Sunday, January 30, 2011

Avenging Grandma

When I was first thinking about the 2011 season, I didn't think a marathon was in the picture. While emailing back and forth with a friend recently, the talk of a marathon came up. He ran his first marathon last year and said he'd like to do another. I told him I'd like to do another marathon as well, but wasn't sure it was in the cards. Then he mentioned Grandma's Marathon. This is run in June and since that would leave me adequate time to get ready for the Square Lake half iron in September, I think I might give it a shot.
Grandma's Marathon in Duluth Mn was the first marathon I ran in 2009. Its ran entirely along the shores of Lake Superior which is absolutely beautiful.  I had no expectations of the race and simply wanted to have fun and finish and that's exactly what I did. The temperature is usually not to hot even though it's ran around the end of June each year. The race being ran along the shore of Lake Superior is what keeps the temps down. But in 2009, the temps got both hot and humid which is unusual for this area at this time of year. Anyway, the race was on a high temp and humidity warning at the start, but as the race went on, the humidity went down, but the temp did not.  Around mile 21 I slid down a homemade "slip and slide" in front of a frat house just to cool off. The temp at the finish was close to 90 degrees and a lot of people were dealing with heat exhaustion. In fact, I literally caught a guy who was falling over as he was talking with his girlfriend. The nice thing was that you could go into Lake Superior to cool off after the finish. My finish time was 4:27 and I was satisfied given that it was my first marathon and I survived the heat.
My friend wants to break 4 hours as do I. My marathon PR is 4:04, so hopefully together we can get it done.  Also, It's the 35 anniversary of the race who's name came from the first official sponsor, Grandma's Restaurant which is where the race finish line is located.
I've always felt that I would avenge my first marathon time and finish under 4 hours, but I didn't think I would want to make Grandma's my bitch. Time will tell if that will happen, but until then, I've got her on my radar.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Carnival, Ice Beard, and Carrot Top

Here's a picture from the 2009 St. Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon 10.25K. It was -12F with a windchill of -20-25 below, freaky cold. So cold they cut the race back from a half marathon to a 10.25K. I haven't ran it since, but I was reminiscing about that day and the sweet ice beard I had back then as its been damn cold around here this year. Steve in a Speedo has a good report and pics from this race, just click on the link.  This race is coming up this weekend and again I won't be participating, but I will be reflecting on it fondly and the weather should be a little warmer this year for all who participate.
We've had approximately 55 inches of snow this year. To put that in perspective, we normally only have 30 inches by this time of the year. I've even thought about skipping some of my upper body workouts lately because I usually have to shovel or use the roof rake to move all the snow. That job alone can be a workout.
If I have to manhandle that damn roof rake any more, I'll start to have shoulders like Carrot Top.

Anyway, I have no plan for an ice beard this year, but I may have an early summer race that may bump out the sprint triathlon I have tentatively planned for 6/25/2011. More on that on a later date.

Stay warm and train hard or train hard to stay warm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Popcorn Whisperer

If Punk Rock Tri Guy can be the cupcake whisperer, then I've got to be the popcorn whisperer. I thought I was just crazy when my popcorn talked to me and now I know I'm not alone.

My conversation with popcorn would go something like this;

popcorn: Hey Jeff, I've noticed that you haven't looked in my direction in quite some time.

Me: I'm sorry, I've been busy.

popcorn: busy? You know, I won't stay this fresh and delicious forever.

Me: I know, but you're just not that good for me...well, after all the things I add to you anyway.

popcorn: Right, like the hot melted butter and the gentle coating of salt.

Me: exactly

popcorn: Besides, don't think I haven't noticed your hands all over the raisins lately.

Me: Leave the raisins out of this, they have nothing to do with you and me.

popcorn: You're right, you always know what to say... So how about we get out the oil.

Me: Not tonight, I have 4x400 intervals to run tomorrow and always feel bad after we spend the night

popcorn: Ah come on...can't  you just smell the oil warming up and the gentle turns of the Whirley Pop as the melted butter waits anxiously to be poured over my HOT freshly popped kernels?

Me: That's not fair! You know how weak I am!

popcorn: Can't you just feel the repeated "pops", "tings", and "bursts" of my seeds bouncing around inside the Whirley Pop as you hold the long hard shaft gently turning until we just can't take it anymore? Just waiting to be released from the intense heat, only to be quickly covered in melted butter and then gently shaken as you sprinkle the salt so lovingly. Then you carefully pour me into the big bowl, you know how I like the big bowl, and you slowly raise a handful of warm popped kernels into your mouth.

Me: I love you

popcorn: I know.

* I apologize for the awkward turn this post has taken. I'm going to take a cold shower now...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back in the pool

I got a nice little swim in on Saturday morning.  First off, I was late.  It was cold and getting motivated was difficult. But I got to the pool with about 45 minutes left. The workout went like this;

200 warm up
200 kick
12 X 25 freestyle
100 kick
100 cool down

Total: 900 total yards

I think I actually benefitted from being late, I didn't fool around and I focused on the task at hand. Plus, they must have turned up the heat in the pool and that made it easy to jump in.
There might be a big change in plans for this summer's race schedule, but nothing set in stone. For now, the indoor tri in a few weeks will be my main focus.

Friday, January 21, 2011


That was the temperature this morning when I woke up. It's so damn cold that water will freeze in mid-air.

Here's a video from Fargo, North Dakota a few years ago, but the air temp is about the same. Needless to say, outdoor training isn't going to happen. But it hasn't been happening much lately anyway. As I last posted, I was sick last week and I'm still dealing with some lingering effects, but my youngest daughter (almost 9 months old) woke up Wednesday night with a temp of 102. So that means no daycare, which usually means that my wife and I split our workdays. She will take the oldest daughter to daycare and then go to work for half a day. She then comes home, then I go to work for a half day in the afternoon. It works out pretty good and neither of us gets to behind at work.  
My indoor triathlon is coming up fast (2/6/11) and I don't think I'll take it to seriously, however, I did make a little wager ($1) with my buddy. Since the results are based on overall distance, as everyone is doing each part for the same amount of time (30 minutes each; swim, bike, and run), I told my buddy I would give him 2 miles. I think my mouth wrote a check my ass won't be able to cash. Oh well, it's only $1. I'm hoping to get to the pool tomorrow morning, but when it's this cold, I don't want to leave the house. I'm also hoping to post a little more frequently, but family comes first. 

Happy training (to everyone in the warmer climates anyway). 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Sucks!

I became the proud new owner of a snow rake last weekend. This weekend, I got the chance to actually use it. For those of you who don't know what that is, well it's a rake used to pull snow off the roof of your house. For us here in Minnesota, it's a tool that is quite popular this year with all the snow we've gotten.

Although the "rake" is made out of aluminum, it gets quite heavy to manhandle and was quite an arm and shoulder workout. Since it's dark by the time I get home from work during the week, I had to wait until yesterday to pull some of the snow off the roof.

 Of course it wouldn't be winter without getting a cold. So since about Tuesday evening my wife and I have been under the wether. It's made for a miserable week and a poor workout week. I only got a couple short runs on the treadmill and one on the stationary bike. Hopefully my wife and I get past this before the girls get sick. Anyway, I'll take it easy and cross my fingers that our girls don't get this darn bug.

Happy training!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


My Mom passed away 7 years ago today. It was a Monday and I had actually gone to work that day as she was "made comfortable" in the hospice unit of the hospital. She was 56 years old.

The days leading up to her death went like this; She was brought to a hospital in Minneapolis shortly after New Years for some tests as she was really weak and saying some strange things to my Step-Dad. As I had posted previously, she had just told us on December 26th that she had cancer and was going to start treatment as soon as possible. I got a call from my Step-Dad's brother (step-uncle I guess) in the evening who told me that they were bringing her to Minneapolis that night. Right away I knew it wasn't good as they live 70+ miles away. My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I had just moved to a suburb of Minneapolis in July and was told I should meet them there. It was about 11pm when I got there and she was already checked into the ER. My Step-Dad was so distraught that he didn't want to talk to the doctors and since I was the only other direct relative, I got the bad news. Some young doctor walked into the waiting room and asked me to come with him. He said that I could speak with my Mom, but warned me as she was on some medication. That's when he told me that she had a tumor in her brain that was causing the confusion and possible hallucinations. I talked with my Mom, but she wasn't my Mom. She didn't recognize me and she was scared and confused. I had just seen her the week before and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The doctor came in again and said that they had to run some more MRI's and would come get me once they were done. So I waited. When the doctor came back (it could have been 10 minutes or 10 hours, I don't really remember) he asked me to come into the ER and that's when he told me in a matter of fact way that my Mom was riddled with tumors and that there was nothing that could be done.
From that point forward is kind of a blur. I remember standing outside the hospital in the January cold calling my brother in Chicago and telling him the bad news. His wife and him were just in MN for Christmas and knew she had cancer, but they were as dumbfounded as I was that it progressed as fast as it did. Anyway, the calls were made to friends and relatives to come and say there goodbyes. It's so surreal to think back  7 years and how things transpired. My brother and his wife made it back to MN and my Mom's only sister and Mom came right away from Cincinnati. I only have one brother so that was it for direct family. So it was my wife, myself, my brother, his wife, my Aunt, my Grandma, and Step-Dad, all just hanging out in my Mom's room; laughing, crying, joking, and sharing our favorite memories about my Mom. So after a week and a weekend, I went back to work. After work, my wife and I went to the hospital.  Not long after we got their, the machine that monitored her heart and breathing stopped. It was kind of like the movies, it just flat lined. Her eyes were closed and her chest stopped moving up and down. She was gone. We stood around her and cried and hugged. The nurses came in a moment later, asked if we could step out of the room for a moment while they unhooked all the machines and then called us back in to say our last goodbyes.
She was buried the following Saturday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 summer race schedule

I think I have my summer race schedule set. It may change, but I think this is a good progression leading up to the half iron in September. I'm signed up for 3 of the 5 and all but one of the races is local. The Green Lake Triathlon is back in my old "stomping grounds". I grew up about 30 miles from Green Lake and then spent 10 years after high school in a neighboring town, so I know the area well. We plan on making a long weekend out of it by camping about a mile from the transition area. My step dad has a fifth wheel camper that will easily fit my wife, 2 girls, and me very comfortably and he's always insisting we use it. It kind of looks like this, but is actually a little bigger. Anyway, it should be fun for the whole family.

So here is the (tentative) schedule:

1. Tri U Mah indoor triathlon - 2/6/2011. 30min swim, 30min bike, 30min run.

2. Armed Forces Half Marathon - 5/21/2011

3. Croixathlon VI Sprint triathlon - 6/25/2011, 1/3 Mile Swim, 15 Mile Bike, 3 Mile Run, (Registration opens in February)

4. Green Lake Triathlon (Olympic) - 8/21/2011, 3/4 Mile Swim, 28 Mile Bike, 6 Mile Run, (Registration opens in February)

5. Square Lake Long Course Triathlon - 9/11/2011, 1.2 Mile Swim, 54 Mile Bike, 13.2 Mile Run.

* If by chance there is anyone local who reads this blog and has done any of the above races (at least #3,4,or 5), let me know your thoughts, like, dislikes, etc, on any of these races.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

4 Weeks to the Tri U mah

I swam yesterday for only the second time since September. It went OK. Nothing special. I warmed up with 200 yards of kicking and then did 4 X 100 of a combo of freestyle and side stroke. I never got into a rhythm and always default to the side stroke when things don't go well. Here are my 100 splits; 2:15, 2:12, 2:14, 2:14. I can't complain considering my last swim split average time was in the Square Lake short course triathlon was 2:17 / 100 yards for a half mile. I did a few more laps of cool down and tried working on technique.  I did another 100 yards of kicking and called it good. It's tough getting up and getting my butt to the pool when the temperature outside is only 4 degree's not including the wind chill.
It feels something like this...

Anyway, Last weeks "training" went like this;

Monday: 30 minute treadmill interval run
5 minutes at 10 min/mile, 5 minutes at 8 min/mile, 10 minutes at 6:37 min/mile, and then did it in reverse.

Tuesday: Stationary Bike Trainer
10 minutes at 90-100 RPM, 10 minutes at 115 RPM, and 10 minutes at 90-100 RPM.

Wednesday: Light weights, pushups, and core work.

Thursday: 30 minute treadmill hill work
I did a 6 minute warmup and then did an increased incline every 3 minutes for 1 minute. So at the 6 minute mark I increased the incline to 2 for one minute and then at the 9 minute mark I increased the incline to 4, and at the 12 minute mark the incline went to 6. I did this up to the #10 incline and then did a walking cool down.

Friday: Stationary Bike Trainer
30 minutes at 90-100 Rpm.

The next couple of weeks will be similar to this one and then I'll start some brick work outs on the bike trainer and treadmill.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Eve giggles

Here's a little video of my 8 month old on New Years Eve with the giggles and of course my beautiful wife and lovely 4 year old with commentary.  This makes everything worthwhile.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 in Pictures

January 10. MN wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Jesa thought the horn was too loud

Mommy's Birthday in March. 
April 23, Harper joins the family

Big sister loves her little sister

Jesa running her annual Mothers Day race at the MOA.

Apple Duathlon, Memorial weekend 

Jesa learning to use the camera, June 2010.

Big sister and Little sister,  July 2010

LifeTime Fitness Olympic distance triathlon,  July 2010.

Minnesota State Fair, August 2010
Jesa and I, September 2010

Halloween 2010, A Princess and Lady Bug Fairy
Jesa's 4th Birthday! November 2010
My Girls! December 2010

Here's a sample of my life. Of course we did a lot more than I can show in a few pics, but as you can see, my girls are my world and motivation.

Happy New Years and here's to a great 2011!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

12lbs of Christmas wrap up and a Half Marathon

I think the last day I left off was Friday December 17th. The week prior to Christmas was kind of hectic, so I didn't get any new pics of the snack buffet, but it went something like this: Monday December 20 - peanut brittle, chips, and a crockpot of chicken and wild rice soup, Tuesday December 21 - a huge bowl of chip dip (and chips of course) and another crockpot of some rice and hamburger hotdish (some people call them casserole's), Wednesday and Thursday tapered off with mostly Christmas cookies and donuts in the morning. The end of the 12lbs of Christmas ended with more of a fizzle than a bang.

Anyway, last night as my girls were asleep and my wife was dozing off in the glider rocker, I signed up for a Half Marathon. It was only $25 so the price was right I thought it would be a good way to kick start the training to this summers events. This race is on 5/21 and is close to home. It's a small race and I was hoping to set a new PR. My only stand alone half marathon was October of 2008 and my time was 1:55. I did actually best that during the Chicago Marathon with a time of 1:54. 

So that's race #3 for the 2011 season. Any indoor tri next month on February 6th, half marathon on May 21st, and a half iron on September 11th. I have my eye on another race in August, but we'll see.

Happy New Years everyone and hears to 2011.