Friday, October 31, 2008

And my endorsement goes to....

Okay, I know you've all been on pins and needles waiting for me to announce my endorsement for president (all 3 or 4 of you). I'm sure the candidates themselves have been following this blog closely for any word. Sorry I've kept you waiting for so long, but now that election day is only 5 days off, I guess it's time to let the cat out of the bag (how does that damn cat always get in the bag anyhow???). Hopefully, you haven't already cast an early ballot that you'll regret after reading this. I know this is a running blog, but damn it, it's my running blog so I'll make it political if I want. Plus, this post is about the two guys running for president. Get it?....RUNNING for president.....okay, never mind....

So, without further adieu, here it is in one word: GObama!!!!

To put it simply (and in terms that may or may not piss off any Republicans out there), the GOP has had their turn at the wheel and managed to drunk drive head-on into a tree. I've never voted for a Republican candidate for president and after 8 years of W, don't really see any reason to start now. My honest opinion is that McCain's campaign is focused more on trying to convince us that Obama is evil incarnate and less on how to fix this mess that W got us into. On the other hand, Obama talks about issues instead of firing back at McCain and Palin with smear tactics (and if you've done any research on McCain and Palin, you know full well there's plenty of ammo there). The internet is rife with so-called "evidence" that paints Obama as a terrorist, socialist, Muslim, anti-American, and, probably, the devil himself. It's all a bunch of crap. You shouldn't believe everything that lands in your email inbox. Again, McCain is no saint; his own autobiography admits as much. But the American public hasn't been exposed to all the rumors/stories/accusations that surround McCain's past because Obama hasn't gone there. He's been too focused on discussing proposals that might actually fix this country (and if you believe it's not broken, then you haven't been watching the news much lately).

Barack Obama is an obviously smart man. He's calm, he's cool, he's collected. I won't claim that John McCain is dumb, because I don't think he is, but he is known for being hotheaded, rash, and stubborn. Which qualities, regardless of the name attached to them, are more befitting of a president? As I said, I don't think McCain is dumb, but I do have to question his rationality with the selection of Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. I have nothing against a woman running this country. I would, after all, be voting for Hillary if she had won the nomination. But, I do have a problem with picking your VP candidate based on who gives you the best chance to win the election instead of picking the person who is best qualified to potentially be president someday. Honestly now, if, God forbid, McCain were to die before election day, how many people would vote Palin for president?

I've gotten into this election far more than any previous one, and I could rant here for hours about it, but I'll stop now. I had to express my support for Obama somehow since my vote for him in South Dakota, one of the reddest of the red states, is virtually meaningless. Sorry for injecting politics into an otherwise totally uninformative, senseless, light hearted blog, but as I said before, this is my blog, damn it, and I've gotta rant somewhere because my wife is probably sick of hearing about it:). Next time, back to running. I promise (and I'm not a politician, so that promise might actually be kept).

Now, go vote!!! (preferably for Obama, but hey, to each their own...)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Winds from hell, twisted ankles and undefeated seasons

It was an interesting week. After my voyage to Missoula and back last weekend, I was hoping to get back on the high mileage bandwagon. But, I was also hoping to break a year old 5K PR, so I ended up sacrificing miles toward the end of the week to rest my legs for the Halloween Sock Hop 5K in Rapid City on Sunday.

Well, as she is prone to due, Mother Nature decided to screw with my plans. The wind was blowing yesterday. I'm not talking like 10-20 mph, I'm talking more like 35-45, with occasional gusts to 60. Nowhere near ideal conditions for running a 5K, but run it I did. We drove to Rapid and arrived at the park where the race was to be held to find.....nothing. The park gates were locked up and no sign-up area was to be found. Finally, after a half hour or so, some people started showing up and registration got under way. It wasn't terribly cold, mid 40s, but with the wind it was pretty damn uncomfortable. The local running club puts this race on and starts the festivities off with a kids 1K, which both of my kids ran in their Halloween costumes, a Seahawks player for Caiden (I have taught him well.....or really badly....not sure yet) and a monkey for Chloe (it should be noted that Chloe's real costume is Sleeping Beauty, but since it was so cold we put her in the much warmer monkey suit instead). The kids did great, considering they were the two youngest ones running. They each got a bag of candy when they were done.

Soon after the kids race was done, it was time to line up for the 5K, which my wife and I were both running. Despite the ungodly wind, I still toed the line with the goal of running something faster than 19:45. When the race started, I took off and found myself smack dab in middle of the lead pack with 7 or 8 high school cross country runners. At one point, I got sick of trying not to step on people and tried to break free, but the wind quickly convinced me to tuck myself back into the pack. I stuck with them for about a kilometer before they lost me on the windiest stretch of the course. We were running along a reservoir, totally exposed and going into the wind, which was blowing so damn hard that snot was coming out one nostril and the other was just being pushed shut, which means I couldn't breath very well. I knew then that a PR was probably out the question and I started trying to keep up with a local guy (the dad of one of the cross country runners) whom I have yet to beat at a race. When I hit the turnaround, I was already at over 11 minutes and knew for sure that I wasn't going to PR. I was expecting to see my wife as I headed back for the second half, but never did, which made me wonder if I had just missed her or what. For the entire second half, I kept that guy in my sights, but could never gain any ground....every time I put the hammer down, so did he and maintained the gap. I ended up finishing in 21:34, good enough for 7th overall and 1st in my age group. The wind definitely affected me, but my Garmin also showed that I ran 3.31 miles, not 3.1 like a 5K should be, so maybe the course was off too (although it could just as easily be my Garmin that was off, considering it took it forever to locate satellites when I turned it on before the race).

As soon as I finished, my sister in law told me that Shannon had twisted her ankle. At one point, we had to run on the grass around one of the locked gates and when she planted her left foot, it rolled and down she went, so ended up having to DNF, which explains why I never saw her. So, between the wind beating me up and Shannon's sprained ankle, we took quite a bit of abuse for $10 each. But, hey, at least we got a free pair of running socks out of the deal.

Okay, now on to football. It was a good week overall for my teams. On Thursday night, we went to Belle Fourche High's final regular season game against their archrival, St. Thomas More. Belle hadn't beaten More since 2001 and hadn't won an outright conference championship since 1998. Since both teams were undefeated in conference play (although More had lost 2 non-conference games), the Black Hills Conference title was on the line. Belle dominated from the start and racked up 523 yards of offense and 23 first downs compared to 26 yards and 2 first downs for More, winning the game 37-3 to finish the regular season 8-0. So, now they head to the playoffs, which began on Tuesday for some stupid reason (I could rant for a lllllooonnnnggg time on South Dakota's screwed up football classification and playoff system). Their first round game is against Custer, a team they beat 41-20 two weeks ago despite 9 (yes, 9) turnovers. Assuming Belle wins that game, which they should, they will most likely play More again in the quarterfinals. Assuming they dominate More again, which they should, it will be on to the semis, where they might play yet another team they've already beaten this year. In any case, they have a decent shot at playing in the State Championship, but once they get there they will likely face West Central, who has won 10 of the last 14 state titles (beating Belle for two of those). But, there's a reason they play the games, so we'll see how it all shakes out.

Montana also won easily over Northern Colorado and Seattle, in a shocker, doubled their win total by beating up on the apparently even more hapless 49ers.

This week: miles, miles, miles....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A trip down memory lane

Here's a quick breakdown of last week:

1) I crammed almost 75 miles into Sun-Fri, without a long run.

2) I drove to Billings and then Missoula on Friday night to meet up with 4 of my college drinking buddies.

3) We drank.

4) We slept.

5) I didn't run the 5K I was thinking of running on Saturday morning (see #3 above).

6) We tailgated.

7) We went to the Grizzly football game. They won 43-7.

8) We went to Hooters (the first one in Montana!!).

9) I slept (I'm getting too old for this stuff).

10) We went our separate ways.

The net result? I missed two days in a row of running after having run for 68 days straight dating back to Aug. 10th. In reality, probably not a bad thing. And, it was well worth it as I hadn't seen 3 of the 4 buddies I met up with for 8 years. We now have plans to hold this get together every two years (if you're out there MS and D, you'd damn well better make it next time!).

This week, back on the saddle. Since I didn't run the 5K in Missoula last weekend, I'll be gunning for a PR at the Halloween 5K in Rapid City on Sunday. I haven't exactly been training for a 5K, but then again, when have I ever?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Snow

Let the games begin.....

Last Friday, Mother Nature annointed us with the first snow of the season. Super. Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows full well my feelings toward Mother Nature. In short, we generally don't get along. And several inches of wet, slushy snow over the weekend didn't help any to improve my opinion of her. In any case, it's back up to 60 degrees now and the snow that was on the ground all weekend is but a memory....for now.

So, despite the snow and some more prescribed burning, I managed to hammer out a really good week:

Sunday - 8.66 miles in the morning, 5.28 in the afternoon

Monday - 14 miles. Hoped for 15+, but my legs just weren't into it.

Tuesday - 10.22 miles followed by a bunch of hiking (i.e. prescribed burning).

Wednesday - 8.38 miles. Our burn was aborted by the descending cold front.

Thursday - 8.35 in the morning, 5.53 in the afternoon.

Friday - 11.68 miles. It had snowed overnight, so I slept in and waited to run until just before lunch. By then, most of the snow had melted, although some more flakes started falling on me toward the end of the run.

Saturday - 18.27 cold, wet miles. Oh, the joys of running for over 2.5 hours in alternating misty rain and snow. I foolishly took off for a few miles on a dirt/mud road, so my feet were soaked for most of the run too. Honestly, I had kind of planned on going 20 miles, but I knew that 18 would get me 90 for the week, so I happily cut it short there. One of the best things in the world after a cold, wet long run is a nice, hot shower. Unless your hot water heater takes a crap on ya. Then you get to follow up a cold, wet long run with a cold shower. Awesome.

Total - 90.37 miles. First time over 90 since April, I believe.

This coming week will be somewhat of a cutback week. I'm heading to Missoula on Friday to meet up with some old college buddies and to relive our glory days (or something like that). So, no long run this weekend, but I might run a 5K race in Missoula on Saturday morning, depending on how the events of Friday night are affecting me (we aren't going there to hang out in the library reading all the books we never read in college, if you know what I mean). Who knows, maybe I'll run a PR. Then, I'll have to go bar hopping every night before a 5K.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kick the tires and light the fires!

Last week was a busy one. With fall comes prescribed burn season at work (if you work for the U.S. Forest Service, that is). I'm no longer a full time firefighter, but still have the requisite quals, so when overtime calls, I come running. For those not in the know, we conduct prescribed burns to reduce the amount of fuels on the forest floor, thereby making it less likely that a future wildfire will burn that same area in the near future. First, we lay out a burn unit, typically around 100 acres in size and surround it with control lines (or, more often than not, use existing roads as the control lines). Then, an ignition team walks back and forth across the mountainside with drip torches (kind of like gas cans with a spout and wick that drips a flaming gas/diesel mixture onto the ground) to light the unit. Meanwhile, a holding team makes sure that the fire stays where it's supposed to (99.9% of prescribed burns do just that). Last week, I was on the ignition team both times we burned, which means a lot of miles walking across rugged terrain, carrying a drip torch and all the required gear. This doesn't happen quickly. In order to keep fire intensities low, we have to light off small chunks at a time. Also, at this time of year fire doesn't really want to burn all that badly unless it's the heat of the day, so we can't start burning until late morning and then must try to safely get everything ignited before the sun starts to dip in the evening, because once it's gone, so is our ignition window. Long hours and a significant amount of manpower are required to pull off a burn on any given day.

So, given all that information, here's how my week shaped up:

Sunday - 8.8 miles in the morning, another 5.33 in the afternoon

Monday - 13.02 miles

Tuesday - 8.34 miles followed by a day of burning

Wednesday - 10.47 miles and another day of burning

Thursday - 10.42 miles

Friday - 18.14 miles

Saturday - 10.2 miles

Total - 84.7 miles

The observant out there will notice that I ran my long run a day early. That's because my wife ran the Crazy Horse Half-marathon on Saturday morning. Since Caiden had a soccer game that morning, she went to Hill City with a friend while I stayed back with the kids. It turned out to be a succesful day, as Shannon ran a 2:11:34 (her second fastest half) and Caiden scored both of his team's goals in a 6-2 loss. After Shannon got back, we headed straight for the Black Hills St. vs. Dakota St. football game, which BHSU won 37-14, and then off to Wal-Mart for the weekly grocery shopping expedition and then, finally, back home where I was able to get the 10.2 miler in before dinner.

This week I'll hit 90 miles easy, based purely off my schedule. But, more burning looks to be on tap, so I might have to knock that number back a little to accomodate. I need all the overtime I can get to fund that trip back east I'll be making in April.