Monday, January 30, 2006

Season of the (NO) SnōShū, weekend #5
Lake Effect (NO) Snowshoe Duathlon
Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon 2006 results
Lake Effect Snowshoe Festival 2006 info

Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon 2006 Photo Slideshow

Well, it was fairly clear on the way out to Rochester that this would NOT be a snowshoe event. While we had 6 inches of snow in Albany (and I managed to get in two nights of snowshoe running this past week, woohoo!) the snow vanished on the way out west AND the forecast was calling for 40 degree weather and rain on Sunday.

The rain started a bit before lunchtime and, naturally, kicked in full force right around when I arrived at Webster Park for the race. Checked in, got my goodies, and wheeled the bike over to the transition area. Then I spent 20 minutes sitting in the car trying to remain somewhat dry. Not that there was a whole lot of advantage to that… within minutes of getting out of the car for the pre-race briefing we were all drenched, and I at least stayed drenched for the next 2 ½ hours.

The race consisted of a 2 mile trail run, then two 6.2 mile biking loops, and wrapped up with a 2nd 2 mile trail run. It was clear right from the start that the run was going to be very wet and very muddy… within my first few steps the mud tried to pull one of my shoes off (something which happened repeatedly during the runs!) We ran paths through the fields and then went into the woods – and things got pretty cool. Lots of up and down, two stream crossings, multiple areas where trails had become streams… 2 miles of wet, squishy, slippery, muddy fun. Couldn’t make great time – I had to keep taking different sections slow so I wouldn’t blow out a knee – but I had a good time running through the mud under the pine trees!

The riding was less fun… cold, wet, cold, hilly, cold… the route took us through the residential area surrounding the park and wasn’t terribly scenic or interesting in the rain. I had the option of stopping the ride after the first 6.2 mile loop and briefly considered it (my feet were getting pretty cold and the ride was getting a bit miserable) but I signed up to do the full du and by golly that’s what I decided to do. And my feet were even colder by the time I got off that bike…

As always my legs didn’t work terribly well when I started the 2nd run, but at least running warmed me back up. Of course, after almost 90 minutes on the course the trails were even more flooded (and having all the other runners go through ahead of me didn’t help… the trails were pretty churned up.) So the 2nd run took me a little longer… but after 1 hr 51 minutes I was the last person to cross the finish line (not long after a guy who did the race with his arm in a sling… OK, that was a little bit demoralizing.) A little over 20 minutes for the first run (10 minute miles - pretty darn good!), 61 minutes for the bike (not bad for 12.4 miles up and down hills on my heavy mountain bike) and then 25 minutes for the last run (not awful, considering that my legs took half a mile to get into running again and the course was a slippery mess!)

The race photographer from All Ages Photography did get pictures of me starting the first run, riding, and crossing the finish line – smiling at times (or was that a grimace) and bearing a remarkable resemblance to a drowned rat.

Originally I was going to pass on taking pictures at this one, but the running course was cool enough that I really wanted to get some shots of it… so after I packed up my bike I changed into a dry shirt and jacket and ran the course again, this time with my waterproof camera in hand. (Yes, you read that right. I ran the course again. Just to take pictures.) Later in the week I’ll get the pictures developed and post the good ones, along with the "official" race photos once I order them.

Of course, I can't wrap this up without saying how great the folks from Fleet Feet Sports and Yellowjacket Racing are... I've been very impressed at all three races I've done with them. All of the volunteers are fantastic (I don't know that I would have wanted to stand in the pouring rain for an hour yesterday directing riders at the turns!) and everyone involved is very encouraging - something which is especially nice for us "back of the pack" athletes. I definitely plan on doing more races with these folks, and I would say that anyone looking to try a duathlon cannot go wrong choosing to try one of Yellowjacket's events.

"still wringing the water out..."

Next up: The Saratoga Winterfest 5K Snowshoe Race. Or maybe the Saratoga Winterfest 5K trail race. Either way it will be a nice run in a pretty park.

2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 4 miles, 46 min
riding - 12.4 miles, 1 hr 1 min

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2005

Finally, we have snow again! About six to eight inches... not a lot, but enough for...


Went out for an hour tonight before heading to the karate school to teach a sword class. Very cool and very fun. (And now I'm very tired.)

With luck the snow will remain long enough for me to go out again on Wednesday.

Western NY is supposed to get hit later this week, so perhaps the snowshoe duathlon will be a snowshoe event after all...


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Season of the (NO) SnōShū, weekend #4
Mendon Winterfest 10K Snowshoe Trail Race
Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mendon Winterfest Snowshoe races info

Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it? After a week of rain and warm weather, the trails at Mendon were fairly snow-free, so this was going to be a 10K trail run. Unfortunately, the past week also saw me sick as the proverbial dog, and though I was well on the road to recovery by Saturday morning, I made the call to stay in Albany and catch up on all the work I was buried under due to being sick and brain dead. It was a tough call to make, especially in light of the weather forecast for heavy rain during the race (how can I miss a trail run in the rain???) but I think it was the right decision. As I've said in previous posts, one thing I've definitely learned from doing races is that sometimes things just don't go the way I've planned!

Ann, sweetie that she is, drove over to Mendon and picked up my T-shirt for me, and confirmed that it was cold and pouring rain (which could have been some fairly torturous fun… oh, well. There’s always next year.) Apparently she also ate my bowl of post-race chili - well, she definitely earned it.

I’m going to try to get in a cold bike ride today, in preparation for the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon next Sunday (which includes 12 miles of riding the roads around Webster Park, in addition to two sets of 2 mile snowshoeing loops. With luck there’ll be enough snow to actually snowshoe – it’s hard to improve when you can’t practice!)

For now, though – back to that work I’m slowly digging myself out from under!


UPDATED - chilly bike ride

Actually, it wasn't too bad until the end, when my feet started to get cold. Did a fairly nice 19 miles out and back along the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway from Schenectady County Community College to just past Rotterdam Junction. Saw very few other folks, and worked the kinks out of my legs after almost a week of inactivity. Had to walk around one or two patches of ice, and through one section where the path is closed due to major trail work along the river - looks like maybe there was a slide or something. All in all a pretty pleasant ride. If the weather is like this next Sunday I won't complain!

2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 0 miles, 0 min
riding - 0 miles, 0 min

Monday, January 16, 2006

11.5-12 Mile Trail Run at Keuka Outlet
Monday, January 16, 2006

Keuka Outlet trail run photo slideshow

After spending Sunday and Monday morning out in Rochester with Ann (no running on Sunday, to maximize the time I had with my sweetheart), and seeing as it was a bright sunny 30º day, I decided to stop at the Keuka Outlet Trail on the west side of Seneca lake and do either a medium snowshoe run (if there was snow) or a longer trail run.

The trail parallels the Keuka Outlet Creek, which runs from Keuka Lake to Seneca Lake and features numerous rapids and two reasonably large waterfalls at old mill dam sites. At times during the last 200+ years the Outlet was home to up to 40 mills, though now all that remains are a few old building and some foundations. (One site has a fairly tall brick chimney and a hefty 4-5 ft flywheel as the main sign of the previous occupants.) Two means of transporting goods were developed in the valley the outlet has carved in its surroundings – first the Crooked Lake Canal, ran along the outlet and dealt with the 280 ft drop in elevation through an amazing 28 locks in 8 miles! Not surprisingly, the canal was never profitable, and when it closed a railroad was built on the towpath. In 1972 Hurricane Agnes destroyed much of the tracks, and the idea of converting the area into a recreational path was developed. The area is now managed by the Friends of the Keuka Outlet Trail, and 7 miles from Penn Yan to Dresden have been developed into a multi-use park, featuring mostly dirt/cinder/stone dust trail along the old rail bed. (Much of this info came from the Friend’s website, , with some additional info from the University of Rochester History Department’s section on canal history.)

Ok, now that you know far more about the history of the Keuka Outlet than you will ever care about, why did I decide to run there?
(1) it’s relatively level. OK, actually it rises 200+ feet in the direction I was heading, but that means downhill running all the way back.
(2) it’s very peaceful and very pretty – I can take pictures while enjoying my passage through nature!
(3) it also doesn’t see a ton of use, especially in the middle of the day, and I typically like solitude when I’m running.
(4) the whole path runs along the stream, and for some inexplicable reason I find that running and biking next to water resonates deep inside me (must be the turtle!)
(5) I also think the old mills are somewhat cool, as is the one remaining stone lock (much of the cut stone was claimed for local foundations, but somehow one lock did survive.)
(6) I’ve ridden there twice and run there (sort of) once – the latter was in mid-July in horrid heat and humidity, and I had to stop running after 20 to 30 minutes – my body just couldn’t keep going. Well, I knew heat and humidity would NOT be a problem in January!

After all that setup, the actual run is pretty anticlimactic – I had a good run in a beautiful place, and it was such a gorgeous day (for January) that I decided to push it and run for 2 ½ hours, or a total of 11.5 – 12 miles. I took something like 18 photos, some of which I’ll post so everyone can be jealous that I got to run in such a cool place on Monday. And since I haven’t done much over 2 hours since early November, I’m a tired sore puppy, aggravated by the cold that I woke up with Monday morning. (I’m glad I got the run in before that moved beyond the sore throat stage.)

Then I hopped in the car, drove 3 ½ hours back to Albany, and limped up the steps to my apartment.

So no racing this weekend, but a pretty darn good day in there all the same. Next weekend (assuming I’m something approaching healthy) I’ll add some more to the racing totals for 2006.


UPDATED INFO - Greylock Glen has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 28. Unfortunately I'm scheduled to teach class that morning (the only Saturday in January I'm going to be there) AND I'm doing the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon (which may end up being a trail run duathlon) the next day. So no Greylock Glen this year... bummer. I'll just have to settle for the longer Greylock races next month...

2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 0 miles, 0 minutes
riding - 0 miles, 0 minutes

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Season of the (NO) SnōShū, weekend #3
Greylock Glen 5K Snowshoe Race (POSTPONED)
Saturday, January 14, 2006
It came as no great surprise that after weather in the high 40’s and 50’s much of the week, the Greylock snowshoe race scheduled for Saturday was postponed… can’t really snowshoe when there’s no snow! Ironically, the Berkshires received heavy snowfall Saturday night and Sunday morning; with luck that will see them through this week’s rain and brief bout of warm weather so that the Curly’s Record Run snowshoe race can be held this weekend in Pittsfield. (I won’t be there – I’m planning to run in the Mendon Winterfest 10K race, which will probably end up being a trail race AND may be happening in the rain… I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather folks are wrong about that one!)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Season of the SnōShū, Weekend #2
North/South Pond Shuffle 3 mi Snowshoe Race
XC Skiing in Savoy Mountain State Forest
Saturday, January 7, 2006

What a great way to start of the 2006 racing year. The weather was GORGEOUS – bright and sunny. All the way over there was little to no snow – but up in the forest, there was over a foot! Not too cold, not very windy… a great day to visit Savoy Mountain State Forest over in NW Massachusetts.

Got there without mishap, registered (since these races are VERY conditions-dependent, some of them don’t allow pre-registration) – and hopped back in the car and turned it on to have heat while I changed into my racing gear. Of course, I had to finally get back out when it came time to put on the snowshoes… and after that I plodded around trying to get used to the deeper snow and stay warm until we started. I did notice right away that, even “packed”, over a foot of snow is a LOT different to run in than the 6 inches or so we’ve had in Albany. Anyway, the race director had a few things to say, among them “There’s only 500 feet of climbing, mostly in the first half” and “GO!” And off we went.

photo courtesy of

Ran along, huffing and puffing, for all of about ¼ mile… and then the uphill began, and really didn’t let up much until 1 ½ to 2 miles into the 3 mile course. While I was able to run hills here in 6 inches of snow, it just wasn’t happening over there. So I spent the bulk of the first half to 2/3 walking, walking, walking, and stashing bits of clothing as I generated heat (and I generated a LOT of heat.) I did actually pass a couple of people during this bit, so maybe I’m improving a little bit. Also discovered that squirt top bottles are a bad plan for winter racing, because they freeze up and you just end up unscrewing the caps anyway. (My Gatorade ended with a quite a bit of ice in it by the end. That does reinforce that it really is kind of cold, no matter how warm I’m getting from the walking/running.)

photo courtesy of

Then we hit lots of level stretches and downhills, and I started running pretty steadily. Some folks tore by me on the downhills – one of the drawbacks to bad knees (just can’t tear down the hills like I’d like to.) Chatted briefly with Rich Busa, a very impressive 76 yr old gentleman who does a lot of the same races I do (he was having a rough time, and joked about it being due to what he keeps hearing about getting old. Keep in mind this guy has been photographed making snow angels with no shirt on after snowshoe races.) Got my picture taken right as I was trying not to fall on my butt. At some point in there my heel cleats got wet and built up two huge ice balls – didn’t realize that until I walked to the car and felt like I was walking on two ice balls. (Must have been at one of the stream crossings – good thing they left out the other two miles that were originally planned, due to the trails being too wet!) The last 1/8 of a mile was the hardest – the snow wasn’t really packed, just badly churned up from the whole pack running over it at the start of the race. As a result I couldn’t think about anything except trying to breath when I finally hit the finish – didn’t even remember to stop my watch, so I didn’t know my time was 59:32 until they posted the results Saturday night.

So, I changed into some dry clothes and did what any intelligent individual would do – drove to another part of the park, strapped on my XC skis, and skied for three hours. Sadly, I think that was a little over three miles… of course, for much of that I was breaking trail through knee deep snow (the skis kept it ankle deep, but I had to step off them a couple of times and sank up to my knees) and a lot of it was either uphill or challenging (ie. bumpy, twisty) downhill. Did have two stretches along some of the roads which are only used by snowmobiles in the winter… while the snowmobilers I saw were courteous and friendly, sucking down their exhaust for a while after they passed was no fun. But most of the time I was totally alone.

Which did lead to one somewhat aggravating episode – the 2nd trail I took has become a streambed, and one section was too wet to ski (and the sides were too densely wooded to go off trail.) So I took off my skis and hiked for a bit… and then discovered that my bindings were too iced up for me to secure my boots. Played with them a bit, muttered a few choice words about whoever designed the bindings and my ghost haunting him if I died out in the woods, and stomped along the stream for a ways further (and got my boots good and wet in the process…. Aargh.) Finally stopped again and worked at de-icing the bindings (which involved my breathing on them until the ice melted, and chiseling the ice off my boots with the ends of my poles.) And eventually got the boots secured and decided that I was NOT removing my skis again until I got to a place where I could easily hike out if I needed to.

Once I finally got back to the car (3 hours later) I made another discovery – double-knotted boot lacings that have been soaked and frozen are a bear to get untied. But I did get them off finally. I also discovered that the boot socks I wore for the race and then the 2nd pair I wore skiing are GREAT - even through my feet got wet doing both activities, they stayed warm. So now I'm on a quest to purchase more of those socks... so far with no luck. Still have a few more stores in the area to check, though. Anyway, late in the afternoon I drove out of the forest and back to so-called civilization, and wrapped up my strenuous Saturday by topping off the gas tank in MA, where gas is 20 cents cheaper than in NY. (Actually, I guess I TRULY wrapped up the day watching Jeremiah Johnson. It just seemed appropriate somehow.)

I did get pictures, both from the race and skiing. The race pictures were taken with my $20 waterproof fixed-focus camera. They’re OK, about what you’d get from the disposables I’ve been using for most of my races. The waterproof casing does seem to introduce a blur around the edges, but it’s not too bad. Only shot half a roll of film with my good camera while skiing, so don’t have those pictures yet.

Next is either the Greylock Glen 3 mile race (if there’s snow at Greylock next weekend… that might be iffy!) or the Mendon Ponds 6 mile race (which I believe will be a trail race of there’s insufficient snow) the following weekend.

Not a bad start to 2006!


2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 0 miles, 0 minutes
riding - 0 miles, 0 minutes