Category Archives: Course Comments

Commuting Routes: So Many Choices!

With a new job comes a new commute.  This new commute is more than double my old one so we were happy that we never got around to selling our old Honda Civic that we bought the summer before we said “I do.”  I wanted to keep riding my bike, but realistically I won’t be able to ride daily.  The distance is the big factor, but really it is the time it takes to traverse that distance! It took me 3-4 weeks but I’ve figured out the fastest driving routes and have it down to between 15-20 minutes driving (which is about the time it took to bike commute to my old job)!  Biking takes much longer.  I was committed to trying and finally got around to it September 18th.  I had actually biked to work earlier, but that was from a car dealership that was about 4 miles away and almost exclusively on trail.

Locally we have a geowiki called Cyclopath that helps you find bike routes.  You can choose the fastest, shortest, or “friendliest.” Friendliest is supposed to be the easiest overall ride factoring in hills and bike lanes, etc.  As a geowiki users can login and update route info or tag sections as friendly or ones to avoid. All of that goes into the outputted route(s).  Google Maps now has a bike feature that can help you find a bike route.  Both are continually improving, with Cyclopath having the most updated info. I didn’t compare their routes turn for turn, but generally speaking they gave the same routes.

But I’m smarter than the computer!! So I didn’t actually follow either maps routes turn for turn and added some of my own flair which in at least one case probably didn’t work out for the best!  I’ve commuted twice now and took a little bit different route on the way home so I’ve got 4 routes to compare so far.  I think I have a winner that I’ll continue to use regularly.

The shortest route was 8.6 miles and the longest was 8.9. The shortest amount of moving time was 39:08 and longest was 40:20. Most importantly, the shortest elapsed or overall time was 39:55 compared to the longest at 45:36.

I’ve put them in reverse order below, so you’ll have to scroll down to see my favorite!
Route #1 was pretty much straight up urban without any scenery except buildings! Way too much stop and go and while it was mostly on bike lanes too much traffic (especially downtown).

Route #2 was still pretty urban with lots of stops. It was a little bit more scenic and this one I think I made some silly choices but that meant I went through the Sculpture Garden at least! This was also probably the hilliest with several rolling hills with too many stop signs at the bottom of a hill!!

Route #3 is mostly on the River Road, but once that ended I stayed on city streets.

Route #4 is pretty much the same as Route #3, except that it rejoined a trail network instead of taking the streets. This was the flattest ride of them all.

For now I’ll plan on using the route #4 knowing there are innumerable ways to extend the ride for a better workout if I want. If you are ever up for a longer ride come up and we can ride home together!

Garmin vs Phone GPS

I’ve often wondered about the accuracy of my phone’s GPS and that of my Garmin Forerunner 205. Could they be equally good at tracking my workouts? I’ve used both before when I was doing interval workouts as Strava doesn’t allow for split timing. You could setup segments in Strava, but that’s a lot of work and would require fairly precise running. I never took the time to compare the data from those workouts. I think I felt that the amount of stopping and small movements wouldn’t be an accurate gauge.

On this mornings run I wore my Garmin and had the phone inside of the Chariot as I pushed the two kiddos on an 8.4 mile run. I had grabbed my Garmin because some little 15 month boy likes to hide things and had hidden my watch. I needed to protect my watch tan line (vanity…). The Garmin covers the area and now is quite useful!

Just for accuracy sake, I use a Garmin Forerunner 205 and have the LG Optimus X and was using the Strava app (discussed yesterday). I pulled the data from my Garmin into Dailymile. Not 100% sure why I did it there instead of RunningAhead which is where I tend to log most of my workouts, but I assume that the website won’t matter too much for this analysis.

Garmin Strava
Distance 8.4 8.5
Time 1:27 1:20:44*
Calories** 910 1,568
Elevation*** 1,784 226

*Strava will differentiate between moving time and total time. Elapsed (total time) was 1:27:19. Crazy that the Chariot was stopped for 7 minutes, but we did stop for water a few times and a bathroom break for the 3.5 year old!

** This is probably not a device measurement but a website one.

*** This could be a reporting discrepancy… My guess is Dailymile is reporting total climb and Strava reports net gain or loss…

Here is a screenshot from the Dailymile entry followed by Strava’s “embed on blog”.


A Spanish Triathlon

I started working on making a photo book from my recent trip to Spain with a group of 8th graders. It has already been over a month since we’ve been back and I’m trying to get a 50% coupon, so the clock is on! It brought back some fun memories and many reasons to want to be back!! I went running 2 different times, one while we were in Madrid and once while we were Benalmadina along the coast. I’ll get around to posting some pictures eventually! On my run along the beach I went West as far as the boardwalk would take me and then ran as far East as it went. It ended in a marina. As I was running I noticed a lot of markers and signs. So I grabbed a quick picture of one and even with my limited Spanish knew what it was… a triathlon! 50f767ff-852d-4a0d-b1b6-c09d01126612_pIt started later in the day and I was doubtful that we’d get to see any of it. It was actually a free day, so if I had known about it and had been training, I might have been able to compete. Nevertheless, I did some research and found it online. It was the II TRIATLON DE BENALMADENA, a 750 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike, and 5 kilometer run event. As we left our hotel to begin our events for the day, I noticed policia up and down the main road and they were beginning to block off the course. I was hopeful we’d get to see the bikers as they came past. We weren’t able to find a cambio to exchange our dollars so we ended up wasting a lot of time, which turned out to be a good thing. Just as we reached the turn around point the lead motorcycle went zooming by. I was fretting the decision of trying to get the kids to stop and stand around a bit to watch, but they all seemed happy to do so. We waited and watched for 10-15 minutes as the riders came by. We probably left before the mid-pack triathletes came by, but it was fun to watch and cheer them on! It definitely made me want to compete and think about getting back into swimming.

Bike Commute Route Options

A co-worker recently got a bike and we’ve talked a bit about bike commuting. She actually lives pretty close to me so some of our conversation has been about what route to take. She showed me a new route this week and I Strava-ed it so I could compare it to other routes I’ve tried.

I’ve now tried 5 different routes that probably represent the most direct routes. There are obviously thousands of options out there! The Greenway is our own little freeway and takes in a large chunk of these routes.

My traditional route has 2 variation depending on a stoplight at Lake and Snelling. It isn’t necessarily the friendliest route for biking as it takes in the busy intersection of Hiawatha and Lake, but it mostly on the Greenway and bike lanes on Minnehaha. Once Minnehaha is redone it should be pretty nice.

My other normal route is pretty much all Greenway. I use this a lot when I have to take the kids to daycare as the Greenway is by far the safest place to ride with the trailer. The Sabo bridge isn’t super fun with the kids in tow, but safety first!! I also started using this route more when I realized it wouldn’t hurt to add some mileage and the hill into my commute leading up to Almanzo!

In pursuit of Almanzo glory, I also started making some longer rides on the commute home when it mattered a little less if I was sweaty/smelly! This is by far the longest of the options that could still be a “commute” before stretching it into something more like training. Adding the West River Road definitely makes it more scenic!

For the fun of it I switched things up and took the 24th Street Bridge to LRT trail to the Greenway the other day. It is almost exactly the same distance as the Greenway – but 24th St isn’t as nice. In the fall they posted (and covered) signs for the new bike lane on 24th. They just started painting the lanes. I still think the Greenway will be the better option.

Finally, the new option my co-worker showed me. It isn’t terrible and is surprisingly pretty much the same distance as my traditional commute. I probably won’t use it as I prefer not waiting for long stoplights to make an at grade crossing of Hiawatha. Some of those waits can be stupid long!!

Cyclopath recommends the route I take with the kids.

Explore Minnesota Race Series

The new Explore Minnesota Challenge Race Series begins this coming weekend with the Securian Winter Run (my 2009 race review) festivities. Athletes who participate in 8 qualifying events (including one from each region) will receive a commemorative medal (including commemorative pins for each race).  Registration for the Series is $50 and appears to be open until December 1, 2012 according to the registration page.  The registration fee doesn’t include event registration for each of the 8 required races, though it does come with some cool perks:

  • One Year Membership to Minnesota Distance Running Association ($25 value)
  • Commemorative Drawstring Backpack
  • Commemorative Lapel Pin (1 per person per region) for each of the 4 regions.
  • EM Challenge Winter Hat
  • Commemorative Lanyard
  • EM Challenge Finisher’s Shirt
  • State of Minnesota Medal upon completion of an event in all 4 regions.
  • Special discounts at various stores throughout the year.
  • Special Drawings for Hotel, Store and Race Entries throughout 2012.

The Challenge has divided up the state into 4 regions: Metro, Northern, Southern, and Central. At least two races from each region are part of the series. It appears all of the races are managed by Anderson Race Management the creator of the Explore Challenge in partnership with Explore Minnesota aka the Minnesota Tourism Board.

The 2012 races are:

Race Date Race Name Race City Race Region
28-Jan Securian Winter Run St Paul Metro
24-Mar Return of the Robin Rochester Southern
1-Apr  Fools Five Road Race Lewiston Southern
22-Apr Minneapolis Recycle Run Minneapolis Metro
5-May Special Olympics Half and 5K Buffalo Central
20-May Get Your Rear in Gear Edina Metro
26-May Skyline 25K Duluth Northern
23-Jun Get Your Rear in Gear Rochester Southern
24-Jun Twin Cities Pride Rainbow Run Minneapolis Metro
28-Jul Run for Blood 1/4 Marathon and 5K Minneapolis Metro
28-Jul Dr. Nancy English Memorial 5K Duluth Northern
8-Sep Bolder Dash Runs Minneapolis Metro
15-Sep Walk of Hope Rochester Southern
15-Sep Dash for Dads St Cloud Central
22-Sep Dave Ryan 5K and 10K for Special Olympics Minneapolis Metro
23-Sep One Last Tri, Scandia Northern
6-Oct Lupus Walk of Hope Duluth Northern
14-Oct Scenic Byway Half Marathon and 5K Belle Plaine Southern
20-Oct Warrior Waddle Winona Southern

What do you think are you up for the challenge?