Being a bike / bus student commuter in Minneapolis. Love it!

Ohhh wow. I just looked down at my hands as I started to type, and WTH my cuticles are all torn up!? Granted I did just get out of the pool, and that always makes them look worse, but what happened? That only used to happen when I had to break down cardboard boxes a lot at work…

 

Random. Sorry.

 

So. I am writing to you from the 114A Express bus – U of MN to Uptown, and wherever it goes after that. I am on my way home from school.. and I am not in my car.. and it feels SO good.

 

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I have officially become a bike/bus student commuter. My lil Accord is still sitting out front, but I am making every effort to only use it when there is no other option. This whole summer I have done really well with eliminating/minimizing/combining car trips, walking when possible, biking when possible, and carpooling if it’s an option. It’s one of those things that just makes me smile.. I can’t help it! It’s kind of like when you’re going to a race at 5 in the morning, and anyone else out on the highway you know is going to the race too because they have their 26.2 sticker on their bumper, or their bike with aero bars on the back of the car. C’mon.. you know you’re sitting there behind the wheel with a hugh jass grin on your face! 

 

I feel like I’m being introduced to a whole new club being a bike commuter. You see “regulars” on the path at the same time each day… people get to know you at the bike shop en route. And then the bus.. there are DEFINITELY regulars there. (cough** and some cute ones at that **cough) 

 

I’ve talked before about the environment being really important to me. I wouldn’t have included “recycle” in the name of my blog if I didn’t care about it. (Ok.. so maybe not on the same level as tatting “I Love Alfonzo” on your hip, but close!) Unnecessary has been my signature word for so long, and it still is. Lately I have become really aware of gas prices, time wasted in a car, the sheer NUMBER of cars out on the road, and that is what I want to talk about today.

 

[ETA: I’m at home now… quick bus ride!]

BIKE COMMUTING

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Bike commuting has so many benefits! Aside from the “insider’s club” mentioned above, I can name so many more:

  • you’re obviously helping cut down on pollution – each and every gallon of gas we burn leads to about 20 pounds of CO2 gas in the air, and that contributes to the crazy climate change business we have going on. 
  • Want to know what you’re gonna burn on your bike? Calories. Want to know what’s going to be heating up? YOU, because you’re going to get crazy toned legs. 
  • What about money saved? A typical U.S. family spends about $8000 per year operating a car. A  bike requires no gas, no oil changes, no new tires, and maybe a $50 tune up. You can even get PAID to bike – the government started a program with some companies that reimburses employees who bike commute! If you’re interested in this program, check out this site from the League of American Bicyclists.

 

BUS COMMUTING

 

I’ll just start right off again with all the benefits of riding public transportation:

  • Again, the big obvious one – helping cut down on gas emissions that are harmful to our environment. The average Twin Cities driver releases about 2.6 tons of green house gasses each year when they drive to and from work.  (Source.) Um.. I’d rather not! And that’s just ONE person. Take that, times every other Joe-Schmoe-why-won’t-this-traffic-go sitting next to you.. and you have a very. very. large number. 
  • Minneapolis now has HYBRID busses! 28% better fuel efficiency.. quiet.. and clean! 
  • No questioning whether or not you’ll go outside after work and be snowed in. 
  • No more scrapping ice off your windshields. 
  • No more parking tickets. 
  • No more expired tabs. 
  • No more running out of gas on the high way.
  • No more speeding tickets (hey.. if the bus driver does it, not my problem!!)
  • Nooo more! 

I ❤ Minneapolis!!

The fact that I have these options – public transportation and paved bike pathways or bike lanes around my city – makes me so grateful!! It is definitely not something I take for granted, because I have been in plenty of cities where there is no such thing as city bus, biking is used only when there are training wheels attached, and not much longer there after, the closest anything is a good 15 minute drive, there just really aren’t many other options besides using your car! Minneapolis for sure has a few areas in which we could improve our public transportation system (and we’re working on it – hellooo more lightrail!) but for my needs at this time, the bus routes we have and the bike paths are sufficient, and they get me where I need to go. I would LOVE if the Lightrail was extended to go up to St. Cloud so I could visit family without driving, but I have a feeling it will happen some day. 

 

What is your public transportation system like where you live? Do you use it? Do you walk or bike places instead of drive? I feel like because this my blog falls into the health/wellness category, answers are more likely to be YES than if I were to ask the general public. But that’s great! And if you don’t or haven’t started trying to cut back on your automobileage.. I challenge you to ask yourself why? What can I (you…) do to start taking those steps? If you’re stuck.. here is a site that offers some great TIPS!

 

 Well.. I could go on and on about this issue for a really long time, so I think I’ll cut it here. I hope you guys don’t mind reading a little non-running post every now and then.. although now that I think about it, RUNNING is a great alternative transportation option too!! Hahha.. a little hard to get those textbooks to school though. 😉  And because I’m not sure how to even write a complete post without mentioning what isss going on running wise – tomorrow is my LAST 20 miler before TCM! A huge group of us is starting at mile 6 and running the last 20 of the marathon course. It should be fantastic. (Ignoring the 5:30 wake up call.. I don’t like that so much.) Know how I’m getting to the start? BIKING. Know how I’m getting home? CARPOOLING!

 

Rockstar.

 

Seeee ya soon peeps! 

-E

St. Croix Valley Triathlon Race Report!

Goooood lord. It is only like 3:45 and I swear it feels like 8:00! It’s not that I really feel tired, but it has definitely been a long day! Here we go.. start to finish! The St. Croix Valley Triathon:

I decided not to go out to Hudson last night. For some reason I had in my mind that it took like an hour and a half to get there.. but then I put it in googleMaps and it said it only took 40 minutes. So I nixed the plans with my mom’s friend (where I was planning on staying overnight) and decided I’d just drive out in the morning. It was a early morning! I haven’t seen 4:30am in a looong time. But it was well worth it – my mom’s friend has a dog, and I have allergies, and that wouldn’t have been a good idea the night before a race!

So I was out the door by 5:15, stopped for coffee (I had my coffee pot all set up to brew this morning.. but I set it for 5PM instead of 5am! doh!!) and was on my way! It was pitch black when I left, but I got to watch the sun rise as I was driving east to Hudson! SO PRETTY! Hhaha annnnd.. I swear the only people out on the roads at that time were people going to the tri! Every  car I saw had a racing bike on the back or a TriHarder bumper sticker… it made me smile every time!

 Got there, got my transition area all set up, got my packet, my “small” shirt (which goes down to my knees… who makes these!?) and got tatted…

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and then had a while to wait for the start. I was nervous because my feet and hands were COLD. I’ve always had bad circulation.. but i was thinking if they’re cold now and I haven’t even touched the water yet.. then I’m in trouble! The water even looked cold!

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The race started at 7:30, but since I was in wave 5 (women 29 and under) I didn’t start until like 7:45. There were some competitive looking girls out there.. but at this race they didn’t mark your age on your calf like they usually do, so I couldn’t tell who I was up against! Maybe a good thing… 

The gun went off and so did we. The water was actually not bad – I think it was probably about 70°.. so the water temperature was not the problem. Especially because I did this in more clothes than I did Green Lake… I was wearing a full length tri top and shorts. Little teeny shorts.. but shorts none the less. 🙂 Honestly though.. I think I panicked a bit in the lake. Open water swimming is really different than swimming in a pool.. and the sighting thing just wasn’t working for me today. I had to breast stroke a bit in the beginning just to calm myself down, and by the time I reached the turn around bouey I was pretty much fine. It definitely slowed my swim time down though!

Thennnn the bike. I have two conflicting factors here when I try to compare to my last tri: 1. I was on a much better/faster bike. 2. I. was. FREEZING. I said the water temperature wasn’t a problem.. but the air temperature was. It was still too early for the sun to shine on the road, so the air temp was still like 55°. Take that, plus being soaking wet, plus going 22 mph = froze my ass off. Hahha I can’t wait to see the pictures from the professional photographer.. my face was like locked in one position that I’m sure was disgusting very attractive… I’ll have to wait and see. 

And then, my love – the run. This was a 4 mile run.. where as Green Lake was just a 5K. I actually like this run way better though. And finally my face and arms and core warmed up because the sun was finally peaking through! My legs from the knees down though were just numb.. it was ridiculous! But I knew they were still attached, and damnit, they had a job to do, so I got to it. I definitely started out slower than usual, but ended up picking it up a lot at the 2 mile turn around. My time out was 15:42 (!!! wtf) and coming back it was 13:44. All for a grand average pace of 7:21 (according to Gomer). Which for me.. is still ridiculously slow for a 4 mile run. But with frozen feet and being a newbie up and coming triathlete, I’ll take it. 😉 My friend Cyndi is the only other person I knew up there… she is from the Splashers team I train with (hard core name.. no?) and she is a great athlete! She says she is not a runner.. but I told her that is the great amazing thing about individual sports. You can be whatever you want to be. You can improve, and it’s easy to forget that sometimes! I love this lady’s attitude. She is definitely kick ass and will help remind you that you are too!

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My total time was something along the lines of 1:20:xx… PickleEvents does the chip timing and they haven’t posted the results online yet. What I can say is that despite feeling like it wasn’t my best race.. it definitely wasn’t.. I took 2nd in my age group (and contradictory to my age-group-upgrade-fears, would have taken 2nd in the 20-25 devision too). I came home with an amazing medal engraved with St. Croix Valley Tri a .. stop watch? Mmm yep. Not kidding. Note to Race Director.. hopefully you’ll see this somehow – I LOVED your race. Everything. But a stop watch? Even Green Lake did medals.. they were just dog tags engraved but actually I like that the best! Then you can actually wear it without looking like you’re trying to be a show off. I can promise you that I wont be wearing my St. Croix Valley stop watch out to dinner tonight. My mom actually said she needs one for school, so…. !! 

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The after celebration was nice – it was a Luau theme so they had leis and pineapple and what not.. but the main “event” for the food was pulled pork. I am not one of those PITA vegetarians, but I would have appreciated sommmme sort of meat-free option! I wasn’t kidding about the shirt being huge.. and I hate that because half the point of doing a race is to get free shirts.. and I like to be able to WEAR them! Here is me, trying to jump up on my couch before Photo Booth counts down…

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Please ignore the crazed look on my face.. and I promise. I am completely G rated in posting this.. there are shorts on under there! And Chad.. this is all for you buddy – the shorts:

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I was actually looking for racing buns.. but no where keeps them in stock! They’re mostly for team orders.. so this was the closest I could get. And I LOVE them. And bought two pairs. 🙂

I met my mom and some family friends at Dunn Bros on my way home. It was really nice to see them all.. and MAN was I ready for a cup of coffee!! That brings me to here.. all done with a triathlon before 9:30am and saying now what? for the rest of the day! I think I am meeting up with someone to buy the calc book I need for this year (craigslist – in case I go missing) (Kidding!! Sorta… =/ ) and then I think I am going to go spend the rest of the day helping my mom set up for our YARD SALE we are having in two weeks. So this my friends concludes my St Croix Valley Tri race report, and overall I’d say it was a success. If I’m in town, I’ll be back there next year!

I’m out!

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See you soon love bugs. Race on Monday.. school starts Tuesday! YIKES! Live it up while you can!

Land of the Cheesesteak

Hello hello mis amigos. I am writing a quick “tide over” post before I head off to the airport. I am going to PHILADELPHIA to see my dad! He moved there in December.. and I haven’t been out to see him there yet. I have actually never even been to Philadelphia before! Been to Pennsylvania, but not the city of brotherly love. 🙂 (Is that the right phrase.. or am I completely making that up?)

Quick running update:

I am currently alternating between coffee, Powerade, and water. I did my third 20+ miler of this “season” (haha.. I never know what to refer to it as! This Twin-Cities-training? This period? Season works for me), and it felt fine. I ran it way slower than I did my last 20 miler because that is just the pace of the group I was with, and their company is worth way more to me than proving I can run sub 8s for a long training run. I ran into this situation two years ago when I was training for Med City – running with a group that is slower than my pace – but I seemed to do just fine when I ran a 3:19, so hopefully that trend will carry through!

My upcoming schedule for running/racing looks a little like this:

  • September 5th – St. Croix Valley Triathlon
  • September 12th – the Capitol Run – 20+ mile training run
  • September 20th – October 4th – Taper time
  • October 4th – Twin Cities Marathon!
  • October (3oth or 23rd?) – Monster Dash Half Marathon
  • November XX – Turkey Trot 5K
  • January XX – Winter Carnival Frozen Half Marathon
  • April XX – Boston 2010

I don’t know what other little races will pop in there.. but I usually do a few 5Ks just for fun (like the Turkey Trot! I think there’s a Jingle Bell 5K too…) so we’ll see. I also need to look at my budget because I’ve spent more this year on races than I have on the past. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily raced more,  but they have definitely been more expensive races. Especially with triathlons – that is not a cheep sport! Luckily, I’ve found ways to cut costs here and there (carpooling, sharing hotels, discounted bike shoes, etc.) but that is a whole ‘nother future post! 🙂

I promise – my Ragnar Post will be published soon! I made a photobook of the whole event.. so I’ve been putting a lot of time into that instead of writing up the dang recap! I leave you with photo of me n’ Rilo – my mom and I were getting a little carried away with sports mode on her camera 🙂 I’m bringin’ the McMac along to Philly, so maybe I’ll get a post up while I’m there! Otherwise, catch you when I get back!

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-E

Just the two of us…

Just the two of us we can make it if we try
Just the two of us just the two of us
Just the two of us building castles in the sky
Just the two of us you and I

         -Will Smith

So you all know Gomer… 

Let me introduce you to the QRoo:

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A 2008 (I think?) Quintana Roo Kilo.. which I am from here forth calling Rilo. So creative. I know.

Let me tell you though.. these guys know their stuff. I’ve been contemplating buying a Quintana Roo wetsuit.. but man!! This is an expensive sport I’m tryna get into here. It’s not like you can get a wetsuit at Target.. (but God knows I lovvve my C9)

Miss Jenni doesn’t even have the slightest clue how happy she made me when she sold me this bike. I won’t tell you how much it retails for, or how much (or not much!!!!) I had to pay for it, but I can safely say that Jenni made my week month YEAR! THANK YOU JENNI! Please be watching your mail box!

I found this website with way more information than I needed to know, but it’s pretty damn cool. Because Rilo is pretty damn cool. Because OH MY GOD I want to just go ride it now!!

I’m going in tomorrow to my bike shop to get it fitted properly and pick up the cleats for my shoes. But you can bet your blisters that me and Rilo will be spending some good QT tomorrow! It’s supposed to rain.. but it can’t rain all day.. right? Wednesdays are my one day off at Job1 (the restaurant), so I only have to put in a couple hours at Job2 in the afternoon and then I’m done!

Tomorrow’s ToDos:

  1. run with kid from tri team
  2. bike fitting
  3. job2
  4. ride many many miles 🙂
  5. pack/grocery shop for RAGNAR!!
  6. dinner with the madre

Newwws time. You know you’re a runner when: you stay up just to watch the weather.

G’night
-E