Sunday, August 28, 2011

Camus, and how his work doesn't even relate to my running blog at all (but I really like it)

Jepson and Levi

I've been reading a lot of Camus lately. I am surprised that he has moved from the position of 'one of my favorite authors,' to the status of 'my favorite author.' Hemingway's 25 year run has come to it's conclusion. I may change my mind or preferences again some day. Andre Aciman has a lot left in the tank for his writing career. But for now, Camus' absurdist view of the nature of life and death has struck a nerve in my psyche. Start with the obvious, The Stranger, and then move forward into his works from there. You will see why he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Also stop by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in KC. In the new wing, there is a photography show of pictures taken that relate to the cosmos (the sun, moon, stars, galaxies...). It is striking to see some of the pictures that were taken in unconventional ways. My favorite is a photo taken using a pin hole lens. It was shot in Yosemite and used the sun as a focal point. It creates a very different perspective when the sun, not the landscape, is the center of attention.


Let's move to some run on sentences... This was actually a short week of running for me. I took a bit of time off after injuring my knee in LA last weekend. I laced up the shoes for a Nordic Track romp on Tuesday. On Wednesday I did a 3.5 mile run. Thursday I knocked out 4 before heading to the doctor's office and being told to get an MRI. Friday I ran another three, then had the MRI ($1,000 out of pocket, which kinda sucks). Then yesterday I met my running buddy, Eric, and a guy named Jepson, who had come over to Clinton North Shore from KC. Jepson had written to some Trail Nerds and Hawks about running the trails. I was the only one who was going to be ready to run when he wanted to go. So the three of us met and did the out on white, back on blue run.

Eric just wanted a 10k ish run. He turned around after about 35 min. Jepson and I kept running on, what turned out to be, one of the great days for spending time on the trails. There was little wind, good temps, no bugs (other than the huge spider webs that I kept running into with my face), and dry pathways. We spotted a deer in a clearing, a couple of frogs, and (thankfully) no copperheads. We finished the run strongly, and with the addition of another Trail Hawk, Levi, who latched onto the back of the pack with one or two miles to go.

All in all, the run completed a very short 20 mile week. I'll find out more about my knee on Tuesday. Until then, have fun running.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Love LA

Poolside in Silverlake

I flew out to the coast on Friday for some much needed R&R. My flight was an early one, and not into Burbank (as I like), but into LAX. However, it was non-stop and only $200, including tax (crazy cheap).

My friend, Roger, met me at the airport, and we headed out to visit another couple of friends and former clients of mine who gave us a tour of their awesome production facility. After that, we hit a great vegan place for lunch (I posted pix of that meal on my FB page), went to a movie with another friend, hit a bar in WeHo, and then went to bed.

I awoke early the next day to do my favorite West Coast run; from the house where I stay in the hills, down to the base of Griffith Park, and then up to the observatory and back. .5 mi downhill, 2 mi uphill, 2 mi downhill, .5 mi uphill. I have posted numerous pics of this run before as well. It is always a treat. I knocked it out on Saturday and Sunday. I did run into a scraggly old coyote in the hills. I cannot escape coyotes wherever I go.

At the end of Sunday's run, however, something screwed up in my problematic knee. A shin splint also pushed some pain to the fore. Not good. I am seeing the doc about getting this taken care of permanently on Thursday.

Still, though, I got both planned runs in and was able to walk afterward. I never take days off from running, so this forced break is, in fact, a nice break to have. I'll get some biking and swimming in before seeing what can be done on Thursday.

I was able to relax (finally). I spent two full days poolside at a friend's place in Silverlake. The number of hummingbirds was shocking and wonderful. The pool was beautiful. The people who stopped by, interesting and nice. The wine, margaritas, and food were fantastic. The overall experience...priceless.

I also hit the Hollywood Farmer's Market (my favorite in the country), the Farmer's Market near The Grove, another vegan restaurant, and a Thai restaurant where I had the single spiciest meal I've ever had. I love hot. I always spice my foods beyond what most people can tolerate. But even to me, the final meal in LA was almost too much. A few hours later it was too much. I think I burned every internal surface in my body (and you know what I'm talking about). Note to self - in the future, order medium. You can always add heat, but you can never take it away.

More next week.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Trails

Lucas - relaxing on my Lunar Eclipses - wishing he could go running with me this a.m.

I cruised through about 34 miles of asphalt, concrete, gravel, and dirt this week. As the weather cooled, my mileage rose almost unconsciously. My normally shorter 3-4 mile Wed and Thursday runs became 5 mile runs as temperatures in the early a.m. moved into the high 60s-low 70s range. The highlight of the week's running happened Saturday morning, when my running buddy, Eric, and I popped down to the riverfront trails to knock out a 9 mile run.

For once, there were no other runners in sight. But you couldn't spit without hitting a mountain biker. It was great to see the trails in full use. We had the closest encounter with a cyclist that I've ever witnessed. But everyone was good-natured and enjoying the day. With stops to get out of the way of trains of riders, we still managed to finish in an hour and a half. There were very few spider webs to the face as well because the bikers had cleared most of them out by our 7 a.m. start time.

After dropping Eric back at his house, I drove home thinking about just how much running has come to mean to me; particularly trail running. On our runs together, Eric and I have talked about how much of a community the Trail Hawks have built. Friendships, support networks, and social gatherings have all come out of the organization. You feel good when you are around these people. Everyone has varied interests and backgrounds. Yet everyone shares a common passion about the oldest of sports.

The Hawks are hosting a 100 mile race in September. They are looking for volunteers to help with the 30+ hour race. If you are a runner who can help monitor the trails, or just a person who might want to volunteer time in another capacity, please visit and find out more about how to become involved.

While writing this post, I took a short break and ran the 1/2 mile to the trails near my house (in the odd little park off of Folks Rd.). I ran the white course, and then popped back out for a loop on the orange/yellow route before heading home. It was a lovely way to wind down from the runs of the last 7 days, and enjoy the flora and fauna that surround my neighborhood.

Next week's post will be a little late. I'm going to be out running my favorite road course in the country (I have written about this mystery course extensively in the past). I hope to have more pics and prose by a week from Tuesday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bush-Roaming Mammals (and wild turkeys)

Here's a flock/herd of wild turkeys

Mileage crept downward this week in response to the seriously hot days that kept coming, one after the other. After the night run in Olathe a week ago, Friday, I took a couple of days off from running and instead hit the streets on my Specialized Sequoia. It was a nice change, and let my running muscles have a bit of recovery while still providing a workout.

Runs during the week were shorter. I would come back to my house drenched in sweat from the humidity. I don't mind sweat, but the heaviness of the air made it a bit hard to take in the oxygen needed to go long. On Friday, I awoke seriously early and popped out of the house before the rains were supposed to fall. As I ran, I watched a beautiful dark loud bank move toward me from the west. I turned back to try to beat it before it overtook me, but to no avail. The gust front billowed through, and the day went from light to dark in about 30 seconds. As I was looking at the sky, I realized that I was surrounded by deer. There were several does to my left, and a couple of fawns to my right that I appeared to be cutting off from their mother. It was a little disconcerting for all of us. The fawns bounded (and I mean jumped super high) as they ran across the road. Their mother and her ummm, friends, stood nearby looking distraught. I loved seeing the animals up close, but realized I was part of the problem and moved on as quickly as possible. I caught up and ran with a couple of other runners who had turned around upon seeing the menacing cloud bank. It was odd because the darkest portion of the storm did not drop any rain. I passed a friend and neighbor heading the other direction. She had gotten up a bit late, looked at the storm and decided to go out anyway. 15 minutes later, after I got home, it just poured.

Saturday there was also rain in the a.m. I waited around for a while and then decided not to worry about it. I drove to the Riverfront Trails and ran the circuit. The only really eventful thing that happened was when I suddenly surprised a flock/gaggle/herd or wild turkeys. I almost jumped out of my skin, but quickly realized what I was running through. I stopped for a moment to watch these interesting animals. I hadn't run into a bunch of them in the past few years. While they aren't the prettiest creatures, there is something sort of regal in the way they carry themselves. It was the high point of the run.

As usual my Nathan pack worked tremendously well. No chafing or weird weight issues. It was a good acquisition.

See you soon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vega Sport

I don't often talk about the sport supplements I take. I do the usual rotations of energy shots, gels, electrolyte drink mixes, and Cliff Bar-type products. And for the most part, I rarely come across products that disappoint (although during the Coleen's all-nighter last weekend I did have an unfortunate encounter with a sad little sports bar by a monster-big company that shall remain nameless so as not to detract from the real point of this post).

But of all the products I have used and currently use, Vega Sport powder holds a special place in my heart. I bought it after I started going much longer distances on a regular basis. I have amped up some of my regular runs north of 20 miles. My friend and Trail Hawk mentor, Gary, had mentioned how a runner should always ingest protein right after strenuous runs (and in fairness here, my friend Marisa was actually the person who had first mentioned it to me). As a vegan-leaning vegetarian, I wanted to find a solid protein source that, for me, had an ethical component to it. I looked at protein products from companies I admire, like Tempt products (which are wonderful), but ultimately settled on Vega because it had a combination of pea and hemp protein and also contains spirulina, a fantastic blue-green algae.

I know some people have issues with pea protein, but I'm not one of them. After a long run, or a particularly brutal shorter run, - like many of us runners in the 100+ degree heat flyover states have undertaken lately - I put a scoopful of Vega Sport in the blender with a little water, ice, and a half of a banana and make a delicious replenishing drink. I can honestly say that for once, with a supplement, I can really feel a difference in my overall energy, stamina, and recovery. And, because no animal products were used, I feel as though my running is is even more in harmony with my beliefs about how we should treat the world around us.

I'm done with shameless plugs and preaching now. Back to more running and writing next weekend. Please try to stay cool and be good to each other.