Friday, February 24, 2006

Season of the (NO) SnōShū, weekend #9
Greylock 4.5 & 8 mi Snowshoe Races - POSTPONED
Saturday, February 25, 2006

Greylock Snowshoe races info

The Curse of the No SnōShū continues... word came down last night that the Greylock races scheduled for Saturday have been postponed, as has Sunday's already postponed Curly's Record Run. No great surprise - there's NO SNOW. But we are supposed to get a little bit in the next few days, and maybe we'll have a few good storms that will allow some of these postponed races to be run in March.

On the positive side, now I can take the cane class that Mr. Stalloch is teaching tomorrow morning at the Albany location. And with luck, in between grading papers this weekend I can get out for either a long run or a snowshoe run. (And practice katas... two weeks until the black belt testing...)


2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 7.1 miles, 1 hr 17 min
riding - 12.4 miles, 1 hr 1 min

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Black Creek Park DIDN'T Kick My Butt
10 mile trail run
Monday, February 20, 2006

Black Creek Park info

Black Creek Park is fairly close to Ann's house, and is one of the nicest of the Monroe County Parks. In the summer the trails are fairly busy with walkers; in the winter they see a lot of use for XC skiing. The trails are a mix of woods and fields.

Black Creek has also typically kicked my butt every time I've run there. Admittedly, the 5 mile loop that covers the park perimeter should have been challenging back when I was typically running maximum distances of 5-6 miles, but last summer I did an out-and back perimeter run (run most of the perimeter one way, then turn and go back the other way) and the heat and humidity clobbered me. So in some ways, as much as I like Black Creek, it's something of a running nemesis for me.

Yesterday I set out to do the same perimeter out-and-back, confident that the heat and humidity wouldn't be a problem (windchill, on the other hand, was a concern... so I packed a variety of gloves and headgear.) The trails were nice - some mud, some ice, but lots of fun to run. Didn't see too many people - always a plus. The last half hour was challenging, just because I've been a lazy slug for 2 weeks and only run once (so a 2 1/4 hour run was challenging!) But much of the run felt pretty darn good and I can honestly say that, for once, Black Creek did not kick my butt!

Of course, the Greylock 8 mile snowshoe race on Saturday will be another story... if it happens (I'm not holding out much hope for that.)

In any case, it's definitely time to start extending my long distances and building my medium distance (12-15 miles) base... Nipmuck is only 3 1/2 months away!


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Season of the (NO) SnōShū, weekends #7 & #8

Brave the Blizzard/Bummer No Blizzard
3.5mi Trail Race (MISSED)
Saturday, February 11, 2006

Camp Saratoga 8K Snowshoe Race - CANCELLED
Saturday, February 18, 2006

I passed on running the Brave the Blizzard 3.5 mile trail race because (1) we had a busy Saturday at the karate school, between classes in the morning and the Family Activity Day at Latham Circle Mall in the late morning & afternoon, and (2) I run those trails all the time. It sounds like they had a good time, but I still think my morning was better spent at karate.

Just got word that the Camp Saratoga 8k race has been cancelled because the trails are wall-to-wall ice. Oh, well. The Curse of the No SnōShū continues...

We'll just have to wait and see if the Greylock Snowshoe Races happen next weekend... I'm hoping I can get in some time on the snowshoes this weekend out in Rochester, since running an 8 mile race in them could be fairly painful otherwise...


2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 7.1 miles, 1 hr 17 min
riding - 12.4 miles, 1 hr 1 min

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Karate Demonstration
Clear Channel Communications Family Activity Day
Latham Circle Mall
Saturday, February 11, 2006

This was well worth doing... the students got VERY excited about being in the demo. (It's been so long since we've done one, I think we had forgotten how much they enjoy them sometimes!) We had 18 students participating, as well as 5 instructors, and there was a decent-sized crowd watching (so maybe we'll get some new students to boot...)

After Master Hillicoss did a brief intro to the school, the students ran through some stretching, punches, kicks, and blocks. Then came katas - lots of katas, including two black belt forms.

And then came my moment of "fun" - being Master Hillicoss' partner as he demonstrated a variety of self defense techniques. I'm VERY glad the organizers insisted that we bring along a mat! It did seem like some of the parents took far too much pleasure in seeing me get beat up!

Then we had breaks, breaks, and more breaks. Two of my students (a green belt and a purple belt) did their first board breaks. The big finale was meditation breaks - first Miss Moller relaxed on a bed of nails and had two patio blocks smashed on her chest with a sledgehammer, and then Master Hillicoss walked across a tray of broken glass, smashing 6 patio blocks at once along the way.

After that we wrapped everything up and manned the booth we'd rented... Master Hillicoss said they talked to lots of folks all afternoon, so we may indeed get some new students from this. Regardless, the students got excited and had a great time - and that's the most important point by far!


Friday, February 10, 2006

No Short Sleeves Today!
5-6 mile trail run at
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Iaido class
Friday, February 10, 2006

I'm glad I enjoyed the warm weather while it lasted, because seasonable temperatures have definitely returned! On the plus side, maybe we'll get some snow and the last few snowshoe races will be, well, snowshoe races.

After spending much of the week inactive (practiced katas and self-defense for a while on Monday, and taught classes Wednesday and Thursday... but no running or biking since Sunday) I managed to get out for a short run at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, a nature preserve/education center that takes its name from the 5 major rivers that flow into this area (the Hudson, Mohawk, Sacandaga, Schoharie, and Hoosick rivers, to be exact.) The trails there are pretty nice, though in good weather I sometimes find them a bit crowded (it seems to be a popular place to walk.) Today I saw very few people. The terrain was challenging at times - the mud from the warm weather has frozen, leaving behind a crunchy unstable surface. But that was no big deal. Saw a flock of turkeys while running on the Wild Turkey Trail (they seemed less enthused to see me than I was to see them) but my favorite part is running along the Vloman Kill - the trail runs along both sides, through essentially a pine forest, so with the pines above and the water running in the stream its very peaceful and very scenic. The ice made some really cool patterns on the water as well. All in all, a very good run.

We had a pretty decent iaido class this evening. Reviewed some terminology and philosophical points, then practiced advanced katas - first Ninin Giri (which is one I really enjoy doing!) and then we learned Yoko-Ichi-Monji, which we practiced three years ago in Japan and I remembered as a real knee-killer (my memory is sound.) Other than spending a lot of the time trying not to blow out my knees while we did that one, it was a pretty good class.

Tomorrow is the big day at the Latham Circle Mall - the Clear Channel Communications Family Activity Day. Hopefully they will have a great turnout and it will be worth the time and money we've invested. In any case, it will be good for the students to participate in and see a demo (but it sure would be nice to get some new students out of the deal!) With luck I'll have some pictures to post later in the weekend.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Season of the (NO) SnōShū, weekend #6
Saratoga Winterfest 5K Snowshoe Trail Race
Sunday, February 5, 2006

Saratoga Winterfest trail race 2006 results
Saratoga Winterfest 2006 snowshoe race info

Saratoga Winterfest Trail Race 2006 Photo Slideshow

We were told in advance that this would be a trail race, since the Curse of the No SnōShū has continued to plague us (though WMAC did manage to hold a snowshoe race yesterday, by moving the site from Northfield Mountain to Dubuque State Forest in Hawley, MA. But even in the Berkshires the conditions are far from ideal…)

I’d only been to the Saratoga Spa State Park once before, and then it was just to drive through so I could do the MHCC Metric Century ride… but I was impressed with how nice it was then (of course, that was on a sunny day in September…) Today we were at the main complex, and the architecture is fairly cool. (So were the temperatures – it was pretty windy.)

The race course was a mixture of surfaces – a little pavement, some grass, some dirt roads through the woods, and some singletrack trail through the woods. And some ice… not as much as on Friday, but enough that some of the runners had ice spikes on their shoes. In the interest of safety, the race organizers routed much of the course around the ice, and where it was unavoidable they put down kitty litter to add some traction (making this the only race I’ve ever done where kitty litter was one of the running surfaces.) Parts were very scenic – we even got to run past a geyser! – and other parts were less so. But overall it was a nice course, with two lengthy hills.

photo courtesy of

I didn’t think I was pushing all that hard at first, but about halfway through I started really feeling the effort, and the last mile was tough – I may not have been in oxygen bankruptcy, but I was definitely feeling some oxygen debt. When I crossed the finish line it became apparent why: I finished in 30:17, or 9:46 miles – UNDER 10 MINUTE MILES! That was exciting! It’s nice to have definite proof that my time riding and running has had some positive effect.

Afterwards I grabbed my camera and walked about 2/3 of the course to take pictures. (I thought about running it again, because I wasn’t dead tired… but then decided not to push it. I don’t need to get injured…) There were also several photographers out on the course, so I’m hoping one of the web sites will have my photo somewhere.

The one definitely would have been a lot prettier as a snowshoe run (and also a lot harder!) But it was still well worth doing – I had a good run, got a cool T-shirt, and got to walk around a little bit of the park. And only 40 minutes from home.


Next up – depends on whether the Curse continues to hold. I had signed up to run the Brave the Blizzard 5K Snowshoe Run next Saturday – but if it turns out to be the Bummer No Blizzard 5K Trail Run I’m planning to skip it, since I run the trails they're using all the time anyway (and I’m missing lots of Saturday classes this winter.) In which case the next event would be the Camp Saratoga 8K Snowshoe Run up in Wilton. Maybe the Curse will have lifted by then…

2006 racing totals
snowshoe – 3 miles, 59.5 min
running – 7.1 miles, 1 hr 17 min
riding - 12.4 miles, 1 hr 1 min

Friday, February 03, 2006

8 mile trail run in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Friday, February 3, 2006

When I left the house to go help with the Friday night karate class, it was 58 degrees outside. After class I headed over to the Madison Ave Ext section of the Pine Bush and set out on a medium length run (90 - 120 minutes... admittedly, running that in the woods at 8:30 PM on a Friday night is a little unusual. OK, maybe not that unusual for me.)Half an hour into the run I was cooking, so - off came the fleece top and I ran the remaining 75 minutes in my short sleeve shirt. And I wasn't chilly until I stopped. Absolutely wacky.Running trails at night has been one of the fun things I've done this winter. It's usually very peaceful (except when I start imagining that a sasquatch is going to come crashing out of the bushes and attack me... sigh) and sometimes very pretty (I've run a couple of times under the full moon when I almost didn't need my headlamp... talk about magical...) Tonight seemed noisier than usual - lots of traffic and aircraft sounds - but it was still a good run, and a real treat to be out in my shirt sleeves running. There were a few icy patches, but my Yaktrax worked great, and the rest of the trails there are soft enough that I could keep them on my shoes the whole time. (I recommend Yaktrax wholeheartedly if you're going to be running on icy surfaces! I use the Yaktrax Pro, which has an extra strap to keep the unit more secure. They're GREAT!)And now I think it's time to collapse into bed...


P.S. I am convinced that I am the cause of this insanely warm winter we've had... after all, I bought a pair of brand new snowshoes back in December (and bought Ann a pair for Christmas.) All I know is - the longer races in late February and early March are going to be mighty tough if I don't get a chance to practice snowshoe running between now and then...