Thursday, April 30, 2009

NMTC Milleninum Trail Run

Last night was the first race in the NMTC Spring Series. Held in Superior, Wi on the Millennium Trail and the ski trails of the Superior Municipal Forest this is the 'flattest' run of the series. It is also notorious for being a windy, cold, wet race. Yesterday was no exception. The wind was gusting up to 20+ mph out of the east (=off the Lake = really cold) and it was raining. I popped out of my car long enough to sign up for the race ($1) and visit briefly before jumping into the car of a friend to wait until race start. Lining up for the race I tried to place myself in front of some taller runners for wind protection (not hard to do when you are 5' 1").

Went out too fast (easy to tell by who I was running with) and promptly notched it down just a little bit. The race starts on pavement so it is easy to go out fast. Within 1/3 to 1/2 mile (really closer to 2/3rds) we turned onto the ski trails and hit our first of many puddles. This was a small one and I don't think the water even soaked through my shoes before I was through it. That was not to hold true for the rest of the race. At one point I hit a puddle that resulted in very cold and wet feet. Then there was the puddle that came up to my knee ;->

Along with puddles come hills. As I said this is one of the flatter courses in the series. According to one persons GPS data there is only an elevation change of 45 or 46 feet on the course. Yeah, but they occur on either side of a steep ravine, over and over again. My goal for the past few years has been to become a better hill runner and a better mud runner. Will get lots of practice in the upcoming weeks.

The race heads out to the west and is a loop course with an out and back section on the paved part of the trail. Remember that east wind? Yup, would finish with a head wind. Seems to be a tradition on this course. But yesterday it was not as bad as it could have been, at least when I finished. I kept bracing for the headwind and never really got hit with it. Nice break really as this winter seems to have been all about practicing running into the wind.

Finished a full minute faster than my best time on this course! Apparently consistent training (and running with faster folks) does pay off. May join Wayne in a quest to run all my races faster this year. So far I am 1 for 1 (can't count Trail Mix as I have never run that race before even though it was a 25k PR).

Other running news: Commuted to work by foot twice this week (with an opportunity to do the same tomorrow as I am carless). Tuesday was the usual run from Job A to Job B. Then today - being Thursday - was 'run to work day'. It was also the first day I ran doubles. I hadn't planned on running home, but no ride, dark clouds looming on the horizon... a run seemed prudent. Took it easy even on the .8 mile section heading up hill through Lincoln Park. Arrived home in 24 minutes, not bad for all the hill climbing involved. Today was also the first day I ditched the small backpack for a fanny pack - must be spring!

Speaking of spring - my daffodils are blooming! And the strawberries have arrived. I ordered 100 plants to replenish my strawberry bed. I am not planning on planting all 100 plants, some will go to friends, but want to get at least 50 or more in the ground. Barrier - I will be gone much of this weekend so need to research keeping the plants healthy and happy until I can get them in the ground sometime next week. Next up will be preparing the rest of the garden beds for spring planting when we return from Isle Royale later in May. Garlic update - looks like all the garlic I planted is up and looking very healthy. Easy to tell which were the big bulbs as the greens are quite stocky vs the smaller bulbs with spindly greens.

Knitting: hmmm, not making much progress on the scarf or the socks. Very little knitting time of late and have decided that the scarf will not be ready for this weekend. Maybe next year? Arrived home last Saturday to discover my order from KnitPicks had arrived. Blocking mats, set of double point needles for a friend, and sock knitting needle holders. Guess I have an incentive to finish the scarf and finally block that lace shawl I knit a few years ago.

Upcoming plans: Saturday is the Superior Hiking Trail Annual Meeting where I will be presenting a workshop on Running the Superior Hiking Trail (thanks everyone for your suggestions on what to include!). I plan on arriving early in the day and running 10 miles on the trails around Wolf Ridge ELC prior to the workshop. Had thought about staying for the evening program and dance but may have to bail as have company coming on Sunday. Two weeks from now is the Superior Spring Trail Races and another commitment - In addition to running the 25k I told the race directors I would make a display of spring wildflowers seen along the trail. I have the photos ready, just need to get to work on printing them out and preparing the text.

Swine flu - had my first call today at work from a patient concerned about having contracted the swine flu. Sigh... here we go. Will be an interesting time in healthcare.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What I did on my day off

But first - Thanks Wayne for explaining to me how to make links work!!! And - all that after running an ultra (or was it before? I may not have ultra brain, but I do have ultra aid station brain complicated by driving 2 hours ;->)

Congratulations to everyone at the Chippewa Moraine 50k! Met a few bloggers (Kel, Matt) for the first time and said hello to a few others I have met (and run with in Wayne's case) in the past.

The weather was pretty interesting over the last two days. Being optimistic I left Duluth Friday morning wearing shorts. Figured I would layer a lot on top and would be okay. Then I opened the doors and discovered it was quite nice outside (only in northern Minnesota do we consider 61 degrees shorts and t-shirt weather). Ran some last minute errands and headed south to New Auburn, WI. Heard it was going to be a warm day, with a threat of rain/thunderstorms in the late afternoon and evening. Figured I would still have time to get the long run in and wasn't too worried about the temperatures as I figured I could handle 70's. As I got closer to New Auburn the car kept getting hotter and hotter and I became a bit worried about the temperature.

Found my way to the Chippewa Moraine Interpretive Center and got out of the car to discover it was really hot! Hmmm, I do not like running in the heat all that much. Oh well, I had made plans to meet up with another aid station volunteer to run so was committed (or should have been!).

We set out to run an out and back on the race course. After running the same loop twice we found our way onto the Ice Age Trail. By then I was ready to pack it in, but persevered. There was much discussion about how far we really wanted to run in light of the heat - and our lack of acclimation. We ended up running out 7.5 miles (per Pete's gps) and then turning around. We had been out for 1hr 35 minutes so figured we would be back by 3 hours. Not to be. On the way back we found the actual trail and ended up running a bit further (and enjoying that nice uphill to the finish). Pete and I split up on the way back so we each got to "enjoy" being on new trail to us, with an unknown distance to the Interpretive Center, alone. I ended up running for 3 hrs and 29 minutes!

Highlights of the day: hepatica in bloom (both violet and white); bloodroot in bloom (at the turn around point); sandhill crane; the lovely Chippewa Moraine Trail.

Arrived back at the Interpretive Center to discover the temperature was in the low 80's! I was ready to sit in the shade and drink - lots. Visited with Wynn and Larry Pederson for a bit while waiting for friends to arrive. Interesting stories.

As the afternoon progressed storm clouds moved in and shortly after heading out to Chetek (and the hotel and then dinner) it began to thunder, lightening and pour rain - and hail. Hmmm - hoping this all would pass before Saturday morning or it would be an interesting day for a race - though I guess rain is better than snow!

Woke up Saturday morning to temperatures in the low 40's and drizzle. Ran into Andy H. in the hotel lobby, who would go on to win the race. At this point I was glad I had packed a backpack full of warm clothes and picked up a very large tarp to use as a wind/rain break.

Pictures from the start:

And at the aid station:



Wayne (see above link)

Kel (see above link)

After closing down the aid station I returned to the Interpretive Center to return dropped items, watch runner's finish and visit. Then it was off to home. As I drove north the skies cleared, though the temperatures did not improve much. But, that said I do have flowers blooming in my yard!

scilla siberica - one of my favorites. There is a yard on my running route to work that is covered in a light blue variety of this flower.

Daffodils are not far behind!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Week in review

Noticed - after the last post went up - that none of my links even showed up. Aargh!!! Not sure what the issue is, and not willing to spend hours figuring it out. Sorry about the missing links.

So, Saturday last I was hanging out in balmy 60+ degrees. Headed north as the forecast called for rain mixed with snow on Sunday and I did not want to drive three hours in that. Arrived Saturday night to fog hanging on the ridgeline in Duluth and temps in the 30's. Brrr!!

The next day I decided I needed to get outside and hike for a bit to stretch my legs after the race. Nothing like a little April snow to encourage me out the door. The flakes were big, fat and very hard to catch on camera, but this was the scene on the the SHT above my house:

I used my need for a walk to accomplish an annual spring task: maintenance report for "my" section of the SHT. This year I took a camera along and used it to document any problems areas - and cool stuff I saw. Like:

An alder broken over the trail - right near a creek crossing (may be hard to see, click on the picture to enlarge).

Wide muddy area at the base of some steps.

Broken off "sign" tree.

Sumac leaves just budding out.

Snow melting on a winter weed

My house (and the access trail to the SHT) are at about the mid-way point of this section. Because of the location, I ended up walking some sections of the trail multiple times, which was fine by me. I ended at Twin Ponds and was surprised to see a hooded merganser out on the pond. He was being 'followed' by at least three hens. I decided to climb down to the pond to see if I could get a picture of these diving ducks. I walked the shore line of the pond, attempting to get closer to where the mergansers were swimming, but they seemed to know what I was up to and would always manage to be on the opposite side of the pond then I was. Here is my best attempt at a photograph:

Maybe if you click on it to enlarge the photo and squint real hard you can see the merganser through the snow?

But, I did make an interesting discovery on the edges of the pond (while getting my feet wet):

Marsh marigolds!! Just starting to emerge. One naturalist I know calls them "55 mph flowers" as you can identify them while whizzing by on the highway.

Despite the snow, spring is arriving in northern Minnesota.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. Tuesday I ran errands between Job A and Job B - literally. Left the first job, ran towards the second job, stopping at the post office to get some stamps and then 'running' into a friend I have not seen in months a half mile or so later. After a quick chat it was off to work.

Wednesday I decided to check out the trails in the Piedmont Area. I headed out on the section of SHT that runs through there (very hilly part of town) then hopped over to the snowmobile trail/multi-use trail to connect up with the ski trail. I know of a patch of bloodroot on this trail and wanted to see if it was up yet. No luck! From there I got on to the mountain bike/multi-use trail that also runs through this area. Boy are those fun! I ended up looping around for 65 minutes, climbing some of my favorite rock outcrops in the process and scaring a couple of mallards off a vernal pond. By the time I got myself back to the snowmobile and out to the road where I had parked my car I was tired. Ran in my new trail shoes (I know - when will I learn not to run long in a new pair of shoes?). Not sure what I think of them. My right ankle(sprained this winter during soccer) was crackling like a bowl of rice krispies for most of the run. Was it the shoes or the first time on single-track in a few months? No matter - found myself with a silly grin on my face half of the time from the sheer joy of being out there playing in the woods.

Thursday is 'Run to Work Day'. I discovered how tired I was from yesterday's run this morning. Then it occurred to me - hey, I am planning on running 16 miles tomorrow. What am I thinking?!? I normally do not run 4 days in a row. Oh well, can take three days off after that and get back to my normal schedule. Ended up also running errands this morning - I had not brought the right combination of food to work the previous day and needed to hit the local Walgreens for some juice for my cereal (yeah, I know this is weird - all started when I had to be dairy free 18 years ago, think of it as naturally sweetened fruit loops ;-> ).

Tomorrow I am on vacation and will head to New Auburn. The plan is to meet up with another aid station volunteer to run the section of the Ice Age Trail that the Chippewa Moraine 50k will be on. Saturday will be spent at Aid Station #4 cheering on (and fueling) all of the runners. Looking forward to seeing some of you there.

In addition to the usual aid station volunteer items (folding chairs, assortment of clothes, lunch) I will have along my knitting. I usually have a pair of socks on the needles to work on between waves of runners. But may bring along the lace scarf as the deadline to finish that is less than a week away. Hoping the weather forecast is better than it has sounded or my hands will be too cold to manipulate the needles.

Have a great weekend and good luck to all the runners at the Chippewa Moraine 50k!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trail Mix 25K

Well, I finished my first Trail Mix!

Thanks Wayne and Rick (and many others) for talking me in to signing up. Now to resist the siren call(or is that arm twisting?) to run a 50K. Hard to do with one running right through my proverbial backyard this fall!

Prior to the start of the 50K the race director was apologizing for the nice weather, and hoping for a change. The dry spring made for a firm trail, other than in the sandy and wood chip spots. For a Duluthian the temperatures were quite balmy - low 50's at the start and not much wind. This was probably the largest race I have run in since the three years I ran the Garry Bjorklund Half marathon (shudder - road races!). The start was so low key I pretty much missed it and clued in when people started moving.

I ran with Wayne (see link above) for the first loop which was helpful in understanding where the course was going. I had puzzled out that it was a bit of a figure eight, with some extra loops stuck on, by looking at course maps and listening to explanations. My plan was to run conservatively during the first loop - trying to remember landmarks - and then decide what to do for the second loop based on how I was feeling.

While I heard some of the Twin City runners describe this as a hilly course I found it to be more rolling than steep - with the exception of running down the ski hill. That was fun! I have made it a personal goal in the last couple of years to learn to run downhills better. I think I did okay with this on Saturday (and have not had to pay too high of a price since then).

The first loop went by pretty quickly and then next thing I knew we were approaching the finish area where I could see my sister and another friend waiting. Jenny had her camera ready and caught some nice shots (that is Wayne in the black shirt, me in the blue):

Hollered at my friend Jim to cheer for me as I ran by(resulting in others joining in and his meeting my sister - they had arrived at different times so hadn't been introduced). Came through the first loop in 1:15 to 1:16 - right where Rick had predicted I would be.

Some time after passing through the parking area Wayne and I parted and I headed off alone. Met up with friends running the 50K and ran with them for a short while and saw some other Duluthians down for the race. At this point my feet were starting to hurt and I was rethinking my decision to run in the old Saucony's. The cushioning is shot, which would have been okay for a softer course (ie: typical Trail Mix) but was hard on me with the dry conditions. I was also having some pain up near my left big toe - knew that meant a blister - but was not overly worried as it wasn't too bad.

As the morning progressed the wind picked up and by the time I hit the ski hill for the second time it was strong enough I was not very worried about falling forward on the descent. The wind was blowing straight up the hill, allowing me to lean into it for support on the way down (yes, I was that kid that was blown backwards and off her feet in elementary school by a strong gust of wind).

The second time around I had a better sense of where I was so was able to think about things like "When is the next aid station and port-a-potty?" Trouble was there was a line and I was unwilling to stop, thereby losing time. Kept figuring on stopping at the next one if I needed to, but then again, didn't want to take the time and then the next thing I knew there was only about 5K left and, well, why stop now?!?

Somewhere in the last 5 miles I decided I would no longer check my heart rate monitor and just run at what felt like a good pace. I did need to remind myself not to pick it up too soon as I did want to finish running. The nice thing about this race being a loop course is that you know what to expect at the finish line. And like many trail runs, it is uphill(though hard to see that in the following photos).

Heading into the finishing chute:

My sister did a great job of getting some action shots and was able to capture both me and my time in this one:

Yup - even splits! I was pretty happy about that, and with my time overall. It was 31 minutes faster than my only other 25K (Superior 25K last May - much hillier course and on single-track).

After walking back along the race course a bit and cheering on other runners I knew it was time to watch for friends Rick and Shelly running the 50K. This was Shelly's first 50K and she looked pretty good coming through the finish area. I jogged along with them a bit until we reached their drop area, visited and then wished them luck.

It was time to get my shoes off at this point and see what was going on (and let them breathe). Removed my right shoe and sock - not too bad. Removed my left shoe and sock and found this:

Surprisingly it didn't hurt all that much (but was good for grossing out friends and family ;->). Will need to figure out what exactly is the problem with my left shoe before Superior - or just cover the area with blister pads and hope for the best. Needless to say, no shoes were going back on that foot for awhile.

The other problem I had was extreme swelling of my hands and fingers. Not sure why this happens - diversion of blood from my arms? Over-hydration? Dehydration? Electrolyte imbalance? Not sure - but my hands also swell a lot when it is hot, so it is not limited to exercise. Knowing this I keep my watch band loose at the start of a long run and try to shake my hands and arms out occasionally in hopes of decreasing the swelling. It took a long time for the swelling to subside and by then I was so chilled that the Raynauds kicked in and I had fat, colorless hands. Yippee! By the time we headed out I was wearing three long sleeve layers on top (including a fleece coat) and fleece pants - on a 60 degree day. Getting into my car, with the heat on and solar gain was the only way I warmed up and got circulation back into my hands.

I really enjoyed running this race. Thanks to O.C. Williams, the Race Director, and all the volunteers for your efforts!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This and That

Off to the Twin Cities this weekend to run the Trail Mix 25K. Will leave after work and a meeting tomorrow, stay at my sisters and head over to Hyland Park to see what kind of shape I am really in.

In the past week this is what I have been up to:

Removing straw (a bales worth) off of my garlic bed.

My garlic growing mentor stated it was safe to take the straw off last weekend. It was a two day process. A bale is a lot of straw and that handrail is between waist and shoulder height on me. So, every forkful of straw (which was pretty wet= heavy) had to be lifted over the railing. Then the cart had to be hauled either up - or down - our steep hill to dispose of the straw. After a barely averted disaster in the woods below my house (even steeper slope than my yard) I opted to haul the straw up to the backyard and dump it next to the compost bin. Slightly shorter journey, but meant I had to fork the straw out of the cart too. Took about 5 cartloads to clear the bed completely.

I know you can't see the garlic sprouts, but there were at least 35 garlic plants with pale shoots showing, some as tall as 5 inches once they unfolded. A week later, they are turning an interesting color - mix of yellow tips, reddish coloration and a bit of green showing at the bottom. Even more sprouts are showing up too. I am excited to see how much garlic we get! Some will get saved for replanting (biggest bulbs).

During my breaks from hauling straw I wandered around the yard checking on the other perennials. No sign of the hops yet, but once they start growing they seem to shoot up a foot a day. Rhubarb is poking it's head out of the soil and I am contemplating putting more in. We never have enough for freezing despite the three or four clumps we have (over-harvesting?). Daffodils are coming up as are the autumn crocuses (no flowers until September)and the star of bethlehem. Chives are up (they share space with the hops). Looks like it could be a good plum year - tree seems to be full of buds - lets hope for flowers and not just leaves. Last year was an off year, so hoping that we have a bumper crop this year. I have 100 strawberry plants on order with the intent to plant at least half of them. Rest will go to friends. Our strawberry bed had pretty much died off so it was time to replant. This time will try to plant in rows to make harvesting a bit easier, though we will not reap the benefits until next year (need to pinch the flowers the first year). May need to expand the strawberry bed. We also have a lot of seedlings coming our way and will need to expand the garden plots to accommodate the plants.

Thursday's are run to work days. I have adjusted my route a bit to include a run down Lincoln Parkway. This includes passing under the 10th St. Bridge. This has been the sight of some serious ice as the sun does not reach under the bridge very well. I took this photo last Sunday:

The ice was still there today - though less extensive. Fortunately it was covered with some sand so the footing was better than last week. I tried to remember that today's run was to be "easy". Think I did okay with it. Started out with temperatures in the low 40's, sun shining and no wind to speak of. Immediately stuffed my hat and mittens into my pack - too warm before I had left the house! Found myself grinning as I ran because it was such a beautiful day!

Tuesday I also ran to work taking a slightly longer route. From my house I climbed up to Skyline and headed west, descending on a steep and windy road with minimal shoulders. Fun times as I headed down past work trucks with trailers grinding their way up the hill. Only got scary near the bottom where the road got quite steep and was covered with gravel and then taconite pellets from the trains that pass across the road. Opted to run on the very slanted soft shoulder vs risking a fall on the gravel and into traffic. Should be ready for the ski hill Saturday!

This week has been a taper (after the aborted long run last Saturday). My original plan was to run the Trail Mix as a "supported" training run, not as a race. Now I am leaning more towards seeing what I can do at this distance on this course ;->

I have not been back to this part of the Twin Cities since I was about 15 or 16 years old and lived very near this park. I am sure it has changed a lot in the past 25+ years.

OKC: Working on the lace scarf again. Set aside the socks as I need to knit the heel now which takes as much concentration as lace. Not sure which project will be packed for this weekend, though the scarf does have a deadline...

Next post: race report

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why I bailed on my long run...

Today's plan - run 14. Carefully figured out a route that would allow me to run with the Proctor group and get in the additional 9 miles and had a ride arranged so I could run home. The morning did not start well. Part of my plan involved getting out to the meeting point early enough to get 3 in before the rest of the group showed up. A late night and slow morning conspired to make that unworkable. No problem, can tack on 3 later in the run or.... acknowledge that I am participating in a race next Saturday and call 11 miles "good enough". Headed out nice and easy (goal was to actually run a LSD run) and within a quarter mile stopped to adjust my sock. Within a mile of that I stopped to adjust my shoe (left foot only). Finished the 5 mile loop knowing I had progressed from a hot spot to a blister to open skin. Ouch! Brought back memories of last spring when I battled blisters on one heel from my running shoes. Why now if all has been fine the past 8 months?

New shoes (I can hear the gasps already). Yesterday I had the time to get new running shoes and today - seeing as they were the same model I have been running in for years (and my current pair were desperately in need of retirement) - I decide to wear the new pair for the run. Didn't work out so well. Like I said, had a pair that did the same thing last year. The whole time I ran in them I had to pad my heel. Not sure what is up as the next pair (my current shoes) are just fine. Aggravating as all heck. Can't trade them in as they do not have another pair in my size. Consensus at the running store was to get a pair of pliers and soften 'em up in the back. the left shoe is noticeably firmer at the achilles notch then the right.

So - no long run today. But a good reason to break out the Chacos and initiate sandal wearing for the year!

Purchased (for the first time ever) two pair of running shoes yesterday. In addition to the evil heel eaters (other wise known as Saucony Grid Stabil 6 wide) I picked up a pair of Montrail Hardrock '08's. My first pair of trail shoes! I hear these are as close to stability shoes/motion control shoes as one gets in the trail running world. (I can hear a lot of talk of how you don't need that on trails but let me remind you I use orthotics in the Stabil's ;-> ).

Thought I would give these a try and see if I can wean myself into less motion control. Last spring and summer I ditched the orthotics (they are 3/4 length and slide around when wet) for trail running and did well until the week after the Half Voyageur when I ran 13 on the SHT from Silver Bay to Mt. Trudee and back. Too much, too soon and paid the price for most of the summer and fall with a crabby IT band and lots of pain.

If I can fix the heel problem it will be nice to have shoes to alternate. So far, no trail running yet. The snow and ice are just clearing from the trail and we are entering a time when the trails are quite fragile. The frost is a long way from being out of the ground and a lot of damage can be done by hitting the trails too soon. Trail Mix may be the first trail running I do this year. Hopefully I will be able to get back to running the SHT soon though as that is the only way to really be ready for the Superior 25k and, in July, Half Voyageur. Plus - trails are so much kinder to my joints and better for my soul than the roads.

OKC: The lace scarf is languishing in favor of the socks - which aren't making lightening progress either.

Other stuff: Reservations are made for the Isle Royale. I am excited to be out there in the spring and see what is blooming. Will have to carefully consider which field guides to bring along. I have a great guide to Spring Wildflowers in Minnesota, but it may not be of much help on the island ;-> May have to dig out the handheld magnifier... There is a weight limit for the ferry, 40 lbs per person, so will need to be careful about what I pack. The new tent is 5 lbs lighter than my old one so that should help ;->

Once done here I am heading out to peel the straw off our garlic bed and see how they are doing. This is our first attempt at growing garlic and I am excited to see what happens. 18 square feet ought to be enough don't you think?

It will be hard to come back indoors and focus on house work but I need to make some attempt at it. Since our friends accident we have not attended to the house much and it shows. Since I don't have the excuse of being tired from my run I think I have to actually do something about the house.

Enjoy the sunshine and warming temps!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What is that bright orb in the sky???

Finally the sun has come out in northern Minnesota! Temperatures reached the low (very low) 40's at the Wildknit's homestead. A benefit of being perched on the hillside with a southeast facing slope (offsets having to haul all the groceries, etc up 36 steps).

It has been quite grey and somewhat snowy around here. Tuesday I wussed out - just could not face running in heavy wet snow and high winds. I know - managed all winter, but... well, I just couldn't face it. Wednesday I was out for a 6 mile run with the usual group - and as always - with a wicked headwind on the way back.

I run with folks who are faster than me, much faster. They are kind enough to keep things at my pace, which over the winter has improved greatly. I owe them all, especially one person who even runs with me on long runs, for my increased speed this year. Wednesday they took off and I finished the run on my own (which is okay with me, sometimes I just need the folks at the start to get me going, then am happy to putter along on my own). As I said the headwind was strong and I am not much for running into the wind. I set myself the goal of keeping them within "a block", then it became "two blocks" and then... well, I was happy to be able to see them around corners ;-> The run ended up being the fastest of the year for me - with even splits. I don't often push myself really hard, but I decided to see if I could hang on to the pace for the whole run.

Thursday (which is for running to work, you know) I decided to try and take it easy. The road conditions made that a good idea. Just enough melting and freezing occurred over night to make some sections of road a skating rink. Of course, this was all on the steep sections and the ice covered the whole width of the road - which was slanted towards the creek and a ravine ;-> Wish I would think to bring my camera (really, it is more about getting going sooner so I would have time to stop and take photos) as the first mile of my route takes me along Miller Creek which runs through Lincoln Park and some pretty fantastic canyons. The ice formations and high water are pretty cool right now. Made a point of checking my heart rate frequently during the run, aiming to keep it below 160. Did pretty well (avg 152, peak 167). For what is essentially a downhill run, there are some pretty significant uphills on my route, which explains the peak HR.

Saturday I joined friends for the 5 miler. This time I had agreed to run a nice easy 5 with a friend. Felt easy to me, but apparently it was nice as easy as it was supposed to be. Saturday was also the first day we had blue skies and sun in far too long. It was nice to just stand there and soak up the rays after the run. Spent the rest of the day puttering around, running a few errands (new sock yarn found it's way home with me, not sure how THAT happened!) and paying a visit to a friend in the hospital.

Sunday has turned into my long run day for the past couple of weeks. Today the wind was gusting up to 13+ out of the north. After having my running plans change mid-morning I ended up plotting a route that had me dropped off up the shore a bit and running into town and then down Park Point to Sky Harbor Airport. Essentially I ran part of the Grandma's route, then onto the Lakewalk and across the Lift Bridge onto the point (thankfully no ships were going out so I did not have to wait for the bridge). Why end at an airport? Well... Mr. Wildknits had some work to do down there so I could get a ride home (and miss out on a wicked last mile if I was to run home - from about 650' to 1200' or so). Bonus - it was nice and sunny still and the hangers blocked the wind off the lake so I could sit and stretch in the sun, out of the wind. Took advantage of another opportunity to expose some more skin and generate some Vitamin D.

Got in a nice 3 mile walk afterwards. Resurrecting a tradition from last year. Find it helps with post-long run stiffness. Still battling blisters on my left foot so it was hard to put shoes back on. Will be nice when I can switch to sandals after a long run (maybe by Trail Mix?).

Again, my goal today was to run nice and easy, keeping the heart rate below 160. Did pretty well overall with an average of 159 and a peak of 180 (decided to sprint the last .10 of a mile). This was a very flat route - by Duluth standards. Not my favorite kind of run, but a nice change from the usual and hopefully easier to keep the pace - and heart rate - under control.

OKC: lace scarf is progressing nicely and a new pair of socks have been cast on (needed something simple for when lace is too complicated).