Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brew to Brew and bullriding too...

I keep finding great things about where I live!  

As usual, I responded to a friend's text of "Brew-to-Brew?" with "sure!" even though I was not at all sure if I was agreeing to a beer fest or tea pot meetup or, as it now turns out, the annual Brew-to-Brew relay for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  

This April relay marks the start of spring running here in eastern Kansas.  I've never done a relay before -I just haven't imbibed the Ragnar Kool-aid or really had any success with sticking to relay plans (a la Transmountain Challenge of 2012).  No reason for me to recap the helpful website for the Relay (Brew-to-Brew) but please if you are in the local area, consider either a hard-core solo run or dredging up a few running mates for a fabulous cause and an adventure. 

My weekend was low on running  mileage, but we did ski at Snowcreek, walk the Weston Bluffs Trail, and then attend the Professional Bull Riding event at the Sprint Center.  I've ridden horses but that's where my familiarity with this sport and lifestyle ends.  I loved it all -- the bulls, the riders, the rodeo clowns, the safety horse-mounted rider, the fact that these skills are part of other people's daily lives, even if only 8 seconds at a time -- and I loved that the PBR website addresses the humane treatment of the bulls.  I was unnecessarily worried beforehand that there was a dog food factory hidden behind the pens but these bulls (and their gametes of course) are so highly prized that they receive rather luxurious care (including acupuncture and chiropractic!!!) and yes I am purposefully avoiding extrapolating the irony.

Luckily for me, agreeable D indulges my need to attend events like this and soak in the culture surrounding a way of life vastly different from my own.  We already punched the NASCAR and monster truck rally cards!

I honestly didn't pick up on the subtleties of the riders' skills much less the scoring rubric but when done elegantly, even I can tell.  Here's the YouTube clip of the highest-scoring rider.
And, I leave you with this, a tidbit from last night's festivities that everyone can appreciate even if you don't much about bulls or tight ends or rodeo clowns or devoted fans...enjoy!

A great week to all - I can't believe March is almost here!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weston Bluffs Trail

Sunday afternoon Amon-Ra unleashed an unseasonable treat on this little corner of eastern Kansas.  The sun shone, the birds chirped, and it really did smell like earthy early spring.  I think temps almost reached 70F!

I celebrated yesterday by crossing the wide Missouri River and running a 6.5 mile roundtrip Weston Bluffs Trail at Weston Bend State Park.  The trail is a straight shot between two small towns on the outskirts of the state park- Beverly in the south, and Weston, at the trail's northern terminus.  I parked in the middle, and started from within the park, first heading south and then turning north.  The trail rolls along the south-coursing river, parallel to train tracks (frighteningly close to the train tracks in fact!).  To the south from the park trailhead, the path is pea gravel and sand.  To the north, it's paved. 

Afterwards, I took all these pictures...of another trail nearby.   

Sometimes I take Nugget to this park for a walk, and sometimes D and I run the hills on the paved bike path.  I think our trail loops and out-and-backs have covered almost every path option in the park.

A hidden gem, just 10 minutes from home.  

State Parks are a treasure! 

Today the weather remembered it's still February and I zip up my fleece outer jacket and leave for work in the dark. 

Happy running!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy New Year! Still here!

Well, I barely made it to posting (proof-of-living?) during January, so I declare that this counts as a New Year greeting!  May it find you well and with resolutions to which you are sticking!

I'm pleased to say that I'm fully installed in Kansas (and have been, for the last few months) and enjoying my job and this wonderful state. 

I took a nice hiatus from running this fall, and am getting back into it just now.  While overseas I was putting in some solid hot and sunny mileage, and a nice FOF half marathon, and some great hill training, but I came home burnt out and with hamstring-itis - right where the muscle starts, at the ischial tuberosity - and quite literally a pain in the rear!  I still don't trust myself enough to prevent re-injury, so I've only raced a few times since returning from overseas - a 5K Turkey Trot, a 7.2 miler Christmas race, and most recently the Groundhog 10K last weekend.  My goal? Shorter distances but faster times this year.  Broken record, much?

I don't think I'll do any marathons, but maybe a mid-summer half if I can take the time away from work.  My current schedule prevents high mileage weeks, but I accept the break willingly!  Oh, and I happen to love my job.

What a pleasure it is to live here - I've got miles and miles of rolling hills and low-traffic roads on which to re-learn some lessons, and a great community of runners to keep motivation high.  There are great parks and trails nearby.  And it's nice to be re-united with D and Nugget.  Chickens will follow soon!

Let me tell you about the Groundhog 10K!  L and V, our old friends, happen to live here too now, so we carpooled to the world's largest underground warehouse for a unique sub-terranean race!  D and I registered last minute, and really hadn't trained - what are good friends for, if not talking you into untrained 10Ks :) It was a cold, drippy rainy morning as we parked and shuttled to the start, but once we got to the cave entrance, we entered a 65F balmy, humid, runner's high-scented underground lair!  Perfect weather indoors, and perfectly miserable outside (good thing!).  And no Morlocks anywhere.

  Some facts - the race benefits Children's Therapeutic Learning Center of KC.  The race is crowded because you run the narrow catacombs (2 laps) of this high-ceilinged, dim and twisty underground warehouse but this adds to the fun.  The 5K starts an hour ahead of the 10K.  It was extremely well organized (thank you, volunteers) and with great post-race snacks.  I love the gear check.  Oh, and the shirt.  D states it is 'too cute' so now I have two.  There are timed waves but if you want a PR, start up front of your wave or face traffic jams for the first half mile.  I started behind my wave and got stuck for a bit, but hey, who cares.  I always appreciate frequent aid stations and there were plenty - all with water and potties and cheer.  A+ race, not because of my time, but for the whole event.  I don't know that I'd pony up the big bucks ($50, if you register late like I always do) every year, but I enjoyed the novelty of the race.

Blessings run deep here, but I am old enough to know that the good times are not an entitlement or ever permanent.  Here's to appreciating the good with the bad and the ability to know the difference.  May you all be so wonderfully blessed and, if not, know that it won't be forever.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Moving on, and moving

So as always happens in a military household, people get scattered.  D and Nugget are stashed safely away in Kansas.  And I got to visit them recently!  What a trip - dear Kansas, oh how I underestimated you.  I don't know if I'll ever get to live in Kansas myself, but I sure enjoyed the time I spent there.

On one morning, I took in a nice run about town.  I love to explore new places with a quick run, whether it's just an overnight in an airport-side hotel or part of a longer, luxurious vacation.  

I started downtown at Haymarket Square.  This Saturday morning, the Leavenworth Farmer's Market was in full force and well, what’s better than a pre-run cinnamon roll?  Nothing – I don’t know – I stopped asking myself that question when I got to “cinnamon roll” and thus fueled up with one of Mama Gina’s finest.  I don't think I've had tastier!  And I'm not even usually one for sweets.

Leavenworth Farmer's Market

 I was impressed by the wide variety of local organic fruits, veggies and pastured eggs, reminding me <sniffle> of the gals who are at overnight camp for a while.  The families and vendors at the market exuded pure friendliness and pride in their crafts and wares.  D and I enjoyed putting straight pins in a cleverly posted mid-market world map, to show where we were headed next.  I just wish we'd put in one pin instead of one each.  

I spent the rest of my allowance on some goat milk caramels, a mini honey bear, and a pint of organic strawberries.  I’m a big fan of local organic produce, especially when priced competitively with the grocery stores.  And I’m an occasional sucker for things of twee.  Will D do his weekly shopping there?  I don't know.  Does he even do weekly shopping?  Hmm.  Would I shop there?  Sure, I'd buy a nice bright bunch of spinach or head of lettuce.  Or some soft loaves of amaranth or millet bread.  It's only a few blocks, a Nugwalk away from "home" and with a low smug quotient to boot. 

From Haymarket Square, belly full of cinnamon and carbs, and maybe a drizzle of icing on my cheek, Nug and I ran down the Threemile Creek Trail.  

Three Mile Creeknug
I had the company of many other runners, maybe burning off their own cinnamon indulgences, too?  The path leads east through downtown to the Carousel Museum and community center – under some minor construction – but I persevered and continued on to the Esplanade, a row of grand Victorian homes, exquisitely painted and lovingly maintained.  The Esplanade faces an eastward bluff overlooking the Missouri River, with a backdrop of rolling Missouri farmland.  

Ugh pictures while running is stupid
Esplanug...not stupid
I turned north along the Esplanade and after about a quarter mile, rested near Riverfront Park, complete with shade, bathrooms, picnic tables, water fountains.  Perfect for stretching and enjoying the verdant landscape, accented with bright blue bridge and lots of sun.  Midwest springtime is brutal – I’d forgotten what humidity is all about!

I’m sad to admit that El Paso isn’t home for us anymore, but the “tri-pack” is still very much together despite our new geographic living arrangement.  Nugget and D have embarked (woof, woof) on our version of a teeny-tiny house project and are sharing less than 800 sq feet of living space on a near half-acre lot.  Nugget loves it since it fits her 20lb size and I think underneath the frustration of coordinating new paint, new carpet, packing, moving, unpacking, snaking drains and whatever else, D too loves the 100+ year old house we just purchased though stately Victorian manor, it is not.  

Nug certainly loves discovering the best new kitty-cat surveillance spots in her new Nugget-sized home.  Luckily, a neighboring house harbors a few porch kitties, and Nugget cannot be pulled away from our glass front door if ever she sees a tiny suggestive twitch in the neighbor's garden.  She doesn’t seem to mind my absence all that much since D is more generous in handing out doggy treats.  I’m the nervous nay-sayer who scolds, “She’ll get diabetes!  Go blind!  Then what?” and he’s like, "hey dog-bot, good job with the breathing, and the blinking, why don't you help yourself to a treat.  Or seven?"  Can you blame her for liking him?  I can't.  I sorta like him too.  Like, LIKE.

So I'm on the other side of the globe for now.  I'm happy to be here.  I'm running a lot.  It's hotter than the surface of the sun.  And who knows, after a few months and a hemisphere apart, maybe I'll get to move into the teeny tiny house, too - wouldn't that just be a swell thing?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Things that can't be underestimated

Hi all, I took some time off from racing and cut my mileage way down - oh, the value of a running break- I can't recommend this enough.  I took a break from a lot of things, actually.

I failed at my dream to break 1:45 in my January half marathon, and that's ok.  That race was physically painful for no good reason, so I cut my mileage in half for a few months, and feel renewed now.  I'm slower yet happier and I'll stay here for a while, please!

D moved to Kansas in January and I'm leaving El Paso soon too, but as a geographic bachelorette right now I have more time for running than I want.  And I've gathered a few thoughts, even (no one is surprised).  I have more time for this neglected blog, too.  

My only item of furniture may be a leaky blue air mattress but at least I have the internet still!

Don't worry, Nug will soon be reunited with our Pack Leader...she's counting down the days (until we visit Kansas) on all her extra, vestigial toes.

The chickens, well, they are heading to a friend's farm until we have a backyard again...not a euphemism, I promise!

I missed you, about as much as I miss having a washer and dryer in my own home.  Immeasurably!

The laundry monster is holding my laptop hostage - here goes, a post via iPad? Let's!