October 25, 2010

Bubba Cross 3

Having missed out on doing any cyclocross races last year (something about a newborn child and the races being three hours away in Chicago) I was excited to be closer to the action this fall now that we're living in St. Louis. I found a series of events that not only included cyclocross bicycling race, but also cross country running races. Jackpot.

Bubba Cross #3 Women's Race

Start of the women's race

On Sunday I headed southwest to Antire Park off of I-44 for the third event in the series. I showed up an hour early for the 5K XC run. They were still setting up the course and I saw few competitors. I wondered how many people were going to show up. After waiting around for 20 minutes or so I went to register for the races, only to discover I didn't bring enough money with me to pay the entrance fee. Shit.

I ran back to the car and bolted out of the parking lot, back onto the highway to the next exit where I found an ATM and made it back to the park with 20 minutes to spare. Only this time the registration line was much longer. With 10 minutes to go I finally registered and prepared my clothes, shoes, number, etc. With no warm up I toed the line with a whopping five other men (one was a small child) and three women.

Three of us stayed together for the first mile in a little under six minutes on a horribly lumpy and uneven course. One faded away as I led with another guy on my heels. I couldn't tell whether he was toying with me or struggling to keep up. As we finished the first of two laps my GPS read 1.97 miles. This was going be the longest 5K I'd ever run. Shortly into the second lap the other guy flew past me and pulled away decisively. Question answered. I slowed quite a bit on the second lap, now knowing I was running 30% farther than I had planned. I finished in second with an okay, but not great, run.

Bubba Cross #3 Women's Race

Women running over the barriers

After the run was a juniors race and a womens race, so I had a little bit of time to recover. I changed clothes, got my bike ready, and headed out for a practice lap. Oh, my, goodness. I thought the course was rough on foot, but it was nothing compared to trying to ride a bike over it. This was the bumpiest ground I've ever ridden on something other than a mountain bike. Perhaps I should have brought my MTB.

Bubba Cross #3 B Race

First lap of the men's B race

The "C" race was after the womens race. Despite my best intentions I ended up with a shitty starting position, which became even shittier once I started and people were passing me. In my cyclocross experience there's a very high correlation between one's position 400m into the race and their finishing position... and I was 3/4 of the way back in the field.

Bubba Cross #3 B Race

Jumping the barriers in the men's B race

Bubba Cross #3 B Race

Jumping the barriers in the men's B race

On the few smooth parts I opened up and made big gains, only to lose some of it on the more technical and bumpy sections. At one point the jarring of the bumpy ground was enough to knock the chain off the rings and I had to do some delicate acrobatics to get it back on while coasting downhill. I gradually worked my way up, passing a couple people each lap, but it wasn't fast enough. I was going nearly all out for 50 minutes, which after a hard run earlier in the day left me exhausted. I rolled across the line 18th of 41 finishers. Cyclocross, despite being very enjoyable in a masochistic way, is one of my least successful athletic endeavors, and this race was no different. Finishing in the top half of the field is about all I can hope.

Cyclocross is hard.

October 15, 2010

I'm on a bus

My baby takes the morning train

Well, I'm on a long ride from Champaign to St. Louis and this Greyhound bus has WiFi so I might as well use it. I spent a few days back in the office this week for the annual Wolfram Technology Conference. Mathematica 8 was officially announced and will be released next month. I actually did put a fair amount of work into this release before I refocused my efforts on mobile products a year ago. Of course, I'm having trouble remembering what my contributions to Mathematica 8 were since I've been so consumed by other projects for so long. The conference went fairly well though, and I even had a few productive days of work while I was there.


I spent the first night at our old house (which hasn't sold yet, anybody interested?) before staying the next two nights with Cara, John, and Ashlynn at my previous house. I can't seem to ever move away!

In addition to friends and coworkers I also made it to a Second Wind Fun Run and even saw one of my cycling friends randomly on the street as I was riding my scooter from the bus station to work on Tuesday. After spending so much time alone, or with just Team Ragfield, it was really great to see everyone again.

Rear view

October 12, 2010


Sunday morning I rand my second race since we moved to St. Louis, The Skippo, a 20 KM (12.4 mile) trail run at Castlewood State Park. I had heard good things about the trail running and mountain biking at the park, but I hadn't yet had time to pay a visit.

Lucky red

I suspected the course would be quite hilly (by central Illinois standards) and the website alluded to stairs on the course. On the first of two 10 KM laps of the trail I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised. First, the course was not as hilly as I expected, on the whole. Five of the six miles were almost completely flat. Second, the one mile that wasn't flat was an absolute beast. An interminable set of stairs rose 300 ft in about 1/4 mile, then a long false flat lead to steep switchbacks on the way back down.

Skippo start

I made a point of starting the race slow, or so I thought. I was still with a large pack in the top 10 as my watch beeped, showing 6:10 for the first mile. Damn. Little by little the pack spread out a bit. The stairs came in the fourth mile. When I reached the top I almost stopped running because the view of the Meremac river and autumn foliage was so breathtaking. No, wait, it was the stairs that were breathtaking. Anyway, I immediately started planning a hike back up here with the family, perhaps after the race even.

I hammered down the hill as fast as I could, but I still couldn't keep in contact with the guys ahead of me. I spent the next six miles by myself trying to catch back up to my former group, making little headway.

Interminable stairs

The second time up the stairs I was delighted to find Melissa & Will standing near the top waiting for me. That wasn't part of the plan, but on the bright side it meant that I didn't have to hike back up here for a third time to show it to them. Melissa had made a friend and they decided to hike up there together to see the view and watch the race unfold.

Again, I hammered down the switchbacks but continued to lose time. By the bottom of the hill another runner, the first placed woman, caught and passed me. Back on the flats I was feeling a little stronger so I stayed right with her for a mile or so. In the last mile I felt a little stronger so I surged back ahead, finishing in 1:28:19, good for 10th overall, 2nd in my age group.

The age group award was pretty sweet, a $10 gift certificate to Big River Running Company, which was a good deal for both of us because I ended up buying more than $10 worth of merchandise from them.

Anyway the race was challenging and rewarding. The course was both easier and harder than I expected. I enjoyed the trail, I can definitely see puttin some long winter miles in out there.

October 1, 2010

September Stats

Photo of the Day

September 2010 Photo of the Day

I really phoned a lot of these in. I'm hoping once we get more stuff put away and I'm not quite as busy I can put a little more time into these and bring the quality up a bit.


Forest Park XC

So in addition to the Forest Park XC race I also upped my mileage a lot. I've been doing long runs with Melissa to help her train for the Indianapolis marathon in November. I've also been running more regularly (i.e. three times per week instead of two), probably due to the fact that I've been biking less.

MonthDistance# WorkoutsAvg per Workout
January109.05 Mile1010.905 Mile
February76.18 Mile89.5225 Mile
March84.86 Mile108.486 Mile
April83.15 Mile99.23889 Mile
May57.95 Mile78.27857 Mile
June17.98 Mile35.99333 Mile
July54.62 Mile86.8275 Mile
August65.78 Mile97.30889 Mile
September107.4 Mile138.26154 Mile
Total656.97 Mile778.53208 Mile


The 63105

September was kind of a throwaway month for my cycling. The only month this year I managed to ride less was one with 28 days. On the bright side I did have a good ride with my friend Nick, who moved to this area from Champaign-Urbana a year ago. Thanks to him I now know precisely one route with a fair-but-not-ridiculous amount of traffic.

September 2010 by bike

BikeDistance# RidesAvg per Ride
Bianchi53.54 Mile105.354 Mile
Big Red8 Mile24 Mile
Pocket Rocket15.78 Mile27.89 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird69.18 Mile323.06 Mile
Total146.5 Mile178.61765 Mile

January - September 2010

MonthDistance# WorkoutsAvg per Workout
January166.25 Mile208.3125 Mile
February140.67 Mile1211.7225 Mile
March508.83 Mile1828.2683 Mile
April318.98 Mile1324.5369 Mile
May365.89 Mile2018.2945 Mile
June447.97 Mile2220.3623 Mile
July390.59 Mile1920.5574 Mile
August223. Mile1514.8667 Mile
September146.5 Mile178.61765 Mile
Total2708.68 Mile15617.3633 Mile


Ape feet

Once we got moved in I haven't been walking as much. I'm no longer with Will all day and I'm working at home, so I don't have many places or reasons to walk like I was doing. I mostly save it up for the weekends.

MonthDistance# WorkoutsAvg per Workout
January28.66 Mile93.18444 Mile
February51.45 Mile163.21563 Mile
March34.7 Mile103.47 Mile
April44.35 Mile114.03182 Mile
May48.75 Mile143.48214 Mile
June64.2 Mile164.0125 Mile
July56.3 Mile153.75333 Mile
August56.75 Mile163.54688 Mile
September28.84 Mile74.12 Mile
Total414. Mile1143.63158 Mile