Friday, May 27, 2011

Separating Existence From Reason

The maker's workshop.

While working through my ideas of a creator, a supernatural being responsible for all that we see and possess, I stumbled upon the two separate ideas.  1) The consideration and possible acknowledgement of non-random design of the universe.  2) The need to worship this creator.

As I write this I am sitting in a production-built home.  The builder has constructed over four hundred homes in this development alone.  This builder has constructed thousands of homes similar in design and function across this country.  It is a decent home, sturdy and stable.  There are noticeable defects though.  Things that should have been corrected on the drafting table.  Issues that should have been rearranged during the construction process.  Call back items that the builder refused to acknowledge after handing the keys to the new owner.

I know that home construction is a fairly simple process to understand, even if you do not grasp every detail.  Bulldoze the site and prep for the foundation.  Transform trees into lumber into walls and roofing systems.  Apply shingles and sheet rock.  Connect electrical, water and sewer lines.  Finish off all the steps that turn an assemblage of materials into a structure, suitable for habitation.

But at no point do I feel it necessary to worship the builder as omnipotent.

At this point somebody will say "you cannot compare people to God, we are simple and incomplete and ill-equipped to understand the design of the universe."  So?

Others will ask "How can you compare mistakes in delivery or construction of a house with the majesty of the nature, with all its wonder?"  Easily, because I see the mistakes.

We cannot address the presence of a "perfect god" while glossing over or ignoring the mistakes in creation.  It is either naive or shortsighted.  

I do consider the idea of some being, a creature of another dimension, a creator of worlds with a conscience far beyond our understanding.  But to be worshipped?  Probably not.  Rather than placing such a being on a throne bathed in light and exalted by lessor entities in the empty invisible space between the rich blue sky and the inky blackness of space, I imagine a cobbler.  A tinkerer maybe.  Some old, hobbled soul with a lifetime spend making and fashioning and assembling.  Make something from nothing more than scraps and an idea.  See what comes out of it.  Declaring the finished work neither good nor bad, neither whole nor incomplete.  Simply done.

And we are left of figure out the why.  What spurns on such a being to make and mold with little regard for the product?  I consider it is nothing more than to see what comes of the creative process.

So when I look at nature, or man-made creation, I can admire the exquisiteness of the design.  How systems are melded together, sometimes harmonious and sometimes calamitous.  But do I feel it necessary to drop to my knees and praise a god for making all things good and evil, beautiful and ugly?  No more so than I bow down at the construction office in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cutting to the Core

You do not do enough

You do not have enough.

You are not enough.

You do not matter.

These are messages that can crush one's spirit when repeated at the wrong time.  Whether you say it to the mirror or you hear it from people in your circle believing any of these statements will keep you from being enough.  From mattering.

For some people enough is global, they matter on the large-scale, big picture perspective.  For other people it is on a local level.  Then there are the folks that matter only within the four walls of home and family, and for them that is enough.

Figure out what makes you matter.  Consider what your enough should be.  

Still working on determining my enough.  Just less anxious about it today.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


These are pictures of my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers.  They have approximately 625 miles of mostly asphalt road running and minimal trails.

And yes, I had run in these beauties just days before snapping these photos back in February.  Where you could see my toe nails that is a product of a slightly too small fit and slightly too long nails.  Once I quick wearing socks in Spring 2010 my nails quickly cut through the leather.  This problem has not been repeated in my two pairs of Bikilas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Finding Purpose

The world is a wonderful place.  It can also be a living Hell.

Volumes have been written on why bad things happen to otherwise good people.  Spiritual folks take solace in saying God has a plan.  That Our Creator makes bad things happen for a reason.  He does not give to us what we cannot handle.  To hell with THAT!  What about children.  I could give examples of what I mean and dare you to find the plan.  But I digress.

That statement was the straw that broke my psyche once upon a time.  It broke one morning in a Sunday School   class.  Someone relayed the story of woman with borne with a physical limitation.   Apparently her existence was extremely difficult, but tempered by acceptance.  I story was recounted by someone I did not like anyway.  I snapped.  I shouted out my refusal to accept such condemnation by a Creator to a life of suffering for the sake of others.  My wife freaked out.  Fortunately I took steps and sought help.

Now, in this moment, after experiencing and confessing a very dark period I am caught in troubling thought. Was I meant to experience this. Is my willingness to write about my troubles a vehicle for raising awareness & understanding in others - whether they be sufferers or onlookers.

I lashed out and raged against this very notion, that we are given flaws and sacks of crap to make us stronger.  To be an example and strengthen.  I hated the idea of suffering so others could grow.  Again, not all suffering sows the seed of healing.

I still question why people take comfort in being an imperfect copy of an infallible being. Why would a/the maker intentional screw up a manufactured product unless it is meant for a consumer based economy.  To be used up and tossed out.  What is to rejoice in that?

Why build a flaw into the system?

To make us weak?  

To leave us vulnerable?  

To cause us to be afraid?

No.  Thank. You.  

I can accept my flaws as the randomness of nature.  Nothing intelligent in my design.  My life has certainly been bereft of intelligence. Ha!

I will accept my flaw so long as I am able to tell the story.  Based on the response, there is power in sharing this experience.  Many people run for causes - cancer, homelessness, disaster relief.  I may have found my cause.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


This is not a topic I cared to write about today, but the with all the turmoil in my mind this week I had to pour it out.  Hopefully it will drain away like receding flood waters and leave me on dry ground again.

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you are not.

For people who don't understand it is impossible unless you live it first hand.  Until you feel its icy hot grip on your soul do you realize what it must be like.  Sometimes one is blissful unaware.  Things just work out that way.  Shrug your shoulders and move on.  Try something else.  But when the realization hits, it is akin to standing on the railroad tracks, staring at the train as it bears down upon you.  Frozen.  Unable to react.  Resigned to the inevitable.  Accepting of one's fate.

Life has no reset button.  Rare are true second chances.  I know of a few people who have kick started new opportunities.  I am amazed by their raw courage and determination.  What pulled them back from the precipice may remain a mystery to me.  All I can feel is that they possess something I do not.

What awakens the addict from a stupor and enables a life to be reclaimed?  I think it is fear.  What keeps the addict locked into the cycle of use and abuse?  Fear again.  The difference being fear can either cause one to act or freeze one in inaction.  We can be afraid for what we stand to lose, either way.  For all my recent writings I still live in fear.

Of myself.

The quote atop this post was sent to me in the wee hours of this morning.  It came from a true friend, someone that may not fully know or understand me but truly wants the best for me.  One part of me is thankful that such a person walks this earth.  Another part of me questions why someone would even bother.  But she listens.  I have special empathy for my wife.  Andria has to deal with me on a daily basis and is at a loss for how to respond when these moments arise.  All she can do, as can I, is hold on and hope to ride it out quickly.  Thankfully I do not become violent or speak out abusively.  All my anger is thrust inward.  The tendency is to cannibalize myself.

As for the quote, the message sent in the dead of night, I had but one thought.  For as little as I think of myself during weeks like this one, I fear that I am even less than that.  What if I am worse than the darkest thoughts I can imagine?

This shit isn't pleasant.  I am thankful I never took up drugs.  I am thankful I am not an alcoholic.  I am thankful I do not abuse Andria or our children physically or emotional.  I am thankful I do not harm myself physically - regardless of what people say about ultra running.

But for all that I am thankful, I would be most thankful for this cycle to end.  I pray you never have to experience this existence.  It is nothing to write home about.


It is difficult to say how these cycles begin or end.  I do not know if the triggers are chemical or emotional, environmental or internal.  Usually I can feel the wave beginning to crash.  At that point there is no way to stop the tumble.  

Maybe this one started at the foot of the biking trail, as I looked longingly at the packed earth and swaying branches.  Turning away, while it was the right choice at the time, may have proved ultimately to be the wrong choice.  

Maybe it was the unhappy, inconsolable child during the ride home and days since our trip.  It is not her fault.  She is only a child, a precious gift that I do not deserve.  I wonder if I really am equipped to be a parent.  And here is a confession - whenever someone innocently proclaims that I am a good father I want to backhand them.  Personally I find that statement laughable.  I would love to be a good father.  All I can admit to is trying.

In reality, all I know is that when the voices tune up and form a chorus in my head I cannot shut them out.  They will sing to my failings and rejoice to my faults and I am simply an audience of one.  Lone sinner in the pews, waiting for this sad service to adjourn.

I am hovering on the edge today, not sure which way I am leaning.  I could be on the way to shore, letting the wave play itself out.  Fortunately I have felt the full drowning tumbling force of a crash once.  Only once.

All this is to say that if you know someone experiencing this sort of existence, don't tell them to keep their chin up.  If only it were so easy.  The best you can provide for is to be an ear or shoulder.  Listen. Ask a few questions.  Examine recent events for a root cause, should one exist.

Another quote pops to mind presently.  Another person - a survivor of far different demons than my own, someone who's story I admire greatly - says that we should spend more time living than analyzing.  Don't know if I am there yet.

If you do know someone in this same situation and do not care to listen - due to either lack of time or interest - don't bother asking.  You may get more of a story than you bargained for in the end.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I have been struggling with words lately.  Such is the roller coaster.

When these emotions hit I consider putting an end to my blog.  No one wants to read such meandering drivel - thinking of you, Mike - and I do not care to waste anyone's time.  I can only roll through this so many times before it becomes repetitive.  I feel stagnant.  Drowning.

There are words to write though.  I have to refocus and prepare for a presentation with Google.  That is why I am travelling to Chicago in August.

A couple of truly incredible people see something in me and believe in me.  Time to dig in and discover what is worth believing.

Unless something truly strikes at my heart this may be my last blog post for a while.  

Thanks for reading.  

Thanks for encouraging.  

Thanks for being.

 - Logan

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Invest Wisely

Sunday evening I finished reading Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan.  It is a study of human behavioral patterns involving decision making and judgmental errors.  While it is a short read Mr. Hallinan packs in tons of information based on surveys and clinical research.  I have to say it was a fascinating read.

One area that Hallinan shines a light is stock market investing.  Researchers discovered that moderately informed novices are no worse at forecasting price trends than seasoned and highly trained experts.  Even the prospect of higher commissions did not improve the success rate for the professional stock brokers.  This is not to say that the hotshot traders were unmotivated by increased income potential.  After all, cash is the name of that game and the measure of success. 

The research illustrated that an overload of information can lead to overconfidence and an overestimation of self.  We trick ourselves into believing we are smarter than we actually are.  We believe we are capable of more than our abilities.  Overconfidence instills a sense of bravado.  All this creates an additional inflated sense of value.  This is where we falter.

Hallinan's summation is that the only commodity we truly possess is time.  Information is flawed.  Perspective is skewed.  The value of information is based upon the intent of the deliverer and the perspective of the receiver.  It is impossible to know everything.  We see as they want us to see.  The person providing the information knows this and presents the information as it best suits his purposes.  We can only judge a situation or course of action based on what we are allowed to know.

There is a tipping point in the information overload.  At some point you can ease off the pedal or back away before enough becomes too much.  This is true in athletic training.  

It is also true with relationships.

Invest your time wisely, or your losses may be costly.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tell The Rain Not To Drop

People have a habit of interjecting their thoughts when least appropriate.  Or when most inopportune.  Or best timed to cut deep and lay waste to killer mojo.  Those people are assholes.

One commonality among endurance athletes is the misunderstanding of our obsession by the uninitiated.  The crazy looks.  The questioning stares.  I have read numerous posts and comments lately on this very subject.  As a rule we - marathoners, ultra marathoners, triathletes, etc - are viewed as obsessive, arrogant, egotistical, selfish maniacs.

Tell me I am insane.

Tell me I waste my money.

Tell me I misuse my time.

Tell me I am a bad father.

Tell me I am a selfish spouse.

But don't tell me they know what it means to be me.  That they understand what I do.  That they understand why I run.  Far.

They may not get IT.  That is okay.  The real question is do they get that they don't get IT?

Tell the rain not to drop.  But don't tell me not to run.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When Giving Up is For the Best

I cannot recall at the moment (and presently have no patience for research) if I have discussed my suspected mental illness.  Nothing major at this point, but I have running to thank for that.  I could not say that six years ago.  There was a crap job with no support from management.  There were financial issues that I am still dealing with today.  There was quiet a bit of questioning of my self.  One constant during that time was that I drank.

Let me make one thing clear now - this is not a general rant against alcohol.  Society is not ruined by the manufacture, distribution, sale or consumption of alcohol.  But it does not come with out problems.  However, the question of prohibition was settles ninety years ago.  So drink.  Enjoy.  But please... be responsible.

My issue is how my body deals with the physical process of metabolizing alcohol and its effects on my emotions.  Not the drunken I LOVE YOU MAN crap that we love to laugh about.  More like the quite tempered, nasty, angry, hateful things that can surface when the mind is compromised.

After moving to my current locale five years ago, I secured a stash of discarded mini-bottles.  Bourbon.  Scotch.  Vodka.  Etc.  I would come home every day and have a drink or two.  Not the end of the world.  Plenty of people do the same.  Besides, I was not drinking and driving.  But I was not participating in the functioning of the household.  I was not being an active father.  Nor was I being an attentive spouse.  I was just being.  And that sucked.  My weight was also creeping up.  Unattractive in so many ways.

Things changed when I stumbled upon marathons.  I figured to seriously train I should consider drinking less.  There was also that promise to Andria that I would not buy alcohol since we were so strapped for cash.  Kept that promise.  For a while.  Sometimes the lessons just won't stick.

Beer would still make me sleepy.  It wrecked motivation.  Sure, it was short term.  But when you live in the moment sometimes "short term" is all you have.  And here in lies the greatest lesson from my first ultra.

I knew that after finishing the run I would want a beer... or three.  That keg in the Lumberjack basecamp was sweet.  Beer at 10am never tasted so good.  And the four local brews I downed back in the Portland hotel room that night were awesome.  Even a few drinks with the guys at 3 Non Joggers made for a nice evening.

Then I had a thought.

The keg around the camp fire was communal.  The visit with 3NJ was social.  While I did not need the alcohol to enjoy myself, the focus was not on drinking.  The focus was on spending time with some truly awesome people who are doing things I really admire.  Beers were just part of the process.

However, usually when I drink I drink solo.  My wife is not a drinker except for special occasions.  Maybe one glass of wine a month.  Again, no reason really.  So when I do drink - alone - the social aspect is missing.  And with the absence of a social framework all I am left with is the alcohol-induced fatigue and whatever mental minefield lay in wait.  The fuse is lit.  And it is short.

The beauty of running Lumberjack - and possibly running ultras in general - is that I was in a blissful state of exhaustion for a week afterward.  It was nearly euphoric.  I reveled in the experience.  This may be one more reason why I want to continue running ultras.

So I decided that I would take a new tact with my drinking.  Since I like beer I would not quit completely, but rather, I would abstain till race day.  I would reward myself for a hard run training cycle.  Seemed like a solid plan.  Then I bought a six pack of beer.  When Andria saw me bring it in the house she knew it was a mistake.

I told her of my plan.  She liked it.  Would save money and help me be more present.  But by buying that six pack I had already given up on something I had carefully considered.  Time to try again.

A friend said she quit alcohol completely to achieve clarity in an otherwise cloudy life.  By all accounts it is working.  I think I have clarity.  What I need is commitment.  So I drank my last on Monday evening.

My next race is August 14th.  After that is October 29-30th.  This personal prohibition only covers half marathons and longer.  I want to feel I earned that next beer.  A 5k or 10k just doesn't cut it with this plan.

What I have realized is that running has replaced alcohol for me to some degree.  Some people drink to mellow out.  Check.  Some people drink to improve their self-esteem.  Check.  Some people drink to shove aside some emotional baggage.  Check.  Running has done the first two.  Running is helping me work through the third.

Basically running is helping me become a better me.  I have tried therapy but I was left with the same doubts and concerns.  I have tried medication, but potential side effects and symptoms of withdrawal are unwelcome.  Any day with a bad run is still a good day.

So don't be self-conscious about drinking in my presence.  I will not get preachy.  Its my thing and I am fine with my decision.  You do your thing.  But if you feel obligated to offer me a beer, I'll have to ask you to keep it on ice till I finish my next race.  Then I'd love one.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Score One For the Runner

Talk of late has been about goals.  I have several, mostly of the short term variety.  Such as races and run related events.  My wife on the other hand has few goals of a personal nature.  With the responsibilities of motherhood and work she has difficulty even finding thirty minutes of a neighborhood run.  So long term planning is usually at the back of her mind.

Enter Girl Scouts.

Andria has been involved with Girl Scouts since she was a child.  Most recently she has been a leader for our daughters' troop over the past five years.  Sure, it is a drag when responsibilities for planning and staging meetings, weekend trips and leadership training interferes with home life.  But she does it for numerous reasons.  Now she has another.

Camp Sandy Ridge outside Bennettsville, SC will host The Cookie Cup.  It is a Warrior Dash/Rugged Maniac style 5k with obstacles through the hills of a Girl Scout camp.  Andria spent several summers at Sandy Ridge as a child.  Now she says she wants to participate in this race.

When she told me of her interest I noticed that gleam in her eyes.  That gleam that only racers get.  It reveals anticipation and excitement and uncertainty.

Training for a 5k will be the challenge.  Taking time for herself is one of Andria's great weaknesses.  There is always someone or something needing attention.  Andria often puts herself last, if she even puts herself in the que.  Simply addressing the possibility of entering a specific race is a major step.

August 27th cannot get here fast enough.