Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Short Walk in the Snow
Sunday, January 28, 2007

After I got back from Webster Park, Ann and I headed over to Genesee Valley Park to go for a walk in the snowstorm. Very pretty... and VERY COLD. So it ended up being a fairly short walk!

Another Season of the SnōShū, Race #2
Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon

Sunday, January 28, 2007

2007 Lake Effect Snowshoe Du results
Lake Effect Snowshoe Festival info

2007 Lake Effect Snowshoe Du photo slideshow

For the second weekend in a row I was off in Rochester to play in the snow. While we remain essentially snow-less around here, Rochester has managed to accumulate a good 8 inches or so of the chilly white stuff. Saturday's weather was initially a bit worrying - pretty much non-stop fine drizzle - but that turned to snow overnight, giving us an additional couple of inches of fresh powder for the fun on Sunday.

Unfortunately, after I rinsed my bike down Saturday evening (to get rid of the road salt and grime it had accumulated on the drive out) I forgot to spray the cable housings and derailleurs with WD-40... and I neglected a major rule of multisport prep, checking the bike over the night before or the morning of the race. That mistake ended up making the bike leg more challenging than it needed to be...

Snow was falling lightly as I headed over to Webster Park and got checked in. All the way over I worked on convincing myself that I would drop down to the shorter distance Bailor Du (only one 10k bike loop) if the riding was really difficult, either due to the weather or my lack of riding over the last two weeks. During check in I found out the decision had been made for me - ALL duathletes would be doing a single loop, due to weather and safety issues. Bless the wonderful folks at Yellowjacket Racing! I have no doubt that I would have stubbornly persisted through both loops had they not made a good decision for me (and for all the other crazy people out there!) After about 8 trips back and forth between my car and the transition area, it was close to start time, so I strapped on the snowshoes and waited for the fun to begin.

Boots had a few quick words for us about the snowshoe course (including mentioning that the stream crossing was only an inch deep... yeah, he said that last year, too... and a warning not to lean into the curves on our bikes or we'd find ourselves kissing pavement.) And then - off we went!

I settled into a run-walk pattern pretty quickly on the snowshoes and made pretty good time. The course is a lot of fun - a rolling trail through the woods, up and down hills, and over and around fallen trees. Enough uphill stretches to give me walking breaks, and enough level stretches that I was able to run a decent amount of the distance - more than I ran last week at Mendon. The only parts I didn't like were the three steep downhills - which the snow packed down I'm still not comfortable with the traction level on those (since the main forward/reverse traction comes from the cleats under the balls of my feet, I'm always worried about losing my balance and popping a knee... I much prefer gliding downhill through deeper snow.) Anyway, after being passed by half a dozen runners doing the snowshoe-only race, I hit transition in only 27:47, or just under 14 min/mile... a new PR for my snowshoeing!

Transition took a while, as I pulled on my balaclava and windjacket and changed into a different set of shoes for riding. Over 4 minutes, all told. Pushed the bike out to the road, hopped on, and discovered why I should have lubed the derailleurs and cables and/or checked the bike pre-race: both derailleurs were completely unresponsive, turning my 21 speed mountain bike into a single speed. Fortunately, there weren't any really steep hills, but that definitely made things more interesting as I struggled up the hills on the loop and pedalled like a maniac on some of the faster sections. Still, as Boots indicated, the roads were slushy and pretty slippery, so it's probably just as well I was limited in how fast I could go. The worst bit was along some side streets through a housing development, where the roads were unplowed and I had a moment or two where I wasn't positive I'd remain upright. It also got a bit chilly by the end of the ride - I'm very, very glad they decided to limit us to only one loop! But after a bit over 33 minutes of struggling through the snow - I was back at transition again, for the final snowshoeing leg.

(As a side note, I have now joined the ranks of riders who've had stuff thrown at them... about 1/4 mile from the bike finish, some punk threw a baseball at me from a passing car. Unfortunately my glasses were too clouded for me to get a good look at his plates, and with my shifters locked I couldn't sprint to catch up with him... so he got away with it.)

Took a little longer in the 2nd transition, mainly in trying to squeeze my feet back into the shoes strapped into my snowshoes. Headed back out on the course, more walking than running initially (that bike-run transition is always a killer for me!) but warmed up a little ways in and set a pretty good pace. It had stopped snowing and it was a beautiful day to be out in the woods (and best of all - no having to dodge out of the way of the faster snowshoe runners coming up from behind - I was one of the last folks on the course!) Climbed the last hill, came out in the field, and ended up going through a stretch of unbroken snow for the last bit - couldn't quite make out where the path to the finish was! But managed a decent final sprint, for another snowshoeing PR - 26:47 or just under 13.5 minute miles. Total finish time 1:35:20... not bad at all considering the long transitions (probably 11-12 minutes all told) and the difficulty of the bike leg.

All in all, a fun race and as usual, I have to give HUGE credit to the folks at Yellowjacket Racing. They put on some of the best events I've attended... the organization is fantastic, the volunteers are incredibly positive, and I've always felt welcome at their races, no matter how slow I was.

Next up - the Saratoga Winterfest 5k Snowshoe Race (though in all likelihood it will be a trail race again this year, unless we have the amazing good fortune to have a blizzard at the end of the week...) Who knows... maybe I'll stay at the park and continue for a longer run after the race...


Cycling 6.2 mi, 33 min
Snowshoe 10.2 mi, 2 hr 37 min

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

9 Mile Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finally got out for a run! A cold night, so I was nice and comfortable, between my fleece jacket, my 180s, and my fleece hood. Overall, a decent run which pushed my current distance limits... the last two miles were definitely tough.

Word came down tonight that the Curly's Record Run Snowshoe Race in Pittsfield this weekend has been cancelled. The second Season of the (No)SnōShū continues...

Monday & Tuesday, 22 & 23 January, 2007

So much for my goal of running 3 times a week and biking twice... planned to do a short run Monday and a bike ride Tuesday but was just too darned tired after work.

Wednesday will be a long run night (8-9 miles.) Thursday and Friday are up in the air - it's supposed to be the coldest here that it's been since winter 2005, so I'll probably have to stay in those nights (no sense risking frostbite if I don't have to!) Even if that means going for a run on Saturday, the day before the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

2 Hours of Snowshoeing at Black Creek Park
Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wanted to spend some time with Ann, so instead of going out for a run we packed up the snowshoes and headed to Black Creek Park to enjoy the snow and the chilly weather.

Conditions were not ideal (only about 6" of snow at best) but the park was gorgeous - everything covered with snow and ice.

Ann used my Dion's, since the last time we went out snowshoeing her Redfeather's bothered her hip. I have to admit, I wasn't crazy about her Redfeathers - the cleats are fairly large (1.5 to 2" long) which made them somewhat uncomfortable in the shallow snow. Tried running for a few short stretches - didn't work too well. It definitely made me appreciate my Dion's!

We found a new trail (well... new to me, but I haven't been at Black Creek for almost a year.) It looped through the woods off one trail, and then in the other direction skirted the edge of the swamp and came out on a different trail. It was touch snowshoeing in spots - rough footing and not enough snow to even everything out - but a cool trail all the same. I definitely need to run it sometime.

Got back to the car, took off the snowshoes, and found an unpleasant surprise - the front cleat on one had snapped off sometime during our walk! (I guess those shoes need deeper snow...) So now I have to contact Redfeather to see if they'll send a replacement cleat. I'm also thinking of getting Ann a pair of Dion's - mine didn't bother her, and they're clearly a better product.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another Season of the SnōShū, Race #1
Mendon Ponds Winterfest 10k Snowshoe Race

2007 Mendon Ponds Winterfest Snowshoe 10k results
Mendon Ponds Winterfest Snowshoe Races info

2007 Mendon Winterfest Snowshoe 10k photo slideshow

Thursday night word came down - the Greylock Glen snowshoe race scheduled for Sunday was being postponed, and the Hoffman's Notch Wilderness Challenge snowshoe race was being cancelled. No great surprise in either case... we've had little more than a light dusting of snow. But I figured I'd make the best of it, and try to get in a ride one day and a long run the other.

Friday afternoon I checked the Mendon Ponds Winterfest Snowshoe Races page on a whim, and found the following posted:

updated 12:00pm (noon) friday.

To which all I could say is - woo hoo! Rochester here I come!

Scrambled around Friday evening to get things ready for the weekend, and crawled out of bed at 4 AM on Saturday to wrap things up and hit the road to Rochester. Fortunately, my race (men's 10k) didn't start until 11, but with the possibility of bad weather in central NY, I had to leave extra travel time. As it turned out, it really wasn't a problem - I hit some fierce snow squalls on the way out, and the wind caused some drifting and blowing snow in spots, but I made it to exit 45 right around 9 AM. With plenty of time to spare, I ran a few errands and then headed over to Mendon Ponds Park... a park I am coming to know fairly well, having done 4 races and 1 training run there in 2006.

Exiting the car, the first thing that became apparent was - with the wind chill it was freakin' COLD. On the plus side, I figured the wind would not be as much of an issue in the woods, and a knew from practical experience that once I was running I'd most likely generate plenty of heat... the only worry was keeping my face and ears warm. After I checked in, I parked the car in the suggested lot (rather than along the road like most of the other runners!) and periodically ran the engine to heat things up as I geared up. Did a quick practice walk on the snowshoes, since I haven't had them on for almost a year, and then headed up to the lodge/race HQ to wait there for the race to start and wonder just how painful the race would be. (After a year of now snowshoeing, a 10k race probably isn't the ideal way to jump back in...) I also found myself wishing I'd eaten more on the ride out... breakfast at 4:30 AM in Albany is a long ways from racing at 11 AM in Rochester.

All too quickly, it was time to venture back out into the wind and cold. After few brief words from one of the RDs - off we went!

It became clear very, very quickly that the other runners in the men's 10k were much faster than I am... within about two minutes the last one was out of sight and I was plodding along all by myself. The trail was "easy" as snowshoe events go - only about 6 inches of snow to begin with, and that was packed down pretty solidly by the efforts to groom it and the previous runners (and probably more than a few cross country skiers.) I made my way up and down the hills (walking up, running down when possible, and mixed running/walking on the level sections) and contemplated the fact that well before I reached the finish the women racers, who started half an hour after the men, would be passing me. About 20 minutes in, I passed the RD's, who were very encouraging, and then I settled into a long, slow plod broken up only by the occasional cross country skier. (They were actually a bit worrisome, since the trails we were racing on are marked for one-way skiing... and we were running them backwards!)

The woods were very beautiful, with everything covered with snow and ice. Whenever the sun was out the light was caught in all the ice on the tree branches and everything sparkled and glowed. A very nice change from constant brown and grey of snowless Albany!

The first 2 miles or so were the toughest. I found myself thinking a lot about how jumping into a 10k was probably not the smartest thing to do, that I was clearly not in snowshoeing shape, and that it was going to be a long 2 hours or so to the finish line. One of the mental challenges of racing the trails in Mendon was simple - I knew that it would be very easy to take a trail down to the road, take off my snowshoes, and just run down the road to race HQ and declare a DNF. The temptation was very strong, but fortunately I was very determined (or just stubborn) and stuck with it. Despite knowing that a series of long, steep hills were waiting for me in the 2nd half...

Things improved during the 2nd half. My legs warmed up and running came a little more naturally, though I got slower and slower hiking up the hills. A little over an hour in, the first women runners started passing me... surprisingly, there were very few of them and the front runners were five minutes or so apart. The trails continued to be absolutely gorgeous - much of the 2nd half was up on the ridges of the East Esker, and at one point we had a great view off into the distance. My right hip and outer thigh started hurting a fair bit toward the end, especially on the uphills, but that's nothing I'm not used to...

After the final long, steep hill, it became clear that I was doing better than I'd anticipated, and that I'd manage to finish in a good deal less than 2 hours. I crossed the finish line in 1:42:30, for an average of 16:45 min miles... not great (the fast guys finished in 50-65 minutes!) but better than I'd predicted before the race, and better than both of the races I did last year, where I averaged 19-20 minute miles.

Headed into the heated lodge and found a place to sit while waiting for the women to finish and the post-race raffle to start. Given the small number of runners (about 63 between the juniors, men, and women) it seemed like I had a chance of winning one of the raffles. Missed the 2 pairs of Crescent Moon snowshoes and the 2 gift certificates to the restaurant that catered the post-race food and drink, but won a year's subscription to Trail Runner magazine - very convenient, since my subscription is running out and I'd been trying to decide if I should renew my membership in the American Trail Running Association (which includes a free subscription) or just subscribe on my own.

After that, it was time to get warm! Hiked back to the car, froze while changing into dry clothes and shoes... and headed over to Ann's, both to thaw out and to wait for her to come home from her trip to Utica for the AMAI Adult Seminar Day.

All in all, a trip that was well worth it. I got to spend time outdoors on a beautiful day and ran what may be the only snowshoe race of the season, the way things are going around here (after all, we'll probably finally get snow on a weekend when I'm committed to doing something else!) I also got to see Ann this weekend, which would have happened otherwise - a major plus!


Next up: the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon put on by Yellowjacket Racing. Last year we ran in the mud and rode in the rain. This year - maybe there will still be snow! Should be another tough race - I haven't ridden nearly enough - but I have no doubt I'll finish. It just might take a while...

Snowshoe 6.2 mi, 1 hr 42 min

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

7 Mile Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Wednesday, January 18, 2007

Winter is definitely here, albeit without snow. The temperature during my run this evening was somewhere around the mid-teens... much colder than any other time I've run this winter. In fact, it was cold enough that by the end of my run one of my Gatorade bottles had slush in it!

But for some reason, tonight was a good run. Things just clicked - I had just the right amount of clothing on, so I was fairly comfortable. The trails were fairly clear - the only tricky spots were on the iced-over bridges and going through the new desert, where the footing was too uneven for me to run much. I planned to do just about 6 miles and actually added an extra mile, because the run just plain felt good. (I almost talked myself into adding an extra 1.5 miles beyond that, but decided I need to get home to get work done.)

Who knows, my next run may be hell... but tonight's was good. And that's enough for me, right now.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

8-9 Mile Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stepped outside to find everything covered with a layer of ice, with more rain coming down on top of it. So for the first time this season I broke out my Yaktraks, just in case.

The parking area was pretty icy, but the trails themselves were fine... most of where I ran was somewhat under tree cover, and in the spots that weren't the soil is sandy enough that the thin layer of ice broke up pretty readily. The three bridges I crossed were downright dangerous - I inched my way across them and even chose to step off one and slog through the mush alongside it instead.

My 180s were great for keeping my ears warm... too great, as it turned out. I ended up packing them away because my ears were getting too hot. But then, until the last 45 minutes or so, I was generating enough heat that I basically ran with my head uncovered. For the last part of the run I started to get chilly, and then I pulled out one of my fleece caps and used it for the rest of the time.

The bulk of the work in the "habitat restoration" area seems to be done. They have a pile of logs and a mammoth pile of wood chips down in what used to be the old field, along with enough heavy equipment to suggest that they're still working on them. The trail markers are back up, and in time I imagine we'll manage to pack the sand back down. As I've said before, I understand why they stripped the area pretty much bare, and the importance of restoring the Pine Bush habitat... but it's still sad to run through a desolate area that used to be all woods.

Found one area during my wanderings where some riders have set up some jumps, including one ramped jump that looks totally insane to me - it seems to drop down into a clump of trees. Maybe natural selection will work its wonder on those guys... hopefully the Pine Bush folks and rangers won't end up back there, since that sort of thing would probably lead them to crack down on public use of the Preserve.

If nothing else, the trees were very pretty with the droplets of ice and water hanging off of them. Hopefully the additional ice we're supposed to get tonight and tomorrow morning won't push them past their limits and snap limbs. I'll also be interested to see if the trails collect enough ice to make them essentially un-runnable, like they were for a while last year.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Iaido Class
Friday, January 12, 2007

More talking than anything else this class... we got some stories from Atlantic City regarding George Alexander and Dana Abbott (both of whom I'd met at previous Expos) and a warning that the latest martial arts fad is the samurai and sword arts (he's a bit behind with that... that started about 3 years ago.) Then we split into two groups, with each group getting a philosophy lecture and a chance to practice katas. Our lecture focused on several concepts - yudan nashi (never being off-guard), hogen (universal sight, or having a deep understanding of the natural order of things), and heijoshin (constant peace of mind.) Much of it was a review of things we'd discussed before. (For a more detailed look at these concepts, see the initial philosophy section of Shimabukuro and Pellman's 1995 book Flashing Steel.) After that we had a chance to work on katas on our own, so I took the time to run through most of the ones I've been taught (didn't practice yin-no-kata and yan-no-kata due to the kneeling involved in them.) Not incredibly productive, all told, but it did force me to review my katas and it was fun sharing stories with Miss Moller and Rich on the ride to and from Utica.

5 Mile Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Friday, January 12, 2007

Ducked out of work a little early and headed over to the Pine Bush to put in an hour or so of running before meeting up with Miss Moller and Rich to head to Utica for iaido. I definitely overdressed, as I so often do in the winter - the wacky weather we've been having doesn't help. It was a nice change to do a run totally in the daylight - that helped my time, too (something around 12-13 minute miles.)

Passed Josh M. and Chris C. of the ARE early on - Josh actually used my name when he said hi, so I guess my days of anonymity in the ARE are at an end...


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another Season of the (NO) SnōShū
More Postponed Races

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No great surprise, seeing as we've had barely enough snow to dust the ground with white... the Savoy North-South Pond Shuffle and the I Love Woodford snowshoe races scheduled for this weekend have been postponed. Don't know that it bodes well for Woodford, which had already been postponed from December 17!

Guess this is just an opportunity to continue working on my trail and road running... but it would be nice to get out on the snowshoes sometime this winter...


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2 Cane Seminars with Grand Master Mark Shuey
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Originally it was not at all clear that I'd be able to attend the seminars but in the end, all worked out, and I got to spend Wednesday evening at the Mohawk YMCA doing two seminars with Mark Shuey of Cane Masters. He's done two sets of seminars for us in the past (once in 2002, and then again in 2003.) I like working with the cane, and I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this evening.

Grand Master Mark Shuey Sr.

Got to the Mohawk YMCA with a little time to spare and hung out waiting for things to begin. After a while we lined up and Grand Master Crandall introduced Grand Master Shuey, who then tried to give us some background on his system and discovered that the acoustics in the Mohawk YMCA gym are terrible. So we reorganized in a circle around him and he spent a few minutes talking about some of the aspects of using the cane for self defense. From there we spread out and worked on swinging our canes, including some twirls, flips, and figure-8's. I'm fairly rusty, but much of it came back pretty quickly. It was both funny and a little nerve wracking to hear canes clattering on the floor around the room as people dropped them. Funny because I've been there, many times - and nerve wracking because in some cases they were whipping through the air when dropped, so there was always the possibility of projectile canes!

After that we spent the remaining time working on self-defense techniques with a partner. I was fortunate to pair up with Senior Instructor Eric Stalloch, who works extensively with the cane and is very, very good. We covered 4 or 5 techniques in the remaining time - nothing too different from what we had done at the previous seminars (we did do one technique that resulted in putting a fairly viscious arm lock on the attacker - very cool!) The first seminar wrapped up with a brief discussion of using exercise bands to strength train with the cane.

self-defense training

Following a short break we jumped into the 2nd, black-belts-only, seminar. Much of this seminar was spent going through the Natural Walk Cane Kata developed by Grand Master Crandall and Eric Stalloch for AMAI. It was nice to finally get a chance to start learning that kata - the one time we were able to get Eric down to Albany to teach a cane class, I ended up loaning my cane to a student so he could take the class instead of me. We managed to get through the whole thing and then spent a few minutes "working on our own" (ie. demonstrating just how little I could remember.) The 2nd seminar wrapped up with Grand Master Shuey taking us through some exercises using our canes and the exercise bands. It seems like a very useful and effective method to strength train, and I'm going to try to do some each week as part of my goal to add strength training to my workouts.

kata training

strength training

Overall, the seminars were decent. Both Grand Master Shuey and Eric did a great job teaching - I just wish the seminars could have been structured better to help retention of the information they were sharing. The attempt to teach us the cane kata in the 2nd seminar seemed very rushed, and I can't say I remember all that much of it (and I have a reasonably good memory for katas.) Grand Master Shuey's presentation in the 2nd seminar also seemed rather rushed. The first seminar had the opposite problem - it seemed like we spent a lot of time on each technique during the first seminar; personally I would have liked to have spent less time and done more. Perhaps we needed two groups - one for more experienced cane-users and another for beginners?

All in all, I think it was an evening well spent, despite the parts that could have been better. Hopefully we can get Eric down to Albany sometime in the not to distant future to teach a cane class, and I would gladly take another seminar with Grand Master Shuey.


(photo of Grand Master Shuey courtesy of; seminar photos courtesy of )

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

16 Mile Night Ride Along the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway
Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Did the whole ride in the dark... on the plus side, it stays light a little later each day!

A good ride overall... I was tempted to keep going for another half hour or so but decided to take it easy instead... I'd like my legs to be in good working order for the cane seminars tomorrow night...

My light was more than sufficient for a basically empty bike path... used the LEDs much of the time...

Almost collided with a group of "real" riders who had very bright lights and apparently were not paying much attention to where they were going... fortunately I had my wits about me (despite it being hard to see with their lights in my eyes.)

Looked up at one point and saw an owl silhouetted against the sky...

For a short time I was riding in snow flurries...

Passed something making some loud snuffling noises on the path past Lock 7... heard the same thing when I came back through, so I stopped a bit down the path and started walking the bike back with my lamp on full power... got close enough to hear the sound fairly loud without seeing the source and decided to spin gears out of there! Of course, now I'm really wondering what was making that noise - could it have been a bear? (I'll probably go back in daylight soon and find out that it was a tarp rustling in the wind or something!)

Despite the somewhat creepy aspect of something making noises in the dark - it was a great night for a ride!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

8 Mile Run at the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve
Sunday, January 7, 2007

Stayed up late last night watching a movie (Big Fish - both a lot of fun and a real tear-jerker at the end) and working on my mountain bike, so I decided to skip the Bummer No Blizzard trail run over in the Pine Bush this morning. Didn't feel like getting up early just to run a loop that I'll probably run (in various forms) just about every week or so for the next few months.

My plan was to head out after lunch, run a few errands, and then put in some time on the bike (three weeks until the Lake Effect Duathlon!) As I thought about it, I decided that it would be easier to go running... then I wouldn't need to run errands with the bike locked to the back of my car. So... where to go... where to go...

Yesterday I picked up copies of the Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady's local guidebooks to natural areas in Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga Counties... one spot that stood out was the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve in Clifton Park. Something like 10 miles of flat trails along the Mohawk River and the Old Erie Canal... definitely someplace to visit for the first time in daylight. So after completing my errands I headed up to Clifton Park and hit some new trails for my run.

From what I've read the area of the preserve has seen many uses over the years. Apparently the land was once dry (prior to the damming of the Mohawk River, which created the wetlands we have today in this area) and the Mohawk Indians used the area to raise corn. In the late 1600's a settlement called Fort's Ferry was created there, built around a rope-pulled ferry (surprise, surprise) operated by a fellow named Fort (more surprises!) There was also a ferry across the river in another part of the Preserve (also the site of a short-lived bridge from 1900-1902 - the flooding river destroyed it.) The prominence of the Erie Canal in the mid-1800's also led to settlements in the area, but the gradual transfer to the railroads as a major source of transportation led to those being abandoned in the early 1900's. Now all we have are the canal remnants.

In the 1930's the CCC and in the mid-1900's the DEC built numerous dams and dikes to try to control flooding in the area, but the river proved to be a match for all of them, and in 1977 the Nature Preserve was established. For more info about the Preserve, check out this site, which is where I found a lot of the info I've included here. (There's also a brief summary in the ECOS guide.)

So, late in the afternoon I made my way to the Preserve. The main parking area, at a relocated Whipple Bridge (a type of iron bridge that was once fairly common across the Erie Canal, designed by Squire Whipple, a 1830 graduate of Union College) was packed with cars so I drove about a quarter mile down the road to a secondary parking area... also crowded, but not as much as the main area. Parked, geared up, and headed off into the unknown!

The initial stretch was essentially a dirt and gravel road that headed toward and then paralleled the river. After about a mile I took a grassy side path that headed closer to the river - not surprisingly, that path turned out to be fairly muddy (a situation that wasn't helped by the fact that someone had clearly been riding ATV's on it... those seem to excel at creating mud-holes.) It was kind of neat running along the river and seeing spots on the other side that I'd typically ride or run past... after a few miles that path rejoined the canal towpath, and I continued on almost the entire way out to Lock 7 (well... the opposite side of the river from Lock 7.) The point where I turned around was very cool - I had a clear view out to the dam between Lock 7 and the Hydroelectric Power Plant, and thanks to the rain Friday and Saturday, water was blasting over the dam at a ferocious rate.

Turned around and headed back down the towpath. Broke out my headlamp just past the Ferry Rd parking area, and turned it on just before reaching the ruins of Lock 19... the run along the old towpath was quite interesting. The path itself was very level, with water on either side... I ended up scaring several flocks of geese, who clearly were not expecting someone to be running down the path in the dark!

Made it back to the Whipple bridge - very cool - and used it to cross the old canal. From there it was only a quarter mile or so down the towpath to get back to the car.

I definitely want to go back so I can see the whole thing in daylight. I suspect it will be very scenic in the summer (unfortunately, probably also very buggy... there's a LOT of standing water. Skeeter fest!)

All in all, a good run!


Friday, January 05, 2007

5-6 Mile Run in the Pine Bush
Friday, January 5, 2007

Another unseasonably warm day, but I needed to help with karate classes, so my run had to wait until later. Shame it started raining by then... but it wasn't raining all that much, and it was warm enough that halfway through my run I took off my rainjacket and ran with just my shirt. (Not to mention shorts - no tights!)

Covered much of the Columbia Circle section of the Pine Bush in a little under 90 minutes... fairly slow paced, but it was dark and raining. Headlamp and the new rechargeable batteries worked great.

Ended up with the same pain I've been getting along the outside of my right leg... I'm beginning to suspect ILTB Syndrome, possibly brought on in part due to muscle damage from The Crash and possibly in part due to changes in my running mechanics due to leftover problems from The Crash. I'm going to try some specific stretches and see if that helps. Conveniently, more regular stretching is one of my goals for the new year!

Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 60's... so much for snow and snowshoe races. I will probably go run the Bummer No Blizzard 3.5 Mile Trail Run Sunday morning, if for no other reason than to support the ARE's efforts. I'm not holding out a lot of hope for Savoy and Woodford next weekend, but who knows... maybe Nature will surprise us in a wintry way in the next week.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

16.5 Miles Along the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The last day of my holiday break - time for a bike ride (especially with the Lake Effect Snowshoe Duathlon only 25 days away!)

My legs were feeling a bit tired from yesterday's run (after all, I hadn't run or ridden in a week!) so the first part of the ride was tough. I did an out-and-back from the Niskayuna Lions Park toward Colonie, and when I got back (at about 9.5 miles) I strongly considered stopping. But instead I pushed on and went all the way to the top of the hill alongside the old landfill - and then back down, for my first ride down that hill since The Crash back in August (at least, I think this was my first ride down that hill since then...) Funny thing is, I'm not totally sure where along that hill I crashed... anyway, my legs were feeling a bit better for the 2nd half of the ride, so I'm glad I kept with it.

Some cool things to note -
  • quite a bit of beaver-gnawing on the trees near the park... guess there are some beavers living nearby!
  • I saw an unusual-looking bird, kind of like a mini-loon, when I was crossing the old railroad bridge near where the path turns away from the river. I'm not positive, but I think it was a horned grebe in winter plumage (black and white), based on the research I've done in books and on-line.
  • sunset on the river was beautiful... as was the moon shining hazily through the clouds on the drive home
  • the days are getting longer! both last night and tonight I finished near 5 PM, and it wasn't totally dark!

Based on the noises my bike was making, I need to do some maintenance work on it - maybe this weekend. And based on the noises my legs were making I need to do a good deal more riding before the duathlon!


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

6-7 Miles in the Albany Pine Bush
Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Another sunny and unseasonably warm day - and the next-to-last day of my holiday break from teaching. In other words, a good day for a run!

I decided to head over to the Pine Bush and check out the footing in the "habitat restoration" area. When I reached the edge of the work zone on the yellow trail, it became clear they aren't done with all the work - there was a bulldozer running off in the distance. So I worked my way along the edge of the area to the blue trail, and ran the trails to the other side of the work zone. From there I had a glorious view of the sun setting over the Helderberg Escarpment. After enjoying the view I headed back to the car, and was treated to the second beautiful view of the evening - the moon rising over the Pine Bush. I wish I'd had a camera with me to get pictures.

Not a bad run to start off 2007 - I made decent time and didn't feel wiped out afterwards. Time to start building up for the spring distance runs!


Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday, January 1, 2007

Not surprisingly, the theme for today's entry in The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration (Kevin Nelson, 1999) is to set goals for the year. I had planned to do that anyway, but I found some enjoyment in the synchronicity.

So, without further ado, my active goals for 2007 are:
  • Continue long distance running
    I definitely want to complete some marathons this year - my plan is to shoot for the Nipmuck Trail Marathon in June and then the Adirondack and Mount Desert Island marathons in the fall. I'm also considering the Grand Island Marathon in Michigan during the summer, but that may not work out. I also want to move on to ultra distances - ideally at least a 50k sometime this year. That could be as early as the Finger Lakes Fifties in early July or as late as the Mendon Trail Runs 50k in November... my training goal is to run three times a week.
  • Resume longer distance cycling
    Probaby the biggest challenge to this will be finding the time. Long runs take me a long time... last year, riding ended up losing out. I don't know that I'll do any better this year, but I'd like to try. My riding goal is to get out on my bike twice a week.
  • Complete a race in New York, each state in New England, and as many other places as I can
    One of the fun things about doing races is going to cool places. In 2005 I raced in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. This year my goal is more ambitious - New York, all of New England, maybe Pennsylvania and New Jersey... and perhaps Michigan!
  • Regular flexibility training
    There is no question in my mind that I would benefit from regular stretching and flexibility work... unfortunately, I also find that incredibly boring. But this year I'm going to try to discipline myself to do a couple of sessions each week.
  • Regular strength training
    Again, this is something that I would definitely benefit from, but I find strength training even more boring than flexibility training. But I've noticed I definitely lost upper body strength while recovering from The Crash, so I'm going to try to discipline myself to do a couple of sessions a week.
  • Lose weight
    Before I moved to Albany I was putting a fair amount of time in on the trails and roads... of course, that was a bit easier to do when I could go for a 6-12 mile run in the country right from my front door! After I came up here my activity level dropped and my weight crept up. Being heavier is definitely not an advantage running and riding - especially on hills! So I'm going to try to drop some pounds through a combination of exercise (which I would be getting anyway, between running and riding!) and a better diet (reduced calories and overall better nutrition.)
  • Regular martial arts training
    I've really been slack about this over the last couple of years... this year I'm going to try to get into training once a week (in addition to iaido classes and seminars.)

Time to get started!