Sunday, March 28, 2010

Law Week 8K race

Kathleen and I raced the John J. Eikenburg Law Week 8k on Saturday and did about as well as could be expected, with limited training in the run-up to the race.  We both placed in the top 10 in our age groups which is not great (top 5 would be more like it) but we'll take it considering that most of the city's speedier runners show up for this HARRA Spring Series event.  In all, just over 600 persons finished which makes for a good crowd, but without any serious jostling at the starting line.  We saw many other Striders there, and some of them did exceedingly well such as Marnie Staehle (first female overall), Sabra Harvey (first masters female) and age group wins or places for Helen Grant, Yong Collins, Alison Stewart, Karen Bowler, Jim Peiffer and Ruben Coryat.  Well done Striders! The post-race food was uninspired (fresh bagels, bananas, oranges, coke and beer) but the door prizes are the best of any race in Houston.  The post race awards & party setting, with a small stage set up in Sam Houston Park, is also one of the best of any of the local races.  Kudos to the Houston Bar Association which has presented this race for 25 years now.

I added an extra 5 miles Saturday afternoon - wearing the Vibram KSO's - and another 9 miles this morning, also with the Vibrams strapped to my feet.  I'm starting to relax wearing them; it doesn't feel as odd as the first few times, although it still looks pretty weird, I am sure.  The black KSO's are about the ugliest things I've ever seen!  Even so I might pick up another pair of Vibrams later today; I'm planning to do most of my runs in them in future, ugly or not. 

Dinner last night (second time at this new restaurant) was at the Loving Hut on S. Kirkwood, incongruously situated right opposite the street from a WalMart.  This latest addition to Houston's growing array of vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants offers an interesting selection of starters (Arigato sushi, barbecue spring rolls), a couple of very good and very filling (huge bowls) soups such as 'Fabulous' pho and an 'Exquisite'  curry soup, and many entrees ranging from various veggie proteins to chow mein and 'Save-Planet' curry.  There are several vegan desserts as well; we tried the carrot cake which was not bad, albeit without the icing which appears on the menu photograph.

The Loving Hut restaurant is as clean as an hospital operating theater, and the only discordant note was the weird station beaming at us from two massive HD TV screens.  I think it was Supreme Master TV or something like that, with quasi-religious messages, talks about nutrition (vegan), global warming news, seemingly never-ending interviews etc.  Much of the screen is obscured by a bewildering number of scrolling captions, about 6 or so different languages all at the same time.  The Loving Hut can lose the strange TV station and concentrate on getting the food out of the kitchen just a bit faster and in the requested order.  So far they are batting .1000 on serving our main courses before the appetizers which I think is usually done differently, at least in most restaurants.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Of running and a high school reunion

I'm back from a fairly quick and very hectic trip to South Africa.  Still trying to catch up with some work-related things - that might take a couple more weeks.  The South Africa trip coincided with my recovery from the calf injury, which was great.  Always nice to take advantage of the hills in Pretoria where I spent the first few nights, and I also logged a few miles in Brits where our family lived for many years, as well as in Cape Town, Franschoek in the Cape winelands and the Walker Bay area.  The last few runs were very memorable.  None more so than in the Franschoek Valley with the sun setting over the Cape Fold mountains, and at Grootbos Lodge, with the sun literally dropping into the Atlantic Ocean, as I ran along the airstrip on the way back to the Lodge.  To date, I have logged 52 miles for the month of March, extremely happy about that!  Next week Kathleen and I will be racing the 8km Law Week Run. Always a good event, looking forward to it.

I really enjoyed a family get-together (barbecue with very nice vegan stew on the side..) at my mother's house in Pretoria and it was great catching up with my brothers and their SO's.   The 40th High School reunion in Brits was everything I had thought it would be - and more!  What a revelation to see people for the first time (again) after 40 long years.  Gone gone gone are those cute young girls who more than anything else got us boys to attend class.  Just like the fresh-eyed schoolboys we once were, they are no more.  Gone forever.  The boys and girls of 40 years ago have turned into sturdy and sometimes sturdier middle-aged citizens.  Alas.  We have become our teachers, our parents, dare I mention (in some instances) our grandparents...  Beyond the physical manifestations, happily, we are all still very much who we were, 40 years ago.  The imps are still impish, the jokers still have a smile on their now somewhat craggy faces, and the quiet ones can still be found on the fringes of the photograph and just on the edge of the boisterous crowd.  We are really not that different now, we just know a lot less than when we were 17 or 18.

More later about the trip (safari camps and Cape area accommodations and experiences).  And of course some photographs.