Saturday, January 05, 2008

January Thaw

This morning as I was driving to the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge, I heard on the radio there is is a meteorological event held each January in Minnesota. It usually takes place during the first week of January. It is the January Thaw. If you live in Central Minnesota, there is a 92% chance that you will have back to back days of 32F or above. If you live in Southern Minnesota, you have a 97% chance. Alas, if you live in Northern Minnesota, you only receive a 61% chance.

Lucky for me, the January Thaw in Central MN is falling on a weekend. Today it will hit 37F and tomorrow 39F. Woohoo!

This morning I was driving through the darkness and a deep, thick fog. The sun was just beginning to create a bit of light, it hadn't yet risen. By the time I had run upon snowshoes for an hour, the sun was beginning to rise, the big red ball ascending into the sky. The fog began to burn off and the sky was turning pink, purple and red. Eventually blue and sunny.

What a day!

Topaz and I headed out for 3.5 hours. We ran down a few miles of gravel road through the darkness and fog, my flashlight barely penetrating the thick fog. As daylight approached we ran across the lake, to the island and bushwacked through the woods and marsh for a while. Moving so slowly caused my feet to become cold, so we crossed the lake and ran toward the Blue Hill Trail.

The trail is still closed due to the rebuilding of bridges. It's been closed since mid-October. At first, I thought this was a horrible turn of events, the trail, closed! But, alas, it turned out to be a wonderful thing. As I posted before, I have found another way to access the trail and I have had it completely to myself since. It is fabulous. There are no cross country skiers to yell at me for mucking up their trail with snowshoes.

I was able to race quickly across the meadows. The snow is firm and stiff, allowing me to run hard and fast upon the snow on my snowshoes. It was great fun. I decided to go down to the river to see if it was yet frozen, to see if I could finally cross to the South side of the Refuge. The river was frozen! I hadn't been to the other side in months. Topaz crossed first, of course, always in front of me, and I followed. It was solid! I was on the other side! I laughed and whooped and smiled, I enjoyed running on the trail that I hadn't been on for so long! I could feel the tension lessen in my neck, my shoulders, my back. I didn't even realize it was there. As I smiled and laughed more, talking animatedly to Topaz, the tension disappeared completely.

After looping around the trail we came to the second river crossing. This was a bit more difficult to navigate, but I was determined to cross. The banks are steep, I scooched down on my butt, removed my snowshoes and threw them to the other side. Topaz actually waited until I jumped across and as I was scrambling up the other side, he catapulted over my head, still reaching the top of the bank first.

Topaz laid in the snow, rolling onto his back and back onto his front, cooling off, as I refastened my snowshoes to my feet.

What a fabulous morning. As I glanced at my car clock I was shocked we were out there for 3.5 hours.

I did want to mention about the comments section of this blog. Those of us who publish on blogger or hove websites, know that there are tracking devices that we can embed into our bloggers. I use Site Meter. It compiles all of the statistical data left behind by my visitors. It allows me to see how many people have visited since inception of my blog, in the past year, past month, past day, past hour. It allows me to see where the visitor visited from. It shows your city, state, the time you visited, what your email address is, what your server is, your ISP address, I can even use Map It! and map driving directions from my address to your address, I know how long you visited, your in click, your out click, if you posted a comment, if you googled me, if you used a search word, what that word was, etc. You leave behind an electronic fingerprint.

I don't often log into my Site Meter. Usually once a week, to see where people are visiting from, how many hits I'm receiving, etc. Rarely do I look further than that.

Most of my readers are bloggers as well. Most of my readers leave behind their blog address and I, for the most part, know them well here in cyber space. Some don't have a blog, such as Zoey, Michelle or Phil, and post anonymously, but with their name, and as time goes on, I feel I know them well, too, as they comment often.

When I receive an anon comment I always look further. I click on the comment and can find that the person is posting from, say, CNN Headquarters, in Los Angeles, CA, at 12:45 PM, that the person's email is Julie Berg @CNN.com (or what have you), I can see that this person left 4 comments in the history of my blog, and that they visit on average 3 time a week. If I don't know this person, and usually I don't, it really isn't a big deal. When I look at my Site Meter and see CNN, Los Angeles, CA I'll think oh yeah, that's the newsgirl from LA. No biggie.

Yesterday I had xxx hits, xxx from different ISP's, so over xxx visited 2 times. I looked at a list of locations, listed as City, State and numbered 1 to xxx. I clicked xxx Hopkins, MN. I'll use this as an example because I don't believe I know anyone from Hopkins, MN. I click on Hopkins, MN and I find that the person used a server from K12.HOPKINS.MN.US so, I know that the person logged on from a computer at the Hopkins School District, upon further clicks, and by going to a private log in screen I find this persons electronic address, their physical address, that this person visited at 1:23 pm, visited for 3 minutes, looked at 2 pages, lists the pages looked at, upon further investigation I see that this person first found me by visiting RaceBerryJam.COM, googled "ANN MASER 8K" over two years ago, then found my Julie Berg: Run On.Blogspot.Com as I posted about Ann's race that I put on. Since then, this person has visited an average of 5 times a week, leaving 0 comments. So, I can figure out that this person was at Raceberryjam.com, looking at races, saw Ann's race listed and wanted further information, clicked onto my information and has been visiting since. That's a lot of information that is accessible on each and every visitor. Still, not really a big deal.

But when I click on a comment and it shows an address and name that I know as an acquaintance or better, then it becomes rather uncomfortable. Then I really think I need to let everyone know that you are not anonymous. You are leaving a fingerprint here each and every time you visit, and especially when you comment. If you really want to be anonymous, then don't visit here. It's not hard to figure out, at all.

When I first began this blog I didn't tell any of my acquaintance or friends about it. I began with a link at Body for Life Trackers and posted pictures and information there on weight loss and diet. As time went on, I began to post race reports. I would copy and paste the race report from here, sending it to my friends at MN-DEAD RUNNERS SOCIETY, The big Ultra List Serve and my Big Lake Run club friends. Eventually people began to google, say, Superior 50 Mile Race, and my blog with the race report Superior 50 Mile Race, would pop up. Pretty soon I realized that people that I actually knew in the real world knew of my blog. At first this was unsettling, but over time, it was fine. Instead of emailing my race reports to my friends, I began to email my blog address and then my hits on this blog increased ten fold. Now this blog has grown bigger than I ever anticipated, with over 300,000 hits since inception three years ago. I may change from Site Meter as I have to reset it every few months.

With those kind of numbers, I realize, I'll receive comments that I don't necessarily wish to receive. I can prohibit anonymous comments, I can moderate all comments, but would rather not do that. Steve thinks it is creepy that someone would post a comment here, that knows me, rather than call on the telephone, or talk to me in person. He doesn't read blogs, other than mine when I ask him to, so doesn't really grasp the nature of a blog, nor does he understand why I blog, or why anyone reads this blog, or why anyone, as he says 'offers unsolicited cyber psycobabble'.

I just wanted to let those that post anonymously, that you really aren't anonymous, so if you truly want to be, don't visit here, don't leave a fingerprint here.

I have a date with some great boys at Powder Ridge for snowboarding. I better get the car packed!

Have an excellent January Thaw :)

15 comments:

ollie said...

Julie, I use my real name and you've met me before. So, no biggie as far as the non-anonymity.

By the way, I am in Austin, Texas at it was 62 F last night.

like an idiot, I've signed up for a road 30K tomorrow. :-)

Julie B said...

HI Ollie,

Austin sounds beautiful! 62F. Ahh. You left a snowy cold IL I'll bet. Enjoy! Road 30K, hu? Have a fun time!

Anonymous said...

Dang, thanks for the blog education. I did not know any of that!! That is kind of cool and kind of creepy!! Enjoy my fingerprint! It is like no other!

Tonya

Anonymous said...

I sometime don't put my name, but I know you know who I am. Things aren't anon I here, most people know that.

Hope you had a good time boarding. I am not brave (or coordinated) enough yet to try!

Michelle

mh said...

Hi Julie,

I'm in Eagan but it looks like the tracker puts me in Burnsville. Close enough I suppose.

I hope to meet you at the Securian half marathon later this month. I see it's on your schedule. I'll be there unless I wimp out due to a cold snap. So if some guy (wearing a red windbreaker) you don't know approaches you, he might be me.
--Mark

Tom said...

Julie; we have never meet at a race because I live in CT I can across your blog because I'm 'thomas07' at the old CR now at Kickrunners.com I have found the reading to be enjoyable although I have never left a comment. but now I feel I must! So let me just say HI and let you know my name is Tom from CT and have been running for 35 yrs. at all distance.

Zoey said...

Julie, hope you and the boys had fun today. Saw this quote and thought of you: "it's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit". Noel Coward

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie. After reading today I felt the need to identify myself. My name is Sue and I live in Valencia, CA. I am a Canadian who misses Winter so I read you often with longing for the snow. I also read your blog because of the miles you run. It impresses me. Honestly. Just thought I should come out, say hi, and tell you that you inspire me. Thank you

Kim said...

Well I'm not anon. and while you know me, you don't 'know' me - but us IL gals from LL truly hope to rectify that this year! Only wish we could do it at Perkin, but alas that is PHAT camp weekened too - but now with my new GPS I got for Christmas we can all make a road trip to catch up to you at some race without fear of getting lost!
I read your blog because I am just in awe of your running, and I should say Topaz's too. I am driven to tears at times reading about your race reports - I can't tell you what a gift you have for making me feel like I am literally there at each loop, each drop spot, etc. and thinking of your runs of MANY miles at times keeps me going on my weenie 3 mile runs when I just want to stop...

marathonP said...

I was getting a little worried about starting the Catalina Island 50 miler at 3am in the dark -- and then I read again how Julie runs, bushwacking in snow shoes with a flashlight -- and I'm not worried about a thing.

I'll just run with the joy that Julie runs with all the time in any kind of weather, at any time of day or night, anywhere.

:) phil

Jamie said...

Just discovered your blog and am happy to leave my fingerprint in your comments. Always nice to come across another runner who runs in a cold climate. Have a great 2008!

-Jamie

The Bunny said...

Hi Julie-
I'm Heather and I'm in good old Joliet Illinois. :) As always I love reading your blog it is beyond inspiring.

olga said...

Man, I only thought I could use SiteMeter for numbers and city name:) Forget it, whatever, live on!

Damon said...

Julie,

I'm probably your one near-daily hit from central Vermont.

I started my own blog now, since everybody else was doing it. I'm focusing it on getting ready for Western States this year, if you're interested:

http://ultrarunandski.blogspot.com/

redcat said...

Hi Julie -
I do wonder if people realize they leave fingerprints on blogs with site meters...

I've linked to your blog from mine - I hope you don't mind. (Obviously, I'm not all that anonymous.)

I've wanted to run ultras since I was a kid and watched a five day race over at a local park. I don't even know if they do those anymore. I've gotten side tracked by other interests and I don't know if I will ever actually do an ultra but I enjoy reading about your training and adventures (and I love Topaz!).

Take care.