Monday, October 19, 2009

One of the reasons I run.....

I may catch a little flak for posting the following picture. If you don't like dead animals, then go no further.
There are many reasons out there to run. Stay in shape, see beautiful country, feed my competitive nature, spend good times with friends, and the list could go on. Always at the back of my mind is being in shape for hunting season. The average deer hunter is overweight and out of shape and won't hike more than 1/2 mile from the road, if that. Many hunters lament the lack of animals spotted during the hunt. It's amazing how many more animals they would see if they got out of the truck and actually walked a little bit!
I relish the opportunity to get out in the woods knowing that I will be far away from 99% of the other hunters out there. As a result, I see more animals, and occasionally even run into a healthy buck like the one below. Anyone care for some prime venison sausage and jerkey?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Neff's to Brighton

When we originally scheduled this run the expectation was that we would be running on trails covered in leaves.  A nice cruise through the Wasatch to take in the colors and hang out with friends.  

View Neff's to Brighton in a larger map

Well, Sunday morning greeted us with a steady rain and instead of finding leaves covering the trail we found a blanket of snow on the ground.  Fortunately for us the rain stopped shortly after we got under way and the sky started to show signs of blue.  I would never guessed right then but before the end of the day I would be happy I brought my sunglasses along.

Getting up to the top of Neff's we found we weren't the first group to reach the top that morning.  Standing in the saddle, taking in the view were traildancers John, Dan, Bob and Brian.  We hung out for few minutes before heading up along the trail, moving cross-country over to the top of Thaynes Canyon.  From here on the route was pretty straight forward and except for the occasional sections of deep snow we made a good pace all the way to Brighton.  Even if the colors didn't seem to be quite as spectacular in years past it was still a great day and a tough run.  I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Darker Side of Trail Running

While this blog and most other trail running musings chronicle and celebrate races, individual accomplishments and the joy of trail running, there is a darker side of running that is ignored. Much is written and shared about the positive side of running. But, the darker side is seldom discussed. This post is an effort to illuminate this darker side, and in particular, to find a voice for our orphan socks – invisible, forgotten and often mistreated.

Running socks have never had the respect they deserve. They are the front-line between our feet and the miles we log over harsh and varied terrain. Without complaint they absorb our sweat, fight friction no matter what the conditions, do their best to repel dirt and rocks, and suffer quietly when we fail to properly maintain our toe nails. Yet, do we ever attribute a great run, an endorphin high, or a winning race to our socks? No! We fail to show our appreciation and thanks for all that they do for us.

And then to add insult… For no fault of their own, and often a result of our own negligence while doing laundry or not watching our pets, our trail socks become orphaned. What was a pair becomes one. Suddenly alone on top of the dryer. Cast aside waiting for their mate to possibly be found. Gathering dust. A life of purposefulness ended. And how do we respond? We ignore them for a while. Then, if the mate is not found, we often throw these orphans away. A sad, unfortunate, and completely unnecessary end to a sock life.

How has this become socially acceptable? American’s donate more than $2.2 billion each year to prevent the euthanasia of dogs and cats in animal shelters. Yet, we think nothing of euthanizing our orphan socks. Hospice care represents a $12 billion a year industry. Don’t our single socks deserve similar love and care when perhaps their usefulness and ability to contribute is diminished?

Why do we treat orphan socks this way? How can we fight the stigma and discrimination that result from the value we place on having our socks match? Why must socks be paired for life? What has resulted in our thinking about socks becoming so rigid? Is it possible for us to become more open-minded regarding socks? Must all sock pairs match? Can sock mixing find a place in a world constrained by order and “style?” What if we ran with a comfortable and durable Darn Tough® Merino Wool on the left foot, and a Darn Tough® CoolMax on the right? A no-show and a 1/4?? Tan with green?? Don’t we have a moral obligation to these orphan socks to provide them with a life where they can continue to serve us?

Many of us feel overwhelmed and helpless to act on behalf of orphan socks. Yet, while perhaps the problem seems so vast and unsolvable, I have a 5 point plan that can help these socks, who for no fault of their own have lost their ability to protect our feet and absorb our sweat. Please join me in making a commitment to, and taking the actions required to both prevent socks from becoming orphaned and find mates for those that have lost their partner.
  1. Exercise good laundry practices. Several simple actions can prevent many socks from becoming orphaned in the first place. Never put a wadded or rolled sock in the laundry. Always make sure the sock is in its original shape before being laundered. This will help prevent a sock from becoming lodged between the agitator in the washing machine or caught in the lint trap. A sheet of Bounce® can prevent a polyester sock from eloping with a cotton undergarment. As socks are removed from the dryer, fold them over each other so they do not get separated in the sock drawer.
  2. Know your pets. Pets are the leading source of socknappings. Many pet owners are in denial about their pet’s role in breaking up sock pairs. If you think there may be a problem with your pet, consider keeping both your dirty laundry and clean socks in a location that is out of the reach of your pet.

  3. Utilize microchips in your socks. Consider placing microchips in your socks to help locate runaway, lost, socknapped, or misplaced socks. It may be worth the cost and effort to place microchips in your very favorite socks. I have done so in my Darn Tough® socks.

  4. Accept and practice sock diversity. Fight the belief that socks must match. Experiment with wool and polyester. Make a statement and mix a knee-high with crew. Welcome an orphan into one of your most beloved sock pairs. Celebrate the sock trio.

  5. Participate in an online mating service. Check it out. You’ll be surprised how many socks are seeking socks. Just today, there are eleven postings for “Darn Tough® Coolmax ¼ Sock Mesh #1492, lightly used in good condition seeking similar Darn Tough®.” If all of these sock owners took action, there could be five new pairs of Darn Tough® socks and ten fewer orphans!

Please join me in creating a better world for our socks… Remember, simple actions can have world-changing results. Preventing and helping orphan socks begins with each of us.

Celebrate the sock trio!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cats Among Us

I got a nice surprise on Monday when I was able to join my friend Scott, in town on business, for an impromptu lunchtime run.  We were short on time so I decided a quick run along the shoreline starting from the zoo would be our best option.  After reaching one of the upper trails above This Is The Place park I noticed a streak moving down the hill in front of us.  We both stopped in our tracks, jaws on the ground and watched as a bobcat bound through the grass about 50 meters in front of us.  It was truly amazing.  Turns out it was the first time either one of us had seen one outside the zoo and it was right there on trails we run all the time.

Photo: from jimandsue60

Of course this led to a discussion about the other cat we have yet to see in the wild, the holy grail of animal sightings, the mountain lion.  The bobcat hunts squirrels, rabbits, birds and the occasional small deer while the mountain lion tends to go after bigger prey.  Now, as far as I know humans have yet to be attacked by a mountain lion along the Wasatch Front (at least in recent times) but we all know they are out there silently watching us.  I still hope to eventually see a mountain lion, I just hope it's from a comfortable distance...