November 29, 2010

FOLEPI River Trail Classic

Another Thanksgiving in Peoria means another chance to run the unique FOLEPI river trail classic. The four mile race takes place on a paved shared-use path where the final three miles are entirely gradually downhill. This makes for super-fast running. In my 3rd attempt I set a new PR, despite the very strong headwind nearly the entire length of the point-to-point course.

Interestingly, I executed the race more like a bike race than any foot race I've ever done before. Usually that's probably not a great idea, but it somehow worked out well. I tried to start conservatively, which put me about 30-40 places back right from the gun (err, whistle). After a few hundred meters we turned into the wind and I hunkered down behind someone tall, hopping from one person to the next as speeds varied.

3/4 mile in I found myself in a bit of a conundrum in that I had moved past everyone in my group and there was a sizable gap up to the lead group... and they were also moving faster than I was. Rather than continue at my own pace I did what I wouldn't hesitate for a single second to do in a bike race, though in a running race it was unthinkable--I burned a match. I put in a huge effort to accelerate and not only stop losing ground to the lead group, but also catch back up to them. The gap was probably only about 20-30 meters, which seems fairly small. But I'd say it took more than a minute running over 12mph to close the gap. I caught up right as we passed the first mile marker (the flat mile) in 5:18. It was a bit faster than I hoped, but I was in good position. Or so I thought.

Not a moment sooner than I joined the group did we hit the downhill where the group exploded. What had been 10 guys tightly bunched together blocking the wind for me quickly turned into singles spread out across the path. I stayed behind a young guy for the next mile or so just trying to recover from my earlier acceleration. But you can't really recover running at that speed.

As we passed the 2nd mile marker inside of 11:00 another guy came up from behind and passed us. Not really thinking in my hypoxic state I latched on behind him and took off. This guy maintained a very steady pace, which was good. I stayed glued to him, as he was running exactly the pace I wanted to be going. In the final half mile he started to waiver a bit so I moved in front of him to return the favor for him blocking the wind. He seemed to recover a bit, as he passed me with a couple hundred meters to go.

I finished in 22:05 (5:31/mile), my fastest time yet at this race. This was reassuring at a time when I've been doing lots of long runs and very little speedwork. I was 10th overall and 2nd in my age group (behind the guy who I ran with most of the race).

November 28, 2010

Damn squirrels

Before we moved into our new house we saw evidence of animal (probably squirrel) activity in the attic. A condition of the sale was that the hole in the soffit where they were getting in be patched and some damaged ductwork be replaced. Not long after we moved in I noticed many strange sounds in the house during the day while I was alone at home working. I assumed/hoped the critters I was hearing were on the roof instead of in the attic. This went on for some time. The noises became stranger and stranger and louder and louder. I was fairly certain something was in the attic, but I didn't know what, and part of me didn't really want to find out.

We have a pest control place that has been taking care of spiders, mice, etc. so we asked them to come take a look. Squirrels. They were in there when the guy came out. It would be $450 to remove them and patch the holes where they were getting in. This isn't unreasonable, but it's really more than we can afford at the moment. I reluctantly took it upon myself to attempt to remove them. The first time I climbed up into the attic I saw two squirrels in different places. One of them I even pinned up against the wall with a board. I could have partially ended the infestation right then and there, but I didn't have it in me to go through with it so I let the little bugger go.

The next step was to get a trap at Home Depot. I baited it with bread and peanut butter, as several people recommended online. The bread was stale and the peanut butter was organic. It was all we had. A few hours later I checked on the trap and it had been tripped, but the bait was still there and there was no squirrel inside. I reset the trap. A few hours later I checked and the bait was gone and the trap hadn't been tripped. I guess it needed some fine tuning. I tried again the next day with fresh (stale) bread and (organic) peanut butter. This time the bait was gone once again and the trap was not triggered. Grrr. I could just hear the jokes about the squirrels outsmarting me.

After a brief hiatus for Thanksgiving travels I tried again today, this time using (organic) sunflower butter with the same old stale bread. Bingo. Within a couple hours I had one of the squirrels trapped. It was freaking out. I brought the cage outside while I waited for Melissa to come home so we could take it somewhere. I put the cage inside a rubber tub A) to doubly-ensure the rodent didn't escape in the car and B) to try to calm it down a little, both of which were successful. We drove several miles to a park on the other side of town to release it. Adding insult to injury the damn thing urinated and defecated all over the inside of my rubber tub. As the gate opened it took off like a bat out of hell. Hopefully, we'll never see it again.

Scared shitless

Now, I still have at least one other squirrel to catch. I hope that's the last one, though I suppose there could be others. I wonder how much noise I'll hear tomorrow while I work...

November 3, 2010

Where I come from we don't forget about hills like that

So it's no secret that our former hometown of Champaign-Urbana is the flattest place on Earth. For a long time I assumed most of the midwest was similar, but it most certainly isn't. Last Sunday I did a 50 mile ride with my friends Nick & Mike, along with a new guy Kurt (or is it Curt?) who showed us a heck of a route about a half hour west of the city.

Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 10.08.14 PM.png

We started at Matson Hill Park (any hill with a name earns my immediate respect), near Defiance, MO. Traffic was relatively light, which was a welcome change from the city. There were 10 or so good hard climbs in the 200-400 foot range, many of which were extremely steep, a few were in excess of 20%. These suckers were tough.

Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 10.08.46 PM.png

Aside from the big hills the route had rolling hills that dwarf anything in Champaign County almost non-stop the entire way. As we approached one of the big hills Kurt turned to the rest of us (who had never seen this route before) and said:

Oh... I forgot about this hill.

He then beat me to the top rather handily. When I eventually caught back up with him the only response I could muster was:

Where I come from we don't forget about hills like that.

November 1, 2010

October Stats

Hey, I turned 32 (0x20, 25). Melissa was kind enough to build me a cake, which William promptly devoured. Okay, I helped devour it too.


Photo of the Day


Skippo start

Well, I've been feeling better and better about my running for several months now and I finally took the leap from running 2-3 times per week and started running 3-4 times a week. Now, you may ask how could I run four times per week if there are seven days in a week and my cardinal rule is to not run on two consecutive days? There's no funny math here, I'm simply breaking my cardinal rule for the first time since my knee surgery in 2004. So far it's been great. It's possible I could come to both rue and lament that decision, but I've been feeling good enough lately that I probably won't.

The net affect of this change is that my mileage shot way, way up. 144 miles in one month doesn't seem like much to me for some reason, particularly considering I regularly ran 75 miles per week when I was 18. But back then I ran every day. It's kind of remarkable (even to me) that (on average) I ran 8.5 miles on 17 separate occasions.

I had a couple of decent races, both times finishing behind the same person. Perhaps I need to start training with that guy.

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
October144.087 Mile178.47573 Mile
Total801.057 Mile948.52189 Mile


Bubba Cross #3 Women's Race

It's pretty rare that my cycling mileage would go up in October. I got in a few good long hard rides with my friends Nick and Mike and I also did a couple of the Big Shark rides. So despite the stupid traffic I'm managing to get some riding in... perhaps not as much as in Champaign-Urbana, but the rides I am doing are on more difficult terrain.

I did one cyclocross race that was okay, but not great. I hope to do a few more before the season ends.

BikeDistance# RidesAvg per Ride
Bianchi59.13 Mile96.57 Mile
Pocket Rocket24.4 Mile54.88 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird219.76 Mile543.952 Mile
Total303.29 Mile1915.9626 Mile

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
October303.29 Mile1915.9626 Mile
Total3011.97 Mile17517.2113 Mile



It's not too cold yet, and the boy still loves going for walks.

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
October32.1 Mile122.675 Mile
Total446.1 Mile1263.54048 Mile


My baby takes the morning train

That's right, I broke the scooter back out. Mostly this is simply due to logistics of getting William to and from daycare. Sometimes I run him there in the morning and leave the stroller there while I finish my run. Then when I pick him up in the evening I can't take the bike because I need to bring the jogging stroller home. So a few times I've ridden the scooter to daycare (it's almost entirely downhill or flat) then walk back with Will in the stroller and the scooter in the stroller's storage area.

MonthDistance# WorkoutsAvg per Workout
August1.8 Mile11.8 Mile
October10.1 Mile52.02 Mile
Total11.9 Mile61.98333 Mile

Inline skating

That's right, I got a pair of inline skates for my birthday. Why not try something new to mix things up? Well, after numerous laps back and forth on my street I finally got up the nerve to venture out of the neighborhood and across the WUSTL campus. I didn't fall down, and I didn't hurt myself... at least one of which I half expected.

MonthDistance# WorkoutsAvg per Workout
October2 Mile12 Mile
Total2 Mile12 Mile