Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm not Happy with Beavers...

Before I start my rant, I should mention a bit more about Lee Anne's 100K at the Pine Creek Challenge on September 6.  The scenery around Pennsylvania is spectacular!  One problem with using the GPS lady in my car is that she lulls you into a mid-grade stupor.  You stop paying attention to the road, because she is in fact driving the car for you.  This may not be entirely accurate, so don't set cruise and lower your seat back for a quick nap...

So, I'm admiring the scenery and half-listening to the driving directions when I notice a sign ahead indicating that I am 10 miles from the Grand Canyon.  Hmm.  I'm fairly certain the Grand Canyon is time zones away from Pennsylvania, so I thought perhaps I would pay closer attention to where I was for a few minutes, before lapsing back into my stupor.  Apparently, there is a different Grand Canyon in Pennsylvania!  This came somewhat as a relief!

Lee Anne's plan for the 100K challenge (it is actually not a race!) was to treat it as a training run for her upcoming 100 mile race.  She is hoping to return to Phoenix in December to address some unfinished business with an age category Canadian record.  So, Lee Anne ran the 100K at what will hopefully be her 100 mile pace.  Although slow, I was quite impressed by her constant pace.  Lee Anne finished the 100K in 14:09, which would be about perfect for the first 100K in a 100 mile record attempt.  More importantly, she still had some gas in the tank at the end.  The aid station volunteers and I got a bit of a chuckle from Lee Anne when she pass us at the 95K point and loudly declared that after the race, she would like to go to Subway and get a sub.  This is not the first thing I would have expected her to say!  It also indicated that she was not "hurting" as most humans should be, after having run 95K!

On to the rant...

When I was young, I was a farmer.  Okay, to be perfectly clear, I worked on a farm.  I tossed 30,000 square bales of hay into a few barns each summer.  I grew the crops and wrestled the bulls.  So, it has been a little vexing that I have had continuous issues with growing vegetables in my garden.  I wouldn't call the results pathetic, but definitely not bountiful.

I retired last May.  I vowed to correct the gardening issues come hell or high water!  (Note:  I live on the Mad river, so high water is a realistic issue.  The garden has been under water on several occasions)  Step 1:  Using the tractor, I put 3 tonnes of manure in the garden.  I expected more weeds, but was pleasantly surprised at how few extra weeds showed up. The manure made a significant difference to the garden!  We had tomatoes coming out the yingyang.  The potatoes actually grew!  Many cucumbers and peppers.  This was all very nice, but I don't eat many vegetables.  However, I do like carrots.  I plant a lot of carrots.  I spent hours (days?) weeding my 10 rows of carrots.  This year, they were fantastic.  Bumper crop!  4 rows were consumed over the summer and tasted sweet and wonderful.  6 rows I was holding back for the fall and over-winter storage.  I have not over-wintered carrots in 30 years.  I was pumped!  Until the #^%@% beavers intervened...

I don't like beavers.  These overweight rats are very industrious, but lack any sense of proportion.  I have a 100 foot poplar tree that is 4 feet in diameter at the base.  About 3 weeks ago, I noticed the beavers had been chewing it.  Seriously?  You are going to chew through 4 feet of tree?  Get a life, buddy!  Fortunately, they have abandoned their poplar quest (perhaps it was unpopular).  They found something much more annoying to do.  While Lee Anne and I where in Florida, the #^%^# beavers harvested all 6 rows of carrots.  Normally, the deer eat the carrot greens at this time of year, which is no big deal; I can dig up the carrots.  No.  The beavers (there is 2 foot wide muddy trail from the carrots to the Mad river) dug up all the carrots and hauled them away.  I didn't even know that beavers ate carrots!  I'm calmer now, but earlier I had visions of dynamite and beaver bits flying everywhere.

I'm still not happy.

And so we are now preparing for the Run For the Toad race.  Lee Anne is running the 25K, but since we have the Can Lake 50 the following week, I am relegated to being a volunteer.  Even running the short race (25K) would adversely impact my 50K at Canlake.  George and Peggy Sarson put so much effort into their race, it is important to be a part of their enterprise.  If you are attending Canada's largest trail race, please stop to say hello.  I will be handing out race kits on Friday, at registration early Saturday morning, then at the start/finish during the race.

I still remember handing Ellie Greenwood her Toad duffel bag.  I think I behaved myself...

Hope to see you at the Toad!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Outrunning a Beagle

Had a successful day.  It started with a slow leak in my front right tire.  That was not the successful part.  I plugged it (the hole is near the sidewall) but it continued to leak.  I had a great idea and put in a second plug.  Still leaking!  I noticed at this point that the sidewall was starting to bulge.  Those of you that know how I drive (it wasn't that bad Stephan - at least we where airborne over the herd of deer) will realize that a weak sidewall in one of my tires is not such a good idea.  Off to Cookstown wreckers, to buy a tire!

Yes, I drive what is arguably a sports car.  When I told Jack at Cookstown that I needed a 215/45 R17, he just smiled and said "good luck".  So I looked through their huge tire selection.  Some came close - 205/50 might do in a pinch.  So much for buying a pair!  Then I noticed a 215/45 R17.  Hmm.  A Michelin, same as on my car.  Model?  HX MXM4.  Really?  With quite good tread.  I brought it to the office, where the salesperson looked at the tire and commented that it was brand new.  That hurt.  Perhaps I wasn't going to get such a good deal.  Canadian tire sells them for $235 (tax in).  My price?  $90.  Okay, I'm happy.  Off I went to Honda's workshop, to flip the rubber and balance the wheel.  For free.  One perq of being a former employee!

The beagle?  I am training for the Can50 50K on October 11.  I have left it too late, but am hoping to cover enough ground in the next 4 weeks to appease the training gods.  Good luck with that!  My wife Lee Anne used to run a tricky 15K while I was working in Tokyo, which we subsequently named the Tokyo run.  By substituting some epic trails for a few road sections, the syncopated Tokyo run becomes a hilly 12K with almost no cliffs.  That last part is a hint to those who have run the Creemore Vertical Challenge...  After 1.5K of trail and about 1K of road, I stumbled upon a beagle, who I assume was protecting his territory.  There are 3 results from an encounter with a dog on a farm road.  1.  (The best):  It barks at you, then goes back home.  2.  It attacks you, then goes back home.  3.  (This is awful, so prepare yourself) It follows you.  For miles.  I learned several things from this encounter.  It is very difficult to outrun a beagle.  I suspect that the beagle in question is used for fox hunts.  As in, it lives at or near the Toronto hunting club, in an upscale section of Mulmur (where, incidentally, they have a 1.5 to 3 million dollar real estate range) and is used to running for - oh, 3-4 hours?  I tried the usual endeavours, such as stopping, pointing back along the road and yelling "GO HOME".  It would lie down (this is good), then when I was 35 meters away, jump up and continue to follow me (not good).  This went on for 8K.  I tried other venues, which in retrospect do not seem overly intelligent, such as racing up the escarpment (perhaps beagles have trouble running long uphills?  NO!).  Eventually I resigned myself to running home, then (hopefully) finding a phone number on the beagle's tags and calling the owner.

The last part of the Tokyo trail run follows the last 2K of the CVC.  There is a T intersection about 1.5K from the finish line where runners turn left and encounter 2 short cliffs.  Just before the turn, I realized the beagle was not in sight.  Would this be simple?  I veered around the corner and brought the pace up to top speed.  Into the bush I flew (okay, probably only a 5:00/K pace), up and down the cliffs and eventually home.  No sign of the beagle!

Hopefully the dog finds it way home.  I assume it will, as I last saw it about 1.5K from where I first encountered it.  Conversely, there are many coyotes in the area around the T intersection.  Ah!  Such us life!

Dig Deep!