Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Mom Reads My Blog Last

Usually one saves the best for last. Being last can be a badge of honor.

Not for me. I learned tonight (Marty was talking with my mom) that mom reads Marty's blog, then Emma's, and mine last.

She said it was because she is afraid to read mine.

Hi, Mom.

Full Moon River Run

The First Annual Full Moon River Run was a great success. We had 11 runners, 4 of whom might now be interested in coming to the dark side of ultra running. The distance turned out to be 16.2 miles, and when one traverses a distance on snow covered ice, the distance really needs to be multiplied by 1.7 to get an accurate distance.

Back row: Pete, Chris, Matt, Hank
Middle: Mike, Jeff, Marty, Joel
Front: Helen, Chris(Jake), Shawn

At 10pm, ten of us began running down the little trail behind the general store in Marine on St. Croix. Mike took an early lead as we headed north into the wind, looking for William O'Brien State Park. Crossing a little lake, we came to a running stream, and Helen stormed across a frozen patch. We navigated around open water by bushwhacking through a forested area, then through the boat landing area, and back onto the river. About 10 more minutes until we were at the northern tip of an island where we committed ourselves to a southerly run for the remainder of the evening.

It was here that I called Marty and told her to "up" the halfway meeting time. I was running back with Chris at a 9:15 min/mile pace, and up ahead I could not even see the front runners.

The group spread out for the next hour. I could tell by the footprints in the snow that everyone was following the group in front of them and that the front runners were running smart: staying close to the WI side, avoiding ice patches, using the snow mobile tracks only when they were advantageous, and cutting straight lines so as to minimize distances around river bends.

I caught up with Pete. It's been over a year since Pete and I have run together. We used to run once a week and put in 20 - 30 miles together at a time. It felt great to be running with my good friend again.

As we neared the halfway point, we heard voices from the left. Helen and Jake were plowing through a reedy area. They had gotten to the halfway point, turned around to run back to us, but had gone too far over to the WI side. (At this particular place in the St. Croix River, the river is a mile wide)

We gathered everyone* and headed up to the van where Marty waited. Helen drank her Red Bull, me my Coke, and we headed back down to the river to find Chris who was further behind. We found him, way past the halfway point. He said that he couldn't find where to get off so decided to just keep going - figured he'd eventually get to Stillwater! Wow.

*Hank and Mike didn't stop at halfway. Hank later said that it hurt too much to stop! Again, wow.

Well, Matt and Jeff took off first (Hank and Mike were actually first). Helen, Marty, and I then took off. Pete, Jake, Chris, and Shawn called it a night and drove the van back.

For a very short time, Marty and I ran with Helen. She is a gracious, running machine. Marty wanted me to take this photo to prove that she actually ran with Helen. I took two photos for extra proof!

Marty & Helen under the High Bridge

The remainder of the run was glorious: full moon, no need for lights, running with my wife, fighting the cold, savoring life, thankful to be living where we live.

Marty ran ahead of me for quite a while because I cramped up so badly. At the end, Helen, Jeff and Matt were waiting for us.

We pulled in to Stillwater at 1:36am. Still don't know when Hank and Mike finished. They did a great job for being so concerned about not being able to keep up!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Full Moon River Run - The Excitement Grows

As of today, there are 11 folks intending to run the first Full Moon River Run on Saturday night.

This will be a glorious 15 miles run, entirely on ice.

If you are still interested, please call me before Saturday. 612-805-6861.

Tonight, as Grace and I were taking out the trash, one of my fingers froze to the garbage can. It will be cold Saturday night. I may look for a better pair of running gloves tomorrow!

This Bitter Sweet Touch of Home

Emma arrived home yesterday from two weeks in Ethiopia. She is bearing up well in spite of being out of sync with time and being very sad as she thinks of all the folks she met, spent time with, and had to say goodbye to.

Emma's insight into her experiences and her responses to it are more grown up than her age.

Her blog is worth a read, especially right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Levi is a River Rat

Tonight, Levi and I drove up to Marine. We jumped on the river and ran north for about 15 minutes, then ran back to town and ran south for about 5 minutes.

Levi is a great little runner.

The river is frozen and getting more frozen. The moon was out. It started to snow. Emma is now home from Ethiopia. It has been a good day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Good, Cold Night

I jumped on the river tonight for about 20 minutes.
The most precarious section of the river that I've encountered is near Arcola Mills. So that's what I checked out tonight.

There was some new open water and evidence of previous open water holes - frozen slushy piles of light brown ice. Oh, and the river was making some tremendously frightening low grumbling noises. But other than that, it was just fine.

With temperatures below zero at night for the next few nights, I think our Saturday night run will be great.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Good, Cold Week Ahead

Seldom do I wish for more cold weather. It just isn't natural.

Now, I have to admit, there have been a few times that I've teased about moving further north. You see, my wife does not do well in real warm weather. In fact, sometimes, if there are too many blankets on the bed, she gets too hot even in a cold bedroom. At some point every summer, as I'm looking at my lovely wife's bright red face, I make the comment that we need to move to Canada or else crank up the AC a few notches. To present, we've avoided packing the moving truck.

Last winter, or the one before that, Pete and I would run once a week regardless of the temps. We typically battled our way through -5 degree morning runs. After surviving a few of those, it was my pride that wished for more cold weather, just for the bragging rights.

So, here I am again, wishing for more cold weather. That's because the First Annual Full Moon River Run is this Saturday night. And we've had some pretty melt-the-frozen-river warm temperatures lately. Each day as I drive into town, the open water areas seem to increase.

But my wishes are coming true this week, so says the forecaster on Channel 4. Nothing above 20 degrees before Saturday, and even a few nights below zero.

So, if you were hesitating to join our little band of midnight runners simply out of fear that you might encounter a hole in the ice, fear no more and hesitate no more. Join us. The river is plenty wide enough for a few more of us.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Full Moon River Run

Please join me and several others next Saturday evening for a run on the frozen St. Croix River.

Meeting Time & Place:
9pm, my house just a few miles north of Stillwater

Start time:
9:30-10pm. Course begins in Marine, about 15 minutes from my house. We will car pool

Marine on the St. Croix (about 13 miles north of Stillwater) to Stillwater on the St. Croix River- mostly on the river, some jaunts onto islands as the spirit moves

15 miles

snow covered, snowmobile trails, some choppy ice

3-3.5 hours. 12-15min/mile pace. Very casual, significant amounts of walking. My goal is to keep heart rate below 170.

self-supported, carry all your own food and liquids

not sure, except that there will be a full moon and running on the river is absolutely beautiful

You will:
run under the iron High Bridge,

see ice falls flowing out of limestone cliffs,

see the 100 ft ice fall near Stillwater,

and end by running into the beautifully lit, downtown Stillwater.

Let me know before evening on Wednesday, January 27 if you are interested in joining us.
If the weather turns warm this week, and the river is not safe, the venue will change to a 13.5 run on an easy, non-technical trail course nearby.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blogging our Way to Child #6 and #7

Would you like to read a consistently well-written blog?
No, not my blog. My blog is neither well-written nor consistent.
However, there are many other blogs that I could easily recommend.

So, to begin, here is my wife's blog.

She is trying to keep sane. We are slowly moving from five to seven children. And while it feels slow, it is happening quite quickly. Follow her as she tries to not waste her waiting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why I Run

I often struggle with this question. It is difficult to nail down exactly why I love to run so long. I usually don't know why and have practically given up trying to answer that for others.

Nevertheless, I was struck on Sunday by one reason that I run: so I can eat more. Yep. When I'm not running, I get pudgy and eating is not very enjoyable. After running, I'm trim and can't seem to get full.

So, there is one concrete reason why I ultra run. I'm glad that it is such a morally lofty reason. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

St. Croix North of Arcola Mills

Assorted photos from a quick jaunt up the St Croix River this afternoon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coptic Calendar Antics

I am certain that we are not the only people in the history of the world to be tripped up by Pope Gregory XIII's papal decree in 1582 to reform the calendar. The Alexandrians said "no thank you" to his pressing desire to have Easter land before April 21, and preferred a calendar that gradually goes out of whack with what the real moon is up to. It makes for interesting cocktail discussion. For example, Aberash called me last week to inform me that they were celebrating Christmas eve, January 3rd style.

So, now we are the beneficiaries of the orthodox church's stubborn refusal to accept the Gregorian calendar.

We just learned that our court date is not tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is January 12. However, it is not January 12 in Ethiopia. Our adoption agency forgot to consider this when they told us January 12 was our court date.

Next Wednesday, January 20, it will be January 12 in Ethiopia. Actually, next Wednesday it will be January 12, 2002 in Ethiopia. Hopefully, we won't have to wait until it is January 12, 2009 in Ethiopia.

If it helps, check out this handy Ethiopian calendar converter. It might just come in handy when you are planning your next cross-cultural office party.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eli's Web Site

My son Eli has set up a web page. Click here to see it. He hopes to sell 3 dimensional drawings of automobiles - no, wait - of "cool" automobiles.

He has a drafting mecca set up in the basement, complete with a drafting table and drafting tools that would make a draftsman drool (thanks to grandpa M).

Eli is close to completing his first project and is about to drive us all crazy as he wants to set up a web page from which to sell his wares.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On the St. Croix with the Kids

I recently took the kids on a little adventure. I had had so much fun running on the St. Croix that I was compelled to show the kids some of what I'd seen.
We ran 2.4 miles together and had a lot of fun.

Levi, Grace, Eli, Emma

The long climb up to the ice falls

After the run. The camera was thawing out, thus the blurred photo.

Click here to see all of the photos.

Friday, January 1, 2010

River Running

Yesterday, Marty and I went running on the St. Croix River.
The photos below are in reverse order.

We set off from the shore right in front of the Dock Cafe in downtown Stillwater as those enjoying their lunch inside watched. It was 11 degrees, sun brightly shining.

We headed south in an attempt to run down to "those ice fishing houses down there." After a few minutes, we decided to run south for 20 minutes, and then turn back.

There was open water along the side of the docked cruise ship. We stayed away from there and headed to the middle of the river to find a snow mobile trail. It was here that Marty's foot went through the top layer of snow into slushy water. We noticed that the wind was at our back and decided we would do well to turn around at 10 minutes, run to the lift bridge and go north for 10 minutes so that last part of our run would be warmer.

The run to the lift bridge was cold. We jumped up on land and ran under the lift bridge on the MN side as the ice directly under the lift bridge looked compromised from the road salt falling from the road above.

We only ran 7 minutes north. It was too cold. We turned back, ran into Stillwater and sat in a little coffee shop and drank coffee and allowed my water tube to thaw.

I left Marty at the van and headed back north of the bridge in an attempt to run up the river and get in 9 miles.

The wind was brutal. I blew back the water from the supply tube into the bladder so that the supply tube wouldn't freeze. This worked the entire trip, except that once the valve froze.

Just south of the boom site, two small planes flew over at about 200 feet. I could see the person inside waving. My glasses kept fogging up as my breath came up and over the face mask. If I exhaled sharply, the warm air would go straight out and not fog up the glasses. I needed the glasses on to cut the wind and the blinding sunlight off the white landscape.

It is quite a thing to recognize the river from our annual St. Croix River Family Pontoon Up The River Day.

I had decided that I did not want to jump off the river at the Boom Site, because that would mean running up the highway to get home. Instead, I'd look for a good place to get off the river further up. In the end, further up meant 7 miles up the river at Arcola Mills.

Near the Boom Site, there is a beautiful ice fall in the WI side of the river. From the highway, it appears quite mundane. I ran over to it. It is a good climb to the bottom of the fall. Then looking up, it is one of the most astounding things I've seen. Ice as thick as a suburban, hanging from the top of a cliff nearly 80 feet above. Water was falling down from the top in dozen of places, and as it landed on the ice below, it froze. The ice was the blue/green color of water that once see in high mountains. I saw water this color in Switzerland once.

Further up the river, I spotted the rope swing that the kids and I swing from on out pontoon trips. Then, through the old limestone bridge footings and on up to the high bridge. It was here that My legs began to complain of being tired.

The high bridge is an incredible structure. Probably 100 feet above the river, with spans of at least 100 feet. All iron. Where the sections meet at the tops, they do not connect except for the train track on them. From the river below, it looks like about 2 feet of sky can be seen between sections. Since boats from downstream cannot pass under the bridge due to zebra muscles, I don't think many people actually look up at the bridge from directly beneath.

North of the bridge, I began to wonder if I'd missed Arcola Mills. My iPhone confirmed that I had not. However, there was open water all along the MN shoreline as I continued up the river. I think the river is shallower and runs faster in this section. Finally, the stately white and green mansion of Arcola Mills came into view. I gingerly stepped on a section of ice between two open sections and stepped onto solid ground after nearly three hours on the river. From here, it was only 2.7 miles down Highway 95 to home.

Looking to MN side. Absolutely stunning. I can understand why people cross this bridge.

High Bridge.

The WI side.

The rope swing on the MN side, about 1/2 mile south of the old bridge footings.

Turkey tracks crossing the river.

About a mile norht of the Boom Site, looking south.

Can you see the water dripping down?

Directly underneath the ice falls. THe long ice strand is actually a climbing rope.

Ice Falls across from the Boom Site.

The cliffs of the Boom Site. notice the large house on the hill.

Looking north toward the Boom Site from an island.

A short excursion onto one of the many river islands.

Me and my Spiderman mask heading north up the River.

North of town. Notice the snowmobile trail and our footprints

Me and Stillwater in the background, from north of town.

Coming back to Stillwater from the south.

Marty just south of the lift bridge, safely far away from the open water.