Wednesday, April 23, 2014

RAGBRAI Announcements -Hump Day

The local planning group for RAGBRAI revealed the theme, the route through the city, and the main stage entertainment tonight. This cycling event is quite the experience and i've enjoyed many a great ride in the past.

As current president of the North Iowa Touring Club, I feel a little stress towards volunteering and helping promote Mason City vs. riding and enjoying the party!

Had some company on today's run as Steve Younker and Shawn Kittleson...both of whom have been training partners in the past...came up on me and encouraged me to run a bit today. 7 miles.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chasing Tail

It's been a week since I've had a chance to post...busy times with a lot going on.  

The NIACC track meet scheduled for last Thursday was moved up to Wednesday because the weather forecast was for cold and rain. Wednesday, by chance, turned out warm but windy as hell! Any event other than than one that only used the home stretch was at a disadvantage. Upside...our 110 m. hurdler and 100 m. sprinter both saw drastic improvements in time (NJCAA doesn't adjust for wind-aided!). 

Thursday was spent getting back to Onslow, Iowa so I could help my Mom get through some appointments in prep for a knee replacement. This was interesting to me because my doctor has suggested that I may need a knee replacement and my younger brother has already undergone the surgery. The process of helping Mom gave me a lot of info regarding what the capabilities of the current state of knee replacement can achieve. Bottom line for me is, keep running with what I have and hope that better therapies are developed in the future.

Once back to Mason City, we were faced with Easter and drove to Cathy's sister's house in Forest City. That gave me a chance to run at Pilot Knob State Park again and it was a good day. The woods are beginning to evolve from winter to spring and wild flowers are emerging.


Yesterday was spent with a morning watching the webcast of a very inspirational Boston Marathon. I ran Boston in 1983 (the last previous US citizen winner, Greg Meyer) with several others from Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa. A daughter of one of those Mason Citians from 1983 ran yesterday and did very fact a few minutes faster than her mother. The daughter just happened to also be a former NIACC XC and track runner that I had the privilege of  helping coach!

The current weather conditions have left the woods particularly transparent and I've had a good run at cleaning up recyclables and trash. It felt good to collect a couple bags of redeemables and even more trash to take off the trails on Earth Day. I've been turning in cans and bottles for deposit at the rate of $15 a week and the scrap aluminum from flat cans will likely add an additional $10 yet this week! 

Today's run took me past what has now become my checkpoint for comparison...and as I passed there were a couple Canada Geese visiting.

Noticed at the base of a storm damaged tree today, was some honey-comb...makes me believe that there had been an active hive that likely held some local, raw honey.

Then, while running through the Badlands Loop. I saw that someone had repaired the damaged rock cairn and I took time to build some surrounding cairns. These cairns have taken on an interesting "life of their own" since the small beginnings that I started years ago. 

Last week ended a bit lower in mileage because of the meet and travel to Onslow but I'm feeling pretty good and a step back probably doesn't hurt once in a while when building up. 37 miles on the week.  5 yesterday and 7 today.

It looks like I've been a bit more chatty today but that's likely the result of a week off the blog and also the Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues that I relaxed with before sitting down to write.

So that brings me up-to-date for now but with the Drake Relays , my Mom's operation, and then Regionals, I may not be very routine with the blog.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Double Digits

The snow was gone (for the most part) and with cooler weather, a calm, sunny day was great to be out in the woods. The spring birds are still moving through. In addition to the Ruby-crowned Kinglet I mentioned yesterday, it was obvious that there are also Golden-crowned Kinglets flitting about! Also a great view of a Wood Thrush today and a glimpse of a Barred Owl.

With plenty of podcasts to catch up with and good running conditions, I stayed out a bit longer and finally hit the double digits again for daily mileage.  10 miles today.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wishful Thinking

The prospect of a stretch of favorable weather was cut short overnight. Temperature drops and cold rain then snow made for quite the change. I've also been having some fun documenting the changes from year to year and season to season along the Lime Creek Trails.

April 16, 2013
April 14, 2014
I got out before the rain was more than a drizzle yesterday and put in 5 miles for a 47 mile weekly total. Today I put in the time to run an 8 mile loop so another good start to a week in which I intend to continue to build mileage.

The underbrush was alive today with movement from a bunch of little birds. Mostly Ruby-crowned Kinglets but also saw the distinctive markings of  Yellow-rumped of the earliest but still a sign that the warbler waves are commencing!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jim Duncan Invite

Not only did yesterday's run turn out to be a good one on great trail conditions, but I then got to help with NIACC's teams at the Jim Duncan Invite at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

(photo by Megan Bedford)
The distance crew ran well with Hannah Palmeter running a 10K on a track for the first time and qualified in the event for NJCAA Nationals. Then Jaime Zarate also qualified in the 5K.

While taking split times, I bumped into former acquaintance, Rod DeHaven, coach at South Dakota State. Rod once ran on the master's team we put together for Living History Farms Race in Des Moines as a McDuffer. McDuffers began as a Mason City based team that has expanded through the years. It was a privilege the year that Rod, a former U.S. Olympian in the marathon, accepted my invitation to be on the team.

6 miles for me again today under sun and light rain conditions.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Signs of Spring

Besides the fact that the NIACC track and field meets are now outdoors, the trails have also been demonstrating the right of passage into a new season. It seems that trail conditions converted quickly and easily into a very adequate state for good running.

The appearance of some critters that have been absent since last year also make this a special time for me. In the past three days alone, I've been surprised by an Eastern Bluebird, a Woodcock, and then a Leopard Frog. The birds caused a bit of a startle when they flew off but the frog, being even more cold-blooded than me, was very lethargic!

My high school nickname was Frog and I still don't know why?

The miles are coming a bit easier again so I've started to increase the daily mileage. 7 Tuesday, 6 Wednesday, and 8 yesterday. I'll likely get time for 6 this morning before we head to Des Moines with NIACC for this weekend's Jim Duncan Invite at the Drake Stadium track.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stone Work

Quick photo update of the river from along the trail. Compare to series previously posted.

April 7, 2014
Continued out into the apex of the Badlands Loop and then beyond. I was surprised to find that someone had modified the rock bench into a much larger structure. The cairn had been deconstructed in that process so I took time to rebuild it. 

Cairn and bench October 30, 2012

Bench becomes a chair by December 4, 2012 (remained as such with minor modifications through winter 2014)

Bench rebuilt into a 7' structure 2014

In a podcast posted by Endurance Planet, Dr. Phil Maffetone described how he adds moving and lifting rocks or logs as a part of his exercise. I can certainly attest in regards to the total body work provided by these type of activities. My lower back and arms are particularly sore tonight.  

The weather has been very mild and after a brief morning shower it warmed up into the upper 50's for today's run. 8 miles.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cornell Invitational

Yesterday was a very nice day for a track meet. The athletes seemed to agree by putting up some great performances. Full results are here.  

Highlights of the NIACC teams include 4 additional qualifying performances for outdoor nationals, 6 new school records, and several 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes. Highlights and several photos can be found on the recently created NIACC Track and Field / XC Facebook page

Here's just a few photos from the day's outing.

photo courtesy of Assistant Coach Megan Bedford

photo from Cornell's website of Men's 800 with Veherney and Alex (partly hidden) running sub-2
I was slated to help with some chores in Clear Lake this afternoon so got out on Lime Creek early today for a pleasant 6 mile run on the trails. Ended up with 38 for the week so another consistent week of mileage but I really want to begin increasing in upcoming weeks.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Vision We've Lost

Woke up this morning to a bit of an "April's Fools" joke...fresh snow. Nearly all previous accumulations had been melted by recent rains so I, like most everyone else, was looking forward to some routine trail running.

This didn't stop me from going out on the Lime Creek trails and I was rewarded with a rather pleasant loop on a soft layer of very runnable snow. Seth Bell had been out snowbiking on the same trails earlier in the morning (as evidenced by tracks). Also listened to a couple podcasts and that resulted in another round of nostalgia for me. Mentions of running without equipment that we commonly have available technical running shoes, water bottles or lightweight headlamps. 

I recalled signing up for cross country in high school. We were issued a pair of training flats that were so simple by today's standards, although some of today's "minimalist" shoes appear to be regressing to the same look.

around 1968 vintage converse runners similar to my 1st pair
As I continued to run today, thinking about equipment changes and a bit of return to older ways, I remembered a favorite song from some years ago by Dan Fogelberg called "The Wild Places." This includes the lines:  So many mountains before us;  So many rivers to cross;  Where is the wisdom to bring back;   the vision we've lost.

7 miles today after, basically a day off with a shopping quick trip to Minneapolis yesterday. We drove back before the rain changed to snow. But I was able to get restocked with coconut oil and a couple of different beers!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dog Day Afternoon

Read an interesting link from the daily news posted by Ultrarunnerpodcast.  An article discussing the 10 best breeds of dogs to run with on the trails. Number 7 listed was the Dalmatian and immediately caused me to think back to when I ran with the Dalmatian we owned while the kids were growing up, Abby. She was a very good runner and would often go with me...but at that time, I seldom ran trails and usually ran roads. The upside of that was I never had to worry about trimming her nails!

My daughter, Calynn, with Abby...more than a few years ago.
In more recent years, we've been able to dogsit for my son's dogs...first a male pit-mix from New Orleans named Buck and now a female pit-mix from Chicago named Piper. Both these dogs love(d) to run the trails and (did) do quite well at it.

Piper ready for a winter run.
And just to help demonstrate a point I was making yesterday, here's a photo of the recycle cans and bottles I collected during the first 5 miles of today's 8 mile loop. I ran out of bag space so passed up the cans in the final 3 miles.