Sunday, October 31, 2010

Team Ortho Monster Dash 10-Miler Race Review

I'm used to races starting at around 7am, meaning that I'm usually getting out of bed by 5:00.  So, you can imagine how good an 8:30 start on Saturday felt.  After a bowl of raisin bran and a a quick shower, I was out the door and on my way to South Minneapolis.  The course was point-to-point, which means we started at Lake Nokomis and finished several miles away at the Lake Harriet Band Shell.  Since I like to get to races early, I got a nice parking spot near the start line.

One lap around the lake, then down the parkway to a finish at the North end of Lake Harriet.

Since this was a point-to-point, there was a gear bag drop.  I stuffed my warmups and a clean t-shirt into a bag, and dropped it off so the officials could hauled it to the finish and my things would be waiting for me when I was done.  Most of the fun prior to the race (and during, and after the race) was people watching.  There were over 1900 folks in my race and another 3500 doing the 1/2 Marathon - and at least half of them were in costume.  I was dressed in my customary 'Man in Running Clothes' costume, but others were in some very elaborate get-ups.  Some of the most common costumes were Sesame Street characters, super heroes and, believe it or not, Thing 1 and Thing 2 - LOTS of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Do you have 2 red shirts, 2 white circles, 2 blue wigs and a friend?  Well, then you can be Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Now, I should mention that in the past, the course was an out-and-back, meaning that the start and finish line were both at Lake Harriet.  The course for both the 10-mile and the 1/2 Marathon was recently changed, and by 'recently' I mean 'within the last couple of weeks'.  As a result, some of the logistics for the event were a little, well, sloppy.  For example, there were only about 12 pot-o-potties at the 10-mile start area for 1900+ racers.  When there were only 5 minutes remaining until the start and several hundred people were still waiting to use the can, I knew that things were in bad shape.  It got to the point where people were squatting in the reeds near the lake.  Not fun.  I was feeling modest, so I decided to wait my turn.  The gun went off and I was still in line.  Ugh.  I wasn't too worried though - the race was chip-timed, so the clock wouldn't start for me until I crossed the timing mat.  In any event, I was eventually able to 'do my duties' and jog towards the start.

The Race

Getting stuck in line at the port-o-potties turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Most of the racers were already out on the course when I started, so there wasn't nearly the crowd there could have been during the first few miles.  My goal for the day was a sub-1:31:00.  That meant holding splits of 9:05.

The plan was to run the first few miles conservatively, push harder for miles 6 through 8 and then hold on for dear life for the last 2 miles.

Mile 1: 9:01
I felt great, the weather was perfect and there were mostly clear roads ahead of me.  Other than dodging a few walkers, it was smooth.

Mile 2: 9:06
I was starting to catch up to a few more people, but it still wasn't bad,  I just tried to stay light on my feet and enjoy the day.

Mile 3: 9:12
We had just finished our lap around the lake.  It was starting to get a little crowded.  The running still felt easy though - perhaps a little too easy.

Mile 4: 9:09
This mile included one of the courses only significant uphills.  My time was pretty close to target, but I felt like I could squeeze out a little more effort without blowing a gasket.

Mile 5: 8:52
Ahh.  That's more like it.  I was in full-blown cruise control at this point.  The hardest part was passing runners in front of me.  I didn't want to be rude.  These folks wanted to have just as much fun as I did.  Though, it was a little frustrating having to weave through traffic.

Mile 6: 8:57
Cruise control was holding steady.  Whenever my Garmin told me my pace was dipping, I took a few quick steps to bring my speed back up

Mile 7: 9:00
The course was downright crowded at this point.  I tried to grab a drink at an aid station, but everyone seemed to want to stop at the tables rather than running through.  I said 'screw this' and just held on a couple more miles until the next station.

Mile 8: 8:52
By now, I was getting pretty pumped.  There was one pretty beefy uphill, but I managed to plug through it.  There were still tons of other racers on the road, and I had resorted to hopping up on the curb from time to time to get around everybody.  Note to other racers: if you are going to wear a costume, please don't choose one with WINGS.  It's hard enough to get around you on a normal day, but those wings make you about 5 feet wide.

Mile 9: 8:53
More of the same - I'm still pumped and the course is still crowded.  There's not much left to do here but gut it out to the finish.

Mile 10: 8:29
Okay.  I REALLY tried to speed things up for the last mile.  I was still passing people like crazy, but managed to avoid any accidents.  The crowds were great.  There were hundreds of people lining either side of the street for the last 1/2 mile.  I tried to 'Hulk Hogan' the crowd again, but I don't think they got it.  My Garmin read 1:29:30.  Not only did I meet my goal, but I broke 90 minutes to go along with it.  Sweet!

Mile 10.1: :40
Yep.  The course ran just a little long, or at least that's what my Garmin told me, and who do you think I'm gonna trust?  I hit the finish line and stopped my Garmin - 1:30:10.  Not bad for a fun little run.

Post Race

There wasn't a whole lot to this.  I got my bag, stripped out of my grodies and threw on a dry shirt.  The 5K racers were ready to go, so I decided to hang around to watch the start - it was good for a little more people watching and interesting costumes.  Some even dressed up their dogs for the '5K-9'.  I could almost see the Bark 'n' Sniffer at home rolling her eyes.

Shuttle buses had been arranged to transport the 10-mile and 1/2 Marathon racers back to Lake Nokomis.  I moseyed on over to the pickup site.  I thought, hey, this'll be great, I can grab a lift and make it home by noon.  Then I saw the line.  Crap.  Evidently, there were only 2 buses arranged for the 5400+ racers that needed a ride.

I ended up waiting in line for just under 2 hours.  Yes.  I waited in line longer than I actually ran the race.  Were I smart, I would have packed my cell phone and wallet in my gear bag and simply called a cab.  Shoot, I probably could have invited a few strangers to share the cab to keep the cost down.  Oh well.  At least I got to chat with some other friendly running folks.

In the end, I had a great day.  Sure the logistics cramped things up a little bit, but the running itself went really well.  Plus, the swag was top-notch - and you KNOW how much I like my swag.  We all got running hoodies and medals with skulls on 'em.  Nice.

The only thing left to do now is to pick some more races.  The Wife was out of town visiting her dad in Tampa.  I'm hoping that if I play my cards right, I can convince her to let me do Ironman-Florida in November, 2011.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun in the Kitchen #4 - Bachelor Chow

If last week's Fun in the Kitchen post left you scratching your head and saying to yourself, "Self - that looks delicious, but if I tried to make that I'd probably just create an inedible lump of char, and burn my house down in the process." then fear not.  I'll go easy on you this week.

First though, you'll need some background.  You see, The Wife is out of town this weekend, so I've got the place to myself. When she's around I feel more compelled to put effort into making meals in attempt to impress her with my culinary prowess.  When she's out of town though, I don't feel the need to tackle anything too complex.  I just want food.  I don't want to think too hard about it.  It's time for Bachelor Chow.

So, tonight's project is nice and simple - mini pizzas.  There are only 4 ingredients:

Shredded Cheese, Spaghetti Sauce, Browned Sausage and English Muffins

Step #1:  Cut an English Muffin in half and slap on some spaghetti sauce.  Note: You know those times when you have just a little sauce in the jar - not enough for another plate of spaghetti, but enough so that you'd feel bad if you threw it away?  Well, this is a really good way to use up that last little bit of sauce that's left in the jar.  You're welcome.

Muffin + Sauce.  You with me so far?  Good.
Step 2:  Put on some toppings.  I chose some browned sausage that was left over from earlier in the week.  Pick whatever you like.  Heck, you can even skip the toppings if you like and skip straight to the cheese.  Just remember one thing - whatever goes on your mini pizzas should be pre-cooked, or safe to eat raw.  Don't go and put raw hamburger on your pizza and then get mad at me when you end up in the hospital.

Again - this ain't tough.

Step 3: Pile on the cheese.  No, really.  PILE the stuff on.  I'm taking HEAPS.  It's all gonna melt in the next step and you don't want to end up with mini pizzas without enough cheese on them.

Yep.  That oughtta do it.

Step 4: Slide these into a toaster oven.  Don't have a toaster oven?  That's okay.  Just toast your English Muffins beforehand so your 'crust' is crispy.  Then pop these in the microwave until the cheese is nice and melty.

If you DO end up using a toaster oven, just keep 'em in there long enough to start browning the cheese.  You microwave folks will just have to settle for pizzas without that golden-brown top.

That's it.  We're done.  Pretty easy, eh?  Plus, from start to finish it takes less time than just pre-heating the oven for a frozen pizza. 

Have a great weekend kids!  I'll be back soon to report on the Team Ortho Monster Dash 10-miler. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hey! I'm kinda-sorta a published author! Yay Me!

It's official.  I'm now a published author...well, sort of.  Let me start from the beginning.

My sister works for WCCO, a local CBS affiliate, producing content for their website.  A couple of weeks ago, she approached me looking for input about some local bike shops.  You see, another reporter was working on a piece for the 10 best bicycle shops in the Twin Cities.  He had plenty of good stuff for shops in the metro area, but needed some content for those of us out here in the 'burbs.  That's where I came in.

Now, to be fair, I know a heckuva lot more about the shops in the western 'burbs than I do about those on the East side.  So, naturally my recommendations focused on places that were on this side of the Mississippi.  Of the ones I threw out there, three made the 'official' WCCO list: Maple Grove Cycle, Excel Cycle and my personal fav Gear West. 

The article was published just a few days ago.  You can check out the whole thing here.

The coolest part happened in the last 24 hours.  I sent a thank you e-mail to the journalist that published the article.  But, being the shameless self-promoting attention whore that I am, I also asked him to put a link to my blog in the article - which he promptly did.  Sweet!  So, hopefully I can expect an up-tick in traffic.  Sure, I'm doing this for the love and not for the money, but a little ego-stroke never hurt.

In other news, there are only 3 days to go until the Team Ortho Monster Dash.  I did a tempo run tonight to get my legs spun up and familiar with pushing the pace again.  Let me tell you, running in 40-degree weather is a rude awakening compared to the 65-degree luxury we've had for the last month.  I even got to experience my first wind-chill since last spring.  Man, that wind.  Mother nature sure is a harsh mistress.

I'll be back in a day or two with some more Fun in the Kitchen.  If you can't wait until then, you can always check back on my last food-related post to hold you over.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Team Ortho Monster Dash 10-Miler Race Preview

Let me get straight to the point.  I have no idea what to expect from the Monster Dash 10-miler.  Well, okay.  That's not exactly true.  There are a few things I'm anticipating, but those things are more about the race itself.  I just don't really know what to expect in the way of performance.  In the end, this is going to be a fun race, not a work race.  There are going to be people out there in COSTUMES for crying out loud.  This ain't gonna be the the time to try to break any records.

Like I mentioned a couple weeks ago, this will be my first running-only event since high school.  Usually, I'm warming up for a run by doing a swim and a bike first.  Cold legs are never really an issue.  I also haven't done a race in the cold since the mid-90s.  Right now the forecast for race time is 40 degrees and partly-cloudy skies.  Now, this won't be a 'frozen snot in your beard' type of cold, but I am anticipating a 'steamy bald head' type of cold. 

The Monster Dash is unique in that each of the three races that day - the 1/2 Marathon, the 10-miler and the 5K each have a different starting line.  For those of you familiar with the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, the longer races start at Lake Nokomis, wind their way around the lake, down some trails following Minnehaha Creek and and finish about 6 miles away at Lake Harriet. 

My race starts to the West of Cedar Avenue.  1/2 Marathoners start to the East, but do a lap around lake Calhoun to get in an extra 3 miles.

This sucker is a big race.  There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 2200 other runners scheduled to run the 10-mile race.  That's going to lend itself to a crowded start.  Plus, once we catch up to the slower runners in the 1/2 marathon, there will be hundreds of other runners to contend with.  Now, I don't have a problem with a crowd.  I'm just not planning on getting up to speed until I'm well into the race.  On the positive side of things, even with all those other racers, I'm almost guaranteed to not get kicked in the face.

I'm hoping that for the first half, I can just run a clean race.  I'd like to keep the flying elbows to a minimum (both giving and receiving) and will try not to run up anybody's backside.  If the crowd thins out enough during the 2nd half of the race, then I'll try to push the pace a little more.

As far as time goes, there's a pretty wide margin for error.  The closest race I've done near this distance would be the run leg of the Liberty 1/2 Iron.  That day, I averaged 9:30 splits.  So, at the very least, I'd like to keep my pace under 9:30.  Granted, on Saturday I won't be preceding the run with a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike, so 9:30 should be easy-peasey.  But then again, I haven't been nearly as committed to training for the Monster Dash as I was during the meat of triathlon season. 

If there weren't thousands of other runners out there to bump into I'd say that a sub-90-minute run would be possible.  If I had to guess, I'd say that 91:00 sounds about right for this weekend.  In the end, I'm looking forward to a fun race.  It'll be a good benchmark for future running races.  Plus, since it's my first 10-miler, I'm GUARANTEED to PR.  Sweet.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fun in the Kitchen #3 - Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry

Okay.  Today we're going to try something a little different.  Since finishing the Ironman over a month ago, I've cut back quite a bit on my overall training and started to live something close to a normal life.  This is all good.  Really.  However, since I haven't been completely focused on the Next Big Race, I've found myself posting less and less frequently.

So, this week I'm going to start a new feature: Fun in the Kitchen.  Sure, I've had some good times in the kitchen before.  Namely, some barbecue fun at my Dad's birthday, and my (somewhat) infamous Bacon Explosion.   I've always loved to try new recipes and foods, and I'm hoping that this will encourage me to expand my horizons.  Plus, it means that you'll get a little more variety when you visit.  Sure, I'll still post about all my triathlon exploits, but now you can look forward to a whole new set of (mis)adventures.

Beer-in-the-Kiester-Chicken for Dad

The Bacon Explosion.  Let the photo speak for itself.

All right.  Let's get started.  Today's experiment is going to be Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry.  I like to consider myself competent with stir-fry.  Honestly, it's not that tough.  Just cut up some food that you like, toss in some sauce and fry 'er up in a pan or electric wok. (Side note: I freakin' LOVE my electric wok).  Today, I'll try to make my own sauce for the first time, plus it'll be my first time using fresh ginger in a recipe.

I started by getting all of my ingredients together.  Now, for those of you who get intimidated when you have to make mac-n-cheese (you know who you are), this may look like a lot of ingredients. But really, except for the fresh ginger and red wine vinegar, these are all fairly common items that you'll all have in your kitchen at one point or another.

Let's see, we have 1 lb. of chicken, sugar, red onion, orange juice, garlic, ginger, red wine vinegar, green onions,  canola oil, pineapple, corn starch and ketchup.  Also acceptable: catsup.

The first thing I hit was the sauce.  Okay, well, I didn't actually 'hit the sauce' that would've been counter-productive.  You know what I mean.  Anyway, that was the easiest place to start.  Just whisk together 6 tablespoons each of  red wine vinegar, orange juice and sugar, add 3 tablespoons of ketchup and a tablespoon of corn starch to thicken things up.  That's it.  Easy-peasey.

It certainly
Next, I pre-fried the chicken.  Just put a little vegetable oil in your awesome electric wok (or just-as-awesome frying pan).  Heat it up to HOT.  The oil should be smoking.  Then toss 1 pound of sliced chicken breast.  Be CAREFUL.  Splashing hot oil HURTS.  The chicken doesn't need to be in there long - just long enough to turn white on all sides.  Take the chicken out of the wok and set it aside for later.

Whoops.  Singed a couple of 'em there.
Now, we'll turn our attention to the heavy-hitters - the onions, garlic and ginger.  Slice half of a red onion up nice and thin.  Then, mince (AKA 'cut into little bitty pieces) 3 garlic cloves, and grate up some ginger.  Ever wondered what the tiny holes on a cheese grater are for?  THIS is what the tiny holes are for.  Cut a couple of green onions into little circles.  Finally, cut up some pineapple into chunks, or, if you're like me, open a can of pineapple chunks and dump it into a measuring cup.

Clockwise from the top: pineapple, red onion, green onion, grated ginger and minced garlic.

So, are you with me so far?  Great.  Here comes the fun part.  First, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to your wok or frying pan and heat it up up to medium.  The oil should be shiny, but not smoking.  Then, add the red onions and toss 'em around for a couple of minutes, until they turn from 'crispy' to 'floppy'.

About 1 minute in, not quite floppy enough yet.
Now, add the pineapple and let it heat up for about 1 minute.

Next, toss in the minced garlic and grated ginger for a few seconds.  You know, just long enough to make your kitchen smell AWESOME.

See that smoke?  That's Awesome in a gaseous state.
Okay.  There are only two more things to add - the sauce and the chicken.  Just slide 'em into the growing pile of food and mix things up.  If the sauce is a little runny, don't worry, just keep it on the heat for a few extra minutes and it'll thicken up, until it looks like this:

This photo is scratch-n-sniff.  Go ahead.  Just scratch your monitor and take a whiff.
The only thing left to do now is spoon all this juicy goodness onto a plate.  I topped mine with the fresh green onion.  You could also serve this on top of some rice, but this meal was already plenty big for me.

Here you go.  One 'Captain-Sized' portion of Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry, with one 'Wife-Sized' portion in the background.

There you have it.  Now, this all may seem pretty complicated, especially if you're not used to meals with more than 3 ingredients.  But if you break it down, it's not too bad.  This whole thing took me under 30 minutes, most of which were spent slicing up things on the cutting board.  The actual time standing over the wok was under 10 minutes.  So, if you can cut and stir, you're good-to-go.  No sweat.  Really.

Like I said, I'm hoping this will be a weekly segment.  I'll give something new a try next week.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Exploring the Gateway Trail and Celebrating an Important Day

Yeah yeah yeah.  I know.  I made some pretty big promises in my last post.  Well, sometimes plans change.  I promised a long bike ride last weekend with all kinds of photos.  I did, in fact, take a nice long ride last Sunday.  Heck.  I even lugged my camera with me the whole way.  What I neglected to bring was my data card, which was resting safely in my laptop.  Whoops.

In any event, I started the ride by hopping towards the Greenway trail and heading east towards the river.  Once I crossed the river, I continued east on Summit.  There's a nice bike lane on either side of the street.  You can take it all the way to the Cathedral, but I decided to head north on Dale street in the Direction of Cayuga Park.

The park itself is fairly nondescript, but it IS significant for one big reason - it's the western terminus of the Gateway trail.  You see, since I'm a Minneapolis boy, I don't ride on the east end of the metro very often, and I've never actually been on the Gateway before.  The trail starts in St. Paul and heads all the way out to Stillwater.  It's put together pretty well.  The trail is wide and the pavement is smooth.

I stayed on the trail until I hit a good turn-around point - somewhere near North High School.  Then I headed back the way I came.  It was an excellent day for a ride.  We've been really blessed around here lately.  It's not too often that one can go for a 4+ hour ride in the middle of October in just shorts and a jersey.

Here's a look at the route I took:   

I took a slightly different return route through St. Paul so I could stop at Jimmy John's for a sandwich.  A man's gotta eat ya know.  

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting Psyched About Running

For those of you who aren't from around the Twin Cities, you probably don't know about the incredibly AWESOME weather we've been enjoying for the last couple of weeks.  This time of year is usually when God flips the season switch from 'Summer' to 'Freeze-your-butt-off'.  This year, we've been blessed with sunny days and highs in the mid 70s.  If it wasn't for the fact that the sun starts to set at 6:30pm, you'd think it was June.

Since the weather is gorgeous, but the daylight is limited, I've been doing a lot more runs lately.  Yesterday, I did my first long run (more than 8 miles) since the Ironman.  My aim was to just get out and stretch my legs and 'see how it went'.  Unfortunately, my Garmin was out of juice, so I had to do the run 'al fresco' - no time, no heart rate, just me and the road.  So, I made a mental note of the time on the microwave and took off to run around Medicine Lake.

The run was great.  It was kinda nice not to have constant reminders of how fast (or slow) I was going.  I tried to keep track of how long I stayed stopped at stoplights and drinking fountains so I could subtract that from my total time and get a general idea about how my pace was.  I was a little surprised that there weren't more people out there, considering now nice it was, but who am I to judge?

I kept the pace steady.  It wasn't easy, but it wasn't too strenuous either.  I just wanted to enjoy the evening, so I went at the 'speed of fun'.  In any event, I eventually made it home, about 20 minutes before sunset.  I did a little math and determined that I had been running for about 1:44 - give or take.  Then I hopped on '' to figure out how far I had gone - 10.94 miles to be exact.  So, to make a long story even longer, during my 'fun run' I kept the same pace as my 1/2 marathon during the Liberty 1/2 Ironman.  Not too shabby.

Okay.  So, now I'm SUPER psyched about running.  In fact, I'm so psyched that I went ahead and signed up for the Team Ortho Monster Dash 10-Miler.  This will be my first running-only race since high school, and back in high school, we only ran 5Ks.  At more than 3 times that distance, this one will be interesting.

I'm also pretty excited for tomorrow.  The weather's supposed to be fantastic (again), and the Vikes don't play until Monday night, so I'm going to do a nice long bike ride, complete with photos and maybe even a good meal.  I'm going to enjoy tomorrow.  I'm going to enjoy the CRAP out of it.

In the mean time, I'm just going to kick my feet up with The Wife and enjoy what hopefully won't be the last Twins game of the year.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Treat for the Game

Fact: Tonight is the first Twins playoff game of the fall, and The Wife and I will need something on which to snack while we watch our ball club take on the Yanks.

Fact:  I haven't had a good helping of fries since, well, I can't even remember when.

Opinion: It's time for some home fries baby.

Step 1: Slice up some taters. In this case I chose red taters, even though the recipe called for Yukon Gold.  Oh yeah, and REAL men leave the skin ON.

Not too tough. Just make 'em, you know, 'Fry Shaped'.
Step 2: Soak the slices in water for about 10 minutes.  Then toss them with a little vegetable oil  Put your oven rack to the lowest setting and heat it up to 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Oil up a non-stick tray and sprinkle on some salt an pepper.  Drain and dry the slices and spread them out on the tray.

Step 4.  Bake at 450-500F for 20 minutes.

Step 5. Flip over the half-done taters.

Half-baked fries - ready to be flipped.
Flipped and ready for another trip to the oven.

Step 6: Pop 'em back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.  I like to turn on the broiler with 5 minutes to go.  This gets the fries nice and golden-brown.

Almost done.  Oh boy.  Oh boy.  Oh boy.
Step 7: Take 'em out, put 'em in some paper towels to soak up any excess oil, season and enjoy.  I prefer just a little salt 'n' pepper, but you could spice things up with a little garlic powder, chili powder or even sprinkled with your favorite dry rub.

Yeah.  Oh.  Heck. Yeah.
Step 8:  Enjoy the crap out of these suckers.  Just remember, like Cookie Monster says: this is a sometimes food, not an anytime food. 

Later kids.  Have fun, eat up, and go Twins!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Perfect Weekend

This last weekend was crazy good.  It had everything I love - in mass quantities.

Friday Night

Holding true to my every-other-day philosophy, Friday was a workout day.  The weather around here has been absolutely perfect for running.  Friday, I was blessed with 60 degrees and clear skies.  My legs have been feeling better and better lately, so I decided to to try out a new route.  Instead of heading towards Medicine Lake, I headed east instead. 

The first thing I discovered was that, well, would you believe we've been living in our home for 4 years and I never knew there was a dog park within a mile of the house?  Sheesh.  I should change up directions more often.  I passed the dog park and jogged through Bassett Creek Park.  This area has some special meaning for me.  It's where they used to hold a lot of my old Cross Country races back in high school.  The park hasn't changed a bit and the old memories started flooding back.  Good stuff.

After the Bassett Creek, I headed over Highway 100 via a nice new footbridge and followed the creek with some nicely paved paths.  If I were to have kept heading east, I would have eventually run into the Theodore Wirth area.  The Wirth trails can eventually hook up with just about every trail in town.  I'll have to keep this route in mind for some longer weekend runs.

When I noticed that the sun was starting to go down, it was time to head back towards home.  Once I crossed back over (actually UNDER) the highway, I was in familiar territory again.  There wasn't a lot of light left, so I made a bee-line home.  I covered the 7.6 mile run in under 1:15 but still kept the effort nice and relaxed.  My body is REALLY digging the cooler weather lately.  It's nice to be able to run longer and faster without it feeling harder.

Pretty much everything in the Northeast portion of the route was new to me.

Once I got home, The Wife and I decided to go out on an honest to goodness date.  Cash has been pretty tight lately, especially since we spent so much dough during Ironman weekend.  So, we've been holding back on any extra spending.  I'm officially in 'thrifty' mode, so it wasn't easy to get me out, but I have to admit that a pizza and a couple of beers with my sweetie sure felt good.


Saturday was another perfect day on the weather front.  My cousin plays soccer for Minnehaha Academy, so The Wife and I decided to catch the homecoming game.  The only bad thing about this plan was that the school is right on the West River road, which is part of the route for the TC 10-Miler and the Twin Cities Marathon, so a bunch of the roads were blocked for race weekend.   We ended up a few minutes late, but fortunately didn't miss any scoring. 

The Minnehaha boys did a great job and ended up winning 2-0.  Way to go guys!  After the game, we met up with my Uncle, Aunt and cousin.  My aunt's mom and sister also came to the game.  Her sister was in town to run the Marathon on Sunday.  It was cool to talk with her.  She's a wicked strong runner - she's done ump-teen marathons and has even qualified for Boston.  She even tried her hand at a tri this past summer, but didn't care too much for the swim.  I don't blame her.  That was one of the roughest parts for me at my first tri. 

On Saturday evening, The Wife and I headed over to some friends' house to just chill and hang out.  Or at least, that's what she TOLD me we would be doing.  Instead, when I walked in their door, I heard about a dozen people yell 'SURPRISE!'.  Then I saw my mother in-law, and my parents and many of our closest friends.  Honestly, at first I thought that they were all together to celebrate something The Wife did.  But then I saw all the Ironman-themed decorations.  Holy Crap!  This party was for ME!. 

It was great.  I hadn't seen most of these people since the race and it was the perfect way to catch up with them.  Plus, if you've ever known someone that's completed an Ironman, you know that they LOVE to keep talking about the race.  They had all kinds of great snacks and even a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake!  A freakin' Dairy Queen ICE CREAM CAKE!  Sweet!

I've gotta hand it to The Wife for keeping this a secret.  I heard that she had wanted to have the get-together the week after the race, but I was too knocked out by the flu.  Keeping the secret for that long had to have been killing her.  Well played Honey.  Well played.


After all the shenanigans on Saturday, I decided to go for a nice bike ride down the Greenway trail on Sunday morning.  Eventually the trail meets up with the river, right around mile 20 of the marathon.  I got going a little late, but was pleased to see that there were still plenty of racers out on the course.  These weren't the speed machines that finish in 3 hours or less.  These were the average Joe and Jane Schmos that just wanted to finish a marathon, no matter how long it took.  It was encouraging to see them slog it out through the toughest part of the course while there were will still thousands of volunteers and cheer crews lining the streets. 

I headed back home and thew on some comfy clothes.  I spent the next several hours with The Wife alternating between 'Football Time' and 'Nappy Time'.  It was a well-spent afternoon.

It was a great weekend.  With family, friends, races, football and even Ice Cream Cake, I couldn't have asked for more.

If you frequent this site, then you've got a few things to look forward to,  I'm finally solidifying my fall and spring schedule, plus I'm working on my next product review.  This one will actually be a comparison between two popular anti-chafing products.  After all, friction is an athlete's worst enemy.