Xylaria species

Xylaria species

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Welcome Meteorological Spring!

Today is the first day of Meteorological Spring and you can feel the change! Well, it does help that we are leaving behind one of the coldest Februarys in years (it is possibly in the top 10 for our area).  Temperatures in the 20's F with sunny skies feel downright tropical!

It is much more fun to contemplate spending 3-4 hours outdoors running when the temps are in the double-digits and the sun is shining.  Yesterday a few of us headed out on the trails in the Piedmont/Brewer's Park area. My goal was 16 miles which I figured would take 3.5-4 hours. We ran out on the Superior Hiking Trail towards the west with a planned turn around at Cody St. The single-track was in excellent condition until we got into the Keene Creek Valley where abundant overflows covered the trail and made for very sketchy footing. We actually abandoned the trail in a couple of spots and ran/hiked down the river.
Marcus and I standing on the bank of Keene Creek, under a massive overflow.
Above us, on the top of the slope, and under all of that ice, is the SHT.
Photo courtesy of Sam.
As you can see in the above photo the trail has been totally engulfed by the ice. The river was a much better choice in this section!

Stats from yesterday's run:
 - 16 miles (15.73 on GPS, had an episode of stopping it and forgetting to restart between miles 9-10, that amounted to about .3 miles lost mileage)
 - 3:39:03 (some lost time in there due to stopped watch)
 - Elevation gain: 1, 705 ft (there was at least one 600 ft descent, then climb, over about a mile,  in  addition to a lot of small climbs and descents)
 - 1351 calories burned (not sure how accurate this is)

I learned from last week and brought along three gels (ate two) and a sunbutter-craisin on homemade sourdough sandwich (ate half and gave a quarter away, snacked on last quarter post-run). Since I didn't finish the flasks of water I had brought with last week I thought I was safe just bringing 10 ozs of water with again this week. Wrong! I found myself rationing water and supplementing with snow (harvested from off trail a bit) and still finished feeling quite parched. Marcus offered up another 5 oz. of water post-run. I got home, drank 20 oz. of my recoverite/hot chocolate concoction and headed out on some errands with a pint of water which I finished off pretty quickly. I was able to snag a small bottle of gatorade at Austin-Jarrow and was still feeling thirsty. At this point I was mid errands and there was nothing much I could do about it till I got home. It took a couple more hours of drinking to thirst before I felt the need to urinate. So, obviously it is time to bring more water along on runs!

Today I headed back out for another run. The plan was to run 8 miles, the first 5 miles with my daughter Sarah and her dog. She is training for her second trail race, this time moving up from the half marathon to 25K. Her long runs are fitting nicely into my plan to run a mid-distance length on Sundays. We decided to check out the western section of Skyline Blvd which gets closed off in the winter, becoming a playground for snowmobiles, fat bikes, runners and the occasional skier. The route is composed of some long, gradual uphills and lovely views of the St. Louis River estuary. Sam joined us and planned to continue on with me for the full 8 miles. The footing was decent initially, if you found the firm track. By the time we were heading back to the car it was feeling a little softer (temps warming into the upper 20's F). Sam and I headed back out towards the western terminus of the road while Sarah drove around to meet us. By this time the trail was definitely getting softer, even in the packed sections, and we were both glad we only had 3 miles to go.

Knitting

I have been playing around with a pattern for Lobster Mittens I found on Ravelry. As I read through the pattern I realized it was based off a standard mitten pattern, just not one I was familiar with. So I rewrote it to utilize the mitten pattern I use. After splitting for the fingers I did my usual decreases for the top of a mitten. The more I looked at the finished mitten the more I disliked the decreases (and they didn't fit all that great either. See the issue?

Lobster mitten in progress

On my hand - fingers are also a bit short which makes the split fall  in the wrong spot.


Close up of the decreases on the first/middle finger section. 

Close up of the ring/little finger section. 

Too pointy! I (and I suspect most folks) do not have pointy fingers. Back to the drawing board. I did a bit of thinking, measuring, and have come up with a better plan. Now to rip out an inch and a half of knitting on each section.

Race plans

I tend to be one of those people who enters races, especially ultras, later in the registration period when I am more sure of my ability to compete. This has changed slightly in recent years as some of my favorite events have begun to fill up quickly. Last year I signed up right away for the Spring Superior 50K (it filled in 7 days) and then ended up dropping out in the first mile when it became abundantly clear to me that the injury I had suffered a month before was not sufficiently healed and I would only be doing more damage if I continued on.

This year the Spring Superior races filled in record time (despite a server crash). I was one of the fortunate folks who managed to get in, but only because I had assistance in the form of a family member who registered both of us (smartphone savvy and a well-timed break at work).

Because of the exponential growth in the Superior races over recent years they are instituting a lottery for the Fall races. This has come as a shock to many in the upper midwest running community as we are not used to lotteries in this area. I agree with the race director that a lottery is much fairer to all then the current system which favors those who can be at their keyboards anytime of day or night.

I will admit though that my first reaction was "But I don't want to have to commit financially to running a 100 miler in March! What if I end up injured... or life/work gets in the way?" Then I stepped back and looked at it from a broader perspective. I am already training for this race. I have already made the mental commitment. I still have almost a month to gauge my fitness and training progress and make a final decision. If I get in I still have 5+ months to make arrangements for accommodations and recruit crew. The only real difference this year from 2012 will be that the race fee will have already been spent. If I don't get in, I have the time off already and will either crew/pace for a friend or volunteer at the race (something I believe every runner should do, at least as often as they race).

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