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January 16, 2010

Life, Dreams ... and Mountains

"I'm heading for a land that's far away beside the crystal fountains -
So come with me we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountain."
- Harry McClintock, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" (video in post)

This week’s review of the Brooks Cascadia 5 shoe led me to recall something that happened during the first year I had a website, which caused me to remember something else, which reminded me of a third thing … and you know how this stuff goes. I’ll try to keep it brief.

I’ve mentioned several times that I was a hack writer long before I had this website. Before my blog existed, my wife spent an unbelievably generous amount of time building a web page the old fashioned way: typing the code in manually, including link pages and photos, over and over again for every separate page under the domain. Needless to say, it was an enormous time drain that required the kind of patience and attention to detail that would have left me whimpering after about 10 minutes.

It went on this way for nearly two years. Even knowing how difficult the task was for her, the excitement of actually having a location on the Internet – open to the public!! – where people could read my (in hindsight, quite immature) ramblings was almost intoxicating. I had dreams of getting discovered by a major publisher who would demand that I quit my day job and accept a million-dollar advance for a collection of everything I had written to date. Or something like that.

The reality, of course, was far different. I think about 20 people purposely visited my website on a regular basis, and every now and then someone would stumble across it accidentally while looking for something else. It wasn’t going anywhere, and if it weren’t for the advent of idiot-proof Blogger websites, I’m certain that 99.9% of you would never have heard of me later.

One of the bright spots – and maybe the only one, come to think of it – was the day I got an e-mail from a Brooks rep, who said she liked my website, could tell that I had a passion for running, and would I please help her promote a video she helped produce. Someone found me! Someone in the industry! Who liked my website! Once again, the potential of my impending fame seemed limitless.

Eventually I realized that she was just a PR person doing her job – drawing as many eyeballs to her product as possible – and the dream of discovery died another death. However, I really did enjoy the video; it’s clever and funny, with a catchy little tune, and at some point in my life, I've been nearly every one of the characters involved - and it's probably only a matter of time before I become the rest of them. So I linked to it (rather, my wife did) and told all 20 of my readers to go check it out.

I had forgotten that video until doing my homework for the Brooks review this week – and thankfully, nowadays I can just embed the video here.

“Life”, by Brooks Sports (click to play):

Of course, seeing that video again reminded me of the follow-up piece that I liked even better; it was equally clever and funny, with just as catchy a tune, but captured more of the laid-back, limitless world of boundless energy and endlessly positive spirit that I was discovering in the world of trail running.

“Dream”, by Brooks Sports (click to play):

And finally, the folksy/perky tune and dream-like cartoon reminded me of one of my favorite songs of the 2000s: Harry McClintock’s timeless “Big Rock Candy Mountain”, written as a hopeful hobo's description of an imaginary faraway paradise. Originally recorded in the late 1920s, it was re-introduced to modern audiences by its inclusion on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Watching the two videos back to back this week, it’s remarkable how similar they are in concept and style.

Harry McClintock, “Big Rock Candy Mountain” - video by Boulder Media (click to play):

I'm not quite a hobo, but I'm definitely an ultrarunning bum, and my Big Rock Candy Mountain is out there as well. It’s anyplace on the trail where I feel carefree; where I feel boundless optimism, dream big dreams, and celebrate life. Best of all, it's neither imaginary or faraway; all I have to do is lace up my shoes and head out the door, and I'm halfway there. It was a nice thing to be unexpectedly reminded of this week.


olga 1/16/10, 7:44 PM  

I liked the first video the most.

Anne 1/17/10, 7:06 AM  

I really dig the second one, but maybe because it features females. I dunno. By the way, I think I was one of the 20 people who read your other Web site while searching for something else (I'm thinking it was info on Big Sur) and was thrilled to find another runner on the Internet. Who knew, right?

Dave 1/17/10, 7:23 AM  

I think I agree with Olga, I liked the first one, but I think its because I recently went through a major life stage changed (got hitched), and with it brings a new opportunities and challenges, but at the same time my running is still there. So I can relate.

Sunshine Girl 1/17/10, 2:51 PM  

Thanks for the giggles Donald!

shel 1/18/10, 5:25 AM  

nice! hadn't seen the "dream" video before. and i love O Brother, one of my favorite movies, mostly due to the music.

Ray 1/18/10, 11:48 AM  

Great collection of videos Donald - excellent post!

iJuls 1/18/10, 12:24 PM  

I too like the 1st video best but the 2nd one is cute too. As for the 3rd, what's not to love?

Thumbs up from YaYa and me. Here's hoping you'll get that million-dollar advance soon.

21stCenturyMom 1/19/10, 10:58 AM  

I feel like going running now! Except for all those deep puddles out there.

I think I ran that second video on my blog when I was training for Nike one year. Love it. Loved them all.

Rainmaker 1/19/10, 9:40 PM  

I'm most entertained (perhaps fascinated...) by the fact that you're wife was (maybe still is?) your site administrator...

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