Monday, March 23, 2009

Squatter's Rites: AKA Watering the Grass

This past weekend, the weather was nice enough to get long run on Saturday followed by 3 hours of easy* spinning with Munson on Sunday.

After meeting Sean for a cup of coffee at Crane's, the three of us headed south along the Keystone Trail. It was supposed to be easy*, but Sean kicked up the pace for the first ten miles before thankfully departing. Onward we went until Munson had to stop for at the imaginary restroom beneath the HWY 370 bridge.

picture taken & used without knowledge and permission

It's funny because last weekend, I was riding with Munson along this same stretch of the trail when we encountered the Bellevue bike club's annual St Patrick's Day "Pub 'n Peddle" ride. Perhaps it should have been called Pub and Puddle - we caught a handful of women taking a squat 20 yards off the side of the trail. In truth, it's likely we wouldn't have taken much notice if not for the posted look-out, who clad in neon spandex was yelling, "Look Away! Look Away!!" while frantically flailing her arms back and forth.

Who hasn't needed to take a pit stop along a twenty mile stretch of trail without a single port-a-potty? From Shim's proud territorial markings to little old ladies fraught with grief over the whole ordeal, dignity and grace are lacking from such private moments!

So I wonder, after a couple cups of coffee, can the average Joe ride the entire breadth of Keystone trail comfortably without risking a urinary tract infection?

Of course, it all Depends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chillin' Times

This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal's front page had a snowshoe racing article right beneath the story in which Bernie Madoff's Considers His Guilty Plea.

My brother Brendan cross-trains on snowshoes. He also races in them. His invitation to come join him in a race was appealing until he said, "there's nothing like tasting blood in your mouth at the end of such a race."

Madoff? Mercurial taste of blood in the mouth? Snowshoeing? I'm beginning to see the WSJ connection.

Given these bloody, chilling signs of the times, and the gripping bout of single digit temperature that has returned to Omaha, let's revisit winter cross-training endeavors for hopefully the last time.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to take Brendan up on the offer for snowshoe cross training when I joined him and brothers Matt and John for a ski weekend in Keystone, Colorado.

It all started on Friday evening with a trip to Chipotle #1, the Mexican grill's equivalent to Ray Croc's first McDonalds. All hail the origins of cilantro-lime rice, braised carnitas, guac, sour cream and cheese filled flour tortillas!

Anyhow, the four of us skied on Saturday.

Now I haven't skied in about fifteen years. Back in those days, you were judged as a man by how long your flat board skis were. Like if you didn't have skis greater than 200cm, you'd better be able to bench press at least two plates on each side or drive one helluva pickup truck. So it was said.

Apparently, today's man is less concerned about size. Now, it's all about shorter parabolic shaped skis. Parabolic skis are narrower near the foot than at the tips, hence the parabolic shape. Their shape allows for carving turns a lot easier than the old flat-boards, where tremendous leg muscle strength was once necessary. While a huge benefit to my smaller sized frame, I'm not sure why Murphini's tree trunk like legs require them.

Speaking of Murphini, Saturday's driving snow was a bit problematic for him as he didn't have proper eye wear. (I used the pair of ski goggles I bought earlier for my commute by bike) But ever the pragmatist, John scrounged a pair of children's goggles out of the lost and found. It didn't matter that the name "Ian Jones" was scrawled on the strap or how much of a self-proclaimed doofus he looked like; at least he could now see.

Personally, I believe that he shared a resemblance with his high school mascot, the SLUH Jr Billiken:
On Sunday, while Matt and Murphinkin skied, Brendan and I went for a five mile snowshoe run along a wooded jeep trail. Our guide was the dog, Jack.

Of course, snowshoeing is more than a simple run in the snow with special shoes. It's amazing how quickly my focus shifted from simply enjoying the scenery to also having to manage the additional stresses it brought, such as a rapidly rising heart rate and laborious breathing in the cold & dry mountain air. Some may think that such stresses would detract from the experience, but I found the exhilaration of it akin to riding in an up-tempo pace line, or the surge of adrenalin during a 10K foot race.

Still, don't expect to read about my exploding capillaries anytime soon. Snowshoe cross-training is where I draw the line in the snow.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Yard Sale

I ran home from work in falling snow this past Friday. The snowfall was light, but enough to garner a friendly warning from a colleague to "be safe". I was confident that I'd be fine. After all, I was a regular of this kind of cold & wet weather stuff.
Shortly after I took this picture with my camera phone, however, I hit a patch of ice veiled beneath the snow and was suddenly splayed out with pack and cell phone over the sidewalk along 53rd Street. Yard sale!

In snowy conditions, I typically run in shoes fitted with Yak Trax. On Friday, I didn't have them in pack of goodies. Still, with only a light dusting of snow, I didn't expect any troubles. I was fortunate that my ego was the only thing bruised.

Now I have a new rule: whenever the ground's covered in snow, I'll be wearing Yak Trax or screw shoes. Otherwise, I'll be taking the bus home.