Running with the Big Dog

River turned seven a few days ago. Since we picked her up at 8 weeks old she’s been at my side nearly non-stop. Right now she’s sleeping on her bed seven feet to my left. She is a great companion.

Not running at the moment. Here she’s chewing a stick and supervising 50-meter archery practice

A couple of days ago I got to thinking about the miles we run together. We’ve run in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. I don’t keep a tight log of the miles we’ve run. I’ll go months with gaps where I don’t track running miles. For example, after I complete some race and it’s the end of a season I’ll run, but I won’t log the miles. I keep running because River keeps running.

We’re often joined by other characters while we run

The longest distance we’ve run together is 13.1 miles. For years we ran an average of 6 miles a day. Between our runs River still runs and chase things and critters. She’ll also go swimming at the drop of a hat.

When she’s off doing her own thing I don’t know if she’s running, walking or a little of both. So, I can’t say just how far she’s traveled with me at her side – or nearby. What I can esitmate is that with me she’s run 9709 miles. That’s a lot of miles considering we kept her running limited to play until she was 6-months old. From six-months to a year we only ran about 1.5 miles together per day. We built up her mileage. In those days, we’d run then I’d take her home and continue running. She did not like be left at the house.

Lately, we’ve been running 3 to 6 miles a day. She’s a Labardor I know she’s reached about the half-way point of her life expectancy. I consider each run and adventure we have as one of those great gifts that can arise between and man and dog.

This moving stuff

Getting a new house is exciting. Getting one that we don’t have to immediately renovate is nice. Here’s the thing, before we’ve set foot in the door we’ve changed ceilings, customized closets, had kitchen plans modified, added trim work everywhere inside the house, changed the driveway, and picking out everything from flooring to roofing. The past few days we’ve hired someone to build a custom shed on the property, found a fence guy, and met with a landscaper to work on the 3D range.

The landscaper was a lucky find. He’s also an archer. He’s not the landscaper that is currently doing our landscaping. Both are archers. The current guy is too busy. The new guy, Andy is our new next-door neighbor. As such, a lucky find.

The other landscaper guy told me he was so busy he had no idea when he might have time to help design my 3D range. However, he mentioned that there is a free 3D range just 15 minutes from our new house. Needing a break from spending money I decided to search for this free 3D range.

Certainly uninteresting shots but good for judging yardage.

I found it. In fact, it is only 15 minutes from my house. But, it is simply 3D targets set up on a range. It’s not 100% free. You need to have a Georgia DNR Hunting license. So, aside from that fee, which I pay anyway, I’m good to go on the DNR range.

Today wasn’t the day to test the free range. It was too cold and windy.  Still hoping to shoot my bow on the round trip home, I stopped at Ace Hardware Social Circle. Now where I wrote ‘home’ I am referring to my daughter’s house in Watkinsville. We’re staying with her while we add a few finishing touches to our house in progress.

Oh, I can’t wait to shoot this big fellow.

In Social Circle Ace is the Place to shoot indoors. It was nice to get some practice. On this trip, we left about 10 days ago; I’ve only gotten in three practice sessions. Today made the fourth. On a more positive note, running is above par and cycling is just below on my current training plan.

Trying to compensate for some loss of hours training, running and riding were on today’s agenda along with archery. Running and riding in the cold really takes it out of me. I’ve been asleep since I began writing this post.

Mountain Biking, Shooting and Ditching (Not in that order)

Ditching was first on the agenda. Not my agenda, River’s agenda. If you haven’t been a reader here you might not know who is River. River is my Labrador Retriever. I’ve not met a Lab that doesn’t love the water. River is crazy about water.

It rained hard here in Georgia yesterday. Every ditch and creek was brimming with water. River runs with me and this morning we headed out to run a trail we discovered yesterday. Knowing of a ditch that pools with water along the usual run I decided to avoid that direction. I was pretty sure we could get to the new trail a back way. It was an attempt to keep River out of the rain off ditch pool.

River has been smelling a bit ‘above bad’ having had a bath last week. It would be nice if she’d not stink when we’re visiting family. Were here in Georgia visiting family for Christmas. River doesn’t often have ‘nice’ wafting off of her coat. If she goes ditching (Ditching: jumping into a water filled earthy conduit and running as hard as possible) there is going to be stink.

It’s not that she’s naturally stinky. She works hard to reach an apex of olfactory funk. Rather than chance she’d jump into an overflowed ditch that forms such a tempting pool of water we headed in the opposite direction. That didn’t end up as planned.

The run put us at trails that simply called us forward. After nearly an hour of running it was becoming clear we were heading around a wide weaving circle. In the back of my mind a worry suggested we’d come out of the woods at a point where the pool would be between home and us. I considered turning back figuring that might add another 45 minutes to the run. That time would eat into archery practice. We remained on course. Plus, I wasn’t really up for nearly 2 hours of trail running.

It turned out my worry wasn’t unfounded. Once we cleared the woods my fragrant neutral dog hopes dimmed. Within two tenths of a mile there was the pool of rainwater. River was only 10 yards ahead, 30 yards from the water. She stopped as soon as she spotted her wet reward. Slowly she turned back toward me, gave dog grin and made a beeline for the ditch. I sprinted toward her and with increasing volume ordered her to stop. The louder I got the faster she sprinted.

River is a big girl at 105 pounds. She is all muscle. It always amazes me how much water she can displace at full tilt. There was no avoiding the bath to come. I did save time by not circling back only to lose it washing a dog.

Nevertheless, I got a decent ‘afternoon’ archery practice shooting at a 5-spot. The morning archery session was blown to washing River. I’d switched over from a 3-spot for a break. Since August 2  of this year every 5-spot practice has yielded a 300. But, if you shoot 5-spots a lot you know the X count is where the money waits. Only 47 X’s today. Frustrating.

The archery frustration was burnt off during an afternoon riding mountain bike. I wanted to follow the same trails we ran this morning only heading right rather than left (I already knew that was a wide circle) at a Y intersection.

At that point the trail begins to climb. Looking down at my Garmin I noted the mileage at the foot of the climb. That climb went on for one mile. The earlier rain made the path, having a base layer of red clay, one slippery exercise in staying upright and moving forward. Despite the greater than anticipated elevation in heart rate, to match the unforeseen length of the climb, it was a nice way to end the day. That and of course no broken bones or cuts.

Running and Shooting and Waiting Out the Rain

We’re back in Tignal, Georgia for a few days before we had off to Athens for Christmas. River and I hit the road before it rained. Man, has it rained. Running was pretty nice. First of all there was no rain. Secondly, there were lots of trails and double track to cruise.

Running along the sides of country roads isn’t bad primarily because we have minimal traffic. Getting totally off road is even better.

After an hour of trail running it was looking more and more like rain. Needing to get some archery practice in, having missed yesterday when we drove to Georgia from North Carolina, it was a rush to stay ahead of the guaranteed downpour.

This is a blast on a mountain bike

Both running and archery (at least the morning archery practice) were completed. Cycling and a second day’s archery practice now await cessation of rain.

The rain is easing off

A Great Day to Play

The weather was great, today. Sunny with very little wind and not too cold. It was a good day to train.

For the 2018 Duathlon National Championships I’m using a modified triathlon training plan. There’s no swimming in a duathlon so those workouts are replaced with more running. It’s no big deal since running is a daily activity pretty much regardless of a formal training plan. In other words, I’m not running too much.  This is a modified plan that I’m following so there is flexibility.

There are lots of sport training plans available for purchase. There are an ever-growing number of coaches for hire through the Internet. What they offer are programs available to you sight unseen. Perhaps, if you are new to a sport an online coach you never see can provide a starting point. After decades of sports, in my opinion a face-to-face coach is a better investment. I’m making no investment. I took a plan I’d created years ago and adapted it for the upcoming race.

I’ve had some great coaches in cycling, football, and track. I’ve also spent decades studying sports physiology and feel fairly confident I can put together a plan that will get me across a finish line. Of course, there are the hours of work that need to be completed and today was ideal to add to those hours.

In an abridged overview my general training goes like this: Run, shoot, rest, shoot, cycle, and sometimes run again. It was hard not to do a second run today, the weather being so nice. It was the archery practice that pushed me away from a second run.

The second practice with a bow was going just fine. Well, good enough for second practice. That session was planned for 60 arrows at a 3-spot followed by 30 at a 5-spot. The morning was just 60 arrows into a 3-spot.

The afternoon 3-spot when okay with 32 Xs and 28 nines. Sure, Reo Wilde doesn’t need to be worried for the moment. But, not too bad. Then, I put up a 5-spot.

Man, those X rings looked huge on that blue and white paper. I shot 10 arrows and called it a day. As big as the X is on a 5-spot I was doing good to hit white. It was time to stop. While I didn’t feel tired, my arrow placement suggested otherwise. It also indicated I’d had enough exercise for the day, so not second run. Instead, a hike in the woods was perfect to wind things down.

Tomorrow the weather isn’t going to be so nice. I’ll have to go into Elizabeth City to shoot. I’m glad there is an indoor range within a 40-minute drive. Still, I am looking forward to moving to Georgia where on days like tomorrow promises to be, that drive becomes 15-minutes.

Fitness and thinking about 2018

My fitness program is not exactly what I’d call an archery fitness program. It is different because I still consider endurance sports and try to stay in minimal shape to perhaps compete in other events. Of course, once I make a decision I’ll make a plan. This is the time of year I begin planning for the next year’s events.

What should we do next year?

In that plan will be a weight loss program. I am not overweight but since my last triathlon in 2013 my body fat percentage has increased from 4% to 11%. That is not racing weight. 2013 was a hard year of racing for me. I raced 12 times in 2013 and that wasn’t a big deal. From 2006 until 2013 I raced at least 12 times a year. However, in 2013  two of the races were Ironman events and one was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The Mt. Evans Ascent was one of the hardest races of my life. Here’s what the race’s website says about that race:

Although the air will be noticeably thin at the starting line, Echo Lake’s 10,600 feet of elevation is just the beginning. The climb totals nearly 4,000 vertical feet – much of it above tree line – as you make your way 14.5 miles to the finish line located at the summit of one of the most recognizable peaks on Denver’s mountain skyline – 14,264 foot Mt. Evans.

For a guy that has lived most of his life at sea level – that race was a bear! To make it tougher a week prior to the Mt. Evans Ascent I raced in the Ironman Eagleman. The day after I raced in Boulder, but it was only a 5K.  It was actually on that week in Colorado that I became interested in archery.

I was in a sporting good store and noticed some bows in the shop.  I was killing time so I asked a salesperson about the bows.  It all sounded pretty interesting. A couple of months later I bought a compound bow. I’d never planned to compete at any level in archery. That changed.

I like running events, triathlons, cycling (time-trials only – no need to risk a crash because of some squirrelly rider) and duathlons. I’ve pretty much ruled out another triathlon anytime soon. Archery, running and riding are about all I can fit into my schedule. There’s no time to swim.

Not my best discipline

Running is easy. I do that nearly every day. Running races are also easy. They’re inexpensive and can be short or long. A 5K is a breeze. A marathon is a bit more effort. I have no idea how many 5Ks I’ve run. I also can’t recall how many 10Ks or half-marathons I’ve done. Half-marathons are nice because you can pace yourself and still not feel totally wasted after a race. A 10K hurts the entire race and a 5K hurts a lot and then its over.

I do remember exactly how many marathons I’ve run. They all hurt in a different way. After my 7th marathon I figured it was enough, but perhaps not.

Running – you can do it anywhere (I just replaced to blue Nikes I’m wearing in this photo) This raced was a 1/2 marathon in Maryland.

I also ride a bike nearly every day. I run in the morning and ride in the afternoon. But, archery practice twice a day eats away at time needed to drive to a pool. An hour in the pool means another hour of travel.

Aside from specific archery goals for 2018 I am considering some endurance sports competition. In that regard, off-road duathlons keep popping into my thoughts.

Running: That Was Gross

It was time to break down and purchase a new pair of running shoes. Generally, I keep a half dozen on hand and I rotate them. Plus, when they get really beaten down, they feel better to me. The rotating isn’t so much to prolong the life of the shoe as it is to prevent stink.  In addition, running in the morning my feet frequently get wet.  Wet shoes suck.

That’s probably not how you should treat shoes. That is, running the tread off. Shoe manufactures have all sorts of recommendations on the wear of the sole of a shoe and when to replace them. Those recommendations have not taken hold on me.

Once, back in the ‘80s I had a pair of Nike Pegasus that fell apart after about six weeks. I called Nike and complained. The product manager I spoke with asked how many miles I was running a week. When I told him he laughed and said be was surprised they lasted that long. The laughter was my only reward for the complaint. (I don’t run that much any longer)

Getting new running shoes is a treat. These new shoes are Newtons. I’ve been running in them as well as Nike, Asics and Zoots. To add to that list I have a pair of the Five-Finger running by Vibram. All of them are pretty much pounded to pulp. Hence, new shoes.

I selected the replacement pair, the Newtons, because I think they idea for archery. Whether they are or not is only a guess. But the toe box cushion on the shoe does, seemingly, help me feel my feet as I am preparing to shoot. Too much heel and I feel like I’m rocking backwards. But, as far as that goes, I’ve got work boots that seem to feel just as good.

At any rate, this rant isn’t so much about footwear and shooting. It’s about what happened while running this morning.

Running down the road, Coco (a Labrador retriever that joins the run nearly every morning) was headed out the door. Her owner was saying good morning to me and I was calling back the greeting. As such, I was not watching the road. While calling to Coco’s owner and waving I stepped on something. It felt unfamiliar.

Now, I run a good bit and do so nearly every day. As such, I’ve stepped into a lot of crap. (Crap in general, not necessarily specific, but that too is true) This foot contact was unusual and unknown.

When I looked back to see what it was I’d stepped on – it was a snake. My stepping on the snake had not immediately killed it; certainly it didn’t improve its health.

What are the odds? Thankfully, it was not poisonous and only about a foot long. But – damn.

A Good Day to Play

It was a good day to play. There was early morning running with River and Coco. Both have gotten over leg injuries and are nearly 100%.

The morning’s highlight, running with River and Coco

After running I drove into Elizabeth City to shoot indoor 18-meters with friends. Of all the fun things I did today, archery did not rank number one.

I shot all over the place, including a few tens. But, mostly nines and a couple of eights. It was just a royal pain.

Archery was so disappointing that after I got home I took my stabilizers and sight off my Elite and grabbed my Mathews Conquest Apex 7 and started from scratch. I’ve never done well with the Mathews bow. But, I really needed a change.

Cycling was the high point of the outdoor play. Seriously, riding a bicycle is such a source of freedom. I suppose some people feel that way about running. Sure, running is pretty good, but for me a bike is a tough act to follow.

About 2 miles from home I rode though all this glass. I didn’t notice it until I was in the middle of it. Made it home without a flat.

More archery followed the bike ride. It was not as much fun.

Another Long Road Trip

We’ve been on the road, again, for about two weeks. During this trip we camped at Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, NC, Elijah Clarke State Park in Georgia, Skidaway Island State Park, also Georgia and finally Cheraw State Park in South Carolina. It was a long haul. But, the little Winnebago did fine.

Campsite at Elijah Clarke State Park

When I say the Winnebago did fine, that is to say only a couple of pieces fell off during the trip. Fortunately, no major parts were lost. One of the bumper caps blew away during the last leg of the drive and we had a bolt that secures an electrical receptacle fall off. Both are replaceable.

Really neat place to run at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina

 

Trails out tat Skidaway Island

The primary reason for the trip was my nephew’s wedding. The wedding was nice and the reception was wonderful. It felt really good to be around so many “Lain” family members. Brenda and I were even included in the rehearsal dinner, were we only knew the other Lains. Heck, my brother, Chris and father of the groom knew only a few more people than did I. But, it wasn’t his wedding and that’s to be expected.

There are some very pretty placed to run off road. This at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina

Before we reached Savannah, where the wedding was held and were we camped on Skidaway Island we stopped for about a week at Elijah Clarke State Park. There we met up with our youngest daughter and her family. Our older daughter drove over from Watkinsville, GA and we had a nice little family get together for several days.

End of a trail at Skidaway Island.

Much of that time was, sadly, devoted to getting the A/C repaired on the truck.

Walking a trail with two of my grand children.

When I could find some free time I did get to practice archery, ride a bike a run. Running was the highlight of sports activities. The trails at the State Parks were simply astonishing.

Running over marsh land at Skidaway Island

It was a long trip. It is good to be home.

View at Elijah Clarke State Park

Running Partners’ Injuries

Coco trying to ask about River.

Coco, River’s good friend, has had a hurt rear leg.  So, I’ve kept River on a lease when we run past Coco’s house to keep both girls from going dog crazy playing.

Now, Coco is better and River has a hurt from leg.  As hard as it was for both of us, I had River stay home while I ran.

The girls when they’re feeling better.

Morning runs without the girls aren’t nearly as much fun.