Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thankfully the forecast was wrong

It was a beautiful day, if somewhat on the chilly side.

This weekend was to be another 16 mile long run (see Reality for what happened to the other 16 miler) . I had made arrangements with a friend to run on Saturday. Friday we talked and decided to delay the run to Sunday as the forecast was for "chance of rain" with less chance of snow and howling winds.

Saturday was nasty weather. Duluth did not get hit with the multiple inches of snow that got other parts of northern Minnesota, but it was very windy, alternating between snow and rain. Not even much fun to walk the dog in!

Today dawned sunny! Sunny! So nice to see the sun again. So what if it started out at 29 degrees F. Sun! By the time we headed out for the run it had warmed up into the low 30's and was still.... sunny. Can you tell it has been kind of gloomy this week (all made worse by the 70 degree day last Wednesday).

For a wonder we actually had the wind in our face on the way out. The course we chose was a mix of paved road, gravel road and paved biking trail. Lots of hills mixed in. Vernal ponds had ice on them this morning, so no frogs singing. Saw lots of birds including a "butterbutt" (yellow-rumped warbler), broad-winged hawk (saw it twice as it was hanging out in a tree along the trail), flicker, bluejays, robins, chickadees and heard the song of a white-throated sparrow and the call of a pileated woodpecker and a raven.

The aspen are all blooming as are the alders and the maples (harder to see their flowers as they are up a lot higher).

Run went pretty well. I was definitely pushing the heart rate up on this one. Usually I try to keep my heart rate between 142-162 on the long runs (avg. around 156 or so). Today the avg. was 168, with a peak of 183. I was talking with my running partner the whole time - not struggling to talk and run (except on the uphills) so may need to revise my max heart rate up, must be higher than 203.

We did walk several times; at the turn around, a steep hill or two. Good opportunity to eat and drink. Temps by the time we were done had hit the low to mid-40's.

On the knitting front:

Bird mittens - no progress made,

Bobble cable hat - cable strap cast on, three repeats done, set aside

Baby Surprise - yeah, I have a commitment issue right now. Cast on this morning using fingering weight main color held with some varigated sock yarn. Needed something to work on that didn't require a chart. Not sure who this is for, but I am sure it will become clear it all good time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quick Post - II

Try again... last version lost to a freeze.

Yesterday it was raining and in the mid to upper 30's F, despite a forecast that predicted only a 30% chance of rain. Oh yeah, and as is usual this close to the Big Lake, an east wind. Combined with only 4 hours of sleep and an evening obligation I decided to scratch the long run and move it to Sunday, when the forecast was for sun and temps hitting the low 60's away from the Lake. Sounds much nicer for a 16 mile run, doesn't it?

Here is today's weather observation:

Location Time(cdt) Sky/Weather Temp.(ºF) Wind(mph)
Duluth International Airport 14:55 Fog 38 E 16 G 25

The fog was so thick climbing out of Duluth that you couldn't see more than a 100 feet or so. Had to use my windshield wipers to see due to the drizzle/fog combo. Good thing I had woken up to an email inviting me to a 15 mile run with a couple of friends! These type of weather conditions make it too easy to delay/skip a run.

Headed out to Esko and we ran on the Munger Trail (Rails to Trails paved path) for 7.5 miles and then turned around and headed back - into the wind. At times there are some straight stretches heading due east.... Company makes all the difference.

As is typical of Rails to Trails paths (and railroad grades in general) this was a fairly flat course. My legs were tired of it after a bit, but having someone to chat with really helped.

One more 16 mile run and then the taper begins :->

Friday, April 18, 2008

Signs of Spring

Photos from yesterday's hike on "my" section of the Superior Hiking Trail, starting in my yard where the rhubarb and daffodils are up:

Trail conditions yesterday (a bit dryer today):

Trees are starting to bloom:

Can you guess what these are?

Sunset at Sky Harbor:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Yesterday it was sunny and 59 degrees F. as I prepared to leave work. "Blizzard" just 5 days ago. It was still quite windy, but other than that, hard to tell the city had shut down just a few days ago due to a snow storm.

The wind was out of the south, gusting into the mid 20's mph. Where to run?? Headed for Skyline and it's curves and hills, started at the end that had me headed somewhat towards the south and took off. In shorts and a t-shirt! And I was warm enough during the run to contemplate losing the shirt ;->

Quads were a bit stiff at first, just more proof that 13 flat miles is harder than a similar amount on varied terrain - at least for me. New shoes are still causing pain and issues with my right heel, which is a drag as I think my long runs would feel better in new shoes. Able to run a negative split and took about 3 minutes off my return trip on this out and back course. Wind aided?!? Maybe - though I had the wind in my face at least part of the time on the way back also - nature of a curvy road.

Lots of water is running down the hillside! This is good as I believe Duluth is still a bit low on water from last summer's drought. Probably not a lot is making it into the soil at this point, but lake levels are low so this should help a little.

Saw my first caterpillar of the year! Wooly Bear (Isabella Moth). Creeping across the road. Usually my first sighting is of the caterpillar creeping across some snow.

Also saw an osprey! Of course it flew over as I was just heading out after my run - down a very steep, curvy road! My birding skills are quite rusty so I was dividing my time between memorizing the birds markings and keeping the car on the road as there is nowhere to pull over on this stretch - think mountain pass. I didn't get a chance to confirm my initial ID until this morning when I could look it up. Obviously the bird books and binocs need to come out again!

This morning it is still sunny, winds seem to have died down and it is already 48 degrees. The birds are singing away outside - including the cardinals (common to the south, still enough of a rarity up here that folks get excited). The trees are starting to bloom - aspens, maples and who knows what else. Can't wait to see which flower in my yard is first to bloom.

PS - the chipmunks are awake and feisty - making lots of noise too.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Got to Burnsville yesterday (Saturday) in early afternoon after driving three hours in the snow. Nothing was really sticking, so the roads were fine, but with the winds it got tough to see at times. Greeted my sister, brother-in-law and niece and nephew, double-checked the directions to the Regional Park, changed and headed out, with a promise from my sister to bring me back to my car if I decided to run home from the park.

Found my way to the park with only one mishap. Pulled into the parking lot for the horse/pet trails (13.9 miles) only to find it posted: Trails closed. Okay... drove on to the park headquarters. Trails closed. Hmmm. Every trail head along the way was also closed. I thought about heading out anyway, but decided against it as my bright blue car sitting for three hours outside a locked gate seemed a bit obvious. Besides, did I mention it was snowy, wet and windy? Yeah, made it easy to bail on that run.

Headed back to my sisters and spent the rest of the afternoon visiting, then after dinner headed out with Jenny to REI. Like a candy store. She was looking for a "purse" that could hold a couple of diapers, wipes and the other essentials of parenting young children as well as her license, debit card and some cash. After meandering around the store (big one in Bloomington) for an hour or so, we finally found something that was "just right". Turns out it is very similar to the bag I have at home. Mine fits a book and a small knitting project as well as wallet, checkbook and other essentials.

Also left the store with some clothes and the perfect little wallet/key holder thingy. Bit more expensive trip then I had planned.

Made it back to Duluth early this afternoon. Sunny skies, temps in the upper 30's and wind from the north at 5 mph. Where to run? Ended up meeting a friend and running 5 miles on the Lakewalk, oggling at the crib that had been moved at least a 1/4 mile onto the a new beach and already was half-buried, and dodging lots of people. Once that first 5 miles was over I planned to run the rest of the Lakewalk to the Aerial Lift Bridge, cross that and run down the point past the airport and on to the trail. If I ran all the way to the Wisconsin entry and back to my car it would have been over 17 miles. I planned on cutting some corners here and there, turning around before reaching the end of the point and walking once I got back to the bridge to cut the mileage back a bit towards 16. Had food (Cliff Shot Blocks) and water with so was all set, or so I thought.

Made it out to the old Lighthouse ("The 50 foot high tower was build in 1855, was the first high powered light beacon on Lake Superior and cost $13,835.00 to build. In operation for only 20 years its lens came from the Bordeau Company of Paris, France and it is still in use in the light on the west pierhead of the Superior Entry. In 1975 the lighthouse was designated a national historic monument and the base serves as the zero point for survey maps of Lake Superior." City of Duluth Parks and Recreation website). That served as my turn around point. Headed back and made it past Sky Harbor airport and onto the pavement for about one block before my legs protested and I took the easy out. Jon was at the airport and I had a ride back to my car.

I had forgotten how much running on Park Point's road (flat, flat, flat) beats up my legs. I had felt great on the trails but just couldn't face 4 more miles back to Canal Park and my car. Total mileage: 13.3

Did manage some quality time in the car working on the Bird Mittens while being chauffered north by my daughter.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Pictures from April 2008 "Blizzard"

Not a lot of snow, just a lot of wind. They were predicting a foot or more of snow, starting at 7:00 pm last night. We waited and waited... 10:00 pm and no snow, winds were picking up though. Radar showed an interesting development. There was a 'doughnut' over the head of the lake, no snow falling in Duluth/Superior. By midnight the snow had started to fall - finally! It was wet and heavy and combined with the winds led to this:

The following pictures were taken in Lincoln Park during our afternoon walk. Porter LOVES weather like this. He was acting like a puppy today, big improvement for a guy who has been moving pretty slowly of late.

The walk wasn't too bad, despite winds gusting past 40 mph from the northeast until we started heading home and hit a stretch of trail with no protection. Then it was a bit of a struggle! The drifts were interesting, sometimes there was hardly any snow, other times I was in drifts that went past my knees.

Jon and I took it upon ourselves to free a few trees from their burden of snow - and sometimes other trees - while hiking up the Lincoln Park trail. It still amazes me that I live in the middle of the city and have areas like this within walking distance.

Miller Creek (the river in the above photos) is already roaring, and if the predicted temps become reality it will be in flood stage by early next week. Most of the streams in this area are "flashy". They don't have much in the way of headwaters, so rise and fall fast in response to precipitation.

Porter is jumping over Coffee Creek. Jon had to coax him over, then had to coax me over ;-> I was launching off of a piece of snow-covered ice and wasn't 100% convinced I could make the leap without landing in the creek (with the camera).

My feet are dry.

We headed down to Sky Harbor after dinner to ensure the airplanes were still tied down. The waves on Lake Superior could be seen crashing onto the shoreline from a block away. there is a reason they warn folks away from the Lakewalk and breakwaters in a nor'easter! Check out to see some great photos of the lake and what it is capable of.

Finished the KnitPicks Gloss mittens and have even wore them on a run. Very nice. Contemplating a Bobble-cable hat with the remaining yarn.

So, I am supposed to be running my first 16 miler tomorrow/this weekend. Ummm, about that. It is still very windy in Duluth. By very windy I mean:

Tonight: Snow, mainly before 1am. Low around 22. Windy, with a northeast wind between 25 and 35 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 31. Blustery, with a north wind between 20 and 25 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.
(From the National Weather Service)

On top of this I need to drive to the Twin Cities to pick up my daughter early Sunday morning at the train station.

I have some choices:

1. Run in Duluth on Saturday before I leave for the Cities, fighting the wind for at least half of the run or so, depending on how I arrange the loop.

2. Run on Sunday when I get back, (Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 34. North wind between 5 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. ) when the winds will be lessened and the the sun will be out. Again, fighting the wind for part of the time at least.

Note: options 1 & 2 involve running on the roads as the trails are in a very fragile - and snowy - state right now.

3. Leave for the Cities early tomorrow (as soon as the roads are safe) and run down there at one of the regional parks on... trails!!!

I have been investigating option 3. I am tired of pavement and am concerned that I need to get my legs and feet and brain used to running long distances on trails. I have just over a month left to prep for the Superior 25K.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring in Northern Minnesota

Gotta love it. One day the crocuses are blooming, the irises are poking green sword tips above the soil, grass is greening up along the sides of the house, nets are being put up on the tennis courts and then the next... depends on where you live. Parts of the Iron Range got hit with 20 - 30 inches of snow today. So far Duluth has less then an inch.

Winds have been stong today. Got out for a short run (3.5 miles) on the Lakewalk with a friend. Wind was out of the northeast blowing 24 mph. This meant there were some impressive waves rolling into the head of the Lake. I love watching the waves break over the barrier between the water and the Lakewalk. Not that many years ago a nasyy nor'easter took out parts of this path. Puts things into perspective about who is really the boss.

For a change, we were heading into the wind at the start of our run. A bit grueling at times, but the reward at the turn around was a nice tailwind on the way back. At one point we raced a set of waves coming in as we had recently watched a similar set break over the path and were not all that interested in a Lake Superior shower.

Yesterdays long run (12.5 miles - it's a step-back week) was warm. Forecast was for temps topping out in the mid-thirties and rain. Reality - it was in the upper 30's to low 40's at the start of the run, barely any wind, and sunny. And the temps went up from there. Good day to practice drinking and eating on the run! I had brought a holster-style pack along for my water so had no where to stash my hat, gloves and vest. Ended up with things tucked into the waist belt.

Saw my first turkey vultures of the season over the hills of Brewer's Park on the run home. Lots of robins are showing up and I've even heard male red-winged blackbirds singing. Pileated woodpecker was drumming out a number on a telephone pole along the edge of Proctor (or was I in Duluth by then, so confusing). Love is in the air (or at least the defense of breeding territory).

So far no wildflowers in bloom yet. Though I suppose those pussy willows I saw a week or two ago could count. I was looking for the first strawberries or violets on my walk down the SHT to the house. Still a little too soon, but the hillside does have a way of warming up quick. (Break here - imagine sudden darkness as the power suddenly goes out. No warning. Then, just as suddenly pops back on. Gotta love the electrical service in my part of town)

Trails are now entering that lovely time of year known as "mud season". And you thought there were only four seasons! Not only the trails are muddy, so are the roads (gravel by the house) and the yard. Probably should have taught Porter to wipe his feet before coming in the house. This means no trail running for a couple of weeks at least, depends on the weather. I miss the trails and can't wait to get off of the pavement again.

Anyway, I think that just before the power cut out on me I was going to give a knitting update:

I am finishing up the third mitten in the Knitpicks Gloss. Third?! Yeah, well, somewhere during the first mitten I went from the "large" to the "medium" size. Didn't realize it until I had reached the decreases for the top and my stitch count was all wrong. finished them anyway, as I was only off two stitches and knitting stretches. Cast on the second mitten, kept to the right number of stitches, finished all but the thumb and decided that the fit was much better and I would fix the first mitten. Off to the frog pond I went, ripping back until I was at the cuff (the error was quite early on) and I proceeded to reknit that mitten (okay - so really it was a third attempt at a mitten). I am back to where I started earlier today. One mitten completed, one just missing a thumb.

I still have a goodly portion of the first skein of Gloss left after all of this knitting, ripping and reknitting. What to do with it and the second skein?!?! The bird mittens are peeking out of their bag, quietly reminding me of their presence....