Thursday, July 29, 2010

The last 0.2

Blogging Marathon: 26.2 Finis!

There once was a runner named A.C.,
Whose wife left for Italy,
Twenty six posts to the blog,
Three weeks in a fog,
Yes, he missed her terribly


Thanks everybody for following along.
Thanks to Neil Z for joining me.
I am going to rest now...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gear review: Tigram Trail Treadmill

Blogging Marathon: Day 26
 
Do you love running on trails, but hate being outside?
Well Tigram has the answer!

Introducing the new Tigram Trail Treadmill®
It's like a having a state park in your own home!
Just put on your trail shoes (or not!), dial in your the type of trail you want and lose yourself in mother nature.




The Tigram Trail Treadmill® has a number of adjustments to customize your trail running experience:
  • Speed: 0 to12 mph
  • Incline: 0% to 15% grade
  • Rocks: "Pebbles" to "Shin basher"
  • Roots: "None" to "Ankle twister"
  • Mud: "Dry" to "Shoe sucker"

Gentle trail setting. For beginners or maybe a speed workout
Dial up the roots and rocks for real challenge!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pimp My Bicycle!

Blogging Marathon: Day 25

My sweet cross-training ride.
For when I hurt myself running too much

Convenient garage door opener that is almost the same brand as my garage door.
Only have to push it 10-12 times before it works



Mysterious pulley system

I 've had flats, but never used this tire pump.
Might come in handy if I am ever smart enough to actually carry a spare tube.
And that Obama sticker might explain why people keep trying to run me off the road 

Cranks that look like solid gold bricks.
But are far more expensive

Speed+Cadence sensor for loads of useless data!

CAT3. No, that's not my cycling ranking. That's phone wire. Don't ask.





Stupid PowerCranks Tricks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gear review: Tigram Fuel Belt

Blogging Marathon: Day 24


Fresh out of the Tigram engineering labs, the latest in high-tech running gear:
Introducing the Tigram Fuel Belt

The Tigram Fuel Belt just reeks of quality construction

Comes with a mismatched set of bottles to store a variety of fluids
Innovative camera sleeve is guaranteed to hold your camera secure up to 80% of the time.


Look at that computer guided laser precision stitching!

Custom sized. Reinforced with industrial grade cool mint dental floss 

For a snug fit, comes with Bonus Velcro extension. Fastened with nearly rust free bobby pins.


When you land face first on the trail, your bottles will be secure, locked down with genuine hair bands

Warnings:
  • Tigram does not imply any waranty or guarantee the Fuel Belt will actually hold bottles
  • Keep out of reach of children
  • When using camera sleeve, check every 2-3 minutes to make sure camera is still there and hasn't fallen out
  • Do not machine wash Tigram Fuel Belt
  • In fact, don't even hand wash it. It will probably fall apart
  • Tigram is not responsible for any damage to reputation or self image incurred from wearing fuel belt

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fall Race Schedule

Blogging Marathon: Day 23
To endure the oppressive heat, I need to look forward to when it will hopefully be cooler, and running will be more enjoyable.

Here are the races that Shannon and I have planned for the fall. I'm sure there will be others races in between, but these are the important ones.

8/29/2010 - Continental Divide Trail Race 10K
This will be a humbling experience. Our first race in the mountains. This is the USATF 10k Trail Championship, where really fast people show up. I might finish dead last.

9/17/2010 - Blue Ridge Relay
We return to the mountains to run on the Godiva "Mixed" team. 208 miles, 12 people, 27 hours in van. Our first relay.

9/25/2010 - Salem Lake 30K
A week after the relay, this seems like a bad idea. But this is one of our favorite races, because it's like a marathon without the hard part. This will be Shannon's 7th time running it and my 6th.

10/9/2010 - Triple Lakes Trail Race
Actually, we probably will not run this, because we have a marathon a week later. But I so badly want to. I love trail races, and this is a great one. I am thinking of quitting all these boring painful road races, and doing nothing but trails.

10/17/2010 - Detroit Marathon
We signed up for this because Shannon is obsessed with trying to PR at flat, fast marathons. Will be my 4th time running it. My sister will be joining us for the full and my brother for the half.
I am setting a pie in sky goal of breaking 3 hours. Unfortunately I seem to be getting slower and not faster, so it most likely will be a spectacular bonk.

11/6/2010 - Shut-in Ridge Run
Thinking about this one. Plus side - it's a trail race.
Minus: 18 miles up the side of a mountain sounds painful. It's a long drive. They have a terrible flash based website.


11/20/2010 - Raven Rock Rumble
Love this race!

12/4/2010 - Run at the Rock
Wearing some football cleats this time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Run with Heart 5K

Blogging Marathon: Day22


Ug.

It was 80° and 80% humidity at 5:30 AM when I woke up this morning.

I ran the dogs a mile trying to loosen up a little, and I was already so hot that I jumped in the shower after. I turned the water all the way to cold to cool off, but the water coming out was still warm. Even the water supply is getting hot.

Then I headed over to the Run with Heart 5K.

I had looked at the course and it was a simple out and back. Flat, straight and fast.
So I was hoping to run a PR, which would be under a 18:28. I came within 6 seconds last week, so it seemed possible.

Experience
I have run a lot of races, and have learned a few things:

  • To PR, rest 2 days before a race
  • If you're going to warm up, do it a half hour before
  • Make it a priority to empty the bladder before the start
  • When it's really hot, don't pour a whole cup of water on your head. It just ends up in your shoes
  • Don't bother trying to PR when it's really hot out
Actually, I have learned these things multiple times, and keep forgetting them. Maybe I need to get tattoos like the guy in Memento.

Warm up
I felt really sluggish and my asthma was bugging me so I tried to warm up some more.
After a few minutes, I looked at my watch and it was 7:50 AM. The race started 8:00 AM, and I was almost a mile away and I had to pee really bad. Wow, was that dumb. I ran back to the start and I was already worn out and over heated.

Mile 1
The horn blew and people took off like it was a sprint. My legs felt pretty dead, and a bunch of runners passed me. Why did I run 13 miles on Thursday? Again, not too bright.

To run a PR, I had to average a 5:55 mile. There was a pack of about 13 people in front of me, led by a preteen kid. They were pulling away from me, so I kept checking my Garmin for reassurance. It guided me to an exact 5:55 for the first mile.

Mile 2
At the water station I dumped a full cup of water on my head which went straight into my shoes. I passed a few people who I guess had started out too fast.

After the first turn around, I noticed a slight incline. My pace dropped to a 6:10, and I was struggling.

Mile 3
At the next water stop, I poured another cup of water on my head, which again went directly into my shoes.
It's odd that when I'm trying to run fast, I don't notice the heat. But it obviously got to me. I wasn't really tired, but I kept getting slower.
And my shoes kept getting heavier.

Finish
The heat must have affected a lot of other runners, because many of them slowed down and I ended up in a 4th place with a 19:10.
That's 34 seconds slower than last week, even though it was a flatter course, and I felt pretty good yesterday. I guess the IDIH was right once again.

I hung out and talked with Doug Hensel about the Blue Ridge Relay coming up.
Then I came home and put a few more miles on those damn power cranks, trying to get my moneys worth out of them.

I might not run another 5K for a while, but I need to remember what I learned. Does anyone know of a good tattoo parlor?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fitness Forecast

Blogging Marathon: Day21

The "Fitness Forecast" courtesy of weather.com

I was thinking it would be too hot to run this weekend, but I guess I was wrong! Thanks to the weather.com "Fitness Forecast", I can see the conditions will be "Moderate" for running. I guess it would have to be 130°F before it would be too hot.


Tonight the temp will drop to a chilly 78°F, with 80% humidity. Great conditions for the Run with Heart 5K tomorrow morning.

Yes, I am running another 5K, for the 4th consecutive weekend. The course is supposed to be flat and fast, and I am curious if I can beat my time from last weekend at the Beat the Heat 5K. That 5K was a little hilly, but it was cooler out. So what slows us down more? Heat or hills?

I feel pretty good today, which according to the IDI Hypothesis, means I will have a terrible race. We will find out tomorrow.

In the mean time I will post some old pictures, and think cool thoughts.





Thursday, July 22, 2010

PowerCranks part 2 - Frustration and Madness

Blogging Marathon: Day20

In part#1, I covered why and how I ended up with a set of PowerCranks on my bike.
All that was left to do was ride my way into becoming a lean, mean, running machine!


First Impressions
It is hard to explain how odd PowerCranks are at first. It's like the bike is broken, which it kind of was.

Getting started was comically difficult.
  1. In order to pedal the bike, your feet have to be clipped in
  2. But in order to clip in, the bike must be moving to mantain balance
  3. In order to move, you have to be pedaling. See step 1.
Finally I figured out to make sure the bike is in the lowest gear, then clip in and get started with one leg.


I had to learn how to pedal all over again. My legs would give big push down and relax, expecting to be carried up again. But they would just hang there. So I would have to make an effort to lift.
Trying to get both legs pedaling in a coordinated way was very difficult, so at first I would just pedal with one leg, and then the other.

First Ride
After some practicing, I took my first ride, about 7 miles to work. I had to keep it in a high gear and pedal slowly, but I made it. "Not so hard," I thought.
Until the way back, when my legs were like rubber. It did  a lot of coasting.

Long ride
Next, I took a 24 mile ride through Umstead and was starting to get the hang of it. Though I could barely walk afterwards. But my ultimate training machine was whipping me into shape!

Clunk
The training came to an abrupt halt on just my third ride.
I was coming home from work, and suddenly the right crank became loose. Really loose. Like, it fell off.
I looked down and the crank arm was dangling from my shoe.

Turns out that the loose "dust cap" had fallen out, and it did more than just keep dust out. It held the whole damn crank on. I went looking for the cap but it was gone. So I pushed my bike home again.

Waiting 
Ended up ordering 2 new dust caps from PowerCranks, $50, and waited 2 weeks.

Ride#4
Finally I got the cap, tightened that sucker on there, and went for a long ride in Umstead. Heading up a steep hill, I felt a crank give way.
"Oh, no." The internal clutch had broke, and now spun freely in both directions. I had to ride home with only one leg, pushing the bike up hills.

Broken
I wasn't sure why the clutch broke. Maybe the guy I bought them from had screwed them up. Maybe I did. They were only rated for 100 pounds of force, so putting all my weight on it going up the hill could have broke it.

Frustration
So 6 weeks and $700, had gotten me 4 bike rides. I should have just given up there, but instead I just went off the deep end. I saw that there was a new model that was rated for 150 pounds. So ordered them; a brand new set of PowerCranks.

After my brand new set was delivered, I sat in the garage and almost wept. I had ordered the wrong model.

But the PowerCranks customer service was very good. They shipped my the correct fitting within a few days.

Pedals
But now I had yet another problem. I could not get the pedals off the old cranks. I should have just went and bought new pedals had I known how hard they would be to get off and on. I think I stripped 2 wrenches before I found out there is a special "pedal wrench". I had to stick the crank in vice, and put a 3 foot steel pipe on the end of the wrench to finally get the pedals off.

Anyway, I got the new PowerCranks and on the bike on the was back training. But the frustration went on.

Goes on and on
From my training log:
  • damn pedal coming off, end cap not in all the way
  • right pedal is tight now, but now it is squeeking. plus it is in the wrong notch. arrggg!
  • freaking another flat tire!
  • left crank/pedal is creaking! chain is rubbing. sigh
  • right pedal lose. chain rubbing, something creaking. 
It took a month to get everything tightened and adjusted.
But by November 2008 I had it all figured out and bike was riding smoothly with the new PowerCranks.
I have been using the cranks ever since then, and still do.

Happy Ending


The past 2 years I have averaged about 100 miles a month on the PowerCranks, mostly in the hills of Umstead. I occasionally commute to work when the weather is nice.I don't really think of them as training tool anymore, just a part of the bike.

I really like them, and don't think I would ever go back to "fixed" cranks. It is nice not having the my legs "locked" together, and being free to move them independently.

A few neat things you can do with PowerCranks:

Calf Stretch - I can stand up straight on the bike, with both pedals hanging down. Coasting like it is a scooter. Nice way to stretch the calves and hamstrings.


Dolphin Kick - This is pedaling with both legs together, almost like a pogo stick. It is a good ab workout, and looks very silly.


Results 

Since I have got them:
  • My stride did change to being shorter and faster
  • My "runner's knee" has pretty much gone away
  • I have been able run more miles than previously
  • I have gotten faster from 5Ks to Marathons.
But was it the PowerCranks?
Or was it just riding the bike more?
Or maybe because I made a conscious effort to change my stride?
It's really impossible to say for sure.

But I am going to pretend that my improvement did come from the cranks.
Thinking it was all a waste is just too much to bear...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Power Cranks part 1 - "You're Nuts"

Blogging Marathon: Day 19

Notice both pedals hanging down
September, 2008. I got this phone call:
"Hey Anthony, this is Jason from the bike shop. I'm done installing your PowerCranks on your bike. I took it for a spin around the block, and everything seems to work OK. But let me say this: you're nuts."

He was referring to the fact that I had just paid $200 to make my bike harder to ride. But that was the least of my nuttiness.

This long and tedious story is a note to myself, for a future time when I wonder where all my time and money went to...

Began with a Nail
It all started 3 weeks before.
I was on may way home from work when I heard the familiar "Click!Click!Ptffffffffffffff" sound coming from the front tire of my mountain bike. It was yet another nail. The side of NC54 in Raleigh is like a hardware store dumped on the ground.

Of course, I didn't have a spare tube, so I pushed my bike home 5 miles in my cleated bike shoes.

The Internet is full of Bad Ideas
Determined to never have another flat tire again, I searched the internet for a solution. Conventional wisdom was to accept flats were inevitable, carry a spare tube, and get good at changing them.
This is 2008! Inflatable bike tires have been around for 120 years, where are the flat proof tires?
Finally I found and ordered a set of solid rubber tires. They got horrible reviews, but how bad could they be?

Also, during my Google searches of bicycle parts, I stumbled across something called "PowerCranks"...

I am a sucker
The PowerCranks website makes all kinds of claims:
  • improves running form!
  • improves running efficiency!
  • trains muscle weaknesses and ensures balance!
  • helps avoid injury!
  • average runner can improve his/her marathon pace 30-60 seconds per mile in 3-4 month!
I thought, "Wow, I have to get some PowerCranks! I have no idea what every the are, but I must have them."
But my jaw dropped when I saw the price. $899. That was ridiculous.
For those bicycle illiterate people like me, a "crank" is just the little metal rod that connects your pedal to your bike.

My entire bike only cost $700. And they want $899 for a couple hunks of metal?
Well, the target market for PowerCranks is professional cyclists and triathletes. Not aging, middle of the pack runners like me. Still, I was fascinated by the claims. At the time, I still suffered horribly from "runner's knee". Maybe this would be the cure!

Concept
Normally on a bike when you push down on one pedal, it pushes the other one up. Most people pedal their bike by alternately pushing down, left, right, left.
What PowerCranks do is make your pedals independent of each other. So if you push one down, the other just hangs there limply.

So now you are forced to lift each leg up as part of the pedal stroke. The idea is that by pushing and pulling, you are doubling the amount of muscles you use.

There are many claimed benefits to runners, but the main one being increased turnover for a shorter, faster stride. I was sold on the concept, but the price for a new set was crazy.


Ebay
So I searched for used set and found several pair on Ebay, and placed many bids.
It took a while, but finally I had one of the magic crank sets in my hands for the bargain price of $450.
When I took them out of the box, however, one of the "dust caps" fell off. It was a little loose.
"Oh well", I thought "It's just a dust cap. not that important" (foreshadowing)

Tools
Excited to try my miracle running cure-all, I went to install the PowerCranks on my mountain bike.
First, of course I had to run to the bike shop and buy the correct metric size allen wrench. Still, even though I removed the bolt, I couldn't seem to get the old cranks out.
I learned then that with bicycles, there is a special tool for everything. To remove cranks, you needed, of course, a "crank puller". So I went back to the bike shop to buy one of those, and got the cranks out.

But I was dejected to find my new cranks would not fit. After more research, I discovered that the PowerCranks I had bought were for a road bike, not a mountain bike. I might as well been trying to install an airplane engine in a Dodge Dart.

Professionals
So I went back to the bike shop again with the bike and the cranks.
"Can you install these on this?", I asked.
Jason, the bike mechanic, just laughed.
"Even if we could find an ISIS bottom bracket wide enough, the chain rings will probably still hit the frame, and this bolt pattern...", he went on for about 20 minutes explaining how difficult it would be and why it wouldn't work.
But at the end he said, "But I'd love to try it!". He seemed to be intrigued by the challenge of creating this Frankenstein bicycle.
"Maybe it would be easier for me just to buy another bike that would fit the cranks", I said.
"No! No!", he insisted with a gleam in his eye, "Let me try this."

For two weeks Jason ordered parts and tinkered with it. I called every few days, anxious to reap the benefits of my new expensive training machine.   "Well, I ran into another problem and need to order another part...", he would say.

Nuts
Finally he called to say the bike was ready, and that I was, in fact, nuts.
"First of all, I had to go home and get my cleated shoes, because you can no longer ride the bike without cleats", he said, "I ride a lot. But I could barely make it around the block on that thing. Good luck with it."

Finally I had my bike!

Oh, and those solid rubber tires? They came, and they were as bad as everyone had said. In fact, I couldn't even get them on my rims. But I didn't care, I had forgotten my obsession with flat tires. Now I had a new one...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Headlines from home

Blogging Marathon: Day 18
Too tired to write anything coherent.
Shannon just likes the "Headlines from Home" anyway, lets have some more of that.


Number of times weight set has been used
approaching number of times it has been moved

Bug bite starting to become a concern

Dog bed didn't stand a chance




Yet another pair of shoes added to shelf

Woman leaves house for 3 weeks. Toilet paper usage drops 95%

Man has 3 days to eat 2 pounds of spinach

Runner's World full of tips!!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Umstead '07 or die

Blogging Marathon: Day 17

I was just reading the very first blog post by Vibram Chris.
At the end he wonders if anyone will ever read it, but he says he posts because "the blog serves as motivation to record my efforts".

This caused a dusty old neuron of mine to fire off, reminding me of my first blog post ever. Unfortunately the poor neuron quickly drowned in the flood of my third Yuengling, but it did it's job...

It was 2006, and I had given up running due to some horrible knee pain.
I had assumed (incorrectly) that the increasing pain indicated I was doing permanent damage to my knees, and to continue would leave me crippled.

But I missed running so much. So in April 06, I created a blog called "Umstead '07 or die", and posted this:

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I will run the 2007 Umstead marathon...

... even if my knee caps finally crumble to dust
... even if my hamstrings snap like used dental floss
... i will run it.

Let the training begin.
I guess the idea was that if it was public, that would provide extra motivation to keep the vow. But that was the one and only post to that blog, so I guess it didn't work too well for me.

I wish I had kept posting to it, starting with my long and dumb journey through the sports medicine establishment, which I already reminisced about here. And then on to my first attempts at running again, and then finally to the 2007 Umstead Marathon.

I learned a lot from that experience:
  1. "sports medicine" is about as scientific as vodoo
  2. Some obstacles may not be as big as they seem
  3. Have patience
But it would have been great to have a record of it, a reminder to myself.

So to any runners out there who are just starting out, or just coming back into it, go ahead and start that blog you are thinking about. Because at the very least you will have your future self as a reader.

Here are some good blogs of runners sharing their learning experiences:
Vibram Chris.
Because all the cool kids are doing it...
Barefoot Fresca

And more Rome

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beat the Heat 5K

Blogging Marathon: Day 16

A line of storms moved through yesterday, cooling things way down to a bizarre and pleasant 72 degrees.
The rain also caused several accidents and a dead stop traffic jam on I-40, making me late getting to Bart's place.
Bart drove. We picked up Wayne and headed to Winston-Salem. I made some navigational errors, so we got there with only 15 min to spare.

No time to do any extended warm up like I usually do, so I just got my bib and went looking for a place to pee. I did managed to acquire a running injury before the race

The was a line for the porta-johns, so I went running behind some buildings looking for a bush to pee in. In my haste, I slipped on some steps landing hard on my shin, drawing a little blood. Ow.

Finally got to meet Barefoot Josh and Iris. I pointed to my public urination related injury, and Josh said "There's bathrooms right here in the building"

Josh and I started the race together, and we ran the first mile just under 6 minutes. I couldn't let some barefoot guy beat me, so I tripped him and kept going.


The "Inverse Debilitation Indication Hypothesis" held true and I had a great race, despite being a member of the walking dead all week.  Both Josh and I finished just 6 seconds shy our P.Rs.

Bart killed it with a 18:14, taking home a pretty cool mug.

There was, as promised, free beer and pizza. All you could drink and eat. I made sure I got my $15 worth.
Hung out and talked for a while. Josh is a pretty cool guy when he isn't throwing up all over the place.

Unfortunately I forgot to get the camera out, so I didn't get any pictures. Sorry Shannon!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inverse Debilitation Indication Hypothesis

Blogging Marathon: Day 15


I have the "Beat the Heat 5K" tonight at 7pm.
I am going to use this race to test a new hypothesis that I have, which I am calling the "Inverse Debilitation Indication Hypothesis".

This is the latest in my running research since the collapse of my "Red Shoe Theory".
The Red Shoe Theory showed initial promise until people heard about it and all ran out and got red shoes.

This new hypothesis makes this prediction:
The performance in any race will be inversely proportional to how the runner feels the week before.


Observations
Shannon was the first to make this observation, as I am always complaining about how awful I feel in the days leading up to a race. We will be doing some very short run and I will be really struggling to even do a 10 min mile.
She says, "That means your going to do great in the race!"

Looking at my running log definitely reveals this pattern.Two days before the Uwharrie 37.5 miler, I wrote:
Ran the dogs 1.6 miles in 18 minutes. OW! Lower back, butt, hamstrings very stiff and sore.Hurts really bad to run. Knees hurting really bad too. Awful
Yet, I ended up far exceeding my expectations in that race, and felt great at the end.

Explanations
There are some possible explanations to the hypothesis, but let's not get into them until we have more data.

This Week
The past week has been awful. I struggled in a 5K last Saturday, and then tried to make up for it with a really hard 16 mile tempo run on Sunday. This left me beat up, really dehydrated, and my calves cramped up pretty bad. They are still knotted up and sore.Add to this a mystery upper back pain that has kept me from getting a good nights sleep in a long time. So I have been exhausted, doing a limping shuffle like a zombie.

Predictions
I generally don't run well in the evenings, or the heat. Combined with how I have felt this week, a realistic expectation would be a time of:  19:50
However, the Inverse Debilitation Indication Hypothesis predicts a great race for me, something like a 19:05. This seems impossible.

We also have another experiment with Barefoot Josh reporting he is under the weather. Given he just ran a marathon, that would be expected. But the Hypothesis predicts a performance exceeding expectations.

Will the Inverse Debilitation Indication Hypothesis pan out?
Stay tuned for tomorrow!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Runners Guide to Biking

Blogging Marathon: Day 14

So let's say you are a typical runner training for a marathon, and you have another injury.
You just got back from the doctor with a diagnosis of severe "plantchillies fashionitis", and you have swelling from the tip of your left big toe all the way to your right ear lobe.

Everyone tells you that it's time to take a break from running and start cross training. And that means biking.

Now, I know you hate biking. You're a runner and that's all you want to do. But I'm here to help make your bike "cross training" as painless as possible.

Today's Tip: Tires
If you went and bought a  mountain bike, you have those big knobby tires.

First thing you want to do is replace those with some smooth tires. Like the one on the right. Here is why:

1. smoother ride
2. less rolling resistance, faster
3. good for riding indoors on a "trainer"
4. you're not going to be riding in the mud anyway

You will notice that these tires say 65 PSI MAX on the side, but that's a lot of crap. They want you to ride on the tire with low pressure so they wear out faster and you have to buy more.

Don't fall for that! No, you want to inflate that tire to 100 PSI or more. You get really nice easy ride out of it.

Flat Tires
Expect to get a lot of flat tires. I know I do, and  I have no idea why.


Up Next week:
"The Joys of pushing your bike home 3 miles"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Running Hazards: Spiderwebs

Blogging Marathon: Day 13

Photo by Shannon Johnstone

I was out early one morning, standing at the start of the trail by Lake Crabtree. I was looking for a small branch, which I will explain in a minute.

This guy runs by me down the trail, with no branch.
So I followed him, curious to see his technique. After about a quarter mile, he stops, starts making spitting sounds and pawing at his face. Then he turns around and runs back to the safety of the greenway.

Of course, I am talking about spider webs. The trails of North Carolina are quite lovely in the summer, that is until you run face first into a huge invisible web and the spider is now crawling down inside your shirt.

I guess I am early riser, because most of the time I run the trail  I am doing web clearing duty.
My technique is to find a small branch, maybe 3 feet long, spread out like  a fan. Then I run with it out in front of me to clear the path of webs.

I am sure there are runners who are more hardcore who have no problem using the face clearing method. But running an hour covered in webs, dead bugs, and live spiders is not the way I want to start my day.

It is important to note that while most webs are in the narrow single track trails, they can be anywhere.
One wet day last year I had exited the thick trees into an open area. I dropped my web covered stick and happily picked up the pace, bounding up and sprinting across a bridge.

At the middle of the bridge I noticed huge black blob floating in the air. By the time I registered that it was very large spider sitting in the center of her web, I was only inches away. I tried to stop by doing the cartoon style breaking of digging in my heels. Instead I fell flat on my ass and slid underneath the web all the way across the wet bridge.

I was walking funny with a bruised tailbone for like a week, which I classified as a spider injury. So the lesson is to never drop your stick until you are ready to turn around and go home.

Another Hazard
Oh, and another thing you must watch out for when running trails in the summer is lunatics running at you carrying huge sticks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Headlines from home

Blogging Marathon: Day 12

Shannon is in Italy, so I thought I would send her an update.
Here are the headlines from home.


Hedonistic frog moves into wooden hot tub
Man living alone not sure if it is time to vacuum yet

Dog bred for working keels over and dies from boredom


After waiting 2 years for trumpet vine to grow from seeds,
area man wants to see some "mother f'ing hummingbirds"


Another broken Umstead pint glass might be saddest thing ever

Recent Posts