Upper Body Cross Training: Chainsaw Lifts

We’re back up at our cabin this weekend, so I missed the last Team D Saturday training run. In lieu of running today, I was engaged in some physical activity as we worked on our property with some landscape projects.

I cannot say this may have been the wisest of activities as we are supposed to be avoiding things that might lead to injury, but we had some tree trimming to do, and prepping for planting of some new trees. I was hefting a chainsaw today, bringing down some gnaryl oak trees and limbs. A chainsaw looks like nothing intensive, and the power is intoxicating, but holding one at chest level to cut through 15 inches of oak was pretty tough, and I was sore by the end of the day.

Does This Count as Cross Training?

Our training schedule had today as another 30-40 minute intermediate run. Stuff I have read about running suggests alternative activity to mix things up, physically, and emotionally. So I could say today’s decision to not run was that strategic.

We are still enjoying the slow pace at our cabin. The weather is absurdly warm, almost 70 degrees in the sun. A good day to get some outdoor chores done. First was cutting down a dead oak tree. Ther’s nothing quite like power of a working chain saw, yet the effort os much more upper body work than it looks. Then there was some splitting of the larger pieces with an axe. More gratifying work. Next came the easy job, planting a tree.

For our third year here we had continued a tradition of buying a live tree for Christmas, and setting up on our covered deck for the holidays. The trees we are buying are Austrian Black Pines, which are supposed to grow fast and be immune to the bark beetle which has decimated the native Ponderosa pines with a prolonged drought.

The last two we have planted following Christmas have grown tremendously well. So it was time to prepare a spot for tree number three. A spot was picked, a place where a Cypress tree ended up not doing too well.

So today’s exercise was pickand shovel physical labor.

Now digging a hole may not sounds like much, but the “soil” on our property is not far above bedrock of sandstone, and you cannot stick a shovel in the ground without hitting 2 or three other rocks, small pones, pebbles, medium sized footballs, and extra large giant slabs. We’ve managed to landscape our entire property with sandstone block walk way paths.

So it was no surprise when I started digging a hole for the new tree when I hit the tell tale corner of one of the larger ones. It seemed obvious this big rock would be an undesirable obstacle for roots of the new tree. It had to come out.

It was maybe an hour of chipping, prying to get the big rock loosened enough to get it out, but there was a problem– it was 2-3 feet down in the bottom of a hole, It weighed some 150-200 pounds and not very liftable.

So my wife and I decided to deploy a method that was worked well before- rock rustling. We work a 50 foot rope under and around the rock, tie it to our pick-up truck, and tow it out. With the angle, there was only about 15 feet of forward movement available, and the rop broke twice. But try number three was successful, and the wayward rock is now out of the way.

The effort took longer, and the planting is left for tomorrow.

So no miles down today, but one big ______-ing rock was moved out of the way.

Mostly Resting

It’s been a week and a day since my last run, the New Times 10k. I’ve been resting my sore left knee, and only in the last few days has it felt slightly less painful. I’m doing lots of Ibuprofen and some ice.

On Sunday, my wife and I did about a 5 mile walk along Coyote and Tomahawk Roads, the highest roads on the north edge of the valley above Strawberry. ALong Tomahawk, the upper road, which is just a dirt road bladed across the sandstone, there are new signs marking new properties being offered.. the word is these unimproved lots are going for $200-300k, which is astronomical for the area. The views are nice, and the north side backs onto the National Forest, but there are very few trees here. mostly pinyon pine and juniper. Anyhow, we bushwacked along the forest boundry for a while. The views were nice, but my knee was complaining loudly on the way back.

I am so looking forward to writing soon about running and feeling good… as opposed to the term my Brit and Kiwi friends introduced me to… “whingeing”.

Rim Hike

Today was our last day at the cabin, and besides sleeping late, watching old movies, soaking up the autumn scenery, you could say I did a bit of cross training… After lunch we explored a hiking trail we have seen from the road, but is not really listed anywhere.

You can find it between just south of Strawberry off of Highway 87; if you are northbound, as you crest the hill from Pine, there is a “slow vehicle” lane on the right, and some room to pull off and park in the dirt. Through the gate is a jeep trail or old Forest Road, and we followed it as it climbed through some beautiful forest, and cresting (it seemed) at the top of the Mogollon Rim. The road continued but we turned back.

It was wider than a hiking trail, and had some tracks from 4 wheelers. An intereesting thing was that at the places where it crossed the sttep drainages, the inside curves of the road were supported by layers of sandstone block that supported the roadbed. I do not know if this was an old ranch road, or perhaps a Forest Service road perhaps with some labor done by the CCC in the 1930s, but there was a lot of work put into the road bed.

Anyhow, it was a lovely day, a lovely view, and a nice break from running.

Landscaping Workout

Sunday morning came quickly, and I was lazy to get out and do the suggested 40-50 minute training run. I bailed.

But this was not a lay on the couch and watch baseball Sunday. My wife and I spent early morning and all afternoon working on the newest landscaping project in our front yard. When we purchased our home on 1997 (then a 30 year old house), there was virtually nothing growing on the front of our house– it was a flat expanse of dirt. We went rather “hog-wild” planting all kinds of cactus, a palo verde tree.

It was rather surprising how fast desert plants and cactus can grow… almost like weeds. This year we realized how overgrown it had all gotten, so the new plan was “less”– so we were tearing out prickly pear and cholla and all kinds of other stuff, plus building new retaining walls with block, and laying a new front path with concrete pavers.

Okay, it is not an aerobic workout, but it was a total of maybe 8 or 9 hours of lifting, shoveling, sweating (it was almost 90 degrees, someone tell the weather it is October!), etc.

But its back to running Tuesday AM!

Mountain Bike n’ Hike

We’re spending a four day weekend up at our cabin in Strawberry. For my cross-training event today, I took out my mountain bike, and rode out Fossil Creek Road to Forest Road 428 (??), or HardScrabble Road. This is a lovely ride that followed long enough, takes you all the away around Strawberry Mountain into the town of Pine.


It’s a quiet scecnic gravel road. I took a set of photos with my camera phone (the quality is poor mostly, but serves okay to add to the banner images used on this site). You can view a slide show on my flickr collection Hardscrabble.

Lacking a computer on my bike up here, I carried my Garmin GPS to record the distance, also nice since it does maximum speed and can generate a route map.

The ride out was nice, maybe a bit of a tail wind helping, and not too much effort with the first climbs on Hardscrabble Road. Out at the point where the road marks a hard right to continue, I turned left. The forward direction goes to a private ranch, but the left looked like a challenge of a jeep trail.

It would smoothly past a stock pond, but then turned directly up the cliff. I made it about 3/4 of the way before losing my grip, so I pushed the bike until the jeep trail ended. It looked fairly close to the ridge line, so I ditched the bike in the woods, and followed a smal game trail that continuned upward. It ran out at the base of a basalt cliff edge, but it was easily climb-abie, so I scampered up the 30-40 feet to the top.

And oh what a dramatic view it was, over Deadman Mesa into Fossile Creek, a ride I’d done last summer (a 2000 feet descent). I felt great up here.

It was a quick jaunt down, and a fun descent down the streep gravel. I headed on home, as this was supposed to be a relaxing day out. But oh, once I hhit the main road, I felt out of gas. It was not even pushing too much into the wind, but I was feeling a bi naseous… maybe it was that donaut I guzzled down when I left for extra energy, or maybe it was the 6000 foot altitude, but it was a S-L-O-W ride home, not really championship form.

Still, it was a worthy experience, believe it or not. You had to see that view to appreciate it.