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Training Log Archive: Swampfox

In the 7 days ending Nov 1:

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Sunday Nov 1 #


Utterly magnificent day--fully sunny, blue skies as far as the eyes could see, a mild breeze sweeping up from the south, and no sign whatsoever of discord in the Kingdom of the Gem City. I spent most of the midday biking with Tyler, including a foray up to the tip-top of Rogers Canyon, and then changed gear(s?) and did an O' run at Granite Planite.

Some might complain and ask: "What about the Day of Doom, what happened to it?" It was still the Day of Doom, of course. But surely they didn't really think it was going to get me down. You just deal with it.

Saturday Oct 31 #


Began Day of Doom preparations with a bike ride over into the SE part of town to make observations of how several tiny developments there are coming along. I went out in bike shorts and a light jacket, but with a helmet liner, and all that was enough thanks to the sun and despite a chilly-ish breeze out of the north.

Then had to break off, since it was Halloween after all. Tradition calls for a longer run that extends into the night, all while avoiding any ghouls and goblins. As I was running towards and near the east HQs overlook, I was trying to remember when the full moon was. Yesterday? Today? Tomorrow? By the time I had reached the overlook, the moon had already (just) risen above the Nebraskan horizon, and since the sun had already set, I reasoned the full moon had been yesterday (which turned out to be wrong, as I learned when I checked back at home later). Much of the running was on compacted, relatively level snow, and the rest was crunchy and lumpy, while none of it was slippery. Beautiful night out.

I wasn't sure what I would find when I returned home, a bit more than an hour after nightfall. Normally there would be trick-or-treaters all over the place. But of course this is not a normal time. Looking in down along a dozen side streets, there was not a single soul out and about. Amazing. I will guess it was similarly quiet most places, maybe even at Ratlum Mountain.

Friday Oct 30 #


I would be remiss if I failed to note that the Day of Doom is only two days away, and I yet without a Plan Exquisite with which to cope!


Roads cleared off enough (major streets almost totally free of snow, with only some wet spots, side streets more than 90% free of snow w/ lots more wet areas) to allow for biking in comfortable conditions, so biking it was! I biked around all the best parts of town, taking in all the sights that draw throngs of people from western Nebraska, northern Colorado, and even Bosnia & Herzegovina.

But after a while of time spent on the asphalt, a certain longing for snow inevitably surfaces, and for that reason and no other I headed up for some snowy trail running higher up, where I even witnessed several skiers whipping their way around Upper UW. There were a few small patches of bare ground where the trail I was on veered out onto a south facing slope, and some nearly slushy places, but for the most part the snow was dry enough, and deep where it was not already compacted by foot and bike traffic.

Thursday Oct 29 #


Another day of brilliant sun, from start to finish--a beautiful setup with many possibilities. By early afternoon snow melt was coursing down the streets; I went out to examine some of the gutters, and sure enough a few rainbows were making their way upstream. Some of the locals refer to them as street trout.

Even with the massive melt, the streets didn't quite clear off enough for some road biking, at least not enough to my preference. What *did* suit my preference was a run from home up into the new Pilot Hill lands, opting for the Hole in the Fence trail to head up on, and getting up high enough to encounter untracked snow, and through which I kept going until the point where the trail crosses the one large gulch. For the return, I headed back down the same trail until I could pick up the One Gun Trail. According to local legend, it is named after an incident in which...well, no matter, it is undoubtedly apocryphal, if even that.

Somewhat surprisingly, my legs were sore starting out. But I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; for several years now I have been able to note how my legs get sore both when I transition from a snow surface to dirt, and going from dirt to snow as well. Though it still seems weird. If you're running a lot off trail, then why should it matter whether there's snow underfoot or not? It seems like the legs would cope fine either way.

Wednesday Oct 28 #


There was enough packed trail on the snowshoe trail by afternoon to do some running there, so that's where I started, doing and out-and-back, and then continued across the highway and ran up the Forest Service road past Antenna Hill to the cattle guard where the road splits. Beautifully clear day with the air going purple to the east as the sun set. Another no wind day, so extra nice for running! Some hunters were out driving around, but none of them had drawn a runner tag (they're really hard to get), so I was safe.

Back at the parking lot, an acquaintance was walking off the trail head just as I got back, so we stopped and talked as dusk went over to night. It wasn't cold out, but it took only a few minutes for post-run chilliness to set in--typical for this time of year.

Tuesday Oct 27 #


Somewhat like Noah's doves, I drove up again in the afternoon hoping to find some running room. The parking lot at Tie City still hadn't been plowed, but enough traffic had been in and out that I wasn't worried about being able to get out, and so pulled in and checked the trail heads there. Only a little foot traffic and a set of tire tracks from a truck that had driven into the campground. Probably Randy, but there was no sign or reason to believe he might have rolled anything starting from the equipment building.

So I drove over to the cattle guard where the dirt road starts by the Visitors Center, and checked it out. There had been enough traffic on the road to pack down two lines of about 3' width in the snow, with the surface being firm, dry snow--definitely the best stuff I was likely to find up there.

I ended up running down to just short of Blair Picnic area, and was out for about 2 hours. Beautiful, white snow and blue skies and green evergreens and a moon that popped over The Toe at about 5:25. One cow moose.

Several trucks passed me going the other way while I was running out. They looked like hunters, though one of the trucks was followed a few minutes later by a tow truck, and it could have been a team. The tow truck was towing another pickup, which was quite battered and yet had a newish look to it. I knew if I kept running in the direction I was in I would come across the scene of a mishap, which proved true.

The battered truck had somehow managed to drive off the dirt road where it had been elevated about 6' higher than in immediately adjoining willow marsh (dark green on an O' map). Maybe it had been driving out there while the blizzard was underway. There was absolutely no chance it was going to be able to extricate itself from the marsh, hence the tow truck. Doubt it was a total, but don't doubt it would mean a hefty bill at a collision shop.

I finished just as it was getting dark enough to start to make out the Big Dipper. A very fine outing, and many memories of O' races were brought back as I was running past the Wallis Picnic area (used as the assembly area for a number of races at Permian Sins and Middle Crow's Toe).

Monday Oct 26 #


With the storm ended, the interstate re-opened, and sun appearing in the late morning with practically no breeze at all, my thinking was to head up to Happy Jack in the mid-afternoon and check out the trails and all the new snow. Surely by then some snow-bikers or mountain bikers would have been out leaving behind tire tracks to run on. So my thinking went.

The first sign that things might not work out the way I was "thinking" came about 500m before the Summit Exit, when all traffic stopped. What was going on? The interstate was open! And how could there be crashes with plowed roads, the sun out, and no wind? But there must have been crashes. The highway did still have snow and ice on it in various places, and there's no accounting for drivers going too fast for the conditions.

But traffic was inching forward bit by bit, and I didn't even need to make it to the exit ramp--just needed to get close enough to get on the shoulder safely and then I would be free. Which I did.

I figured I would head for the Tie City parking lot. The state highway had been plowed also, but had a good bit more packed snow and ice on it than the interstate, so I slowed down. It didn't take too long before another vehicle closed in from behind and got close enough to make me nervous, because I knew I was going to be slowing down on a downhill curve ahead to turn (hopefully) into the parking lot, and they didn't. I slowed some more and as the parking lot came into view, tried to assess it; there were several vehicles in the lot, but the low was unplowed and the snow looked deep, and I knew that the parking lot surface had probably been well above freezing as the storm arrived, and therefore that some amount of snow had probably melted and then re-frozen on the surface, turning into ice. I decided not to risk going into the parking lot and getting stuck inside it. Plus I could also guess that the untracked snow was going to be too deep for running, that there hadn't been anywhere near close enough foot traffic to beat a path into the snow, and no signs that any bikers had been out either.

So I didn't turn and kept going. Now the problem was to find a place where I could turn around, which wasn't going to be possible with traffic behind me. That meant driving several more miles down the highway of snow and ice before I hit a spot where I could turn around safely. Then back to the interstate.

At the interstate, I could see the eastbound lanes were still clogged with traffic as far as I could see in either direction, and not moving. Too bad for them, but I was headed west, so down the on ramp on onto the interstate, where almost at once there was a highway sign warning that the road was closed. Which I doubted; far up ahead I could see a couple of cars and a truck going down the canyon slowly. And then right after that another sign was turned on and warning the no parking was allowed on the highway. So I was definitely going to go on down. Which proved to be no problem except for when a snowplow appeared, plowing the shoulder, but going *against* traffic flow--that was a first, never seen that before. But once past the snowplow, it was clear sailing the rest of the way, just needed to stick to the reduced speed limit for the conditions.

It was a long way to go without getting to run up top as I had hoped, but the odds it would work out seemed reasonable at the outset.

Instead, I ended up running for home for about an hour, in conditions that were quite cold as the sun set, and much colder than they would have been had I not tried to run up top and just run straight out from home an hour earlier instead. I think it was about -3F after sunset, and cold enough for October.

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