Monday, March 30, 2009

Going With the Grain

(The current Collection)

Tonight, while on a date at Target, I broke down and bought another package of razors.

You see, I've had an ongoing battle with my face since about the 10th grade.
Actually, the battle has been more with the whiskers rather than the face.

Sometimes, I have won. More often, I navigate through the day by holding my head at an angle so as to hide that morning's skirmishes.

For a season, I was closely following the DE razor scene. Those are the single edge razors that your grandfather or great-grandfather used. I found a great internet site with some real beauties and settled on the Merkur Hefty Classic. And yes, I indulged in a Badger Hair brush!

And the best part of the DE craze was the Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Creme. There is no better smell than Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Creme. Truth be told, it ended up in other places at times.

The DE craze ended about the time I realized I had spent about two months worth of car payments to shave my face for a few months.

To win the battle, or at least gain temporary advantages, I have sought advice from various sources. These have included but are not limited to:
my father-in-law, the internet, my barber, a professor at law school, my college roommate, a gay magazine, and the movie "Miller's Crossing."

This advice has included:
• never shave against the grain of the hair,
• shave against the grain,
• shave in the morning,
• shave at night,
• get your face really hot and soapy first,
• rinse the razor with cold water,
• rinse the razor with hot water,
• shave the same area twice,
• never make more than one pass on an area, and
• shave in the shower.

There are alternatives to shaving:
• laser treatments,
• plucking,
• depilatory or a topical creme,
• electrolysis,
• waxing,
• sugar waxing, and
• skin grafts (although I've checked, and there is hair just about everywhere except my palms, the bottom of my feet, and the every-increasing area between my eye brows and my hair line).

Fortunately, I seem to have reached an impasse: relatively inexpensive Gillette razors (that get used over and over), hot shower, lots of normal soap, scraping with the grain and against it, and patience.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

19 Miles on the Road

I'm tired of running while cold. I'm tired of running in the dark....tired of frozen bottles, frozen Camelbak tubes, cold fingers, hand warmers gone cold.

I'm really tired of 23 - 34 degree temperatures. It's too cold to run shirtless and stay warm; it's too warm to wear wool and running pants. At these temps, I'm constantly taking off clothes and putting them back on. Are you tired of me complaining?

Yesterday morning, I slept in a little for a morning run and started out the door at 6:30. The sun was just coming up, so I left the headlamps at home. The last few runs, my head and the headlamps have not been good bed fellows; they've slid off, bounced too much, been too dim, and last week at Afton the headlamp just popped right off the band.

I ran north from home on one of my favorite road routes. Just north of Square Lake, as the road descends to Nason Hill Road, one of the most beautiful views opens up and overwhelms me each time I see it. West on gravel, and then up Old Guslander Trail to get into Marine.

At the top of Old Guslander, there are two options: straight ahead and down the long hill into Marine or right and into the infamous Jackson Meadows. Since I needed to add 1/2 mile to make it an 18 miler, and, since the rebellious side of me wanted to see if someone would stop me at the front entrance, I opted for the road to the right. Running past stark white, faux Norwegian farm houses, completely dark on the inside (OK, it was 8am), I wondered why they allowed a sweaty, fashion-handicapped runner meander through the covenant-ridden promised land. Needless to say, I survived; and put in more than the extra 1/2 mile!

In order to run the last 10 miles home, I resorted to listening strictly to U2. Most of it was glorious. The last 2 miles were not.

Liquids froze from mile 6 to mile 8. I froze from 7 to 8.

While I am running much slower, I am enjoying running so much more.

19.43 miles
10:27 min/mile

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boys' Night Out. McDonalds: Eat Your Heart Out (literally)

Each Wednesday night, the boys and I attempt to do manly things. As the weather gets better, I'm hoping that the definition of manly evolves to include clearing brush from the forest, getting the pool ready for summer, building a tree fort and various other buildings, and getting sore.

But for right now, the definition of manly has been curtailed by coldness and wetness.

Each Wednesday night, rather than going to mid-week service at our church (which fits the girls' present situation quite well), dad decided that time with the boys would be better spent at home. Dad quickly discovered, however, that this meant he would need to feed the boys.

Now, during college, I managed to feed myself. Looking back, I'm not certain how I did it, but my present existence proves that something sustained me. Post-marriage, things are really different. I'll leave the details to your imagination.

So, naturally, the solution for Wednesday Nights had to be McDonalds. Little did I know how well it would go over. Here's how it happened: The first Wednesday night, we went to Lowe's to begin our manly night looking at tools. I thought we'd look around Lowe's and then go over to a nice Mexican restuarant or the Dock downtown in an attempt to build into the boys a fine dining tradition.

About 10 minutes into Lowe's, the boys started acting as if they were hungry. 11 minutes into Lowe's and they were looking at Glade plug-ins longingly. So, leaving Lowe's I began to calculate the time required to get to a restaurant, order food, wait for said food, and then get it to the boys' mouths versus the impending train wreck of 3 boys' hunger that was about to hit.

What to do? I panicked.

I did what most parents with any sense of saving the planet, let alone their own children, would never do: I drove to McDonalds. Each boy, except Zeke and me, got the #2 meal. For those of you not familiar with the McDonald's menu, that's two cheeseburgers, a medium tub of french fries and a medium size plastic-coated paper cup that you fill yourself.

Every last morsel was devoured, including, I fear, several empty ketchup packets. When at long last, the boys stopped chewing and resumed talking, the consensus was that 1) they were stuffed, and 2) they loved it.

Since that first night, we have not missed a Wednesday at McDonalds. We've become something of a McDonald's expert. In fact, the boys are now able to tell who made the fries based on taste and softness.

So, with no pretentions of fine dining or etiquette, you are welcome to join us each Wednesday night at our new, favorite eatery: McDonalds. Bring a, hah, I almost said "healthy," appetite and a little extra money for extra fries. Bon appetit!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Afton - 1 Joel - 0

This morning's run was very difficult. The trails at Afton were significantly icy. The ice has just been covered by a fresh coat of snow. (It was snowing so hard as I drove to Afton at 5:30am, that I could not see the lines on the road) I could sometimes tell which patches of snow were actually ice because the ice-snow was less not-white than the actual snow. At 3 miles, I was done running. Then I realized that the trail was near the road (St Croix Trail). So, I jumped up on the road and ran down into Afton. Then, turned back south along the river road as it wandered back to the park. I found new roads that runs along the north side of the park, Quadrant and 53rd St. Beautiful.

Then, back into the park for the last 4 miles. Here are some details, and then some photos.
15.09 miles
11:37 ave/mile
27 degrees and cold wind
Playlist titled "Worship." Some of the artists: Chris Tomlin, Switchfoot, Leeland, U2

The look of today's trail.

53rd St S. Just my footprints and car tracks.

Back in the park, up on the prairie.

The prairie was surprisingly beautiful this morning. Usually I endure this section. This morning I enjoyed it.

The St Croix River

Overlook near parking lot.

Do you know where this on the 25 K Trail?

Me, trying to take a full body self-portrait. That's the trademark Joel Button "teeth gritting."

Yes, after five attempts, the full body shot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Web Networking

I've found another great site for marketing and networking. It's called
Check out the site I created for the firm. It took me three minutes.

It appears to allow me to add youtube videos, google searches, blog sites, amazon resources and other things related to a list of search items that I provide. Looks like it might be a great resource for people, if I can figure out how to use it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quick Colorado Synopsis

Kids in ski and snowboarding school for three days.
Skied and snowboarded as family two days.
Grandpa skied four days.
Joel snowboarded one day, skied one day.
Martha skied two days.

Joel fell often. Marty didn't fall once.

Vail has more ski-able hill, and we're more familiar with Vail.

We ended up liking Beaver Creek's ski school (very organized yet laid-back), the town of Beaver Creek, the ease of getting to the top of the mountain (gondola from Westin, then bus to top), and the Westin.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Trails Again

Last night after work, I had to go run. The sun was out, it looked warm, and I'd been sitting all day.
I drove up to William O'Brian state park. It was very cold.
But, it was a great run.

This is my favorite section of the outer trail: the uphill and rolling section through tall pines (I believe).

This is looking back: only my tracks!

Looking forward to a trail "untouched." One of the many reasons I love trail running.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tribute to Tua

I am not a dog person, but I love two people who are. I am sad because one of their dogs, Tua, is near death.

I've mentioned before that my friend and running partner is a superb writer. One of his best writings is born out of great grief. If you read any blog in the next few days, this is the one well worth your time right now: Tua.

Beaver Creek Here We Come

Yesterday, we skied as a family at Vail. Emma and Eli have been in snowboard classes all week and are doing very well on their boards. I tried snowboarding as well. Needless to say, every one was waiting for me at the bottom of each hill.
Levi is skiing like a pro. Straight down the hill, and parallel turns.
Grace is also skiing very aggressively.

Today, we're at Beaver Creek. I'm going back to skis. My wrists, bottom, head, shoulders and fingertips are very thankful!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Altitude Running

On Monday, I ran 7.5 miles. 50 minutes up, then 30 minutes back down.

Yesterday, Marty and I ran up to Beaver Creek to get the kids from ski school. We tried to cross and stream and run up a trail. The trail turned out to be a strictly animal trail, impossible to run. So, we turned around, recrossed the stream, and decided to run up to get the kids. From that point, it was 24 minutes to get up. The run down was 18 minutes. In between the up and down runs, we ate chocolate chips cookies (Beaver Creek hands out 20,000 cookies every afternoon at 3pm), looked for the kids, walked around in shorts and got lots of looks, and sat by a fire to keep warm.

There is no place in MN where one can run up continuously for 50 minutes. All right,it could be done on a treadmill. Let me restate it: there is no place in MN where on can run up continuously for 50 minutes at altitude.

I know that if I could train out here, I could finally complete the Leadville 100. The first pass at Leadville is very similar to what I ran on Monday: an hour steadily up. Hope pass is simply 2-3X that.

One last sad note. I'm still recovering from last Friday night's ankle sprain during soccer. It was a right ankle sprain; the ankle that has been kept safe from recurring ankle sprains for the last 18 years.

What I'm struggling with is the fact that I need to stop playing soccer on Friday nights if I hope to have a good running season this year. This is going to be a tough decision.