Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Run

Twas a fine afternoon,
A beatiful day,
The year's first trail run,
An evening to play.

Snowless trails aplenty,
58 degrees,
First time for t-shirts,
Shorts and bare knees.

St. Patty's Day today,
Prefer running over beer or song,
My white knees a flailing,
Irish heritage, I belong.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thieves and Scooby Doo

Got out for my weekly long training run on Saturday along the Gateway Trail. Overall, it's a pretty decent trail. I've got three mile out and back loops marked in two different directions. Most of the people walking are pretty good, although it seems this section has a few more casual trail users than other walkers, teenagers being teenagers, overweight couples still clinging to their New Year's resolutions, etc. This Saturday it was pretty warm out, so I took my windbreaker off after 3 miles and tied it to a tree trunk next to my Gatorade bottle that I had also wedged into a split in the tree trunk. As bikers and runners, I think we've all done this. It's a common thing here in the cities to see bottles and extra clothing tied to signs, benches, trees, basically anything permanent. At the end of 9 miles, I came back and noticed that my Gatorade bottle had been removed from the tree and was now lying on it's side in the mud. Also, my windbreaker was gone. Stolen! Some thieves steal cars. Some rob banks. Who steals used, sweaty clothing?!? The windbreaker turned out to be one of my Whistlestop Marathon "finisher" jackets from 2008. It really wasn't that nice and has very little value. The half zipper was cheap and broke a long time ago. The elastic band on the bottom broke last year. It's also made of very cheap material. But it kept out the wind and I didn't think twice about getting it sweaty or dirty. If there's anything positive about the situation, it helped with the rest of my run. It was my first 20-miler of the year, and the remaining 11 miles of "life without windjacket" went very well because it kept my mind off running. After a few miles I realized that my jacket was most likely gone forever and that I had a better chance of finding my jacket by hiring the Scooby Doo gang. I thought about ways how they would nab the crook. Would they wait in the bushes and surprise them? Would they wear disguises and sneek up on them. Would they use the "mystery machine"? As I finished the last couple of miles of my run, I envisioned a teenage boy with acne and a cracking voice wearing my old windbreaker. One day he was a mere dirtball trying to make a statement in this world. The next day, he's got chicks hangin' off both arms and makin' up stories about being a marathoner. Maybe it's just fate. Oh well, time to wear the other Whistlestop Marathon windjacket. That one's got a broken zipper too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farm Dogs and Flytying

'Tis the season for fly tying. For months the vise sat there in isolation like a hermit. I'd think about it on occasion, but the vise and I had not yet connected this winter. Finally last week I brushed off the dust and just like that had switched into fly tying mode. One at a time, the flies started turning out of the vise. I started by tying a few general flies that were just invented on the spot. They have no name, no recipe and for the most part no direction. I switched on the tv and flipped through the channels after tying about six of these flies. I stumbled across the Eukanuba National Dog Show on some channel. Dog shows are a crazy sight where the dog owners prance their prized animals around the arena while spectators clap. I thought it was funny and as far as I could tell it's a beauty contest for dogs, where only the prettiest dogs get awarded prizes. Forget about the dog's personality. Forget about its compassion. Forget about whether or not it crapped on the rug that morning. What's most important in a dog show is that the dog looks pretty. As I went back to tying flies again, I realized that my flies would never win any shows for looking pretty. In a way my flies look more like farm dogs than anything. They are a mixture of a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and the more you stare at them the stranger they look. My flies won't be competing in any contests any time soon, so maybe I shouldn't be judgemental. I think I'll add them to the fly box and let the fish decide.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Season of Two-Tones

It's here again. Some see it as fall, others see it as a season of two-tones. Yes folks, you can see evidence that the two-toned season his arrived. Just look around at gas stations, sporting good stores and hardware stores. This time of year is like a right of passage for many adult males over the age of 16. God created the earth in six days. On the seventh day he drove his Jeep down gravel roads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Size 14

In past years my favorite fly was a beadhead pheasant, size 16. Although this fly has hooked many trout, it never caught many big trout. You know, the ones over 14 inches. This year I sized up to size 14 flies. Beadhead pheasant, beadhead prince, hares ear, all size 14. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I caught more and bigger trout when I made the switch to a size 14. I realize that the size difference between a size 16 fly and a size 14 fly can be measured in millimeters. But it did seem to make a difference. Maybe like humans, trout get older and could benefit from glasses and Lasik surgeries. Then they'd eat my size 16's again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"IT" Factor-ed

Well, I finished the Twin Cities Maraton today, but unfortunately ITB the bull ran over me. The weather was perfect: cool, light breeze, partly cloudy. The gun went off and started down the road. I felt decent and soon found myself running by feel instead of by pace. After mile 3 I looked at my watch and noticed I was running at a pace to finish in sub-3:40. I decided to go for it, it was the perfect weather today. Around mile 9 I went down a hill and felt pain in my IT band. It wasn't terrible, but I slowed some to protect my knee. I went through the halfway point in 1:50:49. Not bad pacing and the rest of my body felt strong. As the miles continued the pain in my IT band increased. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19 was in sight at the top of West River Road. Legs were getting tired, but still doing alright. No cramping and no signs of hitting the wall yet. As I hit the halfway point on the incline climbing up the Franklin Bridge, my IT band instantly shot with sharp pain and I was forced to stop immediately. I then hobbled to the top of the bridge. Across the bridge and my IT band locked up again. I knew I was in trouble. I pushed through the pain a few times but the next 7 miles were miserable and there was nothing that I could do about it but run, walk, run and walk some more. If there was ever a day to crush a PR, today was it. Weather was perfect. Nutrition was good. Fluids were good. I guess the only benefit of the IT band issue is that I was forced to walk alot in the final miles. So the wall wasn't too tough and the rest of my body isn't too beat up. Finished in 3:57. 43 seconds off a PR. Nice to finish in sub-4, but still disappointing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The IT Factor

Less than a week to go before running my next marathon, and again I have runner's "issues". A couple of times I've come down with colds and other times its been a nagging hamstring issue. Oh, I'm sure part of my past issues were partly mental. But this latest issue might actually be a real issue. New to the list this go-around is one that's purely physical. The dreaded IT band issue, a common ailment among many runners, has made it's first appearance in my life. It first popped up two weeks ago around mile 13 of a 20-miler. It came out of nowhere, and I had to stop twice between miles 13 and 20. I felt the same pain again last Friday night on my last "long" run, just an easy 9-miler, but the IT pain was there again. My marathon finishing times have been slowed by heat, slowed by lack of training, but never have been forced to a "DNF" (Did Not Finish). I guess I'll find out next Sunday if this latest running "issue" is the real deal.