An All American Bird

Well, today is officially my one week anniversary of pulling myself away from the big bright light.  Beyond the staples in the head becoming quite annoying – not to mention an apparent great conversation starter since going back into the office last Wednesday.  Kind of hard to hide and eventually someone starts getting quizzical when you are deliberately trying to keep them to the front of you.  Also didn’t help that my supposedly lovely wife is a Facebook junkie – had to threaten her with retaliatory hospital photos from her upcoming surgery if she followed through on her threat to post images from the emergency room!  Will post more detail on the mothership blog soon, but for now things are progressing slowly.  Did a quick 2 miler on Tuesday, a 4 miler on Thursday and put 6 miles in this morning’s heat.  Definitely a long road back to where I was, but as they say in a runner’s world, it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other.

With the hoopla and stress leading up to the race, I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy the 4th of July celebration.  Looking through my blog fodder queue, decided today we would feature an All-American bird in honor of our independence.

American Avocet found in Bolvar outside of Galveston Island Texas, January 2017

…and by All-American, I simply mean a bird that happens to have  “American” right in its name.  In the off chance you happen to be unfamiliar with our long billed friend, that is an American Avocet.  Fortunately for my brother Ron, this is not a new bird for my checklist.  Linda and I saw our first one back in 2013 on a trip to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve while visiting Nevada.  To simply embarrass myself, it didn’t make it on the blog and thus not an official check until December 2017 (link here).    Think this may be the first time I’ve been able to get a shot of one of them flying – okay bird counters, take a quick glance and guess how many you estimate in this shot – note, this is a practice test for later in the post.

American Avocet found in Bolvar outside of Galveston Island Texas, January 2017

Hit the jump to see A LOT more of these birds!

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The Angel of Death

Well, yesterday was the planned 50K date.  I thought things were starting to fall into place – the ankle was healed up enough to bear the dangerous footings on the hilly trails, the rains had subsided enough to let the trails dry up a bit leading to high confidence at the start.  I will post the details on my other blog in due time, but I foretold victory or tail between my legs on a previous post.  Unfortunately, the day ended prematurely with my tail between my legs along with 4 staples in my head.  Mother Nature opted to replace the expected overcast and temps in the 80’s with an overbearing sun and heat index at 100.  Fought through 14 miles and decided to rest a bit at a water station.  Apparently should have kept going as my body revolted – stood up thinking I might get sick only to gain consciousness with people standing over me with blood covered hands – not a vision I’ll forget anytime soon.  Long story short, had a stressful ambulance ride to the ER.  Took in 5 IV bags and a set of staples from a large gash in the back of my head having hit a wooden railing following by the sharp edge of a box fan on the way down (so they tell me).  Pleaded with the doctors to allow me to go back and finish, but they had my wife on their side.  Total failure and my first DNF in 17 years of running.  Looks like another solid year of training, but I’ll be back for some unfinished business.

Enough of that embarrassment, let’s get to something much more entertaining.

Northern Harrier hunting the marshes of Galveston Texas State Park January 2017

Today, I’m bringing you the same Raptor species from two different locations along the Texas Gulf Coast back in January 2017.  The Northern Harrier is one of my favorite Raptors for a couple of reasons.  The first is they are just plain cool to watch while they are scanning the fields and marshes for prey.  Deadly aerial skills that allow them turn on a dime or virtually hang in the air leveraging wind dynamics to determine the best angle to pounce.

Northern Harrier hunting the marshes of Galveston Texas State Park January 2017

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this deadly predator.

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Bathboat Classic

Greetings everyone!  Just sitting here outside my RV enjoying the sounds of joyful birds while enjoying a beautiful purple and pink sunset.  Of course, don’t let that fool you, It may be beautiful on the outside, but inside my body is undergoing some serious stress as we are camping at the starting line of tomorrow’s 50K.  Hard to say if I am even close to being ready for this, but if not, I only have myself to blame (shhhh, don’t tell Linda, I like to use her as my excuse … takes the edge off of failure ha!).  In an effort to quell the rising concern, thought I’d make a quick post from a previous race.

Peoria Steamboat Classic 15K June 2019

A couple of weeks ago they held the annual running of the Steamboat Classic in the Peoria area.  Basically a local race that just happens to be on the same training course my friends and I use throughout the year.  Well, for at least the difficult part, we do not bother with those wussy 2 mile flats into and then out of the monster hills – those are for those 4 milers that are not brave enough to head up into the hills for the full 15K

Peoria Steamboat Classic 15K June 2019

Hit the jump to read more about how the race went!

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The Least Suckiest

Happy July 4th to my fellow countrymen and women especially to those who have or currently serving  in the military which brought and sustains our freedom!

Somehow my next event clock got into the steroids as I was sure there was at least 2 or 3 months left before my next race and next think I know it is a mere two days away.  With the final training run in the books as of last night, at this point it’s all about getting some rest, doing a few more healing treatments on the tweaked ankle mentioned previously and then either put up or put the tail between the legs and admit defeat.  The good news is the ankle felt strong in the quick 6 mile test last night – forward direction seems to be recovered, just need to make sure I make the foot plants solid as the outer stabilizers are still a bit tender.  As long as I keep it warmed up during the race it should be fine and expectations are the rest of the body will be so battered I won’t even feel it.

However something will likely be sticking in the back of my mind and it all has to do with this.

Blue Chevy Classic Half Marathon Trail Run, May 18th, 2019

Yep, for the second year in a row, I took on the Blue Chevy Trail Classic back in May.  You can read all about my maiden run at this trail race on a previous post (link here).  If I remember correctly, that was my first official trail race.  Since that time I’ve added a number of others and have clearly grown to love this new venue.  It is definitely harder than the traditional road miles, but then again challenge is good for the soul (and my doctor’s and chiro’s pocketbooks).  With the extra experience from the other trail races and the luxury of having done several training runs on the same course since, there was a sense of more confidence than when I toed the line the first time.  Besides, this time the race coordinators stated there would be finisher medals this year which took the pressure off of having to place to get anything to show for the effort.

Blue Chevy Classic Half Marathon Trail Run, May 18th, 2019

Riiiiiiiigggggghhhhhht!   Turns out there was plenty to worry about that race day.

Hit the jump to read a bit more detail on how the race went.

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Concerns Warranted

As you can tell, I’ve finally found some spare cycles to get a post out.  It has been amazingly busy around Intrigued as of late thanks to two 30 year celebrations at work (wife and I), trying to finalize the schedule for Linda’s heart valve replacement at Mayo’s and then the quickly approaching 50K running event next Saturday (crap, I can’t believe that deadline has come up so fast).  As a result, my blogging and, well, just about all my secondary activities have been clipped (especially my Halloween production which is most troubling).  Every spare cycle has been spent pounding out miles on the road and on the trails – latter when the rain gods finally give me a chance.  I remember Ron mentioning his concern for me reaching my monthly blog quota which at the time still has a few weeks to go.  I had some concerns as well, but thanks to a good dose of posts on the mothership blog today’s last minute post will cover that (B. in the UK might appreciate the theme of the pumpkin post – link here).  Unfortunately, the last two weeks have had additional concerns that had/have me a bit troubled.  A week ago, I was working on more of the bathroom remodeling, simply stepped down from putting up window trim and felt a stabbing pain right in the middle of the tendon than comes down on top of the ankle from the shin into the foot. Actually though it had ripped off.  Puffed up and hurt like hell.  Had Linda look at it after an ice treatment and we eventually found a puncture point that might have caused it – possibly another bee sting in a critical point like the back episode earlier in the year.  Ended up being able to run on it without serious pain so continued on until the swelling subsided 2 or three days later.  Then yesterday I was getting the last long trail run in and managed to turn my ankle 90 degrees thanks to not seeing a rock underneath the mud.  Unfortunately, that was between mile 8 and 9 which is the farthest point from the car.  Knowing what happens if you let your ankle realize it is hurt, journeyed on for another 5 miles.  A day later the ankle is still swollen and twinges under weight.  Definitely do not need this so close to the starting line.  Will nurse it for a few days and give it a short test Wed just so I know what to expect during the race – wish me luck.

In recognition of being immobilized at the moment, figured it would be fitting to feature a creature that has a natural ability to leverage the concept of immobility.

Great Blue Heron shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Yes, bringing out one of the big boys of the birding world on this final day of June.  Truth be told, I do not feature this bird much on the blog thanks to the thousands of images already in the portfolio.  The Great Blue Heron is one of the birds you can see just about everywhere in the continental US.  They do prefer to breed in southern Canada and down into the Dakota areas, but for the most part spend their time year-round wading through any body of water they can find across the states (except for a very odd finger down the eastern part of Idaho, Utah area according to Cornell – may be the Rockies, will have to investigate that a bit more later).

Great Blue Heron shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of these dagger-billed Herons.

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Project Halloween Butters and Dragons

Seems like an odd time to be pulling out a Halloween post don’t ya’ think?  Truth be told, we were celebrating my friend in haunt’s (Brad’s) 30 year service anniversary at work and the topic of Halloween came up – which to be honest isn’t that odd as we are often talking about Halloween – a year long holiday for the two of us.  Brad is working on building a CNC machine which I am hoping is ready before too long.  I have big plans for that thing hehehe.  Anyway, all that talk about Halloween reminded me I still had some 2018 Halloween posts I had not gotten to.  So, tonight I bring you the annual Halloween pumpkin carving for 2018.

Halloween Pumpkin 2018

Only 7 month’s late, but what the hell that’s nothing compared to the backlog of wildlife pictures I need to get through.  After the yeoman work of putting on the Annual Halloween Haunted Trail event (link here) at the beginning of October, it always seems a bit of a letdown when the actual Day of Haunt comes around.  Last year we opted to drive around to check out the worthy displays in the surrounding local towns.  When we got back I was truly inspired and went to work on getting the final carving done on the foam pumpkin.

Halloween Pumpkin 2018

Hit the jump to see some progress shots.

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The Illini Half – 3 Makes 1

Evident by the fact this post has been published, I can officially say I once again survived Illinois’ Toughest 15K race which was held this morning in an absolute downpour.  I’ll save the details on today’s adventure for a future post because I need to get to the race queue before I get too far behind.  As a follow up to yesterday’s post on the Illini Marathon 5K race, tonight’s post brings us the main event.

Illini Marathon I-Challenge Half - Half Marathon April 2019

The morning after the 5K is the official Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K events.  Once again opted for the Half Marathon this year as there is already a big-ass race planned for July – no need to go crazy on this one.  True to course for this weekend, there were more early forecasts for cold, rain, wind … yep, the usual for late April in the Midwest. In a stroke of luck the rain moved through during the night and the rest pushed off until later that day leaving a cool but very accommodating climate for a long race.

Illini Marathon I-Challenge Half - Half Marathon April 2019

Hit the jump to read details on the day.

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Oh, That’s Why It has Cross in the Name

Another race is upon me – tomorrow to be exact.  As mentioned in the previous racing post, I hate to go past 4 races before getting the recollections out.  You never know what might happen during a race and I’d hate to have you miss out on recollections thanks to me being in the hospital ha!  After the Allerton race (link here).  Next up was the standard Illini Marathon race.  Once again, I was signed up for the I-Challenge consisting of a 5K on Friday followed by the Half Marathon the following morning.

Illini Marathon I-Challenge Half 5K Race April 2019

Since transitioning to Trail running, my enthusiasm for pounding out miles on the road has dwindled.  So many years of doing the same thing and now completely enjoying the new challenges of the trails dampened my enthusiasm for this race.  The good news is I already had a double race of the same distance under my belt so the body was physically prepared.  The mental part was the struggle for once again it looked to be another end of April crappy weather day.

Illini Marathon I-Challenge Half 5K Race April 2019

Hit the jump to read about how the race went!

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Featherless

Greetings Intrigued fans.  This was a pretty busy weekend as we headed up north for a little fun in the sun and, of course, a bit of agility dog showing.  Linda decided she wanted to ignore the advice of her heart specialist and get a few agility runs in with Raven.  He needed one more successful standard run to move to the next competition level.  She promised to take it easy in the ring so I relented and agreed to it.  Should probably mentioned she did bribe me with the opportunity to get some trail running training in (their trails were not flooded out like our local ones are) and the cherry on top, a day of birding with Ron and his wife.  Raven ended up getting it done in the ring going 3 for 4 while Linda managed to keep her heart under control.  I managed to get a solid 13 miles in putting me in good position for next week’s 15K considered Illinois’ toughest, but reminded me just how hard the 50K is going to be a few weeks later.  Still a bit sore from yesterday’s run, was still able to get a solid day of birding in – think we came in at the high 30’s species mark for the day.  Once all that was out of the way, we had to race home to watch the St Louis Blues try to claim the Stanley Cup.  One frustrating element was the lack of Internet where we were camping arrrrrgggghhhh!  Had plans to get caught up on my running post – nope.  While sitting here watching the Blues (now down 2 goals) thought I’d jump on the computer and crank out a quick post.

It’s a bittersweet post today as this officially wraps up all the worthy shots from the Georgia birding trip back in May 2015.  With all the bird shots out of the way, it is time to give some time those non-feathered creatures hanging out in the region.  Before I begin though, if you are looking for good shots of dragons and butters you should leave this post immediately and head on over to see B’s work over at Butterflies to Dragsters (link here).  I’m a bit embarrassed to even put these out after seeing his work behind the macro.  So, if you are still here, let’s get to some non-birds shall we.

Georgia May 2015 finds

Hit the jump to see the last shots from the Georgia trip.

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Georgia Bird Burst Pt 2 of 2

30 years ago today, I woke up early, put the suit on my parents were gracious enough to buy me so I looked decent for my corporate interviews.  I wasn’t heading to an interview that day, rather to my new job with wide eyes, a little bit of fear and ambitions to help build a better world.  That day I joined 16 other individuals also entering the corporate world many of which have stayed very close friends to this day. One in particular turned out to be extra special as I eventually married one of those classmates – Linda.  As you can infer she is also celebrating her 30 year anniversary.  Since those first few months in the college grad training program I’ve had the opportunity to see far off places, engage with coworkers all across the world on a daily basis and develop/design/architected systems that play critical roles from engineering, manufacturing, financial and IT.  Sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long until you remember back on the on the great people you have met along the way.  The best part of it all (besides marrying my best friend of course) is the financial independence it has brought allowing me to pursue my other passions which brings us directly to today’s post!

KK

Yep, the second part of the Georgia birding dump.  As before, this is basically a close out set of birds photographed while on our trip back in May 2015.  The shot above is likely a female brown-Headed Cowbird.  Not the best angle for identification since the tail, back and half of the face is obscured.  Going solely on the thick black conical bill and the overall gray-brown coloring.  Unfortunately, the Brown-Headeds are on my top 5 most hated birds list due to being brood parasites – let’s move on shall we.

JJ

Hit the jump to see a few more closing shots of the Georgia haul.

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