Coliseum Running at the MN State Fair

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008

After Jen told me that Dome Running wasn’t listed this week on MDRA’s website, I had to think of another way to get in my speed work. So yesterday I did intervals at the Coliseum at the Minnesota State Fair:



I had driven by the fairgrounds many times this winter, and I had noticed a sign that said “Coliseum jogging and skating: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm daily.” So I showed up at 11:30. I drove through the fairgrounds, and the “World’s Greatest French Fries” and one of a dozen “Cheese Curds” stands both looked sad covered in snow:



But the giant slide looked REALLY inviting!! Who wants to jump a 3 foot fence with me and have a BLAST some night?



Anyway, I got to the Coliseum, and here’s the outside as I got out of my car and looked up:



I got inside and looked left...



...and I looked right:



And then I saw it. I should have known it. There was a touch of Bengay in the air. It was a weekday. It was mid-day. Yep, the place was crawling with old people. Here’s one:



Ooh, here’s another (wearing a sweet denim shirt):



And here’s a third, which officially makes it a “herd:”



Seriously though, there weren’t many people there. I was the only one under 50 years old getting ready to run (or walk) around the coliseum. At the center of the building was a ice rink that was just starting to fill up with people:



I asked a woman walking around the coliseum if she knew how long a lap was, and she said, “Well, I’ve been told that 5 laps makes 1 mile.” So that’d be 320 meters / lap. I figured I’d do 2 lap intervals (640 meters) with 60 seconds rest. I used the red arrow that said “Vending” (5 photos above) as my start/finish line. Here were my splits:

1:51
1:47
1:44
1:44
1:44
1:45
1:45

1:45.7 average
Unknown distance (SHORTER than 640 meters)

It’s probably CLOSE to being 5 laps / mile, but not quite. I’m not that fast (that’d be running a 4:24/mile pace!). But it was still a good workout! After catching my breath for a few minutes, I snapped a sweaty photo:



I stretched a bit and then climbed the stairs inside the arena. The rink had filled up with ice skaters:



There were 47 stairs that I had just climbed in order to get that photo at the top of the arena. They were small steps, but they had little “grippies” on them so they were safe. AND THAT GAVE ME AN IDEA! I think we should skip the Saturday 9 am meeting at the icy and treacherous JJ Hill steps (see previous post) and instead meet at the Coliseum at 11:30 am to run stairs in comfort! I still want to run a workout on the JJ Hill steps sometime, just not when I’m going to slip and die. That’s fair, right? And if I bring an ass pad, I can lay that out of the way so I can do sit-ups and push-ups and make it a great Crossfit-like workout! I think I’ve sold myself on the idea of indoor stairs this weekend...

Anyway, as I was doing a cool down lap, I noticed a ticket booth. I came in a different entrance, so I didn’t see the man behind the window. Being I’m a good boy, I walked up to him on my way out and said, “I came in a different way and just noticed you here. Is there a charge to run in here?” He laughed at my honesty, commended me, and said it was 3 bucks. Not a bad deal to be able to skate, run stairs, or walk/run laps. He told me that the Coliseum is open 7 days a week (except for New Years Day) from November through March. I told him I’d be back.

So check back tomorrow to see if I can break 5 minutes in the 1600 meters at the “New Years Resolution Challenge” indoor track meet.

And let me know if you want to run stairs with Borsch, Steph, Jen, and myself on Saturday (maybe at the JJ Hill House, but more likely at the State Fair Coliseum at 11:30).

Happy New Year everyone! Yay 2009!

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3 Calls To RUN WITH ME

>> Monday, December 29, 2008

First, a quick workout update: I’m pretty much back to 100% after 4 horrible days. The last 2 days have been MUCH better. So this morning, the plan was to run 8 miles. I strapped on my YakTrax and headed out into the very pleasant 31 degree morning.

After 2 blocks, I was done. When I was home sick a few days ago, it hit 40 degrees. All the packed snow (which is fine to run on with YakTrax) had melted, and then it refroze as ice. YakTrax can’t magically make running on ice easy. It SUCKED. The whole run looked like this:



So I turned around, got home, grabbed some different clothes, and headed to the Y to do the run on a suckmill. It’s been about 2 years since I’ve had to step foot on a suckmill, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Here’s how it went down:

- 0-3 miles: 8.4 mph
- At 3 miles: up to 8.6 mph
- Halfway (4.0 miles) at 28:30
- At 5 miles: up to 8.8 mph
- At 6 miles: up to 9.0 mph
- At 7.15 miles: up to 9.2 mph
- Around 7.5 miles: up to 9.7 mph

Total: 8.0 miles in 55:20 (6:55/mile pace)
Negative split by 1:20.
Sweaty as f*ck.

Yeah, I forgot to wear a “technical” shirt. I just wore my normal grey cotton shirt that I usually wear when I lift weights at the Y. But it doesn’t work as well when I’m covered in sweat. Here I am collapsed next to the suckmill just as I finished:



And here I am 2 minutes later in the locker room (notice the sweat):



AND in that photo above, you can also see the “vein of approval” bulging out of my forehead (which indicates a good workout).

If the sidewalks stay this icy, next week I’ll do my 9 miler at the Y. I'll shoot for a little faster pace than today (I’m pretty sure I can do that - it had been so long since I had been on a suckmill that I was unsure how fast I could go today).

WANNA GO FOR A RUN?!? Pick one below:

Run #1: Pharmie is going to be at the Metrodome for Dome Running on Tuesday evening (tomorrow), and I’m pretty sure I’ll join her. She said she'll be “extra slow” because she hasn't done speed-work there in a while. I think I’ll do 1-lap intervals like I did 2 weeks ago (601 meters). I may back out if my heel gets sore from the run this morning, but I’d like to at least show up to do a few intervals. I’m thinking I’ll be there around 6 pm (Dome Running goes from 5 pm to 8 pm).

Update: There might not be any Dome Running this week - neither dates (30th or the 1st) are on the schedule. I might show up just to make sure, but it looks like the dome is closed!

Run #2: I’m going to try to break 5 minutes in the 1600 at another indoor track meet on New Years Day (Thursday Jan 1st) at 11:30 am. It’s on the Bethel University Campus, which is about 10 miles north of Minneapolis/St. Paul near the intersection of 35W and 694. I think they are planning on having the 1600 first, so I JUST MIGHT enter all of the events after that (you can do that for no added charge). This might change, but their website has the events in this order: 1600m, 200m, 800m, 1 Mile Judged Race Walk, 400m, 2000m C2 Row. I don’t think I’d do the race-walk and the row; I’d just do the running events.

This is a FUN EVENT! If you want to break out some mid-winter speed, come check it out! Being it's New Years Day, it doesn't start until 11:30 am. It’s cheap too: $16 pre registered, $25 at the door! I’ll be trying to take at least 8-tenths of a second off my 5:00.7 mile so I can go sub-5! Get more info here.

Run #3: I'm thinking about getting a group together on Saturday morning for a “Speed Saturday” workout on the stairs next to the JJ Hill House (near the Cathedral of St. Paul). There are about 150 steps and they are usually pretty well shoveled and salted. This morning, after my run at the Y, I stopped by the steps. Here’s the path covered in ice that leads down to the stairs:



And here are the stairs themselves (notice the man in the middle at the very bottom):



There’s more ice than I had hoped. So if anyone is interested, we’ll have to make sure to share the path and not be super concerned with how fast we do them - passing and meeting other people will be tricky, and we’ll have to share the non-icy areas. Borsch thinks he’ll be there. I’ll tentatively say 9 am this Saturday. And I’m also thinking about turning it into a Crossfit-inspired workout with pushups at the bottom of each lap. We’ll see. More to come on this later.

Have a good week, everyone!

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My Brother-In-Law Is Dead To Me

Matt, my brother-in-law (who is the other half of Team Happy Pants), recently was a part of a “Holiday Cookie Swap.”

Sounds nice, right?

Recently, the jerk dropped off what he didn’t want after the swap took place:



That’s seven dozen cookies and a brick of fudge that could single-handedly take down both trainers from The Biggest Loser! Yes, both Bob and Jillian. Here, let’s get a close-up of that fudge:



The funny thing is that I really don’t like chocolate. But I LOVE fudge! Explain that!

Matt, I don’t need all that crap. Thanks. Thanks a lot. You’re dead to me.

p.s. Hey Matt, who made the fudge? If she’s single, I’ll leave your sister for her. What’s her number? And if it’s a guy, I’m pretty sure I could put up with the “unpleasantries” of a relationship with a man as long as he makes that fudge for me every once and a while...

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Finally!

>> Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thanks for all the well-wishes everyone! I think I’m finally feeling better - yesterday things started looking up. Today, I might try something other than bread, Honey Nut Cheerios, or generic Frosted Flakes (that's been my nutrition for the last 4 days). Wish me luck!

As a “thanks for stopping by” gift, here’s a drawing I recently found that I made in 2nd grade. It shows what I want to be when I grow up. Yep, that’s me as a priest.



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Friday Funny 16: Christmas and Winter

>> Friday, December 26, 2008

I wasn’t going to have a “Friday Funny” this week, but being I’m stuck home sick unable to do anything else, I figured why not. BTW, no big change in my sick state - I’m no better, but I’m no worse either. I’m still just feeling crappy.

So, here are some Christmas and Winter-Related funnies:























Even though I’m not feeling any better, at least I’m not feeling so bad that I need to try out our new bathroom installation:



Happy Holidays! Enjoy those leftovers!

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All I Want For Christmas...

>> Thursday, December 25, 2008

...is to not be stuck at home with the flu (or whatever it is making me feel like this).

My temp yesterday was 99.4. That’s not “near death,” but I still feel horrible. I’m hanging out at home with my 2 cats as Pharmie and the family is opening gifts a few hours away.

I couldn’t sleep this morning, so I got up and rung in my Christmas morning with a game of Mario 3 on my NES. I got bored part way through World 6 once I had over 1,000,000 points and 99 lives:



(Which, BTW, reminds me of this comic:)



Anyway, I’m not complaining.

I feel like crap. I can’t stay vertical for more than 3 or 4 minutes without needing to lie down. I’ve only got brief snippets of sleep in the last 2 nights. Food turns me off (which is when you KNOW it’s bad). I’m missing my Grandpa and Grandma’s famous “Tom and Jerry” mix (which is like eggnog, only WAY better). I’m missing my Aunt’s deviled eggs. I’m missing hanging out with my 50 week old nephew. I sat down to write this, and I’ve had to take 2 breaks since I started.

But I’m not complaining.

I’m sitting in my warm home. I’ve got a family that loves me (and some of them might even miss me - HA!). When asked what I needed for Christmas by my Mom, Grandma, and Mother-in-law, I came up with very little.

There is nothing I “needed.”

Life can’t be all that bad.

Count your blessings this Christmas.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Sincerely,
Steve in a Speedo


(Update: 8:30 am - Julia, who I swam with on Monday, just e-mailed me. She's sick too. We're blaming the pool at the Y.)

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Track Meet Photos

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Umm, first let’s start with what those spikes did to my feet. I only ran 1 mile in them! Why do my feet get so beat up?!

Here’s my left foot (which didn’t hurt much), and you can see the little hole I made in the blister to drain it:



On my right foot, I discovered this little gem on my middle toe:



But it was the bottom of my right foot that hurt. During that mile run in my spikes from high school, I developed a huge blister on the bottom of my foot. It HURT. Look at how red and inflamed it looks:



Here’s the same photo, only this one highlights the old blister in green, along with where the new blister formed in red:



The new blister isn’t on the side of the foot where I usually get them - it was on the bottom, so it made it hard to walk on Sunday evening.

Anyway, this is what caused those beauties: Here I am finishing up my first real mile run in 5:00.7 (I'm hitting my watch as I come to the line - that's why I look so awkward):



And here I am being presented with a loaf of bread afterwards by Gary, the president and founder of Charities Challenge (sporting his festive red pants):



Last night, I turned half that loaf into cinnamon French Toast for Pharmie.



I made it just the way she likes it: with whipped topping and syrup.



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20 x 100 Swim With 20 Seconds Rest

>> Monday, December 22, 2008

I was NOT looking forward to this workout. Julia and I made a date to show up and do these intervals together. I got to the Y at 6:50 am, and she was already holding a lane for us. I showered and jumped in.

After a quick warm-up, I was off. Julia warmed up a little more before she started. A few weeks ago, I did 12 x 100 at 1:30.5 average. I was hoping to keep these under 1:35, but I didn’t know what to expect.

Half way through, the water started feeling “thick.” I felt sluggish. But my times weren’t slowing down that much. I kept banging them out, all with 20 seconds rest between (just enough time to huff and puff for a bit).

Here were my splits:

1:32
1:32
1:34
1:32
1:35
1:34
1:33
1:34
1:34
1:35
1:34
1:34
1:34
1:35
1:35
1:34
1:36
1:35
1:34
1:34

I kept them all between 1:32 and 1:36, with an average of 1:34 / 100.

Julia ended up lapping me 3 times as I was working on my 40 laps. She’s FAST in the pool (and I’m nothing special in the pool). She was smooth! Here we are shortly after we both wrapped up:



I hopped out of the pool and lifted weights for over an hour. Good workout! I got home just before 10 am, and I was famished! I got out some leftover homemade quesadilla filling from last night, spread that on some “scoops” chips, covered that all with cheese, and popped it in the pizza oven:





Soon I’ll post some more photos from the track meet yesterday - Gary sent me 2 nice shots, but I’m waiting to see more on their site (read the previous post if you missed it).

Oh, I almost forgot: Julia wanted to wish everyone Happy Holidays:





(Her suit has Gingerbread Men all over the butt, since that’s where they end up anyways! Ha!)

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Indoor Track Meet Mile

>> Sunday, December 21, 2008

A few days ago, I dug up my old track spikes from high school. I figured I’d give them a whirl at this indoor track meet. They still had LONG spikes in them from cross-country in 1997:



Yesterday, I swapped out the long CC spikes for “track legal” spikes. I was going to wear them for my first ever 1600 meter run. I didn’t know how fast I could run it.

When I got up this morning, I was SO GLAD we were going to be running inside. It was 10 below with a wind chill of 33 below:



I loaded up my stuff and got out the door. I got to the track and helped Gary and Jeanne bring in some equipment. Here’s what the 200 meter track looked like:



I got registered. The woman asked my expected finishing time. “Oh jeez... I dunno...” I said. “I’d LIKE to get under 5:10...” I told her. I really had no idea, but I thought I could go sub-5:10, and MAYBE go sub-5. I actually figured out what my 400 splits would probably be if I were to run a 5 minute mile:

1:13
1:15
1:17
1:13
Equals 5:00 mile. Doable? I dunno.

That would be about what I would run each 1/4 (or so I figured) if I were to pull out at 5 minute mile. Anyway, the track started filling up as more people started showing up. People began warming up:



I got to talk to Tom and Danielle (who I see at a lot of Charities Challenge events) as well as local blogger Sunshine. I chatted with plenty of new friends too.

Because my spikes were a little tight, I wore my smallest, thinnest socks. It was the first time in a while that I didn’t run in my Drymax Socks.



First was the 800 meter run (someone ran that in 2:04!!). Next was the 1600 race-walk. The third event was the 1600, and I was ready to go:




(my feet aren't really that tiny)

They did the 1600 in 2 heats, and I was in the “fast heat” that went second. Here are some of the guys running in the first heat:



Finally, I was ready to go. I think there were 7 or 8 in my heat. Off we went. I didn’t know how to run this race. Years ago, I considered a 1 mile race “long distance.” Now, it feels like a sprint. I had 8 laps to do around this short track.

First 400: 1:15. “Good split. Probably not gonna hit 5:00, but still shooting for 5:10.” I was running in 4th place.

Second 400: 1:15. “Sweet! I’m holding that pace! Maybe I can hit 5:00!” About half way though, any spit in my mouth turned into a thick paste because of the dry indoor air. I was working hard but still feeling OK. Still in 4th.

Third 400: 1:18. “Lost some ground, but the third quarter of any race is my toughest part. Let’s go nuts and shoot for 5!” With 400 left, I started my kick and passed someone to move into 3rd place.

Last 400: 1:11. I was working HARD and flying. In fact, I was flying when I hit the line. I had more in me! I should have kicked sooner!!

Total: 5:00.70. SO CLOSE TO SUB-5!! Eight-tenths of a second faster could have put me UNDER 5! But I was still really happy with that outcome! I ended up 3rd overall (out of 15 counting the earlier heat), but I didn’t care what place I got - this race was JUST for time.



Because of that dry air, I was coughing a little and my eyes were watering. This is what I looked like shortly after finishing (still catching my breath):



And then, they had what EVERY track meet needs! A big bag of doughnut holes, lots of doughnuts, and a platter of cookies!




I had 5 or 6 doughnut holes. So good.

When the rest of the events were done, they gave away loaves of bread to the winners. They had one left over, and Gary said something like, “Steve! You’re a great cheerer and you always make these events more fun! Come get the last loaf of bread!”



Thanks Gary!! So I took off for home and got to work clearing the fresh 5 inches of snow from our yard. I fired up the snowblower to take care of the driveway. If you’re MALE and a HOMEOWNER, the sight of these next 2 “before and after” images should do something to you:





Am I right, guys? There’s something very satisfying about making a nice path in the snow, or having a freshly mowed yard, or having no weeds in your veggie garden. Come on, who’s with me?!?

Then I helped out 2 different neighbors too. I blew out my neighbors to the south, and I also cleared the driveway of my neighbors to the north (notice the 3 foot high piles on the left and the right from the snowplows that connected to make a nasty, icy fence to their driveway):



I was out there for over an hour, and I was covered in snow. And my new Zeal sunglasses held up well in that nasty cold:



Charities Challenge is hosting 3 more indoor meets in the next 6 or 7 weeks, and I’m thinking about shooting for sub-5 at their New Years Day event (doesn’t start until 11 am). Anyone interested in coming with?!?

And Gary will have some more images up on their site in the next few days, and I’ll post them when they’re up. AND I’ll have the “results” of my 20 x 100 (ugh!) swim workout tomorrow afternoon! I’ll see you in the pool tomorrow morning, Julia!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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