Winter Secret

Tags

trail sign

I think the park rangers were a few weeks late in posting this sign, but it’s still helpful advice nonetheless.  The trail was less muddy this weekend, but there were some ice patches that could take you out.

trump

It was a weekend for good signs.  This one is posted at the Westside Tavern, advertising their spin on a White Russian – normally milk (White), Bailey’s and vodka (Russian).  Reminded me of the signs at El Arroyo’s in Austin.

arroyo

The sign that most caught my attention this weekend was that it’s winter.  I’ll get outside to run when I can but what I need more than anything right now is consistency, so I plan to mostly run indoors on my elliptical.  It’s not a Peloton, but it was a gift for my wife – before buying workout gear for your wife was cool.

polar

I’ve put enough miles on this thing that I believe I’ve figured out how it actually calculates miles.  It appears to be based on RPMs.  If I maintain 60 RPMs, I complete 5 miles in 60 minutes for 5 MPH, or 12 minute miles.  That can’t be anywhere near accurate, but I don’t care about the stats.  I can tell if I’m pushing myself, and I can do that, low impact, on this machine.  It’s going to be my go-to workout this winter.

I Used to Run

Tags

,

trail

Trails with safety chains are real trails.  Brit and I ran along this southern half of the Greenbelt, Wednesday.  We ran the northern half, Tuesday.  We ran on Town Lake, Thursday and Friday.  We joined the downtown Fleet Feet running team this morning at 6:30 am and experienced an awesome sunrise over the calm water.  This week in Austin might make me a real runner again.

eric n dan

My son-in-law’s college track buddy Dan introduced us to the Fleet Feet running team.  They meet up every Friday.  This is Dan in the red shirt standing alongside Eric at the 360 Greenbelt trailhead.  It felt good to run with the Fleet Feet team.  At best, they were half my age and some were fairly elite, but I didn’t feel out-of-place.  Runners are always such nice people.

brit n ed

I’m still a good twenty pounds over weight and super slow when I run on my own.  I don’t wear a watch but figure I run a ten minute mile pace or slower.  I surprised myself today with a nine minute pace.  Running with others is good for speed.  Running with Brit is helping me to run faster.

zzzz

Running six out of the last seven days might give me the momentum to become a regular runner again.  I’d like that, although I need to work on my stamina.  The 6:30 am start time was rough.  Brit snapped this photo of me at 10 am.

Zilker Park

Tags

IMG_3990

I ran my all-time favorite trail this morning – the Greenbelt that follows Barton Creek for seven miles upstream from Zilker Park.  Ryan, Brittany and I ran up three miles before turning around for a six miler, while Eric and Dan got in eight miles.

IMG_3984

Deep in the heart of a city with a million people, we saw less than a half dozen other runners and bikers on the trail.  The 45° might have been too cold for most Texans.  One biker was dressed up for the North Pole.  I could have used my gloves for the first mile, but it warmed up nicely.

IMG_3986

I used to run the Greenbelt almost daily when I last lived in Austin.  Eric found a stretch today where Lance holds the fastest time on Strava.  His college running buddy Dan recently ran a sub three-hour marathon.  The two of them have a shot at beating Lance, so I’m guessing we’ll return later in the week.

The Gift of Glove

Tags

IMG_4010

I returned to the mud and ice on the East Boulder Trail this morning.  Early, before too much trail mud had thawed.  It had been two weeks since I last survived this trail.  Sitting by itself, on the makeshift shelf of the trailhead sign, was the running glove I’d lost to this trail two weeks earlier, on one of my falls.

When the trail gives back like that, right at the start, I know I’m going to have a great run.  I was pretty bummed when I discovered I’d lost it.  Wonder how long it sat there on that sign.  As long as two weeks.

I didn’t fall today but trail conditions remain treacherous.  Nice temps though this weekend.  Finally.

Ironic that winter is starting on such a nice day, after having wintered the coldest, snowiest fall I’ve seen in over twenty-five years.  I’m looking forward to some nice running weather for the holidays.

 

The Trail Conspiracy

Tags

,

Chuys

Brittany likes to dine at classy restaurants, the night before she runs a half marathon.  We all have our routines.  And it was her birthday.

0.0

This is a pic taken at the start of the race.  By the looks of things, she appears to be in last place.

6.22

That’s Brit’s friend Megan, running in the black top.  She’s known Megan for most of her twenty-eight years.

6.23

You just know they’re pushing each other.

13.1

Good friends finish together.  Brittany said after her kick, she felt alright, her legs were sore but she was able to sprint a bit.

left or right

This is what my run looked like today.  On the speed spectrum, I ran massively slow, but the random treachery of the ground conspiring with the weather made it one helluva workout.  Which path would you choose running down this hill?

brown line

The course asked many such decisions of me today.  Like life, I didn’t always make good ones.  Eventually, all safe paths ended, making all decisions look poor in retrospect.  Sometimes my only choice was between suffocating mud, and a knee-high glacier.  Sometimes there were no choices and the endings were still either mud or snow.  By picking up my head more, especially on uphill climbs, I learned to read the trail more in advance.  My strategy was to crowdsource the best route by setting my aim along the thin brown line.

post hole shallow

Post-holing, ankle-deep, through fields of snow was exhausting, but I was there for the workout.  I forgot sunscreen, and the sun glare off the snow was intense, so I kept my run short to avoid sunburn in the 45° weather.  I fell twice on the return, once after post-holing to my knee.  I fell forward and my face slammed into a pile of mud and ice.  I ran half the distance that Brit did, but it was a great run.

Chuys2

Brittany might be running faster than me just now.  I know Eric is.  But I’ve been running too.  I can’t remember the last time I fell trail running.  I would say that today, the trail won, but I’ll be back there running tomorrow.

 

 

 

Writing Naked

Tags

IMG_3883

Here’s a photo of me after my eight mile run today, because this is still a running blog dammit.  With that said, this post might be more about writing.  Naked.

For me, the two hobbies are tightly linked.  I write my stories in my head while I’m running.  I mean, what do you think about when you’re running?  I write stories.

A number of people asked me if I wrote down the speech I gave at my daughter’s wedding this summer, because I didn’t read from a piece a paper and they thought it sounded “from the heart”.  I feel like I wrote it down.  The weekend before, I wrote it down in my head during a long drive to Aspen.  So to a degree, it was rehearsed.

I hope my writing sounds from the heart.  I hope it sounds real.  Honest.

I published a book earlier this year, but I won’t be stuffing it in anyone’s stocking this Christmas.  Despite being a product manager, spending half my days practicing product marketing, I sort of suck at self-promotion.  Clearly, I know how to do it.  You can see I’m wearing my favorite self-promo shirt in this photo, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

My goal is to develop writing skills, and self-publishing competence, over the course of years as I approach retirement.  I don’t need to be immediately successful.  I hope to be better once I have the time to truly focus on writing.  My skills advanced considerably from my first book to my second.  I’ll be happy to maintain that pace.

The writing in my second novel was much tighter.  My editor on my first book told me I was the King of fragmented sentences.  I did write some awkward sentences.  She added semi-colons to a number of them.  Initially, I accepted those edits, but I went back later and rejected half of them.  I discovered that I have a certain writing style that I’d like to keep.  I have a habit of writing one long sentence, followed by a shorter sentence, followed by a single-word sentence.

It’s not a constant cadence, but a regular rhythm.  I speak like this too.  Sometimes.

Once I discovered my pattern, I decided that I liked it.  It’s my personal style.  I’m not going to shy away from it, even if it’s wrong.  It’s my personal poetry.

I do need to gain more confidence in self promotion if I’m going to continue self publishing.  It’s strange because when I’m writing, I’m full of confidence.  I have preferences that might appear tame.  I write what is called “closed-door” sex scenes, but I do write about intimacy.  That’s not because I’m shy, it’s because that’s what I prefer to read.  At least, in my genre of tech thrillers.

Autobiographical fiction became popular during the era of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe.  Many people still say that all fiction is autobiographical.  I don’t think about that while I’m writing.  It’s after publishing, when friends start to question me on some of my characters, that I realize, holy shit, this might be a memoir.  And I become insecure, wanting it to sell to the anonymous public, but I stop promoting it to friends.

I’m going to have to get over that if I want to become a writer.  It’s not writing if it’s not naked.  Genuine.

I can try to put on a robe afterward, but the marketing phase of publishing is not the time to become shy.  Still, if you’re on my Christmas list this year, don’t expect one of my own books.  I’d be remiss, and totally suck at self-promotion, if I didn’t implore you to gift one to yourself.  And at a time when we all reflect on our gratitude for all everyone has given us, thank you for reading my books and my blog, and for not critiquing my fragmented sentences.

In a Fall’s Winter

Tags

IMG_3858

The feeling is ephemeral and can only be felt in a fall’s winter.  The trail under my feet was packed snow.  The sun glare refracting off the snow rendered my hat useless, but I smile when I glint into light, so most everyone waved at me today.

IMG_3876

Karen and I survived Halloween another year.  It was cold with the temps quickly dropping below freezing after the sun went down.  Karen was haunted by all sorts of horrific creatures throughout the night, but Scooby Doo was close by to keep her safe.

IMG_3614

The East Boulder Trail wasn’t all snowpack.  There were spots of pure mud.  I’d steer wide, but that wasn’t always possible.  On the return, I was running atop a thin ridge covered in a few inches of fresh powder when my inside foot planted on a slope of mud.  I caught most of myself with my hands in a push-up landing, but my face hit the powdery snow full on.  It was cold, but after six miles, I was warm.  As I returned to my feet, I looked up to see the Indian Peaks covered in a soft, white blanket.  That’s how I felt on my trail, cozy with the sun and snow.  It felt good.  Only in the fall’s winter.

IMG_3866

 

Running Errands

Tags

IMG_3787

Selfies are good for knowing when it’s  time to get a haircut.  I can barely remember what life was like before we had digital mirrors.  My girls wouldn’t know.  I suspect they’d watch a youtube video to figure things out, like I imagine they do when they need to address and mail a letter.  Ellie asked me to take a package to the post office for her today.  Like they card you at the post office.

IMG_3799

Had an awesome run today.  My thoughts focused on my current novel, which is how writers get shit done.  Ran eight miles and added a good thousand words to the story today.  You can find Ellie at the post office.

An October Run

Tags

IMG_3731

My running trail dies every year, a slow decay as the sun’s rays angle lower on the horizon.  The air is cooler, the sun softer.  Colors are more varied, yet demure.  Rich in maturity.

IMG_3761

On my return, as I run up the water tower hill, I see fresh snow on the Indian Peaks.  My legs respond with vigor.  My lungs are fuller.  There is no better time to run than in a Colorado October.

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

After seeing everyone’s HOCO photos this weekend, it occurred to me I forgot to post one of Ellie from a couple of weekends past.

 

Argentine Trail

Tags

,

IMG_1979

The word Argentina is derived from the word silver, which in Latin is Argentum.  This is also why Ag references silver on the periodic table.  Argentina was initially called Terra Argentea for the land of silver.  But the Argentine Trail that rises out of Silver Plume was a trail of gold today, buried under the golden aspen trees that grace the forest along I-70.  If not for the history of silver mining in the area, I’d recommend renaming it Aurum Trail – gold is Au on the periodic table.

IMG_1995

Jen, one of my running mates, joined me on the trail today, along with her husband and kids.  We ran this, mostly to see the aspens, but also because it’s a fairly gentle grade, rising 900 feet over three miles.  Of course, it starts at close to 9200 feet.  And Jen shot off from the trailhead like a rocket, so I had to beg her to walk a few times on the way up.  My cardio is not up to Jen’s level.

IMG_1999

We made it to the top, which is called Pavilion Point, where a fireplace is all that remains of an old miner’s home.  Despite the elevation, this trail is very runnable.  The grade is so gentle because it used to support a narrow-gauge railroad that hauled the silver down into Silver Plume.

IMG_3728

I’d be remiss not to add a senior photo of Ellie Rose, that her good friend Chase took of her in the fall colors.  I would argue it’s Ellie Rose who makes the fall colors look good, but it’s just a great time to get outside.

Fall Weekends

ed

The grasses that hem in my trail run have turned brown.  The air has cooled.  Signs of nature’s seasonal shutdown abound.  It’s effect on me is far from melancholy.  I perk up in late September.

Nan

Perhaps remnants of the school cycle still kindle my biorhythms.  Thinking of school takes me back to Round Rock, where I attended high school at a time when they only had one instead of six.  Maybe I’m thinking of it because I was recently there, having brunch with my sister Nan on Main Street.  If it looks like everyone in that photo is staring at their phone, they were engaged in a Pokémon GO event.

mom n nan

I was in Round Rock to spend time with my Mom.  She’s in the fall of her life seasons.  Thinking of that does make me melancholy, but as you see, she can still put on a smile.  It’s the funniest thing, when she smiles for the camera, she begins laughing.  It’s like the camera tickles her.  We gave her a photo album of Brit’s wedding for her 86th birthday.

grandma

Mount of the Holy Cross

Tags

Kirby Cosmos

Rob and I met up at Kirby’s Cosmos BBQ, Friday in Minturn, a few miles past Vail.  We later dispersed-camped in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

rob

We woke early and hit the trail at 6:30 am, when there was enough sunlight to hike without headlamps.  We first drank coffee under the moon and stars, unfiltered from the light pollution of cities in the clear 35° air.

rob 3

Saturday’s objective was to summit Mount of the Holy Cross, a fourteener south of Vail.  The twelve mile, roundtrip trail started at the Half Moon Trailhead.  It consisted of two hills, the first was a thousand foot climb, the second was a three thousand foot ascent.  The aspen were just turning bright yellow.

aspen

We passed by two tired women descending almost as slowly as we were climbing. This section of trail resembled a steep staircase.  One of them called out, “It’s easier in the rocks.”  Most everything above tree line was a boulder field.  I can’t explain why she said it, or what she meant by it.  When is hiking through the rocks ever easier?

rob n ed 2

Near the end of the hike, we saw a couple of hikers stopped on the trail ahead of us, apparently talking.  As they saw us approach, they departed, going separate directions.  The one hiking toward us turned back around and shouted to the other, “You should also look into the Ten Commandments.”

As he neared us, I saw that much of his outfit, including hat, sunglasses, scarf and shirt, were all sporting a red, white and blue striped pattern.  And he might have been wearing make-up.  Very eye-catching.  He looked as if the clown in Stephen King’s It made babies with Uncle Sam.  There was something off with this guy.  He was either going to start preaching the Bible to us, or shred us with an AK-47, but he passed without incident.

rob n ed

Hikers, in their trail reports, generally describe this as an exhausting hike.  It was.  It was six miles of vertical in each direction, with about 5500 feet of elevation gain, and took us close to nine hours.  There’s camping at the trailhead, but an even better camping spot along a creek after the first hill.  That would make reaching the peak before sunrise more doable.  Incredibly beautiful views and a memorable hike.

 

 

 

The Wedding Performers

Tags

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot

I must have a thousand wedding photos.  Expect to keep seeing them.  This blog post features the wedding performers.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Brit and Eric’s wedding showcased some great local talent.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ellie Rose’s wedding toast.  That speech qualified her as one of the key performers.  She didn’t prepare any material.  Or she did, but she lost it.  It seemed to me she was making it up as she went.  She was quite comfortable in the spotlight, and she made Brittany laugh.

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot

Ben and Rachel sang the first song during the ceremonial aspen tree planting.  They played and sang Make You Feel My Love, from Adele’s 19 album.

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot

Brit used to sing in Ben Westlund’s band False Summit, back in college.  He has a sweet voice that would fit in with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot

Rachel is Brit’s partner in their band Girlfriend Cult.  Karen and I get out occasionally to Denver to listen to them play at local brew pubs and coffee houses.  They have a nice sound.  I’ve never heard Rachel sing as beautifully as she did at the wedding.

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot

Brit’s good friend and mentor Monica Augustine wrote and played an original song – Captivated – for Brit and Eric’s first dance.  How special is that?  Listen to it below.

My favorite song by Monica has always been Telluride.  You can listen to it here on Spotify.

The Wedding Hike

Tags

, , ,

IMG_0647

Estes Park was an ideal wedding venue for out-of-state guests who enjoy the outdoors, because the town is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Eric’s father Doug, and my niece Jessy’s husband Bryan, went fly fishing.  No doubt, some of the most gorgeous fly fishing in the world is in RMNP.  I took four Texans on a massive nine mile hike to the summit of Flattop Mountain.

You can see how well-groomed the trail is here at the start.  The Bear Lake trailhead was packed with over 100 cars, but very few hikers took our trail up to Flattop Mountain.  With 3000 feet of elevation gain in the 4.4 mile distance, it’s one of the park’s more challenging adventures.

Steve

I extended invites to the two dozen or so friends on our private wedding FB group, and I had four takers – all from Austin, Texas.  I was confident these four could do it.  My brother Steve, pictured above, was the oldest in his low 60s, but he’s a Mahoney so I knew he was up for it.

Steve C

Karen’s brother Steve, pictured here above tree line, still rocks Austin with his band the Rite Flyers.  He lives for epic stuff like this.

IMG_3542

An avid athlete, Laura doesn’t shy away from adventure.  She is so fit, I don’t think she noticed the altitude rise from 9400 feet at the trailhead to 12,200 at the summit.  She did comment on the cold winds up top, but then she had just left 105° in Austin.

IMG_0752

Laura’s seventeen-year-old son Zac is so fit, he appeared to climb this hill sitting down.  I’ve been on trails with him before and he’s an experienced hiker.

IMG_3554

With Longs Peak as a backdrop, Laura clearly won an August snowball fight with her son.

Laura n Zac

Laura and her son were naturally the first to summit Flattop Mountain.  The two Steves and I maintained a more gentlemanly pace.  Other wedding guests still enjoyed the outdoors by wandering around Estes Park and some of the nearby trails.  The five of us will remember Brittany and Eric’s wedding for this epic hike.

 

Brittany Noel Got Married

Tags

69629530_10220799311472585_3857098910635917312_n

A life is measured by milestones.  Cairns marking babies’ births and daughters wed.  It’s not the years darlin’, it’s the miles.  Monday’s mile marker flashed the last twenty-seven years before me.  I revisited them during the wedding toast I gave to Eric and Brittany.  You can view them here.

Vows

I thought I might experience melancholy and cry.  The emotions that came surprised me. Despite what some might tell you, I don’t think I cried.  We were facing a strong sun during the vows.  I know I wasn’t the only one with the sun in my eyes.  The surprise came from thoughts of my expanded family and the sharing of future life events via Eric and Brittany.  It just seems to me that raising a family, and the continuing familial growth via your children’s union is what life is all about.  It was a feeling that took me back to Brittany’s birth – seven weeks premature.  She was a little four pound peanut.

brit 2 (5)

Born December 6th, she was still in her incubator on December 26th, having spent Christmas with the other little preemies.  The doctors were close to transferring Brittany to Children’s Hospital in Denver, but she proved resilient.  Twenty-seven years later, I enjoyed the pleasure of walking her down the aisle.

FOB n Bride

And I have an expanded family with the Wright clan whom I expect to spend many more happy events with like our weekend in Estes Park.  Eric’s parents, Doug and Julie, live in Boston.  Julie told me to begin training to run the Boston Marathon with her soon.  Eric’s brother Brad, his wife Priscilla, and their newborn Oliver, are from Dallas.  They all drove down to Austin last Christmas to join us for dinner.

Wright family

Ellie Rose might mark my next milestone.  She experienced a taste for weddings this past weekend.  I hope my suit still fits when that day comes.

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot

The photos have just begun to come in.  Expect to see many more, courtesy of Hannah Kate at happylandic.com.

Brittany & Eric Tie the Knot