Week 4, ‘08

January 29nd, 2008
Summary of Miles Walked:
- This Week: 21.2
- Since Jan. 1: 75.8
- Since Nov. 26, 2007: 176

The notable news from this past week is that I walked in a 25K race (The 25K Endurathon in Bulverde, north of San Antonio). I actually did about 27K due to a wrong turn, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Tanya competed too, but she ran. She did quite well, I thought considering her bad knee pain, finishing in 155 minutes (exactly 10 minute miles).

The course was great! The hills hurt… a lot (I’m from Houston and we don’t have those strange, inclined surfaces :-) The scenery was pretty (can’t beat the hill country). The post-race food and drink was awesome. Breakfast tacos and beer never tasted so damn good!!!

But here’s a little advice for anyone who is thinking about doing this race for the first time as a walker (note that this was me last Saturday – yes, I was the large, sweaty man in a maroon shirt and white cap):

1. Despite the race info packet and the website stating that they encourage walkers to start an hour early, expect that no one will know what you’re talking about when you show up 10 – 15 mintues before the early start and ask where the walkers go to start. You’ll get some confused looks. Just find the head race coordinator.

2. Because you’ll be starting ~1 hr early, expect that no one out on the course (manned aid stations) will be expecting you, and will ask you what the hell you’re doing. Don’t stop for questioning, just keep going. Also, there will be no police stationed on the course until after the official race start time.

3. The mile markers and U-turns are marked with nice, professionally printed signs that include the race sponsor’s logo. Everything else is marked with white flour poured on the road surface. No, that is not a joke. Is it suspicious white powder left by terrorists? No! It’s a race course. (If you’re not familiar with what white flour poured in the shape of an arrow looks like, it’s suspiciously similar to the white spray-painted arrows left by the GVTC utility company close by.)

4. Take a map with you. Take a cell phone with you. Take some patience and some Motrin.

Many, MANY, thanks to the two guys who pulled over and informed me that I was about 1.5 miles off course and then gave me a lift back to the wrong turn that I’d made. Turns out they were runners (due to start the official race in roughly 30 minutes) that were driving the course first to check things out. They’d missed the turn as well!

And, to set the record straight, I added 1.4 miles to my “personalized” course, thus bringing my total mileage to 16.9 miles. According to my trusty iPod clock, I accomplished this mis-feat in 229 mintues. That’s 13.6 minute-miles. My shins, hamstrings, and butt are thanking me for it right now ;-)

Mesquite Sunset

Here’s a photo from last month. I shot this in the Mesquite Thicket Valley on the ranch where I hunt. As the name implies, the valley is full of Mesquite trees. Some are large and knarled with age.

Shooting in this valley is a challenge because of the clutter and difficulty of travel. It’s ripe with thick bunches of whitebrush and catclaw. Hidden within the tangles of spiney, thorny bushes are many types of cactus. To make things even worse, thick grass covers the ground. And, just when it couldn’t get anymore difficult to walk, the ground is littered with ankle-twisting rocks that usually hide under the rough flora.

Just before sunset that evening, I noticed the clouds had a lot of potential, and I started to visualize a tree that mimicked the cloud pattern. I stomped and ripped myself through the wild tangles trying to find the right Mesquite tree to fulfill my vision.

As the sun dipped below the horizon and the colors peaked in intensity, I found this tree and quickly set up for a photograph. I worked through several positions and slightly different compositions. The one that looked best to me was a superposition of the tree over the sunset.

Week 3, ’08

Summary of Miles Walked:
- This Week:  19.6
- Since Jan. 1:  54.6
- Since Nov. 26, 2007:  155

I’ve gone 54.6 miles in three weeks. In keeping with my goal (1000 miles in 2008), I should be averaging about 20 miles per week. So, I’m a little behind with a 5.4 mile deficit (averaging 18.2 miles per week). I could have made that up last night, but it was raining :-)

Tanya and I will be running and walking, repsectively, in a 25k (15.5 miles) this weekend.

Backyard Photography

A couple of weekends ago, I smoked a few links of smoked venison sausage on the back porch. Yep, that’s right – double smoked sausage :-) It’s pretty damn good!

I decided to break out the camera and shoot in the backyard. Usually this type of shoot results in macro shots of little flowers or insects. Or I take to shooting my son… with the camera. Although some of his performances this past week could have warranted shooting with something else. I never thought I’d be calling my own kid a brat, but he’s quickly learning how to push our buttons.

So this is what I found that looked beautiful and interested me in my own backyard. Clouds, palm trees, and sausage. Damn it was good! :-)

Beer Review, Jan. ’08

I’m behind on my beer posts, but not to worry, I’ve been drinking plenty :-) Just ask my waistline. First up is a set of drinkin’ beers (i.e. beer you typically buy in a 6-pack). I know, that sounds kinda silly, but there are the “special” beers – beer that usually costs around $10 and comes in a 1-liter bottle.

(click on photos for larger pic)
Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat is a delightful beer. My wife even likes it. It’s smooth, refreshing, and done just right. Don’t be afraid of this one being a sweet “girlie” beer (like so many flavored beers are) or a regular beer with some nasty fruit syrup poured into it. The Cherry Wheat is not. It’s a full-flavored (but not too strong) wheat beer with an absolutely perfect “hint” of cherry. Damn good. It’s smooth – almost a creamy smoothness – but still has a little bit of crispness. It’s just a damn fine balance of goodness.

Paulaner Oktoberfest. I’m a big fan of the “liquid bread” type beers, usually double or triple Belgian Abby Ales. The Oktoberfest carries a lot of similarities but is slightly lighter and toned-down. It’s definitely full flavored. It’s so tasty that it’s hard to put down after the first sip.

Paulaner Salvator (not pictured). This double bock comes from the same brewery as the Oktoberfest. Like the Octoberfest, the Salvator is a fine beer. This one is definitely a “liquid bread”, it’s just as full flavored and strong. It’s slightly sweet, but not too much. It goes down smooth and the aftertaste is lovely. It’s much better than the Samuel Adams double bock – a beer that I find too bitter.

Affligem Tripel. This one was a just-slightly less than full flavored “liquid bread”. It has a stronger bitter/sour-ish flavor, very much like The Reverend (Avery Brewing Co.). Can’t say that I’d buy this one again, but it wasn’t bad at $6-something for a liter.

Erdinger Hefe-Weizen Dark. I made the mistake of drinking this one for dessert on Saturday, and dessert came after a few beers, wine, and a large meal. So, my taste buds were a little overworked by the time they swam in this brew. It was good, and had a nice, rich taste. Sort of a chocolaty-burned-smokey flavor floating around in it. Might have to give this another try when my mouth isn’t so confused.

You may have noticed the slightly industrial setting of these photos. That’s because I was working on a little project in the garage whilst I was drinking beer. Drinking and power tools, you ask? You got it. It’s nice to work with my hands and sip on a little beer in the afternoon :-)

If you’ve never tried a pure Cabernet Franc wine, you should (yes, I just had to throw in some wine in the beer post :-) ). This one was quite nice. It had a full bodied taste and one little sip filled my head with a nice aroma. There’s a touch of dryness that seems just right – you won’t be enjoying this in big gulps. As the label states, “ripe black fruit with a mentholy edge”. I don’t recall what the back label on the bottle stated, except that it was from the south of France. This one is definitely worth buying again, and again.

Astrophotography – 2nd Try at Mars

Just another set using the 40D with a 400mm and two 1.4x teleconverters. The first moon shot was taken on the afternoon of a particularly clear and cool day. The photo of the dot is Mars and is my second attempt. I didn’t blow out (overexpose) the disk of Mars, but it’s still a little too fuzzy to make out much detail other than its slightly reddish hue (it’s a 100% crop).

(click for larger image, except for the Mars photo)

’08 Week 2

Walking Log, Week 2 (Jan. 8 – 14)
Miles Walked: 23.9

Miles Walked in 2008: 35.0
Miles Walked Since Nov. 27, 2007: 135

Weight: Unknown (I’m giving it a while…. I know I haven’t lost any to post a decent loss here. Too much sausage and beer this past weekend :-) )

Look out, people!

I just don’t understand why or how some people drive through my neighborhood with seemingly total disregard for pedestrians. I’ve seen it many times during my travels on foot – a car comes blasting up to an intersection, intent on running the stop sign, only to slam on the brakes at the last possible second because the driver just noticed a person on foot or bicycle right in front of them.

Just last night I was out on a 4-miler, cruising along, listening to some bitchin’ tunes on my ipod, when some truck comes racing up to the stop sign of the intersection I was walking across. He sees me, slams on the brakes, and comes to a screeching stop in front of me (no, not me in front of him, but him in front of me). If I had not stopped, then I’d would have walked in front of him and been hit.

It’s just a matter of time before I make someone a 250-pound hood ornament. I just can’t wait to see their eyeballs staring at me, the large mass on their hood, in disbelief and shock. I don’t know what I’ll say to them. Well, obviously something like, “call a damn ambulance, you moron”, but after that?

I got news for you speeders and stop-sign runners, if you don’t kill me with your car (and provided I’m not suffering from a punctured lung or compound leg fracture) you will have to deal with me in a very pissed off state.

Just ask the guy in the silver colored luxury car that hit me some years ago. He went home with a brand new palm-sized dent in his hood ;-) Along with the hood-crater, I gave him “the look”.

“The look” is the “I’m going to rip off your left arm and shove it down your pie-hole” stare. Coming from a 6′-3″ man weighing 250 pounds and covered in sweat, “the look” is quite effective. That dude must have shot a load of dung in his pants because he made no effort to get out of his car. He just sat still with the “I’m in deep doo-doo, and I’m fixing to get dismembered” look.

Pleasant thoughts, and happy walking… :-)

’08 Week 1

This is a re-start to my walking count. Again, my goal for this year is to walk 1000 miles.

Week 1: Jan. 1 – 7
Miles Walked: 11.2 (988.8 to go!)

This was a slow week for me. Although I did 5 miles last night in 65 minutes (13.0 minute-miles)! That’s the fastest I’ve ever walked for that distance. Interestingly, in the past 6 weeks, I’ve walked 111 miles!

I’ve not measured my weight or waist lately, so no report. I’ve not lost anything since New Year’s, especially because of the massive food and beer intake :-)