This kind of chains is legal here
The photo does NOT depict the tracks I left today, while wearing Yak Trax
on my running shoes, for my trail run. But I'm going to talk about them.
They're quite wonderful, at least for today's trail conditions on the Jensen Lake loop, at Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Full disclosure: the trail is in great condition. It has a decent amount of hard packed snow, which makes winter running on that particular trail a bit less treacherous on the ankles, as the earth down below has plenty of rocks and roots. I think I may have slid around a little on the small hills, were I not wearing the YT traction devices on each foot. I was very happy with these, which were a holiday gift from hubbie.
I'll also provide a review of the new running jacket
I bought recently, goaded by a great e-mail coupon from Team Estrogen
. The jacket is a great weight, and is sufficiently wind-resistant. The fabric, visually loud as hell, is yummy soft and pretty quiet as well. It's pretty roomy, which I wanted, in order to comfortably layer underneath it if needed (my other thin jacket is pretty snug). I haven't gotten to test its water resistance, nor really if its visual loudness will provide some modicum of protection from drivers should I go for a run in the dark, but that test will come soon, I'm sure, as I dig into my training for a spring race.
Enough with the gear reviews. My run was fabulous: my plan was to do two loops, about 4.22 miles total. About 10 minutes into the run I decided to shoot for three loops, if I continued to feel as good as I did in the first 10 minutes. At 4.22 miles I was feeling great, so went onward to 6.33. Had a great rhythm going, and surprisingly at my summer usual pace for that loop.
It was about 20 degrees out, not much wind, and I had two layers on my torso, plus a thin wool hat and, as I'd forgotten my usual thin windproof running mittens, my huge and nummy warm sheepskin choppers. They were bound to be overkill within 10 minutes, but lately I've been having frozen fingers issues in my non-running outdoor time, so the choppers seemed a far better bet than the backup socks I'd brought. Plus, I knew I'd want to change into the backup socks, after the run, to make sure my feet didn't chill during the drive home. The mitts were a good call, despite the fact that they are unwashable. Ah well.
There were several other people on the trail, mostly snow-shoers and walkers (and dogs), and just one other runner. A few of the snow-shoers were spending time on the lake, as well. it was very beautiful, in spite of the clouds, which disappeared later today.
I chose to go for a trail run alone today, rather than to go snowboarding alone. Glad I chose the run - and this in spite of the fact that it's the first time I've been sore from a run in a few months!
I got about 300 words into an email message to a more experienced trail runner than I, asking for advice on whether I should plan on a 25k in April - in Minnesota, when I decided to just suck it up, pick a first race and a plan, and get out running.
Complaints that got me writing included "it's too damn slippery," "yo my lower limit is positive double-digit degrees, factoring IN wind chill" and "the idea of watching the Mississippi freeze is more attractive that that of 2 hours on a dreadmill." They're all valid but they enmire me. I just have to figure out what I want to do.
So, I went out and I ran yesterday, over lunch. It helped that it was 25 out, and sunny, but it was plenty slippery in spots, and plenty of work. Still, so much fun. A nice jump-start to my 2008 run plans. A great justification to the tasty pasta dish we fixed for dinner, later.
The Trail Mix race looks fun, but I may have to alter my April vacation plans, to do it. Hmmm. There's a half-marathon out near where we'll be traveling, at that time (in a warmer part of the country I might add). Maybe.
We're back from our trip. Highlights:
* 5 days of visiting with Grandma Thelma
* a fun road trip with my most awesome husband
* a yummy Turkey Day feast with Bill and Mary, plus hours of conversation that just flew by
* pumpkin pie for three days in a row
* hikes in a few beautiful parks: Effigy Mounds
, Sam A. Baker
* two trail runs in a beautiful park: Lake Tywappity
. One of which inspired a couple older locals (in a red sports car, I might add) to ask me, "Girl, what in the hell are you doing?"
* visits to two historic mills/springs: Greer and Bollinger
* Thelma's amazing collection of antique chatelaines
* a lovely long country drive (or two) down winding country roads
* pizza with Ruth, Don, and Thelma in Cape Girardeau
* an extra order of biscuits & apple butter at Cracker Barrel
* Photos from the trip are here
Labels: running, travel
Turkey day week
Nothing too exciting, but still plenty to give thanks for. These things include, but are not limited to, the following:
- We've had snow. A few times! But none that makes driving difficult or snowboarding fun.
- I ran a 5k pre-holiday race today, and evidently won my division! No wonder it hurt so bad, even if for just 24 minutes. 7:45 for my first mile, yow. Yay for Great Harvest bread & cookies as post-race nosh. And yay for co-workers who run races, too!
- I've decided to run the Memphis 5k, in two weeks. I may have wussed out on a winter half-marathon, but I'm still enjoying running. And, I'm excited to visit a new town!
- Hubbie and I are finally taking a road trip with my new car. Southward, ho!
- We might even try a night or two of camping, during that trip. We like camping, but haven't found time to do it in a long time.
- We have a short week, ahead. Yay! Or, a normal length one that includes a turkey dinner and visiting with relatives. Double yay! Pumpkin pie! Sweet potato casserole! Buckeyes! Nom nom.
- I tried a new pose in yoga, last week: bird of paradise. It was scary, and wobbly.
- Today I went to an inspiring lecture by Dr. John Francis, who teaches us that we can change the world by changing ourselves. Here's more info on what he's up to.
- Yesterday I made a batch of tomato chutney dip, and took some to Tim's party. We stil have the other half of the batch here, to enjoy, this week.
- Mom continues her courageous work, keeping beachcombers away from beached sea lions on the Oregon coast.
- It's almost time for our new year's day party, again!
Labels: food, running
Smells like music
Around 11:30 yesterday I was faced with a decision: yoga, walk, or run? There was a light rain. I'd get wet doing any of the three options (I'm still on the heated power yoga kick). By 11:55 I'd narrowed it down to walk or run; lately I'm not as keen on power yoga 2 days in a row. By 12:05 I had my gear on, and had set foot outside. Brr. It was chilly enough that my calf-length tights would not have been warm enough, so BAM
the decision to run was made.
For several months now my fitness schedule has been mainly dictated by a training plan related to whatever race was on the horizon. I've done 5 races, the first of which was in late April!
However, for the last few weeks I've been hemming and hawing about this Memphis half-marathon on December 6. I've been loosely following a Hal Higdon half-marathon plan, but presently am rebelling from it. Why? It's on pavement, not soft trail; I've been in training for a race since last January & the motivation has petered out; it's on the last day of a road trip and we'd basically need to jump in the car right after the race; my husband and I are due for a trip that is not end-capped by set event dates/times; I'm more into yoga at the moment (perhaps due to race training burnout).
But just like that, I blundered into my decision yesterday, and it was a most fabulous -and surprisingly fast- run. I picked a similar method to choose my route: My normal routes didn't appeal to me, but I've never run home before; it's only about 2.6 miles away. That's a nice distance for a lunchtime loop run. And the weather was perfect, if not downright comfortable, for this Tacoma-Washington raised girl: coldish and rainy.
Perhaps the key to the run's perfection was the sensory overload brought on by the season, and by my decision to not bring my iPod. Sight:
Most of the leaves have turned and fallen, so the scenery was not only colorful, but topsy-turvy in terms of what drew the eye-this is what I truly love about the seasons in Minnesota. For the past several months, the brightest thing has been the sky, but with yesterday's grey sky, the brightest thing was the ground, where all the bright yellow leaves were. We'll have more of the same switcheroo, once more snow sets in (and it had better!), though it won't be quite as vibrant as the yellow. Constrasty but quietSmell:
Why does juniper have a stronger scent on moist, cool days? Wow. Sound:
The swish-swish of my nylon windbreaker. The unzip (too hot), zip (chilly breeze), unzip (too hot again). The sticky sound of car tires moving over the wet pavement. Dogs bark. Train crossing bells blare; a train engine car roars through an intersection. My easy breath in, out, in, out, in, out.Touch:
It was cool enough to need mittens... until 10 minutes into the run. In, out, in, out of them. Hot fingers. A raindrop or two hit my cheek; one stuck to my eyeglass lenses & annoyed me for about 20 minutes. Then I removed the glasses and licked it off.Taste:
Wow, that juniper was strong-smelling. Why did the back parking lot at work smell like wet dog?
So, I've decided against the Memphis; no race is worth that much hemming and hawing. We'll have fun as tourists, on our road trip.
Why is it that when I'm running or driving, with no way to carry a decent camera, is when I really want to take photos? At 7 this morning, Kyle and I headed south on Interstate 35 toward Faribault, to run in the Big Woods Run
We had fully expected the scenery on the way down, as well as during the race, to be stunning: it's mid-October in Minnesota, we're driving southward, and that park is full of old-growth deciduous trees. The color had to be amazing. What we didn't count on was the enveloping fog that was present for a good part of the whole morning. We'd be talking about all sorts of things, then several times, either of us (ok, usually me) would interrupt the conversion to say WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT???
I got no photos of the leaves, nor of the fog.
But, as you can see, I did get photos of some of the most excellent bakery goods that the talented parishoners of St. John's Church created for their bake sale, held post-race. I hope they made a killing. What a great idea, especially at a fall race, when it's brisk outside. They should've had hot mulled cider for sale, as well!
They did have apple jelly and apple butter for sale, but neither of us bought any because we each won a jar via the race-number raffle
. What a day!
Oh, the race. It, too, greatly contributed to the good morning. Tough! Like the Sound-to-Narrows that I ran in June, the entire first mile (and then some) was a long gentle downhill on blacktop. And, like during that race, I also got a nasty sidestitch because of it. Luckily via breathing exercises and willpower it went away by the time I entered the park.
Within the Big Woods
, the trail was mostly flat, sometimes rugged, always covered with wet leaves. It offered a few fine opportunities to turn an ankle but thankfully both of mine are made of rubber (rubber that will appreciate some ice, here, soon). It wound around in seeming circles, here and there joining with the half-marathon and 5k courses. The fog still lingered, with a stray leaf falling, now and then.
I passed several people in the middle miles, though a few passed me (were they the same people? Maybe a few) during the last 1 mile stretch back up that blacktop. What a nasty last stretch it was! I don't know if it was the pavement, or the headwind, or what, but it was pretty hard. Normally I eat up gentle uphills like that, but ooof, it was a challenge.
Perhaps I was just spent! Some of my early mile splits were darn fast (hence the sideache in mile 1). I haven't seen the official results, but I believe I finished in 52 minutes. A little over an eight and a half minute mile is pretty speedy for me, for a race that was 2/3 on trail.
Kyle and I drove home, with our faith in rural Minnesota invigorated. Yay for the outdoors, and yay for church ladies.
this is pokey
Above is one of the marvelous plants in my brother and sister-in-law's backyard, in Phoenix: an ocotillo. In spring, evidently, it looks much more alive (that orange bloom that is using one of its thorns as a hat-rack is from the flowering plant that sits next to it). Here, it's sporting more of a glass sculpture look.
I spent this weekend in Phoenix; I'd read a good review of an area trail race in a magazine
a few months ago, so picked this weekend to visit my brother so that I could do the race. The timing worked out well (3 weeks after my half-marathon trail race), and I love desert scenery; it's so beautiful and fascinating. The Coyotes
' season opener was also a great reason to be in town, as well.
The Cactus ChaCha
was a lot of fun! It took us over pretty rugged terrain, but I did the 7-mile run in 1hr 6 minutes, which is faster than my usual trail pace. The weather was perfect: a little chilly, just at the start, so I was glad to be wearing a long-sleeve technical t-shirt.
I'd only done one trail run before -a half-marathon- which did not use timing chips, so I was a little surprised to receive one at the packet pickup. The nice thing about using timing chip technology at a trail race is that it can decrease the funnel effect at the point where the trail inevitably narrows to single-track width, near the start. This proved to be true, to an extent. And it may have accounted for the speed-racer woman that flew by me at mile five. There the h*** did she come from? The porta-potty behind the start line?
She didn't bother me, no, not much at all. I kept a pretty swift clip, and passed people now and then. This, even through some of the rocky gullies that illustrated, for me, why the race is called the cha-cha: the light-on-your toes sort of dance technique of going downhill is what you have to do, in order to keep from rolling an ankle over a rock. You also have to do a little cactus-dodging. This kept my leg turnover pretty high, although surprisingly my HR didn't get much above 162 or so. I've seen it get to 171 during road races.
There were a few rather steep hills that I wisely chose to ski-walk up, but most of the gently-rolling hills allowed for a somewhat steady running pace. Now and then some sandy areas made it interesting. However, the course wound its way a bit up the White Tanks Mountains
(I was worried that it would go all the way up, but that didn't seem feasible for a mere 7-mile race). This made for a rather sustained climb, about halfway through the race, but it eased off soon enough. The terrain was such a tease.
This was a very well-run race! Plenty of water, plus medical support at the four (or five?) aid stations. The wind had blown down many of the trail- and mile-markers, but as there was only one trail, I wasn't likely to get lost (yay!). There were "breakfast burritos" as post-race food, in addition to bananas, great (pumpkin chocolate-chip!) muffins, chips & salsa, gatorade, etc. Music, fun raffle prizes. Class act. My mom was there with me, so I had a cheering section; she claims to have had a good time people-watching while I ran around among the saguaro. And she got a burrito, after the race, too.
I think there were maybe 300 people running the 7 mile race, and nearly 200 doing the 3-miler. I came in 22 out of 121 women
, in the 7-miler. I didn't expect to place, but the field in a trail race sure is different than in a road race. Those rare folk that do it, tend to be pretty competitive, or so it seems at this shorter distance.
I may do this one again; October is a fine time to visit Phoenix, even if there aren't yet spring-training baseball games.
out in it
I have simply GOT to get a phone with a camera in it. All this trail running I've been doing, and no fabulous photos to show for it - my smallest camera is too large, and if I'm going to bother carrying small electronics, said electronics had better involve telephony.
The beastie above was in my garden a few weeks ago. I wish the photo were of some of the sights on last Saturday's run in Lebanon Hills park
. It was an amazing fall day- colorful trees, dappled light, still plenty of grasshoppers tickling my legs, leaves crunching under my feet, and an almost perfect temperature.
Here's the discovery I really wanted to capture: I'm running along one of the grassier, wetter parts of the park, and see in front of me what appear to be two whiffle balls, sitting right together smack dab in the middle of the fire road-width trail. Weird. But families with kids do come through here quite often; maybe these toys just got forgotten. I pass them. They don't have holes, like normal whiffle balls. And one's a little bigger than the other. Odd. I stop dead in my tracks, walk back. Poke at one, softly, because I'm now thinking they are puffball mushrooms. The move like a large button mushroom would move. Somewhat firm, but they don't seems to contract to my touch. So, maybe they're not of the puffball variety, but wow. Huge mushrooms, in the middle of a trail. Clearly no dog has been here lately.
It's such a nice, big park. Thankfully, a while ago I gave up on the business of trying to count miles on trail runs, and a trail run is now simply, beautifully, a fun hour or two of exploring. After a few failed attempts to follow "recommended" routes from Kate Havelin's book
, I determined that either a) she and I navigate using entirely different methods, or b) she confuses the reader on purpose, in order to force him/her to just enjoy the time on the trail.
Whatever the conversion method, it worked: It's a lot more enjoyable to just decide on how many minutes I want to run, using a rough estimate of my pace, and then stopping when I reach that goal time. I never know where I'll be! However, I may have to revise this plan, should I continue trail running, this winter. In warm weather, I don't mind walking even up to an hour, to get back to my car, but in the winter, when I may get chilled during the walk back. I may have to do a little more careful planning, in terms of my route, and in terms of clothing.
That can wait, a week or two. I'm off to Phoenix for a trail race, this weekend. I don't have to put away the sunscreen, just yet!
Labels: nature, running
I'm sorry I grabbed your butt
How can a race go poorly, when it starts with a teenage girl grabbing your butt?
This did happen to me, within the first mile of the Trail Loppet
Half-Marathon, yesterday. The first 2 miles were pretty much a conga line, as the trail was fairly narrow, and even with only about 250 people running, the effect was still similar to that of 5+ highway lanes, attempting to enter the Boston tunnel. The two girls were chatting along happily behind me, and then one of them tripped on a root and stumbled into me. She giggled and apologized, to which I responded, hey, no problem, just don't knock me down!
So, after that fabulous omen, my first trail run, which was also my first half-marathon distance race, went very well: I didn't get hurt, I didn't get lost, the scenery was fantastic, and I even beat my expected pace/time.
I hadn't had the opportunity to scope out the course, but I'm glad I didn't: it was a wonderful adventure, and there's no way I could have found the course without the blue race markers, anyway. It went all over, and in and out of, Wirth Park
. It even went into chainlink fence apertures that may not have existed prior to the course-setting.
At the start my husband encouraged me to try to get up towards the front, but I was a little hesitant to do so. For the shorter road races I'd done until now, I'd had to spend the first half-mile hurdling slower runners, in order to get to a good spot for my pace. I didn't think that would be a problem, given that I knew I had to dial in a sustainable slower pace for this distance. I moved up ahead just a little, in the starting queue. Then, in the first mile, a lot of people passed me, at the first opportunity. Hmph, their time would come. I have a good second wind.
The range of terrain was immense, for an urban park: it was steep, and in a variety of orientations: quite a few paths were along the sides of ridges, at pretty steep angles better suited for -walking, not running- billy goats. There were a few short flat paved stretches, but in general, it was rolling hills all the way, as the posted topo map had indicated. In my months of training, I'd been teaching myself to walk up all steep hills that were longer than about 10 steps. We all held to this policy, for the hills after mile 3. Why did we all run up the first few steep ones? Adrenaline? Ah well, clearly it didn't hurt my stamina, near the end.
There was grass, packed dirt, and pavement in various degrees of decay; I think this range may have something to do with my sore shins today. Thankfully, at least one of my weekly training runs was on pavement!
The width of the trail also varied, as it transitioned from narrower-than Arah's-shoulders single track (forcing me to fast-walk) all the way out to paved urban bike trail width. The singletrack made for fun movement, but didn't leave a lot of opportunity for passing. More often than not, the runner behind me & myself just seemed to be pacing each other. We'd get a wide spot and no passing would be happening.
There are some great photos here
that show some of the terrain & congestion, especially in the "Half Marathon Mile 1" batch.
Fuel and hydration-wise, I did quite well, aside from foolishly skipping the 4th water stop. The 2nd and 3rd ones were pretty close together, so by the 4th I felt a little waterlogged. Then along came mile 11 and I started to see some of the familiar, unwelcome signs of slight dehydration: cramping stomach/torso muscles. I knew the mile 12 water -and banana- stop was coming up, so that reassurance allowed my breathing to get back to normal. Silly girl, tricks are for kids. Bring your handheld water bottle, next time!
After that, it was pretty smooth, "wahoo!" sailing.
My average mile pace was 10.7 minutes; with a few 12-minute miles in there, down to a 7:30 minute mile, near the end, as well, though I doubted the accuracy of that mile marker. My pace felt pretty steady (for running in rolling hills), though I did surge to pass a few people each mile. Maybe that was just a remarkably flat (or downhill) mile? I've done 7:30 miles in tempo runs, but my turnover just didn't feel rapid enough to warrant that split.I came in 18th
out of 40 women in my division, and 142nd overall (out of 232). It appears that I was in a tough division- the women's winner was also in my division, and she came in 12th overall!
This trail run was most excellent fun, partly made so by bringing along a fan club to cheer me on: the loving husband, and my pal Julie. They were also most useful after the race, when we went to Isles Bun & Coffee
and a bought a cinnamon roll that NO human should attempt to consume all on their own. But oh, was it tasty!
blue and green
A food stylist I am not (no, that's not Shrek, melted in a Pyrex dish), but if you think Mexican food, this photo looks better. Tonight, hubbie and I made & ate Chicken Chilaquiles, using a recipe
we adapted from Cooking Light. Our adaptation: soy milk for the milk (it's all we had); Jack cheese with habanero, rather then with jalepeno, peppers; and blue corn tortillas for the tortillas.
Yesterday, I did my last long training run before my half-marathon race. My training plan called for a 12-mile run; I'm estimating my pace at Afton to be an 11-12 minute mile, so I did the math & ran for 2 hours & 20 minutes (that last 4 minutes seemed trivial- esp as combared to last week, I was adding 30 minutes to my run.
It was pleasantly chilly, and I got rained on for about a half hour. I LOVE THIS WEATHER, FOR RUNNING. I adjusted my course in order to swing by my car for the Gore-tex jacket, but by the time I got there, the ran had long stopped, and I was half-dry, and certainly warm enough. So, I got a Fig Newton out of the trunk (I'd eaten my packet of gu about 45 minutes prior), refilled my water bottle, and headed to the southern part of the park. My favorite part! The terrain seems more varied in that area, and it doesn't feature long spells up on the hot prairie. Actually, yesterday's run didn't feature any long hot spells. Suddenly, I liked the prairie areas better. The grasses are getting so tall, at this time of year. It was pleasant to run along the side of the trail, letting the wet brushes hit my legs.
I used the occasion to test-drive my new Dirty Girl
Gaiters, which performed swimmingly: not a speck of grit got into my shoes or socks. And, I looked like a fabulous freak with my blue leapard-print spats. Victory! This, in combination with the red buff
around my head: I was the lycra weird-clothing item poster child. The rest of me had fairly normal running attire on. Shorts, tech tank, long-sleeved wind jacket. Short Smartwool running socks. Sunglasses. Which sadly got too fogged up, in the rain. I was relying on their prescription, so for the 20 or so minutes before I got the fog under control, I was risking life and limb against tree roots that I couldn't see. Luck was on my side, however.
I finished up with a half-loop in the wildflower loop near the parking lot - it's a funny trail that feels like a dude with a mower and some booze had a joyride- it meanders a bit. It's s good way to knock of the last few minutes of a timed run. Reminds me of the figure-8's I had to do, when I was rehabbing my knee, after my surgery: nice ankle workout. Which frankly, I was surprised I could handle, after 2+ hours of running. My left ankle in particular was speaking to me; it's been a little stiff lately and I've been icing it at night.
Otherwise, things went quite well. About an hour into the run, I started to feel like a sort of [wet] Energizer bunny: I had a stream of energy, not high-powered energy, but steady endurance, that just kept me going. There were several moments when I didn't seem to feel my legs; they were stumps that just kept pumping up and down. I'm still trying to decide if I'm okay with that feeling. I've always had a particular knack for endurance in general, I'm very drawn to more powerful types of energy movement. In comparison, they are so rewarding
, at least, in an instant. But this, this is weird. It's very... yin.
Why am I running? Weight control, fitness, vanity... A need for attainable, short-term goals. A competitive need, to a degree. Presently, as I'm not walking as much, it's the way I'm getting out and seeing the streets or the stuff on the trail. It's time to think. I work at a computer all day, so my runs are my opportunity to experience time and space in a more lively and linear way.
I read a few articles recently that give me other ideas for why people run; maybe they apply to me as well. Kristin Armstrong writes a great column for Runner's World, and in her recent post
she talks about the yogic notion of practice... how there are certain things that you do regularly that are part of a daily devotion to learning and growth.
Another post was written by a non-triathlete who stumbled into spectating at a triathlon
, and came upon these revelations: "...It's about making a promise to yourself and then making it happen. It's about being, for one minute, something more than you are during your every day..."
These are things to consider, when my Sept. 20 half-marathon is done and I'm wondering if I'll want to sign up for another race, and if so, what distance, what type of race?
Labels: food, running
Protesting ... peace?
Well, I'm sure if you're watching the news lately, you're seeing more about the hurricane than about the RNC (the big republican convention) event here in St. Paul.
But just in case you do see pictures from St. Paul of the police in riot gear, and tear gas bombs, rest assured that so far this week, hubbie and I are ok and are also able to slip by the excitement to get to work and on time.
We do live within a couple miles of the action - and just 4 blocks away from the site of the Friday police raid of a place where a national anarchist group has its temporary local headquarters (they have rented an unused theatre building).
Some good photos of the ugly stuff are here
I went for a run last night that took me within a quarter mile of the excitement (not intentionally), and upon my return, found that the bridge that was between me and my house -the High Bridge- was blockaded. Not just with squad cars and police officers, but with huge dump trucks-one for each lane on both ends of bridge. Nobody was getting on that bridge. This had been set up within an hour. Luckily, the police were calm and helpful, and within 10 minutes or so they started letting pedestrians over.
On the other side there was quite a gathering, of local onlookers as well as some of the types of people just looking for trouble. And the KARE-11 van. Before I crossed, one woman, about my age, maybe a little older, even commented to me, "oh, I really should have been a kid in the 60s. I just love this stuff! I wonder if they'd let me in?" Oh, good lord. If she were just talking about the peace marchers, that's fine. And probably likely, in retrospect. Or maybe she's a molotov cocktail/bucket-of-urine -throwing type. Who knows. I went home to cook some Dover sole for dinner.
I now think -and hope- that my bridge was closed for a short while because tear gas was wafting up to it, from below, and if so, I'm really glad I didn't wander into that stuff. I watched a few boats with bunting on them pass below the bridge, and wondered if there were dignitaries of some sort, who needed the bridge secured in order for them to pass, but that seems a bit ridiculous. In the past month, locals have been informed of the planned road closures, but all notices were footnoted with a disclaimer about unplanned closures that may occur, in reaction to protester actions. I'd already planned to do most of my commutes via bicycle this week, anyway. And even so, I'll have to modify my usual route.
The prior 6 miles of my run were a little different from usual, as well, but mainly in terms of scenery. I saw no fewer than 10 or so squad cars, 20+ police officers parked at various corners, and plenty (20+) of the people they were worried about: young, kind of dirty-looking, darkly-dressed "protesters" from out of town, milling about, all within a mile of the convention site. Now, it's very possible that many of them were College of Visual Arts students (similar outfits are de rigueur), returning to school for the fall semester. But I doubt it. The huge art pads & plastic tool boxes were conspicuously missing.
I'm not sure what to make of them, but they do have a certain look, and they're not particularly friendly-most I passed would barely make eye contact, even up on Ramsey Hill. As I finished getting a sip of water from a fountain at the foot of the bridge, a few of them approached, saying, "oh, man, you mean that works? We've been looking for water all over!" I told them, "Yep. There are about 5 functioning fountains within a mile of here." The fountain did have some graffiti on it - and it was dry when I got there- so perhaps their assumption was understandable. Clearly, these folks aren't from around here. Cool, come visit, spend a little cash, maybe. I'll help you stay hydrated, even. Please don't blow up my town, however. Don't blow up the RNC delegates, either.
While there was a planned march for peace yesterday that went off swimmingly, the troublemakers appear to be these people who... just like to make trouble. They're not protesting anything other than public order (and maybe perceived or real police brutality). The police showed up in riot gear from a good reason. If your group is about anarchy, and some of you show up wearing face masks, why wouldn't they? Good grief.
Now, I hope those people from New Orleans are doing ok. Hopefully they've all left.
Labels: running, saint paul
The b is back
Ok, the blog is back. I have such grandiose plans for its next incarnation (inwebation?), but alas, they are still vague, as well, and I have stuff to say.
I'm still running; my prep for the Trail Loppet half-marathon (Sept. 20) is going well but why oh why have I gained 5 pounds? Of course I know: all that hill running is building muscle. But that in turn is building muscle mass that I have to carry over 13.1 miles of hills and dales (that's about 2 and a half hours of running, I'm estimating). Meh. Grr.
Oh well, at least I look good while training: I bought a few new running skirts (one from Atalanta
, the other from RunningSkirts
), and have been sporting them around the 'hood and on various trails around town. Variety is the spice of life! Also on the retail therapy front: out of curiosity, I got a pair of Injinji socks
. I generally don't deal with foot blisters, so these ingenious socks aren't really getting a chance to prove their worth in that way, but I am surprised that they don't bother my feet at all. I remember once trying similar socks, as a kid in the 70s (and yes, every toe was a different color). Having fabric between my toes drove me nuts. Not so, now! The benefit for me: just looking at my toes with sock-fingers on them makes me laugh! It's a great way to start a run. Muppet feet!
Stu and I, or at this point, I should really say Stu, is making progress with our prep to finish the basement this fall. Oh, such a spacious basement it is!
I'm reading The Time Traveler's Wife
, after a rather long bout of not being in a reading mood. This is a very enjoyable book.
I'm still climbing like a fiend (2-3 times a week), in spite of the fact that I have to wait til next year for my next climbing trip. I attempted to lead climb Jump Start (here's a great photo
of some of that route) down at Barn Bluff. Got 98% there. Spooky finish! Greg
posted a great story about the importance of DIY in our country
. While I'm not super-inclined to get all Miz-Fixit in order to benefit my country, I think I may have come upon a solution for my own ennui. I'm a creative person, but aside from cooking a new recipe or two each week, I haven't been creating much. I think I'll be a happier person if I start making stuff or fixing things I hadn't ever fixed before. Once a week, shall we? This will be a fun experiment. The tomato salad dressing I made yesterday, that counts for last week. Some candidates for upcoming weeks: that wedding shawl I still haven't knitted, a new design/idea for this blog, a baby shower gift for Kat (sewing! I'd better dust off that Elna)...a new basement. Fun.
Labels: books, climbing, creativity, running
Technically it's not quite summer yet, so I suppose it's appropriate that we have an overcast sky today and a forecast for rain over the next seven days. The Iris sure look fabulous, however. As does Rosa glauca and our Weigela 'wine and roses.'
I managed to catch a cold about a week ago; I'm sure it was at Grand Old Day, out amongst the seething roaring mass of people, sun, and weekend exhaustion. Ah well- I suppose I needed an extra challenge during the last two weeks of preparation for my 12k race on June 14. I fit in a swim as well as an interval workout before the coughing started, so we'll see.
We are very excited about our vacation, which starts in five days.
Labels: garden, running
The sight of Hosta bursting up from the earth in the spring always sort of ... scares
me. It's very violent and powerful. The pointed, sharp-edged fat fingers, forcing their way out of their temporary tomb.
At the same time, it's just so... celebratory. Such a lively, happy, bright green. Ahhh, hello, world! Welcome back, sun and warmth. It's very inspiring.
Yesterday, my training plan called for an easy, long run of 10 miles. Seeking solace for my joints as well as a release from the boredom of the usual nearby sidewalks, I decided to try a trail run, at the nearby state park.
You know, the one I used for my mountaineering training, a few years ago? Ho! Easy run. Foolish mortal, how easily you forgot. It was a hills love fest. I had been seeking to keep my HR around 150 or so, but it ranged from 144 to 163, and those fluctuations happened quite often.
This would have simply made for a more interesting run, and certainly a very scenic one, had I brought some sustenance along. I'd figured to stop by the car -where my banana and water were- at least once during the run, but another thing I'd forgotten about the park was how large it was. The loop I thought I'd have to do twice, took me once, for the whole 100 minutes I need to run. So... at around minute 70 my energy started to wane a bit. Lead-legs greeting my every step up those nasty hills. I was very happy to see my banana and water, once I finished & returned to my car.
Fun, fun fun! Ah well. At least, after this 10-mile run, I was still somewhat functional, later in the day. I appear to be improving.
The ranger at the park informed me that there's a trail run race, there at the park, in July. A 25k and a 50k. At the start of the day I was intrigued. 25k is 15 miles. I could easily do that by July.
Later in the day, approximately 60 minutes later, I was less intrigued. It's hot in July. I'd rather be in the garden, watching the flowers grow.
Labels: garden, running
not really racing
Well, I ran the Get In Gear
10k last Saturday, in the heavy wind, light snow, and downright comfortable temps (around 35? Gotta love April in Minnesota!). My time was 55:23.
I'm not necessarily "happy" with my time, but I was very happy with my pacing: Every mile I ran, I ran just a little bit faster, starting around a 9.5-minute mile and finishing probably around 8. Considering that I approached the race as merely a training run for a slightly longer race
I'm doing in June, my average split wasn't too bad. I just wanted to make sure I didn't come out of the gates too fast. 6.2 miles is no 3.1 mile race, like the several I did last summer!
So, since my 12k training plan wanted me to run 9 miles rather than 6, I cut a deal with my joints, and went to a spin class, the day after the race.
I am, however, exceedingly happy with how my 5-mile tempo run went, on Wednesday this week. I was aiming for 8:30 split, and hit about 8:30 on the first mile... then same on mile 2, then about 7:45 for each of the last three miles. Yay. The nice weather helped, I'm sure.
We're on the brink of a new year. Life is good:
- Snow. Two feet of it.
- Climbing 5.11s.
- Running outside in the winter.
- Mom's spare ribs recipe.
- Buckeye candies.
- Some new clothes that fit me.
- New fonts on my computer: Neutra and Warnock.
- I can make a text scrolly button now, in Actionscript.
- Plans for a road trip.
- Plans for a finished basement.
- The love of a good man.
- A roof over my head.
- Food on the table.
- A most excellent and healthy family.
- Fabulous friends.
- A job.
- A good book. Or four.
- New music to listen to.
I am thankful.
Labels: design, outside, rock climbing, running, travel, winter
Post vacation roundup
Here's another photo from our trip, of the strange and wonderful fruit on a "strawberry tree."
The car decision has been made: within the week I will be picking up a brand new Nissan Versa
. I'll also be bidding a happy farewell to The Exploder.
I ran the Bolder Dash 5k race, back on September 22, and finished first in my division
, with a time of 24:30! I beat my current PR by .01, so am slowly inching toward that 7:30 split goal. That said, I'm taking a short break from running, aside from an easy jog 1-2x a week. I'll ramp the training back up again sometime this winter, to prepare for a 10k or 12k in the early summer-maybe the Boulder Bolder or the Sound to Narrows.
I'm shopping for a new car
. In present order of preference: Toyota Prius, Nissan Versa, Volkswagen Rabbit... and the Toyota Rav4.
Does the last one seem out of place? I'm looking to trade in my 10-year-old 2-door Exploder for something different. The decision is proving difficult because "different" means some esoteric blend of the following factors: new(er), fuel efficiency, zip, a "euro" feel (I'd like to make less of a physical imprint as well as a ecological footprint), cargo capacity (is throwing a snowboard, climbing gear, or bike into, or onto, it going to be a big hassle?), affordability, and, of course, unFordness. Too many things broke off of, or never worked in the first place, with this Explorer. It has mostly served me well, but I'm not going back to Ford.
Presently I'm really digging the Prius, though driving it would be an adjustment. But regardless of the car I choose, adjustments
are called for, with regards to fuel efficiency.
What's left to test? Had an unsavory visit with one Honda dealership; didn't like the CR-V but may find another Honda peddler who can show us a Fit and an Element.
I've been climbing like a fiend
; at local crag I've led some tough sport routes (5.9-10b!) and am also enjoying progress on some 5.11's indoors and out. Frankly I'm stunned that I can ascend these at all ( did someone sneak a buff or two into my morning coffee?), I had such a long plateau. I've been climbing for eight years now! Ah well, maybe getting spooked on my 2004 mountaineering class pointed me in the right direction. At least this way I get to climb with my buddies.
I've also been training to run one last 5k race
, on Sept. 22. Hopefully my split will give me a new PR; it just has to beat 7:53 though I'm still shooting for 7:30, though next spring/summer I'm planning on a 10k or two, rather than some of the 5ks I did this summer.
It's getting to be time for me to do some perennials divisions in the garden
. Leslie gave us 2 white peonies that have already found homes; our overgrown hosta Francee and Frances Williams are begging take over another part of the yard & be given to friends. And I'm eager to get a hydrangea or fir into the front yard. Slowly but surely we are evicting most of the sod that came with the house. Also, a few weeks ago I planted some lettuce that may be of edible size soon. Stay tuned for photos.
Me and the hub will be off soon, on our first long trip since the honeymoon. Italy, here we come
Labels: rock climbing, running
half of them were teenagers
A few weeks ago, right after running the Torchlight 5k (which was fun but untimed, and muggy as heck, in the urban evening), I decided to run another 5k, just 3 days later. I'm glad I did, as my time was much better, even a PR (at least, a PR for me in my post high school days). My time was 24:31, with a 7:53 split, in Stillwater's Lumberjack Days 5k. My place was 59th for women, and 10th in my class (there were a lot
of teenagers running, which you can see in the results here
So, I am making progress toward my goal of getting a 7:30 split in a 5k race. The goal isn't arbitrary but is perhaps ill-founded: I never lettered in cross-country in high school because I couldn't break a 7:31 split (on a 3-mile course).
The next 5k? Probably be in September, though lately I've been thinking of shooting for a 10k, instead, just to see if I'm any better at longer distances. Maybe next summer's the time to plan on, for that.
Back from New York/Jersey. Ate/visited/imbibed here:Azucar Cuban Cuisine
: a most excellent batch of Yuca Frita Cubana & a yummy mojito as well.The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
: The National Design Triennial was exhaustive but excellent. Loved the Josh Davis
work. I'm looking forward to his session at Flashbelt
. The Ladd Brothers'
"elaborate handcrafted works" were beautiful and inventive; it reminded me of works by Holly Anderson Jorde and Erika Olson, in a recent exhibit here in St. Paul
: A great Dutch baby and some excellent Belgian brews (check out the decor- and the great gams on that table- in the photo at left).Blind Tiger Ale House
: Mmm, the Brooklyn Wheat, with Murray's cheeses.
Robongi in Hoboken- yet another great sushi meal. With Ben
: Very powerful. We miss Jenny. Many people there were missing loved ones, as well: there were a lot of great t-shirts with photos, quotes, and loving words.South Street Seaport
: Very busy. Bustling, even. Loud but fun. I love wharfs (usually).Dodo
offered a most excellent organic pinot noir from Mendocino.Josh & Ive's
: Got a smashed bagel there, and a "sober" one as well, to share with hubbie. It's funny that, for backpacking food, I choose bagels because they can't
get smashed, and yet here we pay extra to get them smashed. Odd gimmick, but still made for a much better post-run breakfast than our hotel's restaurant could offer.
That run, by the way, was most excellent. I wish I could pull off something similar at home: mark out a run that puts me at a bagel shop that is x desired miles away from where I start. Run the route, buy bagels and coffee, then drink coffee while waiting for commuter train to take me back to start, where I then enjoy the bagels with husband.Rosa Mexicano
had the tastiest salsa I've ever had.
A funny moment, near end of trip: at 10:05pm, walking to PATH train inHoboken, a voice yells from some apartment: "Tony Soprano LIVES!" (The HBO series finale had just ended.)
Labels: food, running, travel
no time for oatmeal
My 8k race on Sunday
went very well, in spite of oversleeping past the time I'd planned to eat a decent breakfast. As it turns out, a previously-thought-to-be indecent breakfast of a z-bar, banana and 3 sips of coffee worked out just fine. No sideache, even. A most excellent run.
I managed to maintain an 8:06 per mile pace, finishing with a time of 0:40:17. Onward!
The weigela is already blooming
I've been busily not posting to this blog. What have I been doing?? Well...
I've been running: now I'm up to 4.5 miles on my weekly longer runs. I've signed up to run an 8k road race on June 3
. That's a little longer than my ideal distance, but it'll be a fun long training run, if nothing else, and at least one coworker will also be running it. I am building up my training run miles, but I'd like to compete in a few more 5k races to see how close I can come to beating my high-school cross-country PR of a 7:31 mile. Then, finally, I will letter. At least, in my time anyway. We'll see. At this point if I beat my 8:23 split from the Get In Gear, I'll be pleased.
I've been rock climbing, mostly at the gym, but plan to do more outdoor climbs as well. Somewhat shockingly I'm regularly working 5.10b and c climbs (not flashing them, of course). What fun!
My interest in the garden is ramping up again, as the iris are about to bloom. It's time to get some seeds sowed.
Work's been busy and I've been inspired. This is good, though it's also inspiring me to work slightly longer hours. Ah well, at least it doesn't get dark til 7:30 these days (which is good because I've been commuting via bicycle).
I've encountered the joys of using an RSS reader to get all my news, etc. in one place. Check out "more of same" in the right column of this page, to see some of the more interesting stuff I've been reading.
Oh, and I can now do Pincha Mayurasana
. I've also managed to make my evening yoga an almost-daily habit. Live is good.
Labels: garden, rock climbing, running, yoga
Got in 5k gear
Well, I ran my first road race in 18+ years, and I achieved my goal for it: I ran under an 8:30 mile, wahoo! And managed to arrive in 55th place for women
. The race was fun, and offered a few revelations:
1. Julie and I started way back in the pack, so our first half-mile was spent weaving through said pack of mostly slower runners, in order to find the pace(s) we wanted. That part was kind of fun, but the effort it required probably
had something to do with the nasty sideache I had for the entire third mile.
2. I tried to run through the sideache- something I never do. As a result, the next day I still had some bruising. Yow!
3. My decision to run through it paid off, at least in terms of being able to cross the finish line upright - the sideache went away once I caught sight of the finish chute.
4. 5k is definitely a race... just a helluva short one. I almost felt like I didn't deserve all the free food the sponsors had for us and the 10k runners, at the end: popsicles, bananas, weird (but tasty) yeasty-scone things, salted nut rolls, mini Clif bars, cheese, kefir, orange green tea soda.
Well, regardless of whether or not I burned any more calories than I do on my average training run, Steve and I celebrated the success (and beautiful day) by heading over to the Happy Gnome
for a pint of Furious
and some raspberry french toast.