Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recommended for geeks

Noah is a serious PC gamer. For a while I resisted the FPS (first-person shooter) games and the stuff with violent content. But my resolve got worn down over time. Lugaru (now Overgrowth) was probably the turning point. It was a game using anthropromorphized bunnies with combat skills. He loved it and it engaged him deeply at so many levels. He got to know the development team, recorded trailers, created a fan-site, learning HTML in the process. He was getting a lot out of it, and yet it gradually became clear to me that it was not categorically different than many of the other combat games out there except that the warriors had fur, long ears and snouts rather than human faces. Lugaru seemed to sit right on the line between acceptable fantasy gaming and violent gaming suitable only for "mature gamers." And in time I realized that the line was blurry, grey and meandering, or maybe not really there at all.

Noah is a gentle soul who has always been horrified by real-life aggression. His gaming wasn't changing that. So I just gave up and let him at the mature games. He now owns a ton of them; it's where most of his allowance and lawn-mowing earnings have gone over the past three or four years. Left 4 Dead, Half Life 2, Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Crysis, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Fallout 3, you name it. Many are incredible in their realism; he plays on-line with others and on his own with amazing intensity and prowess. He attends the bi-monthly LAN gaming nights at the community hall and plays until midnight with the adults.

But interestingly, his long-term passions at home are for a handful of less realistic games that allow him to really get inside the game programming -- either because they have "sandbox editors" that allow him to modify elements of the game (creating new objects, scenarios or maps to play with), because they have a development community and allow "modding" of game elements using scripting, or because they allow him to follow along and/or participate as games are built from scratch.

Noah highly recommends Minecraft. It's a game still in development, not even in beta testing, but you can buy an account and be privy to weekly upgrade releases. It's being written by one guy, Notch, who is one of Noah's heroes, and it's both brilliant and simple. You can watch the programming take shape, see the complexity grow. It's a lot like peering over the shoulder of a game developer as he works away at a type of programming that's rarely visible these days due to canned game engines and modules. There's a development blog and a set of user forums to encourage even more engagement of the masses in the development process. The graphics are blocky and look like something circa 1990, but the appeal is in the logic and design process, not the graphical presentation. Our pumpkin this year was carved in the shape of a Minecraft creeper face. Creepers are the little villianous creatures that look sort of like boxy green tombstones with vague pixelly faces. Easiest jack'o'lantern art we've ever done, I have to say.

An old stand-by which keeps resurfacing here is Clonk. Noah first got Clonk Endeavor, which is now freeware, but now owns and plays Clonk Rage. It's a funky open-source German 2D game which allows multiple players to play split-screen or over a LAN or the internet, and also works for solo play. It's part action game, part real-time strategy, part platform game and can be played out in seige scenarios or on collaborative missions. You control little humanoids called clonks, who can build, mine, use machines, explore, attack each other and engage in survival missions. There are many game extensions that create an amazing range of themes and scenarios from wild west to futuristic technology to knights to extreme environments. The social element of this game results in lots of hilarity around here. And every time Noah pulls this out again he delves deeper. He has gone from downloading and installing mods to adding objects to creating his own scenarios to writing scripts from scratch using code, which allow the game to actually function differently.

And then there's Garry's Mod (GMod). It's a virtual physics sandbox which allows players to manipulate virtual objects. It works with the Source Game Engine, so in order to use GMod you need to own at least one game (through Steam, an on-line game delivery source) which uses that game engine. But then it becomes really a game of its own. And there are mods for GMod, and mods for mods for GMod. There's a very robust community of tinkerers out there who have a blast sharing content and ideas. Noah particularly loves WireMod, which sits atop GMod, which sits atop the Source Engine. He's used it to build hologram generators, locators, beacons and, most recently, a mathematical calculator which works out products, square roots and the like.

So although Noah is a gamer, he's also a game-tinkerer, who is gradually developing a robust understanding of the incredible complexity of game programming. He is completely self-led and self-taught, and I'm in awe.


I mentioned in one of my recent posts about the cob oven that an infrared thermometer would be very helpful in learning how to bake reliably in it.

Yesterday I found one. I was in Kelowna getting Erin to a rehearsal with her accompanist there in preparation for a recital at the Anglican catherdral there in a couple of weeks. On the way home I stopped at an auto parts and surplus store to pick up AV cables for my mom's new TV, and darned if I didn't stumble on this little gizmo.

Okay, I didn't stumble. I spent 25 minutes scouring the store for it, and finding all sorts of other nifty things in the process. But the fact remains that I walked out of the store with this awesome thermometer. It has a nice range: 0 to 500 ºC, so plenty high enough to read the oven at its peak heat.

Friday was baking day, so I haven't had the chance to use it on the oven yet. But it's come in handy, and been great fun, in many other ways. Kids comparing their hand and face temperatures. Judging the temperature of the tepid bath I ran to soothe Fiona's itchy rash last night. Observing the electric kettle nearing the boil. Judging when the boiled water has cooled sufficiently for white tea brewing. Comparing the insulating capacity of two different brands of stainless steel go-mugs. Calibrating the outdoor thermometer (yes, it's accurate!). Seeing how hot the top of the wood stove gets (217ºC or 422ºF in the photo). It'll be great for instant accurate mess-free measurements of the liquids in my bread recipes before adding yeast, or the milk mixture when making yoghurt. And for measuring the temperature of pans and cooktop surfaces.

And of course the laser is great for tormenting the cat with. That's just a bonus.

Once I have a pH meter and a digital kitchen scale my life will be complete.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooky run

It's the Friday night before Hallowe'en. Noah has gone to Gaming Night at the community hall. Sophie is at the Hallowe'en Dance at the school. Erin is the basement practicing Saint-Sëans. Chuck is on call. I have spent the afternoon grinding wheat and khorasan, kneading dough, making pizzas, then baking the pizzas, a few loaves of bread, a dozen buns and a huge pot of bean burrito filling.

Fiona has practiced, and now wants to do "something special."

We go back and forth a bit about what constitutes something special. Eventually we decide that it would be fun to dress in our black running tights and our black SufferFest hoodies, strap on headlamps and run the forested trail below our house. A spooky Hallowe'en weekend trail run in the dark.

We drive the van to the trail head. On the way Fiona comments that it's easy to under-estimate the power of  dark. Which I take to mean she's feeling a little apprehensive about the run. It'll be fine, I reassure her. We'll be together, we'll have our head lamps, we'll get warm after a while, we'll hold hands and talk.

It is spooky. Just enough spooky to be memorable. Silent and thoroughly, completely dark. I don't mind running the highway in the dark alone, but I would not have been pleased to be running the forested trail by myself. I am glad to be running with Fiona. She is a reassuring companion to have along. She is just brave enough to do this with me, and I tell her that I too feel braver having her along -- after all, if a spooky monster attacked me, I could toss her at it and run for my life. She laughs, I laugh. We finish the trail happy and exhilarated. We'll remember this run for a long time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


She has to come home after all, I guess, since the posters are being printed, large and glossy.

Montreal chat

Erin is in Montreal, checking out the McGill music faculty and falling in love with the city all over again. She was there for a week in 2008 on an exchange trip and loved it then. This time her perspective is different. She's not there for a visit; she's looking to live there, and soon.

Last night we managed to chat for a while on-line. She's had two lessons. Liked both teachers a lot, but loved one of them, and thought she was "adorable." The French accent probably didn't hurt. It sounds like they connected really really well. Both teachers basically told her she'd have no trouble getting into the performance program and that she should focus on trying to win scholarships. She got some input on her recital performance pieces and on general posture and technique and tone stuff. She has one more lesson with another teacher today, as well as the McGill open house to attend. It was lucky good timing for this trip that the open house happens this weekend. Hopefully she'll get some helpful information and impressions from that. Though the real money for her is in the personal and artistic connection she thinks she might be able to forge with a teacher there. So far things are looking very good on that count.

She's dreaming of an apartment. A small funky somewhat scuzzy one in a run-down building within a few miles of the university, near a metro station, that she can paint "blue and purple and chalkboard," and fill with IKEA furniture, tea, an espresso machine and strings of LED lights. She's using whiney "pleeeeeeases" with far to many e's to ask if she can possibly live in Montréal next year, during her last pre-university year, as soon as she finishes her high school coursework. Did I mention she's fallen in love with the city? I was already entertaining thoughts of an arrangement of some sort in Calgary, but Montreal is so darned far away. Soooooooo darned far. (This issue just cries out for strings of repeated vowels.)

Four years ago I wrote about how, in raising our kids, we've tended to compress or entirely skip many of the intermediate stages. We've let the kids stay little and dependent for as long as they'd like, and then let them be independent and autonomous as soon as they're ready. But (gulp!) does this translate into letting my country bumpkin move more than 4000 kilometres away at age 17 to a city of a million and half, completely on her own and without the support of a university environment? I don't know ....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SufferFoot Recovery

I developed a bad case of SufferFoot after SufferFest. I had been so enamoured of my new minimalist shoes that I chose to wear them for the race without noticing that I'd only run a total of 33 km in them prior to that, none of that on trails. Even before the race I'd had a tiny bit of heel pain in my right foot. During the race it got much worse, and for a few days afterwards I could barely walk. It was the dreaded plantar fasciitis. I'd never had it before, but it's a very common injury for runners and non-runners alike. Barefooters tend to have much less trouble with it, but minimalist shoes are still shoes, and I had just run a nasty long run in shoes.

For once I think I behaved sensibly. I laid off running entirely for a week. I iced my foot. I taped it. I exercised the little muscles and stretched my foot and calf. I didn't walk any more than I had to. I used highly cushioned shoes while the pain was bad. I took anti-inflammatories semi-regularly for a few days, something I almost never do. It took about a week before I could weight-bear reasonably comfortably.

During week 2 I started walking again, and did some slow jogging for no more than 10 minutes at a time. It was really hard to limit myself, but I did it. Things started to improve much faster that week.

During week 3 I increased my mileage from 1.5 to 3 to 5 kilometres at a time, still running really slowly. I had wised up, dispensed with my minimalist shoes and settled back to running barefoot or in Vibram FiveFingers. I discovered that things started improving much more quickly when I wore less on my feet. I was a little worried about this approach, which followed barefooters' wisdom but flew in the face of conventional wisdom. My foot still hurt a bit at times, and it felt vulnerable; I wondered if the uncushioned impact on my heel might make things worse. But instead the fact that I had to actively engage the small muscles of my foot functioned as a kind of active physiotherapy for my still inflamed fascia. Subjecting my stiff and sore foot to that little bit of stress was actually making it better! By the end of the week I was able to do jumping jacks and rope-skipping barefoot without any pain.

So today I ran 8 kilometres at a decent pace on a fairly flat but rocky and rooty trail in my VFFs. My feet feel great, better than ever. Not a single twinge from my heel. Yay!

So what's the lesson here for an aspiring minimalist runner?  It's to be careful of using minimalist shoes as a stepping stone to true barefoot running. They provide protection from rocks and such, true, but that protection can encourage you to run a lot farther without support than your still-weak-and-atrophied feet can handle. I should not have run that kind of 25k run in non-supportive shoes. Not at this stage. In another year, yes, probably. But not yet.

And the ultimate answer isn't to fall back on high-support shoes: it's to continue gradually strengthening the feet through shorter as-minimalist-as-possible runs. If I do a particularly long, fast or difficult run that exceed what my still weak feet can handle, I'll put them in supportive shoes for that, then kick them off for the next run to get back into the foot-strengthening regime.

Now that I seem to be through this little set-back, I'm looking ahead again. My current plan is to take my mileage back up to my typical 30-40k a week, and then as the weather gets cold and nasty and the days get shorter to see if I can continue to increase my mileage considerably higher. If I'm doing well with that by mid-December I think I'll register for a spring marathon and start training. You can follow my weekly mileage in the widget at the right side of my blog. If I hit 60 km/week (37 miles: alas the widget only does miles) by mid-December, I'll sign up for a spring marathon. If it turns out to be impossible to fit that kind of mileage into my week through the winter, so be it. I'll put it off until the fall.

The morning after baking day

Another dozen rolls and another loaf of bread are already in the freezer. The pizza is long gone. The beans, still warm, are waiting to go in the freezer.

I managed the baking times a little better this time. Except for the pizza, which got a bit charred just at the edge, the crusts were all perfect. And it turns out that the time required to eat a pizza dinner is the perfect time to allow the oven to cool down for the first loaves of bread.

Vegetarian Baked Beans

3 cups white pea beans, soaked overnight
1 large onion, chopped
1 tart apple, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste or ketchup
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. curry powder

Cover beans in water and bring to a boil. Simmer for half an hour. In the meantime, prepare other ingredients and dump into a heavy baking dish with a lid. Add simmered beans and stir. Add enough fresh water to bring the level up to the top of the beans. Cover pot and place in a slow oven (275ºF) for 4-6 hours. Add a bit of water as necessary. An hour before serving, mash a few of the beans and stir in. Add more water if necessary, or uncover if too watery. Time and temperature are very flexible. You can start the beans at 9 a.m. and set the temperature a bit lower and leave them all day, or you can start at 2 pm and bump the temperature up a bit hotter. Or you can (apparently) put them in a fairly hot thermal mass oven and leave them overnight as the temperature gradually cools.

(About the seasonings: I really just wing these. I always use onion, though sometimes I pitch in more than one. I always use about a third of a cup total of something brown and sweet, a similar quantity of something tomato-based, a bit of some kind of vinegar, plus salt and pepper. The rest is just by guess and by gosh. The curry powder is a nice touch in traditional baked beans and a teaspoon gives just a subtle flavour. You can triple the apples and triple the curry powder to make a real curry-flavoured pot which is nice for variety sometimes. Sometimes I'll pitch in some soy-based browning, or some vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, or some liquid smoke, or use maple syrup instead of molasses and brown sugar. It is quite fun to experiment.)

Serve with fresh-baked bread or rolls.

Left-over baked beans can be mashed a bit more and stored in the fridge to be used as a savory vegetarian sandwich spread. Beans also freeze well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baking day

Using the cob oven is introducing me to the old-fashioned tradition of a baking day. If I'm going to the bother of firing the oven up for an hour or two and heating it up to 600ºF, it seems ridiculous to use it for 6 minutes of pizza-baking and then leave it to gradually cool overnight. All that stored heat deserves to be put to use.

It seems to be settling into a Friday or Saturday tradition. Last week in between homeschooling activities at the school, playdates, gym time and gaming night I managed to bake a couple of pizzas and then piggy-backed three loaves of bread on at the end. The oven was ready for plenty more, though: the loaves were done in 16 minutes and the bottom crust was a little overdone, so they definitely went in when the oven was too hot and there was certainly enough heat for plenty more baking left over when they came out.

As an aside, I think I'll invest in a laser infrared thermometer so that I can check the oven temperature. The oven interior is of course very dark, and I'm usually baking after nightfall, so not only does an analog thermometer suffer from questionable accuracy sitting right on the fire bricks, getting in the way of the food to boot, but I have a hard time reading it even with a head lamp on. I've discovered by trial and error that 90 minutes of firing with hardwood makes the oven just right for pizza, and that the oven needs to cool substantially from that temperature to be suitable for bread-baking.

This week the plan is to cook pizza when the oven is maximally hot, wait half an hour or so and then whip in three loaves of dill-onion bread followed half an hour later by a dozen and a half spelt buns. Finally, when the buns are done, I'll tuck the pot of beans in and leave them overnight. There's no one around to eat the beans with two thirds of the family gone for the weekend, so they'll go into the freezer and be a reserve meal for when we have one of those days where there's no time for dinner prep.

The one thing I miss with the cob oven is the smell of the bread baking. I smell it as it steams and cools, after it's done baking, but it isn't quite the same.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


We seem to be traveling more than ever lately, and in so many different directions.

Erin was off to Banff last week for WordFest, a writers' festival that the school's writing classes attends each year. She's an old hand at the trip: this is her third year. She enjoys it, both socially and educationally. This year an assistant teacher who had just met her on the trip expressed incredulity that Erin had ever been shy. Uh, yeah ... in fact she's still shy, but she can definitely come across totally differently in the right environment, the writers' festival trip being the right environment. She had fun.

Since that trip put Erin 85% of the way to Calgary, we opted to drive out and meet her at the end of WordFest and drive her on to the east to the big city for a violin lesson, with Noah getting a viola lesson on the same trip. This entailed staying at a new, interesting hotel in Banff, so the younger two decided to come along as well. We drove out on Saturday afternoon arriving mid-evening, left for Calgary at 8 Sunday morning, fit in the two lessons, then turned around and drove the whole distance home, arriving mid-evening. Doing this with the two eldest in a day and a half is one thing. I figured that with all four it would kill me. But actually it wasn't so bad. The kids travel so well now. They nap a lot. They don't whine. They are accommodating with their bathroom and food needs. When they're awake, they are enjoyable. They invented a game called "Rock, Paper, Random." It's a word game that's sort of a cross between Rock, Paper, Scissors and Apples to Apples. You and your opponent yell out in tandem "Rock, paper, ___!" inserting some random noun at the end, and then you table arguments as to why your random word wins over the other person's. The most convincing, or elegant, or witty argument wins the round. For instance Noah's "door" won over Sophie's "tooth" once he reminded us that you can tie a loose tooth to a doorknob and yank it out.

Yesterday Fiona went off to Nakusp for a skating outing at the arena there with a couple of friends. Today Noah, Erin and I head 90 minutes south to Nelson for youth choir and a meeting about the 2012 trip to Cuba.

And then tomorrow at 6 a.m. Erin leaves with a couple of friends to Montreal. Last summer Gwen Hoebig recommended the McGill performance program to Erin and suggested that if she could find a way to get lessons with particular members of the violin faculty this would be helpful to her future prospects. So when we found out our friends were heading off to visit another (mutual) friend who is currently a student at McGill, we asked if Erin could come along. She has lessons scheduled with three of the top violin faculty. The lessons are well-timed: with her recitals coming up she can certainly benefit from getting different perspectives on her performance repertoire, and also from the opportunity to just play for lots of different people. And getting herself known to these teachers is definitely a good thing. She'll be back after the weekend, in time to make it to her weekly gig as accompanist for the community choir. And then in the next three and a bit weeks she'll have two or three trips to Kelowna for rehearsals and recital, and one or two trips to Calgary for lessons. Yikes.

The day after tomorrow Chuck, Sophie and Fiona will be heading to SW Ontario for an extended-family get-together. Chuck's mom's 90th birthday is coming up, and there are new great-grandbabies in the family to meet. Chuck is the youngest of his mom's eight children, and Fiona is the youngest of her 20 grandchildren. There will be many more great-grandchildren in the future. Sophie and Fiona have already been recruited as part of the church-basement-decorating committee, and will be playing their violins as part of the musical entertainment. They'll be gone for just four days, two of them spent in travel. Not relaxing, but they're definitely looking forward to it. Fiona hardly remembers meeting most of the extended family ever. She knows some of them via Facebook, but is very excited to meet them in real life.

And Noah and I: we're staying home for six days straight. Yay!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Here and There Slocan

Just a quick note to let you know that Here and There Slocan, our photo blog, is active again. Fiona and I have been taking lots of photos together and for now at least we're managing a photo a day.

Monday, October 11, 2010


We weren't looking for pine mushrooms today although if we'd gone well off the beaten track we probably would have found places that hadn't been picked over by intrepid harvesters. Rather, Fiona and I were looking for a hiding spot for our new geocache. But we'd brought the camera and were blown away by the rainbow of mushroom colours we found in the undergrowth. All the recent rain has brought these fellows to the surface in all their glory. 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Five for five

FIona and I went geocaching today. Our family got into geocaching a year or two before she was born and kept at it periodically for a while afterwards. But for the last five years or so we've hardly logged a cache. We have one cache that we placed near our home which we maintain, but that's her only experience with geocaching: checking our little cache a couple of times a year.

Today I suggested we go hunt some caches. We got out my Garmin, which is far more accurate than the unit we were using back in 2002, and downloaded some GPS co-ordinates onto it. There are a dozen new caches within a half hour drive of our home since the last time I went hunting, so we chose five off to the east of us and set out.

Geocaching involves using clues and GPS co-ordinates to seek treasure caches hidden in hundreds of thousands of locations around the world. Each cache contains a logbook and usually some trinkets. You sign the logbook. You may choose to take a trinket; you should leave something new in its place. And if you like when you get home you can log your find at the geocaching website.

Along the way you'll likely see some places you wouldn't have otherwise seen, and maybe learned a little about the history of the area thanks to clues and background information. Fiona and I ended up in Cody, a mining ghost town, at the 110-year-old Sandon cemetery (see photo), in an old-growth cedar forest and also along a couple of familiar trails, looking at them with a new perspective.

Thanks to the new Garmin's accuracy and a bit of luck we were able to quickly find all five of the caches we looked for. We brought along a thermos of tea and enjoyed some steaming mugs now and then in the cool autumn air. Fiona had a lovely time. She thinks geocaching is really cool. We've decided it's time to place another cache and after considering all the locations near us that already have them, we've settled upon the perfect unique spot in which to put our new one.

Stop Motion

Here's another of the perks of being affiliated with the local bricks-and-mortar school. Sophie and her friend had expressed an interest in playing around with stop motion animation. And now on Fridays they are welcome to go in and spend time using the Mac Lab and its iStopMotion software, camera, props and other resources. Our liaison teacher showed them around the software, showed them some samples of animation approaches and let them at it. An hour later I came back and they were finishing up a first little experiment with claymation.

Better still, with the group software license arrangement the school has we will likely be able to use a copy iStopMotion at home. They're looking into that. Of course, that will mean me surrendering my Mac for hours at a time. So it's hard to say whether that would be a good thing or not. Sophie and her friend are all for it, though!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Recently the kids in this family have enjoyed having a little bit of cash on hand. Normally most of their net worth is recorded in ledgers, with which they track spending and savings trends, and from which it is easy for them to avail themselves of their parents' plastic and electronic purchasing options.

But "petty cash" accounts have found increasing utility in our family. Especially between Sophie, Fiona, Erin and myself. We've been trading favours, and attaching dollar values to them. Part of the reason I never wanted to pay the kids for chores is that I wanted them to understand that contributing to household work is a basic family responsibility, not a job for which they should expect compensation. But this petty economy is definitely in the spirit of fun and I don't think it's undermining that value.

Pictured: Fiona giving Sophie a back massage. One favour = 5-10 minutes of massage. One favour's value is approximately a dollar. Making a smoothie for a sibling (10-15 minutes of work including clean-up) is worth two favours. Making a London Fog: about one favour. This afternoon I covered Fiona for a sixty cent shortfall when she bought herself an organic Orange Cream Soda on the way home from the cross-country meet. In return I received the better part of a favour: about 5 minutes of back and leg massage.

They must be learning something from this. They're certainly enjoying it. And I confess that sixty cents is a pretty good deal for the robust massages Fiona gives.


Tonight at about 10 pm I had to nip out to the van to grab something. Across the driveway I heard the strains of Saint-Saens' "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" being practiced on the violin. Erin was hard at work in her cabin. And look what I saw outside the cabin: part of the bed frame that we bought for her when she was two years old. It had finally fallen apart, but she had done nothing about it, just leaving it in her jumble of a den of cobwebs, dust bunnies, outgrown clothes strewn on the floor, books read long ago, abandoned glasses of iced tea, English assignments long past.

But today the laundry room is humming, there are bins of recovered books appearing in the living room, and the broken bed frame has been removed. The vacuum cleaner, which I emptied before I went to Nelson this afternoon, is again chock full of enough cobwebs to stop a life-threatening hemorrhage. Erin, it appears, is cleaning her room!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Recital promo photos

The first one is just crying out to be an 11x17 full-colour poster, I think, with no more graphic design necessary than text in a artistic font tastefully positioned. But I like the second one best as a portrait. I love my big girl.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Suffering Fools Gladly

Sophie has joined the cross-country running team at school. Fiona has been keen on running for more than a year. So all three of us signed up at the Kaslo Sufferfest, the girls in the Kids' Race, and me in the 25k True Blue Trail Run. Six or eight weeks ago I had gone over the hump to check out the True Blue trails. Gulp. I started having second thoughts. I wondered about opting for the 10k run. The trails are not only steep, but even the downhills are so root- and rock-ridden that you're watching every step. There aren't many places to open up and just go. But the Race Director is a friend and she gave me the gears. I should do the long run, she said. I was feeling pretty good after the Rocky Mountain Half, so I agreed.

The Kids' Run was along the trail Sophie and Fiona and I ran/walked a week ago. Unfortunately I couldn't watch them run; all the races were simultaneous. Sophie had a good fast run. She was just a few seconds out of medal placement. Fiona had fun and earned a silver medal in a very small age group. But she ran the whole thing, and made friends with another kid and her mom on the way, talking most of the way along the route.

My race wasn't quite so successful. I've had a niggling bit of plantar fasciitis in my right foot since the Half Marathon three weeks ago. I had laid right off running, just doing 5-15k a week. It had been feeling a bit better but I was pretty sure today would make it worse. It did. The foot itself wasn't that bad, but I guess I was favouring it a bit because my knee started to bother me. And that last long descent, which should have been a gift, was pretty painful. The trail has 900 metres (over 3,000 ft.) of elevation loss and my knee wasn't happy about a lot of it. I walked most of the steepest downhill sections. I was pretty much fine on the flats, except for a bit of complaint from the foot, and felt like I had plenty of energy, but I just couldn't put on the speed during the second half of the race.

I had hoped to crack 3 hours, but gave up looking at my watch at the last summit, knowing that was likely out of reach. As it turned out, I probably could have managed it. Once I got to the flats in the last two or three kilometres I felt much better and could have pushed if I'd known I was close. But I didn't, and came in at 3 hours 2 minutes and change. It was good enough for a silver medal in my age group (in a fairly shallow field), but nowhere near as fast as I know I am capable of running.

Knee feels fine again already but foot is not at all happy. I'm planning to take 4 weeks almost entirely off running in an attempt to fix my foot. Then we'll see.