Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Introduction

I'm now a blogger. I've been here before. I've set up the page, decided how I'd present myself, and then never really let it take off. I put myself out there plenty already, so I don't know why I've never persisted with an actual and ongoing blog page. But, I'm going to actually let this one take off. Manage your expectations, please.

I'll start with the title of my page. I wanted to capture two of my passions that I thought would end up sourcing many of the thoughts that eventually find their way to this page. As noted, I'm struck by the different energies that associate with long distance running and dry stone walling. I'm practiced at both endeavors but am only really now starting to explore how and why they suit me.

5K Summer Trail Series, Catamount Family Center. Williston, VT
I've been a runner since High School. Mostly. I've had some dry spells, but that's where it really started. I joined the Cross Country team thinking that the sport would have me better prepared for the winter wrestling season. Yeah ... I was a wrestler too. You'll note that I've not found a way to include that within my blogging aspirations. This is probably the last time I'll mention it. But I fell in love with just about everything that associated with running for my XC team. The camaraderie between runners, I've found over the past 30 years, has simply not changed. When you walk into a room full of runners, you're instantly part of the team. Regardless of what your best times might be in any given event, you belong. I found it was true that first day I walked into the locker room of Roncalli High School, and I find it's true now when I show up at any given event.

In the running circles to which I currently belong, my weekly mileage is average. I know plenty of people who run far more than I do, yet most people I meet would put me into the camp of high mileage runners. I currently peak at around 70 miles per week when I'm in the thick of marathon training. 40-45 miles a week usually feels about right if I've got nothing to train for (which is rare). So I'm moving a lot ... usually very early in the morning ... and, unless I'm running the trails around Chittenden County, I'm not gathering a lot of moss (see what I did there?).

And I'm a dry stone waller. I stack stones, without the use of any mortar, into permanent walls and sculptures. Hopefully, I've done a good job and have created walls that will last far longer than I will. A few years ago, I had left my career in Higher Education Administration and immediately realized I made a bad move into city government. I was miserable and took any excuse I could find to leave the office over my lunch hour. Often times, I would walk into the nearby Borders Books and look through books on landscape design. I'd take the ideas and try my best to apply them to the house we had recently purchased. Along the way, I found the stone work of Dan Snow and learned that he worked out of southern Vermont. I contacted him, expressed a longtime interest I had always held in stone work, and asked for his advice on how to best learn the craft.

In addition to being an amazingly gifted stone artist, Dan is also a tremendous mentor to anyone who wants to learn. He soon put me in touch with the various workshops that instruct according to the principles of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. I learned the fundamental principles and began walling as my full time profession. While the business didn't last the recession, I retain an approach to walling, guided by these foundational skills, that is patient and deliberate. I place stones in a way that allows them to find a permanent resting place within the context of an intricately laid wall. A stone that is permanently placed ... rather than rolling ... gathers a patina of character. The observer realizes that each particular stone has found itself sitting exactly where it needs to be. If placed well, it looks confident and secure.

I'm curious about the energy that exists between these two endeavors. Between the ongoing and consistent movement required to be a lifelong runner, and the stone that has been placed to be a deliberate and unwavering component of a permanent wall. One step at a time or one stone at a time, I'm building to something. I'd like to be  as equally deliberate as I learn from that journey.

In the months to come, I'll be completing a significant stone wall in front of my own house. For a long time, I was only building for other people. I'd like to chronicle the completion of that project. At the same time, I plan to evolve into an ultra-runner. I've set my sights on the Vermont 50 mile race that occurs each fall. In order to accomplish that race, I'll need to take some very definite steps toward higher mileage. I look forward to any company you might want to provide.


  1. Welcome to the blogging darkside! Didn't know about the stone walling-very cool. -Karah/Kazz/Tiredmamarunning

  2. Hmmm... Vermont 50 mile race? When? Where?

  3. Oddly enough, Harry, it's in New Hampshire.

    I jest:


  4. Its amazing what you can learn about friends when you navigate away from facebook. Nice to meet you!

  5. Love this! And I love how your "mistake" turned you on to a passion. What if that hadn't happened? What if you hadn't taken that job in city government? Mistakes so often lead to our greatest growth, and some truly often things. Well, and sometimes they just lead to worn down erasers on pencils that still have plenty of lead.

  6. I will follow along, good also to get to "know" you a bit better!

  7. Good read Troy, love the stonework!