Thursday, June 10, 2010

It has been a while since I have done much of a post. Things that have been taking up my time:

Knitting - one hat finished:
My design utilizing two patterns, for the body of the hat, from Nancy Bush's book: Folk Socks.

Another started and the first in a pair of knee-high socks cast on (and mostly completed at this point). The socks are a design challenge of sorts. First, creating knee high socks meant a lot of measurements to ensure a decent fit. Second, I was asked if I could incorporate the mathematical constant e into the socks. Hmm. Well, first I would have to learn what that meant! Did a bit of research and came up with an idea that I thought I could incorporate into the pattern, started jotting down numbers and design notes and set off on 16 inches of leg knitting.

In the meantime, since I was heading off to Isle Royale for a 5 day backpacking trip and the sock was at a point that required me to do a bit more research, I cast on a hat to match for my vacation knitting.

Enjoying a lovely afternoon at Little Todd Harbor with my knitting, a book (Einstein's God) and Lake Superior.

In between all of that designing and knitting has been a lot of running (and work too, but who wants to talk about that?).

The big goal race this year is the Voyageur Ultra 50 Mile race held right near my home town. This is a big step up for me. Transitioning from 50K (31 miles) to 50 miles is... well, a bit frightening. Having surrounded myself with many ultra runners I have had a lot of advise to draw upon in my first attempt at this distance. What it seems to boil down to is: "Run a lot." "But oh yeah, don't forget to step back on occasion and get some rest."

So, I have been running a lot - well, what seems like a lot for me at least. Long runs had reached the 19 - 20 mile mark by the end of March/beginning of April and I was throwing a few races in there as well. I returned to Trail Mix to run the 25K race with no taper and a goal to better my time from last year. Did that!

The NMTC season started up and that meant some mid-week speedwork mixed in with the usual runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This year has been a good one for me and I have continued to better my times at each of the series races.

That brings us up to the Spring Superior Trail Races and my first attempt at that 50k course. What a blast! The day was beautiful, the spring ephemerals were at their best, the mud was plentiful and I ran what I considered my "stars and moon align" time and felt pretty good doing it.

From Lutsen it was back home to pack for my trip to Isle Royale for five days of backpacking with Mr. Wildknits. We left Grand Portage on the ferry bundled up for a 5 hour trip on 39 degree waters. By the time we arrived in McCargoe Cove it was close to 80 degrees and I couldn't get the layers off fast enough! See the previous post for pictures from that trip. We encountered our first moose within hours of arriving on the island and averaged a moose a day thereafter. The orchids and other wildflowers were incredible and I spent a lot of time crouched down getting pictures of species I was not familiar with. Spring on Isle Royale means a lot of daylight and we were generally in camp by mid-afternoon and had a lot of time to lounge about and enjoy the quiet.

From Isle Royale it was back to the mainland and then up to Thunder Bay, ON where I joined other members of Team Northwoods for the Firefighter's 10 Mile Road Race. I rarely run road races so this was an interesting experience for me. I had no idea how to pace myself, but remembering how well it worked at the Human Race in March, I left my watch in the hotel room as we headed to the start. The course is an out and back with a small loop near the turnaround and only one small hill. This made for a wonderful opportunity to cheer on fellow team members and, since the hotel was near the halfway point, easy access for Mr. Wildknits to take pictures.

Team Northwoods prior to race start

At the 5 mile mark

I had figured the best time I could expect for this distance was between 1:20 and 1:30, especially just a week after the Superior 50K. I finished in 1:19:49, and for the first time ever felt like throwing up at the end of a race! I did break one rule of running though - I wore brand new shoes in the race. My Saucony Stabils had been killing my feet and I finally got around to buying a new pair of road shoes (Brooks Adrenaline) right before our trip.

The training runs have continued, though none as long as I would have liked (in that part of my brain that says I need to run 40+ miles in a long run before race day). I was able to join Helen for a nice jaunt on the SHT between Tettegouche State Park and Sonju Lake Rd a couple of weeks ago and also managed to get a run in on the Voyageur course last Sunday in the rain. Nothing like water-logged red clay and the Powerlines to get a group of runners laughing (and cursing and covered in mud).

Taken with my phone and obtained through a circutous route. Post-run in Carlton.

I also threw in a little trail race this past Saturday - Boulder Dash 5K just for fun - and because Sam promised it would be easy footing. It was a small race with some inspiring performances. and great trophies for the top three finishers in each age group.
Some of the prize winners at the Boulder Dash 5K

Six more weeks to go until race day! Still trying to decide exactly how to handle the Half Voyageur Trail Marathon. The consensus seems to be to not run the race. But it is a Jarrow's Beach year and oh so tempting to see if I can better my time on that course. After all the 2008 Half Voyageur was my first ever marathon. I tried to volunteer the last time I saw Gene Curnow, but am still not sure if I got accepted as a volunteer or advised to run instead ;->

This weekend will be a step-back week as I attend one wedding and two graduation parties and try to finally get my garden in and maybe finish up that sock and getting started on it's mate.

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