Sunday, February 26, 2012

Training Log

Sunday, February 26th: 20 miles trail at Hobbs, 4:10:00 Killer run today. It was about 60 degrees at the end, sunny and windy.

Only two noteworthy events occurred. The first was at mile 15 or so when I came across a freshly soiled diaper left right on the side of the trail. In the hundred or so miles I've hiked or run at Hobbs, this is no kidding the first scrap of trash I've ever seen. You will not find a cigarette butt, a condom wrapper, or even the tab off an energy gel at Hobbs. The trail is spotless! But today, I guess some white trash piece of shit thought it was acceptable to leave a used diaper on the side of the trail. No matter, though, because when I go trail running I carry toilet paper and a ziplock bag. I put the diaper in the ziplock, burped as much air out of it as I could, and stuffed it into the tiny pocket on my hydration pack so I could get it off the trail.

The next noteworthy event was a cramp in my upper leg that happened as I was descending to creek level on Dutton Hollow, about two miles from the end of the run. I've had cramps before but nothing like this one! It wasn't terribly painful, but it made my leg completely useless. I wasn't sure what to do, but I figured since the leg had been in the same position doing the same motion for three and a half hours, I ought to let it be in a different position. I hobbled inch by inch to a fallen log about twenty feet away and sat down with my knees bent. The big muscle on the top inside of my leg was clenching into a knot, then releasing, clenching into a knot, then releasing. I ate my last Endurolyte capsule, drank some water, and just sat there for about five minutes wondering how long it would take me to unkink myself. Eventually I was able to get up and start taking pitiful six-inch steps as the trail wound around at creek level. The climb out of Dutton Hollow is steep, rocky, continuous, and generally a real bitch even without a leg cramp. With a cramp, it was a slow accumulation of altitude done inches at a time, but then feet at a time. By the time the trail began leveling off, leveling off being a relative term when you're at Hobbs, I was actually feeling pretty good. I tried running a few times but my calves this time decided to go into spasms whenever I did. After another half mile of walking I finished the Dutton Hollow loop and only had half a mile back to the car. I broke into a run and my legs felt fine all the way in, fine being a relative term after running twenty miles at Hobbs.

The banana I had in my lunch box back at my car sure tasted good!

Total for Feb 19 - Feb 26: 30 miles
f/5.6; 1/400sec; ISO-100; no flash.

Make it like gears, Daddy!

Photography has never been my passion, but do enjoy taking pictures and would like to get better at it. If the Dave of just a few years ago got on a photography kick, the Dave who explored new hobbies to ruinous excess, time after time, knowing full well the risks he was inflicting upon his family's already precarious financial situation by doing so, he would have immediately gone out and bought a mid-level digital SLR and then congratulated himself for not buying the most expensive camera available. Then would come flashes, tripods, reflective umbrellas, and lenses, many of which would go unused and eventually be sold on ebay or just thrown away.

The Dave of now, the Dave who has learned that actually doing an activity brings more satisfaction than simply owning the equipment related to that activity, he went out and bought the absolute best camera he could get for under a hundred dollars, a Canon PowerShot A3300 IS point-and-shoot. I like that Dave better.

I just love the camera! The controls are very intuitive, it has a large aperture, and so far at least it seems to take great pictures. I took these as the sun was setting behind the Tyson building but was still lighting the trees and the top storey of our apartments. Tough lighting conditions, but I thought they came out decent:

f/2.8; 1/80 sec; ISO-200; no flash.

f/4; 1/400 sec; ISO-400; no flash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Training Log

Tuesday, February 21st: 10 miles of trail on a moonless, cloudless night. Glorious!

Dropped Donald and Mrs. DMG at home after his school's fund raiser night at Chick-fil-A and then headed to Fayetteville Lake. Took off running at 8:45 knowing the park would close at 11:00. No big deal if I ran a bit late, but as it was, it was a good motivator to keep the speed up. I ran the same out-and-back I ran on Sunday except with a headlamp lighting up every cloud of breath I exhaled. I counted it as 9+ miles Sunday, the + accounting for all the extra zig-zagging on the singletrack, but I think I sold myself a bit short. Before, I had always run laps of the whole lake which involves a mile of asphalt going over the dam and up to the disc golf course. I'd never run only the trail. Having timed myself twice on just the trail, I'm certain it is at least ten miles out and back, maybe a skoach more. I did it in 2:07 today and am certain I was running 12 minute miles or faster. Anyway, I was half way home by my 11:00 PM cutoff.

Fayetteville Lake is not the most splendid place on the planet. I'm sure the views from high camp on Masherbrum would be much better. But I tell you, turning off your headlamp for a minute to admire the reflections across the lake, on a pitch black night, is pretty damn satisfying for only having to drive five minutes to get there!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Training Log

Sunday, February 19th: 9+ miles at Fayetteville Lake, all trail.

Fastest trail run yet for me and the first run of the year in shorts and a T-shirt. Felt great! Was supposed to play around with the new camera today but the lighting was no good. Not a cloud in the sky. Hopefully next weekend will be drearier and I can hammer two laps of the Little Clifty loop at Hobbs for about 18 miles. At least that's the plan!

Total for Jan 30 - Feb 5: 22 miles
Total for Feb 6 - Feb 12: 16 Miles
Total for Feb 13 - Feb 19: 16 miles

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Training Log

Tuesday, February 14th: 7 miles on side walks, 1:18:00
Easy night run in perfect weather. Light rain for the last five minutes which felt wonderful. Piece of cake!

Dave Mows Grass on Values

I'd actually been to Pack Rat several times looking at trekking poles just to familiarize myself with the Leki product line. I've had a Leki Wanderfreund for many years and the damn thing is indestructable, so I wanted to shop carefully to get the exact right trekking poles. I would be stuck with them forever!

Anyway, I was messing around on the internet and noticed Moosejaw had last year's "Trail" model on clearance for only $60 which is a terrific price. I had played with the 2012 Trail model at Pack Rat and liked the feel of them but I didn't really care for the bright red and white color scheme. The 2011 version at Moosejaw is identical mechanically but has much more understated black and gold paint. I still wasn't ready to order, though. I needed to feel the grips in my hands and "spend some time" with my future trekking poles before making such an important purchase, so I went back to Pack Rat.

After half an hour of looking and feeling, I narrowed it down to the Trail model and a similar set with a different grip shape. I walked around with them both, adjusted the lengths, adjusted the straps, and otherwise got to know each of them for a while. In the end, I settled on the Trail model, exactly like the ones Moosejaw had on clearance except with a paint scheme I didn't like quite as much.

I like Pack Rat. I am personal friends with several Pack Rat employees. I enjoyed spending more than an hour "experiencing" trekking poles that Pack Rat actually had in stock. The total with tax was about $110.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Dave Mows Grass on Priorities

Despite all my prayers and supplications, it was apparent early this morning that Northwest Arkansas' first snow event of the year was not going to me much of a snow event at all. The grass and the cars were covered, but the snow melted almost instantly on the parking lot. The weatherman was nonchalant about the whole thing: "You might take it easy on bridges and overpasses." Rogers was having school. Springdale was having school. Nothing indicated that attempting to drive to work would be any more suicidal than it is on any other day. It would not be a significant snow event.

Disappointed, I left for work. In the time it had taken me to get ready, the snowfall had actually increased quite a bit. Cambridge and then Robinson were nearly covered, with previous sets of car tracks appearing in progressively lighter shades of gray. Still, several tests of my brakes gave no indications of ice under the thin snow. I looked ahead and could see that Thompson, the big road that takes me all the way to Rogers, was completely clear. At that point, I did the only thing I could do: I turned around in the Walmart parking lot, drove back home, and called to inform my supervisor that I would not be coming in.

Back at home,  I enjoyed the chaos of getting Donald clothed, fed, and otherwise prepared for school, which is always fun. We dropped him off together and walked him all the way to the classroom which we aren't supposed to do. We have a conference with Mrs. Patrick tomorrow but she couldn't wait to show us a handwriting assignment he had done very well on. He has some fine motor problems and struggles with handwriting so we were very proud to see his work. He has an amazing teacher!

Back home again, we ate breakfast and packed some goody bags for Donald to take to his Valentine's day party tomorrow. She took a nap after that because she worked last night. While she was sleeping, I cranked up some Pandora real low and went online to shop for trekking poles.

It sleeted a few times as Cristina slept, just as the weatherman said it would, but not enough to destroy the remaining snow. Fortunately, the temperature stayed a few degrees below freezing all day. The clouds were beginning to break as we went to pick Donald up. My gamble, an "occurrence" and a day's pay, was going to pay off, but just barely.

There was an inch of very wet snow left on the grass when we got home. Donald and I rolled quickly while Cristina gathered several small rocks, two sticks, and a baby carrot. The three snowballs cleared the dead grass of snow completely. We zigzagged to be sure to capture every bit of the precious commodity until roughly half the yard was cleared. The other half would become slushballs, be loaded into a Tonka dump truck, or simply be stomped away. Within an hour, we had cleared our entire yard of snow.

By 5:00 PM, my normal time to arrive home from work, none of the grass areas visible from our second-storey apartment had any playable snow, not even the east-facing slopes bordering the Tyson parking lot.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sign Fail

Alternate title: "Why I Carry Maps."
Quiz: If you wanted to go to the War Eagle Valley Loop, would you turn to the right or go straight?

Training Log

Saturday, February 4th: 6 miles paved, Fayetteville Lake, 56:47

Sunday, February 5th: 16 miles trail, Hobbs, 3:12:00
First lap of race course, just above freezing. Hands got puffy the last half hour. Extremely reliable internet sources say that's a symptom of low electrolyte level. I always thought that was a circulation problem from carrying a pack.

Saturday, February 11th: 16 miles trail, Hobbs, 3:32:00
Second lap of race course. Time includes about ten minutes for taking photo at lake. Temp was about 12 degrees with wind chill near zero. Hydration pack hose would get slushy in five minutes and freeze solid in about ten minutes! Hands got puffy again and I immediately took two Endurolytes. Took one more at the first twinge of a calf cramp. Symptoms went away instantly. Ah-hah!

My camera battery has pretty much given up the fight but I did manage to get this shot after several tries. I improvised a tripod with some rocks, set the shutter timer, and scrambled to this spot where I assumed a resting pose. The first several times the camera shut off because of the battery before even taking the picture, but it eventually woke up long enough to take the shot.

I think I've overpaid my taxes sufficiently to be able to replace the camera in the next few weeks. If I do, I'll try to add a few pictures to my training log entries so you can share the trail with me. This race is going to be epic!