Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Morning Run

Despite yesterday's rain and mist the roads were not glare ice this morning so I headed out for my Saturday morning run. I meet a group of folks in Proctor and hit the roads for 5 miles, followed by breakfast. With all the snow we have had, the roads have been pretty mushy. Not much helps when running in that stuff. Screw shoes aren't very effective, but they were great on the sections of plowed road that had a bit of ice on them.

Have started using the heart rate monitor again. Interesting observations on todays run:

5 miles - 45:53
Average HR: 165
Peak HR: 215
Minimum HR: 92

Was chatting with another runner the whole time, though not always easily ;-> Now, according to previous calculations my max HR should be around 200 bpm. After all I am 43. So, what does this mean???? Either my max HR calculation is way off or.... I have an innate ability to run at higher heart rates and this bodes well for longer distance races. Like the positive spin on that ;->

Would love some input on this. Don't think it is an issue with the monitor as these type of readings have been pretty consistent since I got the thing.

Took this past week off of running. Just couldn't get motivated to run in the dark and cold Wednesday - or any other day for that matter. Did get a couple days of skiing in (classic) on a local trail. First time out in almost a year (bad snow year for most of 2008, plus dislike using waxes/klister for over 30 degrees). Could feel it in all those little muscles that don't get much use otherwise.

So, hope to get in a ski at least twice per week and run 2-3 days a week while the snow lasts. Need to finalize my training plan soon, in only a few weeks I need to get consistent about running and start building mileage.

On the knitting front:

Finished! On Christmas Day even, so though the recipient will not receive them for a week or so at least I got them done for Christmas ;->

No pictures of the socks in progress.... that will happen when they are finished and gifted. They are very colorful though, more so than I expected by looking at the skein.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Wildknits Christmas

Sunrise over the harbor - Christmas morning

Our christmas tree(unknown variety of citrus):

Planning a ski for sometime today. Quality time with my knitting needles (only the thumb left on the bird mittens, plus the socks I am working on. Ploughed Acre scarf was gifted earlier this week - all 74.5 x 8.5 inches of it). Family, dinner, and sauna with friends later in the evening.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Memory of Porter

Porter passed away today at 4:40 pm.

Yesterday he was diagnosed with anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease which is treatable, and was placed on doxycycline. We expected that he would start feeling better within 24 - 48 hours. To complicate matters it was confirmed today that his prothrombin time was way out of range, meaning his blood was not clotting and minor trauma would cause him to bleed (something we had noted Wednesday night and part of what led us to the vet's office Thursday morning). He was to start Vitamin K today for that. But it was not to be. We think he may have had a seizure (strokes due to the inability of his blood to clot?) and, combined with the fact that he was not eating or drinking, couldn't get up any longer.... well, it was clear his time had come.

Porter came to us - a 7 week old puppy - on New Years Eve 1998. He was a shy, fluffy 10 lb puppy that liked to hide under the couch. He grew into a 95 lb dog, still shy at times, a bit anxious without his human pack, but with an interesting personality all the same.

As a pup he learned to open pocket doors and escape all manner of kennels. Liked to pull the girls hair so he could have the bean bag chair. Learned he could tree bears, and was proud of the fact. Took a great interest in "grooming" our pet rabbit. Tried to stay out of his harness, but then would obviously enjoy a skijor once we got going. Eventually figured out he would never catch the local deer. Never met a dog (or postal carrier) he didn't like. Learned that the UPS driver was good for really large biscuits and could spot their truck coming a half mile away (apparently he is so well known at UPS that when they made a delivery today the extra help stopped to peek in on him). Known as the "airport dog" by visitors to the end of Park Point. NMTC trail run participant for many years. Part of my 'crew' for this years Half Voyageur Trail Marathon and aid station volunteer for the Voyageur Ultra.

Running companion, skijor partner, hiking buddy, defender of the wildknit's household from all manner of furry visitors.

He will be missed!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bird Mittens Revisited

What to do in a blizzard? Tackle a project you have been putting off due to the attention it needed.

First the charts:

As you can see, for a while there I have three separate charts going. I decided the speediest way to tackle this was to photocopy the originals and tape them to a large piece of cardboard (cookie sheet was suggested after all the work was done). Then I affixed the thumb gusset chart to the "proper" place on the charts (after triple-checking it against the original mitten).

Off I went, merrily knitting away until I had about 14 rounds done when I noticed I had messed up in the first couple of rounds. Aagh!!! Ripped back and started over - again. If I was superstitious I would begin to think these mittens have it in for me - or that I am not supposed to finish them.

Completed mitten on the left, mitten in progress in the center (note progress made today, I had ripped back to the cuff after the misplaced thumb incident) and prototype on the right.

Time for a break! I am off to the sauna. Temperatures have dropped to 4 F, winds have switched to the northwest (still gusting into the 20+ mph range), which means we are really feeling them at the wildknits' home.

Schools are closed tomorrow in the area - but will work be closed???? Only time will tell.

First Winter Storm!!!!!

Some where out there,just a block a way, is Hwy 53/Piedmont Ave. Can you find it?

Looking towards the harbor - really, it is out there.

Heading out to drop a friend off and run an errand. Good thing we have four-wheel drive ;->

Porter, waiting to come back in after his morning 'constitutional'. Doesn't he look thrilled with the wind?

Last night we were getting a mix of precipitation. Today the temperature is still in the mid-20's with the wind gusting up to 35 mph from the east (off of the big lake = potential for lots of snow!). Opted to cancel the morning trail run - wasn't sure the roads were safe for driving to the trailhead. Will probably get out at some point today to walk Porter and play on the trail above the house.

The big question is will there be work tomorrow??? They are predicting over a foot of snow today and overnight. The clinic I work at does not close it's doors unless the DTA (bus service) cancels service. The DTA has a new policy to keep at least the mainline buses (= flat streets) running, so I may have to find my way to work even if I can't drive (or get to the mainline route). First opportunity to ski to work?

A blizzard presents the perfect opportunity to knit. Spent part of the morning prepping the Bird Mitten charts for easy reading in hopes of getting that left mitten knit up today. I have some new sock wool I would love to get at but have told myself no new projects until I finish the mittens.

Re-instituted "Thursday's are for Running to Work" this past week. Woke up Thursday morning to our first below zero temperatures and was very thankful for the balaclava that was given to me the night before. Kept my forehead, ears and neck cozy, though I still can't stand to have anything over my mouth (and it wasn't all that cold so not necessary any way). It was a beautiful morning - clear skies and my route allowed me to watch the sun rise over the Lake/Bay. I am fortunate in that I can run a combination of roads and trails to work - though that will be changing in the future as the school district plunks a new building in the middle of my route (a controversial project in Duluth which I will not comment on, except to say as a taxpayer I knew nothing of these plans until I saw the survey stakes go up in the meadow and did some investigating).

Part of my route follows the Superior Hiking Trail, then it is off onto deer trails and snowmobile trails. At one point I descend quite a bit, in the loose snow it was a bit slippery and I found myself wishing I could grab on to something to stabilize myself. The only thing available though was hawthorns. If you have never seen this shrub just know that they are "protected" from browsing by 1-2 inch thorns. I figured it was better to fall than risk impalement, which is exactly what happened at one point.

Once I am through the woods and meadow I cross an active railroad track (ore trains coming down from the range) and run alongside that for a few blocks before cutting down through the neighborhood and on to work. The footing Thursday was pretty good, not too slippery except on the descents.

Since than I have added screws to my shoes (we have gotten more snow). They work pretty well on hard packed snow, less well in the slush that covered the roads yesterday. Kept reminding myself during those 5 miles that I could consider this strength training.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bridge to Peace 5K

The race was held on the Lakewalk this past Saturday. Friday night it began to snow, not too much, but enough to make the roads pretty slick (all the more so when you live in "Goat Hill" - one of the steepest neighborhoods in Duluth). I ventured out anyway to pre-register for the race. Good thing I did as Saturday morning dawned sunny, but cold (single digits to low teens) and with the wind gusting upwards of 20 mph from the north/northwest. I kept telling myself the alternative was 5 miles on the roads in Proctor, so 3.1 wasn't too bad ;->

It was a small, but enthusiastic group that turned out for this inaugural run. Some of the top competitors in the area mixed in with a lot of other folks. Fun to see all of the kids and families out there. Weird though to be lining up a row or two back from the speedsters. The Lakewalk had been swept clear of some of the snow, but there were still patches, especially on the side of the path. Overall though the footing was great and the sun made it feel pretty warm even with the high winds.

Of course, as I do with all races I headed out too fast. Easy to do with a 20 mph wind at your back, but after about 3/4 of a mile we hit a turnaround and... well... a wall of wind. For the next half mile it was a battle to stay on pace and I then determined who it was I wanted to keep in sight for the rest of the run. Once we reached the "corner of the Lake" there was more protection from the wind and that was a relief. On to the race start - and on by. The clock threw me for a bit, I couldn't believe the time on it, mistakingly believing it was a 2 mile split (silly me). I would prefer not to know my splits most of the time as I tend to psych myself out.

The course went on another 3/4 mile or so (less?) and then we came to another cone, a well-bundled race volunteer, and turned around to head back to the finish line. The fun thing about this loop course is the opportunity to see all of the runners a couple of times. It offers a wonderful opportunity to cheer on and encourage lots of runners. I traded "good jobs" with quite a few folks during the race (though someone pointed out I should save my energy for running vs talking). The best was meeting a young kid (friend of a friend) and chatting with him about his plans before the race, seeing him along the course, and then exchanging "good run" comments afterwards while waiting for awards.

The race organizers did a fantastic job. Registration was well organized, t-shirts were great (long-sleeve cotton, black with a stylish logo); lots of water and snacks on hand after the race (including home-baked goodies which I heard were great - think "church lady". I didn't partake for the simple reason I am having trouble with allergies right now and couldn't identify ingredients). The race was a fundraiser for the Central Asia Institute; a non-profit organization with the mission to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Prizes were given to the top finishers overall and in each age group. I was out of the running, but overall happy with how I did. I had set a "stars and planets are aligned" goal of 24 minutes based on recent runs, but amended that to anything under 27 minutes due to the weather and a persistent and nagging cough. Finished in 26:26 race time (26:29 on my watch). Good enough for me.

No other running this past weekend and it will be a low mileage week overall due to outside commitments, but that is okay. I have time to continue a build-up before I need to commit to training. So far the IT band is behaving so I am hopeful I can stay injury free and be ready for the Superior 25K on May 16th.

The trouble with hanging around with ultra runners is that they start talking you into thinking about longer races ;-> As we sat around after the race I repeatedly heard - "You can do a 50K, it's only a few miles more than a marathon". "You could do the Half Voyageur and then two weeks later the Voyageur". Dangerous folks - and some people worry about dope dealers! ;->

Did get me to thinking about a 50K in the fall though (see what I mean?!). The Superior Fall races are really close to an annual backpacking trip, so Wild Duluth would be the most likely choice for my first ultra. It is located on trails that I train on, includes some of my favorite spots in Duluth, and runs right by my house - which could be dangerous as this is in the last few miles of the race ;-> If I do decide I am up to it I will be looking for crew on the third weekend in October. Same goes for the Half Voyageur - put it on your calendar - July 11th, I believe. Crewing for a runner is a great pastime, especially if you: * are looking for an excuse to stand around on trails and roads in all kinds of weather; like doling out food and encouragement; enjoy hopping into a car and driving frantically to the next aid station* and are willing to repeat from * to *.

OKC: No progress on the Bird Mittens. I know, stop procrastinating and get with it! I will, but sounds like I have until at least January 2nd to get them done ;-> The Ploughed Acre scarf is now 44 inches long (unblocked). I started the second ball of yarn as of this evening (board meetings are good for something besides governing non-profits and schools), not sure how long I will make this scarf. Any suggestions? I think I know who this is for, so have a "deadline" now. Will probably have enough yarn left over for a hat and then I may have reached the end of the 'eternal cone of yarn".

Sock orders are rolling in (got to love it when a family member points out that they long ago wore out their only pair of hand knit socks (no tears but I swear I heard a sniffle - and a shoe size) so will have plenty of portable knitting to get me through the winter months. Though this does mean a trip to the yarn store as I do not have adequate supplies of sock wool on hand. Well, I do, but they are all partial skeins and, well, it is a lot of work to make stripy socks that way.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Insomniac documenting her knitting....

...before gifting it tomorrow.

Baby Surprise Jacket

Knit a while ago, just because this pattern intrigues me, and waiting for the right person. A pregnant co-worker and an impending baby shower provided just the incentive I needed to venture out and find some buttons. I think I did okay with these... what do you think?

Often knitting disappears with no documentation, but tonight I remembered to snap some photos. I think I posted before about the yarns used for this sweater - a strand of 100% wool and a strand of fingering weight sock yarn. Brand name on the wool.... Tuna. (Chris remember this stuff? Yet another of my amazing, never-ending skeins of yarn). These jackets are supposed to help me get rid of my rather large stash of odd balls of sock yarn, but in this case I ended up heading to the yarn store to purchase another skein of the yarn as I liked the look. Ah, well.

The temperature is rapidly dropping at the head of the lakes. Down to 8 F already. No snow to speak of, though they keep saying it is on the way. Will need to bundle up Saturday morning for the Bridge to Peace Run if these temps and winds keep up.

For an interesting review of what is going on in Canadian politics take a look at the Yarn Harlots blog (desperately wishing the link feature would work on blogger - always fools me into thinking it does, but I am wise to it's ways now). When we first heard there was something up we tried to research the issue on our own, her explanation made it all come clear. Note to any non-knitters who read this blog: she is also posting tips for shopping for knitters. Very informative, though ignore the link to the Signature needles unless you truly love your knitter (or need to make up for previous blunders) ;->

Personally, I am pretty infatuated with the double pointed Harmony wood needles from Knit Picks. Durable, nice points, pretty, feel good in the hand and reasonably priced( So far I still have 6 size 0 needles, despite reknitting those mittens a couple of times.

Ploughed Acre scarf is still under construction (a morning of meetings at work was helpful in making some progress); Bird Mittens are still in a time out. I know they need to be done soon, but the recipient is not due back until after Christmas so I have time.

Running is still going well. Speed - what there is of it - is coming back and I am starting to look forward to training for some longer races (remind me I said that when it is 9 degrees out, the wind is blowing, and I need to get an 11 mile run in).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday running

Tuesdays are a long day. Used to be I would head to work by 11:30 am (clinic is open till 8:00 pm and I work the 'late' shift), leaving me plenty of time to lounge about and get a run in. That all changed this fall when I took a second job. It is only three hours a week, but those three hours fall when I am not at my full-time job so bye-bye leisurely Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons. I am at job #1 by 8:30 am and leave job #2 at 8:30 pm.

This change in work schedule has really messed up my running in daylight in winter schedule (not to mention what it will do to skiing if we ever get snow). I have managed a couple of runs by foregoing any errand running in the hour between jobs, but hit on a real solution today: go to work dressed in my running clothes (with a layer of more professional stuff over the top). Cuts down on changing time and means a quicker escape out the door and onto the trails = more time to run. Lucky for me I work at a school (Why yes, I am a school nurse now. How funny is that? And at the school my girls attended so I know all the teachers and a smattering of the students) so the dress code is more casual than say a business office. And, since I change into scrubs at my 'regular' job, clothing is not a problem. The school job is downtown, regular job out west and lots of trails in between.

Today I headed for the Piedmont Ski Trail. The dusting of snow left over from Thanksgiving provided just enough traction on the icy spots so footing was good. I love the frost heaves and sunken rocks that are evident all over the trail at this time of year. Though it does mean paying attention so as to not roll an ankle. The deer were all over the place and I must have flushed at least a dozen and almost ran into one that didn't move as I came by. Did see a blood trail for a couple of hundred feet so at least one bowhunter got lucky.

I pretty much had the trail to myself and being in the woods was a nice break from the wind. These trails have some pretty significant hills - good workout over all and I was pretty pleased with my time for the approximately 5k course(28.33). I have been feeling pretty slow of late, so will take this as a good sign that I am getting back into shape.

Another benefit of running on Tuesdays: my running stuff is at work and waiting for the afterwork run on Wednesdays. Though this week I may need to add a layer as today's run was in the mid-20's and tomorrow's high is in the teens with strong winds. But it wouldn't be a Wednesday run on the Lakewalk without a 20 mph headwind ;->

Want to experience the joys of running along the shore of Lake Superior in the winter? Join us at 5:00pm Wednesdays at the corner of Morse St and Lake Ave in Canal Park. Distance ranges up to 5+ miles. Wind guaranteed (usually on the way back).