Saturday, March 31, 2012

20K Run!

Sad to hear that Micah True is still missing.  To me, he epitomized the childlike wonder of running trails, setting yourself an impossible task and enjoying the challenges of distance running.  At this stage, I don't see much hope for him.  I wonder what will become of his demise?

Started a running group at Honda, called the ISD Elite Running Team.  My department is Information Systems.  The idea is to strike fear in our opponents.  Until they see us run, that is!  Some members have prior running experience, but everyone is training for the Barrie 5K.  I'm running the half.  The race is on my birthday!  This week, we wimped out and ran on the treadmills at the Honda rec centre.

This morning I ran with my wife Lee Anne Cohen and Dawn Hamel.  I should say we ran down the same roads.  Lee Anne and Dawn were much faster than I.  This comes as no surprise.  Lee Anne has won her age category at the Toronto International marathon and Dawn Hamel is perhaps Canada's fastest ultra runner in her age category.  You can argue with me, but look up the results of last year's Canadian Death Race.  5th women overall?  Looks like some chick from Ontario, named Dawn.  Hmmm...  Her age must be a typo.

I first noticed Dawn when reviewing the top runners of the Creemore Vertical Challenge.  I was almost convinced I had made a mistake in the 2008 25K race, when I noticed some 50+ woman had posted a 2:15.  Her time is not that great for a 25K road race, but the CVC has 2 hills, perhaps 3?  Before anyone drives over to kill me, I should be a bit more honest and state it has 4 hills, 1 valley and several grades, ascents, inclines and cliffs...  Not a course that can be run easily in 2:15!

Right off the bat, my back let me know what it thinks of 20K runs.  I ignored it, but the pace was slow.  After 5K, the back eased up a bit and I was able to manage a decent pace.  Decent for me just now is 6 minute K's, running with a torn cartilage.  My surgery has yet to be scheduled.  The bad knee (actually, my good knee.  Hmmm...  might have to start calling it my other bad knee) acted up at 12K, which is fair, since 12K is currently a "long" run.  I was tired after 20K, but happy.  I will reach for 25K next week and then decide if I have what it takes to enter the 25K at Pick Your Poison.

Hope to see a bunch of you at the Spring Warm-up in 2 weeks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Running long tomorrow & pulling taps

Well, I have never been an ultra snob, one who considers a marathon something you do when injured.  Or reminisce about being young 40 years ago, the last time you ran less than 5K...

I am attempting to ramp up from very low mileage, to something that would make entering a 25K trail race (Pick Your Poison) seem like something plausible.  Tomorrow I hope to run 16 - 20 K.  It has been an adjustment to consider 16K a long run.  At the juncture at which I became injured, my weekly total diminished and my wife's went up.  Her "normal" week (sorry to those who are struggling to run 8K.  This is going to hurt) is 4 X 17K, a day off, then 40K and 50K.  Yes, that is per week.  She has run 2 marathon+ runs almost every week since 2008.  The rare exclusions are when she has a long race, or is injured.  Weekly total is usually circa 150K.  I ran 26K last week WOOHOO!!!

So, I now struggle with ramping up to 40 - 50K per week, while striving to run with a torn cartilage.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  To make the opaque horizon cloudy (sorry, kinda ominous wording) I will have to schedule surgery somewhere in the racing season this year.  I'm not overly astute, but I think this means I might have trouble with a race at some point...

Tomorrow the plan is to drive the tractor (nope, no cab) to the property and pull 250 taps.  Then clean and dismantle the evaporator and haul out all the equipment.  I will try to forget that I did all this work for 36 litres of maple syrup.  At some point (Sunday afternoon, exhausted) I am likely to remember how bad the season was this year.  I might jump up and down and yell a bit.  It helps the psyche.

The good in all this?  Running takes precedence over cleaning taps!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

MRI Results

March 17, sunny and 23 degrees.  Too hot to run!  Seriously, 23 degrees?  Mid-March in Creemore is usually when the snow banks go above 8 feet.  I'll try to dig up a picture of my old Integra against such a snow bank in mid-March.

Ran 5K yesterday.  I'm not going to push it for now, but would like to ramp up to a short race, such as Pick Your Poison 25K.  During yesterday's run, I found 2 garbage pails that had gone MIA during a wind storm.  Lucky to find them!  But it meant a half K of running holding on to two pails - not so simple!

I spoke with my sports doctor on Thursday about the result from my MRI the previous week.  Torn cartilage.  A bit of a relief, as it can be "trimmed" with arthroscopic surgery.  When I had the cartilage in my left knee worked on in 1973, they took the whole thing out!  Sports medicine has come a long way.  In fact, if I can find a video, I might do the surgery myself.  My close-minded doctor thinks it's a bad idea, and that some surgeon should perform the operation, but how hard can it be?  I've already got a chainsaw (incision) and a Dremel tool for trimming.  I just need to find a small camera.  Perhaps the one in my wife's old cell phone.  I could duct tape it to a Bic pen and prep the pathway with the Dremel tool.  I figure it would be a 4 black russian project...

Maple syrup:  Very very very very bad.

I tapped 250 trees.  I was expecting between 180 and 220 litres of syrup.  This year is simply the worst on record.  I started boiling last Sunday and tomorrow will be the end of it all.  I should pack it in today, but I am going to pull all the sap out of the sap pan tomorrow and feed it into the finishing pan.  While the finishing pan is boiling, I will need to add an estimated 400 litres of water to the sap pan, to avoid burning the sap pan...  Maybe I should do my knee at the same time.

So far, I have 24.5 litres of maple syrup.  This year's investment (I'm adding taps as I approach retirement) including new equipment, cutting firewood, repairs, bottles, jugs and rum, was $800.  I don't have enough syrup for the CVC race!  Lee Anne has agreed to make 16 extra bowls.  I will give the AC winners an option of syrup or extra pottery.

I was foolish enough to mention that I wanted to bottle 200 - 250 ml jugs for the race kits.  That is what likely jinxed the year.  Mother nature has a perverse sense of humour when faced with presumptuous maple syrup producers.

Using the same tactic in reverse, I have officially scoffed at the north wind.  I called it lame, spineless, timid in the face of a superior southwest wind.  I must have below freezing tonight or tomorrow night, or the season is over.  If we get 4 feet of snow over the next week, I'm sorry for spoiling your beautiful Spring, but I will be rejoicing!

OUS Spring Warm-up:  Lee Anne has agreed to make a few extra bowls, to replace the non-existent maple syrup prizes... Sorry.  I plan to take a course on altering the climate, once I find said course.

Running:  The plan is to slowly ramp up to 25K and attend PYP.  Plan B is to volunteer at PYP for the morning.  I am prepping for a wedding with my chainsaw in the afternoon.  Yes, the wedding involves ultra runners, how did you know?

That's it.  Shortest sugaring season on record, or at least since I started making maple syrup in 1972.  My running will improve this year, and I am secretly and guiltily enjoying the warm Spring.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Maple Syrup: Ready!

Okay, Maple syrup is damn hard work...  I think most people know this, especially those who buy a case of the stuff.  I'm really hoping there are no militant maple syrup consumers (MMSC's) reading this, but these people know it is a tough row to hoe.  Regardless, they want their damn 12 litres and they don't want any damn excuses, or they are coming over with their damn Uzi for a final discussion...

You think I'm joking.  I laugh when I hear about maple syrup getting exorbitant prices in Tokyo, or the French culinary masters who would commit ritual sepuku if they could not source the maple nectar.  (Nice tie-in, that Japanese connection, eh?)  The media has yet to publish details on the dark side of maple syrup.  I have had "customers" phone me twice a day, to find out exactly when their 18 medium and 6 amber litres will be ready.  A "friend", who is currently working in Hong Kong, is expecting his 6 litres of light and 6 of medium, any moment now.  His is combing the Ontario forecasts and maple syrup news bulletins to pinpoint when I will have produced the first medium batch...  Joe:  It is almost ready!

So I now play my maple syrup production progress cards close to my chest.  I don't want to be the reason the dark side is made public information.  "Oh he was definitely up to no good.  The maple syrup production must have simply been a cover.  Otherwise, the Albanian secret service would not have offed him in such a spectacular way".

I took 2 days off last week, to tap and ready the evaporator.  Daryl, my son-in-law, was a huge help on Friday, tapping the remaining 150 of 250 taps and readying the main lines.  Lily, my step-daughter and my grandchildren Hannah and Griffin, were also up for the day, although I don't think Lily had as good a time, giving the challenge of looking after 2 children out in the elements.  I hope they come up when the evaporator is running and the parenting duties can be shared!

Saturday was a short day at the shack (I had to weld a stay onto the snowblower during the morning) as there was a gale force wind and driving snow.  I parked in my neighbor's driveway, as it was not safe to leave the car on the road, due to whiteouts.

Sunday was a day of final preparations, cleaning the totes (I have 3 - 1,000 litre containers used to store sap), checking the evaporator for leaks (and boil 120 litres of water for cleaning) and having that first rum & coke at the shack.  When the evaporator is running, the rum is combined with near-syrup from the finishing pan for a lethal drink.  Do not drink 2 of these, then try to operate equipment, such as your legs.

So, 4 days of snowshoeing in the bush.  Believe it or not, the bush has 3 - 4 feet of snow!  I also shovelled the roof, fire pit, under a mainline (so that snowmobiles can get through), some mainlines low enough to be touching the snow, totes, the Mad river (not the whole thing, just where I draw water for cleaning) and the 3 doors to the sugar shack...  I should invite more people up before the season gets going!  Mind you, it would be the last time I see them!

So, my best guess is that I will start to boil is this Wednesday!  I have an MRI for my knee at 09:00 on Wednesday, then back to the shack to crank up the evap.

Running:  Nothing this weekend (re-read the part about trudging through 3 feet of snow for 6 hours a day) but hope to get out tomorrow and Tuesday.  Note!  I have run trails throughout December, January and February, but in early March, the trails now have too much snow!  I might still go out and tramp a trail, and win my obscure contest of trail running in Creemore - for bragging rights!