Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why I Love Small Town Races... and a Little Knitting


This past Saturday I ran in the Knife River Solstice Run - a 5K. This race has traditionally taken place on a hot and humid day. Not this year. It was in the low 50's, wind off the Lake (which is just across the highway from the start/finish area) and it had been raining when I left home. It is an out and back course through the village of Knife River, and seems to incorporate every major hill in the town. A lot of the local folks turn out for this race, either to participate as a runner/walker or to volunteer (or both). It is a fundraiser for their recreational council. The organizers do a fantastic job, with a well-marked and 'peopled' course, nice post-race refreshments, cool graphics on the shirts and an abundance of door prizes (and this year they had something for everyone!).

I have been running this race off and on for the past 15 or so years. At first just as motivation to get out the door and run (back when I had small children) and now as a test of how fast I have gotten. This year I had a goal of breaking 24 minutes. I have been more serious about my running (= actually having some kind of plan and training for a race) in the past 1 1/2 to 2 years and the effort is showing. I have gotten faster, and more importantly, fitter, over the year, especially in the last 6 months or so. Running with friends who are significantly faster has been a huge factor. That, and willing to push myself harder.

I went into Saturday committed to actually racing, not just running a medium-hard effort. Last year I ran this course in 24.50 something, so I knew breaking 24 was a reasonable goal. With cooler weather there was no concern about overheating, I just had the wind as a factor. I even broke with my tradition and warmed up with an easy run for 4 minutes before the race (I have been of the attitude that is what the first mile is for ;-> ).

This is a small town race, so not a lot of participants, though the number varies from year to year and the wet, windy, cool conditions may have kept a few folks away. It also takes place a week after Grandma's, so many runners are still recovering from their half or full marathon efforts. That doesn't mean their aren't some very talented folks who show up, just means the possibilities for placing are much higher!

I had pre-registered for the race and when I arrived I was handed bib number 3. Hmmm, last year I had number 4 and was the fourth woman overall.... An omen? I joked with the volunteer about this - and the pressure to perform and then wandered into the building to decide exactly which layers to wear for the race. The wind was howling near the start/finish and it was a bit drizzly, so I opted to keep a jacket on over my short-sleeved shirt. I have a habit of wearing a hat (held over from the days of wearing glasses) but wasn't sure it wouldn't just be a bother due to the wind. Kept it on for the start and ended up tossing it to a volunteer very early in the race.

I know quite a few folks who live in the area, so got in a lot of visiting and catching up prior to race start. Then it was out the door to visit the port-a-pottie and warm up. I headed out to check on the first section of the course that turns from paved road to rutted dirt to single-track trail as it climbs a hill adjacent to Knife River. The footing would be interesting, but doable. Headed back, thinking I would make one more pit stop only to discover I had no time.

My usual tendency is to line up somewhere in the middle of the pack, but that day I decided 2nd row back was appropriate. At the start the group took off and I soon found myself within several feet of a very fast runner (she won the women's race in 19.+). Uh oh!! Better back off a bit or I was going to be in a lot of trouble later on. Eased up a bit and found a pace that felt doable. Although I had my heart rate monitor on I did not look at it, figuring not knowing was better than knowing, that way I couldn't psyche myself out.

After climbing the single-track hill the course skirts around a wayside rest area, then it is back to the roads, into town on a slight downhill, around a corner and then a long climb up the the high point of the course. In a headwind. Uugh! At the top one of the volunteers commented about being done with the hill - but I knew better. The course turns right, descends a little, turns right again and descends for a little over a block before you hit the turn around and start climbing again. Out and back courses are fun because you can see the race unfold and encourage other runners. I felt like I was crawling back up that hill and was looking forward to the long downhill on the other side. There is an aid station at the bottom and that is where I jettisoned my jacket (the hat had gone long ago). Then it was back up the hill, around a few curves and onto the rest area and then the single-track. I knew once I hit that it was just a few blocks to the finish. At this point I was by myself but with a woman runner somewhere behind me - but how far back? Couldn't hear anybody breathing or any footfalls so figured not too close.

About two blocks from the finish the course comes out of the trees along the river and there was the wind, coming in off the Lake. Nothing to do but try hard to keep standing upright and run as fast as I could into the finish. I deliberately did not look at the clock or my watch as I ran in - didn't want to know until after I finished.

23:35 (by my watch)! Over a minute better than last year and well under the goal I had set myself! There was a little problem with my number and time - the way I had things folded and pinned tore off a portion of the corner with the hole they hang on the "skewer" and my number/place was 'lost' for a short time, resulting in my being called in to the tabulation area to give them my watch time. I ended up finishing third for the women (see - the number is a predictor!) and first in my age group (the overall women's winner is also in my age group and the organizers do not give out double prizes). The mug is my age group prize, the body glide was my door prize. Just last week I was borrowing some body glide during a long run as I had forgotten to apply aquaphor prior to heading out the door. Interesting how the world works. Needless to say, I am very happy with my finishing time and probably bored more than a few friends and family with my texting them the details ;->

I was surprised by how tired I was, and how dead my legs felt, later that evening - more akin to how I feel after a 20 mile run. That tells you how frequently I really race. I had a 'medium' length run planned for Sunday out at Jay Cooke State Park (less than two weeks until the Half Voyageur so time to taper) and was wondering how that would go. In the meantime I tagged along with Mr. Wildknits to Iron River to look at an airplane (his work) and brought along my knitting.

The graph of the pattern I am incorporating. The feather was found at the airport - not sure what type of bird it is from, but depending on how you hold it, it can look grey or blue. Very cool.

Start of the patterned portion of the hat - not much to see yet (picture taken at another airstrip, Sunday morning).

Pattern completed

Not sure who the hat is for, but having fun looking through patterns and designing as I go. I am trying to remember to write down what I am doing so the pattern can be shared in the future.

Sunday I ran for two hours out at Jay Cooke with Leslie and Sam. They trusted me to plot out the course (we were aiming for 12 miles). I had a plan that incorporated most of the trails on the south side of the swinging bridge as well as some trails on the north side. My goal was to not have to do any out and back sections. I knew from last year that the trails would most likely not be mowed once we got more than a mile from park headquarters. Too bad, as they are fun trails. I had forgotten about some of the killer hills back there (and obviously did not look closely at the topographical map). Again, I was surprised by how dead my legs felt! After weeks of running 20+ milers I figured 12 would be easy. Not to be. I was beat by the time we finished. On the way back in to town we stopped along the St. Louis River to immerse our legs. The sun was behind the clouds and the wind was whipping so it was a short stop, plus you couldn't see the bottom of the river for it was a bit disconcerting to walk in very far.

From here on out no long runs planned. Will head north on July 4th for the Tofte Trek 10K Wilderness Run. This is part of the UMTR's Minnesota Trail Series, which I am entered in, so made it onto the race schedule. I have not run this course before, though have skied, hiked and run in the area. The goal is to take it somewhat easy as it is only a week before my goal race and I do not want to get injured. Sunday's run involved a few rolled ankles and reminded me to focus my attention a bit more when running!

Off to work on a dreary, windy day. The plan was to run a 6 mile course but we shall see what I decide on. The current weather is less than inspiring. West winds gusting pretty high from the looks of the trees out my window. Yup, what I would be running in to the whole way. But then again, strength training ;->

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Speedy Tuesday

My work schedule has changed a bit with the ending of the school year. Job B was school nurse at a local charter high school for three hours a week (doesn't seem like much, but MN law is 'silent' about the need for a nurse for schools with fewer than 1000 students). That job ended at the beginning of June and I am back to my regular schedule of just one (full-time) job (aka Job A). This involves going in to work at 11:30 am on Tuesdays (no moaning, I have to work until 8:00 pm).

The bonus: I have all Tuesday morning to get my run in. So what did I do today: hung out around house, threw in a load of laundry, toured my neighbors garden, went for a hike on the SHT with a friend, tried to locate information on my dental plans website (no luck) and ... oh yeah, ran to work. My original plan was to run very easy today, wasn't even going to use my inhaler because I was going to take it so easy. Sunday's 20.2 mile run on the SHT seemed harder than usual and I thought it might be a good plan to back off a bit. [Note - ran half of that run with Wayne - and if he had not been meeting me out there I would have totally bailed on the run, that's how unenthused about it I was. Took me an hour and 20 minutes to even 'warm-up'].

Ended up leaving for work a bit late and needed to run fast to get there on time (also ended up using the inhaler due to the high humidity - always a killer for me). Ran 2.8 miles in 22.21. I don't often mention my running times as I am not all that fast, but the last couple of weeks have me feeling a bit more speedy. The route to work involves some significant down hills so this was a gravity assisted time - at least for portions of the first mile and a half. The last mile is flat, and occurs on a wide road with minimal shade.

I left home and headed west, losing a few feet of elevation in the first block or two. Then it was waiting to dart across a busy road, dodging cars flying up the curvy highway at speeds exceeding the posted limit. Took me a while to get across as just when I thought it was safe another car would come flying around the corner. Once across it is two blocks on the flats and then around a corner and down hill for 4 blocks. This section parallels a city park and a river. Beautiful area. Then it is on to the uphill portion of my downhill run (only in Duluth). I zigzagged up and down the hillside as I made my way west until I finally hit Atlantic Street, where the real fun began!

This is a four to five block section of steep street. In the winter I dodged plows and potholes here. This summer it has apparently been slated for resurfacing. I turned the corner and found a street that had all the tar removed and consisted of exposed, decomposing concrete with each section at different levels from the one next to it. Who needs technical trail!?! The work crews were at the top of the hill and ahead of me was a truck going downhill, carefully picking his way through the torn up street.

I headed down the hill, figuring the truck would stay ahead of me. Then I got closer to it, and closer and eventually realized I would be passing it. Now, being a courteous runner I knew I should pass on the left... so I did, commenting to the driver as I went by that I didn't think I should be passing him ;-> He just laughed and said something that I didn't quite make out. Coming up the hill was another vehicle. He pulled over a bit to let me - and the truck - get by (by then I had pulled back into the right lane) and was smiling as I passed, having witnessed the preceding incident. In the meantime I am concentrating pretty hard on the road surface as a turned ankle here would have meant painful road rash (at the minimum).

Once I reached the bottom of the hill it was flat road way for the last mile into work. By then I was feeling pretty hot(thermometer said 80 when I got to work), my heart rate was up in the 170's and I kept telling myself I could back off a bit and take it easy. But another part of me was saying - "Keep it up, see how long you can do this. Good training for Saturday's 5K".

I kept it up, even crossing the road in an attempt to take advantage of a little bit of shade. Got to work with 5 minutes to spare, even after waiting an eternity for the light to change so I could cross the street. I was dripping and am eternally thankful for the shower near my office (though the water had not been run in awhile and was quite brown at first).

I am feeling pretty psyched about the possibility of a PR at this Saturday's 5K (Knife River Solstice Run/Walk).

Tomorrow is trail maintenance day on my section of the SHT. Will be meeting at 5:00 pm and working on weed whipping (lots of tansy and tall grass to clear off of the trail) and hopefully benching a section of trail that is at a nasty angle - very annoying when running or hiking.

No knitting news - have been too tired of late to get much knitting done after work, etc. Cast on a hat, have the ribbing done and need to start the crown. Will be incorporating some colorwork and hope to have pictures up in the near future of that.

yellow lady slippers near Mission Creek
blue-eyed grass in the Piedmont area
yellow swallow-tail butterfly near Spirit Mountain
monarch butterfly near Forgotten Park
orange and yellow hawkweed
A&Dubs drive-in restaurant is open

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Six minute mile?!? What the heck!

Tuesday I ran to work (and today I did not, guess Thursdays are not always for running to work). My daughter needed the car and I did not have to be in until 11:30 so I was able to negotiate a ride to a Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) trailhead. From there I would run a mix of trails and road. Now, I work at the bottom of the hill and the SHT follows the ridgeline. There is a 500+ foot elevation change between where my foot met pavement for the first time and the building I work in, with the bulk of it coming in the first mile (the difference between where I first started my descent and where my foot first met pavement is another 200 feet or more).

I started my run just uphill of the Highland/Getchell Trailhead on the SHT. I usually skip the first 1/4 - 1/2 mile of this section when starting here as it is along Keene Creek and it is a technical section with a lot of ups and downs and ends up crossing Skyline anyway - making it easy to hop on on the more pleasant, relatively flat section leading into Brewer Park. From the best that I can tell, that gave me about 2.3 miles of trail to run before I came out on Haines Rd/40th Ave W and started my descent. Total run would add up to 4.1 miles and I gave myself an hour to get to work.

I really like this section of trail. It traverses some beautiful areas, including a mature maple forest where I have encountered porcupines, and some open ridgelines that overlook West Duluth, the St. Louis River estuary and the ore docks (plus my place of employment, Wade Stadium and Wheeler Field). The trail stays up high for almost the whole length of this section, finally turning inland and then dipping down to Haines Rd. The overlooks are pretty amazing and very reminiscent of the SHT further north.

As I hit the road crossing I first checked for traffic (this is one of the main routes 'over the hill' and sight lines are poor) and then checked my watch - 26 minutes and some change. I was curious what the difference would be between my trail time and my road time as the distances were pretty equal. From the moment I stepped on to the road I was descending. Haines/40th Ave W is a narrow road - two lanes, small shoulder and in a few spots hemmed in by railings that keep you from going off the edge of the hill. It is also full of switchbacks - tight corners and poor sight lines. I am learning to love running downhill and just let go, focusing on maintaining decent posture and not over-striding. All this and keeping on eye on traffic and the surface I was running on (mix of gravel shoulder and pavement where the shoulder was non-existent or too steeply sloped). After 1.1 miles I turned onto a side street, ran a few blocks flat, then downhill again, and repeated until I worked my way 4 blocks west and 5 downhill to work the clinic. Arrived and stopped my watch: 37:09.

Eleven minutes to travel 1.8 miles?!? At first I did not work out the math, then when I did I went back and drove the road portion to check the mileage. Yup - 1.8 miles. In 11 minutes. That's 6 minutes per mile! Wow - gravity is pretty dang amazing! I have never run anything faster than a seven and a half minute mile in my life - and that was years ago and a very rare event.

So, I am enjoying my rare moment in the world of speedy ;->

Yesterday I ran 5 miles with friends Rick and Shelly out in Esko. All on the roads - mix of gravel and pavement - with gentle hills. Legs were tired, but not wiped out. Today I ended up skipping my run to work (got up too late) and also skipped out on the end of the day run (friends in town). Haven't decided if I will try to make-up the run tomorrow, if I will bike to work instead, or if I will just skip it as I am running 20 miles this weekend.

Saturday I will be down at Grandma's watching for friends. I was able to procure a pass to the bleachers at the finish line so will have a nice spot to watch the runners come in. I live close enough to downtown that my plan is to walk down and avoid the hell that is parking/driving in Duluth on Grandma's weekend.

Sunday I will head out for 20 miles on the SHT. This week Wayne has committed to joining me for part of the run. In return I have promised to share with him the joys of the trail, such as: 138 steps near Spirit Mountain; taconite pellets under the railroad tracks; and the many climbs to scenic knobs and dramatic overlooks onto the western portion of Duluth.

On the knitting front:

Not much has been coming off the needles of late. Finished the reknit on my nephews hat and have gifted a couple of washcloths. Still need to get around to blocking the scarf I finished. But my fingers are itching to start a new project. I have been playing around with some celtic charted designs and have picked out some braids that I like. Thinking about a little colorwork. The questions is.... hat or socks??? Both are quite portable (want something to while away the time before the runners come in) and I also have plenty of both ;-> But, as the Yarn Harlot points out in her calendar entry today - it is never too early to think about winter knitting (and the way our summer is going, wool hats and socks may be of much use this year).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

And yet another long run...

Seems the only time I get around to blogging is after a long run ;->

Today was a "shorter" run - only 18 miles - and once again on the Superior Hiking Trail. After tough negotiations for the use of my car, I ended up with my daughter agreeing to hoist herself out of bed to drive me to my starting trail head at Munger Trail/123rd Ave W (see for details/maps)for a 9:00 am start. I wanted to capture some of the heat of the day - it has been so cold here of late that heat training is just a dream, which means that it will be brutally hot on race day.

It was in the low 60's when I started with clear skies. An hour later it was 70 degrees F and the humidity was "up there". By noon it was 79 F!! Guess I got the heat and humidity I was looking for. Of course, with the heat came storm clouds. The last hour of my run was spent looking over my shoulder and listening carefully for thunder (I hate running in thunderstorms and was willing to bail and take a shortcut home if necessary).

The Munger Trail is a rails-to-trails paved path that runs from Duluth south to... It is flat, and leads to a decidedly not flat section of the SHT. After just under half a mile on the Munger you turn left and climb, and climb some more until you reach Ely's Peak. There are parts of the trail that resemble a climbing route (at least to this short-legged runner). From Ely's Peak the trail heads over some rocky, rooty trail to Magney-Snively Park, crossing Skyline Drive on the way. There are some very runnable sections in here and this is where I invariably see the large-flowered trillium and yellow lady-slippers.

After Magney the trail heads onto Skyline for a bit and then dives down and heads to Spirit Mountain. The trail through here is very rocky. And the rocks tend to be of the sharp, pointy variety. Last week, after "running" this section I was very crabby. It is hard to get any kind of rhythm going here, and I always wonder why the trail builders didn't lift a few more of the rocks.
This week the run went better (maybe because I was fresher?) through this section and I was in a pretty good mood when I hit the base of Spirit Mountain and started climbing again to the top of the ridgeline.

After crossing an old bridge the trail dips down again and then turns left to climb... 135 steps! I am not a fan of these steps. I have run them in both directions (up and down) and really do not like running down them. No nearby trees to grab onto and steep = recipe for disaster if you misstep. That said, the reward for climbing these steps is a beautiful maple forest with almost no underbrush and the nicest, soft trail surface. Assuming you can catch your breath after the climb and run ;->

Warning to the men - skip this next section!

Today was day 2 of my menstrual cycle which meant heavy flow. I thought by timing things just right I could make it through the run without any overflow problems, counting on strenuous exercise to slow things down. Boy, was I wrong! Even before hitting Spirit I knew I was in trouble. Call to my daughter got her to agree to deliver a tampon and ziploc to me at one of the upcoming road crossings. I figured not being even two hours into the run I should be okay for a bit, but knew I would never make it home without being a mess. Due to issues finding an appropriate place to change the tampon I had to delay until I was past the Highland/Getchell intersection. A little to late it turned out. There is nothing like trying to deal with 'feminine hygiene' while squatting in the woods and then having to stand up and run uphill on technical trail! Thankfully I had thought to tuck a couple of wet wipes in my pack that morning, so could clean up a bit. Today was a day when menopause sounds pretty dang good! Any suggestions for dealing with this better (other than carrying extras along)?

Guys it is safe to read again!

From the Cody St crossing the trail climbs passing under a railroad track at one point. This track carries trains from the range down to the ore docks. These trains are loaded with taconite pellet, which are round and just smaller than a marble. They fall out of the rail cars and onto the soil below the tracks. It is like running through a pile of ball bearings. Needless to say I move very carefully down the steps on this section. After running under the tracks you get an opportunity to run under a sewer line - ah, urban trail running! This is actually the second sewer line on the trail right now - the first runs down the trail next to Kingsbury Creek for a short bit, but does require that you cross over it twice. It is temporary and a side effect of highway construction project nearby.

After reaching the Highland/Getchell/Skyline intersection the trail crosses an historic bridge and heads up and down hill along Keene Creek. This section is very rocky, but passes a cool old building (pumphouse?) alongside the creek. After crossing Skyline, the trail meanders into the woods of Brewer's Park and will climb up to some pretty cool overlooks onto West Duluth and the St. Louis River before descending a big hill and crossing Haines Rd/40th Ave W and entering the Piedmont Ski Trail area. Today I ran with my 1 qt camelbak in it's pack along with a 16 oz water bottle in a waist belt. Had emptied the water bottle long ago and was unsure how much water was left in the camelbak. Having run out of water at exactly this point last year, I had stashed an extra water bottle at this road crossing. Picked it up and met my friend Jim who had agreed to run the last 3+ miles with me. It was nice to have some company at this point and we chatted and ran the hills and knobs of the Piedmont area before heading downhill, crossing Skyline (again) and heading downhill some more. The trail pops out next to a reservoir and then follows a road for a few blocks before heading off into the woods again. This section has a lot of hills and a few road crossings before reaching Lincoln Park and heading uphill a few blocks and popping out at 24th Ave. W.

Here is the western trailhead of the section that I maintain. After crossing the Skyline Ave. bridge the trail moves away from the road, traverses some rolling hills, passes an abandoned park, climbs to a large meadow (sight of a lot of tansy) then dips down to cross Coffee Creek. From there it is a quick run on relatively smooth trail to my access trail. Since this is also the route of the Wild Duluth 50k at some point I will need to head past my house and continue running until I reach Bayfront Park or I may automatically turn off the trail at this point.

It was a perfect day for a long run! Total running time: 3:51 (not counting pit stops). I experimented a bit more with fueling options, trying the Cliff gel first (much more palatable this time), then some shot bloks and skipping the pretzels all together. I had the camelbak loaded with water mixed with Ultima and kept the water bottle for just water (nice for washing down the gels and bloks). The gel seemed to do what it was supposed to and I felt pretty good throughout the run, with only minor hand swelling. I ended up with nothing left in the hydration bladder by the time I got home and was glad I had the extra bottle along.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at a friends 60th birthday party which wrapped up with a handful of planes taking off from his grass strip. It was fun watching them start up (most are hand-propped) and taxi off one at a time. All of them got off the strip quickly and a few came back to 'wave' goodbye before heading off to their home airport(s).

Will try to finish a post about the rest of my Isle Royale trip soon. Nothing really new on the knitting front - working away on the hat for my nephew and playing around with some celtic braidwork patterns that I am thinking of including in a future project.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Update on long run

Well, got a later start than hoped for, but finished the 24 miles in 5:05. Not too much mud on the trail (almost none = we are in a drought). Lots of hills and some pretty technical trail at times. There is a section from Magney-Snively to Spirit Mountain that had me stumbling and feeling pretty low. Not very runnable due to all the sharp, pointy rocks in the trail (beware those thinking of running the Wild Duluth Races).

Other highlights:

yellow lady slipper
canada mayflower
purple clematis (just finished blooming)
large-flowered trillium
nodding trillium

turkey vulture taking off through the woods (usually see them over rocky outcrops) - made me wonder how bad I looked... or smelled.

Ran the first 15+ on my own, then met up with a friend for the last 9 miles. Some serious climbing in that section (though it was past the 135 steps - what a bugger those were!) so it was nice to have company at that point.

Feeling a lot more prepared for the Half Voyageur after today's run. Will get in a few more long runs and then take it easy until race day. Still working out fueling options, used the shot blocks for the first two hours then tried some pretzels. They really hit the spot. Kept going back to them, along with adding some Ultima to my water. Eventually tried some gel - nasty taste, but washed it down with a lot of water/Ultima and it did what it was supposed to. Felt good until the end(even like I could have done more - if I had to ;->).

Not sure how much water/Ultima I drank. Filled the Camelbak before I took off (32+ oz). Had drank less than half I think when I topped it off at 10 miles with Ultima. Then I topped it off again at 17 miles. Finished with about 16 ounces left in the bladder. So, figuring I drank around 12 - 16 ounces before each refill, must have got at least a quart of fluid in overall.

Probably lost that much just out of my nose! Today was one of those days where my sinuses just kept producing. Very annoying, especially once I took off the long-sleeved shirt and had just a t-shirt, shorts and my hands for drainage control.

Weather on the run:

When I started in Jay Cooke it was in the low 40's (45 at my house), sunny and not much wind. As the morning progressed the wind picked up, it clouded over and when I finished the run it was 51 degrees. With a wind out of the northeast it was important to keep moving (or add a layer). Perfect weather for a long run, but if it doesn't start warming up soon I may be in trouble if race day is hot!

I run with a cell phone (just in case and so family can check in as needed - and they do). Today I got a call from a family friend (my kids age). What the heck?! I was less than cordial when answering only to be greeted by a kid in tears. Oh no!! Once I got her calmed down, discovered she had gotten injured, couldn't get ahold of her parents, so called me for medical advise and for surrogate parenting. Luckily we were heading up hill at the time so was content to walk and could triage her in addition to calming her down. Boy, did I feel guilty for being crabby when I answered the call (and boy am I glad I answered it). Luckily she is fine and now knows what to do if her symptoms worsen. Just cause they are over 18 doesn't mean they still don't need their parents!

It is grad party season so I am off to create a card and get my post-long run walk in on my way to a party.

Jim reminded me: Good luck to all the folks doing tri's this weekend!!! Too many races happening all at the same time.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Random Running and Other Stuff

As I wait for my IPod to synch and add some newly obtained Grateful Dead (Alpine Valley 1984 - I was there, and remember it!!) thought I would do a little blogging.

Half Voyageur is only 5 weeks away and I am feeling a bit inadequate as far as long runs go. Since April I have managed several 15 - 16 milers but then I took a week off to go play in the woods - right when I should have been upping my mileage. So, will head out early tomorrow morning (into the cold - what the heck!?!) and run the Superior Hiking Trail from Jay Cooke State Park to my house, about 24 miles, give or take.

After looking over my water and supply carrying options I have decided to go with the trusty REI Half Dome that has been my running-to-work pack all winter and spring. It is capable of carrying my Camelback hydration bladder, spare clothes (did I mention the temperatures tomorrow? and now they are upping the chance of rain too), and some victuals as well. Fits close, doesn't bounce and has an honest to goodness hip belt. Is it the lightest thing around? No, but it is the best I have at hand.

In the past I have used a combination of a waist belt water bottle holder and the Camelback pack, but that leaves me with almost no cargo carrying capacity. I am thinking I will be dressing in layers as morning temps are predicted in the mid-thirties (frost warnings are abundant tonight) and it is supposed to hit the mid-to-upper 50's, though with a northeast wind (brr). Why yes, I do expect I will be out there long enough to see the twenty degree temperature swing ;-> Should take me around 5 hours to get home. But that will be 5 hours on some of the most beautiful trail in the area! Can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning ;->

So, other than my long runs what have I been up to? Not much but work, and a couple of shorter runs. Tuesday I got in a nice jaunt around a local section of the SHT with a friend. We tried to include part of a mountain bike trail as well, but that was confusing! Wednesday I ran a quick 2.4 miles to my daughter's place prior to driving to the Cities. Thursday, after 4 hours sleep (Wayne, maybe I am ready for an Ultra!?!) and 9 hours of work I met a friend at a local ski trail. The plan was to run a nice 5k with him, then head out for another 30 minutes and get an hour run in that way. So much for best laid plans! We ended up running a fast (to me - almost my race pace) 5+k. When we got back to the parking lot I was ready to call it quits, but after saying good-bye and drinking lots of water (it was in the mid-70's, warmest day we have had in awhile) I decided to head out and finish out the hour. Of course, my intent was to run easy, but somehow that morphed into a run at 70+% of my max heart rate. Ended up running for a grand total of 1:15 ;->

Today, after Job A and Job B (last day of that until next fall) it was a mellow bike ride down Minnesota Point to Sky Harbor Airport where I dropped off my bike for some much needed TLC (I have connections ;->). Hopefully my legs are ready for tomorrows run!

Will be experimenting with some fueling options: along with the usual Clif Shot Blocks I picked up some Clif Energy Gels and packed some pretzels (they were key at last years Half Voyageur) and craisins. Will mix up some Ultima (since that is what they serve at the race) and have that along with plain water for drinking. Since I only have a 32 oz Camelback will need to stash water along the way. Last year labeled cooler hidden in the shrubbery along the trail at a road crossing worked well. Could replenish my water supply, drop any unneeded items and only required that I go back and gather up the cooler later in the day.

The nice thing about running the Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth is that there are plenty of trail heads and road crossings to use as water drops. I just need to do some math, figure out how much water I can/am willing to carry and go from there (and have my ride cooperate in depositing the supplies.

OKC (Obligatory Knitting Content:

Reworking the hat I made for my nephew back in March - it was not deep enough. Also working on a nice, simple, garter stitch wash cloth. Both are very relaxing projects. Finished the socks I had been working on for Mr. Wildknits and...

Finished the lace scarf intended for the SHTA Silent Auction a month ago. Now to block it and I can deliver it to the person who has offered to buy it (sight unseen) and donate the money to SHTA.

And just to prove I have not forgotten about my trip report a preview from Day 2:

Good luck to all the racers this weekend: Kettle Moraine 100 and FANS!!!