Saturday, March 31, 2007

puter melt down

Knoppix is my friend, but it will be next week before I can see my way to rebuilding this box. :( It's only a machine!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ipod birthday

Monday and the spine of winter has been snapped again. The now over the garden retreated today. The air is filled with the calls from sandhill cranes and geese. The smells of winter carnage an astringent reminder of the costs in this cycle of life we're bound to.

My shop is once again free from long metal spiral shards. I'll have to break with the machining for a while. Other jobs are piling up behind me at a frightening rate. I haven't felt so empowered in my work in a few years. It's only necessary to remind myself that this is work and not entirely fun one in a while.

BBQ salmon in my mouth for lunch. Cold and still as rich as ever. It's not the premium product of my west coast friends, but there was sockeye in the house last night. It went first which isn't too surprising. PU has finally taken to fish once a week. 21 years and I finally get a bit of fish regularly.

My middle brother gave me a 30gig Ipod for my birthday. He's human, but sometimes it hardly shows. We have music in common and have had for years. He's not a CBC radio fan, but I am so although we have a similar and broadly eclectic tastes, we come at them from different and complimentary sources.

When I unpacked this little gem, he had loaded it with nearly 3800 songs that celebrated our common love of music. Two feature films were included, Snatch and Casino Royale and numerous music videos. Too bad one can't listen to the radio and an Ipod at the same time. I'll likely stick to my radio routines, at least until broad band is in place here and likely beyond. I don't like disengaging with my surroundings and the Ipod makes me feel that way. I can see using a light weight nano type Ipod for long runs maybe, but we'll see if that even works. Our eldest has a nano that's never worked. I'm going to grab it and see if I can help it along now that I sort of know my way around my little beast.

My knees haven't forgiven me yet. I need to build up my quads. In my spare time... Mother in law is out for a few days. I love spoiling that woman. She's so easy! :D

Back to the grind.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

cats and the shaft for my milling spindle

Life seems particularly busy just now. I've been putting in a lot of hours in the shop which is always fun. I thought it time to catch up with some cute cat images. Not as cute as gleefulfishy@lj's cats, but I can't have everything I want all the time! The shop produce from today needed to be posted too. This project is coming along nicely.

Wolfbane is still a handful.


Grey cat on the barn door


Wet JB weld on the shaft in the lathe


Cone end of the finished shaft


Side shot of the finished shaft


Monday, March 12, 2007

Polar Bear race report

It's proving difficult not to focus on the pain in my legs this morning. My knees feel so vulnerable going downstairs and when heading back up my quadriceps are barely up to the task. I could go on at length. :D It's all much better if I just keep moving!

I ate up all of the four hours scheduled and came in with about two minutes to spare. Others slogged on much longer. Some speedsters were done in 3:20! I think our Pam did very well.

The run began for me over a decent pint of ale with maniacs as many good things do. I'm a reluctant goal setter and if it weren't for my local maniacs, I would never have signed up for this. They are all tired of me underselling my abilities and show great confidence in me. I'm grateful to have them show me the way. I missed Jill's shining smile though. She's often the biggest promoter of optimism and she's hurt just now after being hit by a car. Hopefully she'll be back in our ranks soon.

At the smorg style lunch after the run, we all signed a shirt to be sent to the fellow in hostpital after being chased and eventually hit by some of the lunatic fringe driving a stolen car last week in Winnipeg.

I'm a reader and love to study and learn. That reading is at the root of why I always head into this type of adventure with such trepidation. The long and short of it is that according to every plan I look at, I'm hopelessly under trained. I have issues with my immune system that seem to keep me away from a lot of high mileage work. I read one of Jack Daniel's principles of training shortly before leaving for the cottage on Saturday that was helpful in remaining confident. He suggests running no farther or faster than you have to in training. I suppose that's what I have been relying on and it's working so far.

Eight weeks was what I had to play with to prepare for this and I set to work to make a workable plan. I figured that the largest shortcoming would likely be my leg strength and this morning I'm here to tell you that it's an issue. :P I ramped up my standard runs immediately and began to push my weekend runs to much longer distances. My longest run was 12 miles in a fierce windchill four weeks from race day. I took two weeks of tapering that involved some sore throat and congestion time and a lot less running that I wanted to do to serve the training needs.

Pierrette joined me, and Cheryl and Dennis put us up at their cottage for the night. We had a very short drive to the race start because of their generosity. Thank-you very much Cheryl and Dennis! Cheryl is an energetic sort. I had planned to take them out for dinner, but Cheryl did an end run around that and provided a good meal without much fuss. Pierrette and I enjoyed the lively conversation and then we headed off for an early bed time.

If there was ever a year to do this run, this was the year. On awakening, the temperature was about -10C with no wind. The day before had been mild and we were all hoping the trail was crusted up nicely for some solid footing. The first little bit of the race was enough to sober ones thoughts about footing though. We began on a track that was not part of the primary crossing route. It was very unstable.

I love my sunglasses and was so grateful to have them yesterday. For many years I've used "glacier" glasses from MEC. They are 17% neutral grey and provide me with just what I'm looking for in sunglasses. I can't wear them unless it's very bright because they are just too dark for casual use, but in the bright light they are wonderful. That said, the sun never shone yesterday and I was grateful it didn't, but the contrast was very very low and the glasses seemed to help with that. By the end the clouds were threatening rain and it was too dark to wear them. These glasses have the added benefit of not changing any of the colours. I like that a lot.

The quality of light, especially through the middle part of the run was extraordinary. There were times where the snow on the ground and sky blended perfectly. The sensation of being without a horizon was disorienting. It made for some strange sensations and some spectacularly subtle colour variations. It was a beautiful day for a run.

I had my Camelbak with 1.5l of Gatorade and four gels. Having never run as far as 30km I was hoping my guesses were correct. As it turned out, I was bang on. Dennis ferried gear, fluid and nutrients up and down the trail all day, but although I brought more Gatorade, I didn't need it. Having Dennis as support was wonderful. His smiling face was an important boost in the closing miles. Did I mention this was tough? I took a gel every 45 minutes and that worked well.

The footing was variable. The big old Bombardier tore up what decent footing there was on the track. One minute you'd be running on something similar to a hard packed beach and the next you might have one or both feet skidding off that surface and down into ankle deep tiny ball bearing like snow pellets. Brutal! It was very demanding to have to pull myself out of that bogged down state and back to the task of creating some forward motion.

Now I suppose it's time to get my head around what might be a reasonable projected time goal for the Manitoba marathon. Ah... life!

Moments after finishing


Polar Bear run images

Most of my images got borked. These are some of what survived.

It was a hell of a long run and as predicted, the footing was nasty. I finished in 3:58 I think. It was brutal. Most definitely the most challenging physical endeavour I've ever taken on.

The light was very strange. Ultra low contrast and many places where the sky blended seamlessly into the snow cover. When we were in the middle, it was sometimes an odd enough effect to interfere with ones equilibrium. It felt as if you were running through a tunnel or something like that. Very strange to be without a horizon.

There was little wind to speak of and the temperatures were just below the freezing mark. If the big bombardier hadn't chewed up the track it would have been much easier going, but it wasn't billed as the easiest race so I should shut up. Everyone was saying how this year was the best footing ever. Some years they have to detour around open water. Yikes! Having done this one once I think is enough for me!

I was happy to make a strong showing and I finished looking strong so I was pleased. Many didn't look so good coming to the finish. It was a very demanding run. I nailed the fluid and calorie requirements to a tee too, which is always handy. Over the four hours I consumed a liter and a half of straight Gatorade and a gel (powergel) every 45 minutes. I got a pint of chocolate milk into me the minute I crossed the finish line hoping to help recover tomorrow in the best way possible. The body plays some interesting tricks in endurance running. There is a twenty minute window after finishing a long run like this where the body will replenish it's spent stores of glycogen very rapidly. Chocolate milk provides a poor mans recovery drink because it's balanced 25% protein and about 75% carbs which is ideal. If I didn't notice the difference I wouldn't bother with it, but it's an experiment that clearly shows the benefits for me so I drink it willingly. Such punishment!

My big toe nail on my left foot is very tender. The soles of my feet are tender. My knees are very stiff tonight and my quads are sore and uncooperative when asked to climb up or down stairs. Over all though I'm jacked up right properly that I've managed to exceed my expectations yet again.

Cheryl works for a dealer of many machines and the sled Dennis got to play with today would do 118 mph wicked wide open! What a toy.

bombardier -the bomb Polar Bear Run


Waterboys in the bomb


Waterboys in the bomb


Cheryl finishing


Cheryl gritting her teeth




Dwayne finishing


Dwayne's brain freeze and Lisa's Dad


Jeff and Ian








Two speedsters


Thursday, March 8, 2007


I'm getting cold feet about this weekend. Maybe that's just the thought of all the slush we could be running in. I found this race this morning to help me feel better.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The long way around

Pierrette will have about a one and a half hour dive to come around the lake if it all works as planned for the Polar Bear run next weekend. I don't know what's worse, running it or driving it. More will be reveled in trudging the happy road of destiny. I'm in pain already, but as Gord Downey of The Hip has been heard to say, "nobody's interested in something you didn't do." :D

Friday, March 2, 2007

snow removal and Polar Bear run prep.

The organisational meeting for the 30km run across the frozen Lake Winnipeg was tonight. It looks like there will likely be a crew of ten or so from the crew. I'm so in over my head on this one. It's right at the limit of where I can expect to hit the wall as my muscle runs out of glycogen.

I haven't been able to sustain as high a mileage in training to get up to securely run the longer distances without fear of pushing that limit, but I've made my bed and now it only remains to sleep in it.

The snow removal duties on last Sunday and yesterday have left what was supposed to be a taper week in the training schedule as one that only served to weaken rather than strengthen me. On a positive note, my legs recovered nicely from yesterday. On Monday they were a bit sore from Sunday's pushing.

Thank heavens that Dad taught me how to milk all the horse power available out of small air cooled engines. My little blower sure can push snow. When I bought it for a hundred bucks I thought it would do for the time being. The first winter I used it I broke a main drive shaft in it early in the season. That must have been in the winter of 95/96 or so when we had more snow than we knew what to do with. That was the first project for my then new machine lathe. The original shaft was made out of material that was better suited to be easy on the manufacturing processes than in doing a good job of being a shaft. I love machines.

On Sunday the cut down the drive was a simple trench that the snow blower cut. Consequently the wind filled it in with snow rather more promptly than was desirable. Yesterday I blew it all out then took the scoop and hand tapered all the edges. The wind is still a factor, but the drifting isn't thankfully. Early in the week bigger machines will come and clear the yard and we'll start the process all over again. This winter was so soft in the beginning and now it's in full swing.

When I walk to the barn it's like walking a tight rope. I've got a tiny little trail packed that the wind blows snow to cover almost flawlessly. One step off the beaten path and I'm into snow over my knees. I've got 25kg feed bags that need to go down that trail tomorrow? Anyone want to call it core strength work and save the money you spend at the gym?


When I have to dig out the snow blower with a shovel before I can get to work, it's been snowing. No, really.
Bushed! Two and a half hours today and almost that once already this week. PU couldn't get in tonight from the north and had to go all the way around to come in from the east. We need the moisture, but I'm cooked. Time to do something else other than clear the yard.