Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring, really?

OK, I'm sure this has been a constant conversation around town, but seriously, snow? And lots of it??? Oh well, on the bright side it gives me a great excuse to post some winter photos from a recent trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin. I went up there with a few friends a couple weeks ago for a relaxing weekend of cross country skiing, exploring Madeline Island and wandering around the ice caves. The caves were incredible! Thanks, Chris, for your warm hospitality and genorosity!

Take a look at some of the photos:

Good times! We'll miss you Tim. Have fun in MI...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Odds and Ends on a Snowy Day

It's officially spring! That favorite time of the year when things get green, short sleeves on runs come back out, and my hands finally warm up! Well, 6+ inches of snow later, it sure looks like a winter wonderland to me. The big plus of a late March snow? Shoveling the driveway is optional, because it's gone within a couple days. (shoveling the sidewalk, mandatory and courteous). The Strib weather page says that the snow should be gone in 2 days, which is hard to believe because there's so much of it, and it's not supposed to be that warm this weekend.

"Don't panic: most of the snow will be gone by Monday or Tuesday, sun angle is too high for snow cover to linger for long."

I'd never thought about the sun angle aspect before, interesting. Actually, it's great because while I love the snow, I am ready for the next season to happen. The skis are put away, and I'm done with that. I'm not even a little tempted to get one last ski in. Well, maybe a little.

But instead of skiing, I'm enjoying a nice Sam Adams Cherry Wheat and thinking about the Boston Marathon! The first and only time I had a Cherry Wheat was last year immediately following the Boston Marathon, and since I just ran my next to last long run, thoughts of Boston are pretty fresh.

Also, those of you who read this on Google Reader may have missed out on a small change I made to the blog. I put a banner across the top, from the Human Race 8K that we ran last weekend. It's a great photo (thanks Marty!) that shows 5 of us running (the guys in red, I'm in the middle somewhere). Hard to believe that we were running in singlets just last week, and today we trudged out a long run through inches of snow. Welcome to Minnesota! (Read Mike's 8K wrapup here - he's the one in red leading the MDRA charge).

Hope everyone has a happy Easter! I'll toss in a plug for my church. I'm going down to New Orleans with our youth group in a couple months, and we're doing an Easter pancake breakfast as a fundraiser from 7am-noon. It's Park Avenue Church at 34th and Park in So. Mpls. It's a wonderful church with awesome praise and worship. The music there is phenomenal, and the preaching is inspiring. In any case, no better time to check it out than Easter Sunday! Park Ave will definitely have the Spirit moving.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tourney Time!

Every year I partake in a friendly online NCAA pool with a friend from my DC days and her friends/family. I always lose, badly. Every year I lose to her dogs. Yes, her dogs always submit an entry where dog mascots dominate, and because of UConn and the Zags, my friend's freaking dogs kick my butt.

So this year, instead of actually thinking about my picks, I came up with a strategy. Below is what I posted to our message board:

Most years I watch very little basketball, mostly because I
don't really like basketball that much. I enjoy watching my
college teams play, but that's it. So as a GW-alum and a
Gopher-stater, I haven't had too much to cheer about this
year (until Minny's drive in the post-season!)

So this year was an all-time low for basketball for me. GW
didn't have a single nationally televised game. I ended up
watching 3 games all year. I watched both Duke-UNC games,
only because I was forced to, and I actually attended a
Gophers-Hoosiers game in the Barn. That was great, I didn't
think any atmosphere could be nearly as exciting as college
hockey, but basketball in the Barn in the Tubby era is
amazing! Almost made me a fan, almost...

Since I have ZERO NCAA knowledge, what's a guy to do? I
filled out a bracket with the most ferocious mascots
winning, then I noticed ESPN did the same (and did a better
job than I, and I didn't want to explain why I thought a Tar
Heel is pretty formidable since they fought in the Civil
War). So here's my bracket method:

Rounds 1 and 2: I go with the masses. Whomever more CBS
users picked to win those games wins.

Rounds 3 and 4: I go AGAINST the masses. I figure this is
where most people's brackets get hosed anyway.

Final 4: I go with the masses again.

Basically this means if Stanford wins it all I'm money.

Check back to see if this strategy works better than previous years'!

How do you make your picks?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

There's a new force in town!

MDRA is back baby! We may not be in the glory days of Gene and Marty, and we may be nowhere able to compete with Run N Fun and the sub-5:00 milers, but we're here, and I'm impressed with our team!

At the kick-off for the USATF Road Race Circuit (Human Race 8K on Summit Ave in St. Paul), MDRA took 6th place (out of 10)! I'm really happy with how our team did.

We've run an MDRA team for the last two fall cross country circuits, but this is our first road circuit in years. We welcomed a new teammate, Joseph, who quickly soared to near the top and brought our average way up! It's great to have you aboard Joseph! Mike, Kirk, Mix-master, Professor, Taylor, Nick and the rest of the team had great runs, with lots of PR's and post-collegiate PR's being set.

Personally, it was a great race. I was guaranteed to PR since I've never run an 8K race before. But I had no idea I'd be in such shape to run as fast as I did, racing as fast a pace for an 8K that I do for 5Ks. My final time was 28:54 or a 5:49/mile pace. After my poor outing at the Winter Half, I was really nervous about Boston (which is less than 5 weeks away!!) But now my confidence has returned and I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do at the marathon distance.

And lastly, with this being my first Human Race, I can't say enough about how much fun it is to run a race where so many great athletes are racing. My overall place wasn't good, but that's because pretty much every top runner in the state is toeing the line at this one. It makes for great competition. Thanks have to go to the nameless individuals who pushed me the last mile as I struggled to stay ahead of them. While I did succeed at that, it came at the price of losing my breakfast at the finish line, so I never got a chance to see who was behind me providing that extra motivation. But I am grateful for it because I can honestly say I've never pushed myself so hard at the end of a race before. I learned a lot about racing on Sunday!

Our women's team placed 5th out of 7, and they are right on the heals of 4th place! Great job ladies! I'll let your blog speak for itself.

Looking forward to next year's Human Race already!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Page 123

Today I was tagged, or something like that, by Ed at The Deets. I've never been tagged before, and conceptually it sounds like those lame forwards circa 1998 where you had to fill in your favorite this and that and then forward the email to your 8 closest friends, but this is a pretty fun idea, and I'd expect nothing less from Ed! Plus, I'm not tagging anyone else. If anyone reading this who has a blog would like to be "tagged" by this, then consider yourself tagged.

Here are the instructions:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people. (I'm not doing this part, lame)

I've been reading Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It's an indictment on King Corn and even the industrial organic industry. Very eye-opening. I especially liked the part about Joel Salatin's grassfed farm, Polyface, and how that represents a model for the small farmer on how to make the farm sustainable. While sustainable is a word that is thrown around so much that it starts to lose meaning, Salatin seems to have found the essence of that concept.

OK, so enough about this amazing book. Time to follow the instructions:

  • We think of grass as soft and hospitable stuff, but once it's been dried in the sun and shredded by machines - once it's become hay - grass is sharp enough to draw blood and dusty enough to thicken lungs. I was covered in chaff, my forearms tattoed red with its pinpricks. The other - Joel Salatin, whose farm this was; his grown son, Daniel, and two helpers - had gone off to the barn for something, leaving me with a most welcome moment in the pasture to gather myself before we cranked up the bailer again.

I love that passage, because it reminds me of my summers spent helping my aunt and uncle on their farm in SE Minnesota. It was such a beautiful, if small, farm, deep in a valley with tall bluffs. I loved the farm, I loved driving the tractor, carrying stones, feeding the sheep. But I HATED baling hay. And I was always there to help with that. No matter how thick a shirt I wore, my city-slicker skin would be shredded to pieces by the time we were done baling that hay.

So thanks Deets! Your "tag" brought me down memory lane.