Monday, April 28, 2014

Pick Your Poison

Full reverse captain!

Even though I live in the area I was a bit surprised to see the quantity of snow on the ski hills at PYP.  As in "Hey!  There's a bare spot".  For me, PYP has been the season opener for a few years.  First time I'm allowed out of the sugar shack...

Reports of the trail conditions leading up to the race and on race day were ominous.  Snow, ice and mud.  Very slow conditions.  Perfect!  Due to the never-ending syrup season (I boiled down 3 days before the race) my conditioning was laughable.  I should NOT be running a 25K race with so little training.  A trail race with ski hills.  Fortunately, the trails were slow, slippery, treacherous and nearly unrunable in spots.  Everyone would have to run at my speed!

I had the usual apprehensions of someone who had only run 28K in the last 2 weeks, during 4 runs.  Would I uber-bonk at 20K?  Would I make it to 20K?  Does snowshoeing out from the sugar shack with a case of syrup on my back count as training?  After 40 years of running, I figured something out.  If I start slowly and don't do anything really stupid, I can generally make it to the finish line without having to use the Quasimodo lurch.  As the race unfolded, all the snow, ice and mud really cheered me up.  To indicate how slow it was, first place in the 25K was 2:05!  Not the typical 1:45 range.  It was tough!

The first 12.5K loop was run at an easy pace, in 1:35.  I was tired starting the second loop, but thought I would simply run until forced to walk.  I don't know if this occurs because I have leg memory, or some such thing, that tricks my legs into thinking they can actually run for 3+ hours without any training, but I was able to run until the finish.  Sure, I took walking breaks up the hills, and my definition of a hill changed dramatically as I slogged along, but I was not forced to slow down due to a conga-line, as I had at spots in the first loop.  I don't like slowing down, just to cross a little bridge, or to step over a bunch of logs.  Just close your eyes and maintain a steady rhythm, and your feet will figure out what to do.  Trust me!  So the second loop was completed in 1:39, for a fairly even split and a total of 3:14.  Because of the conditions, 3:14 is actually a respectable time.  I'm very happy with it and hope that with a modicum of training, I can do better!

So, I went home happy and tired.  I was invited to my brothers for supper, which would (so I thought) allow me to hit the pillow circa 10:00 PM.  Nope, not even close!  Supper turned out to be more of a retirement party (I retire May 1) with 80 - 90 of my closest friends.  Quite the surprise!  Lee Anne had spent 3 months planning the event and it included family and friends from work, running and old acquaintances.  Quite the spectacle!  The only problem with such an enterprise is that there were 20 - 30 people with whom I would have loved to spend an hour or two talking.  However it was great to see everyone and it helped impress on me that retirement will actually happen!  I got home with a bunch of retirement gifts and made it to bed at 02:00 AM.

Well, see you soon at the next race!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Computer... New Operating System... Old Operator

The title is a bit of a joke.  I started at Honda back when the earth was cooling, as a mainframe computer operator.  Before then, OS360 was introduced circa 1965 and it was still good enough for the 1980's.  In 1985 ish, they introduced OS370, a minor upgrade.  Think on that.  20 years before a minor upgrade.  Nowadays, the operating system changes faster than I change my underwear.  Strike that last bit, it sounds ominous.

Here is how my week has progressed:  Friday:  Upgrade my work laptop from Window XP (no, not joking) to Windows 7.  Monday:  Install specialized software until just after the cows came home.  Tuesday (today), buy a new laptop with Windows 8.1.  Now I'm not Amish, although they think so at work, but this week has been a precipitously steep learning curve.  First point, for the designers of Win8.1:  Are you out of your cotton-picking minds?  Who would consider such an obscure, counter-intuitive system as a good idea?  I actually want to FIND C drive.  I like to dictate the file path so that way out in the future, such as tomorrow, I can FIND the @%#@$ file.  I understand hierarchical databases; I don't understand mansy pansy fog-overlaid file storage, where you find what you stored by wishing on a star.

But let's move on to a topic that has caused me some angst in the last month or so.  Maple syrup production.  I have 73 liters so far.  For those who will be demanding their age category prize of syrup at this year's Creemore Vertical Challenge, this translates into "I have enough for the race".  I don't have enough for personal and (this is funny) I don't have the 100 liters that people have already ordered, including the dreaded MMSC (militant maple syrup consumers), who believe that pain is a conscionable method of making me understand what and who are important in the grand scheme of things.  The good new is that it will be -10 tonight.  I have a very shaky and short reprieve from the budding season, when I will lose all hope (yee who enter here) of filling the outstanding orders...

Running?  It is not going very well, but I did get a run in with Everhard, a neighbour who normally runs at twice my speed.  Everhard brought a couple of friends who were in need of some hill training.  Soon the vertical trash talk started and Lance displayed some fine sarcasm while talking of the 4K hill on Collingwood Street (part of which is hill #1 on the CVC course) by thanking us for choosing such an easy hill...

So, I am resigned to a slow and painful "long training run" at the Pick Your Poison race in 2 weeks.  I  hoped to ramp up the training to make it more of a race.  However, the first (for me) race of the season is meant for meeting up with running friends and talking about the long winter!

Dig Deep.