St. Croix Valley Triathlon Race Report

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

Or, “Why am I running during the swim?”

Or, “Why not to watch ‘Jaws’ the night before a race.”

As I explained in my quick, short post early this morning, I signed up for the St. Croix Valley Triathlon yesterday because I realized that I hadn’t competed in an event this month. I’ve done an event every month so far in 2008, and I didn’t want to break the streak. So I had to do something this weekend.

I was up at 4:15 a.m. I had breakfast, had a good pre-race poop with PERFECT consistency, got everything loaded, and was off around 5:15.

I wondered when I would hit race traffic when I pulled into Hudson WI. I got to the exact intersection where the race said it was going to take place, and I saw nothing. For a moment, I thought I had the wrong day. But I got out of my car and saw the transition zone.

I walked by the main pavilion, and it was dead:

As it turns out, I was just SUPER EARLY. The event started at 7:30, and I was there at 5:40. When I first saw transition, there was only this ONE GUY getting his bike set up:

I grabbed my stuff and had prime pick-ens! I grabbed a good spot at the end of the rack. Big Rhonda was literally the 4th bike set up in transition. She was lonely for a while:

I went into the bathrooms and there was NO LINE FOR THE TOILET! This is why I like to be early!! I did my #2 #2 for the day (no, that’s not redundant). Then I went down to check out the water. This was going to be my first triathlon in a river! There wasn’t a noticeable current in the bay where we were, and it was shallow for quite a ways:

It was strange not seeing the buoys out yet

I got back to my car and grabbed the rest of my gear. I was completely set up just a few minutes after 6, with an hour and a half to get ready before the start. I waited for the body marking to start, and got marked (along with my smiley face that I always ask for):

Transition quickly filled up, and 529 athletes had their gear ready to go:

My spot is right behind the woman in blue at right/center

Under an hour before the start, the buoys got placed in the river:

The guy who placed them didn’t seem too official. The buoys seemingly just got put wherever he thought looked good. It didn’t seem too scientific or measured. He just dropped them off his kayak:

(This probably explains my upcoming unnaturally fast swim time.)

We had a pre-race meeting where we were warned about the hills on the bike. Super. They warned us that there was a fast, curvy downhill on the way back that we had to keep under control. They asked us to try to stay under 30 mph in that stretch.

After that, I hopped in the water. I was in Wave 1, which was new to me (I’ve never gone out in the first group). Wave 1 was pretty big: it was for males 35 and under. That’s a lot of people. I took a tinkle in my wetsuit, took a couple of strokes, got lined up (on the outside), and was ready for the gun.

1/3 Mile Swim:

The gun went off. I was going to try to stay calm early on. At the Chisago Lakes Sprint Tri a few weeks ago, I went out way to hard, and it hurt me on my way back to shore. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. I kept to that game plan pretty well.

When I got near the farthest buoy, I started seeing weeds under me. For some dumb reason, I watched “Jaws” on TV last night. When I saw those weeds, I pictured that scene when Richard Dreyfuss’s character is scuba diving when that head (missing one eye) comes bobbing out of the broken ships hull. That scene always makes me jump. Why did I watch that last night? I rounded the buoy to do the short stretch parallel to shore before turning back to head in.

When I was nearing the final turn towards the beach, I thought I better take a quick look at what direction I’d have to be heading: we were all ready to turn DIRECTLY into the rising sun, and it was going to be pretty much a blind swim back to shore. When I popped up to check on my angle, my feet hit the bottom. “What?...” I was at the farthest point out from shore on the swim, and I was running on the bottom in 5 feet of water. So I took 8-10 seconds to “run” as a little break before putting my head down to start swimming again. I noticed that I was “running” faster than a guy swimming on his back next to me. I was tempted to poke him and say, “Hey, it’s shallow here, so if you need a breather, just hop up!” But I didn’t. Anyway, it was awesome to be able to hit the bottom in the middle of a swim!

I made the final turn toward shore, and I still felt pretty good at how I was swimming. But I noticed the bottom of my right foot was throbbing a little. Without realizing it, I had cut it on a rock while I ran on the bottom a minute before. Crap. I hoped it was going to bleed out on the swim and be good to go for the bike and run.

I hit the beach. I ran up to T1 and my watch read 9:15. That’s freakin’ fast for me! That swim may have been a little short, but I DID swim it pretty well. (But not THAT well.) Anyway, I was happy.


Nothing fancy here. Normal T1 stuff: off with the wetsuit, struggle with my shirt, get everything else on, pondered the growing divide between the middle class and upper class along with what our next presidential administration can do to remedy that, etc, etc.

10 Mile Bike:

Yes, only 10 miles. But it was going to be hilly. About a mile into it, we were riding into the sun, and there was some nasty glare. A biker just 50 feet in front of me misjudged his distance from a parked car and ended up nailing the back corner and flying off his bike. It was dramatic, and it looked nasty. The guy right in front of me couldn’t react, and he ran over the bike (but thankfully not the athlete). The guy who jumped the downed cyclist’s bike asked if he was OK at the same time I did. We both slowed up. He shouted that he was OK (and he sounded a little embarrassed). We kept going.

I didn’t feel too great about the first half of my ride. I hit the turn around at mile 5 with a slower time than I’d wanted (17:52, which is around 18 mph).

But then we got some hills in our favor.

I was coming up on the big downhill that we were warned about, and there were 2 guys in front of me. I figured I’d do what they do. They both stopped pedaling and just tucked into their bikes. I did the same. I figured, “If they don’t wipe out, then I won’t wipe out.” When we hit that turn near the bottom, Big Rhonda was a little shaky. I had gotten a bit too fast. I tapped my brakes, and everything was OK. (Later, I looked at my bike computer, and I had hit 40.1 mph on that downhill. Oops. That’s faster than the 30 mph that they asked us to go.)

About a mile past the bottom of that hill, my chain fell off the front set of chain-rings. SUPER! I slowed up, quickly hopped of my bike, got it put back on, mounted (hee-hee) my bike, and was off. I figure I was only off my bike about 7 seconds, and it probably took about 20 seconds from when I started slowing down until I was back up to speed. But 10 people passed me in that time, which was a little depressing. Oh well.

I saw a piece of seaweed stuck under my watch from the part of the swim where I thought I was going to be attacked by Jaws. I smiled. I grabbed it and ate it. Just kidding. I threw it on the road and kept biking.

I made it back to transition in 14:24, and that made me feel better about my poor performance on the way out. I’m not taking credit for doing so much better on the second half; I just realized that it was more uphill on the way out than I thought. I had raised my average to 18.6 by the end of the ride.


Normal T2 stuff. Almost fell on my face when I took off my bike shorts.

4 Mile Run:

The run is my event. This is where I rock. I took off and passed a group of guys right away. I kept pegging them off. I felt GREAT!

Mile 1: 6:38

“OK, good ‘mile 1’ time. Now try to hold on to that.”

Mile 2: 6:14

“Sweet! Now what can you do over the next mile?” At the turn around at mile 2, I had counted that I was 30th from the front (as it was an out-and-back run, and I kept track of the runners going by). I picked off 5 runners in the first half-mile after the turn. There were 2 more runners in front of me that were 200-300 meters away. I had them in my sights.

Mile 3: 6:03

“Holy Cow! Nice mile!” I was nearly at those 2 guys in front of me. I caught them soon enough. But now I was feeling that 6:03 mile. Overall, though, I still felt GREAT on the run! There was one more runner that I could see in front of me with about 300 meters left. He saw me, and kicked it up a gear. I tried to chase him down. I never caught him, but he gave me a great run.

Mile 4: 6:11

Before the race, I had hoped to finish under 1:15:00. I hit the finish line in 1:11:10. I can’t complain about that! I had a negative split on the bike (due to hills) AND on the run!! And I was very happy with my swim performance! It was a good race!

Official Results:
• 1/3 Mile Swim: 9:15 (probably short)
• T1: 3:04 (ouch)
• 10.0 Mile Bike: 32:18 (18.6 mph - hilly)
• T2: 1:26
• 4 Mile Run: 25:08 (6:17 / mile)
• Total: 1:11:10

• Overall Place: 39 out of 529
• Age Group: 8 out of 29

• Kept to the game plan and felt GREAT in the water!
• Had a hard time on the bike, but followed it up with a run that felt spectacular!
• Had the 11th fastest run out of all 529 athletes! (and didn't get passed once!)

Overall, it was a great venue. The only issue that kept coming up at the race was that some of the longer bike racks kept tipping over:

As I was cleaning up my area in transition, I took a look at the bottom of my foot. I had a bit of a gash, and a little blood from my cut while "water running":

The inside of my sock just got a little blood on it:

It could have been much worse. It didn’t hurt during the run, and it still feels OK right now.

After the race, all the athletes got a cup and a lei:

And then there was a Hawaiian-style beach party, complete with a hog roast!!!

So good!!

You can see the red finish line at the far right

Walking around afterwards, I ran into MN rockstar triathlete Cathy Y. We chatted for a bit as her step-daughter was out on the run. Good luck at Nationals, Cathy! And then I talked to another Cathy, Cathy Q, from the Y that I go to. She got 2nd in her Age Group! Nice job Cathy Q!

Well, that was it. I headed back across the border into MN and was home by 10:30. Then I went to the Y for a quick upper body workout. What a great morning!

And don’t you all forget: next weekend I’m doing the Square Lake Half Ironman with Pharmie. And I will be doing the full 13.1 mile run dressed as the Grim Reaper! What a race that will be!!


Up Too Early...

It’s 4:40 am. On a Saturday morning. I’m out of bed.

“Why?” you ask?

Well, it’s still August, and I haven’t done an event this month. I’ve raced in an event every month this year, and I’d like to keep up the streak. So yesterday, I signed up for a sprint triathlon (that takes place today) in Hudson WI.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back with a report in a couple of hours.

(I’m nervous about the swim. WHY did I have to watch “Jaws” on TV last night?!? Am I STUPID?!? Jeez...)


Triathlete Dies After Bike Crash

>> Friday, August 29, 2008

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Barbara Warren, one of the world's elite endurance athletes in her age group and one-half of a well-known pair of triathlete twins, has died after breaking her neck in a bike crash at the Santa Barbara Triathlon. She was 65.

Warren, of San Diego, died Tuesday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital when her family told doctors to take her off a ventilator, her twin sister Angelika Drake told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Warren crashed her bike on a downhill road about halfway through the 34-mile cycling section of the race on Saturday, race director Joe Coito said.

Warren was paralyzed from the neck down and was breathing with the aid of the ventilator. Drake said her sister told the family by blinking and nodding that she wanted to die.

"I talked to her and she nodded over and over and over again. She wanted to leave," Drake said. "No athlete would like to have a life with only their eyes talking."

Warren's two daughters and her husband Tom were also with her at the hospital when she died.

Warren won her age group in the 2003 Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. She competed in the race, the world's top triathlon, 13 times and finished in the top five in her age group eight times.

The two sisters alternated riding bikes in the Race Across America, covering 2,983 miles in less than 10 days.

Warren also competed in a seven-day race across the Sahara Desert, and finished a triple Ironman in France that included a 7.2-mile swim, 336-mile bike ride and 78.6-mile run.

Warren was well-loved among younger triathletes.

Michellie Jones, who won a triathlon silver medal in the 2000 Olympics and won the 2006 Ironman World Title, was also a twin who remembered her fondly.

"She always asked about my sister," Jones said. "She understood the bond."

Warren's twin said she lay next to her sister as she died.

"My heart and my soul are gone," Drake said. "She was everything in my life."


This is just heartbreaking news. My prayers are with her family.


Jeez, It Looks Like I’m Going Through With It

>> Thursday, August 28, 2008

I had meetings at 2 different colleges yesterday being the start of the semester is upon us. Yippee.

But between meetings, I swung by Twin Cities Magic & Costume so I could pick up my running outfit for my Half Ironman in 10 days. I came home with this:

And this:

Ummm, it’s gonna be a hot 13.1 miles. But I really think I’ll get sick pleasure out of passing people on the run dressed as the Grim Reaper (while smacking them on the butt with my sickle). I can’t wait.

AND I still have 10 days to figure out what other wacky things to try. I have an idea for something on the bike that involves a stuffed monkey. You’ll want to see what happens next...


How To Get Over The Olympics

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

That’s it? They just stop?!? We’re all addicted! There was no weaning period! Last night, do you know what I saw at 10 pm on NBC? I saw the local news!! What the hell?!? Where are the swimmers? The volleyball players? The gymnasts? The heartwarming stories of overcoming a TV friendly life-obstacle?

Here are 10 ways to hold on to the glory of the Olympic games for a few more weeks:

(If you have any ideas to add, please leave a comment, and I will update this post with my favorite ideas [and I’ll link to your blog]).

1. Hearing their names: Every hour, say the names “Phelps, Nastia, and May-Treanor” to yourself. You can’t just stop hearing their names. It’s not like weed or internet porn which you can stop at anytime.

2. Age controversy: Hire a 12 year old girl to mow your lawn. Spend way too much energy (unsuccessfully) trying to convince your neighbors that she’s 16.

3. Baby-faced Costas: Place a life-sized cutout of Bob Costas behind your kitchen counter. This way, every time you walk to the kitchen, it will look like he’s reporting on the day’s events.

4. For the sake of the country: Ship your 4-year old off to a government run training camp for gymnastics. You might miss them for a week, but HTFU. At least it will take your mind off the fact that the Olympics are over. Don’t worry, you’ll see them again at the 2020 Olympics. They better do better than Silver, damn it.

5. Who’s better looking? Who’s the better singer? Next time you go to a birthday party, hire a singer (who’s less attractive than you) to stand behind you to sing “Happy Birthday” as you lip-sync.

6. Glue a feral cat to your body. This one has nothing to do with the Olympics, but I bet it’d take your mind off the fact that they are over.

7. Ceremonial: Erect a huge tent in your yard, and hire 1000 men to dance around in footy pajamas that light up. Do this while you neighbors down the street go hungry. (Sorry, just a little bitterness here.)

8. Happy thoughts: Every time you get an erection while you’re thinking about that amazing 100 meters that Jason Lezak swam in 46 seconds to anchor the 4x100, punch yourself in the junk. Have I taken this one too far? I really don’t think so.

9. Shopping at Home Depot: According to their commercials, it looks like Home Depot employs every US Olympic athlete. So, the next time you need a box of finishing nails, go in to Home Depot and DEMAND to be helped by an Olympic medalist. If they claim that they don’t have any Olympians working there, storm out and go to Menards.

10. Training like the athletes: In the name of training like Michael Phelps, start consuming 8,000 to 10,000 calories per day. But don’t do any of that swimming stuff that Phelps does - that looks like a lot of work.

Man, I hope this works. I gotta get over these games. I’ve got to go purchase #3. And I look forward to #10. Do you have any ways that you’re hanging on to the Olympics? Let me know your thoughts, and I’ll update this post with my favorite submissions.

Reader Updates:

Dave said, "Hold a competition for an event you know no one else will show up for, like handball or rhythmic gymnastics. Invite local media to awards ceremony." I like it! It's like the Doughnut Run 5K race that I won earlier this year. That SHOULD be an Olympic sport: it takes a balance of speed and intestinal fortitude to run a race while eating 15 Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

Danielle in Iowa said, "At my race on Saturday, I made sure to slap hot people on the ass as they passed me - if it is good enough for beach volleyball it's good enough for running!" Great idea!!

Vanilla said, "Low-ride your pants so that you look like Phelps in his Speedo LZR racer suit. This is appropriate in any situation, I'm currently wearing my wool suit around the office in that manner." I really, really hope that's true about your suit!

Greyhound had 2 good ones. First, he suggested, "Doing a training ride with 40 to 50 heavy smokers in front of you to simulate a 'blue sky day'." And then he offered this one, which I think I'm going to do: "Put a Nike Swoosh on all your spouse's bras and panties so you can pretend she is Misty May." Greyhound, you even got the right volleyball player! (I like a solid woman!)

Kaeti mentioned an obvious one that I missed: "Uh, duh — hire Bela Karolyi to yell 'Go Girlfriend!' and follow you around muttering unintelligibly all day."

TriGuyJT told me to "install an outdoor shower on your lawn and set up a camera, then shower just like the divers do....for no apparent reason..."


Two Letters: One Written, One Received

>> Thursday, August 21, 2008

I just sent this pissy e-mail to the president of Drymax Socks:

Dear Gus:

You held a contest for the general public. That’s nice.

The winners got some socks. Super.

I was one of the winners. Yay me.

There’s a problem. I thought you’d be sending a few pairs of socks. But you didn’t. You sent 44 freakin’ pairs. That’s 88 socks. THEN you sent some for my wife too! It’s great that you are so generous, but I’m left with 2 pet peeves:

1. I had no room for all those socks. You’re over-abundance of socks forced me to clean out my dresser. I don’t like cleaning. You made me clean.

2. Once I cleaned out my dresser, I realized I needed an ENTIRE DRAWER to house all the socks. (see attached photo) I need to go buy another dresser!

It’s great that you have such fabulous socks, but how dare you force them upon me like you did. Who do you think you are? Next time, think about the consequences of your actions. Jerk.

Steve Stenzel

p.s. If you didn’t pick up on it, this letter is a joke. Well, it’s more of a “Thank You” for sending me so many GREAT socks. I seriously haven’t worn any other brand of sock since that magical package arrived in the mail. Drymax Socks are incredible! Thank you so much for the great gift!

Seriously, those socks rock. I really love the running socks for the summer heat. And I REALLY LOVE the thicker trail running socks for winter running (they are some the orange and red ones). If you didn't see the video that earned me those socks, here it is. The first 2 challenges are kinda boring, but the 3rd one is the one that got me the socks!

- - - - - - - - - - -

A few weeks ago, I got this great e-mail from a complete stranger. It was regarding Steelhead 70.3 (where I was wearing that crazy outfit):

Hey Steve. I saw you at the Steelhead 70.3 this past weekend. You were one funny looking dude! Didn't quite know what to make of you (so that puts me dangerously close to the "old" category). I was hurting on the run...only smiled twice. You got the first one (the 2nd one was when a large motorcycle gang rode by and one burley guy had a small white poodle riding in one of the leather bags...didn't know what to make of that either!).

I accidentally found your blog and realized you're not just funny looking, you're funny! Great Blog!

In your race coverage blog I'm the guy in the picture right below where you talk about the cops not doing their jobs directing traffic. The tall guy in the foreground wearing the red jersey that looks like he's about to keel over (or maybe I just felt that way)....that's me.

Any chance you can send me that pic? Turned out better than any my wife took!

Thanks for making me laugh!


Here’s the photo he was talking about. He’s on the far left. What are the chances that he'd be in one of my photos and then he'd find my blog?!?

And I feel so good when someone can say “Thanks for making me laugh!” Thanks Jim! I’m glad you dropped me a note, and I hope you enjoy the photo!


Great Day On The Gateway

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I’ve had a great couple of workouts in the last few days. On Monday, I did 2500 yards in the pool in 44:43, my fastest time ever at that distance. Yesterday, I did a nice brick workout. I spent the morning going 50 miles on the Gateway Trail (my favorite local trail), and then I got home and did a 4 mile run-off. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two things happened worth noting on my ride on the Gateway:

First, just after turning around at the end of the trail, I got stung right in the top of my foot. I’m used to being stung (I had a hive of bees for 2 years in high-school and I had no protective bee-keeping gear; so when I wanted to take a look inside the hive, I’d just open it up and get stung like 5 times in the hands and arms), but this one hurt. I immediately pulled over, lifted up the tongue of my bike shoe, and saw a small wasp struggling. Super. I pulled out the wasp, but the stinger was still in me. I had to undo the top 2 straps of my shoe to be able to pull out the stinger. It hurt, but I got home fine. And it wasn’t so bad that I had to call off the run. Here’s how it looked as soon as I got home from the ride (just before the run):

Secondly, just after being stung, I thought I recognized a fellow blogger out on the trail. I stopped and asked, “Excuse me, are you Sunshine?” She’s a local blogger who always posts great photos from her runs and walks down the Gateway. “Why, yes I am,” she said back. I introduced myself as blogger “Steve in a Speedo,” and she didn’t know what to say. I thought she maybe didn’t know who I was or had never been to my blog. As it turned out, she DID know who I was, and after a little stumbling over her words, she said something like this:

“Oh, I don’t know what to think about that whole ‘Speedo’ thing. You have to understand, I’m a 70 year old woman, and I have to apologize that I just don’t comment on your blog a whole lot. I’m just not sure what to think sometimes...”

How funny is that? She’s not sure what to make of some of my “adventures.” After all, she IS a 70 year old retired pastor. She was an absolute sweetheart. We talked for a few minutes. She’s doing a half marathon shortly, as part of a Grand Prix of races throughout the Midwest. She commented that Steelhead was a bummer being it was cut down to a duathlon (so she DOES read my blog!). I’m glad I stopped to say hi, even if she wasn’t sure what to think of me. She told me to wish Pharmie her best and said she didn’t want to keep me from my workout. So off I went.

Sunshine, it was a pleasure to meet you! I hope to see you out there again!

Also, If you haven’t read the previous post, I’m still looking for ideas regarding what to wear/do during the Half Ironman that I have coming up in 2 and a half weeks. I’m NOT going for speed; I just want to have a great time. Right now, I’m leaning towards throwing out candy to the spectators while I’m on the bike (like a parade), and getting a Grim Reaper outfit (complete with scythe) to wear during the run:

That might will get hot! But can you imagine being passed by Death?!? Not to mention the sight of Death with a race belt and race number? I’m still open to all ideas!


I’m a Dirty Liar

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Earlier this year, I promised everyone, “I will NOT do a Half Ironman this year. It’s too much training, and I want to enjoy my summer.”

Guess what I just did?

Yep, I signed up for the Square Lake
Half IM in just under 3 weeks

If you remember, I ramped up my mileage 2 weeks ago. That was a test to see how well I could hold up. Everything went OK. Yesterday, I swam 2500 yards in 44:43, and I felt great! That sealed the deal. I got home and signed up for the Half IM right away. Pharmie had signed up 2 weeks ago. She didn’t expect me to sign up too, but I thought I’d give it a few weeks and see.

Signing up for this Half IM had to come with a little of an attitude change. Most races I enter, I’m in the race to PR. In these past few months, I PRed at the LTF Tri, I PRed at the Apple Duathlon, and I PRed at the Indoor Tri. That’s pretty much always my goal. But I knew if I were to sign up for this Half, that attitude would have to change.

I’m at that point in my training where I can safely go the distance without hurting myself, but I haven’t put in enough time to be able to PR.

So come race day, instead of killing myself on the bike, I’m just going to focus on finishing the race and having a good time! This idea took 10 days to fully accept as my official game-plan. It was hard for me to swallow this and not be thinking about a PR.

Here’s where all of you come in: I need your help for ideas on how I can make this race “fun” for me and for the other racers and spectators. What can I do to be crazy? I’m thinking about ideas like wearing water wings during the swim (but I think that particular idea would get me disqualified). What can I do/wear to ensure that I have a fun time? Remember, I’m not necessarily going for time, so if it slows me down a little, so be it. (Things to remember: I’ll finish the swim in the middle/back, I’ll stay in about that position during the bike, and I’ll probably be able to pass a lot of people during the run. I thought I should mention that incase your idea has something to do with passing or being passed.)

Any and all ideas will be considered! Thanks!!


We Pulled It Off

>> Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pharmie and I rushed out of the Cities on Friday afternoon. We got my Dad’s new shop all decorated: tables set up, chairs brought out, streamers and banners hung, keg on ice, helped the caterer set up, etc.

Mom showed up with slight tears in her eyes, totally shocked:

She shared the story of how Dad managed to get her to the party without her knowing:

After that, 60 of her closest friends joined her for pork sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, dessert, and 1919 root beer:

The party went into the night, so we lit 6 tiki torches outside of the shop:

Then, 3 miles away in town, fireworks started going off for the yearly summer party called Kernals Days. Dad tried to take credit for the fireworks, telling Mom that he set them up for this party. Nice try Dad. We stood on the porch, looked out over the corn fields, and watched the show in the distance:

Happy 50th Birthday, Mom! We got you GOOD! So many lies made the party possible!!! We’re glad you had a good time!


You All Provoked Me

>> Friday, August 15, 2008

I blame all of you. Remember the photos 2 posts ago? About my nasty watch? You guys just HAD to egg me on.

Judi dared me to lick it. Formulaic asked if it tasted good and if it made me see pretty colors. Kelly thought it looked like Parmesan cheese and that it looked like I was growing a pasta dinner on my watch. And Madisonduo just had nasty things to say that implied I got some “stuff” under it during “Steve time” (if you know what I mean). Seriously though, I received some great comments on those photos.

Let me remind you of the funk I found growing in between my watch bands:

I gave it a sniff.

I just smelled “warm.” It wasn’t smelly. It was pretty non-offensive.

So, then I licked it.

Oh yes I did. You can still see a little “funk” on the exposed band just below my tongue.

As for the taste? It wasn’t salty, it wasn’t funky, it wasn’t all that gross.

Chris Griffin from The Family Guy once said, “It tastes like a monkey. A monkey that’s past its prime.” I’ll go with that. Thanks Chris.

Even though it didn’t taste like anything, I still instantly felt gross. I ran in the house and swished with mouthwash for 30 seconds. Twice.


The REAL Reason Ultra Runners Do It

>> Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ultra-Marathoner Admits
He Just Hates His Family

By Jeff Lyons

“To be completely honest, I despise running, HATE IT! Competing in these insane 100-mile running races all weekend long and all the training that goes with it is utter torture,” said ultra-marathoner Marc Skednick of Philadelphia as he applied super glue to a heel blister the size of a plum. “That said, I continue to do it because I hate spending time with my family a thousand times more than competing in this ridiculous sport.”

“My strict training method consists of running about 20-to-30 miles a day in preparation for my weekend races that take place twice a month. As you can see it doesn’t allow much time for me to spend with my nagging wife or bratty kids. … actually, it leaves absolutely no face time for me and my family. I’m really not sure what the 12-year-old looks like now. Or is she 14? Not sure, anyway, gotta motor…” Skednick finishes tending to his wound, slowly gets up and continues his daily run as the clock strikes 10:45pm.

The 6-foot-1, 135-pound Skednick runs for a few hours before and after work and usually eats all his meals while running. In keeping with his family-shunning ways, Skednick makes sure to take off his Bluetooth before a run just in case a family member might want to get in touch. “I pretend to need ‘total concentration’ while running, so I ask my family not to call me.”

When asked if he misses seeing his daddy, Skednick’s 10-year-old son quickly responds “Do you want to play Guitar Hero? Or go kill some ants?” before he darts into the other room to punch his sister in the back of her head.

His wife Nancy puts her husband’s hobby into perspective, “It keeps him happy. He sure seems to love it!”

The long-long-distance runner describes his upcoming 135-mile event, “Like most of the races, this one is in the desert, about a million degrees. I usually puke on average about ten times a day from dehydration and exhaustion but that doesn’t deter me, not even the hallucinations can stop me. It’s sooooo much better than watching dance recitals and soccer games.”

“I’m motivated by that ‘Not-seeing-my-family-high’ that many runners get after logging in a few miles on the pavement. It makes all the leg cramps, eroded cartilage, third-degree sunburn, pants crapping, and the intense stabbing pain that jets up through my spine every time I begin to move my feet all worth it.”

In case you’re a little dense, this story was a joke. But I wonder about some of those “crazies” sometimes. I think there may be more truth in here than we know...


Two Reasons I Do Not Remove My Watch

>> Wednesday, August 13, 2008

#1: My nasty watch tan line (my best one in years):

#2: The science experiment growing between the bands of my watch:

Ewwwwwww! I’d rather not know what’s growing on my watch. Unless it can cure cancer. Maybe I’ve been carrying the cure to cancer on my arm for the last year. Or maybe it’s just a flesh-eating parasite. I guess time will tell.


Last Weeks Workouts

>> Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monday I did a 40 mile ride. That was my longest ride of the year. I told myself I was just doing an Oly as my longest event this year (no half IM), so my longest ride was only 30 miles before this. It was tough. I went out too hard and the last 5 miles were killer. Only managed a 17.7 mph average overall.

Tuesday I lifted weights, did core work, and then went to the Highland 50 M pool for a swim. I dodged bouncy ladies in floral hats (seriously, why the hell do they have a old lady swim class during reserved lap swim time? Bastards) and was able to get in around 1800 meters.

Wednesday I did my first real run that wasn’t part of an event in about 5 weeks! I had that weird cramp/strain from the LTF Tri, and I was letting that heal up. I was able to bang out a 54:04 8 mile tempo run! (See blood blister photo 2 posts below.) I had no pain! That was a HUGE boost!

Thursday I just lifted weights and did a little core work.

Friday I did 100 yard intervals in the pool at the Y with about 20 seconds rest between. I’d never done 100s before. My first intervals were 1:38 - 1:40, but they got speedier. My last 100 was the fastest 100 that I’ve ever done at 1:32! (Have I mentioned that I’m not that speedy in the water?) I did 14 100s, and some warm ups drills and some cool down laps.

Saturday I just lifted weights and did a little core work.

Sunday I decided to go 60 miles with Pharmie on the bike. I knew it was going to be slow, but I just wanted to get in the distance. She told me I could draft her if/when I needed to. So we headed out early to hit the Gateway trail out of St. Paul and into Stillwater.

I really wanted to bring a camera, but I forgot! I wanted to snap some photos of us on the Gateway (my favorite trail in the Cities). Just a few miles into the ride, Pharmie told me her legs were heavy from her run yesterday, and I could go ahead. But I stuck with her and let her draft me. “That wasn’t in the plan,” I thought.

Here’s the elevation chart of the proposed ride:

We hit the end of the trail at mile 25 and I took off in front of her into Stillwater. Here are some photos of the rollers from riding this same route a year ago:

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go down “the hill” in Stillwater or not (note the huge 200 foot valley in the middle of the elevation chart above). I knew it’d be good for my ride: I was riding slow, so if I hit “the hill,” I’d be able to get in a good burn. But I didn’t know if it would hurt my ride back home. Just outside of Stillwater, I didn’t know what to think, so I concluded “Nay, forget it. 'Yo homes to Bel Air' I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the cabbie 'Yo homes smell ya later!' I looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air.” (Wait, sorry, somehow that song is stuck in my head. Let’s try that again.) But I thought “Nay, forget it, let’s hit that hill.”

I got to the top of “the hill,” said a little prayer, and booked it. I was in my highest gear, and I was standing up and pedaling as fast as I could. You see, ever since I met “the hill” in Stillwater 2 years ago, I’ve had this sick dream to break 50 mph. I didn’t quite make it today, but I came the closest I’ve ever been:

That’s not 49.3 miles, it’s 49.3 MPH!

That was a ride! I maybe could have hit 50 had there not been a big white van at a stop sign near the bottom of the hill. Anyway, then I had to turn around and stare at 7.7 mph on the way back up that mother. I got back up to the top, and Pharmie was waiting for me. We headed back to St. Paul together. We finished the ride with only a 16.3 mph average, but we got to spend the morning together. And that’s the best.

After the ride. Notice my sweaty boobs.

Then we made rolls:

Pharmie had 2, I killed 3 in no time.

Then we cleaned up and hit the hay for a well deserved nap:

Pharmie under the blanket, me under the pillow.
Individually we're nothing, but together we're cozy.

What a good morning! So, all those hearty workouts this past week sure make it look like I’m training for something. But there’s nothing on my side-bar race schedule coming up. Interesting. Very interesting. Stay tuned...

p.s. Did you freakin’ see the freakin’ sweet 4x100 freestyle relay that the American team put together? Oh my God. Best. Race. Ever. Seriously, if you missed it, you missed something HUGE! I was literally jumping up and down screaming at the T.V. for the last 25 meters.


Chisago Lakes Triathlon Photos

>> Friday, August 08, 2008

Here are some photos of me in action from the Chisago Lakes Sprint Triathlon 2 weeks ago:

Getting my butt kicked by a 9 year old

Trashy and topless on the bike

Flying to a sub-20 5K

Umm, there’s one more photo. It’s not pretty.

How to take a HORRIBLE photo of an athlete: Wait until the before-mentioned athlete is at the absolute lowest part of his stride. That way, any definition in the pectoral muscles is lost due to the fact that the man-boobs seem to be sagging. And any extra bit of skin on the athletes belly bunches up in a super unflattering manner. See:

Seriously, it looks like my boobs are cross-eyed like this:

And my belly looks like this guys face:

Hey, I just noticed that the last guy has all that bunchy skin AND is cross-eyed too!

I need to go wash the shame off of me. Time to boil some water and get the Brillo pad. Bye.


Just Call Me “Sandy”

>> Thursday, August 07, 2008

So my running shoes filled with sand from cheering on the beaches of Lake Michigan during Saturday’s half Ironman (note the photos in the last 2 posts that show us walking 2 miles in sand at the start, and then cheering at the sandy finish). When we got home this past weekend, I cleaned them out REAL well.

It wasn’t good enough.

I went for an 8 mile tempo run last night (in 54:04 - 6:46/mile) in those shoes. When I was done and took them off, my socks were covered in fine sand. When I took off my socks, my feet were covered in sand too! All that sandy-sandpaper action against my toes took it’s toll, and I was left with a nice blood blister:

I figured it had been a while since I’ve had a “gross foot photo” on my blog, so it was about time.



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