Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another semester down!

So usually my posts are all about ultra running and races, (ok so mostly races) and I have a little time on my hands this morning so I thought I would write about another big deal in my life- school. I am currently in my third year of college, still chasing the dream of Architecture. I have about a year left in Madison, then its off to UWM to finish it out. I plan on staying there through out the Masters degree, so I am looking at an additional 4-5 years. Yes, its a long road! I have been building houses and various other structures since I was 17 years old. There was always work, and you never had to worry about finding more. Nowadays since the housing bubble has burst (thanks to all the cookie cutter housing developements who flooded the market with crap houses) it has grown tough to stay busy year round. In 2009 I decided to go back to school. Originally for Project/ Construction Management, and make the transition into commercial construction and go from there. However after taking a sustainable design class at ITT being taught by an Architect, I learned that there are a lot of changes coming to the way we build buildings and how they in turn affect our environment.
This was amazing to me, and the more I learned about it and worked on projects and figured out problems the more I found myself wanting to do this even more. I though about making the jump to Architecture...but at this point in my life? Was that a wise choice? I was 33, and knew that in order to become licensed I was looking at another 7-10 years of school and internships and whatever else life through in the mix. Tough choice, and many people told me it wasn't a smart 'financial' move. However one Architect told me," You know Marcel, 40 is coming no matter what. What do you want to be doing when you get there?" I will never forget those words.  I jumped.
The more I am told that Architects will never make much money the more I realize that it wasn't a factor in my decision anyways so who cares. (Well I do CARE, but its not a game changer) Not too mention with all the options that holding a degree in Architecture brings, if there is a drive you will find different avenues. As a sub contractor I find myself always hunting down work, doing the work, then hunting down the paycheck. This is not new to me...its simply the nature of the beast!
I love the way life throws you curves. I live for the spontaneity of the seasons, the weather, the random laughter. Architecture was a fit for me, and now that I have undertaken this journey I am learning that just like in ultra running the finish line isn't the only good part, getting there is pretty fun too.
So with a little extra time on my hands this summer I took up scuba diving, which we are doing our final lake dive this Friday (hooray!) and then hopefully passing the written exam soon after. I would like to dive at Atwater Beach in Milwaukee on Lake Michigan soon, which is right down the road from the Architecture School of Milwaukee. Lots of neat places to be exploring in Milwaukee, and although it may take a little bit to adjust to the change in scenery and the population, I am sure it will be a grand adventure while I am there.
I do of course still have a couple of big races this year, with a 50 miler in the BigHorn mountains of Wyoming in a few weeks...then a possible 100 miler in November! Honestly I want to scale down the ultra running next year, just doing a few special ones and focus on some other things. I would love to learn how to sail! And kayaking around WI would be fun too.

Its truly amazing how many things there are to do with our time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, what we decide to do with it really determines the quality of our days, years, and ultimately our lives. I feel so blessed to be healthy and able to breathe clean air and to run on beautiful trails...these simple things enable me to tackle the rest of life, with a smile.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

DWD GnawBone 50k Race Report 5-12-12

DWD: GnawBone, Indiana (Yes, that’s a real town)
 50k Race report by Marcel Uttech
For those of you not familiar with the Dances with Dirt Series, there are four races held every year. In the Ultra division is either the 50k/ 50 mi. If you complete all of them within 2 years you earn a special belt buckle, which Jodie, Jose, and I are chasing down this year. Having done the DWD at Dances with Dirt the last two years in a row I didn’t need to do it again this year, but thought what the hell. If you sign up for all four they are only 49 bucks apiece…sweet…
Having done DWD Green Swamp in March (Florida) ,  GnawBone (Indiana) was next. So  on the 11th of May I picked up Jose and the two of us headed down there. The drive down was pretty uneventful (mostly Illinois) however in Bloomington we had a hitchhiker literally bum rush my car as we were going down the interstate at like 75- who does that? Did he really think that would make me want to stop? Hell I think I floored it when he did that .-weird..haha . We made packet pick up, which is always nice since you get to scope things out in the light like the start/finish line and the Porto potties- you know, the important stuff.  After grabbing our bags we headed back to the hotel to relax and lay out our stuff for the morning start.
Thank god that most electronics automatically change when you change time zones, cause I had totally spaced it that Indiana was an hour ahead of our time! Close call…we awoke in the morning (on time luckily) and headed to the start…according to the weather it was going to be in the 70’s with an overcast all day, and a slight breeze- pretty much perfect conditions! After driving around the woods down there in Brown County the previous evening, we were both pumped to get in there, especially on new trails! Jodie Taylor had run this race as her first Ultra last year, and was always saying that it was very scenic, and an awesome race so I was excited to get started. My plan was pretty much the same as Chippewa- PR or bust. Being my first time there, the PR part should be easy…
This would be my 11th 50k, and I decided to push it but really pay more attention to how I was feeling overall, and try to pace myself more evenly. I wanted to have better splits than at Chippewa (two weeks ago) where my second half was 40 min longer than my first half, I used a waist pack carrying an extra water bottle and some goodies and then a hand held. It was dark when we got there, good amount of people milling around. Saw some familiar faces, which is always cool- right on time, it started getting light- and then the Head Goat said “GO!”
We all took off into the woods. Pretty wide trails starting out, about the width of a car. It didn’t take long and the trail turned into soup- shoe sucking soup, all uphill. Saw three guys lose a shoe just on this first climb…lol once we got through that it changed into mostly narrower trails and lots of single track. Beautiful scenery, bugs were minimal, and the trails were perfect. First half was lots of climbing, a few  switchbacks and then these roller coaster hills. It was pretty easy going, and I just hit the cruise control and went with it. Came up on mile 15 at about 2:45 or so. Everything felt good, and I was having a blast in those woods. Parts reminded me of Sawtooth, with quite a few roots. Then there were parts like Voyageur, with rocks and mud and these neat little bridges and winding single track trails through the woods. It’s an awesome trail system they got down there, for sure!

Second half went well, with more silly obstacles to be found. Some pretty steep climbs up the sides of hills, some bushwacking (actually quite a bit), and then a bunch of navigating over and under fallen trees. It was tough to get into a groove here, so I just ran when I could. Coming out of one aid station I went about a quarter mile and turned into the woods, getting confronted by this guy coming back up who was yelling “ it’s a dead end! I just ran 2 miles for nothing!” Not wanting a bunch of bonus miles at this point I ran back to the aid station to confirm the turn and was told that yes,  that was the turn. SO back again and down and then I see the trail turn AGAIN kind of subtly  again, which is what the other guy must’ve missed last time…back on track I picked it up, glad it was only a half mile of extra running to erase any doubts. Wouldn’t be long, and this would be coming to a close!
We ran past people fishing at a small lake, past cabins built deep into the woods (nice architecture I might add), an awesome ancient stone fireplace/shelter in the middle of nowhere;  some cool boardwalks, and we never left the woods. I loved it! Nearing the end there was some nice stream crossings that felt right on time to splash through. (Sorry to the people walking when I came through these spots lol) Next up a muddy downhill with footprints about 4 inches deep (good times) a quick little meadow and then the best part- running the creek in for about a half mile! This was very cool, and refreshing as well! The water was cold enough (and deep enough) to really cool off the legs, and wash most of the mud off (my apologies to the people walking through this section as there was much splashing going on) just in time to fire the after burners into the finish line! Crossing the line, I was asked my name and age…turns out I took first in my age group and was 8th overall with a time of 5:39(only 9 minutes longer on my second half, so the pace worked). They handed me a finisher medal and an engraved bone ( all the AG placers got one) all this to  some blaring country music that was being put on by the DJ. DWD’s races are always a party, and down here was no exception. There were also all these relay teams, that had all these different  ‘themes’ going on…some were pretty strange but hey, whatever gets you out there, right?
I would really recommend this race as an awesome spring ultra event. These are some very cool single track trails, and the scenery is amazing. Being only a 7 hr drive its close enough to drive comfortably, and even better to ROAD TRIP IT! So put this one on your radar sometime, its worth it…