Are You Courteous to Fellow Runners

Running figure

Over at “A Sabbatical, of Sorts” he talks about waving or at least acknowledging other runners when they go by.

Here is a link to his post:

Wave to fellow runners « A Sabbatical, of Sorts.

 

I Agee

You know something I agree with him. When going towards other runners and it is appropriate, I have always tended to give a little wave and a smile.  I don’t do it to “come-on” to the ladies or anything else – I am simply acknowledging the existence of another runner.

If another runner is coming towards me and waves and I haven’t waved yet for some reason or other, I try to wave back or least give at least a grimace to show that I saw them wave at me.

To my way of thinking – either responding to a wave or initiating a wave – I am just being courteous to another runner.

Sometime we might even say “Hi”.

It Doesn’t Hurt

It doesn’t hurt to wave back to other runners. You are not taking any of your time or much of your energy. I can understand being “zoned out” once in a while excuse, but to purposely not acknowledge another runner’s simple act of courtesy to you when it is appropriate, with a least a little wave back, is being rude to your fellow runner.

This even goes for some of those runners who sometimes seem to be going about the same speed as a low flying plane and seem to be so focused on their form and workout that they don’t care about anything else.  When those guys and gals go by I don’t expect a high-five or a knuckle-bump, but a quick wave goes a long way the first time they go by – after that I don’t expect anything.

By the way I do know you see us, I used to run with faster runners every once in a while (a long time ago) and I know what you see if you choose to. So be courteous too.

Use some common sense and the taking into account the time and place when  waving, don’t expect it every circumstance.

Are there limits?

That doesn’t mean if you are across a 4 lane highway, that I will always see you and wave back or if you are in the middle of the park or on a course where there are 50 bazillion other runners that I am not going to wave to them all (example: if I am running Back Bay in Portland during the daytime I don’t bother waving at the other runners who go by, but if it was early morning I probably would).

If I was doing a technical part of a trail I probably would grunt as someone went by and if I was getting across a busy street, I would be focusing on avoiding being run over, not waving.

It also might be different if you know the person coming at you and you don’t like them, fine don’t wave back at them and keep what ever feud you have going, going.

Courtesy is Courtesy

I don’t really care if you live or run in a big city, small town or on a country lane, courtesy is courtesy and there isn’t the need to be purposely rude, especially to a fellow runner.

Decline of Manners

I am not going to get into the decline of manners, courtesy or rudeness that people have towards each other that I have seen almost every time I leave the house and go to public places. No that decline has been well documented in too many other places. Seeing that decline, it doesn’t surprise me that it is finding its way into the running world as well.

Jeep Wave

Hell when I owned my “real” Jeeps, we always waved to each other, when we passed each other on the road. I didn’t know hardly any of those other people in their Jeeps, I waved to them simply because they were driving a Jeep.  I know that motorcyclist and snowmobilers do it too, so if they can do that simple act of courtesy, why can’t runners.

Take a Moment

We have a choice, we can just each go into our own little shell and not acknowledge the people around us and blithely go on our merry way down the road or maybe, just maybe take a moment of our time and wave back to someone who is only trying to acknowledge another runner.

Perhaps some of you can give me reasons why you shouldn’t wave back to another runner other than the reasons I have given. I would like to hear the reasons why you do or don’t wave to acknowledge other runners and other times it wouldn’t be appropriate to wave to other runners.

Unless someone gives me some more reasons not to wave to other runners, I do not believe it asking too much, to simply acknowledge another runner, as you go by with a simple wave or even a thumbs-up – even a little smile if you are in a good space. Hell a quick Hi if you know them a bit.

Answering 20 Questions About Me

Since I recently changed blog hosts and have also met a lot of new people on social media sites over the past couple of months – I thought that some people might want to know a little more about me.

The “20 Questions” survey that Brittany posted at GOtheXtraMile Thursday’s Things post was where I got these questions.

More to let people know that I am a real person, not just a “bot” ;-).

1) What is one of your favorite ways to spend a Saturday?

Other than going for a run and spending time outside. I love to go on walks and hikes with TheWife and my dog Bennie

2) List your top three favorite TV shows.

Actually I don’t really watch that much TV, we ditched all but basic cable last year. Probably watching NFL Football, Person of Interest and Grimm would be my top 3 and I don’t do that very regularly. I tend to like sports, but without the cable stations I haven’t been able to watch much NBA (the Celtics) this year and I know that I will miss being able to sit and watch/listen to the Red Sox this summer.

3) Would you rather be in pictures or take them?

I would rather take the pictures, I don’t like breaking cameras too often. But really I do enjoy being able to look back at myself and see the changes (good and bad) from then to now.  So a little of both.

4) Why do you blog?

To leave behind a bit of myself – a legacy of who I am for my grand children and others who think they know me or would like to know me.

Anther reason is that I enjoy writing and sharing things I have learned over my life.

Finally, when I decided to write a blog that focuses on running, I have to walk-the-walk, I can’t sit on the sidelines and not run and still write about it. By blogging about running I have felt like running more, more willing to try new running ideas/equipment, get back into racing and join a running club.

The support from the online running community since I started being active in it and publicly writing about my running has been phenomenal.

5) Share five websites you visit regularly…

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • WordPress.com

along with: gReader/gMail/gCal/gDocs/YouTube

6) If you could have lunch with one person from your Twitter list who would it be?

Kelly Olexa – CEO of FitFluential, I have learned much from her over the past 2 months.

There are so many people who I have met through social media that I would love to me face-to-face and hope to have lunch with someday.

7) List a few of your favorite snacks.

TheWife’s homemade muffins, Apples, Grapes, Cherries, Potato Chips (I have to really, really limit myself on these) and coffee ice cream. I eat good most of the time, but there are some comfort foods that just come around and make me go “mmmmmm”

8 ) Do you have a pet? If so, what kind?

We have a Jack Russell Terrier who has been described with words like ADHD on crack, headstrong, stubborn and a mind of his own. He is a 5.0 mile a day dog, if he doesn’t have a least five miles of activity, he will drive you absolutely bonkers.

We also have 4 cats down from a high of 6 that we had for several years.

9) Which three material possessions would you struggle to live without?

  • Vehicle – we live in a rural area without any public transportation
  • MacBook Pro Laptop – My connection to outside world
  • Running Shoes – I love to try different running shoes and until recently had a closet full of them.

10) What’s your favorite drink?

I have 4

  • Coffee
  • Green Tea
  • Merlot Wine
  • Samuel Adams OctoberFest (goes great with pizza)

However, one cup or glass (not a bottle of the wine) is usually my limit.

11) Do you enjoy cooking?

Not really, I can cook and follow directions, but have evolved into the clean-up detail. Although I make a mean Oatmeal for breakfast most days.

12) Do you have children?

Yes 2 daughters, 2 step-daughters, 3 grandsons and soon a granddaughter

13) What are your favorite hobbies?

Running isn’t really a hobby it is part of my lifestyle.  My favorite hobbies are: reading, archery, role-playing games like NeverWinter Nights 2 and when I find time flat water kayaking.

14) Would you consider yourself shy or outgoing?

In crowds I am pretty shy and quiet (I can hear some going “yeah right”), unless I know the group then I open up a little. As I have gotten older, I let others have center stage and I watch/listen a lot more than I used to.

15) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?

Improve my self-confidence. I am good at a lot of stuff, but sometimes I get to thinking too much and comparing myself to how others do something. This is something I have worked on for a long time, but every once in a while it bites me square in the butt.

16) Who is your favorite actor/ actress?

Actor: Johnny Depp
Actress: Goldie Hawn – Liked her even back in the “Laugh-In” days.

17) What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this week?

I am basically a pretty boring person and live a quiet life. On Monday I ran 8.0 miles and felt really good about it.

18) Do you live near your family or far from them?

I live about an hour from where I grew up and most of my family still lives up there. My daughters live in Minnesota and California, so I don’t get to see them much.

19) List three of your talents.

I can teach people who hate learning to learn (10 years as a very good Special Education teacher)

I can shoot a bow pretty well.

I am computer savvy – Mac or PC

20) What is your greatest attribute?

My quirky sense of humor, it has gotten me through a lot of tough situations – when I was in the military, as a behavior tech and special education teacher working with “troubled” teens and now as a blogger.  Looking at a situation through a different perspective, finding something good about it and being able to laugh at yourself, really can put people at ease, as well as diffuse an intense situation or make people smile.

I can be rather blunt and call things pretty much as I see them. However, I have learned how to be blunt tactfully thanks to one of my bosses in the military who didn’t appreciate non-tactful bluntness.

I tend to say what I mean and mean what I say – and yes damn-it the glass is half-full :-).

Finishing up

That gives you quick glimpse into who I am. I did decide to retire early to do things that interest me and explore new opportunities in those areas.  Eventually I would like to find something to supplement my income, but would like it to be something running/fitness/social media related :-).

If you are reading this consider yourself tagged and go ahead and answer the 20 questions then link back so I can see how you answered them. It does make you stop and think about things for a minute.

Switching to WordPress.com

I am going to cut straight to it – here is my big announcement.

I have moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.com.

What are you doing Shaw?

Harold weren’t you the original Blogger fanboy who always said so many good things about how flexible it was and how you liked it so much. Yep – that was me. I still think that Blogger is a fine Blogging platform, but I haven’t been happy with the looks of “A Veteran Runnah” when I used the Blogger Themes.

I have searched through over a thousand of the downloadable Blogger templates, finding around 50 that I have attempted to “go live” with on the blog.  Unfortunately, all the themes that I liked after viewing them on the blog have either had or developed problems.

It doesn’t really matter what the issue were, I don’t have the technical ability to fix them. It seemed like I was spending a great deal of time working on my themes, instead of writing posts – which is what I really want to do – just write.

I don’t want to have to mess around with re-coding, de-bugging a freemium theme or having the blog linking to sites that I don’t want it to.  I know – you get what you pay for.

That is why today I switched to WordPress.com. No I didn’t go the self-hosted route, after the fiasco I had with that the last time, I am simply not ready to try it again – at this time. Plus the costs of a self-hosted, plus a premium theme were not in the budget.

Benefits of moving to WordPress.com?

  1. I now have http://aveteranrunnah.com/ as my URL, to match my Blog’s name, so it will be easier to find me.
  2. The themes look better to me and although the choices are more limited, I have found a few that I really like and can dress them up enough to make them mine.
  3. The themes work and I don’t have to mess around with coding or de-bugging the theme for problems. I can just report it and it magically gets fixed :-).
  4. The blogwriter is superior in WordPress.com.
  5. Another reason that I acted so swiftly is because “A Veteran Runnah” was only a couple of months old and it was starting getting a little bit of traction, it is easy to do a move while the blog is relatively new than if it were more established.
  6. Blogging is what WordPress does, it is not just a minor part of a large Corporation.

There are others, but those are 4 major reasons that I switched.  What do I lose by making this switch – STATs, my pageviews will go down for a while until my readers get used to it and the search engines recognize the change.

Changing your blog host is a lot of work.

While importing the posts was very easy, now I have to go back and re-do all of my links to make sure they work correctly.

Ensure all the settings are correct.

Go to the Google and Bing Webmaster and Google Analytics sites to ensure they start indexing my new blog.

Add the WordPress.com site to Feedburner

Select the proper widgets

Get a header I can live with until I get a chance to create a really good one for “A Veteran Runnah”.

Along with a bunch of little things that you don’t think about until something you need or want is not there.

I will miss

The biggest thing that I am going miss is the ability to put Adsense on my blog. Not that is really a big deal, after 4 years of blogging, I am just over half-way to the Google disbursement level, it would only take another 2-3 years to reach it at the pace I was going. 🙂

The reality is that

while it was nice to think that I was making a few dollars a month or so, it was really a non-concern as part of the move and I have a feeling that some readers will like the ad-free look.

If I had waited any longer moving “A Veteran Runnah” would have only gotten more difficult.  It came down to do it now, if I am going to do it all.

Now that I have made the switch to WordPress.com – it is time to just write.

Life is Funny Sometimes

It is funny how life works sometimes.

In my Running to Run Isn’t Enough Anymore post, I talked about how we sent in our application and membership fees to the Central Maine Striders last week.

Last night I had some extra time on my hands so I did a Google search of the club to learn a bit more about the running club I was applying to join.

Unfortunately, the Central Maine Striders do not seem to have a webpage currently. So I just bounced around the web looking at different search results and I came across one about Rick Krause.

In that article I found out that the founder of the Central Maine Striders was Rick Krause, that name rang a bell, but I didn’t place who it was until I read this in the article:

It was while living in Newport, where he taught physical education and coached cross country, that Krause founded the Central Maine Striders on Dec. 5, 1975.

Thinking Back to High School

Rick if my memory serves me right must have been the “runner” that Coach Smith introduced us to my senior year at Nokomis and became the assistant cross country coach that year. I don’t really remember all that much about him other than he was some “old guy” that ran with us once in a while during practices and kicked our butts.

Back then I was one of those slower, classic underachievers that didn’t really like distance running all that much, see my Running High School Cross Country 1971-1974 post. He focused more on helping the better runners, who were more interested in getting better, the group I wasn’t really a part of and I got injured that year and didn’t finish out the season.

About the only thing that I really remember about Rick besides him being fast, is that I think he had a pair of big Elvis sunglasses that he wore a lot back then. Honestly, I was too busy being a senior in high school to remember to much about some “old guy” assistant cross country coach. 😉

How things change

Here I am applying to get into a Running Club – The Central Maine Striders that was founded by someone who was the assistant coach of my high school cross country team and were created the same year I graduated from high school. Now so many years later, I want to be a member of that club.

Seems kind of fitting to me – Maybe there is just a bit of Karma involved.

I wonder if Rick is still active in the club, I didn’t hear any mention of him while at the race or see his name on the results of the January Thaw Race that I ran in.  It will be interesting to find out more as I get involved with the Central Maine Striders.  If any members of the Central Maine Striders or other Maine Runners who read this blog know – It would be fun to hear how Rick is doing.

Do you have any stories like this where someone from your past, even though might not have known them very well, suddenly has an unexpected role in your life today, so many years later?

Funny how that happens sometimes

 

Running to Run Isn’t Enough Anymore

Photo by David Colby Young

I recently ran in my first road race in a long time and I learned a lot.

Since this was my first race in forever (September 2007), I didn’t know anyone there and mostly stood off to the side, watched and listened to what was going on around me. Yes I did talk with a few people and introduce myself to a few of the other runners, including fellow bloggers that were there, but I mainly watched and listened.

What did I learn?

First

The easy camaraderie that existed between many of the runners who were there. It was very evident that they had known and competed against each other for several years. The smiles and greetings were genuine, you could tell that they were glad to see one another.

It was fun to watch and listen to the banter between the runners and how comfortable they were with one another. How they talked about their current injuries, gear they were using, how their training was going, how life was treating them, how slow they were going to go that day and all those other things that runners talk about when they haven’t seen each other in a while. Then after the race, the gory details of how they did, the race conditions and the other general complaints or discussions about what race they were going to do next.

Second

How much I missed the social aspect of running. Most the last 25 years or so, I have simply run to run. I was what many call a recreational runner. I didn’t run all that much with other people unless there was someone at work to run with or with TheWife.

The loneliness of a long distance runner can be real. For the most part that is how many runners run – alone.

Personally, I didn’t make the time to participate in the social side of running for so many years that I had forgotten what it was like to be around other runners, when they are not running, until I started following the Twitter Running/Fitness hashtags and people last November. I had forgotten how supportive the running community is and important it is to a runner to have that support network that other runners can provide.

I know that I enjoyed meeting the people I met at the race people like Jen (Running With The Girls), Carrie (Maine Mom on the Run) and David (Maine Running Photos) who are fellow bloggers.  They gave me more than a couple of hints/ideas and were so supportive of my return to racing. Members of the Central Maine Striders who made me feel both welcome and comfortable.

But mostly I just enjoyed being around other runners. I didn’t realize how much I missed that bond that exists between people who run together – even if it is at different speeds.

Third

Unfortunately, although running seems to be pretty popular in the Waterville-Augusta area, there is no central place where runners get together, to talk, gab, socialize or plan “stuff” either online or a place to go to.  There are no local running stores in the area, and these are usually the natural place for runner to gather.

Organized running in Central Maine seems to be at a very low point, even though it seems in Bangor, along the Coast, and Southern Maine, there are very active running communities.

However, it did surprise me of the low levels of active participants in organized running in my local area, while I was talking to people at the race. There just seems to be too many saying “not me”, “not now” or “we have tried and are tired”.

Perhaps too many of local runners view their running the same way that I did for so many years. They don’t make time for the social side of running and just run. Then they go about their busy lives without knowing or thinking about what they are missing if they got to know other runners.

I admit that I did this for a long time.

No Local Running Groups

This was one of the things that I really wanted to find, while I was at this race. A group of local runners who get together once a week or so to go for a run either on a week night (I know it gets dark early up here) or on a Saturday/Sunday morning when there isn’t a race. Runners to push me a little more than I usually will myself or vice versa and also give me a chance to meet new people in the area.

When I asked different members of the Central Maine Striders and other runners, if they knew of any weekly running groups for people to get together and run. I heard about how there was always something 10-15 years ago, but no one knew of any in the area now. I learned while walking out that there was a small one, but they go a lot further and faster than I do right now.

I was a little disappointed that there are not any running groups in the local area that they knew of that had varying levels of ability and distances.

If anyone living in the Waterville-Augusta or in the Central Maine area, knows of a local running group that gets together to run, I would love to learn more about the group!

The reality is that

That we sent in our application to join the Central Maine Striders. I have never been big on joining clubs, but running is different for me, I have finally realized that I have to reach out to others instead of staying inside of my shell, saying that it is enough to just run.

For me it is no longer enough to just run, I have learned through my participation online that I want, no need more than what the loneliness of a long distance runner gave/gives me. I want to enjoy the social side of running also.

This means going to races, finding new people to run with, be willing to put myself out there and open to meeting new people, hell even trying new things once in a while if the opportunity presents itself (Tough Mudder – anyone).

I am not a big organizer and don’t really like that role. I am better at the behind the scenes work and will bust my butt to help out, when something needs to be done.

So here I go outside of my comfort zone.

First Step

Here is my first step – if I can’t find a local running group I plan to start my own.

To anyone who reads this blog and lives in the Augusta-Waterville are, let’s try to create a running group in one town or the other – it doesn’t matter to me, I live in the middle in Sidney.
What does matter is that there are no local races for a while, it would be great to meet up on a Saturday or Sunday morning someplace, go for a run (you faster runners – can leave us behind), get to know each other a little bit and if the mood strikes any of us – go out for a quick bite to eat where we can brag or complain about how we did that morning.

Let me know if you are interested, maybe we can plan this a little more and start our own running group – who knows where it will lead us. If I don’t hear from anyone, on Saturday mornings between 9:15 and 9:30 A.M., I will be in the parking lot for the Downtown trail head for the Augusta Rail Trail and plan to do a few miles and then once the weather gets better either at the UMA trails or the new Bond Brook Trail system. Anyone want to join me?

I will be wearing my green turtle running stuff and flo green hat that are in the picture at the start of this post, so I won’t be hard to see. I will take off when my watch says 9:30 hopefully, someone will decide to be there to join me. (Update – no one showed)

  • How about you, do you enjoy running with others once in a while?
  • Are you a part of a regular running group?
  • Do you go to races more for the social aspect than the competition?
  • Is it enough to just run to run all the time?
  • Have you ever attempted to start a running group – what happened?

Nerves of Steel or Pre-Race Jitters

Runners before the 33rd January Thaw in Belgrade, Maine

Some Twitter conversations can be pretty enlightening.

We were tweeting about being nervous before starting a race. Some of the others were surprised that we all said we were nervous before a race.

This got me to thinking – yep dangerous place to go.

Always have been nervous

In any athletic event I have ever participated in, I have always been very nervous before an event started. Even when I was road racing every weekend, (a long time ago) until we stepped up to the line and the gun went off, I always had bad pre-race jitters while waiting for the race to begin.

One time just before the start of a race, my nerves took over so bad that I had to find a rest room and heard the gun go off in the middle of something and had to wait until I was finished to start the race. I hurried out of the bathroom and ran to the starting line about 2:00 minutes after the race started. Everyone was laughing at me and pointing in the direction I needed to go.  After the race, I just told everyone that I didn’t want to embarrass them and gave them a good head start :-).  I didn’t live that one down for a little while.

Needless to say I didn’t set a PR in that race and ever since, I am very careful about ensuring my “business” is done well before the start of the race.

First race in forever

On Saturday when I went ahead and ran my first race in at least 6 years and only the second one since 1986 – I was nervous as hell.  In a way it was good that I found out the race was Saturday not Sunday. As it was I tossed, turned and thought about how I would do in the race a lot that night before falling asleep.

I woke up earlier than usual and my first thought was how would I do today? I left early, getting there more than an hour before the start to ensure that I got through registration, had plenty of opportunity to find a Port-a-potty, bathroom, tree or whatever was available to use, and get warmed up.

All these nerves were for a race less than 15 minutes from the house, that had a total of 32 people run.  Yes it was the first time in a long time since I had run a race, but I had already set my goals and they were very low bar goals, just because I didn’t want to stress out over them.  Hell I was still nervous.

I wonder how much these pre-race jitters played in my decision to not race over the years? I think they did play a role and now that I know this I can get beyond those feelings and just enjoy the racing, instead working so hard to avoid the “jitters”.

Everyone gets the “jitters”

I have a feeling that all the competitors felt nervous at the start of the race. We are all thinking about how our training has been, can I keep my target pace, what are my competitors going to do, that person over there – I don’t know them are they faster than I am?  All those things and more are going through runner’s minds before they get to the starting line.

I believe that it is the uncertainty of what will happen during a race that makes us nervous before.

Sharing experiences

That is one of the beauties of Twitter and other social media, we learn that we are not the only ones feeling these things or having those thoughts. In reality feeling nervous or having pre-race jitters, are pretty common place and nothing to worry about.

Through social media we are finding out many of the things we think and worry about are the same as a lot of other people and that we are fairly normal – for runners. 🙂

Nope – I don’t have nerves of steel and neither do a lot of other runners.

What about you?

Do you have a story about how nervous you have gotten before a race or something you did that was funny as a result of being so nervous before a race started?

Do you have any good strategies about how do you combat or lower your nerves until the gun goes off.

It will be interesting to hear your thoughts about the pre-race jitters

Even write a blog post with your pre-race jitters story and link back to here :-). Let’s have some fun with this one.

Cross Country Skiing – North Country Style

Looking out over the lake in summer

1995 was a year of change for me.  My marriage of nine years ended suddenly during the fall of 1994.  My two daughters, age seven and nine, began to spend every other weekend with their dad.

After years of their company, I found myself alone.  I spent a few weekends sitting at home before I realized that I needed to get out and do things.

Errol, New Hampshire

My brother owned a camp overlooking a small lake outside Errol, New Hampshire.  The camp had been in the family since 1960.  The camp sat well-positioned at the shallow end of the lake, next to the beach.  Mountains surrounded the lake.

1994-95 was a year of change at the lake as well.  A paper company owned miles of the wilderness area surrounding the lake.  For the first time in nearly three decades, the paper company focused on the lake and started a major tree harvesting operation.  Logging trucks went in and out during the weekdays, and areas of wilderness were opened up.  The paper company maintained the three mile road leading in to the lake that winter.  For the first time ever, campers could use their lakeside camps for winter activities.

Ride to Camp

My brother invited me up to camp to snowmobile and ski.  There was a good snow pack and a three day weekend coming up.

Camp was a three hour ride from home.  I left after work on Friday afternoon.  The weather was clear.  It had been dark for hours when my brother met me at the start of the three mile road in to the lake.  He followed me to camp.

I had a little Ford Tempo painted Sandalwood (an exotic name for gold).  The Tempo was all wheel drive.  Ford only made them for a year or two.  It had a button by the rear view mirror that you pushed to engage the all wheel drive.  It was a great little feature when it worked, and it did help to get me up to camp that weekend!

Camp

We were a quarter mile from camp when I turned down the camp road.  My brother flashed his lights at me and honked his truck horn.  I stopped about thirty-five yards down the camp road.  I got out of the car and sank in snow.

My brother came running up to me and told me I was on a trail and not the road.  The camp road was just a little further away.  This trail had been added by the logging company since I had last been to camp.

He couldn’t believe that my car still sat on top of the snow.  I got back in the car, pushed the magic button by the rear view mirror, and backed the car until I was on plowed road again.  We finished the ride to camp without further incident.

Get out the Cross Country Skis

The next day dawned sunny and warm for a January day in the north country.   My brother went outside to work on his snow machine.  About ten o’clock, I strapped on my cross country skis.  With all the new logging roads and trails circling the lake, I had lots of ski choices.  My brother suggested I ski around the right side of the lake, cross the outlet, and come back across the middle of the lake.

The lake in winter

He had a snowmobile trail across the lake that I could follow coming back.  I had never been on the back side of the lake past the outlet because the area had been heavily forested with no access road.

The thought of exploring was exciting!

It was only a couple miles.  I would be back for lunch.  One mile into the ski, I crossed the outlet, and started up the backside of the lake into new territory.  I reached an intersection.

The day was warming up nicely into the fifties.  I thought I would ski a little further.  Instead of taking the trail to the left around the lake, I decided to go up the hill.  I figured the trail would loop to the left above the lower trail.  It should give me a great view of the lake.

I sure was wrong!

Looking up where I got lost and found lots of snow

LOST

The trail I chose kept taking me further away from the lake.  I thought about turning around, but I kept thinking the trail would circle back.

It got to noon time and I couldn’t even see the lake.  I had not brought anything to eat or drink since it was supposed to be a short ski.  Two hours of skiing had made me thirsty.  Eating snow did not help much.

Pay my Dollar

I suddenly came up on a logging yard and the trail widened into a large road.  Several pieces of heavy equipment were parked for the weekend.  I had to take my skis off and carry them over my shoulder because of the ruts and shredded wood in the road.  As I was walking by one logging rig, I spotted a bottle of iced tea on the dash.  I wanted that drink!

The vehicle was not locked.  I looked around.  I kept waiting for someone to yell at me, but all the equipment was abandoned for the weekend.  I couldn’t just take the drink!  I dug into my pants pocket and came up with a dollar bill.  I reached in to the rig and took the unopened drink, leaving a dollar on the dash.  Oh I would love to be here on Tuesday when the guy got to his rig and found a dollar, but no drink.

That tea was nectar!

Miles to Go

Now, I was still miles from camp.  The road finally seemed to be circling back the way I wanted, but I still could not see the lake.  When I could put my skis back on, I skied down the road, thinking about my options.  I had an idea.  At the next clear cut on my left, I would ski down the mountainside.  If I went down the mountain, surely I would meet up with the lower road?

I shortly found just such a clear cut.  As far as I could see, the snow was untouched.  Instead of packed snow, it meant skiing through a top layer of loose snow almost a foot deep.  I figured that I couldn’t use the edges of my skis because of the deep snow.   I would have to go straight down.  Off I went.  This was great.

Snow Everywhere

I picked up speed and the air rushing past my face felt so good.  What was that?  Oh no, a moose had crossed the mountain below.  Too late, I hit the moose tracks.  One ski stopped dead while the other ski kept going.  When I stopped tumbling, I sat up.  Good news, nothing broken.

I had snow in my coat pockets, snow packed down my pants, snow inside my gloves, my hat was gone – and I even had snow in my bra!  How did I manage that?  I laughed.

What a day!

My idea had worked out.  After cutting across several more trails, ten miles later, I made it back to camp.  My brother was still working on his machine.  He hadn’t even noticed I was still gone.

That was plenty of adventure for one day.

Snowmobiling

The next morning, much as I prefer skiing, I tamely sat on the back of my brother’s snowmobile as we toured the surrounding area from the convenience of a motorized machine.  We went miles from the camp – but a lot quicker!

Very Lucky

I realized how fortunate I had been the day before.  I had an adventure and I did not get lost or hurt.

Runners Have You Really Looked At Your Blog Lately

Most people seem to have one or the other –
there are others but these are the two most
popular blogging platforms.

I know that this is a weird post for a running/fitness blog, but runners or anyone really, if you have a blog – when was the last time you really looked at it?

– Does everything work – right?
– Can I easily subscribe to your blog?
– Do you have the same theme that you started with all those years ago?
– How do you think that a visitor sees your blog?

Okay Shaw what are you up to? Honestly I am probably going to put my foot in my mouth and piss a couple of people off, but other than that not too much.

I have gone through my feeds and I looked at a lot of blogs over the past couple of weeks. I have seen the full spectrum of blogs from the ones that are very visually appealing to the ones that – well to be honest looked like crap to me.  When I say a blog looks like crap it means that they are poorly thought out, cluttered and distracting me from reading a blog post.

Who Do I Think I Am?

I am not a professional blogger and certainly don’t have a lot of background in web or blog design, but have done this blogging thing for a little while and have developed a pretty good idea what a decent looking blog looks like and what doesn’t work all that well.

Unfortunately

Since I started this updating my feeds, I have come across a few blogs that to be honest turned me off so badly that I didn’t subscribe to their feed. Sometimes I didn’t even bother to try to read their posts, because I was so distracted by all the crap that they had on their blog.

Not Pro Bloggers

I know that most runners are not professional bloggers, web designers or have boatloads of money to go hire someone to make their blog look good – hell I am not and can’t either.  However, just because many of us don’t have the ability or money to do what we would really like to do with our blog’s appearance, it doesn’t mean that our blog’s shouldn’t look neat, clean and be somewhat visually appealing, have everything work correctly and be able to subscribe easily if they want to.

No One Right Way

Your blog is a reflection of who you are. What image do you project to your readers or potential readers? What image do you want to project? Are they the same?

Go to your blog and what is the first thing that you see when you land there?  How does it affect you, is it appealing or is it busy and cluttered? If this wasn’t your blog, would you like it?

There is no one right or wrong way to set up a blog, sometimes it is refreshing to see someone try something new or different, but there are surefire ways to drive people away from your blog and I saw too many that did that to me.

Advertising

One of the biggest problems I saw was how some bloggers were attempting to monetize their blog. They have so many advertisements, links, flashing ads, invitations to sign up for their page, or newsletter. Then they have a video that automatically starts, when I land on the site and other visual or audio distractions that make it so, I couldn’t focus on the blog long enough to read the posts.

It also takes so long to load some of these sites, that sometimes I thought that there was a problem with my browser.

Hell I understand wanting to make some money through your blog(s), but when you overdo it, I know that it turns me off.  If you want to make you blog look like the Sunday coupon section of the paper, go for it – it is your blog and your choice, but I probably won’t subscribe to your feed or purposely go back to your site again.

Then again that is just me.

There are ways to advertise on your site that are bit more subtle and give your readers a better visual experience when we visit your blog.  Do I expect everyone to stop advertising on blogs – hell no I don’t plan to. I am just asking you to stop and look at your blog to make sure you are seeing the same thing that your potential customers/readers are seeing.

Widgets

Then there were the sites who have sidebars and feels the need to add every sidebar widget they can find, using .GIF files and then don’t get rid of them when they have something else that does the same thing or heaven forbid they don’t need it. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to where the widgets are placed or why they are even a part of this blog. All of these widgets again, slow down your load times and can frustrate your readers.

Look closely at your sidebar and you should have a specific purpose or reason for each widget that you have there. If there isn’t one, why do you have that widget on your sidebar. After you do it once, go back and look at your widgets again and see if there are any questionable widgets left, why do you need them? If you really don’t get rid of them.

Badges

I know that we are proud of the races we have run, the distances we have completed, the “athons” we have participated in and all the awards that our blogs have won.  However, at what point can the badges be retired or added to a page that readers and blog owners can look at if we want to, instead of having them in the sidebar.  That doesn’t mean get rid of all of your badges, but take a look at them, which ones really matter to you and what ones are just there because you don’t have anyplace else to put them.

The reality is that

the blogs that are not visually appealing to me, are cluttered, way too freaking busy, don’t have any sense of what goes where and make difficult to focus on the reading (which is why I go to most blogs – to read the posts, not look at advertisements or cool widgets – even though sometimes I do see something that looks interesting or is cool), because so much is going on around it.

That is one of the reasons why I started using Google Reader so much, I don’t have to look at some of those blogs when I only want to read an article.

I am not an expert and I will be the first one to say it and I don’t mean to be critical of anyone else’s blog, because mine is nothing all that special either.

Just take a look

All I am asking is that you take a good long look at your blog and then look at it from the view of someone who just clicked a link and is arriving there for the first time. What kind of first impression is your blog going to make to that person.

Is your blog a reflection of you? Will it entice someone to stay and look around or will it confuse them and push them away.

Your Choice

How you setup and have your blog look is your choice. You have to decide if you are blogging for you or your readers, then you will have a better idea of how you will setup your blog.

I would never tell you how to set up your blog, but if it is not visually appealing or if it is too cluttered or distracting for me, I won’t be back.

The 33rd Annual January Thaw 4.5 Mile Road Race

I conned another runner to take this picture after the finish

The 33rd Annual January Thaw 4.5 Mile Road Race
Belgrade, ME 10:00AM Belgrade School, 158 Depot Rd
Contact: January Thaw Road Race (Central Maine Striders)
| Race Results

Today I did something that I haven’t done a lot of since 1986, in fact only one other time since then (back in 2006).

I ran in a road race. I also set a race PR for 4.5 miles! Pretty soft, but still a PR. Continue reading “The 33rd Annual January Thaw 4.5 Mile Road Race”

Saucony Peregrines – After 200 Miles Review

Over the course of the past three months, I have steadily increased my running, both the distance and the speed. Part of this story is the shoes that I have worn – Saucony Peregrines.

I did a lot of research last fall, both on the Internet and in my running logs to figure out what type of shoes that would best fit my personal running style, as well as what I ran in when I wasn’t injured.

What it finally came down to for me at least, was that I didn’t get injured as often in low heel height, light weight shoes that help promote forefoot striking.

I may be all wet, but I strongly believe that when a runner is mismatched to a shoe style that is at least part of the reason that running injuries happen.

There were several shoes that fit that description, but I also run in Maine during the winter, run a few trail runs, as well as running on the roads and dirt roads. I have used trail shoes in the past for winter running with very good success, so I was looking for a lightweight trail shoe with somewhere between a zero and 8mm drop.

After looking at and trying on different styles and other trail shoes, I settled on the Saucony Peregrines. They felt the best in the store (they didn’t let me run outside in them) and I have had good luck with Saucony’s in the past, so I bought them.

How have they done?

They are a great shoe! They have done everything that I have asked of them and below is a quick video review of my Saucony Peregrines:

Sometimes a video and pictures give a better idea of how these shoes look after the 200 miles than me writing and rambling on and on about them.

For a pair of running shoes with over 200 miles on them the Peregrines have held up extremely well. I am not easy on shoes, the soles tend to wear out rather quickly and the uppers tend to get ratty as well. In all of my other Saucony running shoes, my left foot wears the fabric/cushioning inside of the heel down to the cup and makes it so I can’t wear them for running anymore (blisters). This has not happened with the Peregrines, which means I can keep running in them :-).

From what I can see now (unless they have an auto-destruct sequence built-in at a set amount of miles), my Peregrines should be able to go another 200-300 miles, before they are retired to less strenuous duty.

Now is the time to start researching, to figure out what my next pair of running shoes will be.  Especially since they have to be put in the budget and planned for. After all I am starting to put more miles on my shoes and should have another pair to rotate in when these have 300 miles on them.

I do know that I will start with the Saucony Peregrines at the top of the new running shoe list. For me to choose something different, I will have to have my socks blown off.  There are the newer zero drop or 4MM drop shoes that have piqued my interest from Altra, Skora, New Balance and Brooks. Even the Vibram Five Fingers are a possibility.

However, if I had to choose one pair of shoes today, a new pair Saucony Peregrines would be back for round 2. They have done everything I want from a running shoe on roads, trails, dirt roads, snow and slush. Plus they are a nice looking shoe.

FTC Disclaimer:  I have not received any sort of compensation for doing this review. These running shoes were a pair that I purchased and have personally used.  The views posted in this blog are my thoughts on a product that I have used and liked.