Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Evening on the Treacherous Trace

Running on the Buffalo Trace Trail at Mahomet last evening was like a box of chocolates: you never knew what you were gonna get with the snow and ice-covered trail. I've had enough of running in the streets, so I was determined to run as much as I could. Right at the start I almost went down on icy snow. Occasionally there were spots with no ice or snow and I picked up the pace, but all these ultimately ended into hard crusty snow or ice. At many spots I would have to go completely off the trail for 10-15 feet to avoid ice, running in the tall grass. It was all a very eerie experience because I was the only human out there, the silence broken as I crunched through the hard snow. "Hound of the Baskervilles" went through my mind, a rabid dog on the moors of Mahomet ready to pounce on me. And there were wolves out there who would eat me (Princess, show this to Red Chief and tell him I'm not kidding). I ran almost the entire 5 miles and loved it, although I had to prance back and forth and side to side to navigate the trail.

Moon run Saturday night on this trail. With colder temperatures due for the weekend, ice skates may be proper footwear.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Remembrance of Buffalo Days

While waiting in line for an hour and a half at Mark Daly's wake last evening (a special guy brings out a crowd), I nervously clutched a small pin like the one at right. I had worn this for the last few years on a hat I wore while running, and thought it could be used as a small token of remembrance for Mark and his buffalo running days. So when I finally reached Nicole, Mark's wife, and asked as a special favor if she would put it on Mark's suit lapel, both she and her dad were pleased and said it would be fitting if I put it on the lapel. Kneeling at the casket I carefully attached the pin and bid Mark farewell.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Passing of a Buffalo

Mark at full gallop at the first Buffalo Trace race at Mahomet, 2003. He ran the 5 miles in 35:33, 7:07/mile pace. Pretty good for a 47-year-old.

(Click on these images for larger views)

Mark (standing, second from left) with the Buffaloes in 2002 at a Thursday evening run at the Buffalo Trace Trail at Mahomet.

My friend and fellow buffalo Mark Daly has passed away after a long battle with brain cancer. After being diagnosed with the cancer in the fall of 2005, Mark wanted to run with the buffaloes again after not being with us for quite a while. He asked about Thursday runs and moon runs, and did a moon run with us that December and later a few other runs.

Several months ago Mark mentioned to me a poem he liked, one that had a stanza about death and buffaloes. I knew the poem, and upon his passing I sadly present it here. Rest, Mark.

The Ballad Of William Sycamore
Stephen Vincent Benet

Now I lie in the heart of the fat, black soil,
Like the seed of a prairie-thistle;
It has washed my bones with honey and oil
And picked them clean as a whistle.

And my youth returns, like the rains of Spring,
And my sons, like the wild-geese flying;
And I lie and hear the meadow-lark sing
And have much content in my dying.

Go play with the towns you have built of blocks,
The towns where you would have bound me!
I sleep in my earth like a tired fox,
And my buffalo have found me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Last Dance

Went to the Illini-Michigan game last night and saw the last dance of Chief Illiniwek. I can't believe there has been so much time, money and energy spent on the controversy. Don't people have better things to do? Let him go peacefully, and let's move forward.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Seeing Red . . . and a Lot of White

Red Chief (aka Ethan) wearing my buffalo hat during the blizzard.

This was my Valentine. Spent most of the day with this beauty.

Leo, my backyard guardian li0n, was almost buried in a drift.

The blizzard of Feb. 13 was not fun, until Red Chief came over. Most of Valentine's Day was spent shoveling out my large driveway and then unburying Princess and Red Chief.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blizzard Bison

Geez, I wanted more snow, but a major blizzard was not exactly the wish. Main occupation the last three days has been shoveling snow. Red Chief and Princess had to stay the night at my place Tuesday because of the clogged roads. For the Chief, all that snow was fun, and snoozing in a sleeping bag in Grandpa's living room was exciting for the little guy. Will post photos of blizzard-related events when time allows. That may be a while. As with an itch that you can't reach in the middle of your back, ya just gotta grimace and say, "This is temporary." Spring is on the way.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Finally saw "Little Miss Sunshine" this weekend on cable. Fantastic flick. A great cast, but Alan Arkin as the Grandpa steals the show. Just a fun film. See it.
RATING: four buffaloes (highest)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Note to the Princess

Yup, it's finally coming out on DVD, but not till April. Harry and the Hendersons, the story of Big Foot and a family. Not exactly a favorite of the Princess, but her little brother loved it, as I do. Red Chief is burned out on Jeremiah Johnson, and I'm not real thrilled about watching Hannah Montana and the Disney Channel. Too cold for my favorite activity, taking the Chief to the park, so I guess I'll bear down and watch the kids stuff. There's still arm wrestling.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I like running in the snow . . .

. . . but I'm ready for spring - taking Red Chief to the park, Thursday evening runs at the Mahomet trail, bike rides. Scouting triathlons: new one in Decatur, others at Springfield, Effingham, Mattoon. Several at Indianapolis, a great venue. Disappointed to see the "World's Largest Triathlon", the Accenture in Chicago, is up to $130. Cripes. With the cost of gas, hotel room, and meals, that's a load. I've had my best triathlons up there, but can't see going back at those prices.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Great fun yesterday seeing Red Chief with a huge grin and "Wow, look at all the snow!' after he was cooped up in day care all day. While shoveling snow at the palace of the Princess, the Chief laughed as I tossed snow on him. Terrific to see and hear a four-year-old's glee.

After I got home I went out on a run in the darkness, the best part being the nearby golf course, where only the tracks of a few cross-country skiers dented the snow. The running was not that difficult in the deep snow because it was powdery, but I did walk some. Very quiet and peaceful, and I had the place to myself. Everything was bright because of the snow. I guess nobody in his right mind would be out trudging around in the deep snow on a golf course on a winter night with single-digit temperatures.

After the run, to warm up I had my nightly glass of wine and watched the last part of "Deliverance". That movie always gives me the creeps.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Flying for Food in Winter

At a Super Bowl party yesterday, my buffalo buddy Cousin Don said he spotted a bald eagle recently in the area. I was curious, so I got the following information from one of our bird experts at the Illinois Natural History Survey where I work: To my surprise, Illinois is second only to Alaska as a refuge area for bald eagles in winter because of the Mississippi and Illinois River corridor. Higher-than-usual concentrations of the eagle in Illinois this winter and sightings of the eagle in areas away from the rivers are due to the freezing of much of the Mississippi and Illinois. Eagles cannot get at fish in frozen waters, so they go where the water is still flowing, for instance, at locks and dams. At Lock & Dam No. 13 on the Mississippi River in northwestern Illinois, a concentration of some 400 eagles was sighted recently. Eagles have been spotted flying over Champaign too, probably seeking water that is not frozen for fishing. Eagles have also been spotted next to highways, feasting on dead animal carcasses. So, if you're lucky enough to spot a bald eagle nearby, you can probably thank Ma Nature's deep freeze.


Friday, February 02, 2007