Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Patagonia Shoe Review

New Shoe

What better way to recommence writing in this blog than to attempt to win a new pair of shoes!

A lot has happened during my vacation from daily writing...perhaps I can attempt a short review and get back up in the saddle.

Monday, August 12, 2013

And Again Cross Country Begins

As much as I intended to post to my blog each day, I just plain blew it off.  NIACC XC began with a camp meeting last Sunday the 4th and I feel as if I've been hustling every day since, including getting around to riding my bike again!

I spent time on Monday, the 5th, marking a one mile course for a baseline time trial for our teams.  Also took the opportunity to run it myself for some faster paced stuff, in fact, I'm learning that running with the teams helps me get in the faster stuff and some sustained runs with Curtis Vais.  It's kicking my butt and I like feeling like this again...guess my daily Lime Creek excursions were pretty tame as I gave in too soon to feeling tired.

Some of the NIACC XC training on campus.
  • Monday the 5th, 8 miles; 
  • Tuesday the 6th, 11 miles...some of this was on the Park to Park race course in Cedar Falls where we took the XC teams for a field trip.
  • Wednesday the 7th, 10 miles.
    Found a nice cluster of edible Sulfur Cap Mushrooms !
  • Thursday the 8th, a 10 mile road bike ride to get my bike computer re-calibrated and 3 mile hike.
  • Friday the 9th, 7 miles squeezed into a busy day.
  • Saturday the 10th,  a 22 mile bike ride with friends in Cedar Falls and more reconnaissance of the Park to Park course and a 3 mile recovery hike in the evening.
  • Sunday the 11th, 9 miles including a 4 mile run with the XC teams on Lime Creek.  This gave me a total of 51 miles and 32 miles on the bike.
Today ended up being some good mileage for me as I drove early to Pilot Knob State Park to mark the loop for the XC teams to follow.  The workout concluded with a series of hill repeats to the tower on the knob (2nd highest point in the state of Iowa).

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I haven't posted since Monday in order to give Monday's blog plenty of time for the link to Ben Greenfield's article to be noticed...  It must have worked because I ended up winning one of the free watches he was promoting for such links from people's blogs, articles, etc.  I had hoped for a GPS or heart rate model but they were already spoken for, so have a Timex Ironman 250-lap sports watch coming!

Each day this week I've been more encouraged by my progress towards more sustained running.  The miles are coming back and paces coming down.  A speed workout on Thursday, as prescribed by Scott Gall of The Runner's Flat in Cedar Falls, helped me realize that I can run the shorter intervals (200s this week) because of the short breaks between hard efforts.

I experimented with short breaks during my longer runs and found that I don't lose a lot of time with short walk breaks inserted into each mile.  Perhaps my overall time is as good or better than what would result if I tried to push through the entire distance without the short hiking breaks.  Something to think about and leave dangling out there as a possibility for longer races this fall.

Dangling vines from the cliffs along the river trails.
Also noticed a cicada on the path during the run on Friday.  I had learned a lot about the periodic cicada emergence's (17 year and 13 year) in a museum on Staten Island while we visited New York in May.  Turns out the cicada I saw this week is simply of the annual variety...Iowa can expect the periodic emergence's next year and in 2015.

Annual variety of Cicada

Entrance to the display in the Staten Island Museum featuring the periodic emergence of the 17-year Cicada

13 miles Tuesday, 10 miles Wednesday, 8 on Thursday, 10 miles Friday, 10 on Saturday, 9 today for a 70 mile week...whoo-hoo!

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's A Beautiful Day

Great day out on the trails...woods then prairie.  Not pushing too hard today as I'm looking for some better workouts later this week.  I've been noting a touch of digestive tract issues lately and wonder about the cause.  Good reading in a recent Ben Greenfield article!  I listen to Ben's podcasts every week and have gained tons of fitness and nutrition knowledge. In fact, my daily eating habits have changed immensely during the past year, partly as a result of the information I've gained through his podcasts and articles. 

Unusual siting while in the prairie loops was a mink.  I've seen mink before while along the river bluffs but this was a surprise in the middle of the prairie.

A 10 mile day today.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Last week I was complaining about heat and humidity and today was already so chilly that I can't believe it's July in Iowa!  Beautiful morning for running and I embraced the chance to get in a relaxed run.

Surprised to see a Fox Snake getting out in the cooler weather but it was still spry enough to bluff a few strikes at my hand when I picked it up to observe. 

Fox Snake
Also enjoyed seeing some Goldfinches flitting around in the thistles.

With today's total of 9 miles, I reached 62 for this week.  Some runs are feeling easier now so I'm hoping to continue sustained runs in prep for a September race.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Black-eyed Susan

Very nice weather moved in after a thunderstorm last night.  I took the time to get out on the trails and included some of the prairie loops.  There was a rather impressive display of Black-eyed Susans out there.

Nice to be out with no time constraints so able to get in a 10 mile loop with some recovery hiking planned for yet this evening.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

RAGBRAI 2013 and Pilot Knob

Tuesday was a break in routine so that Cathy and I could drive down to Des Moines to experience a bit of this year's RAGBRAI.  There was a new "History of RAGBRAI" exhibit opening in the historical museum and some great entertainment scheduled.

The day was lots of fun and beer.  I helped generate some electricity at a couple of the booths and truly enjoyed seeing so many bicyclists and their rigs.

Helping Tiny Circus with an animation project. (black hat and shirt with red shoes!)

Booths were set up on three of the bridges downtown

Live performing live

Wednesday was spent getting work out of the way so we could head up to Forest City to dog-sit for Cathy's niece.  This allowed me to get out for the evening hike on a different golf course then go to Pilot Knob State Park today for some better hill running.  Some of the trails were quite overgrown and footing quite tricky at times due to rocks and horse traffic in mud.

Some interesting layers of Bracket Fungus.

Colorful mushroom beside the trail.
3 miles Tuesday, 9 on Wednesday, and another 9 today.

Monday, July 22, 2013


By listening to podcasts from across the country, it seems that many of us are dealing with heat and humidity during our workouts.  The trips to Lime Creek have been necessary to find shade but the warm, humid weather is still a drag!

The days go past with my getting out for some steady mileage...nothing real long or fast but steady none the less.  So the week ended with decent totals and one of the highest mileage weeks of this year at 67 miles. More encouraging for me is that I'm feeling some incentive and pace increases.  Some days are, again at a more continuous run regimen.

Looking forward to more sustained running and mileage as I ramp up for the half in early September.  I'm even beginning to entertain thoughts of redemption for last year's failed attempt at Black Hills.

8 miles for today's total.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


One of my most enjoyable places to run has been in the mountains of Colorado....unfortunately, I live in Iowa.  So imagine my surprise when running the trails of Lime Creek Nature Center and coming across some boulders!  Just not quite like what I see in Colorado.


Lovell Gulch, Colorado


Lime Creek, Iowa

So perhaps there's a difference between boulders in Colorado and least now I can see some on my daily run for inspiration!  Prairie flowers continue to emerge and today's Prairie Cone Flower was also a bit inspirational.

The humidity and heat have been uncomfortable so I'm waiting for a break before continuing any speedwork. 

Got 5 in on Tuesday, 11 on Wednesday and 6 today with another 3 mile recovery outing tonight.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Self-defeating Prophecy

Perhaps I settled into an easier pace because of my self-defeating prophecy.  But more likely an accurate assessment of my current state of fitness.  I thought I was pushing a decent pace and tried to stay relaxed yet mile one was still in the 6:50's so very unlikely for me to pull that back to 6:40ish average in only one more mile.

The 2 mile race on Saturday certainly revealed that my idea of breaking the over-60 record for the race does not occur with three weeks of speed work.  My body is too conditioned to long, slow miles.  Another revelation regarding this attempt was, this is my 1st race of the year and I had only run 3 races last it's safe to say I'm out of practice.

I won my age group but missed the record by over a minute and a half.

The rest of the weekend was a lot of fun but also some work.  Setting up for bicycle races and corner marshaling. Then helping follow the Cat 3 riders of the 83 mile road race.  Saw some nasty accidents and helped the guys get their bikes back together and back on course.  

My wife watched some of the finishes including the winner of the Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 race have a mechanical breakdown (endo when he stood up to sprint) within sight of the finish but enough of a break-away to run his bike across the line for a podium finish!

Just got some miles in on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so finished the week at 48 miles.

Today is my 61st birthday and I got up early to help re-stack all the borrowed barricades from the bike race then got out for 9 miles.  The trail-side vegetation is changing and I was distracted today by the opportunity for fresh, wild raspberries.

Sumac is starting to show it's color.

Black raspberries are coming on.

Interesting how as an individual I still age 1 year at a a competitor I now only see significant birthdays in 5 year intervals!

Friday, July 12, 2013

BBBBQ Weekend...Bring On the Bikes

There's been some real decent days for weather and steady running.  I've cut back a bit in hopes of feeling fresher for tomorrow's short road race.  Most of this weekend is devoted to volunteering for the annual bike races in Clear Lake.  

In order to get back out on the bike myself, I took time to get the Trek tuned up and it's now running smoother than when I first got it.

Got in 8 miles of running each of the past two days and an easy 3 this morning.  Tomorrow, my day starts with the running race in Garner then I'll be corner marshaling at the criterium in Clear Lake later in the day.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Changing Paces

Even after an early morning thunderstorm, the morning dawned sunny and warmed up quickly.  I had planned to get to the track today so took a chance that heat and humidity wouldn't be so severe as to not allow for some good quarters.

I need to get a better handle on my pace.  I've been so complacent on the daily runs that any past sense of pace has been lost.  So my target was to run 6 quarters with the first set of two at 1:30;  second set of two at 1:35; then last set at 1:40.  I take an easy lap between each quarter.

#1 was 1:28 and I could feel that I was pushing...#2 was tough and dropped to 1:34.  So 1:30 is too difficult for me right now especially in hot, humid weather.

#3 was at 1:33 and #4 at 1:35.  I didn't feel as uncomfortable and the 1:35 target seemed easier.

#5 was 1:36 and with an extra 1 minute on the slow lap came back with 1:35.  So it would seem that the 1:40 target is more reasonable for me at this time.

Now I just need to string a few of these together without the rest and I can call it a race (Saturday morning).

With warm up and cool down the session totaled 7 miles.  A 3 mile circuit planned yet tonight.  There is supposed to be a break in the weather so hoping for cooler, drier air soon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are

Perhaps I have been over-zealous in my plan to attempt the age-group record at this weekend's Duesey Days festival.  Most of my recent training has been slow and geared more for fat-burning rather than speed.  I'm fairly confident I have a good base.
Not a good base!

What I'm afraid I'm guilty of, is failure to accept the limitations brought on by arthritis in my knees.  In other words, I remember running smooth and fast as if it were a short time ago...but it's been around 7 years since the knee pain crept in.  Therefore, the title of today's post..."Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are."

I intend to work through another track session this week and cut back a bit on the miles so I'll have some sense of being ready for a 2 mile race on Saturday. But my expectations have changed as the date looms closer.

A good run today, though, with 8 miles on the trails and another 3 mile hike yet tonight.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Sometimes I feel as if I'm being outrun by a toad. A baby toad at that.

10 miles yesterday and 8 today (in the heat) for a 64 mile week.

Friday, July 5, 2013


The holiday yesterday left me with only a couple of windows of opportunity to run so ended up with two 3 mile outings.

Today was another nice morning to get out so hit the trails for a 7 miler.  Came across a Painted Turtle on the trail and it had a the form of a leech.  I've not seen that before so took time to get a photo.

With any luck, I'll get out for a second workout at dusk tonight.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let the Fireworks Begin

I've been acutely aware that my recent routine of easy runs and hikes has allowed for a fair base yet no speed.  I should have seen this coming last summer when I was struggling to hold 7 minute pace in my 5K events.

Last week's threshold work with the Runner's Flat group really woke me up.  So I made it a priority to get in some better quality miles this week.  Today I returned to the Mason City High School track where I've logged plenty of sessions in the past.

Not surprised to find crews setting up for a fireworks display slated for tonight.  They didn't mind that I run my workout if I didn't mind their equipment on the inside lane!  Bonus was I had some patriotic music playing while I ran my 4 X 400 with 1 lap between each.

Again, I was somewhat disappointed with my pace but happy to get after it again and with better focus.

5 mile total for the session and 3 miles scheduled yet tonight.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beauty and the Beast

The beauty of a good run yesterday was that I began to feel as I did in past years when I could sustain quality training throughout the year or month or week.  I actually considered going to the track today for some more speed workout.  However, as soon as I got out the door, I realized I would not do very well at faster paces today...the knees just wouldn't cooperate.  So I headed back out to Lime Creek and chose some prairie loops again.

The trails, today, again supplied some "beauty" in the form of newly emerging wildflowers yet some "beast" with some dense growths of poison ivy.

Butterfly Milkweed

Purple Prairie Clover
Poison Ivy
An enjoyable 10 miles at an easy pace.  I hope to get in another speed workout yet this week, however.
A 3 mile recovery hike this evening.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hog Wild

Guess the weekend got away from me and I didn't keep up with my posting.  A good stretch of weather and finally having a couple of goal races helped me stay focused!

Some steady runs in the mornings and some recovery in the evenings allowed me to hit my best weekly mileage in quite some time...62 miles for the week.  Yesterday was great with a run early then an evening at the gala hosted by Central Gardens of North Iowa at Clear Lake.  Pork sandwiches, lots of hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and keg beer.

Roast pork off the grill.

Today was busy with end-of-month reporting for Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources but I got out for a good run after lunch and included some of the prairie loops today.  Need to be mindful of running too close to Wild Parsnip though, as it can really cause some welts or rash.  7 mile run and a 3 mile recovery tonight.

A spectator along the trail, she's been getting less and less wary!

Wild not run into this stuff.