Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bloomer Boogie 5k Race Report

My first race in Michigan in years was a race filled with firsts.  Some of them welcome, some of them, not so much.  The first "first" is that this was the first race I could walk to.  Across the river from my apartment is Bloomer Park, a Rochester Hills city park that is filled with narrow trails.  A perfect setting for the Bloomer Boogie 5k—a cross country race.

It took me about 20 minutes to get there (including a climb of 147 steps).  I was excited because the race was small, and on the Rochester High School cross country course.  I love cross country courses, and this would be my first chance to use the spikes in my cross country shoes since 2003.  2003!

Notice the Spikes of Doom and the awkward giganto-chip

While I was worried that I would be the only person wearing spikes, my fears were assuaged when another guy shows up with spike.  The difference between he and I was that he was fast and I wasn't.  Spoiling the ending here, but this fellow won the 5k, and with a time of 17ish minutes, he was the only person to break 20 minutes.  So, it's clear that one of my firsts was not that I took first place.

The race begins, and to spare you the minutia, I'll say that the first 2 miles were good.  I averaged 7 min/mile, and the course was wonderful.  It was really narrow in places, so it was all about strategy.  I needed to get out quickly, and surge when it opened up.

Enter mile 3.  

As I was going downhill on a narrow path with a slight curve, I noticed a wooden footbridge about 5 feet in length traversing a small ditch.  Knowing that spikes can get caught in the soft wood and cause a tumble, I was very focused on getting my footing correct on the bridge.


With all that concentration, my right foot caught the ground, and down I went, Superman style.  I landed in a surprisingly soft pile of dirt and skidded along for a few feet.  I quickly rolled to the side to avoid being trampled, and then I got up and kept moving.  

My running mojo was shot.  I wasn't in a whole lot of pain, but I lost my groove and could only muster a final mile of 9'30".  Not my best performance.  But, after crossing the line, I stopped at the awards table and a woman asked me my age.  I blanked out for about 5 seconds, then replied with "25".

"Congratulations!  You took 2nd Place in the M20-29 age group!"

So, that's my other first—my first age group award.  And while I got this cool medal, it was a completely unsatisfying experience.  After the tumble, my race was awful, and I didn't really deserve a medal for that performance.  I'll explain away the 2nd place by saying the overall winner was in my age group, so he wasn't counted in the age group awards, and that the remaining guys in the age group numbered 4.  So, I basically got 2nd place by default.  And that sucks.

I didn't survey the damage to my knee until after I finished, and while it wasn't bad, it wasn't pretty either. There must have been a few rocks in the soft dirt, and my knew was pretty scraped up.

This photo was taken just after I got home, but it looks much worse now.  There are some scrapes and scratches in there that make it look like I was attacked by a large cat, and the muscle is pretty tender right now.  Nothing a little time won't heal, but it leaves me with this question:

Why is that the first race where I place in my age group is also the first time I've ever fallen while running?  Yes—first time I've even gone horizontal while running.  Ugh.

Oddly, I want to do this race again next year.

Fun Side Note:  After I arrived, I saw a name on the registration list that I recognized.  It was the same name as one of my cousins.  I didn't know if would be the same person, but I saw my cousin cross the finish line on what was her first-ever race.  Congrats, Jessica on finishing your first 5k!  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughts on Shoes

I've got a thing for Brooks shoes.  Once I bought my first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTSs, I stopped looking at other shoes—they were that good.  At the marathon expo in 2010, I picked up a different pair of shoes: the Brooks Launch.  (Yes, still Brooks.)  They're a lighter shoe, and I was worried that with less cushioning, they'd be less than ideal on longer runs.  But, after running an 11.6 Mile Half Marathon, a real Half Marathon, and a 10 Mile in them, I don't worry about them at longer distances anymore.  So, I'll be retiring my Adrenalines and not buying another pair.

Yes, I said it: I'm not going to buy Adrenalines again.

I'm going to make the Launch my default training shoe.  By doing this, I now have room in my lineup for another type of shoe.  I want a real racing flat, and I'm tired of getting blisters from my old cross country spikes.  I'm looking at these two shoes at the moment:

Brooks Green Silence.  A semi-traditional racing flat made with eco-friendly materials.  I've heard good things about this shoe, and it just looks cool.

Brooks Pure Connect.  This is a brand new shoe in a brand new line from Brooks.  I first heard about these at the marathon expo 2 weeks ago, and I'll admit that I'm intrigued.  I'm not into the minimalist fad, but I appreciate lightweight shoes for racing.  I haven't really seen any reviews of these shoes, so I'm hesitant to pull the trigger on them.  Maybe I'll swing by Hanson's and try them on.

Any Other Suggestions?  I'm open to other suggestions for racing flats.  They don't have to be Brooks (I promise), so suggest your favorite shoe.  And if you have any info about these Brook Pure shoes, leave that feedback here too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Maybe This Isn't So Bad

Rochester is a cool place.  The Michigan Rochester, specifically.  Moving from Minnesota was (and still is) hard, and having no good place to run whilst I was living with my folks for those few months just made things worse.  But last month, I moved to Rochester—hoping things would be better.

They are.

I'm living within walking distance of downtown Rochester, which means I can walk to a really cool small-town "main street".  Even better than that are all the great places to run.  Here's a map and the rundown (pun intended):

I'm live near the red star.  (I suppose it is sort of a planned community...)
  1. The blue line is the Macomb-Orchard Trail.  It's a paved trail that goes east about 30 miles from Rochester to Richmond.  It's a great place for bike riding, and I'd like to make it out to Romeo, MI before the year is over.
  2. Following the Macomb-Orchard Trail, one can get to Stony Creek with ease.  Stony Creek (the orange triangle), is a great Metropark with paved trails, hiking trails, a lake, hills, and all kinds of fun things that are free if you enter on foot or by bicycle.
  3. Heading southwest from my apartment along the green line is the Clinton River Trail.  It's a crushed limestone trail that eventually connects all the way out past West Bloomfield (about 30 miles).  If I were to ride my bike to work (which I hope to do), this is the way I would go.
  4. Rochester itself is a great place to run.  Calm, residential streets on a (mostly) grid-like system.
  5. From downtown Rochester, one can connect to the Paint Creek Trail.  This dirt trail heads northwest from town all the way out to Lake Orion (about 10 miles away).  This is my favorite place to run, and the colors along the trail are fantastic right now.
In fact, this past weekend I went on my longest bike ride ever and went to Lake Orion and back.  On my way out, I came across these signs:

Signs Read: "CAUTION: Stay on Trailway, Archery Range"

Uhh, ok.  This is likely the most dangerous place I've ever cycled through.  I risked gaining a few extra holes in my body and continued to Lake Orion.

I expected the trail to put me close to downtown Lake Orion, but it ended in a CVS parking lot.  Befuddled, I turned around and headed back.  I made a quick stop at the Paint Creek Cider Mill, and after a total of 20 miles, I completed my longest ride ever.

Now I just need to find some fun races to do around here!

Friday, October 07, 2011

TC 10 Mile Race Report

Something funny has happened since I moved to Michigan—I've run more races in Minnesota than Michigan.  I love Minnesota, but I guess I need to do something in the Mitten State every so often.

That being said, I journeyed to the Twin Cities for the TC 10 Mile.  A number of firsts happened with this race:

  • My first 10 Mile race.
  • My first time not running the Twin Cities Marathon since I started running again.
  • My first time running a marathon in 10 miles (no, I'm not one of those people who "run a 5k marathon")
After chatting with a person on the plane who was going to run the Twin Cities Marathon for the first time, I arrived in Minnesota and Katie and I grabbed some lunch at our favorite restaurant (the St. Clair Broiler!).  From there, we went to the expo where I may have gone crazy seeing the 20% off sales at the Brooks booth.

The morning of the race, I convinced Katie to wake up much earlier than necessary (she ran the 10 Mile too!), then get to the shuttle to get to the Dome much earlier than necessary.  She was displeased with me until just before the race started (sorry Katie).  We split up to our assigned corrals, I warmed up a bit, and then after a short wait, I was off.

I really had 2 strategies for this race.

  1. Don't Be Stupid.  I haven't been training as much as I should have.  I wasn't going to try for a course record.  Anywhere between 80 and 90 minutes would make me happy.
  2. Race the Marathon.  I had a very successful marathon last year.  There were a few guiding principles of my race strategy that I wanted to adhere to for this race.  These included: no weaving through heavy traffic (just go with the flow the first few miles), easy on the hills until I reach Summit, and go for broke on Summit Avenue.
So, it was going to be the marathon, but I skipped the first 16.2 miles (makes it easy, eh?).  The race started off well, but the course was narrow.  I knew that running tangents would be next to impossible, so I started myself on the right side of the course knowing that the majority of the curves in the first 3 miles were to the right.  I stayed right until I hit the Franklin Bridge.  The uphill to the bridge was slow, but I did that deliberately.

East River Parkway allowed me to pick a steady pace for miles 4 and 5.  The hidden uphill upon entering St. Paul was taken slow, as were the next 2 uphill stretches from Marshall to St. Thomas.

On Summit, I picked it up considerably.  My splits in the first 6 (uphill) miles averaged about 8'40"/mile.  The last 4 miles averaged around 7'40"/mile.  I pushed hard, and crossed the finish line with a negative split of about 4 minutes.

Time: 1:23:04
Overall Place: 1686 / 7549
Male Place: 1109 / 2917
M22-29 Place: 234 / 502

Some observations...

First, I LOVE the 10 Mile distance!  Not only is it the perfect distance where one needs endurance but still must go fast, it makes calculating splits on the fly super easy.  What's my pace?  Just divide by 10!

Second, the atmosphere around the TC 10 Mile is great, but very different than the Marathon.  Not in a bad way, it was just, different.  (But, why were the t-shirts the most obnoxious green in the world?  The airport workers thought I was one of them on my flight home!)

Third, I need to run more.  I've got a number of great running trails around me now (which I'll detail in a blog post), so this should become easier.

Fourth, I love MTEC Results.  Remember the cool "you passed/passed by" stats from the marathon last year?  Here's something similar (but with fewer data points):

Miles 1-5: I was passed by 479 people, and passed 195 people.
Miles 6-10: I was passed by 20 people, but passed 437.

So, a very strong second half.

Katie and I after the race.  She raced a 6-minute 10 Mile PR!

One cool thing was being around for the finish of the marathon.  The last 2 years I was hours behind the winner, so it was really cool to see them come around the corner and head to the finish.  Katie and I hung out around the farm animals 1/2 mile before the end and got to witness this:

Winner of the men's marathon

How cool is that?  We also saw the elite women finish (no photos though), and there was quite a battle for 3rd place.  After this, Katie and I went back to her place, but made a quick detour to Mile 22.5 to cheer for a friend, Tony.  He got a major PR too!

Minnesota, it was a grand weekend.  Let's do it again sometime, ok?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just to Be Clear

Things I hate:
  • Sunburns
  • Blowing 60 bags of insulation into the attic on a hot summer day
  • That infernal plastic packaging that one must mutilate to enter at the risk of dismembering oneself
Things I don't hate:
  • Triathletes
  • Duathletes
  • Cyclists
  • Iowans
Let me clear things up a bit.  On my Holly Tri Race Report, someone left an anonymous comment that went like this:
it looks like you need a tag for "hating on everyone who is not a *pure* runner from Michigan or Minnesota". So far, you can apply it to not liking triathletes, duathletes, cyclists, and Iowans! :-)
I get it.  It doesn't take much of a spine to leave an anonymous drive-by comment on a blog, particularly if you craft a smiley at the end to assuage any shame you may feel for the harsh tone.  But really, it doesn't bother me.  What bothers me is that people are getting the impression that I "hate" anyone.  Thus, let me make these points clear:

  1. I like Iowans.  As far as scenery goes, however, the state is lacking.  Can you maybe put up a few more billboards?  Another truck stop?  A giant ball of twine?
  2. I dislike it when someone is discourteous towards me.
    • Corollary: In this case, discourteous would mean not alerting someone that you are passing them (this includes triathletes, cyclists, duathletes, runners, beavers, and old ladies on Hoverounds).  
  3. I find it rude when I speak to you and you ignore me.  I don't expect much in the way of a response, but treating me like I don't exist is bothersome.
 On this blog, I offer my observations and opinions on training.  I'm always willing to discuss something, and I freely admit that I'm not always right (in fact, I'm probably right less than 50% of the time).  But if you want to accuse me of "hating" someone, then have the gumption to sign your name.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Holly Tri Race Report

    There are a few ways I could sum up this race.  One would be: "Another hill? #&%."  Another would be: "Do I have any gears lower than 1?"  But, I think the best way to sum up the race is this:

    Overall Swim Placement: 110 / 134
    Overall Bike Placement: 115 / 134
    Overall Run Placement: 21 / 134

    The race was scheduled to start at 8am with packet pickup starting at 6am.  I aimed to get there at 6am, which meant leaving at 5am.  Just before leaving, I found a little blurb on the race website that says even though I already paid the registration fee, I have to pay an extra $10 (in cash or check) on race day for a license.  Let me just state that this is the dumbest thing ever.  If it costs ten more dollars, then make it part of the registration fee.  Don't try and slip it in under the radar and bamboozle well-meaning racers.

    It was dark when I arrived at Holly State Recreation Area, and after checking in I set up my little piece of tarmac:

    Pretty simple

    After some rearranging

    Next to me on the rack was a friendly German fellow who warned me about a "big hill" on the bike course.  Then the German fellow disappeared and I didn't see him again for the rest of the day.  It's possible that he was an apparition meant to give me course advice.  Or he was an oracle.

    I then took a gander at the course.  From the maps on the website, we were supposed to go around the swimming rectangle once.  To my eye, it seemed like a pretty big 500m, but I rationalized that the perspective was all off since the lines were at an oblique angle to the shore.  I then looked at the posted map, and as it turns out, sprint racers only needed to go as far as the pyramid buoys.  Much better.

    The beach was disarmingly moist.  Instead of a discrete line between beach and lake, it was more of a continuum.

    After chatting with no one (triathletes aren't very friendly, I guess), I got my wetsuit on and meandered to the beach for the pre-race meeting.  For the rest of the time on the beach, the sound system would cut out after about 5-7 seconds, thus needing a reset.  Even after this happened 50+ times, the announcer would always wander away from the reset button and then act surprised when it would cut out 4 seconds later.

    Aside: This is my first time racing at a "3 Disciplines" event.  If I were to rate "3 Disciplines" on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being orgs like Twin Cities in Motion and Final Stretch, and 1 being orgs like Randy Fulton races and Team Ortho, I'd give "3 Disciplines" a solid 5.5.

    Also, thanks to the kind fellow that helped me zip up my wetsuit.  I guess my struggling was pretty obvious.

    I was hesitant about a "time trial start".  I figured that it would make it less of a race, and more of an individual event against the clock.  And that was true.  Yet, I also feared that I would be the last person on the course because it required us to seed ourselves based on projected swim time.  I guessed I would be the slowest, but there was practically a brawl to see who could get the slowest projected time.  I settled for a spot in the 14-15 min range (about 2/3 of the way back in the line).  They told me to go, and then I went.  It was slow, but this being my first wetsuit race, I stayed pretty relaxed.  I found my way around the course, got lost in the weeds a bit, then ran up the beach.

    Swim Time (500m): 15'16" (I guess my estimate was pretty good)

    Holy Buckets.  This was the worst bike course I could imagine (well, except for something in Iowa, I suppose).  It was crazy hilly with a lot of sharp turns and broken pavement.  And to top it off, I had to do 2 loops.  On occasion, I would slow to less than a walking pace trying to get up the hill, mutter something like "I should have rode Roy", then start singing until I reached the top.  After that, I would fly down the downhill cursing at the stupid flappy paddle shifters that made me shift the wrong way and send my pedal flying into my shin.  Then repeat this about 50 times.

    Bike Time (12ish miles): 57'05", 12.6 mi/hr

    As you can imagine from the start of the post, I had a good run.  Or, more accurately, I'm a runner, thus I sucked at the other parts and did ok on the run.  These were my thoughts along the run:


    "Damn.  That's a big hill."

    But, I only passed people on the run, so that was good.  What was bad was that we weren't competing with each other because they could have started minutes before or after me!

    Run Time (5kish): 21'10", 6'49"/mile pace

    Total Time: 1:37:59, 100 / 134 overall, 76 / 93 men. (There were no age groups.)

    I had low expectations going into the race.  I met them.  It was fun, I suppose, but being so terrible on the swim and bike means there aren't any people my speed to run with.  I really should just stick to running.

    Right Now

    One of two things is happening right now:

    1. I'm swimming
    2. I'm standing around awkwardly on a beach waiting for them to let the 300 people before me enter the water.

    Race report from Holly, MI to come later.  :)

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    I'm Racing This Weekend...Yikes!

    Fact: I've been slacking on running.
    Fact: I've been really slacking on running.
    Conclusion: It's best not to race.

    Not being one for conventional wisdom, I've signed up to race this weekend.  It's not a normal race, though, it's a triathlon.  Actually, it's the Tri Triathlon, which may be the most unimaginative name for something since the Renault The Car.  I didn't name the race, though, and even though it's extremely confusing (and much worse than the original name for the event—The Autumn Colors Triathlon) I've cursed under my breath as weaseled me out of a "processing fee" and signed up for the race.  After doing such a thing, and because I find myself with extra time on my hands, I've made a tentative—but rather firm—pledge to myself to use the most complex sentence structures imaginable.  So far: winning.

    Why the Tri Tri?  Because I couldn't find any good Run Runs?  (Insert joke about Mexican food here)  Not exactly.  First, I have a new bike.  Mr. Trek 1.5 would like to have a fun weekend, and what better way than careening on twisty roads through a park?

    Second: My $10 contribution to Michigan State Parks has given me a discreet letter "P" on my license plate which not only allows me into any Michigan State Park or Recreation Area (like Holly Recreation area for the Tri Tri), but it also lets me say "I've got P on my car".  I find this mildly amusing.

    Third: We had an earthquake on Tuesday.  If the end of the world is near, then I might as well do something crazy.

    Fourth: I just want to race.  Period.  (I'd race Apostrophes too, but they're just so possessive.)

    With a race on Sunday, I have a few things working in my favor:
    • I have a new bike.  Since I've spent money buying new gear, I should do better than if I didn't spend money (ahh, the problem with triathlons—money buys victory/speed.  But this might be a post for later).
    • I don't take triathlons as seriously as runs, so my expectations are low.  It is likely that I will meet or beat my expectations.

    And these things are working against me:
    • I've swam once since May.
    • I've run less than I should have been.
    • I know nothing about the course.
    There's also something very strange about this race—it's a "time trial" start.  Instead of actually racing against other people, you only race against the clock.  There's not a single person on the course who started at the same time as you, so any incentive to pass or out-kick someone goes away.

    Oh well, at least it's a good excuse to get out of the house all day Sunday.

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Riding Impressions of my New Two-Wheeled Conveyance

    Picking up from last time, I've actually used my new bicycle.  One week after purchase, the new bike has about 50 miles on the odometer (it doesn't actually have an odometer, but that would be pretty cool).  I gone on 3 rides on the Metro Parkway bike path (boring, but convenient), and today I took it up to Stony Creek and did some riding there.  This is what I've done so far:

    • Sunday, August 14: 12.5 miles in a spotty rain to Metro Beach and back.
    • Monday, August 15: 8 miles to freedom hill and back.
    • Thursday, August 18: 12.5 miles to Metro Beach and back.
    • Today: 15.5 miles around Stony Creek.

    I'm getting some use out of the bike, and, for the most part, I like it.  Here are my observations after 50 miles.
    • Road Bikes are Weird.  I expected this to be the case after riding a mountain bike for 15 years, but I'm a bit surprised as to how unnatural the riding position feels.  I'm leaning so far forward that I can't look behind myself without swerving wildly, and sometimes it feels like I'll knee myself in the stomach.  It's also a lot tougher on my hands because the pressure is concentrated between my thumb and index finger instead of over the whole hand.  I could move my hands to other places, but that puts the shifters and brakes out of reach.
    • This Bike is Light.  A very, very nice characteristic.  I like being able to put the bike in my car on my own, and gravity is less of a problem when going uphill.
    • I Feel Like the Bike is Fragile.  This may be a mental thing, but since the bike is so light and the tires so thin, I feel like the bike will shatter every time I hit a bump.  Should I really be worrying this much about the bike?
    • Shifters are Still Dumb.  This is the one thing I hate about the bike.  It's impossible to ride without either pausing to think of what flappy paddle to hit, or hitting the wrong one and muttering an unkind word under your breath.
    • My Feet Hurt.  On the first ride, I developed a terrible cramp in the bottom of my right foot.  Bad enough that I had to stop for a minute and make awkward facial expressions.  I blame it on the pedal cages since they kept my foot in one place and prevented me from moving my foot around to distribute the pressure at will.  I had the bike shop take the cages off on Thursday, and there were no foot problems today, so I'll consider this a problem solved.
    • But, the pedals have developed another problem.  After taking the cages off, I realized that the pedals are one-sided!  So even though I've got more freedom of movement, I have to make sure the pedal is flipped to the correct side.  This may be one of the first things I replace, and get some good, 2-sided pedals (maybe I could swap the pedals with Roy's?).
    • Other Cyclists Make Me Ashamed to Be Riding a Bicycle.  I really don't like cyclists.  I'm fine with your average cyclist, but the "serious" ones with the expensive bikes are jerks.  They never return a "hello" or a wave, and they'll fly right by you with very little clearance at high speeds and never, ever announce that they are passing.  It's almost like there's some unwritten code that they have to try and run every other person off the road.  Count me out of that club.
    As I put more miles on the bike, I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on it, but I'll reiterate that I like the bike, but it's pretty awkward right now.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    A New Family Member

    I've ranted about bicycles.  I've ranted about shifters.  I've professed my attachment to my beloved bicycle, Roy.  But I'm not completely detached from reality, either.  Last week I got Roy back from the bicycle shop with a brand new wheel and we went for a ride.  I was glad they called me when they did because if Roy had been ready a day later, I would have had to bring him home in Luigi:

    Katie and I popping our heads out of Luigi.

    Luigi is a Fiat 500C.  The 'C' stands for "Cabrio", which is Italian for "Bike no fit here".

    An aside: In a previous post, I mentioned that I was a fan of Fraser Bicycle.  After going back for service, I'm less than thrilled with them.  I asked a mechanic and a saleswoman some questions and was treated like I was an idiot.  Admittedly, my questions were very noob-ish, but you would think that they would treat the guy with a 15 year old mountain bike like a king because he's most likely to buy a new bicycle.  Anyway, Fraser Bicycle is a good shop if you're a bicycle expert, but if you're an average person, steer clear.

    The first ride with Roy was bittersweet.  The good was that it felt wonderful to ride my trusty bicycle after a few months' hiatus.  The bad was that his new wheel exacerbated all of his other problems (including a nasty clunking noise in the bottom bracket).  When I got home, I summed up the costs of all the parts and labor to get Roy into a trustworthy condition, and that total was north of $400.  For a bike worth about $40.

    I needed to get out of the house on Sunday, so I searched for the nearest open bike store and found in Shelby Township.  Upon entering, the place was a madhouse, and after discovering why, I reminded myself of one of the fundamental laws of the universe:

    There's no resisting a good deal.

    Yup, there was a sale, and I caved.

    Meet my new bicycle.  Its given name is Trek 1.5C.  I'm not sure how to make a nickname from that; Rek? 0.5?  Cee apostrophe D?  But I'll work on that one later.

    The super sale meant 20% off bicycles and accessories, so the final total for the bicycle, a new pump, a water bottle cage (why don't bikes come with water bottle cages anymore????), and the state of Michigan's share came in at less than the original list price for the bicycle.  Furthermore, I got all of it for much less than the Specialized I was considering at Fraser Bicycle (which was a lower level bicycle than the Trek).  So, I got a great deal on a seemingly good bicycle.  Here are the details of what I got:
    • Trek 1.5C: The 'C' means 'Cabrio' like in the Fiat.
    • It has the "better" gearing system.  I didn't quite understand this until the salesman started talking about material properties.  Shimano Whatever makes no sense to me, but bending moments and tensile strength do.
    • It has the awful shifters.  Yes, they suck.
    • It has clipless pedals.  I can't figure out how to remove the plastic cages, so when I take the bike in on Thursday I'll have them take them off.
    • It's made of aluminum with a carbon fiber fork and seat post.  This means that this bicycle weighs about a tenth of what portly Roy weighs.
    • It has thick handlebars, which prevents me from attaching my headlight.
    • It has indicators on the gear shifters.  From what I can gather, the orange pointers move in the opposite direction that the chain moves, further complicating the shifting.
    • It has a fancy new type of inflation valve.  It's so fancy that it requires 15 minutes, Google, and Wikihow to inflate the tires.

    Those are the important specs.  I'll post some riding impressions in another post, but until then I'm getting used to riding a very, very different bike.  I'm hoping to take it up to Stony Creek on Saturday and ride someplace more interesting than Clinton Township.

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Training in Michigan

    When I moved to Minnesota, I didn't really have running on my mind.  But I lucked out when it came to where I lived in comparison to the top running locations.  Here's a list of things that were within running distance of my apartment in Minnesota:

    • Summit Avenue
    • The Mississippi River
    • Fort Snelling State Park
    • The Lakes (Isles, Calhoun, Cedar, Harriet, and Nokomis)
    • Minnehaha Parkway
    • Minnehaha Park
    • Stone Arch Bridge
    • Fantastic neighborhoods
    • A bunch of different universities and colleges
    Running was ideal in Minnesota.  Not so much in Michigan.  Here are my options where I'm living now.
    • East on Metro Parkway, a high speed street with a "bike path" and few trees.
    • West on Metro Parkway, a high speed street with a "bike path" and few trees.
    • Into a subdivision the shape of a trapezoid with a height of 1 mile and a base of 1 mile.
    So I haven't run much.  I got sick of running on Metro Parkway after about a week, then ventured into the neighborhood, and got tired of running there because there's only one street that goes all the way through.  

    I tried to change things up a bit by going to Stoney Creek Metropark on Saturday, and that was fun.  I had only been there once before for a cross country meet, and had forgotten how massive Stoney Creek actually is.  I'm pretty sure there were more bicycles in the park than cars, and even on a hot and humid Saturday morning, the path was filled with runners and walkers.  It was a bit too crowded for me, but I decided to save finding the hiking trails for another day.

    And really, this is the toughest part.  I want to run.  But I hate having to drive somewhere to go running. So I don't run.  I'm moving to a new apartment in September that's in the heart of Rochester, and since it's very close to the Paint Creek and Clinton River trails, things should improve a bit.  But it really bothers me that after having such a good year in 2010 that I'm back to square one in the year that I had hoped would bring me to the next level.

    Sorry for two rant-like posts in a row.  My next post will be a bit more upbeat—a race report!

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    A Cycling Problem

    Yes, it's been a while.  New job.  New state.  New everything.  I'll be easing back into blogging.


    A few days before I left Minnesota, a dear member of my family was severely injured.  You may remember Roy from a previous race report.  He was the undisputed star of the race.  But sadly, my trusty bicycle quickly became unrideable.

    Diagnosis: broken rear axle and broken spoke.  Remedy: new wheel.

    Roy has served me well over the years, but the cost of fixing him is likely greater than his value.  So he has sat in my folks' garage since I moved to Michigan while I've tried to figure out what to do.

    Since Roy can't read, I'll admit this here: I'd like a new bicycle.  Even though I rode Roy every day to my first job.  Even though he loved his first car ride when I took him to Valpo.  And even though the best times of his life were spent riding up and down the Mississippi River in St. Paul, it's time for me to move on.  But I can't.

    I'm hesitating not because of some unreasonable emotional attachment to a 14 year old bicycle, but rather because there's nothing out there I'd actually like to buy.  Consider my needs and wants for a new bicycle.

    • It should be meant for on-road use.  The only time I go off-road is when I have an uncontrollable veer.
    • It should be light.  (Roy's a bit overweight.)
    • It should have low rolling resistance tires.  (Roy has those, but that's only because his tires are worn down to the flat.)
    • It's gearing should be capable of handling rolling hills.
    So I went shopping.  I looked at a few bikes in Minnesota before I left, and recently I went to a great local bike shop in Michigan (Fraser Bicycle if you're curious).  I looked at some road bikes and discovered that while they are meant for on-road use, light, have smooth tires, and can handle moderate hills, they're also practically unrideable because it seems as though the gear shifters were designed by some engineering school dropout who had the sway to infect every single road bike.  Let me explain by comparing 3 systems.

    Roy's Grip Shift System
    • On the left handlebar is a rotating collar for the front gears.  Twist it to the gear you want.
    • On the right handlebar is a rotating collar for the back gears.  Twist it to the gear you want.
    Whack-job Shifting System #1 (Sram)
    • Behind the left brake lever (?!) is a flappy paddle for the front gears.  To shift to an easier gear, push the paddle halfway, being careful not to push it more than halfway since you'll go to a harder gear.  To shift to a harder gear, push the paddle all the way, and nothing will happen.  Push it all the way again, then it will shift.
    • Behind the right brake lever is a flappy paddle for the rear gears.  To shift to an easier gear push the paddle all the way, being careful not to push it halfway since you'll go to a harder gear.  To shift to a harder gear, push the paddle halfway, but not all the way, then it will shift.
    • The ways you push the paddles may be different because there's no intuitive way to remember how to shift.  So you may need to reverse my directions all the way, being careful not to reverse them halfway or you'll end up in Paducah.
    Whack-job Shifting System #2 (Shimano)
    • Push the left brake lever inward to go to an easier gear (or harder, I can't quite remember).  Push a flimsy switch on top of the brake lever to go to a harder gear.
    • The right side behaves exactly the same.
    • Just kidding.
    • It's exactly the opposite, which is why it's so stupid.
    • Here's how you shift on the right side: push the brake lever to go to a harder gear.  Push the flimsy switch to go to an easier gear.
    • Remember, nothing will happen on the first press of either the brake lever or the flimsy switch.  You must push them at least twice to make anything happen.
    One would think that bike would have advanced since 1998.  But they've regressed.  It's like the 1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen which required the operator to have 3 arms and 1 leg.  We've advanced past that age with cars, but not bicycles.

    Imagine this situation...  You are riding on a nice parkway.  You reach top gear and the light in front of you turns red.  With a grip shift, you twist the shifter to gear 1, then apply the brakes for a calm and controlled stop.  With the flappy paddles, you first have to hit the right paddle 14 times (assuming you have 7 gears in the back), then apply the brakes hard because you've spend the past 3 minutes hitting a stupid paddle shifter.

    After this adventure, I've made my decision.  I'm going to drop Roy off at the bike shop tomorrow and have them put on a new wheel that is likely twice the value of the entire bike.  Then I'll probably have to put all new shifting and brake cables on him.  When done, I'll have put 3 times the value of the bike into the bike just so he's functional again.  All this because bicycle companies can't design a functional shifter.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Duathletes Are Jerks

    Not all duathletes are jerks.  Really, just 2 of them are jerks, but I'll get into that later.

    If you remember from my Oakdale Duathlon race report, I mentioned an incident in the first run and called it the "jerkiest thing ever".  Let me set up the situation for you.

    The Setup
    I started in the first wave (elites and teams), and immediately drifted to the back of my wave along with woman in the purple top (heretofore referred to as WITPT, pronounced wit'-put).  Two minutes after we started, non-elite men under the age of 40 started.

    The Incident
    A little over 1 mile into the run me and WITPT approached a gentle leftward curve that also went up a small incline.  (I've included a diagram below that not only clarifies the situation, but demonstrates my world-class autoshape skills.)  WITPT was on the inside line of the curve, and I was off her right shoulder, but still to the left of the imaginary centerline of the path.  Heading up the hill, we hear from behind us "RUNNER ON YOUR LEFT!!  RUNNER ON YOUR LEFT!!".  The two fastest non-elite men under 40 we're hollering for us to move out of the way so they could go by on the left.  I had no intention of moving over for them (they had the half of the path to my right to pass), but WITPT sharply moved right to accommodate, and I had to back off a bit to avoid tripping over her, thus letting the jerks pass us on the left.

    I'm the red circle, WITPT is the purple circle, and the two people passing us are blue circles.  Arrow shows direction of travel.

    Why was this a problem?  In running, you stay to the inside and pass to the outside (except for weird situations like the Dome, where it's reversed).  Pretty simple.

    Admittedly, this incident was pretty minor in the overall scheme of things, but it bothered me more than I thought it would.  And while I hate generalizations, this seems to bring together a lot of thoughts that I've had about triathletes and duathletes.  My intent is not to offend anyone (I know some very good people who are also triathletes), but to point out a major problem that led to this incident at the Oakdale Duathlon.

    Most triathletes are over-the-top elitists.

    There, I said it.  But one can't help but feel that way when it's a competition where money buys victory.  I understand that you don't need $10,000 bicycles, space helmets, or carbon fiber wheels to participate, but you're kidding yourself if you think you don't need those things to be competitive.  Sure, everyone will tell you that you'll be just fine with your 10 year old mountain bike, but then they either (a) ask you when you're going to get a faster bike, or (b) assume that you'll be last, or close to it.

    Before returning to the incident above, let me give you a few other anecdotal stories to support my thesis.

    • The first story is also from the Oakdale Duathlon.  The winners of the race finished a long time before the last people even finished the biking portion.  Instead of waiting, the fast people cleared their bikes and gear out of transition even as people were still trying to race.  On one occasion, there was a group of people chatting in transition, blocking the way through.  A woman coming in from the biking segment had to yell at them to get out of the way so she could keep going.
    • The second story comes from Oakdale too.  After most people finished, they started the awards ceremony.  Mind you, now, not everyone was finished.  So here we are, congratulating people on a race well done, and some folks aren't even done yet.  These people didn't get the spectator support that everyone else got, they didn't get their names announced at the finish, and they returned to a transition area that was almost completely disassembled.
    • The third story is from the Lakefront Days triathlon that I did last summer.  I was on a mountain bike, and on the rare occasions that I passed people, I liked to announce it ("On your left!") and even gave a friendly greeting.  One person (besides friends) announced that he was passing.  What was he riding?  An old mountain bike.
    Folks, I get it.  I'm not as fast as you.  I can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on equipment so that that I can buy a podium spot.  But I have a right to a great race as well.  If you want to pass me, then do so—but don't yell at me to get out of your way.  Everything is not about you, and if you ever want your community of athletes to have the same bond and connection that the running community has, you're going to have to change.

    There are good people that do triathlons.  They may be slow, and they may ride old mountain bikes.  But if you want them to stick with it, if you want them to get the same enjoyment out of it that you do, if you want them to be successful, then show them that they are more valuable than any stupid pointy helmet.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Oakdale Duathlon Race Report

    Another race???  Maybe not the best idea I've had, but yes, another race.  Katie and I teamed up as The Nerd Herders for the Oakdale Duathlon (which, strangely, isn't in Oakdale, but in Lake Elmo).

    The last time Katie and I teamed up for a duathlon, it was super windy, so Katie got the tough job having to bike through that.  This time it wasn't as windy, but it was colder and rainy.  So Katie got the tough job AGAIN.  As she handed the chip off to me after her ride, all she could say was "I can't feel my feet".  The weather may have been ideal for running, but not so much for biking.

    We also made a major strategic error leading up to the race.  You see, we encouraged some friends to do team up and do the race.  We did Lakefront Days with them last year, and Mike and Katie S. are all-around good people, so why not get them to do it?  Unfortunately, we forgot the number one rule of race recruitment: Only recruit teams you know that you can beat!  Oops.

    Nevertheless, we planned on racing as hard as we could and see what we could pull off.  The race was a 3 mile run, 14 mile bike, and a 2.5 mile run.

    "The Nerd Herders" before the race

    The race was organized into waves, and the first wave was elite men, elite women, and teams.  This was problematic.  Just after starting, I was already at the back of my wave and throughout the first run, all the speedy people in the next wave were passing me.  Once Katie got on the bike, all the rest of the speedy people passed her, so it was a demoralizing setup for the both of us.  We really didn't get a chance to pass anyone and we were passed more times than we could count.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    Our wave starting.  I'm on the far left in the red shorts, and Mike is in the middle with the Navy (note the capital 'N') jersey.

    Once we started, I knew that keeping Mike in sight was out of the question.  I just wasn't as prepared as I should have been, and had to accept that.  About 1/2 mile in, I fell in behind a woman wearing a purple top and ended up sticking with her for the rest of the first run.

    Odd side note: This woman in the purple top is wearing number 392, but 392 doesn't appear anywhere on the results page.  Thus, I don't know if we beat her team or not.

    Near the start after having fallen in behind the woman in the purple top

    Here's Mike about 3/4 mile in to the first run.  If you look in the background for someone wearing red shorts, that's me.  This is when I decided that I couldn't catch Mike.

    I may have been wearing the same clothes that I did for the TC 1 Mile.  Don't judge me—most of my racing clothes are in Michigan right now.

    When I got to the first mile marker, my watch said 6'22".  Considering I did the TC 1 Mile in 6'01, I'm 100% sure that the mile marker was in the wrong place; as was the 2nd mile marker.  For most of this run, I pulled out an old cross-country habit where I tucked in behind the woman in the purple top's shoulder and breathed a bit louder than normal.  I used to do this to psych out the competition so that when I would eventually blow past them they would be as inclined to give chase.  On Saturday, the woman in the purple top had a good pace that could pull me along.

    I'm going to write a more detailed post for tomorrow about this, but at one point during the run, 2 duathletes from the wave that started after us came by and did the jerkiest thing ever.  To find out what it was, tune back in tomorrow.  (That, folks, is what we call a teaser).

    Run 1 (3 miles): 20'55" (2nd place co-ed team)

    Coming into transition, we traded the chip and Katie was off on the bike.

    Not sure where on the course this was, but Katie has cool new purple bar tape

    Hanging around transition, I chatted with Steve and Mike while keeping the muscles as warm as possible.  As we were chatting, I noticed a woman go up and down the rack of bikes a few times as if she was searching for something.  The third time she came by, I asked her if she needed help.  Turns out she couldn't find her bike.  It was a purple Trek next to a brown Adidas bag.  (Just wanted to say that there had to have been 15 purple Treks there.)  We helped her search for it, and after Mike pointed out that there were 2 other rows of bicycles, she found it and was off—after a probably 5-6 minute transition time.  Hope she did well after that!

    Transition eerily empty

    Katie S. somewhere on the bike course

    Once again, no idea where this is, but I'm going to say that it was near the end.

    Katie S. came flying in the bike, and Mike was off to do the 2nd run.  Not long after, I noticed another co-ed team handing off to a woman with a black and green top.  I knew I would have to catch her if we wanted a chance at placing.  Thankfully, Katie came in about 30 seconds later, and it was a race!

    Bike (13.5 miles): 47'19" (5th place co-ed teamKatie's speed was within 0.1 mph of Katie S.!)

    Ok, it wasn't a race.  The woman that I had to catch kept the gap at about 30 seconds and I couldn't close it no matter how hard I tried.

    With about 150m to go, I started my kick

    Crossing the line

    Run 2 (2.5 miles): 17'52" (4th place co-ed team)
    Overall: 1:27 (4th place co-ed team)

    We didn't place.  The runner for the team I needed to catch was fresh (they had a 3-person team, so she hadn't done the first leg), and I just didn't have the training to pull it off.  But we still had fun and ate some great hot dogs after the race.

    Mike and Katie S. accepting their medals for the 1st place co-ed team.  Great job, folks!

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    TC 1 Mile Race Report

    I know what you all are wondering—did Ryan Hall ever win a "Most Beautiful Baby" contest at Kmart?  Most likely not.  Of secondary importance is how the big duel went on Thursday.  Read on to find out.

    Katie and I set out for downtown around 6pm, and thinking that parking would be crazy downtown, I picked out a garage ahead, and we ended up there.  Pulling in, we realized that the Courthouse Ramp may not have been the most popular place to park.  Ignoring that, I parked next to the only other car in the garage (a jerky thing to do, I know) because it was the perfect chance for a submission to Autobuds!

    Mine is on the left. Unsuspecting autobud on the right.

    We journeyed over to the festivities as the "Friends and Family" wave was getting ready to start.

    Lining up with Uncle Sam in the front

    The finish line was 1 mile in this direction

    Friends and Family on the move

    It was time to warm up.  Katie and I tried running up the course, but it was tough weaving through all the people on the sidewalk, so we crossed Washington Avenue and we found a little plaza that was quite empty.  While I was warming up with some strides, Katie came by waving wildly saying "I think it's him!!"  Sure enough, Ryan Hall was warming up on the same plaza.

    This should be the paragraph where I tell you that I went up to him, introduced myself, and got him to sign my shoe.  But I didn't.  I didn't do this for 2 reasons:
    1. I'm not the best person at going up to strangers (famous or not) and striking up a conversation.  How do you start a conversation like that? "Hey, you're Ryan Hall!" (I think he knows that.)
    2. He was warming up.  Every runner has a pre-race ritual.  A runner needs to get both mind and body prepared for the race.  If Ryan Hall was in a chatty mood, he wouldn't have been warming up by himself.  I've got my own pre-race ritual, so I respect that.
    So, I didn't get to meet Ryan Hall.  Disappointing, yes, but that's okay.  Witnessing him running later, and watching all the elites was a highlight for me.  Maybe someday I'll meet a famous runner.

    Back to the action...

    I wished Katie good luck, lined up, and then we were off.  The first quarter was uphill, followed by a slight downhill for the rest of the race.  My first quarter was a hair too fast, but not a game-ender.  

    The rest was a blur.  The only thing I remember was seeing two friends, Ariel and Brian, as volunteers around Orchestra Hall.  The thing about the mile is that it hurts.  Always has.  Always will.  A mile is a sustained sprint—probably the most painful race a person can run.  With about 200m to go, Steve, snapped a photo of me:

    Rounding the curve, I saw the finish and started kicking.  My goal for the race was sub-6.  Final time was 6:01.8.  Very close, but not quite.  A little bit later, Katie came flying in with a time of 7:21.5—her first ever mile!

    After we finished, the USA Men's and Women's Championships started.  There's plenty of coverage all over the web, so I won't get into the details, but the short of it was:
    • Sara Hall had a fantastic final 200m and won with a time of 4:31, netting a $10,000 bonus for breaking 4:32.
    • David Torrence won for the third time in a row with a time of 3:58, netting a $10,000 bonus for breaking 4:00.
    • Ryan Hall finished last.  Dead last.
    I had a fantastic evening.  I've never been to an event as exciting as this for running.  Running through downtown, the great crowd, the 1 Mile Championships, the Halls—all made for a night to remember.  It was the first time I had ever witnessed a sub-4 mile.  I may not have beat my own time goal, but this one of my top races ever.

    Oh, and I crossed the finish line before Ryan Hall.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Showdown Preview

    Tonight is the big race.  Most prognosticators aren't mentioning yours truly, but I think we all know that the  Showdown in the Downtown between myself and Ryan Hall will be the talk of the running world tomorrow.  Beating Ryan will be tough, but I have a distinct advantage that I know the course better than he does (the straight shot down Nicollet Mall is really confusing, and Ryan is likely to end up in Fargo).  To demonstrate how evenly matched we are, here is a comparison of what we each bring to the table:

    Ryan Hall: Holds the American Record in half marathon.
    Me: Holds the World Record for participating in the largest single-day flu shot distribution.

    RH: Born in California, a place fraught with natural disasters and an overabundance of Toyota Prii.
    Me: Born in Michigan, the Land Shaped Like a Hand (and you've got a map of it!).

    RH: Placed 10th in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics.
    Me: Won first place at the 2008 engineering olympics as part of the MechE Team by duct-taping someone to a wall.

    RH: Won the State of California Cross Country Championship twice.
    Me: Won the St. Thomas Lutheran School Geography Bee three times (5th, 7th, and 8th grades).

    RH: Ran the fastest ever marathon for an American (not an official record, though).
    Me: Won the "Most Beautiful Baby" contest at our local Kmart (official record).

    RH: Has run the Boston Marathon 3 times.
    Me: Has run around Boston Common once.

    RH: Has never run the Twin Cities Marathon.
    Me: Has run the Twin Cities Marathon twice.

    As you can tell, you can't find two people more evenly matched for this race than Ryan Hall and I.  If I win, I plan to be very humble and gracious (and I may ask him to autograph my shoe).

    Race details: TONIGHT on Nicollet Mall.  First wave starts at 6:50pm, my wave at 7:39pm, Women's Championship at 7:53pm, and Men's Championship at 8:03pm.

    Thursday, May 05, 2011

    Showdown in the Downtown

    In my most recent post, I told you about one last race I plan to do in Minnesota before I leave: The TC 1 Mile.  Well, the plot has thickened.  A new competitor has emerged, and I'm hoping to leave with some bragging rights from this duel.  So, next week, when we're running a 1 Mile on the mall, it will be:


    Ok, I think I lose in the "Most Photogenic" contest, but next week Ryan Hall—fastest American marathoner ever—will also be running the TC 1 Mile.  I think I've got a shot at beating him*

    *Due some registration snafus, I will be running in the "Open Wave" that starts at 7:39pm, and Ryan Hall will be running in the "USA 1 Mile Road Championship Wave" that starts at 8:03pm.  I think the 24-minute head start that I'll have is pretty negligible, so we'll be pretty evenly matched.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2011

    A Last Hurrah

    Things are winding down for me in the North Star State.  This past weekend, my folks absconded with my apartment, so all I'm left with are some clothes and a pot in which I can make pasta.  Oh, and now my living room has become a Command Center:

    Before I leave, I'd like to do another race or two.  I'm signed up for one already, and I'm contemplating a second.  The one I'm signed up for is the TC 1 Mile.  I know that I'm not in top racing condition (for any distance, but particularly a mile), but this looks to be a fun race, and I'd like to give myself a chance to win a guaranteed entry into the TC 10 Mile in October.  For the 1 Mile, I'm going to enjoy it (as much as one can enjoy a 1 mile sprint...) and get a baseline of what fitness I've managed to salvage over the past few months.  It will also give me a reason to go to my local track a few more times before I leave.

    I'm excited to race again, and racing down Nicollet Mall on a Thursday evening sounds pretty awesome.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Not Knowing Where We Land

    Minnesota had always just been "another place on the map", a place full of people who must be crazy enough to live in the Arctic.  Moving here 3 years ago, I had no real connection to the state, and there was no way it could compete with the Land Shaped Like a Hand.  My, my, how wrong I was.

    I can remember the first time I went for a run in Minnesota.  The previous weekend I had watched a friend run the Twin Cities Marathon.  I said to myself: "If Kelli can run a marathon, I can certainly find the motivation to run to Summit and back."  So, I ran to Summit, ran down Summit a bit, then turned around and went home.  Result: 2 miles.  The rest is history, I suppose.

    I've really come to love Minnesota.  My days here, though, have become limited.  I've accepted a job offer with a major auto company, and will be moving back to my home state of Michigan.  The details are cloudy right now, but there will be some big changes.  Even though I ran for many years in Michigan, it was part of a team, and I know very little about races, or places to run outside of Harper Woods.  I'll be giving up some of my favorite races around here.  And I'll need a new blog title (Detroit Runner is taken).

    Over the next few weeks, this blog will evolve into it's next incarnation—whatever that may be.  Thanks for reading.

    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    Triathlete-ing Just Ain't For Me

    That was short-lived.  :)

    I suppose I could handle the gizmos.  I could probably handle the extra spandex.  With some effort, I could handle the mentality that it's the gear that makes you faster, not the training.  But I could never, ever, EVER, give up Roy.

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    BIG Changes

    I've been a bit absent from blogging recently, but I hope you'll forgive me as I'm sharing some pretty monumental news here.  I've decided that this running thing isn't for me, so I've decided to become a...


    Yes, you heard me right—time to become a full-fledged multisport athlete and adopt all the characteristics of a triathlete lifestyle.  What's the triathlete lifestyle?  Here's a list to help you out:

    1. Change the name of this blog.
    2. Shave more.  Yup, instead of just my face, the legs and arms get a shave everyday too.
    3. Instead of training harder to get faster, I'll just spend more money on stuff like bicycles and pointy helmets.
    4. More spandex.  And by more spandex, I mean all spandex, all the time.
    5. Adopting all the gadgets and gizmos to tell me all kinds of things I don't actually need to know: GPS watches, power meters, and heart rate monitors.
    6. I'll start riding my bike indoors because riding outside is for wimps.
    7. I will constantly concern myself with aerodynamics and weight, even considering ditching Roy for a newfangled bicycle made out of carbon fiber.
    Here's an illustration of one of the changes (can you imagine how much cooler my Flintstone-stop would have been if my helmet were actually pointy???):

    Sorry to all of you who came here for running thoughts and advice.  I'll only be able to devote 1/3 of my time to running thoughts now, and those thoughts will mostly be on how buying Newtons will improve my form by creating a forefoot strike.  If you still need more running thoughts, check out this resource.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    "I Just Felt Like Running" Virtual 5k

    I finally did this.  I had planned on doing it on the specified date, but coming down with the flu didn't help with those plans.  Fortunately, Detroit Runner gave everyone some wiggle room on doing the 5k, and I did it yesterday evening.

    And of course since it was a Thursday evening, I did my virtual 5k at the Dome!

    I wasn't ready to actual race this 5k, so I did it as an aerobic training run.  David joined me after 3 laps, and we chatted for the rest of the 5k.  Since 5k at the Dome means 7.5 laps, I added a half-lap as a cool down.  Here were my lap splits:

    3'47" (it's a good thing David came at this point, because I was definitely faster than "conversational")
    2'00" (1/2 lap)
    1'59" (1/2 lap cool down)

    Total Time: 27'25"

    I really like the concept of virtual races, so thanks to Jeff at Detroit Runner for organizing this, and I hope everyone enjoyed their races too!

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Run for Christchurch

    I mentioned this earlier in the week, but I wanted to devote a bit more space to it.  As you know, Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by a pretty major earthquake not too long ago.  Because of this, there's a global campaign going on to raise money to help the people of New Zealand.  They are encouraging people to don red and black on March 12th or 13th and run.  This helps raise awareness, and it's also a great idea to donate to the cause.  Click on the image to donate and to learn more

    Locally, Steve in a Speedo is organizing a group run.  The plan is to meet at Longfellow Grill at Lake St. and W River Parkway at 1pm on Saturday.  I'll be there.  Katie may be there (she's got a 10 mile race that morning, so we'll see).  Want to run with us?  Want more details?  Read all about it here.  If you're in the area, I hope to see you Saturday afternoon!

    Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    Happy Pączki Day!

    Most people realize that today is Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, the end of Fasching, and the end of Mardi Gras (tomorrow being Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent).  But, today is also Pączki Day!  What is a pączki?  It's this:

    A raspberry one—my favorite

    A pączki (pronounced like poonch'-key) is similar to a jelly doughnut, but very different.  It's a Polish jelly-filled (or custard-filled, or even plain) tradition that's deep-fried in lard.  Lots of lard.  You don't want to know the nutritional facts of one of these (hint: one of these probably meets your recommended intake of fat and calories for at least 3 days).

    If you live in the Detroit area, you know that life stops on Fat Tuesday so everyone can have their pączki.  Either you or someone you know goes to Hamtramck every year to get these.  If not, you can pick them up at any grocery store.

    For Detroit expatriates like me, finding a pączki is much tougher.  Some friends can't find them in Lawrence, Kansas.  Some try really hard to find them in Florida.  So far, I've found only one place in the Twin Cities that makes them—Kramarczuks.  They're pretty good, but not quite Hamtramck quality.  Since I ate mine yesterday (scandalous, I know), I'm ready for Lent to start.  And I have to run about 30 miles to work it off.


    A few miscellaneous (aka, running-related) items: 
    • I was supposed to do a virtual 5k last Saturday as part of Detroit Runner's blog.  But, I was down with the flu, so it didn't happen.  I'll be doing the 5k this week sometime.
    • Speaking of virtual races, Steve in a Speedo is organizing a virtual 5k as part of the "Run for Christchurch" initiative.  Christchurch, New Zealand suffered a pretty severe earthquake recently, and this is an effort to raise money to help the people of Christchurch.  I'll be joining up on Saturday to run.  Here's the link to the event (and how to donate).
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