Monday, November 24, 2014

Go Play in the Backyard!

Alas, he was a good boy!
Or, Tell Your Sister to Hang On Tight
I’ve mentioned the bigger-than-everyone-realizes news about the recent signing of the lease on 2,700 acres for off-road recreational development by my home county and three other adjacent counties.  Since then I’ve been able to do a little exploring and scouting.  I’ve got some better ideas about where trails could go, and a better handle on the condition of the land.
In short, it’s all been aggressively logged.  Prior to that the entire area has been primarily utilized for oil drilling operations and I’m sure before that it was logged even more aggressively than would be allowed in modern times.
There are a lot of old oil access roads and newer skid roads.  Those provide pretty good access to all corners of the property.  But bounding those roads is a Mordor-esque snarl of briars, scrub trees, and deadfall.  It’s a good thing it’s going into winter…
That said, there is unbelievable potential there for all kinds of trail recreation.  I’m not into downhill, but me and the boys recognized the potential of a swath of powerline cut with consecutive rock ledges that could be refined into a sick downhill course.
The first drop is about ten feet, and the second looks to be more like fifteen. 
There is a third bigger cliffband that may negate the whole affair.
Looking out over the Sand Lick valley you can see big cliffs with potential rock climbing, skid roads criss-crossing the hillsides, and valleys and ridges that would be amazing canvases for dozens of miles of singletrack trails.  ORVs are already using the heck out of the area.  The need to segregate uses is paramount, but the land lends itself to fairly easy compartmentalization.
We also found three big rocks on the west end of the area that would provide stunning views and fantastic mountain biking terrain.  The rocks are high above the motorized vehicle playground below.  It’s also the nearer end to the Red River Regional Bikeport.  It’s a measly sixteen miles from my front porch to the closest edge of the soon-to-be off-road park.  It’s only six from Jeaphre’s.
I’m trying to keep myself close to the initial planning process.  The local judge-exec has expressed his interest in having me help out and I fully intend to do my best to make this a world class asset for my community.

The other exciting thing about this future park is that it's big enough to possibly self-contain mountain bike or trail running races of substantial length.  And if not it borders National Forest on multiple sides.
I’ve made some progress on my own backyard trail.  A key switchback has been completed.  I wanted it finished before the ground started to harden under the heavy blanket of winter that seems to be descending upon us.  I’ve still got so much to do to have a nice flow trail loop, but once I do the work will have been worth it.
In the meantime I keep trail running and falling on my abused wrist.  I’m a ding-a-ling that way.

Across the way you can see a large cliffband and the network of logging roads

Tree rock outcroppings surrounded by thickets
Backyard trail work

Friday, November 21, 2014

Update: Injurious Custard

I'm 99% sure my wrist isn't broken.  Tuesday it still hurt pretty bad, but Wednesday morning the pain was almost gone and I had full range of motion again.  I kept wearing the brace on and off to provide support, but yesterday I opted to go commando in that sense.

I went for a trail run.  You know it's coming.  Like any good bullheaded moose I got my left foot caught on a stick buried under leaves and I went down on my right wrist again.  There was no (more) pain, and I got up and kept running without a second thought.

This morning the faded bruises around my wrist finally started showing through the skin.  I had already decided to wear the brace all day today anyway, but that just gave me more reason.

Of course I had a meeting with some other planners today and got the "oh, is that just for attention?" questions as I also did at our office's Thanksgiving potluck.  The question came up so often ("what happened to your wrist?") that I finally just started answering: "Nothing, I'm just wearing this for attention."

In regards to that trail run yesterday, I did the Sand Gap loop--same one I did last spring--but slower and it banged me up more.  I felt pretty rough yesterday afternoon, and I've been lumbering around like an old man today.  While my usual four mile runs have been going well, stepping it up straight to 8+ might not have been a good idea.  Oh well.

Next week is Thanksgiving, so I don't know that I'll be cranking out a lot of posts.  I hope to be generating a lot of inspiration for future posts, but don't count on seeing a lot of bloggage until after the holiday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not Fixing the Problem

Ugh.  After work last night I went running at the city park. I chose the park because light was fading.  It was cold enough that burning lungs gave me pause.  The path was icy, but nothing I couldn't handle with my inherent surefootedness. 

Halfway through the first lap I strode over a narrow ribbon of ice.  I was beginning to think I should cut the run short. Around the last horn I saw some standing water in a hard turn of the trail.  I leapt deer-like over the water and landed lightly on a snot-slick patch of black ice.  My right wrist took the brunt of my crash landing though I'm wearing a badge of road rash on my hip as well.

I grumbled loudly as I stood up.  I went ahead and stopped Strava and started walking toward the car.  My hip burned but my wrist seemed okay.  I stepped carefully over a couple other ice ribbons across the trail and was glad I had "decided" to end my run.

The mental berating echoed the time I crashed on the railroad tracks in Golden on my bike and the time I sprained my ankle trailrunning at Pilot Knob.  Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! is the chant I repeated.

When I tried to turn the key in the car ignition the pain flared in my wrist.  Shifting was tricky.  By the time I got home it was stiffening.  I wasn't sure if it was broken or merely sprained.  I gimped around all evening worrying that I’d not be able to sleep with a wrecked appendage.  I did go ahead and text my supervisor to let him know I’d be in after I visited the X-ray shop here in town.

Then this morning out of the fog of a nice deep sleep I heard Mandy blurt: “Crap!”

“What’s up?” I mumbled, though my slowly waking brain almost knew what was coming.

“There’s no school,” she seethed.

“It’s okay, I’ll just take the day off,” I solved, and burrowed deeper into my pillow.

When I finally did drag my sorry self out of bed I noticed I had better range of motion and less pain in my wrist.  Less pain, but it’s still limiting what I can do.  I managed to fix myself and the kids eggs and toast for breakfast.  I’ve managed to do most everything I’ve needed this morning, but it’s obvious that I won’t be visiting the gym or riding my mountain bike for a few days (hopefully not weeks).

It was my right wrist, and many of you would be groaning in sympathy until I told you I’m “left-handed,” but then groaning again once I told you that it’s only a technicality and like many lefties I’m actually right-hand dominant.  At least I can still text and type!

So now you know why today’s post is late and of little substance.  I keep wondering what Hemingway would do. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Even if the Horse is Sober

As I mentioned I'd had a scheme to bikepack the 120 miles from home to Greenbo riding through Cave Run, Carter Caves State Park and Greenbo along the way in order to get to the KBBC (KY Bicycle and Bikways Comission) annual conference.  I'm still very glad, at this juncture in my fitness, that I chose not to make that big ride.  But what an incredible adventure it would have been!

Instead I rode over with local cycling legend—in his own mind and otherwise—Joe Bowen.  We had a good drive over.  It was a couple of hours, and we only saw one distracted driver plow into a guardrail.  But once we got into the park I was chomping at the bit to hit the trails at the state park.  Joe brought his road bike, but I think the allure of sitting in front of the roaring fire in the lodge with his book was too much.  I'm cursed with an ingrained override for that kind of allure.  It appeals to me, but it's not movement.

Close enough, I guess?

I tore away from the lodge at a Leadville and a half pace on The One.  I was dressed to the nines with my cycling tights, a thick long sleeved poly shirt under my new slick Kentucky Century Jersey, and shoe covers over my MTB shoes.

I found the Michael Tygart Trail easily but opted to continue on down to the boat dock and pick it up at the other end.  The lower terminus of the loop is on the lake and traces the shoreline.  Had to see that first.  It was well worth hauling the bike halfway across the state.

That initial section of the trail was more Skullbuster than Laurel Lake though, and it promised fine things to come.  Only a few moments into my ride and I was sporting a huge bug-eating (if it had been warmer) grin.

More Laurel Lake and less Skullbuster here though

I did NOT crash.  And the leaves were DEEP!

The most incredible thing was that someone had carved out a sliver of trail through the deep carpet of newly fallen leaves with either a leaf blower or—if they were insanely hard core—a rake for many miles of the trail I rode.  I assumed a leaf blower was used but there were places where it looked more like the leaves had been raked.  Anyway, as I rode I continually thanked my leaf removing trail angel.

Michael Tygart turned from the lake up a sometimes swampy drainage, but despite also sharing with horses through that long section the trail was in fine mountain biking condition.  While the creek/swamp section was my least favorite it was still a good trail and lots of fun.

There was a hike-a-bike slog up a long steep hill to connect up with the Clay Lick Loop.  I'd started looking forward to seeing what the ridgetop trail was going to be like, but first I had to manhandle my bike up the surprise climb.  Maybe with a 3x9 setup could I have climbed it, but probably not in my wretched state of mountain biking fitness.  But I slogged up it regardless and found myself toed up to Clay Lick Loop.  I had no idea what I was in for.

The first part is the stem of the lollipop.  It hadn't been cleared of leaves, but it was the most fun rollercoaster flow trail I've ever been on.  If it had been cleared I probably wouldn't have ridden the rest of the loop; I would have just pedaled it back and forth frantically until I died from bonking.

At the loop split the trail did happen to be cleared again and for the first time on the ride I got me ole trusty mountain bike up to ramming speed.  The speeder bike chase was on.  Flow was achieved.  According to local trail maven (and as I found out at the conference: leaf blower captain) Josh Qualls that part of the trail is completely natural despite appearing to be finely crafted by mountain biking gnomes.

Clay Lick Loop (with leaf blower treatment) is a great trail. It's a bit easier than the lower part of Michael Tygart and much faster winding in and out of numerous ridge fingers.  My bug-gathering grin grew and grew until the top of my head dang near fell off.

All of the trails are well-marked with signs and blazes.  One thing that really tangles my chain is a trail system with poor wayfinding infrastructure.  That is not a problem at Greenbo.

The conference was once again most excellent.  There were many great presentations.  I strongly encourage Kentucky cyclists of all persuasions to attend this conference next year.  The conference itself is free.  If it's near your community...bonus!  If not it's worth staying overnight, riding in the area where the conference is held, and meeting and networking with other enthusiasts from around the state.

While there is much networking and relationship building that can occur, you'll also learn a lot and have plenty to take back home.  For example: did you know that the bicycle is recognized as a vehicle subject to KRS and much like equestrians bicyclists can be charged with DUI if stopped while inebriated?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bustin' the Flow

Mandy had to work.  She works outside the home two days a week.  She had to work.  Jeff had to work.  Jeaph is self employed.  He had to work.  Dave did not have to work.  Unfortuitously Dave had to attend a funeral (and even more unfortuitously not the reading of a will).

Yeah, yeah, there are scads of other people I could have tried to hook up with to go riding on this fine Veterans Day.  These are pretty much the three people I try to ride with and rarely find opportunity anymore.  Tomahawk worked.  Joe doesn't mountain bike.  The Crash Test Librarian doesn't mountain bike either.

Oh, right, I was pretty bent out of shape to go mountain biking.  And more specifically to Skullbuster because I don't seem to have opportunity to ride there much anymore, and I truly do love that place over other Bluegrass mountain biking trails.

If it hadn't been hunting season I'd most likely have gone MTB 'splorin' in the 4CORP (four county off road park) area.  Or if not that then back to Cave Run to hit Buckskin after nearly twenty years since the last time.

Skullbuster had me mesmerized.  And so I was headed northwest from the Red River Regional Bikeport into a fantastic Veterans Day bliss.  I was shocked when I rolled into an empty parking lot.  In the chill air I deployed The One, peeled my leg and arm warmers, and then took off down Stockdell Road .

I was warmed up well by the time I reached the singletrack proper and charged onto the Green Trail.  As I rolled over rocks and roots hidden by a deep carpet of leaves my mind squirmed in discomfort.  It's been too long, and I've not ridden enough.  I felt like a complete noob for the first ten minutes.  But by the time I reached the Blue Trail I was warmed up body and mind.

And just before I reached the Orange Trail split-off I saw two things that were somewhat disconcerting: an eight point buck and a tree stand.  I'd not heard a single gunshot since leaving the car, and there was no sign of a hunter in the area or that the deer was spooked, but it brought hunting season back into full relief.

Counting on my clacking Hope rear hub to announce my presence I dropped onto the Orange Trail gunning for the back forty loop.  At that point my energy levels were mid-lining, but as I climbed up the Mailbox Climb my energy tanked and my gut started roiling noticeably.  Details aside I felt better after a pit stop on the ridge.

I felt better as I descended.  The far flung trails seemed to be better weathered in.  The trailbed was firm and bare of leaves for the most part.  I struggled to maintain my effort on the pedals through the Orange Trail.  My sluggishness caused me to stop in downtown Logville (not a real town) to check my air pressure and suck down some water.

I climbed out of downtown and finally felt a little spark in my pistons.  The new section of the Orange is pretty cool.  It doesn't add a ton of mileage but it eliminates the majority of backtracking from the back orange loop to the Blue Trail.

Once back at the Blue Trail junction I decided I'd eat the lone Honey Stinger waffle I took in hopes of jacking up my energy flow a bit.  

I felt loose and warmed.  Out in Orange County my wheels finally started to find their line.  My speed picked up.  I cranked with confidence through rocky sections and up short hills.  With the waffle in me my strength grew.  Tracing the blue line I found my groove.

Flow washed over my brain.  The long backside of Blue contoured and rolled and pulled me along.  Baby blue is a fine trail, but despite the maxed out enjoyment levels found there every time I ride it I hit a point when I want to be done.  I don't get bored exactly...but maybe I'd been out too long and was feeling a creeping urgency to get home.

It's all rocky, rooty goodness.  But somewhere along the last mile of the blue loop I always get anxious to get off of it, like I'm bored, but that's the best part

My synapses sucked the proprioceptive flood in until I nearly drowned in it.  Weakness fell away.  Knee pain fell away.  Gut distress was forgotten.  I pedaled.  The bike carved the trail.  I was one with the bike.  

As the end of the Blue Trail came rushing headlong at me I suddenly felt fully regretful that the ride was almost over. The trail, the bike, and my body melted together into a proprioceptive storm that rushed around me like a hurricane around a boulder.

Faster I flew down the trail gliding over small humps, dodging trees by millimeters, and crushing flagstones and roots to dust under my wheels.  I forgot the ride was ending.  I was truly in a timeless state of Flow.

From Blue to Green I cruised.  The ride was truly almost over at that point.  I pedaled easier over the mandatory backtrack to Stockdell Road and then cranked hard along the narrow and rough road, through the "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here" gate and on to the car.

I cranked Tyler Childers on the ride home.  This was not a lunchtime poaching.  For the first time ever I rode at Skullbuster unconstrained by the lunch hour convention.  

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Krampus Still In Flight

In honor of my long ago first ride at Skullbuster and my impending visit there today (I'm headed out within the half hour) please enjoy one of my all time favorite posts on From the Pavements Edge:  Flight of the Krampus

Monday, November 10, 2014

Going Awheel

It’s that time of year when it seems like the sun is going down at 2:30pm.  My nephew is happy because when asked what his favorite season is he answered “Deer season!”  The urge to be in the woods has grown stronger than ever, but the realities of tromping around when too many of my poor-decision-making neighbors are running around with powerful firearms give me pause.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-gun or anti-hunting, but I am anti-stupid people having access to guns, cars, or daylight.
I've gotten to the point where I want to run, but the string seems to have gone out of my legs.  Of course I’m not sure I can screw up the motivation to do much trail running either.  There ain't no Chariots of Fire for trail runners.  Over the weekend I don’t have good access to non-hunting mountain biking areas.  I don’t dare go 'splorin' the new four county off-road park.  There will be more on that I the weeks and months to come, but suffice it to say less than twenty miles from my house there is now the potential for many miles of world class mountain biking and I’m in good with some of the key players.  And it has been the stomping grounds for local hunters for decades.

Thursday and Friday coming is the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeways Commission (KBBC) annual conference at Greenbo Lake State Park.  There is a decent few miles of mountain biking trails there.  I’m hauling The One with me when I ride over on Thursday with Joe Bowen. 
My original plan had been to bikepack from home over to the Sheltowee Trace and then head north through Cave Run and Morehead where I would jump off the trail and backroad it through Carter Caves State Park to ride and then to Greenbo with an overnight stay somewhere along the way.  I was planning on a two day one hundred and twenty mile journey with some added recreational mileage.  Unfortunately I had to cancel the film shoot with Mike Dion and crew.
After commuting to and from the Kentucky River Water Trail Alliance conference in Beattyville on Friday (70 miles round trip) I realized it wasn't reasonable to expect I’d have the legs to pull it off.    I know I can make the ride, but I want to enjoy it.  I accept my limitations these days.  I’ll have to come up with some other scheme to complicate my life I the near future.  And then I remembered hunting season.  Much of the initial portion of that planned ride would be through national forest and heavy hunting terrain.  Not a good idea anyway.
I was reminded of all the Elmer Fudd's crowding local forests (to be fair there are many responsible hunters out there) when Mandy called and asked if I’d run up to Furnace Mountain and take a photo of our niece Alison with her first deer.  She’d just shot it out behind her house.  I grabbed my camera and flash and headed up as the sky turned Denver Bronco colors behind skeletal black trees.
The entire family ended up caught up in a crazy dead deer hauling affair to get the six pointer out of the ravine where it had tumbled after my thirteen year old niece shot it square in the heart.  At one point Tomahawk was hollering: “Where is that kid?” as he and I and Mandy and her mom and sister were dragging the behemoth up a forty or so percent grade muddy slope.  She was, in fact, staring at her phone far above near the house.  She eventually came down and helped field dress the beast.
By not going forward with my bikepacking adventure scheme (and thus avoiding being field dressed myself) I was suddenly opened up to other possibilities.  Jeaphay mentioned riding at Veteran’s at lunchtime on Wednesday and Dave L. is free to ride on Tuesday.  We both have the day off and will probably hit Skullbuster as no hunting is allowed there.  The weather is supposed to be fairly decent for this window of riding opportunity. 
You might remember I rode to the annual KBBC conference last year when it was at Jenny Wiley State Park.  Mandy attended as well, but she couldn't go up until later on Thursday so I cycled over and she met me in the afternoon.  We’re in the same boat this year which is why I’m riding over with Joe since I opted not to bike there.  Joe’s going to take his bike and ride around Greenup County over the two days of the conference.
I've been looking forward the conference all year.  Last year’s was pretty amazing.  There was a great turnout and many good presentations.  A lot has been going on in the state from a cycling perspective since last year.  The second year of the Kentucky Century Challenge has come to a close.  The Cherokee Schill drama is still playing out.  Cave Run Lake has once again become a mountain biking destination.  Adventure Tourism is on the verge of making the statewide trails plan public.  We have two new Trail Towns in the state and a few more getting closer all the time. 

Locally the four county off-road park is getting up a lot of steam and promises to be a huge draw.  There is a lot of land on which to build trails and to keep all of the intended user groups happy.  The obvious MTB trailhead will be sixteen miles from our house.  Only six from the Mozhicans. 
The local county judge wants to pave a couple of miles of a certain road which will open up the southeastern end of the county for many new road loops for cycling.  That’s exciting.  We've got a lot of good riding around, and being able to get over to Zachariah from South Fork will be incredible.  Those are great low traffic roads through some amazing country.
Much is afoot.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Knees

They’re like a punk duo on the verge of breaking up: loud with the desperation of remaining relevant and pumped full of drugs.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I've wanted to use it for so long.  This may start out sounding like a whining session, but I hope it doesn't echo in your mind that way once the post has concluded.

Two nights ago I made a startling discovery: my left knee has no strength.  And think that sentence in your head in Inigo Montoya’s voice from The Princess Bride when he says of Wesley “He has no strength” after he’s been mostly dead all day.

I saw an exercise I’d wanted to do.  I’m not sure what it’s called, but basically you sit in a chair and stand up using only one leg.   No assistance from your arms or other leg.  Then you lower back to a seated position.  You do a set of that and switch legs.

Me and the kids were sitting at the kitchen table the other night and I remembered the exercise.  I cranked off ten reps with my right leg like a boss.  My Benedict Arnold left knee buckled when my fat thigh was an inch off the chair.  No strength.  I couldn't do a single press with my left leg.

I went ahead and did a full set of them with assistance from my arm.  And I realized all of the sudden that this has been a long standing problem, and I just didn't know it.

There is a distinct memory of training for one of my two Leadville races and thinking my right thigh was getting overworked all the time.  I just thought it was weaker.  I didn't realize it was the stronger stem and working overtime to make up for the laziness of my left atrophied boneless stub of a limb. 

All of those times I've struggled to get out of the car or walk up or down stairs after a particularly hard running or cycling effort have been a failure of my left knee.  I never really noticed it was one joint failure over another or that it wasn't both of my forty year old knees.

This is a good thing.  I can work to strengthen the knee now before I have a serious injury.  It’s never completely given out on me or dumped me on my face.  It obviously slows me down, but it’s not completely hindered me to this point.  Build strength.  Foster joint health.  These are the things I will do going forward.

I took off on a mountain bike ride yesterday.  I had a meeting in Frankfort.  Yeah, I headed to the state capitol on election day.  It was oddly quiet.  Anyway, I held back.  I didn't slug my way around CVP like I normally would.  I kept my gears low and tried to spin fast as I cruised around the park.  I was berating myself for loving the 1x9 setup.  A granny gear would have been really cush on my knee at the pace I rode.

I did my DIY home physical therapy when I returned to the Bikeport.  I’m going to drop the weight, strengthen the core, limbs, and mind.  And I’m going to go into 2015 in better shape than I've ever been in before.

Night before last I made a bread run to town on the Cannonball.  Oh yeah, I was back on the cargo bike.  It was a Yehuda Moon moment.  Mandy almost had a dinner of homemade chili and baked potatoes finished and said crusty bread would be nice.  I had time.  I slapped front and rear lights on the bike and rolled out of the Bike Cave under human power.  There’s just something sublime about riding on the road I grew up on under a waxing gibbous moon with a crisp tinge in the air to get some bread.

I need to ride more.  I need to ride to town more.  I need to stop feeding my laziness and choose the bike over the car when I’m only going to town.  So there’s a beast of a hill no matter which way I go.  I can ride over them all hauling two kids and groceries.  I've done it before.  Awright, until my knee is stronger I’ll not haul the kiddos.

It’s time to go back to being a car-lite Chainring.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Still Running Down the Trail

Last week I got out twice at lunch and ran Lexington area trails.  First was Veteran’s Park.  I’ve mountain biked there many times, but resisted the urge to run there.  A few weeks ago I went afoot at the Life Adventure Center in Woodford County and enjoyed it at least as much as a trail runner as a mountain biker.  Veteran’s was different.  The trail is just too much of a flow trail and it doesn’t lend well to trail running.  I won’t be going back there without the bike very much.
On the other hand, I visited Raven Run later in the week and had a blast.  I ran pretty hard too.  My overall pace was 9:58/mi which is my all-time fastest trail run.  I’d not been able to crack eleven minutes previously.  Of course the secret to my success was that the first mile of the run was a wide cinder path and double track and it was all downhill for the first two miles.  Of course I had to gain back every foot of lost elevation gain and then some, but it was an easy and long downhill to a twisty and more technical singletrack climb out.  For the Red Trail segment alone I had an 11:15/mi pace.  That’s still pretty good for me considering the amount of climbing I encountered on the trail.
Raven Run is really good.  I did the four mile Red Trail (loop) and was continually surprised at how good it was.  I wasn’t going to do the short detour from the loop to the Kentucky River Overlook at the nadir of the loop, but when I got close I realized it was in my nature to go dangle over the edge.  It was worth the deviation for the incredible view of the river and the Palisades.  Then I began the long climb out.
Like I said, the trails were good and the run was enjoyable if hard on me auld bones.  It’s not uber-convenient for me to do that at lunch so I won’t be doing it very often, but from time to time I think it’ll be good if I need an inspirational boost in my running.
Monday I shot over to the Arboretum.  It’s fairly close to my office; though unfortunately not close enough that I can run from the office to the Arboretum and back in a reasonable lunch hour.  There’s also not a good direct route either.  So regrettably I drove.
I hadn’t set out to find a PR in the backwoods of the Arboretum.  I discovered—though I’m not sure why I considered otherwise—that the “trail” through the park-like facility is asphalt.  While not an unpleasant experience, it wasn’t what I expected.  So it was like running on a multi-use trail except bikes aren’t allowed. 
My intent was to run three quick laps and nab six miles of distance at lunch.  When I started running I was turning it over at a pretty fast cadence.  My first mile was not too far over an eight minute mile pace.  I ratcheted it up.  Near two miles in it looked like if I could keep my speed up I could knock out a (modern) 5k PR.  I kept my speed up.  On a couple of the gentle hills near my 2.5 mile mark I thought about giving up.  I knew even if I slowed down to a jog it would be a respectable 5k time at that point.  I pushed through.
Strava showed my 5k time to be 25:44.  My previous best might have been just shy of twenty-seven minutes.  If that’s the case I busted that time by more than a minute.  My Midsummer Night’s Run time was 27:56 and my Natural Bridge 5k time (in 2013) was 28:00.  My first of a series of three 5ks that began in 2012 was the Thoroughbred 5k and I ran in just under 30 minutes.  I had a few training runs that were better, but my best official 5k time in the past two years was the MSNR.  I beat that by more than two minutes yesterday.
I ran harder than I’m used to running.  I had to fight through the strong urge to quit pushing.  When I finally did hit 3.1 miles and slowed down my heart was going crazy inside my rib cage and I was breathing like a fat guy trying to outrun a pack of rabid dogs.  I made myself run another mile at an easy pace until I decided I needed to squeeze in some strides as well.  I’m a machine that way.
Now if I can drop thirty pounds [dodging rotten vegetables thrown from the peanut gallery]...
Speaking of driving…it’s time to get back on the bike.  I want to be a fast runner.  I’m now signed up for my first marathon (The Flying Pig).  But the bike is my inspiration, my therapy, and my sanity sometimes.  I can’t ignore it any longer.  I have to balance running and cycling with everything else.
In other trail news the four county off-road park is getting closer to becoming a reality.  I have it on good authority that all users will be included meaning there will be the possibility for a mountain bike park in my home county.  We’re talking access to hundreds of acres of fine wooded land.  The key will be getting mountain bikers to the table in the planning and decision making stages.  I’m on it!


Monday, November 3, 2014

Figuring Out Adventure

A friend recently failed to qualify for Boston (marathon) by 107 seconds.  He did a lot working toward that goal and hardly fell short.  In a Facebook post he revealed a perspective that many of us typically fail to find in our ambitious pursuits.  In it he said:
“So after 700 miles of running, 32 pounds of fat, and 3 pairs of running shoes, the life lesson finally sunk in.  It's not about the marathon.  It's not about some arbitrary time on a clock.  (Oh I'll be back, but with a renewed perspective.)
 The life lesson surrounded me in that wave of joy and sorrow in a mere 24 hour period.  IT'S .  ABOUT.  LOVE.   Please don't ever miss out on the chance to grab a hold and love on those in your midst.  Your life will be truly blessed and your cup will overflow.”
My response to his words was that it's easy to focus on the goal we didn't achieve when we actually accomplished a great deal to hit so near the center of the target.  His perspective is true. 
I’ve tried to hold onto this notion myself through all of my many adventures.  Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up on the target and forget everything else.  In fact, at key moments that’s crucial to success.  Having the ability to switch off that focus at will is a learned behavior.  Knowing it exists is one of those most typically disregarded secrets of life.  I don’t say this with sage intonations, but with my hat somewhat crumpled in my hands.
It’s all about balance.  And balance is hard to maintain.

This past Saturday was the last of the 2014 Flying Squirrel adventure races, aka The Fig XII.  All year I had looked forward to it because I thought I had no interest in participating so I'd be stoked to spectate and take photos.  The day of the race I really wanted to be a racer.  In the end I’m glad I was able to run off to Owsley County with Bean in tow and shoot photos of the high school cross country regional meet.  It was a long cold day, but we had a lot of fun.
Instead of providing you with a detailed report of either activity I thought I’d carpet bomb you with more photos.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was certain I had missed my photographic window for fall images.  Once I got it in gear I was able to capture more colorful photos of the landscape than I have during any other autumn in my life.

Also--in other shameless self-promotion news!--the elementary and middle school cross country teams got a half page write up in the local paper by one of the other parents.  Bean's image was used prominently and as the thumbnail on the front page!

Anyway, on to the weekend.  Enjoy!

Racers on the paddling section of The Fig, Mill Creek Lake

Leaving the transition area from boat to bike

Course conditions

Scenery along the way

Racing out of a checkpoint

Planning the route ahead

Add caption

Don't deviate from the course!

Checkpoint chokepoint

Other random weekend photos
Red River

From Parch Corn Overlook, RRG

Along Sky Bridge Ridge, RRG area

Opposing girls' teams duking it out on the infamous Beast in the East hill at Owsley County

Senior Jacob Trent taking advantage of gravity after slaying the beast

Caption forthcoming