Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Running 2013: Week Forty

Road run on Saturday, Sept. 28. Four miles, average pace 8:31. Even though I’ve done this distance slightly faster this year, this one felt good because I kept things pretty steady: 8:41, 8:31, 8:39, and 8:15. Fastest mile at the end, with a decently-maintained acceleration over the last quarter mile.

Sunday afternoon was perfect for a Quail Hollow trail run: Overcast and in the low 70s. And since I started and finished at one of the mountain bike access points (photo above), this 3.1-miler was my first 100% trail run: No pavement at all.

I really liked this one: Several different environments to pass through, and I found my way to the loop which had eluded me a couple weeks ago.

Also, I paused the Garmin and stopped for a minute deep in the woods when a huge red-tailed hawk swooped across the path right in front of me and came to rest on a low branch nearby. I just had to see if I could get a closer look. The thing was just magnificent.

And I shared a funny moment with a family hiking with their kids, inadvertently scaring the bejeezus out of one of the moms when I came up behind them on the trail. I was deliberately making noise, too – heavy footfalls, exaggerated throat-clearings and the like – but they still didn’t hear me catching up to them. Poor woman turned sideways to slip past a branch, saw me about 10 feet behind them and freaked out – loudly – for a half-second before catching her breath and bursting into laughter.

Averaged 9:14 for the run, with no stretches of pavement to let me open things up, so I felt good about that.

7.1 miles for the week. Total to date: 272.4. October 1 is the 274th day of the year.

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , | Leave a comment

Late September Morning, Hartville, Ohio

These were preceded by an amazing sunrise that I couldn’t shoot because I was driving. This scene was right down the street, though, so when I got home, I walked back for some pictures. I really like the way the top shot and the panorama came out.

(Click on any photo to view a larger version in my Flickr photostream.)

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, photos | , , , , | 1 Comment

Running 2013: Weeks Thirty-eight and Thirty-nine

I got my mileage in week 38 with another weekend combination of a trail run Saturday, Sept. 14, and a road run the next day.

There was still one section of Quail Hollow trails I hadn’t visited yet: a 1.5-mile loop shared with the bridle trail. On the map below, it’s the dashed blue and yellow line.

So I thought I’d include that trail this time around. I started up on the sedge marsh trail – that standalone yellow line at middle right – and then, as I had the week before, followed the southern portion of that green loop.

And then I started reaching forks. This is a pretty densely wooded, hilly, area, and the trails are narrow, so you can’t see a long way in any direction. It’s the area in the right 1/3 of this image:


Now, I’d been to this area the week before, and I had made a wrong turn that had led me to the mountain bike trail, so I recognized that decision point, and made the opposite call this time around. But after some twists and turns, I realized that I was heading away from the trail I wanted to find. So I doubled back, like when you pick a quick death in a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, and went the other way at my last decision point. Then I managed to find myself back on the same section of mountain bike trail that I’d been on the week prior. So I turned around again and found a third option, and took that trail westward.

When the landscape opened up a bit to a less-wooded region, and I hit a T-intersection running north and south, I figured I was at the eastern edge of the loop I’d been seeking. I turned right for a short bit, then thought I’d rather run the long way around, so I headed in the opposite direction. And then somewhere along the path, I made another decision that landed me on the mountain bike trail again, heading exactly where I didn’t want to go. On that big map above, this would be the black trail running roughly parallel to the brown dashed line in the lower right corner.

Oh, fine. I doubled back again. Having added about a half-mile thanks to this detour, I opted to stick to the shorter, northern section of the blue-and-yellow loop, then took the bridle trail branch that led back to the park road, which I followed back to my starting point. (There was, in fact, one more brief detour: Not shown on the map is a weirdly groomed and maintained offshoot of trail that leads to…a house with a big yard in the middle of the woods.)

Here’s what the entire route wound up looking like:


It was fun. Yes, for real.

The next day, I did a four-mile road loop and managed to save my best mile – a 7:53 – for last. Overall pace was 8:26, which was the best I’d managed for that distance in a couple months.

Total miles for the week: 7.5. Total to date (week ending 9/16): 257.8. That was the 259th day of the year, so I was just 1.2 miles shy of my goal.

Week thirty-nine began with a rare Tuesday run on the 17th. I had worked from home, and the writing had not come easily that day, so by 6 p.m., I needed a quick two-mile out-and-back just to clear my head.

It’s not a distance I run very often anymore, so when I do, I try to push myself a bit. While I didn’t go really hard on the outbound mile, I made a point of not letting up too much either, and I felt good about my 7:43 time. Heading home, I maintained that for about a quarter mile, slowed up a bit for another quarter, and then poured it on for the last half-mile, which is mostly a gradual incline. My second mile wound up at 7:34, and I actually hit a 5:25 pace for just a second or two in there. My total time of 15:18 was only 15 seconds off the fastest Hall of Fame Two-Miler I ever managed, and I used to feel really beat up after that race.

Did an uneventful 3.5-mile loop on Saturday in 29:45, for an average pace of 8:29 – although I did have to push myself the last half-mile to get there.

I went out Sunday and decided to do another two-mile for speed. I did my first mile in 7:27, but I could tell I was going to be hard-pressed to maintain that and crack that 15-minute mark. Right after the turnaround, and again at the 1.5-mile mark, and again a quarter mile later, I kept hitting a wall and slowing up.

really tried that last tenth of a mile, though, and clocked a 15:06.

Total, then: 265.3 miles. Today’s the 268th day of the year – but while it looks like I’ve lost ground, that’s really because my running week starts on Tuesday, and I haven’t done any miles this week yet.

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

This is Me in ’83 – Movie Mix-Up

National Lampoon’s Vacation came out in July, 1983.

I’d heard about its hilarity – possibly from my parents – so when my friend Mike H. invited me to go see a weekend matinee showing (the school year had already started), I was excited – and a little nervous to ask my parents for permission to go see an R-rated movie. I was surprised at their immediate approval, but in retrospect, Vacation is pretty tame. Not PG-13 territory, for sure, but only brief nudity, and certainly no language I wasn’t hearing every day in junior high.

It was sunny on the Saturday that Mike and his mom picked me up, and we headed to the Belden Village Twin Cinemas.

I saw a lot of movies there growing up: E.T. and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century come to mind, and I feel like saw Star Wars at Belden Village at least once, maybe during one of its re-releases.

The “Twin Cinemas” may have once been a pair, but I remember the business as a quartet of theatres – two houses each in a pair of adjacent strip mall buildings. They don’t exist as theatres anymore – the buildings are now home to things like Panera, Cici’s Pizza, and dental offices. You wouldn’t be criticized for wondering how the hell they ever had movie theatres in there, and it was only when I was older that I realized how relatively small the theatres were.

So Mike’s mom drops us off at the theatre. It has become clear during the drive that she is not attending the movie with us, but up to this point, I was figuring she was going to come along and buy our tickets. Now, though, I’m wondering how the heck a couple 12-year-olds are going to get away with purchasing admission to an R movie, and I’m silently freaking out.

Mike and I get out of the car and start walking toward the building where Vacation is showing. Before we get inside, we hear his mom calling after us. She has pulled the car up to the curb and calls from the window, “Where are you guys going?”

“To see Vacation,” Mike answers kind of sheepishly – he’s failing at nonchalance – while gesturing at the theatre.

And then the light bulb goes on: Mike has either lied outright or played a little misdirection/obfuscation with his mom, who clearly has no idea she was aiding and abetting a couple of would-be R-rated movie-crashing pre-teens.

“That’s rated R,” she responds. “I thought you were going to see Eddie and the Cruisers.” And now she’s pointing to the building next door.

“Oh,” Mike responds. What choice did he have? “Yeah. OK.”

I had no idea what the heck Eddie and the Cruisers was, but I admit I felt a little relief that I wasn’t going to have to pretend to be 17 years old to see it.

Eddie and the Cruisers was released on Sept. 23, 1983. (Which means Vacation was still running after nearly two months – I think that was kind of ordinary for the era, although that kind of theatrical run seems unheard of now, unless you count dollar-cinema runs.)

I barely remember anything other than disinterest from that viewing, and the movie became a punchline to Mike and me.

I didn’t see Vacation until it hit cable.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This is Me in ’83 – Saturday Morning D&D

I started to write up my memories of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, which premiered on CBS Sept. 17, 1983, and then realized I’d really like to contribute this particular bit of recollection to GeekDad.


And I’m glad I did, because it’s been really cool seeing the responses on GeekDad, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and realizing that hey, I struck a nice nostalgic nerve with this one.

We even made the official Daily D&D!

Owly Images

I didn’t want to overload the GeekDad post with pictures, so here are a couple images from the cartoon’s closing credits that I mentioned. Still gorgeous and a little sad, somehow – but in that good sort of way. (And I think I figured out why I love them so much. It’s an amusement park at dusk. Weak spot.)



September 20, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Television | , , , , | Leave a comment

Jim C. Hines & Codex Born

I finally had a chance to read Jim C. Hines’ second “Magic ex Libris” book, Codex Born, and I wrote a review for GeekDad.

I’ve been a fan of Jim’s since meeting him at Penguicon in 2009, and have had fun interviewing him about his Princess series and the origins of Magic ex Libris, and was really excited when he won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.

So, I have to admit, when Codex Born arrived in the mail, and I saw the cover, I thought, <understatement>”Hm. This is kind of cool.”</understatement>:


That front cover quote is from my GeekDad review of Libriomancer(And it still holds true, by the way: Hines has got some big, amazing ideas unfolding in this series, and the premise is just a ton of fun.) I don’t know who handles this sort of thing at DAW Books, but I heartily approve of their taste in blurbage.

Now, seriously: If you’re a science fiction/fantasy book geek, and you’re not reading “Magic ex Libris,” you’re missing out.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Books, geek, science fiction | , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Thirty-seven

Two three-and-a-half mile runs this week – so I didn’t make up any of my 2.7-mile deficit, but I did enjoy myself.

I went out for another trail run at Quail Hollow on Saturday, just after 9 a.m. Covered some of the same wooded trails as last weekend, but in the opposite direction. Then explored some new territory in another part of the park, running the sedge marsh and meadowlands trails. In a few spots, these were a little more difficult to follow, and at one point, my pace slowed nearly to a walk, since the planked walkway across a swamp was almost completely overgrown by the grasses alongside.

I encountered a few other runners, and some people walking their dogs, and it was a great morning to be out on the paths. Found a few short but challenging climbs, and inadvertently turned myself onto the mountain bike trail for a bit, too. (Despite the number of cyclists I saw getting ready to ride upon my arrival that morning, I didn’t actually see any out on the trail.)

As before, I felt like I got a really good workout even though my pace is nowhere near what it is on the road: a 9:10 first mile, 9:16 second, and a 10:13 third. (That’s the mile which included the partially-obstructed walkway.) The last half mile covered pavement, so I managed to pull my overall pace back to 9:23 by pushing a little at the end.

While I’m really digging the trail run, I wanted to push my lungs and speed a little bit on Sunday, so I did a 3.5 mile road loop a little after 7 a.m. Gorgeous morning, pink sunrise. Felt good with an 8:18 first mile, felt better with an 8:13 second mile. Had to work for my 8:18 third mile, but for the last half mile, I averaged a 7:25 pace, which pulled my overall pace down to 8:08.

And I’m very pleasantly surprised to learn that looking at my year to date, that’s the best pace I’ve done for 3.5 miles yet. Progress has snuck up on me.

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Thirty-six

Finished off August with a mid-morning four-mile run on Saturday. Somehow felt like I was running into the wind in every direction. Not a really strong wind, but enough to make me think, “Oh, come on.

Didn’t push things really hard until the last third of a mile, but that was enough to keep my overall pace at 8:50 per mile.

Sunday, Sept. 1, I went for my first trail run.

I’ve run on trails from time to time, but never for any significant distance, but I figured I’m going to try one of the Ohio Outside races by year’s end, I should probably give it a shot. The downside is that trail running means driving – just a few miles up the road to Quail Hollow State Park, but that also means I’m putting on the running belt so I can carry car keys. And if I’m wearing the belt, I’m bringing water – which was a good idea on Sunday anyway, since it was warm and sunny.

So, here’s my run as tracked by Garmin:


And here’s what that area looks like on Google Maps satellite view:


From my parking space to the end of the paved “Nature for All” trail was about .6 miles, and I did that at the beginning and end of my 3.5-mile route, meaning I ran about 2.3 miles on pure trail: soil, rocks, roots, and the occasional wooden-plank walkway.

What I learned: Holybejeepers, trail running is work.

I really enjoyed my ever-changing surroundings and being in the shade of the woods, but I was unprepared for the toll the terrain would take on my pace. For most of the time, I was close to ten-minute miles, held in check by the need for short strides, the need to constantly watch my footing, and the lack of downhill freewheeling opportunities. (Okay – technically the opportunities were there, but for a new trail runner, they came with too high a risk of additional opportunities. You know: full-on face plants, crunched ankles, opportunities like that.) The opening and closing pavement stretches were the spots that allowed me to keep my overall pace at 9:33.

And while the park paths are clearly marked, including numerous loops and offshoots, I did lose track of direction at one point, and got to experience the surprise of approaching a landmark only to realize I’d already been there once, and didn’t think I was anywhere near it again.

If I’m going to do a five-mile trail run, I’ll need to put in some serious time at Quail Hollow, but I don’t think I’ll mind.

Year-to-date: 243.3 miles. Today’s the 246th day of 2013, so I’m 2.7 miles short of my goal, but barring disaster, I should be able to make that up this month and get myself back into a surplus.

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , | Leave a comment


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