
know what I can say. I mean, I could tell the truth and say that I am this super smart,
ultra fit, amazingly hot mom, “oh wait, I’m channeling Reese Witherspoon again, so
that’s not right. Well I could tell you what I have been called in the past, the little round
ball of muscle, and the … oh wait, I can’t put the other names in print, so maybe that’s
not who I am either.
After putting some more thought to it, I think to tell you who I am, I need to tell you
where I come from. So let’s see if I can sum up my life’s journey in just a few short
I was born in March of 1964, one month pre-mature, my name was going to be April,
but when I was born in March, my mom decided on Robin because it made her think of
springtime. I was early arriving in the world and have been early at everything since,
like talking, walking, tying my shoes, everything I do, I want to do fast and be the first
one done, it doesn’t matter what it is, work tasks, workouts, races, I was even the
fastest person at picking berries in the summer, no one could keep up with me. I think
there is a pattern here; maybe that is where my competitiveness comes from.
I grew up in the projects, we were poor, but of course I didn’t know it at the time
because poor is relative. We may have been financially poor, but we had a close family
and always had fun, we just did stuff that didn’t cost anything. So many people living
around us were poor in my eyes and I always felt so sorry for them, little did I know, I
was as poor as they were.
I am the only girl in a family of 5 kids. I am the second in line, but I ruled the house like I
was the oldest. I was always told I was really mean and bossy.
I spent my summers heading outside at daylight and not coming in until dark. We
played kickball, hide n seek, kick the can, football, baseball, soccer, we even setup
a ring with our shoes that we ran around acting like we were in the roller derby and
knocking people out of the ring. Most often I was the only girl allowed to play any of
the neighborhood sports. I think that is because all the boys were afraid of me, at least
that’s what my brothers tell me.
When I was 9 my dad died and at 12 we moved from the projects to the country. I went
from having hundreds of kids to play with, in a quarter mile radius to having 10 kids to
play with, in a 5 mile radius. This is when I started picking up endurance activities, riding
my bike, skateboarding, even running, I would run laps around my block and it was 2
miles long.
Two weeks into my freshman year of high school I was in a bad car accident, I spent a
few months in a hospital and then spent months on crutches. My mom was told that I
would most likely have brain damage, so now when I do stupid things I blame it on the
brain damage. It took a year to recover, so it was my sophomore year before I could
play any sports. I ran track and cross country the rest of high school, then I ran track in
college on a scholarship. I was just an above average runner, but heck back then they
just wanted to find girls that would run, that’s why I had a scholarship. I was actually the
first girl to ever run cross country for SIU-E.
After college I got married and had 3 kids, I continued to run, but not really competitive.
When my kids started getting self sufficient I started training hard again and decided to
try some new things, like triathlons, mountain biking and road biking. I loved it all! Then
in 1996, I took a job with Boeing and met my friend and now teammate Chuck Vohsen.
You all know Chuck as a Badass Adventure racer, but back in the day, he was just
some overweight jeep driving, martial arts practicing engineer. That was when I could
beat him both on foot and on wheels, but now, I’m just lucky he lets me follow him
around and share his adventure racing glory.
That leads me up to the current day and the fact that I am so lucky that I have a strong
mother who raised 5 kids on a yearly income that is less than I make in a month, having
4 brothers who even though they called me mean and bossy, they put the smackdown
on anyone else who said it, having friends like Chuck who would fight a bear for me or
give me his last sip of water if I was out, having 3 healthy kids that fight like cats and
dogs and are always planning the next way to pull the wool over their dad and my eyes,
but at the end of the day always give me hugs and “I love you’s”. I guess what I’m trying
to say is that all the events in my life have made me who I am today.
I still sometimes wonder who I am, but if I have to say who I think I am in one big run-on
sentence, this is what it would say.
I’m a girl who works hard at everything I do, I’m very organized, to the point of
annoyance to my family, I love being outside and I love adventure of any kind, I never
give up because I know with persistence I can accomplish anything, I may not be great
at it, but I can do it, and most of all, I’m a real cool mom, well my kids may not say that,
but I like to think I am.