Sunday, January 31, 2010

Studio 54

In our former lives (that is, mine and the club's), Studio 54 might well have been a place I'd want to spend a Saturday night. But last night, and indeed all weekend, my studio was a series of Minnesota Winter Wonderlands, finishing up with 54 miles.

Friday, after a pretty stressful week at work (13 hours at the office Thursday was the reason for no extra curricular activities Steve :) - the day I get to live my preferred lifestyle by working just 1 day a week will indeed be a great day!)... I headed straight for the gym to meet Susan for a treadmill run. She was going to be late so upon realizing how beautiful it was outside I cobbled together some outdoor running gear (it's a good thing I like to carry around 'stuff' in my car) and headed off for the 6 mile loop around Parker's Lake. Finished up with another 5 on the treadmill. Then Saturday morning I met Lisa who was down from Duluth for a fun run along the MN River Bottoms trail... we headed east from the Lyndale parking lot for several miles until the footing got too rough and then spotted a trail off to the right as we were heading back - ended up down by a branch of the river with the Old Cedar Ave Bridge to the east... so we got on the ice and headed towards it! It was beautiful - wide open space with trees on either side, downtown St. Paul off in the distance and planes taking off overhead. A nice layer of snow for the most part but some sketchy expanses of ice to navigate around or tread penguin-like across. Got to the bridge and headed back a bit further west than we'd started out. Got back on the trail and back to the cars and then continued west for a few more miles ending up with about 13. It was pretty chilly but little wind and a great start to what I knew would be a fun (long) day...

Joel had posted a few times about running on the St. Croix and I told him a few weeks back that I'd love to join him sometime. So with the full moon last night he organized a run. We all met at Joel & Marty's house just north of Stillwater around 9PM. 10 of us in total I think - most of the guys I didn't know but Chris I at least knew from blogger land! It is always so fun to meet people you 'know' from reading their blog. After signing the waiver Joel (Button at Law) wrote up - anything involving a waiver has got to be worth doing, right? - we headed off to Marine-on-St.Croix. Quiet spot at 10PM as we made our way down the trail and onto the river. Joel had mapped out a route that took us north for about a mile and a half, around an island and then south all the way to Stillwater - approx 16 miles. For the first hour or so the moon was moving in and out of the clouds. It was so beautiful. We all shut off the headlamps pretty much as soon as we got on the river. Each time the moon moved out from the clouds it was as if a giant lamp in the sky was switched on. The snow reflecting the light. The river is very wide along here for the most part, with small ice falls off to the right along the bluffs. We ran mostly in little groups spread out across the river, the footing was excellent with very few patches of uncovered ice. There were snowmobile tracks most of the way also though I didn't see anyone (I guess the bars in Stillwater are open to 2AM... probably a good thing on this occasion). At half way, just before the high bridge, Marty met us and joined us for the rest of the run, while a few of the guys finished up here. After a can of sf red bull and a few mini snickers it was time to get moving again. Slipped a few hand warmers into my mitts and ran for a while with Joel and Marty, and then by myself for the rest of the run. Going under the high rail bridge was definitely the 'high' point of the run. The clouds were completely gone at this stage. Clear skies above with a few stars and the full bright bright moon. Silence all around. Running water passing quietly far below. Or at least a few feet below. Heaven on earth.

With a few miles to go the lights of Stillwater were visible. Around a few twists and turns in the river and the lift bridge came into view. Jeff and Matt had finished a little before me and were waiting at the gazebo. We walked up to Matt's car just to keep warm and then back down and saw Joel & Marty nearing land. Back to their place to get into dry clothes and a delightful cup of hot chocolate - thanks Marty! Home around 3AM and straight to bed...

I'd planned to attempt to run with Sonya and Kim around noon today, legs willing, so I'd set my alarm for late morning thinking I would surely sleep that long. No chance, wide awake by 7:30AM. Decided I may as well be doing something so off I went to hot yoga - except that class was cancelled and the only other one at the same time was a sculpt class. Even on my most energetic days I avoid yoga sculpt classes - there are weights involved! But I'd driven to the studio and wanted to be in a nice warm room for an hour... It was actually quite fun. The instructor was a little less energetic than others I've had though I expect my arms will remind me of it tomorrow.

Back home, oatmeal, large coffee, and back into the almost dry runners. Met Sonya and Kim at Lake Calhoun and we set off for a few hours in the bright sunshine. Great company and entertaining conversation - I soon forget how tired my legs were. A little chilly in the wind but perfect out of it. Finished up with 14. Feeling my hip flexors for the last few. Yoga will be on the menu for tomorrow...

A great weekend after a not so great week. I'll take it!

Somewhere in between all that I made what I think is rather tasty carrot & corriander (or cilantro as they say in America) soup which I am now heading off to share with friends at Patty's 'soup night'! yum yum


Chris said...

Helen, you explained Saturday night beautifully. Being lost in the peace and quiet of your own foot steps shuffling through the snow and the rhythm of your own breathing really focuses a person.

It was great to meet you in person. I look forward to more adventures like this in the future.

SteveQ said...

Oh, it's not enough to do my weekly mileage in a weekend - you have to finish it with two of the strongest women runners in the area? C'mon! It was killing me that I couldn't run Saturday night and now you add insult to injury (literally). You're even 8 miles ahead of me on yearly miles.

SteveQ said...

And you linked to every name but mine. It is SO on now!

wildknits said...


Your description of Saturday night is great, made me wish even more that I could have been there! The run Saturday morning was pretty darn fun! I love introducing people to the fun of walking(running) on water ;->

Thanks for running with me and showing off those trails!

PS: Steve - no link to my name either... ;->

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