November into December

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

Hard to believe that December is already here. Where has time gone?

I had three goals for November. The main one was to write a thank you note every day and mail it to the person. I did horrible on this one. I wrote 4 and mailed them I think. I did create a list of people to send notes to but didn’t actually get around to writing any. I feel bad that this is a goal I failed miserably at. I’m going to keep the goal in my to-do list and plan on getting up to 30 of them before the end of the year. I’m not sure why it was a challenge to complete. I guess I need to be more thankful.

I was able to do 10 air squats almost every day. I really only forgot once and the other day I was so tired that I didn’t get them done. Then I hurt my back shoveling and didn’t do any more. I completed 25/30 days worth of squats. I had only missed 2 days before I hurt my back.

I started doing mobility work using the Ready to Run book focusing mostly on my feet. It really helped and I could notice being more flexible. I could also tell some of the disparity between the two sides of my body and how one was looser than the other. I’m looking forward to continuing that.

I screwed up in the 12 week Magnussen Progression when I switched to the Intermediate. I had to change my goal and I did on the Google Sheet I had created. I didn’t realize that it hadn’t updated the weights. When you copy and past from Excel into Sheets it doesn’t carry the formulas over, just the values. So I screwed up two weeks worth of that. We noticed it because I did 15 reps at the end and most people have been struggling to get the required 8. Oops!

The 30 Days Goal for December is:

30 Days of Advent – Find something advent related and read/reflect on it each day.

I will continue to do some type of mobility work each day. It has been helpful for getting some hotspots worked out. I’m going to take a break in December from any other physical challenges and give my body some rest time.


Running – 24.9 more than doubling October!

Bike – 15.8 one commute before the snow hit the ground and ended my season!

Crossfit – 7 times.

Note: I finished this on 11/30 and not sure why it sat in draft.. I suppose if I’d written anything in December I would have realized that!

Recap: Turkey Day 5k

Posted on Nov 30, 2014 under 5K, Race Review | No Comment


First I’d like to say that the idea of running a “turkey trot” with thousands of people wasn’t my first choice when I asked my sister if she wanted to run a 5k on Thanksgiving morning. I really wanted to do the trail race in St. Paul, but since we would be pushing the kids in the stroller that wasn’t even an option. So I looked at the lower key race around one of the lakes that had a nice kiddo race too.  Buried deep in the fine print it said, “no strollers”.  Fortunately, I saw it just before we registered!  So we signed up for the Lifetime Fitness Turkey Day 5k.

We got a discount for being REI members and some of the swag included a 20% off REI coupon!  Registration was pretty easy online and packet pick-up at REI went pretty smoothly.  They assigned our race number at pick-up so you could get them at a variety of stores around the metro and no chips.  The event included a race village and kid’s carnival with a race.  Unfortunately, due to the extreme cold we didn’t really get to partake in those activities.

CAM05920Waking up on race morning the temp was -1.  We probably should have bailed at that point.  But we paid a decent chunk of change to participate and dressed in multiple layers.  It took some time to get the kids dressed in multiple layers as well and we were finally out the door already sweating and running a little behind.  The plan had been to save a few bucks and park at the church lot and take the LRT down to the starting area which was less than a block away. As we were buckling the kids into the stroller my sister made a random comment about our shirts and I realized we had left the race numbers at home!! I ran home while she took the kids to the LRT, fortunately I made it home and back before the next train came.  We rode with a few other runners to the start and waited maybe 10 minutes for the proverbial gun to go off.

It was cold!! Even dressed in 2 layers it was cold.  My toes (mesh shoes) and fingers (Saucony Utili-Mitt gloves) were the coldest. Once we got moving they warmed up.  It did take almost a mile before I felt like we were really starting to warm up and feel like we were going at a decent pace.  They had 3 waves of runners and I figured with the stroller we’d line up at the back of the first wave in the 10 minute per mile range.  I’m glad we did, but man we passed a lot of people!  It was super congested for pretty much the whole race.  My sister and I didn’t necessarily run side-by-side, but trying to keep track of each other and the stroller meant we had to slow way down at times to get around into a clear spot to pass someone.  And I know this was a fun run and a family event more about the getting out and exercising together, but come on – if you are going to walk within the first half mile you need to line up farther back!  I can’t tell you how many people we passed or were walking down the middle of the street in the first half mile.  Ugh.  I did need to stop for a second in the first half mile, I can’t remember why now, but we made our way to the edge and stopped.

IMG_7169After the first turn I realized that we needed to be further out on the outside for turning.  We actually found some nice breathing room and was able to pick up the pace a little before getting super congested again.  At one point I needed to tie my shoe, so Meg pushed the kids and I got stopped.  Catching back up was easy as I could weave my way through the crowd. The course made a few turns downtown and ended up on the Riverfront from Gold Medal Park until 4th Ave.  The kids had done pretty well in the stroller until we made that turn.  Then Caleb began crying and shortly after Nadia started in.

IMG_7171So for the last 1/2 mile or so I got lots of judgmental looks. I thought, if these people’d just get out of my way I’d finish faster and we’d all get the chance to warm up! We did finish in 32:53.  With no chips my Strava report will be the closest we get to an official time.  Not very fast but considering the conditions and the congestion I’ll take it.  At some point in the last mile my sister stopped to tie her shoe.  I didn’t realize it and she wasn’t able to catch back up, oops.  As soon as I crossed the finish line and walked the requisite block that the announcer kept talking about I stopped and picked up Caleb.  As soon as I held him he calmed down.  Meg picked up Nadia and we all started walking towards Target Center so we could warm up.  Nadia’s feet were pretty cold.  Caleb couldn’t communicate and was just super fussy – pointing down but when I set him down he’d cry.  Then crying for a bit while I held him.  We decided to head back to the car, Nadia was cold enough that she didn’t want to find the kid’s carnival.

At this point I kind of regretted that we had parked so far away.  We re-bundled up and headed back out into the arctic air.  We swung through and got some Aspire and hot chocolate before getting on the LRT and heading home.  Once we got home we all cuddled under some blankets to warm up!  As we were boarding the LRT I saw a bunch of people with strollers coming through the finish area.  I felt a little vindicated in the fact that at least my kids weren’t out there as long as others!! Just that in the first part of the race there wasn’t any strollers.  I don’t think we could have done much more to keep the kids warm.  They were both wearing warms clothes and socks under their full winter gear, under a fleece blanket in the Chariot with the wind/rain shield zipped up and a hand warmer stuffed in there.  Before we started running they actually had fogged up the rain shield quite nicely!

All in all it was a good morning.  Way colder than it needed to be!  I probably wouldn’t PhotoGrid_1417372292358do it again just based on the congestion factor alone.

Here is my Strava data:

From my Instagram feed:


Running with Skis

Posted on Nov 23, 2014 under My Running, Trail Run, Winter | No Comment
CAM05865Well, I didn’t run with skis on, that’d be ridiculous.  But I did try running while pulling the kids behind me in our Chariot with the ski attachment.  I’ve been trying to think of ways that I still be able to work out this winter some outside with the kids. So I thought, why not try pulling the Chariot Ski while running trails.  Iposted awhile back in the TC Trail Runners Group on Facebook (the group isn’t super active, but has provided some feedback about other things) and didn’t get a response.
CAM05864This weekend it was going to be warm enough for me to feel comfortable running with the kids and there was still some snow on the ground even though it was starting to get slushy.  The challenge is finding a place to run that has a short loop (in case it was a disaster), had a place for the kids to play after (trying not to be selfish), and most importantly a place that would be fine to run on (not destroying cross-country ski trails; though the weather did that for us).
I decided to run from the Richardson Nature Center at Hyland Park. They have a few winter hiking trails from the center that make a few nice loops. They also have some ski trails that start at the center.  The Nature Center is a great building with restrooms and super small concession stand, you can also rent snowshoes for $5.  But most importantly they have a nice indoor play area for the kids and a really cool outdoor exploration area!
CAM05879But back to the running.  I forgot how hilly it was.  Oops, try pulling almost 100 pounds of weight behind you up a hill. My heart rate had to be maxed out for most of the run. Going downhill wasn’t much better as you are trying to slow down 100 pounds behind you and not get run over or fall and spill the trailer!  But the flats didn’t feel to bad. Once you got moving it actually seemed to go just fine, maybe even better than actually pushing the stroller. It would be interesting to know which would be easier overall.  Pulling the skis I was able to maintain full arm motion and just had the belt pulling on my midsection.  You do have to be careful as you turn – its similar to pulling a trailer with your truck, you need a little bit more room. Actually turning with the skis on snow was easier than with the tires on pavement. I wore Yak-Trax to help with extra traction, but I think it was too slushy to make much impact.
A couple of key things, the trailer is attached by firm poles to a belt around your waist.  The trailer can’t actually run you over, but slipping and falling could potentially really hurt, both for the runner and the kiddos!  Our Chariot has a zipper rain fly which is a little bit nicer fit, though the flap keeps slipping off the rail allowing cold air or rain/snow to get into the compartment. You obviously can’t use the skis without snow so I had to use the wheels to get to the snow and then switch them out.  This wasn’t too problematic as I did it with the kids inside still. But you then have to carry the tires with you too.  They fit easily into the rear storage bag, but took up most of the room.
Final verdict, I’d do it again! I would maybe try to pick a place that is flatter!  Do you have any recommendations of places to try?
Here are the stats from Strava:

Winter Arrived…

Posted on Nov 16, 2014 under My Running, Winter | No Comment

Winter came a little bit early this year and it came with a fury. I think most of us in the Twin Cities were glad that the storm track moved and we missed the 14″ of snow that some had predicted!  Nevertheless, I went for a run with my visiting sister during the snow storm this past Tuesday morning!

#running in the first snow storm of the season with @megthemalex she wasn’t excited about the white stuff and temps!

A photo posted by @crossn81 on

She wasn’t really prepared for such nasty weather so I had to loan her a few things. I actually had to dig out quite a bit of winter gear myself. I wore tights and merino wool shirt underneath windbreaker pants, a long-sleeve t-shirt, and a windbreaker jacket. I started with a Smartwool neck gaiter but that proved too hot and an Icebreakerz hat. And my Saucony Utili-Mitt. I love those gloves! I had to loan her pretty much the outer layer of everything and gloves/hat. You can read more about my winter gear plans on this old post about running at -21.

I pulled out the Yak-trax and I actually had just gotten a pair of new ones in the mail to review. But decided at the last minute not to wear them. Probably should have. My dilemma is that the first 1/2 mile of my run is on the hospital’s sidewalk which is usually pretty much immaculate. Yak-trax are horrible on dry or little snow covered surfaces. But for the rest of the run they would have come in handy. They aren’t super easy to slip-on mid-run. Sometimes I’ve just ran in the “grass” instead of the sidewalk if I know the route will be super icy. That isn’t a bad solution for a short period of time.

Oddly as it seems, I am looking forward to running a bit more now that winter is here. Last Sunday I rode my bike to church for the last time for the season. Depending on how the storm progressed I had contemplated riding it to Solcana Monday morning, but there was already enough snow on the ground that I decided that I was done for the season! Since I won’t be riding to work on a regular basis anymore, that leaves an extra day for running! This past week I ran 2 days and Crossfit 3. I thought about running on Saturday morning and could have without the kids but thought I should take it easy. I’m not sure if I’ll run with the stroller much. Two main reasons – too cold on the kidddos and don’t want to ruin the trailer. It seems that if I don’t want to ride my bike in the salty slush, I probably shouldn’t use the trailer which cost almost as much as my bike! How cold is too cold to push the kids? I’m tempted to try a trail run with the trailer using the ski attachment. Anyone tried that with the Burly or Chariot? I know it works well for skiing and snow shoeing.

Ok, so that’s some random winter thoughts. Are you excited for winter to be here?

October into November

Posted on Nov 09, 2014 under 30Days, Highlights | No Comment

October seemed to have flown by.  We were fortunate for a little mid-month break.  My in-laws came up for fall break and we were able to get away for a few days to the Florida Keys without any kids! It was marvelous and a much needed break from real life! We stayed at a great hotel, Southernmost Hotel of the USA, and had a great adventure on the water with Fury!  We snorkeled, jet-skiied, para-sailed, and climbed on huge inflatables!


It was a grand time!

October’s Challenge was to do 10 pushups and situps each day. I’m proud to report that this occurred 29/31 times. The two times that I didn’t do it were mostly on accident.  I’d tell myself, I’ll do it after I do this and then forgot.  So not too shabby.  It was hard to want to do it on some days where we had just done some crazy upper body stuff or the one day we did a lot of situps. But it felt good to do them.

I ran a whopping 10.2 miles this month! That is better than September at least!! Ugh. My plan is Crossfit on M,W,F and Bike commute on Tues with a run on Thursday.  I was able to get out for a run on a Saturday morning and for a run in Key West which increased my running total!  Biking to work has been going well.  It still take some time and thought into getting ready and out the door with everything.  I biked for a total of 130 miles for the month.  That was helped by a 25 mile ride I did while pulling the kids on a Saturday.

Crossfit is going well.  I did the first part of the Diane Challenge and did the beginner portion of the  12 week Magnussen Progression maxing out at 245 for the deadlift.  So now I’ll jump into the Intermediate Progression which has been kicking people’s butts.   It will be a good challenge!

My 30 Day Challenge for November is:

Give Thanks - Send in the mail a note of Thanksgiving each day.  A little Cheesy maybe, but we need to spend more time being thankful.

I also decided that I liked doing the pushups, so I’m going to do 10 squats each day.  My thought is to make them slow and rest at the bottom for a second or so.  This will help insure better form.  I’m also going to do some mobility work each day inspired by the book Ready to Run.

How was your October?

Solcana’s Athlete of the Month

Posted on Nov 04, 2014 under CrossFit | No Comment

I was named Solcana’s Athlete of the Month in this month’s newsletter. Here is the blurb:

Athlete Of the Month: Nick Cross

Coach Morgen says: “Shout-out to Athlete of the Month Nick Cross! Nick is a solid pillar of our 5:30am class (aka CrossFit Dad). Nick is a distance runner, social worker, husband, and parent of two little kids. He shows up to class consistently, listens, and asks questions. He knows that being strong and moving well will be beneficial to his sport outside the gym. He works hard and has developed his squat and other foundation movements considerably since he joined us in July. Way to go Nick!”

Thanks Morgen!

The Diane Challenge

Posted on Oct 26, 2014 under CrossFit | No Comment

I haven’t written about Crossfit in awhile.  I’ve still be going consistently about 8 times a month.  Recently Solcana held its first gym-wide challenge.  The  Crossfit workout called Diane was chosen as the challenge.  It is a two part challenge – complete it once in October and then we’ll complete it again in December.  Who ever has the most improvement based on an extremely complicated calculation wins!

So what is Diane?  First, many Crossfit workouts have women names, we don’t have space here to dissect that! Second, these workouts usually aren’t  easy (really no Crossfit workout should be easy). Finally, Diane is simply 45 deadlifts and handstand pushups done as fast as possible, broken down like this:

21-15-9 reps of:

  • 225-pound Deadlifts
  • Handstand Push Ups

Yea, so I can’t deadlift 225 pounds or do a single handstand.  My current 1-rep max deadlift is 185 pounds.  The recommendation was to do about 70% of that, so I used 135 pounds.  And then for the handstand pushups (HSPU), I’m still working on getting upside down for any length of time, let alone pushing up! There are many different steps to scale this down. I found this great article that talks about Diane in general and how to scale the HSPU’s.  For me I felt that I would be happy to get through the whole thing doing regular pushups!  They are right in the middle of the “scale” that we used.

All of this was timed.  It took me 7:30 to complete this workout! Hannah suggested an easy way to break it down which really helped.  Break each set into thirds and take a short break (walk to the wall).  So for me it looked like 7 deadlift, 7 deadlift, 7 deadlift, 7 pushup, 7 pushup, 7 pushup, 5, deadlift, 5 deadlift, 5 deadlift, 5 pushup, 5 pushup 5 pushup, 3 deadlift, 3 deadlift, 3 deadlift, 3 pushup, 3 pushup, 3 pushup.  Those last pushups were killer!

All of those numbers got broken down into a basic score that can be compared and improved on. My preliminary score is 63.  The range of scores was 48-89, my rank is 23/32.

Here is how the score is calculated, from the Solcana Facebook group:

The scores are calculated based on your deadlift weight, time and pushup style. Each one is given a fractional score based on your effort compared to the maximum possible effort. So, if 225 was possible deadlift weight and you did 185, your decimal score was 0.82 out of 1.

HSPU were scored as 2 points total per rep, and each other type of pushup was given a fraction of those 2 points.

HSPU w/ 1 mat = 1.75 pts
HSPU w/ 2 mats =1.5 pts
pushups = 1 pt
PU to 20″ = .75 pt
PU to 24″ = .5 pt
PU to 30″ = .25 pt

So let’s say you did 45 regular pushups, your score for the pushups is 0.5.

Lastly, your time is calculated as a decimal of the best possible time. Since zero minutes is not possible, I used 4 minutes as the best possible time. So your time is a fraction of that. For example, if it took you 5:57, your decimal was 0.9. Based on a range of 4-20 minutes with 4 minutes being 1 and 20 minutes being 0.

If you add those together, it gives you a total possible score of 3. Multiplied by 33.33 gives us a nice number out of 100 for your possible score.

At my request, Hannah posted a spreadsheet template so we could play around with improving our score.  Basically the most improvement is seen by actually doing Handstand Pushups and going faster!  Switching to straight HSPU’s for all 45 increases my score by 16 points, while increasing my deadllift to the Rx weight of 225 only raises it 13 points (both at the same length of time). Doing both 225 and HSPU’s in the same amount of time would increase by 30 points.  Really there are a million ways to play around with the points and I could improve pretty much across the board.

Pretty much to improve you’ve got to do everything heavier, less scaled, and faster! That is a tough challenge. We are currently doing a 12 week deadlift progression and working 3x’s a week on handstand pushups so there will be improvement. Will it be enough?

Here is a video of Kristan Clever setting the new world record for Diane in 1:54:

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