Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ireland XII: Dublin, Briefly

I realized (OK, I never really forgot) that there were a couple final Ireland posts hanging out there, so it's best to tidy that up, yeah?

After a couple weeks of traipsing around Counties Laois and Wexford, we made our way back to Dublin for something resembling 24 hours to catch up with a few peeps before making the trip home.

The city was still pretty well decorated from Christmas, and the weather was only kinda awful (it only rained hard for a few hours), so we found some good meals and some good sights.


Lights and lights and lights

Biggest bow east of the Mississippi, boy

The pub we landed at that night made toasties at a furious pace, and I was fascinated to watch the barmen and women switch effortlessly from pouring pints to slathering mustard. So I ate about four of them, and they were spectacular.

With a few pints in us for good measure, we wandered back to the hotel, ready for one last sleep before an easy trip home...famous last words.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Barren Black Rock

We didn't go to Burning Man this year; too many other fish in the frying pan. However, we jumped at the opportunity to make a quick trip to the Black Rock with a couple friends earlier in the summer. I'll leave the true purpose of the trip for another post, and I'll just take some bandwidth here to share a few photos from this special-ist of special places.


And then a few square photos...



I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it's such a stunning landscape, and it holds a unique place in my heart. It's one thing to see it during Burning Man and with all the experiences that come along with that, but it's an ENTIRELY different gambit to see it without our 60,000 closest friends. I'm still not sure which way I prefer it, and it's important to me to live it both ways.

Stacked up


Enough of the square things.

Failed moonrise

We were looking forward to a great big old moon, but the clouds moved in and restricted it to little more than an occasional glow.

Unfortunately, it was only a 24-hour trip, but that just seems to be the way things have gone lately. When opportunity knocks...


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Souls of My Shoes

An open letter:

Dear Brooks-

See these shoes, the beat up ones off to the sides? They're my ninth pair of Racer ST5s. The box between them? My tenth. I've written about them before, albeit briefly, and this may not be the last time.

I only discovered these a couple of years ago, but man, have we had some good times together. I'd suffered through years of unhappiness with various models of shoe, and then I stumbled upon these magnificent gems. Much more than foot coverings, these lumps of foam and fabric have been a convenient vehicle for my soul. Normally, I'm not concerned about colors, but as long as we're on the path to enlightenment, it's worth mentioning. The orange ones? Epic. Both flavors of white ones? Not so much. These new blue ones? Hot damn.

I've seen night turn to day and day turn to night countless times atop these shoes. I've won races in them and had some spec-TAC-ular blowups in them. They've carried me through 100-mile weeks, and I wear them at Burning Man because they're so comfortable. I've run in these things on three continents, and there'll probably be more.

I've raced in these shoes at distances from Beer Mile to 55k, and in at least one triathlon where they've carried me to the day's fastest run split. Unbeknownst to me, I started Boston in them last year with a stress fracture in my foot. Very beknownst (yeah, that's not a real word) to me, I finished Boston last year with a Racer ST5 full of extra bones.

I've taken them on some steep trail runs (and races) where they probably weren't the best choice, and I've got the blisters to prove it. More than once, they've collected toenails for later removal from my socks. My Facebook friends get angry when I talk about the toenails or show photos of the blisters. I don't complain when they share stories and photos of their ugly babies, so they shouldn't complain when I show photos of mine.

I don't log my miles, and I don't run with a watch. Sometimes I forget how long I've been running in a pair, but they always let me know with subtle clues. That feel of a brand new pair is always justification that it was time. When one pair gets retired from running duty, I wear them around the house for a while, and then they get donated. I imagine them serving another lifetime in some capacity on someone else's feet, bringing that person happiness like they brought me, before they eventually go to the Great Shoe Pile in the Sky.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not my shoes. I'm also not my job or the car I drive (thanks Tyler). I readily acknowledge that I'm a transient soul, currently inhabiting a fragile sack of meat and bones. But every so often, that fragile sack floats a little more swiftly through this world because of your work.

So, thanks. Three years ago, I never thought I'd be waxing poetic about something as pedestrian as running shoes, but here we are. Now that I've exchanged roughly a thousand hard-earned dollars for ten pairs of these things, it's time that you know that this shoe has been around for some pretty amazing moments in my life, more so than your corporate accountants could possibly let you know with profit/loss statements. Oh yeah, and if you change them or stop making them, I'll burn your factory to the ground.

It's funny how an assembly of stitched fabric, molded foam, and industrial adhesive can be the one constant through thousands of miles. Fast, slow; healthy, sick; light, dark; these shoes have been quiet and faithful observers to my yin and yang. Running reflects life, and it's kind of cool when you think about how going with the flow and running against traffic aren't mutually exclusive.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ireland XI: Forest Fairy

Not too far off from home in Wexford rises Slieve Coilte, the tallest "mountain" in the area by a healthy margin. There's a road to the top, and on a clear day, one can take in a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

On our various trips to Ireland, I've run up the mountain, a lovely ~12mi roundtrip from home. While running up it this time, I paid more attention to some of the stands of trees (it's part of the grounds of the JFK Arboretum). What's cool about each stand of trees is that they're very homogeneous, and then a couple hundred meters down the road is another stand of different trees, again homogeneous.

As I careened down the mountain this time, the two remaining non-running-related synapses in my brain clanked off each other and made a spark of inspiration, and I vowed to return to the forest with my traveling model.

It was New Years Day before we had reasonable enough weather to go back, and "reasonable enough" was just another way of saying "light drizzle." With d^2 as faithful assistant, we wandered from tree stand to tree stand and let nature be our inspiration.

Even though it may appear that the weather continually improved through these photos, that's not the case. When it started raining hard again, we packed up, ran for the car, and retreated for tea. As you do.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ireland X: The Shed

Ethel's dad has a pretty awesome barn, filled with all manner of machinery, tools, vehicles, and cats.

During a brief break in the rain, I felt obligated to go make a photo that paid homage to the vastness of the space and the jewels contained therein.

Toys abound (late for bigger!)

And while her dad built it, maintains it, and does the work in's the cats (9 or 10 of them) that really run the show.

This photo took a good while to create. Lately I seem to be enjoying putting more time into subjects that wouldn't even garner an iPhone snapshot from a passerby.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ireland IX: Exactly Enough Information

If this doesn't tell you everything you need to know, you've got problems.

Consider yourself warned


Monday, July 21, 2014

Ireland VIII: Dunbrodies

As I've hammered home exhaustively in this series of posts, rainy Irish winter weather begets pubtime. Also, catching up with old friends most conveniently happens at pubs. Thus, a trip to Ireland over the holidays results in many evenings spent in dimly-lit buildings, older than the US, taking turns buying rounds of pints. Horrible injustice, that.

Saddle up, cowboys

Your breeches had better fit

The night before New Years Eve, we caught up with a veritable gaggle of Ethel's friends at Dunbrody Country House, which features a regular-people pub next to a hoity-toity restaurant. We opted for the pub. Obviously.

Sneaky selfie

Old window

So cute

On the trip home, a break in the pissing rain revealed another Dunbrody, this time the Abbey. It's currently being renovated but is still a pretty cool spot. Fortunately, it was being backlit gloriously, making for a ghastly silhouette. Unfortunately, that epic backlight happened to be coming from the nearby power plant, a continual sore spot among locals.

Either way, we stopped, and I did what I could sans tripod (idiot) and between sheets of rain (lame) to do it some justice.

Not haunted, they promised

In the last few days of our trip, we had little more to do than take advantage of any breaks in the rain and catch up with as many friends and relatives as possible. In the meantime, however, there was Jameson's to sleep off.


Past Detritus