Mushroom Hunting at Greenleaf (State Park #65!)

>> Thursday, September 30, 2021

The boys and I hit our 65th MN State Park this past weekend. We figured it could be a dud as it only had a lake and 1 hiking path. But we discovered mushrooming.

Henry spotted the first puffball mushroom under those branches!

Our find.

The boys with our 2 new older lady friends.

We had the park to ourselves for a while, and then we heard 2 ladies show up. Shortly after is when we found the puffball, so the boys wanted to go show the ladies. And then we all hung out for the next 30 minutes or so as the women were excited to see every new mushroom the boys were yelling about finding! We saw about a dozen different varities out there! Seriously! But I don't know much about mushrooms, so we only picked the puffball to take home to eat.

Henry also found a smaller puffball that he gave to the ladies so they could try cooking it. They loved that. I think they boys really entertained them.

A few of the mushrooms we spotted.

Our puffball at home. It was 16 oz.

First we breaded it and fried it. It was like a
super "soft" chicken breast. Not bad. I'd give it a B-.

Then I seasoned and grilled a slice like a burger. It was too mushy/soft. No thanks. C-.

But THIS was a winner! I sliced it thin as if it were lasagna noodles. Quite good! A-!!

I haven't made lasagna for a long time, but I could not taste a difference between that mushroom and regular lasanga noodles. It was a great use of that puffball. I would do that again in a heartbeat.

We only have Minneopa State Park in Mankato left to hit, as well as many on the North Shore. We have a fall trip planned up north that may just result in us completing our MN State Parks Passport book!


Semi-Wordless Wednesday: After School Fun

>> Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Yesterday afternoon, my wife biked to school with the tag-a-long so her and Charlie could bike home:

Loading up at school, ready to bike 8 miles home!
(They took "the long way" to add an extra 5 miles!)

Henry and I went for a haircut (school pictures next week) and then some bubble tea:

We discovered that "honey/mango coolers" are TASTY!


TC 10 Mile Week! (Last Long-ish Run)

>> Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Yesterday I headed out for my final longer run before this weekend's TC 10 Mile!

A few years ago (like in 2018), my long runs were on Thursday or Saturday. That made long runs leading up to a race easy: for a Sunday race, I had 8 or 10 days between my last long/hard run and the race. Now that I've been doing my long runs on Tuesdays (for the last 18 months or so), it's tricky leading up to a race. Do I do a "normal" long/hard run just 5-6 days pre-race? That seems pretty tight - my legs might not totally be fresh for the race. But having my last long run nearly 2 weeks pre-race seems too far out. So I never know what to do.

I figured I'd do a "shorter" long run with fewer "pace" miles than normal for yesterday's run. The week before I went 11.26 miles, with the middle 5.5 miles at 6:20 pace. That was my last REAL long/hard run.

So yesterday, I went about 10.16 miles with the middle 4 miles at 6:11 pace:

An out-and-back along the river (which I did last week as well, but
last week I added on more around my neighborhood to add mileage).

I kept thinking this run would feel "easy" because I had fewer pace miles, but that was a crock. There's never anything easy about running 6:10 miles. I'm still running without a Garmin (which died 3 weeks ago), but my rough mile splits for the 4 pace miles were 6:06, 6:16, 6:08, and 6:12 to total 24:43.83 (6:10.96 / mile pace). Overall, it was 10.16 miles in 1:10:07 (6:54.1 / mile pace).

One new variable for the race that I forgot to mention in my big pre-race training comparison post on Saturday was that I won't be getting half-mile splits on my Garmin for the first time since 2011. I think I make minor adjustments to my pace/effort (sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously) when I see what I just ran for the last 1/2 mile. This year, I'll just have the mile markers on the course, and that will be strange!

(If you're wondering how that will be so different, here's an example. Let's say I run a 6:20 mile and think "that's a bit slow, but not bad." But I actually ran half mile splits of 3:00 and 3:20. Now I'm holding my pace thinking it's "not bad," but I'm holding that 3:20 half-mile pace, or 6:40/mile pace. So then my next mile split will slap me in the face with a 6:40. It's all a good excuse to just run by perceived effort, but very few of us can *truly* do that.)

If you missed my weekend post with some pre-race thoughts based on my current training, here's a link! I'm hoping for sub-1:02 on a good day. Maybe 6:10 pace on a great day. But I think I'll be starting off easier and building, so that might ruin the chance for a super fast race. The "race strategy" will be a race-day decision, and it will be morphing every mile, so we'll just have to see what happens in the end!


Cinnamon Rolls After a Long Run

>> Monday, September 27, 2021

Last Monday, I did my final long hard run before the TC 10 Mile in 6 days. That same day, I dropped off some small radish greens that I had thinned from my garden to my running friend Shannon who has some bunnies and guinea pigs (they like to much on those things).

Fall radishes after being thinned.

We talked about "bathroom incidents" while working out, and that she recently just had her first issue. I laughed and noted that I had a tube of cinnamon rolls in the fridge, and that I NEARLY had them the night before, but I figured I should be smart and save them for after my final important long run. You know... to avoid creating a long run bathroom incident for myself. I told her I'd make them and share them with my boys after school.

But later that day, I messaged her this:

T-minus 6 days to race day!!


10 Mile Training: This Year vs Last Year

>> Saturday, September 25, 2021

This isn't over-thinking. I swear.

It's just that last year was a strange year as I was slowly coming back from a major injury to race a "virtual" race. And this year I had great training through May when I had a calf/achilles injury that really slowed me up all summer.

So I wanted to look at what I should expect at this year's race, so I starting thinking about things to compare. I had these 8 things to look at, and here they are in no particular order:

Weekly mileage
Treadmill vs outside
Pace work
Hill training
Long runs
Cross training
Previous base

WEEKLY MILEAGE: This is hardly better this year. Last year, I was still building back from my winter-long foot injury and I was just hitting a few 20 mile weeks within the month before the TC 10 Mile. Here's my weekly mileage the 9 weeks before the week of the TC 10 Mile:

2020: 16.6, 17.02, 16.18, 17.40, 18.70, 20.11, 20.5, 20.7, 21.22 = 168.43 (18.71/week)

2021: 19.44, 20.32, 20.85, 21.06, 16.69, 21.92, 20.5, 14.01, 22.75 = 177.54 (19.73/week)

So that's slowly climbing up last year, with this year being a lot longer from the start but having 2 weeks that backed way off (due to injury 1 week and doing a triathlon the other week). I can't argue that 1 extra mile/week is any real difference.

TREADMILL vs. OUTSIDE: This catagory was better last year (assuming that running outside is "better" than running on a treadmill). I've done a lot of miles this summer on the treadmill while working through my injury.

SPEEDWORK: This was SO MUCH WORSE this year compared to last year! Sure, I was working my overall mileage back up last year, but I was doing very CONSISTENT speed work every 2 weeks starting in early JUNE! From the first of June through the end of Sept last year, I had 9 speed days: 2 each month with 3 in July.

This year, because I was nursing my heel injury, I've only done TWO speed workouts in the last 4 months: just a 3x1 mile on the track, and a 2x2 mile along the river. (You could MAYBE count the sprint tri on Sept 12th as a 3rd speed day. Maybe.) So that's 4 months of solid speed work that I missed out on this year. THIS IS THE BIGGEST "X FACTOR" LEADING IN THIS YEAR'S RACE.

PACE WORK: I THOUGHT this was worse this year, but it turns out it's not as bad once I looked at the numbers. Here's the "pace work" within my long runs from last year from late July from 2 weeks pre-race:

- 7 miles, 6:57/mile
- 7.7 miles, 5 pace miles at 6:37/mile
- 6.8 miles, 5 pace miles at 6:30/mile
- 8.1 miles, 5 pace miles at 6:22/mile
- 9 miles, 6 pace miles at 6:50/mile
- 8.5 miles, 5 pace miles age 6:33/mile
- 9.7 miles, 5.5 pace miles at 6:28/mile
- 10.6 miles, 6 pace miles at 6:33/mile
- 11.3 miles, 6 pace miles at 6:39/mile

And this year, I was building miles back after not running as much in June because of my heel injury. So the same set of long runs looked like this this year:

- 8.14 miles, 3 pace miles at 6:36/mile
- 9 miles, 4 pace miles at 6:29/mile
- 10.25 miles, 5 pace miles at 6:31/mile
- 10.37 miles, 5 pace miles at 6:27/mile
- 8.59 miles, 5 pace miles at 6:35/mile
- 10 miles, 2.5 pace miles at 6:35/mile
- 10.2 miles, 5.5 pace miles at 6:31/mile
- skipped long run because of the Square Lake Sprint Triathlon
- 11.26 miles, 5.5 pace miles at 6:20/mile

So last year, I had 4 runs that had 5.5+ miles of pace work, and this year I only had 2. But my uninjured long runs this year had solidly faster paces than any of my runs from last year. And my earlier pace work this year was much shorter miles because I was "testing" my injury. So I don't know what to make of this. I think the edge goes to this year.

HILL TRAINING: This is pretty similar from last year. Last year, my hill work was maybe a D, and this year it's maybe a C-. My outdoor runs are along the river where there are small rolling hills, but I've been avoiding the big ones because of my heel injury.

Related to my hill training is the difference in race courses from 2020 to 2021. In last year's virtual race, we just looped around the river. So we got that little gut buster of a hill at mile 5 of the normal route (and the rollers leading up to it), but we didn't have the long climb up from the river at mile 2-3. And we didn't have that "false flat" slowly uphill from mile 6-8 or so. So I can pretty easily say that last year's course was a bit easier. (And shorter! I just ran until my Garmin said 10.00 miles last year, and everyone knows that barely any runners run the best possible line, so a 10 mile race curving through the city almost always reads more like 10.07 or so on a Garmin.)

Oh, and one last difference as I'm talking about the course is that last year I had no crowd to make me push extra hard to the finish. And I noted in my race report that I had a slower final mile because of that. So this year the course will be harder, but I might push harder near the end, so these thoughts might be a wash.

LONG RUNS: You can see some of this info in the "pace work" section as well. This was an area that I thought I was doing much worse at this year. That late May injury lingered around and really started to take a hit out of my long runs, and I was starting to get bummed out. But looking at the distances, it's a lot better this year! Last year, I had 2 runs between 9-10 miles, and 2 runs that were 10+ miles. This year (since the injury in late May), I've had one 9 mile run, and then 5 runs of 10+ miles! (And I may shoot for around 10 miles on Monday to make it 6 runs of 10+ miles.) So I've had more long runs this year.

CROSS TRAINING: My weight lifting, core work, and leg exercises haven't changed much over the year, so those are all similar from 2020 to 2021. But I've had slightly longer and DEFINITELY more effort on the bike this year! Here's a comparison from June through Sept from 2020 and 2021:

- 22 easy rides
- 11 outdoor rides with OK effort
- 5 short efforts
- 5 truly hard rides

- 18 easy rides
- 2 outdoor rides with OK effort
- 1 short effort
- 27 truly hard rides    <<< THAT NUMBER!!

From those sets of numbers, you can see I was riding more outdoor last year, but that I've had WAY more harder efforts (some outdoors but mostly on the trainer) this year!

And lets look at total saddle time as well through this same nearly 4 month stretch:

- 1541 mins on the trainer
- 1547 mins biking outside
- Total of 3088 mins, or 51 hours and 28 mins

- 2843 mins on the trainer
- 753 mins biking outside
- Total of 3596 mins, or 59 hours and 56 mins

A bit more time (not too dramatically different), but a BIG difference in effort this year. So it's pretty easy to say this is better this year!

PREVIOUS BASE: This is no contest.

Before my injury in late May, I had 9 months in a row of running between 84 and 103 miles each month.

A year ago, I was just starting back, so the first 6 months of that comparison had NO running, with the last 3 months having 157 miles TOTAL. Compare that 157 miles for those 9 months in 2019-20 to 817 miles for the same 9 months in 2020-21. SOOO much better of a base this year (before my injury in late May). But I truly don't know how long it takes for that base to dwindle away after taking it really easy in June to try to heal up.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

So if I were to note if these categories were better or worse this year, I'd say this:

= Weekly mileage
- Treadmill vs outside
- - - Speedwork
+ Pace work
= Hill training
+ Long runs
+ + Cross training
+ + Previous base

What does that mean for the race? I'm feeling pretty good, but just worried about about that big difference in speedwork. Last year, I ran a 1:02:33. This year, I'd love to shoot for sub-1:02. I have no big "important" goals, so I'll just run it and be happy to be racing! But if I can crank out a good time, then SWEET.


Friday Funny 1983: "There, I Fixed It!"

>> Friday, September 24, 2021

I quite like this one.

Check out lots more funny things on HAPPY WEEKEND!!


Friday Funny 1982: Funny Animal GIFs

More funny things found all day long on



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