Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ahhhhh! Powder!

This morning's run was a luscious drifting and loping along through 8-10" of perfect powder!

One thing it reminded me of is that life with brain injury (indeed, any disability) is a bit like running ____ miles through the snow vs. running on a clear, dry day at your favorite temperature. And because brain injury is invisible, it's like I'm running through packed, sloshy snow but no one sees it because it looks to them like a clear, dry, warm day.

Plus 5 miles
Total milage: 163

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Panorama up and down the Pass

This is a panoramic shot up and down Ute Pass. It shows the first few inches of what is predicted to be 12-14" by tomorrow morning.
Plus 3
Total: 158

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dawn from on High

My favorite line from Morning Prayer's Canticle of Zacharia is "...the dawn from on high shall break upon us..." Alpineglow feels like a wee taste of that delicous dawn from on high. I'm just not very good at capturing it on a camera, but the picture give a wee idea.
Plus 6 miles.
Total: 155 miles.

Daughters: Plus 2, for a total of 4 miles

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mind Your Head

Mind Your Head is a cooperative for brain injury survivors and caregivers to find support and therapy that promotes more fully entering life.

What does this look like? We're an innovative and living cooperative by brain injury families for brain injury families which uses physical locations, the internet, and home delivery to provide:

Ongoing, innovative, cost effective therapy (cognitive and otherwise)
Support of community
Business incubation and micro-loans for survivors and caregivers
Research via the above for better ways to accomplish therapy, incubation, and support
Funding for all the above

... all for TBI families by TBI families.

If you would like to be involved in creating some aspect of this, right now, please email Deacon Patrick! You can also help us create this vision by donating here (tax deductible).

Beware Sentient, Malicious Lamp Posts!

Och! The city told me it did not randomly turn off lamp posts to conserve energy. They put lamp posts where they were needed and not where they weren't. They failed to mention that some lamp posts mutate deep in their computer circuitry, becoming possessed by demons who seek to control the light.

Yes. The same lamp that got me a few days ago got me this morning. Same story, different day. I've no idea if it was the same time (quite possible). If so, I simply need to not run there at 6:15 am. The good news this time is I did not need to wake my sleeping beauty and ask her to brave the chill frosty morn. I managed to slowly walk my way home.

Plus .5
Total: 149

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Plus 4.5

Stuck to the roads today as the snow is still powder on the trail and it simply melts into my Treks and freezes my toes.

I'm working with Chuck Perry, a local custom moccasin maker who learned it from his father, on creating a running moc for winter. It should be ready in the next few weeks -- perfect timing for testing it out! Also, Kako ICEtrekkers has generously offered to send me a pair of larger chains and Diamond Grips to test with my various primal/minimalist footwear. Hopefully all this helps make the winter more doable than ever!

Plus 4.5
Total milage: 144.5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Run with the Bears

This morning I got to run with a bear. Well, briefly. The picture above is of a bear track 15 seconds after the bear made it. I chose to turn round at that point. My faithful service dog had barked at him (I presume, because of his size) -- not bad for a 17 pound Shetland Shepherd! The bear had been about 50 feet from us, paused, looked at us both nonchalantly, and sauntered on his way, which was my way until it became his. Grin.

This morning was also my first test of my winter traction system. The traction part of the test went very well. I wore Kako ICEtrekkers chains on my feet, purchased a size smaller than normal as I stick the chain between my toes.

Chained up sole and my faithful bear dog, Ardie.

My challenge in winter is that there are often icy roads between me and the trails, when then have a variety of challenges all blended together: exposed rock/gravel, snow pack, powder, icy and fairly steep, generally alternating back and forth very frequently. At least with this morning's run of three miles, the chains handled all of it very well (I had everything except deep powder -- just 2-3 inches). The only failing of the system is that snow gathered on my toes, melted, then numbed my feet (on a dry 20F my feet do fine. Not so wet). Apparently the bear was telling me not to push it too much because my toes were heading for frostbite. Thanks, bear!

For future, I plan to try a combo of NEOS over shoes and the Kako ICEtrekker chains as needed.

Plus 3 miles.
Total Milage: 140

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brain Injury and Controlling the Environment

My Lamp Post post brought in this comment:

Have you ever thought about wearing sunglasses and ear plugs when you know you will be in a situation that might cause you problems?
I don't know if sunglasses would help at all, but I'm sure ear plugs would. I like the silicone type for sleeping.
I love Anonymous' confidence in being sure ear plugs would work and deeply appreciate their good intentions. Thank you.

Yes. I tried sunglasses and ear plugs years ago. Both help but also cause other equal or greater problems. Instead, I always wear a hat to block out direct light both indoors and out. Earplugs don't work because when my ears are completely blocked I'm completely unable to cut through the vertigo. Nearest I can figure I use some sort of primitive eco location to help compensate for the vertigo. Whatever the reason, I need at least a small hole for direct sound transfer. I have custom hearing aids programed to block out, rather than amplify, sound, but they don't work on various tonal ranges and wind whistles loudly in them. I plan on trying a decibel blocking ear plug (rather than a solid one) in the near future, though I'm not sure if it will block my ear too much.  

All this points to one of the challenges of life with brain injury. It is common for people, including doctors, to dismiss survivors as faking or exaggerating our brain injuries simply because they don't understand how we can do _____, yet we can't do _______. (In my case, despite brain scans and neuropsych tests clearly showing the extent of my brain damage). I'm sure people in my town are baffled that I complain about wind chimes yet can run and hike for miles on the trails. For them it's the exact opposite -- they can't imagine running for miles and they don't even hear the wind chimes. Clearly something must be wrong! (It is. My brain is bludgeoned.). "You LOOK fine!" is one of the most frustrating things we brain injury survivors hear, because it echos of the implicit condemning, ignorant, arrogant judgement that we must be making a bigger deal of this than it really is. By definition, people only see me when I'm doing well enough to get out (unless the lamp posts of the world have gotten to me, in which case I'm slumped against a wall waiting for my Beloved to haul me off the battle field), so in their minds I'm always doing that well. If only.

A primary way of compensating for brain injuries' tendency to leave the survivor easily overwhelmed by sensory stimulation: control the environment. Because every brain injury is different this needs to happen differently. We have created my "hobbit hole" sanctuary room, where I go when I need less stimulation. It is fairly soundproof from the rest of the house, I can easily open or close the shades. It allows me to push my boundaries (necessary to create new neural pathways around the damage), while also have a place to recover when I've pushed as far as I can.

I am not yet good enough to be out in public places with lots of people. When I serve at Mass (about every 2-3 months), my parish wonderfully accommodates me by having a silent processional and recessional and minimal singing.

The farther we brain bludgeoned venture from a space that we can control, the riskier things get for us. The one exception for me is the wilderness. Nature has yet to short circuit me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Street lamps flicker when they go out

Street lamps flicker when they go out. Sounds like the title to a murder thriller, doesn't it? In a way it is. This morning a street lamp went out as I was running under it. Not cleanly, it had to flicker as it went out. My brain instantly overloaded and I couldn't take another step. Had to call and wake the wife for a ride back home.

It's an amazing gift that I can run mile upon mile on the trails -- if only I can make it safely through our wee town. Sardonic grin.

Plus 1/2 mile.
Total miles: 137

What it means to be a sponsor of Shoot the Moon for Brain Injury

To be a sponsor of Shoot the Moon for Brain Injury means the good or service (or combination) provided is both something I've personally used long enough to be confident in recommending both it and the people behind it.

I only contact those companies who meet this stringent qualification to ask them to consider sponsorship.

Ray the Rolfer™

People who genuinely want the best for you more than they want you as a client are rare. Ray the Rolfer™ is such a man of integrity and honor and bar none the best hands to ever help my body work properly. I've tried many practitioners of many body manipulation arts, from rolfing, to chiropractic, to massage, and others you may never hear of -- Ray is not just incredible at what he does, he's the best quality of people.

What exactly is Rolfing? The Rolfing Institute® describes it as "structural integration." I'm sure that means something to them. What it means to you and me is they work DEEP, on muscle, fascia (that Saran Wrap™ like film you see on a steak -- well it wraps all through your body), and sometimes I'm convinced Ray is somehow inside my joints and putting my marrow to rights. It feels incredible!

Not the kind of incredible that you forget as you walk out the office door, or even come the next morning. The kind of incredible that has you feeling and moving better for weeks. Like anything that puts your body to rights after the various wrongs we've managed to do to them, Rolfing can take time to feel good. When it does, you'l know just how good the pain of change can become.

How in the world does such a beast help with brain injury? My brain has limited energy every day. When it runs out, that's it. No more doing anything that day. In my case, I was spending a lot of my day's brain energy on bodily motion. With my body working properly, it works more efficiently and uses less of my very limited brain energy, helping me do more with less and last longer through the day.

Thank you, Ray, for your support of Shoot the Moon!

Ray Welling
Certified Rolfer
917 W.Colorado Ave. #B
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
email Ray the Rolfer™

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mountain Chalet - Outdoor Expertise Extrordinaire

The internet has made it easy to shop around for the best price for your outdoor needs, but it can take a lot of trial and error to find a store online or locally that offers excellent customer service. Mountain Chalet, located at the base of Pikes Peak, offers excellent value and the best in customer service.

I've personally been shopping there since 1989, when I met my future wife in college and we based some of our adventures out of Colorado Springs. Yipes! I just realized that was over 20 years ago.

Whatever your outdoor needs, the grand folks at Mountain Chalet will see you treated right. They always have me -- and I'm a bit of an ogre when it comes to my poor gear.

Thank you to the good folks at Mountain Chalet for your support!

Mountain Chalet

226 N. Tejon
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Plus 8

Sunrise through Ute Pass on one of my favorite trails, wondrously carpeted with aspen leaves.

Plus 8
Total: 136.5

Our two older lassies (6 and 8) have decided they want to count their miles toward the distance of traveling the Oregon Trail. They are researching just how far that is, but in the meantime they are each one mile closer.

Oregon Trail Annabel: 1 mile
Oregon Trail Cressi: 1 mile

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's not about how far...

This morning I had a great run for about a mile and a half. Then I realized I may not have the brain energy to continue, despite having planned a much longer run. I continued for another half mile to see if I really needed to turn around. Yup.

On aspect of life with brain injury that's hard to understand, both for the survivor and for everyone else, is the apparent randomness of how we're doing when. We often have no idea what causes us to suddenly not be doing well or rapidly fade and have no more brain energy. When I make plans with others, there is always the contingent that I have to have a "good" brain day.

Plus 4
Total Milage: 128.5

Friday, October 16, 2009

Alpine Glow Embrace

Bathed in purple glow
Gliding through waking earth's soft
Hard embrace. Primal.

Plus 5.5 miles
Milage total: 124.5

It seems truely odd that I can run 15 miles yesterday, 4 today and have them seem like I'm just loping along and yet while on a walk through town with my wife and new wee one, wind chimes ended my day in a matter of seconds.

That's one of the hardest things for people with brain injury -- coming to understand just what we can and can not do, while always pushing the envelope. It's also one of the hardest things for family and friends to understand. "How can you do _____, yet you can't _______?" From the loving and understanding ones, it's simpy an effort to understand. From the rest, it's an accusation with judgement dripping off it. My prayer for such folks is that they never have to learn first hand what I'm talking about. Sardonic grin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Longer Run!

It was a balmy 47 F heading out this morning at 3am. Beautiful waxing crescent moon rise, owl serenade and eventually sun rise! Fish were finicky today -- only enticed one to jump on me hook! Fifteen inches of tasty lunch. Grin.

15 miles.
Total: 119 miles

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Joys of Brain Injury

I know how that leaf feels. Some days are like that.

I was getting ready for a run this morning and was "short circuited" by a simple event in daily life from simply interacting with my family. A stuffed animal had the audacity to be moved unexpectedly while I was touching it (and thus using it as a spacial reference for the vertigo). Instant brain overload. Och! Brain injury can be brutal.

True, no run for me. As in all things, though what matters is what I can do now, even if I can do nothing. -- if my brain is up to it I'll work on the book that streamed through my head yesterday (thank heaven for my iPhone which recorded the whole thing!).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mystical Run!

Amazing run! Cool crisp ascent, on which I wrote a book. We'll see how it turns out!

Plus 10 miles
Total milage: 104

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How to uphold the Dignity of the Tarahumara (Rarámuri) -- and all of us?

10-22-09 Update: there is a newly created site here to help support the Rarámuri.
We, and far more critically our brothers and sisters the Rarámuri, live at a cross roads. Why would I so arrogantly place myself, living rather comfortably far from the Copper Canyons, among those effected by the crossroads the Rarámuri face? Perhaps I'm out of place, but I do so because what effects one of us effects us all. That's the notion of solidarity. We are in this together. Even when it looks like we aren't. Solidarity is one of the four permanent principles of Catholic social teaching. It offers every one of us a starting place for asking the question, how do we uphold the dignity of the Tarahumara?

To learn of the Tarahumara, I highly recommend reading two things. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and this article in NatGeo.

To learn of the four permanent principles of Catholic social teaching, I recommend reading this post. If you really want to dive in, take a look at the Model of Catholic Social Teaching. (I wrote it and it's a bit of wandering egghead, but it will get you through the ideas and principles needed here). While the concepts are explicitly Catholic, they are universal (the meaning of catholic), and speak to the natural law we all share and are bound by.

The Tarahumara face the centuries old challenge of what happens when one culture collides with another. The typical pattern is some form of slavery, impoverishment, and loss of self reliance. It appears that is much the way things are headed for the Tarahumara now, with numerious pressures, legal and illegal, pressing in on them. But it doesn't have to be that way.

There is an answer. It's one we may have heard and perhaps discarded. Or the idea that follows that one. Or it's one yet to be thought. But in the end, it will be an idea that meets the rigorous tests of upholding the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity and thus upholding human dignity -- the dignity of all involved. Find that answer and we achieve something far more human than what is happening now.

The current proposal of tourism development clearly undermines human dignity, violating the principles of the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity (the encroaching roads can be argued to have done the same.

A proposal:

The first and most obvious idea is that the Mexican government declare the Copper Canyon a national treasure and the ancestral lands of the Rarámuri, giving it to them to manage, as they have done for centuries already. If they want tourism, let them do it their way. But it's not a reservation -- it's like a free and independent state. Government aid would have to be very carefully considered, as experience in the US shows us it creates a cycle of dependance that also undermines human dignity (see most if not all current reservations to see this cycle in action -- no people receive more government aid).

I'm guessing based on the very limited info I have on the Tarahumara, but their economy is based on korima: the trading of favors. Could that not happen on a societal level?

How does this proposal pass the tests?

It appears to pass the tests of upholding the Common Good.

Subsidiarity. We have to know what the Rarámuri think. If they approve the idea then we can continue in examine if it passes Subsidiarity (it appears to, as Governments role is limited only to protecting the fundamental rights of the Rarámuri).

Solidarity. This proposal appears to pass the test of Solidarity.

It seems to me we need a dialogue between and amongst the Tarahumara, the people surrounding them, including the Jesuit priests serving them, and others to learn more fully the situation and what is needed. The internet seems a perfect tool for such a fool-hearty endeavor.

What needs to happen to both refine and implement this proposal? Or is it as ill considered as the current, tourism proposal? Should it be tossed aside and we enter and facilitate dialogue with the people directly impacted? Input and action from you is needed. Please leave any ideas in the comments box.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Plus 3

Total Milage: 94

Understanding how to Uphold Human Dignity

Note: This is an abbreviated version of the more egghead paper Model of Catholic Social Teaching which I wrote. I've written it here in more social terms than theological, and more general than specifically Catholic.

Human Dignity:
Every human being has a value beyond reckoning and has been given a unique gift that only they can share with the world. Our challenge is to strive to live up to our fullest potential AND to uphold the dignity of everyone else as well.

Human dignity is the goal and source of all that is best in humanity. Rather than humanity being an excuse for mediocrity, as in "I'm only human," We have to look beyond ourselves toward our creator if we hope to achieve our full human potential. We can not reach our full potential on our own.

Human dignity is like a three legged stool, held up by three legs. Each leg is equally necessary and required and it's only with all three legs fully present that human dignity is upheld. So, when it comes to any social action, we need to verify that all three legs are present as fully as possible. If not, we need to seek ways to have them all as fully present as possible. What are these three legs?

Common Good
The common good is the mutually shared responsibility of all individual people to corporately realize our full human potential as individuals.

Subsidiarity is the responsibility of individuals to realize the fullest potential of the smallest groupings, down to the family and individual, by placing ownership at the smallest feasible and practical level. Indeed, not only is it the responsibility of smaller groupings to claim and act upon their local authority, but it is the responsibility of larger groupings to encourage and support ownership at smaller levels as required.

Solidarity is the responsibility of individuals to realize that what happens to one effects all and thus to stand together, with our strongest helping support our weakest, that we might realize our fullest human potential.

 Of course it's important to note that none of these tests is black and white -- they are testing things using entirely subjective criteria. Why, then, use this model at all? Because it gives us a starting point for dialogue and it's far more common ground to start from than if we do not have it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dusting of snow

It is amazing wonder how a blanket of white beauty draped over a wild landscape of beauty brings a soft stillness of waiting to the world. It might seem an odd juxtaposition to be running through such tranquility, but with the wings of our ancestors starting to grow upon my feet as I run minimalist, soft, gentle, and tall, there is only soft gliding through the waiting wilds.

Plus 7.5 miles
Total: 91 miles

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Still Recovering...

Thought I felt pretty good this morning, but I never really know until I head out. Well, I made it a whopping 3/4 mile before it was clear that if I wanted to make it back I'd best turn around NOW. So, I continue to recover from whatever brain overload got me and look forward to my next run.

It's been interesting reflection time. A bear ate my fishing net, so I guess what my wife and the 20 F with 40 mph winds on the lake were trying to tell me despite my thick head was right -- I'm done fishing till spring. Grin.

Therein lies the challenge of life with TBI, life running minimalist/barefoot, and life in general: learning to listen to the subtle of what our mind, body, loved ones, and environment are telling us, so we can accomplish as much as possible without overextending ourselves and recovering when we need to. That is life with wild abandon!

Plus 1.5 miles
Total milage: 83.5

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slammed Today

I'm currently in what we call a longer-term up-swing. That means I have more than usuall "good" days -- a measure of my brain energy. The scale goes like this:

Good: able to hike/trail run, think and write more clearly, handle some minimal extra stimulation (like kids hollering). I fade as the day goes on.

Medium: I can make the half-mile round trim walk to the post office, if I do it by 10am.

Hard: (there are no "bad" days, just hard ones!). Like today. I can't do much. Can barely make it to the next room, or do much writing (as in complex plot, characters, etc).

Clearly my brain is recovering from something. Today is a day of rest -- part of the reality of going as fast as I can, as slow as I must.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Teaming up with!

A huge and hearty thank you to Mark for his enthusiasm in Shoot the Moon for Brain Injury. Mark designed and runs (pun intended) and is working with us to create the tools necessary to track milage and progress both individually and for a team (Team Shoot the Moon for Brain Injury). Thank you, Mark!

I really like GeoDistance because it is simple and intuitive to use, it allows me to mark and save routes, shows me elevations, milage and more, but it doesn't have all the visual clutter of other tools that makes it really challenging for me to figure out what is needed and what isn't. The most elegant designs are often the simplest.

Plus 7.5

Milage Total: 82

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bears love apples!

A mama black bear and her two cubs (look like first year) enjoyed an apple picnic in our back yard. We live on a wildlife trail, and get fox, cougar, bear, deer, and raccoon regularly.

Plus 7.5
Milage Total 67

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Elk Bugling

In the crisp pre-dawn the elk of Pikes Peak were bugling in incredible bass, multi-layerd tones.

Plus 7.5 miles
Total 59.5 miles

Friday, October 2, 2009

I've got Morton's Toes (and he wants them back!)

I've got Morton's Toe (or Morton's foot) on both feet (where the second metatarsal is longer than the first, often resulting in the second toe being longer than the first).

I've struggled with the painful extra strain and callus that develops under the second metatarsal. The typical answer is an orthotic that adds a thicker portion under the first metatarsal, so it "lands" first. This worked for me, but is not feasible when barefoot and it's not practical in minimalist shoes. Besides, if there is a way to make it work without anything, I much prefer that.

On the Barefoot runners group, I've researched the wisdom and experience there. Here's what I've found, both from the group and from my own experimentation, summarized:

- with every step (walking around the house, running, trail running, hiking -- every step), I curl my toes up in my stride forward, relaxing them as I land on the ball of my foot. This does two things: 1) pushes the first metatarsal down so it lands properly and 2) loads the natural spring in my foot to absorb more of the landing. The only trick seems to be how much to curl, and I'm allowing my feet to tell me that. - When sitting in a recliner, I'll exercise my toes by curling them both up and down, alternating feet just like when I'm walking/running. This helps train my muscle memory so my natural gate will simply have the toe lift in it.

Note: as with most barefoot/minimalist techniques, it often works well to exaggerate a new motion to help move it into muscle memory, but then to gently pull back and listen to your feet as you run/hike/walk and find where your own "balance" point is. Th better you are at listening to what you feet are saying, the quicker this will happen. If you run with exaggerated movement for too long, without listening to your feet, that's when injury happens. (Not that I've ever done that! Grin.)

It is working well so far, though I'm only 6 miles into testing it.

10-3-09: Update
Wow. I did not expect this to settle into my muscle memory so quickly (possibly a benefit of not having traditional memory?). Today's run was magical. I've accessed the windlass mechanism in the foot, which creates a natural "spring" absorbing more of the impact (except barefoot/minimalist technique uses it to not only lift the foot, but more so to  cushion the landing. Traditional shoes use it to push off -- which barefoot technique does not do, instead simply lifting the foot). My stride felt more natural than it ever has, and I ran as fast as I did pre-disability. My feet have rotated toe inward, so they are where they are supposed to be (it's common with Morton's Foot to point the toes out to compensate, but this messes up leg and back alignments). No longer was I fighting to maintain my posture. My foot even felt relaxed, like it was born to run this way. Not sure how that happened so quickly, considering the act of curling toes upwards tenses the foot. But I just let my feet run and they felt great -- clearly doing what I was wanting them to do, without me having to think about it. Wow.

10-4-09: Update
The wonder continues. Today I ran the best times I've ever done and my feet feel great after. I hardly had to think about lifting my toes -- they are getting close to being automatic.

Autumn Bliss

What a grand day of glorious autumnial crisp warmth! I spent an hour in the hyperbaric chamber on the theory that my decline was due to my brain having used up all the O2 surviving and recovering from the hospital visits. Immediately after, headed out on a trail run, the turnaround point being the falls on the left.
Plus 4 miles.
Total miles: 52 (broke the half-century mark!)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Plus 2 -- Barely

Well, something is catching up with me. Perhaps the hospital or ??? I headed out on a run, realized a mile out that I wasn't doing well enough to continue, and turned around. Walked most of the way back. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Total Milage: 48