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Training Log Archive: Swampfox

In the 7 days ending Jan 21:


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Sunday Jan 21 #

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It being Jan 21, and roughly a month since the solstice, it seemed like a good time to drop in on a perfectly randomly selected newspaper, as part of my continuing effort to keep abreast of what is going on around the nation of too much coal and too little cold. And today's perfectly randomly selected newspaper turned out to be...the Lawrence Journal World--how excellent! Several articles caught my eye:

1) The lead article was about the 2018 Women's March in Lawrence, which was attended by thousands. Lawrence's Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen made comments alluding to the speed dating potential demographic of the crowd, and judging by the accompanying photograph of the attendees, she nailed that. What impressed me was the wisdom of the Lawrence electorate, in choosing a Vice Mayor with such a powerful name, beginning both the given and surnames with the same consonant "L". The more popular technique of doubling consonants and placing them together--as in these completely random examples "Platt", "William:, or even "Mikell"--is obviously far weaker. Besides conveying a great sense of power, the name "Lisa Larsen" has such a fine Swedish ring to it, and I bet she could identify what Homeland Security nominee Kirstjen Nielsen couldn't--that ethnically speaking, Norway is pretty much white.

2) There was an article about a forthcoming book covering some of the favorite songs of Lawrence. I was intrigued by the song selections, having always been of the view that if you know what people whistle while they work, then you know a great deal about those people. "Within You, Without You", by George Harrison has always been a favorite of mine and I was happy to see it is is so well thought of in Lawrence, too. There were several selections by the Thorns, an obvious nod to the nature of the dominant native vegetation. There was even a traditional gospel hymnal: "The Wind Cries Mary (Jones)".

3) There were of course many, many articles about Jayhawk basketball, far too many to go into here.

4) Finally, an article about the KU jet piqued my curiosity. Who knew KU had its own jet! Anyway, the University Senate is recommending it be sold. Apparently the jet has mostly been used for conducting bombing raids on the Mizzou Campus, and after decades of near nightly aerial assaults, there just isn't that much left of Mizzou to target. Some defenders of the jet who want to save it have suggested it could be deployed to assist with football recruiting, but the Athletic Department put out a terse statement reading, in its entirety: "Why would we want to recruit football players?", which largely quashed that suggestion.

It's always fun reading the newspaper!

I didn't have to read the paper to find out what was going on locally today. Instead, I could observe and experience firsthand. And what was going on was at last a day of snow that looked and felt like real winter. It snowed lightly in town all day long, which was encouraging. I went up to the ski trails in the late afternoon and found about 6" of new snow. I skied until after dark, with more snow falling just about the whole time. It's first solid snow storm we've had since a few days before Christmas, and very much needed. With more normal winter temps, it will be enough new snow to get us through a good bit of February in good shape--really important, given that the state high school championships will be here this season.

Besides the snow, it there was enough cold plus enough wind to make it feel like real winter and to keep my hands from ever feeling toasty the whole time I was skiing. It was "only" teens (meaning it wasn't bitter cold) when I was leaving the parking lot, but enough wind that I stood still by my truck door and thought first about each move I was going to make with an exposed hand while I would be getting my keys and unlocking the door.

And it must be windy here in Laramie right now. As I've been typing the power has already flickered off very briefly twice--and the wind seems the most likely culprit.

Saturday Jan 20 #

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O' at Pelican Bay, 14 kms, 45 controls, snow everywhere in the forest and sage with areas of drifted snow while prairie areas were mostly bare, overcast w/ light breeze, 40F and dropping, and...

I headed up to run in the afternoon. Judging by conditions in the valley--overcast but fairly bright--there was plenty of time to run the whole course. As I drove past the Tie City parking lot and swung around the curve, however, I could look up ahead to the east and....see fog. Dense fog.

There wasn't any fog at Pelican Bay as I got there, but there was plenty of fog just across the highway over large portions of Remarkable Flats, and tendrils were headed south. It looked murky. I wasted no time getting going and decided I would just try to get around as far as I could, and if the fog got bad quickly, then I would hop off the course, and head up to Happy Jack and run snow trails (which I could almost do blind folded.)

The fog did sweep in, but wasn't as thick as it looked from the outside. Inside the fog, you could see fine enough for about 100 m or so, and past that for some extra amount of distance before things disappeared. But 100 m is a lot, well more than enough, and the main problem was trying to read some of the finer details on the map. Getting to the control rings was no problems, but seeing the fine details--especially things like small form line knolls or distinguishing what various black objects were--was tough at times. I had printed the map at 1:12,500, which probably would have been fine minus the fog.

The whole time I was running I was losing light as an unseen sun dipped lower, overcast skies got darker, and as the fog got thicker. In the end, I only made it to the first 36 controls before I judged it was time to head for the nearest trail and take the most direct route back to my truck. As it was, I made it back just as dusk was fading into night.

By then, the fog was quite thick, and the temps were below freezing. You couldn't see, and then there was the added thrill of fog freezing on the windshield. I drove back very slowly along the Happy Jack Road until the fog lightened and then disappeared at the higher elevation of the interstate at the Summit, by which time the windshield was warm enough to keep ice from forming on it. From there back home it was easy going, but it's always a relief and nice to get back home after experiencing uncertain or bad driving conditions.

Friday Jan 19 #

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Easily breaking a record high for the date--it's already 56F vs the old record of 51F. Substantial!

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Counting today, I've skied the last 8 days in the new year. Most years, I would have skied the last 19 days. I don't know if I'll ski tomorrow because conditions are again getting thin in more and more spots. Some snow may arrive tomorrow, and we'll just have to see.

On the other hand, I've biked outside quite a few days this year, and most years that would show a zero.

And normally the valley here would be white. As it is, if you look to the mountains to the south and west, they are snow covered. But the valley is very brown, as is the western facing slope of the Laramie Range--as brown as one of those old HVO suits (or am I thinking of Ramapo? not sure.)

Ran after skiing and saw a grand total of 2 mountain bikers after dark, and no moose.

Tuesday Jan 16 #

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Sunny and crisp out today, starting out cold at around 0F or just below, and warming up until the early afternoon. I had some errands and decided I could bike around in shorts from the way it felt, and did, but there was a colder wind out of the north that I couldn't feel in my yard, but which could be felt while biking. Fingers in regular biking gloves got somewhat icy, but they survived, and otherwise it was fine--beats melting down in high temps and humidity, that's for sure.

Then skied and ran some later in the day, finishing up well after dark. I cut the running short and did everything at a very easy effort level, because I had the vague sense my body wasn't quite there today. Nothing I could pin down as incipient illness necessarily--just kind of felt like I might be feeling very mildly achy all over, and feeling ever so slightly flattish. And yet, in my mind and head I felt fine, alert, and happy to be outside. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea to take things really easy and back off a bit, just in case.

There were as many bikers out after dark as I've seen all season. And some of them have lights that can burn holes through your eye sockets if you look straight into them. It's amazing to see how these lights seem to get more and more powerful each year. I'm sure the bikers must sometimes blind each other as they approach; at least I can step off the trail and turn my head away (which is what I do, and I don't mind yielding to the bikers at all anyway.)

It was very clear out and stars were extra visible tonight--so much so that a constellation was almost harder to pick out because so many fainter stars that you never usually see were easily visible also. I saw a very cool meteorite that was a good bit larger than most are, and which seemed to be moving more slowly across the sky than most do. After transecting a large arc, it disappeared behind a hill off to the west.

Monday Jan 15 #

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Nice to have another very sunny day, but extra nice to have a sunny day that actually felt like winter for a change. Decidedly nippy in the cab of my truck on the way home, which is the finest measure of if it's winter or if it's not really winter. Lately it's been mostly the latter.

Trail conditions were mostly good, and considerably improved by some shoveled snow onto several critical spots.

I was on guard because I had seen a suspicious car bearing Colorado plates in the parking lot, but even so I was unable to avoid running into racer X8A7. Drats. And I had thought for sure if I simply avoided all the beginner trails I would be safe!

So we skied together from then, which was fine, though oddly we spent the time mostly talking about Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate morsels. Well that wasn't the odd part. The odd part was we were both arguing strongly that semi-sweet chips were the best, and didn't realize until we were nearing the end of the ski that we both favored the same chip position. Miscommunication at its finest!

After X8AZ headed back to Colorado, with some favorable winds to speed his progress eastward down I-80, I headed back out on several select snow bike trails for some running, thinking about a bit of wisdom a snow biker had passed along recently: "Remember if you see a horse out in these woods, it's really a moose, and if you see a moose instead, then it's a moose, too; cows don't count, because you won't see any cows up here in winter."

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