Challenging Myself With a 50K Run While Observing National Hiking Day
I’ve participated in four Sylamore Trail runs in recent years, which take place in Sylamore National Forest in Allison, Arkansas. Every February, hundreds of people line up to run through the forest, check out the wildlife, wade through a freezing river, and just enjoy themselves. While I’ve always enjoyed outdoor activities, I never considered entering a race until a group of friends and colleagues started planning to run the Sylamore Trail. This particular trail has two courses: a 25K, which is about 15 miles, and a 50K, which is over 30. I decided to start with the 25K to see how that went for me, and I discovered that I really enjoyed it. For the next few years, I ran in the same race, but I really wanted to know what the 50K would be like. The longer trail led participants through another part of the forest that I’d never experienced before. One year, I finally decided to go for it … and I got exactly what I asked for — 30 miles is a lot for one person to undertake. While I started this race running, it ended up being more of a leisurely hike through the forest. I walked a good portion because I just wasn’t physically able to keep up the same pace throughout the entire race. I probably wouldn’t have finished the 50K if it weren’t for a friend of mine who was participating alongside me. When I started, I wasn’t too worried about finishing the race; my focus was more on enjoying the experience while I could. At one point, though, I decided I had seen what I wanted to see and done what I wanted to do and was ready to hitch a ride to the finish line just before I met up with my friend at a checkpoint.
on nutrition and water. Typically, once you start on the trail, you’re on your own until you can reach the next checkpoint, where people can give you a lift to the finish line if you choose. My friend, even though she’d stopped at one of these checkpoints with an injured leg, was planning on pushing through the next 10 miles to the finish line. I didn’t want her limping through the forest alone, so I decided to accompany her for that final stretch. Her determination was very inspiring. If she was willing to finish the run with an injury, then I could finish it too. Around mile 25, we looked like zombie extras in “Walking Dead.” In fact, I told some folks near the trail head that the vultures circling overhead were for me, and they should try and shoo them off of my body should I keel over. Thankfully, it was not necessary. We managed to cross the finish line a little over the nine-hour cut off time, but we were both pretty proud that we completed the 50K together.
If I ever enter the Sylamore Trail run again, I don’t think I’ll sign up for the 50K, but I’ll definitely still be up for the 25K. I’ve always enjoyed running, and, since entering these races, I’ve appreciated it even more. I think it’s a great way for most people to enjoy nature, and for me, it’s an excellent way to unplug. The run starts with hundreds of people, all standing at the starting line. For the first few miles, you’re surrounded by people. But pretty soon, you don’t see anyone, and it’s just you and the trail. That solitude is what I enjoy most. Happy trails!
As with most races, the Sylamore Trail provides several checkpoints where you can stop to take
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The Sport That United a Country THE 1995 RUGBY WORLD CUP
In early November, the 2019 Rugby World Cup will wrap up in Japan. The international competition brings out world-class athletes and entertainment. While matches are certainly intense, respect for the competition and for referees is a core tenet of rugby culture. After going head-to-head with an opponent, you’ll still shake hands, and maybe have a beer together, at the end of a match. This principle was on full display nearly 25 years ago at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in South Africa. The South African Springboks were up against the New Zealand All Blacks, and a number of factors made this an exceptional match. Just a few years earlier in 1991, apartheid legislation had been repealed in South Africa. The policy had left a deep cut, and the country still had a long journey toward healing and reparation. Nelson Mandela, who had been elected in 1994, was set on championing a “rainbow nation” in this new post-apartheid era.
game. It was controversial because of its connection to the architects of apartheid, but Mandela saw rugby’s potential as a symbol of hope and unity for a country that desperately needed it. Springboks captain Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon in “Invictus,” the film adaptation of this event) thought the president’s support of the team was a brilliant act. “During those six weeks, what happened in this country was incredible,” Pienaar said. Just before the final game that would decide the 1995 World Cup winners, Mandela sported a Springboks jersey and stood behind the team. Through a hard-fought match, South Africa came out on top, and, after receiving the trophy from President Mandela, Pienaar explained the atmosphere of the event: “When the final whistle blew, this country changed forever.” If the 1995 World Cup was any indication, the camaraderie inherent to rugby can transcend all kinds of barriers. Meet a fellow rugby player or fan in any part of the world, and you’ll likely forge an instant kinship. In 2021, you can look forward to cheering on the women’s teams during the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Rugby started in England in the late 1800s, and colonizers took it to South Africa, where South Africans of every color embraced the
Legend of the Pirate Queen CHING SHIH: HISTORY’S MOST SUCCESSFUL PIRATE
From Blackbeard to Jack Sparrow, pop culture teems with pirates who frequented the ports of the Caribbean. And while these pirates are well-known for their (sometimes fictional) accomplishments, the most successful pirate in history terrorized the seas of China instead. Her name was Ching Shih. Ching Shih, who was born Shih Yang, was working in a Cantonese brothel when she met the pirate Zheng Yi. He came from a long family of notorious pirates and was impressed by Ching Shih’s cunning. They married in 1801 and built a pirate empire known as the Red Flag Fleet. When Zheng Yi passed away suddenly in 1807, Ching Shih strategically maneuvered her way into leadership, taking control of over 60,000 pirates. Historians describe Ching Shih as a brilliant military strategist, a skilled businesswoman, and a harsh disciplinarian. After taking control of the fleet, Ching Shih implemented a strict code of conduct. The code included rules for distributing booty, protecting female captives, and beheading anyone who disobeyed Ching Shih. Under her rule, the bloody crimes of piracy became a profitable business. The Red Flag Fleet would eventually clash with the British Empire, the Portuguese Empire, and the Qing dynasty of China, but no one could topple the pirate queen.
office of a local governor-general, completely unarmed, and requested full pardons and government jobs for her entire crew— along with permission to keep all their stolen goods. In exchange, she promised to give up piracy for good. Thankful to be free of the Red Flag Fleet, the Chinese government agreed to her terms. Ching Shih’s second husband was even made an officer in the Chinese navy. Ching Shih returned to Canton with her vast wealth and spent the next 34 years living a life of comfort with her family and running a gambling den. In 1844, the legendary pirate queen passed away of old age at 69, a rare feat for pirates of her era.
After almost a decade of pillaging the high seas, Ching Shih decided piracy wasn’t the best retirement plan. In 1810, she walked into the
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TAKE A BREAK
GET MORE BANK FOR YOUR BUCK Take Full Advantage of Your Financial Institution
Whether you’re banking with a credit union or a national giant, your financial institution likely offers more resources, account options, and saving plans than you’re using — or even aware of. As one NerdWallet article puts it, “Banks and credit unions continue to find new ways to both delight and confound customers.” If you focus on the delights, you can get more bang for your buck out of the financial institution you’re already using. Plus, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up new ways to stretch your retirement fund, grow your investments, and pass nest eggs to your grandkids along the way. Take these two easy steps to get started. 1. Get Clicking Even for someone with plenty of internet savvy, bank websites can be intimidating. Most are filled with tabs and portals that overwhelm customers, causing them to limit their interactions to plugging in a username and password to check their balance. Don’t fall into that trap! If you want to get a complete picture of what your bank has to offer, its website is the place to start. Next time you log in, set aside an hour or two to explore the site tab by tab. Take note of products and services you might not be using, like mobile banking apps, 24-hour hotlines, continuing education, and additional account options and their interest rates. Schwab, for example, offers a free online learning center complete with seminars, one-on-one financial advice, and more than 300 informative articles and videos. 2. Schedule a Sit-Down If your bank has a brick-and-mortar location near you, make a point to visit it. While there, take the time to learn about the latest updates from the reading materials on offer, make an appointment with a financial analyst, or speak with a bank teller. It’s in your bank’s interest to see your accounts grow, so representatives are happy to help. If you’ve already explored your bank’s website, this is the time to ask follow-up questions on what you found or make a financial move in a new direction. Whether you’ve decided on a 529 plan or a high-interest checking account, your banking representative can make it happen.
THE BEST LEFTOVER TURKEY SANDWICH
Inspired by FoodNetwork.com
2 slices sourdough bread
1/3 cup leftover dressing or stuffing
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp leftover gravy
2 slices Swiss cheese
• 1 tbsp butter, room temperature Note: Don’t worry if you don’t have all the leftovers required.
1/3 cup shredded leftover turkey
3 tbsp leftover cranberry sauce
1. Coat inside of each bread slice withmustard and a slice of cheese. Place turkey and cranberry sauce on one slice and dressing and gravy on the other. 2. Combine sandwich and spread butter on both sides. 3. In a panini maker or large skillet, grill until crispy and golden brown. 4. Slice and serve.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
My Unexpected Hike
The 1995 Rugby World Cup History’s Most Successful Pirate
The Best Leftover Turkey Sandwich How to Get More From Your Bank
The Legend of Sergeant Reckless
THE GREATEST AMERICAN WAR HORSE THE LEGEND OF SERGEANT RECKLESS
Animals have acted as companions to humankind for thousands of years. They’re a near-constant source of companionship, comfort, and aid. Unfortunately, military animals don’t often get the recognition they deserve. One horse, in particular, was essential to the success of her regiment during the KoreanWar. Meet Sergeant Reckless. Bought for $250 in 1952 by a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant at a Seoul racetrack, Sergeant Reckless was trained to carry ammunition for the 5th Marine Regiment. Her name was a play on the“recoilless”rifle ammunition she carried and a nod to the daredevil attitude of the soldiers who used them. Reckless was pivotal for her regiment inmore ways than one. As Robin Hutton notes in her book“Sgt. Reckless: America’sWar Horse,” “Because horses are‘herd’animals, the Marines became her herd. She bonded so deeply with them that Reckless would go anywhere and do anything to help her adopted family.”
Sergeant Reckless’ greatest achievement occurred during the final stages of the Battle of Outpost Vegas. During the bloody five-day campaign, Reckless made 51 trips to resupply guns over the course of a single day. By the end of the battle, she had carried 386 rounds of ammunition by walking 35 miles through rice paddies and mountain trails. After dropping off the ammunition, Reckless would then bring wounded soldiers back to safety. Reckless was trained to lie down when under fire and avoid barbed wire, and her ability to do so without needing human command saved many lives during the battle. Reckless would close out her war career with two Purple Hearts and the rank of staff sergeant. She spent the rest of her years at Camp Pendleton in California. To learn more about this legendary mare, be sure to check out “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse” by Robin Hutton.
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