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.
Hit the jump to see this small collection of shots that normally would have gone straight to the archives.
My friend Brad M. hung up the daily grind at the same time I did. He mentioned he was beginning to forget what day of the week it was. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but very close – one thing for sure, I am adapting faster than I thought would happen. Getting stuff checked off my to-do list at a record pace and once the holiday decorating is completed (looks like Hallmark threw up in our living room which is complete with a >12 foot Xmas tree hehehe), I can start researching target birds for our upcoming trip. With that said, I did notice one thing that seemed different – clipped a root and took a nasty impact running the trails the other day. Typically I bounce like Tigger and carry on. I had to collect myself for a minute this time, remember where/who I was and topped it off with a nice bruise after the run. Not liking that aspect at all! On a happier note, I mentioned what a wonderful send-off I had and the video they had made for me. After several attempts to upload to our gallery and help from Ron who converted the video for me (only to have Smugmug convert it back ugh), I finally got it rendered correctly. Thought I would share it with you – absolutely love it – on the other hand, Linda is getting tired of me playing it all the time hehehe.
Guessing you are really here to see wildlife! During the last post I mentioned the House Wren has a tendency to take over bird houses intended for our local Eastern Bluebirds. I try not to play favorites too much beyond my well documented dislike for the Brown-Headed Asshats (link here) and those damn Blue Jays. Whoever gets there first and able to defend it wins the house in my book. Except the Wrens need to start putting down a deposit if they take over my replacement birdhouse as they have proven to be lacking on the upkeep responsibilities.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our colorful backyard bird.
The hysteria continues to thrive around us. Shelves laid bare in the paper aisle, shopping carts full of anything that has the word antibacterial on it and to top it off we have people that aren’t even accountable for the outcome pontificating on TV about how they would solve the crisis – comical in the instances where they were in charge and didn’t do jack. Regardless, since my last post they have closed down all our state parks, banned eating in restaurants and shuttered bars. Wait, this just in, CDC is discouraging any gathering over 50 people. So, now not only are my official races canceled I can’t even continue with my training runs in the safety of Jubilee State Park. Hell, I can’t even bird in my favorite park which means I have no way to keep the internal crazies at bay.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Blues.
I can only assume things are getting .. if not already been.. crazy wherever you might call home. All the large events have now been canceled (including two of my scheduled races for April), schools have been shuttered, remote work has been instituted where possible and now we officially have our first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in our local area. I’ll spare you the political gamesmanship that is going on at the same time beyond the tidbit my tax evading governor of our broke state is on TV complaining that people are continuing to go outside – the horror, the horror (oh, but he still wants everyone to go out and vote on Tuesday – long live politics). Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Lemons out of lemonade, there’s extra time to devote to the image backlog.
The queue can definitely use the extra attention now that it has been drastically inflated thanks to the discovery of the previously mentioned missing directory. Being that it is currently snowing here in the heart of Illinois, decided to take you on a virtual bird walk. There was a series of shots in the queue taken back in June of 2017 courtesy of a stroll through my favorite local state park – Jubilee College. It happens to be only a mile south of us – our woods and those of my neighbor’s all link to this park. A lot of my free time is spent there either training on hills or enjoying birding hikes on their many trails. This collection is more focused on the bird variety discovered that day than the photographic execution. Sometimes you just need to focus on the joy of being outdoors and experiencing nature leaving the stress of getting the camera and light settings mastered. Sean O’Connell said it best “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
Not exactly lighting up the stage when it comes to posting this month. Seems like one thing after another as of late. This weekend was mainly focused on the Illinois’ Toughest 15K race in Peoria. I’ll leave the details for the race recap post, but I can safely say that race owned me this year. Made it through, but the body let me down in the wicked humidity. Need to retool the body a bit and hopefully get a lot more heat conditioning training runs in before the next July (expect it to be even hotter for that race ugh). Regardless, there’s a quota to tend to and no time to waste. Luckily I have most of the pictures processed for the rest of this month’s post so the hard part is behind me. With that, let’s bring out the Blues.
To be more specific, that would be an Eastern Bluebird couple. This elegant pair was captured not far from my house in Jubilee College State Park near Brimfield IL back in May 2015 That park is pretty much my stomping ground for birding and running (better bring your hill climbing muscles if you want to explore or run a lot of that park). On that particular day I had parked at the end of the main campground road and spent most of the morning following a Kickapoo Creek feeder that runs through the heart of the park. For the most part not a lot of birds made it into the tin that AM so decided to call it an early day and head back to the truck.
As I neared the parking lot I spotted the female (the more drab of the two if you are not familiar with this particular bird) staring intently at the ground from atop a nearby fence post. Curious, I kept my distance and took in the scene wondering what was so interesting to Ms. Blue. It didn’t take long to figure it out – after about 30 seconds she launched from her perch, took a low trajectory path just above the grass and scored a tasty morsel for herself. For some reason I didn’t think to have the camera ready and missed it completely – sometimes you just have to live in the moment and simply enjoy life in motion. As if that wasn’t cool enough, not long after that, a bright blue flash came gliding through the same area of the field and demonstrated its predator ability as well. Those two were going to eat well that day!
… but wait…
Turns out this Bluebird couple was taking care of a new brood! The male was the first to deliver the special package while the mother looked on – between you and I, I think she was just showing off that her catch was bigger than her husband’s! It is about this time that the male discovered The Beast pointed at it… and more importantly pointed in a threatening manner at his family. Guessing I looked like a giant bug that would definitely one up his wife’s recent score. Not wanting to disturb his family or cause any undue stress, the glass was lowered and officially called it a successful day.
It wasn’t lost on me that there was a bit of irony as I left the parking lot – hehehehe.
Time to hit the hay – no worries, I’ll be back soon.