Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Catching Up With the Running Farmer
I see a couple of weeks has passed since my last musing. The thought crossed my mind to post an update on what has been going on in my world. Certainly the season is changing here from Fall to Winter. All of the fantastic foliage that made trail running a real adventure has gone away. Now all of those leaves are on the trail covering the rocks and roots. One must exercise a bit of extra caution when out and about these days. And the changing of the season brings about more changes other than running.
Like many of you Thanksgiving was spent with family. For us that meant a trip down to Texas. And a chance to run in a couple of new locations for me. Due to our late departure on Wednesday evening we only got as far as Durant, Oklahoma (around midnight) before pulling over for the night. So Thursday morning I braved the breezy, chilly drizzle to run my very own 8 mile Turkey Trot. From the hotel I found my way to the Northeast Oklahoma State University campus, home of the Savage Storm. Of course campus was all but deserted for the long weekend break. After running around the empty grounds I found Durant High School, home of Lion Pride, and ran some hilly roads there. Then it was on to Dixon Durant Park for a go around the trail before heading back to the hotel. About a half mile out from the Holiday Inn Express I could see that I was gonna be about a quarter mile short of the full 8 miles. Instead of rounding the distance off I turned into the Lowe's parking lot next to the hotel for a lap. Good thing I did as I found a $5 bill just sitting there on the ground. It pays to run. And, honest to goodness, it happened again yesterday. I needed another .5 to get my 6 miles in after running with a buddy and decided to run around some soccer fields across the road from the BV trails. I found a $1 bill this time. It pays to run. The day after Thanksgiving I ran a 6 mile tempo with my niece from Houston. She is a freshman in high school and runs cross country. In her first year of competition she placed top 5 in the district meet and qualified for the regional meet. If she elects to keep running I suspect she will be a big name on the local high school scene. On Saturday I ran solo for 12 miles on the back roads around Corsicana, Texas near my parents home. At one point, while passing in front of the Allison Ranch, a lone coyote took notice of me. The little guy perked up and paced me for maybe 50 yards. He must have been curious, reminded of the scene from one of my favorite movies, Dances With Wolves. Only it was a coyote and not a wolf and I'm not Kevin Costner. Although we are fraternity brothers. Seriously, Delta Chi. However, I don't remember that other guy in the photo above???
With the changing of the seasons new sense of urgency is upon us to complete the fort we are building for the kids out in the woods behind the house. My son's birthday is today and he has a sleepover planned for this weekend and wants to use the fort. This means braving the chilly air and finishing the front wall, installing a front door and steps before Saturday evening. With the forecast for freezing temps and the possibility of precipitation I fully anticipate it becoming an inside sleepover. Nonetheless, I will finish things up and at least get it weather tight before Winter fully settles in around here. I'll keep a couple of tents handy on Saturday that can be set up in the game room if they do indeed decided it is too chilly for outside sleeping.
Along with the fort comes projects on the farm as Fall fades and Winter rolls around. We have 16 new chicks, pullets now actually, that will require some extra attention during the cold weather. A temporary coop has been arranged for them to provide shelter. And soon we will have to cull out the extra roosters and sell them off. By the Spring we should have close to two dozen layers cranking out the free range eggs we collect and sell. During the Winter egg production will likely fall to about half of what we normally get from the hens. There is firewood to collect for the stove and supplies and equipment that must be moved into storage. There are also inside projects of the "honey do" variety. Yesterday I put an insulating blanket on the water heater. Today I will check a couple of spots up in the attic that likely need an extra layer of insulation to help keep the cold air out. Should be interesting to see how difficult it could be to reach those second floor corners.
As for running, I have committed to training for the Rocky Raccoon 50 (RR50) down in Huntsville, TX. next February. This will be my first "real" ultra. The Rocky is a longstanding event and I fully expect a great adventure. So far there are two other fellas from these parts registered along with me, Mike Rush and David Newman. Hopefully we can recruit a couple more before registration closes. What this means is plenty of miles that need to be covered over the winter. My plan is a mix of training schedules but will basically consist of 55-65 miles weekly. Doubles or back to back long runs on the weekends will be the focus building up to something like a 30/20 double to ring in 2012 on New Years weekend. During the week I will do one "hot" or tempo run in the 6-7 mile range as part of a longer mid week middle distance run. The other days will be recovery runs in the 6 mile range at easy pace. Speed sessions will be put on hold until March and the approach of the Bentonville Running Festival. I am fortunate to have some veteran ultra runners I can seek advice from and I have already. There are just a couple of details in my race strategy that I need to experiment with during training and I'll have that part nailed down. My diet needs to get back on track as does a more regular sleep pattern. My circadian rhythm has been trashed by attempting to watch previously recorded movies so I can clean up my DVR. To help with the training I have made a few purchases to make the cold weather running more enjoyable. A Brooks jacket, a pair of Salomon tights, Pearl Izumi compression shorts and awaiting my new Saucony Peregrine trail shoes. All that remains is a good pair of gloves once the weather truly turns cold. A little new gear always gets me stoked.