A New Season

It's the end of another year.  Or better yet, the beginning of a new one.  

In retrospect, 2010 was a decent year.  It started a little rough since I was still in need of a job because I turned down the Connecticut offer.  But I found a new job before my old one ended so that worked out really well.  And, believe it or not, I think I prefer not working in the bike industry.  It can be a fun industry to work in, but it has its flaws.  Mainly, I like having cycling being nothing but a hobby.  I find that helps keep it fun.

I also had a good tri season.  I improved again, met some goals, got my Kona slot and, most importantly, I learned a lot and figured out a few key things late in the season that I'm anxious to apply to my 2011 training.

Lately, I've been busy putting together my 2011 training plan.  It's coming together nicely, and I'm putting a lot more thought into it this year than I have in previous years.  I've also been doing a lot of reading about training methods to make sure I'm on the right track and that I'm focusing on the right things.  I'm hoping to put together a few good blog posts (hopefully they're good) about some of the things I've learned.  

I still have two weeks before my plan officially begins so I have some work to do to wrap up my planning and get everything in place (yes, I have a spreadsheet).  I'm finishing up my fall run focus (which was based on Lydiard's methods).  I made some good improvements focusing on running, but most importantly I learned a lot and those things will carry over into my new training plan.  

I'm really looking forward to starting my new training plan.  I love the process of developing and tracking fitness and creating training plans.  It may be odd, but I love the patience and discipline it takes to develop good aerobic fitness.  So a new year brings the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again.


Nothing Ventured...

...nothing gained.  You've probably heard the saying plenty of times.  Growing up, my parents had a sign saying "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" hanging above the toilet, their version of toilet humor.  

By now the saying is old and a little cheesy, but it still holds true.  

Last night my new headlamp showed up....so did a few inches of snow.

I had a Princeton Tec headlamp, and the batteries corroded over the summer and destroyed my lamp.  So I bought the same lamp, except this one has a much smaller battery pack and takes lithium batteries.  Check out how small the battery pack is...

This lamp is really nice.  It's really light, and I barely noticed it on my run.  And it puts off plenty of light so visibility isn't an issue.  I wish I had ordered it a few weeks ago because I had a few runs where I had a tough time seeing the road.

Headlamp and reflective vest...ready to run at night.

With my new headlamp, I ventured out into the snowstorm for a 5 mile run.  I'm not a big fan of winter, and I hate cold weather, but I love running when it's snowing.  Some of my favorite runs were on the bike path at lunch in a heavy snowstorm at my last job.  Here's a picture I took on one of my bike path runs....

I didn't take my camera with me last night, but I did snap a picture before I ventured out....

Last night's run wasn't as peaceful as running on a bike path covered in snow, but it was still a great run.  I had a lot more traffic to deal with, but that just adds to the adventure.  I'm sure people think I'm crazy running in the snow, but I think it's fun.  It's always the best in December when the snow is clean and white and the streets are lined with x-mas lights.  And when there are no cars coming, all you can hear is the snow crunching under your feet.  

It seems weird to run in a snowstorm, but some of my most memorable runs have been in snowstorms. Tonight's storm was pretty mild, but there's talk of a big storm this weekend.  I'm already looking forward to my weekend run, and I can't decide where I want to run.  Maybe I'll venture out into the middle of nowhere with my snowshoes. 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


I Must Be Insane

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  

I've been called crazy for running in sub-zero weather and blizzards.  I've been called crazy for doing the ironman, but mostly for signing up for a second....and third....and fourth....

I was also called crazy quite a bit when I raced motocross, but that was only from people who didn't race.  

It never occurred to me until last night that I might actually be crazy.  As in, actually insane.  Certifiably insane.  And not for running in cold weather or doing ironmans or anything like that.  I have a habit of doing something over and over and expecting a different result.  I don't want to keep doing it, but I can't seem to stop.  I keep expecting a different result, but the result is always the same.

I get my haircut at Cost Cutters.  I don't like going there, and almost always put it off for at least a week.  I hate the place, and they always do a terrible job.  Yet for some reason, I expect things will mysteriously change.  I keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The problem is that Cost Cutters is across the street so it's quick and convenient.  I can assure you I don't go there because I think they're good.  I'm not that crazy.

So last night I stopped by on my way home from work hoping for a good haircut.  Maybe today was the day, I thought.

The woman cutting my hair asked how I wanted it cut. After I explained, she then made the typical small talk I wish they wouldn't do.  These people need to concentrate.  She mentioned the weather and how it seems colder than usual, to which I told her it is in fact colder than usual.  Today's high was more than 10 degrees below the norm.  Then she said, "...and I don't remember it getting dark this early during daylight savings time."

She then proceeded to give me a bad haircut, which I saw coming.  

At least she gave me a fair warning.


Furry (snowy) Friends 5K

Saturday was the Furry Friends 5K.  Unfortunately, Friday night was our first snowfall of the winter.  We got about 4-6 inches overnight and it was still snowing in the morning.  I don't own Yaktracks or have a pair of shoes with screws in the soles.  I run in racing flats all the time so I could either go with my racing flats or my other racing flats or my Zoots, which are also racing flats or I could take my cross country spikes.  Hmmmm....

In the end, I opted not to take my spikes.  I've run in the snow a lot and never had problems so I figured spikes would be overkill.  It was only a couple of inches of snow.

The race began at the Baraboo Civic Center, and Courtney and I nearly fell several times trying to walk across the parking lot.  It was a lot slipperier than I expected.  I was regretting not bringing my spikes.  We picked up our packets and then we headed out for a short warm up, mainly to see how slippery it was.

Warming up.

It wasn't as bad as the parking lot, but still very slippery.  No PRs today.  My only real goal for the race was to not slip and tear a tendon.  Courtney has been working on forefoot running (and doing quite well) so I reminded her that this would be a good opportunity to focus on that because heel striking on slippery roads could be disastrous.   

There was a pretty small group, and everyone seemed to be looking forward to a potentially adventurous race.  We went out at a 6:45 pace, which was probably a little too fast for the conditions.  As we came to the first turn, a girl next to me lost her footing and went down.  The corner was very slick and we basically had to walk it.  Then we came to the first intersection and, unfortunately, a puddle.  So much for dry feet.

I was in 4th place, and could see the leader still so I wasn't too far back.  I did my best to close the gap on 2nd and 3rd, who were running side by side and about halfway between me and the leader, but I just couldn't get moving.  I was holding a 6:40 pace and my feet slipped everytime I tried to go faster.  I was having fun, but it was a little frustrating not getting the footing I needed.  The conditions were constantly changing.  Some roads were plowed, some not.  There was snow, ice, slush but no dry pavement.   
In the end, I finished in 4th with a time of 20:53.  The winner ran a 19:40.  How often is the winning time at a 5K barely under 20 minutes?  The conditions were tricky, but it was really fun.  I felt like a kid on a snow day.  The town was dead so we ran wherever we wanted, which meant right down the middle of Main Street.  It felt like we had the whole town to ourselves.

I actually really enjoy running in the winter as long as the temps aren't too cold.  It's so quiet and sometimes all you can hear is the snow crunching under your feet.  This was one of those days.

Courtney Pre-Race

Courtney had a good race.  She didn't slip as much as me (she's smart enough to buy shoes with tread), but struggled more with course markings as a lot of people around her were taking wrong turns (the winner took two wrong turns as well).  I don't remember her time, but it was good enough for 3rd in her division.  

Post race was homemade cookies and hot chocolate while we waited for the age group awards.  



I Have A Run Track Mind

I found a new and better way to embarrass myself.  This fall has been all about running. I've run a lot of miles and tried to learn as much as possible about running so I can take my new fitness and knowledge into next season.  Part of my run focus this fall was to push myself outside of my comfort zone and run some cross country races.  I never ran cross country or track in school, so I figured it would be fun.  It was, and I think it helped make me a better runner.  It also taught me to love off-road running, and all of my long weekend runs are on trails now.  My new route is a lot hillier than my previous long run route, and it has tons of variety.  I run a little bit on the road and bike path, and the rest is on trails with tree roots and rocks and leaves and then I run through the golf course and do a few laps on the UW-Badger's cross country course....

It's a great course.  Not super hilly, but still challenging.

...then it's back on the trails.  I used to hate trail running, but I'm loving it now.  The variety is fun, and the challenging terrain makes you a stronger runner.  My route has 22 trees I have to hurdle. ..dead, fallen trees that is.  I'm not hurdling living trees, although that would be awesome. 

But that's not my new and better way to embarrass myself.  

Indoor track.

I've been having a lot of fun with my run focus and wanted to keep it going a little longer.  So I signed up for the Purple and White Indoor Meet at UW-Whitewater.  I'm on the purple team (alumni).  It's a practice meet for the Whitewater track team so they're racing alumni.  I signed up for the 1500 and the 800.  For those unfamiliar with track distances, the 1500 is a little more than 100 meters short of a mile so it's practically a mile.  The 800 is half a mile.

A week after that race I'm racing the Ted Haydon Holiday Classic where I'm running the mile and the 800.

Being an average runner at best competing against better than average runners the outcome is inevitable.  I will lose, and lose in a spectacular way.  But I don't care.  This is all about pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and getting more use out of my cheap $25 spikes.  None of my cross country races were muddy so my shoes still look new.  Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

The alumni race is a week from Saturday - December 11.  This weekend I'm running the Furry Friends 5K.  I will do nearly any race that benefits a Humane Society.  I'm all about helping the pups.  


Footlocker Race Report

Saturday was the Midwest Footlocker Cross Country Regional Championships.  It's a high school race where the best runners in the midwest race for a shot to go to San Diego in two weeks for the national championships.  The competition is fierce because there are only 10 spots for boys and 10 for girls.  They also had an open class, which I ran and finished off my cross country "season."

The race was held on the UW-Parkside cross country course where I raced my first race.  It's a tough course, but it's also a great course so I was looking forward to running there again.  Mainly, I was looking for a PR.  April 12, 2008 I ran a 5K in Beloit and finally broke 20 minutes with a time of 19:23.  That has essentially been my 5K PR since then.  I've taken a couple of seconds off of it, but haven't come close to breaking 19 minutes.  That was my main goal: break 19 minutes.  

The weather was decent for late November.  The high was in the low 30s, sunny and windy.  Courtney and I got there early enough to watch the championship races, where I froze my ass off.  I don't know if I didn't dress warm enough or if I'm just feeble and weak, but I was shivering the whole time while Courtney looked quite comfortable.  Pitiful.

Anyway, the racing was great.  These kids went all out and you could tell they were pushing themselves to their limits.  It was fun to watch.  

Start of the girls seeded race.

The girls race was first and it was a good, close race.  It wasn't until late in the race that Allison Woodward of Wisconsin pulled away for the win.

Girls winner.

The boys race wasn't as close, but it was still fun to watch.  Lukas Verbizcus, a high school triathlete in Illinois, won the national championship last year and was the favorite to win the regional.  He didn't disappoint.  He opened up a big lead by the halfway point and then cruised the last mile to win in 14:45 (that's a 4:45 pace).

Lukas Verbizcus.  

After watching the premier races, we headed indoors so I could warm up for my race.  There were two races before my race so I had about an hour and a half to prepare.  Luckily, they had the indoor track open so I was able to run some laps in there and get my body temp up.  After a good warm up, we headed back to the track for the open race.

The start.

The race starts downhill and then there's a long, tough climb.  My goal was to go out hard, but not as hard as I did at the first race here.  I wanted to go out at a 6 minute pace and hold it as long as I could.  I went out harder than planned, but adjusted my pace pretty quickly.  The climb ends about the 1 mile mark and I was holding a 6:04 pace so I was more or less on target since I knew I could make up some time on the second mile since there's a long downhill section.

Elevation profile.

I hit the downhill hard but tried to stay controlled.  I was hoping I could bring my average pace down as well as my heart rate and recover a little before the final mile where there's more climbing.  A few of those hills are pretty steep and can zap the strength from your legs.

I'm in the yellow next the guy in blue.  This is about the 1.5 mile mark.

About 1.8 miles into the race you turn back into the woods and start a steep climb.  This takes you to the 2 mile mark where you have a short descent followed by another steep climb.  I was sitting right on a 6 minute pace as I started the climb.  By the 2 mile mark my average pace had dropped to 6:04.  I dug deep and tried to keep my pace up on the next climb but I could feel my legs getting tired.  The final mile doesn't have a lot of climbing, but it has more hills than the first two miles.  A lot of short, steep climbs that zapped the strength from my legs.  I knew a 6 minute pace wasn't going to happen so I just ran as hard as I could and didn't look at my watch anymore.  I did my best to recover on the downhills, but I was hurting.  My legs were weak and feeling a little wobbly and I was gasping for breath.  The last 3/4 of a mile took forever.  They had stars painted on the grass that started about 400 meters from the finish and I kept watching the ground looking for stars (this is one time in a race where seeing stars is a good thing).

 I hit the stars around the 18 minute mark and gave it everything I had.  I could see the finish....and I could see the clock ticking.  The finish line looked about a minute away.  I didn't come here for another 19:xx 5K.  I came to break 19.  My legs were weak and the finish is uphill.  Inside I was telling my legs to go, but they weren't responding.  I was sprinting although I know you couldn't tell.

"Sprint" to the finish.

I could hear footsteps behind me and I tried to use that as motivation to run faster but my legs had nothing left.  As hard as I pushed I couldn't muster up anymore speed.  He sprinted past me just before the finish....

The finish.  18:55.5

I crossed the line in 18:55 and instantly had wobbly legs.  It was a typically cross country race as the officials yelled at us to keep moving and clear the finish area.  I could hardly stand.  They had a corral lined with ropes so I grabbed those for balance just as the guy who sprinted past me vomited.  I have seen more vomit hanging out at cross country races the past month than I have in my entire life.  Cross country is hardcore.

It was a really tough race and my legs were almost instantly sore, but it was well worth the pain.  I finally broke through the 19 minute mark.  I finally have a 5K PR, and it was on a challenging course so it's legit.  I earned that 18:55.5.

This was an event that drew a lot of real runners so my overall place wasn't great.  I finished 46th out of 176 and got dropped by a little girl with a half mile to go.  I've run races with kids before and they always go out too hard and fade.  I kept expecting her to drop off.  Instead, she dropped the hammer and pulled an 8 second gap on me in a half a mile and finished in 18:47.  She was 14.  To put that into perspective, the winner of the girls seeded race was a senior in high school and ran a 17:18.  

It was  fun day, and I'm looking forward to returning next year to see if I can run a little faster and not get dropped by a little girl.



Catching Up

As you know, I've been pretty lazy lately when it comes to blogging.  So I thought I'd write a quick post to catch up and try to get back into the habit of blogging regularily.

Since my first cross country race a little over a month ago, I've been working on my running.  I've put in a lot of miles and done several races including a couple of cross country Turkey Trots which were really fun.

The first Turkey Trot was in Madison at the beginning of November and there were two races to choose from: a 5K and a 5 mile.  The 5K ran at 10 and the 5 mile at 11.  I signed up for both.  Not a good idea. 

The start of the 5K.

It's kind of hard to see, but that hill was really steep and I had to run it twice....in each race.  Ouch.

 The end of lap one in the 5K.  What you don't see is the Badgers CC team doing a tempo run in front of me (they had the Big 10 Champs the next weekend so they weren't going all out, yet I couldn't catch them).

 The start of the 5 mile race.

The next race was a 5K Turkey Trot in Lake Geneva and that was race was awesome.  I loved the course.  It was pretty hilly, but not so hilly it wasn't fun.  There was also a lot of variety in the terrain from grass to dirt to wood bridges to gravel to sand.  Post race was almost as much fun as the race.  They had the typical food and coffee inside a heated tent with live music.  Then they had a raffle and the prizes were great.  They gave away Montrail trail running shoes, jackets, Smartwool socks, Patagonia backpacks, gift cards to restaurants, etc.  I won my age group, and my prize was a beer, a pint glass and a tree.  Yep, a tree.  I won a blue spruce seedling that I need to plant.  For anyone in the area looking for a November Turkey Trot, I highly recommend this race.  

This weekend is the Footlocker Midwest Regional Cross Country Championships.  It's a high school race, but they have an open class so I'm racing that hoping to set a new 5K PR.  It's on the same course as the 8K I ran in October.  So far the weather looks great for a late November race in Wisconsin: sunny with a high of 36.  



The seven levels of hell OR My first cross country race....

A couple of months ago I came up with the idea of doing some cross country races this fall.  I never ran cross country (or track) in high school or college, so I figured it would be a really fun change of pace.  

A lot of colleges have cross country meets with open classes so I put together a small schedule for this fall.  I wanted to do all cross country meets, but most of the races with open classes were in September so I had to mix things up a bit and throw in some trail races and turkey trots to round out my schedule.  

Runningwarehouse.com had some smoking deals on closeout shoes, so I bought my first pair of spikes for my XC season....

Pretty schnazzy, huh?  $25 with free shipping and a free pair of socks.


Saturday was my first race at the UW-Parkside meet.    It's a true cross country course, meaning it's not on a golf course.  It's a really nice course, but very challenging.  Lots of hills, gravel, dirt, grass, leaves, etc.  It's the site of my final "A" race of my XC season, the Footlocker Cross Country Midwest Regional Championships, so this gave me a chance to preview the course.  For those unfamiliar, UW-Parkside is in Kenosha, just south of Milwaukee (not far from the site of the Racine 70.3). 

I've never run in spikes, and I've never run a cross country race so I was pretty nervous.  I didn't know what to expect, other than bringing up the back of the pack because the open class runs with the collegiate race at this event.  I'm not a great runner by any means, but I tend to do fairly well at local 5Ks.  I run toward the front and occasionally break the top 10, and on the rare occasion I might even break the top 5 overall.  This was a different league.  I checked out past results and knew that I would be in the back of the pack.  It was expected, but it's a different and humbling experience when you're used to racing toward the front and it's all you can do to keep your competitors in sight.

This is a few minutes prior to the start.  The official is giving instructions to one of the college teams.

Lining up for the start.

Immediately at the back and we're running a 5:15 pace right here.  A little too fast for me.

Nearing the first hill, a very long climb.

The race was an 8K (4.97 miles).  I would have preferred to start out with a 5K because I took several easy weeks after the Ironman and have only put in two weeks of decent run volume (this being the end of week 2) so I was afraid a hard 5 mile race might be a bit much for my first cross country race, but I didn't have many options.  

The race started out very fast.  I wanted to be conservative, but I didn't want to fall way behind either so I hung with the pack even though we were running too fast for me.  The race starts downhill and a little ways into the race I glanced at my watch and saw we were running about a 5 minute pace.  That slowed as the ground leveled, but I was still losing ground as I adjusted my pace to a 5:40 as we approached the first hill.  It was a very long difficult climb and the pace stayed very fast.  I finished the climb with an average pace of 6:10, which is about the pace I thought I could hold for the entire race so I was feeling good about where I was.  We were now away from the crowds and entering the woods so I figured I could now settle into my pace, hold it for the rest of the race and maybe pick up a few places as people pay for going out too hard.  Easy peasy.

A long, gradual downhill that runs parallel to the long uphill on the start straight.

The real runners.

And then there's me.  About the 1.5 K mark.

So the first K was good.  I felt good and was happy with my pace.  The next seven Ks sent me through about seven different levels of hell.  I have never suffered so much in a running race and each K brought on a new and different level of agony.  I didn't know the course was as hilly as it was and I wasn't in top running form AND I went out too fast.  The hills were relentless.  Aside from the long one on the start straight, none of them were really brutal.  They were short, steep and plentiful.  There wasn't much flat ground and the constant up and down took it's toll.  Some of the climbs had gravelly/sandy soil that really drained my energy.  My spikes helped keep me from slipping, but it was proving to be a very tough course.  I held a 6:20 average until the 4K mark when I really started to struggle. Too bad it wasn't a 4K.

This is getting close to the 5K mark and we're parallel to the start straight.

Running down the start straight again past the spectators.

One of my few passes in the race.  We're running toward the start straight hill, which
really took its toll on me and he got me back and pulled a gap as I continued to fade in the final 3K.

Teams warming up for an upcoming race would run the course in the opposite direction and cheer people on so you had to watch out for them.  You'd think it would be annoying, but it was pretty cool because it added to the experience and gave it more of a college feel.  It didn't help me feel any better, however.  I was hurting.  My legs were really tired, my stomach hurt and my heart rate had been near max for about 20 minutes as we approached the long hill on the start straight for a second time just past the 5K mark.  The hill put a serious hurtin' on me.  I tried to hold my pace and stay strong, but I felt like I was barely moving.  I lost two positions and they eventually pulled a gap as I couldn't get it back together after that hill.  I faded and struggled more and my average pace was now 6:30.

Back into the woods, I knew we were running toward the start and weren't too far from the finish.  I couldn't breathe, my legs ached, my stomach hurt and I really wanted to quit.  I wanted to walk.  Then I saw a sign that I was sure was the 7K marker.  Just one K to go.  I can do one K.  Just dig deep and get it done.

It was the 6K sign.  What?  How can I have 2K to go.  I no longer wanted to walk.  I wanted to crawl into the shrubs and curl up into the fetal position for a while.  2K?  I don't have 2K left in my legs...and I'm pretty sure I'm going to vomit.

On the backstretch approaching the 7K mark...finally.

Approaching the 7K sign, I had lost contact with the runners I was racing with early in the race.  We swapped positions and pushed each other early on.  It was really fun. One runner and I must have swapped places five or six times. In the end, he proved to be the stronger runner and pulled a sizable gap in the final 2K.

I was more or less alone for the final K and had to dig deep for motivation to keep pushing.  I was tired and wanted to cruise to the finish, but I didn't go there to take it easy and coast to the finish line.  I went there to race a full 8K.

Coming into the finish.

I really thought I would be able to break 31 minutes, but I ended with a 33:03, which is about a 6:36 average pace.  

All in all, it was easily the hardest running race I've ever done.  I struggled a lot and had to dig really deep to keep my pace somewhat respectable.  I was way behind the main pack and several minutes behind the leaders.  Courtney said they broke 26 minutes.  Despite the agony and the many levels of hell I experienced, I had a lot of fun.  Running in spikes was fun, the course was great and I loved running with great runners that never give up a spot without a fight.  I was pushed way outside of my comfort zone and I'm looking forward to improving my running before my next race.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more collegiate races to do so none of my upcoming races will be quite the same.  

I've got a trail run in Janesville coming up, a couple of Turkey Trots, possibly the Border Wars race back at UW-Parkside if it fits into my schedule and finally the Footlocker race.  I'll definitely have some tough competition at these races, but I really want to do another collegiate race even though I can't hang with the main pack.  I'm convinced I can do better if I get a second chance.

My legs stiffened up on the drive home, and I instantly collapsed on the sofa and napped away the afternoon.  One month ago, I did an ironman and qualified for the World Championships.  Today, and 8K race gets the best of me and leaves me unconscious and drooling on the couch for a few hours.  I'm a sorry sight, that's for sure.  
There was no point during the ironman where I wanted to quit. There was no point during the final 4K in the cross country race where I didn't want to quit. 


From farm to face in 9 hours

Saturday morning, Courtney and I finally made it to the Madison Farmers Market.  

This, believe it or not, was my first trip to a farmers market.  I never had any interest in the farmers market when I lived in Janesville, and have been meaning to get to the Madison market for a couple of years but never got around to it.  I've been getting more and more into nutrition the past couple of years and prefer to buy organic so I really wanted to check out the Madison market to see if it was as nice as I've heard.  I figured there should be some good organic food, and they say buying local is the way to go.  Worth a look, I thought.

I admit, despite the good things I've heard, I had low expectations.  I just expected a couple of farmers set up around the square with some vegetables on a table.  There were some booths like that, but most were very impressive.  Very professional with lots of variety.  I knew the produce would be fresh and of good quality, but I didn't expect it to be presented the way it was.  The better booths had their food cleaned, sorted and displayed much like a supermarket and in many cases it looked a lot better than in does in the supermarket.

They had the obvious vegetables (not much fruit with it being the end of the season) but also had flowers, herbs, lots of baked goods, honey, cheese (makes sense), and beef.  I expected eggs, vegetables and fruit but not everything else.  I also didn't expect it to be so busy.  It was absolutely packed.  It took a lot longer to get around than expected because we were kind of stuck in a slow moving herd of people circling the square.  It wasn't bad, but definitely much busier than I anticipated.
My plan was to buy some fresh veggies for the week, and possibly something for dinner, but mainly I was hoping to pick up some purple carrots. They're very hard to find.  I found my purple carrots and also picked up some kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli and a couple of tenderloin steaks.  Courtney picked up some corn, lavender and catnip (for the cats).  There were several farms that were selling certified organic food and a few selling beef from grass-fed cows.  
I loved the farmers market and will probably go again next weekend.  I saw a booth that advertised they'll have lamb next weekend.  Both Courtney and I have never had lamb and for some reason I want to try it.  So that's the plan next weekend.  

Later in the day we put on our chefs hats and prepared dinner while the cats enjoyed their fresh catnip.  I had no idea catnip could make a cat foam at the mouth.  I thought I accidentally gave the cat rabies. 

The steak was phenomenal.  It was very, very tender.  I bought two 6oz steaks for $17.50.  Not cheap, but not a bad deal for a quality steak.  Upon eating the steak, both of us agreed that it was a great deal.  Definitely one of the best steaks we've ever had.  If you're in the mood for a good steak, swing by the farmers market.  It's worth it.
The whole meal was great, and most of it was fresh from the farmers market.  We had steak, salads with purple carrots and dried cranberries and chopped almonds, corn on the cob, strawberries and quinoa.




A Busy Weekend

With triathlon season over, I've been taking advantage of all the free time I have now that I don't have super long workouts to do on the weekends.  

Saturday, Courtney and I went to the badger game and watched the Badgers destroy Austin Peay 70-3.  It was a non-conference game and it was clear that Austin Peay was out of their league.  The game was fun, but it would have been more fun to see a good game.  

Out of curiosity, I looked up the Badger's most lopsided win.  It was in the 1890s and it was their very first win as a football team.  They beat UW-Whitewater 106-0.  The very next weekend they suffered what is still their most lopsided defeat to UW-Minnesota 63-0.  What I also found interesting is that the Badgers were the first Big 10 champs in 1896.  The Packers were the first Superbowl winners.  I guess Wisconsin figured out the game of football pretty quickly.

Badgers about to score....again.

One of many Badger kickoffs.  I love all the red in the stands.  Much better than 
green and gold, perhaps the worst possible color combination.

Me and Courtney.

Sunday I got to hang out and watch Courtney race the Zoo Run Run.  It was her first race with her new Garmin so she was pretty excited to try out her new toy, and I was pretty excited to, well, do nothing.  It's kind of fun standing on the sidelines from time to time.

The start of the 5K.  They had a big turnout.  More than 1,000 racers between the 10K and 5K.

Gotta have a cow at the Zoo Run Run, I guess, even 
though there aren't any cows in the zoo.

Courtney coming into the finish.  

Then it was off to the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross.  It's a pro race so you have the best of the best battling it out.  If you don't know what cyclocross is, it's kind of a steeplechase for bicycles.  Riders race on a road bike with knobby tires on an off-road course with barriers they have to run over while carrying their bike.  In a way, it's a mix of mountain biking and road biking.  It's hard to describe so here's a video...   

U.S. gran prix of cyclocross from Jim Fryer/BrakeThrough Media on Vimeo.

It was a two-day race but I only made it there Sunday.  My old employer, Cannondale, tore it up by finishing 1-2 in the pro men's race.  I was impressed.  Here are some pics I took...

Tim Johnson had a huge lead in the men's pro race.  Very dominating win.

Lap 1 so they were still very bunched up when the hit the barriers for the first time.

A friend of mine, Jordan, held his own out there.  I was impressed.  It was a tough field.

Lap 1 or 2 so the riders were still bunched up.  Great racing.

Jordan again, trying to make a pass.

This section was fun to watch.  They had to run up a few steps and then up a long, steep hill.

The leaders coming over the barriers early in the race.

Gear Grinder.

You'd think after watching the race I'd dig out my cross bike, but instead I took a nap.  I am looking forward to getting out on my cross bike a few times this week though.