Friday, November 30, 2007

Resting Up... or Becoming a Hutt?
Friday, November 30, 2007

Another week from hell - lots of work and little sleep, and no running since last Saturday.

I had been really looking forward to going for a run both Wednesday night (didn't happen - too much work) and tonight (didn't happen - I pretty much fell asleep as soon as I ate dinner.) So it goes, I guess.

On the positive side, my legs should be well-rested for Sunday's 10k trail run on the Leatherman's Loop course. I'm hoping to hike some of the other trails there (including one that goes to the Leatherman's cave) after the run, if the weather and my body cooperate.

Can't say as my body is all that well-rested overall, since I have several nights this week where I didn't get more than 3-4 hours of sleep. Gah.

And all this lack of exercise has me feeling like I'm quickly transforming into the certain well-know crime boss from the Galaxy Far, Far Away...

Next week - more running and riding!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

12.6 Miles on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When I left work there were actually some spots where the sun was breaking through the clouds, so there was no question in my mind that I was going to get out on my bike tonight. Besides, I wanted to test out some new lights I bought on clearance at REI...

Got to the Niskayuna Lions Park parking lot after full dark, and was a bit surprised that there were no other cars there. Geared up, and headed east on the path, not entirely sure how far I would go... I ended up going all the way to the top of the steep hill down to Island View Rd. No other riders on the path, but I did pass two runners who commented on the fact that someone else was out tonight.

The new lights worked OK... the 5 LED one gives off plenty of light to see by, at least on a paved path - don't know that I'd want to try going off-road with it. The 3 LED light is an OK supplement to the brighter one; I definitely wouldn't want to try riding with that one alone. My only real issue with the brighter light is that some brilliant designer thought it would be a good idea to have a strip of clear plastic around the LED mount, which ends up producing bright glow that effectively destroys my night vision. I tried riding with one hand over the top of the light, but that became uncomfortable fairly quickly. Finally, I hit on the best solution, and tied my Croakie eyeglass strap around it... I'll have to apply some electrical tape before I use it again. The angle of my handlebars was also a bit inconvenient, and left the light shining a bit off-center, so I'll also have to see if I can mount it closer to the middle of the bars.

After returning to the park, I rode out to Lock 7 and back, with not a soul in sight. It would have been nice to stay out a little longer, but I wanted to get over to the karate school in time to work briefly with one of my younger students after the kids' class, so I headed back after reaching the Lock, packed up my gear and bike, and headed over to Colonie to catch the last few minutes of class.

All in all, a good night ride - chilly but not too cold, with occasional glimpses of stars through the clouds and the sounds of the river at night accompanying me as I whirred along the bike path.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Geez, I'm sore today! Guess I pushed myself pretty hard yesterday...

It looked like a nice day outside, so I really wish I could have gotten out on my bike... might have done me good to get the blood flowing again. Unfortunately, I'm buried under grading lab reports, exams, assignments... all of which needs to be done so I can enter term grades and write comments by Tuesday.

Looks like it's going to be a late couple of nights between now and Tuesday...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

RT Turkey Run 5 Miler
Saturday, November 24, 2007

2007 RT Turkey Run results

The short version:

Not one but two PRs today!

1st, a PR for my mile split - 8:42, the fastest I've ever run a mile in almost 11 years of running(granted, much of this particular mile was downhill, but I take these victories wherever I can find them!)

2nd, a PR for this race - 48:38, almost 6 minutes faster than my time last year (OK, last year I was recovering from my mid-August bike crash... but see my comment above.) Not to mention an average pace of 9:44 per mile... a pretty darn good pace for me at this distance!

The not-so-short version:

Last year the Saturday after Thanksgiving was warm and sunny - so much so that I ended up wishing I'd worn a short-sleeved T-shirt for this race! This year was a bit of a contrast to that - grey, windy, and COLD, with a thin layer of snow on the ground! I got to the beach parking lot at Mendon and at check-in had the unpleasant surprise that they either hadn't received or hadn't recorded my pre-registration... BUT to their credit, not once did the fellow behind the table question whether or not I'd really registered. Instead, he got a race number and a T-shirt for me and apologized profusely for their mistake. Now that's class! After visiting the Porta-Potties, I wandered around for a bit taking pictures and supposedly "warming up" (not an easy thing to do when a damp cold wind is blowing and it's about 30 degrees out...!) Then I made the tough choice of what to wear - went with tights, shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, fleece vest, gloves, and earband. After gearing up I sat in the car for a bit, until a few minutes before it was time to start. We all hiked up to the road and stood around shivering while the last stragglers made their way to the start. Thankfully the RD's comments were very brief and then we were running!

The first two miles were along the road through the park, and we had a pretty stiff headwind pretty much all the way. I was cold enough for much of those two miles that I began to wonder if I'd made a major mis-step and should have worn a fleece top. I pushed the first mile a lot harder than I usually would, mainly because I was trying to warm up! Fortunately, much of it was downhill, and as I said at the start of this post I was very surprised to hit the first mile marker in 8 min 42 sec. That added an extra level of stress - I knew I couldn't run the entire 5 miles at that pace, and I wondered if I'd burned up so much energy at the start that I'd end up crashing somewhere around mile 4. So I eased back a bit, and hit the mile 2 marker about 9 1/2 minutes later - a much more reasonable pace!

Just after the 2 mile mark the course left the road and followed a wide, flat trail along the shore of Deep Pond. It felt good to be running on dirt instead of pavement, and it was especially nice to have fairly solid footing after the incredibly muddy race I did at Mendon 6 months ago. Just before we reached the causeway between the two ponds, we took a sharp left to climb the extremely steep Cardiac Hill... that was tough going! Once at the top of the esker, we followed a rolling trail with the Devil's Bathtub pond far below us on one side and trails leading back down to the Hundred Acre Pond on the other. I actually found the trail section a bit challenging - between the leaves and snow covering the trail, footing wasn't nearly as visible as I would have liked. So I pushed myself, but I know my pace dropped off a bit. I was also a bit uncomfortable because I'd apparently overhydrated that morning, and there really wasn't anywhere I was comfortble dodging off into the leafless bushes!

We finally came out on another road, right near the edge of the park, and began the slightly less than 2 mile haul to the finish. I started pushing harder to try and pass some of the folks in front of me, and after we turned onto Canfield Road and I knew that (1) the finish was a little over half a mile away, and (2) there were a couple of gradual hills up ahead, I picked up the pace as much as I could and managed to pass four other runners who'd passed me earlier in the race (I like passing people on uphills because they don't typically try to give chase!) The last quarter mile was tough - my legs were toast and I could barely breath - but I managed to hold off the folks behind me and crossed the finish in a little over 48 minutes, for a very respectable 9:44 pace - not the fastest pace I've run this fall, but my best since 1998 for this kind of distance.

I was slightly disappointed to learn that they were only giving gloves out to the top 10% in each age group this year, but only slightly - I've got lots of gloves. Hobbled over to the food table and snagged a couple of bagels, then hobbled back to the car, with a serious cramp in my left shin and my legs generally hollering at me for what I'd put them through. Given the cold weather and my cranky limbs, I decided to forego stopping at some other points in the park to snap pictures and headed straight home, where a warm shower and a hot lunch awaited me.

So that makes 6 races at Mendon Ponds this year... definitely a great spot to run and ride, and one I'm sure I'll be racing in repeatedly in 2008.

Next up: Gail's Trail Run, a 10k run on the Leatherman's Loop course at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester... I love the course but hate the crowds at the April race, which is why I'm glad I found out about this fundraising run (the proceeds are donated to a group that does pancreatic cancer research) which has a much smaller turnout... even if the two stream crossings are a bit cold in early December...


Running 292.9 mi, 67 hr 58 min
Cycling 72.2 mi, 5 hr 15 min
Snowshoe 31.3 mi, 9 hr 11 min
states visited: CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Bit O' Training
Friday, November 23, 2007

Motivated in part by the fact that one of the other instructors from Albany was out in Rochester this weekend visiting family, Ann arranged for a bunch of us to take over the meeting room at one of the Chili Fire Stations this evening to get in a little training.

I spent the first part of the session working on two of my newer katas (which Master Hillicoss had helped me with after things wound down Wednesday night) - a Korean form called Cheonkwon, and a Goju-Ryu kata called Gekisai. For an idea of what they're supposed to look like, try the following video links, which may take quite a while to load over a dialup connection!

Cheonkwon video (mpg)
Gekisai video (Flash 8)

I jumped in with the other folks when they got to some of the higher level katas, and we bounced around between doing them and Ann and I answering questions and helping them with different aspects of some katas we've been doing for a few years now. By the time that was done it was getting late, so we reviewed a few techniques that were introduced to our curriculum in the last two years and then headed out into the cold clear night... and home to a late dinner!

Hiking at Corbett's Glen Nature Park & Channing Philbrick Park
Friday, November 23, 2007

Genesee Land Trust Corbett's Glen site
Allen Creek/Corbett's Glen Preservation Group site

Corbett's Glen north (PDF)
Corbett's Glen south (PDF)
Channing Philbrick park (PDF)

Corbett's Glen photo slideshow
Channing Philbrick Park photo slideshow

I had originally hoped to get in both a walk with Ann and a ride today, so I checked several of my hiking books for someplace relatively flat (to lower the risk to her knees!) and eventually settled on Corbett's Glen in Brighton. We'd visited there back in 2005, but earlier this year we discovered that there was another entrance to the park off of Penfield Rd, near the southern entrance to Ellison Park. So I pulled up some maps online to see what the trails looked like and off we went.

The Glen has a rich history, as home to a Native American trading ground, a pre-Civil War powder mill, and later as home to the Corbett farm, which was eventually converted into a private park. Efforts to preserve the Glen from development date back to the 1970's, but it wasn't until 1999 that the property was purchased by the Genesee Land Trust and turned into Corbett's Glen Nature Park. Even today, proposed development of land to the east of Allen's Creek (along the eastern perimeter of the Glen) threatens to disrupt the scenic beauty and tranquility of the park.

Ann and I enjoyed a chilly but peaceful walk through the woods from Penfield Road down into the Glen. There are several trails that wind back and forth along the fairly narrow wooded strip, bordered on one side by a railroad embankment (as we were heading back to the car, a train rattled by) and on the other side by private homes. While it was somewhat cloudy much of the time, the bright gold leaves remaining on some of the trees and scattered along the ground created a nice contrast to the browns, greys, and greens of the trees and bushes and the light layer of snow that coated most surfaces. There's was one tricky bit - a steep descent into a ravine followed by a similarly steep ascent on the far side, just before entering the Glen - but overall it was a short, easy walk.

The water cascading over the waterfall in the railroad tunnel and over Postcard Falls further into the Glen was much higher than when we last visited, due to all the rain earlier in the week. It was pretty cool to see! Apparently the cold weather and high water was no deterrent for fly fishermen - we saw several as we walked along the creek. From there we walked the perimeter trail around the Glen, which runs through a field, along the base of some steep wooded hills, and then through a swampy area complete with a boardwalk.

Then we retraced our steps back through the northern portion of the park. Only saw a few people the entire time we were in the park, though we did startle one deer, who retreated into a bamboo grove and watched as we made our way past his hiding spot.

Back at the car, we set out in search of some hot chocolate for Ann, who was getting a bit cold, and I decided that it was getting too late for me to squeeze in a ride, so instead we headed over the Channing Philbrick Park in Penfield to check out the water in the Irondequoit Creek. Needless to say, it was just as impressive as Allen's Creek, and just as popular with the fishermen.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

10 Mile Run at Thacher Park & on the Long Path
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

photo slideshow

Today was my 3rd annual "pre-Thanksgiving Day" run... and even though it was a damp, grey day I decided to take advantage of the daylight and make the trek through Thacher Park up to Roemer's High Point on the Long Path.

I've been running at Thacher since 1998, when I first ran the Indian Ladder 15k Trail Race (which at that point was run out of the Glen Doone picnic area and used many of the trails I ran today.) Last June I started running there on a more regular basis, and on several occasions last summer I ran up the Long Path to Roemer's High Point to get in some hill work. Thacher has definitely become someplace I love to run - there's a nice mix of both easy and technical trails, and lots of variety in the terrain. And best of all, it's far enough out of Albany that much of the time it's quiet, with no constant background hum of traffic.

As I drove over to the park, I could see the escarpment shrouded in clouds, and began wondering what I was getting myself into. Once I got to Hop Field and parked the car, I could see it was no big deal... a little misty, but nothing to be concerned about. So I geared up and headed out!

I started out by crossing the road and making my way down to the edge of the escarpment, then followed the paths and trail along it until I came to the upper Indian Ladder trail (the lower trail was closed for the season, not that I would have gone up and down all those steps in any case!) I could see everything around me clearly, but the more distant cliffs and the views off toward Albany and Guilderland were obscured by the clouds... it was both pretty and a little eerie at the same time.

From there I headed up the old Paint Mine Road to the top... definitely felt my lack of workouts there! At one point last year I was very proud that I could run all the way up that hill without stopping... not a prayer of that today! Followed the path along Beaver Dam Road for a little ways, then headed across the road and onto the long climb up the Long Path.

The path follows an old ski run, and it's very deceptive... it starts out with a very gradual climb, but then you round a curve and it just seems to go up and up and up! I hiked the last section, and was very pleased when the path finally entered the woods and leveled off for a bit. Unfortunately, that didn't last for long, and after starting another climb, this time on wooded singletrack, I had a surprise - the path had been re-routed. Where it used to follow a series of switchbacks to the top of the hill (in other words, periodic breaks from climbing) it now runs pretty much straight up almost to the top of the ridge, where it follows the edge for a while and then joins up with the section of trail that has been taken over by a logging road. Ran when I could, walked when I had to... and finally came out at the High Point!

Unfortunately, while I glimped some patches of sun as I crossed the road and started my long uphill adventure, the higher elevations were still completely covered with clouds... so I ended up at a great view point on a day when the only view was featureless grey! But no big deal... I took a couple of pictures anyway, and then made another discovery - another section of the trail had been re-routed.

At that point, my curiosity got the better of me, and I set off down the new trail. Not that it was much of a risk... I'd run the old trail from the High Point down to Elm Road, and knew I could run along the road back to Thacher. The re-routed trail was actually much easier to run on than the old trail, which was very uneven in some spots and overgrown in others. This one had very good footing, and after two switchbacks came out at Elm Road. I decided my best bet was the run along the road back to Thacher, and then finish running the trails there back to the car (and, truth be told, I didn't mind not running down some of the steep hills I'd hiked up on my way to the top of the ridge!)

Initially, visibility was poor along the road due to the fog (or low cloud cover...) but that cleared somewhat as I made my way back to the park. There I hopped back on the trails, and ran into three riders on horseback, bringing my total encounters with people up to four (I'd been passed by a mountain biker on my way up Paint Mine Road earlier.) After that I had the trails all to myself as I made my way around the top of the ridge and down into the Hop Field swamp, where there was lots of mud and water. I began to get a bit concerned about getting back to the car before the park closed, but I needn't have worried - even with a side trip to a very nice waterfall, I made it back with plenty of time to spare.

I'm very glad I continued my tradition of a pre-Thanksgiving Day run, and also that I finally made it up to the High Point this year. My legs definitely felt the effects of all the climbing (and probably the distance as well) - which tells me I need to get back to running and riding on a regular schedule!

And while I was out there today, I started thinking... the Long Path runs about 350 miles... wouldn't it be cool to run and hike the whole thing? Not all at once, of course, but over several years in small sections... hmmm...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunshine. Riding. BRRR!
20.2 Mile Ride Along the Mohawk Hudson Bike Path
Sunday, November 18, 2007

photo slideshow

When I ducked my head out the door after lunch to check the temperature, it felt fairly pleasant... as in "bike shorts, a long-sleeved jersey, and a windbreaker" pleasant. Fortunately, I played it safe and wore tights, and brought along an extra jacket, because it was a bit less comfortable when I started riding. In fact, by the last few miles I was really wishing I'd worn winter gloves and two pairs of thermal socks, as my fingers and toes froze...

My goal was to ride from the Niskayuna Lions Park over to Cohoes Falls and back. My hope was that all the rain we had at the end of the week would result in some decent water flow over the falls (for much of the year, the water to the falls is diverted into the Barge Canal and through a hydroelectric plant, resulting in a nice view of the rocks with a few trickles of water.) And as it turned out, that was indeed the case!

click on picture for a larger view

Along the way I saw a few deer, who weren't quite sure what to make of me, at least long enough for me to get some photos of them.

And when I stopped at the Colonie Price Chopper to pick up a few supplies, I was ambushed at the edge of the parking lot by a tough gang of ducks, who apparently are used to extorting food out of innocent victims who pass their way... but not me! I dazzled them with the flash from my camera and beat a hasty retreat! (Actually, I was worried that if I fed them, they'd jump in my car and come home with me rather than stay in the crappy little pond next to the parking lot.)

A chilly ride, but a good one... it felt great to be outdoors moving again!