Tracks N Treads

One problem I’ve had living in St. Louis is that there are so many bike races, yet I hardly ever find out about them until after they’re over. Friends would keep telling me to check the calendar at STL Biking, but I’d always forget. I finally got around to checking it a few weeks ago and I came across a very interesting race, Tracks N Treads off-road “biathlon” (run/bike, not ski/shoot). So, an off-road triathlon without the swimming. I’ve been wanting to do an off-road triathlon for years, so this semi-local event seemed as good a time as any to start.

The problem with this idea is that, while I’ve run more trail races than I can count, I’ve never raced on a mountain bike before. And the thought of doing so kind of scared the hell out of me. So this was a bigger leap for me than it may seem. The most helpful thing was that I drove over to Edwardsville to ride the trails at SIUE last weekend. I can’t imagine racing those trails without the experience I gained from just that one ride. Although I didn’t know every turn like the back of my hand, I did remember the big picture, and I knew exactly what to expect.

The forecast was supposed to be warm, and it was over 60˚F when I left my house, but it was only 50˚F in Edwardsville when I arrived. I brought several possible shirts to race in, but they were all sleeveless. Whoops. Well, if that’s the worst thing that happens then I’m in for a good day.

I rode over to the trails and rode easily over the first mile of the course to reacquaint myself with it, as this part may be crucial during the race. Then I came back, put my bike and gear in the transition area, ran a little bit, then headed to the start line.


Photo by TriGirl1964

A few young guys bolted off the front immediately. I was in no hurry to match their pace, so I hung back a bit. Once we got off the sidewalk and onto the single-track trail they started to come back to me. It was difficult to find a place to do so, but I eventually passed them one-by-one. I lead the race for the last half of the run. I was the first to enter and exit the transition area.

The bike started with about .75 miles on a paved path before entering the woods. I made sure to drink as much as I could and take some gel before the woods, because I knew I wouldn’t have a free hand once we hit the single-track.

One guy caught up with me just before the turn into the woods, but he didn’t pass me. I went hard once we hit the dirt and after a few turns I put some distance between us. There were a few times during the early miles I could hear a rider approaching, but nobody caught up. Until about half way through. A guy came up fast and, after tailing me for a while, he found a spot to pass and he overtook me. I raised my game a bit and I tried to stay with him, but he was just better than me. I couldn’t take the turns as fast as he did and he pulled away. So much for first place.


Photo by Jeff Schleicher

A short while later another guy quickly caught and passed me. This dude was on a cyclocross bike. During the 30 seconds or so I was able to follow him it was obvious he was out of my league. I don’t feel a bit bad about losing to someone like that. I started to worry that maybe there was a whole line of people poised to rip past me, but that never came to fruition. A third guy caught up with me just before we dropped back out onto the pavement. I went out first and hammered the last .75 miles at 23 mph and he wasn’t able to get around me. I finished 3rd. I later discovered one of the guys who passed me was on a relay team, so I was the 2nd place individual.

The race really couldn’t have gone any better for me. The hard run effort didn’t slow me down at all on the bike section. I’m used to running after biking (as is customary in triathlons), so I wasn’t quite sure how fast I could get away with running. The bike leg pushed me to my technical limits, but I was fortunately pretty far from my physical limits. As scary as it was the first time, I could possibly get used to racing on a mountain bike. I just need to practice. A lot.

Take Steps for Kids

“Won’t somebody please think of the children?!”
-Helen Lovejoy

A couple months ago a WUSTL student approached me in the locker room (seeing that I was wearing running clothes) about the Take Steps for Kids 5K race put on by a student group. He seemed like he couldn’t quite tell if I was up to it. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was training for a 50K at the time. But I took the information and marked it on my calendar. I do enjoy a good 5K race.

Last Saturday was the day. I ran to campus to register, then ran back home to drop off my goodie bag, then ran back to the race, then ran around campus. I used to get away with a 1 mile warmup for a 5K, but in my old age I really run the fastest in miles 3-6, so now I try to do a 3 mile warmup.

The course was two loops around campus, including the awesome, fast downhill section of the sidewalk along Forsyth. On the day of the race there was also a tailwind here. On the flip side we had to run up all those stairs in front of Brookings hall.

Washington University in St. Louis


I wasn’t looking forward to it, but, meh, how hard could it be?

The race started fast, as most 5Ks do. I tried to hang out behind a pack of runners as we started into the headwind. One guy was pulling away as we reached the fast downhill section, so I gave chase. The first mile was 5:26.

I couldn’t quite close the gap before we reached the bottom of the hill, turned around, and ran up the stairs into the headwind. I was spent by the time I reached the top.

IMG 0635

Me in 2nd, chasing the yellow shirt up the stairs

The second mile was considerably slower, 5:50-something. By the time we reached the fast downhill section again we ran into the back of the pack who were still on their first lap, and I had to weave back and forth to dodge some of the people who couldn’t be bothered to step aside.

I pushed again on the downhill section, but I couldn’t make up any more ground. I came through the finish in 2nd place overall at 17:26. Technically, this is a new 5K PR for me, though it feels a bit dirty. The course did have a net loss in elevation (we didn’t have to run back up the stairs on the second lap). Even so, I wasn’t expecting to run that fast. I’ve done very little speed work since Fuego y Agua (and even less before that).

After the race I ran another 7 miles easy.

IMG 0634

One bit of a downer was this photo Melissa took that showcases my awful form. I’ve really been working hard to improve my form in the hope of becoming more efficient and less injury prone. I can do better on my easy runs, but I’ve really struggled with better form when running fast and racing. It requires so much concentration that I quickly relapse into this:

  • Leg extended almost straight out in front of me
  • Landing on my heel (this is why I have bad knees)
  • Landing with my foot in front of my center of mass
  • Arms bent at an extremely acute angle
  • Torso leaning forward
  • Head down (though I think this was just to block the sun)

I’m a mess.

The Great Forest Park Bicycle Race

Bike racing season snuck up on me. I didn’t get a lot of training in over the winter, as I was focusing on running Fuego y Agua. I strained my back early in the year and didn’t ride at all in January, and only a couple times in February. I started riding more after we returned from Nicaragua. I did three easy training rides (20, 30, and 50 miles). I hadn’t even attempted to ride faster than 20 mph. Then races started.

Realizing I was ridiculously undertrained I decided I wouldn’t participate in the first two local races. On 3/10 I went to watch my friends at the Carondelicious Crit. It was a beautiful day. This was the second time I went to a race just to watch and decided I couldn’t not race.

Grant and Jason

Mark & BJ

So the following day I decided to race The Great Forest Park Bicycle Race. After all, at just 2 miles away, this is the 3rd closest bike race to my house (living in a big city does have some benefits).

The bad news was it was raining, which was scary. The good news was… it was raining, which slowed people down in the corners. The race was much easier than I expected, even with my minimal training. Our average speed was only 23 mph, which is 1-3 mph slower than most Cat 4 crits around here. There was a big crash in front me early on. I slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop on top of a crashed bike’s wheel (sorry about that). I took the free lap (for the first time in my life) and got back into the race on the next lap.

The last lap was fast, and I couldn’t really get around anyone. I was poised to move up on the final straightaway… before another crash right in front of me made me hesitate a bit too much. I strolled in near the rear of the main pack, 15th place. It was decent. I didn’t crash or hurt myself. All things considered, it could have gone much worse.

Fire. And Water.

It was epic. Where to begin?

As many of you know, Melissa and I spent a year living on la Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua five years ago while Melissa was studying the howler monkeys there for her dissertation. You can read all about it here. I didn’t actually do any running while we lived there (I took a 3.5 year hiatus due to my knee problems), though I did bicycle extensively. We also hiked Volcan Maderas once.


Volcan Maderas

A couple years ago I somehow heard of this new race on Ometepe Island, Fuego y Agua (fire and water). It was a 50K (and 100K) footrace from Moyogalpa (the big city on the island) to Merida (the town where we lived), traversing Volcan Maderas in the process. Since I had done a few ultras before (though all were slightly shorter than this), and I had hiked Maderas before, and I spent a year living at the finish line of this race, I thought this would be the perfect event for me. I looked forward to it for months. Then I learned the December 2010 race was canceled, so my plans would be put on hold. However, the organizers pushed the race from December to February and they were able to get it going slightly over a year later in February 2012.

I looked forward to this race for over a year.

I was running really well for shorter distances last fall when I began to ramp up my mileage. I ran into some hiccups along the way. I had some good long runs in October. I sat out for three weeks in November with knee pain, before a fairly productive December. I sat out for three weeks in January after throwing out my back. I got in one long training run and a medium length preparation race before proceeding to throw out my back again… three weeks before the race. At that point I was in a full-on panic. I would effectively have a six week taper prior to what would be the hardest race I’d ever attempted. That’s too long.

Even as we boarded the plane to fly to Nicaragua I was still experiencing the last remnants of this back pain. I felt kind of bad for asking Melissa to carry most of our luggage, but I didn’t want to chance any more problems (which would certainly have knocked me out of the race). Fortunately the back problems subsided shortly after we arrived, and I was even able to do a good training run a few days before the race.

Our entire trip was great fun for all of us. Melissa covered it all in detail in her blog here, here, here, here, and here. I’ll just focus on the race.

Pre-race dinner

Pre-race dinner

The 50K and 100K start at 4 a.m. In the dark. It may sound horrible, but I greatly preferred the pre-dawn start. The thing that scared me most coming into the race was how I would deal with the tropical heat (I’ve been known to have problems) coming from the midwest in the dead of winter. The 4 a.m. start meant that most of the running part of the race (the volcano is far too steep to run) would be over around the time the sun came up.

Race ready

Ready to race

I had been waking up early and going to bed early ever since we left Saint Louis. The night before the race I was about to crash right around the time the German tourists staying at my hostel started a techno-reggae-guitar-jam-singalong outside my room. I was so tired I fell asleep anyway. I woke up just as they finished around 1 a.m. and didn’t get back to sleep. Whoops. I got out of bed at 3 a.m., prepared everything, and walked one block over to the starting line of the race.

Fuego y Agua start

Starting line

There were 20 participants in the 50K and another 18 in the 100K. Headlamps ablaze, we started as some fireworks exploded overhead. Immediately three local guys shot off the front. I started comfortably, running the first mile in 8:30, at which point I could no longer even see the leaders. We immediately turned off the main paved road onto a dirt road I’d never been on before. So much for using my knowledge of the island to my advantage. The ground was a bit soft and mushy, with every runner in front of me kicking up dirt into the air. It was difficult to see with my headlamp reflecting off the particles. I didn’t really like breathing it in either. So I made an attempt to leave a bit of gap to the front and sides of me.

Things started to settle down and I found a few other runners going my same pace. 2.5 miles in I tripped on a tree root and went down. I was already sweating heavily by that point (I’m a heavy sweater), and the soft, loose dirt was now clinging to my knees and my hands. I spent the next few miles trying (with little success) to clean my hands and to catch up to my pack. I caught back up shortly before we hit the main paved road again, just before the first aid station. I introduced myself to Joe and John (both 100K participants) and we ran together for a while.

I vividly remember the hill coming out of San Jose causing my lots of problems the many times I biked it, but it wasn’t a problem on foot. It was actually my fastest mile of the race… which probably wasn’t a good idea. Anyway, Joe and I kept going while John was just a little ways behind. We turned again off the paved road onto another dirt road I didn’t know. We paid close attention to the reflective course markers that would guide our way. We almost missed an important turn while we ran on the wet sand along the shoreline, as the marker was more visible from the deep, mushy sand further inland.

Fuego y Agua 50K

We followed the trail for a while before coming to an intersection that wasn’t marked. There were three possible paths to take, none of them obviously the correct path, and none of them marked. We spent close to five minutes going a short distance down each path looking for markers, but we found none. By this time John caught back up with us and he had a gut feeling about one of the trails, so we just went with it. 300-400 meters later we saw a marker, confirming we made the right choice.

We went up a long hill and wound our way through some banana fields. There were five runners ahead of us at this point and we saw one only about 50 meters up the path. This was strange, given that we had just lost five minutes, but whatever. He disappeared soon enough. While climbing over a downed banana tree, about 13 miles in I had a cramp in my hamstring, which was a very bad sign. I was feeling great, I was staying hydrated, and, most importantly, I was staying on top of my electrolyte pills (which usually prevent the cramping). Maybe the heat calls for more? We’ll see.

Aid stationing

This is actually the third aid station, but you get the idea.

We soon reached the second aid station. I asked the volunteers how many people were ahead of us and they said four. There had been five, but (as I later confirmed) the guy we saw just ahead of us earlier got lost in the banana field. It was also around this time I was noticing a blister had started to form on my little toe. I’ve been running in Injinji socks (toe socks) for a few years and I haven’t had a single blister since I started wearing them. I didn’t know what to make of this development.

We made our way back out to the paved road again. We were now on the isthmus, where it was windier. The sun was rising and I no longer needed my headlamp to see. The breeze cooled us down a bit, but not really enough. Joe started to pull away from me and I didn’t really want to chase. I was slowing down, but I knew what was just a few miles ahead and I needed to hold back as much as possible.

Eating a banana

As I turned off the road up to the El Porvenir aid station I saw Melissa. She ran/walked with me up the hill to the aid station, offering me a banana as we went. Once we reached the aid station I sat down to examine the blister situation I mentioned earlier. It was really starting to bother me and I had one hell of a hike coming up. I couldn’t believe what I saw when I took my shoe off. Getting dressed in the dark in my sleep deprived state I put my two smallest toes in the same toe hole, leaving an empty toe hole off to the side that was just rubbing and rubbing my little toe. It was easy enough to fix, and that was the end of the toe problems… no blister.

Wardrobe malfunction

I picked up my trekking poles from my drop bag, said goodbye to Melissa, and began the long uphill journey to the 4000 ft peak of Volcan Maderas. It started off gradually so I convinced myself I could run for a while, but that didn’t last long. I was hiking. And hiking. And hiking some more. I didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t horrible. Yet.

Starting up the volcano

Fairly early on a few guys passed me. The further we went the more people passed me. As the climbing became more vertical, and there were lots of step-ups I started to have cramps. First in my calves. Then in my hamstrings. It got to the point where I had to do the step-ups as quickly as possible or my legs would cramp up and I wouldn’t be able to move. Every step was agonizing. And I was only a quarter of the way up the volcano.

1/4 the way up Maderas

I continued to put one foot in front of the other. While I was cramping fairly frequently, it never actually got worse. I can’t really remember what was going through my mind the rest of the way up the volcano. I was kind of out of it. It was all I could do to keep a count of how many people passed me. I kept eating, drinking, taking my electrolyte pills. The terrain got harder and harder. Then came the mud. First it was damp, then sloppy, then ankle-deep, then calf-deep. A few patches were literally up to my kneecap. When my foot sunk in like that I could only hope my shoe stayed on my foot as I pulled it out.

Another racer filmed the mud. I can’t watch this without laughing my ass off.

Closer the top I hiked a long way with a British guy named Andy. It sounds kind of awful, but it helped mentally to know that someone else was suffering as much as I was. Misery loves company. Eventually, he moved on as well, but that didn’t matter because I somehow managed to make it to the top. I can’t express how glad I was to see a wooden sign, presumably marking the summit, though, to be honest, I didn’t stop to read it. The glorious feeling was short-lived as the trail immediately (and steeply) descended into the crater. It was nice to switch from uphill to downhill for a change, but I knew I was going to have to climb right back up on the return trip.

Another racer filmed the top of Maderas.

A couple more people (including the first place woman) caught me right as I reached the final aid station in the crater. I had run the first 20 miles in a little under 3 hours, then the next 5.5 miles took slightly over 3 hours. I was the 6th person to start the volcano climb and the 20th person to reach the top. I spent a few minutes eating, drinking, refilling my hydration pack for the first time, and reflecting on my collapse. Then it was back up and out of the crater.

The trail coming out was different, and much more difficult. It was no longer possible to climb only with my legs while using my arms to stabilize me. Now I had to pull myself up with my arms as much as push with my legs. I had hiked the whole way up with my trekking poles, and I think they did help me (at least mentally, if nothing else), but now they were really getting in the way, as I needed my hands for climbing. Eventually, I just gave up on them, folded them up and wedged them between my hydration pack and my back. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was my only option other than leaving them on the volcano. I had planned to hike back down with them so I didn’t plan to store them anywhere.

The jungle gym

After some more deep mud I reached the jungle gym section of the trail where we had to climb over/under/through tree branches. Oddly enough, it was this point where I started to come back to life. I had resigned myself to feeling like shit for the rest of the race, so this was a welcome surprise. The more I descended the better I felt. I started hiking faster. Then I started trotting where I could, grasping trees with both hands to keep from falling over. I swung myself from one tree to the next the way I imagine Tarzan would if he were exhausted and descending a volcano. When the trail was straight for more than five feet I ran. I actually ran. A few hours before I was certain the next time I ran would be back in Saint Louis.

Meli & Simeon

Melissa and Simeón

Then I saw Simeón. Simeón was Melissa’s field guide in the forest. He helped her find the monkeys when she was getting started with her research. He helped her cut trails to follow them. He also takes tourists up the volcano. He had hiked nearly 1,000 meters up, apparently just to check on me. He shouted, “¡Rob! ¿Como estas?” (Rob, how are you?), to which I quickly (in broken Spanish) replied “No muy bien, pero mucho mejor que subiendo” (Not very well, but much better than climbing) as I ran past.

Around this same time I also started passing people–people who had blown by me on the way up. This was a truly unfamiliar experience for me. In most races I do well on the uphill sections and suck going downhill. My role was completely reversed now. One guy I ran with for a while was wearing Luna Sandals. It turns out he’s the CEO of the company that makes them. I couldn’t believe he had hiked the volcano in those, but he seemed to be doing quite well with them–a ringing product endorsement.

Finish line

The 50K finish line

As I got lower in elevation the temperature got hotter. There was less shade from tree cover, and more open fields to run through. I was running surprisingly well, given how tired I was and how rocky the path was. I really didn’t want to trip on the difficult terrain, but I was running so well I didn’t want to stop. It was approaching noon, and the heat was absolutely brutal the last two miles. It finally broke me and less than a half mile from the finish I had to walk some more just to cool down. This was the same trail we had hiked five years earlier, so I recognized where I was at this point. I ran the last quarter mile into the finish line where Melissa was waiting for me, kind of freaking out at how many people had come through with me nowhere in sight. The last 11 miles took me 5 hours, even with me running a few of those miles.

Crossing the finish line

Exhausted, hot, muddy

I finished in 7h55m. My average heart rate was 161, my max was 185. I burned 6762 calories. I consumed 1200 calories. My fastest mile was 8:12, my slowest mile was, well, close to an hour. Once you take out the 100K runners ahead of me I ended up in 9th place for the 50K. My first 50K. While this is quite a bit lower than my usual placings of the top 5%-10% in shorter races, I will gladly take it. This was the hardest race I’ve ever done. I was completely out of my element. It was epic. And I loved it.


I cooled down in the shade at the finish line, drinking and trying to eat. After a short while I actually convinced myself that I could go farther. I wasn’t completely dead. The rest of the day, yes I was tired, but I wasn’t nearly as sore as I typically am after a road marathon. The next day I had very little soreness. The second day after the race I had a bit more soreness in my legs and shoulders, but still not as much as I expected. Then, after that, I was fine. I had no long-lasting injuries and within a week I was back to running as normal, feeling better than I had in months. Rested even.

Fuego y Agua

After reflecting on the race for a couple weeks a few things are clear that I could have done differently.

  • The frequent injuries prior to the race and the six week taper were a problem. I didn’t have the base fitness to race that far.
  • I should have done more hill work. I did run hills, but nothing in the ballpark of the Maderas climb.
  • I should have started slower. Even though I felt great for the first 20 miles, I just didn’t have enough left in the tank for the climb.
  • I should have taken more electrolyte pills. Every 30 minutes just wasn’t enough for the amount of sweat I produced.
  • I should have started with a less-than-full hydration pack and filled up at the aid stations rather than carry all that weight for the entire race and only fill up at the last aid station. The day after the race my shoulders were more sore than my legs.
  • I probably should have climbed without the trekking poles. They helped me mentally, but I’m not sure they helped me physically, and they got in the way a lot.

Anyway, we’re already thinking about the trip next year. The race was a very unique adventure, and it was incredibly well organized. I got the sense that pretty much all the other runners had similarly great experiences. This race is going to explode in popularity. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reached their 100 participant-per-race cap as soon as next year.

February 2011

Photo of the Day

February 2011 Photo of the Day


Winter sunset

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 13.54 Mile 3 4.51333 Mile
February 33.47 Mile 7 4.78143 Mile
Total 47.01 Mile 10 4.701 Mile

Running 2011-02


Well, so much for that.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 35.32 Mile 4 8.83 Mile
February 0 0 0
Total 35.32 Mile 4 8.83 Mile

Cycling 2011-02


Cue the theme music and... strut

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 56.9 Mile 16 3.55625 Mile
February 44. Mile 13 3.38462 Mile
Total 100.9 Mile 29 3.47931 Mile

Walking 2011-02

January 2011

Photo of the Day

January 2011 Photo of the Day

I’m still going with the third year of my Photo of the Day project. I’ve been so busy lately that the quality of the photos has declined significantly (often just taking a photo of whatever I happen to see when the clock strikes 10 pm). I’d love to be able to devote more time to this (and a dozen other neglected projects).


Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 13.54 Mile 3 4.51333 Mile
Total 13.54 Mile 3 4.51333 Mile

I recently realized I now have over nine years of training data logged, so I might as well plot some historical trends. Here is monthly running mileage for the past nine years.


See if you can spot the injuries. The good news is my knee is slowly getting better and I was able to do a little bit of running in January.



I climbed onto the trainer a few times in January, hoping I could spin the pedals. Each time my knee would be pretty sore for a few days.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 23 Mile 3 7.66667 Mile
Total 23 Mile 3 7.66667 Mile



Walking at the Science Center

While cycling is still a problem and running is partially problematic, my knee doesn’t mind walking at all. Mostly I just walked Will to daycare a few times per week.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 51.1 Mile 14 3.65 Mile
Total 51.1 Mile 14 3.65 Mile


Cross Country Skiing


We had a few days of snow and a few days when my knee felt up to it, but really only one day where both of those conditions were satisfied.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 2.92 Mile 1 2.92 Mile
Total 2.92 Mile 1 2.92 Mile


December 2010

I’ll be honest, December kind of sucked. Or at least I thought December sucked, but that was before January. The combination of physical injury/pain with stress from work and holidays made for a rough beginning of the month. What happened at the end of the month (which I’m not going to get into) made all that pale in comparison.

Photo of the Day

For the first, second, and third time in over two years I missed a day taking photos. I’m trying to get my act together. I don’t quite have the same joy for this project I once did. I’d like to regain that.


December didn’t exactly go as I’d hoped. My knee problems made running difficult and I basically had to stop until my knee gets better.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 109.05 Mile 10 10.905 Mile
February 76.18 Mile 8 9.5225 Mile
March 84.86 Mile 10 8.486 Mile
April 83.15 Mile 9 9.23889 Mile
May 57.95 Mile 7 8.27857 Mile
June 17.98 Mile 3 5.99333 Mile
July 54.62 Mile 8 6.8275 Mile
August 65.78 Mile 9 7.30889 Mile
September 107.4 Mile 13 8.26154 Mile
October 144.087 Mile 17 8.47573 Mile
November 131.57 Mile 15 8.77133 Mile
December 10.8 Mile 3 3.6 Mile
Total 943.427 Mile 112 8.42346 Mile


Cycling made my knee hurt even worse than running. I ended the year with roughly half the miles I would have hoped.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 166.25 Mile 20 8.3125 Mile
February 140.67 Mile 12 11.7225 Mile
March 508.83 Mile 18 28.2683 Mile
April 318.98 Mile 13 24.5369 Mile
May 365.89 Mile 20 18.2945 Mile
June 447.97 Mile 22 20.3623 Mile
July 390.59 Mile 19 20.5574 Mile
August 223. Mile 15 14.8667 Mile
September 146.5 Mile 17 8.61765 Mile
October 303.29 Mile 19 15.9626 Mile
November 128.21 Mile 14 9.15786 Mile
December 5.6 Mile 2 2.8 Mile
Total 3145.78 Mile 191 16.4701 Mile


I began walking a little more later in the month, as it wasn’t as hard on my knee as either running or cycling. Working from home, having no disposable income, and knowing practically nobody in area, my daily trips taking Will to and from daycare are often the only time I leave the house. Spending some time outside walking the 3.6 miles round trip seems to be preventing craziness from setting in. On the other hand, how would I know?

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 37.26 Mile 11 3.38727 Mile
February 51.45 Mile 16 3.21563 Mile
March 34.7 Mile 10 3.47 Mile
April 44.35 Mile 11 4.03182 Mile
May 48.75 Mile 14 3.48214 Mile
June 64.2 Mile 16 4.0125 Mile
July 56.3 Mile 15 3.75333 Mile
August 56.75 Mile 16 3.54688 Mile
September 28.84 Mile 7 4.12 Mile
October 32.1 Mile 12 2.675 Mile
November 15.9 Mile 4 3.975 Mile
December 20.4 Mile 8 2.55 Mile
Total 491. Mile 140 3.50714 Mile

I would walk 500 miles…

Damn squirrels

Before we moved into our new house we saw evidence of animal (probably squirrel) activity in the attic. A condition of the sale was that the hole in the soffit where they were getting in be patched and some damaged ductwork be replaced. Not long after we moved in I noticed many strange sounds in the house during the day while I was alone at home working. I assumed/hoped the critters I was hearing were on the roof instead of in the attic. This went on for some time. The noises became stranger and stranger and louder and louder. I was fairly certain something was in the attic, but I didn’t know what, and part of me didn’t really want to find out.

We have a pest control place that has been taking care of spiders, mice, etc. so we asked them to come take a look. Squirrels. They were in there when the guy came out. It would be $450 to remove them and patch the holes where they were getting in. This isn’t unreasonable, but it’s really more than we can afford at the moment. I reluctantly took it upon myself to attempt to remove them. The first time I climbed up into the attic I saw two squirrels in different places. One of them I even pinned up against the wall with a board. I could have partially ended the infestation right then and there, but I didn’t have it in me to go through with it so I let the little bugger go.

The next step was to get a trap at Home Depot. I baited it with bread and peanut butter, as several people recommended online. The bread was stale and the peanut butter was organic. It was all we had. A few hours later I checked on the trap and it had been tripped, but the bait was still there and there was no squirrel inside. I reset the trap. A few hours later I checked and the bait was gone and the trap hadn’t been tripped. I guess it needed some fine tuning. I tried again the next day with fresh (stale) bread and (organic) peanut butter. This time the bait was gone once again and the trap was not triggered. Grrr. I could just hear the jokes about the squirrels outsmarting me.

After a brief hiatus for Thanksgiving travels I tried again today, this time using (organic) sunflower butter with the same old stale bread. Bingo. Within a couple hours I had one of the squirrels trapped. It was freaking out. I brought the cage outside while I waited for Melissa to come home so we could take it somewhere. I put the cage inside a rubber tub A) to doubly-ensure the rodent didn’t escape in the car and B) to try to calm it down a little, both of which were successful. We drove several miles to a park on the other side of town to release it. Adding insult to injury the damn thing urinated and defecated all over the inside of my rubber tub. As the gate opened it took off like a bat out of hell. Hopefully, we’ll never see it again.

Scared shitless

Now, I still have at least one other squirrel to catch. I hope that’s the last one, though I suppose there could be others. I wonder how much noise I’ll hear tomorrow while I work…