Errandonnee Finishers Announced!

Surly LHT in springtime

Welcome to springtime, dear readers. At least, I hope spring has truly arrived. The flowers believe it’s here so that’s nice. Achoo!

Finally, the homologation has been completed (with a minimum of side effects) and it’s time to announce the Errandonnee finishers.

In 2014, 64 people completed the Errandonnee. Of these, 32 were women and 32 men. A 50/50 split!

Combined, 4,071′ish miles were logged in the accomplishment of various errands, which averages out to more than 63 miles per person over the 12′ish days of the Errandonnee.

Great job, everyone! More information about this year’s Errandonnee to come. For now I leave it at that.

Errandonnee patch

All finishers will receive an Errandonnee patch that can be ironed, sewn, or Shoe-Goo’d (in a well-ventilated area) onto many different things, including a saddle bag or pannier.

2014 Errandonnee Finishers

  1. Adam “Froggie” F. Norfolk Virginia
  2. Aimee M. Longmont, Colorado
  3. Amee C. Old Lyme Connecticut
  4. anniebikes. Burlington Vermont
  5. Astrid B. Lynnwood, Washington
  6. Becca C. Calgary, Alberta  Canada
  7. Beth K. Columbia, Missouri
  8. Bikesnick. McLean, Virginia
  9. Bill A. Witchita, Kansas
  10. Bill A., the ultimate coffeeneur. Beaverton, Oregon
  11. Brad S. Bakersfield, California
  12. Brommie S. West Chester Pennsylania
  13. Cathy L. New York, New York
  14. Charlie T. Arlington Virginia
  15. Chris G. Washington, D.C.
  16. Colleen S. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  17. Corbi B. Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
  18. Crystal B. Goleta, California
  19. Dani M. Washington, D.C.
  20. Darin G. Duluth, Minnesota
  21. David H. Kenmore, New York
  22. Debiguity D. Arlington, Virginia
  23. Ed Felkerino. Washington, D.C.
  24. Emily O’B. Medford, Massachusetts
  25. Enid K. Arlington, Virginia
  26. Eric P. (who named this challenge!) Takoma Park, Maryland
  27. Jeff G. Alexandria, Virginia
  28. Jess H. Worcestor, Massachusetts
  29. Jessie K. Portland, Oregon
  30. Jim B. Estes Park, Colorado
  31. Joan O. Arlington, Virginia
  32. Joe F. and the Instagrammed Errandonnee. Washington, D.C.
  33. Rootchopper! (exclamation optional) Alexandria, Virginia
  34. John R. Washington, D.C.
  35. Jonathon B. Suffolk, United Kingdom
  36. Jonathon P. Baltimore, Maryland
  37. mmmmbike! San Francisco, California
  38. Keith in Edmonton, Alberta Canada
  39. Kirstin “Ultrarunnergirl” C. Washington, D.C.
  40. Lena “Joyful Cyclist” V. Falls Church, Virginia
  41. Leslie T. Arlington, Virginia
  42. Lisa M. Takoma Park, Maryland
  43. Lisa “Rambling Rider.” Hyattsville, Maryland
  44. Lynne F. Portland, Oregon
  45. Madi “Family Ride” C. Seattle, Washington
  46. Nate N. Sioux Center, Iowa!
  47. Randy in Witchita, Kansas
  48. Rebecca C. Seattle, Washington
  49. Rebecca “Velovoice.” Bedfordhire, United Kingdom
  50. Ricky “Bike Every Day.” Silver Spring, Maryland
  51. Robert in Vienna, Virginia
  52. Sally “Town Mouse” H. Dumfries, Scotland!
  53. Sally H. Creswell, Oregon
  54. Sara S. Denver Colorado
  55. americancyclo“. Falls Church, Virginia
  56. Shep B. Arlington, Virginia
  57. Shoji. Arlington, the one in Massachusetts
  58. sprite. She did it for Rudi. Keep on healing, buddy! Washington, D.C.
  59. Ted G. Medway, Massachusetts
  60. Jimmy Phoenix. Manchester, England
  61. Tom H. Billings, Montana
  62. Vance R. Greensboro, North Carolina
  63. Vannevar. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  64. Vincent Z. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Congratulations to all finishers!

Note: If you think should be on this list, but are not, please send me a note via the “Contact” tab. Also, if there is an issue with how your name appears on this list, please let me know about that as well so that I may correct it.


Errandonnee Rewind: @retrotwenty in Medway, Massachusetts

Before I announce the ultimate list of errandonneurs, I’m featuring @RetroTwenty‘s (Ted) excellent guest post of his Errandonnee. @RetroTwenty is a rider out of Massachusetts, a state with four Errandonnee finishers (good job, Massachusetts!).

As you will see in his post, Ted is fairly adept at securing bike parking, no matter where he might be. Here is his story:

I finally completed one of your challenges! I first heard of your blog during last year’s Errandonnee, which I tried but failed. I had the mileage, but not the number of errands – but I had fun, and I was hooked on both the challenges, and your blog.

Last fall, I made another attempt with Coffeeneuring, but again fell short of the mark. In the end, I was relying on family members to come along, and we just couldn’t make it work.

Errandonnee 1: RetroTwenty

This year, I was waiting for the Errandonnee, and was pumped when you announced it– until I saw the dates and the weather and everything else that was hitting my life at the same time.

However, I was undeterred. I figured the worst that would happen is I would have some fun while falling short again!

Errandonnee 2: RetroTwenty

The first weekend went well– 3 errands, 18 miles. A fine ride with my daughter for coffee as well as a grocery run and a haircut, all on my trusty Phillips 3-speed. I was off to a good start!

RetroTwenty: Errandonnee 3

I hoped to hit a few more errands during the week, including perhaps a ride to work, but it was not meant to be. I live and work in two of the outer suburbs of Boston, and my route between the two can be treacherous to bike in good weather, with narrow winding roads and oversized SUVs!

Add snow banks and ice, the need for a car to get to client sites some days, and a nervous spouse, and I decided it would be better to drive on the few days that I could have considered a ride. Thankfully, this will change with spring’s arrival, but not soon enough for the challenge.

RetroTwenty: Errandonnee 4

The second weekend, I got back on the bike– this time my fixed-gear– and cranked out 4 more errands: trips to the bike shop, grocery store, pharmacy, and the “library without walls.”

Errandonnee 5: RetroTwenty

Again, loads of fun, some nice rides in gorgeous weather, but I was still five rides short…and time was running out.

Errandonnee 6: RetroTwenty

I looked at my schedule, and realized I had one last chance. I would be working in the office on the 18th, and could get five errands in one ride if I played my cards right.

Errandonnee 7: RetroTwenty

I loaded up my folding bike, an ancient Raleigh Twenty, and brought it to work with me. At lunch time I saddled up and went to the bike shop, the pet store, a local restaurant for lunch, Orange Leaf for dessert, and Starbucks for – no, not coffee – cake pops to give to a coworker as a birthday gift.

Errandonnee 8: RetroTwenty

Errandonnee 9: RetroTwenty

Errandonnee 10: RetroTwenty

I’m hoping you’ll allow that one as a “store that is not a grocery store” or perhaps as a wild card, because otherwise, I already used coffee/dessert twice.

Errandonnee 11: RetroTwenty

THANK YOU for coming up with these challenges! My family thinks I’m a little nuts, but they are a nice way to challenge me to ride more, and for more than just exercise.

Errandonnee 12: RetroTwenty

I love to ride my bikes, and having a particular purpose to the ride is a nice extra. This was just what I needed to get me out on the road after a long, slippery winter.

So glad you crossed the Errandonnee finish line, Ted, and hope to see you in the fall for Coffeeneuring!

Errandonnee Premium Announced!

Errandonnee patch

Congratulations to all who successfully completed the 2014 Errandonnee! I am still in the midst of tallying the final number of participants, but it currently stands at just over 55.

If you sent in your Errandonnee stuff and I did not respond to you by email, that means I did not receive your submission. Please resend it to gersemalina “at” gmail “dot” com. Okay? Okay.

The Errandonnee is about riding 12 errands in 12′ish days, and sometimes finding a loophole to get everything done. It’s just like interpreting regulations and policy :).

The group of people who tend to do Chasing Mailboxes challenges tend to not take things too literally and don’t mind pressing the boundaries of the rules on occasion.

Ultrarunnergirl modeling the Errandonnee patch

Ultrarunnergirl modeling the Errandonnee patch

I love the creativity that comes with this challenge. Thank you for your posts, flickr photos, Instagramming, blog posts, and tweets of your various errands. Who knew errands could be so interesting?

All finishers will receive an Errandonnee patch that looks like the one pictured. To give you an idea of the patch’s scale, above is a photo of #BikeDC‘s own Ultrarunnergirl modeling it for you.

I hope to announce the winners by Friday so I best get busy homologating Errandonnee results!

Giveaway: Apres Velo T-Shirt designed by Just Eleanor

Apres Velo t-shirt designed by Eleanor  Dalkner.

Apres Velo t-shirt designed by Just Eleanor.

Way back when Felkerino and I attended the Philadelphia Bike Expo, I purchased an Après Velo t-shirt featuring Tour de France imagery.

The design on the shirt was created by Just Eleanor. Eleanor had a booth at the expo and was selling both t-shirts and posters.

Front of the t-shirt. Sorry for the wrinkles, but I carried it away from the expo rolled up in my pannier.

Front of the t-shirt. Sorry for the wrinkles, but I carried it away from the expo rolled up in my pannier.

Her designs appealed to me so I picked up one of her shirts. Unfortunately for me, the one I purchased has never been worn because it does not fit. My loss is your gain, readers, because I’m giving it away.

This short-sleeve t-shirt is a women’s size large and fits like a true women’s size large, which I’m glad about because I really can’t stand those women’s t-shirts sized as large and then you try them on and wonder if a 10-year-old could even fit into it. I digress…

Apres Velo shirt, back.

Apres Velo shirt, back side.

The color is marketed as oatmeal and black. It’s not bright white, not ivory. Oatmeal.

A small decorative pocket embroidered with “Après Velo” adorns the front. As you can see in the photo, the back of t-shirt features the phrase “Après Velo Cycling Team” on the top portion. Sleeves and back of the shirt are black.

To conclude:

Size: Women’s Large (true to size)
Color: Oatmeal/Black
Design: Tour de France design by Just Eleanor.

Interested in this t-shirt? Let me know in the comments of this post by March 31, 2014, and I’ll randomly select a winner.

A photo of my sister's cat, Ethel. Just because.

A photo of my sister’s cat, Ethel. Just because.

How do random drawings work in giveaways I’ve done through this blog? After the giveaway deadline, I take all commenters’ names, write them on a piece of paper, put them in a hat, and Felkerino closes his eyes, reaches his hand into the name cap, and picks out one name. Winner is then contacted with the email he or she used when inputting their comment. Good luck!

On Naming Your Bike: The Baby Post of Bike Names

One of the posts people read frequently on this blog is Say My (Bike’s) Name: On Naming Your Bike, in which I described my  tandem partner’s affinity for naming bikes and my own tendency not to do so.

Bike collage

That bike naming post received great comments about people’s processes for naming bikes as well as their bikes’ names. I liked them so much that I thought they deserved their own post, rather than being an addendum to my original remarks.

Below you will find the “Baby Post of Bike Names,” a first attempt at capturing the bike names shared on Chasing Mailboxes. Thanks to all contributors.

Enjoy, and if you have a name to add please do so in the comments. I will update the post accordingly.

By the way, the name The Big Cat stuck so our Co-Motion Java Tandem is frequently referred to as such. Meow? Rawr!

Baby Post of Bike Names

Amelia — Cannondale Quick 3. Named after Amelia Earhart, she flies far and fast. @astridbear

Archie, short for Archaeopteryx –  Blue 1974 Raleigh Professional set up as a fixed gear. Because I used that as my animal totem in the Furnace Creek 508 years ago, and somehow that became the bike’s name. Emily O’B

Audrey – Mixte named after Audrey Hepburn because she is a pretty little mixte that I ride to work or to the coffee shop/pub in my street attire/makeup. She even has a woven basket. @Vic_toria

Baby – Circe Helios Duo tandem. @velovoice

Battleship Stupid – Surly Big Dummy @I_am_Dirt

The Beast – Salsa Mukluk fatbike. It’s big and likes to roll over things. Christopher T.

The Beast – Specialized Crossroads Sport (very heavy)
. Laura

Betty – Electra Cruiser. Because that’s the name she comes with (it’s model). @girlonabikedc

Big Blue – Blue Raleigh Grand Prix: Big Blue. Rootchopper

Big Nellie – Tour Easy Recumbent. So named because I yelled “Whoa Nellie!!” as I passed 45 miles per hour fully loaded on Big Savage Mountain. Rootchopper

Birte – Koga  Named after the person who signed off on the QC tag checklist…but I just call it, My Traveller. @mujozen

Blackie – 
Black Trek 1200. Rootchopper

Bluey – Jamis commuter. @jerdlngr

Blue – Jamis. Her name is Blue because, well, she’s BLUE. pencilfox

Bridget – 2010 Surly Cross Check. @velovoice

Casper the Little White Moulton – Moulton. Judith S.

Clover – Surly Disc Trucker, dark green. Named after one of the workhorses in Animal Farm for color, dependability and ability to haul lots of stuff. Sally H.

Demon - 2010 cannondale F5. robyn

Doris – Specialized mixte. Named after the BMW satNav system, Drive On Roads Intelligent System. Take the bike rather than the car, any day. LisaEmms

My Dumpster Bike – rando/commute bike. Because that’s where my wife found it and insisted I go dumpster-diving to get it. Andy

Electric Dream Machine – Felt ZW5. EDM for short. Laura

Esmeralda – Surly Long Haul Trucker. Iron Rider

Esmeralda – Brompton. @MrTinDC

Esmerelda – 2010 Raleigh Venture 3.0. The 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0. James R.

Essie – Raleigh SC30. James R.

The Fixie – Raleigh Super Course. An admittedly unoriginal name that reflects its conversion. MT Cyclist

Fleur – Linus Dutchi @seven2seven8

Frankie – Handbuilt frame from tube steel. @josephlrc

Frankie – Red 80s steel frame with lots of replacement parts including crazy mustache bars with black-and-white zebra tape. Named after Frankenstein, but androgynous. Sally H.

Free Spirit – Schwinn Free Spirit. Laura

Giant – Giant Innova. Pronounced: gee-aunt but with more of a French accent to make it sound fancier. Renee Christine

Giddyup - Salsa Vaya. Because it’s light and quick. Christopher T.

Greased Lightning – Jamis Ventura Race. @TurtleDub616

The Great White – Santana Noventa tandem. Named such due to its pearl white color, and also my penchant for singing the Jaws theme as we overtake an unsuspecting half-bike. - pearl white Santana Noventa tandem. Paul

Gregor – a stupidly big bike named for the mountain that rides (Gregor Clegane). TheAirgonaut

Idéefixe – Bianchi San Jose, a fixed-gear. Named as an homage to Idéfix, Astérix’s dog and as a quasi-joke about fixation with bicycles. @ricksva

Ivan – Dahon folder. Tim

Jealousy, the Green Dragon – Lemond Ventoux, repainted British racing green. @josephlrc

Jon Snow – Specialized Allez. He knows he’ll never inherit the title and lands, but he is noble and strong nonetheless and goes off to join the Black Watch, and does an honourable job defending the kingdom. @Vic_toria

Julek – Trek 8000 mountain bike. @seven2seven8

Julius – Peugeot folder, named after its color. “Orange Julius,” get it? MT Cyclist

Kermit – Velo Orange Polyvalent. Because he’s green and has an affinity for swamps. @girlonabikedc

Lady Raincorn – 
Peugeot Versailles (white with rainbow accents)
. Laura

The Lead Sled – Cannondale mountain tandem, charcoal gray in color. Another bike Felkerino succeeded in naming.

Leela – Takara Tribute, 80s steel frame. Smart, sturdy, light purple, one eyed (headlight) so named after the Futurama character. Sally H.

Liesl – 1950s Puch Rugby Sport. @velovoice

Lil Bleu - 2008 cannondale six13. robyn

Little Nellie – Bike Friday New World Tourist. Named after James Bond’s kit helicopter in You Only Live Twice.

Lorelei – 1979 Puch Princess mixte. @velovoice

Lucy – 2012 Brompton custom S8L. @velovoice

Miss Persimmon Pimpernel — Electra Townie. With her deep orange paint, white fenders and rack, and a flower bedecked front basket, she is every inch a lady. @astridbear

Mongo – Surly Big Dummy. Tim

The Mule - Heavy as hell old Specialized Sequoia, a corruption of Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer that only he can lift. Rootchopper

Old Faithful – Specialized Expedition (mountain-y hybrid). Laura

Ole Red - 1995 Cannondale Super V-900. robyn

Old Ironsides – Specialized hybrid. Named to note its substantial weight and steel-like qualities, but in truth rarely use the term. Steve

Pauline – Surly Long Haul Trucker, because the silver screen like smoggy pearl color reminded me of old silent movies like “The Perils of Pauline,” in which the heroine goes on many adventures, as I plan for the bike to do. James R.

Pearl – Cyclepro Mixte. My husband rescued and rebuilt it for me. True love, my commuter! @JenBrenneman

Pig, short for Iron Pig – Novara Randonnee. Originally named for how it handles with a 60 pound load, it’s kept its name (fondly) for the way it got me across the country. Pat L.

Pilot Vanishing Point – Custom Fast Boy Cycles mixte. Named Pilot Vanishing Point (a certain type of fountain pen), after the lugwork. @justshinyorg

Puck – Jamis 26″ mountain bike. Tim

Rachel – 1996 Specialized Rockhopper. James R.

Riley – 2014 custom Enigma Etape.

The Radish – 70s Motobecane 10-speed. @seven2seven8

Resolute Ruby – 2007/2008 Cannondale Quick. The story of how she got her name is here. russtyred

Robin – 2011 Surly Pacer. @velovoice

Rocinante – CCM. This bike somehow made its way south of the border to Washington, Illinois in the late 1970s. Every part was worn out, I eventually added a third wheel to it so I could compete in a high-school tricycle race, and shortly thereafter, I retired it. It was politely exotic and pretty much shot. 16incheswestofpeoria

RocketGirl – Titanium Seven  @LDMay, who also works for NASA)

Rollie – ’75 Raleigh Sprite, the bike that launched my bike-wrenching obsession. MT Cyclist

Rootie – Trek mountain bike, because of its root beer color scheme. MT Cyclist

Ruby – a ruby-red 2010 9:Zero:7 fat bike. Michael L.

Sandy – Bianchi Volpe. @TurtleDub616

Silver Bullet – anodized silver Santana Sovereign. The frame looks like it’s made out of aluminum (Coors) beer cans and it’s fast! MikeC

Speedy - 2007 Cannondale Supersix. robyn

Sweetpea – ANT mixte. Nancy L.S.

Sweetpea – Surly Long Haul Trucker. Because it’s an apt description of her nature and color. @kfront

The Tank – Specialized Sirrus. @WilyMouse

“Taxman Craig” (or simply “Craig”) – Shogun Ninja I bought off Craigslist the very day I received my tax return. Jordan L.

Thorp – Custom road bike (named after Jim Thorpe). Tim

Tiny – Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. Bob T.

Tropical Gail and Storm - 2008 Cannondale road tandem. Captain half is Tropical Gail; stoker half is Storm. robyn

Venture, short for Aventurine – Surly Disc Trucker in matte green. Julie S.

Veronica – 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0. James R.

Violet – Specialized road bike. Because the first road bike I test rode was purple, and the name stuck. Apparently there really are reddish violets.  @jerdlngr

Woody Anne – 2000 Surly Cross Check, named after a bar down on Winnebago Street. Michael L.

Yellow Submarine – Dahon Speed Pro folder, due to an unfortunate episode involving a (surprisingly deep) river, back when I lived on the Isle of Man. @WilyMouse

Zwijn – Schwinn World Tourist. Zwijn is Dutch for hog, sounds like “sfwain.” I’m Dutch by birth, as are most of the people in my corner of Iowa. Plus, the Netherlands is solid bikes from one end to the other, so it works. Nathan

Errandonnee: Final Day!

It all comes down to this. All qualifying Errandonnee trips must be completed today, March 20.

Errandonnee to Chinatown Coffee with Felkerino

Errandonnee to Chinatown Coffee with Felkerino

Will you finish? I’m rooting for you. Thirty-two official finishers so far, from lots of different places.

Don’t forget to email me after you complete your rides and complete your paperwork so I can put you on the finishers list. Write-ups are not due today, but should be sent by March 25.

Coffeeneuring w/ Felkerino

Coffeeneuring w/ Felkerino

Thanks to everyone who has made the Errandonnee such a creative and dynamic challenge.

Delayed Post-Marathon Satisfaction

Marathon medal
During and even after running the D.C. Rock ‘n Roll Marathon on Saturday, I felt pretty glum. Frustrated that I had not run faster despite not setting a time goal. Mad at myself for lingering in a low point for five miles during the event. Disappointment despite finishing without injury. 
I’m not used to those feelings during an event, and can only recall my first marathon (Chicago, 2002) being a similar struggle. Usually, running a marathon means a short low point (say a mile or two), and a majority of the miles and immediate aftermath are a rush of gratitude and elation. Two or three days later I tend to dip into a funk that lasts for a few days and then I even out into my old self (whoever that is).
This particular time the opposite is occurring. I spent part of the run and most of the two days following it feeling funky. Yesterday and today I’ve been basking in the post-marathon glow. I feel great. My body is recovering nicely. I’m proud of my accomplishment and not down on myself like I was. It’s so weird how a person can go through so many different ways of perceiving an experience. 
I reviewed the marathon results this week, noting that 16,578 people completed the half-marathon and 2,730 ran the full. What a vast difference in participation rates! 2,730 people is still a big number, but compared to those who ran the half it is tiny. I still think having comparatively few runners remain in the second half of the event contributed to my mental state in the second 13.1 miles.
I also took another look at where I finished relative to the rest of the course. Overall, I placed in the latter half of runners, and was smack in the middle of all the women finishers. My time of 4:28:42, while not fast, was a consistent time for me and a personal best on this course at exactly eight minutes faster than my previous best. 
It’s funny how my post-marathon feelings have been so reversed this go-round. I dislike the dips that come with events like this, but I am really glad that the post-marathon satisfaction arrived, even if it might be too late to wear my finisher’s medal around the office. 

What Kind of Person Rides a Surly Long Haul Trucker?

"I heart your bike: " Surly

“I heart your bike: ” Surly

Occasionally I check the statistics page of this blog to find out what searches led people to Chasing Mailboxes.

The most common search terms are for the blog name itself and in a close second “Surly Long Haul Trucker.” Third? “Surly LHT.”

Recently I saw that some people stumbled upon this space via the phrase “What kind of person rides a Surly Long Haul Trucker.”

Indeed. What kind of person does ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker?

I delved into my archives and found at least a partial answer to that question. Lots of people! Touring cyclists, randonneurs, commuters… we really like the Surly LHT.

Me and the Surly on the Mt. Vernon Trail

Me and the Surly on the Mt. Vernon Trail

Surly LHT. Blue Velvet Version

Surly LHT on the commute. Blue Velvet Version

Kristen (in the middle) on a Surly LHT on Adam and Crystal's first day of their cross country tour

Kristen (in the middle) on a Surly LHT out for a bike overnight on Adam and Crystal’s first day of their cross country tour.

Surly Long Haul Trucker!

Surly Long Haul Trucker heading out for a bike tour on the W&OD!

Mike's Truckaccino Surly LHT

Mike’s Truckaccino Surly LHT. Commutes and randonneuring

Surly Bicycles on the W&OD

Surly bicycles on the W&OD. Heading out for a bike touring weekend.

Lane, on the Surly LHT

Lane, on the Surly LHT on a weekend “training” ride

Mike and his Surly on the fleche. I think this is an LHT, but w/ a different fork?

Mike and his Surly on the fleche. I think this is an LHT, but w/ a different fork?

Kirstin on her Surly LHT

Kirstin on her Surly LHT. WABA 50 States Ride


David on a DC Randonneurs Brevet

50 States Ride - Surly LHT

Surly LHT on the WABA 50 States Ride

John and his Surly LHT at the D.C. Randonneurs '12 Populaire

John and his Surly LHT at the DC Randonneurs Glen Echo Populaire


Chris on his Disc Trucker at the Hains Point 100

Jesse's Surly LHT. Sorry I only got it from this angle

Jesse’s Surly LHT at Friday Coffee Club. Sorry I only got it from this angle

Justin and John on Pennsylvania Avenue (Photo by Felkerino)

Justin on the LHT and John with his SOMA on Pennsylvania Avenue, post-Friday Coffee Club, I think (Photo by Felkerino)

Ben and Lane talk Surlys

Ben and Lane talk Surlys.

Felkerino calls the Surly Long Haul Trucker the Schwinn Varsity of our time. Perhaps he’s right.

I really like answering this question “What kind of person rides a Surly LHT.” Do you ride a Surly LHT? How do you use it? Let us know in the comments.

Errandonnee Extension to March 20: Snow Day Bonus Day

Given today’s snowfall in the Washington, D.C., area there will be one additional snow day bonus day to meet the Errandonnee challenge. See? The Errandonnee is just like school.

Even the snowman is mad about winter

Even the snowman is mad about winter

That means all errandonneurs/errandeurs/people who are riding their bikes to complete the Errandonnee have until midnight in their respective Errandonnee time zones on March 20, 2014, to complete all 12 errands. All other rules apply.

Well done to everyone who has already completed the challenge! As of this writing, there were just under 15 official finishers. Please remember to shoot me an email upon your completion of the Errandonnee in order to make sure I receive your submission. 

One last thing– I am considering a slight revamp of the categories for next year so if you have any new Errandonnee categories to suggest please let me know!

D.C. Rock ‘n Roll Marathon: Run Hard, Brunch Harder*

Me at the marathon finish

I generally arrive at the starting line of the D.C. Rock ‘n Roll Marathon with wavering confidence. I love the course, which creatively sews together a scenic 26.2-mile tour through all four quadrants of the city, but spring marathons are generally a challenge for me.

While my idea of a successful run is extremely attainable– complete the course with no lingering pain and a smile on my face– I find winter training more difficult due to limited sunlight and colder days.

This particular event offers both half and full marathon options, and there is a sign at packet pickup stating that marathoners may convert to the half simply by running the shorter distance. It’s that easy.

Given that the half provides marathoners a bailout option, it creates a bit of a personal dilemma when game day arrives and I’m wondering about the adequacy of my training. Doubt and the possibility of stopping halfway creep into my mind.

My body was loose and fresh as I ran the 1.5 miles to the starting area, and for the first half of Saturday’s run I felt great. It was a PERFECT day (still not sure how that happened) and I conserved energy by staying calm and avoiding the urge to surge around others.

Marathoners run most of the first half with those running the shorter distance through Northeast and Northwest, and we then carry on to complete the second 13.1 miles in the Southwest and Southeast quadrants.

In addition, the route passes by my house at mile 16.5. Yes, that’s right. Mile 16.5.

North Capitol

North Capitol

The course’s beginning miles follow roads frequently used on other local events. Constitution Avenue, Memorial Bridge, and Rock Creek Parkway are all part of the greatest hits of D.C. runs.

I most enjoy this marathon when it extends into parts of the city where organizers don’t usually route events. We climb away from Rock Creek up to Calvert Street and enter Adams Morgan, the neighborhood where I first lived when I moved to D.C.

Tromping up Columbia Road and the steady incline along Harvard Street is great fun. It’s super lively and people provide excellent encouragement.

Another highlight of the first half is the section along North Capitol over to H Street in Southeast. These areas have undergone so much change recently; it’s interesting to run by them and see the differences in the neighborhoods.

Halfway around, on East Capitol Street

Halfway around, on East Capitol Street

The time came to make the split for the second half and I knew I was well-conditioned to continue. No bailout on this day. Another favorite segment ensued as I glided down Constitution past the U.S. Capitol.

However, at mile 14 or so I started thinking about how I had finished at the halfway point the year before and wouldn’t it be great if I was off to brunch right this minute instead of still running.

Felkerino, who was riding around to support me, met me and that lifted my spirits (he was the best cheering section a person could wish for throughout the event).

I put my negative thoughts aside for the moment and continued through the 9th Street Tunnel (I don’t know why I think it’s fun to run through there, but it is), and we runners steadily padded our way along… toward my house.

Felkerino met me again as I passed our complex (as previously noted, mile 16.5. 16.5!). I don’t remember saying this, but I apparently told him, “I am really gutting this out.” It is not characteristic for me to say those kinds of things, but it shows what a mental struggle this run had become.

I really wanted to quit at my house. However, I had told a few people at work that I was running the full marathon and did not want to show up Monday not having met my stated goal. Also, since the only real thing that plagued me at that moment was a bad mood, I was obliged to continue.

Going by the Canadian Embassy. I don't feel so great here, but it's not  Canada's fault.

Going by the Canadian Embassy before the 9th Street Tunnel. I don’t feel so great here, but it’s not Canada’s fault.

We ran by the Waterfront and Ft. McNair, a couple pretty parts of Southwest. We then turned by the salvage yard and the cement plant (not so pretty, in case you’re wondering), over the bridge on South Capitol Street (which is fun in its novelty, but a tough surface for the feet) and on into Southeast. This part of the course is really lovely because you run more than two miles through the open green space in Anacostia Park.

However, it is also a fairly solitary section so you don’t get a lot of energy from spectators. And if you have read any of my previous run reports, you know I love spectators at marathons because they cheer like crazy and tell you all “Good job!” and say that you are awesome.

This solitude gave me plenty of time for reflection. I reflected on how all the half-marathoners were probably out wearing their finisher medals and eating brunch, laughing and talking about how awesome their runs had been. I thought about how they were so smart to stop when they did. What kind of fool was I to think that the full marathon distance was a good idea?

Then I became completely annoyed with myself for having such an extended low point. I asked myself what else I would want to be doing Saturday morning. I could not think of anything. Okay, maybe brunch, but brunch could wait. The day was absolutely perfect. In the 60s, by the late morning. We even had sun! I was running in shorts. What was the problem?

I then evaluated what was really hurting. My calves were tight. Other parts on my body felt tight, but nothing was in an unmanageable state of discomfort. Conclusion? My low point was truly mental.

These ruminations led me to lose count of my mileage and I passed the next mile marker, which read 22 and not 21, as I had thought it would. It was a marathon miracle!

Tandem taxi service

Tandem taxi service

This marathon miracle meant I had 4.2 miles to go. That’s my lunch run. I mentally put myself at the start of my lunch run with my running friends. I pretended that we were all out for a slow meander to the Lincoln Memorial and back, which is the 4.2-mile loop we do almost every day.

At each mile marker that followed I imagined where I would be on my lunch run, and what sorts of things we would be chatting about. It buoyed my spirits and distracted me from the plodding that I was most assuredly doing.

We made our way up the long steady Minnesota Avenue hill, one of my favorite parts of this course. It is the last big challenge of the marathon, you can see the people stretched out in front of you, and you get a good downhill after you crest the top. From that point it’s a flat to downhill jog to the end.

The proximity of the finish further rejuvenated me and I picked up my pace. I could not wait to cross the finish line. I imagined myself sprinting along, but I’m pretty sure it was just a slightly faster plodding that what I had been doing for the last 10 miles. I crossed the finish line in high spirits, with Felkerino cheering me and taking photos.

Marathon time

Obligatory marathon bib and medal shot

Obligatory marathon bib and medal shot

One of the reasons I like the marathon distance is that it almost always involves confronting some sort of mental or physical discomfort. I was disappointed that I had gotten so down for what was an unusually long period for me, but glad that I pushed through.

Felkerino and I rode away on our tandem and I finally got that brunch I’d been hoping for. After running 26.2 miles and just shy of 4 hours and 29 minutes of running through the streets of Washington, D.C., I felt I had truly earned it. I think that second 13.1 miles of running made my food extra tasty, too.

Note: All images in this post, with the exception of the last two, are courtesy of my personal cheering section, Felkerino.

* I originally titled this summary as “Four Quadrants, Many Moods,” but at mile 18 I saw a spectator sign that read “Run Hard, Brunch Harder.” It has stuck in my head and seems a more fitting title for this run.