Saturday, December 29, 2012

Como Park Championships 2012

After last year, when the Como Park Champs had to be moved to Green Acres for lack of snow and I did not participate because of the mother of all colds, we had 5 cm of fresh snow on a decent base. In addition, Ben and Co shoveled to add more snow at some weak spots, notably the open sore in the steep downhill and the City of St. Paul did a super job grooming. Consequently the course was in great shape.
Como Park bare spot in steep downhill, BEFORE trail work and Championships
This was also the first time I used my new Sisu skin suit. The only time I had worn it was when the package arrived in the mail last summer, when temps hovered around 35ºC. Now, I was a little concerned on how to dress for temps around -10ºC. I decided on a tech short-sleeved tee (the old green Sisu summer tee), my trusty Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Fitted Dri-Fit Max base layer and the Sisu race top. I did wear a warm-up jacket and a down parka on top, shedding the latter when I started my warm-up after bib pick-up and the former a couple minutes before race start. There were quite a few people decked out in the new Sisu suit, good to show your colors!

As usually I hung back at the start, fully knowing that I wasn't here to win any prizes. But I had a good start, passed some people and fell in with a group who looked like they were around my strength. The snow was maybe a little slower than two years ago, when the course had been quite icy. But it was a pleasure to skate getting a good edge in the firmly rolled fresh layer. My choice of layers turned out to be right on, not too cold and not too hot.

The top women, most of them college age from what I could glean, started to pass during the first uphill slope along Lexington, they were moving at a great pace. Margie passed me someplace in the back bowl, shouting out some encouragement. I was waiting for Heather, Kitty and Sarah to be next, but they never materialized.

There were a few wipe-outs, fortunately nothing serious and never hindering me. During lap two, I kept with an oldster in a City of Lakes Loppet 10th anniversary suit. Several times I thought I'd be able to pass him but it never quite worked out. When we got to the steep downhill, there was somewhat of a crowd at the needle's eye between the trees and Odd, the guy in the suit decided to attack to pass. He wiped out, I was able to avoid the confusion and passed left, zipping through the narrows for the steep hill. But for that I do not think I would have been able to pass him.

About 50 m to the finish.
I was able to hold off a young woman who was trying to pass me and made it in, wading through some pretty soft stuff before of the finish line. I somehow missed Heather, who must have been right behind me but was quickly joined by Sarah and Kitty.

Great event! Ended up finishing 60th of 84 in the men's, 6th of 12 in my age group. My pace was a bit faster than last time, too. Results can be found here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Arctic Commando Trail Run 2012

As far as I know the results have not been posted yet. You can access a copy here. There are some pictures on the Central Nordic Team pages, including the following, showing me at the finish:

Checking my time and making sure the darn timer is stopped.
Drizzly morning for the race and mild temps, excellent conditions! I was able to make it through the field of little ones quickly. A group of young fast runners dropped me quickly and Jake passed me around the 1 km marker. I soon noticed that I hadn't purged as well as I could have this morning, must have been that late Mexican dinner at Pepito's on Chicago Ave yesterday evening. Sorry guys, I had to leave in a hurry after the event, would have loved to socialize a little after ...

Even though I felt like I was dying, I finished well, welcomed by Jake. And, I was able to hold off John K after he beat me last year. Turns out I had a new PB on the route, 15"/km faster over last year. All that track and hill work with Kitty, Erika, Nancy and Jake paid off, not to forget the Sisu MYR workouts. Very happy with Inov-8 Mudclaw 330s for this even, no issues with heel blisters. Must be the constant stop and go in orienteering that causes these.

Results haven't been published on yet but I secured an advance copy which can be accessed here: Arctic Commando 2012 Results.

Link to all Arctic Commando trail runs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some Representative Workouts

In getting ready for my meeting with Ben Popp to review my VO2 max data done at the U, I looked for some representative workouts.

Date Activity Distance AHR Notes
10/13 Regular run with 2.8 km tempo 13 km 170* *During tempo split
10/09 My average quick jog 6.2 km 164 A little faster than usual
10/04 Distance 21 km 142 Not paying too much attention to HR
09/26 Interval 3x 1000 m track

09/12 Interval 5x 1600 m track

08/25 Distance 24 km137 Paying a little closer attention to HR. 

We discussed my regular training in light of the VO2 max testing.

Ben came up with the following HR zones:
... and suggested the following workouts:

  • 5 x 5' in Zone 4, 3-4/month
  • 2 x 20' in Zone 3, 2/month
  • Max effort (like a race), 1/month
  • Overdistance (3+hours), 30% Zone 1, 70% Zone 2, 2/month. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Orienteering at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nice course in one of my favorite park, a nice present one day after my birthday! Very dry makes for an easier run but worried about the health of the forest.

Generally an easy course but issues with

  • CP2: I wanted to make sure to hit the trail and veered way too far E; 
  • CP10: saw it but thought it was not at the start of the gully and went looking farther W; 
  • CP11: looked for CP at short gully 2/3 way to CP (and was passed by Ian).

Link to results: Nerstrand Woods State Park / September 9, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Bike and First Ride to Work on the Space Horse!

The All-City Space Horse is mine! My first new bike ever. Lynn took this picture right outside of the Hub, on Cedar Ave. I like this shot because this was my neighborhood during my first year in the US, living in the highrise peeking out from behind the larger building left of center in the background.
And what a beautiful ride it was!

Got my new bike last weekend, an All-City Space Horse! I had been ogling it since my friend David had suggested it to me as an ideal mix of road and touring bike. I had tried it out a couple times at the Hub Bike Co-op on the West Bank in Minneapolis and ended up having them put a 58 cm size on lay-away. Lynn and I had attended a going away party of one of her staff at SHADAC and she gave me a ride to the Hub on this fateful Saturday afternoon. While they prepped the bike, we browsed Midwest Mountaineering's wares. I was hoping to make the ride home the maiden voyage but was almost thwarted when they removed the cheapo try-out pedals, which of course is standard practice. I must have looked like a little boy cheated out of a Christmas present because the chief mechanic on site relented and re-installed them. And I was off! Great feel compared to my old, creaky, rusty but still trusty Schwinn Super Le Tour.

I quickly decided to ride it to my new job in Eagan as soon as possible. In preparation for the new bike I had already ordered a few components at Amazon and they arrived on Monday. So I quickly installed a pair of Shimano PD-A530 pedals, they turned out to be easy to clip on, without any adjustments. I also put on a sturdy Topeak Explorer bike rack that same evening to clip on my Vaude Newport (size L) messenger bag with pannier attachment. It's a tight fit but I was able to squeeze a change of clothes and my lunch in and Vaude's patent hook clips work great. Just not sure how long they will last.
Going down Montreal Ave, towards W 7th Street.
The morning was gorgeous, cool and cloudless. I needed to ride conservatively in order not to work up too much of a sweat since my new place of employment does not sport a shower. On the first stretch I was able to stop  next to my neighbor Tim at University Ave intersection to say 'hi.' It was a smooth ride from S of Hamline-Ayd Mill intersection to Lilydale but there was 300 m of gravel from the Valley Park trailhead to the big downhill. I guess the gas company is working on its pipeline and must be improving that section of trail for service vehicles or maybe something was buried under that stretch. But I was able to test gravel riding capability of the Space Horse. Not bad, likely partly due to the size 37 tires.
On bike trail atop I-35 E bridge across the Mississippi.
On my second ride which I took the morning after a storm
I encountered a couple of surprises in Valley Park: first a
deer crossed my path, then the path was blocked by this
fallen tree.
I missed light at Dodd and Hwy 110 by a few seconds, oh well a 3 minute breather. Smooth sailing for the remainder of the way, all along Dodd Rd. to work. I made it in 41 minutes under observance of ALL traffic rules.
Locked the Horse to the reeling at our loading ramp and had a quick splashdown in bathroom.

Since then, I had two more rides and also installed the Garmin GSC 10 Cadence sensor and my tush is now resting on the ol' Brooks B-17 saddle which I switched out from the Schwinn. One Item I am still missing is a mirror, currently waiting for the Mirrycle bar-end mirror which I really liked on my old bike.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

MNOC Rogaine at Pillsbury State Forest

Awesome team mate Pete, who is a much better orienteer than me, tough terrain, lots of brambles and a long distance to cover. Thankful for the cool temps and the finish on the beach and last CP in water! Great job on the course, Molly and Justin!

Link to results: 10th Annual Rogaine

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some Updates to the Old Schwinn

Because of the mild winter and the more level route to work I had put on quite a few more miles on my good ol' Schwinn Super Le Tour. Sure, it is showing its age but until I have the necessary cash flow to afford something better (like the All-City Space Horse), the Schwinn will have to do.

My buddies from West had been appalled when I joined one of their tours a couple of years ago and was able to keep up with their $1k-2k gear in spite of a very wobbly rear wheel. That was the first thing  I changed and that's when I started noticing some other faults on my ride.

1. Bottom bracket had probably 4 mm play in the bearing. I fully expected that I would have to order a special part and hesitated to tear the old bracket out but to my great surprise the guy in the NOW Bikes shop pulled one right off the shelf. Installation went very smoothly though I screwed up my front derailleur adjustments a bit. When I tested, the chain fell off and I did not slip out the clip baskets in time, got various bumps and srapes and wrecked my mirror. Other than that it provided a big difference, it shaved off about 5 minutes from my 26 km ride to work in Minnetonka.

2. Next were some actual bike shoes (Shimano SH-MT33L) and some Shimano PD-M324 combo Clipless/Clip Pedals. I chose the former because I wanted a shoe that I can walk in when needed and the latter because I do occasionally want to ride in regular shoes. All in all another major perceived improvement, over my worries I got used to the clips rather quickly. Unfortunately, I could not test them in regular commuting conditions since my place of employment reorganized and got rid of my department in late April. Since then, I have had multiple occasions to use the shoes on shorter and longer rides and I especially appreciate the more efficient up-stroke.

3. A few years ago I had replaced my gear cassette with a new one and thinking I'd gain something I had opted for a 6-speed cassette. My rear derailleur did not have any adjustment options so I was basically riding without the top and bottom gears. It worked just fine but not using these gears seemed like a waste. So I upgraded (if that is the right word since I paid less than $12 at Amazon) to the Shimano Tourney TX35 Rear Derailleur.  I installed it today, took about 30 minutes, including the adjustments and it works great, including gear one and gear six! And because I opted for the combo pedals I was able to test the Schwinn without switching from my Crocs to my bike shoes.

The question now is: do I really need a new bike?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park Orienteering--Blue

A hot and windy day for this meet. Decided against better judgement to do the blue course.

CP1: went along E side of wetland instead of W. Knew where I was when I came across connecting ditch.
CP2: Headed for overgrown beaver dam to cross wetland. Spiked 2.
CP3: Still under the illusion to be able to preserve my dry feet for a little longer I rounded the pond S and got wet feet crossing narrow stretch of wetland. Spiked 3.
CP4: After wet feet wet knees Oh well, at least I spiked 4.
CP5: No trouble with 5 and 6, either, carefully following small wetlands and contours. Starting to feel rather cocky about this course.
CP7: First longish leg, proceeded with caution and spiked 7 as well. Skeeters are an impediment to map reading. Glad for the little breeze.
CP8: Took a little sightseeing detour and got very frustrated. Ended up heading for one of the larger ponds to get re-oriented. It worked but I lost 15'
CP9: Wetland-hopping in the right direction, but what happened. I misoriented the map and without realizing it I headed back towards whenst I came from. I decided to call it a day and clicked the lap button on my Forerunner. I turned around and spotted a CP. Could this be 9? Oh the agony, had returned to 8! Stephen arrived, punched and left again in the direction I had initially taken. I decided to take a longer and what I thought somewhat safer way, with lots of handrails. I made it to 9 just after Steven punched and I was back in the race.
CP10: Beat Stephen to 10, the only time I beat anyone anywhere during this event.
CP11: Spiked. Is this where I ran into Jim for the first time? I yelled "Hi Jim" and fell on my face.
CP12-finish: no further issues except my exhaustion.

I was sopping wet from sweat when I got in. Picked off the first tick when I was changing at the car, four more while I was driving and one last whenI got out of the car at home. I am so glad I hung in there, better to finish slowly than not to finish at all. Some nice flowers in bloom, large-flowered trillium and some others. Multiple deer, woodpeckers and tons of mosquitoes about the size of pigeons.

Distance noted on the map: 10.1 km. Distance clocked on my Garmin: 14.1 km. Pete did a great job setting a technical course and it was a treat to run in a pretty much trail-less area.

Results at Attackpoint
Results at MNOC (I like that one better because I am not as far back)

Some souvenirs from Kathio:

I found this deer tick latched on to the crook
of my elbow. Called my doctor who suggested
prophylactic treatment with 

Sisu Anaerobic Testing at the

Members of the new SISU D-Team and a couple of old guys from the masters' program (including myself) visited the University of Minnesota's Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and Exercise Science for testing on Saturday to participate in Sisu's physiological testing session. We went through a set of evaluations, including VO2max, lactate, body composition, and Wingate.

I was actually a little nervous, not because I was afraid of the blood samples but because I had never run on a treadmill before. I had this vision of the machine going ever faster and finally ejecting me to the rear. After a quick tutorial I felt like I was ready to go.

VO2 max test (also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake or maximal aerobic capacity)
A grad student came by to test a device that measures the oxygen level in the muscle. We should get a little bonus test that way!

Lactate Testing. Ben was pricking fingers while we subjects were on the treadmill. After doing this four times with 17 test subjects, I am sure he was more sore than we were.
Ben's pricking my finger to collect blood for the 

Body Composition test by hydrostatic weighing. The tech who did my measurement said 14% of body fat, that's excellent for a 50-year old male.

Wingate anaerobic 30 second test. I almost skipped that one, they called me back. 3' of low-resistance spinning, 10" sprint and then 30" as fast as you can with x% of bodyweight resistance. This test was short, but probably the hardest during this morning's session.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Afton SP Orienteering--Red

Great course but I was slow. Overtraining? Possibly. Made it back wet, but from sweat. It started dripping when I got in the car and it was pouring by the time I got to the freeway. 

1 Cut down the hill. On way back I saw that the elites were running the trail down and across. 
2 Bushwhacked again. I should have probably returned to the trail and closed in that way, in spite of the extra elevation. 
3 Took trail to open area, across knoll, headed for gully to N of straight line. Spiked it. 
4 Took trail on top, headed to NNE where trail veered NW. Spiked. 
5 Hung to right of dark-green reentrant. Looked for open area. Could not find CP5. Went to open area and headed straight for it. Lot of wasted time. 
6 Climbed up the spur of W fork of creek. Did not want to go back down and up again. Seemed the right choice at the time, but when I see the big detour I made on my Garmin track I wonder. 
7 Took long way N to trail and then on trail near CP7. I think this was a good choice. 
8 Went around reentrant and straight to CP8 
9 Looked for most comfortable way down and towards trail NE. Crossed knoll and spiked CP9. 
10 Went around spur near lake, should have probably followed the erosion gully near line. But it worked OK. Attacked from bench on trail and got there. 
11 Backtracked to trail and followed to knoll. 
12 Followed reentrant down, climbed spur to S of erosion area. Spiked. 
13 Followed dry ditch up. Got mixed up with camp sites and hung too far S. But I corrected and found quickly. 
14 Followed deer trail. No problem. Spiked. 
15 Tough return to Finish, all uphill. That's Afton! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hill Creek Run

I traveled to Belgium for a sad occasion, my dad's funeral, and helping my brother sort through the associated formalities. I decided even before boarding my flight that I would use my jogs to revisit some of the places with happy memories associated with my dad, many of which involved hikes around my old neighborhood and the forests south of town. While I could easily reach many of the places, the High Fen (Hohes Venn, Hautes Fagnes) required some transportation. I toyed with the idea of repeating a trail run I had done in November 2010 starting at Baraque Michel and following the Hill Creek valley back to Eupen and which I had done quite a few times as a hike. Some segments I had done in the company of my parents, too. It requires a ride to Baraque Michel, which my brother Arnulf provided last time around and 2-3 hours for the run.

This time, I did not want to impose on Arnulf and looked into taking the St. Vith bus (TEC 394). The first bus leaves at 7:05 and gets to Baraque Michel only 20 minutes later, that way I would be back in town around 10:00, ready for another day of working through funeral preparations, estate questions and a visit to my mom.

I was at the bus station just as the bus pulled in and boarded along with a mixed bag of students heading to school ("where?" I thought since when I attended high school, kids from the south of the German-speaking region came north to go to school) and folks heading for work and paid €3.40 for my fare. By the time we were out of town, the bus was about 2/3 full. 15 minutes later I signaled for a stop at Baraque Michel, the only passenger to get off at this currently unpopulated place.
As the bus rolled to a stop I had noticed the red flag hanging limply from its pole, indicating that access to the fen was barred due to high fire danger. Disregarding the warning I climbed the fence next to the padlocked gate. After only a couple of minutes of jogging I came across another barrier, this time prohibiting access to the board walk crossing the bogs. Again, I ignored the prohibition and continued. Soon, the boardwalk was in very poor shape, much rougher than when I had proceeded 20 months earlier. I thought to myself that I could not understand how the park management would not maintain such a resource to the tourism industry of the area, as the park attracts thousands of visitors from near and far. Only when I got to the southern end of the board walk did a sign opposite to the one I had ignored at the beginning of this section reveal the reason for the dramatic deterioration: last year's fire had finished off the already compromised structure. Since the living vegetation left and right of the trail had been left mostly unscathed I had not paid too much attention to the marks of fire on what was left of the boards. I now also remembered big stacks of lumber and a backhoe near the start of my run, likely to be used to rebuild the structure.

"No Trespassing" 
Right at the beginning I came past one of the spots I had visited several times with my dad and of which he had told us stories, the Kreuz der Verlobten (“Cross of the Fiancees”). The location epitomizes past dangers of the area, especially during the long and dark winter months.

Hiking the fen in 1965 and 2012

As it was, the initial 4 km of the run were slow going. The impossibility of using the boardwalk made me follow the ruts left by the backhoe track right next to it and within less than ten minutes of starting I had wet feet. The ground was extremely uneven, with grassy humps on spongy bog ground. To avoid sinking in, I hopped from hump to hump, occasionally crossing Hill Creek. Gradually I descended along with the valley that had been carved into the plateau. The bog grasses became interspersed with copses of trees and bushes, some showing signs of the fire that had raged here during the previous spring. I recall reading about it in the online version of my hometown newspaper and thinking at that time that the reporting sounded over-hyped. Indeed, judging from the cover of yellowed grass which must have grown after the blaze, the fire had not managed to kill the plants and even the shrubs and trees looked like they had survived.

The trail followed the creek and surviving pieces of boardwalk as well as the bog landscape had a slight coat of frost. I finally reached the end of the blocked area and was welcomed by better trodden trails and actual newly constructed and freshly overhauled sections of boardwalk. My pace quickened considerably from this point on. Still, I needed to keep watching my step as the trail started to become a jumbled mess of roots of the adjacent trees and jagged rocks protruding from them. I did not want to take a tumble and have my head, elbow or knew make an acquaintance with those.

I'd rather not stumble and tumble coming down this trail

Hill Creek began to resemble a real stream with boulders of all sizes and the sound of rushing water became the soundtrack for my trip as soon as the trail moved closer to the creek. However, as soon as the trail veered away from the stream, the rushing was swallowed by the trees and replaced by bird songs.

I ran through sections of coniferous and deciduous woods or rather forests. I recall that when I took Lynn on our first trip to Belgium, she commented on the fact that the woods had been planted and trees were standing in neat rows. Here, the firs and beech and oak trees did not give that impression any longer but this may have been only because I was traversing stands of mature trees. In fact, some of the firs at the bottom of the valley must have been measuring 40-50 m. They reminded me of the majestic conifers I traversed near Portland, OR a few years back. Still, numbered white cornerstones divided what I believe to be forestry plots and they contained trees of the same species giving them definitely a cultivated feel.

Eventually, the single track trail turned into a forestry road. I tried to keep to areas where leaf or needle litter dampened my step. About three quarters through my run I came past the Hill Creek dam and tunnel. Part of the water is being diverted to help fill Eupen's Weser Reservoir (Wesertalsperre). During the construction in the 1950s, several workers perished because of a flash flood.
Hill dam to the left and entry to Hill tunnel to the right

Clear cut just south of the Hill dam. The swimming hole may be straight
ahead by the small group of trees.

Just past the dam I had a bad surprise: the entire bottom of the valley had been clear-cut. Just a couple hundred meters below the dam is a nice bathing hole where the creek eddies around some huge boulders. It used to be hidden under some crippled firs. The water was really too cold to stay in for very long and horse flies and mosquitoes made lounging on the boulders difficult but when on a long hike on a hot summer day it promised relief. I guess now in the absence of trees it would be inviting sun bathers …

I noticed that about two thirds of the stretch between the dam and a favorite destination for Sunday walks, Schwarze Brücke (“Black Bridge”) had been logged. I checked in with a forester friend of mine who oversees another district in the area and he thought that the area had been logged because the trees were staring to be overly mature.

Die Schwarze Brücke, 1964 and 2012

I quickly covered the remaining short stretch to Eupen Kabel's pipe division, Wetzlaer Bad (the outdoor pool), and the edge of town and promptly ran into a familiar face. My cousin Christoph's wife Christiane. We exchanged a quick hello and promised to catch up after my dad's funeral.

During the entire run I dropped from a maximum elevation of 676 m at Baraque Michel to 264 m when crossing the Weser river in Eupen, climbing only about 96 m but now after 23 km I was facing the longest uphill of the trip, the steep climb to Bergkapelle, after which I had only about 500 m left, which were all downhill. Glad I decided to do this, awesome weather in gorgeous landscape with a lot of good memories.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Four NYC 10K Jogs from Times Square

Spring Break in the Big Apple, with a family that likes to sleep in. I am the only early riser and therefore have the morning hours to myself. What better way to spend them than to engage in some sight seeing by way of jogging.

Running in a big city brings some unique challenges, like traffic-related interruptions, dodging pedestrians on congested sidewalks, etc. Another issue is catching a good signal for the GPS receiver of a fitness watch.  Our hotel (The Muse, very nice, like other hotels of the Kimpton group I have visited) is just half a block from Times Square. While you can't really call Times Square an open area, it shows a little more sky than other intersections, so that's where I went at the start of every run for my FR305 to grab a signal.

March 13: Central Park

Always nice to return for a jog in Central Park, which I have visited for jogs on many previous occasions. Due to work-related constraints I was never able to get beyond the southern half of this beautiful park. No such concerns during this trip, I set rounding the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir as my goal.

From Times Square I ran up Broadway and followed the Central Park Loop clock-wise to the reservoir. I did notice a few things:

(1) There was quite a bit of running going on
(2) Peletons of cyclists going in the same direction
(3) 95% of runners were on the Loop, not on any of the many other trails crisscrossing the park
(4) Almost all of them were going counter-clockwise

I was definitely bucking the trend. I did a loop around JKO Reservoir, counter-clockwise, like a good boy, and then moved to the much less traveled and in my opinion much more interesting trails meandering through the park. Yesterday I noticed daffodils on the way in from LGA, today it was more daffodils, forsythias  and some pink-flowering tree (cherries? crab apples?). I am definitely not in Minnesota though I recall when I spent my first two weeks in the US here 20-some years ago in mid-April and from my vague recollections nature seemed to be at the same stage I see it now in mid-March.

I concluded my park loop running along the Metropolitan Art Museum and through the zoo, returning to the hotel via the Avenue of the Americas.

March 14: Hudson River and Central Park

After running in unseasonably mild weather yesterday, it was downright warm this morning. After my obligatory five minute GPS lock-on period at Times Square I headed down 46th Street towards the Hudson River, where, when I reached I turned right, going north along the bike path. First the path went right along West Side Highway which soon started to climb to elevated level. The stretch between city and river widened into Riverside Park, a pleasant, apparently freshly redone green space. The bike trail users weren't as fortunate as the trail kept following under the elevated road.
69th Street Transfer Bridge
Trump Place condos behind the West Side Highway
I took a few opportunities to take pictures, like of the 69th Street Transfer Bridge, Trump Place and others. At around 78th Street I began looking for a way up and back to the city. Earlier, I had noticed some bridges and tunnels that connect pedestrian and bike trails to the other side of the express way and now I was looking for such an opportunity to cross. My first attempt was unsuccessful as I erroneously entered in a tunnel-like public works storage area. Soon, I found a place where a steep road provided access to the city. I ran across the Westside to reach Central Park. By now, the temps were downright balmy and the forsythia and daffodil blossoms seemed to lag behind the season indicated by the temperature.
Daffodils and forsythia in Central Park
I noticed that the Central Park Loop was now carrying regular traffic and only few joggers. The bicyclists were now limited to commuters everyone was either at work or on the way. I quickly reached Broadway at Columbus Circle and followed it back to Times Square, admiring the dedicated bike path.
Broadway Bike Trail between Columbus Circle and
Times Square
March 15: Queensboro Bridge

After the last two days' temperatures this morning felt much more seasonable at 9 C, which is still about 5 C warmer than average. Queensboro Bridge is the nearest bridge I could reach and cross on foot from our hotel. Today's jog had the most amount of city travel of all I would do.

I left Times Square going zigzag diagonally through town, always picking the pedestrian "go" light, which evened out over the course of my run to more or less two city blocks north and two east. The GPS track is somewhat random due to running in those deep canyons between the skyscrapers. Just as I reached the bridge, I was hailed by a NYPD copper who asked me if I had a suggestion for a running route for a woman jogger she was helping. I suggested to do like me and run across the bridge but she was adamant on wanting to run downtown. Unfortunately, I could not help her.
East River with Roosevelt Island on left and Queens with Con Edison East
River Electrical Power Plant on right.
On Queensboro Bridge, there are two levels of traffic, the pedestrian/bike path is along the north side an the lower level, the traffic is noisy, not a very pleasant run. From Manhattan, there is the Roosevelt Island (aerial) Tramway and on the Queens side of the bridge, the yellow subway line emerges from the tunnel and goes elevated. The bridge was well traveled by pedestrians and bikes, most westbound on their way to work in Manhattan.

Riding, running or walking just a couple meters away from
noisy and stinking traffic. But a good transit route for
bike and foot commuters

March 16: Hudson River to Chelsea Piers

On this rain-wet and cool morning, I returned to the Hudson River and ran south this time. about half of the distance was right along West Side Highway: not so fun, especially when I passed a NY Transit depot where a dozen or so buses were warming up their engines and belching out their diesel fumes. Still, I do appreciate that it seems quite easy to get around by bike in this huge city.

But then there were pedestrian and bike friendly areas with a little more distance to traffic. I took advantage of the many piers and boardwalks jutting into the river and ran to the end of a few of them. When I approached the northern edge of Chelsea Piers, a large entertainment and shopping complex spanning several piers. I heard a wood thrush call from the bushes, almost within arm's reach.

On the way back, I saw a big cruise ship come up the river, fully lit in the dark and readying to moor at one of the piers. I noticed a big sign on top of the ship spelling out "Queen Victoria." I was not sure if this was the Queen Victoria or a cruise ship line of that name but when I checked later, it was indeed the ship, readying for a trans-Atlantic voyage with destination port of Southampton. Quite a bit of smaller boat traffic on the river, too, some looked like ferries, others like fast police launches. On the way back to Times Square, I passed a construction site where dozens of workers were arriving for their shift.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sisu Year-End Party at Green Body

Last time getting together with our Tuesday night group and many others at the Green Body Gym in St. Paul. Too bad not everyone could make it.

Dayton, Kitty, Christian, Ben, Shirley, Kathy, Roy and Dan
It was a good year working out together. Important upcoming event: Greenbody's Go Green 5k/10k trail run at Battle Creek.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Orienteering: 90 Minute Score O at Nerstrand Big Woods SP

No snow-no problem, for the first time this winter. I headed for the second of MNOC's two winter meets, at one of my favorite parks, Nerstrand Big Woods. Format was a 90 Minute Score O. This is only my third, and one of the previous one was part of the 2010 Adventure Race Tune-Up which I did with Bryan. Andrei set a beautiful course and Pete W as vetter, who made sure that the controls were in place. Pete also created a promotional clip for the event.

Pete's Nerstrand Woods Score O Trailer
We had a good turnout and after we received the maps, about 5' before the start I was able to plot an approximation to a route. One of the issues with these type of events is the mass start and the associated inevitable pack running. I have to admit that I probably got a little help from some stronger orienteerers who happened to start along the same route as I did. But I kept my errors to a minimum even after the initial five or six CPs, when I was finally on my own.

Sequence showing my approach to CP207. (Photos Andrei Karpov) 
I hit 20 of the 24 CPs, in sequence, returning 3:35 to spare. My one real map reading error was with CP208, coming from 207. I overshot it by 100 m and lost probably 3 minutes in the process. I should have followed the creek bank, then I would have found it without any problem.

Punching in at CP211. (Photos: Andrei Karpov) 
I decided to cross the larger creek and tick off some of the CPs to the north. I think that was a good decision but in hindsight, I could have easily taken along CP215 before doing CP213. I lost some time thinking about how to get to CP222. The reentrant is in dense woods and not that easy to see from the grassy area to the south. I ended up crossing the woods, climbing to the open area N of the woods and then followed the vegetation boundary to the corner and ran straight to it. That made it very easy. I skipped CP223, too far to the north, and CP226, on a rather shallow reentrant in a dark green area.

Now, back on the S of the creek I picked off 214 and 216, followed by 217 and 219. No more time for 224, which I could have made if it hadn't been for missing time on 208. All in all quite happy with my result. Andrei was out taking photos, a treat to have pictures of yourself while running through the woods.

Done! (Photos: Andrei Karpov)

Also quite happy with my result, 6th place, see at MNOC Results.

Red is the actual track from my Garmin FR305, blue is what I could have
done if I hadn't been pressed for time. Note my error at CP208: ran too far
and had to backtrack.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bitter-sweet: Last Session of Sisu Year-Round Group

It kind of sneaked up on us, after almost 10 months of working out once weekly with a group of like-minded people the Sisu Year-Round Group finally came to an end with one last workout on Valentine's Day. It was likely because of the holiday that only six of us--and no coach showed up. Tim had instructions from Coach Mike for an hill interval workout.
Seven (plus one warm-up) nice double-bump hill intervals at Green Acres with
a good recovery period.
Tim and Kitty had done the Pre-Birkie and were still recovering from the race in cold temps on slow snow and Dayton and I had put in 40 km on the north half of the Birkie Trail as well on Sunday. I was certainly still feeling my legs. Tonight, the Green Acres track was in great condition and covered with some of the fresh snow from earlier today and we made the best of it. During cool-down after the seven intervals Kitty gave Dayton some pointers for his upcoming participation in the American Birkebeiner.

After good wishes for upcoming races and the end of an odd (for lack of snow) ski season we split, looking forward to meet again, on the trail, or during next season's Sisu Year-Round Group.