Wednesday, May 28, 2008

10-S Triathlon

The fine folks at the Michigan Tech Athletics Department finally got their act together and got the registration for the 10-S Triathlon up. Good thing too. With only 2.5 weeks until race day I'd hate to see them only have a hand full of participants. On the other hand, they only have two medals per age category so this would more or less guarantee me getting one. That's exciting. Especially since this'll be my first triathlon.

Personally this one will hold some special significance. I haven't been up to Houghton, my college town, in a few years. The memories will be nice. I'm actually looking forward to that aspect of things. Plus, I've never swam in the Portage. I've always wanted to but something about murky water that you can't see down past your nose psyches me out. It's the element of surprise that does me in. If something horrible is going to happen you will have absolutely no warning before it does. If I'm going to run into some old rusty ruins or get eaten by some mysterious Lake Superior creature, I'd like to have a little more warning. Maybe that's just me.

I'll keep you posted with details of the race once that weekend is over.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mississippi 10 Miler, St. Paul Saints and Bad Luck

It's been one heck of a weekend. One thing about rough weekends is where to really start. The beginning is usually a good choice. Sometimes it's best to start with some good stuff to pad into it and then go from there. After all, it hasn't been an incredibly horrible weekend. It's been a good weekend with an abnormally large amount of monetary and emotional pain.

First off, it's Memorial Day weekend. Horray for that. That means a three-day weekend for me without any penalty to my PTO (Paid Time Off) from work. So, to start the long weekend I invited a friend of mine from Iowa to come up and spend some time. I agreed to chauffeur her around since I pretty much know where everything is and what's going down in the cities. What's important to remember at this point is I haven't driven my car in about a week. With gas pushing $4/gallon, I decided it was time to make some lifestyle adjustments.

Friday morning I walk out to the car and notice the driver's side rear tire is flat. To top that off, the gas tank is on "e" and I need an oil change. Sometimes I honestly have to question why I have a car in the first place.

Since there was no time to get this taken care of in the morning and get to work, I decided to ride my bike to work Friday morning and take the car to the shop during my lunch hour.

After a few hours pass, I get a call on my cell at work. It's the shop telling me they patched the tire and changed the oil and topped the fluids. In the mean time they tell me that a bearing is shot and the whole system needs to be replaced. Long story short, when I finally got my car back and had it filled with gas, I was $630 poorer than I was when the day began.

Understanding that this is dragging on, let me just highlight the rest.

My friend and I go downtown via the light rail and miss the last train. So we have to hop a cab who (a) make NYC cab drivers look like cautious and wonderful drivers and (b) has the English vocab equivalent of a 10-year old. So not only am I 4+ hours past my bed time but now spent more on the night than I anticipated.

Because I stayed out so late I wound up missing my duathlon on Saturday morning. This isn't all bad because I didn't plan on going anyway but it still would have been nice to make it. The rest of Saturday pretty much goes as planned without much more hassle. I get to bed at a reasonable hour and get ready for the 10 miler on Sunday.

Sunday's 10 miler (below) we fun. The rain held off and we were able to get it done in dry (and humid) conditions. Jenny and I both run the race and it was pretty close to a tie for us. The course is beautiful. If you ever get around to running on East River Road, you won't be disappointed.

The crap started to fall again when I tried to make tea. The pot was on the stove and I decided to take a little nap. Needless to say, I know now that kettles cannot take an infinite amount of heat and heating pots on the stove with nothing in them is insanely dangerous. So after coming close to burning the place down I give up on the day and call it quits.

That's when another friend of mine called me up to see the Saint Paul Saints play. For $4, who can pass that up? I go to the Saints game and have an absolute blast. They won and had a great fireworks display afterword. I'm very glad I made the drive to St. Paul.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll wake up and this streak of horribleness will be over.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Much Needed Recovery Ride

Actually what was much needed was recovery sleep. But I did get a lot of that yesterday and last night. A friend of mine from Team in Training asked if I wanted to do a 15-20 mile easy ride. That sounded like a good idea so she and I met at the Hopkins Depot and we took off to uptown Minneapolis and the Great River Road. Needless to say, our 15-20 mile ride turned into something more like a 27 mile ride. But it was fun. Other than being a tad chilly, the route was great and so was the company. Here's where we went.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Maple Grove Half Marathon

It's been obvious to a lot of people that I overdo my working out. I know that because they're very blunt with me (Note to women: I do NOT pick up on hints. Not in any form. If you drop a hint and get ticked off that I don't pick it up, I don't care. I'm telling you right now. Don't do it.) It is now obvious to me that I overdo it.

Today was the first ever Maple Grove Half Marathon. They did a good job for a first time too. There were, of course, some things that could have been handled better. But all things considered, everything was handled well. This is definitely one to keep your eye on for next year. They're already off to a great start and it can only get better from here.

As for my workout today, I'm still in no-buying-gasoline mode so I hopped on the bike at 5:00 a.m. and headed over to Maple Grove (see map below). It was... a hard ride. I had an hour and a half to make 20 miles and I did it with about 15 minutes to spare. Talk about timing. I hopped off the bike, changed clothes, got in line and headed off to start the half.

The course itself (also below) was challenging. It was very challenging. Check out the elevation map to see what I mean. This course would have been tough even if I didn't bike there. My quds were tight and my calves were impossibly sore and hurting so I gave up running for time and decided to run for fun. This is of course entirely my fault since I ran a marathon last weekend, had a hard week of training, and biked to the event.

Enjoy the course. I'm heading for bed. It's been a long day and the one thing I need right now is some sleep. A massage wouldn't be all that bad either though.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back Around the Lakes

Today's training was a bit excessive. Let's just face the facts right now. It's not been a week since my marathon and already I'm training as if nothing happened last weekend. I biked to practice, ran, and was going to bike back. No, I didn't bike back. That's explained below.

I'm being cheap because, for those of you who haven't noticed, the price of gasoline is out of control. So much so that I'm opting not to drive as much as I can control it. So leisure trips have been cut out, no more driving to work, and no more driving to practice. The irony there is I exercise in order to get to practice so I can... exercise.

After work I hopped on my bike and headed over to Lake Calhoun. That's a nice 10 mile ride on the path I took (see below). By the time I got to our practice spot, I hurried off of my bike, swapped shoes, put on my hat, and I was ready for the run.

We ran 7 miles around both lakes Calhoun and Harriet (see below map). It was fun because I got to hang out with some amazingly awesome people. And sometimes that makes all the difference in the world. We had fun conversations while talking and just made the time pass by. It was great.

After our run we stopped over to Noodles & Company for a little team building activity and over indulgence in delicious food. A good time was had by all.

The only problem at this point was I had to bike home. Luckily Kris, who is cool as all get out, felt pity on me and drove my sad rear end home. So, again, I'm saved by a woman. This is becoming a popular theme with me. All things considered though... I really don't mind. I hope they don't either. ;-)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Great Day with a Sad Ending

Okay. Maybe it's not all that sad. But it's disappointing.

I was rummaging around the net today looking into, what else, triathlons and ultra endurance events. To my amusement I found two that really struck a chord with me.

The Copperman Triathlon

10-S Triathlon

Both of these are in the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula of upper Michigan. I miss that area and wish I could go there all the time. If I could live there and work here and not have to commute I'd be in heaven. That area is my home. But tomorrow's another day. We'll see what it has to bring.

Anyway, what's sad is The Copperman Tri falls smack dab on the same day as another event I want to make a tradition of: The Tour de Tonka. I was the first person to sign up for the Tour de Tonka this year so I definitely cannot back out of it. Plus, they're changing the route this year. I've got to do it.

On the bright side, the 10-S Triathlon I can do. It'd be a quick, spur of the moment weekend thing but I can pull it off. It's not even a sanctioned triathlon which makes it more fun. Literally it sounds like a small, unofficial tri. But the best part: it goes right by the school I called home for almost 7 years. We swim in the portage, bike somewhere by the school, and do an out-and-back run. Hopefully it isn't full. I'd LOVE to do this event. I've got an email in to the director of the event. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Inaugural Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon

Today I had my second marathon of the year and the first one of the season. Today's run was the first ever Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon and all I can say is WOW. It was great. The race director and her team did a phenomenal job arranging all the details and executing it. I don't think there was one detail missed. From start to finish this race was a blast.

My thanks to the St. Cloud River Runners for helping put this together.

Because this was the inaugural year and it was unofficial in the eyes of USATF this was not a Boston qualifier and the field was limited to the first 100 registrants. I'm glad I signed up for this when I did.

I'm considering my official time to be my Garmin Forerunner 305 time. The course map is below and you can follow it to to find out my split times and other fun facts.

One great thing did happen today. And it was completely unexpected. I PR'ed. 3:39:38 was my time. My next fastest time was 3:45 from Whistlestop last fall. That was really unexpected but very welcome.

I also took a few pictures. Most of the course I missed because I started getting into the spirit of the event. But you can check out what I've got. The River Runners have some pictures too. Check it out at their page from the link above.

Definitely consider this one for next year when it's an official event. You won't regret it.

Update: Turns out I made the paper too. Okay... everyone made the paper. But regardless, I'm in there so that counts.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Twin Cities 1 Miler 2008

Today was the third running of the Medtronic Twin Cities 1 Miler. I love that race. How often do you get to do a 1 mile race that's officially chip timed? Not to mention one downtown.

The 1 Miler is a simple little run. They start it off with a mass starting wave, then it goes by age groups and finishes with the elite runners. It's really fun to watch. The course is below and as you can see winds through a very nice part of downtown. I don't often have a good excuse to get downtown but this is one of those rare moments when I do.

As of this writing, the price of gas is now around $3.66/gallon. In the spirit of being cheap, I've been walking to work and driving nowhere. In fact, my car hasn't moved from where it is right now in almost 4 days. And today I wasn't going to start. After walking home from work I stuffed all my running gear in my backpack, hopped on the bike, and headed toward downtown. As it turns out, downtown is exactly 10 miles from my house. Not a bad little bike ride. I've got that below too.

Now, it's time to rest. I've got a marathon to run on Saturday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Back at Blogger

I've been using Apple's iLife suite to publish my rants, raves, and random accomplishments on the web ever since they came out with the '08 version. It seemed like a great upgrade to an already great software suite. They added a bunch of new features and in short sight it seemed like the way to go.

But, as the months moved on, I came to realize that the iLife suite, in particular iWeb, had a few short comings. Don't get me wrong. It's great software and makes publishing websites a breeze. But for my particular blogging needs, it's insufficient. It isn't well suited to day-to-day posting. It also doesn't work well as a blog editor unless you are on your own computer. It's completely insufficient for traveling unless you have a Macbook of one flavor or another.

Rather than rant and rave about some software that really is good but doesn't suite my particular needs, I'll focus on the task at hand, which is fitness.

I met up with my friend Kris - actually she drove over here because I'm too cheap to buy gas - and she and I did a nice leisurely bike ride around the area. Check it out below.

I've got a marathon this coming weekend and she was to take today off so rather than push ourselves we both just trotted along and enjoyed the beautiful non-snowing Minnesota evening.