Tag Archives: Nature

Mayor of Slackerville

That’s the position that I’m currently running for, or at least acting as though I am. I’ve been majorly slacking on both my running and keeping this blog poppin’! In a confusing twist, I actually do believe my skills may be better utilized if appointed Governor of Rutville, as I am currently in a significant running rut. I have no doubt that it’s just one of those less than fruitful phases during which you simply aren’t feeling it the majority of times you lace up the running kicks, but it’s no fun nonetheless. I’m just hoping I start feeling “it” a bit more before the Cooper River Bridge Run this coming weekend!

In an attempt to somewhat assuage the slacker stench that’s been pervading this blog for a month or so now, here are some of my favorite pics taken during runs over the past few weeks:

Intense cloud/sun action during a run around the neighborhood.
Intense cloud/sun action during a run around the neighborhood.

 

Folly Beach run on a day after the skies cleared and the sun popped out.
Folly Beach run on a day after the skies cleared and the sun popped out.

 

I was really willing the sun to burst through the clouds to provide some warmth during a county park run...
I was really willing the sun to burst through the clouds to provide some warmth during a county park run…

 

Shot of James Island County Park pond during a nice, brisk jaunt.
Shot of James Island County Park pond during a nice, brisk jaunt.

 

I was lucky to catch this epic sunset off the West Ashley Greenway!
I was lucky to catch this epic sunset off the West Ashley Greenway!

 

Alicia asking, "Why you creepin?" with her eyes and glare during a recent run together. Precious.
Alicia asking, “Why you creepin?” with her eyes and glare during a recent run together. Precious.

 So here’s to losing my two election bids and instead getting back to some quality running in the near future! (along with less blog slacking of course…)

Epic Hiking Fails!

This morning, the lovely Alicia and I set out with the pups for some hiking action at the always interesting Dungannon Heritage Preserve. As I’ve documented in this blog before, the “interesting” aspect of this particular spot largely comes in the form of either poorly marked trails or marked trails that seemingly measure 5-7 feet in total distance. Despite prior misadventures, this is a spot that always leaves you coming back for more with its serene setting, intermittent “Hills Have Eyes” backdrop, and general lack of foot traffic.

Perfect weather for a hike
Perfect weather for a hike
Fungus Among Us
Fungus Among Us

 

You know, just your typical nature preserve tombstone...
You know, just your typical nature preserve tombstone…

 

That last point–the general lack of foot traffic–is a big selling point for myself and the lady when it comes to this spot and to hiking spots in general. Why? Well, one of our dogs is an asshole.

That one dog is Achilles, and more specifically he’s dog aggressive. Not to the point of trying to tear the flesh off any unsuspecting pooch, but rather to the tune of engaging in such behaviors as barking ferociously at any dog within 250 feet, attempting to lunge at fellow canines that come near him, and generally just being a pain in the butt for his owners and any other humans should he come near any other versions of man’s best friend (with the one exception, of course, being his little brother, Pete, whom he has largely learned to bear being around…mostly). Who would have thought so much hate for his fellow canine could come from such a fluffy and seemingly innocent pup?

In any case, Achilles’ hatred of his own species serves as a useful backdrop for Epic Hiking Fail #1. Fail Numero dos is more self-explanatory and universally understood…

Epic Hiking Fail #1:

Remember how I mentioned that good ol’ Dungannon Heritage Preserve is partially so great because no one else goes there? Well, that was far from the case today!

As soon as we had meandered but a mere 50 yards onto the trail, two pups came bounding towards us unleashed and seemingly unsupervised. As anticipated, this sent “A-hole Achilles” into a frenzy–barking like a madman, pulling against his leash every which way, whining, etc. As Alicia corralled Achilles and Pete back towards the car, I cut off the two approaching pups and spoke to them telepathically using my BeastMaster skills. Ok, not really. I actually just kneeled down and pet them, but that was effective enough at distracting them to give Alicia enough time to retreat.

However, all the time in the world couldn’t prevent another four dogs from coming up the trail behind the initial two pup brigade! These guys were also all unleashed and bounding free as they were led by a man that could best be described as an aging, borderline homeless Santa Claus on an old cruiser bicycle.

Luckily, ol’ Saint Nick really was a saint of a guy and was understanding of Achilles’ asshole tendencies. I took young Pete and let him sniff and be sniffed by a few of Santa’s reindogs while Alicia kept the problem child off to the side and out of any bad mojo. Our new friend even told me of a gentleman who often hikes in Dungannon with a “pit mix that would be a great playmate for Pete”. I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for this other mystery man…

Selfie with Trail Pete
Selfie with Trail Pete

With a “Ho, Ho, Ho”, ol’ Whitebeard rounded up all his faithful helpers into the bed of his flatbed truck (the sleigh is clearly too conspicuous), and off they sped to deliver further smiles and cheer. While Alicia, Achilles, Pete, and myself headed back onto the trail and towards…

Epic Hiking Fail #2:

What transpired next can best be described as a very unfortunate and extreme case of “user error”. Achilles, having gotten his GI tract all worked up during a near run in with a pack of his furry mortal enemies, soon had to take care of business upon getting back on the trail. Thus, he popped a squat and dropped a deuce (fitting since this is the second fail of the day). Ok, nothing unusual about this scenario yet.

Next, Alicia (with her history of very questionable dexterity) opted to move the now delivered “package” far off the trail rather than sacrificing a doggie poop bag (which have been in limited supply at our household as of late) out in the middle of the woods. She attempted to do so using a stick she broke off of a larger branch (which also seemed to be a bit of an adventure and perhaps a harbinger of things to come) and a “fling” method.

Now I did not witness what happened next but it seems to have transpired via a combination of fate and perhaps defiance of the laws of physics (a la the “Magic Loogie”).

In Alicia’s official statement, she stated that she “went to fling the poop and it went the wrong way”. Per her account, the fecal missile became airborne, struck her on her winter hat, and then rolled down the hat and into her hair!

This last part I was able to verify as an eyewitness: Poop in the hair!

That's a fact.
That’s a fact.

 

Achilles looking proud after degrading his human mom
Achilles looking proud after degrading his human mom

 

So all in all, it was quite the epic day out on the trails.

If this is a glimpse into what 2014 has in store for us, it’s gonna be quite a year!

 

 

“Choose Your Own Adventure” Trail Run Day (aka Long Run Sunday)

So I’m currently training for my first marathon (I probably should have mentioned that in the “About Me” blurb since it’s been taking up a lot of time and been a big part of “me” as of late…whoops). This will actually be the second marathon that I’ve trained for, but hopefully the first one I complete! I was hoping to run the 2012 Tobacco Road Marathon over in Apex/Cary, NC, but I suffered a pesky stress fracture in my foot a mere two weeks prior to the race. I toyed with the idea of running the race regardless, but a painful 10 mile run and a visit to an orthopedic doc convinced me otherwise.

Training for that run was pretty brutal (I guess I’m not a distance running guy; oh, I’m also not a sprinter or even a middle distance dude for that matter). However, after a sufficient amount of time, selective amnesia took over and thus I decided a few months ago that running a marathon seemed like a good idea again. After a bunch of half marathons, this seems like the natural transition, right?

Well, like all newbie wannabe marathoners, the amount of faith I have in myself varies wildly as does how I feel during my runs (particularly the long runs). Everyone has those varying levels of confidence, right? Right?

Today’s long run was a “shorter” 12 mile jaunt pancaked in between last weekend’s 19 miler (that was rough) and next weekend’s 20 miler (I’m already scared). The training ground I chose for the run was the beautiful and secluded Dungannon Plantation Heritage Preserve out in glamorous Hollywood, SC. I had stumbled across this spot on-line in the past while combing for possible hiking/running spots in the area and then fortuitously drove past it with my lady friend last weekend while on our way to pick out a Christmas tree. We promptly checked out the preserve on the way back from Christmas tree shopping, and also took our pups out there yesterday for some hiking shenanigans.

The thing about Dungannon Preserve is that its trails are not what you would call “well marked” and it seems that numerous different trails have blue blazes (that just adds to the fun, am I right?!). Coming into this morning’s run, I wasn’t even sure how much dedicated trailage there was within the park. The info board at the parking area stated that there are 5.5 miles of marked trails and 5 more miles of fire roads and other offshoots that can be hiked/explored/enjoyed. Since the info board shows only one long (by scope on the board) and meandering trail, it’s natural (or maybe just hopeful?) to think that this trail would be 5.5 miles in length, right?

Well, the moral of this story is twofold: 1) Distance measurements are a bit screwy in SC (I’ve run into similar measurement shenanigans in the past) 2) Don’t be a hopeful sap.

That meandering trail is 2.25 miles one way for a total of 4.5 miles out and back (nowhere near 12 miles!). Thus, today’s 12 miler had to be a bit creative. I ran that main stretch twice and probably hit every possible off shoot from the trails as well as made many of my own “trails” out in the forest. Every now and then I would run into random trail markers out in the woods, but they would seemingly be associated with only a couple hundred yards of “trail” (which could be seen only with a very healthy imagination).

Don’t get me wrong, though–I had a great time and the plantation is absolutely beautiful! Longleaf pines, swampland, the possibility of seeing alligators, boardwalks, and a wood stork nesting area–this place has it all! I just don’t think it’s the best spot for a longer run is all (unless you want to utilize a lot of creativity).

Not Too Shabby a Running Spot!
Not Too Shabby a Running Spot!

During the run itself, I felt great at times and super sluggish at others. All in all, I didn’t hit the overall pace that I was aiming for. I’m rationalizing it by telling myself that the random forest detours and running through thick leaves and thicket at times didn’t do my pace any favors. Yes, all that may be true, but I still worry that with performances like this I may be unable to run 26.2 miles let alone finish in a sub 4:00 like I’m aiming for.

What will ultimately happen? Well, I guess both you and I need to keep tuning in. Regardless, it’s never a bad day when you can run 12 miles in a beautiful backdrop and in 70 degree weather in late December!