Entering a New Era

When I started this blog last year, I was feeling pretty good about where I was at as a front-of-the-middle-of-the-pack amateur endurance athlete with a full time job. Winter 2015-2016 was a great one - our first winter in our Hayward cabin and a great snowy winter there, multiple memorable long-skis, and my best Birkie yet - in which I came closer to qualifying for the Elite wave than I ever thought possible.

I had re-kindled my love for adventures in the woods by finding trail running. I had run multiple trail marathons and in the fall of 2015 tackled my first ultra, a 50k. I was even getting jazzed about road running - I joined a USATF middle distance road racing team and was excited for the associated camaraderie and shorter races, and looking forward to tackling my first road marathon in the fall and another 50k in the early winter. This last race was also going to be our first race-cation - it being on an island in Puget Sound north of Seattle - adding another level of logistical excitement.

More than the excitement of competition, and feeling like I had achieved some relative level of personal sporting success, I had been at my job for 5 years and was really feeling like I had achieved a solid balance between my home life, my work and my endurance hobbies. My training load had increased steadily for a few years as I moved back into a regular year-round training mindset after a little bit of a post-college, during grad-school competitive break - a testament to my ability to get my work done at work and then come home and get my training work done.

This balance was the inspiration for Endurance Everyday, and I rode the wave all the way through 2016. I came really close to cracking a 4hr trail marathon, made it through that road marathon, and crushed the 50k in December, for the first time feeling like I had some strength left at the end of a long running race. Although winter 2016-2017 already felt like a bust for lack of really any snowfall at all, I finished the year on a pretty big endurance sports high.

This post is shaping up to read like a post-mortem of a previous life - that is not even close to my intention. But all of the past-tense narrative does lead up to a profound change in the balance that I had created - the birth of my son, in February. After our December race trip, I took some time off of planned training to work on some projects around the house and prepare for the new adventure. I wrote off Birkie 2017 as it was scheduled for 2 weeks after our due date - and just 4 days after the little guy's actual birthday. (side note: This was pretty easy to do as there was not much of a winter this year, and Birkie 2017 ended up being cancelled for lack of snow, so my 7-consecutive-Birkie-streak lives on!!) After he was born I took a month off of work as we made our way back into some normalcy. Now, just about 2 months in, I am back at work and working my training back to where I left off.

This is all to say that I'm no longer confident in the balance that I felt a year ago. Moving forward, this blog will be more about the exploration of my new normal, about figuring out how to get my training in in the context of my newly constrained lifestyle. I'm not sure what that will look like, but it is sure to be exciting!

Ski Less, Run More: 2016 Year in Review

January 1st has generally not been the right time to reflect on the past year of endurance training and racing for me. The big races of the cross country ski season come in late February or early March. This means that generally on new years I'm in the middle of the season, and not ready to review the year until after the World Championships of US adult skiing - the North American Birkiebeiner - in late February. In March is when I naturally look back and start to think about the year ahead. But this year shook out a little bit differently, and now is a good time to look back.

2016 started pretty much as usual. The big excitement for the start of the year was the first winter at our family's new house in Hayward, Wisconsin. A Christmas day snow storm brought excellent ski conditions starting right from the beginning of the year, some of the best skiing I've seen since college. On the Saturday after new years I got out for an epic, memorable 55k classic ski looping out-and-back in both directions from the OO trailhead on the Birkie trail. During this ski I felt like I was remembering a lot of the joy of the sport which I had forgotten over several years of putting in most of my kilometers on short artificial snow loops. I had progressively put more and more energy into running, and particularly trail running in those years, but this ski, and the season following it, really reminded me that there is nothing else like cross country skiing. We ended this big day on the snow with a well-deserved pizza feast at the Rivers Eatery in Cable.

A couple of weeks later we were back in Wisconsin to kick off the racing season in barely-above-zero temperatures at the Seeley Hills Classic (22k). Despite the weather, I picked the right wax, wore enough clothes, put in a reasonable effort and was happy with the result. After some food and a rest I got back out on snow for another 15km loop with some friends. A week later I was back on the race course again, this time close to home looping around the 5k loop at Hyland in the inaugural Three Rivers Ski Rennet. I remember feeling very apprehensive before the race - it wasn't that cold, but it was chilly and windy and I wasn't feeling that much like racing. I was seeded into the second starting wave rather than the first, which would normally be discouraging, but in this case it was pretty cool cause it meant I got to battle it out at the front of the group which was super fun. I felt great physically and mentally on the race course and finished happy.

Start of the Seeley Hills Classic. Photo credit: Once in a Blue Moon Photo Studio

Start of the Seeley Hills Classic. Photo credit: Once in a Blue Moon Photo Studio

Lapping through at the Three Rivers Ski Rennet

Lapping through at the Three Rivers Ski Rennet

And then, of course the Birkie. It was a year of firsts. First Birkie staying in our new place, just off a half kilometer trail which took me right to the shuttle bus - and the same trail that the race organization pointed people to for wax testing the day before the race. First Birkie where the temperature was above zero at the start, and aside from my first Birkie when there was about a 50 degree temperature swing start to finish, it was probably the warmest its been since I've raced this race. Actually it was a total meltdown, and it was awesome. People here in the midwest seem to be pretty uncomfortable with klister and a lot of people afterward raved about using their hairies and skin-skis. But for me this was a return to my east-coast roots. I was a little out of practice - it took me some time to find the right wax on Friday, but that just meant popping in and out of the house to re-wax, but when I tried regular Swix Universal klister I knew I was good to go. And the race went great. I felt super strong all the way to Mosquito Brook (42km) where I started to unravel a bit. Crossing the lake (last 4km) was horrible. I need to figure out how to make that lake crossing go well. Maybe I should take a shot of Jagermeister from the folks that are always out there? In any case, I hung in there for my best Birkie result ever, just about 15 minutes out of the cutoff for the Elite wave.

Coming through the OO road crossing

Coming through the OO road crossing

That result was a surprise - I've never thought I'd be in contention to get myself into the Elite wave of the Birkie, even in classic. But 15 minutes in a nearly-4-hour race feels doable. So that fired me up in a way that made the winter feel like the beginning of the training year, not the end. I pretty much jumped right back into training without much off-season, got out for a couple more skis before the snow was gone, even went for some early spring roller-skis.

Even still, I was pretty deliberate about planning a running-race season. Last year I think I raced too much in the spring so by mid-July I was feeling kind of burnt out (I had raced 9 times by that time). This year I kept it to just about one race per month.

March: O'Gara's Irish run was a nice kick-off for our newly minted YWCA USATF-mid-distance team, and a good shakeout to the running season for me.

April: Trail Mix 25k was rough - I had been excited for redemption from last year when I had a great 10 miles and then struggled with stomach issues and had to pretty much walk it in. This year I started way too fast, pinned it just above threshold and crashed hard about an hour in. It was a tough, miserably hot April day. I may have had enough of this race...

May: I broke my rule and raced twice, but the first was just a mile - the TC 1-mile. That was pretty awesome: bested my track 1-mile time from last year by a couple seconds, and had a fun evening with my YWCA teammates. Then a week and a half later I raced the CityTrail 10-mile. That race went great - I even put together a race report!

June: Didn't race at all. I struggled a little bit with a calf injury, and biked more as a result - this culminated in an awesome ride up and down the Maine coast when we were in Portland for a wedding. I think all the biking was actually a huge revelation, and actually made me feel stronger when my injury subsided and I got back to running.

July: Spent a week in the mountains in Colorado, and then made it to a mid-week trail 7mi at Lebanon Hills. Another great effort, and the Endless Summer Trail Series is always a great party.

August: The dog days of summer - by this time I had the rest of my running season mapped out - St Paul Trail marathon at the end of August, Twin Cities Marathon in October and a big vacation to Seattle to race Deception Pass 50k in the beginning of December. With those plans made, I buckled down with the training, and then had an almost-perfect trail marathon in St Paul. I took it out easy and stayed relaxed when it started to rain - had a ton of fun passing people who weren't prepared for slippery singletrack downhills, and pulled through 20mi at 3hrs in. I struggled through those last 6 miles but still finished happy and with a big trail-marathon PR.

September: No racing, but some super serious marathon training. My long runs - 16, 18, 20 and 22 mi - each included 3x long - 1, 2 and 3 mi - half-marathon-pace efforts in the middle. These were some of the hardest workouts I've ever completed and by the time I finished the last one, I was *really* ready to taper, which in retrospect wasn't a great thing.

October: Twin Cities Marathon - my first road marathon. Somehow, I really got myself pretty keyed up and carried a lot of tension into it which sapped a lot of my energy. I felt pretty strong for the first half but started to feel it around 15 mi and spiraled down into a serious struggle in the last 5 miles. In retrospect, I think I didn't really absorb the hard training until a few weeks later. But I really love the TCM course, and it was so awesome to see so many friends out on the course.

November: Back to the trails before Deception Pass 50k. Tried to put in as much vertical as I could. After feeling a little bit disappointed in how Twin Cities went, I tried to renew my focus on having fun, and intersperse some nice hard workouts in. This was a great month of training.

December: Before I knew it, the year was almost over, and our pre-holiday vacation to Seattle was here. We spent a few days sightseeing and then headed up to Whidbey Island. I cranked out as near to a perfect long race as I can imagine. Going into this race, I was totally at ease. I felt confident in my fitness and in my ability to navigate technical trails and hills. I was excited but relaxed, and that is the mindset that I perform my best in. To help remind myself that this is all just for fun, and to not take myself too seriously, I grew an awesome mustache. I had so much fun out on those trails, and I felt amazing doing it. In the past, when I've heard of people talking about finishing a marathon or ultra feeling strong, I've not really related. Before this race, whenever I've finished a long running race, my legs have been pretty much shot, cramping, aching and I was just really ready to be done. But not in the last few miles of Deception Pass. As I worked my way to the finish I kept mentally checking in on how my legs were feeling, and they were kept responding with strength. What an incredible feeling. My goal main goal in this race - aside from finishing - was to run a faster 50k than I did last fall - better than 6:48. My dream goal was to break 6 hours. I finished in 5:56.

So, it was an awesome year. I continued a steady progression in training hours and trained more than I have in the past 6 years both in terms of hours and also in terms of total distance. Over the past few years, I've been running more and more, and I nearly made it to 1000 miles this year. And possibly even more indicative of improved fitness, my overall average training pace has steadily increased as well. Not only was 2016 my biggest training year since college, it was also my fastest.

We closed out the year back in Hayward where I got out for my first long skis of the year. On New Years Eve I skated a 40km loop on the Birkie trail, and we bookended the year fittingly with another awesome table full of pizzas at the Rivers Eatery.

Digging In

There is a mindset that I sometimes find in my best races, where the world becomes simple. Ephemera drifts away as my mind becomes quiet and intently focused but not thoughtless. Physical discomfort becomes something I can intellectually control, something I can simply choose to succumb to or embrace and endure. It's an intense feeling, full of contradictions - at once relaxing and painful, frantic and peaceful. A cathartic escape.

But its not just about meditation and introspection. Having others around to race against adds excitement and a layer of competition that sometimes helps me to push my limits. Even more so, chasing best times on courses I know has led to some of the most satisfying racing experiences I can remember, even alone on a mountaintop celebrating a successful time trial. I think this is the reason why I've gravitated toward longer and longer races. I love a challenge.

Finish of the Three Rivers Park Rennet, Hyland Lakes Park, January 2015. One of my most satisfying races in recent memory.

Finish of the Three Rivers Park Rennet, Hyland Lakes Park, January 2015. One of my most satisfying races in recent memory.

When I finished my first 50 kilometer trail race, my first thought was "that took such a long time," and it had - just under seven hours. But my next thought was "and now its just over." No matter how big the goal, you build and build and then the event comes and the goal is either achieved or missed; there's a moment to dwell on the disappointment or enjoy the accomplishment, and then its done.

Finish line of the Wild Duluth 50km, October 2015.

Finish line of the Wild Duluth 50km, October 2015.

That's why it's important to embrace the process, not just the outcome. Every day there is something to be accomplished and some satisfaction to be found, not just race day. Endurance athletes often emphasize this. The US Nordic Ski Team talks about #enjoythehardwork. Carrie Tollefson says "Get After It!". And it truly is important - finding satisfaction in the every day grind is where the true joy is; there are metaphors about this across all of life, not just sports.

But the thing that people don't talk about as much is that the daily grind mostly sucks. In the late fall, when the only time that it isn't dark is work time, and the training choice is either a headlamp run in drizzling rain, or intervals on indoor cardio equipment in the cold basement, its hard to #enjoythehardwork. In the heart of the summer, at the end of a long day of sitting at a desk, stepping out of the air conditioned office and into the humid 90+ degree full sun to run laps of a hilly 1-mile mountain bike loop is not any fun at all. When these workouts end, I don't feel accomplishment - I'm just relieved to be done.

For the last month or so, we've had the warmest summer weather I can remember, so I've had a lot of time to think about this stuff. What I've come to realize is that for me, in these times, its not about enjoyment or accomplishment, or really anything logically fulfilling. These are times when I bite my lip and take it for no real reason. Sure, having a goal or event I'm working toward helps, but for me that's really secondary. Mostly, I just dig in.

Digging in to some hard 1 mile trail repeats on an Friday evening in August, in a soaking rain, with the Olympics and takeout barbecue calling my name.

Digging in to some hard 1 mile trail repeats on an Friday evening in August, in a soaking rain, with the Olympics and takeout barbecue calling my name.

After winning the women's cycling time trial at the 2016 Olympics last week, Kristin Armstrong was asked why she wanted to race again in these Olympics at the age of 43 - after temporary retirement from 2009-2011 to have a child; after which she won her second Olympic gold; after another retirement from 2012-2015 during which she had multiple hip surgeries and started working as director of community health at a hospital in Boise, Idaho. She responded simply "because I can." Most of the time, on the suckiest days I go out and do my thing. Just because.

And because of that, when everything aligns and I head out for a long run on a perfect 70 degree August day with not a cloud in the sky, I'm ready to bask in the joy of the process, and when race day comes, I'm ready to get after it.

Flying through the prairie on a perfect 70-degree bluebird morning on the singletrack at Murphy Hanrehan park, August 2016.

Flying through the prairie on a perfect 70-degree bluebird morning on the singletrack at Murphy Hanrehan park, August 2016.

Mid-week race day in snapshots - Endless Summer Lebanon 7mi

Clothes ready for race-day-morning shakeout.

Clothes ready for race-day-morning shakeout.

Making the coffee. For easy morning runs I only have coffee before, no food, to kick-start the metabolism, fat-burning, yada yada.

Making the coffee. For easy morning runs I only have coffee before, no food, to kick-start the metabolism, fat-burning, yada yada.

Race-morning shakeout. I always run a short (<30min) shakeout workout which includes some lactate threshold minutes and some short speedy sprints ahead of a race. The idea is to stimulate glycogen production to top off my body's stores so that I'm nice and fueled-up for the race. For a morning race, I'd do it the day before, but recently I've been trying a same-day shakeout for afternoon/evening races. Especially during the work week, when I get home I can sometimes feel pretty sluggish - my hypothesis is that a short run earlier that day will help to prevent that. Before the TC 1-mile I ran a mid-day shakeout workout, and it definitely seemed to accomplish that goal. For this race, I knew it was going to be a hot, humid day so I opted against trying to sneak back to work after a full sweat, and ran a little shakeout run with Ellie first thing in the morning.

Race-morning shakeout. I always run a short (<30min) shakeout workout which includes some lactate threshold minutes and some short speedy sprints ahead of a race. The idea is to stimulate glycogen production to top off my body's stores so that I'm nice and fueled-up for the race. For a morning race, I'd do it the day before, but recently I've been trying a same-day shakeout for afternoon/evening races. Especially during the work week, when I get home I can sometimes feel pretty sluggish - my hypothesis is that a short run earlier that day will help to prevent that. Before the TC 1-mile I ran a mid-day shakeout workout, and it definitely seemed to accomplish that goal. For this race, I knew it was going to be a hot, humid day so I opted against trying to sneak back to work after a full sweat, and ran a little shakeout run with Ellie first thing in the morning.

Breakfast, and the Tour de France. All we had were the last few little pieces of a funny little loaf of bread...

Breakfast, and the Tour de France. All we had were the last few little pieces of a funny little loaf of bread...

Ellie, all smiles after our hot, humid shakeout run.

Ellie, all smiles after our hot, humid shakeout run.

Lunch at my desk. Leftover Korean-style beef and veggie rice bowl, a Skratch labs drink to top off hydration and electrolytes, some plain pita chips for a salty afternoon snack, and a Picky Bar in case I need a little something extra. Calculator included to establish the nerdy engineer mood.

Lunch at my desk. Leftover Korean-style beef and veggie rice bowl, a Skratch labs drink to top off hydration and electrolytes, some plain pita chips for a salty afternoon snack, and a Picky Bar in case I need a little something extra. Calculator included to establish the nerdy engineer mood.

My standing desk. It's a little bit counter-intuitive, but the more I stand, the more energy I feel like I have at the end of the day. So on race day I try really hard to minimize sitting time.

My standing desk. It's a little bit counter-intuitive, but the more I stand, the more energy I feel like I have at the end of the day. So on race day I try really hard to minimize sitting time.

Heading home from work. Toasty out, but happily the humidity didn't seem too terrible and there were some clouds in the sky to intermittently block the sun.

Heading home from work. Toasty out, but happily the humidity didn't seem too terrible and there were some clouds in the sky to intermittently block the sun.

Ready to head to the race.

Ready to head to the race.

Rocksteady Racing

Rocksteady Racing

Ready, set, go! You can just see me in this photo something like 6 rows back. Look the guy low-fiving in the foreground, back and to the right to the guy with no shirt and sideburns. 3 rows behind and to the right of him is a guy in a blue tank. I am wearing a lime-green hat and can be see between side-burns guy and blue-tank guy! Photo taken from the Facebook Page of the Endless Summer Race Series.

Ready, set, go! You can just see me in this photo something like 6 rows back. Look the guy low-fiving in the foreground, back and to the right to the guy with no shirt and sideburns. 3 rows behind and to the right of him is a guy in a blue tank. I am wearing a lime-green hat and can be see between side-burns guy and blue-tank guy! Photo taken from the Facebook Page of the Endless Summer Race Series.

The run-in to the finish line

The run-in to the finish line

Post-race

Post-race

Post-race party

Post-race party

Post-race pizza

Post-race pizza

Post-race flat-tire change. Nail in the tire. Not the most desireable post-race activity, but you've got to do what you've got to do.

Post-race flat-tire change. Nail in the tire. Not the most desireable post-race activity, but you've got to do what you've got to do.

Bucket-list to Reality: Deception Pass 50k, this December

As soon as I started hearing about Rainshadow Running events, I knew I had to run one. By all accounts their races are well run, all are in incredibly gorgeous Pacific Northwest locations, and the post race party features all-you-can-eat wood fired pizza. How could you go wrong?

By not signing up in time by the looks of it. When we first tuned in on these races earlier this spring, all but the final race were sold out for this year. That just made the decision easier - Deception Pass will be my big A race for 2016!!!!

Returning from Injury, Stronger than Ever

Running the ski hill at Hyland Lake Park Reserve, post-injury, feeling strong

Running the ski hill at Hyland Lake Park Reserve, post-injury, feeling strong

After a Thursday morning track workout in the beginning of June, my right calf started to tighten up. I didn't exactly ignore it, but I didn't exactly treat it like an injury, and a week later in the midst of an awesome tempo run I pulled up with a half mile to go. Definitely injured.

I've pretty much always been a year-round athlete, but in the last 5 years or so I've slowly become a year-round competitor; I pretty much always have another event on the near horizon. But, if ever there was a "good time for an injury", this was it. I didn't have any events planned in June and was just focused on building volume ahead of some long races in August, October and December. My biggest concern was being able to hike and run during a vacation in Colorado in the beginning of July.

The good news was I could bike with no pain, so it wasn't difficult to make substitutions and maintain the same planned training load. After consulting with my coach and a doctor, I put together a plan to get myself back to running without further setback, and then quietly put in a surprising number of training hours - my biggest June in the last 5 years and one of my biggest months in general over that time frame.

Since slowly reintroducing running over the past week, I have felt great. My aerobic fitness certainly didn't suffer - that's no surprise - but I wasn't expecting to come back with an extra spring in my step and more power on climbs than I had before injury. This was a very successful rehab. I think I was lucky in a lot of ways, but there were also some main themes which helped me work through it and come through stronger.

Find a silver lining. This was just a week or so before a trip to the east coast. With some free time before a wedding, I decided to rent a really nice bike and take a ride up the Maine coast. This gave me something to look forward to, mid-way through the rehab. I got pretty fired up about biking in general and ended up the month riding over 200 miles (I probably average less than 50).

Don't push an injury at all. It can be tricky to know if you're working with nagging soreness or a true injury. I believe in pushing yourself through little niggles - that's what I thought I was doing in the fateful tempo run I described above. But my calf failed that test and it was obvious I was dealing with a real injury. At that point I gave in and committed to not running until I was completely pain free. I had actually run into this irunfar article not long before and found the "hop test" to be very useful in gauging where I was at.

Do push the training (without pushing the injury) - something surprising might come out of it. For the couple weeks that I wasn't running I basically subbed in biking for whatever running I had on the schedule. This month that meant some long rides and some hill repeats. I attribute the unexpected gains I've made this month to the latter. Here in the midwest we don't have a lot of hills, but I managed to find a couple of nice car-free 1-min hills to ride. This type of short power work has a lot of benefits for hilly trail running, but we don't have many hills steep enough to generate so much lactic acid while running. I had forgotten how much quad-burn you can inflict on yourself on a bike, and I think my legs are stronger as a result. Biking hill repeats are going to stay on my training plan regularly moving forward.

Reintroduce running slowly. Once I could run with zero pain, the plan my coach and I laid out called for a 1 mile run, then a day off, then a 2 mile run, off, 3mi, off, 4mi, off, then 5mi, 5mi, off, 5mi, 5mi, off. I do have to admit that I accelerated this slightly. Despite temptations, I stuck to the 1 and 2 mile days according to plan. But then after a rest day I ran the 3 and 4 mile days back to back, and am calling myself fully rehabbed after the first two 5 mile days. The ramp up was easy since there were no setbacks, but maybe there were no setbacks because the ramp up was slow. Either way, it went well, so I would do it the same again.

That's it. Have you worked through any injuries recently? How did it go?

Hiking the ski-jump hill at Hyland Lake Park Reserve post injury, feeling strong

Hiking the ski-jump hill at Hyland Lake Park Reserve post injury, feeling strong

Squeezing in a Pre-Wedding Ride on the Maine Coast

I'm not great with exercise while traveling, but I got the formula right last weekend. We were in Portland, Maine for a wedding and with the event not starting until the evening I was left with the bulk of the day to do something interesting. I had originally thought I'd take a drive inland and find some trails, but because of a small calf strain, I was reluctant to run. Instead, I thought I'd try to rent a bike and take a ride up to my old college stomping grounds.

In the week prior to our trip, I did a small amount of Google Maps research, and found Cyclemania just a half mile from the Airbnb that we'd be staying in - then was pretty excited to find their Premium Road Bike rental option. A 5-minute phone call was all it took to set up the rental - during which I turned down a full carbon Trek Madone, in emphatic favor of a titanium Seven Cycles Axiom S. Sweet!

Everything else fell into place like clockwork - we got into town early enough to pick up the bike Friday evening, I got out of the house at 7am on Saturday morning, the weather was absolutely incredible, I cruised 30 miles up to my alma mater, made a loop around campus and then headed back to Portland just in time for a killer lunch at Central Provisions, some donuts at The Holy Donut and a sampler flight at Shipyard Brewing, followed by an evening of celebration and dancing. A great day!

Timeline of a once-in-a-while bike commute

-Last Friday-

Foiled. Bailed on a bike commute because of rain and thunderstorms. Shucks! I had been looking for a chance to ride for the last few weeks.

-Sunday-

Plan for the week. Training plan looked good for putting 30 miles in on the bike on Friday. I had a challenging weekend planned with 15-20 miles of running (including some hard tempo miles) on Saturday and Sunday and hot weather in the forecast. But I decided it'd be ok to ride Friday provided that I didn't wear myself out too much by taking the scenic route. My calf had also been bothering me a bit when running recently so I thought putting in a good day Friday could be a backup in case running doesn't go well on the weekend.

-Wednesday evening-

Pack up work clothes. I actually included clothes for both Thursday (after YWCA track workout) and Friday (to leave at the office).

Super exciting photo of my stuff in the shower room at work

Super exciting photo of my stuff in the shower room at work

-Thursday morning-

Invited to a lunch meeting. That meant that I could leave the lunch I brought in the fridge in the break room and eat it on Friday and wouldn't have to carry lunch food on the bike. Success!

-Thursday evening-

Pack for the ride. Because I left clothes, shower stuff, and food at work, I didn't have much beyond my typical ride kit. The forecast called for an extra hot afternoon, so I also packed an extra shirt (sleeveless) for the ride home and an electrolyte drink to sip on during the day.

-Friday, 5:30am-

Up and at 'em. Fed the dog, made the coffee, checked the morning heart rate. Over coffee and toast-with-peanut butter I checked my route on Google Maps to see if there was any relevant construction. I'm glad I checked - the bridge I normally take across the Mississippi is closed - found a good modification. Wasted some more time - waking up before 6 makes for a pretty leisurely morning!

-Friday, 7:00am-

Check tire pressure and roll out. Stopping for a red light directly in front of The Baker's Wife and smelling the donuts without stopping for one was a particularly challenging struggle.

-Friday, 8:00am-

Arrival. It was a super enjoyable but completely uneventful ride. Just a little bit warmer than perfect riding weather, but pretty obvious that afternoon would be super hot. Locked up the bike, hit the shower and got ready for the day.

-Friday, 8:15am-

Oops! I forgot to bring my extra shoes down to the locker room, had to walk upstairs to my cube in my socks. Nobody saw me, so it wasn't too embarrassing.

Left my shoes in my cubicle...

Left my shoes in my cubicle...

-Friday, 8:16am-

Need a snack upon arrival. I ate a PROBAR Almond Crunch Meal Bar. Pretty tasty.

-Friday, 2:00pm-

Starting to worry about the weather. We had a short downpour outside. It was short-lived, but I started to pay attention to the radar to find a window for a safe ride home.

-Friday, 4:00pm-

Time to go. The weather was looking ok, though there were some ominous clouds on the horizon.

Selfie in front of the office on the way out

Selfie in front of the office on the way out

-Friday, 5:00pm-

Home, safe and sound. Like the morning, it was pretty uneventful. It was really hot but I was actually fairly comfortable and didn't feel terribly tired, and the weather held out. I might have seen a bald eagle.

How was your Friday commute?