Monday, January 28, 2008

Embossed Leaves Socks

Details of toe shaping:

On the needles right now: another scarf. I had used up most of a skein of vintage stash yarn working up a scarf only to discover that I was going to run out of yarn before the scarf was of appropriate length. So, off to the frog pond I went (dragging my daughter along) and the scarf is being reborn in a lacier, narrower pattern. Hopefully this solves the lack of yarn problem.

The bird mittens are languishing in their bag, waiting for my undivided attention.

The box from Knitpicks is still not here. Apparently it needs to sit in Brooklyn Park for many days before making its way to Duluth. Thank the knitting spirits that I live very close to the main post office in Duluth or who knows how long it would take to traverse the city! My guess is it will arrive tomorrow when I am at work, though there is the possibility that it will be delivered before I have to be to work at 11:30.

Weather could be a problem, they are predicting a return to the cold, with snow and winds. Obviously I got too excited about the opportunity to run in warm(er) temps and am now going to pay for it. Send warm thoughts tomorrow and Wednesday as the plan is to be out there putting in the miles ;->

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Running Above Zero

I have been looking forward to this day for a week!

Rumours abounded that the mercury was going to rise above zero, even hit the twenties by the end of the week. Thursday morning dawned to -16 degrees, though did warm up to above zero... eventually. Lucky for me I had other plans and was not running that day. Friday was also a day off, so when I got up this morning I was very pleasantly surprised to see 18 degrees on the thermometer. 18... above... zero... And, as frosting on the cake, barely a breeze blowing! I almost didn't know how to dress for this mornings run. A quick check of the National Weather Service website showed that it was a tad cooler over the hill, 14 degrees, so I didn't go crazy and wear my "warm weather" running clothes. ;->

Layers today still consisted of my Sporthill 3SP tights and top, and two layers of mittens (handknits are so awesome) but rather than a long-sleeved fleece, I wore a fleece vest, and topped it off with a thin (handknit) wool hat vs my nylon covered fleece hat and neck gaiter. No wind pants either. And no need to slather my face with Warm Skin. I felt light as a feather! It is much easier to contemplate adding long runs in when the temps are warmer.

I am preparing to branch out to longer races and have my sights set on a 25K trail run in May. Knowing myself as I do, I need to build up my mileage pretty slowly so have started my race training this week. I also know that, unlike what many of the training plans tell you, I do need to run the full distance of the race at least once in training. This was brought home to me during last October's Whistlestop half marathon when things started to tighten up a lot after 10 miles (my longest training run). So the plan is to build up to running 16 miles at least twice before race day, with a good two week taper leading to the race. At some point I also need to start running more hills in preparation for this particular race (Superior Trail 25K - I have been doing a lot of my runs of late on the Lakewalk which has a grand elevation change of 50 feet!

Enough of running and the cold, at least for now.

On the knitting front I have finished a pair of socks (Embossed Leaves Socks, Interweave Knits, Winter 2005). Due to their lacey nature a blocking would be helpful. I have been looking at various homemade blocking devices as the ones I made years ago are showing their age.

The "bird mittens" are progressing very slowly. I finished the hand on one, need to fasten off the top stitches and work the thumb (carefully writing down what I am doing as I go) and then start the other one. I may finish them yet this season ;->

I cast on for a scarf out of some well-aged stash yarn. Needed something mindless for reading and watching movies, etc as the bird mittens are anything but - what with the three charts and all.

Anxiously awaiting a package from KnitPicks. First time I have ordered any knitting things from a catalog/website in years. I was sucked in by the laminated multi-colored DP needles, though refrained from buying the set. Did order a few sizes of the DP's, six skeins of Quarry to use on a healing shawl, and two skeins of Gloss (wool/silk blend) for an undetermined project (socks?, scarf?, hat?, mittens?.... so many possibilities).

Saw Spirit of the Marathon Thursday night (limited release, one night only but may be shown again in theaters in February). If you are at all interested in running, go see it. Good documentary on marathoning, covers both world-class atheletes and "regular" folks, including a few first timers. Takes place around the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Very inspiring! Last week was a big movie week for me as I also saw Juno (another good movie). Normally I do not go to theaters, so this was quite the change for me. It helps that we now have a theater located downtown and that something of interest is actually being shown.

Enjoy the warm(er) weather and wish for snow.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Running in below zero temps.

Apparently I only blog after running in the cold ;->

They were predicting brutal windchills for this weekend. It is warmer than predicted: The National Weather Service says -9 at the big airport; -2 at Sky Harbor (by the Lake) with a windchill of -30. Now, the thermometer at my house says it is -0.7.

I headed over to the east side of town to run this morning, rather than my usual Saturday morning run in Proctor. The group wasn't going to meet, and with temps this cold it was nice to delay the run until the sun was well up in the sky! I ran at Hawks Ridge. The road is closed in the winter and used by snowmobiles, walkers, runners, and skiers so the snow is well-packed and makes for a nice running surface. Porter joined me and was thrilled to be out! He gets quite the frosty chin at these temps.

I went with my usual sub-zero layers of:

Top - sporthill winter top with a long-sleeved fleece over the top covered by a windbreaker; fleece neck gaiter; fleece ear flap hat with nylon around the lower half for wind protection; two layers of handknit mittens- silkywool base layer, topped with worsted weight mitts.

Bottom - sporthill winter tights; sporthill wind pants; smartwool running socks, saucony stabil shoes with sheet metal screws in the soles for gription.

My hands were pretty warm, but it took almost two miles and a potty break for my toes to finally thaw out. This was all complicated by my standing around looking at the underside of my car to try and figure out why it was making a horrible screeching noise. That got the feet cold to start with and lead to a longer time before they warmed up.

Gotta love Raynauds!!!

Today many folks are in a panic about anyone exercising in the cold. Questions about frozen lungs abound. Really, if humans were that delicate we would have never made it as a species this long. Just a hundred years ago we could not count on a well heated home or the ability to sit indoors until it got warmer out. It is all about dressing for the weather.

While out today I was thinking that it should be a "right" to have appropriate, affordable clothing for the climate you live in. I was thinking about all of the people that I see without adequate clothing for this climate. Good, warm boots, coats and mittens are expensive! Our family has always made them a spending priority, even in the lean days, but I know there are many families that just can't swing the cost of quality winter clothing. Any solutions?? We donate outgrown gently used gear, and could probably stand to thin the closets again. Clothing stamps??? Winter clothing safety net??

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Got out and ran today at Hartley Park. Air temps were below zero, but not much, with the wind picking up and becoming quite brisk by the time the last folks came in. I put an invitation out on Northland Runner and ended up having 8 runners and 7 snowshoers come along for the fun (and two dogs).

The sun was shining and in the woods the wind wasn't noticeable. The trail had been pretty packed down so was quite runnable without snowshoes over all, though there were a few spots that provided challenging footing. The deal with winter trail running is that you need to slow down and enjoy your surroundings. If you get too hung up on time, then you get frustrated by the footing and cease to find the beauty that is northern Minnesota in the winter.

Sorry no pictures - again. It was too cold to be messing around with my camera and I forgot to ask the kids to borrow their smaller one. You will just have to use your imagination.

OKC: still working on the Embossed Leaves Socks and the "Bird Mittens", with a few washcloths on the side so that I can read and knit.