Monday, December 22, 2008

Cooper's Defeat Creek

Got in a nice 13 miler on Saturday morning, but nadda yesterday other than 20 minutes of elliptical work. Major props to those who braved it; i'm not that tough.

In honor of our great start to winter, I thought I'd paste a local story from a winter day almost exactly 177 years ago. In Stark County, just south of Bradford and running west to the Spoon River is a creek called Cooper's Defeat Creek. The story behind that name is interesting. And we thought a winter run was tough:

“The winter of 1831-32 was the winter of the deep snow. The weather before Christmas being pleasant a party of four men was equipped by a trader by the name of John Hamlin, then of Peoria, who was buying furs for the American Fur Company. Fitting them out with an ox team of two yoke and provisions for their journey from Peoria to the Winnebago swamps, with goods to trade to the Winnebago and Pottawatomi Indians, they started on their journey. Soon snow commenced to fall, the air grew colder, and continued to grow more so as they went along, until they were compelled by the fierce cold and driving snow to abandon their team. In fact the snow was so deep that the cattle got swamped and they were left to their fate. With Boyd’s Grove in view, the men started, guided by a large tree and a light at the grove. A man named Ridgeway was the only one of the party who succeeded in reaching the grove. The other three, two of whom were William and Jerry Cooper (the other name forgotten), perished on the prairie near a stream southwest of Boyd’s Grove. The bones of the men and the cattle were seen in the spring following, also the sled, as the soldiers of the Black Hawk war were marching, all mounted, 260 strong, to make battle with the Sac and Fox Indians. The stream where the men perished has since been known as ‘Cooper’s Defeat.’”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gee, It Snowed Again Last Night

I could say it was the same old route through town, but it wasn't. The roads were snow covered. I believe it to be a universal truth that the world is quieter after a snow. There may be some physical explanation for this, maybe the snow blanketing the ground is a sort of soundproofing like shag carpet in your parents' basement while your garage band played, but I'll cling to the belief that the reasons are more metaphysical and thus undefinable. My proof for last night were the dogs behind the fence baying like wolves. Echoing off of everything. Piercing. Definitely metaphysical.

If you're on road it has to be before they plow, this way you get to pick the best route through the slush. Maybe semi-frozen tire tracks, maybe fresh cover that hasn't yet been defiled, maybe pavement where the tracks have worn all the way through. This is likely to change every few minutes. That paved trail at the edge of town was indecipherable despite the fact I run it all the time. My tracks were the first.

The world was quiet, the dogs were loud, what usually takes an hour even took an hour and six minutes.

Tomorrow night is supposed to be an ice storm. Can't wait.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Farmdale Run

Four hours forty-one minutes of actual running. Well, running, with some walking mixed in, but not too much walking. Temps started cold, ended cold, cold being relative. Twenty-two degrees to start, twenty-four degrees when finished. First hour and a half were run in an ever-so-slight snowfall, enough to dust the trails, not heavy downbursts. Startled up a possum on Eagle Ridge toward the end of my first loop, sort of a rarity in daylight hours.

The trails were in pretty good condition, just enough snowpack to keep it really fun, but not real icy underneath in most spots. Snow running is so great, very doable even in road shoes. The only time it gets tough is when there's a thaw/refreeze and that sheen of smooth solid ice forms. This day there was only one spot where that was the case, just past the creek crossing on the east side of Farm Creek in the low spot.

Creeks are not frozen yet, made it a bit tricky, ended up slipping on one of the feeder creeks coming down horse hill and smashing a hand on the ice. Small price to pay. Felt good with the exception of a small energy lag at around four hours, pretty typical.

Ate three fruit/nut bar things, part of a banana and had both bottles of water filled on each loop. Overall a good run. Had planned to do the McN Fat Ass that was cancelled on the 13th, this run was in lieu of that.

Running goals: short term is McNabb Fat Ass 50k, some miles there, maybe/not full 50k. Keep upping my mileage increasingly, don't slag off due to weather. I believe there is mental toughness to be had in these conditions, plus it's just damn fun. Recover from McNabb then make a push for McNaughton. That be all for now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Night Run

I wasn't scheduled to run last night, but 20 degrees, 6 inches of snow and some nice west wind are just too hard to pass up. Last August my luck was to win a free pair Inov-8 trail shoes at Dave's local trail 5k. The shoes were ordered then promptly took up residence in my closet, forgotten.

I'm not given to change, and wear my road shoes on both road and trail; however, last night I remembered the Inov-8's and figured snow would be a good condition to try them out in.

Out the door for a short night run. No headlamp. One of the great things about running after a snowfall is that the ambient light gets reflected on even a cloudy night, making even the most covered trail runnable once the eyes adjust. And unfortunately it was cloudy last night. Venus and Jupiter were in conjunction with the crescent moon, which I'm sure was brilliant, but not visible with our cloud cover. Still worth looking for tonight.

Despite not having this view in the sky, was still a great run. Walking out my back door and down across the open field where the wind was leaving 2+ foot drifts, postholed past the organic farm into the timberline.

Even the familiar becomes extraordinary in the dark. Our second round of snow stuck nicely to the branches, especially so on the bending row of pines along one short stretch of trail. Flushed some large bird in the thickets along upper trail...wild turkey? pheasant? Couldn't see. Had a decent pace going on the less covered spots.

Three and a half miles later finished standing by the small grove of osage orange just down from my house, enjoying the wind blowing through their tops. The Inov-8's were pretty comfortable and the extra traction welcome. Change isn't always bad. Night runs in the snow are always good--that never changes.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Folepi River Trail Classic and First Snow

Saturday was the Folepi four miler. Caught a ride with Dave and Whisk. They decided to run up the River Trail to the starting line for a few extra miles. Then we ran back down faster. This is a big race and really pretty fun, considering that three out of the four miles are greatly aided by gravity.

My time was somewhere around 30 minutes even, 7:30 pace. A bit faster than the last time I did this race seven years ago. A complete lack of speedwork catches up with you in the shorter races, brain couldn't make the legs turn over so much. Too much trail? Yeah, but to me that's a good trade off since I'm not winning anything in a four mile race anyway. Just a nice change of pace.

I enjoyed the concept of trying to run fast for a change. And they have pizza at the postrace. I always find it funny that shorter races usually have folks standing around the postrace eating pizza, cookies, etc., but it's only like 10 in the morning--Steamboat for example--yeah, 8:30 a.m. is a great time for a beer, thanks. Love that about runners.

It snowed yesterday. E-town picked up 6 inches or so. Had to go run in it. The late morning was spent with Keegan sledding then taking the 4-wheeler out to do donuts in the field and ride the trails by the creek, but was able to get out and do five easy miles in the woods. Seems like yesterday, was a year ago today, ran a hard four hours at McNaughton in an ice storm. The cycle turns, winter running returns. Good thing we love it.