Monthly Archives: May 2010

Back In the People’s Republic

Somerset, famous for fruit and the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse.

No, not China, the other people’s republic, New York State. Actually much of Western New York is a far cry from what most people envision when they think of New York. I am currently in the Town of Somerset which is where I squandered my youth. The Town of Somerset includes the Village of Barker which is the “Heart of the Niagara County fruit belt.” All I can say is thank God for Hughes Net. My dad finally got the high speed internet by satellite a short time ago. If he were still on dial-up you would not be reading this.

I flew in to Buffalo yesterday. This Sunday is the Buffalo Marathon. That is why I’m here. My dad picked me up at the airport and drove me over to the Galleria Mall where I met up with my brother. He and I then drove south to Cassadaga Valley where his sons Josh and Jake were playing baseball. Region 6 sectional playoffs, unfortunately they lost 2-0.

This morning I helped my dad sharpen the blades on his small riding mower. He also has a large Ford tractor with a 60 inch deck and large 3-point hitch finishing mower. With 15 acres, there is always more grass to mow. I guess he only keeps about 5 acres of it mowed.

Always more grass to be mowed.

Later today we are going over the Lyndonville to Yoder’s Amish Store. They are having customer appreciation weekend, so they’ll have free coffee and other stuff. They make their own peanut butter as well as other types of nut butters. It should be fun, I don’t think I’ve ever been there. As New York’s excessive regulations and high taxes have forced many to flee apparently rural farmland became affordable and the Amish have come in and seem to be thriving.

Jake mugging for the camera.

New Places to Run

One tired little doggie after her long run.

Yesterday I went for an easy run in the new neighborhood. After a little more than a mile through neighborhood streets I wound up at the Monon Trail where it crosses 106th Street. I then ran south to the 465 overpass. There I turned around returned home via the same route. Total distance covered was just over 4 miles. I took Kooper with me. She loves to run, but it’s been awhile since I’ve taken her with me so she is a little out of shape. We had to take a few walk breaks along the way. I didn’t mind since I’m supposed to be tapering for the marathon anyway. Exploring the new neighborhood over the next few months should be a lot of fun.

I signed up for a swim lesson this Saturday. I’m hoping some professional instruction will help me to improve my efficiency in the water. It certainly can’t hurt any as I’m currently slower than molasses in January when I swim. In an email the instructor said she had been swimming for 20 years, she has lots of experience, and she was the 1000 meter freestyle national champion in her age group last year. I’m thinking great, an older swimmer, lots of experience… turns out she is only 25 years old. Oh well, as long as she can teach this old dog some new kicks, that’s all that matters.

Run With The Foxes

Last Saturday I ran the Run With The Foxes Trail Half Marathon, well, not exactly. I was not at all familiar with the course and about a mile from the finish I missed a poorly marked turn off of the trail. I wasn’t even looking really, just following the runner ahead of me, not blaming her at all. We were on a well-worn trail, but the race course abruptly turned off the trail and was not well-marked at all. By the time we realized our mistake it was way too late to recover from the error. Up to that point I was on pace to run about a 1:51 or so which for me is pretty good for a trail half. After adding on an extra 3 miles (at least 3 maybe more) I wound up finishing in about 2:24. I haven’t seen any official results posted, but I know I didn’t finish in last place. The 2nd time I came by the missed turn they had blocked the trail and put up extra flags. The first moment I realized I had screwed up I was pretty mad because it would have been a trail half PR for me. By the time I reached the finish area I was way too tired to be upset. I was just really happy there was still food left to eat. I had only consumed one little hammer gel during the race so I was starving when I finished.

After walking down this hill for packet pickup we had to walk back up to get to the start.

Other than the missed turn this was an awesome event. The course was not nearly as muddy as I had feared it would be. There were several little creeks that were high enough to get my feet wet, but the cool water felt pretty good. I started this race with the intention of setting a trail half PR. I started at a pace about the same as I would for a trail 15k. It was easy to do because the start was on a steep down hill paved road. With the big gravity assist I was probably under a 6 minute per mile pace when I hit the bottom. Of course that pace didn’t last long, but I did push pretty hard for the first 10 or 11 miles before I started to fade just a little.

At around mile 8 or so I tripped on a root. I was flying down hill at the time and consider myself lucky to come out of it with no broken bones. My hands and forearms absorbed most of the blow. I slid several feet along the trail and somehow got flipped around and landed up on my feet turned 180 degrees on the trail. It was quite a thrill. No one saw it, but runners in front and behind heard it. I’m pretty sure that when I landed upright on my feet I let out a loud yell! The runner ahead stopped to make sure I was ok. No blood, nothing feels broken, not even any torn clothing. Just some dirt ground into my hands and arms. The adrenaline rush gave me a little boost for the next few miles. Now a couple of days later arms are bruised just a little and my elbow and shoulder are a little sore but nothing to complain about. I try not to think of what might have happened if I had slammed into a tree or got my hand caught under a root. Yikes!

After the miserable long training run I had the previous Saturday I considered this a good confidence builder going into the marathon on May 30th. After the race I headed home and started packing for my move. I then loaded up the car with as much as I could and made my first trip to my new abode. Still have a some more furniture and a few small items to move but so far I think the new place will work out just fine.

Jet Lag Is For Wimps

Jason and Jeff in front of the Bird Nest.

I made it home safely from China. We arrived in Chicago and hour late but I still managed to make my connection to Indy with about a minute to spare. I was home by 9 o’clock Friday evening. Saturday morning I was up and about early and was at Eagle Creek before they unlocked the gate. My quads were a little sore still from the workout they got on the Great Wall so I only ran 6 to 7 miles. Today I went to the gym and rode the spin cycle hard for 45 minutes and followed that with 500 yards in the pool. Ok, I confess, I’m a little tired right now.

Last Thursday we flew from Qingdao to Beijing. The 2008 Olympic sailing events were held in Qingdao. Thursday afternoon we rode the Beijing subway up to the Bird Nest and the Water Cube. The fact we wanted to ride the subway apparently caused quite a stir with our hosts. Not sure why they were concerned, the subway was clean and seemed safe. Plus it only cost 30 cents each for a one way trip. The Water Cube was closed to the public so we couldn’t go inside. Friday morning we drove up to the

Ok, if I jump the wall can I finish a lap before security tackles me?

Great Wall at Mutianyu. We rode up to the wall in the cable car that Bill Clinton rode in back in 1998. Yippeee! We

Bill Clinton rode this car in 1998.

only had an hour to walk the wall so Jason and I decided to go as far as we could for a half hour then turn around and return. By the time we finished we were both soaking wet with sweat. Great, now I have to go sit on an airplane for 13 hours and I’m already sweaty and stinky. Oh well. We had some wet wipes and once we got to the airport we had plenty of time to wash up in the bathroom. Before I left for China I invested in a pair of compression sleeves for my calves. I wore them for the flight over and the return flight. I don’t know for sure whether they helped or not, but they certainly didn’t hurt.

Some sections of The Wall are very steep.