Superior 50k

Rugged, Relentless and Remote (at least the 50k version).

As the 2018 edition of the Zumbro 50 mile was my first ultra, and probably less than 5th time I’ve run a race on trail, my body is certainly wondering what my mind is up to.

Bridging the gap between the time I finally got home from Zumbro to checking in at Caribou Highlands, I felt like I did some quality training with a mix of what is happening to my body. The week after Zumbro, I hit 46.7 miles of running. Overall I felt good, with the some muscle soreness hanging around from the race. The end of April brought me something I didn’t anticipate, a box of weird pain. Was it new shoes, the heat, the lack of time off from the race? Insert montage of me looking over training plans, adding rest days, ordering electrolyte pills (I have a high sweat rate) and finally replacing my road shoes (about 500 miles on them).

The taper into Superior I was feeling solid. I had a good deal of energy and while I wanted to just be running in the woods, I focused on my training plan. Having hiked roughly 70 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail, I knew that it could have some punchy elevation gains. I looked over the ascents on the Superior Spring Trail Race website. I didn’t see anything that really make me nervous. Just run my race and operate within my own means.

Friday:

I took a half day of work and made my way up to Cascade River State Park. After learning of my selection of the Superior 50k lottery, I looked for options on the cheap of staying in the area. Luckily I had found a campsite at Cascade. I quickly pitched my tent and gear bombed the inside of it. With my site set, I made my way to Caribou Highlands to do the packet pickup. Getting my packet/bag was a breeze. Rocksteady Running and the volunteers really made it easy to get my bib and the uptick in nerves. As in, the shit just got real. My original plan was to hang around until the optional pre-race meeting.

I’m introverted. There isn’t any trying to hide that. I also get anxiety when in places with a lot of people. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve stood in isles in the grocery store with no one in it for a few minutes just to calm down. The trail community seems like a bunch of friends just hanging out and often going for a run. So there I was sitting in my car trying to figure out if I had it in me to be there for an hour for the meeting. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a few runners on the trails while out on training runs but feeling awkward is something I couldn’t shake. I made the decision to head back to camp and get fed.

Back at camp I still had some nerves and regret not trying to be more outgoing. I decided that since I had never been to this state park before, to do some exploring. I had seen mention of the cascades in the area so I went for a walk. I quickly found the cascades and it was a sight to see. I don’t know if I could ever do it justice in describing it. As I watched the slightly root beer colored water roar, I reflected that I wouldn’t have seen this if I had stayed at either a hotel/resort overnight or at the meeting. A brief walk back to camp, dinner and getting to bed early finished the night.

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Race Morning:

I had planned to get up by 4:45am. Get fed and get on the road to the race. I woke up around 3:45am. As I laid in my sleeping bag all warm, I didn’t want to get up that early. It was shortly after the sprinkling rain started. Grabbing my cell, I checked the radar for the weather. Yup, it’s going to get wet out here. For about 20 minutes it rained pretty good. I started getting my gear together for the day and setting things aside I brought for running in wet weather. By the time I had planned to get up, the rain had subsided into a sprinkle again. I quickly put some gear in the car and started breakfast. I focused on getting food, coffee and packed up.

Making my way to Caribou Highlands once again. Checked back in then went to work processing what I needed to do to get ready to run. Addressing areas of chafe was the first priority. If I’ve chafed there before, it got some squirrels nut butter. With 7 miles until the first aid station, I packed some gels and tailwind. I also made sure I had a small baggie for trash. Decided that a sleeveless shirt would be sufficient enough for the morning cool air as I expected the temps to rise up a bit during the run.

During the announcements before the start, we had a moment of silence for Jon Mathson. I had no idea that this had occurred the year before. Shortly after we were unleashed upon the course. I took advantage of the pavement to set a quick pace to get myself warmed up. I knew that once we hit the single track, we would get slowed down.

The out:

From the elevation chart, I knew the section to the first aid station was going to be filled with some good ups and downs. We hit the occasional patch of mud and water. I focused on making good choices of where I was stepping while in the line of runners. Taking advantage of where I could to pass, either ascending or descending. In retrospect I was chasing those in front of me more than I should. Mystery and Moose mountain seemed to fall pretty quickly. Running in a pack always makes the miles go by quickly though. I kept reminding myself to drink. Checking my watch for the time to eat something. I rolled into AS1 with an empty half liter bottle.

A volunteer helped me fill up on water. I’m truly grateful for the people to volunteer their time before the race, during and after. I know it takes a lot of time to clear and mark the trail, setup the aid stations. Time to work the aid stations until the last runner clears. Those that sweep the trail after the race. Thank you. Before leaving AS1, I grabbed some M&Ms. I need to remember to do this more often.

Between AS1 and AS2, the big climbs are absent but the “rolling hills” as was described took a bigger toll than I expected. This is where I hit more mud as well. Still trying to make good decisions on foot placement, I did notice my focus wander to trying to keep up with those in front of me. Even though they started to disappear more often in the distance.

AS2 was packed with another set of great volunteers. Topping off on water with help from gentleman with a big beard. I felt more wet afterwards because the bottles seemed to enjoy leaking unless the caps were PFT (pretty fricken tight). I also grabbed a cup of pretzels to snack on while on the move up to Carlton.

Trying to keep up while eating pretzels isn’t something I could recommend but it was a memorable experience. At one point I was eating pretzels out of a cup while crossing a gravel road during an ultra race. To some it might seem pedestrian but I find it as something that makes these races memorable.

I have never been up to Carlton peak. I was looking forward to the view, as I have seen from various pictures and videos. At this stage a lot more runners were coming in the opposite direction. A lot of encouragement was being vocalized. Good job, Nice job, keep it up. I find it humorous that a lot of times both the oncoming runner and I would both yield the boardwalk. This was also when I started to notice the wind picking up. Lastly, I could tell my pace was slowing.

Up on the peak, it was certainly a sight to see. While the cheese balls and fireball were tempting. I took in a brief view of Superior and was off down the trail.

The back:

As Carlton peak represents the turn around, I was half way done. Checking the watch, I recall that I had hit the turn around before the 2.5 hour mark. I deceptively believed that maybe, just maybe, I could run a 5 hour 50k. Just 20 feet away from the turn around, I tripped. I had done a few times in the last few miles but didn’t hit the dirt. This time as well, I kept myself from falling. What the issue was this time? My ankle was really not in a good place. I didn’t roll it, or felt that I had. It was really sore when striking anything off camber. This made descending from Carlton slow.

AS2/3 filled up on water again. Once again the volunteers helped me. I had started getting passed by runners and I was foolish to rush through the AS without grabbing something to eat. I figured that I had gels I could down on the way. In between AS3 and AS4, I started to really slow on the descents. Where on the way out, I was taking full advantage of gravity, this section I was filled with caution as I wanted to trying to minimize the pain in my ankle. Time kept ticking by and I wanted to focus on getting sub 6 hours. Running slower and with the wind picking up, I started getting colder. I had really doubted my decision not to bring a shell with me. The roots were also really getting to me. Just when I though my ankle was feeling better, I’d hit one and the pain would return. Pulling into AS4, I was out of fluid.

In the aid station I got my bottles filled. A volunteer asked me if I wanted anything while fumbling with my soft flasks and my vest. I asked if there was coffee. At that point I wanted something warm and caffeine to help get a boost. He returned with some hot coffee. He warned it was really hot. At that point I didn’t care. My hands were cold and looked forward to holding that little cup for a while. Still fumbling with my bottles, I held that cup in my teeth as I walked down the AS a bit. I found out how hot that coffee was as I splashed a little on my arm. I grabbed a corner of what I thought was a PB&J sandwich. To my surprise it also contained a pretzel. I stood by the trash can at the end of the aid station eating my sandwich and sipping coffee. Soon I was off, next stop the end.

Moose and Mystery. I will say this, Mystery is worse. Moose was a significant climb up, this can’t be overlooked. Mystery just seems to gradually climb for what seems to be an eternity. My ankle was starting to feel better. I was running more although still getting passed by the occasional runner. In this area I also passed some 25k runners that were making their way back to the finish as well. I certainly appreciated the humor in one gals statement that they were walking so they could cheer us on.

The End:

Finally I made it to the gravel road. I was home free. I didn’t have much more to give but I kept running all the way to the end. Checking the watch I knew I had a sub 6 hour. I was happy with that. As I came up to the finish line I clapped for myself as I knew I put as much as I could into this race. While I had hoped that Zumbro would qualify me for the Superior 100 in 2019, my time wasn’t within 12 hours. Since the Superior 50k is a qualifier, I’m looking forward to my chances in the lottery.

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Photo By: Mike Wheeler (https://www.facebook.com/Wheels7185)

 

Zumbro 50

The preamble to the 50:

An idea was placed in the back of my mind in 2017. “I could run an ultra”. While simply stating as such is miles (generally 31 miles/50k) between saying such a silly thing than doing it. Just like when I squatted a cumulative total of 1 million pounds in 2014, I started to put a plan into place.

Initially I took a rational approach to begin. I hadn’t run more than a half marathon since the liberty half ironman I did in June of 2011. I started running towards a goal of doing a half marathon at some point. Clue the montage of looking up cookie cutter programs online to get me to the finish line. Having looked at the website of the Upper Midwest Trail Runners, I know the William O’Brien 10 mile caught my eye. I know this because I ended up running in it. It was my first time racing on trails. I wasn’t fast, I did end up walking some of the hills.

After William O’Brien, I set my sights on the Gear Western half marathon. The logic being that if I could run 10 miles, what’s another 5k? I set my goal relatively low. My main goal was to just keep going the entire half, just walking the aid stations to drink. This turned out to be a perfect strategy for me as I pretty much nailed it. I kept my heart rate in check and kept going at a pace that I knew I could maintain without completely sandbagging it.

In my mind I believed I was ready to go whole hog into a 100 mile race. I knew mentally I could hold it together. My first 100 cycling ride was the Minnesota Ironman bike ride when it was in Lakeville. I did it alone on a mountain bike. I know what the pain and frustration cave holds. It’s dark in there. I’ve ridden many miles into the cold wind that occurs in the spring in Minnesota. Especially along county roads where there isn’t any crops or much in the way of trees to provide comfort from the wind. My first outdoor triathlon, because in Minnesota there are a few options to do indoor ones (lap pool, exercise bike and treadmill), was a half ironman. I ended up having calf cramps at the turn around for the swim. I still managed to finish the swim, bike and jogged/walked the half marathon at the end of that one. Just on pure will to get it done.

My family was adamant that I not sign up for the 100 miler at Zumbro. Therefore I signed up for the 50 miler. I mean why do the 17 mile race when at that point I had been running a few 15+ mile training runs at Afton. At the turn of the year, I knew it was time to get my stuff together. Opting to turn to my handy internet search engine once again, I settled on Hal Koerner’s 50 mile training plan. I kept reading on reddit that if you can run 20 miles on back to back days, then you can survive a 100 miler. Thus when Koerner’s program had back to backs each week, I figured if I went in over prepared then it would be enough.

The beginning of training in early January was horrible. I couldn’t run since I pulled something while doing a half marathon on the treadmill on New Year’s Day. Slowly I could start running again by the end of the month. I cobbled together an abbreviated training plan from Koerner’s plan. Since I had been running quite a bit in 2017 already, I wasn’t too worried but I didn’t put in any recovery weeks. 10 weeks from start to race day was all I had. I kept a 3 week taper to help build in some real recovery.

The training plan, while not ideal, held me to the fire of pushing the distances. Short runs during the week (4 to 10 miles) and long back to backs on the weekends (15/9 to 25/20). Looking back, there wasn’t a day I missed my mileage up until the week we went to Arizona. After running the 25/20 back to back, I took Monday off. 10 mile on Tues, 6 mile on Wed, then 30 miles after work on Thursday. That was brutal, but I kept my head mostly into the game. While on the road I tried as much as I could to keep to schedule while balancing a family vacation.

After driving back from vacation, the training taper went pretty much as planned but mostly treadmill runs since it had pretty much snowed off and on from when we returned. If I had only took this as a sign of what was to come.

The Race:

Woke up as usual on Friday. Checked the weather reports from the local area as well as Kellogg, MN. The same song and dance, rain mixed with thunderstorms followed by snow and wind. Popped open Facebook, same fretting about the weather conditions and what to bring to the race. Early in the week I had planned to pretty much take anything and everything I had any use for while backpacking and running.

Worked a full day and enjoyed a meal with my family Friday afternoon. If it was going to be as bad it might get, I didn’t want them to be in the cold waiting for me to do laps. This was also helped by the few pictures of flowing water on the trails and video of the start where there was plenty of standing water. I drove down in the on and off rain until I arrived at the campground.

I had planned to do my gear explosion in the car, which went perfectly. Gear strung around the interior of the car. Tops, bottoms, hygiene, shoes, socks, after race clothes, and food. Given the temps and the rain at the time, I put together a brief setup. I had wanted to get down to the start to give myself time to sleep. I set my alarm and tried to fall asleep multiple times. it just didn’t happen. I wasn’t worried about the race, I wasn’t worried about the weather.

While the headlights of other runners kept shinning into the car, I tossed a shirt over my head. I studied the maps and reread the directions I had cached on my cell of what the RD sent and those from the race website. My ears noticed at some point that the sound of rain falling on the car turned into the sound of sleet. This was confirmed when I tried to gaze out the window and saw it was mostly covered with ice. I sat up and started to re-plan my gear. A few gear swaps and changing the layering approach I was using for my mittens, I was set. Then I noticed the ice was no longer forming. It was snow.

At this point the check in was happening. I checked in and knew it was no better time to start getting dressed for the start. It might be over 90 minutes away but I wanted to make sure to be ahead instead of rushing and forgetting anything. I wasn’t doing drop bags since I had planned to make a trip to the car each lap if I needed anything.

Race brief:

Up to this point I had only done one other trail race in particular but since I’d done plenty of mountain bike races, I knew what to expect at the start line brief. The issue this time, it wasn’t like any of the others. We were briefed on the weather. Told how bad it was getting on the roads to get to Zumbro. Then told about the trail conditions. We were given enough information to make a careful decision once we got on the trail. If you wanted to bail at AS 1,there’s a option to shortcut back. If you decide not to start, there is no shame as it was getting nasty out there. As stubborn as I am, I kept my options open as I didn’t really know what it was like until I was out on the trail. This was going to be my first ultra, but I’m not a complete idiot.

Lap 1:

On our way to the starting line itself, I fired up my Suunto. I started the run on it before we started moving because I’m not all that concerned about getting each second precisely dialed in. A few minutes later, we were off. I started slow but then picked it up a bit to try to get in front of some people that were really going slow. Mainly because I remembered from mountain bike racing that if you get stuck behind someone slow, it might be a bit until you can get moving at your own pace.

We hit the trail after going through the campground. It was snow covered. It was wet and slick with mud. With the headlights and falling snow, it was awesome. I took my time and passed people when the opportunity passed. I probably went out a little aggressive. I was excited and tapered so I had energy to burn. Quickly arrived at AS1. I felt great, if not slightly warmer than I should have. A splash of coke and M&Ms and I was set. This might have been the biggest thing I’m taking away from the race. Fuel early and often. I had GU with me, quite a few. I should have been consuming them.

The rest of the lap I felt fine to carry on. Slipped a few times on the snow and mud combo. Plenty of sections where it was standing water. What I didn’t really realize on the first lap was the section between AS3 and AS4 was going to be the tough one of the day. It was completely dark going along the ridgeline with the exception of the headlamps. The wind was pretty fierce with the snow. I kept my focus on the runner in front of me. Getting back to the start/finish area, I knew I didn’t feel like stopping. I was running/walk/power hiking trail I had never seen before. It was an adventure.

Lap 2:

The second time through the beginning of the lap, I could tell the trail was changing. A lot of mud, snow and water but it wasn’t as sloppy. I could tell the temp was dropping as well. I kept my legs churning as the miles went by. By the time the sun came up, I knew I was behind on calories. I tried to take more GU in and started to walk more. Those things are quite the battle while cold. Coming into the aid stations I was requesting hot food and coffee. I didn’t feel like quiting at that point, I just knew I was going to be slower due to my stubbornness to keep up my intake. I also didn’t want to swing too far the other way and consume too much and be sick either. As I had been walking more and behind on calories, I started feeling colder. My mittens started having ice in them. My feet were cooling from the sweat that had been in the socks.

From those factors I knew if I was going to go on to lap 3, I should make a plan. Mentally inventorying the contents of what I had brought with me. I had other gloves. They were okay in cold weather but it wasn’t that cold. At least they would be dry for a lap. While the sealskinz socks were good for the slush and mud, I thought to change them out and my shoes. I brought some hiking boots. I had run in them before I knew I could again. They had goretex so if I found more standing water, those and a good set of dry wool socks would get me to the end. Lastly thinking of changing my shirt under my jacket. It was damp and the wind was slightly chilly with it.

This time between AS3 and AS4, I realized how bad it was on the ridge. The wind was insane. At parts, the trail was covered in drifting snow. I could make out just enough to see where to go. Some parts where very deep and ended up post holing at times. I crawled at one point because when I stood, I was being blown around and didn’t want to fall down the side. Eventually made it out of that section and finished the lap with no other highlights.

Coming into AS5, which is also the start/finish area, my hands were pretty cold at this point. Requested coffee and some food before retreating to the car. Once inside I quickly put my plan that I drew up in my head into action. Mittens gone, shirt gone, socks and shoes gone. Dry shirt on and started drinking coffee and eating. My hands and feet dried out slightly and new socks and boots were put on. 2 layer gloves set aside. At this point I also dropped anything I would not need to do the third and final lap. No more headlamps, no more spare batteries. I had been carrying an extra windshell but the jacket I was wearing had been treating me well enough to pitch the extra. Since I had brought water in the car, topped off my water bottles.

Just before leaving the car, I reminded myself that I had gone the longest I ever had. Mentally I was still game to carry on. Physically I was solid enough. Sore in places, sure. All I had to do was complete 1 more lap and I would have done it.

Lap 3:

I slowly trudged through the campground to start the final lap. I could tell the boots were slightly heavier than the speedgoats I was wearing before. In a short time I was on the trail. Immediately it was clear that the trail was becoming a different animal again. I had believed that my boot choice would be fine, it wasn’t. I was sliding and not in a good way. For the first mile, any notion of power hiking was out the window. It was too slick with the boots. I told myself that even if I have to walk the entire lap, I would do it just to finish.

It was lap 3 that I got passed the most. It was a mental kicker but I maintained my focus on just getting it done. I had secretly wanted to break 12 hours but knew that wasn’t going to happen. Each aid station I requested the same thing. Coffee and anything hot they had. Chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese and quesadilla. I appreciated what the volunteers had on hand and ate it. Kept the running to a minimum, telling myself I wanted to save what I could for the section between AS3 and AS4.

The ridgeline was just as brutal as before. I powered through the best I could muster. It was rough going as I was cracking mentally as the trail just kept going. Cursing the wind and the trail I frustratingly tried to run at times. Once I descended where the Ant Hill sign was for the final time, I was relieved. About 5 to 6 miles is all that separated me to the finish. I was going to do it. Tried cycling between running and walking a bit. Just felt drained but hopeful.

When I got to AS4, the last before the finish, I didn’t even stop. I heard the volunteer call out my number, that was enough for me. I turned up the trail to the end. That last stretch seemed to go on forever. I expected it to be that way.

The end:

Once I saw the road we had been running on towards the end of the lap rise into a clearing, I knew I had done it. All I needed to do now was cross the campground. I started to run. My body had started aching more and more. In the last few miles I had ignored the hunger to eat something else. Eventually I heard my name and city announced and crossed the electronic sensors. I had done it. A wooden finisher medal was given to me. I didn’t initially want it around my neck but then decided to put it on. I had earned it. At that point I had been up for 34 hours. 14 hours, 12 minutes and 59 seconds is what it took to complete my first ultra and 50 miles.

Looking around after finishing, I saw that most of the area had been packed up. No option to buy a poster, guess I should have done it before checking in. Luckily they had some eggs and bacon going. I took some coffee and a egg/bacon wrap and quesadilla back to the car.

The drive home:

I had worried about getting home, or at least out of the area during the last lap. Driving home was a beast. The wind from the ridge returned blowing out on the county roads. After driving slow for quite a while, I made it to US 52. It wasn’t any better. Within 10 miles of being home, US 52 was closed. Exiting the highway, I cut through Farmington to get home. Of course in my haste to get home, I took the shortest way into our neighborhood. I promptly got stuck. Less than 2 blocks from the house and I couldn’t budge the car. Eventually I got it unstuck as my lovely wife helped me. After running in the most epic trail and weather conditions, then driving in them, I was finally home.

The Zumbro 50 wood medal:

As I don’t listen to music when I run, even on the treadmill, I generally have a lot of time to think. Mostly I try to focus on the run I’m doing and how I’m feeling. As my mind has a tendency to wander, I had though about the token we are given for completing the Zumbro 50. While called a medal, it’s a piece of wood. I have a number of medals from races and events. A few stand out as being really special.

The most particular one is the Halloween Half marathon medal. It was my daughters first half marathon. A lot of emotion in that run. I can say for me, that time we spent together was really something special. Thus the medal itself reminds me of that time and feeling.

While out on the 3rd lap, I was focusing on that piece of wood I would be given for finishing the 50 miles. Eventually a time will come that the metal medals I have accumulated will be someone else’s issue to deal with. Either recycled or simply trashed as I don’t really see the point of having them boxed up for someone else to lug around through life. What strikes me as unique about the wooden finishers medals is the fact that one day, like myself, they will be decayed into dust. Seemly as temporary as we are.

Oddly enough I like that aspect of the wooden medals. Strange thought I know but then again, who goes out to run an ultramarathon.

I’m not a jammer, right?

“You make jamming look easy” and “Jammers deserve to be punished”.

These are 2 quotes in which only 1 I really believe is true. This is not to say the first is a lie. It just feels out of place when people praise my jamming. In all honesty I think people give me too much credit for my jamming. Some jams are easier than others. Some times my blockers are spot on and make the other team’s jammer completely miserable. Other times I can’t wait until the jam ends. As the only skaters on the track that can score points, jammers deserve to be punished to no end.

When I completed FML 2.0 and passed my WFTDA test, I didn’t want to jam. Once I became slightly seasoned, I used to fear jamming. I saw those that were really good, and they still are much better than me, as ideal jammers. They have the tangibles: speed, agility, strength and mindset. Starting out all I had was fear. Fear of skating through a mob with a large sign on my helmet that told the other team to hit me. Then there was the physical toll. I quickly learned that the more you struggle the more muscle fibers you are working. The longer you are out there, the tiring it becomes. More and more often I was handed the star at practice.

The more often I was put out as a jammer, the more I focused on removing the fear. We have all gone through stuff in our lives which really sucked. We hated moments that never seemed to end. Like struggling to find the strength to low crawl through broken glass. Jamming at the most is a 2 minute affair. Mistakes will happen. At practice this is the time to embrace the suck. It’s a semi controlled environment in which you can learn something about yourself. Plus if you never do it, you can’t get better.

Slowly it seems that I have evolved into a blocker that can jam. I still mainly think of myself as a blocker. Who doesn’t love blocking? Your sole purpose is stopping the jammer. If you fail at that job, you must quickly play offense. Then you get another opportunity to stop that jammer. When you are jamming, it’s a different life. You are the one out there scoring points or attempting to minimize the bleeding. I’ve worked hard in the gym to increase my strength and stamina. I lack great agility. Injuries have held me back in being able to focus on this area. The only logical thing I could think of is lifting heavy shit and work on sustaining a high work load.

When I was told I was jamming for the Terrordactyls this past weekend at the Midwest Derbyfest, I wasn’t shocked. I know that I’ve shown my abilities at practice more than once. I am not afraid to jam. I will do what ever my team needs me to do. That being said, I suppose in reference to the Terrordactyls, I guess I am a jammer.

I’m not a math whiz but I think I understand this

Done with the spring semester of school, I feel I can put something logical together.

Writing papers for Latin American history every other week left me tapped in terms of motivation to gather my thoughts and output something that would be some what entertaining or thought provoking. I certainly had a few topics that I considered writing about. Some I may write about here, others might marinate some more until I think they are ready.

I sold my motorcycle. This left me kinda sorta sad but lets be real, I didn’t ride it that often. Certainly not often enough to justify it’s place at our home. I did enjoy riding that thing. What I didn’t like was muttering to myself “Don’t kill me” while navigating the traffic around the Twin Cities. It’s gone and the lien is paid although I have been waiting for that freaking card for nearly 3 weeks. Seriously the bank can process my payment in 3 days yet it’s their policy that the lien card will be sent out within 10 “business” days. Every day is a disappointment when I check the mailbox. Now that I’m down my parts running vehicle for my Jeep, I have been looking at possibly replacing it.

The WJ is a nice ride. Sure the suspension squeaks and the engine is getting long in the tooth (175,000 miles). Little more about that number later. The main thing I do not like about the WJ is putting gas in it. Granted as busy as my life is, it’s gonna take gas to get around. If I pay at the pump, normally I can fill up before the previous transaction has hit my account. I really started to look at getting another vehicle. I’m not completely sold on selling the Jeep. I’m still working on gathering the financial data on fuel costs per month and mileage to see accurately how much I spend per month. Ball park is $500 a month but if I am in fact going to get something with better fuel economy, I want the data to back it up. I started thinking about that odometer number, 175,000.

That’s 175,000 on the computer and instrument cluster. 2 years ago I put on that 4″ lift kit and bigger tires followed. The computer reporting gas mileage went down, added weight from the suspension and larger tires, I was not surprised. I knew when putting on larger tires that the speedometer would be off. Thus using those side of the road police signs that display how fast you are going I found helpful. Thinking that the speedometer is off, then surely the gas mileage is not accurate as well. If I am basing my thought for a new vehicle around that, a little math/information mining needs to be done.

The original tires were P235/65R17, the current tires are P265/70R17. Fully harnessing the power of the internet, I was able to find the circumference for the original tires were 91.2 inches. The current ones are 99. inches. Since I didn’t want to work with huge numbers, I looked up the revolutions per mile. Original 694, current 638. This might be worth the effort, I believe. Drove from the gas station and reset the trip meter near the house and ended up at work. 16.8 miles. What I knew from that is that it was off. Having recently needed to calculate my round trip from home to work for that trip to Las Vegas, I knew from home to work is 20.7 miles each way. Google puts the route I took at 18.5 miles. I’m willing to admit this isn’t the most accurate way to work the numbers but I’m using what I have.

If on the original tires it would have taken 18.5 yet it’s reporting 16.8, there is a certain disparity. Did more digging and found a web site that calculated that for every 10,000 miles traveled, it would show up on the odometer as 9,184. Using this I ran the difference from the trip to work. 18.5 miles * .9184 = 16.99 miles. Close enough for me, although I did this: (638 revs per mile * 10000)/695 = 9179/10000 = .9179. This is good enough for me.  This also means that my odometer is not really reporting the true miles driven. I will need to save some data on miles driven and gallons of gas to determine the actual fuel consumption. Then and only then can I make a judgment on if a new vehicle will be cost effective as I expect.

So, a slightly boring post about how the math that my daughter is learning can actually apply to financial decisions. Having gone through some frustrating times with lifting, essentially challenging myself to run a 5K in 18 minutes next Mother’s Day and my trip to EMC World in Las Vegas, there will be something entertaining soon.

 

ThunderJacking

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I wanted to write something substantial regarding the latest bout on January 31st.  We lost both bouts but we did really well.  I sucked up pain and skated.  Losing coupled with the fact I turned down the opportunities to jam left me really negative.  So I will refrain from posting a long winded rant about how I can be really critical of myself.

What I will write is that I was given this Best Blocker award from the Thunderjacks.  While I certainly appreciate it, I know that there were 11 other Thunderjacks out on the track that would have been equally deserving.  Unfortunately I find myself not going to practice until I fully heal.  I’ve bounced from one injury to nearly the next for a better part of a year.  I’m still keeping active, striving to reach and set new goals.  Thanks to those who found me worthy enough to deserve this recognition.

Squat update: 104414 lbs.

Adios DirecTV, Hello Roku

In October of 2013 we, as in our family, said farewell to DirecTV.  I will admit that the reason behind this was the ever increasing bill that we had been paying to the satellite company.  My family watches more TV than I, and it impacted them the most.  While I’m the one writing this, I have seen the evolution happen within the home.  Cable TV is nice, don’t get me wrong.  Turn on the TV and cable box if required and there is an assortment of channels waiting for you.  More than likely accompanied by a guide of what is on.  I’m aware than some of the basic channel packages do not come with a cable box nor do they have a guide.  I was once a subscriber to such package with Charter.  This ever ready guide and always on channels are what we as a family needed to change our thinking when it came to using the Roku.

I didn’t abandon broadcast television completely.  For $45 I bought an over the air antenna.  A trip to the local hardware store costing about the same, $45 enabled me to mount the antenna in the attic.  I also needed to run coax down to the master bedroom from the attic.  Fishing the wall while being in the attic was fairly easy.  My daughter was kind enough to tell me when the fish tape hit the coax junction box in the wall.  From there, I basically reversed the wiring that carried the satellite signal up to the bedroom, allowing me to feed the bedrooms, and downstairs with free programming.  Using my trusty compass and the location of Shoreview as provided by http://www.antennaweb.org, I aligned my antenna.  Off to the TV to scan for channels.  I believe it found 30 channels that day.  Reviewing the quality, I made another stab at the alignment.  There are 2 broadcasting points near Shoreview, MN.  I changed to the one that carried the major networks (Fox, CBS, etc).  In doing so I lost a few of the government stations.  It was a trade off I was willing to accept.

There we were, a few days til I would tell DirecTV to kiss off.  We had over the air local channels, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.  Possibly the biggest challenge was finding something to watch.  Granted with access to a number of movie and show options, we had a tough time finding that one thing to watch.  It was easy with cable.  Turn on the TV and what was on, was on.  Pick something out that you wanted to watch, or pick the least likely to send you packing.  With Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, it took effort to find something to watch.  This just didn’t affect one person in the house.  All seemed to struggle with it.  Granted we could flip over to live TV but with the major stations carrying what we hardly watched anyhow, it didn’t get much attention.  I found myself throwing on the local channels, in fact I still do.  Once I come home from work, I find myself with Judge Judy on while doing work or assignments.  Its noise.  While browsing the selection on Roku, I end up trying to decide if I really what to watch this or that.

The problem with Roku.

The main issue I brought up is looking for content to watch on the Roku.  Sure you can get different channels to watch.  Like TED Talks, there is a channel you can add for those.  Listen to Pandora?  There is a channel for that as well.  Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime?  All those too.  Plenty more as well.  The biggest draw back has been those other channels.  Not quite as useful as they market them.  Sure they have their audience but it wasn’t us.  Digging for content wasn’t what we wanted, nor was it what we were used to.  We tried to find avenues to watch cable TV shows on the Roku.  It wasn’t as easy as advertised.  Even paying a small amount for Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, we still needed to look for stuff to watch.  Those 3 don’t cover everything either.

Netflix:

The most watched by my family.  We have had Netflix for a while.  Back even when we did the 2 movie thing, perhaps it was 3 disks.  I can’t remember.  I only really remember watching envelops of movies come in with none of my titles ever showing up.  We have watched the first season of The Following, many episodes of Law and Order SVU and such.  Good interface on the Roku, we have Netflix smart app on the Vizio and it blows.

Hulu Plus:

Most watched by my daughter and for that it met it’s demise.  I’m not a fan of Sam and Cat nor Shake it up but somehow when I walked out of the room, that is what it was on if I came back.  Other than that, it was never used.  Sure I tried to find shows I would watch but when you are stoked that it found something on a title, only to find out it has a bunch of clips.  I was not impressed.  Additionally full length episodes and movies have commercials that rarely change.  Ads 1 of 3 when they all end up being the same, talk about mind numbing.  We canceled the service after 3 months.

Amazon Prime:

My favorite, not really used by anyone else.  Additionally this is not a month to month.  You pay for the year.  The bonus is free shipping on Amazon, from Amazon itself, not third party peeps.  Many movies and shows.  Some content is free if you have Amazon Prime with exceptions.  Such as if you really want to watch Hot Fuzz, you have to pay 2.99 for the rental.  Convenient but I wouldn’t bother.  Just because you can find it, doesn’t mean it’s free on Amazon Prime, there is a lot of overlap between Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Mainly it’s around because we get stuff from Amazon, especially textbooks, and that 2 day shipping helps pay for itself.

So, there we have a brief look at what it took for us to cut the cable.  We are not entirely free from cable, that coax is feeding live broadcasts as well.  The thing is, the broadcast is free.  The down side is not seeing anything live on those cable channels.  Sure if I dug enough and added a few private channels on the Roku, we might be able to see them.  Or there is the laptop.  I’m happy with the service we have.  We are out $14 bucks a month on average for Netflix and Amazon Prime.  The local channels come in if we want to watch something there.  We have 2 Roku units.  Roku 3 in the main room with Roku 2 in the bedroom.  Speaking of Roku, they really try to sell the device as something that will give you an obscene amount of content.  Unfortunately I haven’t found myself overwhelmed with content.

Million Pounds of Squats total: 67808 lbs