Thursday, July 30, 2009


I have been running the roads a lot lately. Why? Well, I agreed to be team member #12 for the Great River Ragnar Relay.

I really couldn't say no:
- It required taking Friday, August 21st off - well I already had it off (took a week of vacation from Job A so I could attend a School Nurse Conference in the Twin Cities for Job B).
- Relay takes place on the roads from Winona to Minneapolis - I will already be down there for the conference, so no extra travel required.

Obviously I was destined to run my first Ragnar Relay that weekend.

Only now am I getting just a little nervous about the whole thing. I am still a bit tired out from the Half Voyageur and then donating blood the following week. My runs have not been going spectacularly. I usually only run on roads once or twice a week on my commute to work, which is pretty short. And, oh, yeah the next oldest person on the team is 28. Yup, I am the "oldster".

I am in the process of choosing which 'Runner' I want to be (which will determine which three legs I will run). Overall mileage is similar for my three choices, what varies is how hilly the route is. Hills shouldn't scare me, right - I live in Duluth after all and hills are part of my regular running routine (as a matter of fact had to run on Park Point this week to avoid them, but then had almost a half mile of soft sand to contend with in the 4 mile run).

So, I have been running roads a lot. Sunday I had Mr. Wildknits drop me off outside of town(we were on the way back from delivering a wing). I had mapped out an 8 mile route home, starting on the top of the hill and ending at home (with a 400 foot drop within a mile or so of my house). Sunday was a warm day, one of the few above average temp days we have had this summer. I started out well, but within the first mile was hitting some decent uphills and having a hard time keeping my heart rate in check. What the heck?! Ended up walking a few of the steeper grades as my goal was NOT to have my heart rate in the 170's for the whole run. I had run 7 miles out at Jay Cooke the day before while on break at the first/last aid station for the Voyageur Ultra and was trying out the idea of back-to-back "long" runs, meaning they should be relatively easy.

Eventually I stopped looking at my heart rate monitor because I just couldn't move slow enough to keep the heart rate in the low - mid 160's even. There was absolutely no shade on the route I had chosen and it was amazingly hilly. I was also trying out carrying a handheld water bottle for the first time after deciding my hip belt may be part of the issue with my sore TFL. Lots of experimenting that day. Oh yeah, and I dispensed with the cell phone as I figured it was only an 8 miler on suburban/rural roads so no need. This kept me from calling for rescue at one point when I was fed up with the heat ;-> A good thing in hindsight.

By the time I was within 2 miles of home I was already altering the route in my head. I had planned on cutting out some of the steep descent to my house by turning onto Skyline Blvd, incorporating another uphill and then finishing on the SHT. Yeah... I was sick of ascents by now and went for the "easy" finish, running down the last few blocks (losing a couple hundred feet of elevation) before turning into my neighborhood. Total distance: 7.7 miles. Avg. HR: 170 Temperature at finish: 80 F. No idea what the humidity level was but I was soaked!

Monday was my usual day off. On Tuesdays I do not need to be in to work until 11:30 am so thought I would "run" an errand. Headed out with my debit card in my pocket and the intent to pay my cell phone bill (storefront is about 2.5 miles away). Route would be a mix of climbing and flat sections, nothing too steep so I could rest my legs. I figured if I took it easy it would take me about an hour. Well, I never made it to the storefront. My legs were tired, I had forgotten about the climb up from my house, it was windy, and... well I needed to get home, clean up and still get on my bike to get to work. I simply ran out of time. Turned back at 22 minutes and headed home. It is a good thing my ride to work involves a big downhill section ;->

Wednesday I hit the beach with friends to run the nature trail at the end of Park Point, passing the remains of the first high-powered lighthouse on Lake Superior, a historic boathouse and turning around when we reached the Superior Entry. Along the way we had to dodge a fair amount of poison ivy and slogged through some soft sand, but on the upside did find a nice patch of blueberries with no poison ivy mixed in!

Thursday (today) was another run to work day. As I packed my clothes for the day the rain moved in. Unpacked, bagged everything in plastic and repacked. Then it was out the door to do battle on the streets. Most drivers are quite courteous and give me at least three feet of room. But there are those who just don't budge an inch over. I try to make eye contact with drivers - acknowledging those who give me space with a little wave and glaring at the others. Often I dream of hitting the cars of those who are too close to give them a little scare/remind them to share the road. I figure if a car is close enough that I can touch it easily, it is too close!

New version of Tag: as I came to an intersection I saw a car approaching on the empty road ahead. The driver was looking to the side rather than straight ahead (at least that is what it looked like in the steady rain). He never once moved over on his empty road, but instead stayed within a couple of feet of the curb and seemed oblivious to my presence (I was in light colored clothes, but with a blaze orange shirt under my coat, which was open, and wearing a red backpack). Today I couldn't resist, as we passed each other I tapped the passenger side of his car - not too hard, but not too softly either.

Anyone else want to play?

Saturday is the Fisherman's Picnic Trail Run in Grand Marais. Then it will be back to training for Ragnar and ultimately Wild Duluth 50K.

Garden is going crazy with the (slightly) warmer temperatures and abundant rain. Garlic is starting to fall over which means it is time to harvest it and hang it to dry. Tomatoes are setting fruit (and the deer are ensuring they don't get too tall), broccoli is creating little florets, peppers are growing as are the zucchinis. Deer have been harvesting our swiss chard, but do not seem to care for the kale (though now that I have said that I am sure I will walk outside tomorrow to discover a decimated kale crop). Hops have taken over the front porch and are working their way down the railing. The tiny flowers are developing and it looks like a bumper crop. Strawberry plants are sending out all kinds of babies - giving me hope I can replenish the bed since I lost over 30 plants this spring.

Knitting has been sparse. Worked on the hat during slow moments at the aid station at Voyageur - picking my knitting up seemed to be a sure way to bring a runner into the aid station ;-> Shouldn't be too long before I can display a picture of the finished product.


Chris said...

You have been busy! I can definitely relate to the wave/glare reward system in dealing with cars, although I'm looking at it from the cycling perspective.

wildknits said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wildknits said...

It can be even more fun on a bike! Though wearing sunglasses cuts down on the effectiveness of my glare ;->

Wayne said...

hmmm, sunglasses cut down on glare... who knew?? :) (sorry, couldn't resist)

"be careful out there..."
(can you name the TV show that's from?)

Helen said...

Lisa - lovely to meet you (even briefly!) at Voyageur - thanks for being out there at the AS.

Ragnar sounds like a fun event - I've heard good things about it. Enjoy!


wildknits said...

Wayne - yup, opened myself up to that one. You know, the phrase is familiar but can't name the show. Hints?? though remember I spent a significant number of years in the late 80's and early 90's with small children = PBS and children's programming in general ;->

Helen - thanks for taking the time to say HI after your long day! Aid stations are fun to work at and a great way to see/meet some of the area runners you only hear/read about.

I chose my "section" for Ragnar - and learned I may be running in costume?!? It should be an interesting experience!

Wayne said...

Hill Street Blues. Yeah, that's not really a hint.

So are you going to do a Ragnar post - miles, difficulty levels, costume?

wildknits said...

Hmm - I do remember that show... But hinting wouldn't have helped so good thing you "spelled it out".

I will get a post up about Ragnar soon. Not sure about costumes yet - though I hear that, this being a team comprised of engineers, physicists and that type (meaning that not only am I the oldest but also the dullest of the bunch) there is a "geek" or "nerd" theme in the works.

May be that I will be resurrecting shirts buttoned all the way up, pocket protecters and my glasses.

Samantha said...

Ye gods, we better not have to run in costume!

I also play tag. Mostly it's with cars that are turning right and thus don't bother to look to the right.

wildknits said...

Sam,I am also not a huge fan of the idea of running in a costume...

I wonder how many other runners play this game??