Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Playing on the Trails and Other Distractions

It's been a busy spring and summer. Between work, playing outdoors and trying to get a knitting project or two done we added another member to our family. 
GDK - 6 weeks
My daughter and her family live near by and we have been spending a lot of time together. It's fun to watch GDK grow and develop his personality. 

I didn't participate in any of the big spring races this year (see above). Instead I had the opportunity to run in many of the Spring NMTC races and headed to the Twin Cities for two trail races (Stigma Breakers Trail Races - 10K and Afton 25K). It was fun to run something that didn't take a significant chunk of my day and left me feeling pretty fresh afterwards. Plus trips to the Cities allow me time with my sister and her family. 

It's been years since I have run a 25k and my training has not been spectacular this year (for multiple reasons) so I was pleasantly surprised to run my third fastest 25K at Afton. I had been doing some  hill work in preparation to heading out west in September and it paid off. I am not fast (in the grand scheme of things) and was getting passed pretty routinely on the flat parts of the course but was able to make up for it on the climbs. I also tried out a new fueling strategy and that seemed to work out well too. 

Saturday is the Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra and I (foolishly?) signed up to run.  I am going into this race "well rested"; we shall see how that turns out. I have done something similar before - running a 42 mile fat ass on even less training a couple of years ago - so do know it can be done. I just need to run an average of 16 min/mile to stay ahead of the cut-offs. 

Mentally I have not had the drive to push myself very hard in training for the past couple of years (I blame the last two very stressful years at my previous job for this) and that is part of the reason I have not signed up for many races. Couple that with odd, nagging injuries and training has been less then desirable for running ultras. 

Yesterday I did get out to explore a new section of the SHT that was just built in Duluth. It connects two ends of the SHT in Brewer Park allowing for a loop hike in that section. Oh my was it fun! It appeared I may have been the first human on that section of trail since Larry and his crew had built it. Lots of deer tracks but no other human foot prints. I took time to clear some dead fall from last weeks storm and check out the sights. The oddest human artifact I found was a smoker (red, older but not antique) standing alongside the trail quite a ways from any roads. The coolest critter encounter I had occurred after moving a rock to build a cairn on an outcropping. Underneath was a Redbellied snake! It stuck around for a while and allowed me a chance to admire it before slipping away into the underbrush. 

I have been spending a bit of time on my bikes - splitting my time between the commuter, fat bike and mountain bike. I even managed to get in my longest pedal ever (40 miles) on a lovely summer day. I biked to Jay Cooke State Park where I stopped to enjoy the view of the river, eat lunch and knit before heading back into town. I chose to take the Munger Trail all the way back into town which meant I would have to bike uphill for the last mile to get home. All went well and I even managed to pedal most of the way up the gravel drive into my yard (it's a steep slope).

On my most recent bike ride out to Lakeside and back I encountered a black bear on the Lakewalk. I slowed down so I could observe it and as I drew closer hollered at it to clear the trail - which it did. Turns out this is probably the same bear I took a picture of three years ago in about the same area. It also became famous a couple of days later by laying in a neighbors kiddie pool. 


I got a new, lower seat for the R65 this spring and got out a lot in May in preparation for an intermediate rider course. Then the weather turned cool and wet. Since we don't have a garage and live on a gravel road it ended up back at Park Point in one of our hangers. June was not a good month to ride as I was doing a lot of commuting across town at odd hours and in various states of sleep deprivation. I am hoping to get out on the bike a bit more in the future. 

When there is a baby due the knitting needles get busy!

Baby Surprise


As you can see I got a lot of use out of one skein of multi-colored yarn! The Baby Surprise is little baby sized so hopefully GDK gets some use out of it before he gets too big. 

I have been working on a project for myself but it has been a bit slower going as it needs my undivided attention. 

Biohazard Sock
I recently picked up a new pattern holder that has allowed me to set up the top of foot and sole patterns next to each other. This has allowed me to make much quicker progress. Our recent extended power outage was good for knitting time too. No electronic distractions, and knitting by headlamp really focuses your attention!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Spring Ephemerals on a Cool and Blustery Day

From yesterday's 16 miler at Jay Cooke State Park:
Spring Beauty (Clayton virginica)
We didn't make it half a mile before I was stopping to snap photos of some of my favorite spring wildflowers, or "old friends" as I called them to my friend Shaun.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) with Trout Lily leaves in the background
Trout Lily/Dogtooth Violet (Erythronium species)

Hepatica (Hepatica americana)
Hepatica (Hepatica americana)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) The leaves clasp the
flower stalk and will fully open once the flowers are done blooming.
Unknown shrub (for the moment).  Leaves were barely emerging but there were plenty of flowers!

Possibly Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)
Newcomb's has this to say "Yellowish flowers in short, dense spikes; blooms in early spring as the leaves unfold. Leaflets with blunt, coarse teeth, the terminal leaflet short-stalked or stalkless. 2-6' high. Rocky woods, w.N. Eng. to Kan. south."

Shaun insisted on a photo at this bridge.
I think I have a similar one from last year about this time. 
Spring Beauty (Clayton virginica)
Spring Beauty (Clayton virginica)
St. Louis River was roaring! 
Looking downriver to the Swinging Bridge
Route included the following trails: Summer; Bearchase; Lost Lake (lower and upper); Spruce; Silver Creek and Ridge.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Little Bit of Knitting

Finished up the Baby Surprise with attached I-cord edging. This photo was taken under artificial light so the colors are off just a little bit. I still need to search out the right buttons for this little jacket. 

Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock - Everlasting Gobstopper
Every baby, boy or girl, needs a soft friend for snuggles. So, with the remnants of the sweater yarn and other sock yarn/fingering yarn I had about the house I made a Knubbelchen:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Catching Up - A Photo Essay

October 11th - Playing on the fat bike at Hartley Park after a trail race on one of the warmest days of the year.
Finished Wild Duluth 50K - my only ultra of 2015.
I ran this on minimal training and spent a lot of time visiting with volunteers and Hams
Tomten Jacket - knit for friends expecting their first child 
My "granddog" made an announcement
Crewed and paced Ron at a the Ozark100 mile.
In between driving to aid stations I got to hang out with Adam's wonderful crew.
Annual trip to Boulder Lake to go tree hunting
Baby booties to go along with a blanket for another friend who was expecting
Black ice + steep downhill + darkness + fat bike = sudden, and unprepared for, meeting with the ground.
A month later the scabs are finally gone and my knee cap is no longer tender to touch.
Checking out a dam on the St. Louis River during a long run
Socks for Sam! Hawk Ridge color way (Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock Yarn)
Merry Christmas from the Piedmont Trails!
Post-ride on fresh snow at Mission Creek
9th Annual Barely Organized New Years Day Run (we even had press coverage!)
Post-run potluck
One sock done!
How I custom knit socks
January 3rd - view from the newest section of the Duluth Traverse Trail overlooking Lake Superior and the Harbor
Start of the Tuscobia 150(160) bike race in Rice Lake, WI

The bathroom renovation continues with the removal of the old tub/shower unit
 and some interior walls and installation of a new tub
Ready to use! (note: this is our only bathroom so things need to be done in steps that allow for ongoing use)
Knitting Origami, otherwise known as the Baby Surprise Jacket
Fold A to A and B to B...
.... and seam the shoulders. I added a bit of applied I-cord after this photo was taken.
Once buttons have been sewn on it will be ready for the newest addition to our family. 
My fascination with lichen continues