Monday, August 29, 2011

Streets Alive

On Sunday Erin and I decided to check out Streets Alive, a local event where some streets are closed to traffic and people are encouraged to run, bike, roller blade, skateboard or anything else they can think of. We biked downtown from our house and met up someone Erin works with.  The event itself had a festive atmosphere, but the road bikes and clippy shoes seemed like a poor fit.  The slow pace forced us to either constantly clip in and out, or stay very focused on staying upright at low speeds.  We ran into Ray and Mitch and talked with them for a bit and I chatted with Judy for a couple of blocks before heading back to find Erin. The entire ride was a little more then 24 miles.

I've been logging miles on the daily mile since March of last year and this last ride put me over 4000 miles logged on the site. It was a neat accomplishment and something I'm rather proud of.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekend Long Run

I've been doing longer runs during the week, but it's been a while since I've stretched the distance on a Saturday.  Today I met up with Connie and we were shooting for around 17.  I took her around to some of my favorite spots to run and in general kept us far enough away from where we lived so that we wouldn't be temped to cut it short.  We did run into a little road construction on a gravel road and decided to cut through anyway.  There were a few people working near there, but I don't think we were noticed.  I put in 16.4 which was a little short and I think Connie was a little short as well but overall it was a productive day.  After we went out separate ways I was able to end my run with a last mile pace of 9:13.  My legs are a little sore now, but it's the good kind of sore that I miss from this spring. The 50k at Surf the Murph is looking more likely if runs continue to go like this one.

Also today Maggie is running the 50 miler at Lean Horse.  Her husband Cory has been texting periodically keeping us up to date on her progress.  The last text I received said she was at the 26.2 mile mark and had a little over 5 hours left to compete the rest. After completing the 100 miler last year at this event I'm confident she will finish strong this year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bouncing back from Young Life

I've taken my recent failure in the young life triathlon a bit hard, but I should mention some small measures of success I've been having as well.  This past Thursday I reclaimed the overall mileage lead in the Thursday morning running group.  Since the miles reset July 1st I've ran 71 miles.  It's not an official competition, but I like to see how I stack up against some of the other runners. Also I reached my goal in the YMCA's frequent Yer program this summer.  Since June 1st I've gone to the gym 60 times and received a duffle bag as a prize. They haven't all been the greatest workouts, but I'm definitely noticing some positive changes as a result of the frequent trips to the gym.

Looking ahead I realized that Surf the Murph has a 50k option in addition to the 50 miler I was looking at doing.  The 50k should be a more appropriate challenge for me and I'm starting to set my sights on it.  I haven't committed yet, but I'm going to start training with that as the primary goal. Perhaps I can talk some of my running buddies into joining me for the event.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 Young Life Triathlon

After my disappointing half ironman at liberty this year I was left with a desire to finish a triathlon that was longer then a sprint.  Young life in Detroit Lakes offered me a chance to test myself with the Olympic distance.

The night before the event I drove out to DL with Ray who wanted to pick up packets early.  We left town right around 5:00 and fought some traffic on the way out.  After picking up our packets we stopped at the Lakeside Tavern for supper. We both ordered a patty melt and the food was very good. On the way back we chatted some more and made plans for meeting up the next day.

The morning of the event I woke up a little early.  I realized I was dreaming about getting ready when I noticed my Garmin on my wrist.  I figured I might as well get up and start getting ready for real. Most of my stuff was already packed and I just needed to throw some clothes on and grab my bike.  Erin and I stopped for gas and feed that cats that we're watching for some friends and then picked Ray up for the drive out. We were a little bit early picking Ray up, but I guess he's getting used to us being a little early.

After picking up Ray I realized I had forgotten my swim goggles.  We were already far enough down the road that it didn't make sense to drive back for them.  I hoped that the Walmart in DL was open 24x7.  When we got to DL we found that it was open and I was able to buy some goggles. It wasn't the way I wanted to start the day, but things could have been worse.  We found a good parking spot in the park, grabbed our gear and headed into the transition area.  We found a nice area by a tree that had a little extra room for our stuff and started setting up. We got ready rather leisurely and then headed down to the lake to check the water, which was pleasantly warm.

After some race announcements we were ready to begin.  I was in the first wave of the swimmers.  I quickly fell to the back of the pack in the swim.  Since the lake was fairly shallow from time to time I could stop and clear off my goggles which were having some fogging issues.  The course could have used more markers.  After the first turn I couldn't see the next buoy and had just take my best guess as to which of the swimmers ahead of me were going the right direction.  This was by far the best swim I've had this year.  I didn't have much problem with my breathing and was able to swim properly for large chunks.  When I finally finished the swim I was feeling light headed and struggled though my first few steps towards the transition area.

My transition went smoothly and I soon after I left the lake I was cruising on the bike. The course was well marked and had friendly volunteers at every turn. My first issue on the bike came around mile 9.  As I was starting up the biggest hill on the course my chain slipped off.  I didn't have enough momentum to stay clipped in and get the chain back on, so I had to stop and put it back on.  Then I was far enough up the hill that I couldn't get going again and get clipped in, so I had to run the bike up to the top.  It didn't kill my time too much, but it was frustrating.  I saw Erin after the first loop around the lake and showed her my greasy hand from putting the chain back on.  As I was getting close to the end of the second loop I noticed that my rear tire had gone flat. It was disappointing, but I had a spare tube with me and after a few minutes I had it changed.  Shortly after I had it changed I noticed it had gone flat again.  I'm not sure if I pinched it while changing it, or there was something sharp in the tire, but my race was over. A couple of women were out walking with strollers and I asked to borrow a cell phone. As I was calling Erin a car stopped by and asked if I needed a rider. It was another racer who had bike problems along the way.

When I got back to the park I started to pack my stuff up.  Erin told me that Ray was doing well and should be finishing soon.  We walked over to the finish line just in time to see him.  After we had everything packed up we went over to Zorbaz for some pizza and nachos.  It was a fun day, just disappointing with how the event went for me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

2011 Pyrotechnics Guild International: Grand Finale

Rain was forecast for the final day of the convention and it came in the early evening.  The storms weren't strong and for the most part were clearing around the time that the action was supposed to kick off.  However because of the rain things were delays and a bit disorganized because preparations were delayed.  The first part of the show was the super string, a couple million firecrackers tied together in a large string.  It inadvertently went off as the national anthem was finishing.  I thought it was a bit disappointing, it wasn't very loud or visually interesting.

After that there was a long delay before the all stars did their thing.  This is a group of some of the better competitors from throughout the week.  A couple of the more interesting things they did was a palm tree with coconuts and a sun with planets. The followed up the demonstration of individual items with some stuff set to music.  We both enjoyed it, but it was much smaller then some of the other shows throughout the week.

After the all stars was another break until the first show by Zambelli.  Their show was a tribute to 9-11.  Some of the things they did with fireballs and a flaming outline of the towers was interesting, but some of the music was a bit dull.  This show wasn't really my thing, but I can see why some people would have liked it.

The evening finished with a display by Pyrotechnico which was neat.  It was well coordinated and there were some neat shells that we hadn't seen during the week.  The finale put a lot of shells up in the air at the same time and finished strong.  After the show was over getting out of the parking lot was a bit of a chore but eventually we made it home.  Overall it was a fun week and I'm looking forward to the next time they come to town.

Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 Pyrotechnics Guild International: Night Three

Night three started with a couple of competitions, best movie special effect and best wheel.  The movie special effect was neat, it was a series of growing flashes with loud reports.  The wheels were a little bit boring with the exception of the last one called the machine. As it spun it had some parts that moved in and out which looked really neat.  There was another girandola which was larger then the one on the previous night. As it climbed it paused it's ascent a couple of times.

The first show of the night was by the JPA, a group of kids aged 5 to 18. They get product donated and buy some with cash donations during the convention. It wasn't as coordinated as the professional shows and appeared a bit haphazard and random at times, but it was fun.  It was a little like watching a fireworks stand burn to the ground with all of it's items pointing upwards.

The next show was by precocious fireworks. On the bright side it was all american made, but the downside it was a boring show.  There were long pauses between fireworks where there was talking.  It tried to be funny, but didn't really succeed and became very repetitive with seeing the same fireworks over and over.

The last show of the night was by Dominator who had put a show on the previous night.  They did not disappoint. We did see a few fireworks that we didn't the previous night and it was as well timed to the music as it was the previous night.  I think the finale peaked just a little early, but overall it was an outstanding show.

We didn't stay for any competition after the shows because we planned to get up early the next morning for out usual Thursday morning run with the group from the store.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 Pyrotechnics Guild International: Night Two

The second night of displays started with a couple of competitions.  The first was for people who were new to pyrotechnics and featured shells.  The second was something called a girandola.  The beginner shells were interesting and for the most part the competition moved quickly.  The girandola was really neat.  It spun around as it gained height and left a neat helix pattern below it.  Definitely the best single items we've seen this year so far.
Ok, so this isn't the highest quality video

After that it was dark enough for the shows.  Again there were two shows, the first done by P&F All Seasons and the second by Dominator.  Erin and I really enjoyed both shows.  The P&F display lacked the volume of fireworks that some of the other shows used, but the ones they did use looked very good.  They seemed to be able to get more vibrant colors then some of the others I've seen. I guess they're known for their "hammer" shells which they used to punctuate the performance as well as end with a large bang.

The second show by Dominator was awesome. Very well coordinated to the music they were using with lots of ground effect items as well as lots of larger shells.  They had some that broke into circles that looked like a blue spark was chasing a wave of yellow sparks.  The description doesn't do justice to how neat it looked.  They also had some shells that appeared to break into 3 circles each on a different axis and each in a different color. Their finale wasn't quite as intense as the opening show on day one, but was close.  Erin thought that this was her favorite show so far.

After the two shows we stayed for a few more competitions; large mines, comets and large rockets. Since we were both hungry we decided to duck out before the end and head to Applebees for a couple of appetizers before heading home to bed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Pyrotechnics Guild International: Opening Night

Living in Fargo I've been fortunate to attend the Pyrotechnics Guild International conventions when they come to town.  This year Erin and I got reserved seats for all 4 nights. I know from past experience that we won't be disappointed in the show.

We weren't sure how bad the parking situation would be this year so we left the house at a little after 7:00.  When we got to the fairgrounds there weren't many people there yet and we felt a little silly.  We found our seats and Erin got her first taste of Angry Birds on my phone.  A little after 9:00 things got started. The opening show was put on by Flashing Thunder out of Iowa.  It was spectacular. The fireworks were coordinated very well with the music and there were a lot of neat effects they were using.  The finale of the first show was incredible with the large number of shells they had going off simultaneously.

The second show was put on by Chicago Lights and wasn't as impressive as the first.  It lacked some of the coordination of the first show and the fireworks they were using seemed simpler. Overall it was still neat, but Flashing Thunder was a difficult act to follow.

After the 2 shows were over we hung out a little while and watched a couple of the competitions.  The first featured some larger shells and the second was medium rockets.  It was a little disorganized but I still find it interesting to hear about what each item is going to do before it goes off.  After the rocket competition we decided to leave because we were both getting up early in the morning.  I'm looking forward to Tuesdays show.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Buffalo River Run

This weekend Erin and I tagged along with Erik when he did his long run at Buffalo River State park. Rain was forecast for Saturday morning and when we got up we could see some stuff developing on radar, but it was slow moving and it looked like we could sneak our run in.  Erik picked us up and we drove to the park. On the way out we saw the Buffalo river looked and it looked a bit high. I thought with all the recent rain we've had it would be a soggy run.  We  were shooting for around 6 miles and didn't have much of a route planned out.  I figured we'd try to do the 10k route from the trail run earlier in the year backwards.  When we got started I was surprised to find a bit of an old asphalt bike path that had been overgrown with grass.  We followed it out a ways, but it was a dead end.  As we ran along it we startled several deer.  The weather was great, it was cool with just a bit of a breeze, unfortunately the grass had a lot of dew which kept our feet wet as we ran.  The tall grass hadn't been mowed recently in several areas and slowed us down a bit.  Towards the end of the run we got into some trail with sorter grass and we picked up the pace a bit.  After the run we enjoyed some bacon cookies that Erin and I had brought along.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Here's the recipe:
1 Cup Franks Red Hot
1 Cup Ranch Dressing (or blue cheese dressing)
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 8oz blocks of Cream Cheese
Chicken (however much you like)
Can be canned, rotisserie, chopped up popcorn chicken
Pepper (to taste)

Here's an example batch I made with some variations:
I wanted to add some onion flavor to the dip that it doesn't normally have
I chopped it up enough to fit into the magic bullet, you could use
a food processor or blender to puree it
I pureed the onion. I only used about a quarter of the onion
The onion puree with 1 cup of Frank's Red Hot
I wanted a little extra heat so this is the extra Franks Red
Hot I added along with the cream cheese and shredded cheese
I use blue cheese dressing
I also added some garlic to the dip
We used some pre-chopped chicken from the deli at the grocery store
Here's everything in the mixing bowl
This is the final product after mixing with an electric hand mixer