Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006

This was an ambitious year for me, albeit one that didn't end the way I was hoping.

The year started out with the (no) snowshoe season - out of all of the races I signed up for/planned to do, only Savoy had enough snow to actually snowshoe. Numerous races were cancelled or postponed to dates when I couldn't make them, and the ones I did get to ended up being trail races. I did get to do my first winter duathlon, though... riding for an hour in the cold, cold rain seemed a bit crazy at the time and still does.

My first trail race of the season was the Northern Nipmuck, which started a pattern of my entering distance trail races that turned out to be torturous. Northern Nipmuck, the Nipmuck marathon (where I dropped out after 19.75 miles) and the Greylock Half Marathon were all well worth doing but took forever and hurt like heck. On the plus side, the shorter races were a lot of fun - I really enjoyed doing the Spring Classic Duathlon in Rochester (despite the distinctly un-spring-like weather), the Yellowjacket Powerbar trail race (also at Mendon) and the Summer Solstice Run down at Minnewaska State Park. Planned for the 25k at the Finger Lakes Fifties (and missed it!) and went out too fast at Indian Ladder, as always (maybe next year...!) Forge the Gorgeous was one of the most scenic races of the summer, and Race the Train was probably the most unusual race of the year, and also a lot of fun, in a summer spent preparing for 2 marathons and a 50k in the fall...

Of course, then came The Crash, and I went from trying to run long distances to trying to run ANY distance. Missed Savoy, missed the Greylock Road Race, missed the Adirondack Marathon. But six weeks after The Crash I hobbled my way through the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon with a smile on my face. Missed a few more races in October (including the Black Diamond Off Road Duathlon) but entered the Hairy Gorilla Trail Half Marathon at the last minute and finished, earning not one but two gorilla finishing awards! A couple of weeks later I ran one loop of the Mendon Trail 50k I'd been contemplating running earlier in the year and had a great run - but doing five loops of that will definitely be tough! Wrapped up with a good run at the RT Turkey Run 5 Miler (more Mendon!) and a very tough Gail's Trail Run on a gorgeous day on the Leatherman's Loop course down in Westchester.

So not the year I was hoping for, and some of my times were definitely much longer than I'd planned on - but I also ran some races in what I would consider very fast times (for me.) I'm looking forward to doing some of these races again next year, and perhaps improving. And I definitely want to finish some marathons! (And maybe, just maybe, become an ultramarathoner!) Putting in some greater distances on my bike would also be a big plus.

So the tally for 2006 is - 17 races for a total of 3 miles/1 hour of snowshoe races, 136.6 miles/33 hrs 8 minutes of running races, and 52.4 miles/4 hrs 8 minutes of bike racing, in 3 states (New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.) Not bad, all things considered... not bad at all.


2006 races -
  • North/South Pond Shuffle 3mi Snowshoe Race - January
  • Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon - January
  • Saratoga Winterfest 5k Trail Race - February
  • Northern Nipmuck 16mi Trail Race - April
  • Rochester Spring Classic Duathlon - May
  • Nipmuck Trail Marathon - May
  • Yellowjacket Powerbar 4.5mi Trail Race - June
  • Greylock 13.5mi Trail Race - June
  • Summer Solstice Run 14k Trail Race - June
  • Indian Ladder 15k Trail Race - July
  • Forge the Gorgeous 8mi Trail Race - July
  • Race the Train 8.5mi Road Race - August
  • Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon - October
  • Hairy Gorilla Trail Half Marathon - October
  • Mendon Trail Races 10k - November
  • RT Turkey Run 5 Miler - November
  • Gail's Trail Run 10k - December
Sunday, December 31, 2006

Another gorgeous day (sunny and unseasonably warm) so Ann and I decided to go for a walk before heading back to Rochester. Ended up going over to the Pine Bush - started at the Madison Avenue Pinelands and then headed over to the Great Dune, to hike down the blue and yellow trails to the edge of the habitat restoration area.

Nice day for a walk, and very few people on the trails. Ann's strained muscles from Saturday's hike gave her some trouble going up and down the hills; she wasn't too happy about that. But we took our time and it was manageable.

From the looks of things they're wrapping up the work they're doing - the holes are filled and the downed trees are gone (unless there's more to do over the hill - we just stood at the edge of the area.) I'll have to do a run through there on either Tuesday or Wednesday in the daylight and see how things are looking.

After that we retraced our steps to the car and got on the road to Rochester. Tomorrow is lunch with her family and then I drive back here. After that the long drives are done for a week or two...


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ice Glen & Laura's Tower
Saturday, December 30, 2006

Since we were heading down to visit my folks, I decided to take Ann for a hike in the Berkshires. Originally I had planned to start with checking out the glacial erratics at Balance Rock State Park (part of Pittsfield State Forest) but we got off to a late start and had to skip that part of the trip. Instead, we headed straight to Stockbridge for a visit to the Ice Glen and Laura's Tower, two places I'd never been before (despite spending six years working 15 minutes away in Great Barrington.)

The drive over to the Berkshires always makes me homesick for the mountains - I loved living there. Unfortunately, it would be a killer commute to Albany (I know that all too well, seeing that I commuted from there for three months before I finally found a place here!) Drove through West Stockbridge and into Stockbridge, and parked in the small parking lot next to the Housatonic River. Snow was falling in very light flurries - enough to barely coat the ground and make it very pretty walking through the woods.

The bridge across the river was cool - a suspension bridge with stone arches at either end. After crossing the bridge we hiked uphill into the woods, and at the trail junction headed toward Ice Glen. What a cool place! Huge boulders in a ravine bordered by huge trees... apparently it stays dark and cool enough that some of the caves retain ice well into the late spring and summer. The glen was a favorite walking and picnicing spot in the 1800's and 1900's; supposedly, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorn first met at a picnic in Ice Glen. We didn't get very far in - the trail involved a lot of scrambling over boulders, and Ann had worn her good coat. But I saw enough to know that I definitely want to go back again!

From there we headed back to the trail junction and began the uphill trek to Laura's Tower. The trail was clear and switchbacked, so it wasn't terribly steep, but it was a definite workout, and Ann wasn't too happy - she hasn't done much uphill hiking lately. About half a mile and 500 vertical feet later, we reached the top, which has a viewing tower. Apparently the cleared hilltop is known as Laura's Rest because Laura Belden, niece of David Dudley Field (who donated the land to the town) used to retreat there for solace after the deaths of her husband and children. The tower is about 25 feet high, with fairly steep and quite narrow steps. We made our way to the top and enjoyed the views of the surrounding countryside. Then came the trip back down the steps - I ended up scooting down partially on my backside a step at a time, slow but safe going! Ann was quite amused - she knows I dislike heights.

I initially thought the trek back down the hill will be much easier than the trip up, but such was not to be... early on the muscles in Ann's leg cramped up, and she ended up limping painfully to the bottom... even more so after she turned an ankle about halfway down! So she was not a happy camper.

Still, it is a beautiful spot, and one I definitely plan to visit again. Special thanks to the Laurel Hill Association which oversees the park and to Dunn & Delaney's Trails with Tales (2006) for both directions to the park and much of the background info I've included here. (Barbara Delaney also wrote an excellent article about hiking to these two spots in the December 2006 issue of Adirondack Sports & Fitness - that's what gave me the idea to go there in the first place!)


Friday, December 29, 2006

A Short Hike at the E.N. Huyck Preserve
Friday, December 29, 2006

Ann and I wanted to go hiking somewhere different, so we headed over to Rensselaerville to visit the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve. I first heard about the Huyck Preserve from one of the ARE runners. The nature preserve there includes approximately 2000 acres of land, including about 10 miles of trails along Ten Mile Creek, Myosotis Lake, and Lincoln Pond. We were particularly interested in seeing Rensselaerville Falls, a 100 foot waterfall a short ways into the preserve.

Rensselaerville was once a major mill town; apparently at one point Ten Mile Creek was called Ten Mill Creek because of the many mills along its banks. Unfortunately in the late 1800’s the mills began to fail due to a variety of circumstances, including the depletion of trees in the area and the increase in use of railroads and the Erie Canal as the major means of transporting goods, which left Rensselaerville (which is basically out in the middle of nowhere!) behind. Now it’s a fairly typical small town in the country, and the ruins of the old mills and sluiceways can be found along the creek.

We followed the directions from Trails with Tales (Russell Dunn & Barbara Delaney, 2006 – also the source of the brief historical info above!) to Rensselaerville – about a 45 minute drive from Albany and parked in the small Huyck Preserve parking lot. A fairly sunny day, but definitely on the cold side – I ended up wishing I’d brought gloves and a scarf! A short hike took us to a bridge across the creek at the bottom of the falls, which were quite scenic – the water drops about 20 or 30 feet at the top, and then goes down a series of smaller cascades the rest of the way to the bottom. From there we followed the trail uphill past the ruins of an old mill and then out to Myosotis Lake, a man-made lake (probably dammed to provide a consistent source of water for the mills.) A very nice walk through the woods, a pretty lake, and a cool stone-and-earth dam. After that we made our way back to the top of the falls, where there was another footbridge over the creek. Then we headed back down the hill and after a brief trip across the road to take a look downstream (not all that interesting, unfortunately) we hopped back in the car for the trip back to Albany.

The preserve is very nice and would probably be a fun place to run – but the 45 minute drive means I’m not likely to go there very often! If I go that far I’d be more likely to head over to Massachusetts to hit some of the trails in the Berkshires.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

5-6 Miles at Five Rivers
Sunday, December 24, 2006

Today was an excellent example of the challenge in dressing for a run in the winter... the day was generally sunny and unseasonably warm, but also VERY windy. So when I was out of the wind - I would have been quite comfortable in a vest and long-sleeved shirt. But out in the wind - I was chilly even with my fleece pullover. So it goes...

Had a nice run along the perimeter of Five Rivers and down around the Beaver Pond. Not too many people out, which was nice. Many of the trails were extremely wet and muddy, and I quickly gave up on trying to stay dry.

All in all, a nice run on the day before Christmas... much like my nice run on the day before Thanksgiving (but I'm glad I didn't go up to Thacher for this one - I'd have frozen my butt off!_


Friday, December 22, 2006

13 Miles in the Corning Preserve & Schuyler Flatts Park
Friday, December 22, 2006

With a little over a month to go before the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon, it's clear I need to put some time in on my mountain bike on pavement (and in the cold weather!) So despite the fact that the rain moved in early today (the original forecasts called for the rain to start sometime tonight) I packed up the bike and headed down to the waterfront, specifically the Corning Preserve on the Hudson River. Granted the traffic noise from 787 is everpresent along the bikepath there, but it has a major advantage in being very close (only 10-15 minutes from home!)

The rain started out light but picked up a bit as my ride progressed. Started out with a quick jaunt down to the Hudson Riverway, a fancy pedestrian bridge over 787, and then headed to the far end of the Preserve and the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park in Watervliet. Pushed a fairly good pace out and discovered on the way back that I was riding into the wind, which added an extra kick to the workout. At the end I did another quick jaunt down to the bridge and back, just so my total distance would be more than the 20k ride in the upcoming duathlon.

Didn't feel it much as I was riding, but once I stopped it was clear that I was very wet and pretty cold. Fortunately the car warmed up quickly and then I just had to put up with crazy traffic through downtown Albany to get back home.

More riding is definitely in order - from what I recall there are some decent hills in the duathlon, and I'd like to ride the 20k in roughly an hour, so I need to put in some time on hills. Still, it's a good start... it will be interesting to see if we have snow and decent weather this year, or if it's another mud-fest like last year's race.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

5 Mile Run in the Pine Bush
Thursday, December 21, 2006

Headed over to the Columbia Circle section and ran the back perimeter, plus the Kaikout Kill Barrens loop. Felt decent overall, though I still found the hills to be a bit tough and my right hip/quad was definitely sore afterwards.

Still, it was MUCH better than my truncated run Monday night, when I stopped after 3 miles and 40 minutes because my left shin was cramping up!

Guess I just need to take it slow and easy and gradually build back up to longer distances. After all, I have until the end of March to work up to 20 miles, and the end of May to work up to the Nipmuck Marathon!

The Zenix headlamp worked great - I had it on the brightest mode for over an hour and the batteries seem fine. Don't know if I had a weak set the first night I used it, or if the new rechargeables I'm trying out just work better for this purpose but - I'm pleased with the result. The light seems a bit dimmer than my old halogen headlamp, but the beam is more tightly focussed and still provides plenty of light for what I'm doing with it.

On another positive note - it's the winter solstice! From here on the days get longer! Wahoo!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Saw this on the Saratoga Stryders web-page and found it both funny and appropriate...

Where's the snow?!

Club president Laura Clark anxiously awaiting the upcoming snowshoe season.

The first race of the WMAC Snowshoe Series (Woodford) already had to be postponed from Dec. 17 to Jan. 14 due to a distinct lack of crystallized precipitation to run on... here's hoping we get some white stuff for the snowshoe races this year!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My original plan was to take the ATB out for a spin on one of the bike paths and get in some training time for the riding portion of the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon at the end of January. But when the time came to gear up and head out, I just couldn't find any enthusiasm. Maybe it was the grey, grey day. Maybe it was just that I've been tired much of the time lately. All I know is instead of riding, I crawled into bed with a book and eventually ended up taking a nap.

Hopefully this slump is just a sign that I need to get more rest. (I certainly did enough resting this weekend!) Tomorrow I'm going to do my best to bike to work, and then I'm planning to do either a short run (6 miles or so) or a ride (10-20 miles) sometime in the evening.

6 Mile Run at Thacher Park
Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some runs are just great - you fly along like you're barely touching the ground and feel like you could run all afternoon. Some runs are good - those can be anything from just getting out on a nice day to hammering out the miles at a challenging pace and ending the run tired and sore but feeling good about it. And then there are the runs that are tough - not necessarily because the distance or the course is anything all that bad, but because the whole time you feel like your legs are filled with concrete and your lungs are going to crawl out of your chest and throttle you.

Guess which one today was?

I had planned to do a loop through the Hop Field/Paint Mine areas of Thacher and then head up to Roemer's High Point - after that it was up in the air (I would either retrace my steps from Roemer's or continue on the Long Path to the first road and then take the roads back to the car.) Parked up on Beaver Dam Road and packed my headlamp in case I got back after dark.

Things just never clicked on this run. Despite the fact that I've been taking it fairly easy, my legs had no juice for running the hills, and the run never really reached a point where I felt warmed up and running well. I took a different path halfway up Paint Mine Road and ended up following a dirt road out of the park and ran the last mile or so on the local paved roads. Given how I was feeling, combined with occasional pain in my right leg when I did uphills and downhills, I decided to skip Roemer's and make this a short run.

Guess I'll try taking it easy for a week or so - flatter terrain, shorter runs, etc. - and see if my legs recover. Or maybe I was just having a bad day. Have to wait and see.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

6 Mile Run in the Pine Bush (and a bunch of bushwhacking)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My new headlamp came today - a Black Diamond Zenix IQ. My old Black Diamond lamp has been great, but I really hoped that switching to an all LED lamp would improve battery life, since I pretty much go through 3 AA batteries every run with the old one.

I'd been planning to run tonight anyway, so I geared up and headed over to the water tower area of the Pine Bush. Nice warm night (for December, at least) but very damp and very foggy. Visibility ranged from almost normal to only being able to see six to ten feet in front of me. So it was a slow run.

I like the light from the Zenix - it seems to do a better job of contrasting things that are sticking up in the path (like roots!) The beam is narrower than my old halogen, which takes some getting used to. Unfortunately, my goal to use fewer batteries may not happen - the high beam setting drained enough power that I hit 50% battery life after about an hour and it switched to a lower light setting to conserve power. Still, even at lower power there was plenty of light for me to see.

Good thing, too, because I ended up making my way through the habitat restoration work area toward what I thought was a section they'd cleared (it was all clear when I was there a week and a half ago) but which unfortunately was buried under downed trees. So I ended up bushwhacking through the swamp and over and under the downed trees for about half an hour. My new pair of Saucony Omni's are now well-christened!

Once I was back on the trail, I made my way back out as it got foggier and foggier. VERY disconcerting... I know those trails like the back of my hand and I couldn't have told you exactly where I was much of the time.

Clearly more tests of the Zenix are called for - I like it so far, despite the possible lower-than-expected battery life. I think I'll pass on running through the woods in the fog for a while, if I can... it's a bit too claustrophobic (but it could have been a GREAT night for a walk!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Or, more accurately, what I usually hear is some version of "If you know you're going to come in last or close to last, why would you pay money, get up in the middle of the night, and drive all over creation to do a race?" Often the question is unspoken, but I can tell it's there when someone asks how I did in a particular race, I mention that I came in at the end or toward the end of the field, and they give me a look that says they question my sanity.

I suppose in an achievement-oriented society, it's a question that has to be asked. Of course, there are different kinds of achievements - while my 4 hr 20 min marathon finish in 1997 was a good two hours behind the top runners, most folks still felt that my running 26.2 miles was a significant achievement, particularly when I had just started running 4 months before. At one point I even made a practice of pointing out to people that I'm slow, so I have to aim for doing long distances and difficult courses where the achievement is found just in finishing. Of course, back then I did at most 2 or 3 races a year...

So why DO I pay good money, get up in the middle of the night, and drive all over creation to do a race?
  1. Racing forces me to get out and train. As someone who is inherently lazy, knowing I have a race coming up motivates me to put in the time and distance needed so that I'll be able to do well, whether that takes the form of a fast (for me) run or a long distance.
  2. Racing gives me an opportunity to push myself. When I'm running against the clock and against other runners, I'll typically run harder than when I'm out running by myself. Not to mention the additional adrenaline boost of bring in a race...
  3. Racing gives me a reason to go to cool places to run and ride. I would have a hard time justifying driving for 2 hours to run 6 miles in a really gorgeous park or on a really challenging course. But doing a race there makes it a special occasion. I've discovered some of the coolest places I know (like Minnewaska State Park) because of doing a race there.
  4. Racing gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I know it doesn't make total sense, but running a half marathon race is different from going out and running a 13 mile training run. Having people cheering for me as I cross a finish line (or even having my name announced, as has happened once or twice) is a unique feeling... almost like I'm a real athlete!
  5. Racing allows me to meet other people who are as crazy as I am (or even crazier!) In most of the races I've done, the vast majority of people have been very positive. I don't run and ride as a social activity... actually, much of my running and riding is designed to get me away from aggravating people! But it is also nice to occasionally have contact with folks who have a good time doing the same sorts of crazy things I do.
  6. Racing is fun. Sometimes it's "that was a great run!" fun, sometimes it's "that was brutal - what a great course!" fun, and sometimes it's "boy am I glad THAT'S over!" fun. Sometimes it's "cool, I'm going to beat this person to the finish" fun and sometimes it's "the only folks left are the ones manning the finish" fun. But overall doing races is something I enjoy.

I guess the bottom line is, for me running isn't the end product and it's not as much about achievement as it is about the journey. Doing races has become a part of that journey for me, and it will continue to be a part until they decide I'm too slow and ask me to stop!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Year of the Crashed Turtle - Race#17
Gail's Trail Run 10K
(and a missed opportunity!)
Sunday, December 10, 2006

2006 Gail's Trail Run photo slideshow

The Leatherman's Loop is a very cool 10K trail race at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, a beautiful park in Westchester. I've run it twice - once in 1999, and last year. The course is a bear - rocks, mud, fallen trees, mud, hills galore, mud, two stream crossings, mud, and a nearly vertical sandy hill that pretty much requires going up on all fours. (It's muddy, too.) It's an absolute blast, especially since it's held in late April and the 2nd stream crossing is usually between knee and waist deep and COLD. Unfortunately, it's also a very popular race, with between 700 and 800 runners... which can be very frustrating since much of the first half is singletrack. That's the main reason why, as much as I love the course and the park, I'm not sure I'll ever run the race again.

Gail Jensen was a member of Team Mossman, a triathlon club in Connecticut, who died of pancreatic cancer. Now each December Team Mossman organizes Gail's Trail Run, a fundraising run for pancreatic cancer research (all proceeds from the race are donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.) With the help of Tony Godino, the RD for Leatherman's, they use the Leatherman's Loop course - 2006 is the 3rd year they've done it. They typically get 40-60 runners.

It's easy to see where this is going, isn't it?

Alarm went off at 4 AM so I could leave before 6 AM to make it down to the park by 8:15. The sun started coming up about an hour after I left - a beautiful sight over the distant mountains. The drive down is through gorgeous country, and always reminds me of the times I ran Leatherman's and also all the drives back and forth to Vassar and New Haven when I was in school. Made it in plenty of time and enjoyed being able to park wherever I wanted in the lot. Signed in, made the challenging choice of what to wear (long-sleeved shirt, fleece vest, and gloves) and waited for the fun to begin. Listening to people talking about how this was the "fast" crowd, I began to suspect I'd be finishing long after everyone else...

We had a quick pre-race briefing, where Tony told us that this would be the "untamed" Leatherman's Loop course and mentioned that they'd had to break through ice to make the first stream crossing while marking the course the previous day. Heh. He also indicated that the 2nd stream was mid-thigh and running quickly. Heh.

After that we lined up, waited for the countdown, and then - off we went!

I never remember that it's actually a significant distance to the first stream - about a mile - and that there's a lot of up-and-down through the woods to get there. Within the first minute everyone else was out of sight except for one older lady who was lamenting that she'd be last and hoped she wouldn't get lost. I told her not to worry, I'm slow too, but apparently she was even slower, because I left her behind fairly early on (after she told me to go on and have a good run.) I'll be curious to see the results and see if she finished or dropped out.

The first couple of miles were tough - lots of leaves, making it difficult to see what was underfoot, and the sun was at just the right angle to shine directly in my eyes. The first stream crossing was pretty darn cold, and the rock where we climb out was pretty darn slippery - I took great care not to get a complete dunking! Slow going overall, but what a beautiful place to go slow! When I hit the swamp I discovered that the famed Leatherman's Loop mud was not all frozen - running through ankle-deep mud and ice was fun going. Then I hit the Wall, a long nearly vertical hillside. Took a bit to recover from the climb, and headed onto the "easier" trails - easier in that they are wider and not as rocky, but there's still plenty of hills to run (or walk) up! Still, made much better time through that section, but it was clear this was not going to be a PR day...

After a wonderful run through the woods the trail descends to run along the stream and then opens out into a wide field, after which is - the dreaded 2nd stream crossing. That wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be - cold, yes, but only a little over knee high, and the cold didn't bother me as much as it did the first time I plunged through that stream, in 1999 (my legs cramped up and my sinuses filled with mucous.) After that I just had to find my way through the field back to the parking area, to finish in 1:29. Like I said, not a personal best, but not a bad time considering the course and being basically by myself with no one to chase.

After that I changed into dry clothes and headed back north. Instead of taking the highway all the way back, I drove up Rt 22 for a while so I could stop and grab something to eat, then kept going north until I reached Rt 44 (which goes back to the highway.) Unfortunately, I went the wrong way on 44 and ended up back on 22! So it goes... probably added half an hour or so to the trip, but not really a big deal.

On the way home I realized I missed two great opportunities - I could have stayed at the park and hiked some of the other trails, and maybe even gone to see the Leatherman's cave. Or I could have brought my ATB down and headed over to Minnewaska for an afternoon of riding the trails there. Sigh. It's a shame I didn't think of either of those earlier - today was really a gorgeous day.

So lots of driving, but I got to run on a fun course in a beautiful park and donated some money to a good cause. And if that's not a good way to spend a Sunday, I don't know what is.

Next up: The Woodford snowshoe race has been postponed until January 14. So that means this is probably my last race for 2006! And almost definitely the last run for my first pair of Saucony Omni TR's, which I started using 6-7 months ago. Hard to say how many miles, because I also used a pair of Adidas Supernova TR's... but both pairs of shoes are looking very well worn! Wow... my 2006 racing season may be done... in which case, my next race could be the Frozen Assets snowshoe race the first weekend of January 2007.


2006 event totals
snowshoe - 3 miles, 59.5 min
running - 135.6 miles, 33 hr 8.5 min
riding - 52.4 miles, 4 hr 8 min

from the Team Mossman results e-mail:
We would like to thank everybody that participated in the 3rd Annual Gail's Trail Run! The weather this year was perhaps the finest we've had for the event yet. It was truly a beautiful day....not too cold and not too wet. Just the perfect amount of ice in the mud and rivers :-).

With the donations collected we will be able to send a total of $1523.00 to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in memory of Gail Jacobsen.

We had another fantastic turnout of runners from the area and more spectators and volunteers than ever before. A special thanks needs to go out to Tony and Judy Godino the race directors of the leatherman's loop... Tony ran and marked the course for us on Saturday and Judy swept the course for us on Sunday.

1. Ben Henderson 49:45
2. John Crotty 49:48
3. Rich Izzo 50:13
4. Bill Bradsell 50:23
5. Sean Curtis 52:28
6. Patrick Cavanaugh 52:32
7. Eric Zukauskar 52:36
8. Ron Carter 53:18
9. John Krasniewicz 53:26
10. Jeff Morris 55:00
11. Chuck Thomas 55:02
12. Pascale Butcher 55:06
13. Mike Paletta 56:05
14. Mike Koron 56:53
15. Peter Eddy 56:53
16. Kevin Cunningham 57:13
17. Chris Dawson 57:17
18. J.C. Stein 57:54
19. Andy Ludel 58:09
20. Sue Gold 59:39
21. Joan Lynch 59:39
22. Bruce Koffsky 1:00.21
23. John Reznikoff 1:00.21
24. David Morgan 1:03.05
25. Sam Montclair 1:03.06
26. Paul Morgan 1:03.07
27. Robert Maley 1:03.40
28. Clay Tebbetts 1:03.41
29. Paul Butcher 1:06.19
30. Scott Anderson 1:06.25
31. Larry Nusbaum 1:06.39
32. Robert Casper 1:07.08
33. Carol Kane 1:11.01
34. Susan Kamovitch 1:11.03
35. Jennifer Anderson 1:11.06
36. Allison Wendt 1:22.42
37. Jamie Howard 1:29.08

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Somewhat Better Cat, Rank Testings in Utica
Saturday, December 9, 2006

Saturday morning Chaos had perked up a bit, so I decided to risk going to Utica for the testings. Both groups were large, so it was a LONG series of tests... 4 hours altogether. The students from Albany did fairly well on their various brown belt tests (including one of my students, who tested to go from purple to brown.)

When I got back, Chaos was looking even more normal than when I'd left. Perhaps whatever was making her ill is passing...


Friday, December 08, 2006

Chaos (approx. 14 years ago... but she hasn't changed much!)

Sick Cat, No Iaido
Friday, December 8, 2006

Came home Thursday and Chaos was not acting normal... very low energy, and she was clearly having some problems with her digestive system (don't ask how I knew that. It was gross.) Friday morning she was looking even worse, so I called off my plans to go to iaido and stay overnight for the brown belt test tomorrow.

So it goes...


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Women's Self-Defense Final Class & more KATAS
Wednesday, December 1, 2006

I originally meant to do a 90 minute - 2 hour run before the class tonight, but it's been tough getting myself motivated to run this week. Got home from work cold and tired, and decided to just work on some katas after class instead. (Maybe I should have gone for a run - it was a fairly nice night! On the other hand, if I'm feeling this tired it's probably better to take a break.)

The final class of the 6 week women's self-defense program went well, though the instructors got thumped a bit (we moved in and out as "attackers" this time.) Overall I think it was a good program and the participants got some good information and skills out of it. Maybe we can do a refresher for them in six months or so.

After everyone left I worked through the 9 remaining empty-hand katas I know - Pyong-won, Long Hand, Continuity 2, Si Lum, Heian Shodan, Hookiyu, Hansoo, and both the male and female versions of Aoyagi. Had a few sticky points on several of them - I want to try to run through katas again before the end of the year and maybe polish some of them up a bit.


Monday, December 04, 2006

David Horton - "The Runner"
Monday, December 4, 2006

David Horton is an ultrarunner from Virginia. David Horton is also one crazy dude.

I first heard about Horton through the book Running Through the Wall, in which ultrarunners tell stories about their various adventures and misadventures. Horton was mentioned in several of the stories and even contributed one himself, about being one of the first Americans to finish the 100 mile Barkley Ultramarathon. Recently I became more aware of him due to a documentary, The Runner, which covers his Pacific Crest Trail speed record attempt in 2005. (He succeeded, running and walking 2650 miles from the Mexican Border to Canada in 66 days.) As I was researching the documentary, I discovered he had also co-authored a book, A Quest for Adventure, detailing his attempt to set a speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 1991 (again, he succeeded - he covered 2144 miles from Georgia to Maine in 53 days) and his competing in the 2906 mile Trans-America Footrace in 1995 (he has the third fastest time for the 64 day stage race.)

The first time I viewed The Runner I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed... I was hoping for more footage of Horton and his helpers running through the mountains. On the other hand, I guess it's tough to get footage when someone is running 200+ miles between road access points! There is a lot about what goes on in Horton's head and what makes him tick, and a good deal of his personal philosophy. On second viewing, I absolutely loved much of the film... I guess I just needed to know what to expect!

I've started reading A Quest for Adventure and in some ways it's even more compelling, because it provides a day by day log of Horton's thoughts and experiences. Again, there are places where I wish he said more... his discussion of running the AT through Massachusetts, for example, is very brief, though he mentions finding the trail up Mt Everett very challenging (that's reassuring... I died running those trails 7 years ago, the first time I tried to train to run the Nipmuck Trail Marathon!) He also talks about running with Bob Dion, which is very cool - Bob is a very active member of the Western Massachusetts Athletic Club that I do so many races with and also made the snowshoes I use!

Clearly David Horton has a gift - he can not only run long distances but he can do so at one heck of a fast pace. At the same time, I find him very inspirational, because he is very honest about how often he finds himself wanting to quit during the tough times in the challenging events he does - and how he pushes through that and keeps going to eventually succeed in what he's trying to do.

He also puts new perspective on my struggling through long runs - after all, my struggles are over in five or six hours, tops. His took months!

I guess one of the lessons is - if I keep working at it, and keep struggling - I will complete marathons and ultramarathons. It's just a matter of time...


Sunday, December 03, 2006

11 Miles along the Mohawk-Hudson Bikepath
Sunday, December 3, 2006

Up to the last 2 miles or so, today's run felt pretty good!

I got a late start (like that's anything new!) so I ended up running the last 3-4 miles in the dusk and then the dark. Had my headlamp, so no big deal.

And the moon reflecting off the river was VERY cool.

2 1/2 months ago I couldn't run a couple miles without being in substantial pain... I am very grateful for where I am today!


Saturday, December 02, 2006

10.5 Mile Ride in the Albany Pine Bush
Saturday, December 2, 2006

Well, after several days of incredibly mild weather, winter is once again rearing its head. Chilly weather and WIND were the hallmarks of the day as the cold front that dropped some nasty winter weather in the midwest moves into our area.

Of course, today was my day to go for a bike ride.

Didn't feel like fighting the wind, so I loaded the mountain bike on the car and headed over to the Columbia Circle section of the Albany Pine Bush to do some riding. My plan was to ride the easier trails of that section, then cut over to the water tower trails and maybe check out some of the work being done there in the daylight.

I haven't been riding in the woods since early August, so today was both a treat and hard work. It was great to cruise along the trails again, though some of the hills were a little tougher than I remembered. (OK, maybe it was my legs which were the cause of that!) Passed a group of bow hunters early on - they were very polite, and generally bow hunters don't worry me, since they need a pretty good line of site to get their target. Besides, I had a bright orange vest on over my windbreaker! The sun peeked through the clouds occasionally as I made my way over to 155 and crossed into the other section of the Pine Bush. There I cruised the red trail to the power lines, then headed down yellow to the spot where there were trees blocking the path two weeks ago.

There were still trees in the path, but the clearing crews had extended their work zone far enough into that section that I was able to do a short bushwhack and then pushed the bike through the cleared area. As I've said before, I understand why they're clearing this area... but it still makes me sad to see so many trees downed and such a huge area stripped down to bare sand. The crews have removed most of the downed trees from the area I made my way through two weeks ago - I could have ridden my bike through there had I wanted to. But to be honest, I didn't really feel like riding just then.

Found my way back to the other end of the yellow trail, and got back into riding. Made my way back across 155 and onto the trails. Originally I had planned to just ride the easiest trails back to the car, but I changed my plans twice. The first time was to climb to the top of the largest hill in that section - the sun was low on the horizon but shining through the clouds, and I could see the Helderbergs off in the distance. Very peaceful and beautiful... it's sights like that which make it worth climbing to the top of a big hill! Then a while later, I decided to detour onto one of the uphill trails, so I could come down into the field that was cleared last November and ride the trail that was plowed under in the process. Actually, only part of that trail was affected, and they have put the trail markers back up, so maybe there's hope for the trails that are being demolished this year.

Got back to the car just as the sun was setting... all in all, a good ride - I put in a good deal of time on the trails, and got a better idea of the area that's being "restored" over on the Great Dune. We'll see tomorrow how much juice is left in my legs for my long run...!


Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday, December 1, 2006

Another warm evening (before the COLD air hits tomorrow to remind us that it is December, after all!) and I found myself really tempted to get in a run. But I wanted to give my legs another day or recovering, plus I was a bit worried about the stormy weather (rain - OK. Wind - not great, but OK. Lightning - bad news!) So I headed over to the karate school to help with the end of class and then stayed to work on some katas.

Ran through everything up through 3rd degree black - the 3 Basic Katas, 8 Pal-Gwes, all 3 Chul-gi forms, Old Koryo & Koryo, Keumgang, and Taebaek, Chip Su and Chip Jang, Bassai Dai, and Eye of the Eagle. Kept the pace relatively slow and concentrated on form and technique. Not too bad overall... of course, I still have another 9 to do in the near future, plus a variety of weapons katas.

Definitely not the toughest workout I've ever done, but productive all the same!