Archive for August, 2009

Mountain bikers make me hot

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2009 by Trail Boy

Mountain bikers are studs. They make me weak in the knees.

No, it’s not because of their tight shorts and muscular legs. What do you take me for, anyway? Trail Boy is a happily married man.

I’m all hot for mountain bikers because they’re building more trails in Indiana. How could you not love that?

In a post a few months ago, I wrote that a mountain biking club in Indy was planning to build a new, 10-mile trail at Fort Ben Harrison, the state park nearest my house.

I applauded them for this, as more trails are sorely needed around here. Build it, and I’ll run it. And ride it. Again and again.

But I really didn’t expect them to work so fast.

On Saturday morning, I went out to Fort Ben to run trails for 90 minutes with a few other runners.

As we trotted down the Fall Creek Trail, one of my sharp-eyed friends noticed a new, primitive trail that had been carved into a hillside, with small flags denoting the course.

The trail was still in the early stages of construction. But it was a thing of beauty, and had mountain biking written all over it. It went up and down the hillside in a roller-coaster fashion that is typical of mountain biking.

I could barely believe my eyes. It meant that in just a few more months, there would be a brand-new trail in this park.

Call me exciteable, but I was upbeat for hours, just thinking about it. If someone is out there, building a new trail that I can run, I am all for them.

Hell, I am hot just thinking about it.

Hey mountain bikers: I love you, man.

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But back to our run. It was a beautiful morning in the woods: crisp and cool, feeling more like October than August. And since I love fall weather, I was in hog heaven. Or Trail Boy nirvana.

There were five of us on the run. I set up the outing through the Indiana Trail Running web site, and was happy that a small group turned out to share the trails on a beautiful morning.

We finished up in 1:39:24, about five minutes longer than last weekend’s run. It was a fun outing. I’m sure it will be even more fun when I return in a few months and run the new bike trails. 

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On Sunday, I had another fun outing. And again, I have to thank the mountain bikers.

I took the family (Mrs. Trail Boy and the two boys) to Town Line Trail Park, home of the best mountain-bike trail in Indianapolis, and a blast to run, as well.

The boys and the missus took bikes out on the trail. I let them go ahead. I wanted to get in a run. 

I trotted along, keeping my eyes and ears open for mountain bikers. There were plenty of them on this beautiful day. Whenever one zoomed up from behind, I stepped off the singletrack for a moment and let them pass.

Every few minutes, I would catch sight of my brood, up ahead in the distance. The boys have ridden this trail a dozen times or more this summer, and can handle the challenging trail like experts.

But this was Mrs. Trail Boy’s first time. She was a bit nervous about all the hills, jumps, drops, twists and turns. After two miles, she had enough. She waited for me to catch up, then offered me her bike, and said she was going to turn back and walk to the parking lot.

Although I was psyched up for a trail run, I switched plans and hopped on the bike. Heck, there was a trail beneath me, either way.

The boys and I pedaled for another half hour or so, and had a great time speeding up and down hills and over obstacles, feeling the wind in our hair on this seven-mile loop.

The boys were more daring, speeding ahead, while I kept a hand on the brake on the steepest hills.

During our ride (and run), we saw dozens of other bikers enjoying the trail. Many of them were faster and more serious than us.

But without exception, they were friendly and always passed with a wave and a greeting, no matter how tough the trail. They are a credit to the great outdoors.

So trails on Saturday, trails on Sunday. It was that kind of a weekend.

Trail Boy can’t complain a bit.

Take a deep breath and repeat after me

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2009 by Trail Boy

I’ve got to come up with a shorter name for this workout.

Today, I did one of my favorite drills: Speed Loops Through Royal Pines, A Shady Neighborhood Near My House, Four-Tenths a Mile Around, With a Mild Rolling Hill, Running Each Loop Faster Than The Previous One, With No Rest Breaks — A Very Good Workout When Time Is Short.

Even if I shortened it to an acronym, it would be SPTRPASNNMHFTOAMAWAMRHRELFTTPOWNRBAVGWWTIS.

That looks like something you would see on a street sign in Sweden.

Let there be acronyms.

Let there be acronyms.

Maybe I should just call it Pines Loops and let it go at that.

I’ve run this drill many times, including last week, and don’t feel the need to keep explaining it.

From now on, I’ll just call it Pines Loops. If you want a photo or a longer description, click here or here.

Today, my goal was to run seven loops, one more than last week.

The best part about today’s workout: the air was nice and cool in the pines.

The worst part: too many work trucks too run around. A house in the neighborhood is getting a new roof, and I constantly had to run around the trucks in front of that house. Also, today is trash pickup day in our neighborhood, and I had to dodge the garbage truck several times.

But I suppose that’s a small price to pay for a speed workout.

Here are my times and paces (based on the distance, four-tenths of a mile):

Loop 1 — 3:24 (8:30 pace; basically a warm-up)

Loop 2 — 3:14 (8:05 pace)

Loop 3 — 3:05 (7:42 pace)

Loop 4 — 2:58 (7:25 pace)

Loop 5 — 2:49 (7:02 pace)

Loop 6 — 2:48 (7:00 pace)

Loop 7 — 2:42 (6:45 pace)

Cooldown — 2:10

Yep, so I met my goals of running seven loops, each one fast than the previous one.

And I didn’t commit an acronym this time.

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I’m really in the mood for a 10K or half-marathon — and have been for a few weeks — but the race calendar around here is pretty bleak.

Every few days, I check the online calendars, hoping I’ll find a fun, challenging, short race (half-marathon or shorter) to get my juices going.

But it’s the same old crap: jogging/walking charity benefits for one disease or another, most of them on deadly, dull courses, including sidewalks, cement canal banks, a sprawling subdivision or the dreaded Monon Trail.

Arrghh!

Why can’t I find a good, scenic, well-organized race in August? Is that asking too much?

The next decent race is on Saturday, Sept. 6, a 15K trail race at Town Run Trail Park, about 10 minutes from my house. But I’ll be out of town that weekend, in Ohio for Labor Day Weekend. I’m hoping to hit some of my favorite old trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio while I’m there.

Then back to Indy, hoping to find a better scene at the races.

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OK, I can’t end this post on a whiny note. So here’s something to keep me smiling.

It has nothing to do with running. But it has something to do with nature, which is close enough to trails for me.

Here are photos of my flower garden, which is in full bloom these days. I took these photos a week or so ago in my front yard. Happy summer!

Playing in traffic

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2009 by Trail Boy

I get the craziest running stuff in the mail.

Sometimes it’s race information for a marathon I’ve never heard of halfway across the country. Other times, it’s a coupon for a free sample of the latest over-priced energy drink.

But yesterday was a real eye-opener. The Road Runners Club of America sent me a copy of their magazine, “Club Running.”

Excuse me — Road Runners? Do you people have any idea what Trail Boy thinks about pavement?

Can this guy make it across the street without getting hit, or losing his temper? The Road Runners Club has some advice for people like him.

But I was curious, so I began leafing through the magazine. Boy, did it bring back some bad memories of the days when I did most of my running on roads.

The first article was called “Road Rage Management.” It was all about how to make sure you don’t get hit by a car — or get into a screaming match  with a motorist.

Let me quote a few sentences:

“No matter how frustrated you are, don’t bang on car hoods or windows if you catch up with an offending motorist at an intersection, driveway or parking lot.”

“Learn to memorize license plates so you can report incidents such as hit-and-runs.”

“Kick a curb or signpost if you must absolutely make contact with something to manage your anger.”

“Keeping yourself in control can be the difference between a good workout, a trip to the slammer, or even worse, the morgue.”

“There’s nothing more important than making it home from your run alive and in one piece.”

I'll never understand why some people think it's fun to run on busy streets.

Whoa, whoa — time out!

What kind of running experience is this? Running past a parking lot? Kicking curbs? Banging on car hoods? Reporting a hit and run?

I don’t whether to  laugh or cry. Oh, poor, poor road runners. You have no idea what you’re missing. You’re looking for endorphins in all the wrong places.

For another look at what running should look like, please click here. 

Learn to love the trails. You’ll never have to worry about kicking a curb again.

Tree stumps, yes. Curbs, no.

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Speaking of trails versus roads, I had a good laugh on this subject last month.

It happened as I was running the Buckeye Trail 50K with a friend. The race course is 95 percent on trails, but there are a half-dozen or so road crossings.

At one point, after running for an hour or so on singletrack, deep in the woods, my friend and I found ourselves at a road crossing. We looked both ways (it was a quiet, rural road) and trotted across.

My friend said: “Wouldn’t it be ironic to get hit by a car during a trail race?”

That struck me as the funniest thing I had heard all day. I chuckled for several minutes.

Later, I wondered if it’s ever happened. I can see how you can let your guard down on a trail, start day-dreaming, get real tired, and then you plod across a road without looking and — wham! — you get creamed by a truck.

OK, so on this point, I agree with the Road Runners Club of America. There’s nothing more important than making it home from your run alive.

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Now that I’ve shot my mouth off about road running, you might be wondering: So what trail did you run today?

Well (cough, mumble, mumble), I didn’t have time for a trail run. Part of being a daddy is to stand at a bus stop near my house for 10-15 minutes every weekday morning, throwing a football with my 10-year-old son.

When the bus finally comes, I have about an hour left to eat, shower, dress and get out the door to work. So I often just run the quiet roads around my house for 45 minutes or so.

OK, OK, I could get up earlier and drive to a park. And sometimes I do. But during the week, I’m usually a road runner,  like it or not.

This morning I ran three times around a 1.5-mile bowtie loop near my house. My times were 14:38, 13:50 and 13:13.

Not bad for a road run. But after a full week of this, it makes weekends on trails so much sweeter.

Hitting the trails, and thinking about a tri

Posted in Uncategorized on August 24, 2009 by Trail Boy

I went to Eagle Creek Park on Saturday to run trails, and wound up in the middle of a triathlon.

Well, not exactly in the middle. I was safely on trails with six other trail runners. Elsewhere around the park, the triathletes were flying down the road on their bicycles and kicking up a storm in the lake.

Our little group of trail runners stopped a few times at road crossings to watch the action. I thought it was pretty amazing, watching the triathletes zipping by on their fancy bikes.

It looked like fun. This was a sprint (short-distance) triathlon, one of many that takes place at Eagle Creek Park.

Every time I hear of a local triathlon, I think to myself: I’ll have to go check out one in person some time. And if it doesn’t look too intimidating, who knows, maybe I’ll try one out some day.

Well, I finally saw one. And I liked what I saw.

The leaders, of course, were impressive: muscular, intense, fast — flying down the road in a blur on high-tech bikes, 20 miles an hour.

But the midpackers and the stragglers looked a lot like everyday people — average body shapes and average bikes, in no hurry, just pedaling along on all kinds of low-tech bikes.

“Hell, I could do that!” I thought to myself.

Well, OK, yes, I could —  if I had a bike, and if I put in the time training, and if I ever practiced swimming in a lake, or even in a swimming pool, which I haven’t done much of in years.

But that’s a goal for another day. Back to the trail running.

The run was organized by a guy named Charles, who put the word out on the Indiana Trail Running web site.

I ran across the posting a few days earlier, and gladly jumped at the chance. We arranged to meet at 7 a.m. at the north gate — far away from the south gate, where hordes of triathletes were entering the park and clogging up the roads.

Six others showed up for the run, including Terry and Steve, two guys I’ve run with a few times. The other were strangers, but friendly and chatty.tri two

Several of the runners were training for a 50-mile trail race in Michigan in September, called the North Country Trail Run. They were planning to run 25 or 30 miles on this day. I figured I would run between 90 minutes and two hours.

The weather was beautiful: mid-60s and cloudy. Those conditions are almost unheard of in August.

“I feel cheated,” Steve joked. “I want 80 degrees when I run in August.”

We ran and enjoyed the cool air and the sights and sounds of the park. We ran around the lakes, up hills and through the woods. We ran a bunch of loops, circling back to the cars several times for water.

After the second water stop, I decided that was good enough for me, at one hour and 34 minutes. It’s the longest I’ve run since the Buckeye Trail 50K last month.

Steve and Terry called it a morning too, while the others went on for God knows how long.

I had fun getting back to the trails and meeting some new runners. Now all I need is a tough goal, and I’ll have the rest of the year cut out for me.

Hmmm, maybe I should think about the next triathlon.

Second gear, third gear, fourth gear

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19, 2009 by Trail Boy

So this is what speedwork feels like.

Oh yeah, now I remember.

For the first time in more than a month, I did an old, favorite workout this morning: running speed loops through Royal Pines.

It’s a fun drill that I pull out of my playbook every once in a while. Today, I was in the mood.

Royal Pines is a shady, very pretty neighborhood near my house with a loop that is  probably a bit longer than one-third mile around. The loop includes a gentle hill.

Here’s the workout: I run the laps, each repeat faster than the previous one, with no rest breaks. I start nice and easy, and push a bit harder on each one. I can feel myself shifting into second gear, third gear, fourth gear, etc.

Normally, I do 8-10 repeats, but seeing as this was my first speedwork in a while, I decided to do just six.

Here are my times:

Warmup — 4:09

Loop 1 — 3:29

Loop 2 — 3:19

Loop 3 — 3:09

Loop 4 — 3:02

Loop 5 — 2:54

Loop 6 — 2:46

Cooldown — 2:30

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I’m happy to report that since my last whiny post, we’ve gotten some rain.

Late Monday night (early Tuesday morning?) it rained for about a half-hour. Nothing major, but a nice light shower that left puddles in the driveway.

And the weather guy is predicting rain for the next three days.

So I’m done whining for now.

I thought I heard the rain

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17, 2009 by Trail Boy

Oh, those dark storm clouds are such a tease.

We haven’t had any rain in weeks. The trails are dry and dusty. The air is scorching hot.

I would welcome a nice, cooling rainstorm or two. So would the ground. But the clouds aren’t getting the message.

A few more days of 90-degree weather and no rain, and this is what my front yard will look like -- well except for the corn, or whatever this green stuff is.

This morning, as I did a neighborhood run, I felt the air growing cooler and the clouds zipping across the sky.

“Oh man, could it be?” I wondered.

The wind started stirring up the tree branches. The sky got a bit darker. Then I felt it. Rain!

It felt good, cooling me off as I ran through the warm, steamy air. “Keep it coming,” I thought.

But it ended as quickly as it began, 60 seconds tops, with barely enough rain to cover a pebble or single speck of dirt.

As I write this, at 5:30 p.m., we have yet to get any more rain.

 Yet the weatherman is predicting rain all week.

To that I say: “Let it fall! My spirit needs the rain. And so do my gardens. And I will be happy to run in it if I have to.”

How dry is it? I went to my favorite local trail on Sunday morning, Town Run Trail Park, and each time my foot hit the trail, a cloud of dust hit my leg. My socks were covered with powdery, dusty dirt within minutes.

Mind you, this is a park that closes its gates when rain falls for more than 10 minutes, since it sits in (or near) a flood plain. The trails turn to mud bogs if you even think about rain.

So I’d be happy to sit indoors and watch it rain for a few hours, if that’s what it took to wash the dust out of the air and give our lawns and gardens a good soaking.

But back to this morning’s run: I did three loops of a 1.5 mile paved course in my neighborhod, wrapping up in 41:50.

I came home with a drenched shirt.

But my shoes were completely dry.

Running for fun

Posted in Uncategorized on August 16, 2009 by Trail Boy

Let’s have some fun.

Translation: No more ultras this year. It’s time to boogie.

Four weeks after the Buckeye Trail 50K, my body is saying: Don’t put me through that again. Do something shorter, easier, more fun. Balance out your life.

I also promised Mrs. Trail Boy over the weekend that I wouldn’t run another long race this year. All that training has just wiped out my bank balance, so to speak.

So I’m going to keep my word. Instead of a marathon or ultra, I plan to find the coolest half-marathon I can, preferably on a trail, before the snow starts flying. Stay tuned for that!

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Well, I guess these posts aren’t going to write themselves, now are they?

I haven’t updated this humble blog in a full week. But I have been running. It’s mostly the short stuff. I ran trails for 40 minutes this morning, and several other quick run since my last posting, all under an hour.

They were run, quick runs, but nothing remarkable. So I won’t make any further remarks about them.