Archive for the ‘Philmont’ Tag

I Could Not Run   2 comments

Philmont’s most famous landmark, the Tooth of Time.

When I started getting in shape to go to Philmont, I really didn’t know what I was doing.  I decided that I could lose weight if I started running … something I had never been serious about.  I had run track in high school — but I mean that in the loosest possible sense.  I ran, I was in high school.  I was pitiful.  The only team point I ever scored was when I finished 5th in a 5 man race.  I ran the 2 mile.  No idea what my times were … who would keep track of such a thing?  The stop watches were already off when I finished.  Every time.

Assistant Referee, 2002

Move forward many years, and Velda volunteered me to be a referee for Christopher’s soccer team, a part of the AYSO program.  (Many referees begin this way!)  I told myself that it was my exercise program … and it was better than nothing.  But it did not lead to healthier lifestyle choices, and I remained overweight.  I could run as fast as a 9 year old dribbling the ball, though, so I was OK.  This would have been 1992.

Ten years later, I was a better, faster referee, but I still needed to shed 60 pounds.  When I first hit the road to begin running … I couldn’t run a mile.  Long before then, I was a wheezing mess.  I kept at it, though, in my sweats and my Reebok cross trainers … and kept at it.  I actually ran enough miles in those Reeboks that I wore the soles of the shoes away to a severe angle (come to find out, I’m an underpronator.  Who knew?).  When I finally bought new shoes, I found I could not even walk without pain, as my tendons wouldn’t let the soles of my feet land flat as I ran anymore.  Oops.  Back to walking.

And then I was a fitness runner.  As I got more serious about my running, I got more serious about my gear, eventually switching to good shoes, a GPS system, and (perhaps most importantly) a simple spreadsheet log of what I had done.  I began to keep a daily record of my runs after I was well into my fitness program; in February ’03 I was able to do 10 minute miles for 3 mile runs on a good day (on a bad day, not so much).  I split the longer runs into shorter intervals, and kept track of my time for every interval.  I didn’t have that in high school … now, I became obsessed with it.

I believe that this daily ritual is the most important reason that my running succeeded:  I always knew how fast I was running, and I wouldn’t let myself slow down.  I pushed.  I was in a race with myself, and I celebrated every time I broke my record for an interval by coloring that square in my spreadsheet a special color!  Silly, but it worked.  I focused on turning the spreadsheet green, one interval at a time, one day at a time.

On my last run before Philmont, I did my 3 miles with an average mile pace of 9:51, my best yet.  My weight?  Back to what it was in college.

Philmont was GREAT … my life was GREAT.  I felt better than I had in years.  And suddenly … I had achieved my goal — and didn’t have another.  That just wouldn’t do.  It was about then that I talked to a great lady, Linda Johnson.  Linda was a serious runner — she was doing 9 miles as a daily run.  Linda worked with me as a sales rep, and she taught me the value of multiplication.

Linda asked what I was running, and I told her I was doing 3 miles most days.  She said great, if you can run 3 miles, you can run 6 miles (and I could!).  And if I could run 6 miles, Linda said I could run 12, and that’s almost a half marathon.  And if I could run a half marathon, she proudly said, I could run a marathon.

A marathon?  WHAT?

Remember where I started:  I could not run a mile.  And here I was a year later, with a real runner telling me that I could do a marathon.  Unbelievable.

And then I did it.

Here’s your takeaway:

1.  Get a goal.

2.  Keep track of your progress versus that goal.

3.  Celebrate your progress towards your goal.

4.  Achieve that goal.

January 18, 2004. San Diego Marathon, now called the Carlsbad Marathon. 26.2 beautiful Southern California miles!

Get Big Ones   3 comments

I grew up on a small family farm in rural Missouri.  My world was pretty small … a trip to St Joseph, 32 miles away, was a very big deal.

I joined Scouting while in second grade, and loved reading Boy’s Life and dreaming big dreams about what I would do in Scouting.  One of my biggest dreams was to go on the ultimate Scouting adventure:  backpacking at tbe Philmont Scout Reservation, near Cimarron, New Mexico.  Understand, my Troop never went backpacking.  Such a trip was way, way beyond the resources of my family, and of my troop.  It simply wasn’t going to happen.  But the dream … did not die.

1970, after receiving my God & Country award. I was 14 years old, and wouldn’t have lasted on the trails of Philmont, even if I could have gotten there.

It’s important to have goals.  Really, really big goals.  You need to get big ones.

I wrote in a recent post about “The 2012 Plan.”  This plan took 15 years to complete, and the best part was that I didn’t have to do the work!  I graduated from Mizzou in 1978.  Beginning in 1997, it was up to the wife and 3 kids for them to earn their degrees.  15 years and 5 degrees later, we deserve the family celebration that’s just a few days away.

I’m sure that Velda will say that the worst part of the Plan was that the family had to eat my cooking while she was studying for her Masters in Nursing from UCLA.  I never understood what the problem was: not only am I proficient in the kitchen, I prepare dishes that Velda never will.  And the kids didn’t complain (too much) about the 3 dishes they said I prepared … not even the Hamburger Helper!  Good news:  we all survived!

No one will mistake what I do for the artistry that Velda performs in the kitchen.  But the choice to miss her cooking for a few meals in order for her to achieve one of her big goals was not a choice at all.  She’s been happy as a nurse practitioner ever since.

But, back to Philmont. I did not reach that goal until I was 46.  But that’s really not the story.

Climbing the Tooth of Time is a part of the Philmont experience that no backpacker should miss!

The problem for me was that Boy Scouts are serious about backpacking, and, thank goodness, they expect the boys and leaders to be in shape.  You have to make a goal weight based on your height … or you don’t go on the trail.  Once I understood that my boys wanted to go to Philmont, I had to prepare myself.  And lose about 60 pounds.

I’ve never been a gym rat.  Velda had achieved great success with Weight Watchers, but that didn’t seem like my thing, either.  I started doing what I had not done since high school:  I decided to run.

The problem, though, was that I wasn’t able to run any distance at all.  I started walking in my cross trainer Reeboks, wearing sweats … and worked myself up from there.  Eventually, I could run 2 miles without walking.  That was a very big day, let me assure you!  But I was not nearly done.

I fixed my diet (a calorie-counting shake from Costco in the morning, a banana and an apple for snacks, Subway for lunch, and a sensible dinner from Velda.  I kept pushing.  And the weight fell off.  Running became a daily obsession, and I eventually got up to 7-mile runs on the weekends.  I faithfully kept a running log every day, and used a GPS system to track my times for each segment of the runs I did.

By the time I went to Philmont with my boys, I was in the best shape of my life.  I had lost 70 pounds.  Hitting the trail with 50+ pounds on my back for a 10-day, 52-mile trek was still nothing to sneeze at, but I was ready.  I was 46, but keeping up with 17-year old boys was not a problem.  We sat on the Tooth of Time at sunrise, and we proudly proclaimed “Go Big or Go Home” while we reveled in the burro races, the trail food, and a feeling of self reliance that’s very difficult to discover if you’re sitting on your sofa.

It was the most personally fulfilling thing I have done in Scouting.  And I got there because I had a goal.  A big one.

We made it: Michael Mowry, Christopher Mowry, myself, and Lyle “The Destroyer” Wohlfarth with the map he was in charge of for all 52 miles. 2003.

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