Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nationals (times 2)

After another rather lengthy break from blogging, I need to post an update on the past couple of weekends.

I drove to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for February 28 and March 1 for US Snowshoe Nationals. While I had continued to get out on snowshoes most every day, a lot of my training was reduced to fast hiking. This fact resulted in a definite reduction in my ability to stay competitive in the race. I don't know why I expected to be able  race like the past when I didn't train like the past.

Half way through the race I found that by favoring my left knee on the rolling hills and stream switchbacks, my right calf either severely cramped or pulled. I was reduced to hiking out the rest of the 10K with only brief sections where I could jog. I finished behind a lot of runners that I had out-raced in the past and ended up in 9th of 13 in my age-group.

I was pleased to be in a race of this caliber and on a beautiful course but disappointed in my ability and I began to question my future as a runner. Perhaps it's time to shift more to the bike!

the start

One of many hills

Finally the finish

The following weekend, March 6, 7, I flew with the NIACC track and field team to Albuquerque, New Mexico. (And I didn't even have to find my passport :)

Panoramic of the indoor track.

Both Men's and Women's qualified athletes for Nats. Sightseeing the day before.

Resting with a new friend at the Museum of Natural History

Our women's team came in ranked 8th and did well, although they came up just short in a couple of events and a bit better in others, they claimed a 10th place finish. Highest finish was Rellie Kaputin in the triple jump. Also Hannah Palmeter claimed two 5th places in the mile and the 3000.



Hannah in the 3K

The men's team was ranked around 25th and finished in 18th! Highest finish was by freshman, Imad Amenzou, with a 2:56.05   800 meter.

Imad in 800 prelim

I enjoyed a couple breaks to get away for a bit of a workout...hike and light run along the Rio Grande river and later a hike in the Petroglyph National Monument.

Rio Grande river in Albuquerque

Reminds me of my snow circles from a few weeks ago!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reminiscing Past Snowshoe Mentors

Every snowshoe season, the time around Nationals arrives and I can't help but remember a couple of  past enthusiasts that affected my approach to the sport. Both of these athletes were always active in their local events as well as Nationals. We crossed paths many times. 

Unfortunately, these two are no longer with us due to eventually losing their race with cancer.

The USSSA gives an annual award in the name of one, Cindy Brochman. I first met Cindy as Cindy Schneider before her marriage to Kevin Brochman. They were both very competitive at trail races that I raced in Minnesota and Iowa.  Cindy asked me to be a part of a mixed-masters team for a relay at my first Snowshoe Nationals in Vermont in 2006.

Jim Graupner, Curt Krieger, Cindy Brochman, Jim McDonnell
Here's a video of the 2011 award in her honor.

Also this year's Nationals are holding the banquet on Saturday night in honor of Tim Dusick. I met Timmy D at snowshoe races each year in Luck, Wisconsin. 

One year, he was going to sell me a pair of his used Tubbs racers but ended up just giving them to me.  I'd brought a running moose ornament with miniature Tubbs snowshoes that I'd made from paperclips that I gave TimmyD for the favor of allowing me to buy his used snowshoes. After the exchange, he told me to take charge.


I have very fond memories of both these athletes and miss them , especially when I'm able to attend Nationals!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Beware the Talons

While I haven't been posting daily as I did when I first started the blog, I have continued to get out on the trails almost daily.

The really cool thing about running the trails on snowshoes is the snow...or rather the signs of activity in the snow. I can see when hikers have been out, when dogs are along, the paths preferred by snow bikers, and animal tracks or similar sign.

Yesterday and today I was intrigued by several locations with blood spatters! Some appeared to be from rabbits others from squirrels, but in either case I wondered about the cause.

Squirrel feeding activity via acorn shells

Largest spot of blood and nearest where I flushed a Barred Owl

Again some obvious squirrel activity by way of walnut shells

At the location of the largest blood residue and waste pile of walnut shells, I noticed a movement in the trees as a Barred Owl flew from its roost. This is very likely the source of the mayhem that resulted in what was most certainly an evening meal.

Fun to see an adult Bald Eagle yesterday then a juvenile Bald Eagle (probably 2 -3 year old) today. A Red Fox ran across an open section of the quarry pond today while I was just emerging from the woods.

I've been pleased with some progress on the snowshoe running front. It helped to have received a significant amount a couple weeks ago, although that has slowly deteriorated through all the temperature fluctuations. Snowshoe Nationals are this weekend so there's no time left to improve my fitness. I'll be racing with the knees as they are and hoping for a good day with adequate snow conditions. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lovin' the Snowshoes

No posts for a while but I've kept busy with coaching on weekends (indoor track) and finally getting out on some real snow. 

A couple weeks ago I was able to qualify for the U.S. Snowshoe National Championships by running (without snow) the Iowa State Snowshoe Championship in Cedar Falls. So now that my region of the state has received a nice snowfall, I can begin to see my snowshoe fitness return.

Here's a few shots of something I've done the past couple of days to warm-up and cool-down!

Practice set


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Where the Hell Did McDuff Go?

I'm not sure why I haven't been posting to this blog.....

For sure I've been busy, but almost everyone that blogs is busy.

So rather than make excuses, I'll simply state that I've enjoyed a few brews and am ready to make a short post!

Often when there's a break from posting, it's due to injury, illness, etc.  Well, I was injured when I started blogging and I haven't been ill! So I guess I can say I've been lazy....

The NIACC XC teams came together very nicely with the men placing 8th nationally and the women 13th. Both very close to their final rankings. It was a fun year and I had fun with some team-building ideas like a "Mojo Stick" and "Who's New On the XC Crew" 5 questions!

I was resigned to more hiking than running but did put a Master's Team together for the annual Living History Farms Race and we came up with a podium finish (2nd) after missing out the past couple years.

I was able to get a bit of biking in so I could ride a 50 mile gravel ride in Minnesota at the same time as my good friend, Dave Nauman. He bikes a lot and was obviously more prepared than I was.

I'm currently enjoying an off time from coaching with indoor season starting in January. I've been disappointed with the surprising thaw as I hope to prepare for the US Snow Shoe Association National Championships in Eau Claire this winter. I've been out on snowshoes a few times already this year but it's been rather dismal for snow lately...I never thought I'd be so anxious for a snowy winter!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making Right Turns On the Track!

This week has been a bit hectic....I've felt a bit rushed and confused at making right turns on the track.

There's been a bit of sensory overload as I want to read race reports from Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon and from Leadville. Lots of excellent reports to read and lessons learned! Friends like George Zack and Brandon Fuller's reports but then podcasts with Leadville's winner, Rob Krar, or 2nd place finisher, Mike Aisch. There's just not enough time what with NIACC XC Camp and all.

I spent yesterday marking the trail for the afternoon practice at Pilot Knob.

I was able to include a full loop of the park and the varied terrain. It was a great workout for me in the morning and seems that the athletes enjoyed the run in the afternoon. It's a great park for a hill workout and only 30 minutes drive from Mason City.

In addition to the practices, I've been trying to introduce the team to our followers of the NIACC Track and Field / XC Facebook page. By using 5 questions, I've been posting a different individual each day. Lots of fun and a chance to reuse "off the wall" questions that I've heard on some of the podcasts that I subscribe to.

Monday, August 18, 2014


By virtue of logging my miles on the Lime Creek Trails nearly every day, I tend to see patterns in frequency of use.

Sunday afternoon was a day that the NIACC Cross Country teams chose to use the trails for a longer run. The new dog park for Mason City is currently nearing completion of a building phase, so additional parking is available at the trailhead on Elm Drive. I've never seen so many cars parked there, at once. And only a couple were for the dog park. The rest were out using the trail system. WOW!

Zerble Trail entrance to the Lime Creek system

Whereas I usually run to the trail, today I needed to have my Jeep available

Out on the trails was hot and humid today but enough shade to be tolerable. Every year it's amazing to see a few clumps of Surprise Lilies erupt beside the trail!

I spent a fair amount of time on Saturday and Sunday on the computer using live-tracking to follow friends and acquaintances who were running Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon and some at the Leadville 100. Some great performances and brought back lots of memories for me.