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!