Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Free Help (or Danny's attempt to help out locally)

"We seem to be living in the age of anesthesia, and it's no wonder. Confronted with knowledge of dozens of apparently random disasters each day, what can a human heart do but slam its doors? No mortal can grieve that much. We didn't evolve to cope with tragedy on a global scale. Our defense is to pretend there's no thread that connects us, and that those lives are somehow not precious and real like our own. It's a practical strategy, to some ends, but the loss of empathy is also the loss of humanity, and that's no small tradeoff." -Barbara Kingsolver

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own little lives to not take the time to step back and open our minds and hearts to all of those people suffering around us. Work, family, and training can seem all-consuming. It usually takes a loss close to home to jar us from our complacency and open our eyes, albeit usually just momentarily. No one knows what another person is going through and it is on each of us to approach individuals without judgment or preconditions. Even smiling, apparently happy faces like Amber may hide insecurities and sadness. Every day someone is suffering a loss whether it be that of a loved one, financial loss or quality of life. Can we solve everyone’s woes? Of course not. But can we approach our days as opportunities to make little changes in others’ lives in the hopes that it helps get them through whatever they’re going through? Of course.

For several years now, I have been going back and forth with whether apply for Peace Corps. I have stayed in my same job contemplating the pros and cons of this 24+ month commitment. All the while, I could have been helping close to home and yet was just sitting on my butt instead. There is no geographical boundary on sorrow, nor do I have to travel to some far-flung locale to help and I know there is likely more than enough suffering in New Hampshire to go around. Buddhist’s have a theory on suffering called samsara. It’s the idea that suffering doesn’t come from pain or loss itself but from our ill-fated attempts to avoid pain and loss. Once able to accept and be at peace with change we won’t suffer anymore because we realize that nothing is permanent and we will stop striving to hold on to things that will eventually fall apart. It is nice, though, to have someone there to help cushion that fall.

Everything in the world is made of parts, and emotion is no different. The most painful, powerful aspect of negative emotions is that they seem complete and whole. A thought builds into a crescendo called emotion, which we then embody. The tight ball of hatred, desire, or jealousy feels so solid that we actually feel it in our body as a lump in our throat, a rising wave of heat, an aching heart. When we’re caught up in negativity, it’s hard to imagine penetrating it, cracking its shell… We [don’t need to] invest so much energy in this feeling that we’ve created with our own mind. The bottom line is that everything comes together and everything falls apart.” – Sakyong Mipham

Knowing that things will fall apart for everyone, I’ve decided to soften the blow locally rather than travel abroad to help out. What I’m planning on doing is offering up my services:  whether it be to help someone move, edit their resume to apply for a job, or pace someone running for a good cause. I realize that there are some skill sets that I cannot offer but I think the majority of help comes from acknowledging that you’re not alone and someone is there for you. To get out of your own head where you create stories that then feed into negative emotions. Here today gone tomorrow. I can’t think of a better reason to get out there and help others and enjoy each and every day-no matter what it has in store.

Have you ever been working out on a loud treadmill or in a crowded restaurant and all of a sudden amidst the din you catch a few words of your favorite song? Despite the apparent lack of music only moments before you are now able to clearly hear the rest of the song. It’s the same thing with helping other people. You may not be able to hear the cries for help all the time but if you perk your ears up and listen you will soon hear it. I have my ears perked up and the door open and will await your calls for help. J

Up Next: Amber leaves for Kona shortly(thank you everyone who helped support her getting there. You can still do so at her Go Fund Me site). I'll be around to cheer people on at the New England Half Marathon before heading out to cheer her on. Once I return, contact me with any requests. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A day to Remember and Honor Chad Denning


As many of you may already have heard, the outdoor sport world suffered a huge loss with the passing of Chad Denning this past weekend. Team AMP, the team he organized to promote health and wellness, is organizing a trail race and picnic  on Saturday, September 20, to remember and honor him. All are invited to attend one or both of the events.
This is from the Team AMP newsletter:
At 9:00 a.m. in Lebanon, N.H., the Lost a Lot Trail Race—which was created and organized by Chad—will proceed as planned. The seven-mile course is not easy, but it is fun. As anyone who knew Chad can tell you, he loved competition, but his primary goal was always to get as many people as possible outside just having a good time. In that tradition, all ages, abilities, and paces are encouraged to participate.
At about noon, following the race and awards, there will be a picnic at the Oak Hill recreation area in Hanover, N.H., about five miles from the finish of the race. We will have directions available at the race for anyone who needs them. We will also post additional details and directions on the event site on the Team AMP Facebook page. At Oak Hill, there will be a family-friendly fun run (about 2.5 miles) and a community picnic. Please bring a picnic lunch for yourself and a dessert to share potluck style. Don't worry if you can't bake: peanut M&Ms (or "power pellets," as Chad always called them) are perfectly acceptable. As we picnic, we will share memories of Chad and celebrate his remarkable life. All are welcome to attend the picnic (including leashed dogs) regardless of whether they participate in the race.
We encourage you to share your favorite photos of Chad on the Team AMP Facebook page or to email them to by Friday, September 19. We will print as many as possible and display them at the picnic. We also encourage you to write and print recollections of Chad. We will have an area available at the picnic to display those recollections.
Finally, a fund has been set up to collect donations to Chad's family. Donations will be accepted at both the race and the picnic, or you can mail donations to:
The Chad Denning Family Fund
Ledyard Bank
67 Main Street
West Lebanon, NH 03784
Checks should be made payable to Becky Denning.
Chad Denning was truly an inspiration. We will never forget his kindness, his spirit, and his smile. We hope you will join us to celebrate his life. It was far too short, but it was so full of adventures of every kind.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Flat! A Blessing in Disguise

Amber went up to the Great White North again this weekend, this time to compete in the 70.3 World Championships. Yes, that is a half ironman three weeks after an Ironman which was three weeks after another Ironman. Yes, her foot was still a little sore and her spring may not have been fully back in her step. Yes, she is planning on doing the Ironman Worlds Championships in Kona in a month. No, none of this was going to stop her from racing.

Luckily, a flat tire fairly early in the bike stopped her instead. Another day she may have gotten back on the bike(see Ironman St. George where she sat on the sidelines for 45 minutes before going back to finish the race), but this day she made a smart decision and took it as a side to rest and recover. And cheer on all of her friends and supporters. From what she tells me the atmosphere was amazing up there and she was really glad that she could be up there to support all those people that support her.

Speaking of which, thank you all for the kind words and support that you've given Amber since the trolls' blog. Seeing everyone come to her defense and all the contributions she's received is really inspiring and was exactly what she needed to redirect her focus. Cannot wait to see what she has in store with a full tank of gas at Kona:)

Up Next: Build, Build, Build all the way to Kona!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Danny Interviews Michael Wade

Michael Wade was one of the first runners I was introduced to as I started running in 2007. Amber and I joined the Gate City Striders and we soon were being cajoled and corralled into entering more and more races for the team. Michael was often the one encouraging us to enter races for GCS. For the first few years of my running, he was the one I'd always try to keep in sight during races. And the heckling he is able to dish out is second to none so he is a great motivator to give it your all as you may recall from last year's Vermont City Marathon. Over the years at races, through his blog and on one epicly long hike, we have gotten to known Michael and were interested to find out the reason why he's running ultras and what he's running for. It is about time to introduce everyone to a 6'4" diamond in the rough(streets of Nashua).
Michael after an epic day of hiking
1) How did you get started running?

I started running when I was an out-of-shape 30 year old who desperately needed a change in lifestyle. “Why not start running again? I couldn’t possibly be any worse at it than when I was in High School, right?” Come to find out it takes significantly more effort to propel a 240 pound body than a 140 pound one! It was at that point that I figured I needed a goal in order to take my mind off the pain that my body was feeling. So, I decided that once I could run a mile without stopping, I’d start training to run Boston. For some reason this seemed like a logical progression to me. It’s now, 16 years, 20 marathons and a handful of ultra-marathons later.

2) Anyone who knows your blog can tell you are a lover of literature. What is your favorite running book?

“Once a Runner” – by John L. Parker. Because, deep down, Quentin Cassidy is what we want all our running heroes to be.  Part rebel, part phenom and completely & utterly unreal.

3) Favorite non-running book?

“The Agony and the Ecstasy” – By Irving Stone. A fictionalized account of the life of Michelangelo.  It chronicles his humble beginnings, the way in which he honed his craft and the inspired results.

4) Enough with the reading, people want to know about Michael the runner. What's your favorite distance?

My favorite road racing distance has always been the half marathon. Long enough that you’ve got time to get a good, steady rhythm going and short enough where you’re not needing weeks and weeks to recover. My favorite trail racing distance would be 50k. And, probably for the same reasons.

5) When we first meet you, you were a roadie through and though(maybe with the exception of the Merrimack River Trail Race). How did you go from road races to ultra marathon trail races?

I’ve been training and running on the road for over 16 years and I’ve just grown tired of the toll it takes. Both physically and mentally. Pounding the pavement day after day. Trying to shave a second or two off a 5k, or 10k, time and beating my head against the sub 3 marathon wall. I’ve always enjoyed the beauty of hiking and trail running (and I’m a natural distance junky) so the transition to trail ultras was fairly seamless. In 2012, I ran my first 50m (8:12 at Stonecat) and I haven’t looked back.

6) Everyone has "must do"races that they want to include on their bucket list. What's on yours?

Now that I’m headlong into ultras, obviously my running bucket list now includes the biggies: Western States, Vermont, Wasatch and Leadville. Of course, a trip to Chamonix for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc would be pretty sweet as well! However, I’ll wait to book my flight until after I (hopefully) finish my first hundred this October at Ghost Train.

7) Now this isn't just a normal 100 miler either is it? You're running for a cause right. Can you tell us a little more about it?

I am running
100 Miles For Sam in memory of Sam Berns. Sam was a wonderful young man from Foxboro Massachusetts who passed away on January 10th. Sam suffered from a rare disease called Progeria – which is a fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging. Sam’s parents, Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns, founded the Progeria Research Foundation in 1999 and since that time, PRF has been the driving force behind the Progeria gene discovery and the first-ever Progeria drug treatment. I will be raising money for PRF and hopefully awareness about Progeria with every mile I run at Ghost Train.
[Editor's Note: You can donate here:
Also, Michael is looking for some runners to help him in running the 100 miler. Contact him if available]

8) If you could be any superhero who would you be and why?

I’m already a superhero. I’m a dad.

9) If Amber fought a hurricane, who would win?

Well, since Amber weighs like 96 pounds soaking wet, I think she’d have her hands full with the hurricane. But, she’s fast enough that she could run, bike or swim away from it pretty easily.

10) What if the hurricane was named Amber?

Amber, obviously.

Thanks to Michael for his time and I hope everyone can help support his good cause, pace him, or at least send positive vibes his way as attempts his first 100 miler!