Sunday, September 27, 2015

Air Disasters

One of my favorite shows is called Air Disasters which is on the Smithsonian Channel every week.  They do a full hour recreation of airline crashes where every body dies or really close misses where everybody is OK.   They have all types of planes globally doing bad things on the show.   The show also does a brilliant job of solving why the  disaster occurred.   Yesterday, Linda and I had  a shot at a starring role!  

We were flying from Nashville to Marquette, MI via a stop in Detroit on Delta.   I know I have bitched about Delta in the past, but this was a great plan to save a lot of time and the tickets were frequent fliers points, so they were cheap.  We flew on an MD 88 to Detroit and had a couple hours to get some lunch and stretch out a little.  We worked our way to our gate and about 30 minutes prior to loading, the first excuse was offered.  Crew is here, no plane.  Over the next hour, no plane.  It was an RJR jet that was still in the hangar.  About an hour after scheduled departure, the plane pulls up and we finally get to load.  We leave about 90 minutes late, which Delta does a lot on these regionals, for some reason they just don' t seem to care about a schedule.

It is very clear day and I got a window seat so the Delta drink cart does not take off an arm or leg as it goes down the isle.  Let Linda be the daredevil... We are sight seeing and trying to catch some landmarks out the window and we are on final approach in about 35 minutes.  A few minutes before we land we pick up some clouds and as we head in, the pilot makes a couple of quick turns and accelerates to abort the landing.  I thought he was a little off course and was going to come around and try again.  Nope.    Linda was quite scared and I tried to know what I was talking about as I explained the deal,  I watch the plane wreck show , you know.  But after climbing up several housand feet, the pilot came on the radio to let us know, that fog has suddenly shut down the traffic in Marquette airport.  We were going to reroute to Escanaba , which was where we would eventually go for our trip.  Marquette Airport, aka. KI Sawyer Airport, is a closed defense base and has great radar and massive runways, so the visibility had to be bad to abort.
Escanaba was only about 10 minutes and we were on the ground safely, not a cloud to be seen.   Whew!   A couple things that makes the story a lot more fun.   The airport was closed.    Nobody was there... Nobody.. No TSA, no airlines people, no rental cars, nothing.     They have a couple flights a day and it was between the last two scheduled flights, so they shut it down and leave and reopen later.  So, we taxied up and waited.   The pilot called a place called dispatch, and they figured out what they were going to do.  Basically we were going to get off and have family get us and our luggage.  A lot of the people would take a bus to Marquette, about a 75 minute ride, and the plane would refuel and return to Detroit.  Getting the information was tough, but we finally figured it out by your deduction method.  After an hour on the plane, one person got to the airport so we could deplane.  The door to the building was locked. Then we had to move the plane 50 feet for some strange policy reason, and then deplaned down the RJR ladder into the very small terminal.  The luggage was handled pretty quickly and we were off to eat fish fry--it was Friday you know...

Our hotel was in town, so that will be convenient.  How about your rental car Jack?   Oh yea.   This airport would not rent cars that would be left at another airport, local only.  Nice.  We had planned to leave our rental in Milwaukee.  I talked to National, where I had a reservation and cancelled that day's car in Marquette.   Then with an incredibly baulkly internet hook up at the hotel, found a car to rent in Marquette with Hertz that we would pick up on Saturday.  Linda's sister let us use her car to get all this done and without people close by, who knows how this could have ended.

As in the Air Disaster show, you have to find the root cause for the situation.   This one is easy--be on time!!  Get the plane to the gate on time, leave on time and none of this crap would have happened.  The visibility would have been fine and even the other airport would have been still open.    I fired Delta a couple of years ago over the performance of their regional jet fleets and in retrospect, I did the right thing.   My policy going forward, no regional jets unless it is absolutely necessary, and then reluctantly.
I have fully recovered from the food poisoning fiasco.   I have a meet in two weeks and I have been doing some speed and strength workouts.  I should be ready.  My weight  is down a little and I will see if that can make me any faster.  I am still going to concentrate on the 200 this meet.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Setbacks are part of life and we generally have no choice but to accept them in style.  I was in Wisconsin this week presenting some material to a large group of tissue makers.  Normally, you are subjected to hotel food and eating in groups.    I try as much as I can to be strict on my diet due to my garlic allergy and restrictions from gout when traveling.  I must have either goofed up or had something slip by, but I got a major case of food poisoning Monday night. 

As I get older, the food poisoning symptoms and reaction becomes more severe and lingers much longer.   I got sick--the messy part- Monday night late and was finished with that deal by Tuesday morning.  But all day Tuesday and into Wednesday my body was trashed.  Tuesday was stay in bed basically all day.  I did leave the hotel twice for visits to the local store for some food and liquids.  Getting out of bed and to the car was a major task and quite lengthy.  I was not aware I could actually move that slowly.  My breathing was very shallow--that part is going to be my end one day--and my energy was about as close to zero as humanly possible.  The pain was not huge, but I was not able to lie  on one spot of  my body  for more than a couple of minutes.  So I was constantly just churning on the bed--it was a really long day.   I did sleep a little better on Tuesday night and Wednesday was "go home" day.  My energy was better and the pain was under control, but mentally I was just "out to lunch".  Today is Friday and mentally I am 90% and physically 80% healed.  But I do not need to do that again.   I think my diet will eventually be cereal, fruit, chicken, some veggies, yogurt, eggs and salad as I age. Oh, and jello and tapioca pudding.  Nothing else.  It is getting there quicker than I want.

What was the culprit??  I wish I knew.   My boss indicated I was the only one at dinner (16 people) that had the walleye.  I thought it was the cheesy potato soup I had for lunch.  It could have been both in a little double whammy action.   Who knows.....

I had plans to run in the Kentucky State Finals this Sunday, but I am cancelling that meet.  I lost way too much energy to be able to run a competitive 400 meters.  Just the way it goes, another little setback.  It will be several more days before I can get back to any training.  Dr. Linda Allen has prescribed rest, I am going to not buck the good doctor. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Bucket List

Linda and I came up with a bucket list a few years back and this week we crossed off the Ford Thunderbird entry.   Since Linda was old enough to date she was a fan of the Thunderbird, and had always dreamed of owning one.  This last week we did some Tbird shopping and drove three different Tbirds and really liked a 2004 that Waltrip had just gotten on the lot.  A couple of emails to the insurance people, and a trip to the credit union and we were set.  I was a fan of the 2004, over the two  2002 cars we also drove, because of the special wheels on the 50 th anniversery edition and it had a select shift tranny.  The select shift is huge advantage in the hills around this part of the world.  The normal wheel is a 7 spoke chrome spoke wheel, but this smaller spoke I think looks more sophisticated  and stays cleaner.  We have taken a couple of nice rides with the top down and it is a lot of fun.   We took an evening tour through downtown Franklin and also some afternoon drives.  Hot weather in a convertible will burn you up, so we will need to be careful in the real hot weather.  But it is fun, and that is what living about, getting some fun in your life.

I added a picture of the fence we have in our meadow.  I just finished some new paint on the wood and it looks pretty good now.  This fence was nearly washed out by the big flood 5 years ago. The fence was basically pushed over by the waters and was left with a very nasty lean.  Last winter I removed all the vines and unwanted growth in the fence and reset several posts.  There was also a small mesh metal fence stapled to the lower section of the fence that would be used to keep in small animals.  I removed that crap last winter as well-  bad thinking on someone's part, that stuff was a mess and was vehicle to fill the fence with vines.   Now I can periodically clean out the brush and touch up the paint.  This was your basic farm work,--cut, pull, dig, scrap, clean and paint. 

I painted the fence in two days and finished yesterday right after lunch.  Linda and I had tickets to see Kelly Clarkson  last night at the Bridgestone arena and I told her it was farming, get your work done before you can go to the show and have some fun.  Kelly was fun, she did a great show-90 minutes- looked cute and we enjoyed the evening.  The crowd was 4 to 1 , women (girls) to men.  I could get into the bathroom without any waiting--that was first for me.   A lot of parents were escorting early teens, but they had some fun as well.  Kelly has really, really good pipes and can sing it!!  Next up for us is the Foo Fighters-- I expect a totally different crowd for that one. 

I did get some training in this week.  I ran on the treadmill yesterday at our gym.  I was tired and sore from painting and more under house mining and did not have any juice in the late afternoon.   I thought I would go at a slow pace and see how I felt.  I ran at a 8:57 mile pace and did 2400 meters without a break.  My heart beat stayed below 160 and I felt I got in a good workout.  It is amazing how when you feel like crap, you can pull a good workout!!  My conditioning is staying good and this next two weeks I will work on getting prepped for the 400 race in KY.    The speed is there, I just need to 'ask' for it.  The plan is break 62 in KY in the 400, the competition is pretty stout there and the pace should be fast.  And in the last race this season, which is the TN District Qualifier,  improve on 27.7 second 200.  I still have sore painter elbow and sore hips from the 2.4 K yesterday, but I can get those items under control pretty quickly.    This next week, I will be doing some traveling and that means I can do some more intense training, I will have time in the evening to not work on the house, but run. 

I talked about a calf cramp a couple of weeks ago.  I have made a minor change in my calf stretching position to do more stretching of the soleus muscle in the calf.  This change, where I bend my knees more on the calf stretch, has been effective and has helped minimize any issues with the calf muscle.  So, that injury situation is now history. 

For those people who do not watch TV, football season is here and Linda are all in.   The Ravenwood Raptors are 3-0 after a heart stopping OT win Friday night.  Mt Juliet tied the scored late on a 46 yard field goal-- in high school!!!    A real slugfest that they finally pulled out with a couple of big defensive stops.  An interception in the end zone in OT to end it!!  The game was over in an instant, that was truly 'sudden death'   There is nothing like live sports....   Go see a game, join in the fun. 

Friday, August 28, 2015


Everybody likes milestone numbers and 20 is my dirt milestone.   I just finished up Phase 1 of the      kitchen and the dishwasher is now working in the pantry!!  It is crowded, but this is the best design that allows us to do phase 2 in the format we want.  The dishwasher is super quiet and really gets stuff clean and sparky.   The 20 comes into the equation when you go below the floor of the house.  I have removed, by my calculations, 20 yards of dirt from the crawl space so I could get access for wiring, drains, and supply water.  Phase 2 will take more removal, but I am seriously thinking of buying a conveyor to move the dirt.  We will see what happens. 

I have been pretty healthy for the last two years, but I had a slight set back this week.  I was at the corporate office working and the ventilation is the building is uneven.  To say the least, I struggle keeping hydrated and it makes for a long day. One evening the weather was great and I thought I would go the local high school track for some speed and tempo work. 
  I was running at the Auburn Rockets track and had run two 200 meters cycles in 32.9 seconds each.  I was trying to up the speed just a but in the third one and I got a cramp in my lower right calf.  I felt the twinge at the 180 mark, and just cruised in to the finish.  I knew this would be trouble, so I gathered up my stuff and headed to the car.

 The infield was filled with high school girls practicing field hockey, which appears to be very popular in Massachusetts.  There were three fields training at the same time at the school.  The track was all weather in good shape and the field was the new sports turf, which makes for a great looking field.
I headed back to my hotel room, grabbed some food on the way,so I could ice and elevate the leg.  I iced hard for several hours and slept with compression on the leg.  I was not wearing calf compression when I got the cramp.  In the past couple of months I have worn compression socks for every work out, I am not sure if that was a cause or not.  

I limped for about a day and can walk fine, still having some discomfort from the area of the cramp.  Selling is minimal, but it is detectable.  I have been hot and cold treatments and will rest a couple more days and try it out next week.  My massage therapist gets to work on it tomorrow, and I hope he can get things back on the track.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back to the track

I am always in search of some new gear and I picked up a pair of Nike Zoom Victory 2 spikes.  They scaled in at 4.8 ounces each and are several ounces lighter than my current spikes.  I tried them out tonite and they are wicked fast.  Since my best races start on the curve, I did some curve starts tonight with my blocks. They are really light and they will be great for race day, but they will not be good for training due to the incredibly light fabrics used. There is almost no protection anywhere in the shoe.  They are all about speed and I will have to careful not to use them much in training.
I ran on grass two nights ago.   During my warm up and stretching I almost quit.  Some feeling of aimlessness came over me and I almost packed up and went home.  Man, that would have been stupid, but the thought went through my head.  Where does that stuff come from ?  I had a pretty good work out, running with my parachute on some short sprints.
 Tonight was 200 meters from blocks  at 90%,  100 meter curve starts from blocks,
 stadium steps and some tempo work.     I also did some recruiting for the Senior Games.  A man who turns out to be 50 was doing some laps on the football field and he asked me if I was involved in USATF?  We got into a discussion about my current racing and I encouraged him to check out the local Senior Games and give track a try again. Hopefully he can make an event and get hooked like the rest of us old speedsters.

William Yelverton who lives near Chatanooga, won a Bronze in the World Championship this week in the 200 meters in Lyon, France.  He is 55 years old and also has the quick time in the quarterfinal heat of the 400.  Hopefully,  William can bring some Gold to Tennessee!!   Currently there is some really fast old timers in Tennessee .  Go get em William!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Sound of Your Footsteps on the Trail

The view from the top of the trail head for the Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon National Park. This view is to the Northwest.

Looking at the starting point with the Moon getting a view of the day in the canyon.

Trail on the left side-- some scary stuff here.

The scenery is just spectacular, you have to stop and just take it in.
Near my turn turnaround point there is an old mining works, with a modern sign to warn of radiation hazard. A lot of green rocks scattered about.

These are the notes that I took for the hike with my Apple I phone 6.  Some additional info has been added post hike.  But it gives good idea of the exertion required and the amount of fuel your body will burn. I was on the trial for 5 hours and there was 12 people including me on the trail of 6 miles round trip.
I was in Flagstaff , AZ this week to visit a tissue mill.  I made my trip long enough to get in a little Canyon hiking, I was too close not to give it a go solo.  I stopped in Phoenix to borrow a walking stick from Linda's Uncle Dan Sinclair and talk about some options for a hike.  I had one day, too short to go the river and return.  In the summer,  a roundtrip in one day is basically as about as crazy as thing that you can attempt in the Canyon.  Too hot at the bottom to get it finished.   He suggested a hike on the Grandview Trail in the Canyon just East of the main tourist center on the South Rim.   Dan had done this trip several years back and had enjoyed the challenge.  It is a true day hike, no access to the river and also no water.  You go as far as you dare and return the same day.  Pretty simple event while you are sitting in the AC at the kitchen table.
Since, I was alone for the adventure, I made sure I had the safety bases  covered and could survive a night if something really bad happened.  I took some extra clothes, first aid, a  really bright light, enough water to last several more hours, my road ID,  and extra battery  for my IPhone 6.  I sat down the night before the hike and calculated the water needed.  I allowed 1 liter per hour, just like the Canyon rangers suggest, for a total of 5 liter which gave me 2.5 hours and I would turn around..  5 hours total was my timeline-- I was not going to tempt fate while on a solo.    I also took enough dried fruit, one banana, and two energy bars and electrolytes for the trip.  Food is something that you force your body to do, it is really  not hungry, you put in fuel to burn.  And going up took twice the fuel as down.  I wore my hear rate monitor, that is why you see the calorie burn listed in the diary.  The heart rate monitor is critical coming back up so you can figure out when to rest and eat.  I tried to eat something every 500 calories and I drank water by the clock.  One liter per hour was my target rate. Another little assistant was a new app for my phone.  It is an app that gives your real time elevation.  It was critical to find my location, I could tell by the elevation of where I was on the trial.  I really love this new app for hiking, it will become a critical part of my gear and planning very quickly.   They also suggest getting a good night's sleep before leaving and I think I slept 90 minutes.  I wish I could make myself sleep with big events coming up, but I can not, so I disobeyed on that count.
I got up early in Flagstaff and hauled ass to the Canyon going in the East entrance and arrived shortly after sunrise at the trailhead.  Perfect timing to beat the heat.  The park is basically empty at that time and it is just you, a few hardy souls and The Spirit of the Canyon.  More on The Spirit later. I got all my gear on, put sunscreen on anything exposed and that was only my hands and face. .  The clothing is  basically my running gear with a goofy hat to keep the sun off my head and a pack with the water and other basics.  I had never laid eyes on this trail and the maps for the Grandview in my opinion sucked, so I headed for the edge looking for a sign.  No sign posted,  just a trail that looks lightly used and I am off.  Cool bright morning in August to start an adventure.  Another couple was saddling up as I left and I met them near the bottom, see the notes about them. 
As I started down, the trail was steep and hard immediately.  But what a view, it is the Canyon and I was looking across at the North rim the entire day.  The trail has had a lot of development with sandstone set as a steep walkway and some stairs made from wood in other areas.  The first section is just steep and my legs were getting a little wobbly from the steps down.  When I could get a little flat section they felt a lot better.
I was alone in the Canyon. I stopped several times to listen--nothing.  No cars, machines, planes, wind in the trees--absolute silence. No phone service either.   You can see for miles and no one was there but you and The Spirit of the Canyon. The only thing that makes a sound is your own foot steps.  I have been in the Canyon two other times and each time you climb out over the edge and return to the normal world, I get this incredibly Spiritual feeling.  It is just you and The Spirit in the Canyon.  You are in the Spirits' space, their turf, and hopefully you can come away with a great experience as you are allowed to be part of Spirits' world.  The last two trips I was with other family members and the Spiritual feeling was the same.  When you enter the Canyon, you enter a real wonder that The Spirit created to make sure you know how insignificant you really are in comparison.  The Spirit has scoreboard and if you think you are going to change that fact, the pain will be real, The Spirit is the all time champ.
The Canyon is a real challenge in the true sense.  In many ways,  it is my space exploration type event.  It is thrill when all goes well, but there are consequences from failure and the lack of proper prep.   It is normally a team sort of event and is much safer when performed in a group.  But this event was  a solo  challenge in my life.  Sometimes life will challenge you-- divorce, sickness, crazy relatives, idiots at work.  This time I thought I would challenge life.  Challenging life can be dangerous or crazy.  Failure is painful and effects a lot of other people.  But success is a true life event that will stay with you forever.   I will never forget my challenge in the Canyon for 5 small hours.  I got a chance to experience my limits and I think I am better off as a result. 



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

7000 Feet

 I added an APP to my phone that would give the elevation of my current location.   It also gives the pressure and boiling points as well.   As you can see, things are a little different at this elevation

I am in Flagstaff, Arizona this week working.   This is my first overnight here and I thought I would do a little training at the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks stadium. The weather was in the 80's with no clouds in the sky and a light breeze.  I got the stadium around 5 PM and there was a steady stream of people that were coming to the stadium as well.  I asked a couple of people about the crowd, which ended up around 100 people, and  the local running shoe store did a weekly training session to help distance sunning get some speed.  Pretty cool deal.   There was all ages and abilities and they worked out for about an hour as well.  The area has a lot of runners, which speaks well of the level of wealth locally.

I had not been on a track for over a week and I wanted to do some 300 and 400's cycles.  I did a 400 first and the lack of humidity, none in reality, really dried out my mouth as I ran and I thought I was going to absolutely choke to death after the lap.   The dryness is really a big deal for me, and there was enough wind to make me suffer down the finish stretch.   I was also interested in how well I recovered after each cycle.   My fitness recovery was pretty good.  My breathing was labored and did take a little longer to get ready for the next cycle.  My heart rate recovered nicely.  I did a normal workout of 70 minutes and headed out when my right hammie was getting that early twing from the onset of dehydration. Plus the track was crowded enough that clean running line was impossible.   I drank about one liter of water during the training session and had some electrolytes before I ran. 

After the 400, I did just 200 and 300 cycles.  I still got really dry mouth at the end of each and had to drink water right after each cycle, but I could get my heart rate up to 95% of maximum for each cycle.  It is a sad day when I can't even get in a lap without a wet down.  I guess I would need a Camel back to do cycles at this altitude.   Today I feel fine and have no lingering issues.  I can see why Olympians and serious runners train at altitude,  you can do some real work.   When I did my running, even into the wind, the air density is low enough that the resistance from the air is noticeably less.  I can see how sprinters could lay down  great times at altitude.  I noticed the difference, but you pay in the lack of air.   One of the older runners at the track had a shirt that read-- Gaspin'-- and I was that guy.   

Today is rest and I will get in some walking tomorrow.  Stay tuned for some fantastic pictures.