Thursday, May 28, 2009

Off the Asphalt: Brooks long-term test...

Part 1: Proving Grounds

Since I started running seriously again about six months ago, I've cherished every opportunity to venture off the road. Passing drivers must wonder what I'm doing bounding through tall grass, like a caribou in short shorts, when there's perfectly good concrete just a couple yards away. But I love it. Makes me feel like a kid.

There's one spot in particular that's perfect for stretching out the legs and dodging a few ruts. Four miles of river-grade sand, dirt, and compacted mud just a couple miles from my office. This spot would be the proving grounds for my shake-down run with a brand new pair of Brooks Cascadia 4 trail shoes.

I was ecstatic when Brooks Running reached out and offered me a pair of their sneaks for testing. Whooo, meeeee? I'd never run in Brooks before, but a little research convinced me to give 'em a try. The company is local, small enough to care about their stuff, and very engaged with social media. Plus... free sneaks.

My Cascadia 4's arrived quickly and smelled like new shoes when I opened the box. I was hoping for that. The next morning, in the car, I secretly ogled my own feet and did that finger-gun, click-click noise at them. "Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. Lookin' good, guys." They did not slip off the bug's foot pedals on my long commute. In fact, they were measurably more suited to this task than my bald-soled, 4-year old Converse Chucks. So far, so good.

I couldn't wait for my lunch break. The Proving Grounds were calling. While I was changing, I snapped a few pics so you can see these bad boys from all angles. Good thing my office mate is out of town, as I did this pro-level photography in my socks and underwear. Anyway...

The run was fantastic. Having only done this stretch in road shoes, I was impressed with a few things. 1) The stability and "roll-control" as my feet struck ruts and imperfections 2) The traction on loose gravel 3) The "flotation" of the shoes in soft sand 4) Their ability to shed sticky mud. In all honesty, though, I had to force myself to think about the shoes. Most of the time they weren't there, and I was just enjoying flying down the road.

My only gripe at this early stage is with the laces. They're oval, and tend to twist when unlacing, then further twist when lacing back up. This may improve as they break in, or I might just replace them with flat laces. Whatever. Laces schmaces. These shoes are dead sexy. I can't wait to get 'em out on the trail, tear up some hills, and really push hard around corners... things I was never really confident enough to do in my road shoes.

Thanks again, Brooks! Now, about my upcoming marathon ;)
More reports to come...

Definitely full...

After a failed experiment in solo beer-lunching at the Harmon (see post below), the universe has been restored to normal.

Two guys, two beers, some peanuts and cold chili... and plenty of bullshit.

All is right again.
Love ya, dad!

Friday, May 22, 2009


I started having lunch with my dad on Thursdays shortly after we found out he had cancer. Put it in the "why haven't we been doing this for years?" category.

Eventually we settled into Harmon Brewery in Tacoma as our regular spot. The clubhouse, as we now call it. $1 beers pretty much sealed that deal.

Yesterday the old man couldn't make it. He had an appointment with the oncologist to discuss options, in light of the fact that his PSA (the benchmark number of prostate cancer) just doubled. Again.

So I stopped in by myself. And couldn't believe how empty the place felt.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stomping the Trail - Cougar Mountain #1...

That's me, the little highlighted gray bar to the left. 39th out of 262. Hey, I know it's not about where you finish. It's about how you ran the race, and were you a good sport, and did you remember to finish your peas and say "thank you."

But I'll take 39th. And I'll take an 8:15 pace on a course that was equal parts swampy moor-crossing, gut-busting singletrack hill climb, and quad-burning twisty descent. And I'll definitely take 39th on road shoes, navigating tree roots, log jumps, and foot-deep mud (all with just a wee homebrew hangover from the night before).

I'll take 39th and build on it. Because I can feel my legs getting stronger beneath me. Every time I step outside and hit the asphalt or the trail, I'm stronger. Faster.

The Cougar Mountain Trail Series, put on by Seattle Running Company, is first class. Well-marked and well-supported, with a large percentage of entry fees going right back into the trails... it's a model for others to follow. The races attract some of the best trail runners in the region, and I'm just happy I could tug on their coat tails.

For the first few hundred yards, anyway :)

Mother's Day Ride, a new tradition...

It's not open for debate... Mother's Day is best spent on the seat of a bicycle. Ask my wife, the matriarch, amazing mom and friend to our 3 chitlin's, and I'm sure she'll agree. After all, there are precious few days you can force an unruly teenager to push pedals. This is one.

We took full advantage with a Farmer's Market tour that carried us from Ballard to Fremont, and beyond. Well, ok... just from Ballard to Fremont. But we did hit two markets, Coldstone Creamery, and more importantly stretched out our legs as a family.
So rare it seems.And so beautiful.
Makes a guy want to have this every day. But if that was the case, we wouldn't appreciate it as much. So we'll take these sunny Sundays when everything seems perfect... we'll take them one at a time, as they come, and lock them up in memory as a snapshot.

One moment.

This is why we ride...

For a second to pause, breathe, and realize how lucky we are.
For chance "wildlife" encounters.And yes, people... for a well-deserved cold one.
Sunday, May 3. Phil's Metric Century. It was supposed to rain cats and dogs, but we were greeted instead with sunshine and 65-degrees. A beautiful day to pedal around the South Sound. 67 miles, strong all morning. Could've gone another 30, but glad we didn't have to. This is the way they all should be.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Going dark...

Several years ago, I'd had it with our television. It had become a black hole in the corner of our living room. A time-sucking vacuum into which entire evenings disappeared.

We were having company stay with us over the holidays that year, and after we got through those couple weeks, I was going to cancel the cable. Take it old-school. Rabbit-ear antenna, kid.

Then the unimaginable happened. My father-in-law bought us a new tv for Christmas. Big, shiny, beautiful 50-inch plasma. A beacon of high definition hope. We did not cancel cable. No... in fact, we upgraded to 300 channels of satellite. And while it's been a good run, I think it's time to go old-school.

We'll miss the high-def sports, cycling, and our Food Network. But maybe going dark will give us more time to actually bike, play, and cook together. Besides, when they start producing spin-offs to shows like "Rock of Love", it's time to re-evaluate one's media consumption.

You gotta grab your minutes where you can, and here's where we're starting. Wish us luck! *click*