Monday, November 28, 2011

First race entered for 2012

It's official, I have signed up for my first race in 2012 as I couldn't resist the Black Friday weekend prices. How can you go wrong with paying just $30.00 for a 50k? So Chippewa Moraine 50k, we are coming back to see you again. I say we, as my wife and daughter are signed up for the 10k, how you can go wrong with paying just $15.00 for a 10k?
For me, I have some unfinished business as last year I was a DNS at this race as I had to face the reality that my injuries were not going to let me run. It was a touch decision to not give it a try as I had run it the previous two years and had hopes of keeping my streak going. Ultimately the decision to not run led me to get the medical help for my injuries that I needed which got me back to running. I still remember the amount of time I spent agonizing over not running this event so I am glad to be able to put it back on my race calendar. One question that comes to my mind as I am contemplate my 2011 race issues, is do I go back to Potawatomi and run the 50 mile event? It would be fun to do that event pain free, ok maybe pain free at the start as the hills of McNaughton will cause pain before the day is done. An intriguing idea to set things right in my running world and I have until December 31st to avoid the next price increase ;-).

Regardless, it's time to start training with a purpose for 2012 and to map out the other events for 2012. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Afton Fun Run (amended on 11/28th)

Ran yesterday out at Afton State Park, it was the annual post Thanksgiving FatAss put on by John Storkamp. The pace was slow even for me which was good as almost everyone there was fast and it would be easy to get lost from each other as we weren't on any of the traditional trails. We were on deer trails that are only visible once the leaves are down, actually I am pretty sure some of the trails we created during the event. Actually we did get separated a few times but we always ended up finding each other or they circled back and found us.

I updated this post with some comparison info to the normal 25k loop course per Wayne's request. Take a look as it does add some interesting data.

Take a close look at the summary and note that we were out for 3:53:34 with a total stopped time of 1:58:43, that pretty much sums up the event. My Garmin said we went 9.3 miles but when I synced it in SportTracks it jumped up to 9.9 miles, so we probably went a little over 10 miles as I forgot to turn it on at the start (you can see the gap from the start to the finish). We were in areas of the park that I have never seen before nor would be able to find again.

Afton FatAss Summary

Afton 2010 25k Loop Summary

Did you notice how the elevation summaries are similar in climb even though the mileage is markedly different?

Afton 2011 FatAss course

Afton 2010 25k Loop Course

Afton FatAss Loop

Afton 25k Loop

What a lot of fun, the aid stations, the company, the trails and the pot luck afterward were all great. My pictures didn't turn out, hopefully some of the others who took pictures post them. As for me, I plan to do this event every year (or at least those years that we don't have snow :-).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vacation - Squaw Valley

This is a bit overdue but I finally noticed that I had never posted it. It is from mid September and the funny thing is that 2 weeks after we left they got 10 inches of snow. It was a great time for us to visit as the weather was great and the tourists were not there in force, I can't imagine this area in the winter or summer and what a congested mess it could be. On to the post.

This year my wife and I did something we haven't done in many years. We went on vacation with no kids. Our kids are 24 and 18 and weren't all together happy that they didn't get to go but it wasn't just a vacation, it was an anniversary present to ourselves. Last summer when we approached our 32nd anniversary, my wife and I decided a trip was a good idea.

She did the research on location, I was open to anywhere except for a cruise and preferred to stay in the US. She came up with Lake Tahoe. I knew very little about Lake Tahoe before the trip but it was a great place to go. We hiked, we biked, we boated, we went horse back riding, we watched the tough mudders and we had an epic last hike.

Our first hike was from Donner Pass towards Anderson Peak, we debated hiking back to Squaw but hadn't made the arrangements in advance so decided against it. We instead enjoyed an 11 mile out and back.

Our next day we rented bikes and rode from Squaw along the Truckee river towards Lake Tahoe. We rode into Tahoe City where we turned south along the lake towards Sugar Pine Point State park approximately 32 miles round trip. I loved this sign at the park: We took off our shoes and went into the lake, I would say it felt a lot like a normal Minnesota lake, odd I have never seen this sign up in Duluth.

We were a little concerned about the ride and how we would feel on the way back to Squaw. As it turned out it was a nice scenic easy ride.

The next day we rented a boat and took in the lake. I even went for a quick swim in the lake. The clarity of the water is unbelievable and the color is unique. We drove the boat back into Emerald Bay which is gorgeous, actually everything about the lake is.

Day four we took in the towns (Tahoe City, South Lake Tahoe, Kings Beach) and went horse back riding at Camp Richardson. One of the highlights for me were the restaurants we ate at, Karyn had done research and they were all low key places (not tourists traps) with great food.

Our last full day, we took the gondola up to High Camp. They had the Tough Mudder event going on and it was an interesting event to see first hand. A few of the participants looked like they had no idea what they had signed up for but the majority were smiling and having a blast. If you have a few minutes take a look at pictures from this years Squaw Valley Tough Mudder event, one thing that is safe to say is that these are not the same folks who show up for ultra events.

After walking up the hill from High Camp toward Emigrant Peak we planned to hike out to Granite Chief. It was funny as we weren't sure where to pick up the trail, a Squaw Valley Ski Resort employee who was monitoring the touch mudders, swung up and started telling us everything we ever wanted to know, the only problem was he didn't know what he was talking about. We were standing near a monument and we thought it might be the Watson Monument but he said it was a few peaks over. Who knows there might a Watson mountain but this was the Watson Monument. He pointed to where the trail was, (wrong again) as he sent us up to the top Emigrant Peak but form there we thought we saw the trail so we descended down. It was not a trail, a bit rocky but when crossed over a gully we saw the trail and headed towards Granite Chief. The trail was hard to keep track of and we kept getting off of it (at least we thought we were) so after an hour or so of some interesting trekking we turned around and headed back.

We decided to hike down through Shirley Lake to get in a few more miles of hiking. Of course we didn't check how many miles it was nor the type of trail it was. Turns out it was an adventure, the trail was barely marked in many sections and there were a few sections where you simply were scaling boulders and granite faces. If only we had looked at this description, I think we might have been a bit calmer during the hike or we may have take the Gondola back down..

High Camp to Shirley Lake; down Shirley Canyon (approximately 4 miles) 
This is a great half day hike through a mountain canyon that passes by waterfalls and spectacular granite boulders. Hikers begin on either the Shirley Lake trail (a dirt road) or the Solitude trail (a narrower single track trail). Once the trails meet and you reach Shirley Lake hikers can either hike back up to High Camp and ride the Cable Car down or hike down the canyon. Please Note: This trail may sometimes be hard to follow, so remember the general rule is to keep the creek on your left side and follow it down until you arrive at the base of the mountain. There are also some steep sections to negotiate through the granite so hiking boots are strongly recommended.

But alas we did not, there were blue markings occasionally that marked the trail, we weren't aware of that but some people on the trail advised us. There were times though where we couldn't find any blue markings and just kept moving down next to the creek. By the end of this descent both Karyn and I were worn out more mentally than physically. I had visions of being lost on this trail into the night and kept thinking do we turn around and head back to High Camp. Karyn had slipped multiple times, her running shoes did not make good hiking shoes, my trail shoes did better but that hiking boot recommendation sure makes a lot of sense now.

We had a great vacation and will remember Lake Tahoe until we get back at some future point, maybe when we go back to run Western States :-).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy what?

A picture I saw on someone's Facebook a week or so back that I thought was worth preserving in a post:

Here is another one:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ultramarathon: Pushed to the limit

A great article from Sunday's Star Tribune on ultrarunning, my only concern is that thousands may start showing up, nah that won't happen, at least I hope it wont. It is a well written article and captures some what I love about running ultra events. Here is a link to the article, I captured a couple of the quotes and pictures below in case you don't want to check it out but check it out, it's worth it.

Surf the Murph 50 mile start

Ultramarathoners must be willing to deal with a little, or a lot, of discomfort. They must be expert problem-solvers, often making adjustments on the fly. They need to have tenacious work ethics and be OK with lots of alone time. They have to look at the glass as half full -- even, according to Taylor, "when the cup is bone dry." Great quote from John Taylor.

I think this was looking back towards the southern section from the horse trail aid station

"For every bad moment in a race, I'd say there are five or 10 great moments," she said. "When you've trained really well for something, it's the sense that you feel very strong, mentally and physically. It's a real sense of accomplishment." quote from Helen Lavin

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rails to Trails 1/2 marathon

My wife and I joined her brother and his family and her parents for the Rails to Trails Marathon this weekend.

The night before we ate lots of german food at the Gausthaus and I carbo loaded with some very good german dark beer. It was our annual get together of my former Sperry/Unisys co-workers. We have gotten together for many years at the Gausthaus, this year we had around 35 folks. Always great to get together with old friends but it is also a reminder of how old we are all getting.

I decided to run the 1/2 with my wife (yes the carbo loading helped make that decision along with my training and a bit of uncertainty about my heal). For some reason this year we have not run together as often as we did in the past so it was nice to be able to share this event together. Karyn did really well considering her longest run coming into this was a 6 miler. We took walking breaks every 10 minutes or so and she had no issues finishing. Her time was slower than past 1/2 marathons but considering the training and that she is dealing with plantar fasciitis, she did great. He 2nd fastest mile was mile 13. I did have heel pain that was increasing as the run went on so not doing the marathon was a wise choice, time to heal up and do some winter training.

As to this event, it was a really well organized event and we were able to sign up on race day which was nice otherwise we would not have been able to do it as it was a last minute decision to head over and join her family. The course is run from Norwalk towards Sparta on the Elroy-Sparta bike trail. The marathon starts an hour earlier and my brother-in-law ran that today, it was his 3rd marathon. He did very well, he wanted to go sub 4 but ended up 5 minutes over. The weather was good (~45 to 55F) but windy.

I think I might add this one to my calendar for next year, great logistics for getting to the start, great volunteers, easy surface to run in, nice long sleeve technical shirts and not too many runners. The 3/4 mile long tunnel is interesting to run through, they had lights throughout the tunnel but having a light was still needed. I forgot about all of the water dripping from the ceiling and walls (we used to bike this trail when our girls were much younger), that made for some colder moments when it hit you. The one thing that was kind of nice is that for the 1/2 marathoners we got to see the faster marathoners come by. I think they liked picking off the slower 1/2 marathoners, at least I know I would, of course by the time I would come through they would all be done :-). The race entry includes the spaghetti dinner the night before and a chicken dinner and beer afterward (we didn't take advantage of either but it's good to know for next year). You just gotta love a Wisconsin event.


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