Blemish No More

Well, by the fact you are reading this post means my latest physical challenge didn’t succeed in killing me – yeah! So, as a quick recap for those that are not regular readers of this side of Intrigued, yesterday was a big day for yours truly. A day that has been nagging at me for two solid years thanks to a …hmmm… let’s just refer to it as a blemish on my running career. A mishap that ended up in with an unexpected ambulance ride to the emergency room. The event was the Cry Me a River Trail Run (CMAR) held along the bluffs of the Illinois River. Back in 2018 I had run the half marathon distance and learned just how hard this course was – beaten to hell, but left grinning ear to ear in absolute enjoyment – trail runners can be a strange lot ha (link here). So much fun, I committed to the 50K the following year. That was supposed to be 31+ miles (more on the ‘+’ later), but I only made it ~14 before dropping from heat exhaustion. Passed out and hit a box fan on the way down earning myself a 2 inch gash in the back of my head (link here). The minute I regained consciousness there was one thing dominating my thoughts – redemption .. actually make that two – redemption and that’s a lot of wasted blood. My first DNF (did not finish) in any race and it gnawed at me every day. Trained my ass off to make another go at it last year, but thanks to that damn pandemic the race was canceled – ANOTHER year of gnawing and hard training in hopes this was the year to rid my record of those three humbling letters.

2021 Cry Me a River Trail Race 50K
Cry Me River 2021 Race Swag

It all came to a head yesterday morning as I lined up at 8am on the CMAR starting line in an attempt to fulfill a commitment made on a ambulance gurney 2 long years ago. Hit the jump to find out if my attempt was successful… or was this another endeavor cut short with another ride in an ambulance.

Continue reading Blemish No More

Time for a Little Bragging

Hello everyone!  Thought I would take a break from your regularly scheduled programming and bring you a bit of self-indulgence.  Actually, since I have very little to do with any of the honors, I should really classify it as some family bragging.  Take a look at what our little dude brought home from our recent trip to Michigan.

That is one proud puppy! As mentioned in some previous posts, we had the opportunity to head up north and compete in the UKC Premier Nationals. Raven and his mother were in the top 50 UKC Agility Level 2 (AG2) Toy Division (4″) dogs in the nation. This got them invited to their annual Premier where they go head to head in the agility ring.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our little ball of fur.

Continue reading Time for a Little Bragging

Not Just a Long Weekend

Unfortunately, I am late on this particular post. It isn’t so much a case of procrastination as I had written the first version prior to Monday. During the course of several activities over the weekend (including birding with Ron), I mulled on the approach I had taken and the words written regarding the topic. Thoughts went back and forth until the time came to publish and I decided to scrap it. I still hold firmly the opinions originally expressed, but decided Memorial Day was a time to honor those that have fought for our freedoms and principles at home and abroad rather than sully it with accounts of worthless politicians and seditious mainstream media.

Vicksburg Mississippi National Military Park January 2021

Instead, I wanted to focus on the brave men and women who volunteered or were called to duty like my Father to defend our nation’s founding principles. To all who have or are serving we owe a level of gratitude that can never be repaid. I would contend that all have been permanently altered to some degree by their experiences. My father would not discuss what he went through during his time in the Army deployed during the Korean War. Piecing together tidbits gathered over my lifetime – a photograph here, a rare comment there or an emotion that momentarily forced its way through his stoic facade weave a tale no one would wish upon their child.

Continue reading Not Just a Long Weekend

Hey Look, Goats!

19 months ago I ran my last official trail race – actually make that my last official race of any kind.  That was the redemption 50K run at Farmdale towards the end of 2021 – before the damn pandemic decided to destroy my running events (link here).  I did participate in one virtual race in April of last year (link here), but frankly, that’s like paying someone to give you a medal for a training run – you were going to do it anyway except now it costs you to go out and run alone.  Now, that was for Make A Wish so the donation fee definitely went to a good cause.  The rest of the 2020 races ended up going to some form of virtual as well – all those I passed on.  Instead I focused on the planned 50 miler at Farmdale – a step up from the 30K the year before.  Trained and trained and trained until the disappointing news came that it was canceled as well.  2020 was a bust, and honestly, it was looking like 2021 was stacking up to be more of the same.  That is until Linda noticed the Blue Chevy Trail Classic Half Marathon at Farmdale Reservoir was taking entries!

Blue Chevy Trail Race, Farmdale East Peoria May 22nd, 2021

Hit the jump to read about my first race since forever.

Continue reading Hey Look, Goats!

Year 13 Wasn’t So Lucky!

Intrigued Blog Summary 2020

Well, it was the year 2020 but if anyone had perfect vision for what the world would be put through, they should immediately make their way to Vegas and find an open Roulette table – should not be hard to find an empty seat these days.  It is the small achievements along the way that get us through the bad times.  One such example is the completion of the 13th year of blogging here at Intrigued – at least for the mothership, the wildlife side is a little younger as that sister site was  created a number of years later.  Adding to that is a self-pat on the back for once again hitting the 6 post a month self-imposed minimum.  It was touch and go there a couple of times during the year, but we fought through it.  Definitely had a huge gaping hole in the running posts this year.  With the exception of the one virtual race recollected a couple of posts ago, the year was a complete bust.  This made hitting my yearly goal of logging at least 1,100 miles a lonely journey.  Toeing the line on race day is a huge motivation for me – with every race last year canceled due to that ass Covid, keeping on track and hauling myself out to the trails every other day tested the mental toughness.  Fought through two injuries to the back and a ridiculous last month of miles to get that check again this year (1,200+ actually).

2020 also brought with it some big changes related to our careers.  Linda officially retired February 1, 2020 giving her some badly needed stress relief after her large operation the year before.  Thanks to the pandemic, she really didn’t get to enjoy her first year of freedom as much as she deserved.  By November I had convinced myself to hang up the corporate life as well and went on permanent vacation until the official retirement on February 1st of this year.  Definitely looking forward to all the extra cycles available to spend on blog material – in between the extra training runs of course ha!

One of my goals last year (come to think of it … every year) has been to increase awareness of the Intrigued blogs.  Over the last year I’ve been able to keep in touch with many of my long time readers and had the privilege of gaining additional followers that apparently enjoy my musings.  For the existing fans as well as the new followers, I am truly thankful and honored you are willing to spend the one thing that is the most valuable in our lives – ‘time’.  A unique possession that is perpetually consumed yet never replaceable.    I am also thankful for the other members of the blogsphere that educate me on a daily basis, give me hours of enjoyment and continue to expand my thinking/perspectives along with pushing me to get better at my craft.

A few quick shout outs.  One to my brother Ron who is a big part of the behind the scenes operations as birding companion, ID confirmer and all around fact checker – not to mention invaluable help with all the Halloween projects that go on around here year round.  To CJ (link here) and B. in the UK (link here) who keep me informed on what is going on across the pond and then there’s my personal editor Brad M.  who keeps the pages mostly free of the egregious syntax errors – sorry for all the errors that make it through – In my defense, I graduated from the University of Illinois’ Engineering College which makes bits and bytes my first language (then married someone with a similar background so we could communicate hehehe).

Keeping with tradition, it’s time to look back at the year’s output and self-evaluate.  One noticeable improvement is the number of followers.  Few things bring a smile to my day more than a comment or like on one of my posts.  If you are curious about the details, hit the jump to see the individual stats and accomplishments.

Thanks again to all my readers and here’s to the new year of fun and adventures that will assuredly find their way onto these pages.

Hit the jump for the details on the 2020 Life Intrigued blogs summary.

Continue reading Year 13 Wasn’t So Lucky!

Thanks for Nothing Covid

Guess there is no time like the present to get some loose ends wrapped up before hopefully getting back into the upcoming racing season.  I’ve had a note on my desk for almost a year now to get this race post out.  Through part procrastination and part denial I bring you a post on last year’s race season.  Hell, this post represents the ENTIRE 2020 race season.

Allerton Trail Races April 26/27 2020

Hit the jump for the race recap – albeit late this year.

Continue reading Thanks for Nothing Covid

Evil Warding Stoners

Welcome to 2021 everyone!!  Sorry for the long delay on the posting thingy, but we are currently doing a little bit of exploring to start the new year off right.  Now a mere one month off from my official retirement date – need to live each day to its fullest.  Being out and about has limited my ability to get to the keyboard for my own blog and, unfortunately, waaaay behind on getting caught up with the output from all my blogger friends.

Statues and Gargoyles found on the Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC during October 2016 vacation

With the replenishment of the calendar, decided to start the year out with something completely different.  Honestly, this has been in the hopper for some time now.  Part of the confusion was deciding which blog to put it on.  Typically it would go on the mothership as it isn’t technically wild”life”, however you can’t deny there is a creature element to it.  Let’s just overlook the fact they happen to be in a perpetual stationary position.

Statues and Gargoyles found on the Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC during October 2016 vacation

Hit the jump to learn more about these evil deflecting creatures.

Continue reading Evil Warding Stoners

Recollection: You Call Yourself a Birder?

Kingbird Highway by Kenn Kaufman

I’ve been staring at a book by Kenn Kaufman that has been laying on my desk for several months now.  Having read it in a couple of marathon sessions it was simply waiting for me to get around to posting a recollection of it.  There it sat, begging night after night for some time to meet the world.  Problem is, these recollection posts take a significant amount of time to a) to capture what I thought about it, b) review various pages to remind myself of compelling takeaways, c) do some research to personalize the takeaways and then d) get it all down in black in white.  Thanks to the first official day of the Wisconsin dog show, the procrastination has come to an end.  Today’s post is about a body of work on a famous birder.  Kenn published his book, Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life  of an Extreme Birder, back in 1997 (2006 for my paperback copy) covering his endeavor to complete a Big Year back in 1973.  Tops of my list of birding related reading is Neil Hayward’s Lost Among the Birds (link here).  That book is an incredible read focused on the emotional healing that birding can bring.  Kingbird is now solidly anchored in the number 2 position. Like Hayward’s, I found myself unable to put the book down.  I’d pick it up for a quick nitecap and next thing I know I’m looking at very small numbers on the clock.  If I remember correctly, Ron had the exact same opinion when I originally bought him this book – he liked it so much he ended up having a copy sent to me.  After I turned the last page I said to myself “I’m not a birder!”.  Kenn sets an entirely different standard, embarking on his Big Year when he was 16 years old.  His mode of transportation – standing on the side of the road with his thumb out.  69,000 miles later he had tallied up 666 birds – three short of Floyd Murdoch, but they didn’t count his + 5 from the Baja’s which would have put him over. The stunner in all of this… the amount of money that he spent in this mission.  $50K?,  $100K?, hell $200K doesn’t sound out of reason based on all the criss-crossing you have to do across North America to even have a chance of getting the needed level of checks.  In truth, Kenn spent a staggering $1K – that is travel and living expenses for the entire year – with nearly half of that in two flights in Alaska.  Getting by on less than a dollar a day.  That my friends is an individual that can stand in front of anyone past and present and claim they are a birder.  One that is willing to eat dry cat food for sustenance and endured several run ins with police who didn’t appreciate his mode of transportation and/or his road weary look and even fended off a knife wielding mugger trying to get his cat food.  A different time for sure.  These days, traveling by thumb to see birds has a good chance of you ending up being circled by Vultures.  I did find myself asking what kind of parents he had that was okay with him dropping out of high school and heading off on a solo adventure to every coastline and everywhere in between.  He did thank them at the end of the book stating how grateful he was for them having the faith to let him follow his dream.

Kenn is a tall oak in the birding field and a regular contributor in our primary birding magazines.  Birder’s World refers to Kenn as “the person who knows more about bird identification than almost anyone on the planet”.  He didn’t get there by burying his nose in books – instead, he put himself out there and gained his knowledge the old fashioned way – experiencing it.  Do you enjoy birding, maybe even thinking about a big year yourself ?- grab a copy of this book – guarantee you will have problems putting it down, eagerly turning page after page to learn how Kenn was able to get another check on the list.

If you can’t wait to get your own copy, hit the jump to see a few of my takeaways.

Continue reading Recollection: You Call Yourself a Birder?

An Even Dozen

Lifeintrigued Blog Summary 2019

At some point in the previous year I must have forgotten how much time these blog summaries take.  Not so much the high level commentary, but gathering up all the year end statistics rivals the daunting 50K. Oh, did I mention I checked the 50K off my life list -yeah, I did that ha!  Truthfully, 2019 turned out to be one of those years I’ll probably try hard to put past me.  Something tells me it will keep flashing into conscious for some time.  The running addiction sent me to the doctor earlier in the year thanks to a marksman hornet/bee that nailed by spine and then I lost a battle with the Heat Miser that landed me in the ER with a set of shiny new staples.  Watching Linda go through her surgery and recovery still takes the top spot on my stressful experiences – a distinction that doesn’t come lightly based on some of life’s challenges that fill the rest of that list.  Then there’s still trying to keep my emotions in check whenever a random event triggers a cherished memory with my father.  Fortunately for me, blogging is the best therapy for the money.  It has been a fantastic grounding that allows me to document my thoughts, events, opinions, adventures, accomplishments and progression on the things that intrigue me in this thing called life – the fact that the completion of 2019 represents the 12th consecutive year of producing the flagship LifeIntrigued and its offshoot WildlifeIntrigued is testament to the joy it brings me.  Through this effort, I’ve been able to meet new friends across the world, share experiences, explore differing perspectives and learn about their cultures and hobbies from their own blogging efforts – ex: CJ has introduced me to the world of canoeing/kayaking, adventures in the Netherlands and St Louis zombies (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/ ) – B has been ramping up my Butterfly/Dragonfly/Birding knowledge from the UK while taking me to places like the Berlin Wall that seemed so far away from my stomping grounds in the broke state of Illinois (https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/blog/).  A big thanks to all you birding bloggers out there that challenge me every day to get better at my photography craft and special gratitude to all those that take the time to read my musings, comment and show your appreciation through likes. Shout out to Brad M. who catches all my typos so I at least appear halfway credible.

Even with some of the downsides in ’19 there were still some very bright spots that I can’t overlook.  Seeing Linda on the upside of her recovery brings a big smile to me every time I see her.  Can’t wait to witness her tear up the dog agility competitions now that she can keep up with Raven.  On the personal front, getting the 50K trail checked off was big for me.  Failure doesn’t sit well with me and being able to recover and redeem myself in a little more than 3 months took some pushing (especially with all the chaotic things happening during that time).  Add to that the 17 (at least) new checks on the NA bird list (link here) which kept me in striking reach of Ron (yes, he who owes me bigly ha!).  Was able to meet up with Ron for some local birding adventures (and one not so local) – always fun times to be had in the field and going through the tins trying to ID the day’s haul.  Goal this year is for me to get him posting more on his own blog (link here).  He was the catalyst for me to start this whole blog endeavor 12 years ago.  Although the surgery limited us on our usual travel, Linda and I were able to  catch a few short trips allowing for some good birding opportunities that have filled up the blog hopper for likely years to come (Lake Tahoe, Henderson NV, St. Louis) as well as quick excursions to local hotspots.  I promise to try and get those tins posted at a fresher rate this year.  If nothing else, having just celebrated another birthday it is starting to limit how far back I can easily recall.

Keeping with tradition, it’s time to look back at the year’s output and self-evaluate. Did I hit my self-imposed monthly quota, did my photography show progress and what posts intrigued my readers ..or more important which topics missed the mark.  So with that, I bring you the 2019 year end summary. If you are curious, hit the jump below to see the individual stats and accomplishments.  Thanks again for all your help throughout the year and for spending precious time on my little project.  Can’t wait to see what intriguing things 2020 throws at us.  Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get you crispy pictures in the tin to share.

Thank You!

And now, the annual stats for the year’s worth of blogging.

Hit the jump to see the 2019 stats!

Continue reading An Even Dozen

One and Done

I’ve been eagerly awaiting to find time to get this post out.  If there is one thing I hate more than clowns and crooked picture frames, it is failure.  It was bad enough when I unexpectedly went down during a training run several years back (link here), but when I had to take my first ever DNF at a race it was like a dagger to my pride.  The Cry Me a River fiasco (link here) will probably never be forgotten from a big ol’ blemish on a fairly successful running career and even more from a health scare perspective   17 years of racing and not one DNF graced the results page.   That changed of course when my first 50K attempt decided to coincide with some wicked heat.

Farmdale Reservoir 30 Mile/50K trail run October, 2019

Linda can confirm I tried everything I could to get back in that race.  Pleaded with the emergency room doctors to clear me to go back to the race.  My argument that I was in the best possible condition I could be in being they had filled me up with 4 IV bags and another bag of straight magnesium.  Ambulance drivers said “hell no”, nurses said “you are nuts” and the doctor initially scolded me only to eventually concede that “they were open 7×24”.  Later that day, Linda went back to collect some gear I had dropped.  “Hey, take me with you, you are going there anyway and I only have 15 miles to go!!”  Imagine a piercing evil stare of disgust in return.  Next morning I was nearly on my knees begging to return – now rested, still full on the fluids and feeling fine with the exception of the head wound.  “15 miles and you won’t have to hear about this again”…which brought a reminder than when she relayed my desire to the race coordinators the day before they put me in the certifiably nuts category.  Arggggggghhhhhh.  Well, there was only one thing to do… sign up for another 50K 3 months later in October.  Take that medical professionals!

Farmdale Reservoir 30 Mile/50K trail run October, 2019

Hit the jump to find out if there was redemption or not!

Continue reading One and Done