Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From the sublime to the ridiculous

I always enjoy reading the "Favorites" posts that I've seen on several other blogs, so today I am joining in the festivities. Here are some recent faves.

Kal Haven Trail
When I mentioned that I was headed up to South Haven, Michigan with Adam for Labor Day weekend, Erin mentioned running/biking the local Van Buren and Kal-Haven trails. I'd heard of both but was not very familiar, so I was excited to explore. As luck would have it, the start of the Kal-Haven trail was less than a mile away from where we stayed in South Haven.

Some research taught me that the Kal-Haven trail is a 33-mile trail located on a former railroad bed which stretches between South Haven and Kalamazoo, Michigan. I ran the trail on two separate occasions over the weekend and I just loved the scenery. We are talking about woodsy, shaded gravel/dirt paths with views of the Black River, interspersed with covered bridges and other historical points of interest.

Some pictures:

It was so peaceful and tranquil. It was such a nice change from running Chicago city sidewalks where I always have to be so careful not to get hit by hazardous cars, bikes, or baby strollers. (Don't laugh, I once nearly had a head-on collision with a double-baby stroller rounding a blind corner at full speed.)

I can't wait to explore the path more the next time I'm in Michigan. I am even more excited to check out the Van Buren trail in the future, too. (I wonder if there are any races held on either trail?!?)

Stop the Rock
I have a pretty good mixture of music on my MP3 player - anything from the Eagles to Frank Sinatra to Andrea Bocelli to Lupe Fiasco to Ted Nugent. However, when I am running I usually stick to uptempo rock music.

This recently changed in a rather unintentional manner. Long story short, I am the program director for the NAAAP 100 Awards program. One of our NAAAP 100 honorees this year is the famous pianist, Lang Lang.

Lang Lang (hard at work)

I happen to already have some of Lang Lang's works on my MP3 player. During one of my recent runs, one of his performances came up on the shuffle. Since I was in the midst of running, normally I would have just skipped to another rock song. But having recently learned more about his biography and background, I decided to listen this time.

WOW, is he talented. Just WOW. Lang Lang's music is described as open-hearted and emotive (which are favorite characteristics of mine from a musician's standpoint). It was enthralling to listen to while running. It put me into a completely different frame of mind. I loved how it felt to be doing something so active with my body while mentally focusing on the beauty and artistry of the music. It felt like I was using a different part of my brain. I might even describe it as cross-training the mind while running, if you will.

In case you are curious, here is the exact piece that I was listening to when the revelation struck:

I am really, really inspired by Lang Lang's music and by listening to classical music in general. I have a whole list of classical works that I can't wait to listen to while running in the future. (Examples? I happen to especially love piano concertos, and some lifelong favorites include Beethovan's Concertos #1 and #3; Chopin's Concertos #1 and #2, and Tchaikovsky's Concerto #1.)

Going neon
I mentioned here that I'm usually not all that creative when it comes to my runner's fashion. I rarely ever stray from dark solid bottoms and a jewel-toned shirt of some sort.

Well, folks, that is about to change. Check out these shorts that I recently purchased:

I just love the colors. It is so energizing to look at them! Add an orange top and a pair of obnoxiously-colored running shoes (like the neon-yellow Sauconys pictured here) and I will never get lost in the shuffle.

The same shorts were available in a couple of other color selections (e.g. royal blue with neon-yellow, etc.). At the time I thought I'd just buy the one pair of shorts and see how I liked them. But they've grown on me so much so quickly that I am now wishing I'd purchased other pairs in all of the crazy different colors.

Neon legwarmer collection, anyone?

I'm so excited about the shorts that I'm even considering breaking the rule that thou shalt not wear anything new on race day. I am running a half marathon this weekend and really want to wear them there. But alas, better judgement will probably win out in the end over the unknown risks of severe skin chafage.

Afterwards, though, I may never go back to black running shorts.


  1. I'm so happy you checked out the Kal-Haven trail! The Van Buren is a bit more...rugged, but still beautiful.

    Where did you find your shorts?

    1. Thanks so much for the tip on the two trails! My travels to SW Michigan will never be the same ever again. =)

      The shorts are from the Reebok Outlet store in Michigan City, Indiana! (I rarely go to SW Michigan without stopping in Michigan City either on the way up or back, LOL.)

  2. That trail looks SO familiar! DOn't think I've run there though...
    Love Lang Lang! Agree: so talented!
    I broke the rule and wore Zensah calf sleeves to MCM last year. All ended just fine so no worries. Brights are fun! I still need to break away from black capris though.

    1. Wow, wearing Zensah calf sleeves to MCM? I am really, really glad (and relieved) that they worked for you! MCM is not a forum in which you would want to be dealing with gear issues, that is for sure.

      Black capris are a STAPLE and likewise, I would find it tough to get away from them. One step at a time, though, right? Plus I think it's much easier to find brightly-colored shorts in the stores than it is to find non-black tights or capris!

  3. omg I want the neon legwarmers... they would match my neon outfit perfectly!

    1. There were also pictures of neon armwarmers and neon shorts which I didn't post. You'd be a great model for a full-body neon suit!!! =D

  4. Loved your shorts and definitely the leg warmers!

    1. Thanks so much, Zenaida! You always wear lots of fabulous color when you are running races so you are going to be quite the inspiration for future race outfits. =)

  5. I love the shorts and I might be buying the neon leg warmers soon!

    1. Thanks, Sara! Those neon leg warmers could be a nice little secret weapon during the tough stages of a race, no? Just looking at the bright colors could energize you to the finish line! =D

  6. Ooo, ooo, ooo! Did you wear the shorts today?! I hope you had a fun race.

    That trail looks so fab. Reminds me of the DPRT, where where the Prairie State Half will be. Love the covered bridge!

    1. Sadly, I did the practical thing and did not wear the new shorts yesterday! But I've got another couple of races in the next few weeks where I have some time to break them in beforehand. Too bad it'll probably be too cold to wear shorts at Prairie State (by my standards, anyways) otherwise it would be fun to wear them there alongside one of your usually great colorful outfits! =)

      Ah yes, the DPRT! I am not too familiar with the paths there, other than what is in Van Patten Woods and the immediate areas within Independence Grove. I need to get more familiar with the paths. So much great nature in the area!