Sitting Here, Taking a Walk in the Woods

Just sitting here relaxing a bit before tomorrow’s race. Giving the ankle one last rest before strapping on the Nimbus’ and walking to the bottom of Brady Street hill in Davenport Iowa for my 18th running of the Bix 7. Quite shocked the weather gods decided to take pity on us and give us some decent temps for a change. One of my faithful readers mentioned in a comment she was familiar with the race and noted the winners usually hail from Kenya (or Ethiopia). Don’t be fooled, they are all training at top tier schools in the US. It is true, they definitely dominate the podiums at this race, but typically they are not prepared for the humidity that accompanies this race (as well as the Steamboat Race in June link here). I am always surprised to see how hard they are having to push themselves as they are returning up the 2 mile hill as I’m coming down – yes, I’m at around the 2.5 mile mark and they are heading into their 5th mile. An elite road runner I am NOT! My speed days are long past replaced with the fun of grinding out ultra distances. There are not that many road races that interest my anymore, however, the Bix was the first race I ever entered and hands down it has the BEST post race party of any event out there. Linda is from Davenport and told me about this race when I was looking for something to fill the gap when I hung up my gi.

Good weather, a course completely lined with onlookers cheering us on (yes, even the slow ones like me), a distance that should be a walk in the park for me and a great afterparty – can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. Oh, did I mention that Linda participates as well – they have a two mile option that takes you up the .8 mile long steep hill at the start and then directs you back down at the next block. Wish us luck!

In honor of the stress free Bix distance, thought I would feature a real “walk in the park” for today’s final post of the month.

Common Yellowthroat found at Jubilee College State Park in July 2022

Hit the jump to see this small collection of shots that normally would have gone straight to the archives.

Continue reading Sitting Here, Taking a Walk in the Woods

To Torture Limits and the Goodness of DEET

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel – at least let’s hope it isn’t the light to the afterlife ha. Ironically, many of the events and tasks that have been consuming me of late are coming to their end. We closed out Mom’s estate today with the successful closing on the house and tonight I completed my last taper before Saturday’s Bix 7 Race. Now a bit of rest for the ankle and maybe some ice, although I doubt the swelling is going to subside much more before race time. It feels strong enough for a hilly road race and looking forward to testing it on the trails next week. The roots, rocks and uneven terrain that makes trail running so technical, has a way of finding any of your weak spots. We will cross that bridge when it comes – right now I need to focus on the blog as I’m just a few posts down and the end of the month is a mere arm’s length away. My original intent of featuring this feathered friend at this point in the month may not come true now.

Kentucky Warbler found at Tawny Oaks Field Station, Edelstein, IL in July 2022

The Bix 7 race in Davenport Iowa is always held on the last Saturday of July. If you are familiar with the Midwest, the last weekend of July usually means one thing – DAMN HOT! Not just the eh, its warm, rather the sticky, sweaty, sauna like, humid, pressure cooker temps that melt the bottoms of your shoes to the asphalt pavement and makes you look like you just came out of the washer. This is my 18th consecutive running of the Bix (I am not counting the missed one from two years ago that went virtual because of Covid) and I can count on one hand how many “nice” days we’ve had for this race. Note, pouring down rain does fall into the nice category. Just so happens the day Ron and I shot this Kentucky Warbler felt just like a normal Bix race day.

Hit the jump to read more about what it took to get this Warbler checked off for the year.

Continue reading To Torture Limits and the Goodness of DEET

The Midas Wing

Other than the quickly approaching end of the month and being down several posts to meet my quota, things are starting to look up. Dealing with Mom’s estate has taken a serious chunk of time, but that should wrapped up at this week’s closing – thankfully my oldest brother is taking the brunt of the financial aspects – Ron and I focused on the busy grunt work cleaning out the house etc. – which is pretty much the way it is around our house as well ha. The conditioning for the upcoming weekend race (Bix 7 link here) is nearly behind me as well. One more short taper and then just try to be as healthy as possible entering the chutes. Heat is usually a problem, however, I did punish myself on some very hot long run days – fingers crossed the internal thermostat doesn’t go bonkers. My training runs are well beyond the 7 mile distance so that isn’t a problem. That just leaves the ankle as the unknown wildcard. Feels strong, even made it through two trail runs without tweaking it again (yeah) …but still swollen. I don’t know, maybe that is just the new norm. I’ll try body shaming and hurling insults at that weak-punk-ass ankle for the next couple of days and see if it will finally give up the pity act!

Since we are talking about conditioning, thought this feathered friend would fit theme.

Golden-Winged Warbler found at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary in May 2022

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this chance encounter.

Continue reading The Midas Wing

It Say’s I’m the Best

For the last two weeks I’ve woken up, looked at the day’s to-do list, covered my dog’s ears and let out a string of colorful words. In big bold letters is the word “POST”. Although that probably is obvious but it is short for “Get your lazy butt into the den and get a post out you lily-livered, bow-legged, flea-bitten varmint”. Yes, I’m retired, yes, I still have to-do lists and yes, my to-do list entries mock me. This month it isn’t so much procrastination, just too much stuff going on, but today we are going to take another bite out of the self-imposed monthly post quota.

Going to start with another brag introduction. I previously mentioned Raven did well in the TDAA National competition held last week in Minnesota. He is starting to slow down a bit, but he is getting the job done qualifying in 4 out of his 6 runs. I’d be sleeping on the couch if I didn’t give some of that credit to Linda ha!

Raven at TDAA Nationals in Maple Grove, MN July 2022

I think Raven is starting to feel the pressure from the newest member of the agility family. A long way from the steady runs of his brother, Ruger is just starting out, but showing amazing talent – Linda just needs to get him focused. We laughed at this shot of him “doing” his first ever weave poles. By “doing” we mean running right through them to get to his favorite obstacle the teeter-totter. “That isn’t how it’s done Ruger!” Raven was absolutely embarrassed and went and hid in his crate after that fiasco.

Raven at TDAA Nationals in Maple Grove, MN July 2022

As they Say’s, hit the jump to see today’s featured feathered friend!

Continue reading It Say’s I’m the Best

Baby dogs in the Water, so Baby Geese on Land

Wow, has this been an event packed month and we are only halfway through it.  Just got back from the Teacup Dog Agility Association (TDAA) Nationals up in Maple Grove, Minnesota (just outside of Minneapolis).  Raven was the primary competitor, but Ruger got to run a couple of runs at the beginning of the event.  4 out of 6 qualifiers for Raven – Ruger… well let’s just say he still has a full head of puppy in him.  I’ll give more details in upcoming posts (waaaayyy behind on my July quota, that’s for sure).  On our way back we had the opportunity to get Ruger introduced to Dock Diving.  He has zero fear of anything and thought he would enjoy the sport – his brother is also getting his” feet wet” so to speak in the sport as they apparently both have a love for driving their owners crazy with their endless energy. 

This first session was just to start introducing him to deep water. His breeder introduced him to water features when he was just a few weeks old (part of his performance familiarization). This was the first time since then he had been in water beyond his groomer baths. By the end of the session he was getting much more comfortable with his swimming skills and would leave the dock to get his favorite ball and come back. Everyone was shocked when he put his head completely underwater to go after his ball – apparently that is an extremely good sign! Needless to say we will be signing up for more sessions and finally getting out and filling the 6’x10′ pool we bought him last fall. We can’t wait until he takes his first leap off that dock!!

Being that we just got home from the week long trip, I had to pull today’s featured feathered friend off the wayback queue.

Canada Goose at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to see more graceful swimmers.

Continue reading Baby dogs in the Water, so Baby Geese on Land

Burning in the Dirt and the Trees

I just might have to go back to formally working as I can’t for the life of me figure out how I can be busier now that when I was spending over 40 hours a week fighting the ghosts in the machine. Those hours are being sucked up into the vortex somehow and it isn’t a result of naps! (truth is I have NEVER been able to take a nap since they stopped giving me a carton a milk and a carpet square in kindergarten). Admittedly, part of the time consumption is a slew of national and local dog competitions that have had us traveling to compete. Time for a proud pappa to do some quick bragging. Ruger had his very first agility ring showing last weekend. Now that he’s finally had his first birthday, he is ready to impress.

Ruger's first agility competition in Springfield, IL in July of 2022

Hit the jump to read more about Ruger’s debut and to see the latest add to my birding life list – hint, he’s a beauty!

Continue reading Burning in the Dirt and the Trees