Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Sometime around 2002 we bought this piece of land up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My brother asked me if I was really going to build a log cabin. I said "I have to now, I already said it out loud."
Below, you can see pictures of the property before and after we built. They key was saying it out loud, not just dreaming.

So the time has come to voice my goals for the upcoming year. We have many hopes and dreams for the family, but I just roll with the changes there. I will limit my talk of goals here to running. Saying them out loud is my way locking them in. You heard it here so you can hold me to it.

After suffering a stress fracture of my 2nd metatarsal on my right foot 11 weeks ago, I am back to running regularly now. I am pretty sure I will be able to continue so here is what I would like to accomplish in 2010. (in some particular order)

I've got a 1/2 marathon scheduled the last day of January. This will be my test to see if I am really ready to continue.
It will be my third time to run the Lake Benbrook Half Marathon. The first time was over ten years ago and was my first race more than a 5K. The second time was last year and I was deathly sick with the flu. I couldn't break 2hrs. I did run a 1:47 1/2 marathon in June on a very fast downhill course. I would like to beat this time but the courses are very different so I am not going to be dissapointed if I don't PR. (maybe a little)

I'd like to set a PR in a 5K somewhere. Ideally, it would be after the 1/2 marathon but I doubt I will be able to wait that long. There is a local 5K on Jan 3 that I will probably do. My goal of a PR shouldn't be too hard. I don't even know what my PR is since I haven't run an organized race at that distance for some time. This is the way I look at it. Anything over 24:00 will mean I am still injured. If I come in uder 23:00, I'll feel great. Ultimately, I'd like to see a sub 22:00 in my future. For those of you scoring along at home, I'm 46 now so I feel those are respectable times and would allow me to place pretty high in my age bracket in any small races.

Okay. Here it is.
I want to run a marathon. I know, I know. Big deal. Many people say that and thousands do it. But I don't want to say it unless I think I can do it respectably. I nearly did one last year but the training needed was taking too much time. As soon as I decided not to run one, I enjoyed my running soooo much more. Best decision I could have made at the time. But I am ready now. My weekly long runs before injury were regularly in the high teens up to 20 milers. I'll work back up to the 13.1 by the end of January and then start training for the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon on June 6, 2010. It is a gourgeous route along an old railroad track. The first half is all uphill and the second half (where the 1/2 marathon starts) is all downhill. The race start is only about 20 minutes from our cabin so I plan on participating in this one in some way or another every year. This race is organized by the same guy who does the Lean Horse Ultra (from Hot Springs, a bit farther to the south). He also just announced a new Crazy Horse Marathon that will also pass through and end in Hill City, SD.
By my "respectable" comment above, I mean my time. I know you are not supposed to shoot for time in your first marathon but I can't help it. So here it is in print. anything over 4:30 will be a disappointment. Anything under 4:00 will make me ecstatic. even at this stage of my recovery, I regularly do sub 4 minute Yasso's so convention wisdom says it is possible.

In addition to these specific goals. I will run every trail race that fits my schedule. I love the camaraderie and atmosphere surrounding these races. I love to run trails by myself but once in awhile it is nice to hook up with others. Our cabin borders the National Forest, so all I have to do is step out my back door in the summer and 50' away is the largest trail system, playground you can imagine. The 40th annual Mystic Mountain Run in July is one I will surely do.
In case you are wondering...Yes, I would love to run an ultra someday but will wait to announce that another time. The 50K at the Lean Horse 100 the end of August would be great if I am ready.

If not, there are some great trail Ultras in Texas in the fall. the Rockledge Rumble in November. I was training for the 30K trail race when I got hurt. I'd rather do the 50K. We'll see.

So there you have it. It all bcomes official as soon as I hit "publish post". Wish me luck. Keep up with me here, on Facebook and at


2009 pictures

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Many people sit indoors over the winter with seed catalogues in their lap dreaming of how the garden may look in the spring.
That is kinda what we do when we plan our next summer at the cabin. Except this year I think we will get the opportunity to spend a week or two up there around New Years.
So I have already begun my day-dreaming of what can be done even if it is the dead of winter.
If the weather is really bad, I plan on working on the basement. We do have electric heat down there and I need to get walls up in the bedroom to separate it from the tool room/laundry room. This will also cordone off a "den" area. At some point in time, at least half of this area will get some kind of floating floor. I don't really want to do that in the winter as I really should do some moisture testing and I don't think it will be accurate on Jan 1.

Secondly, no matter what, I need to do some work on the outside logs. Ever since we put them up, they have been oozing sap. They obviously were not that dry to begin with. So the first few summers really made them look like someone just poured honey down the side of my house. It is so messy in the summer, it is hard to clean off. But I am sure that in the winter as the old sap hardens, I'll be able to scrape it off likety-split. And since it's been about 5 years since we first built this thing (is that posssible?) it is time for a new coat of Sikkens Cetol 23. At least on the south and west sides.

Thirdly, I'd like to get power and lights out to the new carport. I may not be able to dig my trench to bury the conduit, but I can do all the fixtures, outlets and such in the carport and then just hook it all up next spring.

So that's my plan. Plus all the hiking, ice fishing, geocaching, broomball playing and skiing the weather will allow. They are expecting 12+ inches of snow tonight and tomorrow. Sounds like a good base to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two more runs under my belt with the Vibram Five Fingers or as my wife calls them, my "FingerToe" shoes.
But this blog is more about run #2.
I had over 500 miles of travel on last Friday with a 2 hour meeting squeezed in down in Houston. So I knew I would be up for a break and a run somewhere along the way.
The incessant rain made me wonder about my plans but not give them up.
I took my running gear with me and planned a stop in College Station, TX. The home of Texas A&M University.
I knew the George Bush (Sr.) Library was there and I knew there was lots of grassland around it.
What I didn't know was that the sports complex was so close and they were apparently getting ready for an upcoming X-C race on campus.
Because I stumbled upon the most beautifully manicured and marked trail that wound around the tennis, baseball, amd soccer fields.
The course was trimmed of any overhanging branches from the nearby trees and had been recently mowed. I could have easily run the 1.5+ mile course barefoot.
I did a few laps all well under 8:00/mi pace.
Even though things were wet, the shoes did well. But not exceptional. They can be slick on mud. And long grass is a hassle between the toes. I also think that too much water just makes your feet soaked and wet feet tend to be more susceptible to blisters, etc. But the course was so immaculate, there was no real concern.
I took this picture just around the corner where you could see Kyle Field in the background.
I also ran today at the nearby hospital. They have a 1 mile walking track. It is all concrete but I could step off to the side for about 1/2 of it to run on the grass. Again, mud and grass between the toes is a pain but not a deal breaker.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm not crazy, just adventurous.
I saved my nickels and dimes to purchase these Vibram Five Fingers KSO's. Size 42.
If my talking about shoes, toes and running doesn't interest you, skip down to the pictures below of our cabin for a moment, then go about your day like nothing happened.
If such talk of little piggies is interesting, read on.
I first saw a pair of these at the Mystic Mountain Trail race in South Dakota. I didn't know what they were at the time. But I figured if the guy could run the same 8+ mile trail that I just did in these things, they must be ok.
I tried on a pair of 41's last week and that was enough to convince me I wanted a pair.
I waited until a pair of 42's was available to try before I committed. I liked them better. My foot measures about 10-3/8". (That will mean something to others who are considering a pair-...or to you ladies out there...)

I went for my first run yesterday. 3.2 miles (sub 8:00 pace) on very rough gravel road. Maybe not a great choice for run #1, but I needed to know if stone bruising is going to be an issue. I think it will be an issue, but I hope it goes down with time and/or my choice of trails.
After finally getting to the point where I can run 20 miles in regular shoes without blisters and without duct tape (an well used trick used by runners that works better than band-aids), I was hesitant to change up my footwear so drastically.
But these VFF's present a unique opportunity to run more naturally. Hard to argue with that. My running style lends itself perfectly to these already so my transition should be shorter than others who will try them.
I am a very upright runner with a short gait (quick turnover). My heels never touch the ground as I land on the balls of my feet. Also known as forefoot or midfoot running.

I did feel like I was developing some blisters in a new spot if I had run much farther. On the bottom of both big toes. That's a new one. I'll have to work these in gradual, I guess.

Otherwise, I can say that I love the extreme light weight. I should spend some more time just wearing them around but I don't think the steel company I work for this time of year is ready for them and I'm usually barefoot at home so I'll have to pick my spots.

Stay tuned. If I get some feedback and know that people are reading this, I'll continue.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dog Days

Here are some of the latest pictures of the cabin.
It is noteworthy that:
A: The Garden filled in quite nicely despite the weekly hail storms and frequent un-announced frosts
B: The carport arrived and was built the day before we left. Hopefully, this will protect the truck enough so the engine block doesn't freeze. The installers complained that the ground was too rocky and they could not pound the anchors in the ground. I told them I would pick up the hammer and show them how its done after I saw 6 bloody hands. I was paying for an installed carport, and it was not installed until the anchors were in the ground.
C: I left one project for next summer. Even though I got a partition wall up in the basement, we have not decided on flooring yet for the bedroom down there. And I need to put paneling or siding up on the walls built. It is nice cool work. I wish I was there now...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Finished the deck on the back of the house. The style was to let it flow out the back door. No handrails, just kind of spills you out-of-doors.
The decking and trim is made from a recycled fiber. I hammered the grain raised to cover the screws. How was I supposed to know the cat was under there?

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I am humbled by the growing season. I am used to a long hot growing season in Texas. And good deep soil. Here, in South Dakota, I deal with 6" of top soil, rocks, sloping ground, and 30°-40° nights at any time of the year. Here is our present solution. Doing remarkably well. But I can't but think all we are doing is growing veggies for the neighbors because none of it will be ready before we leave.


Scott came up to spend some time with Trevor last week. Here is the last haul they brought home.


We are nearly complete with one of our summer projects. We decided we needed a deck on the back to have a spot for the BBQ and to keep from tracking in too much dirt in through the back door. Here is a couple of pictures of the progress. We used Choicedek recycled materials because this is the north side of the house and it may get a good coat of winter snow.

Monday, June 29, 2009


We get side-tracked sometimes. Glenda said yesterday morning that we have this nice umbrella but we need a better table for the porch to put it in. To make a nice place to sit and eat lunch and enjoy the day. Maybe coffee in the morning if it is not too cool. And then a spot for a glass of wine and peanuts in the evening. One of our favorite things to do.

So I spent the better part of Sunday scrounging around for materials for this new picnic table.
Turned out rather nice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June update

It was pretty bad when my dad scolded me for not updating my blog. And on Fathers Day, no less. So here it is.

We had 3 or 4 projects planned for this summer. One of them was to lay tile in the bathroom. Check!

These pictures are before I put the toilet back in place. Glenda MADE me put the toilet back. She said she has had enough of the "plein aire" toiletries.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

day 1

Day one of 2009 in the Hills and the kid already brings home dinner. A nice 17" rainbow from within walking distance of the cabin. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

what's first

It's time to start thinking about what's first on the list of "to do's".
Of course we've been thinking about what's first since whatever we did last.

I can think of 3 or 4 projects I'd like to complete this summer.
In no particular order, they are:
Lay tile in the bathroom. We will probably use some of the same tile around the woodstove as a heat block.
Finish off the basement including but not limited to wall paneling, flooring, ceiling (Glenda's idea, not mine) insulation around the floor joists (you gotta see it to understand) and some sort of walls or permanent separation for Trevor's bedroom.
Back deck with enough room for chairs, grill, hot tub etc.
Storage shed or workshop/garage. This one is still undecided.
Maybe a carport or lean to against the workshop to protect at least one vehicle.

That aught to keep us busy.