Double Race-Day COMPLETE!!

>> Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just a quick note: Pharmie and I are home and relaxing after a successful day of racing!!

Me taking a “#2” pre race at the Monster Dash 10 Mile

Pharmie resting after finishing the “Surf the Murph” 50K Trail Run!

We both PRed!! I’ll be back with a race report probably on Monday. Happy Trick-or-Treating!


Dual Races Today!!!

Well, Pharmie and I are up and off to our separate races today. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. It should be interesting for both of us.

Pharmie’s doing her second ever race on a trail. She did a 4 mile trail race early this year, and now she’s doing a 50K (31 miles) trail race today!! She JUST left the house for her first ultra marathon!! Keep her in your thoughts! We don’t need a turned ankle (or worse)!

I’m doing the Monster Dash 10 Mile, and I’m trying a new race strategy. There’s been great conversation on my blog over the last 5 days about all kinds of things, but the one that I’ve been thinking about the most is my race effort. I’ve been accused of not racing hard enough in the first half of the TC 10 Mile 4 weeks ago, and that might be true. I even stated in my race report that I thought I could have pushed harder in miles 4-8. So today, I’ll still “ease” into the race a little, but then I’ll up the pace sooner than I did for the TC 10 Mile. And then, hopefully I have enough “in the tank” to finish. And not puke. We’ll see...

Also, I think today’s race is on a faster course. Here’s the elevation chart from the TC 10 Miler a few weeks ago. You’ll see a few small rollers, but mostly longer hills, with a difference of about 200 feet from the highest to the lowest point:

Compare that to the race today. Today’s race is mostly small rollers with a difference of only about 40 feet from the highest to the lowest point:

So, HOPEFULLY, I can take about a minute off my 1:02:43 10 mile PR. But, I could easily go out too hard with this new race strategy in mind and end up walking/puking at mile 7 and come home with a 10 mile PW. Time will tell.

After I finish my race, I’ll be hopping in my car and heading down to Savage MN where Pharmie will be racing her 50K. I’ll be able to cheer her on in the last 1/3 of her race! Fun day!! Wish us both luck! Happy Halloween!!


Friday Funny 60: Completely Random

>> Friday, October 30, 2009

I just have some random funnies today. Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought I needed a Halloween funny. Hope this isn’t too offensive:

Wow. Just... wow.

(I like #8 and #2)
Direct Link on YouTube

Wish Pharmie and I luck at our races tomorrow morning!! (She’s doing her first 50K trail run, and I’m doing a 10 Mile [looking for a 10 mile PR]). Happy weekend!!


Bike Trainer Issues and Questions

>> Thursday, October 29, 2009

A few people commented with general bike trainer questions on my previous post that showed Pharmie and Matt sweating it out in out basement. I’m NO expert on trainers, so I thought I’d ask for all your input.

I don’t know if “rollers” are the way to start off - I think it’d be better to start on a “normal” trainer, and then decide in a year or 2 if you want to try rollers. Starting with rollers would scare me. Too intimidating. But then again, I’m intimidated by any vegetable longer than 3 inches... (if you catch my drift)

As with most things, “you get what you pay for.” More expensive trainers are usually more “even” and quieter. Some trainers have a cable that you can mount on your handle bars that allows you to adjust the resistance of the trainer on your back tire while in the saddle. I would LOVE that - my trainer seems to change resistance now-and-then, and I hate having to hop off my bike all the time.

Also, for me, I LOVE the 30 minute “Spinnerval” DVD workouts. Sometimes I’ll do 2 back-to-back. But Pharmie doesn’t care for those, as she’d just rather watch TV.

Any thoughts from the rest of you for those looking to get a trainer? Happy winter riding!!


I Married Into a Sweaty Family

>> Wednesday, October 28, 2009

(...but before we get to that, a little more on something else.)

So the last few days of discussion on my blog have been very interesting to me! It was first an “iPod or no iPod” discussion, which soon turned into an issue about racing and race effort. I took some of these ideas and wrote about them in the forums on as well. Most people (on BT) agree with many of the sentiments left here regarding iPods: many don’t wear them, few people race with them, and everyone that uses them seem to be using them safety / smartly.

Then I put up a poll on BT asking “Can you hold a short conversation during a 10 mile race?” Here’s what I added:

I've been catching a little flak for not "racing hard enough." I recently did the TC 10 Miler in 1:02:43, which was good for 95 out of 5797. I was happy with that. But being I held a few short conversations with other runners at mile 1, 4, and 5, some people are saying that I didn't race hard enough. It was an "all out race" for me, and in a 10 mile race, I'm not racing so hard by mile 1 that I can't talk. SHOULD I be racing that fast?

Thoughts please! Thanks!

Around noon today (about 24 hours after putting up the poll), here are the results:

So 62% say it’s OK to have a short conversation, but I’m a little surprised to see 30% say you shouldn’t have enough breath to talk. I didn’t think it’d be THAT high! The way I race, I almost use talking as a tool in the first half (at least in a race as long as a 10 mile) to make sure I stay nice and easy. Then I can “unload” in the last half and know that I have the speed / power / energy to make it to the finish line. That’s the idea repeated by many people who commented on that poll - here’s one example:

If you can't talk a little bit in the early part of the race, you will be walking before the finish line.

A lot of people stated something like that. This next comment, although a little harshly worded, brought the biggest smile to my face:

You turned in a 1:02 for a ten miler and you weren't racing hard enough? Damn, I hate to see if you shut up and ran how fast you'd be! That's an awesome run IMO and if you are okay saying a few words, so be it. Who gives a fuzzy rats nut sack as to what others think ~ run your own race and only you can truly criticize what and how you performed. If I could run that fast and talk, I might do it just to show off. ;) Run on brother!

And was it any surprise to see that commenter was from Texas? I think not. ;) Ha!

But, there were plenty of people that also commented saying that ANY talking will add time to my overall race. Seeing 30% of people say I shouldn’t be talking at all was a surprisingly high percentage! Maybe I’ve been wrong! Maybe I need to be racing harder in the first half and not talking so much! I’m definitely considering this for this weekend’s Monster Dash 10 Mile race!

Changing gears: last night, Pharmie and her brother, Matt, had a date with their trainers in our basement. They did an hour workout together as I sat upstairs and ate pizza (really). Here they are about 3 minutes from the end of their workout:

Matt had a POOL of sweat under his bike, and it was actually flowing (in 2 little rivers of sweat) to our basement drain! Check this out:

That’s amazing!! We figured we could probably get about 6 bikes and trainers down in that space in front of our TV, so any locals want to have some winter “trainer dates” at our place? The only requirement is that you can’t be allergic to cats. (The litter box, a few cat mats, and all the cat toys are in the basement not too far from the trainers, so a workout would get pretty ugly pretty quick if you were allergic!) Seriously, who wants to come over?...

Big races this weekend!! Pharmie’s racing her first 50 K trail run, and I’m racing the Monster Dash 10 Mile!! Should be a fun Saturday!!


More iPod Talk

>> Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yesterday’s post has some great comments. Thanks for all your input on both sides of this issue! (Keep it coming!)

One thing that I felt pretty bad about was that I implied that everyone running is “training,” and is running to try to get faster. That’s NOT the case, and I feel like a doody-head for implying that. Plenty of people might just head out on a run to enjoy some free time or to stay in shape. That’s a great time to run with music if you’d like. Use it to enjoy the moment. It’s not always about getting pumped up and running as hard as possible. My bad. Sorry.

RE: some comments on yesterday’s post:

- My post and Gary’s article are ALL opinion, not fact. But the idea behind Gary being asked to write this article for the MDRA magazine is that he’s a seasoned race director / coach with a different perspective than us “normal” runners.

- Someone brought up deaf runners / bikers, which I’ve seen brought up in iPod discussions before. Yes, they do fine on a bike or on a public trail, but they are USED to dealing with living without hearing what’s around them - they have spent years finding other ways to “hear.” The rest of us choose to not hear our surroundings if our iPods are up too high.

- 1 or 2 people mentioned using iPods during races. They said something like you’re not missing out on “camaraderie” because you shouldn’t be talking anyway: “if you’re talking while racing, you’re not racing hard enough.” I respectfully disagree. I’m a HARD racer. I just finished 95th out of 5797 people in the TC 10 Mile (1:02 finishing time). And I held 3 great conversations with 3 different people during the race: introduced myself to Marlo at mile 1 and chatted about duathlons; ran into racing buddy Tom at mile 4 and chatted while crossing the Franklin Bridge; and passed a recent acquaintance (Doug) at mile 5 where we chatted a bit. Sure, I didn’t talk as much after that (although I did a little) because I was upping the pace as I was nearing the finish, but I find it tough to say “if you’re talking while racing, you’re not racing hard enough.” Over a 1 mile race? That might be true. Over any longer distance? I don’t think so.

- And it’s nice to hear that those who are commenting who use iPods seem to be using them properly and safely. I think tri-al put it nicely when she simplified it down to this: “each to their own; but when it comes to safety; keep one ear free.” Nice. I second that. (and “keep one ear free” might just as well mean to use both ear buds, but keep the volume down a bit, too.)

Anyway, that’s still just all my 2 cents. Check out the post below for more details.

(And I’m still tweaking the layout and colors of my “new” blog, so put up with it just a little longer before you judge it too harshly! It will hopefully come together in the next few days...)

**On second thought, maybe I don't race hard enough... I mean I DID have enough energy left over after the TC 10 Mile to cheer for the Marathon runners like this:

Direct link on YouTube.


iPods While Working Out or Racing?

>> Monday, October 26, 2009

It’s Monday. Let’s get the blood flowing. I know a good way to do that: bring up the “iPod issue.”

I’ve found FEW people are “in the middle” on this subject: either you’re totally FOR USING iPods or totally AGAINST USING iPods.

This topic was recently brought up in the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) magazine “RunMinnesota.” Gary Westlund, the GREAT race director for Charities Challenge, wrote the article titled “What Are You Missing?”

Please click here to read Gary’s article in “RunMinnesota.”

I don’t want to make any enemies, but I feel I must let you all know that Pharmie and I side with Gary on this subject. I actually wrote Gary once I saw the article to say that we back him up, and I said that Pharmie and I think it’s a real safety issue. Many times I’ve passed a runner (either while biking or running) whom I didn’t know was wearing an iPod. I always give a friendly but loud “on your left” as I come to pass people so they’re aware of me. When their iPods are blaring, they cannot hear me legally signaling my pass. Either they change course and I nearly hit them (I’ve never hit anyone yet, but it’s been close a LOT of times), or they freak out and jump when I go by and then shoot me a dirty look because I startled them.

I must mention that there are people that DO wear their iPods at a decent volume considering they are working out in a public place being used by others as well. It’s great when I come up to pass someone with an iPod, say “on your left,” and they give a little wave letting me know I was heard and we’re on the same page. Then I always say “thanks” when going by.

So when I told Gary that I felt it was more of a safety issue, he wrote me back and said that he had written a lot more about that, but that was the majority of what had to be cut out to fit in the magazine.

Gary's been a race director for years, and the following is an interesting point that he made in his MDRA article:

I’ve edited thousands of race photos. And I see confirmation in racers’ faces that headphone wearing runners are not nearly as happily engaged in all the experiences of running and racing as those who run with both their ears and eyes, and attentive minds, wide open to all the sounds, voices and cheers around them.

(BTW, I think Gary’s probably edited more like HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of race photos!! That man is picture crazy! In a good way, of course!)

My final 2 cents on this topic is regarding those who use music to pump themselves up. I KNOW about the power of music. I’m NOT denying that. It’s easy to be moved / revved-up by a song. But when I’m racing or working out hard, I really need to be “tuned in” to my body. I need to hear my breathing; I need to hear the speed of my foot strikes; I need to hear the wind going past my ears. All those things help me to gauge my effort. (Not to mention that I need to hear the traffic around me so I don't get killed.)

The “studies” show that using music really DOES help beginner athletes; it really gives them that boost when they need it. But “studies” also show that iPods hurt seasoned athletes because of similar issues I listed in the paragraph above. (And I placed “studies” in quotes because, like most issues, the “research” on this topic is sketchy and changing all the time.)

This might not be a totally fair argument, but look at the fastest runners in an iPod legal marathon. How many of them in the top 1% are wearing iPods? I finished in the top 2% of the TC 10 Mile a few weeks ago (95 out of 5797), and I only saw 1 person running near me (around mile 5) that was wearing an iPod. I just looked back at the finishing video of that race, which was an iPod legal race. I discovered 2 things. 1: a guy pukes just after finishing around 56:00 and the cameraman tries to get him out of the frame. And 2: of the runners that finished in the top 2% (the top 115 out of 5797), I saw exactly ZERO iPods come through.

I think my bottom line is this: If you want to run as fast as you can, it’s not about finding the right song; it’s about “tuning in” to your body.

So what are your thoughts on all of this? Why DO you or DON’T you wear an iPod during workouts or races? Let’s open this up for discussion. Please leave a comment with your thoughts. This is a hot-button issue, but try to be civil with your comments on either side of this debate. I’m also going to let Gary Westlund and the editor of “RunMinnesota” know about this post so they can stop by and see what’s being said.

Thanks!! Happy Monday!

(p.s. Did anyone else think it was funny to see Gary’s “anti iPod” story on one page of the spread, and an ad for 2 races with 2 big “iPod Friendly” logos on the other side of the spread? Ha!)


Site Maintenance

>> Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sorry if things act funky for the next day - I'm in the process of choosing a new template, and things might get weird. I have to tweak colors, formats, layouts, etc. It will all be better soon. Promise.


Speed Saturday with Jeremy

First, the previous 7 days...

Last Sun: 5 mile tempo run. This was the run where I got glitter in my urethra. Other than that tiny piece of glass in my pee-hole, that was a good 30:06 run.

Mon: short weight session.

Tues: 10 mile run. GREAT solid run in 1:02:29!! Felt good!

Wed: 1450 yard recovery swim and lifting weights. Swim felt good, but a little slow: 24:51 (1:43 / 100 yards). Then, longer weight lifting session after the swim.

Thurs: leg exercises. Did the old leg exercises “prescribed” by Margi (the PT I was working with prior to IM WI 07) to strengthen my knee.

Fri: rest.

Saturday: 3x1600 with 90 seconds rest on the track. I got to the track, and it was covered in frost:

Jeremy and I met for a chilly morning workout (30-32 degrees, but calm). PERFECT weather for intervals. I snapped a photo of our shoes - we still had our timing chips in our laces from the TC Marathon 3 weeks ago: Jeremy did the marathon and I did the 10 mile:

Jeremy did some 400s while I did my 1600s. My splits were a little slow: 5:37, 5:33, and 5:39, for an average of 5:36.3 / 1600. Rounding the first curve and running the backstretch was a little slippery - that frost was slick. I don’t think that slowed me down much, but it DID change my stride in those parts. My stride changed enough that I noticed one of my toes getting sore from moving around funny in my shoe. When I got home, my toenail was already turning purple!

I should NOT have toenails dieing from 3x1600s!! This is crazy! I better not lose that nail from just this track workout!!

Jeremy, I hope you and Anastasia had a great time at Valley Scare after our workout! Oh, and GO VIKES!


Friday Funny 59: Playboy Covers

>> Friday, October 23, 2009

You’ve probably heard by now: Marge Simpson is going to be on the cover of Playboy. If you haven’t heard this yet, I assure you that I’m not making this up. This is the real cover:

These following covers, however, are not real...

Reminder: any locals up for some intervals meet at the St. Thomas track tomorrow at 9 am. Happy weekend!


Running: More Mental Than I First Thought

>> Thursday, October 22, 2009

When I started getting into triathlons, my wife Pharmie was in her 6th year of running marathons. She would talk about little “mental games” she would play with herself on longer runs: always do “out-and-backs” with a longer “out” first; tell herself “just get to the turn-around” and then worry about the rest; etc.

Frankly, I thought SHE was a little “mental.” I didn’t get it.

I was doing my 4-6 mile runs while training for my first sprint and olympic triathlons. “Mental games?.... My wife’s weird!” is what I thought. I wouldn’t need any “mental games” to get through my runs, and I thought Pharmie was a little strange for running like that.

Now that I’m consistently running slightly longer distances (trained for 2 half marathons, 2 10 milers, and a half Ironman this year - nothing SUPER long), I see her point. One thing I do all the time is to see how many homes I can run past before the next car passes me. I’ve also learned that there’s a huge mental aspect in the way I approach my runs. And I think I’ve proved her point over my last 4 long runs. Let me explain.

About a month ago (before the TC 10 Mile), I ran an OK 9 mile training run. Then I ran a rough 9.5 mile run, and a horrible 10 mile training run. But over the last 10 days, I ran a great 11 mile run, and a great 10 mile run.

What made those last 2 runs better/faster/stronger? It was all mentality. It had to do with what was running through my head as I started those runs.

Below are the maps for the rough 9.5 mile and the rough 10 miler. (They are just the “out” of the run - I hit the end of the route and turned around to come back the way I came to finish the run.) What do these 2 routes have in common?

What do they have in common? They both are nearly straight out-and-back, which makes them seem FAR. Because they SEEM far, I run slower. Stupid mental issues.

Below are the maps for my recent great runs: an 11 miler and a 10 miler. (They are mapped the same as the others: they just show the “out,” and then I turned around to finish the run the same way I came.) See how these are different from the routes above?


Those runs don’t go as far away from home as the “bad” runs. I’ve found that REALLY makes a difference for me. On that 11 miler, I hit mile 8 and was running on a route that usually means I’m close to home. So I was running hard. But instead of turning towards home, I turned away from home and tacked on a few more miles before finishing. The same was true regarding mile 6 of my 10 miler.

So I’ve found the route I run on my long runs really affects my mental approach to the run. If I feel like I’m running to a completely different time zone before turning around, I’ll start off slower. Way too slow. But if I’m running near home in the middle of the run, I’ll be picking up the pace throughout, and then I’ll be HOLDING onto that pace until the run is complete. That’s my new secret for a faster long run.

So what mental games do you play? Or is this all foreign and crazy to you?

FYI: if you need to see the numbers on those 4 runs, here they are:

- Bad 9.5 miler: 59:32 (6:16 pace). Not a bad time, but that time does NOT include the 2 walk breaks I had to take (that’s the only time I’ve had to walk in a training run this year!).
- Bad 10 miler: 1:06:50 (6:41 pace). Slowest pace I’ve ran in a while.

- Good 11 miler: 1:08:54 (6:16 pace). Felt strong.
- Good 10 miler: 1:02:29 (6:15 pace). Strong throughout. Felt “right.” And I did that run while I had this current head cold! Nice.


I’m Handy (In 3 Parts)

>> Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Part 1: The Kitchen.

Back in 2007, we bought our first house. The SAME DAY we moved in, we tore apart the kitchen. That was a crazy summer: bought our first house, worked on a big kitchen remodel, AND trained for IM WI that September! Never. Again. (Matt helped with the plumbing and electrical. Thanks again, Matt!)

Before moving in.

The night we moved in.


One more “before and after:”

Part 2: The Guest Room.

Over my spring break this year, I worked on our guest room. It used to be a blue and red “boy’s room,” and we made it “cuter.” It was also the room with the nastiest floors in the house, so we got those refinished before starting the rest of the room. Check out these “before and after” shots:

Before: nasty shelves and beat-up floor.

After: shelves down, holes patched, sexy refinished floor.

Before: fixure on wall was broken (but had power).

After: new fixture.

Before: nasty all around.

After: cuter all around.

Part 3: The Porch.

You heard me say it all summer: “I got home from my 30 mile ride, and got to work on the porch.” Or “the porch is getting closer and closer!” Well, we wrapped it up a few weeks ago (just before the TC Marathon and TC 10 Mile). Here’s the progression through the summer:




Tearing down the white paneling. Gross.

Tear-down complete.

Patching holes.

Trim done, ceiling refinished, old carpet up, new windows installed.

Painting all 4 sides of 136 pieces of wainscoting.
Driven to drink.

Drywall up, primed, painted. Notice the sexy ceiling!

108 strips installed in order to put up the wainscoting.

Done! With new furniture!

So, one last “before and after” pairing of how I spent my summer of 2009:

Before: gross!

After: sexy!

To see more photos, click here to see my Facebook album called “Front Porch Remodel.”

Oh, one last “handy” thing: on Sunday, Pharmie and I juiced about 4-5 dozen apples from her parents’ farm. Here’s the majority of the juice cooling on the stove after a gentle boil:

You can see some steam rising on the right.

That made our house smell GREAT! (Better than any of the remodels made our house smell! Ha!)

One last thing: any locals interested in hitting the track Saturday morning at 9? I’m thinking that will be my last hard workout before next weekend’s Monster Dash 10 Mile.



Follow steveinaspeedo on Twitter

Facebook Fan Page

All content and original images copyright 2006 - 2024 by Steve Stenzel, AKA "Steve in a Speedo." All Rights Reserved.
Want to use something seen here? Just ask - I don't bite.