Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Losing Snow Again

Temperatures held rather high overnight and it was already in the low 40s by the time I got out to the quarry trails. The snow was still holding sufficiently in the shade and in the woods, although it was very wet and continuing to melt.  Any area that was exposed to direct sun was very questionable for snow shoeing.
The conditions were a concern to me but I was surprised at how quick the snow was for running.  I got around the majority of my loops at faster than average pace. It turned out to be a good day.  If I'll be able to keep running on snowshoes the rest of this week is not looking too hopeful unless we get some fresh snow.

7 miles

Monday, January 30, 2012

Running Drills

The weather continues to be a bit atypical with temps in the 40s today.  Booo... for those of us depending on a good snow base for our winter passions like snowshoeing or sking.  The snow was melting for the most part when I got out.  I did remember to spray my snowshoes before hitting the trails so there was less packing beneath my Dions today.

I found some very interesting information on running form and drills.  There is some discussion during this that may help explain why the snowshoeing has been less painful than road and trail running for me.  The placement of my foot during the stride and how I use my knees.  There may be hope, yet, for me to improve again on my running form for continued running and racing in the future.

Additional evidence as to the validity of the discussion with Graeme Turner is to watch the running form of Anton Krupicka in the Running Times video.  Very efficient and smooth leg turnover.

6 miles for me today with a combo of running and walking while I worked on my running form based on the podcast.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


A couple of easy days and a good night's sleep resulted in a quick recovery from the lateral knee pain I had been worried about.  This is somewhat due to the experience from past injuries...when I would likely push the workouts regardless of the pain.  Funny how it takes several injuries over the years to learn the lesson.
Parking at the trail-head for the Quarry Trails
The weather turned out great today.  A light dusting of snow and temps in the low 20s but with beautiful sunshine.  The running was crisp and fast when out for the morning.  I needed to finish in time to be back as the volunteer at the nature center.  I swung through the main lot to check the condition of the xc skating trails and saw a couple skiers that had been around the loops...said the snow was fast today!
Prairie skate ski loop
 8 miles for me today and the time out on the trail was much faster than earlier in the week...43 miles for the week.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Field Trip Saturday

Another Saturday consumed with indoor track.  A nice bus drive up to Minnesota State University - Mankato and some good performances by our athletes.  Felt as if I should have planned better to have clothes and shoes along for a workout. Just walked and stood a lot today...good training for time on your feet!
Women's 1 mile; Emma Pogreba in blurred, blue uniform by pole vault pit
0 miles

Friday, January 27, 2012

Be Wary of the IT Band

Something about the lateral area of my left knee began to concern me as the day progressed yesterday.  There was some pain and tenderness immediately beside that knee so I decided to take things a bit easy today.  An application of some DMSO and a much more relaxed run (even a lot of walking) and the day resulted in a pleasant one to be out.  There were brief snow flurries but they ended and temps were near the freezing mark so snow was wet.  Again, I bumped into Dwight Beavers who was out skiing.  He double-poled along the classic trail beside which I've self-groomed a path for snowshoeing.  

But he also headed out to the skate-ski path around one of the prairie tracts.
There were a lot of new podcasts for me to listen to today and was able to get through one and start another before heading back home.

6 miles

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snowshoe Hints

No sooner do I post about changing snow conditions than I head out this morning expecting the snow to be in the 20's only to get hit with a packing snow within 30 minutes of hitting the trails.
snowballs form beneath the crampons and in the binding
What I forgot to do, and this is one of my hints, was spray the bottom of the shoe and binding with a silicone spray.  I have used this often with very good results, including at last year's Nationals in Wisconsin.

Another observation this morning was of my tracks from yesterday when running along the shore of the quarry pond. When the bottom of the track begins to show water or slush, it might be smart to avoid the running on ice!  

Year's ago I used to run on top of snow covered ice because it remained longer than the trails.  Unfortunately, I didn't adjust for water flow under the snow and broke through.  Ended up standing in a hole in the river with the edge of the ice at my armpits and wondering how to get traction to get back above the surface.  Recently I viewed a video of fellow snowshoer, Jim Johnson, who broke through the ice out East.

So be forewarned about the potential for swimming with snowshoes if you choose to run on ice in marginal weather.

I cut the run short today because it felt as if I was running with golf balls under the middle of my feet.

6 miles

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Changing Snow

It's always been interesting to me how much of a difference the temperature and snow conditions make on any snowshoe workout.  

Unlike most trail runs that seem to often fall within a certain range of time depending on effort expended and sometimes on weather (if windy or raining for example).  The pace that I've been able to maintain on snow is markedly different depending not only on depth that I'm breaking through, but also very much on temperature through the day....a run at below freezing temps before noon may be entirely different at 4 PM as temps may rise above freezing!

Today was one of those days when temps were rising as I was out and the snow became a bit slower as I neared the end of the run because the snow began to pack and get somewhat more "slippery".  Temps were around 27 degrees F at the start and at 32 degrees by finish.  In past years, I've found the fastest running conditions in temps between 5 and 25 degrees on packed trails.

Good run, though, and happy with the effort even as my legs began to feel sluggish at the end.

7 miles

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Know Your Cuts of Running Snowshoes

I spent some time this morning looking over some of the Facebook postings of Dick Beardsley.  I had the pleasure of running with Dick on Lime Creek when he came to run a marathon in Mason City in 2004.  The planning committee asked me to take him out because he wanted to get in some runs prior to the event and I was happy to oblige.

What's interesting about Dick, today, is he continues to run marathons and this is after total knee replacements to both knees!  Perhaps there's hope for me in the future yet.

I took snowshoeing today a bit easier because I could still feel the previous workouts in my legs.  Dave Nauman and Dwight Beavers were out on the xc ski skating trails but slipped over beside the trail I was on for quick visit.

So today I thought I'd post a photo quiz of different types of snowshoe tracks:

Dion 121 .. vintage 2006

Iverson runners ... vintage 1997

Tubbs 10K ... vintage 1996
There are plenty of other brands that folks use to run and race in but these were three that were in my quiver so thought I'd demonstrate the difference in snow prints!

8 miles again today most of it was running with a bit of walking to finish the loops.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Knocking the Air Out

What a difference a week makes.  

We finally have enough snow to allow for some great snowshoe runs.  Today I chose to run in my Iversons 

because they do a fantastic job of packing the snow and getting the air out so the runs later this week, using my Dions, will be faster and smoother.  I had a very pleasant run today although the heavier shoes and deeper snow caught up with me sooner than I'd hoped.  My knees became tighter about an hour into the run and I walked the final mile to recover and do some additional trail packing.  Some of today's outing in pictures....

The main trail is maintained by the county by pulling 4 tires behind their snow machine.  I self-groom my favorite little ancillary trails in the woods.  Today's time went by quickly as I listened to podcasts about carbon wheels for biking and the differences in protein supplements in our diet.

8 miles

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yellow Snow

I didn't post yesterday as the entire day was involved with an indoor track meet for NIACC men and women at ISU in Ames.  A 7 AM bus trip and didn't return until 8:30 PM. I didn't attempt to run down there in anticipation of a strong snowshoe run today.
Lied Rec Center - ISU campus
So today I was able to get out in the morning on the trails around the quarry at Lime Creek.  I've always enjoyed being out on trails, especially taking note of the wildlife and woods around me.  What I didn't really think about until today, although alluded to it in recent posts, is that snow adds another dimension to the run regarding what goes on around me.  Tracks of the wildlife or other trail users begins to tell me a story of what's going on before I get there.  I can now see where the trail has been crossed, or followed, or even where the dog walker ahead of me pulled over to take a pee!!  It all adds another dimension to the run that was hidden or lost to the woods, without snow.

6 miles

Due to the return of snow and my transition to using snowshoes, and the day off for indoor track, I wasn't able to hit 60 miles this week.  I'm happy with 47 miles though because of the extra amount of true running and especially the miles on snowshoes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow At Last

Woke up this morning to a fresh layer of snow and still coming down.  There was enough concern about driving and such that most schools cancelled and the bus drive to ISU for NIACC's track and field team was also cancelled.  So I was able to to use the new-found time to get the snowshoes back out and had a fantastic run on the quarry trails at Lime Creek.  I was first tracks in many of the areas that I headed today.

Then, because I wasn't ready to get back inside, I cleared all the snow from my drive and my neighbors!!  Extra workout bonus while still accomplishing visual progress.

Plans are to use a charter bus early tomorrow so I'll not be driving again, however, it'll be nice to not worry about the cold and keeping the diesel engine going and simply help with the second day of the indoor meet.

My mileage may drop now that I concentrate on snowshoes because it takes more effort to do the snowshoe runs.  Today's snow conditions were adequate but I often could feel rocks beneath the 4" of snow. I used my Dion 121's with ice cleats.  The cold and the way it snowed did not catch as much air so the depth didn't pile as high and seemed denser as the smaller crystals aligned better.

5 miles

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cold Enough to Make Your Joints Ache

Another sub-zero overnight and not much prospect of getting out of single digits today.  I came across a link to an article about joint wear while reading the daily news at URP site this AM.  I'm certain that I cannot blame my running as the cause of my knee problems but rather a compounding of damage started in wrestling and downhill sking.  Still an interesting article.

The wind was wicked today (not strong, just too cold) but, as always, I headed onto the trails and felt very comfortable in the woods and bluffs along the river.

6 miles

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guess It Is Winter, Turkey

The colder overnight temps in single digits and amount of time before those temps rose, helped it seem like it really is winter, after all.  But it is still great to know that heading into the woods can be totally comfortable regardless of the drop in daytime highs.

It was fun to see how much, or little, had occurred on the trails since yesterday's run.  There were some places where I was, once again, the only tracks since my previous outing.  The wild turkey had been more active back along the river.
Because I was pleased to have run most of yesterday's mileage, I wanted to be a bit more conservative today.  I tried to break the entire workout into a walk one mile, run one mile, scheme and that worked out well.  I had finally downloaded the latest Lucho podcast to listen to today.

10 miles

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tracks in the Snow?

I ran errands this AM while there was light snow and cold wind.  Finally, a little after noon, I was able to get out for a run on Lime Creek.  There was not enough snow to seriously think about using snowshoes, although I could have gotten out on the wooden Iverson runners because they have no cleats!

Interesting thing about less than an inch of fresh snow is the tracks you can see.  There was a runner that had been out and returned, one hiker with his dog, and a snow bike.

Also fun to see all the wildlife tracks...mice, squirrels, rabbits, turkey, and at one point, I'm certain there were coyote tracks..but perhaps just a fox...or both.  It also became apparent that the runner was most likely a training partner of mine, Dave Nauman, as he was using the same obscure trails that I was and Tuesday is his usual day off so he can get out for an earlier run .

Here's Dave(right) and I, corner marshaling at BBBBQ race this past summer

The snow seemed to help soften the impact as I was able to run nearly the entire distance today with no walk breaks.  It felt good even with the change in weather.
Something else that I realized today was that the ear buds I use for listening to a podcast seem to help prevent the earache that I often experience when running on cold, windy days.

10 miles

Monday, January 16, 2012

Status Quo

Nothing of note on the trails today.  Sun gave way to overcast so a bit dreary.  Covered most of my favorite paths so ended up with 10 miles.

Even geese from Canada aren't enough to bring us snow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back on the Trails Again

The weather moderated and even began melting the slight skiff of snow we received Wednesday.  I wasn't able to coordinate the run with Tony Stensland from Duluth, as planned.  He was down to Forest City for the weekend and his time constraints to make the trek back didn't allow for the additional time to Mason City.  But he was able to get out to Pilot Knob yesterday, while I was at track meet.  Pilot Knob has some great trails for training that we used often for the NIACC cross country season.

 in Pilot Knob this summer

Today, I got out and found the Lime Creek trails in pretty good shape for running/walking even where the light snow covered old ice.  I was also using this outing to catch up on some podcasts.  Nearing the Badlands, I looked up to find  another runner approaching.. it was Jeanne McCurnin.  I had gone to Colorado this summer to help crew and pace her Leadville 100 run.  She had to pull out of this year's race, part way through with a foot injury, but has recovered and back logging the miles again.  We both stopped to visit for a short while before readjusting the Ipods and finishing our workouts.

11 miles for the day
thus 39 for the week (time off for illness)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Indoor Track Season Begins

Panther Open - UNI  - Cedar Falls, IA
I drove the NIACC bus to Cedar Falls this morning for the Panther Open.  This is the first indoor meet of the season for us, although many of our athetes ran at a pre-season meet in Mankato before Christmas. 
We'll have a very interesting season with lots of great student-athletes.

The meet lasted til late afternoon and I arrived home at dusk.  I did not get out for a run today, only a few walking laps of the UNI-Dome mezzanine, but plan on a good run tomorrow if things work out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Self-Coaching and Conscience

I've not had anyone that I could call a coach for my personal running regime since I graduated high school in 1970.  Decisions about workouts have always been based on books, magazines, discussions with running partners, and just plain "by feel." 

However, once you're married, you gain some opinions or insight into what you're doing whether you ask for it or not. Today, when I announced my intention to get out in the morning for my workout (10 miles), my wife reminded me of my condition just 24 hours earlier and perhaps consider more rest.  I listened to her...at least until late afternoon...when the sunshine and lack of wind was too much to ignor.  More often than not, she's right about when I'm being stupid with the amount of mileage I'm trying to keep.

I got out for an easy 4 miles and was even able to run the final mile with Dave Nauman and get some more visiting in while headed home.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Had a rough night of sleep due to some sort of flu bug.  Had an appointment (random drug testing for NIACC) at 9:45 AM that required a urine sample and it took over an hour to reach the required volume because I had dehydrated overnight.  That was a first for me, guess I shoudn't have skipped my morning coffee!

Stayed in all day and slept a lot but beginning to feel better this evening.

0 miles

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Day

Today was taken up with a couple of meetings including helping distribute uniforms for NIACC track and field.  The weather began to change dramatically after 11 AM with wind and cold and even snow flurries.

 I definitely can feel the result of yesterday's hill work and the fact that I've been able to do more running than walking...so today became what I've labeled in my past running logs as a "more" day...more rest is more important than more miles.  This is the 1st More Day of this year.

I walked about 3:30 PM and turned for home early.  Just enough time to listen to the latest podcast from Trail Runner Nation.

3 miles

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Recordbreaker

Warmed up into the 50's again...another record high for today.
Run went very well.  Ran all of the trails with only walking the city streets to get to and from the trailhead.  Pace was a bit faster than last week.

7 miles in AM

Helped with the NIACC indoor track practice...which was outdoors!  We were doing hill repeats at East Park and I handled about half the workout.  5 X hill (almost 200 yds.) with 200 return.  The team did 10.  I also did a few serpentine hills on the sledding slope by running up and down beside each of the 3 strings of tires used for traction when snow is present.

additional 2 miles

total of 9 for the day

Monday, January 9, 2012

Badlands Loop

Badlands Rock Cairn
Today's run was a bit later due to the all staff meeting at NIACC.  But again the weather was "out-of-season" and went surprisingly well.  I woke up with a bit of running hangover, where my legs were dead from yesterday's run and I was a bit tired (up about an hour earlier than recent mornings because of the meeting at the college).  Once I started running, things came together and I was able to sustain the running with only two brief stops to adjust the mp3 player for podcasts.

Several years ago, I brought the idea for rock cairns back with me from summer running in Colorado so started building some along the trail in different places.  Above is the largest and most obvious as it's out on the Badlands Loop of Lime Creek.  I find I need to rebuild it at times as other hikers find the need to break it down!

11 miles today with the only walking on the 3/4 mile of street to and from the trailhead.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tree Burl and Week in Summary

There's a tree along one of the trails I run that has intrigued me a bit.  It has a large burl on it.  It seems the cause of tree burls is not clear but most suggest some sort of stress.  I guess I should ask my doc if my knees have any evidence of burls?

11 miles on the day;  so 66 miles for the week and about half at actual running pace.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Easy Day

Just an easy jog today.  Nice weather and listening to the latest podcasts from Ultrarunnerpodcast, Endurance Planet, and Ben Greenfield.

6 miles

Along the trail from Ernie's Bridge

Calmus Creek

Friday, January 6, 2012

Global Warming?

Last January (on Dion 121 snowshoes)

Today (in Inov8 Flyroc 310 trail shoes)
What a difference a year makes.  Record high yesterday, 57 degrees, 10 over the previous record!

10 miles today

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nuts To Squirrels

Another project that resulted from my time on the trails this year has been my attempt to process the wild Black Walnuts that show up in the fall.  I had cursed them in the past and one of our NIACC xc runners even rolled her ankle on some this year.

Once I began to crack and keep the nut meats, I began to learn more and work harder at it in order to acquire enough to use as a stocking stuffer gift for many friends and relatives at Christmas.  I quickly  wore out a simple mechanical nut-cracker that we inherited from my wife's mother and then used a canvas strap and hammer to do the initial cracking.  At Christmas I received a very nifty, heavy-duty cracker from my son. 

The quality of the nut-meats immediately improved.  More whole pieces and less shattered meats.  But what I am perplexed about, is how some squirrels have learned to extract the meats more selectively than others.  I'll load a series of pictures to show what I mean.

Walnuts on the ground

Most squirrels just gnaw the top off

Smart squirrels go straight for the meat

Another beautiful day out and I was able to enjoy a combination of running and walking.  I took some extra time for photos while on this outing.

10 miles for the day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Satisfying the Trail Gods

Shortly after taking advantage of the early retirement offered by the Iowa DNR, I began to spend extra time during the daylight hours out on the trail.  It had been painfully clear, for years, that some others out using the trails had little respect for keeping their trash for proper disposal.  Paper, bottles, cans, and numorous cigarette butts were very haphazardly thrown along the trail with no regard.

I began to pick up any of the deposit cans and bottles...often resulting in quite a handful,  I found I can easily carry at least a six-pack with 3 in each hand and perhaps more if I find plastic bottles and use the narrow tops in a cluster.

I then realized the hypocrisy of only picking the trash that I could recycle for cash.  So I began to carry three plastic grocery bags on each run in order to also gather trash and recyclables in addition to redeemables.  This was to be my attempt at keeping the trail gods happy.  Unfortunately, I can fill the bags more often than not.  Sometimes within 24 hours of the same route!

Another attempt at satisfying the trail gods has been my compulsion to clear natural debris from the trails.  This is most commonly windfall branches or trees.  The crew from the county does a great job of keeping their portions of the trail clear but may take a few days to get out depending on when the wind hits.  The city park portion of the trail takes a very long time to get a crew out.  In many cases, I'm confronted by the fallen tree soon after the wind or storm that caused it.  I've surprised myself at how the short stop to move the obstruction can accomplish much in the way of clearing the trail.

The weather was quite nice today and I found several cans and bottles out around the quarry trail.  I was very encouraged by running nearly the entire way except for the pavement at the start and finish (I'm less than a mile from the trailhead but it's all city street) and the brief stops to gather trash and clear a couple windfalls.  Also stopped to talk briefly with Jenn Yohn, who was running back in the opposite direction, and she mentioned that she and Todd Juhlin are headed to Houston next week to watch the US marathon trials.  She has a friend from Arizona competing.  Jenn said she and Todd may run the half although Jenn is entered in the marathon.  I am soooo jealous that they get to be there for the trials.

13 miles on the day.  This includes a 1 mile walk with my wife as recovery from the extra running effort.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First Post Tuesday

Since this is 2012...year of the end of the world according to the Mayan calender, I decided I better take a crack at this blogging thing.
I've been reading blogs for so many years, and occasionally making comments, but never had the nerve nor time to start my own.  So this is it, the beginning of what may or may not be something that I choose to actively pursue.

I was actually able to run the trails of Lime Creek today (hence the title LC Runner at the top of the page) but did find myself revert to walking several times.  Without dog-sitting my son's dog as an excuse, I believe I now walk simply because I enjoy being outdoors with no real sense of hurry or urgency.  I know that running on snowshoes is so much easier on my knees that I'll be patient for more snow before attempting longer continuous running.  I will, however, be sure to keep my mileage up through the run/walk routine.

10 miles for the outing.