Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smart man? Sissy boy?

As I have mentioned numerous times, I am running a lot to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon. As a side event, I have always admired the brutality of a local summer run in Park City called the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase.

You start at the base of the Park City Ski Resort and run eight miles up to the top of Jupiter Peak. Then you run back down. 3,000 feet vertical each way. I did my shortened but steeper version of this the other day. I figured I was in better shape to run this now than I have been in a long while, so what the heck? The race is next weekend, August 8th.

Jupiter is the tall one under the cloud.

The smart/sissy in me has decided to blow it off. I was talking to a very accomplished runner about my brilliant training plans. He told me I was being an idiot and that a run like that would cost me weeks of my marathon training.

OK, the marathon is a lot more important to me but if I really do run Boston next year, I should be in great shape to prance up Jupiter next August!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another happy hike

Went for a hike with Julie today. We went up to almost 10,000 feet in elevation, where the flowers are still blooming. They were everywhere....

and every color.

This is the Solitude ski area in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

You can look through the Wasatch Mountains, all the way across the Salt Lake Valley, and see a distant mountain in the Oquirrh range.

Julie with a majestic background.

The trail we were hiking had lots of hikers and bikers today, even though to get to it you had to climb something known locally as Puke Hill. It's a steep access road with about a 900 foot gain.

Ignoring the crowds, a large bull moose had hunkered down in the aspens, only about 100 yards off the trail. Even at hiking speeds you had to look very close to notice a different shade of brown in the trees. In spite of Julie's angst, I walked down to get a better view and a picture of him. I watched very him carefully. As long as he didn't bother to stand up, I didn't have to bother to run screaming like a scared little girl.

The photo is with a 200mm lens. If you double click to see a bigger picture, you can see how fuzzy his new antlers are.

After our hike we treated ourselves to a Royal Street lunch, our first of the summer. Yummmmm!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Keep your balls out of your mouth!

Here's a sign from our local golf course. Seems like something you wouldn't really have to tell anyone.

Today's little visitor

Jasper was down off the deck at in a part of the yard where he normally doesn't hang out. This made Julie curious. She saw that jasper had cornered this little raccoon behind one of our AC compressors.

Fortunately, we were home to call Jasper off and after a while the raccoon wandered off. As cute as they are, they have sharp claws, sharp teeth and can carry rabies. I would prefer the raccoon to remember our house as a very scary one and to stay away.

In the past week or two, we have had chipmunks, squirrels, fox, deer and moose around the house. Quite the little zoo.

Running grinds to a halt

In all my running training, I knew the most important thing was to keep getting stronger without getting hurt. Seem to have blown that one lately.

I probably ran too hard about a week ago with the half marathon followed by a run up to Jupiter Peak. Somewhere along the way, I knotted up my right calf. Even after four days of ice, stretching, heat and Ibuprofen, my slow four mile run this morning became a shitty two mile run and two mile walk. It just keeps knotting up. This appears to be my body's way of saying "stop making me run so hard you old fart!"

I went and got a massage this afternoon so I am hoping the masseuse was better at loosening it up than I have been. Quite the bummer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Wedding Fairy

A joke from our friend Kathy Compton...

A married couple in their early 60 ' s were celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant....

Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table. She said, "For being such an exemplary married couple and for being loving to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish."

The wife answered, "Oh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband." The fairy waved her magic wand and - poof! - two tickets for the Queen Mary II appeared in her hands.

The husband thought for a moment: "Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again. I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than I." The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish.

So the fairy waved her magic wand and poof!....the husband became 93 years old.

The moral of this story: Men who are ungrateful bastards should remember fairies are female.....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bark in the Park 2009

Furburbia, the no-kill shelter where we got Jasper and Cosette, was having a fund raiser today. It started with a 5k fun run and went on through the day with events like agility competitions, frisbee catching, and dog races. Last year Jasper took 3rd in the frisbee catching.

This year Jasper and I entered the 5k run and Julie worked as a course volunteer. They had the run set up through a quiet little neighborhood. Not only did they have water for the human runners, they had kiddie pools full of water for the running dogs. Jasper stopped to enjoy several of them.

Jasper is wide open and ready to run before the race. He is styling his new Furburbia bandana.

There were probably 100 dogs in the race and they tried to wait until the last minute to gather everyone at the starting line. As you can guess, it was quite exciting. With that in mind, they let the people running without dogs leave about 2 minutes ahead of us.

Dogs ranged from a miniature dachshund to a great dane. Of course the default in Park City is a lab or lab mix. 5k is a good distance for the little munchkin dogs.

The bad news for Jasper is that I am not fast enough to compete with some of the human runners, and he wasn't allowed to run off leash and finish sooner on his own. I think we finished about 7th of the people with dogs. Maybe next year?

It was great fun and Jasper got to meet lots of other dogs, most of which were wonderfully well behaved. We were hungry at the end of the race and decided that a nice breakfast was better than hanging around for all the other competitions.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brutal morning run

Time for some hill training. This was the picture from the halfway point, with the 3000 foot up half being complete.

Even after drinking all I could carry and then another 24 oz back at the car, I had lost 4.5 pounds (all water) on the run. I just can't do this run again until I find a way to get more water up the hill with me. I guess lugging a 5 gallon Gott cooler would be strength training, but perhaps out of the question.

At least the wildflowers were pretty up at the top.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just let it go

Too bad the iPhone doesn't have a better camera. Julie and I were having lunch after walking down to the Park City Silly Market. These nice people sat at the next table. This guy's hair piece was without a doubt, one of the worst I have ever seen. It looked like a little plastic helmet. I plan to just go bald.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Half way there, almost

This morning I got up at 4:15, left at 4:50, and drove an hour to lovely Farmington for my first half marathon of the year.

The weather was decent. Warm but not hot. Humid, but the clouds kept the sun off me. My goal was to do the 8:00 minutes per mile pace that I need in my October marathon to qualify for Boston. My expectation was that having not run 13 yet, it was unlikely.

I ended up running 1:47:18 (versus a goal of 1:45:00). I have 11 decent miles and two bad ones. Mile 10 was uphill and upwind and hit me just as I was wearing out. Mile 12 just stunk for no apparent reason other than being pooped. The bad news is at the end of 13, I just couldn't imagine running much further.

All in all, I am satisfied with my improvement, but this serves as a swift kick in the butt for my training. It has been too easy lately to blow off a run for one excuse or another, or another, or another. I have twelve weeks left before the St George marathon, and I lose the last 2 or 3 because you start dropping miles before the event. That leaves me with about two months to go from 13 miles at 8:12's to 26 at 8:00's. Ouch!

A sad day

Yesterday was a bit of a sad day, although it was all expected.

Our dear friends, Bruce and Carol Kahn, and their two daughters Hilary and Hannah, packed up everything and moved to Australia. They moved to Townsville in Queensland, up in the northeastern corner of Australia. The Kahn's were an important part of our decision to come live in Park City. We met them about 20 years ago as part of our annual ski group. This is a huge adventure, packing up everything and heading off to a new country, new jobs, new schools,... At least they start with a strong language base. We will miss them, although they promise to find their way back occasionally.

My other news yesterday was about the Park City Planning Commission. On a lark, I decided to enter my name to the list of candidates. Three of the seats on the commission were coming up for reselection (mayor and city council) and one current member was definitely retiring. Got a very nice call yesterday from Dana Williams, Park City's mayor: "Thanks, but we went for more experience." That was exactly what I predicted, but at least I am starting to meet some of the people and perhaps I can find something useful to do to help the town.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A rose by any other name....

When Shakespeare wrote this, he was smart enough to talk about a rose and not something like Scotch Thistle or Dyer's Woad, which are both nasty weeds that show up on Summit County's list of Noxious Weeds. This got me thinking. How do you decide what is a wonderful flower and what is a weed? I went out to Websters and found this:

Weed: a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants.

Turns out that this is incredibly relevant. When designing the landscape for our house, I decided that the steep embankment would look great with a few trees and a ton of wildflowers. Last year, the wildflowers started coming in. This year, with all the unusual rain, everything is filling in nicely.

Then I noticed this one yellow plant. It was doing REALLY well. There was a lot of it showing up and it seemed to be dominating the hill. The larger plants were about 4-5 feet tall.

I grabbed a chunk and took it to the local nursery. Before I could even ask what it was, a guy came up behind me and said "Pull it all. Pull it soon before it goes to seed".

Turns out that pulling it wasn't as easy as it sounded. This is a small plant, about 18" tall. The root has multiple 12" runners. Put it in a hard rocky soil and it might as well be part of the earth.

So I dug and I dug. I filled up the entire trash can.

Then I made a few more piles. As always, I include Jasper for perspective.

Now I am getting seriously tired, but I pulled enough for another pile down below.

I just kept on going.

Next time you are out in your yard and pull a few weeds, just remember how bad it can get.

I figure it will take me a few years to really knock it all back.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hiking the Ridge Trail

Yesterday I went on an eleven mile ugly run. I was tired. It was getting hot. I was in a hurry to get home before the plumber arrived. (He fixed the boiler for our hot water heater by digging the dead mouse out of the exhaust fan). I hope I don't have a day like that for my big marathon.

Today I went on a twelve mile hike with some neighbors. It is called the Ridge Hike with good reason. You start with a climb to about 9700 feet and then hike the ridge line for another 5 miles. The rest is spent climbing back down into The Canyons ski area.

The scenery is pretty amazing at the beginning of the hike. This side of the ridge looks into Big Cottonwood Canyon, with the Solitude and Brighton ski areas.

Our neighbors, Greg and Miriam.

Further down the hike, you can see down to Salt Lake City and across the valley to the monstrous Kennicott Copper Mine. It looks hazy, but this is about as good as it gets in Salt Lake this time of year.

There weren't that many piles of snow left, but you could find some.

A little mountain lake that had a deep emerald color.

There are some huge aspen groves on the hike. This should be a great hike in the fall when the leaves are changing. I love how the base of the aspens are all bent. As best I can tell, it comes from the heavy snow pack when the trees are young.

And then there were lots of wildflowers. They were everywhere. Nothing helps like the extra rain we were having a few weeks ago. How such pretty flowers grow in soil that looks like gravel, drought, snow pack, and high winds just boggles my mind.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Happy 4th of July Park City!!

Another big year for Park City's Fourth of July celebration. There were several concerts and fireworks displays on July 3rd, but we opted to just have dinner with friends.

The 4th starts early. I joined Rob Schumacher (builder, golf partner, friend) at 5:30 to take chairs down to Park Ave and set them out in a primo spot. Then you leave the truck in a close parking space and walk the two miles home at a time when the town is just waking up.

We met with tons of friends, including the Schumacher's, Benson's, Covaleski's, Lee's, and more. Kathy Covaleski brought her dad (Charles) out from Arkansas to enjoy the festivities. In his eighties, he's in great shape, walking all over town with us and then playing 18 holes today. Go Charles!

This little sweetie was the grand daughter of Ron and Carol Lee, who brought her to let her folks go off and do some mountain biking. It was her birthday and we're pretty sure she thought the whole parade was for her.

The parade was a blast, as always. They said there were 20,000 people there to watch. Not bad for a town with only 8,000 permanent residents. Of course you have the traditional marching bands.

And the not quite so traditional marching bands.

Some horses. Big, big horses.

And since we are a mining town, you have to have the mining car full of authentically dressed passengers.

I remember this guy from last year. He seems to just love being part of everything. Why not? He has a hot chick on the back and a live parrot on the handlebars. What's better than that?

One of my favorites: the local boys hockey team walks by looking bored. All of a sudden, every one of them drops their sticks and starts fighting. It was hilarious. The true spirit of hockey.

While most things in the parade were great, you just can't have it all. These are the kids who had to follow the big horses. Shovels and a wheel barrow. Nice job.

Talisker Club is a multi-gajillion dollar development here in Park City. Nice to see them really throw the time, energy and money into their float. I think this is about one notch up from a guy walking down the street with a cooler.

Every shred of this guys existence said "I hate my mom for making me do this."

Even today I can't begin to come up with ideas for why there was a squirrel on a Harley. Perhaps it isn't a squirrel? Nope. That doesn't seem to help.

Nice to see a huge boat in the parade. Too bad there is nowhere close you could use it. The sign says "Learn to Sail". Perhaps it should say "Learn to Sail Somewhere Other Than Park City".

A collection of 30+ self-proclaimed math geeks. I think it is wonderful that they had one extrovert who would sign them up and make them come out.

General Douglass MacArthur?

It kept going, even when we got home from the parade. These are the people renting our condo next door. They had some friends over and were all out on the deck wearing festive hats.

No pictures from the evening's events, but we went over with 20-some people to Bill and Loris Benson's for a great barbeque. Then we wandered over to sit on top of the water tower to watch the fireworks. The water tower was actually crowded this year. How do people discover these things? After the show we walked to the Schumacher's for dessert.

My favorite quote of the day came during an exciting part of the fireworks show. Chris (Wasabi) shouts out "North Korea can suck my left nut!" I guess that was just an outpouring of misdirected enthusiasm for America on the 4th!

What a glorious day.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Visiting the Smale's in Oregon

Julie and I traveled to Hillsboro, Oregon for a long weekend to visit with Julie's sister and her family. We were wonderfully lucky. The three girls were all home from school and none were off at camps. Marty had time off from work and Sue didn't have her thousands of errands. As always, they were wonderful hosts and we had a lot of fun.

Here are the three sisters: Kelly, Jacky and Laura. This was shot on our visit to the Lake Oswego Arts Festival. Nice to see the art but no purchases other than some ice cream cones.

Quite a change from this earlier picture.

Jacky and Laura at home.

Kelly, being patient as we made a visit to the Rogue Brewery. Damn Portland has a lot of breweries!

Kelly was off doing some volunteer work but the rest of us packed up to go watch Laura play some soccer.

Laura has really been getting into soccer and has been getting playing time on both the JV and Varsity teams for her school. That's her about to kick the ball.

They wouldn't let me join the girls soccer game, but I did manage to get a 12-mile run in. That's my longest this year and I managed to do it at a better clip. Lord knows I love the oxygen at 500 feet!

We made a trip to a local park. After a short hike, we ran into another moment of indecision about what came next.

Demonstrating physical fitness, Julie, Marty and Sue all did a nice job of cartwheels. This is Sue with near perfect form.

The kids? Not so much. Here is Kelly executing a nearly perfect flop.

Jacky did something that only resembled a cartwheel if you were standing a long, long ways off.

Our weather for the trip was perfect. No rain. No clouds. Low of 50. High of 75. Every day!

We end this entry with a picture of the sun setting on a house in a neighborhood about a quarter mile from Sue and Marty's. (Note the perfectly clear skies) They know it as "the crack house". In an otherwise great neighborhood, this house has junk piled up in the yard, windows missing, and a lovely Pods container to store the rest of their crap. It was just so out of place I couldn't resist. Sure would hate to live anywhere close.