Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's still spring, right?

This has been a crazy roller coaster spring so far.  Last weekend it was a in the high 80s and this weekend it's crazy windy in the 50s and going down to the 30s tonight.  I don't know whether to pull out the shorts or the turtlenecks anymore.  I don't know if this spring weather is any indication of how the summer is going to be.  But, I'm being conservative with my planting so far.  At any rate, the lettuce likes the cooler weather so I guess it's just a matter of knowing what plants tolerate what conditions.

Back in the end of March, I prepared my raised beds by mixing in my compost that I had started last season.  I think it needed some more time, but I was eager to get it in the beds and call it my own.

This season, I am not going to be using a tiller in my beds, but rather laying my compost right on top and mixing it in a bit.  I don't want to stir up what ever good stuff mother nature has going on in my raised beds (which are naturally nice and soft as they do not get walked on).  Let the worms do their stuff and the fresh compost I lay down on them work their way into the soil just like in nature.

I waited a few weeks before starting anything directly in the beds.  First to go in was several varieties of lettuce, spinach, arugula and parsley, which I planted in April.  Here they are, as of this weekend.

I'm also quite happy with my raspberry bush that I planted last season and was too new to produce for me last year.  However this year I am expecting some fruit.  Look at all the blooms!

I also have planted parsley which is taking longer than then the lettuce to germinate, I do hope these plants produce for me as I have some hungry rabbits that looove their parsley :)

I planted several different varieties of bean/peas.  Two weeks ago.  I'm wondering if I planted them too soon?

Finally, I started my tomatoes and peppers inside and I am ready to move them out into the "greenhouse" that Mike made for me so they can get a bit more sun.  (see Shed Renovations post for details on that).

I will be planting some other veggies as well, such as cucumbers, but those will have to wait until more consistent warmer weather before I put those seeds go into the ground.

For fruit, I joined North Star Orchards Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and am looking forward to getting local, in-season fruit this summer. 

It should be an exciting growing season with many lessons learned right around the corner.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Earth Day

I realize that it's a bit late to be posting about Earth Day, but I did indeed honor Earth Day by planting a tree.  (See how well protected it is!)

My 7-year-old son brought home a Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) seedling from school today and so we planted it in our back yard.  It will grow 6-10 ft tall and grows at a fairly fast rate.  It is a hearty tree/bush and will grow in wet or difficult sites, preferring moist, fertile soil and full to partial shade.  Blue fruit is a favorite of birds.

I guess referring to Earth Day as God Day would stir up too much controversy huh? After all, isn't the beauty of the earth a gift from God?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Broad Street Run

Philadelphia PA, Sunday May 2, 2010

Overall Time: 1:46:02
Goal Time: 1:45:00
See my actual numbers here:

My pre-race training was inconsistent and with no real plan. I think I was ready
for the race in that I knew I could do the 10 miles, however, prior to joining a new great online resource and community called Marathon Nation, I didn't go into races with a goal of nothing more than to "finish". The Broad Street Run is a fast, flat point-to-point course down Broad Street in Philadelphia.

My plan was to try and finish the race in 1:45:00 which translates to 10:30/mile pace. Using the marathon pacing chart available on the Marathon Nation site, I adjusting the chart for a 10 mile race which broke my race down into miles 1-2 at 10:45/mile, 3-8 at 10:25/mile and miles 9-10 at 10:30/mile.

So starting my race at an intentional 10:45/mile pace was quite a smart thing as I was tending to want to go faster. Holding back at this pace worked well and I felt quite good for the first two miles. We were corralled based on projected finish times and start times were timed. The gun time was 8:30am but I didn't cross the start line until 8:55am due to the timed start.
It was difficult to stand there for 25+ minutes waiting to run. The weather was unseasonable warm but first two miles in it wasn't too bad and I felt like I had energy to "burn" after the first 2 miles.

My mid race, which I'll call miles 3-8 were inconsistent and at times difficult (especially at mile 7) for a couple reasons. I found myself again trending faster than I should some miles but then struggling to keep pace other miles. This was a bit discouraging for me as this is a flat course and so I can't blame hills on my inconsistent pacing. I suppose my inconsistency is due to my newness to being aware of the concept of pacing in general?

Despite the heat, the race was very well supplied with extra water stations but the saving grace was the open fire hydrants every 1/2 mile or so. Running through that cool spray of water definitely kept me going for the 10 miles.

Miles 9-10 were the most exciting. The spectators along the course were getting larger and more live music was playing. I was able to stay on pace for mile 9, but couldn't help to speed up the last mile and paced my last mile at 10:12. I figured though that this was OK as I was approaching the finish and it felt good to finish strong. I felt badly for three individuals that I saw 1/2 mile away from the finish line. They were down on the course and being treated by paramedics. The heat today was nothing to take lightly.
The finish was a bit bottlenecked and they fed us through a tented area to pick up a "Philly" pretzel ...blech (an ultra-refined hunk of salty dough is the LAST think I wanted after 10 miles) and our food bag. The banana and orange were a welcome site though.

Biggest challenge:
For me, my biggest challenge was to stay consistent in my pacing and also I'm questioning if my planned race time of 1:45:00 was a realistic time for me? Sometimes I found myself going too fast, while other times I'd glance down at my watch and see that I was way off pace running too slow. I think that since I'm so new to really being in tune with deliberate style and pacing that over time, I will get more consistent with practice.

Post Race:
I feel optimistic after today's race in that with a more focused weekly training plans I expect a significant improvement in my race times and overall strength as I work towards my main goal of completing the Philadelphia Marathon this November in 4:30:00