Thrill of the Chase

first_imgWill Harlan runs through an ancient forest of beech and hemlock. Photo: Steven McBrideI am not a runner. I’m a chaser.When I was four years old, I chased my dad each night on his two-mile jog around the neighborhood. In high school, my buddies and I lit fireworks beside a police car, and (barely) got away on foot. In college, I climbed the stadium wall and evaded the pursuit of security guards to watch the final game of the World Series.After my prankish college days, I turned to trail running. I didn’t pay much attention to splits or times; I simply loved the feeling of scampering through the forest eluding a chase pack or reeling in the lead harrier. I ended up winning a few events, but I always viewed races more like a grown-up game of cops and robbers.Then I got a job, got married, and became a dad. Instead of chasing the trail, I was chasing my naked three-year-old son around the living room.I woke up one day and found myself in a 35-year-old body. Gone were the lithe, spring-loaded legs of my youth. It was time to face a hard truth: I would never be as fast as I once was.But I felt like I still had some kick left in me. So I dreamed up one final challenge: an unsupported 72-mile solo run on the Appalachian Trail across Great Smoky Mountains Park, the wildest, tallest, and most rugged terrain in the East. No checkpoints or crew support. No competitors or companions. Just me and the mountains.I woke up at 2 a.m. and drove to Davenport Gap on the eastern edge of the Smokies. In the dark, I shouldered my pack, clicked on my headlamp, and began running up the Appalachian Trail. For my 72-mile journey, I carried only a small pack of food and water, along with a hand-sketched map of springs along the trail.The half-million acres of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 1,500 black bears—roughly two bears per square mile. As I bounded up the moonlit trail, I felt their glowing eyes watching me silently through the rhododendron thickets and rocky hollows. I thanked them for allowing me to pass through their home in the middle of the night.I reached Mount Cammerer around twilight. Giant old-growth hemlocks, yellow poplars, and sugar maples lined the trail, and I brushed my fingers across their furrowed bark. It was intoxicating to exchange my breath with ancient trees.The morning sun crested the peaks and burned a hole through the gauzy clouds. I plunged down to Tri-Corner Knob Shelter and bushwhacked about a quarter-mile to refill my water from a spring. The weight of the full water bottles dug into my back.I checked my watch—ten minutes slower than I had hoped. I hadn’t really trained for this adventure. Work and family commitments had increased, and our organic farm had kept me busy weeding gardens, planting squash, and milking goats, leaving little time for training.But there was no time left for excuses: I was a 35-year-old dad and husband, and this was probably my last chance to chase the Smokies speed record. Regardless of my finishing time, I wanted to pour every ounce of myself into the effort. Whenever I felt my pace slowing, I asked one question: is this the best I can give?The cool, wet, north-facing trail that I had run in the early morning twisted south, becoming a bed of dry rubble underfoot. I rolled through the Sawteeth, a section of jagged, narrow ridgeline trail. Sweat-drenched and thirst-slaked, I refilled my water pack at Icewater Spring near 6,000-foot Mount Kephart.Nearby, I heard a hermit thrush’s gurgled song—which sounded like notes from my son’s bathtub water flute. The thrush’s liquid melody echoed through the deep forest. He could have been courting a female or defending his territory, but he seemed to be singing simply for the joy of it. Could I do the same? Did I always need an ego-enlarging reason—a goal, a race, a finish line? Could I run not to enhance myself, but to lose it in the silence of the forest?Violets and trillium blanketed the trail near the Charlies Bunion overlook. I almost didn’t stop, but I forced myself to enjoy a panoramic pause. For three decades, I had been running too fast to really notice the scenery. It was all just a blurry tunnel of green. But atop the Bunion, I was beginning to glimpse the value of stopping—or at least slowing down slightly—to smell the wildflowers.I nimbly danced down the boulder-strewn trail toward Newfound Gap, but my progress slowed on the eight-mile climb up to 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail. For the first time, I began doubting my ability to finish. My wobbly legs buckled, my breathing was raspy, my head cloudy. 1 2last_img read more

Compete with fintechs through personal service

first_imgThe credit union industry has significantly increased its volume of personal loans to near-prime and prime members over the last three years.But online peer-to-peer lenders and other fintechs have dramatically outperformed all lenders for this market segment, according to a 2016 TransUnion analysis.As a lending specialist and a credit union member for many years, I was impressed with my recent peer-to-peer lending experience. Within a few minutes of submitting the easy online application, I was approved for a personal loan at a 5.39% rate with flexible payment options.The funds were in my credit union checking account the next day.Even with Lending Club’s recent difficulties and with impending regulatory oversight of fintech lenders, it’s dangerous to concede this niche to fintechs. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

With 2019 mapped out, Jordan Johnson eager to prove he’s the best light heavyweight in the PFL

first_img👊🏻💥👊🏻You don’t have to agree with @ryanbader 👊🏻💥👊🏻 but the mob can’t make me not love him. 🐲 ⚡️We are both dragon energy. ⚡️🐲 He is my brother. Bader’s about to whip some ass & become a two division champ 🏆 🐉 🔥 🐉 🔥 #BigSwinginNation #BigSwinginJohnson #BigSwinginJohnsonClub #JFJ #BaderNation #MAGA #MakeBellatorGreatAgain #MMA #UFC #Wrestling #Boxing #JiuJitsu #Grappling #Gym #UFC224 #SaturdaysAreForTheBoys #KanyeWest #TrumpA post shared by Jordan Johnson (@doublejmma) on May 12, 2018 at 1:00pm PDT “When I was wrestling, I was arrogant and close-minded; if someone showed me something, I would (be dismissive) and write it off,” admitted Johnson, who went 4-0 in the UFC and carries a 10-0 record into his Professional Fighters League (PFL) debut Thursday night against Maxim Greshin at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. “When I started fighting, I changed my mindset and became much more open and willing to learn, so going to these different gyms and going to help these different fighters out, I’m there to help them. But, at the same time, I’m trying to learn as much as possible and figure out why these guys are so successful and steal their tricks.“One thing with me is I’m always looking to put myself in the toughest situations possible with my training,” added the unbeaten light heavyweight, who has set up shop alongside Bader and C.B. Dollaway at Power MMA in Gilbert, Arizona. “With Power and having Bader and C.B., I have those two tag-teaming me and they’re absolute gorillas. I can’t be in a worse situation than what I put myself in every single day having those two gang up on me.“If I can compete against the toughest guys in the world every day, it makes the fighting easy.”The other thing that makes stepping into the cage a little easier is having a much better idea about when you’re going to compete.Like many of his contemporaries to migrate to the PFL over the last two years, the 30-year-old Johnson was quick to point to the traditional sporting structure and laid out the schedule as key elements that excite him heading into his first season with the promotion.“I think this is the future of the sport,” he said, acknowledging the parallels between how the PFL lays out its year and readying for a season on the mats as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team. “One thing with a college wrestling season is that you’re not just getting ready for one match — you have to figure out how to compete and compete at a high level for an entire season.“Knowing when you’re going to fight is everything because when you get done with a fight, you’re in great shape, you’re ready to go again and you’re hopeful that you’re going to go again,” continued Johnson. “So you stay in the gym, you’re training hard, but you have no idea — you might fight two weeks later, but you never know; I’ve had nine-month layoffs.“But when you can lay it out with a season and playoffs and the championships, that gives you some time to relax and not be getting the grimy, grueling, hard sparring year-round. I love it and I’m excited to be giving it a go.”While his last fight in the UFC took place at middleweight and was arguably his best performance, Johnson has returned to the light heavyweight division this season, where he joins holdovers Vinny Magalhaes and Smealinho Rama alongside fellow new additions Viktor Nemkov and Mikhail Mokhnatkin in the quest to capture this season’s title in the 205-pound weight class.Though he performed well in his 185-pound debut back in September, making weight and competing multiple times over the next seven months if everything goes as planned made fighting at light heavyweight an easy decision.And while he’s quick to offer praise to those competing alongside of him this season, Johnson’s sole focus is ensuring that every time he steps in the cage, he does so as the best version of himself possible, starting this weekend on Long Island. Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearIn addition to candid shots with his wife and son, there are fan-made fight announcements for each of his UFC appearances and images from each of his four victories inside the Octagon, plus throwbacks from high school and college, pictures from his various stops at elite outposts like Alliance MMA and The MMA Lab and more snaps of him and the Bellator “Double Champ.”  View this post on Instagram “Light heavyweight is the division for me because I’m going to be so active this year that I think making 185, which takes such a toll on my body, four times and fight might be too much,” said Johnson, who stands six-foot-two and wrestled at heavyweight. “By no means am I a small light heavyweight, but without making that massive weight cut, I’ll be able to train, I’ll be able to complete and feel great the entire year.“I know everyone in my weight class and they’re all a bunch of studs,” he added. “There aren’t going to be any pushovers when it comes to winning a million dollars; you’re going to have to work for it.“At the end of the day, I don’t care so much about who I’m fighting because the whole thing is about being the best version of myself when I get in that cage. They can do their thing, I’m going to do my thing and I don’t care who they are or what they have going on; it’s all about me.” Thumbing through Jordan Johnson’s Instagram, you’ll find two types of pictures: those of his family and those of the former University of Iowa wrestler training and competing alongside some of the most established names in the sport.For every image of the undefeated upstart in Dad Mode (or riding a comically small scooter for a man of his stature), there is one of Johnson working with Ryan Bader, Volkan Oezdemir or wishing Alexander Gustafsson good luck.last_img read more