Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sweet Ride

Sunday was a gorgeous day here in Minnesota. What a difference one day makes. It was a little windy, but there was low humidity, mild temps and clear skies for our 50 mile bike ride. MS and I were both very glad we waited a day to ride. 

I got to MS's house at 8:00 AM - a much more leisurely start time than what we are used to. We were ready to roll in very short order. I practiced peddling with my feet on top of my shoes and then sliding them in. I took my time and got them in pretty quickly with no drama.

We headed out west on our usual route. We pick up a bike path that runs near MS's house and wind through residential and light industrial areas - not at all picturesque. Our goal was to ride around one of the local lakes and through the small towns that line the shores. I brought a camera but I need to do a better job taking interesting pictures. (Saw a HUMONGOUS snapping turtle sunning itself along the side of the road and didn't bother to take a picture.) 
(My picture would have been WAY better.)

Here is a picture of our steeds as we take a bathroom break. We probably shouldn't  have parked such hot rides right by the propane tanks, but we like to live dangerously.

Here is a picture of MS trying to sell her bubble bike.

Here is a picture of Main Street in Wayzata. It was really quiet and idyllic at 9 AM on a Sunday morning. (You can see MS up ahead of me - she was wondering if I had stopped to window shop or something.)

Here is a picture in the other direction - you know, variety.

Here is a picture of a park by Lake Minnetonka (Zzzz - even I think this is boring.)

There is MS up ahead again. (Don't worry the pictures are almost over.)

All total we did 51.5 miles. Plenty good for a couple of people with spouses and kids. I practiced getting my feet out of my shoes while still riding and again - slow and steady - was able to get them off without issue. We did a two mile run right off the bike for a little added interest. My legs felt way better than my last brick in the blast furnace. 

The ride was not intense (although I did hit over 40 miles an hour on a slight decline with the wind at my back. I also hit over 38 miles an hour peddling hard on a steep downhill with a stiff wind in my face. MS told me she had a "day-mare" on that. She pictured me launching over the front end of car at full speed and she had to call my wife to tell her I had hurt myself.) More than anything it was good to spend several hours in the saddle and the aero position. My lack of saddle and aero time was one of the things that held me back on the bike last year. I am also very happy to say that my bike is extremely comfortable this year. The new seat and setup is really nice and should definitely contribute to faster times coming up. 

I parked my car in front of LF's house (MS and LF live right next to each other) and I came back to this view through my windshield. That is a lot of bird crap. I had no idea there were such hate filled birds in the Farrell yard. What a mess!

This morning was Masters again. There were some new people joining us so the lanes were a little more full than usual - even for a Monday. There were fast people in the slower lanes and slower people in the faster lanes. I was a big baby. It started out OK, but when we got into the main set I decided I didn't like it and would do some then pout, then do some more then pout. About half way through I put a fork in it and called it done. Not a total waste, but not stellar - what-ever. I will try again Wednesday.

I am getting super excited for my upcoming races. I am feeling way more confident now and know the races will be fun and should be fast. Now I just have to take it one day at a time and not be an idiot (or more of an idiot.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The operative part of "train" this morning was "rain." MS and I were going to get up and go for a 50+ mile ride so our longest ride of the season did not happen during our last race of the season (like last year for me.) We were hoping the weather folks would get the forecast wrong and we would not have thunderstorms in the morning, but they actually were pretty accurate for once. The lightening had passed hours before and now it was just a steady rain. We decided to postpone the ride until tomorrow and run instead.

Of course when we got to the lakes to run, it had stopped raining and was Amazon humid. Aww, crap. We should have biked. Lo and behold (how many times do you get to say that much less type it?) it started to rain lightly, then it stopped - should have biked. Then it started to rain lightly again but for a longer time - glad we were running. Then is stopped - should have biked. Then it started to pour and it poured for the rest of the run - really glad we were running. The run was over 10 miles, but our pace was very easy. Part of me felt like I needed to go faster, but what I really needed was an actual recovery run. Over the next week, my body will thank my mind for holding back. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be a much nicer day and we are all ready to bike. We will be going out a little later in the morning so I will get to sleep in a little bit. We will run a couple of miles right off the bike for another brick session.

In other training news, I made it to Masters three times last week. Friday was sprint day, nothing over 100 m, but high intensity. I really think those workouts are more difficult than a set of longer swims and I used to be a sprinter in college. I hope that I will be able to get the same amount of training in next week maybe with some more biking. The week after that is about half a week of training and then the Liftetime Fitness Olympic tri. (I hope I can rub shoulders with some of the big time pros and maybe get a picture with Emma Snowshill. I saw her last year - teeny tiny and super cute - oh, and F-A-S-T, fast.)

Oh yeah, one last thing - I am a winner! I responded clumsily to a Twitter contest from Garmin and won a Garmin running tank/singlet. (Now if I could just figure out how to win a new TT bike, that would rock!)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Someone Please Tell Me There Is Nothing Wrong

This is such a loaded statement, so let's just lob it up there and let you jolly jokers take a swing. Here is where this is coming from. I did get a run in this evening (instead of going to E's soccer game were she kicked ass and took names and scored a goal - now I feel bad.) Once again it was hot and humid and I was sweaty. I can't seem to get my legs to go faster. 

Now, can someone tell me that this "governor" is heat related. I couldn't get the running legs going in the heat of the race on Saturday, I couldn't get the legs going on Tuesday and then I couldn't get them going again tonight. Nothing feels strange. I feel like I am breathing a little faster than usual, but that has to be heat related. 

Right now I am chalking this up to heat acclimation and that come race day - if it's hot - I will be better prepared than last year. I will keep an eye on my runs and see if there are any improvements.

Any suggestions or recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Struck By Lightening

OK - not really, but the fear was there when I woke up to a loud and violent thunderstorm. No running for me around an open lake with tall trees and power lines. Back to sleep. In the time it took me to go downstairs, send off an email saying, "No Run," grab a drink of water and return to the bedroom, the dog had taken over my side of the bed. AND HE WOULD NOT MOVE. I didn't want to wrestle with him for fear of waking A up (and we all know what happens when I do that - no it ain't that - she gets crabby) so I curled up in the fetal position on the very edge of the mattress and wiggled my feet under a little bit of sheet that was available and laid there cursing myself for being a spineless pet owner.

Now I don't know when I am going to find time to get in a run or anything else. I am getting a haircut however so that kind of counts as training. (Doesn't it?) I will be sure to report how I get my sweat on today, because that is all any of my dear readers (mom) wants to know about. Zzzzzzz!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Love to Be Wet

It's either sweat or the pool, but apparently I like to be wet. Like all the time. The weather this morning was not as bad as Monday so Masters went better. I was not "chicked" today, but then the "chicks" who "chicked" me were not present. Wednesday is IM day so there is a different mix of people. I am proficient in many strokes so I tend to hang at the front. The water in our pool is H-O-T - HOT! I sweat in the pool. (I see tweets with the same complaint across the country.) I was smart and brought a water bottle (I don't usually) but I want to make sure I am hydrating after my adventure in weight loss yesterday. (I am back up to 195 much to my disappointment, but at least I am not virtually sweating blood anymore.) About 50 minutes and 3,100 meters after starting we were done. Capped off with a "brilliant" 400 IM. ("Brilliant" only in the fact that coach put it at the end after a brutal combination of stroke work and 200 IMs. And I still thanked her on the way out.)

I have a few things on the docket in the middle of the day, but I hope I can get on my bike for awhile this afternoon. I should probably do a short run again after my bike ride, but I think I will take it a little easier. 

17 days until Lifetime Fitness Olympic Tri. It doesn't seem like a lot of time, but if I can keep up the training schedule I have been on I will be the best prepared I have been. Onward!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Miraculous Weight Loss

It is damn hot and humid here in Minneapolis. Even at 5:30 AM. We did our usual Tuesday run - my total distance was 10.75 miles. We were not running very fast as it was so muggy and warm, but we were still working. I am a heavy sweater. How heavy? I drank 24 oz. of Accelerade before I went out and we stopped for water 3 times during the run. When I got home I was 188 lbs. Yesterday I was 195. Needless to say I am drinking every liquid I can ingest. It is fun to see my weight under 190 even if it is misleading. 

Monday, June 22, 2009


Yes, I left the "k" off of "brick" because I didn't really finish it. After swimming this morning and then returning to the pool with the kids for a few hours in the afternoon, I decided to do a brick. A got out of work on time and came to the pool to relieve me (that was news to her) and I went home to hop on the bike for a hard hour ride followed by a two mile run. Why so short you may ask. Well, I had to make dinner and it was 92 with a 97 degree heat index. Just a little toasty. 

I slathered on the sunscreen, got dressed and put together a couple of water bottles. Yesterday I rigged up a water bottle cage between my aero bars. I have seen it on a couple of pro bikes and I saw it on a couple of bikes at the race on Saturday and it looked pretty easy to do with a handful of zip-ties. I like it better than an aero bottle because I can put whatever bottle in the cage. I used to have a couple of bottles behind my seat, but on a few rides this spring I spent more time retrieving ejected bottles than actually drinking from them. And they were not particularly easy for me to grab and replace. I will give up a little aerodynamic advantage for speed and ease of use. 

So, I drop some Nuun tabs in a couple of bottles, let them fizz till they were done, snapped the tops closed and I was off. Now, I have two kinds of bottles I use. One is your typical bike bottle but the other one is a fancy Camleback bottle. I like these bottles because you can use their little bite-valve and suck instead of having to crane your neck to get that last gulp. The Camleback bottle has a lid you can twist to turn it "on" or "off". I usually leave it "on" because nothing really spills too much. (I know - "Your water bottles are FASCINATING, please go on and on and tell us more. We are RIVETED!" Fine, I will change the subject.)

I decided to practice getting my feet in my shoes on the bike. First lesson - go slow. I get one shoe flipped over with my foot on top and proceed to coast down the driveway. I flip the other shoe over and get my foot on top of it and pedal slowly down the street. Our street is a mess right now because they are about to tear it up to replace all the sewer and water lines. They haven't fixed a pot hole all spring - very bumpy. Peddling down the street I am feeling pretty good.

What the hell!? What is spraying me in the face. I can't see. It's my Camelback bottle in the aero bar cage geysering out of the bite valve back into my face. Apparently, when you use those Nuun tabs and then seal them in a bottle and then shake said bottle, the fizz causes the liquid to spout out all over the place. I almost crashed - blind, stocking footed and sweaty - trying to stem the tide of Triple Berry Nuun juice. I regained control and turned the lid to "off" - just ridiculous.

I proceeded to get my feet in my shoes with no problem. I will continue to practice that maneuver as much as I can. 

I biked around the lakes to the entrance to the bike/pedestrian trail we like to ride on. As I was waiting at the stop light to cross to the entrance, I decided to grab a drink. I pulled the Camelback bottle out of the handy aero bar holder, turned the lid to "on" and shot myself in both eyes and up my nose as the pent up pressure came spewing out the bite-valve again. I swear I am a moron! I did get the valve to my mouth and had a drink without falling over in traffic. From then on the ride was smoooooth, fast, hot, sweaty sailing. 

*Warning* Do Not combine these two things with a bumpy road!

I hammered it an hour holding 24+ mph on the straightaways to really get my legs burning (my average speed - from leaving my driveway to returning home - was 19.9 mph.) I also practiced getting my feet out of my shoes while on the bike and that went amazingly smoothly. Again, I took it slow and I will keep practicing. When I got home I got the running shoes and shorts on and headed back out to click off a couple of quick miles.

The heat caught up with me almost immediately. I was working hard. I really pushed the pace and in the future I will take it a little easier. I got about a half mile in, started to get a side stitch was breathing uncharacteristically fast and decided I had made my point. I turned around and started back and got about another quarter mile and then walked that final quarter. It was a good enough outing for the first time in this kind of heat. That and I will be running at least 10 miles tomorrow morning. 

The weather says we will have another day of this heat and then possibly a cool down. Who knows?

Back to Training

I took yesterday off - it was Father's Day and I was lazy. I am back at it today. I swam with Master's this morning. It was warm and muggy. I felt like I swam to the pool. Monday is usually distance day and today was no different - 400s LCM. I toughed them out because I was surprisingly still sore from Saturday's race. I missed my floaty wetsuit, too. I got chicked once in my lane and by some speedy older woman one lane over. Ah, who cares. There will be people faster and slower then me no matter where I go or what I do - we are all on a different page of our story. (Not that this is any "excuse" but the woman in my lane was swimming with paddles and a pull-buoy - I was not. When we lost the "accessories" on the last one I was back in front.)

I know I am working hard when I am sweating standing in the pool. It doesn't help that the pool is as warm as pee right now, ugh. I was still sweating after I took my shower at the pool and at home. I tweeted about it and got this response:

I will not be ordering a "book" to "learn" how to sweat less - ridiculous.

I am planning on doing a brick this afternoon - when it is brutally hot. A hard hour on the bike and then a four mile run, fast. Depending on timing I may have to do the bike in the garage on the trainer so I can be around for the kids. Not ideal but not the worst option. I will also be practicing getting my feet into and out of my bike shoes while on the bike - multiple times. The countdown is on for Lifetime Olympic and the HIM - here we go!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


6 AM Sunday morning - Father's Day. Yesterday was kind of a crazy day. I raced, had to stick around for the awards, when I got home the kids went to separate birthday parties so A and I went out for lunch, then a nap, then dinner at a friend's house for MS's birthday. But, here are the race highlights - 1:14:58 - 3rd in age group (40-44), 35th overall out of 457, 33rd male out of 260. Now for some details.

I am very surprised by my results. First of all, this is my second triathlon season (although it feels like I have been doing it much longer) and my fourth triathlon ever. We have a pretty good triathlon community in the Twin Cities metro area (read: competitive and fast) so I would never think I would be that competitive especially in my age group, which seems to have a lot of good racers. 

OK so here is how it went down. I woke up way too early. I always do the morning of a race. I had packed all my stuff the night before and mixed up all my little potions and drinks so I had very little to do. The race started at 7:30, I had to pick up MS at 5:30 and it would take about half an hour to get to the race after packing up. As I sat in my dark house, eating my breakfast, I kept thinking I was forgetting something, but I didn't (who doesn't think that, right?)

I picked up MS right on time and we got to transition without any trouble - found a close parking spot - all was right with the world. Transition was wide open so we had a good choice of spots. I laid out all my stuff - nothing missing, thank goodness. (Let me stop for a minute, I must sound completely OCD, like I have to keep checking to make sure I have my helmet, did I forget my helmet, I have to touch my helmet 12 times and then my running shoes, but if I accidently touch my running shoes before my helmet for the 12th time I have to start over and I have to touch the right running shoe before the left and only the toe, not the laces, did I forget my helmet - how many times had I touched my helmet - damn, now I have to go back home and start all over. That is not me! Missing stuff is not debilitating for me, I don't know why I keep mentioning it. 9, 10, 11, 12 - whew done!)

Here is where the fun starts. I put my shoes on my pedals and then rubber banded them in place. I have never raced in these bike shoes and I have never rubber banded my shoes in place. MS thought it was a good idea so she did the same. Everything in its place, check, check and quadruple check. Time to get dressed. I again struggled with my shirt. Some guy actually cheered for me when I finally got it on.

I milled around anxiously and finally decided to go for my warm up swim. (Someone's got to be first, right?) I had forgotten about our open water swim the Thursday before so this would be the first time in my wetsuit since last season. (I did actually forget about the swim - it was after the kid's soccer games and there was some drama and a DQ run and all of the sudden it was an hour after swim time - sorry.) The water was not nearly as cold as I thought it would be and a wetsuit wasn't even necessary, but they were legal and I would be a fool to decline free flotation. The warm up went well, I swam to the first buoy and back, and got all the kinks worked out. Let's just jump to the start.

The swim went great - I was in the third wave behind the elite wave and the relay and "youngster?" wave. We went off in 5 minute intervals. I lined up way to the left so I could avoid a scrum and have a good angle to the first buoy. The sprint to that first buoy was me and one other guy. He was heading straight and I could see us converging. He got to the turn just ahead of me and I hopped on his feet. We ran into some traffic from the previous waves and I lost him, but I was kicking butt. It felt great. I was maybe a little long as I didn't swim the straightest line, but nothing major. We caught the previous wave and actually some of the elite wave. I may have been a little off course because I kept sighting on orange swim caps rather than the HUGE orange buoys. I's not real brite.

Half mile swim in 10:24 (I think that is about 1:11 100's, but DO NOT trust my math on any of this.) I certainly feel like I could have maintained this pace - that will be good for the upcoming Olympic and HIM.

Trotted into T1 and found my bike no problem - wetsuit off with no drama - helmet, sunglasses on and we're off. 1:38 - not bad - I was admittedly a little lackadaisical in my run in and out.

Although what is about to happen is considered a transition error (understatement of the century) I am reporting about it here because it affected my bike time and not my transition time.

Rubber banded shoes = fail. Broke cardinal rule #1 - never try something new on race day. I guess they were OK, but they certainly did not help that much. (Would someone do me a favor and send me a video or crayon drawing of how to do this? Thanks.) I stopped and threw my leg over my bike, slipped my right foot in my shoe and started peddling. I did a couple of revolutions with my foot on top of my left shoe and then when I went put it in my shoe I pushed too hard and pushed all the way through - I pulled the damn strap completely out of the buckle. Bike start = HUGE fail. I had to stop, unclip, get all contorted and with my left hand, fish the strap back through. Now I am starting from a dead stop, on a hill, a little rattled and I have probably wasted a couple of minutes being stupid. Nothing motivates you like a handful of mountain bikes flying by you as you fiddle with your fancy shoes.

Once I got going, I hammered. The course was a little hilly. They probably would not have seemed that bad on a longer course, but wanting to grind a huge gear and then having to back off on the hills felt almost like going backward. (Note to self - more biking and more hills.) I also must point out that I was riding this course blind. I never previewed it so I had no idea what was coming. The course is an out and back so I had some idea what was coming on the second half. I felt like I was fast and I cranked it all the way down on the downhills (top speed - 35 MPH.) I came flying into town and up to T2. Too fast - I forgot to unstrap my shoes and pull my feet out before having to dismount. I had to run in my bike shoes, unstrapped. Time: 41:14 - about 21 MPH average. Really happy with that time considering all the BS at the very beginning which means my actual average speed was probably faster.

In, out and on my way - 1:00. I'll take that.

I need to do more bricks. My legs felt, well, like bricks. I just could not get them turning over. They didn't feel "normal" until right before the turn around and even after that, I just could not get them to fire. Coming into the final straightaway I saw MS going out on the run. She yelled some encouragement and I was going to give her a big "clap, point and holler," but I missed my own hands when I tried to clap. (How hard is it to clap? Just once! I am such a spaz.) I thought MS was going to wet herself she was laughing so hard at me. My watch said I was running 7:05's but I wanted to run faster. Turns out I may have been running faster. Final time 20:43 or about 6:55 pace. 

After milling around and getting something to drink, watching MS come in and having a banana or two, someone suggested we check out the results. I have no idea where I stand in a race. I certainly never expect to place particularly high and usually am more interested in my time then anything. If I am in the top 25% or on the first page of results I am happy. 

I was kind of surprised to see my name in the middle of the first page and then to see a "3/49." "I may have just gotten third in my age group," I thought to myself, but these are just preliminary results. I called home and let them know I had to stay until the awards to see if I actually came in third. 

Award Time

I came in third in my age group! Holy crap! F would be beside himself that I won a trophy. (He was excited that I got a trophy and he was concerned that I would not have enough room on my dresser so he asked if he could keep it for me. Of course he can. It is now safely on his dresser - I can visit when ever I want.)

Now What?
Here is what I have taken away from my race: 
  • Practice the fricking bike transition - jeeze! 
  • More bricks. (Another favor - does anyone have a rule-of-thumb for the minimum amount of time on a bike before a run? Does that make sense?)
  • More biking - duh!
  • Open water swims - not that I had any problems, but it will be good to practice maintaining a higher turnover for a longer distance and get my sighting down again.
My next race is the Lifetime Fitness Olympic Distance Tri here in Minneapolis. It is a huge race with lots of big name pros. It was fun last year and should be again this year. That is three weeks away. Then the weekend immediately after that is my HIM in Door County, Wisconsin. I am super excited for this one again this year. I really have to focus in on that run as there are a couple of killer hills. Next two or two and a half weeks is dedicated to improving my weak areas and maintaining my strengths. This last race was a great way to start season two.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's On!

Finally - first tri of the very short and quick season. I feel like this is my first race ever. I feel like I am forgetting something important. And I am up way too early. I will post a race report later today. I'll be fine, just pre-race jitters as normal.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pedicures, Training and Racing

Last weekend was a fairly big training weekend for me. With no marathon training necessary, I changed my Saturday run to a Saturday brick - the first one of the season and long overdue. I rode the only route I am comfortable with these days (I am such a wuss) but it incorporates a loop of nice hills - so I did the loop five times. Total mileage was only about 34 miles, but with the hills it counts for more. (Right? That and dragging my lard-ass around, that counts for more, too. Right? You people need to cut a guy a break.)  Below are the profiles from my bike. You can really see the profile of the hills - both by elevation and heart rate. Kind of crazy.

I rode home and had all my running stuff laid out and quickly got off the bike and into running attire. I decided to run sans socks knowing I would more than likely get some rubbing somewhere from my fairly new shoes. It started almost immediately, but it never got very bad. It was rubbing right under my ankle bone on both feet. Better to find out now and be able to lube it up than to find out during a race. My legs felt crazy-weird. I don't remember them feeling quite so weird last year, but I also don't think I hammered a bunch of hills and then decided to run. 

The run really went pretty well. I was clicking along pretty comfortably at a 7:30 pace (yes, I know I am not setting the world ablaze with my speed.) Four miles in just over 30 minutes. Now, I have been working on my running economy lately. I am a natural forefoot striker/very mild supinator so I have been working to take advantage of my natural gait and trying to become more efficient. I concentrate on not over-striding (which I used to do last year) and keeping my feet underneath me, staying light on my feet with a quick consistent turnover. It seems to really be helping as evidenced by my fast half-marathon and my consistent marathon recently. It really made a big difference on the brick as I don't know if I could have run that pace at that effort last year. I am probably doing way better than I figure I am.

The rest of Saturday was super lazy. We had no plans. We got outside and did a bunch of work in the yard and played with the dog and the kids. A decided that she needed a pedicure so she went up to the little Vietnamese nail place in the neighborhood. E decided she wanted to go with. I thought E was just going to hang out and talk while A got her toes painted. E came home with this.

This is cute on so many levels. First, the color she chose is the most attention-getting green. Second, she got a flower added to her big toes and third, she has the cutest little sausage toes ever. (The pictures are slightly out of focus because E took them herself and couldn't stop laughing.) She has been wearing flip flops everywhere to show them off.

My first race of the year is on Saturday and now I am having all sorts of anxiety. I am a middle of the pack age group type guy (OK, maybe more first quarter of the pack, but still) so it's not like I have a whole lot of pressure to "win." I do want to go faster and by "faster" I mean "fas-ter". I just hope I have enough bike legs and run legs - I should have more than last year just by virtue of experience and additional training. We have yet to get out for an open water swim this year and I am somewhat concerned about that, but not too much. It will be a wetsuit legal swim, I should be able to go sleeveless and the swim course is a point-to-point with the beach to the right the whole way. Since this is a sprint I have been paring down the crap on my bike. I switched to the small Fizik bag that clips to my Fizik saddle. Lost the seat mounted water bottle holders and will probably ditch the bento box in favor of tape or carrying gels in a pocket. I want transition to be simple and fast, but I have yet to practice a bike mount. Maybe Wednesday. Anything will be better than last year when I put on socks because I hadn't run without them at all and I had just put my aero bars on an wasn't comfortable with them so I was only in the drops. I also ran in my bike shoes in transition instead of leaving them on the pedals. Novice!

Today was the third day of Masters at the outdoor LCM pool. Monday is distance day so we had a bunch of 200's. I am feeling better, although I was just hanging on at the end. I have put myself in the fast guy lane and have been brining up the rear, but not out of touch with the super-fast leaders. These guys are younger and they are "swimmers". I don't hear much talk about marathons or tris from these guys, so I guess I should feel good about my situation. I hope each session gets better - I'll keep working at it. 

This week looks a little rainy, but I will need to get on the bike - I can run and swim in rain, no problem. Saturday is supposed to be sunny and clear if not a little warm. It should be a beautiful day to race - I hope the weather man gets the forecast right. Off to bed - run tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Pain of Owning a Dog

A couple of days ago my calf was sore. I rubbed it to try to loosen it up. Just touching it made it hurt worse. Then I had my foot up on the table and I saw this:

The day before, Apollo and I had been playing in the backyard and he came tearing around our big tree and smashed his cement truck size head into my leg. I jokingly told him, "That's gonna leave a mark." Turns out, it did.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stuff I Swim With

If you don't know, I grew up here in Minnesota - "The Land of 10,000 Lakes" - so I am used to swimming in lakes. I don't necessarily like it. I would prefer to look at coral heads and pretty parrot fish and other oceany stuff. One problem with the metro area lakes around Minneapolis is that the visibility is terrible. "Murky" would be a good description. Again, this is nothing new to me. Many of the lakes I grew up around (unless they are the Great Lakes or spring fed) are murky and have weeds. That murk hides stuff though. To keep from having a heart attack at every shadow that moves underneath me, I swim with my eyes closed underwater. I really hate getting startled, which is why I hate balloons as well. Aside from weeds, which gross me out, but I take like a "man," there are fish. Big fish, fast fish, bitey fish.  Like these:

The Muskie

The Northern Pike

The Crappie (pronounced: crop-ee)

The last one is considerably smaller than the others, but is the most bitey. It's not uncommon to have the baby crappies, sunfish or perch nibble not so gently on your toes, fingers or any other pink bits that might be underwater when you are standing around. (Nipples you dirty-birds - not that I have personally experienced that indignity, thank god!) Other people have been bitten by muskies and northerns as they swim. They have a lot of tiny, sharp teeth. It leaves a mark. A painful, bloody mark. But at least they aren't like sharks that will tear your arm off and then invite their friends to join the blood feast. So I have that going for me.

Do Not Piss Daddy Off This Summer

Any of you! Including the dog! Or you will get more of this!

The kids seem to be enjoying this. The dog, not so much.

Something I Ate

Here is a picture of a wonderful lunch treat I concocted for myself.

Mac & Cheese (Kraft Dinner, for the Canuks) and bacon. MMMmmmm!

Here is a picture of the angioplasty I gave myself after eating the above lunch treat.

At-home medical procedures are so convenient.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Dad Skills Rock!

During the last week of school F had to read a poem of his choosing to his classmates and their various assembled parents, siblings and hangers-on. With the help of A, (read: A's selection for F) "Fog" by Carl Sandburg was chosen. It is a short poem with much imagery. The students were encouraged to bring props to enhance their presentation. What the hell kind of prop do you bring to enhance a poem about, basically, a cloud? You don't bring a prop, you bring a "special effect" you know a "cloud" - dry ice and hot water. F thought it would be awesome! A got video.

Here is the poem for those who have the sound off, can't hear or prefer text to video.

by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

You have to admit - my dad skills are pretty impressive, as is the size of my upper body. (Modesty is also a strong suit of mine. Being delusional tends to drag the whole package down a bit.)

Sprint Countdown

My first tri of the season is June 20th. It's a nice little sprint warm up - half-mile swim (point to point), 15 mile bike and 3 mile run. I am a little panicked about my training. Run - no problem. Swim - if I can get in the pool a couple times a week over the next week and a half, I should be OK and I am pretty sure it will be wetsuit legal which makes me fly. The bike is the big question mark/concern. The weather hasn't been cooperating - it is raining again right now, so I have been unable to get a brick in, much less get on the bike at all. I think I am going to have to throw the ride on the trainer and hammer for an hour sometime tonight. I guess I can only do what I can do. My initial race plan is to go anaerobic from the gun - kill the swim, hammer the bike and run until I feel like I might puke - I would love for it to last an hour or less. It's still ten days away - plenty of time right?

This morning was my first time back in the pool in about two weeks. I didn't swim the week before the marathon and then took the week off after because the alternate pool was inconvenient. We are at the 50 meter long course outdoor pool now. I love it, but it kicks my ass the first few times. I hung in there pretty well. IM's today with a ton of kicking - I still have tired legs apparently. Hopefully, I will be able to get back in on Friday. I also need to figure out when I can get an open water swim in, although I am not overly concerned. 

Now, on to the rest of my day.


In the car listening to the radio.

Me: "Hey, kids it's the new Miley Cyrus song."
F: "Ugh, we hate Miley Cyrus."
E: "Miley Cyrus is sooo over."

(Anyone want to buy a couple of front row tickets to the Miley Cyrus concert? Anyone? No? Damn it!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Vacation

This past weekend was up and down. The kids finished up school for the year on Friday. It was a beautiful day. I rode to and from school with them as I have been doing for a lot of the last couple of weeks. It is so great to have the kids wanting to ride their bikes.

Saturday I decided to run. I was going to wait until Tuesday but I kept seeing people running and my legs were feeling good so I decided I had to go on Saturday. We ran three miles. Keep in mind this is a little less than a week post marathon. I kind of wanted to go further but I decided to do the three and not push it. When I got home I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have any speed and with a sprint triathlon coming up in two weeks I was concerned about the "sprint" aspect. I decided that if I got up early enough I would run again on Sunday. 

Running on Sunday was pretty much a sure thing. My kids don't know the meaning of sleeping in unless it's a school day and there is test. My dog is on a 5 AM schedule, too. For some reason he thinks it's playtime at that hour. Needless to say, I did not sleep late. I did piss around for awhile, let A sleep in and I watched cartoons with the kids. Finally, about 7:45 or so I decided I needed to get out and run so I woke A up (she was awake, just lying there) and headed out. My plan was to run four miles - mile one was to be a warm up, two miles quick and a mile warm down. I didn't have real high expectations for this as I had run the day before and had run a marathon a week before that. My warm up was about 7:48, the next two miles were around 6:53 and the warm down was 8:16. Way faster than I expected and it felt way better. My HR did this crazy thing. You can see the chart below. It was higher at the beginning and dropped down during the highest effort. I love that! I feel like my speedy legs are still there. Now, for some biking and swimming.

Today is the first Monday of summer vacation for the kids and it couldn't be more of a disaster. OK, I am probably overreacting, exaggerating, overstating, unduly pessimistic. The day (and most of the past weekend) has been gray, rainy and cold. This morning it was thunderstorms and 49 degrees and now it's gray and about 51. Being cooped up in the house with my monsters damn near drove me bat-shit crazy. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but they are fricking LOUD! They actually have been playing well together for long stretches at a time. (Right now E is repeating, "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy..." Hold on while I stuff a sock in her mouth.) 

Around 1:30 I needed to get some coffee and the kids needed to get out of the house so we walked up to Caribou Coffee. I told them to grab their Nintendo DSs so they wouldn't be completely bored. All I wanted was a change of scenery for about a half hour. E wanted a decaf mocha and two chocolate covered espresso beans - the girl is only 9 - but I gave her what she wanted because she ordered it herself. F just wanted water and he got all shy and wouldn't order but he did eventually upgrade to a Triple Berry smoothie, which he inhaled. 

I am not sure why they look so surprised.

E is reading a book by a local author who sets the plot in real locations around Minneapolis. One of the places that a lot of action takes place is Quang Vietnamese Restaurant. There was a lot of talk about Strawberry Bubble Tea. It's funny because not too long ago I was reading a blog post about bubble tea (I can't find the post - tell me if you wrote it) and was able to explain that the bubbles were tapioca - by the way, that is some good stuff! I basically had three dinners because E and especially F didn't eat all their soup, so I had to help out. I love Vietnamese food, but I don't have the most adventurous family so I never request it - maybe this will change their minds some. 

E and strawberry bubble tea.

So that is the poop on me lately, kind of random and only mildly interesting or entertaining. I hope this isn't an omen for the rest of summer vacation or I will surely lose my mind in the first month.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Boy Discovers His Nuts

More accurately he discovers other boys nuts. 

Here is the scenario. Last night at soccer F is on the sideline as the other line is in. I step away from the action to talk to a buddy who is watching a different game on the field next to ours. I am not paying attention for like five minutes and I return to see F punching one of his teammates/classmates in the stomach and his coconspirator returning the favor. I immediately put a stop to this and ask F, "What are you doing?!" "We're trying to punch each other in the nutths." (He has a little lisp.) "Well, knock it off!" 

Seconds later A is at my side (she was on the other side of the field watching F and all his teammates take pot-shots at each other.) In an excited voice (read: yelling at me) she asks if I saw what was going on, F is hitting other kids, F is picking fights with kids bigger than him, etc., etc. In a calm, soothing voice (read: yelling back at her) I assure her it has all been taken care of, that the boys were just hitting each other in the nuts and it is all over now. Her response "Don't yell at ME!" Why do I always get in trouble for stuff my kids do?

After the kids are in bed I try to explain the whole situation. "Boys are dumb! They think hitting someone in the nuts is funny (there are whole TV shows based on just such a premise.) Hell, they think the word 'nuts' is almost as funny as 'poop'. Eventually every boy will actually get hit in the nuts. Hard. They will have that pain seared permanently into their avoidance system and then punching someone in the nuts will stop. As far as taking shots at a bigger kid - hey, F thinks he is on the same level as everyone else. I don't want to really change that perception as he is kind of fearless that way. Eventually he will mess with the wrong bigger kid and they will put him in his place or he will have to defend himself. Either way he'll learn and be fine. Bottom line - Boys are dumb!"

I don't know if I was particularly reassuring, but we at least got off the subject.

Then, to further emphasize my point I showed her this:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Worse Than Waiting for Christmas

I have been catching up on some race reports and now I am buzzing with excitement. My legs are coming around from the marathon on Sunday. No more stiff quads and lurching down stairs. Now I have to tell myself to relax a little longer. I won't be back in the pool again until next week when we start LCM outside. I absolutely will not allow myself to run until next Tuesday. So I have been spending time on the bike - mostly running the kids to and from school, but that is way more than I did last year. 

My first tri is 17 days from today. It's a quick sprint race to get the season off to a fast start. I have a little list of to-dos between now and then.
  • Get in some open water swims - preferred but not necessary.
  • Hit Masters twice a week - pretty much required at this point.
  • Practice a flying bike mount - because it's cool looking and will make a huge difference.
  • Get a few bricks in - gotta start 'em sometime, right?
  • Train to swim fast, bike fast and run fast - like real fast!
  • Figure out race attire - hey, a guys got to look good, too. (I will not be wearing the new shirt - that comes later.)
I can not wait to get racing again, but I must wait, I must.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back in the Saddle, Again

Got on the bike this morning with MS. LF wanted to go for a short run. We laughed at her. My legs thanked me for biking instead of running. I was going to swim this week as well, but the usual pool is closed and the alternate pool is a little too much of a drive (more than 10 minutes) and the outdoor pool doesn't open until next Monday. So this week is biking and recovering and that is it. Feels good to be back on the bike. This might be a really good tri season. Let's think positive.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And That, Is That

(Settle in - this is a long one.)

What else can I say? The inaugural Minneapolis Marathon is complete. Everything did not go according to plan. MS and LF did not get their Boston qualifying time, but it was not for lack of a valiant effort. I did my job, but it was just not in the cards on Sunday. 

The day was beautiful, clear skies and about 55 degrees at the start, about 77 and sunny at the finish. We got to the start in time to use the biff and mill around a little bit. We ran into a bunch of friends, some we knew would be running and others who were a surprise. Everyone seemed to be feeling good - I know I was. (LF had a 99 degree temp the night before, but was feeling better when she woke up.)

What can you say about a marathon? If you have done one (or even half of one) you know there is a lot of running. If you haven't done one - there is a lot of running. I will try to make this interesting by embellishing mildly interesting events, exaggerating other events and flat out lying when I need to fill space. The night before I reviewed my notes to myself from my successful Twin Cities Marathon. Drink a liter and half of Accelerade orange with caffeine - check. Clif Builder Bar (substituted a large bowl of oatmeal instead - I had started doing this weeks before) - check. Pee early in the race - check - that was mildly humorous.

The course is kind of quirky (read: fucked up) but it worked to my advantage. About two miles in we pass a long line of port-a-potties (I didn't have to pee then) then we make a loop and pass them again at about mile five. We have to cross the historic Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi coming up to mile five and I told "the ladies" I had to pee and would book it over the bridge, pee, and then meet them at the port-a-potties. So there I am running too fast, too early in the race (from other people's perspectives, not mine really) so I could pee. I find an open door, step in and am doing my business when I hear, "Todd Olson (that is my name) we are running by the port-a-potties!" I reply, "I hear ya!" Then I hear from next door, "You better pee fast!" To which I reply, "Don't talk, you're making it crawl back up!" Followed by peels of laughter. I finish up, tuck back in (too much detail, but worth it, hold on) grab a quick squirt of sanitizer and step out the door. Wait a minute. Something doesn't feel quite right. Uh, yeah - mis-tucked. My junk is hanging out the leg of my short liner (not out in the open, thank god.) So, now I am running and trying to stuff my stuff back in its home as demurely as possible. I was laughing at myself as I was catching up to "the ladies." (I don't know why I keep putting that in quotes, but it seems to work.) By the time everything was said and done, I was only about 100 yards behind. Catching up was no work. Getting myself dressed apparently was.

The marathon and half marathon start from the same starting line and run the same course until the half makes a turn around and the marathon continues on. It was fun to see the lead half-marathoners come tearing by. That first gal was "fit"! After the turn it was considerably less crowded. We clipped along right on or slightly under pace. It seemed everyone was feeling good. I was being honest about the pace and keeping everyone informed. 

We're tooling along this little parkway, enjoying the cool, sunny weather and the shade of the oak trees when just ahead of us we hear a rustle up in the branches. Then "WHUMP!" All of a sudden a squirrel falls about 12 feet out of a tree and lands right next to LF. We jump and look over and the damn thing gets up and runs off. Weird. We continued to run.

About 12 miles in we run into Fort Snelling State Park. We had our families positioned at this point because we make a loop through the park and double back. Seeing the families was great. They were really excited. We got into the park and started having difficulties. 

Fairly soon after getting into the park, we have to go down an incredibly steep hill. We had run it a couple of times so knew what to expect. The agreement was to get down the hill safely and then regroup. We seemed to have a difficult time regrouping and getting back on pace after that. Shortly after the hill we were running on dirt path for about a mile and a half. (See, steep downhill to dirt path = fucked up course.) At this point we started losing seconds, rather consistently. The course out of the park takes us on a straight, paved trail that has an incline for about a mile and a half. I was holding the pace - that was my job, but "the ladies" were falling further back. I was having an internal battle with myself - do I hold the pace and lose touch with them but come in on the time we wanted or do I drop back and try to encourage, cajole or berate them into picking it up to get back on pace? I got the crowd involved (we had our names on our shirts) and had some spectators tell them to pick it up. I kept getting further and further ahead. Things were not going right and there was not a lot I could do. We came out of the park and saw our families again.

At this point I stopped. I talked to my family and my mom and sister while I waited for them to catch up. I felt like I couldn't give up on the goal and I needed to try to stay with "the ladies" and be encouraging. (Needless to say, I am not encouraging.) We were losing huge chunks of time and walking through water stops. I was getting frustrated. I know we trained right and I know everyone was fit enough to hold the pace. I was frustrated by all the stuff I didn't know and couldn't control. I WAS NOT frustrated with MS or LF - they were working HARD. 

Mile 20 came and went. I knew we were too far off pace to make the BQ. I didn't want to pull the plug though. Mile 21 came and I could see the 3:50 pacer coming up behind us. Mile 22 and the 3:50 pacer had passed us. Insert fork - it was done. LF called it. We agreed that I could be cut loose and LF and MS would run it in on their own.

I picked up the pace. I was frustrated, disappointed and a little sad, but I thought I would make a dash for it. "It" being something close to 3:45. Four miles. I passed the 3:50 pacer shortly after leaving "the ladies." I was doing pretty well, holding a quick pace and a nice quick turnover, but then the hills arrived. We had run down these hills at the beginning of the race and had run training runs on them, but they really started to take their toll. I think the hills combined with my flagging enthusiasm due to missing our goal took my heart out of it. I walked through the last few water stops and just put it on cruise control. The 3:50 pacer passed me again. This time I didn't really care. I worked the hills as best I could on tired legs and low motivation and trotted into the finish. 3:52 and change. Nothing at all to be disappointed in, but I was a little. 

I was fricking tired. My legs were dead. I grabbed a bottle of water found some shade on the grass and laid down. It felt SOOOOOO good. I snagged my family as they were walking by. I heard LF come in about six minutes after me and MS another two after her. All under 4:00. All improvements from last spring's marathon. 

My brain is really a messy place. Trust me, you never want to visit there, but I will give you a little peek behind the steel blast doors. The self-centered, selfish, overly competitive part of my brain was pissed. It was telling me that I could have easily been under the time we were shooting for. But the real me intervened. I did not run this race entirely for me. I ran it for "the ladies." I did what I could and I did a good job. And so did they. Lying in the grass I realized that I love to run marathons. I was buzzing from the endorphins even as my quads were stiffening up. I was still buzzing this afternoon even as I was hobbling down the stairs. I am so glad I ran this one with LF and MS. I would be more than willing to take another shot at a BQ anytime they feel like they want to. Maybe not this course -- you let me know.

MS summed it up best on her blog, "Marathons are funny. Marathons are hard." I couldn't agree more.

A big thanks to everyone who came out to watch and cheer us on. Especially my wife and kids - who still really have no idea why I like to do this crazy shit - and my mom and sister. Thanks to everyone in the blogosphere, as well. It's fun to have people I have never met face to face pulling for me - it's fun to pull for those people, too. Let my tri season begin!