Monday, February 24, 2014

Birthday Pi

Birthday run at far end of Riverfront Trails - Al, Adrian, and Derrick

I've got a couple of friends who are planning to run the Pi Day half marathon. The run takes place on or near 3/14 of each year. Finishers get pie. Winners get engraved pie pans (glass or Pyrex or something). Anyway, it is a fun, single-track race. I've run it in training many times, and usually volunteer to help on race day.

Anyway, my buddies Adrian and Derrick are doing the race this year. so on Saturday, I met them as well as Chris Ford, and we set out to do the long loop which would pass by all of the shorter Pi Day course loop turnarounds. Since Saturday also fell on my birthday (and I like to do long runs on my birthday), I had already planned to do a good run in the am, before the ground thawed and turned into a mud pit. We met at 8:30 am, while the temp hovered just below freezing.  It was slated to be 40F by the time we finished.

A quick note here: because my birthday is Feb 22nd, the weather is normally awful. Having a day slated to be 56F in late February is a bit if a rarity. So I had planned to spend as much of the day outdoors as possible.

We ran the first half of the run on ankle-twisting hard mud ruts, created by bicycles that also use the route. On the way back, there was a sheen of mud over much of the path, making footing a bit sketchy. Still though, everyone cruised the course without too many slips (and sadly, no funny falls).

The earliest beer I've had in a long time. Hand models L-R Allen, Derrick, Chris, Adrian

In celebration of my birthday, Chris brought some nice beer to have. While it was only 10 am, is there ever really a wrong time to have New Belgium Ranger?

After lunch with the parents who loaded me up on veggie tacos and a gift certificate to Sunflower Outdoor and Bike, I played a round of disc golf before heading out for a celebratory Moscow Mule at the Bourgeois Pig, and finally, vegan pizza at Morningstar.

The great day ended as KU thumped Texas in b-ball.  

Possibly my best birthday in years...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snowy Run = Fun (well maybe)

Early AM = Cold Running Conditions

With all the snowfall and sub-zero temperatures, the past week has provided and excellent opportunity to cross train. Swimming has been the top alternative thanks, in no small part, to my proximity to an Olympic-size pool. There has also been a lot of upper-body workout in the form of shoveling. The dreaded treadmill has also gotten about 30 minutes a day of use. I would love to do more, but simply can't stand the machine for more than a short time. If we only ran on treadmills, no one would ever run.  

Last night I was playing ping-pong with a buddy.  He and a friend are training for a trail half-marathon coming up in a few weeks.  The snow has thrown a wrench into their training. I had planned to show them the trail course the past couple of weekends, but weather has prevented that outing. He mentioned that they were hoping to find some run that they could do that wouldn't be too snowy. I agreed to show them a 5 mile loop from my house into the country. We could run that and they could continue on if they wished.  I warned him that there would be one absolutely extreme hill on the course. He left promising that he would meet me in the morning.

Ten minutes later I get a text that he is bailing, but his friend is still up for it. So this morning I bundled up, slammed some coffee and hit the road with a new running partner. The snow made the first mile (where we had to run on a trafficked street) a bit dicey. After that we descended a hill via a well-plowed gravel road into the countryside. In the flats, we passed a place I love that raises llamas, and another that always has geese honking as I run by. After a couple of miles we came to the turn that would take us to the base of the monster hill. My running companion went up it with ease. For once, I will admit that the incline got to me. Normally it is not too much of an issue. But it was a bit icy, and I may have consumed a couple of shots of Basil Hayden during ping-pong the night before. I made it up (though no speed records were set). The two of us then finished a second mile-long gentle climb before turning and heading home. We only encountered one area where ice covered the road surface. Basically, we used that as an excuse to practice our running form - keeping our weight directly over our feet. 

When I got home I realized that my hoodie was frozen solid in several places, most noticeably around the collar, which made pulling it off a real pleasure as the ice rubbed my neck and cheeks. And as uncomfortable and unpleasant as much of the experience was, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do on  a dreary, cold day.

On an unrelated note - If you can handle scary (and graphic) content, check out American Horror Story. Season 1 and beyond are all available on Netflix. I was not expecting to like it at all, but am turning into a binge-watcher. Also look for House of Cards Season 2 to be out in the next few days.