Letter #2: To the OPSF 50/50 Organizers & Volunteers

While I was running the brutal course yesterday, wondering why it was that I’d signed up for such a ridiculous race, I knew who I’d be thanking.

David and Sara, the couple who put this race on, and all the volunteers who set up, mark, and monitor the course are nothing short of amazing. They are all upbeat, happy, and encouraging along the way.

Unlike traditional marathons with thousands of volunteers and fanfare, ultra marathons take place in the middle of the woods and have few participants. The organizers and volunteers bust their collective humps to help a handful of crazies run up and down hills all day.

They deserve more than we could ever give them. This letter will go out in the mail on Monday, but I thought I’d post it now.

***

Dear David + Sara:

I wanted to send you – and all the volunteers – a letter expressing my heartfelt thanks for putting on such a great event. This is my second year running (and first finishing) the OPSF 50/50. This year – as with last year – I found everyone I spoke with to be genuinely kind and helpful. That is no small feat considering how much work goes into setting one of these events up, and how long the volunteers are asked to sit outside while the rest of the crazies run up and down hills all day.

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Letter #1: To Our Dog Trainer

Rebecca, Maxx the dog, and I stopped into the Castleton PetSmart this morning to see our dog trainer. She’s been working with us for several months, and we’ve grown quite fond of her.

While we’re taking a break from training because of life, we wanted her to know that we’d still swing by to see her.

She’s also the first person we wanted to thank during The Year of Thank You so yesterday I dropped off a letter Rebecca and I wrote. After Maxx was checked into Doggie Day Camp, I tracked down the manager and talked with him for a few minutes about our experience with the trainer and told him that I hoped he’d share what we said to him.

We found out today that he shared it with the entire staff.

When we came into the store, employees continually came up to us and thanked us for writing that letter about her and about the staff. We continually were told: “Nobody ever says thank you.”

Their comments weren’t said derisively. Instead, there was a longing about it as if they were also reminded that they didn’t say thank you enough either. What was supposed to be a quick hello to our trainer turned into a 35-minute meet-and-greet with the staff.

It was a pretty good morning, and an amazing reminder about the power we have to create the world that we want. Just a few little words brightened the day of the people who have helped us with Maxx the dog.

Here is the letter we gave to the general manager (with the name of the innocent party removed). And don’t forget that I’d love to hear your stories as well.

***

Hello:

My name is Brad King, and my fiancée Rebecca Hutton and I wanted to write a letter to let you know about our wonderful experiences with <our trainer>, who has been our dog’s trainer for the past several months.

Too often we let good deeds and good people get pushed aside in the swirl of the day-to-day activities of life. While understandable, we believe that a general lack of acknowledgement subtly reinforces the idea that positive interactions are no different than negative interactions.

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The 52 in 365 Challenge: The Year of Thank You

The 90-in-90 writing challenges I’ve posted have sometimes taken on a life on their own. Other times they’ve taken on my life. And other times still they have simply faded away.

Fortunately, I’m way more into process than product so the outcome of my personal missions is rarely the point.

For this challenge, though, the product is more important than the process. Let me explain:

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Day 84: Ultra September, a Call for Runners

**Here’s a synopsis: I’m looking for running partners on Saturday, September 29 to help me with a training run on the Monon. Any distance, any leg are helpful. I’ll be running between a 9:30-10:30 pace depending on the day. Feel free to leave a comment or drop a line if you’re interested.**

I’m two months away from the 2012 OPSF Ultra Marathon, the only race I’ve ever DNF’d. (The upside to that race: I met this girl on my way home.)

The moment I decided to drop out of the race, I knew I’d be back. You never finish on a miss. My dad taught me that lesson many years ago when I’d shoot free throws on our driveway. The last shot you take before you go inside has to be a make. This was no different.

The 50k Ultra — in this case a 35-mile run as the course was mis-measured — is an entirely different beast than a road marathon. The hills, the trails, the solitude, the limited aid stations, and the location make these races equal parts mental and physical.

When I DNF’d, I decided to skip the rest of my races in 2011 and 2012, and instead dedicate myself to conquering the ultra distances. I retro-fitted my road bike; I ditched my road marathon equipment and bought lightweight trail running gear; I joined CrossFit to build the endurance needed to run up and down thousands of feet; and I put one race on my calendar: November 3, 2012.

As September begins, my training picks up. I ran 20 miles on Saturday, Sept 1; I’ll run 24 miles on Saturday, Sept 8; dial it back for 18- and a 14-miles runs the following Saturdays; and on Saturday, Sept 29 I’ll do a 30-mile training run.

It’s the last run that sticks in my head: a 30-mile training run.

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Day 79: Remiss in Writing, Not in Doing

We’ve been so tied up with the start of school, training, the wedding, and life that I’ve forgotten to write about the 90-in-90 even though I’ve not forgotten to live it.

The girl and I have continued our CrossFit ways: twice a week and once on the weekend. We’re debating bumping up our membership so we can go more often. Finally after 3 1/2 months of lifting things, we can lift them in the proper way. Let me just tell you: Olympic lifting gets a lot more fun when you’re strong enough to do things moderately correctly.

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Day 52: As School Approaches…

While I don’t write about writing much anymore, I’ve been writing a ton every day. Unfortunately, none of the writing is on my writing projects. I’ve nearly finished my research proposal for graduate school (which involves writing a short novella), I’ve written scores of pages for my online classes, explaining the details of my assignments, and I’m constantly writing grants for projects I’m aiming to accomplish.

In fact, I just turned in the last batch of work for 2 chapters I’ve written for a textbook on magazine journalism. (This is – I swear – the last thing I’m writing for a traditional publisher unless I’ve negotiated the contract.) Also: I sent out a note today that said between now and August 20 my answer to every query not related to school is: I can’t help you.

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Day 48: Run, Bike, CrossFit

Last Sunday, Rebecca and I decided we needed to kick our training up a notch. After all, we’d been going at CrossFit for about 2 1/2 months, and we were starting to feel…energized.

If you’ve ever worked out for an extended period of time, you’ll understand that feeling. When you finish a hard workout, you recover and want to get started again.

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Day 47: Crossfit + the 90s

image Rebecca and I started going to CrossFit about 2 1/2 months ago after deciding that running probably wasn’t enough for us.

She’s attempting her first marathon (which comes after a car accident one year ago) and I’m trying to finish that Ultra that kicked my ass last year (and the Tecumseh Trail Marathon that whooped me 2 years ago).

We’ve dedicated one weekend day each week for BIG EXERCISE, which means a run (at least 5 miles), a long bike (at least 25 miles), and some time at the CrossFit open gym.

Rest assured: We are feeling old. As I told my friend Austin, “I’m getting in shape but I’m realizing shape in your 40s isn’t actually shape.”

Still, we’re starting to fit into our gym wear (which is good). This is my new summer running shirt + my CrossFit workout shorts.

Day 42: The Week Maxx Got Sick

You’re never told the bad things that happen when you become a dog owner. Those you have to find out yourself. This week, we had the joy of a dog that had worms. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say every two hours for 5 days our boy had little gifts for us. Fortunately, he used the basement (unfinished, concrete, drains) so the clean up crew (re: Rebecca) had an easier job.

I spent the week experimenting with foods, medicines, and such trying to get his stomach to settle down. Today is the first day he’s been relatively normal and life at the homestead is back.

Of course, Rebecca and I haven’t slowed down. Today we ran 5 miles, biked 36 miles, and broke up the ride with 30 minutes of Crossfit Workout of the Day (WODs) and pull-up exercises. This after a 10-mile run yesterday. All told, I put 80 miles on the docket this week between running and biking, and we squeezed in 2 Crossfit classes.

I’m even back writing. I (nearly) finished one online class, and by Tuesday I expect to finalize that. John and I spoke about Dungeons + Dreamers, which we keep aiming to get back on track with, and I’ll finalize my research proposal tomorrow.

All toold, it wasn’t the most productive week but we did okay. We’re moving forward as always. I’ve confirmed my Ultra marathon in November and my trail marathon in December. And Rebecca and I still trying to decide whether we should try the Hilly Hundred just a few weeks before my Ultra and her first marathon.

Death before DNF! Follow us here or here.

Day 37: Ultra Trailing

imageToday, I rode 20 miles on the Monon trail. The last time I road anywhere near that distance was 2003 when I was dating a woman who would go on to complete an Ironman Triathlon.

Back then, our 30-40 mile Sunday “fun rides” nearly killed me. In fact, I hadn’t been on my bike since we broke up.

These days, Rebecca and I routinely hit the road for 12-18 mile rides, and I’ve rediscovered my love for bikes.

While we’re gearing up to ride in the 2-day Hilly Hundred in October, I’m still a runner at heart. As I weaved my way through scores of high school cross country runners on the Monon, I couldn’t shake the fact that the itch to do weird things was back upon me.

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Day 35: Things I’m Signing Up To Do

We just returned from several days down in Brown County where I managed to sprain my wrist (Crossfit Hang Clean into Squats got me) and bruise my Achilles on a 250-foot climb (1 of 2 Category 4 climbs on the run, which in the easiest of the category climbs apparently) when I nearly tumbled over the side of a large hill while biking in the Brown County State Park.

To celebrate our fam-cation, we got up at 5 am and drove back to Indianapolis for our Saturday Indy Runners group. The 8-mile run wiped us out so we took an extended nap before heading to Broad Ripple Crossfit to watch Day 2 of the Crossfit Games with 35 or so new friends.

During the evening, we were introduced to the phrase: “Death before DNF,” which is the unofficial motto of Crossfitters who compete and finish long after they’ve been eliminated. Of course, that kind of motivation got me thinking about next year’s two adventure races (TransRockies and Ragbrai) and what I needed to do to get in shape. While I’d planned on taking this year to get in shape to train for next year, I’ve decided to try my hand at a few longer races this year:

There will be no time goals, just a little bit of running and biking to see how ready I am to go after my bigger goals next year. If you’re planning on doing any of these, let me know. We’re planning on making this a fun-filled year.

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