Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tribute to my mom---revisited from 2008

It can be a long road if you have to face the world alone but most, like me, will never have to do that because their mother is always by their side or in their heart. Mothers are very special people that God created to keep this world moving in a positive direction. Somehow no matter what, under any and all circumstances, a mother finds a way to make everything seem better. Whether it’s a smile, a word or just her presence alone things that once caused pain seemingly disappear.
There is a special bond between a mother and her children that can never be broken. You grow up in her arms; she watches over you and guides you as you progress through childhood into your teen years. You grow up, you move out but her job is never over. She watches you succeed and then catches you when you fall. She listens and points in the right direction but ultimately she allows you to choose your own path in life. She sacrifices so that you may not do without. She feels pain on the inside but does her best to be strong on the outside. She sees both the good and the bad qualities that you possess. She is not afraid to address the bad but her main purpose is to emphasize the good. She never says no in times of need yet somehow accepts the word no from her children. A mother is someone that possesses a kind heart, strong will, nurturing soul, and a fierce desire to protect her children. Yes there are times when a mother and her children will argue and even separate for long periods but the love from your mother never disappears. Physically she may be out of your life but she can always feel your heart beat and you can feel her spirit in your soul even if you are thousands of miles away. Anger is a natural emotion that we all express and unfortunately we sometimes express it towards those we love the most because we know those people will never leave us. Mothers, in particular, suffer the most as a result but because they are so resilient and loving they absorb the pain and never retaliate. All mothers are very special people that deserve to be treated with respect and love.
My memory allows me to look back upon my childhood as a boy who could never be without his mom. My first memory is that of a shy little 5 year old holding desperately onto my mom’s arms as she went door to door selling Avon products. I looked to her for protection and cried when she wasn’t near. At the age of six I spent 14 very uneasy days in the hospital crying every second of every day for my mom. When I went to school for the very first time I had as many tears strolling down my face as she had. When death was explained to me I cried and refused to accept because I couldn’t think of life without my mom.
Though my mom’s presence always took the pain away there were times when her reaction to an event in my life made me cry. When I was 12 I was hit in the face at close range with a line drive while playing baseball with my friends. The impact of the ball left my face totally distorted. I broke my nose, blackened both eyes, loosened most of my teeth and split both of my lips. Now I was pretty dam scared but I didn’t get real upset until I saw the expression on my mom’s face when she first saw me. She very rarely let things upset her so I knew when I saw her crying that I was in bad shape. The funny thing is I didn’t cry because I was in pain but instead I cried because my mom was upset.
In the future I would make her cry several more times with serious injuries but I think I hurt her most when I got married at the age of 21. If my mom could have chosen the girl I was to marry it would not have been this particular girl. The indifferences caused me to believe I had to make a choice between the two. Somewhere in the bible it says there comes a time in a man’s life when he must choose his wife over his mother and I was certain that time was now for me. My relationship with my mom suffered over the six year period of time I was married. It suffered so much that in fact it has never been the same since. I have regrets but the past is the past and the only thing I can do is improve the future and hopefully regain the lost time with my mom.
My mom watched me make the wrong decision and then suffer for it but never once judged me but instead was there to catch me when I fell. She consoled me, comforted me but still allowed me to choose the path I would take in the future. The road I chose led me down another path away from my original plan in life. I lived alone for many years barely speaking to a soul but my mom refused to allow me to disappear out of her life. She could tell I was suffering but never fed into it. She recognized that I was beating myself up unnecessarily about my failed marriage. She took the time to discuss why I felt I failed and tried to emphasize my good qualities instead of allowing me to emphasize the bad. It took many years but ultimately she succeeded in helping me to move on. I regret the fact that I never acknowledged her hard work but I’m certain that the significant improvement I made has made her very happy.
My mom held me close in her arms, allowed me to make bad decisions, caught me when I fell, cared for me when I was injured, and consoled me when my heart was broken. She’s watched me run too far, worried when I didn’t show up on time and called when she could feel I was crying. My mom’s strong point is not words but rather actions. She has always been there for me when I’ve needed her most.
These words come from my heart and they are words that a card could never express. In my life my mom is the most important person to me and someone I will protect with my own life.

I love you mom and happy Mother’s Day. This is a very special day for all moms and I wish you well and hope you are able to connect with your children.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why I no longer run ultras

While there have been few inquiries about my status as a runner I thought, for my own sake, a note explaining my status would provide closure. 

Running was a method I used to work out problems, accomplish goals and gain self esteem while at the same redirecting painful memories into positive energy.  The method served me well for many years but there was a downside in that it required focus, hard work and seclusion.  The  consequences of the seclusion, in particular, impacted the other people in my life without my knowledge.  As I came to realize what I lost with running vs. what I gained was substantial. Alienating myself from my family was an immature act that left me in an okay state but deprived the other people in my life of my attention.  I would consider my running accomplishments to be impressive but I also consider the effort not worth the cost of what I lost. 

So why run 100's in the first place you may ask.  My answer may sound selfish and in fact it probably is but the reason I ran was to feel good about myself and later on in my career to help other runners feel good about themselves as well.

The running stories I've published clearly identify certain people who positively impacted my life and who I admired & respected however there is no person I admire or respect more than my wife.  She is the person who has helped me to understand the importance of sacrifice, sensitivity & courage. I now realize that it is more important for me to attend my 11 year old's ballgame than it is for me to run.  It is more important for me to be available to take my 14 year old to karate than it is to run.  It is more important for me to be in the house upon my wife's return home from work to ask her about her day than it is to run.  And finally it is important for me to listen and not always feel as though I have to respond. 

What my wife has showed me is that the hug of a child or the smile on his face or her herself saying I love you is more fulfilling than the feeling of crossing the fnish line of any 100 mile race.

Unless I destroy everything my wife has worked so hard to bring into my life I have no reason to ever want to return to the lifestyle I maintained as an ultramarathon runner.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Running both the good & bad

It’s been a long time since I shared my thoughts in writing but finding myself with a few moments today at peace I felt it was time to share some thoughts. Running provided and still provides an excellent outlet for my emotions as well as an avenue that opened the doors to my creative side that helped to build my self esteem. I learned early on that to be successful at sustaining a long term running program I would need to implement methods that helped me to focus on external influences outside of the internal functions of running itself. This came naturally to me as the start of my running career was initiated by a divorce. Having a need to release emotion I found that running served a purpose in my life.

Like most beginners my goal as a runner was to build strength by increasing my mileage. I set goals and worked hard to achieve those goals and then set higher goals. When I felt that I had reached my potential I took it up a notch by attempting longer distances. I started racing at the 5 mile distance with a goal to place but found myself coming up short over and over again. Over time I became physically stronger but more importantly I became smarter which helped me to develop strategies to satisfy my goal. Ultimately I began to place in almost every race at varying short distances. Placing at races was fun but as time went on it was not challenging enough to satisfy my inner drive. I became bored which was a prompt to step it up a notch.

At the marathon distance the goal was to finish in the time lime provided which I easily accomplished in my first attempt. Obsession set in. After the first I saw no end nor did I want to see an end to my running career. When my goal was achieved I set higher and higher goals each marathon thereafter. The ultimate thrill at the marathon distance was setting my personal best time of 2:53:12 in the 2000 Boston Marathon. I then followed it up with a similar time at the Philly Marathon in November of that same year .

It was not long before I became bored at the marathon distance so I took the JFK challenge. My first attempt at the 50 mile distance left me with a finish in the top 50 in a sub-8 hour time. I loved that race so much that I followed it up with 9 more in consecutive years. Completing 10 straight showed that I could run through adversity and injury but toward the end it also revealed the impact that my running had on others.

The 100 mile distance loomed and though a bit intimidated I tackled the distance with no tutelage from other but instead used what I learned through reading race reports to give it a go . The 1st result was failure but with failure brought more desire. I read, I asked questions and I read more. I changed my style of running, I deviated from my normal paths I challenged myself to work harder. My second attempt was a success as were my next 23 attempts in a row including the Grand Slam, Badwater and my personal best 15:57 Rocky Raccoon 100 (2nd Place National Champion)

I trained hard but a result of my hard training was negative impact on those around me. Though it is a difficult thought and something I did not willingly admit at first I neglected those around me. I have bad memories of times when I neglected to follow through on promises, respond to requests or to those in need. My actions were not malicious or deliberate but instead they were driven by my mind which focused on a goal that I felt to be unachievable without 24-7 attention. Successfully I achieved one goal after the other but unfortunately the goals never ceased nor did they move to another field in life. I was caught up in my own little selfish world leaving those who cared for me susceptible to hatred for me.

The thrill of accomplishment diminished with each ultramarathon finish leaving me with only the physical wounds as a memory of my run. I was left feeling empty and in pain. Finally, after 17 years, I understood that an entire world existed. While I am proud of my accomplishments I also hold myself accountable for neglecting to be a well rounded person.

My mind clear and open I find new challenges in the form of my new family. The challenges I face can be tough but my background as an ultramarathon runner leave me not intimidated. The reward that come along the way as being a productive member of a family are certainly more rewarding than any ultramaraton finish I have ever had. Though the memories are there the desire to toe the start line of an ultramarathon have long ago disappeared. My goals are family oriented and focused on those who I can positively influence to be productive in life. Lucky for me I found a good companion in life who is understanding and willing to be with a person of many flaws.

I was not the best runner but when looking back I am proud of the work I did to progress from square 1 to a person who completed 80+ races at the marathon distance or greater. I’m now at square 1 again making many mistakes and hope to learn enough to be able to look back at the age of 80 and be just as proud of my accomplishments as a family man.

See ya


The former “Relentless Runner

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 Delaware 100 Report

I lived this past year as most in these times have, building relationships, caring for my family and fighting desperately for my job. I found my place in life in a home where I’m surrounded by loving people who provide challenges outside those which I’ve been faced with before. I am happier now than I have ever been with a beautiful wife and two young step children by my side. I welcome the new challenges that I’m certain to experience and want to share with those whom I love the challenges that I’ve already conquered.

My wife, Angela, has read my stories and tries to understand why but as I’ve explained to her, if it is not in your heart you will never fully understand. It is not a cult or a way of life but instead it is part of a person’s soul. It is an individual sport yet those who participate connect and bond as they battle a common foe. The foe is not the person behind you or in front of you but instead it is your own mind. The questions start at mile one, “can I do it”, “did I train hard enough”, “will my body break down” and on and on they go, sucking precious energy from your body. How a person reacts to these battles determines the outcome of his or her run. They can be fierce battles that test your ability to make correct decisions about your body while keeping your mind in check. There are strategies which I personally incorporate to ensure success, mind games that I truly enjoy. I do it because I can and to prove to others that if they have a desire they to can do it as well. I am not superhuman, I have no particular outstanding skills or abilities just a burning desire to accomplish a goal.

Continue here

Friday, February 06, 2009

Next Chapter

Have you ever dragged yourself on all fours toward the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning and then kissed the toilet seat in an attempt to bring yourself to a seated position? If you have had this experience and you were sober at the time than you can relate to how I feel each time I run in a 100 mile race. The feeling of accomplishment inside is amazing but I can not overlook the toll that I take physically nor can I overlook the risks that I have taken to accomplish a small feat in the grand scheme of things that happen in life.

In ten years time I have completed twenty-five one hundred mile races not including an impromptu run that I did in 2005 to benefit the Hurricane Katrina victims. While in the world of ultrarunning this pales in comparison to some but in the real world where even one would seem quite impossible my twenty-five would put me in an elite class. The reference I have made to elite is not an indication of my skill but instead it is an indication of how many people would consider an attempt at running this distance.

There was a time when I believed those who made such attempts were superhuman or even heroes. As I entered the sport and became more aware of the ins and outs I realized that most were just average people who stepped outside of the box. No matter the level we are all equal. Those that excel are those that are willing to teach what they have learned to help others improve.

I started to run as a way to release negative emotions generated by a divorce but as I progressed I became possessed and maybe even obsessed. The positive effects were many as I gained confidence through my ability to run which allowed me to shed all of my fears. As I grew in the sport I also grew in life and ultimately I came to realize that my obsession with running took away from my quality of life. I have many stories that I could share of times when I neglected my family and friends just so I could run but I won't share as I don't care to rehash the past.

In my mind there can be no moderation when it comes to ultrarunning so in my case a choice has always had to be made. Will I share my life with others or will I remain wrapped up in my own wants and needs? I lived with being selfish for a very long time but I learned how valuable friendships can be in each and every race in which I participated.

When I failed at my first attempt at running one hundred miles I swore I'd never return but the lady who drove me back to my hotel told me I'd be back. Sure enough after a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself I was back on the horse and working towards my second attempt. Four months later I finished my first and focused on my second while never failing to realize that I had some unfinished business with OD. This would be the beginning of a viscious cycle that would have no door leading me to a safe exit. The goals would never be achieved as I always set the bar higher. Even after gaining redemption at OD I found no satisfaction in such a minor feat. I worked by myself only using the stories of others as a guide. I failed miserably in my attempt to stay injury free as my penchant to do things in excess always caught up to me in the end. My performances improved as I increased my training mileage and with that I would increase even more. Eventually I tallied enough miles each day that my body became worn and battered. My crazy mind believed it was a good thing in that it would prepare me for the war of a one hundred mile race but when my limbs shattered to the point where I couldn't walk I shockingly realized I was wrong.

I never ran the same again after my injury in 2006 in fact the pain from that injury still riddles my body even as I write today. Despite the injury I continued to run at a lower level than ever. I lowered my expectations but still felt disappointed that I was not the same. As my training miles decreased my thoughts increased and became more logical. I learned to take things in stride and to prioritize the important things in my life. In "o7" I barely trained for Western States but still entered with an agressive goal only to walk away disappointed despite my finish. In "08" I gave one last gasp effort at reclaiming my past when I crewed 70+ hours at Badwater returned home twenty four hours later to participate in my own twenty four hour event. I completed just over 100 miles in 99° heat but the satisfaction that I felt inside was not due to the miles but instead of the havoc I wreaked on my body. I was blistered from head to toe and for the first time ever spent time in an ambulance. I didn't realize how odd my feelings were until two weeks later at mile fifteen of another one hundred mile race. It was at this time that I finally said I've had enough and almost walked away from the race prior to completion. My heart was the only thing that stopped me because my brain had given up. Though I finished I made some very long term final decisions at that race. I would run Cascade Crest in two weeks time but I would do so as a non competitor. I would be there to have fun, to experience the mountains one last time and to look deep inside of myself to gain new perspective on what I want out of life. My fourth event in five weeks would take place on the hardest course but with my mind at ease it would not take much effort. However when all was said and done my feet were more than two times their normal size. I barely made it through the airport as with each step I grimaced in agony. I finished, I hobbled away with another buckle but my body received another terrible beating.

I am still an advocate of distance running but I now stress the fact that once a distance is defeated there is no need to have to come back to do it over and over again. I did it and I was not a hero and my life never changed. However when I helped those who were in need I accomplished something much more than I ever could on my own. I shared what I learned and others were able to grasp the meaning and use it to their benefit. Hopefully the message I am sending today will also be understood and used in the life of another.

I fear that I will lose the admiration of many but I am willing to risk the loss for the chance of obtaining something even more. I once stepped outside of the box to attempt running distances that most would find unbelievable and now it is once again time to step out of the box to experience other things. I love my family, dad, mom, brothers, sisters in law and nieces and nephew and soon to be wife and step kids. It's time to conquer challenges outside those which present themselve in the sport of ultrarunning.

Take care
Dave B.

Always remember to share what you've learned and never feel as though you've learned enough. No matter who you are or what you do there is always someone who is better.

Friday, November 21, 2008

No JFK for Me

I have a deeper sense of life than what most might expect. Yes I ran for many years but the running was not life but instead it provided a way for me to understand life. Over time I began to appreciate the things that I used to take for granted. I became aware of my surroundings and the feelings of others. The time that I spent running allowed me to recognize my own limitations which in turn helped me to be less critical of others. I learned to deal with challenges one step at a time as opposed to taking one giant leap in an attempt to tackle the problem all at once. I learned how to face adversity while managing my emotions by channeling the energy in a positive direction. I recognized the importance of sharing my most inner thoughts and feelings with those who I love the most.

I came to understand that running is a tool that can be used for success and once the tool is used it can be put back in it's place until needed again. I know what I want out of life and in order to get it I can't cling to what I have because it feels safe but instead I have to have confidence that I can put that tool in its place and use what I've learned to get what I want. I have gained an understanding that running will always be a part of my life but it will never again be my life. My decision to not participate in the JFK 50 this year signifies the end of a chapter but the book continues on as I now look forward to whatever the future may hold.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008 Delaware 100 Report

Carl Camp did not come up with the idea for the Delaware 100 after hitting his head on the toilet seat nor was the result the fluxcapacitor, however, for those of us who live in the fantasy world of ultrarunning his idea was just as exciting. The no frills run would allow us the opportunity to test our limits while running freely without the hype, the cost or the stress associated with other endurance runs. In December of 2005 Carl was able to capture the imagination of seven hearty souls who towed the start line of the inaugural Delaware 100. Despite the lack of mountains in our state the day was full of challenges as Mother Nature decided to lay a heaping helping full of winter upon us. The very first event or “non-event” as we like to call it was basically a clandestine operation. It was held completely on the trails of Middle Run Resource Area without the knowledge of either State or County officials. Was it the right thing to do? No, absolutely not but with little time to obtain the proper permits we were willing to risk which in turn made it that much more of an adventure. It was cold day and night and we froze and we suffered but not one person complained. In the end Carl’s idea came to fruition and Delaware could lay claim to have hosted its first one-hundred mile event.

A decision was made to cancel the event in 2006 to allow more time for improvements to be made. As the year came to a close Carl remained silent as to the status of the 2007 run but in the late spring he announced that it would be on again. This time, however, the race would be held in September on a course that would consist of both trails and roads. The change of date would more than likely provide a better chance of moderate temperatures and the course change would allow us to comply with the park regulations. Though Carl’s plan has always been to keep the field small he made an attempt to attract others by gaining a link on the site most viewed by the ultrarunning community. His effort did not go unnoticed as runners from places such as New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and California were amongst the twelve that started the second edition of the Delaware 100. The new course was more challenging because the variation of terrain led to the need to reverse the thought process and running style.

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Race results