Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wordy McWord and What I'm Anticipating

This will be a rather short blog post. Anyone who knows me must be surprised by the length of my first couple posts. I'm usually very succinct and to-the-point. Oh wait, that's not me at all!

The big problem with me entering the blogosphere is that I will probably write too much. I know the Internets are a big place, but there's a very good chance that I'm going to crash the whole thing by writing too much. So if your email stops working or you can't get the latest news, blame my lengthy posts.

That being said, I should stop while I can still claim this is a short post! But, of course, I can't.

Random thoughts today... Lists are fun, but I'm not as good at them as Mike is. But I've been thinking about what I'm looking forward to lately. The other night in bible study my friend Steven asked everyone to say what they are "anticipating" or looking forward to. Here's my list:

  • Trip out east to run Boston Marathon! (and see Al, Joel, Joy and Mary)
  • FINALLY finishing the baseboards on my new floor (if new equals 1.5 years old)
  • Being done with Dakota County work
  • Building my new Surly Cross-check bike with Tom
  • RIDING my new Surly Cross-check bike to work for the first time on my birthday
  • Riding the coast of California with my uncle on my new bike!
  • My birthday dinner at Al Vento
  • About 8 other excuses for birthday-related meals
  • Did I mention the Boston Marathon???!!!
  • Joel's trip here to Minny in June
  • Al and Mary's trip here??
  • Having 30-40 people in my house for Easter
  • Cousins coming back into town, Pete, Athena...
  • BWCA trip in June
  • Consistently being able to wear summer running clothes
  • Being DONE with the Boston Marathon so that I can bike more often
  • Going to Texas for work, no, scratch that. That sucks
  • The return of your Minnesota Twins!
Wow, life is good!

Number one thing ALL OF YOU are looking forward to? Nathan keeping his word and keeping his posts shorter. Next time, I promise :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Minnesota Nice on the Trails

Wow! 81 degrees! I actually felt overheated yesterday on my run, which was a welcome change. Considering that many recent Boston Marathons have been overly warm, the heat is probably something I need to get used to!

My friends Kirk and Mike have been waxing poetic about what the first signs of spring are. I said that the first sign of spring was when the DQ at Minnehaha Falls opened up, which happened a couple weeks ago. I was wrong, here is the true first sign of spring. When the first biker-runner trail rage incident occurs.

For non-Minneapolitans, you need to understand that Minneapolis residents are ridiculously spoiled with almost every trail having divided biking and running paths. It's wonderful because since so many people use the trails, you are a little bit safer and comfortable since the odds are most people on your trail are going about the same speed. Contrast this to every other city I've experienced where the paths are just jammed with bikers, rollerbladers and runners. You almost NEVER see walkers on trails in other cities, but you do here, which I think is great because it encourages fitness in many who other than walking, would do nothing at all.

The downside of having this divided trail system is that people get very upset if you're on the wrong trail, even momentarily. Cars get mad if you're biking on the roads (even though there's a 10 mph speed limit on the bike paths, and I usually bike around 20 mph, closer to the car speed limit of 25 mph). And bikers get mad if runners dare touch their trail.

I have been yelled at a couple times by bikers, both times by an elderly man on a bicycle. I must say it's a little shocking to be called an a-hole at 8am on a beautiful spring morning, especially by someone who could be my grandfather. I sure hope my grandparents don't swear at runners!

I can certainly understand the frustration of bikers who sometimes see hordes of runners on biking paths when the running path lies unused just steps away. As someone who bikes as well, I have been frustrated by that at times. But I think we need to all take a step back and be civil with each other and realize that there are probably good reasons why runners occasionally use the bike path rather than the running path.

I read every now and then, and a comment by a poster about runners in the biking path prompted me to post a couple reasons why I think everyone needs to relax a little and try to understand that most people (runners included) are rather courteous and usually have good reasons for being where they are:

(1) Most of the separate pedestrian paths at some point merge with biking paths.
(2) Many running paths (particularly the River Road) are very uneven and potentially dangerous for runners. Many (Nokomis) have long stretches of concrete, which is very damaging to a runner's body.
(3) For night running, when safety should be paramount, the biking paths provide better lighting than the running paths.
(4) Until April 1st, the biking paths are ALL combined running/biking paths, as the running paths are not maintained until that date each year. Many bridges on Minnehaha Parkway are still closed.
(5) Lastly, if you're biking faster than 10 mph, legally you should be on the roads.

Most cities do not have more than a few boring trails, let alone extensive networks of trails with separate lanes for biking and running. It would be helpful if all users of the trails appreciate our good fortune of having these trails in the first place. And it would be especially helpful and appropriate as Minnesotans if we could show a little respect for each other.

Let's show each other some MINNESOTA NICE!

Friday, March 23, 2007

What's in a name?

A logical and appropriate first major post would be an explanation of why I picked Minnehaha Falls as my inspiration for a name. A little background...

I grew up in suburban Minneapolis and fled for DC as soon as I could. After 7 fun-filled years out East, I felt the pull of the Midwest and family, and perhaps more than a little wanderlust. I found an environmental engineering company that sounded exactly like what my dream job would entail, and made a deal with myself that if they hired me, I'd move back. And thankfully they did (and I love my job, but that's a whole other future post I'm sure).

Well, I moved back almost 3 years ago, and while I was looking for places to live, I ran into a problem. While I had lived for my first 18 years in the "Cities" as we call them here, I didn't really know anything about Minneapolis or St. Paul, or their neighborhoods. I picked a few factors that would help me narrow my search, and began looking for a place to live, all while still living in DC. As an avid runner and sometime biker, I wanted to live near running trails. As I soon discovered to my astonishment, Minneapolis is a Mecca for that sort of activity and as long as I lived anywhere in South Minneapolis, I'd be set. I also wanted to live near good public transit, after having lived on the Metro for so long. I soon discovered that Minneapolis was nearing completion of the Hiawatha LRT (light rail). So then I knew I wanted to live in South Mpls near a train station. I then noticed that there was this biking/running trail called the Minnehaha Parkway, and that looked cool (and I vaguely remembered running on that during the marathon the previous year), so I decided I would live anywhere from 38th St to 50th St, preferably 46th St because of all the shops near that LRT station.

So with that info in hand, I found a real estate agent, and he found 12 properties for me to look at in that area. The day after I moved back we went to work looking at the properties. On the 2nd day of searching for a house, I arrived quite early and decided to walk around. I stumbled across Minnehaha Park, and eventually the Falls. As a suburbanite, I had vaguely heard of the falls growing up, but had never seen them. I was completely blown away and that's when I realized that I could fall in love with this city. I knew that I wanted to live as close to the falls as possible, so I bought a house 2 blocks from the park on 52nd St.

I stop by the falls on average 4 days out of 7. Part of this is because I use it as a starting point for most of my runs, but I find excuses to walk by there all the time, regardless of weather. I love watching the falls change from high flows to low flows, from low flows to a sheet of ice, and back again. I mark the seasons by the falls. Whenever I go there, I always stop for a minute or two just to reflect on nature's beauty and God's creation.

Anyways, so the falls obviously have held a very special spot in my heart since day 1, and represent my love of Minneapolis. I have enjoyed taking friends and family there. Anyone who knows me knows that I love being tour guide, and for the out-of-town visitor, that is always stop #1.

If you have never seen the falls for yourself, or haven't seen them in all seasons, I would really recommend making the trip. 50th St Station on the LRT. And pretty soon Sea Salt (the seasonal restaurant at the falls) will be opening up for oysters on the half shell and Sebastian Joe's ice cream!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Really, a blog, are you serious?

Yep, I've decided to enter blog-land. I'm finding myself wanting to post too many comments on friends' blogs, but I'd rather have my own space to store my repository of random and boring thoughts. Those of you who know me know I'm into running, but that certainly does not define me. No worries, this will not turn into a running blog, although I'm sure there will be an occasional entry on that topic. However, like watering my plants, don't be surprised if this turns into a once-a-month endeavor. Don't waste your time checking multiple times a day to see if I've blogged, because I probably haven't!