Monday, April 21, 2008

Boston Report!

I'm blogging here within hours of my finish at Boston, so I'll give some initial impressions.

First of all, my finishing time was 2:59:17. That is actually 14 seconds slower than last year at Boston, when the gales were blowing. That's a little disappointing, but I'm still very happy I went under 3 hours. And I had a great time, and being out here in Boston for the Women's Oly Trials and with my friends has been an incredible experience! So I have to say that this has been quite the rewarding experience.

I ended up getting 1 of my 3 goals. I may not have bested my PR (although it was close) nor did I go under 2:55, but I did go under 3 hours, so that makes for a successful race by that measure.

Here's my race recap:

The day was pretty near perfect. Low to mid 50s, light wind. The sun did come out right at the start and I think that did become a factor. But I gotta be honest, these were the closest to ideal running conditions for a marathon that I have EVER experienced. I have zero excuses. Not that I'm upset with how I did, I'm actually quite happy. But I didn't hit all my goals, so I'm thinking about what went "wrong."

My plan to run 2:55 meant I needed to average 6:40 miles. I hit that plus or minus (depending on the hills) for the first 22 miles. I was very close to my goal at the half, coming in at 1:27:35. That's about perfect. And I felt great far longer than I did last year. Last year, I slowed down markedly on the Newton Hills miles 16-20, but this year, I felt pretty good through them. The wheels started to wobble (not come off. Kirk has assured me that my performance was NOT the wheels coming off) around mile 22-23 on all those downhills. Frankly, my legs hurt. Bad. I was in serious pain. Manageable, I suppose, but still pretty consistent.

My last 5K coming in was slow, about a 7:30 pace, although I did pick it up the last mile. I DID stop once for about 3 seconds, and I walked at 3 water stops for the length of time it took to drink a glass of water (~5 seconds), and I wish that weren't the case, but it is, and I know that had minimal impact on my finishing time so I've made my peace with that.

Here are my possible reasons why my race went bad:

1) I got dehydrated. I stopped sweating at mile 21. 2 miles later I was hurtin' bad. After the race I rehydrated, I could walk well and felt reasonably fine (but I'm still sore, let me tell you!). A sure sign that my legs had a tiny bit more in them than I pushed them to. The sun dehydrated me more than I had anticipated, and I failed in properly hydrating. Rookie mistake.
2) Those hills were tough. The pounding down, the long climbs up, and that long downhill after Newton all hurt. My training may have improved in terms of mileage this year, but I probably neglected the hill workouts more than I should have.
3) I kissed too many Wellesley girls at mile 13. Just kidding! :) Those women rock though. They have the most phenomenal vocal cords.
4) Bad (but improving) running form, inadequate upper body and core training left my upper body exhausted for the last couple of miles. I'll need to fix those things before my next marathon.
5) This is probably the hardest one for me to admit, but perhaps (and probably), I just wasn't mentally tough enough today. I should have powered through those last few miles. Stopping even for a few seconds with so little left to go really does bother me. And I should have pushed harder at the end. It's a race, it's SUPPOSED to hurt. I know I've gutted out a lot of races, including marathons (see last year's Boston), so I know I have it in me. I just may not have today. Compounding that may have been the dehydration which weakened my resolve. But this is also something I need to clearly work on.

I huge HUGE congrats to my training and marathon travel partners, MDRA's Kirk, Anne and Mike. You guys showed tenacity, and ran excellent races! And moreover, you made this weekend so much fun. Great job to local blogging legend Chad. I'm looking forward to your race report (if you haven't already done it!) And a huge thanks goes to those who were there cheering me on, my best friend from college's parents who drove all the way from Bellingham to the halfway point to cheer me on. I'm so glad they got to see me looking strong. And a huge thanks and shout-out to the lovely Emily, who besides putting up with Misty Mike (jk Mike, I love ya like a brother), came out and cheered us on and presumably cheered me on (I was too tired to notice) and hopefully won't tell me how bad I looked at mile 23! :)

And thanks to everyone else who tracked me online and sent warm messages of encouragement. Thanks for making me feel like a star today! The marathon is such a selfish (and perhaps pointless) endeavor, but it gives me a lot of joy, and the fact all my friends and family are so supportive means so much to me! (I must be on the proverbial runner's high right now, I'm feeling downright sappy!)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Boston on my mind

last couple thoughts before Boston...

Check out this great article from MinnPost about Michelle Lilienthal, possibly Minnesota's best hope for an Olympic qualifier at the women's trials. I'll be cheering for her and all the other Minnesota women on Sunday.

Great video on the MDRA blog to psyche me up for Beantown!

And lastly, weather's looking great. Could it be better than this??


No...sleep...'til Boston?

I'm getting pretty excited about the race. Training partners Fancy Kirk and Misty Mike are already in route. I'll be joining them out there tomorrow. My blog will most likely be silent for a few days. But since half my readership will be in Boston with me...if a blogger stops blogging and nobody is on the Internets...finish this proverb.

This will be my 2nd year running Boston. I ran it last year (and blogged about it). Hopefully the weather is better than last year. It should be, but even if it isn't, running this with my friends will be a great experience. And watching the Women's Marathon Oly Trials will be such a treat (watch it here), especially after watching the Men's Trials back in November.

My goal is the same as last year's goal, to run a sub 2:55. I know I've trained well enough for that, but I just need the guts to go out there and run it!

Good luck to all Boston runners. Shout outs to those Boston-bound runners in blogland: Mike, Kirk, Anne, Chad, and Chris! Run well, blog well.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've been looking for a new car

This is my new ride:

Looks like Pope Benny could have put on his big hat, he's still got a lot of headroom...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Winter Recycling Footprint

This past Sunday I watched the National Geographic special, "Human Footprint." Or rather, I LISTENED to it while reading and doing other things around the house.

The show selected certain items that most people use (cars, bread, milk, and many more) and figured out how much the average American uses in a lifetime. Not surprisingly, it's a lot. It's mindboggling. So Elizabeth Vargas and her team placed all these large quantities of items in a field and showed how much room this crap takes up. It really is incredible how much we consume. I tried to watch this program, but basically it was 2 hours of the camera panning sloooooooooowly over a lot of crap. 2 minutes slowly panning over the 5,504 newspapers each person consumes in a lifetime, the 80 gazillion loaves of bread, and so on. It was interesting to see all that stuff in one place at the same time, but after about 10 minutes, it was kind of boring to watch, so I did other stuff and listened for the brief snippets of information that came in between the slow panning.

I was reminded of this show yesterday, as I finally put my recycling out for the first time since...oh...DECEMBER! Why, you may ask? It's not necessarily because I'm lazy. You see, in Minneapolis, recycling must be separated into glass, plastic, tin, aluminum, and paper. I have a separate bag for the paper recycling in my house, but I just lump the other items together. I just don't want to devote half a room in my small house to multiple recycling receptacles.

So instead when the bag of recyclables gets full, out to the garage it goes until I have enough bags out there to make sorting worth it. But when it's cold (as it has been since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, or possibly just since December), I just leave the sorting in the garage for a warmer day. Well, we finally had some warmth so Tuesday night I sorted! A lot. Turns out, in 4 months my roommate and I generate a lot of recycling. The photo below shows how much we went through. Keep in mind little of it is paper because I have been setting that out at the curb all winter. It's mostly bottles, possibly due in part to my beer mission to drink 200 different kinds of beers in 2008.

I was concerned that Minneapolis crews would be mad I had set so much out, but to their credit, they picked everything up and left no nasty notes!

I've heard that in the 'burbs, all recycling is lumped into one receptacle. Minneapolis, don't let Coon Rapids show you up! Show us you're serious about wanting to make it easy for us to recycle. I'll always recycle, but I worry that not everyone is willing to take the time to sort.

So there you have it, there's a portion of my footprint for 4 months. Pretty scary! (slow pan over the image for full effect).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My iPOD playlist is better than yours

While I was an early adopter of the cell phone (owing to my East Coast days) I am DEFINITELY a late-comer to the iPOD craze. I just got an iPOD Shuffle from my Boston-bound friends (Boston 2008, holla!) I have had fun the past week playing with the iPOD, podcasts and old songs I have on my computer.

I'm not really a running-while-listening-to-music kind of guy. I love to run and be absorbed by my surroundings. There are 2 exceptions: 1) At the gym: running on a dreadmill SUCKS! 2) On my way to/from work via Richfield. Richfield, I love ya, but I get so bored running the entire length of 73rd Ave. I know every house, every crack in the sidewalk, every barking dog for the entire length. I need a distraction. And typically, NPR/MPR provides the perfect distraction.

But, enter the PODCAST! Now I can get CarTalk, Marketplace, the news, when I want it! Woo freaking hoo. While I like that, what a boring blog entry that would be. I'm here to write about my music!

So tonight I ran home from work. I had already listened to my podcasts, so I listened to some of the 30 random songs I put on my Shuffle from my computer. Typically, these are pretty old songs! I learned a few things.

Great running songs include:
  • Eminem's Lose Yourself
  • Tom Cochrane's Life is a Highway
  • Cake's Going to the Distance
  • ANY Clubbing song. I particularly like that old-school "One More Time" clubbing song
  • Foo Foo Fighter's Everlong (best workout/running song ever!!!)
  • ANY Jimmy Buffett song...seriously
  • Dave Matthews Band Crash, the hip-hop remix version. find it, it rocks!
  • Tom Petty FREE FALLIN!!!!! (the caps and exclamation points are for you, Misty Mike)
The best song I listened to on my way home was Will Smith's Summertime. Since it was 65 degrees it was the first time I could actually fathom that summer is around the corner! Running in shorts and a t-shirt and STILL sweating was fantastic. Bring on summer!

Be careful about using music from these bands:
  • The Beatles: seriously, not that great. When I'm 64 doesn't cut it when you're trying to hammer in the miles
  • Dan Wilson, Dave Matthews, and Guster are definitely hit or miss. You'll know it when you hear it. I have to delete some of those. Great songs, but impossible to run to.
Favorite workout songs? I mean, besides Everlong. Nothing's better than that.

The only problem with finding great songs to run to is running too hard when you don't mean to. Between the warmer temps, my low running mileage this week, and those awesome songs, I put in my last 5 miles of a 10 mile run at a 6:45 pace. Whoops.

Oh yeah, and I'm running Boston again in 6 days (hence the whoops on running too fast!) A few years ago my running mantra was from Eminem's Lose Yourself. It's lame, but listening to it tonight reminded me that it can be fun to psyche myself up for races. So, for Boston, here's the old mantra:

"Success is my only mothaf**kin option, failure's not... So here I go it's my shot. Feet fail me not this may be the only opportunity that I got."

I can't believe I just quoted Eminem in a blog post. Shoot me now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Shapely State

What is it with Minnesota's love of, well, Minnesota? I'm not talking about the fact that most of us (particularly me) love every aspect of Minnesota and must rave for long lengths about how such and such in Minnesota is SOOO much better than what's in your state.

What I'm blogging about here today is Minnesota's love affair with the SHAPE of Minnesota. See the photo below I took yesterday at the Minnesota Historical Society Museum:

You actually walk THROUGH Minnesota and are immediately confronted with the shape of Minnesota again! (and again and again throughout the MN150 exhibit).

Beyond that, it seems that the shape of Minnesota is omnipresent. It's on our license plates, the Minnesota quarter, and logos of all the great Minnesota institutions.

Minnesota is hardly alone in this. Pennsylvania celebrates their status and shape as the "Keystone State". Florida rejoices in being "America's Wang". And probably no other states are more proud of their shape than Colorado and Wyoming, which obsess over their respective shapes so much that both states mandate that all windows and pizza boxes be in the shape of their states.

Yet there is something about Minnesota's shape that is so enchanting, so popular that many businesses and organizations incorporate the shape into their logo. I believe it is the distinctive nature of our state. The sharp angular points of the jutting chin of SE Minnesota (driftless zone), the nose of the arrowhead region above Lake Superior, the tuft of hair that is the Northwest Angle by Lake of the Woods, and that odd bump on the west side of the state that is part of the upper Minnesota River. Who doesn't love that weird bump? It fascinates me more than the NW Angle, yet as close as it is to the Twin Cities, I've never been there. I wonder if the people living there have weird bumps on their backs too.

The other thing about Minnesota that I alluded to above, is that it looks like a face of sorts. And it seems appropriate that the face is facing East. There's so much going on just immediately to our east. I think there are great things about North and South Dakota, but come on, if you had to pick an eternity to face one direction, wouldn't you rather be looking out over Lake Superior than the North Dakota pocket wetlands? I'm just sayin'...

To read about how Minnesota REALLY got its shape, check out this MnDNR article on the history of Minnesota's odd shape.

I'll leave you with the greatest Minnesota-shaped logo of all time:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

CORRECTION: I love Metro Transit!

OK, so I know last week I had a bad Metro Transit experience, but thankfully I did not let that sour my mood completely on taking using Metro Transit as part of "commuting toolbox." Even for someone who does a quasi-reverse commute, using public transportation is important.

Today is the perfect example. I rode my bike to work today, in spite of the dire predictions of snow/sleet/locusts. Why? Well, if I hadn't, it wouldn't have snowed and I would have regretted not biking. So I biked, knowing that by biking, I was screwing all of us into bad weather fortunes. But I thought I could be hardcore and bike home. Well, come 3pm the winds were gusting over 40 mph (a headwind no less) and a sideways rain was turning into snow. So I decided I just couldn't stomach the thought of biking home in that. So instead, I turned to the handy-dandy Trip Planner option and found out I could be door to door in about an hour. Not bad, considering I knew the highways would be so bad as to make the commute an hour of sheer tension and gridlock.

So I ran to the bus, took the bus to MOA, the train home, and 1 hour and 1 Newsweek magazine later, I was snug in my house! While 1 hour would have been unbearable if running/biking/driving had been more pleasant options, in this situation, it was perfect!

Daily Haiku!

Those who know me well may know that I love Haikus. In fact, I have been known to compose one from time to time. In 2005, I wrote and submitted the following Haiku to Tuesday Morning Quarterback (Gregg Easterbrook). TMQ occasionally highlights NFL cheerleaders in his column, and since the NFL season had ended I was trying to cheer up legions of NFL fans. My suggestion of attending Lacrosse games was printed in Easterbrook's column, but my Haiku was not. Here it is for you:

Seven months no cheer?
Don't fret, traditional males
Lacrosse-babes are here

For the original TMQ column, go here and search for my name. The original post is not available online anywhere I can find.

I also composed a Haiku of my love for Victor's 1959 Cafe's corn pancakes (the best substance on earth):

Victor's Corn Pancakes
So juicy and delicious
I want one right now!

But I just received the best Haiku ever! This comes from Emily via a friend via the Internets via Runner's World or whatever:

Fairweather runners
Emerge like they own the place.
I ran all winter.

AMEN TO THAT!! And you fairweathers can stay off my trails tonight during our mid-April blizzard!

Thanks Emily and welcome back online!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pre's Alive!

And he won the Golden Valley 10K!

This is Bullsh!t

We're having a fantastic spring, weatherwise....or not.

Instead of shoveling out of another foot of snow, stay inside and watch this awesome song!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

100 Beers! No Way!

So yeah, I beat my goal, and it's still winter, or at least it still feels like it. To recap, my original goal was to drink 100 different beers in 2008, focusing on LOCAL beers (loosely defined as MN and WI in origin, but NOT Miller beers). I quickly realized that goal was too easily obtained, so I changed my goal to 200 beers, 100 being local.

This past weekend (on my birthday no less) I hit the magic 100 different beers (the original goal). The beer to put me at that milestone was a New Holland IPA (MI) that I thought was quite delicious. My friend James from Michigan said he wasn't a fan, but I thought that the intense hops made for quite a good beer to sip on.

The 100th beer!! (of the year, not the night)

My favorite beer was one I just had last night, #105. A local beer (WI) Viking Whole Stein. It's called a "breakfast beer" because of the coffee, oatmeal and milk flavors. I wouldn't drink it for breakfast, but I thought it was smooth and the flavors mixed so well together. Thanks Tom, a very tasty birthday treat!

95 beers to go to 200, and 54 more local brews needed for 100. With almost 9 months left in 2008, I think I've got a good chance.

Best Birthday EVER!

So this past weekend I turned the big 2-9. Yes, that's right, NOT 35 as many friends are trying to say. Heck, 35 would be great, I'd get more buffer on my Boston qualifier time!

I seriously had the best birthday of my life. I've had a lot of really good ones, but this one was the best. I really am indebted to all my friends and family for taking the time to really show how much they care! It was really overwhelming, and frankly, I wouldn't need another birthday party for 3 or 4 years.

I started to write about all the fun things I did, or people did for me, then I realized: All of my (local) friends and family were there, or heard about it. No one else in the blogging world would really care! :) Here are some highlights with photos:

Saturday I ran the Golden Valley 5K. I finished in 17:58 (NOT 18:11 as the official results say). I was hoping I'd have no competition and win, but I guess it's OK that I lost to an Olympian!

Yep, that's Team USA Minnesota's very own Carrie Tollefson. Misty Mike, Fancy Kirk and I had a nice chat with Carrie and her husband Charlie. Mike, Kirk and I are running Boston in 13 days (if you didn't know), and Charlie has run it before, so we talked about that for a while. Anyway, Carrie ran strong and looks ready to kick it in for the track Oly trials. Good luck Carrie!

And congrats to Kirk for his big 10K win!

Later that day I embarked on a fun and very sweet scavenger hunt organized by my girlfriend. I followed clues all around town to various places that have special meaning to us, the last clue taking me of course to her! Very surprising and fun!

I had 2 parties as well. One was a happy hour with lots of friends that I planned, and the other was a family get-together my mom surprised me with on Sunday! I really had no clue my mom was planning it. I had family come from as far away as Madison for it, about 40 in all! It was very overwhelming and wonderful.

So there you have it, I have the best friends, family and girlfriend in the world, all combining to make it a birthday I'll never forget. Thanks guys!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ultimate Dome Dog

Who doesn't love the Twins?? And more to the point, who doesn't love Dome Dogs? Well, there is only one thing better than an average Twins game: Opening Day. And only one thing better than a Dome Dog: a footlong Chicago Dog! Put those 2 things together and you have you have a recipe for a perfect night! I already blogged about Opening Day here, and you can read Misty Mike's or Beth's takes on the game too.

Since I just posted a rather whiny blog entry, I felt I needed to put something positive up here. And even though the Twins offense has been positively atrocious, there's something about Twins baseball (or my obsession with them) that makes the outcome of the games virtually irrelevant. Each new game has the promise of a win, and besides, fun is always guaranteed.

Here are some photos from the occasion!

At Hubert's for a little pre-game action. Check out that blizzard!

Our seats were AWESOME! Thanks Em!

Close-up on Torii's first post-Twins atbat. This is the photo I was taking when we were on TV.

Misty Mike and I are about to dive into our Chicago Dogs

Closeup on the Chicago Footlong. Now that's what I'm talking about!

(note, the photos looked a lot better, but I foolishly tried to edit them in the browser. I apologize that they are so pixelated)

Multi-Modal Transportation

I've been envisaging this blog entry for a couple days, but it's not quite going to be like I thought.

This week (like most weeks) I went to and from work 5 times, for 10 trips. 2 of those I ran, 2 I biked, 2 I carpooled, 2 I drove, and after tonight, 2 I will have used public transit. This works out to equal usage of 5 different types of transportation, for a roughly 80% drop in my carbon footprint. I was pretty jazzed about that when I thought about it. I was all set to blog about how easy it is to compile a "toolkit" of multiple transportation options (of which car travel generally has to be an option). The key is to try each option and become comfortable with it so that each day, depending on what one needs to do before/during/after work, an appropriate decision on transportation can be made, hopefully with the end result that a less fossil fuel-dependent option is selected.

While that was the hope of the blog. That is NOT what's on my mind now. Basically, Metro Transit sucks. Big time. I live 10 miles from my office in Edina, and generally, it takes 15-20 minutes to drive, 40 to bike, 75 to run, and now, apparently, it takes 80 to take the bus. For the second time in 2 years, Metro Transit has changed the route that serves me to make it substantially longer. Of course, I didn't realize this until I was on the bus and wondering why we kept going back and forth across 494. I need to go WEST, not zig-zag north and south. If REI was open, I would have stopped for a while. I'm sure the bus would have waited for me while I shopped.

Seriously, Metro Transit, this is the 2nd time in 4 years you have changed my route and made it substantially LONGER. I used to be able to take the bus to work in 35-40 minutes via Southdale. That route was canceled so then I took the 45 minute route via Light Rail and the Mall of America. Now, apparently, the route I took needed to serve more areas of Bloomington, hence my longer commute and $2 tour of Bloomington this morning. Metro Transit, you wonder why ridership goes down in the burbs, I have the answer for you.

Obviously, I understand the economics of why routes are canceled when ridership is low. What I don't get is why a route will be changed to meander more. If ridership is low, making the commute even longer will kill ridership on that line. So, goodbye, 540C. I have a feeling this change will kill you. It's like moving a sitcom from Tuesday to Friday night. You can spin it as a positive change, but it really means the end is near.

Thank goodness for biking and warmer temps!

(editor's note: I just read on Metro Transit's site that there is a temporary detour due to a bridge being taken out. That still doesn't explain why the bus had to cross 494 so many times, or why they can't have 2 buses now to serve each area as quickly as before. They are going to kill ridership with this long detour.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

8 inches of freakin' snow? Are you kidding me??? Check out my blog post from 1 year and 5 days ago. Yep, 81 degrees. And today we have over half a foot of snow on the ground.

Last night I went to the Twins Opener with Misty Mike (he calls me Nasty Nate for no other reason than alliteration, so I thought I'd return the favor), Dr. Em, and one of my friends (and by far the biggest Twins fan I know...nah, 2nd biggest Twins fan I know. NO ONE is a bigger Twins fan than Beth. Check out her blog for a recap on the game). Anyway, I'm sure you all already know that since we were prominently featured by national TV. During the standing O to Torii, the cameras lingered on us. Why? Because we're beautiful people, that's why! Then the text messages started pouring in from friends who saw us on TV. Good to know so many people are watching the game!

The game was incredible, great pitching by Livan. Good hitting, base running and all-around great small ball baseball which is always fun to watch. Hopefully the power turns on. We've got a lot of guys with that capability. I'm going back tonight for the game, so hopefully we get a power display! Come on Morneau, earn that huge salary! One guy who DID earn his salary upgrade was Joe NATHAN. He is so money! I was proudly wearing my Joe Nathan shirt, and he did not disappoint.

In other news, I'm going back and forth on this snow business. For one, I'm really tired of it. I'm so sick of walking through it, running through it, and mostly, NOT being able to pull my summer bike out of storage yet, although I'm sure the winter bike is enjoying the extra attention this year. BUT, this morning, I ran to work, and while it was the toughest 12-mile jog (and probably the slowest) I've done in years, it was also the most beautiful. The Minnehaha Parkway wasn't plowed, but that made it more picturesque. Seriously, it was really magical out there. I may have even had a runners high (there, now officially every running blog on earth has linked to this NYT article), and I didn't even need a harvest moon to get excited about running! But as magical as it was, I'd like the snow to magically disappear so I can get back to training for Boston and get back on the soft trails.