Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Belated Halloween post.

Yeah, I've been meaning to get on here and post on Halloween. But with daylight saving time, its getting dark earlier and getting workouts is getting harder. This will be my 1st winter working regular dayshift in about 14 years, so I'm still adjusting. But I like it, I'm getting more sleep than I have since, well, since I was a lazy 20 year old lying around working P/T and going to school. It just requires more attention to detail, getting out the door immediately when I get home from work, so I'm not running in the dark.

So we ran the Lakefront Discovery run on Oct 31st, my 1st time, and it was a BLAST! Many, many runners dressed up in crazy costumes, which I will do next year, this will be an annual event for us now! We shot a few pics before the start, here is out little group standing out (freezing) in the parking lot at the War Memorial Center in Milwaukee:

Note, my buddies wife Kimmy wearing the donkey head for the run. It was actually a Democratic party type head piece, but she covered up the party symbols so there would be no talk of politics, but I'll go into that more later on, in another post...Also note Amy Jo's (center) devil costume, she had red contacts in, when I jumped in the car at the park n ride lot to carpool to the race, I did a big double take when I said "Hey, how's it going?", and was then like, Holy Crap, WTF??? Freaky, they looked real!

So I ran it with intentions of 1) running the 15k and 2) running like a madman for a good time.

Well, based on the fact that my youngest got sick in the middle of the night, and my wife had to drop out at the last minute to stay home, I decided to run the 5k so I could get back home a bit faster, in case the little Turkey has to go to the DR, yeah, on Halloween. So, 5k, I think to myself, thats OK, I can jam it and go for a PR. Well, the start was a little congested, well, actually it was a lot congested. So we had to run around people, jump between people, even run up in the median, which was lumpy and bumpy. So, I quickly eschewed the hopes for any PR, even though we started out at a great 7:30ish pace. But I figured I'd run the whole way with my buddy Bob, and see what kind of time we got.

Our pace slowed a bit, as my bud got side "stitches", those lovely cramps you get where you feel like you're getting stabbed with a dull instrument in the side. But, there was hope, as we rounded a corner near the Summerfest grounds along the lakefront-low and behold they were serving BEER along the race route! So, of course, I stopped for a tapper and brought it with to "sip" until the finish. And finish we did, with a quasi-respectable time of right around 27 min flat (might be off 10-15 seconds, I forgot to start my Garmin during the initial confusion!).

So, we finish, have a few cookies and a bottle of h2o and wait for the girls to get in. Once they arrive, we head down the block to the Milwaukee Ale House, where they are serving, yep you guessed it, free BEER on tap. So we have a few beers, chat it up with some other racers, there were a bunch of Tri racers at this run, I guess they run it every year. I think the name of their club is the Tri Donkeys, they've got their own kit and all, pretty cool. I might have to race with them and join up in 2010.

Post run, back home

Group Shot!

Some of our costumes, particularly mine and Beck's were pretty great, but bordered on disturbing!!!

Here are our great neighbors, Peg and Paul, they are the best! Note Paul's and my matching teeth...

One of our kids with Bob and Kim's kids, they're such buds!

So Halloween was a great time, and afterwards, I took a few days off here recently to rest up and wind down the season. But, I had to keep the break short. The bottoms of my feet, my left foot in particular, were starting to get sore after mid length runs (like a 10k, for instance). Well, I went out to Performance Footwear in Brookfield, and bought a new pair of running shoes. A great store, small, but very friendly, knowledgeable staff, with a treadmill and camera system to take video of your stride and foot landing placement. I went with a pair of Aasics Gel Nimbus 11, size 11.5 in a EE width. Turns out, I've probably been running in too narrow of a shoe, after an ill fitting at another "high end" running store near where I work. I won't be going back there...

So far, so good with the new shoes. I've got about 21 miles on them, and I ran a post work 5k tonight, as it was getting darker (dusk), and it was COLD. I didn't wear a hat or my gloves, so I was freezing by the time I hit the end of my street. I think this made me want to run faster, which I wanted to start doing anyways! This wasn't quite an interval run, but still pretty quick. I ran it in 23:34, and kept the HR reasonably in check. Tomorrow AM, I'm hitting the weight room at work, by 6am. I work inside tomorrow, so I've got a few extra minutes to get a workout in.

My next post, might be titled "Goals". Thats right, goals for the winter training season. What I want to concentrate on, what I want to improve on, what races I'm leaning towards for 2010. The weight room is one of those goals, so I might as well get started.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Bike ride..a pictorial journey.

So I got a nice solo bike ride in today, rode about 25 miles and really enjoyed it. The weather was OK, cloudy, cooler (in the 50s), slightly damp, no wind to speak of (a 1st around here!) but once I warmed up, it was a fine day to ride. I even brought my camera along, and took a few pit stops and shot some while moving along. Here we go.

I didn't shoot any pics until I got out to I94, which I made in like 28 minutes. Construction zone...

I found out the bridge on Hwy G is still out! This is my usual turn around point anyways.

One of the fields filled with pumpkins

Here is Hwy G, surrounded by many farm fields and drying feeder corn

We've had a little rain here you can see here...

I like this one, the camera angle makes this 'hill' look super steep. Killer! Ohhh my legs...actually it wasn't that bad! But it looks steep, hey??

Some goats at the Jo Dan Farm. Great place, kids love going here. I love bleating at the 'kid' goats in the field as I fly on by!

Some of the rollers coming up. Again, not too bad. This ride is actually all up a grade all the way to I94, then back down (mostly).

Pumpkins for sale, self serve out here in the 'sticks'!

23+ mph on this little downhill stretch. I've hit 34+ here before...

over the Root River...

nice riding here, especially during the week. Very light traffic, roads are in OK repair, not ship seal at least!

entering the little Village of Wind Point, some of my favorite riding and running are right here!

my mug, no shave on the days off! I managed not to drop the camera...or break it with this one...

4 Mile Road, heading towards Wind Point just around the bend.

Pulling in to the lighthouse parking lot, new asphalt and all! Great place for a pit stop, bathrooms, water, lake view...

The Giant with a Lake Michigan backdrop, nice!

Looking back west at the lighthouse from the beach. I grew up walking these beaches, god I love it up here!

Looking north towards Milwaukee...

And south towards Racine and North Beach, if you look hard you can see it in the haze...

here, I balanced the camera on that log you saw in a previous pic...

here is Shoop Golf course and Wind Point just south of the lighthouse. Lake Michigan is off to the left...

check out the house on the left, it is built into the side of the hill right along the shoreline. They have some wicked good views of the winter storms that will start in November!

here is one of a view I see often, running or riding literally right next to the Lake Michigan shoreline and view of downtown Racine. This is an awesome spot to go past, no matter the time of year. I did a quick desaturate on this shot...very grey and slightly ominous. I will get some shots here this winter in the snow...

a few miles to the west and up 3 Mile Road, to the rock quarry. No Trespassing is right, would not want to fall over this fence!

peeking through the fence to the west, look at the lower far edge, to the right, in the quarry, there is a tunnel there...

right here, this thing is huge!

and looking across to the NW, you se a building in the tree line

there it is, part of the old St Rita church, now part of the preschool and housing for the novices and staff.

Got leaves? This guy sure does! Makes me appreciate having smaller trees...

Charles Street heading due north, heading home now. Nice wide parking lanes to run and ride in, nice and safe here.

on my dead end street now...almost there...

to our humble little abode!

It was a fun ride today! I took my time, enjoyed it, and look forward to more rides yet this year-I think I need about another 75 miles or so to hit 2,000 miles this year, so there is my motivation! I will get there, this much I know.

We're planning on a group ride (redeux of the Tour de Java which we canned, due to the super cold temps) on Nov 7th, weather permitting again, from Wind Lake to Lake Geneva (right here in Wisconsin, not Switzerland now!). There are some killer hills in the area surrounding Lake Geneva/Fontana, so I will be sure to bring my camera and try not to fall off while I shoot some pics.

Otherwise, the Discovery 15k race (running) is this Saturday, as is our annual Halloween party and...daylight saving time again! This is good and bad; good, we get an extra hour of partying (or more likely, sleep), but the downside is less time to get anything done after work. I'm ready for the 15k, I ran a 7.5 miler yesterday and felt good, did it in 1hr 2min, so I should hit my goal time of 1hr 15min to finish her off. Look for the report over my four day off weekend, another sweet point to look forward to!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marathon report.

Ok, so I finally have enough time and energy to do a half way decent Milwaukee Marathon report. Its been just over two weeks since the race, so I've had time to recover and reflect a bit, it seems longer than two weeks! So, where to start...

I think maybe a good place to start would be to remember a few random thoughts I had while running the marathon. I remember thinking several things, and coming to the following conclusions:

1) You will inevitably have to make a pee stop during a marathon, this you cannot avoid.
2) I love running a race with a pace group!
3) I'm glad I carried my Nathan hand pack/bottle the entire race.
4) I know I can run a marathon, and finish it (now I know this much).
5) and last but not least, I can start to think about the possibility of a full IronMan race in the future.

I had many. many other thoughts and times of deep "reflection", if you will, about various things during the 4 hour run, but these are what pop in my mind right now. So now, lets start at the start.

I decided to drive myself up to Milwaukee and the downtown area, to ride the shuttle bus up to the official start in Grafton (in Ozaukee County), this way Beck and the kids could sleep in for awhile longer. I arrived in about 20 minutes from my house, chuckling as I saw other runners driving up from the Racine area in the pitch black, like myself. I immediately noted there were volunteers all over at the parking structure on Lincoln Memorial Drive and Michigan, and they directed us right in to park for free, none the less! More volunteers stood by to help get us safely across the road, where we boarded the big yellow school bus without delay. I counted 20+ buses standing by, so far so good. Our bus pulled out within a few minutes after I boarded. I sat in the far back, and most of the ride was quiet, with one guy across from me fast asleep the entire trip. Some small chit chat from others, one guy was also running his 1st marathon, so he was asking questions about what to expect, what to eat, what to drink. Another guy, who looked like ex-military and was obviously quite fit, said this was his 12th or 13th marathon, and he expected to run it in about 3 hours. I was thinking about this time about how long the ride up I43 really is from downtown Milwaukee to Grafton...

So we arrive at Grafton High School, and they have what looks like the entire 1st floor open for the runners. There are many Porto Potties set up, as well as water stations outside. I go in, sit down, and start my prep in one side hallway. Plenty of time before the start, so no need to rush or get nervous now. I rub Vaseline on my feet (not the bottoms however, I had bad experience with this before on a long run), take care of the "chest friction issues" with some Body Glide and Vaseline, get my race #1028 pinned on, slip off my sandals and put on some shorty race socks, but leave my laces loose for now. I start a little leg stretch, and rub the leg muscles a little to warm them up. I get my iPod set up, and run the wires under my base layer short sleeve. Pack up my remaining stuff in the travel bag provided, and I head outside after a little while.

Its cool this morning, so much so that its actually a little uncomfortable while standing around. I opt to wear my arm warmers and light running gloves, and this was a good choice. There is a track in the back of the school, a real track with the soft running surface and lane designations, so I stretch some more and turn on some tunes, then head for a little warm up jog. I do about a 1/2 mile or so, get the engine warmed up and head over to hit the bathrooms and fill my bottle. I stop at the USPS truck to toss my travel bag on, there goes my $70 Keens and all the other stuff I can't carry, hope I see it all later!

I make my way to the pace group area, and wade my way through a sea of people. There were about 2,800 or so runners, but it seemed like 20,000 in this tight little start area. So I find my 9:10 min/4 hour pace group, and wait a few more minutes. Some local official says a few words, as I look at all the people shivering in the cold west winds, and then the gun sounds. We're off! Here I go, my 1st marathon at 38 years old!

It is a slow, uneventful start. I feel like I'm running way, way too slow, but I know I need to stick with the pace group if I'm going to make it through this race in one piece. A few miles goes by, there are people filling the entire road, side to side, as far forward and back as I can see. It is a little tough to avoid running into others this early on, and several times I have to hop, skip or jump to one side to avoid tripping on or falling over someone. Other than this minor inconvenience, which really served to keep me on my toes (literally) and keeping a little mentally alert, I'm feeling good so far.

Mile #4.8, pit stop time:

I had sucked down a bottle of water and some Powerade before the race start, so I figured I might have to make a pit stop at some point in the race. I just didn't think it would be so soon-man, its hard to run with a hurtin' bladder. So at mile 4.8, I see a lone Porto toilet at a corner, I make a quick decision I might as well stop here, so I cut over to my left to get off the road. I cut right in front of some girl (sorry!), almost creaming her in the process. The pitstop was about 40 or so seconds, and then I'm off, trying to catch up to the pace group. They move right along, and I speed way up to catch up-running like a 7:45 pace until I see one of the runners with the "4:00 HR" bib on. Time to slow back down, and time to enjoy the music and scenery.

It is still a brisk one, but people are starting to shed their clothes; gloves, hats, old tee shirts, nice running coats and vests, arm warmers. I see this and more spread all along side of the road. I keep all my stuff, you see, I told my wife that if I reached a desperation point and could not carry the extra clothing I brought, I told her I would toss it at an aid station and hope to find it at the finish. She told me, "NO", that if I tossed it and lost it, I was "SOL". So eventually the gloves and arm warmers came off, but I smartly tucked them in the sides of my running short waist bands, thus saving the day (and my cold weather gear).

Mile #10. My right hip is starting to have a dull ache, too early, I'm thinking, to be hurting like this already. A little doubt crept into my mind this early on, and I start to think, "What was I thinking, telling everyone I was doing this in 4 hours?" Well, there was a long way to go, don't think about it too much yet. Time for a gel.

Mile #13.1, half way point has been reached. 1hr 59m and change. I'm on pace so far. Hmmm, maybe 4 hours isn't our of reach quite yet.

Mile #15.5, or so. I pop 2-500mg Acetaminophen that I had tucked in my Nathan hand pack, along with some gels. I can literally feel them "kick" in a few minutes, and they promptly take the edge off the right hip ache. Wow, that was cool.

Mile #18.5, or so. I feel like I've hit the wall. I feel my pace slow, and I fall off the back of the pace group and cannot jump back on. OK, keep it cool. Take it at my own pace, don't blow up. The mental games are starting for real now, as I pass mile #19, and head to #20. I think about the fact that this is the farthest I have EVER run, all at once, in my entire 38 years on this planet. It is a mental game to the Nth degree, and earlier than I had expected. It is hard now, probably the hardest point of the race as between mile 18.5 to 21. I wonder if this is the dreaded "WALL" I've heard so much about. Despite the cold which lingers, I am sweating like nobody's business. I can feel my feet now, though it's weird, my feet almost feel a little numb, and another thought I have is that, I know I won't be able to feel my legs by the end of the race. Weird how I knew this, but I just did. Ahh, it's OK, keep running, there goes mile #20. 10k to go.

I run with another guy who's wearing a Chicago Marathon shirt. We run about the same pace for a bit, now seeing the pace has slowed to a disturbing 9:30 or so, but this is as fast as I can go right now. We make some small talk, I pull my left earbud so I can hear him. He comments on how they claimed this was a "flat" course, and how this wasn't flat, Chicago, now that was flat. He says the only time you go UP was to go over the river on the bridges. Hmph, I tell him I'm thinking of running Chicago next year. He says we've got another 10k to go. He gets up in front of me for a distance, I shoot another gel and suck down some Powerade/water mix I was carrying.

Mile #21. Groups of fans, family and people who live there are on the sides of the road, and their numbers are growing. I've still got my tunes blasting, but I can here cowbells and people yelling, clapping, cheering. I hear someone yell, "Nice job, Brian! Way to go man". I give 'em a glance, who the hell is that? How do they know my name? Oh yeah, its on your race bib, you dummy. Whoa, I am starting to call myself names now.

But then, suddenly, I feel like I've got my 2nd wind. I feel like I got a shot of energy or motivation, something like a switch being flipped. Physically, I felt stronger and this gave me a boost of mental courage as well. I pick up my pace, and I don't even want to look at my pace on the Garmin, I just shoot a glance to my HR every so often. I see the Chicago guy, and I pass him. It looks like he's kind of waving his arms, almost like he was talking to himself, or arguing with himself or something, with a kind of perplexed look on his face, but he's not talking with anyone else, this I know. I don't see him again the entire way to the finish.

I keep running, now at a much better pace, still feeling very good. I see I'm past 22 miles, and I think, 4.2 miles to go, that's all. That's like a fast loop around my neighborhood, I tell myself, that is nothing, you run that like nothing now. I also think about how long we've been running on Lake Drive, and I remember thinking about how up and down Lake Drive is. One more gel.

23.5 miles. We turn left and then a gentle curve to the right, and suddenly a long downhill stretch. I can see the steel gray and murky green of the chop of Lake Michigan, and I see the beach. It has never looked so good before this time. I am going a bit faster on this fairly steep drop to the lake level along Lincoln Memorial Drive, and I'm passing a few people who are blowing up. I pass a bunch of younger runners, who have started walking, I pass one younger girl and I see she has broken down crying, no, more like sobbing. There are more than one who is in pain, cramping up, tears welling up, people doubled over on the grass. My legs hurt, my feet still feel numb. I run on.

Bradford Beach, maybe mile 24.5 or so. I remember more fans yelling and clapping, yelling my name. I remember thinking, I need some super duper tunes right now, and fast forward until I find something with a strong beat. I don't remember the song. I remember passing a drive entrance to the parking area along the lagoons, and I see a time clock. Holy crap, I don't think I will make it in 4 hours! I dig deep, and speed up, under 2 miles to go. I run so hard I can feel my hamstrings and calf muscles on the verge of locking up. I glance at the Garmin, back down to a near 8 min pace, the home stretch now. On the walking paths past the pavilion, I see kites flying. The path curves, one of the volunteers is clapping hard and yelling at me, "GO GO GO, you got it man". The final 50 yards or so are all fans and family and friends, filled in the sides. I toss out my ear buds. I hear my friends yelling for me, I hear my wife screaming and I see my oldest Maddie on the right side jumping up and down and yelling. I try to high five but I hand her my water bottle instead.

Finished! I can't stop running, so I coast past the timer. I still can't stop. A girl in front of me has stopped, and I run into her, "Sorry", I could not stop! Wow, its done. Someone places the medal over my head. My legs hurt, but I feel alive. I walk over and find my wife, get a big hug and a big swig of Coke. I grab a banana, bagel and another water. I walk into the spectators area and get some congrats from our race buds Bob and Kim, and my kids, who don't really want to hug their smelly, sweaty, stinky Dad, but they do anyways.

As I cool down, I see many runners donning reflective body warmers which the volunteers are handing out. I see someone on a stretcher, shivering, sick. My buddy Bob and I toast the 'official end' of our race season with Left Hand Brewing Milk Stouts. My legs tighten up, fiercely. I am soaked and it's cold now that I've stopped running. Cold or not, I strip off the wet shirt and change right on the grass. I turned in my race medal to get the time engraved, and I am happy to see the final official time engraved on it, "4 hours 00 minutes 36 seconds". Wow, I made my time goal! More hugs all around, and my buddy comments on how I could qualify for Boston Marathon by shaving about 40 minutes or so off. I tell him he's crazy! We head off to get lunch and talk about 2010 racing. We talk about getting some custom race kit made up for our group-how cool would that be? Here we go already.

In looking back on the race, it was a great time and a super well run event. I've got no complaints about the race itself, a top notch event with top notch volunteers, super weather, and great results. I got all my gear back (thanks USPS!) and had no race injuries to speak of, other than the standard sore legs and feet for a few days. I know I could have started training earlier, but for that 1st one, I will take it. It was a huge boost, knowing I could put up that effort and stay motivated for as long as I had to for training. This is why I can now honestly think about the possibility of committing to a full IM in 2011; being able to finish the marathon was a big mental hurdle I had to get over for myself, before I could even consider IM. Now, I can stew on it over this winter and talk next year for the mean time, I get to get back on my bike and ride some now, which is a bonus!

And, to be honest, the marathon also renewed my late season motivation. I've still been running, not nearly as much, granted, but the marathon helped my fitness level as well. I ran several 10k runs since, and have posted times of 49:22 on the 13th, 51:30 on the 16th and 49:37 yesterday. These are about race pace 10k times for me, so I'm happy with my fitness level and the fact we've got at least one or two more run races to go now this year.

Yeah, even though we toasted the "END" of the race season, the group of us signed up for the Milwaukee Lakefront Discovery Run, which is on Oct 31st-yeah, on Halloween! There were 5k and 15k options, so I went for the 15k while my wife and Bob and (possibly) Kim are doing the 5k. I say possibly for Kim, as she needs knee surgery soon for some meniscus damage, so she might be out. I'm shooting for 1hr 15min, which will mean I need to run the 9.3 miles at an 8 min pace. We'll see, I think I can!

I'm looking forward to the Discovery race and our annual Halloween Party later that afternoon/evening. All the friends and kiddies come to our subdivision to Trick or Treat, we pull out the fire pit in the driveway, and put on the big old pot of hot homemade chili, hot beef and cold brews and mixers. All the neighborhood gets out and about, with many of the adults dressing up (we all do every year!), it really is a great place to live, despite the rapidly approaching cold weather! Look for a Halloween Race/Party report to follow!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Milwaukee Marathon is done! What a run!

Finish Time: 4h 00m 36s

WOW-it's finally done! The "full report" will be at a later date. But, in short, what a well run, fun event for my 1st full marathon! There were NO problems, from shuttle ride up to the start to the engraving of the medal, even the weather cooperated (cloudy, cool, in the 50s) all day, not a drop of rain.

Celebrating the run with my buddy and a couple Left Hand Brewing Co. Milk Stouts-awesome beer!

The kids and I after the race

Beck and I, with the celebratory beer!

So I hit my goal to run in in 4 hours, I am very satisfied with the results and my effort-it was A LOT of work! I will post a detailed report later, time eat (again) and to rest and elevate those dogs!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

21 hours! Bring It!

Until the start of Milwaukee Marathon! Finally under one day to go-I'm almost relieved. My head is kind of spinning a little, maybe because I've got so much to do today, including Bingo set up at out church, a birthday party for one of our friend's kids, repack my gear for tomorrow AM, finalize my MM playlist. I should cut the grass today, but I have a feeling I won't get to it. No sweat-the grass can wait, not like its going anywhere! Not feeling nervous, just want to get there tomorrow and get going!

Last night, we hit the MM Expo and did packet pick-up. We got there late-only had about 1/2 hour to walk around, and I was surprised there were as many vendors and gear (read: goodies!) as there was. I guess when an event like MM is in it's 29th year, there is going to be good support. So, packet p/u was easy, some goodies, not as much as I would've liked, but hey, what can you do? So they gave us the running shirt (long sleeve, it is October in WI after all), a sport drink, Biofreeze (YES!), and running flashy, blinky red light, timing chip, race #, and lots (and LOTS) of pamphlets on other events for later this year and next year. Here is the MM shirt and something else I've been wanting to pick up for some time now:

Yep, I bought it, "The Stick". I've read several articles in various magazines about The Stick, and how some of the pro athletes and trainers swear by them, not only for aiding recovery, but for warming up the muscles pre race. They had them for a very good price, so I picked up a mid sized one. I tried it a little last night and today, massaging the legs, and I tell ya what, my legs do feel better, it gets deep into the muscle, and you don't have to push super hard-or have to con your significant other into rubbing your legs for an hour. The instructions say to roll about 30 times, maybe up to 50 if you have a bunch of knots, so it goes very quickly. I'm liking it- I will be bringing it with for post race massage-although I've promised myself a 'professional massage' after the race tomorrow, if the lines aren't too long that is!

My gear bag is packed, here it is:

I will unpack it at least once tonight, and go over everything to make sure I'm not missing anything. This is my pre-race ritual, night before unpacking and packing, looking over everything brings a sense of satisfaction and a kind of positive mental state before bed.

Other cool things, I got my Fizik saddle Thursday, talk about fast shipping! Here it is, I'm digging the color coordination:

And I was playing with the Giant, starting to fit the new FD cable, when I realized my Polar F6 bike mount was still on the handlebar. I figured, what the heck, lets try to fit the Garmin to the F6 mount, here are the results:

It fits, and it fits GOOD!

I'm probably going to order a new set of Look Keo Sprint pedals today-found 'em on eBay for under $90, and they're red, so they will match the Giant perfectly. This way, I can give my wife her pedals back, which I "borrowed" earlier this year and have not given back yet (long side story-I bent one of the shafts on my 'good' pedals, my Look Keo Carbons, telling me I need to lose some weight, 'cause I don't think I generate that many watts of power!).

The 'Tour de Java' is set for next Saturday, I will be riding instead of running Al's Run in Milwaukee-I think I need a break from the running race grind, and want to ride now!

I've been playing with my MM playlist, I don't have time to list ALL the songs, but here are the artists, which I've bunched up songs by, in some sort of illogical order which might help me as I run (who knows about this!?!):

Counting Crows
Five for Fighting
Jackson Browne
John Mayer
The Offspring
Pearl Jam
Simple Minds
Skid Row
Survivor (Eye of the Tiger-got to have this on a long run!)
Toad the Wet Sprocket
30 Seconds to Mars

Just over 4 hours of music; this is still subject to change or course, depending on how much time I sit and ponder the list later tonight, but quit the eclectic mix, hope it keeps my legs moving for that 4 hours. I know one thing-in under 21 hours, I'm going to find out! All I can say is...BRING IT!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fantasy Hockey Picks and Fall thoughts!

We held our 9th (or maybe 10th..) annual NHL hockey draft last night, fun times! I made some good picks, had some good luck with high draft slots early on, and I'm hoping for a good season, lots of wins and few injuries.

Basically, we draw #s to see where we pick in each round. I got a top 2 pick in round #1, and had top four picks each of the next 4 or 5 rounds as well. We select any position we want, in any order we want, but we are limited to 2-goalies, 2-centers, 4-wingers and 4-defenseman. Each week, we start 1-goalie, 1-center, 2-wingers and 2-denfenseman; the weeks are played heads up, the team with most points wins that match-up. There are 2 divisions, ten teams and we also have playoffs later in the season. We do a Stanley Cup pool as well, but this is not from the fantasy teams, just a side venture we've done for years. We've had the same bunch of guys all this time, so it's a blast to 'compete' every year for the title!

The only mistake in my entire draft was in choosing Jiri Hudler, a center from Detroit Red Wings. Well, at least I thought he was with the Wings, and CBS (who hosts our fantasy league) said he was a Red Wing as of last night. But, here I check his profile today on CBS and it says this:

The IIHF will allow Jiri Hudler to sign with Dynamo Moscow of the Continental Hockey League.

Notice the date on their update; if they knew he was playing for Moscow as of 9/09/2009, why wouldn't they pull his name from the pool of free agent centers in the CBS online league?? Here he was my last pick overall, and I thought I'd gotten a sweet bargin. Well, I will start Sid Crosby 100% of the time, if he is healty, so it doesn't matter too much at this time. Crosby has been in the top 3 picks overall for the past several years, and I've owned him for at least 2 years (this will be year #3). He had a mild groin strain in the last few games of preseason, but they say he is feeling better and will take the ice on the season opener on Oct 1st.

Eventually, I will take a look at the free agent centers and see if there are any bargins out there, and maybe scoop one up just in case. I could always use the center I pick up in a trade down the road, maybe fill up an injury spot or bolster the line-up for a late season run.

Here are my picks:

Kiprusoff, Miikka G CGY
Vokoun, Tomas G FLA

Crosby, Sidney C PIT (keeper pick from '08)
Hudler, Jiri C DET

Cammalleri, Mike LW MON
Kane, Patrick RW CHI
Hemsky, Ales RW EDM
Langenbrunner, Jamie RW NJ

Green, Mike D WAS
Spacek, Jaroslav D MON
Campbell, Brian D CHI
Kronwall, Niklas D DET

We're hoping to get to Chicago to take in a Blackhawks game (or two) this year. We always hit Cheli's Chili bar (owned by former 'Hawk Chris Chelios), its the ultimate hockey bar, good food, huge place, hockey memorabilia all over, TVs playing hockey games year 'round. They've got a chili bowl, you've got to see this thing. They take a large round hunk of bread, hollow out the center, and make it a 'chili bowl'-they fill it up with hot chili, put on some cheese, hot peppers and sour cream, it is delicious! Can't wait to get back there this fall.

And back when Cheli played for the 'Hawks, he would come in after some of the home games, with other 'Hawk players, where they had a 'semi private' bar area set up. I remember seeing Jeremy Roenick in there, Sergei Krivokrasov, even Steve Larmer back in the day when he was still with the 'Hawks (pre NY Ranger Stanley Cup days from 1994-still one of the best Cup Finals ever, NYR and Vancover, a 7 game series that was pure adrenaline rush every game). Some celebs would even come in with the players, one night my buddy and I are sitting there and in walks Cheli, and behind him walks in Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan-a big old tall dude next to the much shorter Chelios (who is like 5'08" on a good day!). Got Cheli to sign my one Blackhawk hat one night, and we've talked with some of his family who works at and runs the bar, a pretty cool group of people. Just a fun place to go in Chicago!

Yep, this is like the official start of Fall for me-the start of hockey season. I will miss the warmth of summer, riding in short sleeves with the jersy unzipped all the way, running in sleeveless. Yeah, but Fall is getting to be my favorite season, I think the extreme heat, athletics, racing/running/biking and all that fun stuff are getting tougher for me to handle as I get older. Fall is much easier on the body-man, I remember some of the days riding this summer in the heat, like when I was out east in SC/NC, some of the upper 80s days were tougher on me than riding for 6+ hours in pouring rain and the low 50s.

Winter is no gem to handle in Wisconsin either-you can only bundle up so much and endure only so much of those strong 25+ mph winds in the 20s on a bike before it gets to you-both physically and mentally. I like to tell myself every year that those tough, HTFU rides I do when itsin the 90s and blazin' hot with a ton of humidity, or those days when its like 20 degrees and windy and snow is piling up on my bike as I ride-I tell myself these rides are making me harder, stronger, more dynamic and I will be able to enjoy those Spring and Fall rides that much more. Yeah-I tell myself that, but it doesn't make it any easier to tolerate! But...deep down inside, those runs and rides in those torrid and blustery conditions are something you can tuck away for later, to bring out when you really need to dig deep down inside yourself and say, "Yeah, this is bad. But I know I can do it, I can do it, so lets get it done".

Thats the kind of deep down sort of drive I'm going to be digging into on Sunday, Oct 4th 2009 for the MM. That deep, deep well you draw from, to get through a super tough bike ride or run in the past, drawing that mental picture to keep the legs moving and getting it done. Yep, 3 days and she is here. Legs-feeling good, strong. Right hip-a little tight, sore, maybe irritated might be the right term. Overall-feeling rested, maybe a bit restless...mentally, I am going over my run that I will run, thinking about how it's going to hurt, staying positive at the same time, knowing the pain will still come...but I can get by.

Like I've said before, I just want to hear the crack of the starting pistol-or the air horn? Not sure what they use at the's about time to get it on and get done. Yesterday, I found a video shot by one of the JS Online reporters, he drove the MM route with a small camera mounted on the dash to record the whole route. Talk about a cool idea-they edited the footage and sped it up, while he narrated where the run takes you. Yep, it was a little daunting watching this, but at the same time, I was able to draw some motivation in looking over the course from Grafton WI all the way down to the Milwaukee lakefront and Veteran's Park, where we will finish amongst a crowd of thousands of cheering, screaming fans-including my wife, my kids and my race buddies Bob and Kim! The course itself is a little rolling at first, and you go back and forth, east and west, all the time heading north to south (lets hope for a north wind to cool us and push us at the same time!).

But the last (roughly) 3-4 miles are brilliant, you make a few more turns and keep south on Lake Drive, winding through the sleepy North Shore suburbs, until you make a quick left turn onto Lincoln Memorial Drive-where you can suddenly see a mighty body of water glowing a brilliant, blazing golden sun reflected in a deep blue and gray of Lake Michigan-what a sight it will be! This very turn also means you turn and run downhill-a true downhill, all the way to the finish! Awesome, I say!! I am hoping the weather will cooperate-the forecast said sun and a high of 60 degrees. Lets hope the rain will bypass the area-I will gladly take the cool morning and even clouds, but lets keep the rain on hold!

So, lets cheer on the start of hockey season, the "start" of Fall and the MM! I'm looking forward to all of it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm doing my part...

To stimulate the economy, that is.

Made a stop at Allis Bike today, in West Allis (hence the name!) and bought some new cables, a new SRAM PC-1070 Powerchain (with hollow pins. weighing in at 265 gr), and talked with one of the guys awhile. I'm starting to like this shop more and more, they seem decent and straightforward, knowledgeable and they have some hard to get parts (like my FD hanger, this was the only place around to have it in stock). The guy said he swears by SRAM stuff, which, I have heard a lot of good things about; he checked my cable housings, said they're fine, and said you really don't ned to replace cables, or the housing for that matter, as much as everyone says you do. He said they last and you will have poor shifting, or braking, if they stretch way out. He did measure my chain, and yes, it is stretched way out, it is shot, and this was the reason I was having the 'skipping' or slippage on the FLETC ride while going up hills under real power. He was surprised I got 5,000+ miles out of the Ultegra chain.

I'd like to try out a full compliment of SRAM components, say the Force or Rival, even. I cannot even consider the Red level, I mean, I'd love it, but I cannot justify spending that much on components alone. I mean, they were teams racing on the Pro Tour level, top continental teams now, racing on Shimano Ultegra level stuff. So for now, I think I will try the SRAM chain, see how she holds up, how it shifts, how it 'feels' during the ride, and go from there. I was thinking about maybe, just maybe now, building a new road bike with a new CF frame, and new components, next year. Maybe a Cervelo RS frame, and SRAM?? Maybe...I might even sell the TT bike to fund this project...but that's for another post and another day!

Yeah, I made a few other stops, too.

Not all the stuff in the pic was from today, BTW, the Polar computer stuff I have had lying around, from my rehabbed CS200cad. I will install that on one of my bikes here soon. But I did make a pit stop at Barnes and Noble, to peruse the mags. Can you tell I'm getting anxious to ride again???? Uh, yeah, and then there was the Garmin GPS purchase last week, man, I've been spending a bunch!

Seriously, I am a bike (and running) mag junkie. I usually have at least two (and often more) subscriptions to any given running/biking/tri mags at any given time; I will still stop at the book store to 'aisle shop', reading one or two at least while there, sometimes buying one (or more). Today, for example, I read the entire "Road" bike magazine, which I like, as they are an oversized mag, with awesome pics, really interesting and artistic shots, and some really good racing articles; the downside? Tons and tons of huge, full color, gawdy ads, pages after pages of them. I guess they have to pay the bills too.

I also ordered a new saddle for the Giant, which, by the way, sits in the repair stand, looking like this:

No saddle, no FD, no pedals, but at least she's clean!

I found a decent price on a Fizik Arione saddle, the same as my Fizik Arione Tri seat essentially. This one is a sweet black and red, with matching red bar tape, I should have it by Thursday (bought it off eBay this AM, and I already got a shipping confirmation email!). So the Giant will be road worthy by Friday PM.

I got a 17 mile ride in yesterday, instead of a run. I went a bit faster than I had planned, 18.7 mph average and done in 55 minutes. Wind was killer, 20+ mph W/SW with gusts to 30mph. But it was a great ride, great weather, and it felt good to ride again! A bunch of us are planning an easy group ride soon, a 'Tour de Java', a nice easy 15-20 mile ride, with a stop at Mocha Lisa for coffee and some sweets!

More later, I've got to run my oldest to piano now!