Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rest in Peace, Cornelius

After 17+ years of faithful mouse-hunting service, our cat Cornelius (Corn) died today.

The day we selected him from a litter of young kittens, he ran away and hid behind a large pile of firewood. We could have simply picked another kitten from that litter, but we really liked Corn, so I moved half a cord of wood to get him. The name Cornelius was actually picked a long time before he was born. One time, Vicky and I drove past Cornelius Ave. in East Nicolaus, CA and agreed that we would call our future cat Cornelius.

Corn loved to sleep in warm places, like on top of my laptop.

Corn certainly wasn't the easiest-going cat. He was a born hunter (on one occasion he took on an adult turkey vulture!) and made sure our place was always rodent and lizard-free. He had a bit of a wild side and would often hide in the grass and jump out. He had little time for staying on our laps; that's just the way he was and always remained. We would always warn kids that came over to be careful--he could strike at any time, as you can see in this video:

Corn in action

Corn was extremely curious and even checked out a few books on HTML5 late in his life.

Everything reminds us of him now.

We buried Cornelius in our backyard today in a spot overlooking the meadow. While we put some flowers down, a beautiful little white butterfly flew by and showed up one more time later. I think he is in a good place now.

"A stone I died and rose again a plant;

A plant I died and rose an animal;

I died an animal and was born a man.

Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?"


Rest in peace, Cornelius. You'll always be in our hearts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Live: Two TRT Record Attempts

Update 9/11/11:

Both attempts were abandoned at miles 50 (Aaron) and 87 (Michael). Better luck next time, guys.

The TRT is heating up. It turns out there isn't just one unsupported Tahoe Rim Trail record attempt (See my last post about Aaron Sorensen). Michael Popov (who at one time held the JMT unsupported record) is also running, but going the other direction. Both are going for the fastest unsupported time, which currently stands at 85h47m50s (by Adam Bradley), according to Peter Bakwin's FKT site (this also has details about the supported records).

Michael Popov in action

You can follow Michael live via his Spot tracker at this link.

It looks like Michael blazed his way through desolation wilderness already. Good luck guys!

Finally, David Wronsky is going to go for a TRT run in one-shot as well. Barefoot! You can read more about this on his site: We were both interviewed by Moonshine Ink about barefoot running recently (I will post details soon).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This weekend: Unsupported TRT Record Attempt by Aaron Sorensen

This weekend, Aaron Sorensen is going to give the unsupported TRT record another try. He's got his backpack ready and he is starting Friday morning going counter clockwise from Tahoe City. Aaron knows the trail well (He and Michael Popov offered to help me on my supported run in 2008, but I fell behind schedule and missed them).

Aaron Sorenson

Complete details here:

Aaron: have fun out there and keep us posted—it will be epic!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rocky's Eighth Grade Valedictorian Speech

Déjà vu. Last night, almost exactly two years after Sean graduated as the valedictorian of his middle school class and after a year of hard work, keeping the perfect 4.0 GPA, Rocky followed in Sean's footsteps and became the valedictorian of his eight-grade class at MCAA.

During the graduation ceremony he first played Rondo alla Turca (Mozart) on the piano (perfectly) and then he gave a very nice speech. There was no promotion ceremony for Sean (he is now a junior), but he also kept a straight A score up for yet another year. Needless to say, some really proud parents here...

Here is the entire speech:

Good evening and welcome, faculty, distinguished guests, family, and friends. My name is Rocky Lubbers and I'm really exited to speak to you tonight.

A Zen Master once said: "When you reach the top, keep climbing." I particularly like this quote, because it is very true on so many levels. To me, this means that we are never done, but in a good way. You're never too old to learn something new. The question is: how can we keep climbing? And at the same time, how can we enjoy the ascent?

I remember when I just turned 10 years old. My brother and I signed up to run a half marathon in Lake Tahoe. The day before, the weather was very nice, but on the morning of the run it started snowing and there was ice on the road. We started slowly and kept running together. The early miles were easy, but then came the infamous “Hill from Hell.” From what I heard from my dad who ran it before, it was a killer. I wasn’t too scared however, because I knew when we reached the top, we would keep climbing. And so we did. We finished the half marathon in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

This year, my physical science teacher Ms. Ellsmore explained to me that an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted on by an unbalanced force. This means that, in nature, an object can either move forward or backward, up or down, but ultimately never stay in the same place (at least not for too long). And so is it in life, school, and everything else. We should strive to be going up and forward, and to learn something new, each and every day.

Climbing the highest mountains in the world is not a risk-free operation. You don’t just stroll to the top of Mount Everest, or casually walk up K2. In fact, you can't even take a helicopter to some of the worlds highest peaks—the only way to get there is with a lot of concentrated effort. And yet, every year, adventurous climbers take on the challenge. Why? They do this, as John F. Kennedy once said, “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” For the next years—my high school period—I have some bold and challenging plans: both academically and otherwise. Before I am 16, I want to run a full marathon (like my brother did last month) and I want to continue to do well in school and learn all there is to learn.

In his famous “mountaintop speech," Martin Luther King, Jr. told a story of how he was asked in which age he wanted to live. He could pick any age in history, and although some sounded very tempting, he finally picked a “few years in the second half of the 20th century”—the age in which he lived. I think today—in the first half of the 21st century—is an equally exciting time. Not everything is perfect these days. We have wars, natural disasters, and some rough economic times, but I don’t think I would trade this age for any other in history myself. We have so many opportunities and technological advances and if we can work together to get the most out of it, we will be able to do amazing things.

As Martin Luther King said: “Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be.”

Thank you.

Next up: the Tahoe Relay--this weekend!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sean, Hayes, and Rocky Rock the Reno Marathon!

During the Tahoe Triple in 2007, Sean and Rocky (then 12 and 10 years old) ran a half marathon and after recovering from that, Sean said that he would like to finish a marathon before his 16th birthday. About 4 months ago, Sean and his friend Hayes (17) decided to start training seriously for a marathon and asked me to coach them. Rocky joined in for the fun as well (he was going to try to run a faster half marathon this time) and before long some of their friends joined in and we now have a complete local relay team for the upcoming Tahoe Relay.

Police Escort at the Start of the Reno Rock 'n River Marathon

We looked around for a marathon, with the following criteria in mind:
  • Flat-ish
  • Not too expensive
  • Close to home
At first we decided on the River City marathon (my favorite), but found out that the date had moved up this year, so we would not have enough time to train. Then we found the Reno Rock 'n River Marathon on May 1st and after reading Gretchen's race report we decided we would try that one for a first marathon, just a few weeks after Sean's 16th birthday.

Rocky and Turi "Running Around Reno" Becker at the Start

The day before the race we went to the expo to pick up the race bibs. While there, we ran into Angel (Tahoe Triple RD) and we convinced a few people to sign up for the Tahoe marathons ;-) Pasta dinner at the Olive Garden tasted good and after that we went to bed early.

With Austin Angel in the Tahoe Booth at the Expo

The next morning, after months of solid training, including several nice long runs, and some almost-injuries, it was time to run! It was going to be a nice day: cold at the start, but not too hot later on. We caught up with Turi at the start, which was fun. Turi went on to break his own half-marathon record, paced by the lightning-fast Chris (1:28:12)--Go Turi! One person we half-expected to see at the start was the infamous Lynryd Skynrod, but he was missing in action.

Rocky at the Start

The marathon started at 6:30 a.m. and the half marathon started at 7. It was still very cold, but that would help later on. Sean and Rocky made good time, sticking to the 1-minute walk breaks after each mile that I had been telling them to take. We found a spot on the course where they would all pass several times and saw Turi, Chris, Sean, Hayes, and Rocky fly by several times.

The Easy Early Miles

Rocky came through at the 7 mile point at 1:35, feeling good. I estimated that it would take him at least another hour to make it back to the finish, but when we arrived (we stopped for a coffee and could not park right at the finish) we found out that he had already finished in 2:23! Sorry we missed that Rocky, but very happy you were able to crank up the pace to finish that strong! Rocky's finish time was good for a third place in the 11-15 age group and he received a nice big age group medal--this race is pretty serious about their hardware!

What's on the Other Side of "The Wall?"

We quickly drove to the Rock Park aid station at mile 23 and waited there for Sean and Hayes. All of the marathoners go through this aid station in both directions, but almost everyone had already passed on the way out. We did not know what to expect--finishing was the only goal for the day, but based on previous long runs, we were thinking of a finish time in the 5:15-5:30 range.

Proud Finishers

All of a sudden, they came around the corner, well ahead of this pace. This was mile 23 and both of them were clearly hitting the wall, but determined to keep pushing. A short walking break just enough to swallow a final gel, and they were off again. 3 miles to go with 45 minutes left to break 5 hours--the race was on! We quickly drove to the finish and waited there.

The Finish

Sure enough, with plenty of time to spare, they came running down the final straightaway. They must have even passed a few "bogeys" in the last few miles. They finished at exactly the same time in 4:48--good enough for a shared 2nd place in the 15-19 age group--more medals.

The Post-Race Meal

I'm obviously very proud of them. It was a great accomplishment and we celebrated with a very well-deserved, big meal before driving back home to rest and ice the legs. Thanks to all the volunteers for putting together a very runnable marathon!

Blast from the Past: Sean and Rocky Finish the Lake Tahoe Half Marathon in 2007

Next Up: The Tahoe Relay! Our team name is "The Extreme Falcons" ;-)
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