Friday, December 21, 2012

6th Annual Barely Organized New Years Day Run

Start the new year out right with a run (walk, bike, or snowshoe) on the single-track trails at Hartley Park.

Gather at 12:00 pm January 1, 2013 at Hartley Nature Center 3001 Woodland Ave. Duluth, MN.

Potluck to follow the run (hot water will be provided, no cooking facilities but there are outlets available for crock pots and such).

We will have private use of the building that day including access to their exhibit hall, classrooms and bathrooms.

Hartley Park is 660 acres of woods with 9+ miles of hiking/biking trails, 5 kilometers of groomed (classic only) ski trails (Minnesota Ski Pass required), a pond (skating anyone?) and a big hill to climb for an awesome view of Duluth and Lake Superior.

Donations accepted to cover the cost of facility rental.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On the 10 Year Anniversary...

Paul Wellstone - October 25, 2002

On a gray, sleety October day,
the plane goes down in the north woods
with the large-hearted senator
whose decency and respect for old ideals
made half the citizens almost happy
to be Americans in a dark time.
Down went his wife and his daughter too,
three campaign workers, two pilots, 
eight in all, the radio says,
neglecting the ninth seat where Death
dressed in an ordinary suit
sat watching for his chance
to do a morning's harvesting.
Do you think he wasn't there
hitching a ride, invisible, just as 
he sat in the box at Ford's Theatre,
held open the convertible door in Dallas?
He sits in the front seat of your car, too,
or waits feigning sleep with his head
resting on the next pillow in your bed. 
So we go on to write the same poem,
sing the same sad song yet once more
not for the dead who have gone
over to the insensible kingdom
but for us who must now carry on
without them. This time, as so often
before, Death snatched a big one
when we could not stand to lose
his voice, which spoke, not alone,
but for us millions who longed
for a world green, alive, about to bloom.

~ Bill Holm, Playing the Black Piano/The Chain Letter of the Soul

I miss both of these voices.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Little Bill Holm

I find myself reading Bill Holm lately, working my way through a few books I had not read before, despite their availability in the house.

I had heard him read several times when he visited Duluth and am thankful for those opportunities to have his "voice" in my ear as I read his work now. Bill passed away on February 25, 2009.

A few poems as we welcome Fall and the colder months:

A Last Word with the Fog

After ten years of whining I'm finally
making friends with the fog.
How courteous of the world out the window
to disappear for a little while.
You, too, can disappear, even in
broad - though murky - daylight.
Only in children's fantasy stories
does the invisibility cloak exist,
and, of course, in Skagafjordur...
Use your disappearance prudently,
as the mountain and the fjord
intend to use their own.
Maybe, with luck, no one will ever
find you again except
yourself, when the fog gives up,
as it always does, and goes away
to give some other lucky fjord
a day or two to disappear.

Alberta Clipper

At twenty below, this wind
has teeth, not a figure
of speech but a fact.
It hungers, not just for cheeks
or fingers or feet.
This zombie zephyr wants
the engine of life itself.
Seized up, stopped dead
as your car is.
Listen to its jaws
clack together on the porch.
Don't open the door.

The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Selected Poems
Milkweed Editions 2009

Sunday, October 07, 2012


10th St 3 months ago:

Coffee Creek over it's banks and the road

Rapids on the flattest street in our neighborhood

Under the waterfall is our water main and a sewer line
10th St now:
Looking upstream: quite the overflow culvert. Pipe on the right does not line up, wondering how they will fix that.

Looking downstream

Coffee Creek:
If you look very closely you can see the creek, just above the black cloth.
Knowing that we had much less damage then most neighborhoods in Duluth I wasn't too concerned about the delay in repairs until I noticed that 10th St. was no longer listed on the "closed streets" on the City's website. Hmm. I sent a quick email off to the head of Public Works to check on the status. Apparently in the past few years Coffee Creek was designated a trout stream which meant that the DNR was now also involved in the decision regarding repair of this road.   This in addition to documenting damage for FEMA meant delays. I was even told at one point that we had "alternate routes" into the neighborhood so there was some talk of not repairing the road at all! 

I live in one of the older neighborhoods in Duluth (100+ years). Anyone who has been here knows that our alternate routes are quite steep (I live one block from the 3rd steepest street in Duluth). 10th St is the only route into the neighborhood when the roads are icy and/or snow-covered. Needless to say, I fired off an email to explain my views on the need for this repair, including that our water main was currently suspended in midair - not a sustainable plan during a Duluth winter. 

As you can see, the decision was made to make the repair - and to get it done before the really cold weather hits. 

P.S. While this has been an exceptionally dry year (other than the flood event) that is the typical flow for Coffee Creek at the end of the summer. It is a "flashy" stream and rarely has much water in it except during spring runoff and after a significant storm. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sawtooth 100 Impressions

The weather could not have been more perfect.

Sting of a yellow jacket on the ridges between Split Rock and Beaver Bay.

A heck of a bloody nose shortly thereafter (thank goodness I tied on a bandanna just in case of a "runny nose").

Incredible aid station volunteers.

Fun runners to hang with, though I quickly found myself on my own, which was also okay.

My crew: Mr. Wildknits, Ron and Rick. Can't ever thank them enough!

Paparazzi at several of the aid stations. Felt like some kind of rock star or maybe royalty.

Reaching Co. Rd. 6 before dark. Encountering an old friend volunteering there. Totally unexpected and so fun.

The joy of dry clothes.

Running through the night. The stars and milky way laid out above us. Stopping for a moment with lights off to just admire the beauty.

Mouse on the trail, confused by our lights and not sure which way to go to find safety.

Enormous glacial erratics looming out of the darkness.

Sketchy boardwalk leading to an almost fall into the creek/pond. Then watching another runner's pacer work his way across the same boardwalk on his hands and knees.

Signing in at every trail register I encountered along the way.

Watching the moon rise as we made our way from Finland to Sonju and then on to Crosby-Manitou.

Hot broth on a cool night.

Strong coffee with a dash of half & half.

A peach at Crosby-Manitou provided by Rick. The perfect solution at that moment.

My pacers: Rick and Ron. I noticed the quiet conversations you were having about me at aid stations!

Visual misinterpretations. "Why would someone leave a hydration pack hanging in the woods?"

"Looks trot-able here"

The climbs, on steps apparently designed by, and for, giants.


The wonders of a 13 gallon trash bag turned into a rain coat (and my pacer's runway description of the fashion statement it made).

Great music at an aid station (song originally written by Bruce Cockburn, followed by one originally performed by the Grateful Dead) to get me dancing and ready for the the final miles.

Feeling the legs and mind revive and being able to run much of the last 13+ miles (at least the bits that are usually runnable by mere mortals like me).

Turkey jerky from Old World Meats in Duluth = perfect mix of salt, spices, and protein.

Blister's on the balls of my feet. Hurt less to run than walk, so that is what I did.

Grabbing lights at Oberg, "just in case".

Turning the corner at the campsite and knowing it truly was "all downhill from here".

Crossing the Poplar River, cresting the final rise and heading down the road towards Caribou Highlands.

Final words from my pacer as we take our remaining steps towards the buildings.

Sprinting towards, and through, the finish line.

Finishing in a time that was at the upper limits of what I thought possible. 34:36:02(03)

The welcome by fellow runners, volunteers, race organizers, friends, crew.

Hot shower.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Travel + Taper = lots of time for knitting

In mid-August I joined Marcus and Sam on the SHT for an overnight run. This provided a last chance to test out my lighting system before Sawtooth.  We started at Tettagouche at about 9:00 pm, a little later than hoped for, and ran/walked 38 miles. It was a night of amphibians, with frequent sightings of toads and tree frogs. We also took time to enjoy the incredible stars revealed as we stood on the ridges with our lights off. Marcus had the good fortune to discover a water bottle and Gerber hatchet laying in the trail between Hwy 1 and Co. Rd 6. He carried these through the night until we reached my car/aid station on Sonju Lake Rd. At that point the extra items were dropped and Marcus and I took some time to warm up and refuel before heading back out to complete our run. Sam then drove the car to Sugarloaf Rd. to meet us at the end of our planned route. 

Lessons learned: I can't see worth s*** at night with my current lighting system; what is quite runnable in the daylight is a trail full of hidden items to trip over in the dark; I get really hungry in the middle of the night; my 70 oz hydration bladder will last at most 24-25 miles in temps averaging upper 50's.  

Results of the lessons: I ordered some new lights to supplement/supplant my current system; will plan to hold a steady walking/hiking pace through the night vs trying to run and repeatedly falling; aid stations and their supplementary food supplies are an ultra runners best friend!
Interesting bridge/boardwalk in section between Co. Rd 6 and Finland. The upper/right hand boardwalk was completely unstable. The lower/left hand section was fine, but a large step down for me. Per the SHTA this probably won't be fixed by race weekend. 
"Old" shoes on the right, new on the left. Notice the difference in width?
Early in the run I caught a stick in the lateral aspect of my right shoe and ripped a substantial hole in the upper. This, in combination with the holes on the medial side of my shoes, made the gaiters I wore rather pointless.  

The uppers on these shoes started to give out by the time I hit 300 miles in wear, much earlier than with previous models. As you can see from the above photo, my shoes were in dire need of replacement after that run. Fortunately I had another pair of the same model on order and they arrived in late August, just enough time to break them in (aka allow for the stretch needed to accommodate my bunions) before Superior 100. I will probably pack the old shoes along just in case I need a wider shoe at some point. But, as of tonights run, the new shoes are feeling much more comfortable.

I just crossed over the 1300 mile mark for 2012. If I had just taken today off I could have crossed that line, as well as 1400 miles in the same event (as was kindly pointed out to me by my pacer after the fact). 

 OKC (Obligatory Knitting Content)

Tapering means I have more time to knit. Combine this with a lot of travel for Mr. Wildknits work recently (one weekend had us down to the Twin Cities one day and up to Crane Lake the next) and the result is the completion of two major projects that I have been working away at all summer:
The second design in my Mathematical Constants Series. See here for first design.
"Arrowhead Mittens" - my design based on input from the recipient and traditional mitten patterns.

And the start of one new project:
Vortex Shawl in Mini Mochi. Like all shawls, looks odd till blocked. 
I also have a skein of sock yarn, with needles tucked into the ball band, waiting for the perfect opportunity to cast on. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Signed up for Sawtooth.

This should be an interesting experience, no matter what happens.

John Storkamp, race director, is looking for volunteers. If you would like to know more about what this involves check out this link.

Volunteering at ultras is one of the most rewarding things that I do every year. I sometimes think that it is more fun then running the race itself. The runners, while it may not be clearly articulated at the time, really appreciate the care that is provided at aid stations, the excellent trail marking, and the safety net volunteers provide. Races would not happen without volunteers.

If you participate in races please consider giving back to the running community and volunteering.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Voyageur Trail Ultra 2012 = First DNF

No overwhelming reason for dropping at the halfway point/finish of the first loop. The weather was as perfect as it gets for this race (cool morning, didn't really start heating up until nearly noon). I was running a solid pace that had me finishing the first loop in 5:30; an hour ahead of the cut-off.  I just had mentally checked out 7 miles back and could not find a compelling reason to head out on the 2nd loop, despite the best efforts of friends and volunteers to get me back out there. As a matter of fact, I couldn't think of a compelling reason to keep running ultras in general and seriously considered retiring from the sport altogether.

Leading up to the race I had over a month of sub-par training and high stress at work. It has been unusually warm this summer and I was not adapting well to the heat so wasn't getting in many long runs.  I had also been having some nagging issues with my low back/hamstrings (I am sure related to too much sitting and not enough physical activity) in the week leading up to the race.

When it came down to it I opted to quit rather than face the pain I knew would be coming - both during the race and for the days following.

On the plus side, my legs felt fine the next day, with little residual tiredness and today I headed back out to the Powerline Loop to take down the flagging in that section.

I suppose it was good to get the DNF over with and I really have no regrets at this time. It was fun to be there to watch the lead runners finish their races (something I only witness if volunteering at the finish line as, in an ultra, I am usually hours behind these folks).

Now to get back to training and finalize my plans for running/racing this year; or maybe I should retire and focus on pacing/crewing/volunteering?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Sweepers View of the Half Voyageur Trail Marathon

Brief update:

 - registered for the Half Voyageur Trail Marathon months ago. This race took place today.
 - have been in a running slump (multiple causes) of late
 - it's been hot out. I live in northern Minnesota for many reasons, one of them being I like cooler weather
 - registered for Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra (50 miles) months ago. This race takes place in two weeks.
 - due to the above I decided that rather than racing today (Half Voyageur) I would sweep instead. This would take the pressure off but still allow me to cover the distance, help the race director out, and get some serious time on my feet practicing power hiking and hopefully gaining some adaptation to the heat and humidity.
 - photos from today's event:

Half Voyageur Trail Marathon - 2012 Special Edition

Saturday, June 30, 2012

1000 miles

Was updating my running log yesterday and noticed that my total mileage for the year was 991. It was June 29th. I had plans to do some trail work today but figured I could fit in a 9 mile run and finish out the first half of the year with a nice round 1000 miles. 

As some of you may remember, it was a big deal for me to finish 2011 with 1000 miles (and I squeaked that in at the end of December). Last year I developed a stress fracture of my right fibula in February, which went undiagnosed for 7 weeks (I am stubborn) and sidelined me for almost the first half of the year. It took me most of the summer to get back into running shape. 

Due to the time off early in the year I went into the winter ready to run and racked up a lot of miles in the first few months. I have fallen off a bit since then. This is mostly due to changes in my job which have me commuting across the bridge to Superior to work. Which means "Thursday's are for Running to Work" have gone by the wayside. My work load has also increased due to lack of staffing, hence the job site move. This leads to some long days and a tired worker with less energy for outside pursuits. If you know of any RN's looking for work in the Duluth/Superior area send them here:

The recent flooding has impacted the trails and led to a few more road runs then I would normally do at this time of year. Today's trail work was focused on clearing downed trees off the course we will be using for the Half Voyageur course. There has been extensive damage in some areas, though much of the course remains in fine shape. Jay Cooke State Park is closed, so the finish will have to be moved to a new location as we went through the park to get to Carlton, Mn. 

One week ago - Zapp's Loop section

One week ago - the Fond du Lac aid station was located here

One week ago - Forbay Lake; during the race we cross this dam
One week ago - the levee broke at this point allowing all of the water to flow downhill, washing out the trails (White Pine/CCC - used for Voyageur/Half Voyageur) and Hwy 210. This is in Jay Cooke State Park, which is now closed to all use.

We made good progress on clearing trees today and more work is needed to get the trail ready for the race. Watch for an announcement regarding the status of these races on their website . Looks like a fun course is in development! And no worries, the Powerlines are still intact.

One other recent accomplishment:

The Circuitry Socks (aka Microprocessor Socks) are finished and delivered! This was a fun project in which I collaborated with the recipient to find just the right colors to properly execute this design. Thankfully there is a local business that will custom dye yarns and they were able to develop the right shades of green for these socks. 

Monday, May 14, 2012


I have had great intentions of posting but have been sidetracked by.... well, I can't rightly say! Certainly my training schedule has taken a lot out of me, then there is work (40+ hr weeks are the norm), knitting (so many projects, so little time), and wanting to be outside if the weather is even marginally nice.

So - just to prove that I have not been hibernating for the past month a few links to what I have been spending my time doing:

Zumbro 100 - 2012

Running on the SHT (Gooseberry to Split Rock and Back):
Sweet Coltsfoot/Interesting shrub buds

Hanging out in my backyard:
Magnolia, Mertensia, Daffodils

Another run:
Partial Voyageur Course Run

Yet another run:
Wildflowers of the Piedmont Ski Trail

One of three (active) projects currently on my needles:

This sock is now completed and has had it's first fitting. I am ready to start on the second sock and finish up the pair. It has been an interesting pattern to knit, with a few false starts and the compulsory tweaks (I may be incapable of knitting a pattern as written).

While I was waiting for the future owner to try these on I cast on for a plain pair of socks using a skein of Three Irish Girls Beckon Stretch Merino I had lying about.  It is a one of a kind colorway called Oasis (predominately greens with some splashes of blues and purples). Within a few inches it became clear that this yarn did NOT want to be socks. Okay.....  Ripped back and thought about it a bit (had some input from Sam as this all happened during our commute to run the SHT out of Gooseberry). Perhaps mittens? Within a day the yarn made it clear it was not to be mittens either. Sheesh!!! I really wanted a simple knitting project that I did not have to think about so started pulling books off the shelf looking for inspiration. I found it in my copy of Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl - McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot). It was time to make a(nother) shawl! I initially cast on with size 4 (3.5 mm) needles, knit along for a bit, decided I didn't like the look of the edging, ripped back, started over, this time using my preferred edging,  knit along for a few inches and then the yarn made it clear it had an opinion about the needle size as well. Sigh...  I dug around in my (rather extensive) needle stash and found a pair of 16 inch size 6's (4 mm), ripped back, cast on and have been knitting along quite nicely ever since. I did have to pop out to the local Yarn Shop to pick up a longer needle as the shawl was getting quite bunched up on the 16" needles. At this point I do not have an intended recipient in mind, but I am sure inspiration will strike as I finish this up. 

Training is progressing quite well and I have run in a few short road races (setting a PR by 4 minutes at the Get in Gear 10k - far exceeding even my best guess for how fast I could run that distance) and have my first ultra of 2012 coming up this weekend - Superior 50K. I am very excited. I last ran this race in 2010 (was injured last year) and really enjoy this course, especially because at this time of year the wildflowers are spectacular. 

This is the first time in my running career that I have averaged 40+ miles per week on a consistent basis. So far, so good. If I can maintain this level of training, and actually increase it into the 60-70 mile range at times, I will then commit to my goal race for fall - Sawtooth 100. This will be my first 100 and I am both excited by the prospect and terrified. I have spent a lot of time asking questions of friends who have finished a 100 miler hoping to gain some insight into what it will take to do this. Any input would be appreciated!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Seen along the trail....

Saturday's schedule called for 20 miles and I was thrilled to be able to get out onto the Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth for the run. The trail is in excellent condition, dry and firm in all but the perennially wet areas. Of course, this is an indication of how dry our past winter and this spring have been.  The weather has been much warmer than normal and I was on the lookout for spring flora. 

I met Ron at the Fond du Lac trailhead and we headed up Mission Creek and onto the trail. There is a lot of climbing to start this section but it soon leads you onto the ridges overlooking the St. Louis River. 

Many of the trees and shrubs are starting to bud and flower but I was on the lookout for early spring wildflowers such as hepatica, bloodroot, dutchman's breeches, leeks, bellflower, wild oats, wild ginger etc. In a normal year it would be way too early to expect to see these but it has been anything but normal weather in these parts.

When we reached the Magney-Snively area and it's mature forests we encountered our first spring "flower":
Wild Leek
Leeks really flower in July, but they are most noticeable at this time of year when their dark green foliage emerges from the ground. There is a bit of red at the base, but it is their pungent odor that is the give away. We dug down to get a look at the bulb and crushed a bit of leaf to release the odor.

Trash found along the trail and less than 10 feet from the garbage can at this trail head

As Ron and I were descending towards the second crossing of Skyline we met up with Leslie who's plan was to join us for a portion of the run.  In this short section of trail, and within a quarter of a mile of the next trailhead, we spotted the large McDonald's cup perched in a tree stump. Sigh. I grabbed it, emptied out the soda and carried it out. I had picked up the Cliff Bar wrapper along the way  as well as some other microtrash from gel packets. We did a quick clean-up of the Magney-Snively trailhead and placed all of this trash in the garbage can at the edge of the lot. 

This is the start of the "Big W". The trail descends to the base of Spirit Mountain, climbs nearly to the top, descends towards the Zoo (at the base of the hill) and then climbs again to the Highland & Getchell trailhead. The last time I did this run there was a fair amount of snow still on the trail. We encountered a bit of snow at the base of Spirit (a ski hill) and you could see there was still some ice in the deep, shaded creek valleys. 

The area around Spirit can be quite wet with one section of trail resembling a small creek. This was the only really muddy section of trail we encountered in the whole 20 miles. Though with all the rocks, it was pretty easy to stick to the center of the trail and keep my feet relatively dry. 

Climbing the infamous 130 steps leads to a beautiful section of mature forest and another chance to look for spring ephemerals (no luck). It is a fun section of trail as there are few rocks and a nice dark, soft soil to run on. Pretty soon though you are in open meadows. This area can be quite warm on a sunny day, but we were "blessed" with an east wind (off Lake Superior) to keep things cool.

I wonder about the story behind this discovery:
Fox tail

The next section leading up to the Highland & Getchell trailhead involves a lot of climbing. As we crossed under the railroad bridge and over the taconite pellets (similar to running on marbles) I spotted this shrub tucked next to a bridge support:
Elderberry - flower buds just emerging

A few weeks ago this section along Keene Creek had a couple of extensive snow fields to cross. Today this was all that remained:

It still necessitated that we go around it so as to avoid slipping and falling into the creek.

The rest of the run was fairly uneventful.  Leslie headed home, but we picked up Wayne as we entered the Piedmont section of trail. By now the clear skies were gone and it was becoming quite overcast. The wind was also picking up as we neared Lake Superior. A good motivation to keep the pace  up at the end of  my first 20 miler of the year.

At a tributary to Miller Creek we spotted this couple paddling about in the water: 
Mallards - will there be a nest in my neighborhood?
From here it is a short distance to the spur to my house. Ron and I arrived before the rain started, and Wayne finished up just as it started to sprinkle. There was a bit of shuttle driving to perform and this time the trick was to see how many adults could fit inside the cab of a standard transmission '83 Chevy pick-up with bucket seats. Fortunately for Wayne, Ron knew how to drive a stick so I volunteered to climb into the jump seat for the first part of the journey.

Today we had travel plans mid-morning so I was up early to get in a 12.8 mile run on the SHT. I left from home and ran west to Highland and Getchell. I was joined by Marcus for the first few miles, then met another friend Rudy at the turn around. I was secretly hoping he would be on the trail before I had to make the descent along Keene Creek as it is steep, very technical, and just not all that fun to run. Alas, I was early, so met him just as he was leaving the trail head.

This run wrapped up my first ever 50 mile week. I have been a pretty low-mileage runner and rarely went above the high 30's in training. I wasn't even sure I could sustain mileage in the 40's week after week but so far, so good.

Next weekend I will be in southern Minnesota volunteering at the Zumbro 100. I am looking forward to this vacation and to the opportunity to catch up with friends from the Ultra community.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sock Update

I have been having an interesting time with these socks!

First I had some issues with my cast-on, so that got done twice. Then I had knit up the ribbed cuff and was well on my way on the first part of the charted pattern for the leg when I realized that the pattern blocks were not the same, indeed they were mirror images of each other. Sigh! Ripped back the 13 or so rounds I had knit, picked up the stitches (so much fun with dark, dark, dark green on Sz 1/2.5 mm needles at night). I reknit the leg only to realize that I was not going to be able to live with the puckered stitches that were occurring at the "corners" (transition area between each of the needles - these are being knitted on 5 dpns). So, I ripped back again (this time 18 rounds).

I was also having trouble reversing the colors in the charts. My main color is Motherboard which is a dark green, almost black. The contrast color is Circuitry, a lime green shade. As you can see in the photo below, the chart is written such that the main color is represented by white blocks and the contrast color as dark blocks. Sometimes I can handle the reversal, other times.... not so much.

While socks are simple knitting (in my experience) these ones are kicking my a**! Hopefully by marking up the chart I will stay a bit more on track and not have another trip to the frog pond in my future (rip it, rip it).

Today was a bump up in mileage. Headed out for an 18 mile run on various roads in my neighborhood. I met a friend along Skyline Boulevard and then we headed east for a bit, circumnavigating Enger Park before heading up hill to run by one of the most unique, and little known, features in town. On a back street in a wooded neighborhood is the "ice volcano". Attributed to a water main that is opened in the winter to keep water flowing to the neighborhood (flow rate reported to be a gallon a minute). It currently towers over 20 feet and the ice is a really lovely shade of blue. You can often see the water spraying from the top of the mound.

This route incorporated plenty of hills! My goal on road runs is to actually run all of the inclines. To add to the fun there was often a headwind. The combination had me smiling (or was that grimacing) more than once. I finished with a long downhill into my neighborhood and then the steep little uphill onto my block. Total running time: 2:53.

Tomorrow the plan calls for 10 miles, route is yet to be determined. Trails are turning to mush in the warm temperatures (currently 53F) so it may be another road run.

Next Sunday is my first race of 2012 - St. Patrick's Day Human Race. This is part of the USATF - MN Team Circuit and I will be sporting my Northwoods jersey for this event. I will probably run one other road race this spring before turning my attention 100% to trails and preparing for the ultra events I plan on running this year.

Other Stuff
Work has been hectic and I have taken on some additional duties - hopefully for the short-term - to fill a staffing gap.

I was also recently diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis. It came as a bit of a shock as I was not exhibiting the classic signs of hypothyroidism (other than cold intolerance, which has been a constant for me my whole life, even when my TSH levels were fine). I have a great doctor who took the time to listen to me, consider my questions, do the extra testing to check not only thyroid hormone levels but also antibody levels, and was willing to let me walk away and "think about it" when I was initially diagnosed. I have been learning from others about how they incorporate this diagnosis into a running lifestyle, with Alene at Ultrahypo being a great resource.

I have been enjoying the lengthening days and the extra light that brings, as well as the increased bird activity in the area. If this warm spell keeps up I may have to bring the feeder inside soon to keep the "varmints" (aka raccoons and bears) from destroying it. The feeder is on our front porch, just outside our doors which is great for viewing but feels a bit too close when needing to chase a large mammal away.

The Righteous Real Ale has turned out quite nice and we recently purchased the supplies for a bock-style beer. I am sure this means at some time in the future I will be told to "finish up" the Ale so we can keg the bock. We did the math on this last purchase, brewing your own is not necessarily cheaper than purchasing the already bottled stuff. It can be tastier though!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Circuitry Socks

Upon seeing the pattern for the Microprocessor Socks in the Deep Fall Issue of Knitty I knew these were something I was going to have to knit. Lucky for me I know a few folks who would also be intrigued by this pattern, and who I felt were worthy, or should I say deserving, of a pair of handknit socks.

The recipient and I negotiated colors (neither of us impressed with the model socks pictured with the pattern) and then I set about trying to find the right colors locally. I thought I had done well, cast on the socks as I drove to Grand Forks over Christmas, only to learn that the colors weren't quite right.

Hmph.... oh well, that yarn got repurposed into the Cross-Country Chullo.

I started to look online for commercial yarns that would fit the bill, no luck. I then thought about a local business - Three Irish Girls. They will do custom dying and their yarns are a delight to work with and hold up well to daily wear. I worked with the owner of the business and with the intended recipient of the finished items to come up with just the right shades of green for this project. Due to the nature of custom dying I had to purchase two skeins of each colorway (I will only need one of each for the project). Just a little something extra to add to the stash.

A week or so ago a package arrived. Whoo hooo!! I was so excited to see how the yarn had turned out.

It took me quite a few days until I had the time to wind these skeins into cakes of yarn and then another day or so until I was ready to cast on. Oh, what a delight the Adorn Sock yarn is to knit with (80% merino/20% nylon). So soft!

Today I cast on, knit a few rows, ripped it out and recast on. I wanted the corrugated ribbing to have just the right look (it's all about the cast-on method and how you hold the two yarns).

I am almost done with the first cuff and will soon move onto the leg and it's pattern. I am excited to work on this project for several reasons:
1. The yarn is so nice.
2. I will be learning a new heel technique.
3. Seeing the recipient's reaction when they first try the socks on.

ORC(Obligatory Running Content)
I have started training in earnest and am even following a plan in order to give some kind of structure to my runs. The last few weeks have seen mileage in the 40's (which is high for me). So far, so good. I am enjoying the longer runs and even doing some informal speedwork - aka Wednesday runs at the Lakewalk.

Duluth has received additional snow over the last few days, reports say up to 23 inches, matching our seasonal snow fall amount. This has meant a bit of slogging through snow and mush on the roads as the trails are buried in fluff (and I do not have a set of running snowshoes). Temperatures have been quite mild though, never straying lower than the 20's and with highs in the mid 30's.

Speaking of snow, the plow finally came by so it is time to dig the vehicles out.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Lakewalk Run

They were predicting a blizzard and we certainly got the high winds today. The snow didn't start until early this morning, and travel wasn't too difficult at first. Conditions deteriorated, the local bus service went to their emergency winter schedule, and our clinic shut down early. All went well on my commute up the hill until I was near my neighborhood. The main roads had been plowed, but all the side streets were blocked by snow piles over a foot high. I drive a sub-compact car, this was going to be fun!!

I made it across the first drift and into the neighborhood and was within a block of home (and across the last hilly portion of the road and another foot plus high drift) when I had to slow for a pedestrian. Sigh. With all momentum lost I started to slide towards the side of the road and was stuck. Fortunately Mr. Wildknits was at home and was able to come out to help. It took a small amount of shoveling, a slight push and I was back on my way home. Got the car home and settled in to it's alternate parking spot (we don't have off street parking or a garage) where it will stay for at least the next 36 hours.

Normally on Wednesday's a group of us meet at the Lakewalk to run. I wasn't going to be able to drive there, and emails were flying about whether or not others would make it as well. After a bit of time it became clear that Sam and I were eager to get out and both wanted to run to the Lakewalk. After all, the winds were gusting to 50+ mph at the lake shore, why not head there?

We agreed on a meeting place about a mile downhill from my house and I proceeded to get ready. Temperatures were in the low 30's, but the wind.... how to account for that? At the last minute I decided to apply a layer of Warm Skin to my face - and was glad I did later in the run.

The first mile of my run was downhill, on unplowed roads. The snow reached up to mid-calf at times and made for a fun run through the park. Once I met up with Sam we headed east on the streets, zigzagging our way down the hill until we neared downtown. By now we were getting a sense of how strong the wind was, and at times were not making much forward progress. We crossed the freeway on the "M&H bridge" and headed around the back of the DECC. Due to the high winds, there were large waves in the bay and water was sloshing over the break wall and onto the road and sidewalks in this area. This was our first, but not last, chance to get soaked feet.

We made our way to the Lakewalk and I pulled the camera out in anticipation of capturing a few photos of what Mother Nature had on offer.
Underneath those chunks of ice is the Lakewalk (paved and wooden pathways)

Underneath the chunks of ice is water from the Lake. In spots it was ankle deep. Brrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

Waves and rocks (The Lake is doing a bit of remodeling).

"Lake Superior facial". The spray off the Lake is bracing!

Sam heading back home along West Superior St.

Monday, February 20, 2012

First pedal of 2012

Took advantage of my day off, the warm temperatures and the recent dusting of snow to get out on the mountain bike for a little spin down the Bay with Mr. Wildknits. There was a brisk wind from the southeast so we turned left off the Sky Harbor Airport ramp and headed down the point toward the Superior entry first.

It was pleasant riding and I quickly warmed up and started to unzip my layers. We stopped at the old Boathouse as there was open water nearby. No point risking wet feet. On the return trip I stopped to snap a few photos:

Pressure ridge on the Bay

GFM leaning on a pressure ridge with Sky Harbor Airport in the background

The elusive Mr. Wildknits in his native habitat....

After the break we headed "up" the point, towards town. We again turned around at a boathouse - this time the one belonging to the Duluth Rowing Club. On the way back I suddenly found myself down, with my head bouncing off the ice. WTH?!?! My back tire had slipped out from under me. Even though I was wearing a helmet my head hurt for the rest of the pedal back to the airport (I can only imagine the damage that would have been done without it). I also seemed to have picked up a bruised area on my right shin (bike landing on my leg?).

All in all it was a fun ride and I would do it again.