Monday, March 25, 2013

The 13th Spring Warm-up!

Okay, before the old people such as Ron Gehl and Helen Malmerg get on my case for claiming this year's Spring Warm-up is the 13th, I'm just making it up as I go along!  Of course, now Helen will drive up to Creetown, trunk full of Uzi's, to settle the score regarding my unfortunate choice of words (old).  I must confess, Helen and I are practically of an age, and I don't consider myself old.  My remark won't save my life, I'm just trying to express that Helen and Ron have been running the OUS races for a quarter century.  Now I'm really toast!

And before you think "Wow, this guy is some freak!  Making a 13 out of pottery, firing it, glazing it, firing it again, all to take a picture?  Get a life!", I did not make the 13.  Kinga and Stephan happen to live at 13 in Toronto.  I'm fairly certain there aren't that many houses at 13 in Toronto, so you should be able to drive by their house soon and check it out near the front door.  I think they live in western Toronto, to narrow it down even further.  Stephan's painstaking attention to detail is evident in the piece.  I had fun Saturday evening, drinking wine and urging Stephan to hurry his artwork, so that I could load the kiln.  The concept was that the pottery would be ready before they left on Sunday morning.  As the kiln was still 9,000,000 degrees when they left, not even close!  I think Stephan is used to working under pressure, as his unflappable composure never faltered during the full-court press.

Which brings me to a problem I faced Saturday morning.  Kinga, Stephan and Sharon drove up to Creemore to get in some "winter trail runs".  I think they were a little surprised that the trails still had up to 2 feet of snow in places.  I am certainly not trained to the Miklos level, but I wanted to provide them with a challenging run.  As I remarked as we headed out the door, none of those little hills you find on the Creemore Vertical Challenge.  And 2 of the hills were impressive, with long, steep sections, in a foot of snow.  I almost died...

Lee Anne and Sharon opted for roads, as Sharon wanted to get in a long run.  Long did they run!  47K, including some serious vertical.  After 22K, I dropped, but Stephan and Kinga continued for another chunk of K's.

Spring Warm-up!  April 13, 2013, on a 13K course.  I wonder if April Boultbee will run it.  Might be too confusing (who's on first).  I'm looking forward to the SW for an entirely different reason now.  I make maple syrup, which is very difficult to do if there is no sap.  I made 10 litres, 15 days ago (March 10).  I have not collected ANY sap since.  It is supposed to run this week (I will believe it when I see it), but the long range forecast is not pretty,  Highs of +5, which is perfect, but lows of +2, which is very very bad.  I need a hard frost at night (-5) for the sap to descend to the roots.  If the sap stays in the trunk and branches, there is no "sap run" the next day.  If it stays relatively warm for 4 - 5 days, the season will be over.  I'm staring down the barrel of another dismal syrup season...

Anyone want to buy an evaporator?

All right, enough pessimism.  After all, the Spring Warm-up is almost here!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"March" Long Run

I don't know why I feel embarrassed to consider 15K a long run.  I'm busy in March; work and maple syrup taking an average of 81.6 hours out of the 168 hour week.  Then there is pottery - I just made 156 medals for the YMCA Strong Kids campaign.  Of more significance, making maple syrup requires tangible physical effort.  Driving a laptop at work is nothing, but snowshoeing in deep snow for 2 - 3 days per week is tough!  Before this sounds any more like whining, let's just say that getting in a 15K run this morning was wonderful.  It is -7 this Saturday morning.  The sap is not running so I am!

I am surprisingly tired, but then again, the first hill (Collingwood street - the top part of which is Hill #1 on the CVC course) was 4K long, then I ran the big hill on the CKD (Copper Kettle Dash) 10K course.  The hill on SR 6/7 is about 1.5K long.  Then I was tired!  Lee Anne ran with me, but of course she is currently adding 25K to today's run to make it 40K, as she only ran 40K yesterday.  She is worried that she won't do well at Pick Your Poison 50K...  I've given up trying to convince her that 150K per week is an adequate base for a 50K race!

Although tired after 15K, my knees and back did not bother much at all today.  This is heartening and I hope it will translate into an injury-free ramp-up in April and May.  I will of course do nothing stupid during the ramp up, like increase my long run by 5K per week...  Yeah, I know.  We are our own worst enemies.

I am also surprised at how much I am looking forward to the Spring Warm-up.  There are 2 aspects of the event that appeal to me.  1.  It is more social than race.  This means that the super-human runners will actually let me run ahead of them, for a few meters during the first loop.  I remember once thinking "I'm ahead of Jim Morrison"!  And I'm not talking about the dead Jim Morrison!  The last time I could keep up to Live Jim in a 50K race was circa 2005.  2.  The SW is akin to a gathering after a long, dark, cold winter.  The Ontario ultra community is actually quite small and if you attend 2 or more races, due to the duration of the races, you tend to make many friends.  The SW is a wonderful chance to catch up with those runners you haven't seen since last year's races.

While writing, it has warmed up to -3.  It is unusual to have some free time in mid-March, drink a coffee and update the blog.  I need to clean the evaporator, but will defer that tasks to tomorrow, as it is supposed to be a bit warmer.  I need to immerse my hands in cold water for an hour or two, in order to clean the evap.  If anyone is interested in seeing the evaporator in action, please email me.  First I need sap (really?) which requires 1 - 2 days with a high of +3 to +8 and a low of -3 to -8 prior to starting the evaporator.  The sugar shack is near Singhamton (south of Blue Mountain) and please note!  There is a 1K walk through snow from the road to the shack.  The essentials (hot rum and syrup) will be provided...

Well, time to replenish the wood supply on the deck.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Let the Season Begin!

I'll be the first to admit that the title is ambiguous.  The Spring Warm-up approaches (check out the finishing medals!), I made the first 10 litres of syrup yesterday and I wonder what a past winner of the SW grand prize, JD Begin ( is up to.  I'm going to have to ask a professional like Chris McPeake ( how they incorporate the URL into a few words written on the blog.  It is probably staring me in the face, but please recall that my background is Cobol - green or black please...  The last ambiguity is a stretch, but I'm happy with it.

10 litres!  Daryl, Lily and the grand children (Hannah and Griffin) came up for the day with some friends.  Their friends brought their 8 month old son.  No, I don't recall any names, let's move on.  Daryl helped me to tap 250 trees about 2 weeks ago.  It is pleasant work, but work nonetheless.  I think he needed proof that all his efforts were not in vane.  Daryl, Lily and the GC's seemed to enjoy themselves and the evening report (Lee Anne is in touch with all family members about every 2 hours) is that they were quite tired.  And so they should be!  Hauling 2 children 1K to the sugar shack in 2 feet of snow is a full body workout.  Then build a snow fort, hike further to the neighbor's sugar shack, drink some rum and boiling maple syrup (yes, this requires both effort and dedication!) and finally haul the kids back out to the road.

I had the added pleasure of staying at the shack long enough to boil down the remaining sap and emptying the evaporator.  The weather is supposed to turn cold and I'm leery of sap freezing in the evaporator.  Before firing it up (next week?) I'll clean the evaporator.  I've stored about 80 litres of condensed sap for the start-up.


I'm still getting in short runs during the week.  I was supposed to run today, but the winds are strong and we are having the occasional whiteout.  My upper body is also quite stiff from yesterday.  Not an excuse, but an indication that I have not been hugging my couch lately!

Well, the OTS/OUS Spring Warm-up is in 1 month.  I'm looking forward to challenging the hills around Dunedin once again.  I normally hit the Dunedin hills after running 10 - 14K from home.  By then, I'm tired enough that the hills require effort.  When we start in Dunedin, the hills are no effort at all.  It's great!  Yes, the previous sentence is just a joke, please don't hunt me down, blah blah blah...