Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Art of falling

My running as of late has been rather boring and somewhat uninspired. I have been pounding lots of pavement which has taught me speed once again but I miss the ups and downs of hills. However, today I went for a nice 17 mile trail run around Wickenburg on a trail that grows on me every time I run it.
On the return leg of this out n back jaunt, I thought it useful to test a skill that I has eluded me for the entirety of my running career. The art of falling. I recently watched a documentary film entitled The Art of Flight about a group of snowboarders who artfully carve, fly, and crash around some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Running trails allows runners to much of the same thing just without as much most cases. So while enjoying my mid-morning jaunt along a ridge out Wickenburg way, I figured I would attempt my own artistic flight.

Missing from the results above is the large bruise/abrasion on my upper thigh. I took the picture too hastily and dropping one's drawers in a public library to snap a picture of your upper thigh region might result in some unwanted consequences.

You see, greater distance would have been achieved had my takeoff not been hindered by a small pebble that jumped up and grabbed the big toe on my right foot precisely before launch. This interference obviously decreased my launching power as well as caused my landing to become a face plant rather than a graceful work of art (which it usually is).

This is not my first attempt at a mid-run aerial maneuver. A few weeks back I attempted this stunt at 5:30 in the morning on a sidewalk. I wanted to hone in my nighttime flying skills. Once again, interference by a curb prevented the necessary propulsion and stability to complete targeted skill. Shoulder drag and forearm slide resulted.

You may be asking yourself, why attempt such maneuvers?

Practice makes perfect right?

I recently read that some are able to perform graceful "tuck n roll" style maneuvers and continue on their journey as if nothing ever happened. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I am striving for. This, is the skill that has eluded me. This is the goal! I have the belly flop down quite well. I am even getting better at the forearm slide, shoulder drag, and knee braking (I have scars to prove it). But the elusive "tuck n roll" is the one that keeps getting away!

Jog on mates!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Weekly Jogging and the Grand Canyon

Monday, November 5th
Library Loop-5 miles (46 mins)
Finally found a loop that is almost completely uninterrupted that is interesting enough to keep it interesting. Still very flat but hopeuflly that will encourage some speed back into my legs. 

Tuesday, November 6th
Surprise Wandering-5 miles (46 mins)
The missus took an impromptu day off so that meant it was a lazy day in the Carlson household. This was intended to be a run to a park but ended up getting turned around and headed back home.  

Wednesday, November 7th
Bike Commute from Peoria HS-8.6 miles (35 mins)

Barefoot to the Library and Back-3 miles (24 mins)

Thursday, November 8th
AM: Library Loop-4 miles (30 mins) 
Felt crappy and unrunnable all this morning. 

PM: Centennial HS Bike Commute-9 miles (40 mins)

Friday, November 9th
Bike Commute to W. White Tank-8.5 miles (41 mins)
W. White Tank Wander-11 miles (101 minutes)
Bike Commute from W. White Tank-8.5 miles (35 mins)
Decided to give the White Tanks another try. After the bike ride my legs felt pretty heavy so I knew that this would be some slow plodding but I had a strong urge to explore. My goal was to see if the Ford Canyon Trail was accessible from this end but I didn't quite make it. I made it to the competitive track parking lot and did not realize how close the trail was from there. This will be a good run for a Saturday when I don't have to ride the bike to the "Trailhead". 

Saturday, November 10th
Rincon Rd-Box Canyon Jeep Trails-10 miles (105 minutes)
Another exploration run. Decided to just go out and run where ever I felt led and ended up finding some very scenic jeep trails out Wickenburg Way that I have not yet explored. Took my normal route up Rincon Rd. but rather than turning toward the Scenic Ridge Trail, I kept going and turned off toward Box Canyon. Once there I took a new jeep road that ended up leading me toward the Northern End of Sophie's Flat Trail. Due to my constant stopping this took quite a bit longer than anticipated so I bush wacked my way back to the car, trespassing along the way.  
Pano From top of one of the climbs
Sunday, November 11th
Bright Angel Trail to 3 Mi. Rest House-6 miles (2 hours)
Woke up at the late hour of 2am to start the drive to the Grand Canyon. The weather called for cold weather so we were bundled up. It was 6 degrees when we arrived but warmed to a balmy 22 by the time we started hiking. Ashamedly, this was our first trip to the Great hole even though we are going on two years in this state. I am going to post some pictures but they don't even come close to capturing the beauty of the Canyon. If you would like to see the full set of photos you can visit the Facebook Album.

First View...Ever.

My Blood Has Thinned. Atop Bright Angel Trail
Looking up from our Picnic Spot @ Mile 3
Me and My Lady

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: October 29th-November 4th

Monday, October 29th
Goat Camp Trail Hike-3.5 miles (76 mins)
Real leisurely hike in the White Tanks with the wife. Really wish I lived closer to these to run them daily.

Tuesday, October 30th
AM: Surprise Wander-6 miles (48 mins)

PM: Centennial HS-Home Bike Commute-9.5 miles (41 mins)

Wednesday, October 31st
AM: Surprise Wander-7 miles (55 mins)

PM: Ironwood HS-Home-13 miles (54 mins)

Thursday, November 1st
AM: Ride to White Tanks-8.5 miles (39 mins)
        W. White Tank Wander-4.4 miles (61 mins)
        Ride from W. White Tanks-8.5 miles (34 mins)

PM: Barefoot to the Library and Back-3.7 miles (52 mins)

If you leave our place and head out on the Sun Valley Parkway it skirts the Western edge of the White Tank Mountains and I wanted to see if there was any trails out there. No sooner had I started running but my curiosity got the best of me and started climbing/running up a canyon. This turned out to be more of a rigorous hike than a run but was beautiful all the same. Unfortunately the bike ride takes a little bit out of the legs so the run may not be worth the ride out there. I will try this again to see if I can reign in the curiosity and find more runnable trails.      

Friday, November 2nd
Peoria HS-Home Bike Commute-8.8 miles (36 mins)

Saturday, November 3rd
Scenic Ridge Out and Back-17.6 miles (2:40)
 Wanted to go a little farther but neither my legs or my stomach were appreciative of this distance. Walked a lot of the last couple of miles and downhills were painful.        

Sunday, November 4th
Out n Back on Bell-5 miles (50 mins)
Easy Run with the missus. 

Feeling rather uninspired in my running lately. Not the biggest fan of dealing with traffic whilst running. I am still on the hunt for an uninterrupted route in Surprise that is easily accessed from our house. I have also been feeling fatigued but I believe that is due to the increase of cycling that I have been doing. 

Just because I was curious about this, here are the totals for October.
Miles: 181
Time: 27 hours

Jog on Mates!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: October 22nd-October 28th

Monday, October 22nd
Shake Out Run-3.75 miles (36 mins)
Was feeling pretty good just 2 days removed from the race so I went for an easy jog with the wife. Legs felt pretty stiff but it was good to get them moving. 

Tuesday, October 23rd
AM: Surprise Wander-5 miles (41 mins)

PM: Cactus HS-Home Bike Commute-10.5 miles (53 mins)

Wednesday, October 24th
PM: Peoria HS-Home Bike Commute-13.1 miles (58 mins)
        Dreadmill Hills-3.2 miles (33 mins)

Thursday, October 25th
AM: Surprise Wander-7.5 miles (62 mins)

PM: Cactus HS-Home Bike Commute-10.5 miles (49 mins)

Friday, October 26th
PM: Cactus HS-Home Bike Commute-10.5 miles (43 mins)

Saturday, October 27th
Scenic Ridge-Mining Road-Hassayampa-12.6 miles (1:59)
 This was going to be my long run for the week but my legs and heart just weren't in it so I tried exploring a little bit. I really like this route as it has a good mix of technical and runnable terrain as well as plenty of options to add some hills.

Sunday, October 28th
Surprise Wander-5.5 miles (52 mins)
Run with the wife.

Weekly Totals
Running: 37.85
Biking: 45.16

This week was supposed to be a recover week but ended up having more miles than planned. I have started subbing at various schools within the Peoria School district and bike home after school each day. This is just easier on our little one-car family. This has been good to get a mix of both running and biking each day. However by the end of the week I was noticing that my legs seemed to lack some pep. This could also be due to the race from the previous week. I plan on continuing to add more biking and that will most likely replace running twice a day. Also, I know that pictures of toes are gross and mine are no exception but I am going to share anyway.

Behold the Ultra Toes!!! 

Jog on Mates! 



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cave Creek Thriller 50k

I did it. I Took the plunge and finally ran an ultra. I have been planning, training and dreaming about this for quite some time so it was about time that it happened. Here is how it went...

After registerring for the race at the last possible minute (literally, the night registration closed), I promptly began finalizing plans of how to actually get to the race. The problem was this: the race is on a Saturday (as most are) and my sponsor, crew chief, and support team works every Saturday. Did I mention that aforementioned person is actually all the same person? Yes my wife is the best support a running bum like myself could ever ask for. I am still sad that she was not there to experience my first ultra but even in her absence she made her presence known. Right before the rice she texted me to check my wallet and she had left me a sweet note and some cash to buy a shirt since I had opted for the no shirt option during registration to save some cash.

The awesome thing I've found about running and the running community is although when you race you hope to compete and finish ahead of the next guy, that next guy never seems to be sore over getting beat and in turn you never seem to be too upset when someone finishes ahead of you. This became very evident in the lead up to this race. Last January I raced my first Aravapai Running race (Coldwater Rumble 31k) and it was during this race that I met Alex. Thanks to the interwebs Alex and I have kept in touch and he was willing to give me a ride to the race. He did place a small asterisk on this ride. He said that he could not guarantee a ride home if I finished in front of him. He was obviously joking and this was obviously not giong to happen as Alex has been posting some pretty decent results as of late.

So after meeting up with Alex and his crew and bidding my sweet wife farewell for the day we were on our way to Cave Creek Regional Park in north Phoenix. I had hiked some of this trails that the race would be on but it was over a year ago and had no recollection of what lay in store. Alex was encouraging the entire way and fielded my many questions. My plan going in to the race was to run slow as possible and just finish. Being as this was my first run at this distance and my long runs up until this point had barely exceeded 16 miles I was a bit worried how I would fare late in the race.

We got to the race plenty early and milled around as people started to trickle into the race. I had 3 goals for this race. #1 was to finish. #2 was to go under 6 hours, and my last goal was a lofty one but I wanted on that was out there to spur on and that was to not got chicked. I achieved 2 out of the 3 and you'll find out which was missed as you read on.

Start/Finish Line aptly decorated for Halloween

Soon it was 7am and at about 3 minutes to the gun we casually lined up behind the start line. I had originally planned to run shirtless as I knew the day would warm up quickly but I was a bit chilly and left my shirt on. I planned on ditching it after the first lap. The race started with a short section on the shoulder of the road and then down some single track for about 3.8 miles and then you turn around and come back. This out and back section turned out to my least favorite section because it was hard to find a rhythm with all the rocks and washes that it took you through. At the turn around I found myself in about 7th place and was immediately horified. I had vowed to not look at my watch becaue I knew if I did I would over think my pacing and such. Well I glanced at it at this point and noticed that I had ran this part way faster than I had planned. I didn't let this bother me and run by feel.

After the first aid station the course turned back on itself and once you were done with the out n back you hit your first real climb of the day. I was able to run the entire climb and felt great to be on some less technical terrain. It was on this part of teh course that I was able to pass a few more people. I was also regretting having my shirt still as the sun was now up and it was already starting to warm up. By the time I got to the second aid station, I was in 4th or 5th place. Again, way better than I had planned but I felt good. From the second aid station it is about 2.5 miles to the start/finish. You immediately begin another climb out of the Go John Aid station and then it dumps you right back down to the start/finish. By the time I hit the start/finish I was in fourth place and still feeling really good.

About a mile out from the Start/Finish Lap 1

At the Start/Finish I picked up some more gels, coke, water, and some pretzels and quickly headed back out. I noticed that the leader was still in the aid station and didn't look to be feeling too well. I believe he ended up dropping. I was not looking forward to the out and back section as I now knew what awaited me. For some reason the trail was okay on the way out but was pretty miserable on the way back. When we got to the turn around I was able to count the guys coming back at me and I was in 3rd place about 5 minutes back of Alex, who was leading. This is where my race started to go downhill. As I was about to start the first big climb for the second time, I decided to rid my shoes of some rocks that had found their way in. I also used nature's restroom. I was starting to feel a bit queezy and could tell that he gels were wanting to exit my body but couldn't decide which end. I was able to get the rocks out of my shoes but my legs had lost much of their pep and I was forced to power hike the climb. I was still moving well and my hiking was definitely efficient as I was passing runners from some of the other races as they were running up the hill. This was encouraging and I was soon able to start running again. Then I ran out of water. This section from the first aid station to the second is a long 6.8 mile section. I ran out of water about 2 miles out from the aid station and was quite cotton-mouthed upon arriving.

I took my time here, drank plenty of fluids, ate some food, and took some salt as the day had grown pretty warm. I know you are not supposed to experiment on race day but I figured since this was my first I might as well get the experiments out of the way. This was my first time taking salt tablets and I have read about what they can do to some runners. I made sure to drink plenty of fluids with them and I was soon feeling their benefits. I was able to run/hike the climb out of the aid and then run the entire decent. I had fallen back to about 7th place overall and was not only chicked, but triple chicked at this point.

After the Start/Finish aid station I made it my goal to try and regain some places and at least catch the ladies that had passed me. Nothing against them, I just didn't want to get beat my women. Well that didn't happen. My stomach was still trying to decide how it wanted to rid itself of what I was putting in it. After an unsuccessful potty break at the restroom, I soldiered on with my hike/run strategy. Thankfully we did not have to do the out n back portion on the last loop but I was still not able to climb very well. I fell back on my other goals for the race and decided that I did not want to lose any more places on the last lap. I was able to maintain my place and even started to feel pretty good toward the end of the race. I was able to run the last climb out of the last aid station and finished in 7th place.

I had always wondered what I would feel like at the end of my first ultra. Would I want to do it again? Was it everything I had thought it would be or that people had said? These were questions that were going through my head during the last lap. During that lap is when I decided that this was really fun. I think that is why I started to feel better overall and run the last portion. I finished with a smile and was and still am able to say that I can't wait for the next one!!

Forced Smile to finish the day

So when is that next race?? Well nothing is set in stone as of right now but the next race in the series is Pass Mountain and I am hoping that I will be able to run that one. Of course there are the logistics of registration and figuring out how to get to the race, but hopefully I will be able to bring my crew with me this time as that was one thing that was missing from the finish line of this race!

**All photos are taken from Aravapai Running Website**

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: October 15th-October 21st

Monday October 15th
Dreadmill Tempo Attempt-4 miles-(35 mins)
I mistakenly let my wife talk me into joining her in the gym for a run. I was initially delighted when there was only one machine open so I could lazily ride the bike. Unfortunately, the machine opened up and left me with no excuse. So in order to attempt to make the best out of the dreadmill I set the incline at 3% and decided to see how long I could hold a pretty hard pace. Turns out not too long. Legs were really dead and dreadmills are BORING.  

Tuesday October 16th
Sophie's Flat Trail Attempt-7 miles (72 mins)
Tagged along out Wickenburg way and had plans to run the Sophie's Flat Trail in it's entirety. Unfortunately the trail is sparsely marked and the rains have wreaked havoc on many parts and I lost the trail near the first corral. I was running in the counter clockwise direction and decided to cut cross country to hit some higher points that I  could see. About 3 miles later (most of which was hiking) I found the trail and continued on. Due to my detour I was out a lot longer than planned so I cut across on one of the bypass trails to finish the run on the road. I'm coming back out on Thursday and will try the trail in the other direction to see if I can't find my way this time.    

Wednesday October 17th
Went for a 4+ mile barefoot walk while geocaching around the new neighborhood.

Thursday October 18th
Vulture Mine Rd. Sun C Trail 1 & 2-6.5 miles (55 mins)
Planned on a real easy exploration run out Wickenburg way. Geocaching told me there were some caches along a trail called Sun C trail. I was not able to find any other information online about such a trail but Google maps looked semi promising so I figured I'd check it out. Ran down the road for a ways and then turned onto jeep trails which faded into some single track for about a mile. This trail appears to have gone unused for quite some time as it was littered with ruts from this summer's rains. Took it real easy on the legs and walked quite a bit. Getting excited for Saturday's race.      

Friday October 19th

Saturday October 20th
Cave Creek Thriller 50k
Race Report to come

Sunday October 21st

Jog on Mates! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: 10/8-10/14...Warm Beer in the Desert

What a busy week. The wife and I completely moved out of the snowbird home we were staying in for the summer and are now back to the joys of apartment living. We actually really love our new place and have been busy unpacking, painting, and trying our best to use the pool while it still hits the 90s each day. After last week's race I took it relatively easy. I did try to have some quality long runs toward the end of this week because at the time of writing this I have about 8 hours to officially decide if I want to venture out on Saturday the 20th to try my feet at a 50k. I feel strong enough but I have not logged enough long runs to feel confident. At this point I think I am gonna just go for it and start extra conservatively to get a feel what it feels like to be on my feet that long. We will see. Here is how post-race week went.

Monday October 8th

Tuesday October 9th
Urine Hill* Out n Back-5 miles (45 mins)
Was planning on running for longer but moving duties were calling my name and my legs were still a little sore.

*This route was aptly named because on my first exploration run out here I stopped to relieve myself atop of this little hill. Just so happens it became the turn around point for many a run. Hence the name. 

Wednesday October 10th
No running today. Just lots of lifting and stair workouts with hands full of couches.      

Thursday October 11th
Urine Hill Out n Back-5 miles (45 mins)
Last run on my classic route. Funny how you can get attached to running routes. I have yet to find a go to route at the new place. Given the fact that we are living in the flat city more it may be difficult to find a hilly course that will whet my appetite. The White Tanks are about 7 miles away so that might not be a bad option.

Friday October 12th
Rincon Rd.-Scenic Loop Ridge Out n Back-14 miles (1:52)
Had to tag along with the wife to Wickenburg in order to turn in paperwork for a job. After the job duties were complete I parked in a "parking lot" off of the dried up Hassayampa River down Rincon Road. I then ran the road up to a jeep trail turn off that linked with Scenic Road. I took this road down hill to another jeep turn off which led back up hill to a ridge trail that I cruised as far as I could before I was forced to turn around in order to make it back for lunch with the wife. My legs felt awesome on this run and this will go down as one of the best training runs I've had in quite a while. This route had a mix of everything so it was really good test of fitness.

Saturday October 13th
163rd-MT-Bell Road-15 miles (2:12)
I realized that if I wanted to give the Cave Creek Thriller 50k a go I should at least experience what 30 miles feel like, even if it was over a 2-day span. This is probably not a good idea a week out from the race but I figured I would take it easy the rest of the week. I stayed in town to finish up moving stuff and had to drop off the borrowed car at the old house. This left me with only one mode of transportation to get back feet. Now I could have skirted all the roads and made this run about half the length but what is the fun in that?  I decided to run the Maricopa Trail (MT) from the end of 163rd Ave. to Bell road and then would take Bell Road home. Because I knew this would be a relatively flat run I chose to wear my overused New Balance MT110s. I also only brought a small water bottle with me. Of course I under estimated the heat of the day and was out of water by about 7 miles. The MT was in pretty bad shape and very overgrown thanks to the monsoons we've had this summer. This caused my shoes to be quickly filled with sand. This only added to the frustration of the day's effort. After a quick break to rid my shoes of the desert I glanced up what does my parched self see ahead on the trail and what do I behold but an unlucky off-roader lost his bounty and was now fair game for any who happened upon it....ME.

5 Perfectly Sealed Coors Light malt beverages begging for consumption.
Now I was quite thirsty by this point and I would be lying if I said that I didn't stop and ponder over the choice of continuing thirsty, or the immediate gratification that would come if one, or some of these were consumed. Fortunately, my better judgment won out and I passed over the steamy cans of Rocky Mountain goodness. The main reason was because the mountains weren't blue...and the commercials say that the mountains must be blue. By the time I hit the road I was ready to quit. It was at this point that my feet started to feel a little weird and I noticed that my shoes had completely come apart. The laces had torn from some eyelets and the upper was separating on one of them. I trudged along for another 2 miles but finally had enough of the shoes and ditched them. The last three miles were completed unshod and this actually took my mind off the thirst and hunger.

So there it is. What did I learn this week. Well a couple of things.
#1. I HATE MOVING. I would rather run 15 miles in the desert with little water and drink warm beer than have to move. This week I did both. Fail.
#2. Active rest is key to recovery. After actively resting and intentionally taking some days easier my legs feel great and I am ready to race again.
#3. Always bring more water than you will think you need. Never know when you might change the route last minute or get lost.

Long winded I know..

Jog on mates!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Estrella Mountain 20k Race Report

This race report is not going to be incredibly long because this race was rather uneventful. Leading up to the race I was nervous due to the fact that I have not ran particularly fast in quite some time. I threw in a couple "quick" days in the week leading up to the race but that is about it. This is the 1st race in the XTERRA series in Arizona. This is the second race that I have ran put on by XTERRA and I was not disappointing in the least. The course was a bland in the fact that it simply wound around the competitive tracks in Estrella Mountain Park but I understand the reasons for that. The course was very rocky and my feet have the bruises to prove it. Here is how my morning played out.
Banking a Hard Right

The gun went off and we banked a hard right and were instantly on single track. This caused a lot of runners to run next to the trail in order to get into a desirable position. I settled into about 8th place behind a lanky fellow who I coat-tailed up until mile 11. I chose to carry a water bottle and travel shirtless to cut down wind resistence and negate the need for aid stations. This turned out to be a rather successful strategy as the morning warmed up to mid-70s and I appreciated the lack of cloth against my skin. Naturally. The only real event in the race was that the leader strayed off course and at about mile 8 I glanced over my shoulder to see him. As he caught up to me I thought breifly about leaving my current rabbit and chasing him but my loyalty to the lanky rabbit caused me to stay put. I was able to hang in about 5th place up until the last mile or so where I was actually caught and dropped back to 6th where I would remain. This race demonstrated my need to run a bit more on flats and gradual hills rather than the abrupt hills I've been training on. When it came to anything flat or "easy" my legs felt dead and lazy. All in all it was a solid race and a lot of fun. I went way faster than I thought I was capable so that was a confidence boost.

The only other photo can be accessed here search for bib 29 or my last name (Carlson)

Next race is going to be my first attempt at an ultra on October 20th, Cave Creek Thriller.

Jog on Mates!

Weekly Jog Log: October 1st-October 7th

Another month is upon us! Wow how time flies. Last week I mentioned that I was going to begin teaching a sixth grade class. That was a bit hasty on my part as after some prayer and counsel from others I decided to go in a different direction. Other opportunities came to the table and I have decided to pursue those instead. Hopefully will have more details on that later.

Patsy and I ventured up to Flagstaff to spend some R&R and a B&B for her birthday. I could live in that town. Let me rephrase that...I WANT to live in that town. It is so beautiful and is about 40 degrees cooler than the oven we call Phoenix. The cooler climate, outdoor activities, and thin air are going to be cause for many more trips to the ponderosa pines and soft trails that spiderweb the city and surrounding mountains.

In other news...We are moving...again...Not far this time. Just across town. We are quite excited about the move...well not the moving part but the new place! is the dirt for this week:

Tuesday 10/2/2012
163rd-5 miles (46 mins)
Patsy and I got up and ran our normal route this morning. I tried to do some fartlekking but was not feeling it so I just settled in next to my blonde beauty.  It is finally starting to stay cool longer into the day. Didn't hit 100 till almost noon today!

Wednesday 10/3/2012
Jomax-Vietnam Memorial-10 miles (86 mins)
Got a little carried away on this one. My knee has been bothering me a little lately so I decided to stick to the flat this week. Also thought it would be a good opportunity to push the pace a bit. I was able to keep a decent pace for the first half but it was not comfortable. I think that shirking the flat this summer has lulled me into a grinding pace rather than a fleet-footed one.

Thursday 10/4/2012
Jomax-Cotton-3 miles (30 mins)
Real lazy tired run tonight.

Friday 10/5/2012
163rd-5 miles (38 mins)
Did a mile warmup and then did some faster mile repeats. Finished with about ten minutes of barefoot.

Saturday 10/6/2012
No running today. Just did about 3 hours of hiking and geocaching in Wickenburg. Now I'm sitting at the library eavesdropping on some elderly gentleman complaining about "kids" passing judgement on them about the appearance of their old trucks. Very entertaining. 

Hugging Cacti

Window to Wickenburg

Sunday 10/7/2012
AM-EXTERRA Estrella Mountain 20k

PM-163rd-5 miles (50 mins)
Post-race shake out jog. Was real stiff the first mile but felt pretty good the rest of the way.

Jog on Mates!  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: Sept. 24th-Sept. 30th

Although I welcome encounters with wildlife, it also reminds me of how privileged I am to enjoy the beautiful creation that God has made for us. It also reminds me of how darn close I may have come to many dangerous aspects of nature without even realizing it. After nearly stepping on a rattler last Sunday, my morning running kit now has an additional piece of equipment. Actually two new pieces of equipment. The first being a super cheap handheld flashlight...because when faced with a javelina, coyote, wild burro, snake, scorpion, or any other creepy crawly that might decide I look tasty, a flashlight will be the perfect weapon. Obvious choice right? The second piece of equipment might be a little less obvious but all the more useful. My handheld water bottle has a perfect-sized pocket for a leatherman tool. So of course I'm going to lug that along with me. In the event of an attack I'm sure my assailant will allow me the time to unzip the pocket, unfold the knife in order to allow for a fair assault. I'm glad everyone else agrees that these are necessary tools for every early morning runner. I digress...

In other news...I am now the proud teacher of a Social Studies/Language Arts 6th grade class. I know what you're thinking..."Jake, you can't right good, why the heck are you teaching language arts??" I am asking myself the same question. Lets just chalk this one up for the tick marks on the experience belt. Sometimes you can't be picky. is where my pegs have taken me this week.

Tuesday 9/25/2012
AM: Jeep Trails-74 Hill-8.7 miles (86 minutes)
Mumford & Sons Day!!! New CD dropped today to make for a very eclectic slow plod thru the darkness. on a sadder note, as I was jamming I received an email stating my rdio service would be cancelled. For those of you who know me, you know that music is another passion of mine. No, not playing music. I am musically challenged. I love listening to music and rdio is a service that allows you to listen to just about anything out there for a small fee of 5 bucks a month. But my cheap but forgot to re-up my subscription so I am currently without until the next pay day. Pandora it is then. 

PM: 163rd+mile Loop-5 miles (48 mins)
Saw the serpent again today. This time it was light out and I was prepared. The creepy part about this encounter is as I ran by him he simply coiled up and readied himself for attack. No rattling. Had I been a bit more aloof and unaware, I would've never known he was there. Cheeky little bugger.
Live Action
Wednesday 9/26/2012
Fartlekking on the MT-10.7 miles (85 minutes)
This week has been all about hobbies so far. Someone recently dropped a bunch of Geocaches along the Maricopa Trail and I used this a perfect opportunity to couple some speed play with geocaching. This trail sees very little use and is quite overgrown. Hopefully it will be completed in its entirety soon. Once it is, I have an ambitious little idea that could make great use of this little known gem.

Thursday 9/27/2012
Jeep Trails-6.5 miles (58 mins)
My poor little wife has not been able to sleep lately and so we have been getting little sleep at night and more from about 3am on which makes my normal 4am wake-up a bit challenging. Last night we watched You've Got Mail at 1:30 in the morning. Legs felt real heavy so I cut this run shorter than I had planned. For the first time in a while I opted to leave my phone at home. Wouldn't you know that I encounter 6 different colored burros and a coyote while I was out. Of all the times to leave my photo capturing device at home.  

Friday 9/28/2012
163rd-6 miles (58 mins)
Easy run with Patsy down the road and then a loop by nearby elementary school.

Constellation Rd.-10.7 miles (110 mins)
Had planned on going twice this far but due to my wife's birthday and the prospect of her getting out of work early I opted for a shorter run. In that light I slowly slogged through the hills on Constellation Road out Wickenburg Way. Some very beautiful country out there and the hills are long but runnable. Makes for slow miles but I was actually pretty sore the next day from this one. 

A bit of a lower key week than I would've liked but still had some great runs. Gonna gear down for the next week or so as I am running a race next week and don't want to be beat up going into the race. Taking my lovely bride up north for the weekend to celebrate her birthday! Should be a good time!

Jog on Mates!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jog Log: 9/17-9/23, Serpents and Asses

With yet another move on the near horizon and my upcoming job as a 6th grade Social Studies/Language Arts teacher, my morning outings have been filled with large amounts of stumbles due to full gray matter rattling around my skull. These stumbles have nothing to do with the fact that it is now pitch dark at 4:30 in the morning and my stubbornness doesn't allow for new batteries for my head lamp. Anywho, here is the dirt on this weeks adventures and encounters with mother nature:

Monday 9/17/2012
PM: 163rd Ave with Patsy-5 miles (48 mins)
Normal nightly outing with my blonde beauty.

Tuesday 9/18/2012
AM: Jeep Trails-White Mine Hill-S. Ridge Traverse-7.5 miles (86 mins)
As previously mentioned it is now really dark in the wee hours of the morning and I have realized that I am not very sure-footed when it comes to running in the darkness. I'm sure it doesn't help that my head torch is dwindling and the ground upon which I tread is thickly littered with rocks, cacti and cobwebs waiting to wreak havoc on my body. I had planned on a simple out-n-back this morning but once I was done with the out portion I decided to do some cross country hiking along the southern ridge of the mini hill range I run next to. Was a lot of hiking for the first part of the hills and then it opened up more as I gained the ridge. Not sure I'll do that one too many times as it was pretty slow.

Wednesday 9/19/2012
AM: Jeep Trails-74 Hill-9 Miles (88 mins)
Another dark run. Couldn't see for the first 45 minutes which made for pretty slow going. Scared some wild burros and then was subsequently frightened myself by nearby barking coyotes. Wild burros are quite pretty.
 AM: Picacho Hills-6 miles (57 mins)
Legs felt dead this morning. Was planning on doing 2 rounds of the trails to get some good hills on my legs but I called it quits after one round.

PM: Neighborhood Run w/Patsy-2 miles (20 mins)
Quick shake-out with the wife.

Thunderbird Park-3.7 miles (35 mins)
Drove over to T-bird Park and made a quick round of the mountain. Was going to do a little more but had to get back to get the car back to Patsy.  

Saturday 9/22/2012 
Spruce Mtn Overlook Trail #307-16 miles (2:50)
After dropping my lady off at work, I ventured up north to the Bradshaw Mountains for a run at some elevation. I typically do not do well at elevation so I planned on taking it really easy on this run. I chose the Spruce Mountain. Loop Trail due to the looped nature and my research led me to believe that the views from the top were spectacular. The views definitely did not disappoint but I was so in the zone that I took only a few photos. I did one loop and planned on reversing direction for a second loop but opted to go back to the fire tower and back down again. The second trip up was much more relaxed than the first and I spent a bit more time at the top than the first time. I plan on making some more trips up this way especially as it gets cooler since the drive is amazing as well as the trails. Here are the few photos I did take.   

Partial Panoramic from near the Fire Tower
View coming out of the mountains on the road down from Yarnell, AZ

Sunday 9/23/2012
163rd-5 miles (48 mins)
Easy run with Patsy. 2nd snake encounter of our time in AZ. This one was way too close for comfort. It was dark and I nearly stood on this thing. Video is a bit dark but you get the point. Rattle is chilling. Behold the Serpent from the Bible.

The weather has finally been cooling off and I have been enjoying exploring some new places around Wickenburg and up north a bit more. This next week will be a little less miles as I'm going to be pinning on a race number for the first time since March for the first XTERRA trail series here. 

Jog on Mates! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: September 10th-16th

Although I have been lax about updating the training on this blog, I am able to keep track of stats via my trusty Garmin. I never thought I would be so in love with a piece of technology. Between that thing and my phone I would be quite lost. I do want to continue to update training stats on here more so for my own sake so I can look back over it from time to time. It's always fun to reminisce about past runs, both good and bad. Maybe that's the history geek in me. Nice thing is my running has been consistent all summer. Many 4 am wake ups to run through what I hope is public land. There are jeep trails that weave all around a chunk of property about 4 miles from where we are currently living and these have become my outlet of physical exertion for the summer. They are pretty rugged trails in some spots so I have torn through my shoes this summer but have recently purchased a pair of Montrail Rogue Fly's and then subsequently won a pair of La Sportiva Vertical K's. Yay Me.

I have been increasing my mileage at a pretty steady pace as I'm hoping to be in good shape this fall racing season. I have been running twice a day most days. My AM run is typically 1-2 hours and then the PM run is about an hour with my wife! My philospohpy aon run tracking has changed quite a bit. I no longer pay too much attention to mileage but rather run for time. I do this by simply running out for X amount of minutes and then running back to the car. This has made my runs more enjoyable becuase I am no longer trying to hit some arbritrary number but rather just run for a certain amount of time. is the breakdown from this week.

Monday 9/10/2012
Bike Ride down 163rd-8 miles (47 mins)
Was going to take today off completely but got a little restless in the house. Took a leisurely spin around the neighborhood with the wife.  

Tuesday 9/11/2012
AM: Mile Repeats+Barefoot-7 miles (55 mins)
Woke up late this morning and it looked as if it was about to storm so I decided to stay around home. First mistake. Second Mistake was deciding I would try to do some mile repeats. Did 3 x mile with full recovery in between. This amounted to about a 1/2 mile slow jog. Miles went like this: 6:23, 6:06, 6:40. Added on about 20 minutes of barefooting in the grass around the neighborhood. The reason this was a mistake is because I am writing this about 3 days later and I haven't run since. I tweaked both calves somewhere in the workout and have turned this week into a down week thanks to my over zealousness on this run.

PM: 163rd Ave with Patsy-5 miles (47 mins)
Went on the nightly route with Patsy. Calves were not hurting yet. Didn't hurt until the next morning.

OFF-Calves were on fire. I'm dumb.

AM: Ride to Library-19 miles-77 mins
Legs were still a little sore so I decided to be smart and not run. Rode my bike into town to return some reading material instead. Wind was at my back on the way in. Always spells misery for the return leg. Will go out for a run tonight with Patsy. 

AM: Jeep Trails+Pinnacle Hills-3 miles (33 mins) [600']
Left Calf still a bit tender. Lesson learned. Ran a mile to the hills and then slowly hiked up to the top and watched the sunrise. Hiked back down and ran the mile back to the car. I expect to be back in action tomorrow. Guess a down week is what the doctor ordered. Moon was rising just ahead of the sun this morning. It's starting to cool down here finally and it was quite windy this morning forcing me to don a shirt for the first time in months. Quite restrictive.
AM: Constellation Road-Unnamed Ridge Trail- Buckhorn Rd.
Due to the ever cooling weather we are having in Arizona I thought I was due a trip out to Wickenburg while my wife slaved away to put bread on the table. What a good woman! Figured I would also do some exploring/geocaching so I had no agenda with this run. Being as my left calf was a little dodgy still this should've suited me well. Parked my car at the end of Buckhorn Rd. and then ran into the ghost town of Constellation. Took a few detours along the way. On the return trip I picked up a ridge trail that linked up with Buckhorn and then ran/hiked easterly in hopes to find another cache (unsuccessful) and then ran back to the car. Was a very good run. Took it real easy and once again, found my legs had plenty of energy but the rest of me seemed pretty zapped by the time I was done. I'm guessing this was because of lack of food intake other than a few pretzels and about 4 hours of sun exposure. Here are some pictures of the mine as well as some of the views. This will definitely be something worth doing again. 
View from the top of the first climb of the day
Abandoned Mine
Hey look at this artistic photo I took of a flower and the sun!
Little did I know I would be running up the ridge on the left. You'll see that road again!
Monte Cristo Mine
Not as Tempting
View from the Top of the Ridge Road. That road under the gnarly rocks is the same one at the bottom of previous picture.
PM: 163rd with Pats-4 miles (39 mins)
Normal nightly run with the wife.

Sunday, 9/16/2012
OFF. Apartment hunting. ugh.

All in all a down week. I think it was much needed as I have been ramping up the mileage the past few weeks. The early week soreness prompted the down week. Looking forward to getting back after this upcoming week as the weather gets colder.  

Jog on mates!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Lovin!

Wow, to say I have been busy would be a complete lie. This is actually the least busy I've ever been in my life so there is no excuse for letting this outlet of expression fall to the wayside. So I will not offer any excuses. Instead I will just continue on as if nothing ever happened and we can all pretend that I've been diligently posting on a weekly basis. Good deal? Great. I'm glad we cleared that up. Now where were we? O yeah, I was about to tell you about what has happened since JANUARY!!

In the interest of time I will keep this very brief. Since I last posted I have finished my Graduate degree and am currently jumping through many hoops to obtain my Arizona Teaching License. I am currently licensed in Virginia and will soon be in Colorado as well. Now I'm sure wondering why someone would need to be licensed in so many places. Explanation: Virginia is where I went to school, Arizona is where I currently live and Colorado is where I would like to live. Simple right? Not so much. The hoops of the education world are many and frustrating. I have been waiting all summer for various investigation agencies to look at my fingerprints and then do whatever it is that they do to verify that I am in fact not a pedophile.

While I wait for all these requirements of teacher licensure to be met, I have significantly sharpened my skills at puzzling, vacuuming, and even sun-bathing. O yeah, I run copious amounts through the desert but most of you who know me already guessed that.

As for running, I have not ran a race all summer simply because Arizona racing season takes a backseat to monsoon rains and dust storms during the summer months. O yeah, heat too. Obviously. I did run a race in March, and I did write a detailed mile by mile race report but never posted it due to my complete lack of...well...we'll just call it laziness. So here is the condensed version...albeit 6 months late. I started way too fast, like 5 min/mile too fast.Decided after two miles that I would never run again because I hurt so bad. Had a pity party for six miles. At mile 10 decided the race was too beautiful to waste the view and started pushing the pace again. All in all, I ran a PR half-marathon of 1:49. Full results are on the link on the right.

View from Finish Line

Okay this post is long enough, See the right hand column for new racing ventures that are in the works for the fall. I've enjoyed immense amounts of fitnes thanks to running on my own in the morning and then running with my lovely wife in the evenings. Who, by the way, is training to run her first half. She is committed now. I wrote it and it on the interwebs. No going back.

I'm not even going to promise to post more because that is getting old. In the meantime...enjoy some pictures from some of my summer adventures, many of which will be of the sunrise or sunsets here in the valley. Mainly because they are awesome!

Jog on!

Lightning from Monsoon this Summer
Desert Scenery
Sunrise on the way to Flagstaff
View from the top of the trail I run each day.
Box Canyon, Wickenburg

Summer Project, getting ready for deer season. JOG ON!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Coldwater Rumble 31k

Almost a year has past since I last toed the line for a competitive foot race. Finally I pulled the trigger and registered for a race. For some time I have been trying to find an open weekend in which I can run one of the trail races put on by Aravapai Running but up until this past weekend, travel plans and other commitments have thwarted these efforts.

So now on to the boring stuff. Saturday morning I dragged my awesome crew (Patsy) out of bed to accompany me to the Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, Arizona. I was running the 31k version of the Coldwater Rumble trail races.
Pre-Race Cheesing

My plan going into the race was to stay toward the back of the lead pack, or even the chase pack and then maybe open it up later in the race if I had any gas left. As soon as the race started I think I forgot that not-so-aggressive approach and opted for one a bit more courageous. I started out in the back of the lead group of seven as the race slowly climbed up a pea-gravel fire road. The pace was a bit faster than I wanted (6:50-7:00/mile) but I was encouraged by how easily the first couple of miles went by. After about 2 miles the lead pack broke up and 2 guys began to pull away. I stayed in the back of the chase pack of three and we slowly began to catch back up to the leaders.

Entering the first aid station, I was in 3rd place so I wasted little time. The awesome aid station workers were meeting runners as we came in and my water bottle was filled before I could down a shot of coke and some gummy worms. I left the aid station in fourth and quickly caught back up to the gentleman in third. We ran together for a couple of miles but he began to labor some and I soon found myself in no-man's land. By this time I could see the leaders and caught up to them on the flat section in the back of the course. The trail widened out to a sandy jeep road and the leader and I ran and chatted together for about two miles. Soon we were joined by the third place runner (eventual winner) and they began chatting. I was feeling really strong at this point and this may be where I made my only mistake of the race. I let the good feelings get the better of me and found myself in first with about a 30 second lead on the next guys.

I was still leading when we approached the second aid station. By the time the chase group got into the aid station I was about to take off. Unfortunately they both opted to forgo any aid and kept plugging away. I quickly fell in line behind them and started grinding through the last couple of miles. It is here that the course starts going through a series of up-downs. Unfortunately for me, I have had very little hill running in my training plan as of late and started to really struggle. The leaders eventually dropped me as my run slowed to a power hike up most of the inclines. I had been running the down hills relatively well all day so I made sure to keep moving up the hills and try to make up time on the down hills.

As I crested the second-to-last climb, I rounded a corner to find the 2nd place runner lying flat on his back catching a quick nap. After making sure he wasn't in serious distress, I continued on. After checking on the "downed" runner, I noticed two others from my race that had made up some serious ground and were gaining on me quickly. Luckily, there wasn't much race left and their presence forced me to power through to the end holiding on to a second place finish.

This race went far better than I ever imagined. as I mentioned, I had only anticipated to run hard to see how my fitness was standing. I had no intention of going out as competitively as I did but was encouraged to do as well as I did. This race revealed that my consistency over the past few months has paid off and that with a little more hill work I may have a good chance of doing this well again. Below is yet another gruesome picture of toe carnage. I'll put more pictures up when I can find them. Until then...Jog on Mates!

Toe Death...Again

Weekly Jog Log: January 16th-January 22nd

Monday 1/16/2012
AZ Canal -5 miles (49 minutes)
Today marked my first day of student teaching, and I didn't have to go in because it was MLK day. Loving these teaching hours already. Patsy had to work late today so we went out for a short jog on the canal.

Tuesday 1/17/2012
Dreadmill-3.7 miles (30 minutes)
Slept in today and decided to go with the wife to the gym. Student teaching, even if not teaching is a lot more mentally tasking than a call center. I HATE TREADMILLS. Registerred for the Coldwater Rumble 31k today.

Wednesday 1/18/2012
AZ Canal-3.8 miles (32 minutes)
Someone conveniently decided to flood the canal so many of my usual off-the-beaten path routes were inaccessible. Made for a shorter run than planned.

Thursday 1/19/2012
AZ Canal-5.8 miles (45 minutes)
Quick run after student teaching. Kinda nice getting out at 2 o'clock everyday!

Saturday 1/21/2012
Coldwater Rumble-31k (2:42)

Total Miles: 38 miles
Total Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes

A little bit of a lower week this week due to yet another change in life in the Carlson household. I started my student teaching so I decided to lay off of running emphasis for the week because of the unknown of the education world. I did end up running a race on the weekend and was quite pleased with my results. Being as that was the running highlight of my week I'll save the details for my race report which will I will try to write shortly!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: January 9th-January 15th

Monday 1/9/2012
Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (53 minutes)

Tuesday 1/10/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-7 miles (57 minutes) + 5 minutes barefoot
Chilly up-tempo run on the canal this morning under a full moon. Only used the headlamp a few times. Went in the same direction where I encountered the dog last week. Even tossed a rock under the overpass before going under. This was one of those runs where you feel like something is behind you the whole time. Not cool.   

Wednesday 1/11/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (49 minutes)

PM-Dreadmill Hill Workout-5 miles (48 minutes)
Due to the lack of convenient hills near our apartment I decided to succumb to the convenience of the "dread" mill at our apartment complex. Due to my lack of hill training recently this workout was going to be a struggle. And it was. Warmed with one mile jog, then alternated 2 mins @ 12% incline, then 2 mins recovery jog...or something like that. This revealed that I severely need to work on my hill running because this workout was a struggle.

Thursday 1/12/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (47 mins)
      -AZ Canal-5.2 miles (37 mins)
I went out for one of my fastest runs in quite some time immediately following my bike ride home. Was interesting how easy it felt to run this quick right after a pretty quick bike ride as well.

Friday 1/13/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (50 mins)
Last day of work!! Being as this was my last day of work, it will likely be my last bike-commute, of the 12 mile variety anyway!

 Sunday 1/15/2012
 AZ Canal-10 miles (90 minutes)
Went out on a easy run for Patsy's long run for the week.

Run Total: 27 miles
Total Time: 4 hours
Bike Total: 61 miles
Total Time: 4:10 hours

Was a low mileage week running-wise. I cut back intentionally because up until Saturday afternoon, there was still a possibility I was going to be running a marathon Sunday morning. Obviously that plan didn't play out. Still a solid week between cycling and running. This next week will also be a lower week because I just registered for the Coldwater Rumble 31k to be held on the Estrella Mountains this upcoming week. I'm excited to finally race again, just wish they didn't come with such a price tag.

In other-than-running news. I resigned my job on Friday, January 13th in efforts to complete my graduate degree (finally!). Tomorrow morning I begin student-teaching at a local high school. Pray that I am not eaten alive by high schoolers! I'm sure this next week will be interesting and my next post should follow suit! Until then,

Jog on Mates!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weekly Jog Log January 2nd-January 8th

Monday 1/2/2012
Vulture Peak-3.89 miles (47:49)
Took a ride out to Wickenburg to take Patsy to her new job. I had the day off and thought I'd spend some time out here hiking, running and geocaching. Was a tough run because my body has been rather immobile for about ten days and this was the first real effort. It was a beautiful climb and visibility was very good from the top. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos because my phone died on the way out. Was good to get back on the trails.

Tuesday 1/3/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-5.49 miles (45:01) +6 mins barefoot
Just a standard morning run in the canal. Spotted an owl perched on the guard rail this morning and got to pondering what it would be like to get attacked by an owl. Came to the conclusion that it would be quite frightening. Thankfully I'm not a rodent and lets hope the owl never mistakes my headlamp for a glowing mouse!

PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (53 mins)
I will be riding the bike more for the next couple of weeks since my car now drives an hour to Wickenburg each day.

Wednesday 1/4/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-5.9 miles (49 mins) + Barefoot
I'm having to get up earlier to get my miles in now since we have to leave the house by 6:30 if Patsy is going to make it to work on time. Makes for a very long day but I'm adjusting. I set out on my usual path and planned on an uneventful run but it turned out to be more eventful than I had anticipated. See here.    

PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (50 mins)

Thursday 1/5/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-5.42 miles (45 mins)
Decided to head toward Bell Rd. on the canal this morning to avoid the possibility of yesterday's visitor to still be sleeping under the overpass. Figured I'd let them get their rest today. Bad news about this run is that I dropped my headlamp coming back into the house and it has yet to turn back on. Frustrating. 

Friday 1/6/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (52 mins)

Saturday 1/7/2012
AZ Canal--Thunderbird Rec--67th Ave-18.68 (3 hours)
Decided to opt for a flat, exploratory long run. Goal was to see if I could run from the apartment all the way to the Thunderbird Rec Area. This  can be done and this will become a long run for the future. I lacked calories at the end of this run and ended up being pretty miserable for the last 3 miles or so due to the lack of fuel.

Sunday 1/8/2012
Arizona Canal-7.8 miles (78 mins)
Nice, easy run with Patsy. Legs felt pretty good after yesterday's run.

Run Total: 47.22 Miles
Total Time: 7 hrs 23 mins
Bike Total: 49.08 Miles
Total Time: 3 hrs 29 mins

As you can see it was quite a busy week. This is true both on the running, cycling, and commuting front. Patsy now commutes an hour to work each day so we are required to get up quite early in order for me to get to work on time. I am now biking home again which allows me the opportunity to get some cross training in for an afternoon workout. I also was able to get in a good back to back longer runs in this weekend. These runs were completed almost entirely on the blacktop because there is a chance I may be a late-minute entry in the Rock n Roll Marathon this weekend. Details are still pending on that  Until then, enjoy these pictures from our Christmas trip to Minnesota.

Jog on Mates! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dogs in the Night

My run this morning turned out to be a rather eventful one. So much so that it is receiving it's own post. Over my years of running I have encountered dogs in many different capacities. Some bolt out of no where to scare you until you mess yourself but then sheepishly retreat at one harsh word. The leashed kind seem to be the most obnoxious as they jump against their owner's weight in attempts to get a piece of your calf muscle. This morning I was treated with an encounter of a new sort. About a mile into my usual course, I begin my descent into the welcoming arms of the canal that conveniently runs next to our apartment. As slow to scale down the boulder-strewn wall, a shrill bark pierces the night.  Instantly my body freezes in place and every hair stands on end. The glow from my headlamp attempts to open the veil of darkness but the source of the sound cannot be located. Finally the adrenaline loosens it's grip on my muscles and I begin to move only to be stopped by another bark. This time my eyes become fixated on two glowing eyes peering at me from under the overpass. A turning point. A decision must be made.

Do I continue and hope this animal is friendly and is just letting me know that it is there or do I turn back to the warmth and safety that is my bed?


I'll run with this rock in my hand, so if the animal does decide it would like a taste, I can do my best to bludgeon its efforts. Slowly I tip-toe past the animal and it's now visible, human companions. One of the persons begins to stir as I hasten my steps and continue on into the darkness, rock still in hand. I am still cold with fear and forget that I am now running and should be concentrating on foot placement rather than unfortunate mammals behind me. After a prayer for the individuals and their health, I am comforted that the Lord has provided man with an animal for companionship. That dog wanted nothing to do with me but just wanted to give a warning shout to both his master's and myself to make each party aware of the other. So next time you are chased down the road by someone's rampant companion, swiftly kick the animal in the jowls, then say a prayer for the owner, and thank the Lord for the companions the He has provided.

Jog on Mates!