Wednesday, October 19, 2011

40 days of beard-growing goodness

Race day is almost here for the Mankato Marathon.

Almost everyone participating in this year's race is probably in the midst of tapering and mentally preparing themselves for the big day. 
I definitely fit into that category as well, though my tapering had to begin early due a nagging Achilles injury. I've had difficulty going on sizable runs without feeling pain in that area, and most of my longer workouts have been confined to eliptical running machines. I'm not particularly thrilled about relying on elipticals, but I know they're good for maintaining the necessary cardiovascular endurance.

In terms of being ready for the race in a cardiovascular sense, I think I'm good to go. As for the nagging Achilles, we'll just have to wait and see.

Of course, tapering isn't the only thing I'm doing this week in regards to race day. As followers of my blog probably know, I also have a poll people can vote on for what type of facial hair I'll be sporting for the half marathon.

The photo at right was taken today to commemorate 40 days of growing a "runners beard." As it stands, the mutton chops option of the poll is winning by a nose, but voters still have until Friday morning to cast a vote.

Personally, I'm kind of hoping for the mustache to win the poll. I've never sported a mustache before and imagine it would an invigorating experience. However, I will adhere to whatever choice my readers.

Hopefully it will make for some interesting race day photos.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

River Ramble photos

I think it's pretty safe to say that the inaugural Mankato River Ramble was an enormous success. Over 1,500 riders participated in it as they were treated to free food, live music and gorgeous river valley scenery throughout the day. Pretty much the only hitch in the plans was the fact that the two waterfalls along the route (Minneopa and Minnemishinona) were almost nonexistent thanks to the recent dry spell of weather.

Kudos to Tom Engstrom and the other organizers who went to great lengths to make sure this was a first-class event with some serious staying power in the area.

I'll write more about the experience when I have more time to collect my thoughts (busy with midterms this week), but for now here's the photos I took while doing the River Ramble. I couldn't figure out how to make a decent gallery of them, so they're just posted directly to the blog:

A few cyclists wait in line at the registration tent at Land of Memories Park.

Bagels, bananas, grapes and other goodies welcomed riders at the starting point of the River Ramble.

Organic Cowboys perform at Land of Memories Park.

Fabulous Fatheads perform at Minneopa Falls.

This River Ramble participant decided to bring a furry companion along for the ride.

The pie makers at the Dam Store in Rapidan were kept busy during the River Ramble. The Rapidan Dam Park was the second stop on the ride and the popular eatery provided free pie to riders throughout the day.

 A few riders enjoy their pie while resting at the Rapidan Dam.

 The Bockfest Duo performs at the Rapidan Dam.

A few River Ramble participants take a break from the ride to check out the Rapidan Dam.

Tandem bikes were a fairly regular sight on the River Ramble.

A father and daughter pedal their way to Lake Crystal on County Road 9 during the River Ramble

A caution sign warns oncoming motorists of the increased cycling traffic.

A group of riders take a break from the River Ramble to watch the Vikings game and have a few adult refreshments at Weggy's Bar & Grill in Lake Crystal.

A youthful River Ramble participant takes a break from the action at Minneopa Falls.

As you can see, my 6-week quest to grow a runners beard is going fairly well. However, my facial hair is mere stubble compared the ZZ Top-esque beard on my left.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tweetin' on the River Ramble

Cycling traffic around town is sure to be busier on Sunday as the inaugural Mankato River Ramble is set to depart from Land of Memories Park at 9 a.m. for a day of live music, river valley scenery, and of course, biking.

The buzz surrounding the first-time group ride has been sizable. According to Mankato Multisport Club, about 1,200 riders have signed up for it so far and that number is likely to be around 1,500 by the time the ride takes place thanks to day-of registrations.

It's not hard to figure out why the inaugural ride has been such a hot ticket. As I've mentioned before, Mankato has a wealth of great bike trails, many of which lead to some of the more picturesque locations in the area (Rapidan Dam, Minneopa Falls and Minnemishinona Falls, to name three). A burgeoning cycling has also emerged in the area thanks to people like Tom Engstrom and the Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Advocates.

And if all of that wasn't enough to draw interest, the ride will also feature some of the area's better live music acts and a few food stops along the way.

As most of my readers can probably guess, I will be among the participants riding in the River Ramble on Sunday. In an effort to keep people updated on how the ride is going, I plan on packing my laptop and posting updates on Twitter throughout the day.

My Twitter feed can be viewed both on the Mankato Free Press website and on the right-hand side of my blog. Click here to view my Twitter account directly.

I'm definitely looking forward to Sunday. It looks like it'll be a fun event.