Forty Five Years
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Isolation
BFF's
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Find a nice, decent, friendly fella and treat him as such, and you usually end up with a more decent fella. But if you take that same person, tell him he's dangerous, isolate him and subject him to repeated emotional abuse, most likely he'll end up a savage, or pretty messed up. My 44th year is best summed up by one word--Isolation (although alcohol would be pretty high on the list of summary-words). I burned a lot of bridges because I realized the enemy was attacking me across those bridges. I rudely told my best friend, Jerry, to never contact me again in any way, ever. Clean break. Now we'll see how he feels being on the receiving end. I quit my job, much to the chagrin of my boss. To the best of my knowledge, I was loved by my 200+ co-workers (I was comic relief in a high stress work environment, that's for sure), and that was too good to mess up, so I might as well quit while I'm ahead. Better to throw away good food than eat it after it's spoiled. I decided that relationships were not going to play into my plans in 2010 unless they furthered them. This year would be totally task oriented, but for the record, my old office was extremely good to me--I just needed a change. I went back to school and began my third mid-life crisis. I bought this laptop because I needed a new computer, and a laptop would give me flexibility to write anywhere (I'm most productive on the toilet--I guess when God opens a door, He...oh, never mind). I had a lot of fun with my web cam--hence, the small sample of web cam photos. It's easy to get web cam photos of Gizmo because he's jealous of that black box that was sitting on my lap, where he was supposed to be!

My office threw me a party on January 8th and asked me,"Are you going to run the marathon in April?" I thought about it--I didn't know if I'd be in shape. But I told my boss,"I could fake it". How often do you get a chance to run in the first of anything? Phidippides didn't let fitness hold him back. I raced the first Tour de Okinawa in 1989, and now it's a huge international race on the professional calendar. Maybe I could do the same here.

So on April 11, I ran my first marathon in 19 years, the first annual Southern Indiana Classic Marathon (known as the SICk Marathon) even though I was 16 pounds overweight and a drunk. So let's start with basics. Marathon is derived from the word 'mare', meaning female horse, and 'thong', a tiny garment that lifts and separates the buttocks, giving the horse a more pleasing shape to encourage mating. Phidippides ran the first marathon in 490 BC, then died shortly thereafter from exhaustion. I was aiming to improve on that. Momma baked chocolate chip cookies, and I trained and raced with them. I likely raced with an illness, since I was sick all day on the 10th and 12th(excuse #1). I ate a Power Bar in my first marathon, got sick, and practically limped for the remaining 17 miles of the run, but did a respectable time of 3:20:41. I was a lot thinner and tanner back then, as you can see from this 1991 photo to the right>>>
The turnout was 1600 runners, 976 for the half marathon and 324 for the full. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.
Click for video of Michael at start of race!

.

February 19
March 10
My Glory Days

Due to confusion, the entire field was facing the wrong direction, and when I pointed this out to the organizers, they quickly told the mob to turn around. Man, talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory--I should've kept my mouth shut! After 100 feet I noticed no one charging, so I surged ahead and was the very first leader of the first Annual Southern Indiana Classic Marathon! I was on all the television shows, but they never said my name (bastards!). You can clearly see me on the photo that ran in all the newspapers. I did it for show and knew that going too fast at the start would be paid for in the end, so once I was clearly out in front, pushing up against the pace car, a vomit-brown classic Camaro loaned by the owner/founder of Papa John's pizza, I had to back off.

Helicopters buzzed overhead, fans screamed, angels sang, and I imagined Mom at home, hearing them belt out,"And there is Michael Paul, the first leader! Look at that monkey run!" Then I'd look up at the helicopter, waive, scream,"Hi Mom!" and run into a tree.

Moments after the starting shot
Horribleness
Horriblerness
Horriblestness

Our first mile was 6:57, slow even for a marathon, but I ran past my uncle Horace Rainey's house, and there he was, on a rocking chair, waving at me. That was my favorite part of the race. I was never fast, but my pace dropped dramatically at 13 miles. Above, I'm hobbling along at about 5 1/2 miles.
Click for video of Michael at 5 1/2 miles
Click for video of Michael at 12 miles
After that, it was almost all uphill, and that hurt. My legs cramped, and after 13 miles I stiffened up like a dying bug. I only missed two of 34 water stations. I experimented with Power Aid, which splash all over my face, so I was a sticky mess and vulnerable to hummingbird attacks. At 16 miles, the backs of my legs felt like fire, and I was forced to walk--other runners passed me, patted me on the back and said,"Hang in there", which is humiliating when you aren't quick enough to trip them. At 18 miles there were cheerleaders waiting for me. I'd forgotten to bring a gun, but ten feet before I reached them, I started running again to avoid looking crippled, and they went berserk, screaming, tossing their pom poms in the air like they'd been goosed by a brigade of psycho chickens, making out with each other and peeing on themselves. That was the motivation I needed--I felt like a Beatle. I made my steps smaller, looked straight down so as not to be aware of how freakin' slow I was going, and never walked again. After this I passed people back! Here I am at 24 miles with a church.

There were plenty of fans--Robin, a former co-worker from Vectren called my name but unfortunately didn't lift her shirt up, which might have helped me run faster (or slower), and a lot of bands, including a group playing "Chariots of Fire" with bagpipes. There were plenty of sheriff's deputies guarding the roads, shooting at us for motivation. I just kept looking down and watching the miles tick away. Pain is just God's way of hurting us.

24 miles

I was passed by two women in the final kilometer, but consoled myself knowing they were kicked off the Soviet shot-put team for illegal use of steroids, or that they were former men, or angry lesbians. I finished in 3 hours, 53 minutes, 23 seconds, 66th place of 324 runners, and thanked the Lord for carrying me through this trial despite me being such a putz. I drank 168 ounces of water but lost six pounds in the race.
Here are my splits:Distance
1 mile
5K
10K
10 miles
13.1 miles
30K
26.2 miles
Time
6:57
23:00
46:15
1:17:45
1:43:50
2:36:46
3:53:23
Placing
?
16th
23rd
?
35th
57th
66th
Personal best
4:38 (Sep '90)
15:40 (May '89)
34:55 (Oct '89)
58:19 (Oct '89)
1:19:47 (Mar '91)
?
3:20:41 (May '91)
I limped to my car alone, looking so horrible that many came alongside me, put their arms on my back and asked,"Are you okay?" I replied,"Yeah--just a lot of pain". Then I asked them for heroine. My car window had an elaborate spider web covering the window opening, and when it didn't say "some Horse", "excellent Horse", "radiant Horse", or "terrific Horse", frankly, I was disappointed. Lousy spider. As I limped into my house, I saw the best thing I'd seen all day--my little boy Gizmo, tongue like an overactive windshield wiper, who hadn't had breakfast or his morning walk. He didn't care--Daddy was home, and he was leaping, spinning, wagging his little butterfly tail, and couldn't wait to lick salt off every curve of my nasty body.

After that, I was stuck in school for two more weeks, but tried to ramp up my bicycling in a sane fashion so as not to over-train or get sick, but I think I may have over-trained. From May 17-June 17, I rode 1210.66 miles, and from May 16-July 16, 2024.53 miles, both personal records. But I wasn't losing much weight or getting much faster. I figured I'd save the hard climbing for Colorado--and now, moving on to my big adventure of 2010.

Finish Line-26.2 miles

June 30-July 5, 2010
Making a Mesa Things
click on red-border photos for full-size versions

On June 30, I set out for Mesa, Arizona to visit my cycling buddy Tares. I hadn't seen him in 21 years. Gizmo and I traded off driving for two days, 1700 miles. Oh right, another web cam photo from June, and Gizmo, proud as a peacock, driving in New Mexico. We were pulled over, allegedly because a Yorkshire Terrier was driving (that's profiling, and I'm mad as hell). The drive was rough because 100 miles out, traveling mostly secondary roads, my only route into Mesa was closed from a traffic accident. I checked my atlas and mapquest print for a way around (I don’t have a gps), but there was none, and my Tracfone had no signal, so I couldn't call Tares and cry. I went to the back of the traffic jam again, and when I reached the front, a lady had beaten me to to the traffic cop—and what he told her didn’t sound good. I’d have to go back the way I came, catch Interstate 17 and enter Phoenix from the north. This added two hours to an already long trip, and I had no directions from the north.Click for video of Gizmo tired (cute)
Click for video of Michael tired (still cute)

June 12

Fatigued, I decided to follow that lady. She drove a Toyota Prius at 80 miles an hour on mountain roads marked for 55. I barely kept up, but it’s more comforting to be in the company of confused people than to be confused alone. I-17 was a long drive through twisty mountains and I don’t remember the speed limit because I was too tired to reach it. Most of the trip I asked myself,”Why am I driving 800 miles out of my way to see Tares?” It seemed it had become a huge hassle for both of us, but I knew that unless it was a disaster, I’d look back and think,”I’m glad I did it”. The hassle on my part would be well worth it. An hour outside of Phoenix, Tares reached me by phone and told me to take highway 101. Unfortunately, when I found highway 101, it was closed too, and I was directed off the road yet again! It's John McCain's fault! I lost phone contact with Tares again and guessed my way to within a mile of Tares' house, without a map, where I got him on the

What's the problem officer, I wasn't speeding?

phone, and he talked me to his gated community. I saw a giant white T-shirt in the night, and it was my buddy. I was too tired to get emotional, and too embarrassed that I was so much trouble, but he was so happy to see me, I don’t think he minded at all. By the time I shook his hand, I’d been driving for 17 hours, 39 minutes. He insisted I stay at his house with his wife Greta, and his two boys Andrew and Jordan, and their pet scorpion that he later tortured and killed slowly in front of me. Gizmo got along great with Tares’ dogs, and he had a very nice house and family.

Tares' beautiful compound, Mesa, ArizonaTares, trying to fix misters

I was given a map to the coveted chocolate syrup stash, which was off limits to Tares’ under aged boys, helped myself to their food, turned on their television, and once, may or may not have marked my territory in their yard. A few more days and I might have been handling their finances and being referred to as Jeeves. We had a party every night! Everyone was so good to me, I wondered if they’d been hitting the chocolate syrup a little hard themselves. I don't deserve this much love. Tares told me the first morning that he'd told Greta the previous night,”I can’t believe Michael is sleeping down the hall”. I think he meant that in a good way. The Tour de France was live on television and Tares and I watched the first three stages together. We laughed and laughed--and we discovered that cycling legend Bob Roll was the love child of Bruce Willis and David Letterman. You be the judge>>>

Bob Roll, and his dark past

Click for video of Tares Clearing Misters for Party
Click for video of Tares Killing a Scorpion (funny)
Jocelyn, Tares’ oldest daughter, was born 11 days after I met Tares in 1988, and was the only baby I’ve held in my life. She’d put on some weight since 1988, and it looks like her neck injury healed pretty well—how was I to know she wasn’t a bobble head? She was a delight to talk to, and very charming. Tares was busy fishing scorpions out of the sink for supper, so the boys’ time was making me a little nervous. I'd planned to leave on July 4th, but Tares and Greta begged me to stay. They were so pathetic. They also said their teenage boys liked me, and loved hearing the stories of all of Tares' bicycle crashes when we raced together. They loved me, they really loved me! So while roasting on 101 degree bicycle ride in the desert outside of Mesa,

Scorpion in bathroom sink

and almost crashing on a descent, my near-death experience awakened me to a reality--an extra day with Tares was worth one day of lost training. How often do I get the chance to be nice to people I enjoy being with? Here's Tares, relaxing in the pool on the 4th (this one's for Art)>>>
Greta was the backbone, going behind the scenes and working, working to make sure I was taken care of. When it was just Tares, Jocelyn, and I together, we were the three Musketeers, because we three went back 22 years. I felt like Jocelyn's evil uncle.

Art, I love you MAN!Tares and Jocelyn, in the back yardTares, slaving over a hot breakfast for his friends

It’s best to leave when they still want you to stay, so on July 5th, Tares gave me an escort out of Mesa and we bid farewell. I was off to race my third Mt. Evans bicycle race (Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb) in Colorado. I was anxious to see how living at 9300 feet for three weeks would improve my racing at altitude.

Here are Tares and I in his back yard shortly before my departure, when our hands were accidentally injected with Viagra, and some 1988 views of the old Volvo racing team, then and now (I think we can agree Tares has the biggest head).

Michael and Tares, July 5Team Volvo, September 3, 1988, after taking first four places in first raceTeam Volvo, September 3, 1988, after taking first four places in first race
Team Volvo, October 9, 1988
Spence
Michael
Tares
Craig
Art
July 5-25, 2010
Winter Park, Colorado
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While enroute to Winter Park, Colorado, I passed 29 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so I figured it might be worth it to blow an hour to
see the biggest ditch in the world. I did a hit and run visit, peering over the rim, shooting videos, photos, and trying to stop Gizmo from jumping.
Click for video of Gizmo at the Grand Canyon
Click for video of Gizmo trying to drag me off the cliff into the Grand Canyon
I can't believe I'm at the Grand Canyon!Super zoom of the Colorado RiverColorado RiverRock formation on North Rim of Grand CanyonStill happy at the Grand Canyon
Crude Panoramic Photo of Grand Canyon

I arrived in Winter Park, Colorado around 2am Colorado time, after another 17 hour drive. After that it was wake, eat, ride in rain, sun, wind (I usually got all three on every ride), sometimes snow, and dread the July 24th race. Gizmo loved the room: Click for video of Gizmo eating socks.
Click for video of Gizmo relaxing in the room.

Winter Park is a world-famous ski resort town, and I loved it! It was a bicycle and dog town, with 600 miles of bicycle trails, and on the July 17 weekend, the Mountain Bike

Winter Park Mountain Lodge from across the highwayWinter Park Resort and Winter Park Mountain Lodge in backgroundGizmo, popping and unexpected kiss during a photographMe and Gizmo at Winter Park resort

National Championships! By the time we left, the motel didn’t want to see Gizmo go. The staff asked if we could stay longer, and my reply was,"If it's free" (or dramatically cheaper). On our last day there, the staff said goodbye to Gizmo and as I was walking out for the last time, a stranger came to me and said,”This must be the dog I’ve heard about!” I'd never seen her--I guess word got around.

Gizmo soon learned where his room was, and if I'd say,”Go to your room”, he'd make his way through the maze of the motel, and I’d find him standing at room 608, which was always a crowd pleaser.
Click for video of Gizmo going to his room

Gracie, waiting on customers at Winter Park Mountain LodgeGizmo, helping out at the front desk of Winter Park Mountain Lodge

On the weekend of July 17th, I was taking Gizmo to the mezzanine, when he suddenly disappeared into a packed banquet room where the Filipino Heritage Conference was being held. I crawled in on my hands and knees, between tables, whispering,”Gizmo!” It was a true sitcom moment. He was playing to the crowd, soliciting pets and licks. After about a minute, a nice gentleman named Ted, came to the door with an adorable Yorkshire Terrier in his arms. Later that night, we passed the bar/restaurant and Ted called out,”Gizmo!” He ran out, dropped to the floor, and played with Gizmo. “I love this dog!” he exclaimed. Ted and his wife are my internet friends now (Gizmo can't type).

Gizmo, greeting strangers at Winter Park resort on his 8th birthdayGizmo and Daddy on his 8th birthday
Gizmo, after eight years

By week three we couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized. People called his name from passing cars. I set Gizmo on the check-in counter to greet fans. Now I know how Jack Kennedy felt when he escorted Jacqueline to France. But she didn’t pee on the Eiffel Tower. Gracie and Cash were two large dogs who livd behind the front desk. They were big but very cute and sweet, and Gizmo would often want to get up on the counter to interact with them, or steal attention away from them.
Click for video of Gracie and Cash and Gizmo (cute)
On Gizmo’s 8th birthday, I took him around my motel and around the Winter Park Ski resort, announcing his birthday to everyone. I was drunk (I was drunk a lot there), but that just made me friendlier. I giggled more.
Click for video tour of motel, part 1
Click for video tour of motel, part 2

Gizmo, trying to kill a chipmunkMy prisoner, Charlie the Chipmunk

Click for video of Gizmo trying to climb over guard rails
Click for video of Gizmo torturing chipmunk:
Click for video of Michael saving chipmunk

The evening before the race, Gizmo terrorized a chipmunk in the parking lot for ten minutes. I rescued the little critter, who asked not to be named here, and recorded the rescue. He tried to bite me, but I think after he realized I was saving him, he thought maybe I was God. My last day there, I was walking Gizmo around the motel and found four crows, two on each pole, taunting each other in stereo, very loudly, and very annoyingly, at the entrance to the motel. Robert, a desk clerk (I knew all of the desk clerks), was smoking and looked at me, and frowned, “Lovely, isn’t it?” rolling his eyes. I

July 21, Getting ready to leave on a 35 mile ride in the rain in Winter Park, Colorado

heard a low growl, and Gizmo charged the poles, barking his angry head off. The birds made an,"Oh crap!" exit, from both poles, and it was dead silent. Robert and I giggled our heads off and thanked our little hero.

The longer I cycled in Colorado, the more nervous I became on my bicycle. I rode easy climbs of 6-10 kilometers, and a third of 12,000 foot Berthoud Pass, but the winds made descending treacherous. I also rode the Fraser Valley trail, a narrow, paved forest trail that was twisty, but I loved it! I was much faster down that than down the straight highway next to the motel. I could pretend I was descending a Tour de France mountain pass, and since this trail was in the forest, there was no wind or traffic. I held back my first week because the 9300 foot altitude was choking the life out of me, tapered for the race in the third week, but still rode 631 miles from July 6 to July 24th, hard riding, and my improvement on the climbs from July 6 to July 24 was alarming. July 24 finally arrive, and the race was on!

One kilometer from finish of Mt. Evans bicycle raceAt the summit of Mt. Evans

The first 10 kilometers of the race are always the flattest and fastest, but still uphill, and this year we rode into a strong wind, so the fastest speed I saw during the first 10 kilometers was less than 17 miles an hour (compared to 23 in 2009). I didn’t feel any stronger than last year, but my breathing was much improved, and my technique was different. I was in my bottom gear, pounding out a Lance-Armstrongish 105 rpm, but only achieving about 8-9 miles an hour. I had a good tempo ride to the top, but nothing in reserve to kick up at the finish. Did I enter the race too tired? At Summit Lake, I got a little choked up. It’s the first place you can clearly see the summit—like an old friend who likes to make you suffer when you climb on its back. You're expecting an ex-wife joke. We rode into the mist, and the temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees, and the wind picked up. I got a bit of an "Uh Oh" feeling. The weather was a little creepy, and it would soon get worse. Although I’d marked the last kilometer, I could only dial it up to ten miles an hour for that last stretch, but I still blew past four riders. My official finishing time, was 2:51:36, and to be realistic, knock 15 seconds off that for a rider who stopped in front of me at the waterbottle exchange, but it still puts me six minutes slower than last year. Bugger! I was five pounds heavier than last year. I was pretty disappointed. I was 37th of the 56 finishers in my category (last year I was 57 of 82 finishers), which is a slight improvement in placing, so perhaps the weather played into that, since all times were slower. Still--I should've been a lot faster. There were 80 starters and only 56 finishers with me. It's a very hard, nightmarish race.

At the finish, a man approached me,”Look, I’m in the middle of an emergency--we have a big storm heading in and I need you to put on your warm clothes and get off the mountain as soon as possible”. The storm I asked the organizers about at the bottom when they laughed at me? I'd been well aware of storms coming in but I got no answers from the organizers about what to do. Now I had their answer--panic! At over 14,000 feet, a thunderstorm can be very serious if you have hundreds of people who need to ride their bicycles down at mountain through it. Last year I angered a mountain goat at the summit--this year, apparently I'd angered God. I don't like this trend. So I replied,”I will if you can do me a big favor—I need a photo of myself in my racing clothes”. He wanted to shoot me against the backdrop of the storm. They offered me a drive down from the top but I refused—near death experiences awaken the soul. I limped down on my bicycle, pulled over to pick up a water bottle I’d thrown out on the way up the climb. On the first five miles of descent, every time I’d stop to cool my brakes, some car would pull up next to me and ask if I was okay.
Click for video summary of race.
It was a hard descent, especially at the upper part because the roads were extremely bumpy, not allowing me to get up a good speed without my hands bouncing off the bars, it didn’t stop raining and blowing for the first 15 miles down, and once I started, I realized I should've installed those new brake pads I'd bought. I had to stop every two miles just to loosen my shoulders and hands because they’d cramp. I’ve never seen so many vehicles driving up that mountain! There was definitely an emergency at the top, and I saw many forest service and police driving up the mountain, as well as many from the race caravan, and after a few miles I could hear the thunder clapping above me as the 'emergency' hit the mountain. They were panicked. Every time I stopped for a minute or two, I'd look around and think,"Ah, the rain stopped", and on queue, it started again. So nice to be part of an emergency evacuation off a mountain! I made it down fine though, got my T-shirt, a band of deep sunburns on my upper arms, and a cute photo of me taken by a guy who never called or touched me in an impure manner.

That's it for the big adventures of 2010. I had a sick stomach as soon as I returned home, and the worst allergies I've had in three years. The stomach thing lasted through August, so I drank a lot of wine, and that just made it worse. Although my lung capacity seemed to have doubled once I was down to 400 feet, I lost my motivation. I'd entered the Mt. Washington

Berthoud Pass, leaving Winter Park, Colorado, July 25
September 20
October 1
November 12
December 1

race in New Hampshire, but I gained a lot of weight and had many gearing issues with the bicycle, so I didn't go. I had to prepare for the fall semester of school. I also skipped the Evansville Half Marathon in October because I hadn't been working out. The fall semester was a drag. I became hostile to some students and didn't like some of my teachers, who seemed to be on a far-left agenda rather than teaching their freakin' subject like they were hired to do. A 44 year-old retired, divorced military man just doesn't fit in with kids who are being indoctrinated into an idealogy not based on reality, but based on what they want to hear.

But on my 45th birthday, Evansville received its first big snow storm of the season, and I just had to try out my new mountain bike. So, although it was storming outside, and there were cars sliding around, I pedaled through the storm, losing my back end three times, but keeping it upright for 13 miles. As Paul McCartney once said,"Why don't we do it in the road?"

My two best friends in the world, on a trail in Kentucky