Thursday, April 08, 2010

This and that and some product reviews

Time to catch up on a few long overdue items:

Spring continues to progress and it is dry! The trails are in the best shape I have ever seen them this early in the year. Few muddy spots, all in areas that are perennially wet. It has been so fun to get out on the single-track.

Knitting is happening, but very slowly. I am trying to get a new hat design off the needles so I can get started on a commission.
I am bartering a pair of socks for.... well, can't say as it is meant to be a surprise for someone who may (or may not) read this blog. The socks are going to be very long... 16 inches from the ankle to the top. Found the right yarn, now working out (mostly in my head) the design. More to be revealed later.

Running is going very well. Long runs are up around 24 miles as of this past weekend (or 22 if you believe the GPS over the SHT mileage). I even ran in my first road race as a member of Northwoods Minnesota on March 28th (Human Race 8k). It was fun to do this as part of a team and I was pretty happy to surpass my goal time. One thing that really helped was to take my watch off and just run (thanks Wayne for showing up to cheer, and hold my watch!). This kept me from looking down, seeing my pace and freaking out. Another very cool part of that day was meeting Jean.
Post Human Race 8k blogger meet-up

Next race will be Trail Mix 25K on April 17th, then the NMTC series starts up on April 28th. From there it is on to Superior 50K, with a brief interlude to go backpacking on Isle Royale, then up to Thunder Bay with the Northwoods Minnesota team for the Fire Fighter's 10-mile Road Race on May 24th. All of this running of course is just leading up to the big race of my summer: Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra. My first 50 mile race!!

I am not only a member of Northwoods Minnesota but also of Team Mega Tough. This is the group of women I ran the Great River Ragnar Relay with last August. We have a few sponsors for the team who have been quite generous with clothing and equipment.

Through Nathan Sports I picked up a Blizzard Hydration Pack. As someone who runs year round and lives in an area with extreme winter weather it seemed only logical to put their Snow Line to the test. My first long run with the Nathan happened while down south in the Twin Cities on a balmy 4 degree F day. It was warm enough that I shed my wind breaker and even peeled the mitten layers back. Unfortunately the drink tube froze up and despite my best efforts I could not figure out where the ice block was and how to clear it. I have taken the pack out on many runs since then and have had no problems with freeze up. I did modify the tube a bit by cutting off several inches so that it doesn't stick out quite so far from my body. The pack rides really, really well and is quite comfortable to wear. It does have a bit of a "Major Tom" look to it (thanks Eric for the cultural reference). Overall I am very pleased with it and would recommend it to others who want a lot of water carrying capacity.
Outside Moose Lake, Mn on the connector trail between the Munger and Soo Line trails.

In this photo you can see that not only will the pack
accommodate a water bladder and has pockets for a gel flask,
but you can also stuff a windbreaker into it as needed.

Front view, showing why I needed to do a bit of personalizing.

Icebreaker is another sponsor that is specifically focusing on the ultra athletes on the team. I received a hat, short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirt as well as a pair of socks from them. All of their items are made of merino wool and one of their hooks is their "baacode" - allowing you to trace your garment to the producers of the wool. Very cool idea. Now, I do not need to be sold on the qualities of wool, nor on the softness of merino. As a knitter I know this.

The clothing line is a bit expensive but is fantastic and has become my new favorite. The Dash Crewe and the Chase Zip are so warm, comfortable, form-fitting, and quite thin, and don't seem to hold odors like my synthetic tops. I have done 3-4 runs in a row involving a lot of sweat and haven't stunk them up yet. The torso length is long, as are the sleeves, (on both tops). The long sleeve has a hole for the thumb, allowing a bit of hand coverage for those times when it is too cool for bare hands but too warm for gloves or mittens.

Dash Crewe layered under Chase Zip. It was about 30 degrees this day and I was hot already, early in the run.

The snug fit and thin fabric did lead to a horrifying occurrence one morning at work. As I reached back to peel the crewe off I heard a ripping noise. At the point where I grabbed the shirt the fabric had torn! That will teach me to pull my shirts off by grabbing the back of the neck area. From now on I peel from the bottom up.

Prior to repair

I was able to repair the shirt with a bit of sewing, though I did consider trying to kitchner stitch it together (it is knit after all). I abandoned the idea mainly because I would have had to use sewing needles as knitting needles and I couldn't lay my hands on a magnifying glass.

Post-repair - not pretty, but it does the job.

The shirt is almost as good as new and I am looking forward to many more runs in these tops. A neat coincidence is the color of the short sleeve is exactly the same shade as the paint blazes on the Superior Hiking Trail. Leslie, one of my Mega Tough Team mates, has dubbed it "SHT blue". Can't think of a better omen for a season of trail running.


Chris said...

Crazy hardcore runner, you. ;)

Jean said...

Great to meet you at the Human Race! That was a nice day to run.

Wow, you have a full schedule of some big summer races! Good luck with your training!

It is kind of funny to look at the pictures on this post where there is still snow. That all seems like such a distant memory right now! :)