Monday, December 31, 2012

Over and Out

Well it's the last day of my first year at trying this blog thing.  There were some fun times and some real dog day drags but we're here!

Today was not a good day for me out on the trails (although still better than staying in all day).  My knees really hurt from the start of the run.  So I kept it short and headed home to enjoy some beer and Iowa State football.

3 miles for a 3033 total on this year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow Bikes

Great day outside today.  It's staying cold enough that we aren't losing a lot of snow to the sun and today was calm enough that it was pleasant even when temps were below 20 degrees F.

I looked up from my route along the quarry pond to see a winter biker.  Something that has been increasing each winter recently is the appearance of snow-bike tire tracks on the quarry and Wild Turkey trails.  This turned out to be Seth Bell, with whom I formerly worked when I was a part-time employee at Wayne's Ski and Cycle.

One of Seth's winter arsenal

Seth  enjoying the sun and refreshment during his afternoon ride.
I was able to get in 6 miles today, mostly at an easy pace.  This brought me to only 17 for this week but up to 3030 for the year with one more day to go.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Four Days Lost

Christmas Eve afternoon, I got out for a walk with Piper for the final time for this dog-sitting stretch.  She heads home with Cory after Christmas.

Piper got a new coat for Christmas.
No sooner do I boast about hitting my most miles in a year, than I contract a stomach flu and end up losing 4 days.  I missed xmas day by needing to stay in bed and near the restroom.  I needed a day to recover from that then relapsed when I began to eat solid food again.  Took another day to recover and finally, today, was able to get out on the snowshoes to pack down yesterday's fresh snow.

So while packing the new snow along a portion of mountain bike trail, I levered the tail of my snowshoe against a log and cracked the frame at the toe bar.  The tension from the lacing pulled the bar up into the frame's crack but not enough to force me to need to remove the shoe.

Once home, I used some vice-grips and force to put the toe bar back into position and close the cracks.  Then with shoe goo and a simple stainless band clamp, I held everything back into the original construction location.  Hope it holds up!

6 miles today, much of it in soft, new snow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hitting the Target

Approaching the end of a year in which I was able to stay rather consistent at spending time out on the trails, and training for a 50-miler to boot, the past weeks have been devoted to maintaining a mileage that would allow me to hit 3000 miles for the year.  That moment occurred before the end of this week.  In fact, it occurred while I was running on snowshoes...something that hasn't been possible very often the past couple winters.

Holiday guests arrived on Saturday so training and posting has been haphazard, but I bagged 7 miles on Saturday and 6 more yesterday for a 51 mile week. 

I spent a fair amount of time last night attempting to convert my Audible book files of Born to Run (.aa) to mp3 or simply an audio cd series so my son could listen to it while driving!  Turned out to be quite a project...but accomplished.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Yell Out Loud

While running snowshoes today, I began wondering about what makes you "yell out loud" when watching TV.  I know what makes my son's dog bark out loud...other dogs or sometimes any four-legged animals on the screen!

For me it seems that it is usually a college football game, however, I do seem to get excited enough to cheer when watching track meets too!  In particular, I remember the 1-2 finish of Mo Farrah and Galen Rupp in the Olympic 10,000.  I remember my Dad getting so involved with a Pro Football game, once, that he stood up and smashed the chair he had been sitting in.

The trails around the quarry were great today.  I was correct about the drifting and there were plenty of stretches that required repacking.  I wore my wooden Iverson runners today because they do a great job of trail setting and allows for better running on subsequent days. There were also a few open areas of exposed rock and I was glad I didn't have to worry about any cleats today.

6 miles on the snowshoes and another couple of hiking with the dog.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

First Tracks

The snow finally arrived and I headed out to the quarry trails for some true snowshoe running.  I used the ice/rock cleats with the Dions and was glad I did because there were several spots where I could hear the cleats hitting rock.  The wind was picking up so there were drifts and some bare spots but overall the snow depth was pretty good for running.

Mason City Globe-Gazette photo from previous article
I was pleased with my cardio-vascular fitness and able to stay at a running pace for the first half of the loops but soon learned that breaking the trail by being first tracks ended up sapping more strength than I was willing to expend on this initial time out on the shoes.  I walked some stretches in order to pack the snow for faster runs in the coming days.  However, with the wind closing the footprints behind me, I may need to repeat the break-in tomorrow.

It's really calming to be in the woods and making fresh tracks with no sign of walkers or skiers...only an occasional deer using the trail or perhaps a few rabbits tracks.

5 miles on the snowshoes and a couple more walking with Piper. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fiscal Cliff or the Mayans

With the continued threat of some winter weather finally arriving (in the shape of snow and blizzard), the day was surprisingly mild.  The trail was a bit soft due to melting of yesterday's dusting of snow and I didn't notice much wind yet.

Fiscal Cliff

As we passed some of the limestone bluffs beside the trail, I couldn't help but think of how much we're hearing about the "fiscal cliff".  This, along with a lot more talk about the Mayan apocalypse, made for a more depressing outing than you'd want at Christmas!

I truly hope that we get some nice snow for snowshoeing but not in a way that interferes with peoples holiday travel plans.

Did the 6 mile loop today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hoka Stinson Evo Low

Once again Mother Nature came up short on snow for my Dions.

So when I opened an email from Scott of The Runner's Flat in Cedar Falls indicating my new Hokas had arrived, I made a quick field trip to pick them up.  It actually sounds like the next couple of days could bring enough snow to make this trip more difficult.  So tonight I'm sitting here looking at some renewed hope for my running in the form of the Stinson Evo Trail shoes (also listed as "Low" on the box).
Got in 7 miles on the fresh 3/4" snow before heading to Cedar Falls.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Train, The Train...

A very calm wind today and mediocre temps meant for pleasant conditions to be in the woods.  Saw plenty of deer and could hear for miles (it seemed).

I took time to trim up the sucker growth from the underbrush that I cleared last summer to allow a clear view of the river from one of the trail-side benches.

I crossed paths with Jeanne McCurnin and took time to visit.  Then hit the ancillary trails around the quarry to be sure to get in 10 miles.

My father used to talk about crossing this trestle.

Spring Creek as it enters the Winnebago River.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


On another dreary day in the woods, I took time to notice one of several vestigial fence posts from a time when the land was privately farmed.  Much of it was owned by the cement plants  (Northwestern was founded in 1906 and Lehigh in 1910)  that worked the area quarries for the limestone.  So it's of no surprise that many of the fence-lines were made with concrete posts!  There are old posts in many different areas of what is now the Lime Creek Park.

Got in another 6 miles today for a 52 mile week.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cold Rain

Realized today that it will be rather easy for me to hit 3000 miles on the year.  I headed out after some morning showers but it was still drizzling.  Unfortunately wet gloves only seem to make the hands colder!

Turned earlier than usual and got home in around 6 miles.

Looking forward to another holiday party tonight.  It seems like a lot of temptations at this time of year.  Glad to get out in the woods for a trail workout each day.

After I reread today's entry, it appears to be more of a Facebook post rather than a blog post.  As my first year of attempting this blog comes to an end, my initial enthusiasm for interesting content has waned.  I will likely find some more topics to write about, but in the mean time I'll be happy to simply make simple observations on the day!  Occasionally, I may hit a nerve and get a bunch of hits...such as my "Ownership" post that made the daily news and I saw more hits in one day than at any other time.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rub Line

Today we surprised a few deer along the trail.  One was a nice looking 8-point buck.  I have noticed several trees along some of the paths that had "rubs" where the antlered deer rub the tree to mark a territory.  Hadn't thought much about them until the buck flushed today.

We continued onto the area open to hunting and promptly came across another hiker...dressed in safety orange and carrying a gun!  Reminded me of last week's post.

Another 10 mile out after the annual "Christmas Tea" at NIACC where there were plenty of good eats!

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Today's trail treat was a when we surprised a red-tailed hawk from beside the path.  It was apparently hunting...perhaps one of the numerous squirrels along there.  It flew a short distance and perched in a tree close to where we passed.

(borrowed photo)

This is forecast to be the warmest day of the week so I got in some extra miles calling it at 10.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Funny how sometimes little things affect the way we decide to dress for the run.  

This morning, I needed to head to Plymouth to help gather several water samples for analysis.  It was a beautiful sunrise but with a strong wind and overnight temps, I felt chilled.  Fast forward to noon...I've been in the house all morning catching up with email and phone calls...when I decided to head out to Lime Creek, I dressed for the chill I felt earlier in the morning.  

It didn't take long to realize that today was definitely  warming.  I had to slowly strip away layers and carry nearly as many clothes as I was wearing.

Cut the loop short to 6 miles.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Today's workout was delayed because I couldn't pass up re-watching one of my favorite movies, "Breaking Away."  Bike racing with a twist from many years ago, yet still fun to watch. Well worth the time even though I've seen it on many occasions.

The delay allowed for warmer temps and even a bit of light snowfall.  Very comfortable in the woods along the river.

I also pondered the popularity of the Hoka running shoes with ultrarunners and folks with injury issues.  Finally decided to pull the plug and scrounge up a pair. So I called my friend, Scott Gall, at his Running Flat  store in Cedar Falls and asked if he could find a pair of Stinson Evos.

It was peaceful and relaxed for us on the trails today and I ended up with a standard 7 mile loop (same as what I ran yesterday but didn't blog).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

False Hope

Yesterday, I was stoked for an accumulation of snow.  The snow started by around midnight but when I got out to the trails this morning there was less than an inch and it was melting. So plans to crank up the Dions have to be postponed.

We got in a 7 mile loop then headed out to NIACC for the cross country team recognition during half-time of the men's basketball game.  The basketball team is currently rated 5th in the nation for NJCAA teams.

With today's run, the total for the week is 52.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Promises of Snow

Usually by this time of winter, I've been able to be out training on the snowshoes.  Last winter and so far this, it's been slim pickins'.  I truly enjoy running on snowshoes and have found it to be less stressful on my knee issues. So it is with extreme yearning that I hope the predicted weather for tonight plays out...2-4 inches of snow.

Where is this?

Piper and I put in a typical 8 mile loop today and took advantage of the lack of snow to continue to gather black walnuts.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bell's Two-Hearted Ale

Today's workout was delayed by a NIACC coaches lunch bunch meal at 11:30 AM. It was cloudy and a bit colder but the bonus of the outing was securing another 3 dozen black walnuts on the trail.

Tonight's highlight, on the other hand, was the fund-raising social for the North Iowa Nordic crew to generate some funds for grooming the ski trails.

Bell's Two-Hearted Ale on tap and lots of hors d'oeurves with great friends and conversation. A truly enjoyable evening!

8 miles today.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Eager Beaver

Surprise opportunity today.  A quick trip to the suburbs of Minneapolis for some special holiday shopping and I discovered some trails there were new to me.  In the Minnesota National Wildlife Refuge, I took off to check out the Carver Creek loop of the Rapids Lake Unit.  Flat and fast with excellent trail conditions for running!  Came across a lot of beaver activity.

(borrowed photo)

Even though the river was low, note the high water line on the trees.

Along the creek where the beaver were most busy.

Beautiful wetlands.

Wide smooth trails in the river bottom.
4 miles in the time I had available.  The drive had started in a cold rain in Iowa so the mild, sunny weather in Minnesota was much appreciated.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


So on today's run I noticed that someone decided to enhance the rock bench on the Badlands Loop.  It now has arm rests!

I have mentioned how I like to enhance the trails by picking up the trash and recyclables.  What is interesting about the colder weather is that there are fewer users and the ones that are out are the regulars.  The amount of trash and recyclables that are cast off along the trail has drastically reduced.  In fact, I did not spot a single returnable container today and ran the standard 7 mile loop without a break!  Maybe the fact that I'm actually running also lends to being less likely to spot a candy wrapper or pop can!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


When you use the same trail for your daily workout (for the most part), you begin to feel some ownership of that trail.  You see the minute changes each day and even become accustomed to noting footprints, underbrush, etc.  But what I failed to remember was that these trails are multi-use...running, hiking, biking, birding, and even hunting in a restricted area of the site.

Today, we were in the trails where hunting is allowed and before turning for home I spotted some "hunter's orange" on a person ahead of us.

Turned out to be a guy with a gun.  As I passed he said  "There's someone ahead that's shooting!"  I told him I'd be turning towards the quarry soon and continued.  Once I'd returned to the other side of the railroad tracks, I heard another blast from the the hunter.

That reminded me of a time when running on a trail in a national forest in Colorado.  There were three of us running late in the day and we could hear someone apparently target shooting.  This wasn't a concern until we could hear the sound of the bullets whizzing past us after each shot. Luckily, the terrain was such that the shots were above our heads,

10 miles today.

I usually wear orange now when in the hunting area!

Monday, December 3, 2012

North Iowa Touring Club

Just realized that yesterday's post was never published!  It was a another full with Piper on the Lime Creek Trails, then volunteered at the LC Nature Center all afternoon (used the time to crack about 3 dozen black walnuts), followed by the North Iowa Touring Club's annual potluck dinner (also in the nature center).  New board members were approved for the next year...I'll be taking a turn as president.

6 miles on the day Sunday for a 55 mile week.

The weather today was incredibly mild.  It was wet and humid this morning but with no wind and warm temps, it sure didn't seem like December.  Took a brisk trip around our standard 7 mile loop then headed out to take over a track practice for Coach Vais as he needs to be out-of-town for a couple days.  It was a  workout of repeat 1000 meter runs that we were able to conduct outdoors. A real exception when training for  the indoor track season.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dog Tired

7 miles today.  At one point we passed a couple out on the trail that were carrying grocery bags.  Later, while we were returning I saw them picking up black walnuts.  I've had a pretty good haul of black walnuts myself this year.  I visited with the folks for a while and directed them to an area where I'd picked up some good quality nuts.

Perhaps the push to get my daily mileage is beginning to have an effect on Piper.  I've often heard the statement "dog tired" but never really thought about it.  After we return each day, Piper grabs a drink of water and some food then takes a healthy siesta. She usually gets quite energetic in the evening and begs for a good game of fetch.  But tonight she seemed a bit more tired and simply collapsed on the footstool while I watched some football and college wrestling (Iowa vs. Iowa State) on TV!