It’s been a busy fall and this past week I’ve been getting going on some new projects around the house that should give me some fuel for the ol’ blog (if I ever actually blogged :-) ). Today though I just want to reminisce on the autumn that was; this is the time of year when I feel like I’ve come down from the mountain top. In some cases I have come down from an actual mountain top but metaphorically I’m on the mountain top just about anytime I’m out chasing elk in the wilderness/woods. And I don’t mean to come across like I’m all depressed about “coming down” (which Kelly might dispute when I come back to reality from some trips) cause I’m very thankful to have a warm bed, wife, and dogs. Anyway, here are some things (from the above photo) I’m grateful for when I’m out in the woods.
In no particular order:
- Subaru—gets me where I need to go with all the gear Evan (my bud) and I need.
- Boxes and containers—anything that can hold all your treasures, help ya take them with you, and keep them dry is pretty damn awesome.
- MSR Whisperlite Stove—had it since I was probably 14. Practically zero maintenance, small, cheap fuel, and gets the job done. It’s behind the scrap of plywood that I brought for firewood but re-purposed for a heat shield/wind-shield.
- French-press mug
- Pot grabber
- Elk urine
- Black Velvet Whiskey
- Gerber multi-tool
- Banana chips
- Dr. Bonner’s soap
- Roll up picnic table
- Foldable chairs
- Beer (thanks Evan for the Ranger IPA cans!)
- Water jug
- Cutlery (a mix of disposable and light-weight reusable ones is optimal)
- Cast iron pan
- Wheat thins but the non-Nabisco kind!
- Space blankets (yeah, I forgot my sleepingbag on this particular trip). Thankfully I had a polar fleece blanket, a heavy duty space blanket, and a tiny one. I have to write a whole post about this because while I wasn’t livin’ it up, I also wasn’t freezing to death. If I was going to potentially freeze to death without a good shelter, let me tell you, I sure hope I learned that I’m going to fight dying with one hell of a space blanket—and not a skimpy one!
- Mouth guard— dude, dentists, wherever you are, bless you. I’m freakin’ thankful for having a dentist. Not that I have major problems but that’s because I have a dentist. This so reminds me of El Feo (Eli Wallach, the middle dude in the picture below) from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly when he takes the casing of a bullet and uses it to cap a bum tooth. How awesome would that be.
I think that’s about all. Count your blessings. And dang, I look at this list and I have to say I’m super blessed to have my Dad. Practically speaking he gave me practically all of this gear (not to mention an affinity for Canadian Whiskey) and more so took the time to get me outside. Good man that father of mine.
When I was in high school, I was a distance runner. I ran 6 days/week, 48 weeks/year, x4 years. I could run pretty fast for a long time. Then I got burned out. I had been planning to run in college, but by that summer I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. In the 12 years since (whoa, am I really that old!?), I have only run the occasional mile or two here and there. Throughout that time, I’ve always worked out at the gym at least a couple times a week and I’ve maintained a decent level of fitness. From time to time, I’ve thought about starting to run again, but whenever I make an attempt I feel slow and out of shape. This is in sharp contrast to my fond memories of running fast, endorphins flowing, surrounded by fantastic coaches and teammates/friends constantly providing encouragement and motivation. Going it alone is tough.
Three weeks ago I decided to step on the scale at the gym, as I’d noticed that lately some of my favorite and best fitting pants were no long fitting quite so well. Even so, I was shocked when the needle landed a good 5 lbs higher than the number I’ve been used to seeing for the past few years, which in turn is 5 more than what I’d consider ideal for me. So I ramped up the intensity of my gym workouts and set a goal of 4 days/week. Last week I ducked into the locker room in the building where I work to see if there was a scale (I don’t have one at home) to check my progress. No scale, but I did find a stack of back issues of Runner’s World left by one of my coworkers. I started reading, got inspired, and decided that running should be part of my plan. But how to overcome that blah feeling and keep going until I get in good enough shape that it’s actually fun again?
My answer: operant conditioning with a focus on positive reinforcement. I’ve been learning about it for the last couple years because I’m fascinated by dog behavior and training. I plan to use clicker training with any dog we get in the future. You can use the same principles to train any animal, person, or even yourself! The basic idea behind positive reinforcement is that by rewarding a behavior, preferably while the subject is doing the behavior or immediately afterward, the frequency of the behavior will be increased. An added benefit is that the subject will often enjoy doing the behavior more, too. Being healthier, losing weight, etc. are not good rewards because they can’t be delivered on time. I decided that listening to my favorite podcasts - This American Life and Radio Lab - while I run (and not at any other time) would be a good reinforcer for me. I also thought it would be helpful to eliminate any inadvertent positive punishment (discomfort, iPod falling out of my waist band) so I got myself a shiny new pair of Asics and a sporty pouch for carrying small items. I also dug out my digital watch and improvised a sport band for it out of a nylon bracelet and a piece of a sock (because the nylon edges are scratchy). It looks super classy. Maybe someone will get me a velcro watch band (this one please - in wave blue) for my upcoming birthday. Asking for a present via blog entry, that is classy too.
Yesterday, I warmed up and then ran for 30 minutes with a few bursts of speed mixed in, while listening to TAL #406. It felt good. I’m on my way!