Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rockledge Rumble DNF

Lining up for the 7 a.m. start.
I've always said that the only way for me to stay motivated to run consistently is to have a run on the calendar for which I am training.  I will add to that: I need a run on the calendar AND a specific training plan to get me going every day.

I registered for the Rockledge Rumble 50K and had some spurts of decently consistent training, but never made a training calendar and didn't train as consistently as I needed to.  I knew I wasn't in 50K shape, and e-mailed the race director to request placement in a shorter distance (they had a 15K and 30K).  She wrote back saying all distances are full, and that I couldn't change.  I debated just showing up and getting my race t-shirt, but decided to give it a shot and see if I could get in under the 8:30 time limit.

The good news is that this was a perfect day for running.  Cool and cloudy most of the morning, it was shorts and short sleeves weather (for running).  It did warm up a bit later, and the sun came out, but it was still comfortable.  And, of course, the trails on the north short of Lake Grapevine are terrific to run on.

I considered walking the first 10 miles to conserve energy, but decided I would just take it slow.  I started at the back of the pack, and stayed there.  For the first 10 miles or so I kept a pretty steady 14 minute pace, just what I needed to finish by the cutoff, with a little time to spare.  The next 7-8 miles, I slowed 2-3 minutes per mile, walking some, but still within time for the cutoff.  But after 20 miles, I tried to run but just couldn't get my body to cooperate.  I thought after I got to the last aid station I could find a new reserve of energy and pick up the pace for the last 5 miles back to the start.  Alas, when the aid station came in sight, they were packing up, and informed me that I had missed the cutoff by 5 minutes.  DNF for me.

I hate that I didn't push myself to pick up the pace, but I did enjoy my time on the trail.  If I can't be at Floyd Casey Stadium cheering for the Bears (They played on Thursday night this week.), running--or walking--at Lake Grapevine is a great alternative.

Next race, I'll make a training calendar!

These races could not happen without a ton of race volunteers.
These ladies would disagree with my statement that today was a great shorts and short sleeves day!
More terrific aid station volunteers.  Thanks for being there!
The trails and the trees and the views of the lake make this trail system and this race worth showing up for.  So close to the city, but so easy to feel all alone in the woods.

Me with R.D. Cindy Melder, who told me not to be a sissy and man up for my 50K.  OK, she didn't exactly say it like that.  But she deserves a boatload of thanks and good wishes for doing such a great job for the second year in a row, organizing D/FW's premier trail race.  Thanks Cindy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whispering Pines Race Report

Last weekend, Endurance Buzz Adventures hosted another great trail race at Tyler State Park.  I have never run there before, and haven't spent much time in East Texas.  A couple hours from home, it felt like traveling to another region, with the tall piney woods that seem so different from Fort Worth's trees.  Tyler State Park is a beautiful park, and the trails are hilly but very runnable.

In a rare moment of realistic expectations, I actually registered for the 20 mile race rather than the 50K.  I felt like I had enough of a base built up that I could do relatively well in the 20M, but knew 50K would be a stretch.  I was right.  The warm, humid day slowed me down.  I took it pretty easy most of the day, then really slowed the last couple of miles.  I was exceedingly glad that I did not have another loop to run!  I ended up finishing in 4:55:27, good for 31st out of 40 overall, 20/22 male. 

This was a hot, sweaty, steamy race for me.  My clothes quickly became completely soaked with sweat, but I managed to stay well hydrated.  I have eaten my last Sport Beans.  Every time I ate some during this race, I got nauseous.  Thankfully, the aid stations were well-supplied.  Dave Hanenburg continues his streak of awesome races with Whispering Pines.  This was my fourth EBA race, and every one is better than the one before.  Thanks, Dave!

The bonus for the weekend is that the whole family came out to camp!  The boys each brought a friend, and they played like crazy men all weekend.  After the race, we went canoeing and swimming, then back to camp.  Thankfully, they weren't too disappointed when I declined to go on a trail run with them in the afternoon.  We would love a return trip to Tyler S.P., although I think all of us would like to go back when it's a bit cooler.
My friend Brittany ran in her first trail race, and took 2nd place in the 10 mile!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Race for The Cure

As a fan of alt-rock band The Cure, I had to laugh at this cartoon:
The Argyle Sweater, by Scott Hillburn
In case you were not privileged to be a fan of The Cure, you may not get the reference. They were known for their distinctive mops:
Who knows if these guys are actually runners, but I get they get a kick out of all the races put on for them each year!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daddy needs a new pairs of shoes

Traditional running shoe manufacturers will tell you to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles.  The cushioned becomes compressed and worn out so that it no longer cushions.  Since I run in Vibram Five Fingers, which have no cushioning at all, I don't pay attention to the miles I put on a pair.  The attraction of VFFs is better "ground feel."  The foot responds to the ground and the runner's gait is a more natural, barefoot gait.  So I just run in my VFFs until the "ground feel" becomes a bit too close, as it did tonight.

I hadn't realized the sole was getting so thin there on the ball of my foot.  It's the same spot that always wears thin on my Vibrams (here and here).  But early on in last night's run, I started feeling a sort of hot spot.  I finally stopped to investigate, and sure enough there's a hole.
I completed the run and confirmed what I has suspected: once the hole was completely through the sole, a hole began to be worn through my foot.  (Kelly's right; I do have stubby little toes!)  Too much ground feel.
So, with Kelly and the kids in bed, I hopped on the internet and set out to order some new VFF sprints.  I have been running in these for several years, but it seems that Vibram is phasing them out.  Vibram has come out with so many varieties of running shoes (seemingly less and less minimalist) in recent years that I can't keep up.  One time I bought some Bikilas, but only ran a few miles in them before I knew they were not for me, so I sent them back.  With Vibram discontinuing them, I feared I would not be able to find my Sprints!  That would stink.

Thankfully, the good folks at had some in stock!  And, since they are an "endangered shoe," they are on sale.  I joined their VIP club for $2 and got 3 pair for under $100!  These used to retail for about $60-$80 a pair.  I'm so sad that Vibram has discontinued the Sprint.  These 3 pair will last me for at least a couple years.  After that, who knows what I'll do.

Oh, and since it was late at night and I was probably not thinking that clearly, I surfed over to REI and found some Vibram Treks, my go-to trail running shoes, for 1/2 price.  Sure enough, they are discontinued, so I picked up 2 pair.  Someday I'll have to find other shoes to run in.  In the meantime, I'm stocked up.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A graphic marathon

The legend of the first marathon is well-known in one form or another to marathon runners.  Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari tell the story in a dramatic way in their graphic novel, Marathon.  I am in no position to evaluate the historicity of their account.  Probably no one is, given that CNN wasn't there to record the events in 490 B.C.  The gist of the story is that the Athenians defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, and a messenger ran all the way back to Athens to alert the city of the Athenian army's victory.

But was the runner Pheidippides?  Or Eucles?  According to Wikipedia, Plutarch was the first historian to mention this run, and he calls the runner Eucles.  A later historian calls him Philippides.  But of course the 19th century poet Robert Browning settled the matter with his poem Pheidippides, so now few remember the name Eucles.  Whatever the name, the victory of the Athenians over the Persians was significant for the future of democracy and Western civilization, and worth remembering.  Not to mention this race that thousands of us run every year. . . .

Yakin and Infurnari capture the history, the political background of the war, and the violent clashes in Yakin's sharp text and Infurnari's sketchy, sometimes chaotic illustration.  I personally am not a big fan of the style of illustration, and both the illustrations and the text sometimes seemed to leave too many gaps in the story and in the action.  Fans of graphic novels and movies with gladiator action will enjoy this bit of historical drama.
Marathon runners can relate to how he felt at the end of his run,
but most of us don't run while being pursued by armed men intent on killing us!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I recently read a book called Get Off Your A-- and Run!  The author said that to motivate herself, she got a picture of a shapely, fit actress in bikini and put it on her mirror.  Each day, she would stand naked in front of the mirror repeating, "You fat b--ch! You fat b--ch!" while looking from herself to the beautiful woman in the picture.

I think that sounds rather crude and self-deprecating, but in principle I thought it might be a decent idea.  Then I saw the race pictures from last weekend's Possum Kingdom trail run and decided nobody shaped like that can be a good trail runner.

I figured Kelly might not be too thrilled about my putting pictures of gorgeous girls in bikinis on the bathroom mirror, so I found a picture of one of the greats, Dean Karnazes, the ultramarathon man.  I have put it on my mirror, along with a picture of myself at Possum Kingdom looking rather big around the middle.  I don't stand naked before the pictures chanting "You fat slob" or anything like that, but it's a good reminder to me.

Karnazes, sometimes known as Karno, has inspired me with his long runs, great running spirit, and desire to get even the most slothful among us moving.  I figure I could do worse that to make a habit of asking, "What would Karno do?"  So, would Karnazes get a 44 oz. Dr Pepper every time he stops for gas?  (And even sometimes when he doesn't need gas?)  Would he drink Dr Pepper at all?  Would Karnazes load up on sweets just because you can fill a whole box for a dollar on Fridays at the work cafeteria?  Would Karnazes skip a run just because he's feeling tired and lazy?  Would Karno walk those last few miles of the trail run or push himself to finish strong?

I'm no Dean Karnazes, but that guy's older than I am, and still runs competitively in ultras and trail races.  We'll see if asking WWKD? will help me get into better shape and start looking and feeling like an ultrarunner!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Things seen while running: our new baby neighbors

 Running around the lake the other day, I saw a couple of families with a bunch of kids.  I don't know how these multiple-birth moms do it!  I met a family with quadruplets and another with septuplets.

The goose family was very protective of their goslings.  When I tried to get closer, daddy goose hissed rudely at me.  I just wanted to hold those downy chicks!

I don't know where Daddy duck is.  Mama and her ducklings weren't too interested in me.  They probably figured that I wouldn't venture out into the water to get closer to them.  They were right.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Race Day at Possum Kingdom

Today marked another first for Dave Hanenburg and Endurance Buzz Adventures.  Over the last year and a half, Dave has rolled out several new trail races in North Texas to the benefit of all who love trail running.  Today's race was held at Possum Kingdom Lake Hike and Bike trail, maintained by the Brazos River Authority.

Nice views all around. ( photo)
For those of us who have run at Dave's races, it came as no surprise that the race was well-organized and the course was well-marked. (Dave's warning at the pre-race briefing turned out not to be necessary.  The signs and streamers were plentiful and direction was clear.)  The aid stations were well-stocked and the volunteers friendly.  And the course--well, this is the kind of course that reminds me why I love trail running.  Varied terrain, lots of shade, cool rock formations, and tremendous views of the lake and surrounding area.  I enjoyed the sustained climbs, something I don't get much of on my usual D/FW trail runs.  To climb for a couple of miles and then be rewarded with a great view at the top makes the climb not seem so hard.

I originally signed up for the 55K, but common sense and my pathetic run last week at Cedar Hill convinced me that I was in better shape for the 20K.  I decided to take it easy, and figured a 12 minute pace would be plenty fast enough.  After the first climb, I fell in behind a pair of ladies running together and decided to keep pace with them.  It was sort of awkward; I kept wondering if they would think I was stalking them.  They were running at a conversational pace for them, but it was more a race pace for me.  I learned all about their kids, their restaurant preferences, where they like to shop. . . . I'm sure they were pleased when, after 3-4 miles, I passed them up.

Nice rocks. (Endurance Buzz photo)
But their pace was perfect for me, and I ended up running pretty even splits, overall.  I am always pleased when I still have something left in the second half of a race!  (Although today, I think I could have sped up the last couple miles and knocked a few minutes off my time.)  I don't know the final times, but I know I was way behind the first finishers, and there were at least a few people behind me.  Unofficially, I finished in 2:24:45, right at a 12 minute average pace.

I hope to make it back to these trails, for a run, a hike with the family, and for Dave's race next year.  Maybe I'll make a day of it and try for more distance next time!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nice Place to Run: Cedar Hill State Park

GWB, not at Cedar Hill.
After last week's failed attempt to run at Cedar Hill State Park, I decided to return to check out these trails.  I have heard first-hand accounts of other runners meeting George W. Bush out here.  Apparently this is a favorite mountain biking trail for him.

Picture credit:
The trails are well maintained by DORBA, and perfectly suited for mountain biking.  That is mostly a plus for trail runners.  The surfaces are generally smooth, with a few rocks and roots to keep you alert, but not too many.  There are a few climbs and drops that keep things interesting on a bike.  For runners, there is nothing that gets very technical.  Unlike other popular mountain biking trails I've run on, like Lake Grapvine's north shore or Cameron Park in Waco, and on the neighboring this trail never had me pulling up with my hands or jumping down stair-like rocks.

At some points in the trail, the mountain bike nature of the trail got to me.  At some of the winding portions, the trail banks, which is great going downhill on a bike, but not as much fun running.  I felt like someone driving the family minivan on the curves at Texas Motor Speeday; when the race cars take the curve at 180, they stay right up there, but when a minivan tries, topped out at 65, it runs the danger of flipping or slipping to its doom.  Also, some portions of the trail are in a deep vee, which, again, is probably perfect for 2 inch bike tires, but puts the runner in a position between carefully lining up his feet in single-file, or running along the edges.

Picture credit:
Sorry, that sounds like I'm whining.  I don't mean to.  All in all, I really like this trail.  Almost all single track, all runnable, views of the lake, thick woods, meadows, easy to get to.  It's a great place.  This should definitely top your list if you're looking for a spot for a long training run to get in some good miles without too much technical trail.  There are 3 loops, posted as 3, 8, and 12 miles (my Garmin said 11.17, but I suspect there was some tree interference).  And when you visit, tell the nice dude at the ranger station I said hi!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Memo to the dude at Cedar Hill S.P.

Hey, I'm really glad you're there.  I love the state parks, and love the commitment that state parks employees like you have for keeping these strongholds of nature and recreation up and running for regular city people like me. 

Last night when I stopped in to visit Cedar Hill State Park, you were very friendly and efficient in renewing my state park pass.  Then when I told you this was my first visit to CHSP, and asked directions to the trail head for the DORBA trails, you gave clear, efficient directions. 

Image stolen from
So I drove the 2 1/2 miles or so to the trail head, only to discover that the trails were closed!  Couldn't you have told me that when I told you I was there for the trails?  Maybe you could have mentioned that the trails were closed when I asked directions to the trail head? 

It's not that big a deal.  I drove over to Cedar Ridge, thinking I might still get a run in.  But Cedar Ridge closes at 8:30, so I would only have had time to run for 20-25 minutes.  So I went to Chipotle instead.

I'll go back to Cedar Ridge sometime.  It looks lovely, with views of Joe Pool Lake, the hills, and of course the DORBA trails.  Now that my state park pass is renewed, I'll definitely pay you a visit. And maybe next time I'll call the automated line, (972) 291-3900, for trail conditions first!

See you then!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A kick in the butt from the Grit Doctor

Sometimes we need someone to kick us in the behind and get us moving.  If we are to believe the news reports of the ever-growing problem of obesity in the United States, many of us need some encouragement.  That's exactly what Ruth Field, a.k.a., The Grit Doctor, gives the readers of her book Get Off Your A-- and Run! A Tough-Love Running Program for Losing the Excuses and the Weight.  (This is the U.S version of her U.K. release, Run Fat B---h Run.) (She doesn't obscure the naughty words.  This is a family blog, so I have chosen to redact her words. . . .)

Field takes a basic, no-nonsense approach to get the non-runner out the door.  Her premise is that anyone can do it.  Her plan is pretty basic: start walking for an hour and a half, several days a week.  Eventually start jogging part of it.  She's realistic about the fact that it won't be easy to get started: "Embracing the fact that this is going to be hard is the only cure for the terminally unmotivated."  And she's not out to make you into a speed demon: "Go slow.  Go slower.  As slowly as is humanly possible.  The aim is to go as slowly as you can for as long as you can without having to stop.  As soon as you have to stop, it is time to walk, not to sit down . . ."  Sound advice for beginning runners who give up too quickly because they go too fast.

Her focus is on women who are inactive, especially those who want to lose some weight.  Her basic formula: "run, eat less junk, lose weight."  I totally agree with her.  Too many weight loss plans focus on a special diet, and underemphasize physical activity.  She writes that as we become more active, we will naturally gravitate toward better foods.  I think she's overly simplistic on this point, but then I was pretty convicted on the hard line she takes on candy and soft drinks: "Frankly, as an adult, you should be ashamed of yourself if you are still buying candy and soda on a weekly basis.  Stop it now."

I might have to try one of her motivational methods: "When I want to lost a few pounds urgently, I look in the mirror early in the morning--pre-shower, no makeup, and with my entire naked body in view--and I repeat to myself over and over again, 'You fat b---h.'  I then glance immediately at Cameron Diaz or another equally buff celeb in a bikini. . . and the mantra begins to take on a life of its own."  Whatever works, right?

Get Off Your A-- and Run! is certainly geared toward the beginner runner.  I guess she figures there are plenty of books on the market that go into more detail about splits and training plans.  She talks about running intervals, and long runs, but is pretty casual about times.  "Fooling around with stopwatches is generally better for wasting time than tracking it.  Just mix up your speed during your regular runs and don't worry about the exact times."  I enjoyed her breezy, get-to-it style.  She leaves the non-runner with no excuses.

She sums it up nicely: "If you take only three things from this book, let it be these: Run. Drink more water. Eat less crap.  You. Can. Do. It."  If most long-time runners are anything like me, it doesn't hurt to be reminded of these three basic rules.  Field is a motivational running coach with attitude, and has little patience for those of us who can't seem to get off the couch.  Run!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Ghost Runner, by Bill Jones

There are runners, and there are people obsessed with running, and then there are the runners who go way beyond what any other runner can and will do.  I am not sure I have ever read of anyone as committed to running as John Tarrant, and who gave up so much for the sport.  In The Ghost Runner: The Epic Journey of the Man They Couldn't Stop, Bill Jones tells Tarrant's story, a tragic tale of a guy whose way to short life had way too much frustration and loss for one runner to bear.

Well, maybe that's overstating the case.  But read The Ghost Runner and you'll see what I'm talking about.  After being sent away to a grim boarding school during WW2, and losing his mother shortly after the war, the teenage Tarrant took up, among other things, boxing.  He had decent athleticism and enjoyed modest success.  In less than two year, "he'd fought just eight times, pocketing a grand total of seventeen pounds."  His "informal recompense fell way short of the costs Tarrant was incurring" traveling by bus to a nearby town to train.  "It was pocket money and nothing more. . . . John's boxing had already cost him far more than he'd ever earned from it."

Later, as John began running, he revealed that "professional" boxing career when asked whether he had ever competed professionally in athletics.  Honest to a fault, Tarrant dutifully revealed his compensation.  Thus began a decades-long battle against amateur athletic officials.  A world-class runner, Tarrant dreamed of the Olympics.  He ran in races around England, but, prohibited from entering due to his "professional" status, he arrived in disguise, throwing off his coat and hat and jumping into the fray just as the race began.  Race officials tried to chase him down, but Tarrant was too fast (and in at least one case, Tarrant's brother Victor aggressively drove officials away, nearly running them down with his motorcycle).
No number for the ghost runner, and no official recognition, even when he won.

Determined to win, thinking that, even when race officials and results refuse to acknowledge his presence, they can't ignore him if he crosses the line first, Tarrant trained constantly.  He ran to work, ran at lunch, ran after work, ran monster runs on the weekends.  He eventually began to enter longer races, setting world records in the 40 mile and 100 mile distances.  The Comrades ultramarathon in South Africa became his obsession, leading to him living there for months at a time in order to train and enter the race.

British authorities eventually gave him status to race officially in the U.K., but international racing was out.  He ghost ran Comrades, a race in New York, and countless races in England and South Africa.  His faithful wife was a running widow, allowing him room to train continually, use their limited money and time to travel to races, and even to live abroad to pursue his dream of winning Comrades.  (I feel bad leaving for the day to run a race; I can't imagine leaving for a year.)

His life was marked by frustration.  His battle with the amateur athletics authorities went on and on.  Some of his fellow runners and friends said he talked of nothing else, and talked about it a lot.  He would have loved nothing more than to run for his country in international races, but he never could, officially.  He battled stomach problems that crippled him, knocking him out of several races (yet he would win races and set course records sometimes, in spite of his having to take breaks to drop his pants in the bushes beside the course!).  And after four attempts, he never did win Comrades.

Yet the man did love to run.  His drive and commitment simply to run are inspiring.  I would love to run like Tarrant: In the hilly countryside around his home, "there were days when he never even felt tired, when he felt he could run forever, never happier than when climbing steeply, . . . his thoughts a whir of self-imposed times and challenges, the landscape a succession of gateposts, junctions, and landmarks which he reached faster, and with less effort, every time he wrenched on his pumps and braved the hilly air."

Jones captures Tarrant's joy and frustration in The Ghost Runner.  He doesn't dwell on conclusions about Tarrant's treatment by athletic officials; the reader can clearly see that Tarrant's cause was just, his treatment was deplorable, and times quickly changed.  Tarrant died in 1975 at the tragically young age of 42.  With a few short years, the farce of amateurism had ended.  What a shame that Tarrant did not live to see it.  On many levels, Jones inspires awe and admiration for a great runner and a great man.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Toughest in Texas 20 mile race report

I've said it before and I'll say it again: residents of Waco are lucky to have Cameron Park right there in the city.  The park boasts miles and miles of trails, making it a playground for trail runners, mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, as well as casual walkers and nature lovers.  The trails are well-maintained single track, and the views from the bluff are terrific.  So I was delighted to return today for the Toughest in Texas Trail Runs.  I ran the 50K there 2 years ago; today the 20 mile race was more than enough for me.

The TNT Trail Runs, hosted by Waco native and Houston-based running coach Tim Neckar (, feature the best of the Cameron Park trails.  Tim puts on a great race, with well-supported aid stations and a clearly marked route.  Tim offers the 50K, 20 mile, 10 mile, and 5 mile distances, so trail runners at any level can enjoy the race.

My brother Mark and I started out together on the 20 mile race at 7:30.  The rather small field of 20 milers took off, with a couple of guys bolting out at the start.  We thought surely they'd falter, but they actually finished well.  The order of finishers, at least for the leaders, seems to have been the same as the order of starters.

I ran with Mark for 3 or four miles, to the first aid station.  But after that he began to put some separation between us.  I was reminded that he is much stronger on the uphills.  He took off ahead of me and ended up finishing over half an hour before me.  I guess there's no shame in losing to my faster, fitter, slimmer, younger brother.  (I still have him beat on the road marathon P.R., though!)

Not the actual snake I saw. Photo credit:
Once Mark left me, I ran alone.  A few of the 10 mile runners passed me near the end of the first lap, I passed a couple of 50K walkers early in the second lap, and I saw several other random bikers and hikers.  One other companion on the trail was a copperhead snake (as best I could tell).  He was planted in the middle of the trail.  I figured he would scurry away, but he just sat there looking at me.  I got a very long branch and poked it, again thinking he would flee.  I finally picked it up with the stick and set it beside the trail, then hurried past.  He wasn't too interest in me, thankfully.

After the second trudge up Jacob's Ladder, I finally finished in 4:36, good enough for 5th male overall.  That was about 20 minutes slower than my first 2 laps in 2011.  Today I was quite happy to be done, not heading out for the third lap.  The burgers and beans hit the spot, and there's nothing better than a cold Dr Pepper after 20 miles on the trail on a warm day.

Once again, many thanks to Tim for putting this race together.  Race or not, the trails at Cameron Park are worth a visit.  Here's a video a mountain biker took which shows a bit of the flavor of the trails. (Posted on YouTube by Jim Olmsted.  Thanks, Jim.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Water bottle etiquette on the trail

The other day when I was running at Cedar Ridge Preserve, my hands got really cold, so I left my water bottle, which was full of ice and water, next to the trail.  I figured I would circle back to my car to get my gloves, then on my next loop on the trail I'd pick up my bottle.

With my hands warmer, and with a pretty good thirst worked up an hour or so later, I came back to that section of trail.  My bottle had disappeared.  Did I forget where I had left it?  Did some other thirsty runner pick it up?  Did the trail patrol throw it in the trash?  I didn't figure there was any way I had missed it, so detoured by the visitor center near the parking area and found it perched on the donation box.

The bottle and I were happily reunited, but it made me wonder about bottle etiquette.
Litter. Throw it away.

If I find a personal item like car keys or a wallet by the side of the trail, I think the best thing to do would be to take it back to the trail head.  Surely someone wouldn't leave something like that out on the trail intentionally.

Not litter.  Leave it there.
If I see an empty, disposable water bottle by the trail, especially if it's empty, picking it up and tossing it in a trash or recycling bin would be the reasonable choice.

But a nearly full, non-disposable bottle, with ice still in it, in a hand-held carrier?  I would not think someone dropped it and didn't notice.  I would not think that someone tossed it as trash.  The only reasonable explanation would seem to be that someone left it there intending to come back for it.  I detest trail litter as much as the next guy, but when something is clearly not litter, I leave it alone.

Am I right or am I wrong?  What do you think?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Running Naked (of electronics)

This morning I headed out to Cedar Ridge Preserve. I hadn't been there in a while, but this is one of my favorites.  It has varied terrain, several technical sections to practice climbs and descents over rocks and roots, as well as some clearer, wider ups and downs you can cruise on.  There are not many level sections to run on!  Plus, there are no mountain bikes allowed!

I strapped on my Garmin, turned it on when I was a few minutes away, and got the "low battery" warning.  By the time I got there, it was completely dead.  I checked my start and stop times, and added up the miles on the map to get a rough idea of the distance I had run, so I could at least have some sort of record.  I also ran without my iPod.  When I run on the streets at home, I usually listed to podcasts or audiobooks.  On a trail run, I usually run without it, so I can hear the animals sneaking up on me.

I know I should be less dependent on electronics. Experienced runners can monitor their pace by perceived effort, without relying on a GPS watch. And true runners don't need to be distracted or preoccupied by an iPod; they they meditatively commune with nature and their own.  I suppose it does me good to run naked every now and then, but I felt, well, naked, without my electronic companions.