2023 Year in Review

>> Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Everything is tallied. Here are my training numbers for 2023:

• SWIM: 119,457 yards.
• BIKE: 1710.13 miles (15.3 mph ave, across all biking).
• MOUNTAIN BIKE: 69.08 of those 1710 biking miles (all with my boys).
• RUN: 1,160.22 miles (7:28 / mile ave).
• BIKE TRAINER: 67 hours 27 minutes. (1,281.55 miles calculated at 19 mph.)
• STRENGTH / CORE: 507 hours 46 minutes.
• WEIGHT: 157.4 start, 156.6 finish, 160.2 high (Jan), 155.0 low (Sept), 157.29 monthly average.
• BODY FAT: (monthly average) 13.8% high (April), 12.8% low (Jan), 13.18% average.


• SWIM: 8th biggest year of the last 18 years of training. That's OK. Nothing great. It's not bad considering I only swim 1x/week. I was pretty consistent all year, and it wasn't uncommon that my individual swim workouts were longer than in the last few years. I'm happy with this number, but not necessarily "proud" of it. Nearly all of my swims ended with 300 yards of kick drills (only skipped or shortened when really short on time).

• BIKE: BIGGEST YEAR EVER!!! Yes, even bigger than my Ironman year (by 200+ miles). I still don't LOVE biking, but the big thing that happened in 2023 is that I started commuting more on my bike. After my classes were done last spring, I biked the boys to-and-from school when I could (something we started a year or 2 before). But 2 NEW things happened that to added to my biking miles. First, I started biking to the pool over the summer to swim when it would work. And I also started biking to class 2 days/week this past fall. (See also this post about gearing up as it got darker and colder, and this post about getting home on some ice late in the year). I noted that over the last 25 classes of the semester, I biked to 23 of them (plus 3 extra times: 2 to grade, and 1 to meet with a student). Besides getting in extra little workouts, I also saved $4-7 on parking on each trip!

I had my 2 biggest months of biking in 2023! Taking the boys to-and-from school by bike a lot in May led to that being a PR month of 275 miles, and then I crushed that again 2 months later in July with 323 miles! And one ride in July was my longest and my fastest since wearing my Garmin.

Of the 1,710.13 miles of TOTAL biking in 2023, 629.33 miles of that was commuting or riding with the boys, 102.38 miles of that was training on my "commuter" bike as my regular bike was in the shop for a month, and 69.08 miles of that was mountain biking with the boys. So really, I only logged 909.34 miles on my tri bike. "Actual" biking. 909 miles would be my 6th biggest of the last 18 years, so that's still in my top third if I didn't count all those "extra" miles. Not bad.

• TRAINER TIME: 3rd biggest year ever! I thought this was going to be ranked a lot lower honestly! It's lower because I biked more outside, so I'm OK with that. But the previous 2 years (2021 and 2022) were BIG for trainer time, so I didn't come close to those. Converting my trainer time to "actual" miles still has 2023 just behind the previous 2 years: combined totals were 3,067.46 miles in 2021, 3,537.56 miles in 2022, and 2,991.68 miles in 2023. The bigger bike trainer years led to the biggest overall numbers as I tend to put in more consistent time on the trainer than I do outside. (Worth noting is my biggest "combined" mileage year of 2022 only saw 454 miles outside on my bike!)

• RUN: BIGGEST YEAR EVER! FOR THE 3rd STRAIGHT YEAR!! Running a lot with baby Henry in the stroller got me up to 4-digits for the first time with 1,027.62 miles in 2012. I didn't get close to that again for 9 years, until I hit 1,030.58 miles in 2021. And then I broke that AGAIN in 2022 by nearly 100 miles with 1,123.81. Well I added 35+ miles to that to PR AGAIN for 2023 to have my biggest year ever, and my 3 biggest years back-to-back-to-back! That's amazing! It shows what I can do when I fall into a good rhythm and keep myself from getting injured!! Never missed a run all year.

Also, I started running earlier in the morning (more regularly) sometime in 2022, so looking back at my runs in 2023, I only had 10 runs that were done after 7:00 a.m. (I would have guessed that I had even less, but that's what the yearly count showed me.) The rest were pretty equally either starting in the 5 a.m. hour or the 6 a.m. hour. Most of those 10 post-7 a.m. runs (I think 5 or 6 of them) were over the summer when the boys didn't have school. I used the treadmill when footing wasn't good: 29 runs on the treadmill to start last year (winter 2022/2023 was ROUGH), 1 treadmill run in Italy in August when we were short on time, and then 3 more to end 2023 in Nov and Dec (this winter has been GREAT for running so far! - at the end of 2022 which was the start of that nasty winter 1.5 years ago, I had 15 treadmill runs between Nov and Dec).

Long runs in 2023: only shorter before or after race weeks!
11+ MILES EVERY WEEK if not a race week!

Weekly distance in 2023: 21+ miles every week if not racing.

(Notice how before 5 out of those 6 big dips there's a peak of miles - that's a race that's on a Sunday to end my week [as my training weeks are Monday thru Sunday] which ends up being an extra run for the week, and then a small post-race week the following week.)

• STRENGTH / CORE: BIGGEST YEAR EVER!! And like running, I had a "PR" for strength time in 2021 (428 hours), then broke that in 2022 (473 hours), and then broke that AGAIN in 2023 (over 507 hours)! As I did in 2020 and 2021, I started lifting more for my upper body in 2023 (which I didn't do AS much of in 2022). But I also started doing slightly longer leg exercises when I had the time, and I started doing longer core workouts too. (Not "better" necessarily... but "longer.") So a big year here!

• WEIGHT: holding pretty constant the last 3 years (2021-2023 at 157.x lbs) after coming down from a heaiver few years (2016-2020 over 160 lbs). Feeling A-OK about this.

Here are my monthly totals according to my training log:

2023 distance. A lot of good biking mid-year and onward! (For me.)

2023 training time.

2023 distance with "trainer time" added in (thanks Photoshop) at 19 mph.

Only ONCE in the past (one time in 2022) did I have that graph get CLOSE to 500 "miles" (miles of running and biking, but swimming is yards x100) hitting 494 miles in March of that year. But in 2023, I had 3 months that were OVER 500 miles! May was so big because I biked a lot with the boys to-and-from school. And then November and December were big because I kept biking to work throughout the year.

TOP ATHLETIC HIGHLIGHTS OF 2023: (counting down from #10 to #1)

• TEN: three USATF MN gold medals. This is "fun," but not a big deal as it feels a bit like a handout because I was first out of a few each time. From left-to-right below, I was 1st out of 1 at the USATF MN 2023 Indoor Championship for the 5000 meters, I was 1st out of 2 at the USATF MN 2023 Track Championship for the 800 meters, and I was 1st out of at least 3 at the USATF MN 8K Cross Country Championship:

Warming by the fireplace post-race in March, still on the
track in June, and with my medal post-race in November.

• NINE: the cancelled TC 10 Mile (and marathon for my wife). It's a bummer. But the day just got too unseasonably hot. I ended up attempting my own 10 mile race in the pre-dawn hours the following morning, but it was still too hot. It's an unfortunate and unforgettable part of 2023. (I still might post some extreme reactions people had about this...)

• EIGHT: racing the Square Lake Sprint Triathlon. Square Lake is a fun one. I had an OK swim, a pretty fast bike, and then the fastest run split by quite the margin (18:08 for me, with the 2nd fastest in 19:15 on those hills). I think I ran from about 6th into 3rd overall on that final run (and ended up just 0:14 behind 2nd):

Starting the final run, up a nasty little hill to start.

• SEVEN: my boys ran their first 5K! And their 2nd (Brian Kraft)! And their 3rd (TC 5K)! We got out on some training runs this spring, and then they did the Get in Gear 5K together as I was running the 10K as part of my team race. I finished in time to see them finish, which was AMAZING!

Henry with a 25:14, and Charlie with a 31:54!!

• SIX: my first 800 meters since high school. This was a brutal race. I truly forgot how much 800s hurt. I was pretty happy with my 2:17 finish.

1 lap in. About to start hurting a LOT.

• FIVE: track/speed work! I always like to run part of my longer runs faster each week, but I slowly got away from doing TRUE speedwork 5-10 years ago. The last few years, I've been working it back in - I never gave it up, but it's becoming more regular again. I started doing this more in 2022, and I noted in my year in review back then that I had 22 posts tagged with "intervals" in 2022. In 2023, I had 24 posts tagged with "intervals," and I counted 26 workouts that were tempo runs or intervals in 2023.

• FOUR: walking more to help stay injury-free. Regarding the last point of running HARDER more often... I really think I've been able to stay injury-free lately WHILE running harder because I've been walking more. (I wrote about this in yesterday's post too.) I've been making it a point to hit my allotted 10,000 steps/day since last February: I did 60 days straight (all of Feb and March 2023), and then I had some foot pain and rested for 2 days. Then since early April 2023, I've had 10,000+ steps every day! As I'm writing this, I'm on day 303 of that streak that started on April 3, 2023.

• THREE: training for and then nailing my goal at the Raspberry Run 1 Mile. I had a goal to get another sub-5:00 as a 42-year-old, and I trained on the track to hit this. I had perfect ascending splits (when I love to descend) of 1:12.2, 1:12.4, 1:13.2, and 1:13.6 to finish with a 5:52:

Pic from this post. Mid-race, starting to hurt.

Dying at the finish (from this post).

• TWO: winning the Fall Classic Duathlon. I took the lead after just a few seconds at this race, and I ended up holding on for a wire-to-wire win. It was a BLAST! (Stressful during the bike waiting to be caught... but then never getting caught.) I had the fastest run, fastest bike (WHAT?), and fastest run at this race. Here are a few photos from this big album of photos:

From shortly after the start, starting the bike, and finishing the final run with a 7 minute lead.

(Number 2 and number 1 could be flip-flopped, but the truth is I'll rememeber 2023 more for what I did in #1 than #2... even through #2 sure was fun!)

• ONE: commuting by bike a lot. I didn't expect this to be a "thing" in 2023. Sure, I've always said I wanted to try biking more, but it's just never worked out. Last summer, I took the time to bike to the pool for a lot of workouts. And then in the fall, I biked to class 23 times (and a few more to grade and meet with students) because it fell into my schedule at a time where I could do that - I didn't need to haul any kids to or from school right before or after, and I didn't feel the need to RUSH home to my boys as they are getting older.

SIDE NOTE: I have a lot of "pro-bike/anti-car" friends, and in the past, I've come down pretty squarely in the middle. Sure, I love having more bike paths through the city, but I also see the need for cars. I've been a triathlete/cyclist(?) since 2005, and until the last few years, the majority of those biking miles were outside. So I haven't been a stranger to riding in the city. Over the last few years, I've slowly gone more towards the "pro-bike" side of things. But my mentality shifted a LOT over the course of the last 3 months of commuting to class regularly. Because of drivers, I'm now MUCH more pro-bike and anti-car. I'm at least much more aware of how "car-centric" people expect the world to be. I have a 3.3 mile ride from home to the door at the University, and I average about 1 near-maiming experience for each day I bike to work. Sometimes I can be in a pissy mood just WAITING for a driver to act up, and nothing happens. Other days, I'm happy and cheery, and then I nearly die 3 times over a few miles. It honestly averages a bad NEAR CRASH experience maybe every-other week, and some "glad I was paying attention because that driver wasn't" about once/day on these commutes.

I've been passed by a driver while in a bike lane along Cleveland near the U, and then nearly turned into by the same car as they slam on their brakes and try to quick cut in front of me instead of slowing up and waiting 2 seconds for me to clear the intersection.

I've had a car pull right into me while I'm in a bike lane (on that 2 block stretch of Myrtle near University) because they needed to pick someone up on the side of the road and couldn't have taken the time to legally pull into one of the 3 open driveways for a parking lot right next to me.

I've been honked at twice for going straight through an interesction at a green light because the driver coming towards me who wants to cut in front of me to turn left doesn't want to wait for me to go straight though the intersecion.

I've had a car drive right at me inside of a bollard-protected bike lane that has paint signage all over it (on Pelham just south of 94) - to be fair, I don't know of any cyclist who thinks those side-by-side bollard-protected bike lanes are a good thing (they seem to be what city planners thinks will appease cyclists).

I've had a driver round a corner at a red light without stopping, see me trying to cross straight using the crosswalk (at a freeway exit, so I'm not in the road), look ahead to look for the crosswalk signal to justify trying to run me off the road, and then realize that I had the signal in my favor (the crosswalks change before the stoplights because they know drivers try to speed through and clip pedestrians) so instead of stopping and being like "oh sorry" he instead puts his head down and speeds through the intersection (illegally) nearly clipping me... all because he WANTED to be right when he was legally wrong.

And just this week, I had a woman come within inches of me because she ran through the crosswalk at a red light while looking straight down on her phone - she looked up and was freaked out that I was legally in a space that she was illegally blowing through while her light was red as her face was straight down in her phone in her lap. (She was the 5th and final car in this 5-lane road, so she came flying through behind other cars that had stopped as they should and I couldn't see that she was coming until I was almost being run over by her, so don't start with the "you needed to look up and make sure no one was illegally going to blow through the long-standing red light when the signal was fresh and in your favor" - it was sunny, noon, and the sun was at her back. Also, no, I wasn't flying through that intersection. I commute on a cheap mountain bike that I bought in 2004 with no upgrades - I had to re-lube the chain this fall as it was catching because it was so rusty. It's heavy and slow, but safe!) On that same mid-day ride home, another car drove my speed half in the bike lane for a block in front of me without seeing/caring about me, decided to fully park mostly in the bike lane just in front of me, and then decide to pull back out into traffic (across the sliver of bike lane I was still trying to use) as I was passing them without looking while nearly taking me out. Cars run the city, and if you don't have one, you often don't matter. (See also.) All the bike lanes in the world aren't changing that just yet. Rant over.

Illustrating my red light face-in-her phone near miss a few days ago.

Goals for 2024? Nothing dramatic.

Keep up the consistency and work to stay injury-free.

Try to work in some more duathlons and triathlons (something I said last year too, and didn't really do).

Keep being OK with shorter/easier weeks post-race. I've been good about this over the last few years. My last little injury was right after the 2021 Brian Kraft 5K, and that's because I was trying to add on a few more easy miles to "pad" my miles for the day. That's the LAST time I did that (nearly 3 years ago). I want to race a bit more, but then also be OK with seeing smaller weeks/months of training totals because I need to take it easy around those hard efforts.

And really, that's about it. I'm really happy with my training and racing lately. And I'd just like to keep that up. I have no plans to change too much this year! No plans to keep trying to PR! (I honestly rarely look at monthly or yearly distances before they're over with the intention of trying to "hit" or "beat" a certain number - for example, I don't think I'd have stopped at 99.8 miles of running in June had I been aware of my monthly mileage at the time. I just go and workout and do what feels best for me in that moment. I'm somewhere between "self-coached" and "un-coached," and I'm loving it.)

Finally, here are a few Instagram pics from 2023 to highlight my year:

Jan: Mexico with my family!

Jan: more Mexico pics in this post with a highlight video here.

Feb: winter was feeling long, so a trip to Great Wolf Lodge was in order.

Feb: Great Wolf Lodge.

March: my first indoor 5000 meters since Henry was a baby (17:39).

April: taking the boys out on their first training runs!

April: Charlie on a training run.

May: Charlie's birthday party at a reptile zoo!

May: opening day at Valleyfair.

June: taking my Mom on a 5-day adventure in northern MN.

June: Soudan Mine with Mom.

June: showing Mom all of the boys's favorite north shore places.

June: Henry's birthday at Wild Mountain!

Still June! Mountain biking for 3 days with my nephew
and bro-in-law in Cuyuna! (June was a fun month, obviously!)

July: mountain biking around Theo Wirth with the boys for the first time.

July: family fun at the lake.

July: Charlie's 15" largemouth!

July: Henry came to the track with me to do some sprints for his soccer speed.

August: an amazing trip to Italy for our 20th anniversary!

Sept: saying goodbye to Grandma Jean.

Sept: finishing the Square Lake Triathlon in 3rd overall.

Oct: Charlie's first (of what will be many) broken bones.

Oct: a quick and fun family trip to Chicago!

Nov: Henry's fencing photo!

Dec: not much snow here, so hitting the man-made snow on the slopes! Henry boarding...

Dec: ... and Charlie skiing.

Here's to a great 2024!!


WORKING To Get In My Steps

>> Tuesday, January 30, 2024

I've made getting in some daily movement a priority starting last spring. I made it a point to start getting in a lot of steps starting last spring sort of as "training" for a lot of walking in Italy. And I swear that it's helped me! My foot has been less sore now that I'm making it a point to move more. Yes, I always felt like I've gotten plenty of movement from my normal training, but the truth is (or I guess "the truth WAS") that I would go for an early morning run, and then often sit on my butt grading projects the rest of the day. Working to get in 10K steps helps me get off my butt a few times a day to actually move.

Five out of the last 6 weeks I've been over 125K steps:

The big spike 2 weeks ago was walking a lot in Jamaica.
That was under 1000 steps off from my 164,047 weekly PR from Italy.

I really had to work to get over 125,000 steps last week, as last week had no long run. It only had 2 shorter runs. One of the reasons for the spike in Jamaica was that I started and ended that week with a long run... so then the following week (last week) had NO long run. I had to end my week with days of 20,000 and 18,000 steps (both non-running days) to hit 125k+ for the week. Charlie and I got in a 2-3 mile walk on Sunday to help get me there.

What really shows that I've been making walking/steps more of a priority is that last week. Twice in the last year I had long runs a day early that then showed up on the week prior, leaving the following week extra short. And both of those times in the past, I had TINY weeks... my smallest 2 weeks this past year were weeks that had no long run:

About 82K and 85K on those 2 weeks with a day-early long run.
But last week, I worked to hit 125K steps without a long run.

I'm hoping to FINALLY have my "year in review" post shortly, and working on my steps is one of my more major points for 2023. I sincerely believe that it helped me stay more injury-free and more pain-free.


Climbing Stairs Tells My Story

>> Monday, January 29, 2024

I glaced at my "floors climbed" recently, and the last 4 weeks tells the story of my life recently. Here's what it looked like:

I don't "track" this number or put any stock in it... but what it revealed was funny.

It showed the 7 days we were in Jamaica, as the 4 days I ran there were pretty clear:

Long runs to start and end our stay in Jamaica.
(Our 2nd-to-last day was pretty lazy, obviously.)

The day before that was a travel day, which explains why that was so low.

A few days before that, there was a spike on the day I was up and down the steps to pack:

And a few days before that, I was running up and down the steps a lot as Charlie brought home lice:

Yep, lice has been going around his school, and my wife found (ONLY!) 2 lice on his head that night. He got treated, we changed and washed EVERYTHING, and we kept using the fine comb to check for more. We caught this early as we never had any more signs of lice. Whew. But I climbed a lot of stairs that evening as EVERYTHING was being cleaned.

Funny how my "floors" tell the story of my last few weeks!


New Car... Finally!

>> Sunday, January 28, 2024

I shared pics from a Christmas evening car crash back in late December, and exactly 1 month later, we got a new car. Here's my boys with my new Kia Telluride:

We have more room for adventures, and can haul more neighborhood kids home (trade-off: gas mileage). In fact, one of the first texts I sent after getting the car was to a family that lives around the corner who goes to the same school as my family - I told them I'd have room for my kids, the 2 other kids I take home a few days a week, AND their 2 kids!

Oh, and I noticed a funny thing regarding the car accident back in December in my Garmin data. The night of the crash, stress, guilt, worry, or something got to me, as an HRV status of 50 is the lowest I've ever recorded:


Friday Funny 2350: Spongebob Memes

>> Friday, January 26, 2024

There's a Spongebob-related meme for everything.

Lots more funny things posted all day long on SportsAndLaughs.tumblr.com. HAPPY WEEKEND!!



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