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.