Running on an Ice Road

Posted on Feb 24, 2014 under 4 Mile, Winter | No Comment

This past weekend we visited the Apostle Island Ice Caves and spend the night on Madeline Island.  Yes the Ice Caves are stunning and I’d recommend checking them out if you can sneak away before the ice melts!

Normally there is a ferry that runs between Bayfield, WI and La Pointe, WI which the town on Madeline Island.  However during the winter there is an approximately 2 mile road that gets plowed between the two towns.  This is a fairly wide road and gets closed due to high wind and snow as the crews work to plow it out.  When we left Saturday morning both the Ice Caves and Ice Road were closed, fortunately they were both open and ready for us when we got to them!

I was hoping to run on the Ice Road, but the place we were staying was a little too far and I didn’t have enough time for a longer run.  I do recommend that if you are looking for a place to stay on Madeline Island that you check out Paul on

Every year there is a big race across the Ice Road.  The race is a 4.2 mile out and back on the Ice Road.  The 20th Annual Run on Water will be held March 2, 2014 and by all appearances looks like a fun event.

From their website:

The 20th annual “Run on Water” is a family fun event open to people of all ages and skill levels. Participants can choose to run, walk, ski, snowshoe, bike, skate or even skijor the 4.2-mile course on the famous “ice road” across frozen Lake Superior from Bayfield to Madeline Island and back.  The race will start on the Bayfield side.  Participants must go around a stake on the Madeline Island side about 2.1 miles away, then return to the start.  Participants can choose their own course to turn the stake – on the ice road, off the ice road, straight or curving.  All entrants will be started and timed together.  Awards will be given to the top runners in age/gender group categories, and the fastest finishers in non-running modes.

One of these years we’ll go up for the Bayfield Winter Festival and I’ll get a run across the Ice Road. The festival looks to be a lot of winter crazy fun.  Have you ever been to the Festival or run across the Ice Road? Or any ice races?

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Happy Birthday Stridebox!!

Posted on Feb 17, 2014 under Equipment, Information, Product Review | No Comment

Stridebox is celebrating their 1st birthday!

From their Facebook page:

I first signed up for Stridebox after seeing a post on Running is Funny.  Who wouldn’t want a box of running related stuff sent to them each month?

It was a great deal and I got lots of good sample products in the mail.  But late last year I needed to cancel my subscriber as we were trying to cut costs.  So imagine my surprise/confusion a few weeks ago when I got a box in the mail with Stridebox on the side.

As a birthday present to themselves they sent anyone who had been a subscriber a free box!!

For their birthday they sent me Clean Bottle’s The Runner,  About Time Whey Protein Isolate – Birthday Cake flavored, a reflective snap bracelet, and a nice birthday card!



You should check out Stridebox!!

January into February Challenge Update

Posted on Feb 01, 2014 under 30Days | No Comment

7 (Photo credit: mag3737)

I exceeded my January Challenge of “Get rid of something every day”!

During the last few days of Christmas (winter) break I was able to do some cleaning in the basement.  When Caleb was born we basically took all the stuff from his room into the basement! I threw away some broken baby equipment, broken electronics, and some other junk.  I also created several boxes of garage sale stuff that will go to my school’s annual garage sale.  I added some books and clothes to round up the variety of other stuff!

I lost track of how much stuff I actually got rid of but it was definitely over 31 items.   Did you participate? What did you get rid of?

I also took on the January Challenge of running 50 miles laid out by Minneapolis Running.   Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it.  I ran 39 miles total.  I was on track and then one Sunday I hurt my back getting Caleb out of the Rav4.  I took almost a week off and then did an easy run.  Looking at the calendar of my workouts they are all over the place! The biggest challenge to consistency has been my wife’s work schedule and then the ridiculous weather we’ve been having.  Though some of my runs were actually on days when school was cancelled and day care was open!!

I also did 1 bike workout a week with the longest being 1:15.  And a couple of snowshoes!

Looking into February my challenge is to do the 7 minute workout each day!  If you haven’t heard about the 7 minute work out the New York Times has a nice article about it.  It is basically doing 12 exercises for 30 seconds each.  The exception in the app I’m using is that side planks are held for 20 seconds on each side. The American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal has an article about programs similar to the 7 minute workout and has this to say about it:

The following is an example of a 12-station HICT program. All exercises can be done with body weight and implements easily acquired in almost any setting (e.g., home, office, hotel room, etc.). The exercise order allows for a total body exercise to significantly increase the heart rate while the lower, upper, and core exercises function to maintain the increased heart rate while developing strength.

Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between bouts. Total time for the entire circuit workout is approximately 7 minutes. The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times.

1. Jumping jacks Total body

2. Wall sit Lower body

3. Push-up Upper body

4. Abdominal crunch Core

5. Step-up onto chair Total body

6. Squat Lower body

7. Triceps dip on chair Upper body

8. Plank Core

9. High knees/running in place Total body

10. Lunge Lower body

11. Push-up and rotation Upper body

12. Side plank Core

The article doesn’t actually highlight the strength building aspects of the workout but does seem to indicate that overall health markers such as insulin and VO2Max can improve with a High Intensity Circuit Training workout.  There are also clear fat-loss benefits.

Right now we have the “Seven” app on our iPad to do the 7-minute workout. Right now that is working pretty well. It has a tracker but you have to do the workouts within at least 48 hours of each other or it will delete the record.  Which app do you use for the 7 minute workout?

Incidentally, Minneapolis Running also decided to do a strength (core) challenge for February.  They offer 5 great core workouts to try.  Their challenge is every other day.  I’ve done the Lolo Jones workout that they highlight and it is a good one!

For February my running goals will be to hit 50 miles this month and to average 2 bike workouts a week!

How did you do on your January goals?  What do you have in store for February?

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Using Instagram to Log Your Miles

Posted on Jan 27, 2014 under Equipment, Information, Training | No Comment

This winter I started using Instagram as a way to log  my workouts.   You have to be a little bit creative in using pictures to showcase your runs.  It definitely helps if you have scenic or photo-worthy places to go!  It is actually super-easy to do, especially now that most runners always have their cell phone with them.

All you need is your cell phone and a few apps.  You could do it without your phone but the beauty of it is taking pictures while running and its simplicity.  I have a LG Optimus G which has a  13 MP camera which takes some great shots!!

Since I have an Android phone I’m going to talk about Android apps and give links to the Google Play store.  I’m sure all you Apple lovers can find the same apps in iTunes too!

Obviously you need the Instagram app. I just use my phone’s standard camera app, but you could install  a different one if you wanted.  I use Strava Cycling to record my run.  To record the weather for the run, I use the Weather Channel app.  Last but not least, I use Photogrid-Collage Maker to the make the collages of pictures.   I think most phones now have built in screen capturing (shot) but if yours doesn’t you will need one.

Now that you have all the apps installed you are ready to run!!  Here’s what I do:

  1. Screenshot of the weather (usually before I leave, I might afterwards if it is more dramatic!).
  2. Start Strava and run.
  3. Take a few pictures along the way.
  4. Take a selfie picture either at the end or at a special spot along the way.
  5. Finish run and take a screenshot of the Strava Results page (includes map, time, distance).
  6. Make a collage of the best pictures and screenshots in Photogrid, saving the collage.
  7. Use Instagram to enhance the image, writing a brief statement about the run, making sure to include #runlog and #running hashtags.  You can add others too. And if appropriate make sure to include the proper location.  Then I post to the social media sites that I want, usually Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
  8. Log my run in RunningAhead.

What creative ways have you found to log your runs?

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My Thoughts about MLK Today

Posted on Jan 20, 2014 under Random Thoughts | No Comment

Its probably cliche to write about MLK today, but he and his legacy are on my mind.

This is a quote that was used as the basis for the message yesterday church:

What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

I find it interesting that when you look back at what King said and fought for, he wasn’t just fighting for the rights of African-Americans.  His words are ultimately appropriate for every type of injustice.  The civil rights movement is for more than freedom and equality of black people, but freedom and equality for all people.

We are all truly equal no matter who we are.  The Bible says we are all created equal and in God’s image.  If we were all created equal then we should all be able to live as equals in a free society.  Sadly this doesn’t occur.  There are still currently significant gaps in every indicator across racial lines.  And there are still people and states trying to take away the rights of equality (same-sex marriage).

King also says:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

For a long time this quote was the signature on my e-mail:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

I have been given great privilege in my life, by being born into a middle-class white family.  Sure my parents were divorced and we struggled to make ends meet, but my existence and future was never threatened in the same way of my neighbors and friends now. It is easy to sit on the couch, listen to the news, and to shake our heads about those poor people.  But have you thought about the ways you are contributing to their “poorness?”

If you aren’t actively pursuing righteousness or justice then who are you serving? The oppressor?

We need to continue the fight that has not ended.  It is amazing that we have a Black president. There are millions of successful African-American men and women.  But there are still millions more African-American, Latino, Asian, African-born men, women, and children who are stuck in an oppressive system with no clear path out.

Part of the way out is for you and me to realize our role and our family’s role as oppressors.  I had relatives who owned slaves.  I had relatives who fought on both sides of the Civil War.  I had and have relatives who aren’t necessarily racist in the “evil” sense of the word, but who haven’t thought and fought through the stereotypes they have.  This quote from King sums that up:

Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most element of greatness — justice.

In many places King’s dream has come true.  Our daughter enjoys playing with children from all walks of life at church, on the playground, and at our English class.  We hope and pray that she’ll continue to build these relationships and to not let color, economic background, or fear to get in her way of friendship and love.

At the bear minimum we need to find love.  Love for the kid who has a messed up family life and can’t help the fact that he’s too tired to learn at school.  Love for the woman who doesn’t know anything but abuse and so abuses her kids.  Love for the man who never had any one show him how to be a man without exerting his strength on a weaker person.  Love for people who don’t have conflict resolution skills outside of fists and weapons.

Love drives out fear and we need to replace hate and fear with love:

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

Along with hate and fear comes the unknown.  But I think deep down we all know when something is right or wrong.  I do believe that we are all born in the image of God.  With that comes the innate sense of right and wrong.  How many little kids do you know that have a clear sense of fairness or justice?  It becomes warped through time as they get older and see the corruptness around them.  But I do think that even as it has been corrupted we still have it inside of us and can fight for what is right.

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

Will you stand today on the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and fight for what is right today?

Getting Traction on Ice and Snow

Posted on Jan 06, 2014 under Equipment, Product Review, Shoes, Winter | No Comment

What do you wear to gain traction while running in icy or snowy conditions? I personally wear YakTrax when I want extra traction and sure footing.  I know of people who drill small sheet metal screws into their shoes, and I’m sure people use other brand traction devices.  What is your preferred device?

There are a few factors I consider before adding my YakTrax to my shoes.

1) Where am I going?

We live by a hospital so if I run that direction I’m guaranteed that a large part of my run will be on plowed the majority of my run. Running the Lakes? They will be plowed, but not to the ground.  Downtown – plowed to the sidewalk.

2) What are the conditions of the trail/sidewalk?

This depends on where you go.  Most actual off-road trails won’t have been plowed and I often will wear the YakTrax on them just to be safe.

3) Is there fresh snow/ice?

If the snow/ice is fresh or falling then I’d probably wear them just to be safe.

I’ve worn my YakTrax a few times this year for runs. A lot of my runs from home end up having a fair amount of the run being on sidewalks that are well taken-care of (hospital or downtown) so I don’t wear them a lot.

The YakTrax basically use a coil of wire to form an X on the ball and heel of your shoe.  They pull over the sole of your shoe and have a strap that helps hold them on.  They make a very distinctive mark in the snow!  When running on clear pavement these coils add a little bit of spring to your step and if worn for long stretches can mess up your shins.  For shorter periods of clear pavement you can survive or run in a snow bank to prevent the shin pain.

In the past when I’ve known I’ll want them for running around a park I’ve crossed the street or even run in the street instead of running on the hospital’s clear sidewalk.

I’ve been wearing YakTrax since we moved to Minnesota 6 years ago.  I wore my first pair out mid-winter last year and bought a new pair of YakTrax Pro.  I did receive a free pair of YakTrax Pro to review this winter (and some hand warmers).

My YakTrax wore out similar to how the heel of my shoe wore down.  The rubber and coils on the back of the heel eventually broke due to my running form.  I didn’t keep track of how many miles it took for this to occur, but having them for almost 5 years seems like a pretty good amount of time for them to last.

Another benefit of YakTrax over sheet metal screws is that you can wear them on virtually any shoe (mine won’t fit onto my winter boots, but do on my every day winter shoes).  This also allows you to rotate through your running shoes instead of only wearing (and ruining) one pair of shoes!

Have you enjoyed your YakTrax or other traction method?  What works for you?

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January’s Challenge 2014

Posted on Jan 03, 2014 under 30Days | No Comment

clutter (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

January - Get rid of something every day - After a busy holiday season of getting gifts and buying stuff for yourself on clearance it is time to remove something from your life!

This could be anything that is cluttering up your space.  One rule is that it has to be yours or you ask before getting rid of it!

We are blessed with so much stuff and I don’t like to get rid of things like that ugly metal shelving unit that I’ve had since high school. So it is good to get rid of things every now and then.  “Getting rid of” could mean several things:

Sell it – Craigslist, ebay, Garage Sale, etc…

Give it - Goodwill, Freecycle, “Free” sign, etc…

Trash it – Garbage or recycling just take it away!  Around here if something decent is sitting in the alley it could disappear! We’ve given and taken from this method.

We have a box of stuff in the basement that is waiting to go into my school’s annual garage sale.  I really wish there was a way to get rid of it earlier than that, but it is better to keep it for the sale than donate it to Goodwill.

One special note about this challenge is that you could do it a few ways.  The most literal would be to find something each day, but in the spirit of the goal it would be to get rid of 30 things.  Either way the challenge is to clean up your space!!

English: Fishing clutter The old stone-hoppers...

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