Blogging hiatus over — for now

I had been on a blogging hiatus. I’m not sure why. I just posted my first blog in about six months when I joined a blogging link-up party and wrote about my four-legged running partner.

Since last blogging, I’ve run in several races, including the Army Ten-Miler, which started and ended near the Pentagon. Here is what I wrote about the race as it appeared in The Journal Gazette, the newspaper that employs me: http://www.jg.net/article/20141019/SPORTS09/310199990/0/SEARCH.

I also ran in the annual Fort4Fitness half marathon. A race I thought I had trained well for, but on race day struggled at the end with the hills. A new race I entered this year was the Runners on Parade 5K, the largest 5K race in Fort Wayne. More than 1,000 runners run a portion of the Three Rivers Festival Parade route the morning of the parade. I ran the race in about 29 1/2 minutes, about 20 seconds off my 5K PR, which I set in 2013 at the St. Patrick’s Day 5K race in Biloxi, Mississippi. Finally, just a week and half ago I ran the River City Rat Race 10K, perhaps my favorite event on the local race calendar.

As we approach another winter, my family and I are still living without a car. Last winter was tough, and if not for friends offering rides, I’m not sure I’d have made it. A report on TV the other night with an editor from the Farmers Almanac said that we can expect a frigid first 10 days of 2015 and a snowstorm in March. I think we can survive such a winter without a car.

Our four-month experiment has now surpassed two years.

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My running partner has four legs

Shuba, the sweetest German shorthaired pointer you’d ever meet, is my running partner. And yes, she has four legs, and what I like to call a baby tail.

Shuba came to live with us three years ago in October 2011. My dad had passed away in July and our other dog, Domino, was starting to slow down. For whatever reason, we decided it was time Domino had a sibling, so we went to the local Animal Care and Control website and found Shuba.

We went out the Animal Care and Control, met Shuba and decided to bring her into our home. But first, Shuba would have to meet Domino. Domino and Shuba met the next day at the shelter. They got along great and a day or two after that, we brought Shuba home.

Almost immediately, Shuba became my running partner. When I previously ran with Domino, he’d stop frequently to sniff and pee. With Shuba, it was go all out. Until it was time to pee. She’d stop in her track and squat to pee. She was like a boat anchor.

I found that by running with her my speed improved. She forced me to run faster than what I was comfortable with. The payoff came in 2013 when I set PRs in the 5K, 10K, 4-mile and half marathon distances.

Over last winter I ran less with Shuba. I was running on ice and packed snow and I didn’t want her pulling me over, so I left her home. As spring turned to summer, I ran with her less often. I found a new comfort zone that did not include Shuba. Well, I think I made a mistake. My 5K, 10K and half marathon times were all slightly slower than a year ago. Maybe leaving Shuba at home slowed me down enough that I lost what little speed I have. This fall, I’ve taken Shuba out more. She seems happy running again.  I just need to run in places where squirrels, rabbits and even deer are scarce.

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If you want to read other blogs on four-legged running partners check out www.runningwithollie.com

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30 Days of Biking update

I commuted by bicycle Friday. It was cold and it was windy. I seemed to be riding in slow-mo as I went west. I barely had to pedal my bike as I headed east. My ride home was after midnight, so I’ve already got my ride in for Saturday.

30 days

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Cars vs. pedestrians and bicycle riders

My wife likes to say “all drivers are idiots.” She tells my son that all the time when we are out and about. I tell him that too many drivers are completely unaware of pedestrians. They don’t walk anywhere and just assume no one else does.

Just because a pedestrian has the right-of-way doesn’t mean the driver is going to give it to you. Drivers, after all, are in machines that can and do kill. Pedestrians have no protection, except, we hope, the law.

In recent weeks, at least three pedestrians have been hit by cars and killed in Fort Wayne. All were on roads without sidewalks. One was killed crossing a busy road. He got hit, stood up and then got hit again. One death is one too many. All three are senseless. In all three cases, it’s easy to blame the victim. All were out at night. At least one was walking with traffic instead of against traffic. None, as far as know, was wearing reflective clothing to make it easier for drivers too see. But I’m not going to blame the victims. They had a right to be out on the streets. Maybe they had no other choice to be where they were the nights they were killed. Drivers need to be aware that people walk on or near those roads too.

We had a brutal winter with record snowfall. Too many sidewalks weren’t cleared. Some that were cleared were blocked by piles of snow left at the curb by city snowplows. Other sidewalks were blocked by piles of snow that were plowed off parking lots. Many people had no choice but to walk in the street to get around those snow piles. I know, I walked in the street nearly every day from early January to the end of March.

My dog and I nearly got hit by a car a few weeks ago. We were walking down the street and a car came up to the street were on. It was a T intersection. The driver barely slowed down, looked to his left and turned right nearly right into my dog and me. I’m not sure why he was in such a hurry that he couldn’t stop at the stop sign. Why he couldn’t look to his right too. It’s happened on more than one occasion along that street. Drivers turning right only look left and nearly hit pedestrians. I see it at red lights too. I think right turn on red is the worst traffic law around. If I ruled the world (and thank God I don’t), right turn on red would be outlawed immediately. I didn’t like it when I had a car and was driving everywhere, and I sure don’t like it now that I get around by foot or by bicycle.

I commute to work daily by bicycle. I wear an orange safety vest most of the time and always at night. I always wear a helmet and have working lights. I don’t ride particularly fast (I was passed three days in a row over the winter by Jimmy Johns delivery bikes).

I didn’t intend for this blog this afternoon to be a rant. But I saw this blog from Bikeyface, and it got me thinking. I think she might be on to something. Bikeyface lives in the Boston area. Boston traffic is far worse than Fort Wayne’s. Still, I think some of her suggestions could apply here.

On the good news front, I read yesterday that Indianapolis is getting a bike share program, and that the Pacers basketball team is sponsoring it. I live 120 miles from Indy, but as far as I know, that’s the closest city with bike share. Even if I hadn’t been rooting for the Pacers to win the NBA title. I am now. Yes, I know LeBron James sometimes rides his bicycle to the arena in Miami.

share the road

 

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30 Days of Biking hits a snag already

Today is April 4 and I haven’t been on my bike in two days. Yesterday was rainy all day, so I decided to just hunker down and stay indoors. We went to the TinCaps season opener yesterday evening, but we walked to Parkview Field rather than ride bikes. It was a far-from-ideal night for baseball. The first few innings were played in a constant drizzle. We decided to leave after 6 innings with the hometown TinCaps down 9-0 to the Great Lakes Loons. The weather was definitely more suited for Loons than TinCaps.

Today, my son and I rode the bus across town to the library branch where my wife works for a homeschool program. It was really foggy when we got on the bus. I hope to get my bike out this afternoon and ride to work.

 

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More from the first day of 30 Days of Biking

It’s now during the day on April 1, the first day of the 30 Days of Biking challenge. I am sitting in a branch of the public library after riding my bicycle from home. The library is about 2 miles from my home.

So technically, I’ve ridden my bike twice today, though I still think of last night’s ride home from work as being yesterday, March 31. The ride, though, was after midnight.

Today is extremely windy. The wind is coming straight out of the west, and this library branch is west of home, so the ride was slow, especially with three busy streets to cross without the benefit of a traffic light. It took 25 minutes to ride 2 miles. I could have run it faster than that. But I still would have had to cross those three busy streets.

30 days

 

 

 

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30 Days of Biking underway

Although I still consider today March 31, the clock on my computer says it’s April 1, and I have already ridden my bicycle the first day of the 30 Days of Biking Challenge. I rode home from work. The GPS on my phone says I went .90 mile, although I went farther than that. For some reason, the GPS kicked off along the way. I don’t know why. I’ve discovered the GPS on my phone is a nice tool, but it’s far from perfect.

It’s beautiful outside. It’s the first night I rode home all year without wearing my mittens. I wore a stocking cap under my helmet. That was mistake. It’s too warm for a hat. I rode to work today hatless, I think my first hatless ride of the year.

After all the polar vortexes we had plus a record snowfall this winter. It sure was nice to be outside without worrying about staying warm. This last day of March/first day of April warmup is only fooling us. Colder air is forecast later in the week. And rain, but I don’t think snow.

30 days

 

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