Xylaria species

Xylaria species

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Long Run

Today I was scheduled to run 14. Based on last weeks run I figured it would take 2.5 hrs. Last week's run was pretty flat, this week would be on the hills of Duluth.

Total time: 2:05:18 I am very pleased! Ran the first six alone, then met a friend for the last eight. The route included: uphill from my house to Skyline (first mile), then some more hills on Skyline to Observation Rd to Arlington (and even more uphill running, this time into the wind), then onto Orange St (where there is the coolest 40 ft tall ice structure, naturally occurring due to an artesian spring - I will try to get pictures soon), then worked my way back to Skyline and the meeting place. Headed west from there for another 4 miles before turning around and heading back. Finished with a nice two block descent where I got to practice my downhill running.

Skyline is a great place to run. Built on an ancient beach (Glacial Lake Duluth) it is relatively flat. Relative being the key word. There are some decent hills mixed in. My friend loves to charge hills, me... lets just say hill climbing is not my strength. He would charge the hills, I would putter my way up, eventually catching up and continuing the interrupted conversation.

Lots to see on the run: snowshoe hares, other runners, walkers, bicyclists, three deer crossing just in front of us (if a fourth or fifth had appeared there may have been a news story about runners hit by deer), and kids hanging out at the overlooks.

The weather was great for a long run: low 40's at my house, sunny, the breeze was not too annoying - well except on that one long uphill where I was running directly into it ;->

I am not a huge fan of running in warm weather - why would I be, I live in northern Minnesota. Though, having said that, am looking forward to running in a few less layers and not having my hands swell due to cold (in the summer it is due to heat, so guess I will just get used to swollen hands).

Other stats from today's run:
Average heart rate: 161
Peak heart rate: 174
Minimum heart rate: 93 (turned my watch on after descending stairs from my house)

My goal is to stay in the 142-162 heart rate zone. How did I do? 52.22 minutes in zone. Apparently I am really bad at staying in the target zone ;-> Maybe it is all the hills?

Overall the run felt great, though it was getting tough near the end to keep tackling the hills. But no walking today and only two stops: fix an overly tight shoe (couldn't feel my toes) and the obligatory bathroom stop (always happens in the first few miles when I am wearing a pack - why I choose wooded routes).

Blister on my left foot is no worse, so I am reserving judgement about the blue pads in my shoes. Hard to judge since I had a blister there to begin with. Feet were not as sore, so that is a positive.

Got home to the family cooking dinner: Thai Fish Cakes (made with Lake Superior Herring) and Split Pea Fritters, washed down with an Enlightened Black Ale. Yum!

Ended the evening visiting with my daughter and her boyfriend. Great way to spend a Sunday!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Committed


Well, after much thought and some arm twisting I filled out the entry form, wrote the check and applied a stamp to the envelope. Just need to get to a post office now.

Spent some time during my teen years living near the park where the race is located. Can't say they were the best years of my life, but I do remember that the parks' trails were a place of solace during some trying times.

Today I added in another run (not on the plan): 5 miles. My intent was to go out and just run with the usual Saturday morning group. Have missed these runs since the beginning of 2009 for a variety of reasons (meetings, our of town travel, long runs) and wanted to connect with the folks I only see at these runs. Was planning on taking it easy...

Ended up running the 5 miles (4.88 to be exact) in 41:59. I know - not blinding fast for many, but I think that is a PR for this year, and possibly last year as well. The route has a few big hills that had me wheezing a bit, but overall was able to maintain some semblance of conversation. There is much to be said for running with faster runners!

Some sights from my walk to work on Friday:

Miller Creek/Lincoln Park from the 10th St Bridge

Managed to commute to work by foot 3 days out of 5 (if you don't count driving to Job A on Tuesday so that my daughter could pickup the car ;->).

Other distractions:


REI Quarter Dome T3.

They say this is a three person tent.... yeah, right. I chose to see it as a two person tent with room to move. Set it up in the living room today to see how it went together. Had heard you need to practice with this one. Set up was pretty straight forward, though cramped. As you can see, we live in a small house (some would call it tiny) and there was just enough room to creep around the edges of the tent to get the fly secured. No way I was going to be able to get inside - doors were up against the couch on one side and the piano on the other. Will need to await nicer weather - and a dry yard - before I set it up outside.

This is the first tent I have owned with all mesh walls. Should be interesting in wet weather! In the second photo you can see the ventilation system on the fly. Utilizes a stiffened piece of velcro to prop a section of the fly up. No way to shut it from inside the tent, so could be an issue if a storm blows in. Couldn't mess with the vestibules (no room) so no idea how big they really are.

May will be the first outing for this tent (I think) when I head to Isle Royale for 5 days of wildflower peeping and backpacking. Nice reward for after the Superior 25K. Tried to head out there right from the race, but the ferry schedule didn't work out, so will head out a few days later.

Progress:


Hard to get good shots of unblocked lace. Trust me, it will look better once blocked. "Vine Lace Scarf" - Barbara Walker lace pattern, scarf design, mine. Have a bit over 18 inches of scarf done so far. Not sure what length I am going for... certainly won't have to worry about running out of yarn! I have only used one skein so far and have 6 or 7 more. The yarn is of unknown vintage - Bernat Dainty Fleurette "95% virgin wool, 5% nylon for strength" 1 oz = 160 yrds. It has an interesting texture, kind of nubbly. Doesn't feel like wool. This scarf is destined for a silent auction in a little over a month.

Picked this yarn up years ago through a friend who knew someone who was destashing. I got a lot of yarn (including a basketball sized ball of raw silk) for $25. As you can see, I am still knitting from that stash. My efforts at working through my stash and/or giving away yarn I will not be using vs buying more yarn is going... well, okay. I am having an urge to buy sock yarn right now (despite the 3 gallon bag of leftover skeins). Something about knitting socks and hats is so soothing. But, am also trying to stay faithful to my current project so am avoiding the side of town where the yarn store is located.

Tomorrow I have a 14 mile run planned. Will be joined by a friend at 6 miles. Long runs are a good time to catch up and this friend and I don't see much of each other any longer. He is also a faster runner, so it could be an interesting run! I have been pretty content with my pace on my long runs of late - averaging around 9:00 to 9:30 pace.

Will be trying out a new product in an attempt to prevent the blisters that have been plaguing me of late. They are blue pads (can't remember the products name)that affix to the inside of the shoe. For the past several years I have been getting blisters on the medial side of my forefoot. Really annoying, and painful when they develop under a callus - which I always have due to the blisters. Occasionally I perform some surgery and trim back the calluses, but they will continue to return as long as the cause remains.

Tomorrow there is a promise of sunshine and temps in the low to mid 30's. Sun will be nice after a week of grey skies, rain and snow. Looking forward to some warmer temperatures, though first we have the threat of a winter storm to get through.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

So this is spring?



Pictures from Tuesday morning, standing on my front porch and looking south. If you embiggen them you may be able to see the 1/4 inch of ice encasing the branches. My front porch is about 10-12 feet above the yard, with 12 steps leading down to the sloped sidewalk and then another 24 steps to the road (again, who needs a stairmaster?). The hand rail was coated with ice, the steps were coated with ice.... made it to the yard only to go sliding down the sidewalk towards the long flight of concrete steps. All of this to get to the car and head to work (Job A for the day).

Ditched the car at work (daughter needed it) and commuted by foot to Job B. Roads were pretty good overall and I had the wind at my back (a blessing as it was quite strong and off the Lake). Nice break from the last two days of running which have involved a lot of running into the wind. Sigh...

Even my long run last weekend in the Cities involved wind - though much warmer temperatures! Saturday it was so warm I thought I might have to pick-up a pair of shorts for my run Sunday morning. No worries, temps were in the low 40's and the clothing I had brought along was appropriate. It was busy on the trails Sunday morning - more than I had expected (can you tell I come from a relatively small city?). Ended up running just over 13 miles in good company. Thanks Jim! Nothing like conversation to keep your mind off the blisters and the pain of running flat for so many miles ;-> Even the "flat" routes in Duluth are hilly in comparison and I was reminded how much I dislike running long on a flat course.

I have managed a few inches of knitting on the lace scarf. May even get it done and blocked in time for the silent auction. One of these days I will get some photos taken and uploaded, really I will ;->

Another project I have to get going on is a poster of local wildflowers for this springs Superior 25k/50k. Last years display of flowers was pretty spectacular and I was asked if I was willing to create a display to help other (interested) runners identify what they were seeing. The other night I sifted through my digital photos looking for spring beauty, dutchman's breeches and other spring wildflowers. Looking at the pictures reminded me of all of my hikes on the SHT with Porter. He didn't always appreciate all the photography stops - liked to keep moving more than sit around and wait for me to get just the right shot.

Still have to plan my workshop on trail running for the SHTA Annual Meeting, too. So far I have gotten a few good quotes and am always looking for more! Need to at least get an outline down and then will worry about fleshing it out later. I will be volunteering at an aid station at this years Chippewa 50K... might be a perfect opportunity to gather inspiration and information for the workshop?

Am one step closer to signing up for Trail Mix - printed out the race entry form. Leaning towards doing it, but.... any advice?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Loooooooong week

Realized it has been over a week since I posted - and what a week! Saturday headed out in the sunshine and warm temps for my long run (10 miles, step back week). Had packed my cell phone along with water and a snack. Why the phone? Mr. Wildknits was at a fly-in up north and I figured he would be checking in while I was out on my run.

He did... and it was sad and somewhat scary news. A friend had been in an airplane crash. As I ran all I could do was send thoughts (prayers) towards our friend, hoping he would be okay. Finished the run, changed and headed to the hospital to be there until more family could arrive.

It has been a hard to describe week. It is difficult to focus on every day life when faced with concern about a good friend.

Though I have spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms this past week I have not found it to be productive knitting time.

Have persisted in running my usual schedule as it is one way to work through the emotions generated by this incident (moving meditation/prayer).

Last time I posted it was -12 F on my morning run. This past Tuesday it was close to 50 degrees! Wednesday a bit cooler and with the obligatory wind (in my face both ways). Thursday still colder with a brisk east wind (off the Lake). Friday is my day off from running and instead I walked a fair amount, into a damp wind and snow. From home to work B and then from there to the hospital for a visit. Roads were pretty icy and I think I was moving faster than most of the cars ;->

Today I am in the Twin Cities for a visit to REI, amongst other things. Had a 20% off coupon and dividend burning a hole in my pocket. We've been looking for a lighter tent for backpacking trips and I decided I would take advantage of the coupon to lessen the financial blow. Since REI is a bit like a candy store it can be hard to get out of there without buying more than originally intended. Did okay today - picked up only one unplanned item - bottle brush for my Sigg (and camelback bladder).

Tomorrow will head to Lakes Harriet and Calhoun with a friend for a 12 mile run, then to the American Swedish Institute to catch the Bohus exhibit.

Have been contemplating heading down for Trail Mix this year - using it as a long run prior to the Superior 25K. I race fairly infrequently, but have had a few folks mention this race to me as a fun one. We shall see....


Happy 18 to my daughter Sarah!!!(proof that you can fit 18 candles on a cupcake)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Almost the middle of March and subzero weather

So - this week has seen the winter storm that wasn't and a return to subzero weather. Typical March in northern Minnesota.

Sunday was an hour and a half of soccer. Legs were pretty tired at first from Saturday's long run, but quickly warmed up with all the sprinting back and forth across the gym. No major injuries, though kept rolling my ankles (despite taping the right one) and chose to sit for a bit in hopes of not really hurting myself. Ended the game with a mild bloody nose from a chance meeting with another players shoulder - at least it wasn't a ball to the face this week!

Monday was a well-deserved day off, though I was tempted to get out and run after seeing the weather forecast for Tuesday. Supposed to get 10 to 15 inches of snow and howling winds off of the Lake. Opted out as my shins hurt - not only when they are touched but also while running (some times).

Tuesday I wasn't able to run from job to job. Had a board meeting in the evening, so only working one job. Wasn't even sure about driving to work as it can be difficult getting my car back up the hill when the roads are bad, but got up too late to run. Board meeting was canceled (due to the storm) and I was "free" after work. Roads weren't too bad and it was still light out. Hey, I could get a run in! Got home and headed out into the storm. Hardly any cars on the road due to the weather so I was able to enjoy the run without too many worries about vehicles sliding into me. Threw a headlamp into my pocket (where it stayed) as I was not sure what time it got dark. Ran 45 minutes through a few inches of fresh snow, with more falling all the time. Wind wasn't too bad, temperature a balmy 30 degrees. Perfect!

Wednesday was another story. Winds had picked up overnight and were pretty strong out of the northwest. Funny, but during the run they seemed more west to south west. Nothing like 2.5 miles into a headwind (out and back course). Shins were pretty sore intermittently during the run so was rethinking Thursday's run due to the rapid descent at the start. Ended up deciding to run as: 1) no other way to get the miles in and 2) daughter needed the car.

Thursday I woke up to -12 degrees. Quick peek outside and check of the weather showed calm winds, so not too bad of a day to run to work. Slammed down my two cups of coffee, bundled up, strapped on the pack (this week including two books of poetry by Bill Holm for a co-worker), and headed out the door. For some reason it felt really cold and it took almost a mile before my fingers were completely warm. Of course, by then the frost was accumulating around the opening of my balaclava and on my eyelashes. Shins felt okay (lots of icing the night before) and traction on the roads was pretty good. I only hit one spot where the footing was slippery. I have a four block section of downhill (no way around it, roads dead end into a field) on this route. The grader had just finished on this street and it was slick! Caught me by surprise and I am sure I looked funny as I ran down this street taking tiny little steps. Found that if I ran in the soft stuff on the side I was fine, but couldn't step out where the grader had been or I would slip. The grader and I met at a corner at the top of the hill and then he turned around and headed down past me. Roads in this part of Duluth are not very wide.... one way to get the heart rate up! Shins felt okay during the run but will take tomorrow off before the long run Saturday and last soccer game Sunday.

OKC:


Zander's Hat

Turn a Square pattern by Jared Flood adapted to fingering weight wool. Hard to see the stripes, but they are there. Two different colors of variegated yarn (left overs from all the sock knitting). I really like the look of the shaping on this one - will post a picture when it is finished.

Scarf for the silent auction is waiting for me to get back to it - birthday in a few days trumps annual meeting in two months ;->

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Commuting via running

This has been a good week for running. Got in all of my planned runs and managed to leave my car at home (really in my daughters' hands) for two of them.

Monday: 0 miles (day off - recover from soccer)
Tuesday: 3.7 miles from job #1 to job #2, may make this a weekly ritual
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 2.7 miles (usual run to work - this time on a gorgeous sunny morning with no ice on the roads)
Friday: 0
Saturday: 11.2 (commute to a board development/nominations committee meeting)
Sunday: plan is soccer as usual

All of my commuting is done with a pack on my back with the bare minimum for the day. What's the bare minimum? Tuesday it was a winter coat (liner actually), datebook, phone, wallet, empty water bottle, change of undergarments (wore my running clothes to job #1, keep scrubs a work). Thursday the pack contains pretty much the same thing for the same reason. Today was a bit different. Left the date book home, added a change of clothes to the winter coat, filled the water bottle and tossed in some chopped up cliff bar for during the run, and a luna bar and a handful of fig newtons for afterwards, plus the paperwork I needed for the meeting.

When commuting I am using my REI Half Dome pack (size small). It is bright red, so hopefully I am more visible to the vehicles out there. Can carry a water reservoir if needed though that would have been overkill today. Would be overkill for long runs in general, except when you need a change of clothes. Cinches down pretty tight overall to minimize bouncy and is actually pretty comfortable to wear. Today's run is the longest I have ever done with it. Must be some overall benefit to running long with a pack, right?

Early in the run I was passed by two male runners also out for a long run. Quick hello and comment that I must be running long (yeah, with a meeting afterwards so need a change of clothes). I kept seeing them for almost half of my run - always a block or two ahead. Had to watch myself so that I didn't speed up in some vain attempt to catch up (never would have happened). Eventually they disappeared in the Woodland neighborhood.

The run was amazingly flat for Duluth. Hike and run up to Skyline from the house was one of the biggest hills, then gentle rollers throughout until I got out east where after a climb I headed downhill for the next mile or so. Transitioning from that to flat roads was a bit tough late in the run. then out to the expressway and a loop back onto London Rd and the site of my meeting.

Lake Superior was beautiful this morning. Sun glinting off of shards of ice and open water not too far off shore.

The wind was interesting today. Weather service claims it is out of the north over the hill and calm by the Lake. And I would have agreed with that through out most of the run, but heading back into town on London Rd meant running into a head wind the whole way - what the heck?! Figured when I turned back into town the wind would have been at my back and or quartering, not in my face. Oh well, resistance training.

At once point I glanced at my watch and thought - "shoot, I am late for the meeting!" then recalculated and realized that my watch was keeping track in hours, then minutes, not minutes and I had plenty of time (like I could have gone much faster at that point).

All in all a good run followed by a productive meeting.

OKC: working on a lace scarf for the Superior Hiking Trail Silent Auction. Need to cast on for a hat for my nephew who turns two in a week.

Speaking of the Superior Hiking Trail: I volunteered to offer a trail running workshop at this years annual meeting. Any tips??? I have an hour. Other than: "pick up your feet" - what else could I say??? I am thinking:"Let's go for a run". The meeting is held at Wolf Ridge ELC and there are plenty of trails there to run on (though will avoid the one with the nesting goshawk this year).

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Socks for Ella

Here they are (note - for some reason the colors are a bit washed out - carpet is more a forest green, socks a darker blue):



Finished these up while catching up on the only podcast I follow: http://knitajourney.libsyn.com

Done by a local knitter who is married to a local biker: http://mnbicyclecommuter.blogspot.com. Covers a range of topics. Check it out. I am finding it a nice addition to a relaxed Sunday afternoon.

While listening to her speak about repetition and learning I thought about how many times I have knit socks and how, due to the repetition of this activity I carry a sock pattern around in my head. I no longer write a pattern down except to note number of stitches cast on, how long to make the ribbing (sometimes, usually if I am doing colorwork)and how many stitches to pick up on the heel flap - and this is only so they will 'match'. Really, all I need is a tracing of the person's foot (assuming they are not for me). Same thing goes for hats and mittens. This can pose a problem when a design has been successful and either I want to replicate it, or someone else would like the pattern. Although I have been known to write down the basics for someone on a scrap of paper ;-> Of course this is how knitting has been passed on for generations - person to person.

Another of her podcasts got me thinking about pulling out the lace curtains and finishing them up - perfect project for a quiet afternoon or evening of knitting. There are fewer distractions around the house now so fewer excuses for not working on this particular project. Still, I will need a portable project now that the socks are done. Any suggestions?

After talking with my running partner of yesterday we are settling on 9 miles for the total distance. I opted not to run today, will play soccer but spent some time looking up taping instructions and will most likely tape the ankle today. It doesn't exactly hurt, but I know it is there. Soccer is bound to put me in a situation where a roll is likely to happen, so will err on the side of caution. This weeks injury has me rethinking playing soccer at all this summer or fall. The potential for an injury that wrecks my training schedule - such as it is - is pretty high.

Off to purchase pre-wrap and tape and run around a gym for an hour and a half.