Friday, December 12, 2008

Warren Miller's Children of Winter

Went to see Warren Miller's Children of Winter last night at the Moolah Theatre, part of his 2008 film tour. Presented by the Alpine Shop.

Skiing is definitely the closest a person can get to flying without getting in a plane. Crazy and awesome. The perfect prelude to any race - any sport. It just gets you pumped up!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Castlewood 8 Hour Adventure Race - 2008

Ran Bonk Hard's Castlewood 8 Hour adventure race on Saturday. I had been checking the weather report throughout the week and expected the temperature to be in the high teens for the morning, but was happily surprised that it was in the 30s.

Arrived at Castlewood State Park around 5:15 AM for the pre-race meeting with about 270 other adventure racers. After the meeting a group of yellow school buses picked us up and took us to an undisclosed location for the race to begin. Once there we quickly plotted a set of UTM coordinates on our topo maps, jumped in our canoes and started paddling down the Meramec River.

Had a good time, but started suffering some crazy leg cramps around 3pm which unfortunately lasted until we finished. I'm pretty sure it was due to dehydration. It's easy to forget to drink when its cold out - although you still need to replace everything you are perspiring.

I haven't seen the race results yet. I'm a little worried about getting credit for checkpoint "F". I punched the race passport once and it didn't cut the paper very well. I hit it again, but was off a little and the hole looked a little sloppy. Hopefully it passed inspection during the tally.

UPDATE: Finished 6th out of 33 two-person male teams.

Me and Nick, team "81 Miles", during the race.
(Photo Credit: Laura E. of Bonk Hard Racing)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Operation Food Search

Spent yesterday afternoon down at Operation Food Search, an area food bank, helping package donated food for distribution.

We worked on Operation Back Pack preparing about 150 "backpacks" for children attending St. Louis public schools to take home on the weekends. During the school week these kids are on subsidized food programs, however on the weekends they don't receive that support. These "backpacks" provide them a source of food during this gap.

We also sorted and re-packaged donations from area grocery stores and collection programs for general distribution. Removing compromised and out-of-date products from the stream, blacking out UPCs, and ensuring that each of the final boxes contained a broad assortment of products: proteins, carbs, fruits, vegetables, etc.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Orienteering Race at Meramec State Park

Ran the red (difficult) course at the St. Louis Orienteering Club's race in Meramec State Park yesterday. While I've done a few adventure races, this was my first official orienteering race. The final results haven't been posted yet, but I think I finished in about 2h 30m. The winner probably finished closer to an hour - so I've got a lot of practice ahead of me if I'm going to start making a decent showing.

Above: My topo map and clue sheet.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bubba 3 Cyclocross Race at Faust Park

I finished my first cyclocross race on Sunday. I used my mountain bike since I don't own a cyclocross bike yet. It was a lot of fun - and a lot harder than in looks. I finished middle of the pack in the C group. There is a great write up on the Faust Park race on Jeff Yielding's blog - complete with photos and videos.

Results are posted here

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bike and Breakfast

Broke out the headlamp yesterday and started the day off with a early morning trail run with Al, whose headed down to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater next month. Then meet up with the group for a mountain bike ride through Castlewood State Park - followed by a huge breakfast courtesy of Beth and Greg.

Pictured above: Dennis, me, Beth, Phil, Al, Matt, Jodi, Annette, Dave.

Monday, October 6, 2008

St. Peters Rec-Plex Fall Triathlon

500m swim, 20 mile bike, 4.4 mile run. Finished in 1:40:11; 26th overall; 4th in age group.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

5K Twilight Run at The Blast

Finished in 19:56. 10th overall. I was happy with it considering I had just finished riding 100 miles a few hours before.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pack Raft Test Run

Part of our upcoming adventure race involves pack rafting, so on Saturday we headed over to Horseshoe Lake to give them a test run.

We each purchased the Sevylor one-person trail boat. It has a unique bag that doubles as a pump. The bag pump works, but it's a little cumbersome. It also comes with two small paddles, one for each hand - or that can be joined together to form a kayak paddle.

The only problem I had with it during our short test run was the position of the floor valve, which sat directly under my left calve. We were only on the water for 30 minutes or so and it was starting to become a little irritating. Of course, you could shift your leg around, but this was the natural position in which my leg rested, so I could see this being a problem on a longer trip.

The site has a good review of the Sevylor Trail Boat and talks about some of the additional issues they found.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Madison County Bikeway

This evening I was introduced to the Madison County Bikeway across the river in IL. Lisa was kind enough to let me tag a long on a ride.

I was a little hesitant because I'm not a big fan of "mixed-use" trails/paths. You can spend a lot of time dodging little kids, strollers, and dog walkers. Trails like Grant's Trail and Creve Coeur Park, while nice, are generally on my boycott list for all but the most leisurely rides. However, I was surprised to find a really amazing network of paved trails with relatively little pedestrian traffic.

Lake Saint Louis Practice Swim

Attended the Lake Saint Louis Triathlon practice swim this morning. I definitely need to work on my sighting. I was zig-zagging way too much. I'm going to have to start forcing myself to take fewer strokes between when I sight. I need to keep under 10 strokes per sight. I was probably hitting 20 or more before I would sight. has a good article on improving your open water swim.

After the swim practice TrainingBible Coach, Sally Drake, is putting on a "training camp". She's taking people out on the bike and run courses. You can sign up here until 8/22/2008. Looks like it could be a lot of fun. I think it's only 25 bucks and they're having a barbecue afterwards.

Below is a map of the 1500m swim course.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Night Orienteering at Rockwoods Range

Last night I laquered myself in bug spray and went out to Rockwoods Range Conservation Area for some practice at night orienteering. We're competing in a 24 hour adventure race next month, so our dauntless team captain Lisa (whom we borrowed from team Sisu) thought it would be a good idea to get some nighttime work in. I'm fairly comfortable orienteering during the day, but this was my first night attempt.

One interesting experience was the momentary blindness that occurs when you look up from your map to survey the surround. After staring at the white map with a bright headlamp you are momentarily "blind" when you look into the dark woods.

The temporary blindness occurs because it takes time for your eyes to fully dark-adapt and for you to regain your night vision. In short, this phenomenon is due a transitioning between the different types of photoreceptor in your eye: the rods and the cones.

The commonly said remedy is to use a dim red light, which has a wavelength that mutes this transition. That's what I remember from my neuro classes anyway. However, I found some debate about the value of the red light advice. So I'm going to have to do a little more book research and then a few "in situ" experiments on our next practice run.

The 1400 acre Rockwoods Range is home to one of the only permanent orienteering courses in the St. Louis area. You can get a map of the Rockwoods course from the St. Louis Orienteering Club for a few bucks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Meramec River Kayak Trip: Sullivan to St. Louis

This weekend I kayaked with some friends from Meramec State Park in Sullivan, MO to Castlewood State Park in St. Louis. In two days we travelled a distance of roughly 81 miles, starting at mile marker 88 and taking out at marker 169.

On Saturday night we planned to camp at Robertsville State Park. About 5 miles up river from the park we stopped in at Old Cove Canoe and Kayak to see if they had some cold drinks we could purchase. We met Darryl, one of the owners, down at the river where he was greeting people as they finished their float trips.

After a talking with him briefly about our adventure he allowed us to camp there for the night. Even better he generously provided us with cold drinks and all the barbecue we could eat! After 11 hours of paddling it was heaven. To top it off one of the Old Cove customers handed us a round of cold Bud Lights.

While staying there instead of the state park caused us to miss our mile target for the day, it was well worth it to hang out with the great people at Old Cove. Thanks to Darryl, Kathy and Phil!

We finished the trip at about 5pm on Sunday, sun-beaten and smelling like river rats - but mostly ecstatic that we didn't have to paddle anymore. 11 hours of padding per day, for 2 days. Who knows, with a little more practice maybe we'll take on the Missouri 340 next year.

Very special thanks to Skip and his crew at Green's Canoe Rental in Steelville who helped us out a great deal. Skip may be one of the most knowledgeable floating outfitters I've had the pleasure of meeting - with an absolutely great personality. If you're ever looking to rent canoes or equipment up near Steelville, MO, then I highly recommend Green's Canoe Rental.

Jason, Nick, Erin, and me at Old Cove.

Our 81 mile route down the Meramec River.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

200 mile bike ride in one day.

On Saturday, July 12th we completed a one day, 200 mile bike ride. We left Columbia, IL around 6am and headed south to near Grand Tower, IL - where we turned around and headed back. Much of the ride followed the Mississippi levee.

By noon we were pedalling through 90+ degree heat and by midday we were riding through crazy thunderstorms. Rain like needles and lightening all around. Normally that wouldn't bother me, but this time we were the tallest things in the middle of corn fields - and I was sitting on an aluminum bike. If nothing else, it got me pedaling faster.

After the rain subsided it was a fantastic evening - like riding through a Disney post card. Sunset had the clouds like big balls of cotton candy floating above us, deer were jumping all over the place and everything was brilliant and clean. Very cool experience - especially mixed with the exhaustion of riding so long. Of course, it wouldn't last. We had to ride the last 30 minutes after dark and the bugs were awful. It was as if you were being shot in the face by a spray bottle filled with gnats.

Nonetheless a great time - can't wait to do it again. Although next time we're going to try to get started a little earlier. About 15 hours from start to finish - including refuelling stops and a cold beer in celebration of mile 100. By the end of the day we had settled on a name for our 200 mile tour - "The 200 Mile M-Fer" (for "Mostly Flat"). Here's a pic of me, Annette and Dennis after the finish and on the way to dinner.

Out of curiosity we looked up the cycling record for the most miles in a 24 hr period. At this time it's apparently held by Mike Secrest with 534.75 miles on an indoor track averaging 22.28 mph.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Take Steps for Crohn's and Colitis

Volunteered at the CCFA's Take Steps walk at St Louis Community College's Meramec campus in Kirkwood today. Years past they held a 5K run, however this year they decided to do a 3 mile walk. The rain held out and they ended up having a great day - complete with St. Louis Cardinal's Fredbird, the Ram's Cheerleaders and a dunking booth. I only saw a little of the "outside world" however as I was in the back office helping tally the donations/registrations. Congratulations on another successful event!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughts on Buying a Triathlon Wetsuit

I recently went through the somewhat painful task of finding a triathlon wetsuit. After doing a fair amount of research online, getting opinions from more experienced friends, and trying on a few suits, here's what I've determined:

1.) Do I need a wetsuit?
For the typical age-group triathlete the two biggest benefits of a wetsuit are insulation and buoyancy.


USAT rules allow the use of a wetsuit for water temperatures at or below 78 degrees. You can still race in a suit at temps between 78.1 and 83.9, but you will be ineligible for any awards. For temps 84 degrees and above suits are prohibited.

When purchasing a wetsuit consider the temperature of the water in your intended races. Ironman series and other well-organized races will post the expected race day temperature on their websites.

If you're racing in cold water, then the additional insulation can be a blessing. However, a full suit on a warmer swim can be a miserable experience. You can always pop the neck open to let in some water to help cool down, but I suspect that you could forget to do this on race day. So you need to consider where the majority of your races are going to take place. For races under 70 degrees a suit is highly recommended.

The concept of insulation doesn't just apply to water temperature. There's a lot of contact in a mass start swim. Chances are you be crawling over someone or being crawled over. Your wetsuit will protect your skin from all that incidental bumping and clawing. It's also nice to have a little shielding from the not-so-pristine waterways you might find yourself swimming in. I hear that for races like Louisville you'll be splashing through boat fuel and other funky pollutants. A wetsuit provides a nice barrier - at least psychologically.


I think one of the biggest benefits of a suit is buoyancy. I attended a swim clinic where they filmed us swimming. The underwater shots were quite telling. Nearly everyone's legs sunk deeper into the water than their upper body. Ideally your body should be parallel with the surface of the water. This would provide for the least drag. However, keeping your butt and legs at or near the surface can cost you a lot of energy. The wetsuit helps lift you into that correct position - the biggest boon to your swim.

Additionally, most triathletes I know consider the swim to be the most difficult and intimidating part of the race. If you get tired during the run or the bike you can always just stop. During the swim however, you don't have the same option. The wetsuit helps keep you afloat.

2.) Full vs Sleeveless
If you wear the suit correctly (high and tight) then a full suit will be faster. This is primarily because there is less drag across the shoulders and arms (the parts that are trying to break through the water). The problem is that shoulder fatigue can more easily set in because you're having to stretch the rubber surrounding your shoulder with each stroke.

If you trained in your suit everyday, then this probably wouldn't be an issue. But most amateurs I know train in a pool without a suit, so this extra shoulder effort on race day can take a toll. If you decide for a full suit it makes sense to get a really "stretchy" suit to minimize the impact. However, this more than anything else will drive up the price. The "stretch-factor" is the main difference between an entry-level suit and a high performance suit - at least as far as the typical age-group athlete is concerned.

Sleeveless suits don't impede your shoulder movement (as much). So the stretch factor is not as important. Eliminating this factor can be mean a big dollar savings. Not only are sleeveless suits less expensive because they require less material, but considering that stretch is less important you can also get by with an entry-level suit.

DeSoto has a line of full sleeve suits that come in two-pieces, supposedly to help reduce shoulder fatigue. I've seen a few good reviews about this line, but I don't know of any objective reports on the benefits.

Here's my theory: If you are going for a full suit seriously consider the higher-performance suits and be ready to fork over some cash ($500+). If you choose sleeveless then just go for an entry-level suit ($200-300) - you'll still get the major buoyancy benefits.

3.) Correct fit is critical.
No matter what level of suit you get, it should stick to your body like a second skin. There should be no pockets of air or loose spots. You must put the suit on high and tight.

What did I buy?
I scoured the Internet looking for a great deal, but didn't find anything but closeouts that wouldn't fit. Obviously spring is the wrong season to be looking for a deal on triathlon gear. I lucked out and found a closeout sleeveless Orca Predator 2 at Big Shark, a local athletic shop. It was a new suit that never made it out to the rack. Discount Price: $150. I'm still looking to get a full-sleeve suit, but this was a nice addition to my equipment arsenal at a good price.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yoga for Athletes

Last night I tried out Maury Jackson's yoga class over at Dr. Ray's Treetop Chiropractic in Ballwin. About a year ago I was doing yoga once a week, but it wasn't fitting my schedule so I let it slide. I clearly forgot how tough yoga can be! I'm going to try and pick it up again with Maury's class. Great workout. There's a discount for St. Louis Triathlon Club members too which is nice. Thanks to TrainingBible coach Sally Drake for letting me know about this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mile Time Trial

Big River Running Company put on a one mile time trial last night as part of their Tuesday night speed sessions. There were about 100 people running, divided into 4 heats based on their goal 5K times. Adidas sponsored the event and raffled of some apparel. I finished my mile in 5:33.9. I was hoping to break 6 minutes, so I'm happy with that. Of course, I'm now looking to break 5:30.

Monday, May 26, 2008

2008 University City Memorial Day Run

Ran in the U City Memorial Day 5K this morning. No chip timing so I'm not sure what my official time was yet. Somewhere around 21 minutes. Hopefully my speedwork sessions with Big River Running Company will help improve that by the end of the summer.

UPDATE 2008-06-02: Official results put me in 3rd place for my age group and 29th overall with a time of 21:01 and a 6:46 pace.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Velo in the Valley Time Trial

Participated in the Velo in the Valley Time Trial organized by Ghisallo Racing. The course was a flat 18K out-and-back in Wildwood, MO. This was my first USCF race so I purchased a day license and raced as a Cat 5. Finished 15th in my category.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big River Running Company Speed Sessions

Attended Big River Running Company's speed session tonight. We ran a ladder at descending distances of 1600, 1200, 800, and 400 meters. I'm currently running with the 20-21 minute pack, but I'd like to get my 5K below 20 minutes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Second City Touring Company

Went to see the Second City Touring Company perform their "One Nation Under Blog" show at the Touhill Performing Arts Center tonight. The audience was a little slow to help out with the improv during the first half of the show, but things picked up after intermission. The performer Seth Weitberg is worthy of a special note for repeatedly pulling off some very clever reincorporation.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

St. Louis Brewfest 2008

Volunteered at the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival this evening at Forest Park. It rained like crazy, but people still had a great time - even though things got a little muddy near the end. I worked tap 109 serving a Bohemian Pilsner from Morgan Street Brewery. Good fun, great people and a portion of the proceeds goes to help Lift for Life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Swell Season

Went to see The Swell Season at the The Pageant last night. The Swell Season is Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the musicians/songwriters from Ireland and stars of the movie Once (2006). Their song "Falling Slowly" won an Academy Award for Original Song.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Steamboat Classic 2008 Triathlon

This weekend was a very active one. I biked from Columbia, IL to Cape Girardeau, MO to participate in the Steamboat Classic Triathlon. The ride down was a little over 100 miles, crossing the river at Chester. The weather was perfect, clear and in the 60s. I was a little fatigued for the race the next morning, but I managed to plod through. 500m swim, 15.5 mile bike, 5 mile run. The last, unofficial results I saw placed me at 35th overall. Not great, but not bad considering the previous day's ride.

UPDATE: Below is a map of our route I put together using

UPDATE: Officially finished 39th (1:35:52)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Swim Clinic with Hap Gentry

Attended a swim clinic taught by Hap Gentry this morning. After a few warm-up laps, he filmed us in the water from multiple angles (both from the surface and underwater). We then had a short lesson on swim dynamics and he hit us with a few drills.

After the drills Hap reviewed the video with us, evaluating our stroke and making suggestions on how to improve. It was definitely an eye-opening experience - the video doesn't lie. He quickly pointed out some ways I could improve. I highly recommend watching yourself swim. You quickly learn how what you feel may be very different from reality. Great experience.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

John Howard New Town Duathlon

Ran the John Howard New Town Duathlon. It was a chilly day - raining with a few flurries. 1.7 mile run, 18 mile bike, 1.7 mile run. Finished 11th overall and 2nd in my age group. Time: 1:20:20.773

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunflower 24 hour.

Had a great time at Sunflower 24 Hour adventure race in Lawrence, KS this weekend. The paddle across Lake Perry was intense. The wind and waves were so rough that seven canoes capsized. The rappel off a ten-story building was I nice touch too. Thanks to Bonk Hard Racing for putting on a great event.

News coverage of the race: Canoes capsize during area adventure contest from Lawrence Journal World.

UPDATE: We officially came in 3rd place for the 2-Person Open division. The "Wichita Mudskunks" at 9h 30m.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2008 Michelob ULTRA St. Patrick Day Parade Run

Completed the St. Patrick's Day Run 5 miles in 35:08 - right at a 7 min pace.

Thursday, January 24, 2008