Showing posts from December, 2013

Walking the thin line

I was in the Dollar Store two days before Christmas, picking up last minute this and thats. I'm still trying to figure out why the store is named as it is. It's an impossible feat to spend one lonely dollar. My bill is always much higher. But apparently, others find the same to be true. The lady in front of me came up $1.83 short of her $36 purchase. She laughed at not having quite enough cash, pulling out some plastic instead. The cashier, however, refused the card. Rather, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the required shortfall, dropping it in the register's drawer. My fellow shopper's jaw flapped open at the unexpected generosity of the cashier. She looked at me to verify what had just happened. When I confirmed--and applauded--the cashier's kind actions, the customer returned the credit card to her wallet and walked toward the door, an obvious bounce in her Christmas cheer  lightened steps. What a wonderful example of a Christmas blessing: unexpected

666 miles of Hell(gate)

"Last verse, same as the first." In same ways, yes. My last race was the same as my first: I started. I finished. But in many ways, there's no comparison. It took ten finishes and 666 miles  of the devilish Hellgate 100K race to figure it out. The brainchild of Dr. David Horton, the Hellgate 100k+ (actually 66.6 miles) always begins at one minute after midnight on the second Saturday of December. The race has garnered a near cult-following, many hopeful entrants turned away. Those rewarded a cherished spot must earn Horton's approval as a worthy candidate. It is he who judges an applicant's toughness and ability to cover the rocky, mountainous real estate between the start and finish lines. But even so, the chosen few are never guaranteed a finish. What they are promised is a night and a day of unpredictable weather, trail conditions, and a barrage of self-doubt somewhere along the forest path. I was forty-five when I sold my soul to the trail devils. N

Before the gates of hell open

It seemed like a good idea eleven years ago. A killer race with a midnight start. Unpredictable weather. Wet feet in the opening miles. Ice. Snow. Howling wind. Off camber, leaf-covered and rocky trail. Sections of the course that seem endless. Miles-long climbs. Technical descents. What's not to love--or hate? I'm a sucker for such things. When David Horton, also known as King DHo, came up with this cockamamie idea, I signed on. Since then, it's been a running battle in the truest sense. Every year, it's been hard. Other years, even harder. And now, I suspect, this year just may be the hardest. I failed once half-way through. I bailed when I couldn't breath and hands turned blue, and not from the cold. I still regret the decision to quit. But that's another story. This year the race taunts me with a ten-year finisher award. Only a handful of men have nabbed the honor. Now, it's my turn. But I am not fully confident. I suppose one is not supposed to ad

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

A late practice scheduled for my distance runners at the indoor track left me with about an hour to get in a run of my own. I almost felt guilty sneaking away toward "the mountain." I looked forward to trail time with me, myself, and I. But getting to "the mountain" requires a trek up the steep incline of Candler's Mountain Road. Since it takes awhile for me to get the blood pumping and breathing sounding something less than a coal-fired freight train on its last run, I tried to find my rhythm by distracting myself with the view. Well, not that there was much of one. Crossing the concrete bridge suspended above Route 460 is hardly the epitome of a glorious vista. To the left of the oncoming lane (and the space through which I travel) is a fair share of gravel, bits of broken glass, remnants of prior vehicular collisions, crushed pens, an occasional coin, and a broken piece of a smashed brake light, among other things. But a Hoka? I wasn't expecting that.