Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Silly Thought

Like some other people I know, I have my best ideas in the shower. The rest of the day is up in the air.

Today in the shower I was thinking about people considered to have ADD or ADHD (essentially the same thing but the latter is like ADD with a crack addiction.) I was wondering why the US has the highest incidence of these "diseases" and why it's not something people have historically suffered with. It seems to be a new epidemic as of the mid 20th century.

Here's my thought on it. It's computers. We have a whole generation of kids growing up on computers. Instead of working with kids on isolated tasks (e.g. learning to read, riding a bike, learning to write, etc...) which require their attention we're plopping these kids in front of multi-tasking machines. The kid's mind quickly adapts to multi-tasking whenever it's engaged in anything and as a result when a person is forced into a situation that requires concentrated thinking, their mind automatically switches into gear to attend to a few other tasks. That's why their so scatter brained. That's why they get anxious. They have been trained to do 2+ tasks at once and when they're thrown into the situation of only having exactly one task to do (e.g. taking an exam, reading a book, sitting still anywhere) it's unnatural for them. And they respond like any other person would in an uncomfortable situation. They freak out.

So, the cure for these conditions: take the computer away, take the cell phone away, take the iPod away, and do a focused task. It'll take a while to condition the brain to focus on the one task but it'll happen. As is commonly said, Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor will this de-conditioning happen in a day.

There's my thesis topic. Anyone who's a psych major looking to do a doctoral dissertation, you now have your topic.

On a more athletic note, I weight lifted today for the first time in almost a week. And I spent substantial time working my very weak glutes. Hopefully this is going to isolate the problem I've been having and help make 2009 even better than 2008.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Spinning

Got in some stationary cycle today. It wasn't impressive but the calories got burned.

This time of year is always hard for me. I get done with a hard season and virtually crash. Physiologically my body needs to rest so I fall out of the training and focus my time and energy on other things. Getting out of a routine is odd because all of a sudden I have a lot of extra time. It's strange having time to cook a meal mid-week that isn't frozen and just needs a microwave.

And it doesn't take long until my chemicals get all out of balance. That's what caused my bout with depression earlier. Turns out I treat running like I treat alcohol and like I'd treat any other controlled substance. It's a drug to me and has the same effect: heightened levels of "happy" chemicals. And I really like those happy chemicals. A LOT! And want as much of it as I can get as often as I can get it. Hence the insane training.

Take the running away and my mind cannot compensate so I crash and suffer severe depression for a while until the chemicals eventually re-ballance themselves. The shorter and colder days don't exactly help either.

This didn't happen last year because I ran through the winter. I didn't run like I did through the season but I at least kept my cardio up. I also didn't get injured. So, the intensity of the chemical withdraw was new for me.

Thanks for all your kind words and support. I'm doing fine. Check back with me next winter when I get to play this game all over again.

Here's todays bike.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mis-adventures in IT band land

I decided to go jogging the other day. It was a crappy day at work, I was generally in a bad mood, and I knew running (or in my case jogging) would do the trick. And since it's been exactly a month to the day since I last ran I figured it was time to hit the streets again.

I jogged to the gym, worked out for a bit, and jogged back home. That put in a total of 6 [very easy] miles. But what happened during my jog was completely unexpected. And it made me furious. I actually did stop at one point and screamed because the anger was too much to contain.

My IT band was causing the pain on the outside of my leg like it did during the marathons a month ago. And it hurt like it did then. In other words, it made me feel like the month I took off was completely pointless.

Running means a lot to me. It's literally the one glimmering light I have in my otherwise shitty day-to-day life. And I haven't found anything else that gives me anything near the satisfaction. Swimming is an okay sport but it's too lonely and it's really not fun when you have someone pushing you to get your heart rate near 170 BPM for an hour. I'm growing a fondness for biking but it's still nothing that's enough to replace running.

I really don't know what to do. I'm at a very odd point in my life. I'm dissatisfied with working and I don't think getting another job is the answer. I feel alone most of the time and I feel overwhelmed with everything I need to get done every day. And the thing that makes me happy, running, I can't do right now.

It's not clear to me what the bigger picture is out of all of this and that's another point of frustration. I hope something comes along soon because in all honesty, feeling this depressed inside literally hurts.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Iron spinning

In my continuing saga of doing some form of exercising before starting marathon training in January (for Fargo) I did another spin movie. This time the new Iron Man movie -- which is fantastic by the way -- was the topic of interest.

I rented it through iTunes and did the spinning in Zone 2. Check out my stats here.

The spinning was just under 2 hours and I covered about 25.5 miles according to the [accurate] cadence monitor on my bike.

My goal for the next month or so is to do more strength training before hitting the trails again. Now that we've got the cooler weather I really have to fight the temptation to go outside and run. But I think in the long run (pun intended) it'll pay off more dividends to stick to swimming laps with the Master's group, spinning at the gym and at home on the weekends, and doing some cross country skiing when we get enough of a base for that.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Stationary Cycle

This winter I'm taking a little different approach to my fitness. With swimming I'm going to focus primarily on form. Yes I'll still be with the Masters group on Tuesdays and Thursdays and yes they'll be hammering me to go faster and harder. I'm going to do my best to not be pushing up too high into heart rate zone 3 in those workouts. Sure they'll be hard but as long as I focus on good form during these intense workouts instead of focusing on speed I'll be fine.

I haven't figured out what I'll do about running yet. I know cross country skiing is in the plan and with the looks of this winter season so far we should be in for a great deal of snow. I may do some semi-long runs here and there but strictly in Zone 2. No pressure at all to push the issue.

It looks like my deal to sell my trainer fell through the cracks so it looks like I'll be sleeping with my bike this winter (not literally but it's now a new addition to my room). The trainer is set up right in front of my computer so I can watch movies while on the trainer. Today I broke it out and it worked out pretty well.

My new GPS watch synched with my heart rate monitor and my cadence monitor so I was in business. Unfortunately I didn't figure out how to turn off the GPS so in the nearly 2 hours I was watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc my watch was gathering GPS data and using that as my distance traveled instead of my cadence monitor. What a mess. It took nearly 3000 data points so on a map it looks like I've got this huge cluster of crap surrounding my house.

On a funny note, the watch did tell me that by the end of the movie I physically traveled 11.75 miles. That's a lot of back and forth rocking.

More importantly I kept my heart rate in Zone 2 for 1:43:30 of the 1:49:42 I was cycling with only 2 minutes in Zone 3. I also burned over 2300 calories. I definitely earned my Panerea today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Little Recharge

It's election day in the United States so what better topic to focus our attention on than swimming?

Okay, that's debatable. But case in point, I'll be talking about swimming. And it was a great day in swimming. Today our workout was a bit of a challenge:

Warmup: 150 yd free, 150 yd choice, 150 yd kick
4 x 50 yd on 1:05
150 yd
4 x 50 yd on 1:05
300 yd
4 x 50 yd on 1:05
450 yd
4 x 50 yd on 1:05
600 yd

The 150, 300, 450 and 600 were all timed but I can't remember the times and they were decreasing. That means the 300 we had to do faster than the 150. The 450 was faster than the 300 and the 600 was the fastest of all four.

It was amazingly challenging but we got through it. The fun thing was I led lane 2 in the workout. I led all but the 600 because as it turns out I have no attention for counting laps. Plus I was running out of gas at the end.

But all in all it was a great swim and I'm glad I went and worked it out. We have a swim meet in a few weekends and I have every intention on going. It should be great fun!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beautiful Weekend Ride

It's been a while since I really did a decent workout because of my IT band injury a few weeks back. Like the responsible guy I am I took it easy and really did some serious resting for it.

Today ended daylight savings time which means it gets dark at noon. But on the bright side we get an extra hour to sleep. Today was particularly beautiful so I decided to take one last bike ride to end the season. I decided to bike Lake Minnetonka along my familiar path: Head counter-clockwise around the lake starting in Wayzata and heading out to Mound. From there I head south to Highway 7 and around to Excelsior and then along the south arm of the lake back home.

It's probably my favorite route. I never get tired of it. The Lake Minnetonka area is breath taking and with as many things as there are to do in that area it's a shame I never head on out there for entertainment.

A few things I saw along my path include Lord Fletchers, Minnetonka Center for the Arts and the Noerenberg Garden Park. None of which I've been to but have passed by countless times.

All in all the ride was... odd. Like I said, it's been a while. My quads were up to par but my "seat" definitely wasn't (yes, I will be in serious pain tomorrow). But what struck me as odd was how exhausted I was when I got home. I didn't push this ride too hard -- my goal was to keep a steady cadence -- but when I got home and after I got everything put away, I could barely keep my eyes open. I was so exhausted I had to take a nap.

Not sure what to make of all that but I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

Here are the maps. One is on the way out: from my place to Mound. The other is from Mound to Excelsior and back home. On the way out something happened with the watch. I either hit it or it acted up but for some reason it stopped recording data after I got out of Wayzata. This is VERY disappointing but not much I can do about it now. Except go out for another ride.

The ride out.

The ride back.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


This is an interesting point in my life. Or at least staring at it from my point of view is. Maybe in the grand scheme of things it's insignificant and maybe to others it's a non-issue altogether. However, these few things are weighing on my mind and I can't seem to shake them.


I'm ready to give my 2-week notice without anything lined up. It's a horrible position to be in and this is now the second job I've had where I feel this way. I won't get into particulars because that's entirely inappropriate -- arguably bringing this up in a blog is inappropriate but I'm an emotional kind of guy and that's where I'm at right now.

We're using excruciatingly inefficient tools on third rate hardware on a system that should have been laid to rest back in 1985. Plus, I'm put into a position where I'm living a hypocritical life. It's very frustrating. What's even more frustrating is when you point out all the inadequacies, show them a cost effective solution that will benefit the company 10 fold, and they just sit on their laurels and do nothing. It's like watching someone smash their head into a brick wall repeatedly.


I love this group. I love what they stand for, I love what they do, and I love the friends I've met through the organization. I've got nothing bad to say about it at all. It's really great. Which brings me to my point. I've got two concerns with TNT but one I think has an obvious solution.

The first concern is whether or not to mentor a 2009 summer event. This essentially means I would help individuals reach their fundraising and fitness goals. But I think the answer to this is an obvious no for me. To start with I'm far too selfish with my time. That definitely doesn't work right off the bat. But aside from that I was reading their list of qualifications and of the four I barely meet one of them.

I'm not committed to attend a majority of the trainings and meetings. I'm also not at all knowledgeable in the area of fundraising. My commitment to the society goes as far as skin deep. Like I said, I love who they are and what they do. But I don't have that emotional or spiritual attachment that someone who's been personally touched by this disease does. That creates a whole new level of appreciation and respect for the work being done. I [thankfully] don't have that.

Think of it this way. We all have an appreciation on one level or another to the Great Wall of China. It's a magnificent creation and one of the great wonders of the world. But if you've never been there all you have to go on is the self generated amazement you get from postcards, pictures, and television. But if you've been there and seen it in all its glory. If you've touched it and run your hand along it. If you've walked the wall then you develop an intimate relationship with it. It is now not a self generated amazement so much as it is a pure and deep respect for something that is simply amazing and mind boggling.

Now, if someone comes up to you and says "Hey, let's raise money to restore the Great Wall of China!" and you've never been there yourself you'd probably say "Sounds like a swell idea. Where do I sign up?" However, if you've been there. If The Wall has personal meaning to you and someone approaches you with the same question, your answer would be more like "Damn straight mother fscker! That's an amazing idea! What did you have in mind? How much should we get? Should I try to contact the mayor? Let's do some recruiting! How about we sponsor a local marathon as a charity event to raise money?!"

That's the difference. I have the former, not the latter. Because of that I wouldn't make a good mentor.

The second concern with TNT for 2009 is with the fundraising. It took me a significant amount of time and energy to raise the $2,100 minimum for the LTF Triathlon this year. And it took me right to the end to get there.

The event I'm considering for 2009 is the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival Half Ironman. The fundraising goal minimum for this is $5,300. That's just over two and a half times more than my previous goal. And in case you haven't been keeping score with current events, the economy isn't exactly booming (read: it's going to be harder this time around to get funds than last time).


I've honestly got to do whatever I can to NOT repeat 2008. Right now I'm so burned out I can barely tolerate even thinking about exercising. I've not exercised since my failed swimming attempt on Tuesday and have no idea in mind for when I'm going to get back into the game.

My problem is I don't know when to say when until I physically cannot do it anymore. Anyone who knows me well knows I have a slight issue with a thing I like to refer to as "moderation." By that I mean I am utterly incapable of it. Everything I do is in excess: eat, drink, exercise, work (not time-wise but intensity-wise), complain, and sleep just to name a few. This is a genetic thing too. I've looked into it. I am what I am and there's nothing to be done about it.

But I don't want to train like that this time around. I really need to find a way to train and not train like tomorrow is never going to happen.

Any suggestions or comments about anything above is more than welcome. I have other concerns but it's late and I can't think anymore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Burnout at the Pool

I woke up today knowing something as off. It didn't make sense what it was because most mornings I wake up and everything feels off anyway. But this was different than most mornings.

I brushed it off and went to swim practice anyway.

Maybe that was a mistake.

I was doing my warm-up laps and my heart was racing. In fact, I was flat out exhausted. I thought this was just a fluke, brushed it off, and kept right on with the days activities.

Then we worked on 9 x 100 (50 kick, 50 drill). The kicks were nothing short of torture. In fact I couldn't even do them. The drills felt good and actually were a welcome reprieve from the kicks and typical swimming drills.

After the 9 x 100 we had to work on 3 x 200's at a descending (faster) pace. I got done with the first one, the easiest one, and called it a day. By this point it was clear I had no energy to keep going and I was just wasting my and everyone's time.

Some days we have it and some days we don't. Today I don't have it. This, I think, is a combination of not taking vitamins for 2 weeks, the pulled IT band, all the massaging I'm doing to work out the toxins from my body, and a hard 2008 sporting season.

I'm not sure what I have to be doing to get back into the swing of things. I did order some new multivitamins and have already (begrudgingly) conceded to not run for a month or two.

Maybe it's time to go grocery shopping. Anyone know where I can get cheap quality groceries? If housing is the number one rip off of this country then paying for food is a close second.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rearranging the Room

Fall is deepening its grip on the upper midwest which means my outdoor biking season is coming to an end. Not that I have a huge problem with being outside in the cold but something odd happens to me when I get cold. Strangely enough I saw a doctor last year and was diagnosed with cold urticaria. Long story short, I'm allergic to the cold. It's really strange but all it means is I don't do a lot outside in the winter in Minnesota. Still, I'm going to try to to do some cross country skiing as recommended by my TNT coach as a different winter activity. Life's an adventure. Live it up!

Last year I bought a Kurt Kinetic Rock 'n' Roll Bike Trainer so I could bike in the winter. It's a great tool but the problem is my living situation doesn't exactly lend itself to the space needed to stationary cycle. For those who don't know, I choose to live modestly. Mostly because I simply don't need a lot but partly because I find paying for shelter is one of the most impressive rip offs on the planet and sadly everyone seems inclined to buy into it. Where I live I have exactly one room: my bedroom. That's it. My housemate has so much sh*t that he takes up all the rest of the space (kitchen, restroom, living room, sun room, and a few other rooms). It's unbelievable. I don't even have friends over because I'm so embarrassed of his crazy lifestyle.

Anyway, getting back to the point at hand, I have incredibly limited space and need to fit a stationary cycle in my room. So, after much space negotiation I got my room re-arranged and ready for the cycle. It's not my ideal arrangement but it'll work for the long winter months. Plus, it should be more accommodating than last years arrangement.

Sorry. I'm in a really bad mood apparently.

UPDATE: It barely works. I need to move or force my housemate to sell his shit so I can have a fair amount of room. Then again, we're talking about a guy who freaked out because I mistakenly ate a pack of his [$2.00] hotdogs. Some people just have no clue do they?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

IMT Des Moines Marathon 2008


Today was my second marathon in as many weeks. Last week was the Whistlestop Marathon in Ashland, WI and this week I ran the Des Moines Marathon.

Last week I strained my IT band near mile 16 and was forced to run the rest of the marathon much slower than I would have liked. But it was only for fun anyway. The rest of the week I took easy in my training. I used my Compex Fitness Trainer to massage my IT band, swam and cycled for exercise, and had a professional massage. Coming into the race today my leg felt wonderful and strong.

I pulled of another sleep-in-my-car event which worked out well. I wasn't as well rested as I would be had I stayed in a hotel but it cost MUCH less than a hotel so I didn't complain.

The run itself was good too. I started off strong and held it through the half marathon mark. By the time I got to the 13.1 mile marker the time was 1:45. I was easily on track to finishing in 3:30, especially since by that point we've already run all the hills on the course. But, as my dumb luck would have it, my IT band acted up again. It hurt so bad I had to do a run/walk combination for the last half of the race. I was really looking forward to a PR today but was just glad I didn't destroy myself. Here are my official results if you'd like to see. Race photos will be available as I get them.

Because of this injury though I'm going to cut my running season short this year and focus on recovery. I won't be doing any running events until I'm confident my leg is healed. Until then I guess it's all swimming and cycling.

The course map along with my stats from the run are here.

UPDATE: I just got the most recent newsletter and instead of deleting it I decided to read through. One company did a really cool analysis of my crappy run. It's impressive enough to share. Check it out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whistlestop Marathon Weekend


This weekend I ran one of my favorite fall races: Whistlestop in Ashland, WI. This is a great vacation run for me and at a time when a vacation is really needed. The drive north offers a beautiful display of colors in wilderness that hasn't been disturbed by man. It's simply breathtaking. And this year the colors were - for the most part - at their peak. The reds were deep and dark in color and the yellows were at their splendor as well.

The run itself is on an old rail bed that's been converted to a limestone trail. It's a run through the woods. All except for about 1.5 miles in the city of Ashland we're completely covered by trees and nature. And the route itself is almost entirely downhill. How can anyone argue with that? It's amazing and has an almost magical impact on the soul. I had no idea how much I needed to get away but this definitely came at the right time.

The run was fun. I took a bunch of pictures so it was definitely not about time. This run was about being around friends, making new ones, and doing nothing related to work.

I'm working on getting the course map up but Garmin isn't cooperating. I just bought the Forerunner 405 and, despite my prior critique of it, am warming up to it. The unfortunate part is it's not compatable with the Mac (boo to you Garmin) and so I'm trying to understand why it's not working in Windows. I'll update this post when I get the map up.

UPDATE: This is the best map I'm going to get. Garmin is changing their online service and I'm still learning all the ins and outs of it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Your silly fact for the day and some swimming news

I was reading this morning and couldn't help but notice this story about our national debt and how the National Debt Clock at Times Square in New York City ran out of digits.

Just for the sake of silliness I decided to take that snapshot in time - exact time not reported on the site but I'm sure can easily be extrapolated from the rate at which the debt is growing - and do some math. I'm a verified nerd and have two university degrees to prove it so I reserve my right to do this.

According to this website, the thickness of a standard US dollar bill is 0.010922 cm. If our country was to pay off the national debt in one dollar bills, the briefcase containing those dollar bills would have to be 110,854,422,000 cm long or 688,817.44 miles long.

As fate would have it, the circumference of our planet (that'd be Earth for most of us) is roughly 24,901.55 miles along the equator. This would mean the stack of one dollar bills needed to pay the national debt, if lined along the equator, would transverse our planet 27.66 times.

Keep in mind that number's growing constantly so it's going to be a much larger number as time marches on.

Aren't you proud to be an American?

In more exciting news I got bumped up to Lane 2 in swimming. Apparently this whole Total Immersion Swimming is really working out well!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MTC Marathon 2008


Is this not the coolest damn medal you've ever seen? Now I'm jealous of all the finishers. Maybe I should have ran this year's race.

Friday, October 3, 2008

2008 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

I want to wish all my friends the best of luck in this year's marathon. It's looking so far to be a fantastic improvement over last year's run.

Don't forget to Runner's World is going to be there. Wear your smile for their camera.

And according to a friend my unofficial girlfriend is at the expo.

Sounds like a great time is going to be had by all! But the most important piece of advice I can give: HAVE FUN!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend in Cleveland

This was a big weekend. Not really in terms of sports but more so in terms of family. Saturday was my sister's wedding so I found myself in Cleveland with the family for the weekend.

It actually went better than most weekends I've had with my family since 2000 so I can't complain at all. In fact, it was surprisingly fun. My best guess is that each of us was out of our element so everything was new for everyone. That made it an adventure for all involved.

My brother and I did some night life exploration Thursday night. We didn't discover a lot but there's something to be said for exploring a new city.

Friday my mom and I explored the Cleveland Public Library which was recently restored to its former splendor. The security guard told us the city hired a fellow from Italy to paint the ceilings. By hand! It took him over a year but he got it done and it looks marvelous. I took some shoddy pictures of it but you'll definitely need to see it for yourself to believe it.

Saturday I went out for a run (see map below). It was a very cool route too. It took me past Browns Stadium and the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame up to Gordon Park toward the north end of town. On a surprising note the run was hard. It was very hard. Much harder than I expected a mostly flat 11 mile run to be. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the change in geographic location. Who knows? But if that's the shape I'm in, October is going to be a VERY rough month.

After the run and some rest it was wedding time and then the reception. Suffice it to say the wedding went off amazingly well. As for the reception... A good time was had by all. And a great night ended far too quickly.

That was the bulk of the weekend. My flight got bumped up so I didn't have to sit in an airport for 8 hours, the entire air travel was amazingly uneventful, and I even randomly had a friend in Bloomington available to take me back home. Funny how these things work themselves out.

Here's the link to the pictures I got from the weekend. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time to taper

Well, almost anyway. Most people here in the TC area are getting ready for the Twin Cities Marathon in a few weekends. They're already in their first week of taper. I, however, am not doing Twin Cities. I may do it again someday but after some careful consideration I think I've come to the conclusion I don't like that run. If they have a cool medal then I'll do it. Otherwise I'll volunteer at a water stop and cheer my fellow runners on.

Instead of the Twin Cities Marathon I'm doing The Whistlestop Marathon the following weekend. It was a great experience last year and I even got to stay with a friend of mine from college. This time she won't be around but graciously let me have free reign on her home. Originally I was just going to sleep in my car but she told me she'd slap me if I did that. Women.

Hopefully it's another cool evening in northern Wisconsin for the run. I really like the drive there and with the fall colors starting it'll be that much better.

The weekend after Whistlestop I'm making a trip to Des Moines for The Des Moines Marathon. If I'm going to do all 50 states and Des Moines is happening right now and I'm kind of in shape for marathons as is, why not get it out of the way. Besides... you get a really sweet medal from Des Moines. It's so dense you can use it to knock someone out. It's not, however, recommended as a replacement for pepper spray.

That's my fall marathon rundown.

Today I ran my last 20 miler. It went okay. I can definitely tell I've not been training at all during the weeks. The miles got done but the last 2-3 were really tough. And I had to do a run/walk combo to finish. It was really pathetic. But, I'm telling myself I already peaked for the year and this is just icing on the cake.

Yeah... that's it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shitty Days

I suppose we have to have them. After all, part of human nature is to take for granted what we have. I don't know a single person who's immune to that either. Without the bad you cannot appreciate the good.

My guess is that's why we have winter. Any season where you'd die if you were outside barefoot is not pleasant. Don't kid yourself. It's not. But, after we suffer through it we're greeted with spring. And spring is an amazing season. I'm convinced we'd not even give spring a second thought if we didn't spend half a year shoveling snow, tripping on ice, seeing nothing but brown and white, and warming your toes on a stove top.

If you really want to take this a step further, I think our day-to-day life is like that too. We cannot appreciate how awesome it is to be fit and healthy until we go through a tough [non-terminal] sickness or some other kind of life catastrophe. That's how change happens. That's how we grow. That's how we learn to appreciate just how great it is to have our health and our fitness.

Today was one of those days. You know those days. Those shitty days. A day where you wake up, still lying in bed, and just know deep down that no matter what happens today is going to be horrible.

There's no changing it. It's just how the stars were aligned or how G-d designed the day. Maybe I was due. Who knows. What I do know is I woke up and just felt miserable. Not ill miserable. Miserable like I wanted to punch someone. Miserable like if my job were to suddenly vanish it wouldn't surprise me one bit. On that note, I knew that wouldn't happen because that would actually make me happy, contradicting the pace of the day.

Without writing down my whole day, let me just summarize some of today's gems.

  • Housemate was a disgusting slob and left hair all over the place in the bathroom this morning.
  • People at work were being unusually whiny. I hate whiners (G-d help me if I ever have kids.)
  • Dry cleaners lost my never worn $80 shirt for my sister's wedding.
  • Someone was using the weight machine I use at the gym. No one is ever on it. He was on there for over an hour. Jackass!
  • The anger I've felt all day just grew and grew. I even prayed for it to go away and it got worse.

I don't know about you but some days I just have to cut my losses, know it's going to be a living nightmare, and go through it.

Luckily I was able to occupy myself in other ways at the gym to relieve the stress. After an hour of weight lifting and an hour of "boot camp" I felt better. Still angry but at least the desire to strangle the next person to talk to me is gone.

Glad I have exercise to help me out. Can't imagine what I'd do without it. Hope I never have to find out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bear Water Run 2008

This is a nice run. Most people in the area use this as their last long training run for the Twin Cities Marathon. It's positioned 3 weeks out from the marathon date so most will be tapering beginning right after.

The Bear Water Run itself is your choice of either a 10 or 20 mile run around White Bear Lake. it starts on the north end at Ramsey County Beach and runs counter clockwise around the lake. It's 10 miles around the lake so if you're really not up for a long run but want to try it anyway then you can bow out at the half way point.

This year I'm not training for the Twin Cities marathon. I think I've decided I'm not going to run it again. It's a pretty course but I don't like it. I've run the race twice now and it's time to give some other races a chance. There are plenty of fall marathons to run. Like, for instance, the Whistle Stop Marathon in Ashland, WI and the Des Moines Marathon in IA. Besides, some of my friends are trying to qualify for Boston and what better way to help them than to cheer them on from water stop to water stop.

Last year was a bit problematic because I ran Twin Cities and then the following week I ran Whistle Stop. Back-to-back marathons are a bit tricky and for some reason I swore I'd never do it again. I say "some reason" because I forgot what that reason was and need to remind myself. So I'm doing the Whistle Stop and then the following weekend I'm doing the Des Moines Marathon. Not sure what I'm thinking but I'm sure I'll be reminded in a few weekends.

Until then, I'll take it easy and do spinning as my biking and some swimming as my... well... swimming I guess.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


It was bound to happen sooner or later. Better now than any later and at least it happened in a sport about which I'm still undecided.

Yes folks, today marks a first. This is the first event I Did Not Finish (DNF). So, as of today I still can't claim myself as a half Ironman. On the other hand, either can anyone else who did today's event since I found out this morning it actually isn't a true half Iron distance. The bike and run are both short. So really I don't feel like I lost anything.

So what happened? The swim went amazingly well. I stayed focused on form, making sure to glide and rotate and not use my legs to kick a lot. When I got done with the swim my heart rate was actually still in zone 2. It was amazing.

The bike was fine. It was 55 miles instead of my assumed 56 miles. Despite it being an amazingly challenging course with lots of steep hills I averaged nearly 20 mph. I have to credit those few hills where I got up to 38 mph on the bike while flying down them. That was FUN! But can you imagine the mess if I crashed? LOL

Speaking of mess, the bike is where it all started to collapse on me. On the second loop (we biked 2-27.5 mile loops), when I got far enough along to where it made no sense to turn around it started raining. One thing I've found out is I can swim in the rain and run in the rain. But biking in the rain? That's like mixing peanut butter with cow poop and making it into a sandwich. Two things which are not designed to go together. Ever. Under any circumstances. This started to get me a bit upset but I kept pushing the anger out because it was a mild rain and I wasn't racing. Just trying to finish.

Now for the run. The run was fun. I was running with a really cute gal who, as it turns out, works for UnitedHealth Group (across the street from me and the parent company to my organization). We had to part ways not long into the run because "nature was calling."

While we were running the rain picked up but it still wasn't that bad. And then we got to mile three. By that point it was a torrential downpour. My socks were soaked and squishing. To me that meant only one thing: blisters. Now, drenched socks I can live with. What I couldn't live with was the knowledge that everything I had in transition was getting completely soaked: my change of clothes, iPod, iPhone, new helmet and my friend's $4,000 bike. He's letting me borrow his bike for triathlons because I'm too cheap and poor to buy myself a proper bike.

With all that on my mind I couldn't go on any further. I flagged down a race vehicle and hitched a ride back to the start so I could pack up all my stuff as quickly as possible.

The moral of the story is I could have finished if I wanted to. Nothing broke down on me except my mind. I made the conscious decision to stop because I didn't want my friend's bike getting destroyed. Oh, and my iPhone too. I sort of like that thing.

I'll work on getting some maps up of the course but suffice it to say it was very hilly, very challenging, and very fun. I'd recommend you do a long course triathlon someday. Maybe not that particular one because it's not a complete half Ironman. But definitely do a half sometime. Maybe I'll catch you at my next attempt.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Half Ironman this Sunday

Forecast calls for rain. I hope not. I've done an olympic course in the rain and vowed to never do it again. It SUCKS!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Biking isn't necessarily the problem

At least I think that's right. Yesterday I had a little eye opener and I really do think it mostly explains the frustration I biking. Outside of the obvious cost issue.

Yesterday I biked about 80 miles with a bunch of friends. It was with the Twin Cities Bike Club (TCBC) with their all member ride. It was definitely a lot of fun and I'm glad I did it.

I'm not a member of TCBC and will probably join. It's a great club with a lot of great people. But they're all great clubs. I belong to a handful of clubs and don't do much of anything with them. A person's time is limited and there comes a point when there's too much. I'm going to need to focus my club memberships this coming year by dropping the ones I don't do anything with and adding the ones I do.

I didn't make it too far into the ride before I started getting tired. Very tired. And then it dawned on me. Something that I didn't bother to think about before. With each of these sports, there's a certain "shape" one needs to be in to be competitive. I've been doing exactly what I've been told and that is to treat multi sport events as one event. That is, don't think of a triathlon as three different events. It's all one event. On that note, it seemed to be the logical conclusion that I should then be considering my abilities in each to be the same. And that's not true.

When it comes to being "in shape", you need to be in shape for each sport. Just because someone is in shape to run doesn't mean they'll be good at swimming. Or biking. And likewise for the other two sports.

So, what I found out is I'm terribly out of shape when it comes to biking, decently in shape for swimming, and, due to lots of time away, moderately in shape for running.

The rest of my season, performance-wise, is going to be a disaster. Again, I'm doing too much with little focus. Like a good recipe, you need to have just the right ingredients, put in with the proper doses and at the right times. I was a poor cook this year with little discipline. But, thinking forward, this was an amazing journey with some incredible learning. I'll be taking a much more focused approach with me next year.

For those of you interested in seeing the route, I'm working on putting it together right now.

[UPDATE: Here's the route. Now I know how to bike the NE and north St. Paul area.]

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm so cool it's scary

At least that's what I tell myself every day.

Over the weekend I stopped in to the bike shop and picked up a few supplies like tires, tubes, compressed air canisters, and tire levers. And like any good bike consumer I stayed for a while to gawk at the amazing bikes they had in stock. Amazing not only in form and function but amazing in price.

Before this year, I knew bikes were expensive but to spend more than $500 on a bike I was convinced someone must be completely loony. Then I started reading up on what makes a good bike. From components to frame and fork to seat posts, aero bars, aero helmet, seat position and booties I read up on everything. You want to get me all hot and bothered on a sport? Tell me all the science behind form and function and I'll be putty in your hands.

I hated biking with a passion until I started learning all about it. Now, like a crack addict, I can't get enough. Seriously. It doesn't even make sense. The more I think about aerodynamic profile and everything that can be done to reduce it, it makes me think of all the fluid dynamics courses I took and how to optimize the flow under certain conditions. Likewise, all I want to do is have gear that will make be tear through the wind more efficiently than a butter knife cuts melted butter. I just can't stop thinking about it.

On that note, while at the shop being frustrated at the impossible cost of these things, I was talking with a kid that works there who just happens to be the state champion time trialer. He told me that having an aerodynamic helmet is one of the most important features a person can have in terms of reducing drag. It's more important than an expense wheel set or even the frame design of a bike.

You have to imagine my elation. What this kid is telling me is a $100 bike helmet is more important than a $4,000 wheel frame or an even more expensive bike!! SIGN ME UP! After thinking about the obviousness of this I picked up a helmet (on sale for 40% off too) and felt like I just became a born again Christian.

Photo 29.jpg

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My GPG Key

Can't figure out how to make blogger not suck so I'm doing the pretty backward thing: creating a blog post containing my GPG Public key. If you don't know what this is then you can ignore this post. But if you use GPG and want to communicate securely with me, here's my key.

I'd offer it as a file on the right hand side but Google won't let us upload files that aren't photos or movies.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (Darwin)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Biking Adventures

The purpose of life, after all,
is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

That couldn't be more true of my weekend adventure. With me it's usually always something. A 20 mile run followed by a few hours of swimming. Or maybe just a random trip to some random spot. Who knows.

This weekend was different only in that I was spending it with an equally adventurous person: my friend Brenda, professional body builder and personal trainer. If you think I've got a thing for fitness you should spend some time with this woman. She'll knock you six different sides to Sunday. She's an amazing athlete and amazing all around person.

She and two of her friends joined me in Excelsior for a nice jaunt around Lake Minnetonka. I had the perfect route planned which, as we all know, means it's going to get screwed up somewhere. But we'll get to that.

Everything started great. The day was a little brisk and the wind was blowing fairly strongly out of the West but no big deal. We can power through that sort of thing. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. Not much more can be asked for a bike ride.

We got through the first 11 miles without a hitch. We stopped in Wayzata on the north end of the lake where Brenda and her friends ran into some of their friends. Small world.

As we get set to leave the ladies were holding back. When I turned around to see what was going on, Brenda wound up having a flat. We all had some spare tubes so this wasn't a problem. I got the flat changed out and pumped up and we were back on track within 10 minutes.

On our ride down the Northwest side of the lake I managed to miss one of the south bound turns so instead we kept going North and West. Finally, somewhere around local highway 110 I stopped to check my GPS and see where we were.

OOPS... just a hair off course by 5 or so miles.

Oh well. Like I wrote up above, this was an adventure. And an adventure we were on.

By this point I managed to turn half of my companies legs into rubber bands because of the excessive number of hills. But they didn't mind so much. After all, Lake Minnetonka is a VERY beautiful area. [And if you've never ridden it I highly suggest you get your butt out there before the end of the season.]

After making a few amendments to the course we got back on track and rested again in Mound on the West end of Lake Minnetonka. We stopped at my friend Tim's Anytime Fitness for a break and a refill.

After that short visit we were back on track and rolling again. We were at mile 23 now on the revised course and just finishing up to head back East toward Excelsior.

Again, beautiful countryside, beautiful weather, and great company. Despite a slight detour and a flat tire, everything was going great.

We get to mile 26 which is the start of two mandatory miles on Highway 7. I really didn't want to take anyone, myself included, on Highway 7 but really didn't find any alternative to doing it. From where we were that was the only way to get back. But it was only two miles and since we've already had our flat tire, statistically speaking we're good to go.

Or so I thought.

On mile 26.5, on the worst blind corner imaginable, Brenda blew her other tire. I backtracked a bit to find Brenda and get her other tire switched out. Luckily I was fresh from already changing one tire so working on the back tire wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

After about 20 minutes everything was back in order and we were riding again.

We finally got to the end of our Highway 7 adventure and were at mile 28. That's the beginning of Smithtown Road which takes us right back to Excelsior. There was just one problem though. Smithtown Road was being detoured. *sigh*

Having no interest in riding any more no Highway 7 we explored the reason for the detour. I was thinking it was going to be a simple resurface job or something like.

Not so much. The whole road was torn out at a section and a bridge being put in. That section of road was in seriously bad shape but after some manly maneuvering I found a path that'd take us safely across the partial bridge that was there.

The rest of the remaining 4 miles was smooth sailing believe it or not.

And that was that. One missed turn, Two flat tires and a little cycle cross and we were back in Excelsior to celebrate our victorious conquering of Lake Minnetonka. In case anyone was wondering, here's the map of our route.

Who's game to do Lake Minnetonka with me next weekend?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'll probably pay for this tomorrow

For today's workout I decided to switch things up a bit. I decided it was high time to get back into weight lifting and add that element to the equation of my already stressed exercise regimen. Weight lifting was, after all, my passion even before I made the move to Minnesota. It was a great escape from the day-to-day insanity of graduate school and provided the extra boost I needed to make it through. when I moved to the Twin Cities area I quickly found Life Time Fitness and joined up without hesitation.

For about 4 years and one girlfriend I remained a loyal member of LTF. Even after moving from the northwest burbs to the southwest burbs and having to change my location to a club almost 13 miles away, I still found the time and resources to go.

But, like all romances, the honey moon period has to end sometime and as it turns out it would be LTF that would ultimately put the steak in my heart. True to form for any woman I've previously dated, I was the one being left to pick up the pieces of a failed romance. Life Time finally became more expensive than my pocket book would reasonably allow me to fund and so I had to quit the club. So... I guess you could say it was I who did the leaving. But she started it. ;-)

I've tried a few other fitness clubs since then but none seemed to fit my needs. One was a small club that was open 24/7. We accessed it using a key card and it was typically unmanned. On the plus side, I could go any time I wanted. Plus, it was within walking distance from where I was living (read: no need to drive). I could always find a time where it was just me. That was nice.

On the down side, there was no pool for me to practice swimming. Nor was there a decent stationary bike for winter training. Also, because it was such a small club, there were no classes. For all there is to dislike about Life Time Fitness, their classes were AMAZING and for the longest time were the justification for me keeping my membership.

I also tried a few other clubs but none really met my needs. I need classes, cycle classes, yoga, ab classes, a lap pool, and a wide selection of weight lifting equipment.

Other than Life Time and their amazingly outrageous cost I was stuck. So for about a year now I've been training myself. I can definitely tell I'm much more soggy in the mid section than I used to be. This is not a good thing and absolutely has to change.

Just the other week, on Highway 7 & Hopkins Crossroad opened up a new fitness club: LA Fitness. I decided to pop in for a bit to check the club out. I think it took me all of 1 minute before I was hooked. They have state-of-the-art stationary cycles (much better than LTF), classes, lap pools, and all sorts of free weights and machines. Plus, they have personal trainers and a very nice set of amenities. And the final monthly cost? $35!

Hell yeah dawg! And that fee will never change. Provided I keep my membership current I will pay $35/month even up to my 180th birthday (assuming of course I'm not feeding worms at that time.)

So now I've got the winter months covered. But until then I'm actively working on integrating classes & strength training into my already insane running schedule.

I'm still researching how to make this all work. If any of you have any suggestions please drop a line. Here's all that needs to get accomplished in a week: swimming, biking, running, weight lifting. I'm training for a marathon and half Ironman so there cannot be compromises with the long runs and long bikes.

Can't wait to get this one figured out.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Great Weekends

Keeping the spirit of my action packed weekends, this weekend I managed to overdo things yet again. But this time there's no burnout going on. It's actually the opposite. I feel more invigorated than ever.

Saturday I rode my bike to Mound, MN. It's a small town on the West end of Lake Minnetonka. I've never been out there but a friend of mine recently bought the Anytime Fitness franchise in that town. He wanted me to swing by to run with his crew so I took it as a good opportunity to explore a new part of the burbs. I took the 18 mile bike ride as a great cross training opportunity. When I got to the club I did a small 3 mile run with the crew, checked out the awesome franchise out there - I don't say that because I'm his friend... it really is very awesome - and biked back. The map is below.

Later that evening I spent the remainder of the waking day on a boat cruise on the Mississippi River for my friend Sarah's birthday party. That was great too but made for a very long night.

Today I met up with Randy and Jenae for a 20 mile run. This was their first experience running Cedar Lake as well as seeing the Washburn Water Tower. The run was long but we had a great fellowship and a lot of fun. Plus, I got to meet one of Jenae's friends who I might get to know a bit better later on. After the run we had breakfast at the Uptown Bar & Cafe. It's unclear how today could have been any better.

I love my weekends.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It took long enough but it's really here. After reading this article on the subject it's not a question any more.

I think I'll take most of this week off and do my scheduled long run with Randy and Jenae on Sunday. We'll see how things go after that.

Besides, it'll be a good chance to study up on some literature I've been meaning to get back into.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm getting there...

This weekend has definitely been one of the best in memory. Friday I spent the day with some wonderful company that kept me up all night long. Yes, it was tough and Saturday was pretty much a blur because of it but it was definitely worth it.

Speaking of Saturday, I went to the Turtleman triathlon but not as a participant. Believe it or not I was actually a volunteer. And it was fun. I still wish I could have been doing the event. The competitor in me won't let me give up. But there was no way I could have even finished the race much less been any good at it. Today, I think volunteering was the best decision. Besides, we got some awesome technical volunteer tee shirts.

Some of my TNT friends were competing in the Turtleman and it was exciting to watch them. I was on the bike route on literally the most pimp spot on the course. Seriously, it was great. Transition area was near the lake and the bikers had to bike up a hill to the park entrance and bike out from there. That's where I was. Right at the park entrance. That was also the exact spot where the bikes came in (just on the other side of the street). On top of that, the athletes run right up the grass to the north of that intersection and finish just on the south side. I got to see everything but the swim. And who cares about that because watching people swim is about as exciting as watching a bird take a crap.

Speaking of seeing everything, one of the elite female athletes was coming right back to the transition on her bike and completely wiped out at my intersection. It was really shocking to see. I was sad because you don't like seeing anyone crash and burn. However, I can't say that all of me was sad. After all, it does provide a small level of sick pleasure to see someone with these $10,000+ pedal bikes totally fuck them up.

Anyway, at the end of the day I had a great time volunteering, was impossibly tired from staying up way too late, and had a great time watching my TNT friends participate in the event.

Today, Sunday, was another one of my crazy runs. This time was 20 miles. By the end of it I only got 19 in because my body still can't handle the distance. But it was some great exercise and I'm pleasantly surprised at how quickly things are coming along. Before too long I'll be able to do 26.2 without too much of a hassle again.

Here's today's route:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting back out

Wednesday I did manage to get out and get that 6 miler in. It was so fun. You know those spring rains that produce large, dense droplets? Well, that's what happened. One solitary dark cloud rolled in, stopped right over Hopkins/Minnetonka, and let us have it. I wish I had a picture. It was so fun. I love running in the rain. The wet shoe part sort of sucked but otherwise it was solid. I'm not sure if my shoes are dry yet but they certainly have a bad odor about them now. And it's not dog poo.

The unfortunate part about the run was the the fact my legs felt like lifting lead plates. I think between a sugar heavy (read: poor) diet and a overtraining, I think I've killed my season. I peaked in the early spring and it's not been the same since. This is probably just my body telling me that it's time to cool it down, take it easy, and stop beating the crap out of myself. Put another way, it's active recovery time.

As for yesterday I had a lovely bike ride with Kris and her friend Mark. It was one of those days where a casual ride was all my body could take. The day was so amazingly beautiful that you knew G-d was smiling on us. The sky was painted brilliantly with the clouds and the sunlight. It wasn't too hot or cool at all. The humidity was low. The wind was mild and almost completely still. It was the epitomy of why we live in this area.

Other than one small bike spill and a flat tire (which was changed in record time BTW) the ride was flawless. I've got some pictures too and will post as soon as I get home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Speaking of Laziness

Yesterday's training was a bust. When I got out of work I could feel my body was telling me something wasn't right. Not in the something-will-break-if-you-don't-take-it-easy sense. It was more along the lines of a feed-me-or-you'll-be-sorry kind of thing.

Ironically enough my neighbor was having some guests over and invited me over for dinner too. It was a good thing because my bachelor diet wasn't going to pull me through this one.

My neighbor told me to eat as much as I want and don't hesitate. Now, this person knows I run and they've seen me eat before. It's not clear to me why she said I could treat this as a free for all but that's exactly what I did. 6 cobs of corn, 4 pieces of chicken, a serving dish full of steamed green beans, 2 bread rolls, and 4 cookies later, I was feeling MUCH better about the day. Everyone was looking at me, probably waiting for me to explode, but it never happened. The funny thing was I think my neighbor's son was partially disappointed I didn't.

Needless to say, no training got accomplished yesterday. But I think it was a necessary trade off.

As for today I woke up at 4:30 with the intent of doing 6 easy miles before work. I got all my stuff, stretched, and headed out the door. I didn't make it one tenth of a mile before my body was again screaming at me telling me it wasn't a good idea to go.

Again, I listened to my body and went back home but this time I was motivated to read my new Runner's World magazine. Like yesterday, this proved to be a good idea too because there was an article I caught that answered a few motivational and spiritual issues I'd been having.

But I'm not giving up on today's exercising. The day's still young and I've got plenty of time to get that 6 miler in. Besides, running is a lot of fun when it's 80 degrees and humid too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Glutton for punishment

I really shouldn't have done this but just could pass it up.

I woke up today fully well aware that I just biked 67 miles yesterday. It was one of those peaceful night sleeps where nothing would have woke me. When those happen I know I really did a number on myself yesterday.

So when I woke, fully rested and sort of sore, I checked my schedule and low and behold I had a 18 mile run today. No way I thought to myself. That's nuts. I just did practically a half Ironman bike distance.

Then it dawned on me: As fate would have it, I'm doing a half Ironman next month. How ironic.

A quick check outside showed overcast and fairly low humidity so all the chips were in place. How could I pass up this opportunity?

On with the gear and out the door I go. I ran a pretty common loop. For me anyway. And it wasn't even the full 18. I made it about 15.5 before I was at my front door and laziness took hold.

It was another combination run/walk but it felt much better than last week's long run. In fact, this felt energizing. I felt amazing. And I'm still feeling great about it.

Thank you endorphins! It saddens me that you'll be going away soon but I'm going to enjoy every moment of it while you're here.

I've got the map but am still waiting on Garmin and Motionbased to get their crap together and get their services working.

[UPDATE: Route is below.]

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My groin was on fire. And it was not good.

Well, it wasn't literally on fire. At least not in the combustible sense. But if my legs were made of wood I think the story would have been a little different.

Today was the Tour de Tonka. The actual one. Not one where I try to ride around and try to map it or one where I bail and only do 33 miles. Not today. Today was the full 67 miles.

In my continued attempt at understanding why people enjoy biking, I used my buddies loaner bike for the event. First off, it's clear to me that Erik's Bike shop sold me the wrong bike. Erik's is now officially on my shit list and will be getting no more business from me. Secondly, I'm borrowing my friend's carbon fiber frame bike. It's also clear to me this bike's frame is too short for me but not by much. Lastly, I was the who fit the bike to my body. What that means in a nutshell is it's NOT fit for me. Ironically, it's a better fit than the bike I call my own.

The day started out like nothing different from a typical event day. I had all my stuff packed the night before so all I did was apply butt'r, put on my stuff, steep some tea, and head out the door. The cool morning air was very welcome. It started out as one of those days that would be absolutely perfect. And it was. Today's event couldn't have been better from start to finish.

The ride itself was pretty straight forward. I met some friendly (and gorgeous) women at the beginning but didn't see them again. That was disappointing. But I did manage to find the TNT folks. Becca was really the only one I recognized in the group and it was a lot of fun to see her again.

Throughout the ride I was in and out of the aero bars but one thing I learned is I really really really like riding in aero bars. They're MUCH better than riding with the bike handles. You can really spit in the face of that head wind. But don't because you'll get a luggie fly right back in your face. You also pedal much more efficiently.

I know this wasn't a race and I think that's what helped me to enjoy this so much more than my other biking attempts. Other biking events I've been focused on going as fast as humanly possible and all I'd do is get passed. Today, I just chilled, let happen what would happen, and found something amazing out. I can actually pass people. And by people, I mean virtually everyone. I think my pass to being passed ratio was on the order of 120:1. It was amazing. And I wasn't even focused on speed. Just getting this thing done.

The only problem I'm finding out about aero bars is the goin thing. I think at some point my family gems went numb and there's no amount of repositioning that can be done to reinstate circulation. I was riding on the faith that I wasn't neutering myself. Thankfully when all was said and done I walked away in one piece and a much better person.

So, what I learned through all this is

  1. The bike you use is very important. Sadly, I'm going to have to save for a very nice bike and there's no way around it.

  2. Biking really isn't that horrible when your mind is in the right place. In fact, it's down right fun. When in racing mode, I've got to learn to slow down and KNOW that what I'm doing is right and I'm not slow as a turtle.

  3. The aero position is amazing for riding. It's comfortable (minus numb body parts) and breaks the wind very nicely.

  4. I need to focus on my ride and no one else's.

  5. In not too many weeks I'm going to be having to do practically this exact same distance and then run a half marathon after it. WTF!

  6. An Ironman is double this. Please explain to me how ANYONE found this to be a good idea.

And there we go. This is the longest ride I've ever been on a bike. My initial reaction is a positive one. Once I take a nap and tend to my chafing I'm sure I'll be back on the bike for another long one not too long from now.

[Note: Once Motionbased pulls their heads out of the butts I'll post the map of the route as well as my lap paces and overall performance.]

[UPDATE: 67 mile route is below.]

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fueling the Inner Nerd

It's occurred to me that while I've been paying a lot of attention to the my physical self and much more recently my spiritual self, I've been really denying the inner nerd. That's a shame too because it was because of my intense dorkiness and outlandish nerdery I graduated college (twice). But he's been neglected like a poor red headed step child (apologies to all red headed step children).

So, to make up for that I decided to put aside the athlete, forsake todays workout, and bust a move with a friend to the Science Museum. I've been to the Science Museum a few times so the standard exhibits weren't tonight's attractions. Instead, I had a much more sinister plot in mind. You see, the Science Museum is playing host right now to the Star Wars exhibit.

That's right folks. All original costumes, all original models, all original stuff used in the movies was right here in St. Paul. And we were allowed to take pictures. CHA-CHING!

The only disappointing thing was the douche bag George Lucas wouldn't let them display the Death Star. Don't ask. George Lucas is a serious douche. His last three Star Wars movies (Episodes IV - VI) should pay testament to that statement.

But, as a consolation prize, I got a really awesome bobble-head Darth Vader doll for my work cubicle. Oh yes. May the schwartz be with you!

Here are the pics from the evening.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Speed Work

Today's workout called for a little speed work and I had just the thing. There's a little ladder I enjoy doing which starts at a quarter mile, builds up in quarter mile increments to one mile, and then back down to a quarter mile. In between each run is a short rest period.

Nothing much else going on really. The run felt great. Especially after my long day at work. Speaking on my emotional low, I'm still there. In fact, I wanted to break down and cry a few times today. And before any of you laugh, just know that G-d gave us men tear ducts for a reason too.

I feel so empty inside at times and have no idea why. Well, that isn't entirely true. I kind of know why. But not entirely.

Anyway, here's the route. Garmin doesn't seem convinced they need to draw the map right so it looks like I did some running through a chasm to avoid a few multi-colored blobs. If the map displays correctly for you, then you have a map right to my doorstep. If not (and you'll know if not) then you'll see what I describe above.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yes, I still train

I decided it was high time to start back into marathon training so I did. Sunday marked my first long run in... I can't even remember. But, by the end of it I felt like it was a long time. Sunday was a 14 miler which, under normal circumstances, isn't anything to report. But this one is. It's something to report because I had to stop to walk so many times I lost track. I couldn't do it. Barely a half marathon and I was in seriously painful shape. Not sure what that was all about but it really put a lot of things into perspective.
And actually it acted as the catalyst for an incredibly emotional Sunday. But, I'm an emotional kind of guy so that sort of thing is almost to be expected. There's really no point in getting into that because it's incredibly off topic. Suffice it to say I had an interesting time reviewing my life to date.
Today was absolutely perfect for a swim and so that's exactly what I did. I hopped over to Shady Oak Lake and swam a few laps around the outer buoys. The water felt amazingly refreshing. If only it felt that way all year long.
And that's it. The Tour de Tonka 67 mile bike ride is this weekend. I've got a map of the route if you're interested and want to bike along with me. It's a lot of fun and a beautiful course.
[UPDATE: Here's the full route I ran if you'd like to see it.]

Saturday, July 26, 2008


After last weeks events I decided it was high time to take a week of recovery and rest. After reviewing the season so far it's come to my attention that I've done far too many events with little to no recovery time in between.

Other than a 5K this week I've done nothing sport related at all. It's been a wonderful time to do some home cooking, cleaning, use my Compex Fitness Trainer, catch up on some reading, and grocery shop.

Tomorrow I have every intention of getting back into the spirit of things. If Tim is in town I'll do some running with him. Otherwise I'll do my weeks long run solo. Either way it should be good. I haven't done a long run in a while.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Torchlight Run 5K

This is the third year of my running the Torchlight 5K. It's an awesome 5K that starts at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, runs over to the stone arch bridge and finally finishes near Nicollet Island. It's been one of my favorite 5K's because of the large crowd it draws but this year it was so much more fun than last year. This year I met up with the TNT group at the Basilica. In other words, I had a bunch of friends to run this with. Plus, Jenae and I biked downtown to the start where Sarah (an overly generous member of TNT) let us store our personal effects in her vehicle for safe keeping while we ran the race.

I had a blast. It was so much fun seeing all my friends and racing with them. I took it easy on this one (that's my excuse because Jenae kicked the crap out of me AGAIN) but someday I'll put in an honest effort to do well in a 5K again.

Here's the map of both our bike ride and the 5K. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

University of Okoboji Triathlon

I'm really starting to fall behind in my blogging. Sorry about that. Sometimes life takes a firm grip and won't let go. But since this is a "rest week" I thought it'd be good to take some time and re-cap the University of Okoboji Triathlon.

This was a spur-of-the-moment type of weekend. I just got done with the Life Time Fitness Triathlon and to be perfectly honest, my body is starting to scream at me to stop for a while. But I decided to go because it'd be a good opportunity to see a friend of mine who lives in Iowa. My friend and I decided to spend the weekend there, participate in an event, and spend some time relaxing in the wilderness. "Relaxing" is actually a misnomer. It was more like "come to grips with".

As we're both thrift shoppers we decided to go camping. Now, I haven't camped since my age started with the number 1 and ended with a 2 or maybe even a 1. So it's been a while. And I didn't remember what a person needed to go camping.

You know.

Things like firewood, sleeping bag, tent, pillow, air mattress, tarps, and food. None of these came to mind. I brought with me what any good city bred triathlete should be bringing on a camping trip:

a few changes of clothes, running shoes, biking shoes, butt'r, flip flops, some water bottles, a bike, bike tire pump, iPhone, iPhone charger, 2 hours of bone crunching tunes, and my car.

Needless to say I was a bit unprepared.

But good thing my colleague was a seasoned veteran at camping. She had the tent and a sleeping bag for herself. I still got to sleep on the hard floor. At least one of the two of us got a decent laugh out of it.

Saturday was race day. My friend ran the half marathon and I decided to compete in the triathlon.

In summary, the triathlon was an unpleasant experience. Not due to anything the race directors or officials did. It's hard to think how it could have been run better (timing mats at the beginning and end of transition as well as finishers medals for all finishers would be nice). However, Mother Nature wasn't going to let my streak of perfect triathlons continue.

The swim started in a mass start and I learned very quickly that mass swim starts SUCK! There is only one thing more aggravating than to have someone's hand bash into your foot or leg and that's to have THEIR foot collide with your head or goggles. I went from perfectly calm to furious rage in about 0.3128 seconds (give or take a few tenths of a second). I was so furious in fact that I just stood straight up and let most of the pack race right on by because I would have punched the next person who would have touched me.

The bike route, which was entirely around Lake Okoboji, would have been beautiful had it not started raining roughly 3 minutes into the bike. And it wasn't any kind of rain. This was a torrential down pour. This is the kind of stuff G-d said he wouldn't let happen for 40 consecutive days and nights. And the only thing that sucks worse than racing a bike is racing it while wet. I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say the bike was no good at all. (surprise, surprise)

Finally the run. This is where I learned my body is finite. For the first three miles, I had to do a run/walk combo because my calves were tight as rocks. Nothing under the sun was going to fix them so I had to tough it out. Stretching didn't do much good. Neither did the electrolyte pills I had with me. It was literally one of those days where my body was telling me to stop or else bad things were going to happen. Not to mention that I was already miserable from a frustrating swim and a horrible biking experience.

At the end of the day, I crossed the finish line and could celebrate another successful finish. It was definitely an off day. Definitely a day where time and performance weren't a focus. It was a day to spend with friends. And that got accomplished. So the day was won.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Crazy? Probably

It's official. I'm going to be competing in my first ever half Ironman competition next month. Not sure what I'm thinking because I'm so new with tris as it is and I'm still not even sure if I enjoy doing them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Life Time Fitness Triathlon 2008

Yesterday marked the culmination of the Team in Training season and crescendo of my triathlon experience. I left with a sense of accomplishment that can only be explained as "amazing". Going into the triathlon it felt like any other event on any other weekend. Coming out on the other end I feel like I made a dent in the fight against cancer as well as joined a tremendously amazing family.

The day started at 3:00 AM. [Yes, it's one of THOSE kind of races.] I got all my stuff together and drove over to Lake Nokomis to put my transition area together and meet up with the rest of the team. From that point on, the rest of the day was sort of a blur so forgive me if I lose a detail here and there.

Low and behold I was the first person in line for transition followed shortly thereafter by my friend Kris (blog link to the right) and some more TNT people. Transition itself didn't open until 4:30 so we hung around at chatted for a while. Once transition did open we got some amazing prime real estate in there. Once getting everything set up we headed over to the TNT tent for the rest of the pre-race activities.

We had a great pre-race warm up with the team. We took our team photo which was surprisingly good for being that early in the morning. Plus, we shared some mission moments. One in particular was amazingly heart felt and left virtually no dry eyes in the house. We then finished it all up with the loudest cheer in the area and everyone went off to their respective spots to get ready.

Personally, the event felt like any other event. I do some kind of race every weekend, be it a marathon, 10K, 5K, half marathon, sprint tri, or some other kind of run-centric activity, so the feeling of excitement people get didn't really happen for me. It wasn't until I put into perspective what was really happening that the energy started to rush through. With the Life Time Fitness Triathlon I wasn't just competing in my first Olympic distance triathlon. This event wasn't about me at all. It was about someone else. It was about something else. Something bigger than myself. It was about emotion. It was about tears. It was about the deep pain a person feels in their soul because life has robbed them. It was about every person who lives with and who's fallen victim to a blood cancer. It was about my aunt who died of colon cancer when I was 10 and home alone with her. It was about everyone on this team that has poured their heart and soul into being more than they are. It was about finding a cure for these blood cancers so that someday, no one will ever have to go through what we went through. It was about honoring our loved ones who couldn't be there.

Through our lives, we all wear a lot of titles but don't really think much about it. Titles that most of us have include

brother or sister
husband or wife
man or woman
renter or owner

There are some titles we have that we may or may not be proud of but they're there anyway. Some of mine include


None of us is perfect right?

But today isn't about many of those. It's about changing lives and earning some other titles. After yesterday, everyone earned some very noble and honorable titles.


However, those in Team in Training and similar organizations earned not just those titles but one more. One that goes above and beyond what a triathlon can earn you. One that means even more than the title of triathlete. One that not many other people on that course can claim. Yesterday, each and every one of us earned the the distinguished title of


All people paid on the order of $100 to participate in the triathlon. We paid $2100. And many of the team members paid much more. Not only in green backs but in lives. Anyone who has lost someone to cancer has that as part of their entry fee. And that's a cost that no amount of green back can ever quantify. Those are the people who have earned the titles of athlete and triathlete. But more so than that, they earned the most important distinction of all: hero.

So, after all that, how did I do? I finished and had fun doing it. That's the point right? The post race party was a bunch of fun too!

Sadly I do have to report that one of my friends beat me by 3 minutes. So to her I say: "You're going down next year!"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Minneman Triathlon 2008

The day after Independence Day I celebrated my second triathlon. This time it was the 2007 Best Triathlon award winner: Minneman. My friends Kris and Dana were both there competing as well as my neighbor Danny. It was great competing with people I know and also meeting all types of other people. Fun was had by all.

If I have one real complaint about the course it would be the forest of seaweed we had to swim through. UGH... really, how gross does it get? I actually got tangled up at one point because some doofus in front of me stopped swimming which caused me to stop. Apart from that one setback, the course is beautiful and the event is amazingly well run.

My one non-real complaint is the same one I had about the last tri I did. The biking portion blows. Honestly. It's almost borderline deep hatred. It's way too involved to get into it. Suffice it to say, I dislike biking. A friend even lent me his bike to use today. The bike is similar to mine in every way except for being completely carbon fiber based and a true dedicated road bike where mine is a cycle cross bike. It's lighter and faster. But... guess what happened? THE SAME DAMN THING as in the last tri: I lost all my ground in the bike because everyone and their grandmother passed me. I made it all up in the run but that made it even more frustrating because if I wasn't such a shitty biker I'd be passing people in the run that I now wouldn't even see. Biking is expensive, it's a pain in the butt, it's for the people with too much money, and it's the longest part of a triathlon. Go figure...

End Venting

Here's how today's sprint tri worked out:

Overall Time: 1:16:45
Overall Place: 84
Division Place: 11
Gender Place: 64
Swim Time: 11:32 (0.3 Mile)
T1: 1:56
Bike Time: 40:26 (13 Mile) = (19.29 MPH average)
T2: 1:08
Run Time: 21:44 (3 Mile) = (7:14/mile average)

UPDATE: Official results are in. They're unreadable for my purposes so I took the liberty,thanks to a little blank line script, to create a TXT file of the results that is formatted correctly.

UPDATE 2: Apparently Blogger is too dumb to allow for file uploads (only pictures and videos) so I've got this pretty results file that only I can see. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back from Vacation

I actually take those. Unbeknownst to most there is a time in a man's life when he's got to step away from the mundane work life and head out on a trip. And this past week I did exactly that. I had no computer and no internet access so I'm frantically updating everything from the past week.

A few months ago I decided to visit some friends in northern Michigan along the shore of Lake Michigan in a little town called Charlevoix. It's a very beautiful town and host to a lot of incredibly rich people. Their summer vacation homes are in Charlevoix so it's a huge tourist trap. By the way, if you ever land on that side of Michigan, you're a tourist if the locals call you a "fudgie" or a "cone sucker". It's really pretty funny.

The whole long weekend is documented pictorially here. This blog entry will more or less serve as the narration to the story. Cozy up with some hot cocoa and a blanket. Here we go.

I left last Thursday for the trip but instead of taking the usual route through the [impossibly beautiful] Upper Peninsula, I decided to do something different and take the S. S. Badger Carferry across Lake Michigan to Ludington and then drive North along the shore to Charlevoix.

All I have to say about the carferry is "very cool." It's like a floating factory. The thing is huge.

While on board I met some very interesting people who were on job interviews from NYC in both the twin cities and Wisconsin. They were both interviewing for teaching jobs at universities and were so nice they bought me a very refreshing lemonade. It was so refreshing in fact that I fell asleep and got completely sunburnt lying on the outer deck of the ship. It was funny looking too. My legs were red to the inside of my shins and white as a ghost on the outside of the shins. Not sure how I was sleeping to make that happen but there I was. A Batman villain.

After 3.5 hours on the ferry it pulled into Ludington, we unboarded, and I began the 3 hour drive to Charlevoix. It was all uneventful except for the beautiful shoreline and untamed wilderness as far as the eye could see. Very different from the city life. I almost really miss it a lot and would, in a sense, give up the convenience of city life to have that again.

When I got to Charlevoix, the first thing I did was get to my friends house (many indoor pictures included), unpack my stuff, and take a trip along the shore on my bike. There was an awesome old torn town nuclear power plant I wanted to check out but ran out of time. I headed back and took some pictures of the town... including the bridge that no fudgie can be without. The weather was amazing and I was seriously ready to take on anything.

On Friday, I spent some more time on my bike but then headed down to Traverse City to watch the local minor league team, the Beach Bums, take on... uh... some other team. But most importantly, I was meeting up with a high school friend of mine who I haven't seen in as much time. It was great to see him and I've already got his IM so we won't have to wait another 12 years to be in touch. In fact, the next time I'm around in the area I plan on doing some biking with him. Which means I now need to save up for a dirt bike as well as a triathlon bike. Can we say Powerball?

Saturday was the real meat of the weekend. Saturday morning was the second running of the "Run Charlevoix" marathon. This was the second time I'd done it (going for a no miss record here) and it was a great time to run into yet some more friends. A college friend of mine came up to run the half marathon and the rest of my friends were also running the half. This was, for all of them, their first half marathon. Each of them finished so all I can really say is: CONGRATULATIONS on a job well done!

This marathon is unique [read: shitty] in that it's an out-and-back. TWICE. That's right folks. When you get to the half marathon point, you're actually at the end of the race but have to turn back around and run the course again. My friends and I spent a very long time discussing, at length, how this race could very easily be run better and some of the mismanagement of the organization that puts it on [unabridged letter will follow sometime soon. Stay tuned.] but let's not dwell on that now. My only main comment is if they change the course to start in Harbor Springs and run to Charlevoix, they'd have a much more beautiful course. And, it's doable because the distance from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix is... drum roll please...

27.1 miles.

It's unclear to me how it could be more perfect.

The run was okay though. I used this as a training run and an experiment. See, since my last marathon, I've done virtually no running. All I've been doing is cross training. And lots of it. I wanted to see how much biking and swimming would maintain marathon stamina.

The answer: Not much.

By the half marathon mark I was in pain I hadn't felt in recent memory. I had to pull off a Hal Higdon walk-run to finish the race. My feet and every other part of my body was in severe agony by the end of the run. In fact, I had to have a random stranger help me finish the run because I was going to stop and walk the last 3 miles. So, for those of you who were wondering if you can keep your marathon shape by cross training... not so much.

Nothing replaces the long runs. So please don't even try it. If you're a triathlete and interested in doing marathons, don't fool yourself. You need to do the long runs on the weekend. So I say... train for an Ironman competition. You may as well.

One interesting, sad, and noble thing did happen to me on the run. On the way back from the second turn around, somewhere near mile 22 or so, I ran into this guy who looked like he was stoned. He was headed out for the second turn around so I stopped him and asked how he was doing. He could barely hold himself up against the railing at that point when he told me his fingers were tingling. The poor kid was dehydrated from the insane humidity and heat as well as sorely depleted of electrolytes. Enough was enough. I told him to turn around and walk with me to the next station, that he should live to fight another day. And literally that's where he was. The passer-byers gave us their water so he would have something to drink and I kept walking and talking with him for at least a good 3/4 mile before a race official came with a radio and more supplies for the kid. I'm glad he was found when he was otherwise it could have been a much worse outcome for the guy. After I saw he was safe I took off and kept running my race. Later an ambulance came screaming by and I knew it was for that guy. Hopefully he learned a great lesson about his first marathon. Too bad he didn't finish it but something tells me he didn't put in nearly enough time or long runs to make the race (look who's talking.)

The rest of the weekend I spent swimming in the unbelievably clean, clear, and beautiful Lake MIchigan and Lake Charlevoix.

It was a fun weekend and a great vacation. Thanks to my friends for putting up with me. I can't wait for next year.