May 25, 2013

Market to Market Relay

A couple weekends back, seven of us raced as team Brown Chicken Brown Cow in the first annual Iowa Market to Market Relay.  I jog with most of these ladies over lunch and weekends in Des Moines.  Alex and Louis I met for the first time that day.  Age 22 to 40 and all in similar shape, we had depth and some randy fitness on tap to give the other 200 teams side stitch.

Tube link:

73 miles of tag teaming from Jefferson, Iowa to Des Moines, 17 legs @2.5 to 5.5 miles each, all on blacktop bike trails.

May 20, 2013

Piggy Bank

Are you financially prepped for a rainy day, the golden oldies and a date with your maker? 

If not, you should be. 

Here's how I fill the pig for the short term, retirement and death.

Short Term and Emergency Savings
Shore up at least a thousand bucks in savings, interest bearing checking or short CDs for the dry stretches.  $5K or $10K is even better, and will beat back the collectors a bit longer.  A lack of debt stretches the dough if jobless or under hardship.  That's why I encourage living more modestly than we can afford, and burning the mortgage early

If the house is obese with a side of credit card payments, you may need to hoard $20K+ in short term savings to let life continue as usual in case of a career malfunction.  Otherwise, be ready to sell a kid, tap into the retirement satchel or win the lotto.

Make sure the money is highly liquid and can be pulled out immediately if needed.  Don't intermix short term and long term savings.

May 19, 2013

Beantown - 6, The Marathon

Curls: While I had successfully earned my way into Boston, I was disappointed to learn that I was not assigned with the 1st wave, 10 o'clock start time, but rather would be assigned to the 2nd wave, 10:30 start. What's the big deal, you're wondering? Well, I was the lone wave-2er of our Iowa running group. Tough! Not only would I be behind the lead pack by a good 30-minutes, but the split times displayed on the clocks along the course would also read 30-minutes longer, from my actual race time. Ugghh. I would have to subtract by 30, each time I passed a clock. Many will back me up in admitting that it’s tough to do even simple math while running a marathon. At any rate, I relied upon my own watch for mile split updates, which seemed more motivating, but was also a tiresome distraction.

I made my way to my corral with only about 5-minutes to spare. I engaged in a quick conversation with a local gal from the area, who informed me that this was to be her 11th Boston Marathon. I would venture to guess that she was in her mid-to-late fifties and tops my list as one of the friendliest strangers I've ever had the fine pleasure of conversing with. She told me to soak in the scenery and have fun out there. Kind words!

And we're off!

May 16, 2013

Summer Corral

Mom stayed home with the kids growing up, the three of us spent our summers getting raisin fingers on a city pool pass and an icebox of ham sliders.

I feel bad for my daughter, she's mostly without mother and her summers are less alive than mine were.  Parents always want the fruit of the loins to have it a tad bit better than we had it.  It's not quite working out that way for Pigtails.

Every year for the past five summers, she's corralled in the school gymnasium like a red-butt baboon, grunting, making paper crafts and flinging feces out on the playground.  The group occasionally takes field trips to a movie or park, although not as often as I'd like.  And it costs me $700 a month.  Which is crazy money, nearly a half-year of tuition.

Perhaps a nanny would unknot the bind.  Although it would require a deeper bite on the wallet, and she wouldn't be around other kids to play/bicker with.

Summer camp could close the gap, but only for a week or two.
Her mom is not healthy enough to spend long amounts of quality time together.
I want a 10 week sabbatical to show her America.  Yeah, that ain't happening soon.

Help a brother out, what other options do I have here?  Something that will bring her the lazy sunny laughs I had as a kid, without costing my third leg.  What does your bambino do come June?


May 12, 2013

B&P Does CSA

May frost delayed planting the garden this spring, Pigtails and I will sink tomatoes and peppers in the backyard soon.  Sure wish I had more room, I'd do spinach, squash, potatoes and sweet corn if we lived my dream and left the city to settle an acreage.  But the city is so dang convenient when you have kids, we'll stay put and round out zee cupboard by joining a CSA. 

What's a CSA?
Do you like the idea of receiving a box of organic, fresh plucked greens each week for 5 months?
Grown a few miles outside your town by a local small farm?
For less than you'll pay at Whole Foods, about $12.50 a week?

That all sounds swell to me, we took the plunge and purchased a half share from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  Rick and Donna run the Garden Destination CSA, we visited their farm 45 minutes outside of Des Moines to get the scoop on their voluptuous kale.

It was overcast, chilly and quiet when we stopped by last week, the city stress level fizzled out as we hung a left on the gravel lane towards their brick silo.  A black mare galloped in the back 40, a gang of chickens strutted and pecked at grain.

I sniffed a deep breath, wafts of pork manure and fresh air rode the breeze.

May 5, 2013

Random Stuff

It's been a busy week folks, here's a recap of B&P happenings.  Some of this is a rerun if you follow us on FB.

Most marathons offer pace groups, which are herds of runners that hang together for 26 miles and hope to finish with a similar time.  I led the 3:15 crew last weekend at the Illinois Marathon in Champaign.  This breaks down to 7:25 per mile, the Boston qualifying time for men age 40 - 44.

Leading a pace group is my way of giving back to the sport, it's a fun workout to meet runners from other states and offer real-time coaching and encouragement as they labor towards the end.  Pacing requires consistency and understanding the dance, hitting each mile +/- 5 seconds and finishing within a few clicks of goal.  With 26 miles on tap, if we're off more than 2 seconds per mile, we miss goal.  There's little room for error.

The U of I is impressive...I did a 4 mile jog around campus the day before to check things out, it's huge at 1,500 acres.  50,000 enrolled, the incoming engineering class averages 32 on the ACT, and most of the school budget is paid by private gifts vs. state taxes.  Alumni founded PayPay, National Football League, FireFox, pet rocks and Tesla Motors. Running by a multitude of students of various nationalities, I thought:  there's not a more diverse country on the planet.

Beantown - 5, The Marathon

Curls: Ring-ring! Ring-ring! It’s 5am and that’s my wake-up call. I can hear the rain thundering against my window. “Good God, what am I doing?” I wonder out loud although there is no one around to hear me whine. I take a gander out the window, toward the Charles River. It doesn’t look good. I’m on the 9th floor, my glance moves down toward a U.S. flag that is flapping wildly in the wind. Yes, in alignment with the previous night’s 10 o’clock news weatherman’s prediction, we will indeed be running through the eye of what appears to be a hurricane.

Curls' window towards the Charles

I hate admitting this, but taking all of this in at that very moment was demotivating and threw me into a ball of nerves. Nonetheless, I got dressed, grabbed my bright orange cinch bag and headed out to meet my fellow SCRCers at the Park Street T-stop. Riding solo on the subway on my way toward downtown, I engaged in an early morning conversation with a couple of fellas from Seattle. They were complaining about all the rain, which I boldly pointed out was rather ironic because Seattle receives something like 10,000-in of precipitation a year and by golly, if anybody should be used to this inclement weather, it should be these guys. They were not amused. <sigh> Wimps!