Sunday, June 23, 2013


It was a nice week of running.  'Nice' is such a weak word, but it encompasses the nuances of this week's running.  After the ass-kicking I received from the heat and humidity during the 16 miler last Saturday, even the short runs this week were a bit of a trial.  What made them nice, rather than shitty, was the fact that I finished all of them.  So much of running well comes from running when you really don't feel like it; pushing through the fatigue,discomfort, and (sometimes) outright pain.

So, each run this past week presented a challenge that had to be met.  So, in some ways, it was a very rewarding week.  Overall though, the suckiosity balanced out the rewarding nature of the runs to account for the 'nice' designation.

This weekend, the running was a bit more than nice.  It was challenging, yet fun.  I took to the river trails both days.  I chose super early times, hitting the trails by 6:15 each morning in order to avoid the worst of the heat.  Both days I felt good.  The only downside for the runs occurred today when, for the first time ever, I was bombarded by horse flies over the course of a couple of miles.  That had never happened before on the trails.  Finally, at the most distant point, I abandoned the trails in favor of the sun and the levee.  Up on the monotonous gravel that stretched as far as I could see, there was a strong wind.  And a strong wind means no flies.

The remainder of the run was spent trying to get the awful song, 'Moves Like Jager' out of my head.  I ended up with Cheap Tricks, 'The Flame' playing nonstop in my mind.  Bizarre.

If you want some good sports docs to watch, check out Netflix for one about Ben Johnson and the doping scandal during the Seoul Olympics, and another on the rise of Usain Bolt.  Both are excellent, and worth the investment of time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Running on the PST

If you like to bike, run, or walk on a truly flat surface, but don't want to take a trip to Florida (truly the flattest state in the US), you might try the Prairie Spirit Trail.  I had heard about the PST for years.  My parents bike there and several friends run there regularly.  However I had never been on it before yesterday.

My friend, Paul, had suggested that we pop out to Franklin County, and run the trail for 7 miles out and 7 miles back between Ottawa and Princeton (it's always surprising to me that cities in Canada and New Jersey are named after small Kansas towns).  I would do one loop.  He planned to do two (because he is, apparently, twice the badass that I am).

Driving toward Ottawa at 7:18 am, the NPR announcer mentioned that it was 78F; never a good temperature at that time of day.  Cue ominous music.  When we arrived, there were no day permit envelopes at the trail head kiosk.  The PST costs something like $3.50/day to use.  One can also purchase annual passes for $12.50.  And one apparently should purchase a pass of some kind, because the PST authorities are serious about enforcement.

Paul mentioned that a grocery store about a half mile away sold them.  So we began our run with a quick stop at the grocery store.  Cue ominous music again.  The store did sell passes, but they required a driver's license and social security # (seriously).  Well, fuck!  Not a huge problem,but not great.  I ran the mile round trip back to my Element, got my dl, and presented it to the clerk who then issued me my annual pass.  At that point it was probably just over 80F and humid.  We'd also added just over a mile to our run.

Anyway, we took off, and after a short trafficky initial half mile or so, found ourselves on the unbelievably long, flat, and beautiful PST.  Now if you are someone who does not like running on a skillet flat surface, and being able to see where you are running miles before you will arrive, then you will hate the PST.  Personally, I'm a fan of wide open spaces.  But I do like a hill or two (and a curve) every now and then.  The PST has neither.  The trail does offer pretty scenery and the ability to actually travel from town to town by pied or velo - something that is not too common around these parts.

Almost immediately, we were covered in sweat.  By mile two (not counting the grocery store mile), my shorts and shirt could not have been wetter had I jumped into the little ponds we passed.  Paul and I both had Nathan packs on, and we drank religiously (well, that might be a slight misnomer, because I never heard either one of us say grace).  But we did drink often.  It was really hot and humid.

At the turnaround point, Princeton (blink and you'll miss it), we stopped to refill our packs with water and soak our heads.  We took off as the sun moved into better position to administer a beat down.  For me, it was all manageable until about mile 13 or 14.  That is when I really began to wilt.  15-20 miles are not distances that will kill me. But in the heat and humidity, I just couldn't get enough liquids down to hang in there. By the end of the run at 15.84 mi, I had consumed 2 liters of water/sports drink, a Powerbar Gel, and half of a Bearded Brothers Bar.  Stepping on the scale later at home, I had dropped 7 pounds.

As I prepared to drive home, I cautioned Paul about the heat.  He set off to redo the trip we had just completed, mentioning that if one doesn't run in the heat, one will never learn how to do it.  Since I'm not in training for Badwater, I couldn't have agreed with him less.

I called Paul some hours later.  He had cut the run short, and had completed about 27-28 miles.  Around mile 21 he had decided that the heat was getting to him.  He made it back to his car after his water had run out.  But Paul is a pretty resilient guy.  He sounded better than I felt when we spoke.

I'll hit the PST again several times I'm sure.  I'd actually like to bike it's 58 miles sometime soon as well.  The temps, however will have to be tolerable.

Here's a link from a biking website.  It has a better description than any other I could find:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Geneva and Paris

                                            Geneva - Seen from atop the Cathedral

It has been some time since I last posted.  But, if you are a regular reader, you will know that I have been working on a novel.  Story-telling and composition of the work has taken up a lot of my time.  I've also been travelling.

In May I went to Geneva for business, and then Paris for pleasure.  I had the chance to run in both cities - Geneva, along the waterfront each morning, and Paris, from our flat in the 7th to Les Invalides to the Grand and Petit Palais (or Palaix - I'm not sure how to pluralize that) and then back.  All the runs were great experiences, even in the cold and rain.

Paris, my favorite city, again did not disappoint.  The Orsay and Montmartre were probably tops for me.  But I found many pleasant days were spent simply wandering through various neighborhoods, and not at the tourist traps like the Louvre and Notre Dame.

The grandeur of the city is always um, grander than can be described.  Our flat (I was travelling with friend and biz partner, Marisa and her husband, Chris), was stunning (thanks AirBnB), with just the right blend of ancient and modern.  The location, almost equidistant between the Jardins Luxembourg and the Orsay was perfect as a launching point for forays into the farthest corners of the city.

I dropped too many Euros at Shakespeare and Co.  I also couldn't walk by a bakery without buying a baguette (and we stopped at two bakeries that had won the best baguette in France competition in different years - those were some fricken good baguettes).  Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint Louis were great places to stroll and people watch.  The Marais was great for Centre Pompidou and sitting and splitting a bottle of red with a friend also visiting the city at the same time.

All in all, a fantastic experience.  I hope to get back this year and spend another week in October (after the tourist crush has subsided).