Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Taste of Spring

A week ago we had 10 inches of snow in the woods, today.... well, the woods are nearly bare! Temperatures have been in the 50's many days this week, with 63F recorded at my house today. Needless to say the snow is mostly melted and the streams are breaking free of their coating of ice.

Since I have lived in Duluth for 28 years I have learned that you never, ever trust that just because it seems warm that will hold true for long. A wind switch, especially at this time of the year when Lake Superior is still sheathed in ice, can mean a 20 degree drop in temperature in a matter of minutes. I headed out the door yesterday for an 18 mile run wearing half tights (really 3/4 tights on me); long sleeve top, jacket, gloves and a light wool hat. Within a mile I was stopping to shed all but the base layers. Fortunately I was wearing a hydration pack so had plenty of places to stash my extra gear. While stopped I was passed by one of the Skyline regulars. We ended up running a few miles together and having a nice chat.

My course took me along Skyline Boulevard from Piedmont Ave (Hwy 53) to Stewart Creek and back. There are plenty of hills on this route, and lots of curves, which makes for a fun run. Plus the views are fantastic! It is a pretty lightly traveled road on this end of town which makes for a relaxing run.

Why am I running roads you ask? Well, with the big melt the trails are in a very fragile state. What isn't still sheathed in ice, is covered in slush, or is bare dirt/mud. Only the top few inches are thawed and this makes the trails very susceptible to damage. Until things dry out and thaw out my runs will be confined to roads.

But, back to yesterday. Despite the lovely weather I had a hard time getting going. When I finally did head out the door it was with the intent to complete 18 miles, but in the back of my head I was ready with excuses for turning back earlier. I persevered though and did finish up the planned distance. I allowed myself a few walking breaks on the steepest hills (and once when I just felt like walking). I am glad that I brought a hydration pack as I went through nearly all of the 30 oz. of water I had along. I am pretty sure that the stop at the rest area with a long drink from the water fountain is the only reason I didn't run dry.

18 miles

Today I planned on running 10 miles, but really wanted to avoid pavement as much as possible. The solution: Skyline Boulevard! The far western and far eastern sections are closed off in the winter (beyond areas with housing). For the most part these sections of Skyline are gravel, though years ago the city decided throwing down chewed up blacktop from other road projects was a good idea and some sections are now just really crappily paved road. I headed west again, but this time started at the Magney-Snively trailhead parking lot and ran on the closed section of road towards Becks' Rd. For those of you have have run either the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon or the Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra, parts of this road will be familiar.

I met Sarah 3 miles out, and we headed back to Magney-Snively, ended up passing by the lot and running across the Stewart Creek bridge to the 3.5 mile mark for her. Turned around at that point and headed back to where she had left her car (stopping by mine to drop off our extra layers as it was much warmer in this part of town then at either of our houses).
Snively Memorial - adjacent to the Stewart Creek Bridge

The road was 95% snow free, with some standing water in areas and a few "streams" eroding the road bed in others. It was nice to run on a softer surface, but with decent traction. There were a few other folks out enjoying the lovely day, but for the most part we had the road to ourselves.

10 miles

12.5 miles of Skyline Blvd covered over two days (nearly half it's total distance).

Today was Sarah's birthday and she had requested a lemon cake, with lemon frosting. I dived into our supply of cookbooks and found a couple of recipes that seemed reasonable (aka not too fussy). Lots of lemon zest and fresh lemon juice were required, never mind butter and sugar (it is cake after all). The batter mixed up well and I poured it out into a well greased bundt pan (no tube pans on hand). Apparently you really can't grease a bundt pan well enough! Getting the cake out intact was a bit of a process and damage was done. I didn't think things through well and more damage was done while I was trying to level the cake (aka slice off the domed top). Sigh... To top it off, it is apparently harder then I thought to cream butter into powdered sugar. I probably gave up too soon and after adding the lemon zest and lemon juice ended up with a lumpy lemon glaze to pour over the top. It is not pretty:

But it is very lemony and tastes quite good.

Still working on the February Baby Sweater (Baby Sweater on Two Needles; Practically Seamless) from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters Almanac. I am just reaching the point where I need to divide for the sleeves. Her pattern was written knitting the sleeves flat and seaming them up. Other's have adapted the pattern to be done completely in the round, with no seaming necessary. I am leaning towards following the pattern as originally written at this point.

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