Sunday, June 11, 2017

Good old fashioned RR

Posted at the request of a buddy.  Road race.  Race report.  Take your pick.  Do people still write these?

The Setup

I decided to dig into a run phase having mostly biked the last few years.  Dig in and see what level of speed I can grab before I get old.  I picked Rock n Sole half marathon, and signed up for the McMillan plan provided through Strava Premium membership.

Side note, I had spent years wondering why people would organize events selling riding or running over the Hoan bridge.  I didn't see the allure.  I figured it was time to try it so I could either complain or be amazed.  (that was the nice way of saying I didn't think I'd enjoy running over the bridge).

The Training

I really dug in and just did the plan.  Often I would look at workouts and wonder if I could do them. Program them into my watch, and just do my best to follow them.  I would come back surprised from many of the tempo workouts that I hung in there.  Those were very inspiring. Meanwhile, the long slow runs would leave me wondering if I could really dig in and do it.  It was pretty funny how much my attitude and confidence would swing between the different runs.  In the end I kept at it and trusted the plan.


I went in really wanting to get under 2:00.  I have a previous time at a 1/2 of 2:03 (2013).  A good solid effort, and I thought sub 2:00 very doable.  I even went in thinking I could surprise myself.

The Event

I biked 4-5 miles down to the start (a nice easy warm up for a 7:00 am run).  Locked up and headed to the start gate about 10 min prior to the gun going off.  I was hydrating, but maybe not overly so.  There are rules and there are "how long is the line for the porta?".  It's always about balance.  

I live for the national anthem.  It always gets me.  It was nicely sung, but I was a little disappointed it was sang 15+ min prior to start.. I heard it while I was walking into the event.

Once in the gate, it's all the normal stuff.  Stay calm, take a crowd selfie, breathe and stretch out the nervous energy.

Good crowd.  Gun goes off!  At this point I could use some experience running with the crowd.  I'm certain there were some pacing challenges trying to stay steady and also just sit in behind someone and check out.  Once the crowd thinned out (mile 3ish?) this was less of a problem.

Then the bridge.  I built it up to be terrible.  So what I experienced was pretty fun.  It wasn't entirely a death march in the sun going up a giant concrete, shadeless hill. The view is pretty cool.  I don't want to oversell it, but it was worth at least one good go.

Running down the Hoan I sped up a bit and think I maybe was still on pace, or close to get sub 2:00.  The temps were warming up and I sensed it would be tight and I'd need to gut it out.  I'm not a small guy and heat is my nemesis.  I wasn't thinking about that, but this would be the time to dig in.  I saw a few people I knew and that sparked a couple surges to stay in it.  

The rest of the race is on roads I've run tons.  It's always different once your out there in an event.  The people, the timing, the racing effort.  I spent the next miles trying to stay focused, sometimes well, sometimes not.  

Love the bands.  Great way to get you out of your head and just smile.  Only thing is I wish you could listen to them longer.

At some point I knew I was out of the sub 2:00.  As they say, have time goals, run at them but once the gun goes off, forget them.  This race was a good day to learn that lesson.  At this point I was just trying to stay on the gas and smile.

Then before you know it done!


Ride home.  Stop and say "Hi" to some of my best race supporters at the coffee shop on the way.  Shower, and get on with the day.

What I may have learned

Part of what I was looking for is to determine what my future goals should be.  A good solid marathon?  Could I improve speed enough to start saying the words Boston Qualifier (no)?  Or dive back into another half to try to improve speed more so?

Well this ends the run specific portion of my season and I have a few months to decide what 2018's will look like.  But, here's what I've come away with.

I feel really good about training hard and getting run strong.  And doing well on a tough day even if my numbers aren't what I wanted.  And I had fun.  This leaves me to imagine a strong but not super fast marathon in my future.   I'll take it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Whoa, Maybe I'll try this coffeeneuring thing.

I've noticed coffeeneuring as a thing the last couple years. I'm unsure why it took me this long to grab on an give it a try.  Perhaps it has something to do with the timing of grad school and what-not..

It's already weekend #2 by those who started day one.  And I needed to invoke Rule #16 (the Tara rule, aka Columbus Day) to even get going on it.

Anyway, I strapped the GoPro to the handlebars, put it on "take a bunch of photos" mode, and picked a few.  Here goes.

Roll out with T.  Damp dirt riding just to keep me humble.

Extreme leaning.  Ahem.

Whoa, fog!

Roll past MaM.  Always makes me smile.

Out on the lake, Discovery world and tall ship.

And Soup Bros (didn't see an official link).  I consider this a must try place.

But don't try to ride home with the soup.  There was an "incident" and we opted to eat it at the side of the road.  Do not look closely at my wife's fork, or you will see soup.

What a great day of just riding around.  All in all about 17 easy/medium miles.  At the end of the ride, I stopped my my local coffee shop for a mocha and a pound of espresso beans for the house.

Where: Colectivo Shorewood
What: 3 shot mocha and a pound of Toro beans
Bike: Milwaukee Orange one single speed.
Bike Friendliness score : high.  There was a bakfiet parked right behind me in this picture.There are a number of places to lock bikes, and local streets are not strangers to bicyclists.
Mileage: 17.4.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quick Recipe - "Gambler's French Toast"

I made the title up on the spot, there could be other dishes of the same name, I have done zero research to that end.

Stuff that goes in the dish:

  • a pile of decent bread that will in 1-2 days not be decent
  • some eggs.
  • Milk
  • vanilla, with a large pour spout (important)
  • container which a least appears to contain cinnamon
  • 1 TBsp sugar
  • Some butter for pan lubrication
  • More butter for later.
  • Powdered sugar 

How to make it

  1. turn burner on almost full blast.
  2. find most of the stuff listed above
  3. crack eggs into bowl
  4. add milk
  5. dump in less vanilla than I did.
  6. grab container which appears to have cinnamon, add a bunch of that too.
  7. Look at "cinnamon" container to verify it is actually cinnamon.
  8. whisk or beat with fork.
  9. rub butter on hot pan
  10. dip bread into egg mixture
  11. cook the stuff.
  12. once done cooking, add more butter to the toast
  13. dump powdered sugar on.
Alternate title "Dad in a hurry Toast"

Kid did not complain.  Win!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Self Talk

I'm not the guy that points to left field.
I sign up.  I line up. I go.
I bite off more than I can chew, then take a good solid run at the pile.
From when the gun goes off, until the finish line I'm pushing myself there.

I'm racing no one.
I'm overcoming my own demons and limits.
I'm racing me.

I'm not the guy that writes it all down and tells you how it's going to be.
I'm going to see it my way.
I'm going to soak it up.
I'm going to take what the day gives me.

A good friend once told me:
"Never forget how cool it is to show up, put your toe in the sand, and jump in when the gun goes off. The difference between doing that and driving by and wondering is the difference between living and dying"

I'm no poet.  Does it seem like I've been watching too many Nike commercials?

It ain't really about racing, of course.  It is about picking stuff to do and doing it.  As fate would have it, the thing I picked this weekend is the Fat Tire 40.

See you there!  Look for the tall hairy dude in the 29nSNGL kit. Well, there may be more than one fitting that description.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Year's Idea for 100 Miles of Nowhere (work)

If you are reading this you might already know what the Fatcyclist deal is for the 2013 100 Miles of Nowhere.  Short synopsis: sign up, get cool race schwag, and ride 100 miles in some creative way where you don't end up traveling very far or seeing anything interesting (example, around your block 6000000 times or on a trainer / rollers).

I was having trouble coming up with anything more creative than "throw in Lord of the Rings trilogy DVD set and ride on the trainer".  Then I saw this table for bicycles and a light bulb went on.

Why don't I try to do my 100 miles of nowhere while working from home?  Also known as, "why ruin a perfectly good Saturday inside the house".

I work out of the house once in a while and I thought it'd be nice if I could queue up a few "free" miles time wise.

OK sure, I stacked a bunch of odd plastic bins together and made a contraption that I can't in good conscience take a photo of and post online.  Today was a test run of the concept.  I spent an hour on the trainer while working, then rode outside over lunch, and another 45 minutes on the trainer cooling down while working.  I have to say, not having ridden a trainer in a good long while, this is going to be tougher than I thought.

I have a week or two to build up to the Fatcyclist's 100 miles.  I'll have to ramp up quickly.  The funny thing I'm thinking about is that post mile 80 feeling coinciding with thinking at work.  Can I get 100 free*, healthy miles while outputting good quality work?  This remains to be seen.  How hard can it be ?  Hoping it will give me some extra insights into problem solving at work.

Post setup note.  After all this went down, I got an email from TwinSix saying my race schwag is on it's way.  Woot!  And, OH, I'm not quite ready!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Small Pushes

Skipping a ton of background, I'd like to frame out this whole "Arrowhead 135" desire brewing before rumors are abound.

First, years ago I saw the fat bikes used at Arrowhead (from reading internet) a few years back.  They were using 2 rims laced together to make one wide rim, Pugsleys were maybe just a frame you could buy.. maybe.  And while there was a certain allure to the race, I never thought I'd do it.  It is probably worth mentioning I had an addiction to reading Icebike's website at the time too.

Second, I immediately saw the allure of a fat bike (the bike blogger's equivalent to "I was into Spinal Tap before the movie" for sure).  At any rate, I have long seen the fat bike as a "hey, let's just go ride and have a blast no matter where we end up" kind of bike.  Which fits me (slow guy that attends a few races as social events).

Not sure what order the rest of this stuff all goes in, but last weekend I did the Noque 25km Snow Bike race.  I should probably put up some sort of race report, but will just say at this point it was an all out blast!  Non-stop fun.  Grinning from ear-to-ear.  I am hooked on snow bike races.  And, let's just say I left plenty of room for improvement out there on the course.

Other pertinent information.  I am not a camper.  We love loading up the family in a mini-van and taking a gigantic tent to a state park.  We also love to eat at the local diners when doing so.  So to compare that with loading up a bike with all my supplies and hoping to survive the weekend, I'm a beginner. (let's not mention the 25 below part)

Currently 0F - 20F is "cold" but doable for me.  Northern MN at the end of January is in a different ball game.

So, small pushes.  I would guess the next step is to figure out how to load the bike up with camping gear and go.  Plan to meet the family at a state park somewhere.  Probably I should check out volunteering at Arrowhead 135.  I'm thinking this is some kinda 5 year plan where the culmination is to find out if the Arrowhead is even something I care to do.  I do love the idea though.  It's just as likely I end up with a greater fondness of camping and self reliance, and that would be grand.

Probably should put this on the list.. Find an Arrowhead participant and buy them a beer.  Know anyone?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bike Shop Review: Angry Catfish

See upcoming post about the Surly Moonlander if you want to read more about the reason I was at the Angry Catfish.


Let me start by saying how lucky I am to live in a city where there are plenty of bicycle shops.  I pass at least 3 on the way to work.  I go to different shops for different items, and I have some clear favorites locally.

There is an interesting dynamic with bike shops.  You must learn who you trust at the shop.  There are few shops that I haven't been in when I was younger only to think "I'm never going in there again".  Now I understand the LBS must be attended with a discerning eye.  Know what you want and talk to the person you click with.  There are some great shop workers, don't let 1-2 bad ones (that probably don't last) color your overall experience.

Given all that, it was difficult for me to pass up all the local shops when I heard the guys at Angry Catfish post about pre-ordering Moonlanders.

I put a few feelers out locally, but no one had the same certainty those guys had.  In hindsight, I may have received my Moonlander a day or 2 early (or not).  But it is all about the crazy desire to own new cool toys first.  And of course, about the stories you can tell.  (We won't segway here to "why the Moonlander is my midlife crisis vehicle")

Also, I want to say that I enjoy buying from a local bike shop.  Occasionally, there are some ridiculously cheap things available on the Inter-webs and I just can not justify buying local at 2x the price.  But such deals are not the norm for me.

Bikes at Angry Catfish

I would be remiss if I suggested this was some sort of in-depth store review.  I went for one thing.  My anticipation level for the product was high.  I took a quick, dazed look around, an headed home.

That said, these guys did many things right.  If you're upset I didn't buy from you, take a few tips.

First, how did I hear about them?  The sell bikes and coffee, what's not to like?  If I recall right, they managed to get my attention via twitter or similar social media.  Most likely via some retweet from Twinsix (more cool bike folks).

Second, they really responded to their on-line requests, and promptly.  Look, how many bike shops have you emailed and gotten in depth, prompt help?  Many, many shops are on-line, but I have been doing this whole "Internet thing" since the mid-90's.  I have developed extremely high expectations of on-line presences.  These expectations may be overblown for bike shops.  It is easy to see how/why a bike shop owner would focus on running the bike shop vs. responding to emails.  I'm here to say though, that for me, the "responding to emails" thing worked.

They had me at, "we'll get you the bike in December."  But they won me over with the consistent, prompt responses.

Alright, I've overcooked the word "prompt".  Let's just say I'm impressed.  In a world of great bike shops, these guys were the right thing at the right time for me.

But wait, there's more.


A little history.  I don't consider myself a coffee snob.  I know what I like.

I started really enjoying espresso drinks around the time that Alterra Lakefront hit the map.  Prior to that, I had enjoyed a Starbucks here and there, but didn't really "get" what the big deal was.

At some point, I was noticing a clear distinction in coffee from the local Alterra.  I chalked it up to personal preference.  One day a friend had sent me some coffee competition links, and I recognized the barista from the local Alterra on the podium.  A-ha!  No wonder.  These guys take it seriously. Side note, all the folks on the podium were either from Alterra or Intelligentsia.

Back to Angry Catfish coffee.   It turns out they serve Intelligentsia coffee.  Cool bikes + the possibility of coffee I will truly enjoy.

Here's how it went down.  I asked if there was something special they made.  AC suggested a "sea salt mocha".   I went for it.  Rule #1 in dining is "order what's in the name of the restaurant".  I wasn't in the mood for catfish, but the corollary is "order the specialty" (but maybe not the special).

Here's where I pull out the "not a coffee snob" bit.  I can't really tell you the nuances of flavor or robustness ratings.  It fit my description for "really good coffee drink".  The sea salt mocha was an interesting change of pace.


If you like bicycles or coffee, and find yourself in the neighborhood, I highly recommend a venture past Angry Catfish.  If you like both, it's time for a road trip!


I wasn't promised anything special for this review.   I just hope it helps a good shop's business.