Front yard marathon cancelled

Some readers may remember a post I did last year about how I did away with my lawn and put in indigenous plants. As a follow up project, I made running paths that allow me to go for a run in the country without leaving my front yard.Putting in six miles, all in my front yard

Eric Nelson, a fellow Manito Running Club member, suggested I hold a marathon race in my yard. I took him up, got the course Boston certified, and wrote about the event in a post called Basalt and Pine Marathon.

I was hoping to make the marathon an annual event, however, some issues arose during last year’s race that forced cancellation of this year’s race.

  • Over 2,400 runners entered my event. Entrants spent most of the race trying to squeeze past other participants without making much progress.
  • Since the race course was a 220-foot loop, race officials soon lost track of lap counts and placing.
  • Many runners left their warm up clothing in my neighbor’s yard, and I forgot that my event and his lawn-mowing schedule coincided. The shredded outfits left a bitter taste among participants.
The native plants in my front yard have really grown and multiplied. Good to look at. Not good for running.

The native plants have really grown and multiplied. Good to look at. Not good for running.

I leave you with a photo of me, gazing among the plants, wondering if I can corner one of the four marmots that live in my yard. The pair of coyotes watching me may laugh, but they haven’t had much luck either.

Jim in yard


Warning: I am desperate

Sitting down to write this week’s post, it became clear that no ideas were coming to me. I became desperate because all I could think of was random things, some that had something to do with running and some that didn’t. I apologize if this post bores you, however, if you have trouble falling asleep, it’s an excellent resource.

In the 2011 Bloomsday 12K, a photo was taken of myself and a couple other runners. Of six feet, none were touching the ground.Jim running Bloomsday

I once read an article about this and was surprised how high the ratio of both feet off the ground is to time that at least one foot is on the ground.

Below is a photo of me watching a track and field race on YouTube.Jim watching race

Non-runners (and some runners too), probably think it’s boring to watch people run in circles over and over, but I find it very interesting.

Here I am standing atop the compost pile in the corner of my backyard.Jim's compost pile

The guy who lives across the alley from me once asked my next-door neighbor if they hate me. My neighbor asked why he would think that. The guy across the alley said because he saw them tossing weeds into my backyard. My neighbors do that because I told them I want their yard pickings for my compost pile.

I’m going to reveal something embarrassing. Maybe you’ll find it disgusting. I grow lots of tomatoes in my backyard. I eat plenty fresh, but I also boil a bunch down to make spaghetti sauce. I also have a dehydrator that I use to dry more for wintertime eating.

I cut up more than a hundred tomatoes to dry.

I cut up a lot of tomatoes to dry. This is one batch which I repeat a bunch times more.

When I cut bunches of tomatoes, there’s a large pool of tomato juice left on the cutting table. The juice is especially sweet and good-tasting. I put my lips to the table and suck it up.Jim sucking tomato juice

I’m a bachelor, and I live alone. I can get away with this. However, if I start seeing someone, don’t take a screen shot of this photo and send it to her. I’ll come after you.

Drivers! Don’t call me huckleberry boy!

I thought I’d have a pleasant outing in the woods last Sunday picking huckleberries, but there are some very rude people out there.

This years crop of huckleberries is very good.

This year’s crop of huckleberries is very good.

Because I must run everywhere, I ran from my house to Mt. Spokane, a forty-six mile round trip. Huckleberries, a type of blueberry, grow mostly at high elevation around here, are delicious and even more healthy than blueberries. I eat lots fresh and freeze enough to eat almost daily until late spring. Though quite common, they resist domestication and must be picked wild.

Because many Inland Northwesterners are huckleberry aficionados, good-producing, easy-to-reach patches get hit hard. However, I know of an excellent patch on Mt. Spokane that requires some hiking. I’ve been going there for years, and only once have I seen another picker.

I use a couple milk jugs with the top cut off and when attached to my belt, it frees both hands for picking. As you can see, it was a decent harvest.Jim's huckleberries

I gave myself several pats on the back for coming up with the idea of running home with the containers placed at my hips. Carrying the extra weight will really increase my leg muscle mass.SONY DSC

However, so many people passing by in cars laughed at me. One guy yelled out, “Run faster, huckleberry boy!” Oh, I got extremely angry.

I shook my fist at the mean driver who called me huckleberry boy. I don't like that.

I shook my fist at the mean driver who called me huckleberry boy. I don’t like that.

Later, another driver honked his horn, and I waved, thinking it was someone I knew. But no, he laughed and yelled, “Wash up, huckleberry hands.”

You can't pick huckleberries without getting purple hands. In my case, I usually have purple lips, cheeks and chin too.

You can’t pick huckleberries without getting purple hands. I usually have purple lips, cheeks and chin too.

Then a problem developed. I glanced behind, and on the road was a trail of huckleberries as far as the eye could see. My berries were bouncing out.SONY DSC

However, I solutioned this issue very brilliantly. If I ran home in only half the time as my normal pace, only half as many berries will bounce out. So what to do was obvious:

Extreme Speedrunning!



Unfortunately, when I arrived home, the huckleberry bounce rate apparently increased during my extreme speedrunning. I had so few berries left.SONY DSC

I became incensed about the wastiture of precious huckleberries. I was seething for hours, and not being able to get hold of my anger management counselor didn’t help either. Finally, as I’ve done before, I vented my anger in a non-destructive manner.SONY DSC

So, next week I’ll have to make another trip to Mt. Spokane – by car, which actually is how I got there today. I didn’t really run to Mt Spokane and back. 🙂



The saddest day in American track and field

I was a high school senior when I walked into the kitchen as my mother prepared breakfast on May 30th,1975. On the radio was news of the death of America’s top track and field distance runner – Steve Prefontaine.

This poster I purchased forty years ago is pinned to a wall in my basement.

This poster I purchased forty years ago is pinned to a wall in my basement.

He was only twenty-four years old, and I was truly struck by his death in a one-car accident in Eugene, Oregon. I couldn’t help thinking how such a talented, charismatic runner was going from setting records to being buried in the ground.

He was a young college student when I watched him on TV challenging for the lead with a half lap to go in the 1972 Olympic 5000 meters, only to get edged for a medal by the older, more experienced favorites.

When I was in high school, before Pre’s death, a teacher assigned a collage project which I have little memory of. Among the hundreds of magazines we had for cutting out photos, I came across a 1971 Sports Illustrated with Pre on the cover. I pilfered it, and after reading it over and over, I eventually boxed it and put it in my closet with other mementos where it sat for years.pre magazine 2

Because Pre is the track and field equivalent of movie-star James Dean, his untimely death has made this edition valuable. I only recently discovered that ones in excellent condition can sell for up to $500.

I saw Pre but once in-person – when he won the NCAA cross-country championship that was held in Spokane in 1973.