Saturday, January 31, 2009

January thaw arrives Jan 31; Lego League State Championship

OK, you may not believe this, but it's true..... Snow is actually melting outside right now as I type. Seriously! Today it is 34 degrees -- we were just half a day shy of not seeing above freezing temps for the entire month. It's been bad and it wreaks havoc on your training and your mood.

BUT.... today Holly, Chae, Diane and I ran around Medicine Lake (7.75 miles). It was perfect out. We even heard real. live. birds. chirping. 

Below is a picture we took this morning of a suburb of ice houses - if you don't know about ice fishing, it's like the state sport in MN. These houses are often beautiful inside with wall paper, flat screen tv's, sleep up to 4 comfortably, etc. It's so toasty in there that you don't even wear a coat. When you get bored, you go snowmobiling for a while (or drive your car to your real home) to get more food or (gasp) more beverages. 

Ice fishing is basically a way for a guy's guy to get out of the house, hang out drinking with their buddies watching the game, and still manage to bring home fresh fish for dinner. 

Here's how it works: You drop a line into a hole you auger'ed through about 20 inches of lake ice, and when a fish is on the line, the bell rings. If you have an extra hole outside your ice house and you can't hear that bell, a flag will go up if you have a fish. Isn't it ingenious? THe fish sort of catch themselves for ya.

We know guys who spend all day out in these houses on weekends.

Here are Holly, Diane and Chae - part of the lake loop is across a boardwalk through the wetlands. It's really pretty.

Last weekend was the State Tournament for Lego League. The first picture I took is of the scrolling leader-board when the Steel Claws were in first place after the first round. Their robot eventually moved down to 4th overall, but considering there were 34 teams from all over MN, (that first had to win at their respective regions), it was pretty awesome and we are so proud of them! They did win 1st place in one category, though - yea!!

Bobby's in the front holding the trophy (made of legos of course) that they won for 1st Place in Presentation. The had to invent something useful that was good for the environment and they created a Zamboni-like truck which heats and sprays a brine solution onto the MN roadways to melt ice, but not damage the foliage or pollute the nearby rivers and lakes. So their winning presentation was basically a sales pitch of their invention to the judges. 

They pitched it like a newscast - Bobby was the anchorman, Josh was the field reporter who was on the scene with car crash victim Tanner, Isaac was the weatherman, and Daniel and Spencer were the featured scientists/ inventors of the Boni Ice Thawing machine.

Daniel, Spencer, Isaac, Josh, Tanner, and Bobby in front with their trophy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fargo Training Update

OK, it was minus 27 on the way to the kids' school this morning; and minus 44 with the windchill - who can train in this [censored adjective] weather?? Luckily it was a little warmer last weekend and I did get a solid 10 miler under my belt. But with Fargo Marathon 16 weeks away, I would prefer to be running outside three times a week. 

Fargo Marathon is one of my favorites because:
1). it's the perfect "Ironman's marathon"  --  very early in the season, so you are prepared for the run portion of your summer Ironman and can concentrate on those 100 mile bike rides on Sundays.
2). It is flat and fast. We are talking maybe 17 feet of climbing.
3). The course is well supported and fun - you go through all kinds of neighborhoods, parks, college campuses.
4). The spectators are really friendly.
5). You do your longest training runs in the spring, so you[r training buddies] aren't sweltering and whining for 22 miles. ;-)
6). It's a small-town urban marathon, so nice, clean and inexpensive hotels with pools are right across the street from the start line. (Seriously - you walk to the start line).
7). You get a nice long sleeved performance fabric race shirt.

If you have not done this race and would like to try something up north, I LOVE this race. Come up and do it with us!!!

There are four of us doing Fargo together: Terri, Erin, Liz and me. Terri's broken elbow is getting much better, and she back in the pool - yea! No dumbbell curls yet, but she IS able to run. She's headed off to San Diego for 8 days of training, so let's try not to feel TOO sorry for her. Liz is working through her hip flexor [chronic] injury, but she's still hoping for a Boston qualifying run in Fargo. Erin has properly nursed her plantar faciitis and will start running again this week. As for me, I'm healthy, just fat. Not really REALLY fat, but fat enough that I'll have to work hard to get under 4 hours. I would like to lose ten pounds so it's easier on my old body. I haven't had any dairy for a few days, so if I stick with that I should cut some calories.

Cross training - I got back in the pool Tuesday for 3350 yards. I actually felt pretty strong considering I have only been in the pool once in the last two months. Today a gas pipe was leaking at Lifetime, so they closed the whole club before we could swim, so I will have to do something else - maybe a spinerval - instead. Speaking of which, has anybody tried Troy Jacobsen's "Suffer-O-Rama" DVD? We did it Tuesday night and it was AWESOME. It's only 50 minutes long, but great - I definitely was pushed beyond my limit and was unable to maintain the required effort until the end of the sets. Gotta get back in the saddle and try again... it's nice to find a workout that you can't quite complete.

Otherwise, I've been skiing when it's warm enough. Helen and I skated once and classic'ed once in the last week.
Here are Steve, Denny, Diane and me near Helen's house on Sunday. Classic x/c skiing is the best light cardio and you can't beat the scenery and having your friends with you. Maybe if the temps climb to zero or even warmer, I can get back out.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy New Year! Score: 26 to 1

Like so many others, I was delighted to welcome in a new year and say goodbye to 2008 because as the money stopped flowing in, (Bob's in real estate), we lived sometimes on money transferred from our savings account/retirement funds. Worrying about money can put a damper on everything if you let it. 

But I would be remiss if I allowed the money situation to overshadow the great blessings that 2008 brought in. Writing the good things down is a good exercise in keeping things in perspective.

Here are just a few, in no particular order:

1). Racing with Pamela in the beautiful wine country where I went on my honeymoon 13 years ago.
2). Watching and cheering at IM CDA with many blogger friends.
3). Going on vacation out west with the TriGreyhounds and the TaconiteBoy/Trimama families.
4). Visiting our dear friends in Iowa just riding our bikes and swimming in their pool.
5). Qualifying for Boston after 29 attempts (3:59:52)
6). Bobby's LegoLeague team qualifying for the State Championship and winning first place for programming their robot.
7). We are all healthy (enough).
8). Laura and Greg got married.
9). Tim and Karen got married.
10). Erin did her first Ironman.
11). The kids love love love their new school.
12). My children love the Lord.
13). I joined in a Bible study with a great group of girlfriends.
14). Bobby got to go to camp again.
15). Jeremy opened a new bike shop.
16). I PR'd in the half Iron distance (5:18)
17). I got a Mac.
18). My kids did well in school - only one B between the two of them.
19). Bob got to get away for a week of fishing with the guys in Canada.
20). My dad who had a stroke, took 60 steps in a row after having been in his wheelchair for two years.
21). My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
22). Bobby got under 30 minutes in the 5K distance.
23). I am blessed with countless friends who love me and I love back.
24). [So far] we still live in this beautiful house in Wild Meadows where we walk on the private wooded trails where we can watch the deer, wild turkeys, pheasants and even a great grey owl.
25). The kids are old enough to stay home without a babysitter for short jaunts.
26). I can still swim 100 yards in under 1:10, with just a push off from the wall if I try hard.

Well, that was easy just to come up with 26 without having to think hard at all. So the score is "Life Is Good" 26 to "2008 Sucked" 1.

Are you grateful or grumpy? It's a choice, you know. 

My goal for 2009 is "Practice Contentedness".

On New Year's Day we had to choose between jumping in frozen Lake Minnetonka or running the 5K. Since Bobby's friend Jeremy (son of my friend Guy) wanted to run, we ran.
Here is the start. As you can see I am not crazy for getting outside in Minnesota in the winter. I have LOTS of company:

... and here are the four of us before the start:

And here we are with about a mile to go:

We came in at 30:18, which isn't bad considering we had to run on icy snow the whole way.

Afterward, Santi hosted a make-your-own breakfast at her house where Jeremy cooked up some fabulous scrambled eggs with veggies-and-ham for me, and Bobby made pancakes for everybody.

... then Jeremy came over to play video games with Bobby. We later took a long walk in the woods:

...and the kids got so tired out that they had to lie down and eat snow:

It was a wonderful day to decide to WELCOME 2009. Please join me in PRACTICING CONTENTEDNESS in 2009!

On another topic, did I ever show you guys the mural that my girlfriend Stephany painted in my upstairs laundry room? She just asked me for a photo of it, so I thought I'd show it to you, too. It's of a beach in the Galapogos Islands where I went for my 4oth birthday a few years back. When you touch it, the lava rocks actually feel gritty - it's like it's 3-dimensional. Very cool. I pre-designed the layout of the floor tiles just for someone to paint a future mural for me and I think it turned out great.