Yesterday was the second race in the NMTC Trail Series. Named the Bull Run (though no one seems to know why) it could just as easily be named the Tick Run. Two years ago I came off the trail with 25 ticks total. Can't remember how many last year. This year... only two and both wood ticks. I am attributing my good luck this year to the liberal application of Badger Anti-bug balm. Rubbed it all over my lower legs and tops of my socks. The only place I found ticks was on my shoes and that was before race start.
The course for this race is off of Hwy 23 on the backside of Jay Cooke State Park. It is hilly! Very hilly, extremely hilly and just when you think you have run a steep hill, you hit another one. The listed distance is 4.5 miles but in the past two years the course has been altered and it may be just under 4. Which would make sense as my times the last two years are just too fast otherwise ;->
The race starts off heading downhill under some power lines and then takes a hard left onto a ski trail. From there it is a rolling course: up, down and around while you descend towards the river. In years past we actually ran along the river for a bit (Lower lake Trail) before climbing back up to the start. Now we have been taking a sharp right onto a cut off that brings us back to the Upper Lake Trail. Looking at the topographical map of the area the contour lines are mighty close together.
I have learned over the years that I can only run hills of a certain slope, so ran what I could and walked the rest. There is one hill on the course (or is it two?) that almost beg for use of your hands.
Caught up to the guy who has been running in KSO's and chatted with him a bit. He is still getting used to them and was having some issues with cramping in his calves. Last weeks run included a lot of pavement and that may have been part of the problem, plus it is early in the season yet.
Was able to run the entire final uphill to the finish this year. Usually I am so wiped by this point that I walk until I can almost be seen and then run in to the finish. Actually felt pretty good overall though my quads were complaining and had me thinking I need to do some more hill work before the Superior 25k in a week+.
As with all NMTC races half of the fun is visiting with running friends before and after. This weekend is the NMTC Skyline Run (15k). It is the only road race in the series. Used to be all on gravel road but the city in their wisdom decided to throw chewed up asphalt down so it is now paved - sort of.
Spare time activities
I am still working on expanding the strawberry bed. It is tough going removing sod/weeds and their roots from the yard. All complicated by the slope (hills seem to be a theme today). Sunday I removed three garden carts worth of sod. Today I removed two - very full - cart loads.
Getting started - my pitchfork (tool of choice) is at the top of the photo next to the rhubarb.
Partially filled garden cart. The cart is pretty big - 3'x2' at least.
The sod is being dumped in the front yard in an attempt to create one level place in our yard for sitting and enjoying the view on nice evenings.
On a kind of icky note, I have been finding a lot of these in the dirt as I dig:
Any idea whose grub they are?
During breaks to stretch my back and hamstrings I walked up to the neighbors and found that his wild ginger is in bloom:
I also took the time to photograph some of the other plants that are blooming in our yards:
daffodils (with bleeding heart just starting to bud on the far right - embiggen to see)
mertensia (virginia bluebells)
And finally, for Matt and all the other folks out there who brew beer (or just enjoy a cool beverage from time to time) the hops are up and racing skyward:
Just a week or so ago they were hardly out of the ground, now at least one vine is three feet tall. This means we need to get to stringing our support system and if I am not careful my bike will be engulfed soon. By mid-summer the hops will have climbed up the front of the porch and after reaching the roof will head across the railing. It always amazes me how prolific they are and how fast they grow. No hop shortage around the Wildknits household! (And before you ask - not sure what variety they are, sorry! Got them from a friend years ago, but they have been used in home production).
I am off to put my feet up, grab my knitting and a good book and relax for an hour of so before bed. Almost done with one sock, wondering if the yarn is going to hold out though. I seem awfully near the end of one skein already and these are not very large socks.