Monday, June 30, 2008

Sometimes things make sense and sometimes.......

First, I need to correct my post when I said what worries me is getting passed at Afton. I did the math, I will only get passed by very fast runners. I was thinking that all of the 50k'ers would pass me, most would need a 3rd lap to catch me. Yes, solitude, I will get passed by some 25k'ers but that is different you expect that and even then it should be only a handful.

Another correction, I wanted to get a 50 mile week in. Well I need to run today to do so and that ain't going to happen. Life, work, system issues (my system) and some time needed for landscaping take precedence, so I will go to plan B and shoot for 45 miles.

One last random thought and on a totally different subject, I was talking to folks last week at softball about running, they asked what race was I doing next and I said the Afton 50k, they asked how long is a 50k? I said 31 miles and they gave me a funny look and then they asked how long it would take. I said a long time but the cutoff was 8 and I was shooting for 7 hours weather depending. It's safe to say that most of them don't fathom why I run marathons let alone why I am doing another 50k and the fact that I would like to do a 50 completely escapes them. They think that maybe I am a little nuts, my guess is other folks doing Afton get that as well.

They asked how I train for the races and did I train with a group, I said I liked to run alone usually in Lebanon Hills and no I wasn't part of any running groups. I said I don't really like groups or people that much, they laughed as they know I love to talk. I have written many times in my blog about not liking being around people, yet I always enjoy going to races, ok not the crowds but the races. And I think that is the difference, I tolerate the crowds at races because it is during races that I know that I will push myself. That fine line between a perfect day or a total disaster is what I love to ride and I only find it during races. In training, I don't push the line in the same way. To be honest when I was faster it was easier, being slower, that line seems to happen at every race except it is between having an ok day and a disaster, the perfect race for the moment is a thing of the past.

Back to groups, I like talking with individuals about things we have in common, but I get intimidated by and avoid large groups. With regards to running groups, I am a member of the MDRA, but have never worn their colors or joined them at any of their races unless you count running at the dome. My wife and I joined ALARC years back but again I chose to not get involved with them and we have dropped that membership. I used to run occasionally with a buddy but I actually enjoyed our conversations about our runs more than our runs together. It may have been that he was faster but I think it may have been the energy it took for me to carry on a conversation for 3-4 hours.

I signed up for the MN Dead Runner Society (DRS's) email group when I decided to go for Chippewa earlier this year after I came across a link to the group and read what they were all about. If not for Chippewa, I am sure I would not have joined the email list but I knew I needed info to help me and since it was a yahoo group, I figured it was virtual not a real group of people. It's obvious in reading through the emails that the group is a collection of individuals who encourage, participate and race together in addition to sharing info via email. My guess is at Afton I might meet a few of them, some I am sure to recognize from their blogs. I don't see me heading out to run with them in the near future but it would be good to see some friendly faces as our paths will cross at future events. I am hooked on the trail scene, I want to go for a 50 and these folks will help me.

I wonder am I alone in not wanting to run with others, I know that the DRS's get together at Afton occiasionally and at RTA but do they run together or just meet before and after. My guess is both. Surely some are like me and like to run and explore the solitude of themselves.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mileage plan for the week...........

Mileage plan for the week of June 30th
Monday - 5 easy
Tuesday - 5 easy
Wednesday - off (Golf Scramble at work)
Thursday - 5 easy
Friday - Bike 10
Saturday - Afton 50k
Sunday - 4 recovery

Total for the week - 50 miles

If my legs feel dead for the easy days, I may give myself an extra day off but I would like to meet my goal as it would be my first 50 mile week in a long, long time. Easy for some, hard for me......

Five days out and all is............

Afton is just five days away, am I ready, maybe, maybe not, depends on a lot of things.

Do I think I will have a great day, no, will I PR, yes. There are two reasons why I expect to PR, the first reason, I have never run a 50k at Afton so it will be a PR for the course, 2nd reason, my other 50k was Chippewa in the snow and although Afton is a tougher course, I think I should do better without snow.

So as the race approaches should I be nervous, probably, am I no, do I fear a DNF, no unless the weather goes into the mid-90s, I should be able to work my way through it, what does worry me is getting passed by the 25k'ers and then most of the 50k'ers. It is for this reason that I like single loop or point to point courses much more than out and back or multiple loops. It can get bothersome with all of the runners working to get by, at Afton, there are many places where it will be tight but there are a lot of places were it shouldn't be an issue. Who knows maybe the sound of footsteps will help me through some low points.

On a different subject, did I meet my week running goals? Nope but I was close, here is the week in review

Monday - 6 - Lebanon Hills - ok run, felt better than the day before
Wednesday - 6 - Hyland - not good, did do some hills. need to adjust to heat
Thursday - Softball - chose not to run, good choice, softball
Saturday - 6 - River Bottoms - went with Karyn, aborted, she had low blood sugar and my legs were still sore from softball so it worked out fine.
Sunday - 12 - Lebanon Hills - Felt good, not perfect but the legs had some energy for the first time since M2M

Total for the week 30 miles covered in 4 days of running (Goal was 35 miles over 5).

All in all, I got done what I wanted, a final mid distance run ahead of Afton and no additional injuries. I wanted to throw in a speed session but substituted some hills since the legs were dead. I will run a couple of times between now and Saturday to try and ease into Afton.

If the weather turns out good (not too hot - a light rain would be welcome), the body works (knee pain is acceptable) and I avoid stupidity, I will have a nice enjoyable PR. My plan to avoid stupidity is to walk the steep uphills, run the flats and the not so steep hills and to be careful on the steep downhills. I will need to remind myself of my last training run at Afton where I went down Nigel hill hard and then got to experience a 3x increase in pain.

Slow and steady will be my plan and don't be stupid will be my mantra.

As to my prediction of time for Afton, that is indeed a good question that I would normally spend a bit of time on but the reality is I will let the day and the time take care of themselves and simply try to finish with a smile on my face..........

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wynn Davis quote with a minor addendum

Just a quick post on Wynn Davis's quote "You gotta be tough, if you are gonna be stupid". I would add one minor update that Wynn probably doesn't need. Here goes:

"You gotta be tough, if you are gonna be stupid and if you are gonna be stupid then ya better be stubborn".

Ok, it may reflect my view, since I don't think I am tough, stubborn yes. When I head to Afton, I know I will be slow I may finish last but I will do my best to get to the end. Yes it will be a battle, my knees will hurt, my stomach will probably check out, my weight won't help, my training isn't great but I will welcome the battle within. It is this battle that I embrace as I love the struggle, if it was easy, why do it, the fact that I don't know the outcome is why I love it.

Enjoy the challenges of life.............

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Marathon Maniacs - Survey says?

After I finished at M2M, I noticed a runner wearing a black "Marathon Maniacs" shirt talking to another runner. She was telling this runner to join, apparently I didn't look like a good candidate but it did strike my fancy to investigate.

In looking through their web page, it looks like I might be a good candidate but there are a couple of huge problems. The first problem is that it is a group, I am not good at groups, the second problem is the shirt it would attract attention, I don't like attention and the third and final issue it only comes in black or yellow. I don't like yellow and I am not fond of black.

There was a survey that I started to fill out until I thought through the above issues and since I did most of it, I figured I may as well do a quick post with some of the questions I found most interesting, so here are my 13 favorites.

1. How many marathons / ultra marathons have you run?
  • 29/1
2. What was the first race you ever ran? (Any distance)
  • Race for the Rainbow 5k – 1992
3. What was the first marathon you ever ran? What year did you run it? Did you have fun that day?
  • Grandmas – 1993 – yes (and pain :-)
4. How long have you been a runner and why did you start running?
  • Started in late December of 1991 to get out of my in-laws house at Christmas.
5. Of all the races out there in this world, which one would you most like to run?
  • Dances with the Dirt 50 miler in Gnaw Bone, IN - 15 miles from where I grew up
6. What was you most memorable marathon and why?
  • Grandmas 1999, I ran it with a torn meniscus cartilage in my right knee in order to keep my Grandma's streak going
7. What was the furthest you’ve ever traveled for a race?
  • Country Music Marathon - Nashville, TN
8. If personal obligations or finances were not an issue, how many marathons would you run in one year?
  • 17 (1 every 3 weeks)
9. From what race did you receive your favorite finishers medal?
  • Pineline Marathon, after a terrible day I found out I finished 4th in my age group and I received a yellow rail spike (if you didn't guess it, I am pretty sure there were 4 in my age group)
10. Do any of your non-running friends or family members think that you’re crazy for running as much as you do? What are some of their comments to you?
  • Yes, why?, how far?, isn't it bad for your knees?, do you get paid?
11. What is your favorite Post race meal?
  • Sammy's pizza in Duluth with a Lake Superior Ale
12. What was the most challenging race or combination of races you’ve ever done and why?
  • Chippewa Moraine 50k – had to run in snow and it was my first 50k
13. What are your short-term running goals and your long-term running goals??
  • Short term - get to 10 states and a 50 miler
  • Long term - 50 states, 100k and 100 miler

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Post M2M runs

I would like to say that after M2M I hit the training program at full speed but that wouldn't be accurate.

Sunday (6/15)
I ran the day after but only a mile after I rode my bike up to Lebanon Hills (~6 miles), my knees and quads were too tender, so I decided that a mile was enough pain. The good news was 12+ miles on the bike with no pain.

Monday and Tuesday (6/16 - 6/17)
Off on Monday to heal a bit then on Tuesday a soccer game in Rochester so I skipped another day.

Wednesday (6/18)
The girls were going to MOA so I decided to run on the way home from work and as murphy would have it, I got out of work late so I decided to hit Hyland. I can get there from work in around 10 minutes so it's a great place to run in the morning before work or on the way home if I get out late to avoid rush hour. I always park in the lot by the ski jump and then cut through across the train tracks to enter the park. After I got to Hyland there was a group of runners getting ready to go so being my normal anti-social self, I allowed them to get going thinking most would take off around the lake but they all headed into the park so I stalled a bit longer. (You can see how I avoid groups, yet I do love to talk running just not into groups). As I headed into the park, I wanted to run my normal 6 mile loop but they have been working in the park and have blocked off part of the loop. So I have been doing an out and back. I was hoping to feel good and have a quality run. No such luck, the legs felt dead and it was a bit warmer so not a good run but maybe it would help me get heat acclimated.

Thursday thru Saturday off (6/18-6/21)
I took Thursday off to allow an extra day to recover and get the legs back with the plan of running on Friday before we left town for a soccer tournament in Stevens Point. Good idea, poor implementation. I let work issues interfere and just made it home in time on Friday to leave for Stevens Point. Saturday, the girls had three games, we talked about getting a run in between games but I didn't push it, I am sure if I had Karyn would have been up for it. Where is my motivation?

Sunday (6/22)
The team lost it's Sunday morning game so no championship game, for the weekend they won 2 - lost 2. The loss allowed us to get home earlier so I decided to get in a longish run upon our return around 2:30. I got something to eat, filled up the electrolyte bottles and drove up to Lebanon with the idea of getting in 15 miles (~3 hours). Again, good idea, poor implementation. I was not right from the start, a bit light headed and not a lot of energy. I plodded through a couple of hours and then aborted. I did try to walk it off midway through but still nothing, I kept saying to myself take your time, recover, if you ever go longer than a 50k you will have bad spells and you will need to work your way through it. I just didn't feel right so I said to myself I will save the self motivation for a 50 no need to waste a good self talk session. Hopefully next week will be a better mental and physical week and it's nothing more than dead legs from the marathon or the stress of work/life balance or maybe it's adjusting to running in 70 degree weather.

Miles for the week 16 - ouch......

This week (6/23-6/29)
Time to get a good week of running in and hit Afton mentally ready. After all my goal is to make the cutoff not break 6 hours so if I simply get some quality runs in this week I will be set. The only thing that really worries me about Afton is the number of runners who will pass me before I get to the second loop. Oh well, it will probably be more their problem than mine as I will probably not even see them coming until they go by.

Mileage goal for this week - 35
Monday - 5 easy
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - 5 at 10k pace with accelerations
Thursday - 5 easy
Friday - off
Saturday - 15 easy on trails
Sunday - 5 easy

Not a hard week, I want my legs to feel fresher for Afton. Good plan, implementation??????

A different motivation plan - post it, check it, do it..................

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer races & Goals

I am thinking about the races that I have left for the summer and what goals would I like to accomplish yet this year. Actually I am doing this as my quads and knees hurt a bit too much to run today, so I decided to go ahead an post a random thought blog.

Summer races and some modest goals:

  • Afton 50k, make the cutoff of 8 hours, shoot for 7, take care of the knees
  • Turtle Trot Tri - enjoy, find last years time and beat it
  • Haulin Aspen Marathon - finish it, it's at altitude, 12 miles uphill (3500 to 6000) and then 14 miles back done
  • Grizzly Marathon - finish it, 6 days after Haulin Aspen, if recovery goes well go for time, if not enjoy the scenery, it's around 4000-5000 feet
  • Marathon or Ultra??
Do you see my dilemma, if I go for a couple more marathons can I do a 50 miler? If I go for the marathons, I will get to 10 states completed and 30+ marathons behind me. Good progress for my 50 state and 50+ marathon goals and I should be able to eventually get a better time. All I want to do is get back under 5 hours, under 200 lbs and then to continue to get back speed and to finally get to that sub 4 race but first sub 5. Am I asking too much, I think not. When I look at the things I haven't done this year, I have a lot to improve on. I have not followed any training program other than run when I can and sprinkle in some longish runs. I have not pushed myself in training, why not that is a good question, is it fear of realizing just how much speed I have lost, maybe. I am still of the belief it isn't my age but my weight and training and will continue that belief until I either get the weight done or actually train. It's great living in my reality and who knows it may be a real one :-)

With regards to ultras, I think I might enjoy them more then marathons and there are a lot of them within a few hundred miles. Better on the pocketbook but what about my marathon goals?

I was reading another blog today called Minnesota Ramblings written by Steve Grabowski that I found from a link on Steve Quick's Run, Race, Repeat blog, Steve's is one of my favorites, it is so well written.

Anyway, it's enjoyable to find a blog that I haven't read and then to catch up on the thoughts of the blogger. A couple interesting things caught my eye, first the blogger lives in the south metro and is an engineer, probably a mechanical as he refers to Solidworks. He also shares his own ultra calculator spreadsheet, since I was working on one myself yesterday, it was definitely worth a look. He added in calorie burning which I have ignored, mainly because I have gotten sick or queasy at so many events that I don't care to know about fueling. If I ever eat a gu again in a race, I think I would be nuts. But my problem is if I go beyond marathon distances, fueling will be an issue. It might be for marathons too but I am able to work through them. Ok, maybe that is part of my problem leading to my times, since I am running marathons in the times most runners, run a 50k.

Another of his blogs that caught my attention was a post talking about the personalities of ultrarunners, I had read it in Ultrarunner magazine but didn't really think about it then. When I read it in Steve G's blog, it caught my attention. Why because a few weeks back, I had posted about why I run, which led me into why I love trails and darned if I don't describe myself just like the description of the "The Mystic Introvert ". I run alone, will talk with people but prefer not to, race only to be able to confront my inner self and would prefer to race alone which is another reason I liked M2M. If I don't race, I usually don't challenge myself but races force me to do so even to where I will tolerate the crowd. I also have traits of many of the others as well but so do most ultra runners. Does this make me an ultra runner? I relate to this group more than marathoners but I still need to get a 50 miler in to consider myself one.

Ok, back to what should I do this fall? Marathon, Ultra or try to do both? The ultra I have in mind is the Glacier Trail 50. Marathons would depend on family plans as I could do Illinois, Kansas, Michigan or head back home to Indiana.

My current list of possibilites?
September 6th: Superior Trail 50 mile (MN)
- It sounds tough for my first 50
September 21st: Rock Cut 50k (IL)
- Not sure if it still exists but would qualify as a state
September 28th: Quad Cities Marathon (IL)
- Might have family conflict
October 12th: Glacial Trail 50M (WI)
- Lot's of appeal if I go for a 50
October 18th: Big Woods 1/2 (MN)
- Fall back as I love running in Big Woods
Ocotber 19th: Grand Rapids Marathon (MI)
- Other Michigan events interest me more
October 26th: Rock Creek Trail 50k (KS)
- Has some appeal, might happen, great trail choices in Kansas
November 16th: Gobbler Grind Marathon (KS)?
- A road marathon, see previous
December 6th: Tecumseh Trail Marathon (IN)
- Pretty much where I grew up, it will be an event I do, unless I go for Dances with Dirt in Gnaw Bone which offers 50k and 50M and is even closer to where I grew up.

Anyway, it's good to have options and even better to have time to plan and to work the details.

If anyone reads this and has an opinion on any of the above races feel free to drop me a note at or post a comment.

I will be back to running tomorrow (maybe) if I can make/find/take the time, another advantage of having no plan, I always have flexibility as I can't miss a run that wasn't actually planned.......................

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A few pictures from Marathon 2 Marathon

Since we both ran we didn't get a chance to take too many pictures but here are a few.

We saw this aftermath of a tornado that went through just south of Spencer on the way down and Karyn took a picture on the way back. The house was intact, trees, barns and everything else devastated. The rivers we saw in various cities as we traveled to the race were all over their banks and a lot of fields were flooded.

The sign marking your entrance to Marathon, a welcome sight.

Me after the race, a little worse for wear.

Marathon to Marathon

An interesting day at Marathon to Marathon (M2M), not as good as I hoped nor as bad as I thought it might be.

M2M starts in Storm Lake, IA and proceeds to Marathon, IA which is located to the northeast. The marathon and marathon relay both start together at Storm Lake High School at 6:00 am. The 1/2 marathoners get bussed to the halfway point and they start at 7:00 am. After the race, they provide bus service to get you back to your car in Storm Lake.

Karyn and I arrived the night before and were staying at a hotel about 3 blocks from the marathon start. We drove over to the high school and picked up our packets, easy parking, friendly volunteers and no lines. Off to the grocery to pick up a few pre-race items.

Once we got the basics out of the way, I was able to confirm the weather forecast, it was expected to be partly sunny with the temp at the start of 60 and around 78-80 at the time I would finish. Karyn was running the 1/2, which meant I had to carry what I needed and to be self sufficient for the day.

The morning came quickly and I ended up almost getting started on a very bad note, I putzed around the hotel to the point Karyn said shouldn't we be going. I also had my normal pre-race coughing attack, which we joked was exercise anticipation athsma. I have had the same type of coughing attacks before my last 4 long events and have had some issues during the runs, the worse being Fargo. Hopefully not a precursor to the day.

The Start
We arrived about 7 minutes before 6. I have never cut it that close before, I very much appreciated the hotel's location and the fact that there is plenty of parking at the high school. I hurried to load up what I needed and walked quickly to the start line. I dropped my bag into the pick-up that would take the bags to the finish, went to the back of the pack and had about a minute to get ready. Sure enough as I struggled to get things put away they said, please take your hats off for the national anthem. A young man did a great job with the anthem and then the horn sounded and we were off. If you wonder how large this race is think small, from the back of the pack to the start line it took no more than 5 seconds. Yes, my kind of event.

My goal for the day was to finish in around five hours but not to push through the heat and end up getting dehydrated and having recovery issues. The course takes you east out of Storm Lake, you then head north for a mile, back to the east for 3-4, and then north for 3-4, to the east for 4-5 and then straight north for 9+ miles until you turn to the east for a 1/2 mile and then finish out heading north into Marathon. The course is fairly flat and gives you a lot of farmland to take in, with a few gradual uphills and downhills sprinkled in, just enough so that the long straight sections are not a major issue.

Miles 1-2
Within the first half mile it was obvious that I was to be the back of the pack. I looked behind me and there was the ambulance, I thought to myself, oh no I am going to finish in last place. I thought a bit more about it and said, ok, if that is where I am so be it. I was planning on running around 11:30-12 minute miles, not fast but where I am. My right knee was tender from the start, not painful, just kind of ached on every step. I have been dealing with patella tendinitis all year, the pain is more of a mental thing than a physical one, it hurts but not enough that you think you should stop but enough so that you just can't relax and ignore it. I was more worried about my left knee as it had been doing weird things on past runs and it varied from no pain to relative intense pain but it normally didn't occur until around 5+ miles into a run. I was near a couple of runners for the first mile but they moved away from me when I stopped to have a drink. My fuel plans were pretty simple, take in some Clif Crisp Apple Electrolyte every 15 minutes or so, some sport beans and gummi bears as needed and Endurolytes at least 1 every hour, more if the stomach turned south. Again, another goal was to not experience dehydration or more specifically stomach cramps. So I proceeded to zone out and to listen to podcasts.

Miles 3-6
Pretty much uneventful, my main concern was the ambulance and how bright the sun was, the ambulance took off and some clouds covered the sun, yes, I looked behind me and didn't see anyone. I worked to keep myself on pace and to fuel as it was obvious that the day was going to heat up. I also had numerous coughing attacks more of a nuisance than a problem. It was about mile 6 that I passed a runner. I also realized that no other runners had passed me, maybe I had been in last place. I thought to myself, don't let that guy pass me back.

Miles 7-10
No issues, just the normal, early miles of a race. As the miles, went by, I was thinking that maybe my day was going to turn out well and then around mile 10, the cloud that had kept the sun at bay pretty much disappeared and we got to take in the sun. If not for the wind which was at our back or a crosswind it would have been pretty hot. I passed another runner, oh yeah, a two runner buffer.

Miles 11-15
Sunshine with the wind at our back. As I approached mile 12, there were a series of signs along the road about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. They were like the old road side signs, the first of a series would ask a question like, "What do you call munchkins when a house falls on them?", the next sign said "Crunchkins". Turns out there were 38 signs with 15 or so different questions. The farmer who ran the water stop was wearing a Dorothy wig, (a dress, I think) and had bright red boots (for sure), his kids(p were dressed as the tin man and lion. An interesting water stop. Shortly after that stop, I realized I was starting to get pretty hot. I never like the wind at my back. It was around mile 14 when the left knee started bugging me, I have treated it like patella tendinitis and had an extra strap for it. I have found if I wear the strap from the start, the knee bugs me but in a different way. I passed another runner during this stretch and couldn't see any runners behind me.

Miles 16-25
The wind was blowing out of the southwest so it was a nice cross wind pushing you during this stretch. It was interesting as every time the wind was blocked by a farmhouse or trees how much hotter it felt. I was struggling with the heat but not to the point that I couldn't continue to run but more with an understanding that if I pushed the pace I would be in trouble. I had had coughing attacks every few miles and they continues during this stretch, I remember thinking just relax, let the lungs breathe. I ended up slowing down a minute per mile during this stretch, in looking back, I think it was a combination of the heat, my conditioning, the knee pain, fear of cramps or all of them combined. I ran quite a bit on the shoulder of the road to reduce the effect of the pavement and because the road is not closed to cars so it kept me from worrying about them. During this stretch, I passed 3 or so more runners and no one passed me back.

Mile 26 to finish
When you make the turn at mile 25 onto Highway 10, you have a nice 1/4 mile uphill run to the east, you then turn left and head into Marathon. I tried to pick up the pace but didn't have a whole lot left, which I took as I had made the right choices earlier. I finished with a time of approximately 5 hours and 20 minutes and was congratulated by Lois Lind who along with her husband (LeRoy) created this marathon. LeRoy passed away before the first event was held but has a quote that best describes this event, "We may not be world class, but we ARE first class -LeRoy Lind". LeRoy had it right.

Final Thoughts
At the finish, Marathon was celebrating their 125th year so a lot was going on, a band playing Buddy Holly songs, lot's of food, a neat celebration.

Karyn had a good day and finished the half marathon strong. I need to thank her for taking the bus back to Storm Lake and sparing me that long bus ride. The bus ride turned into an adventure of it's own, after she watched many of the runners struggle into the bus, the bus ended up stuck in the mud and everyone had to get off. Like all of Iowa, they had had a lot of rain (our thoughts and prayers are with all of Iowa as they deal with their floods, tornado deaths, injuries and damage). After everyone got back on board, it turned out that she sat next to the winner who decided to do this marathon at the last minute (he finished in around 3:04) and they had a nice discussion.

A final note, this was the first ever marathon where I have not been passed by a single runner, pretty weird but it tells me that I was fairly consistent with my pace and yes that there weren't that many runners.

On to Afton, where the challenge will be to manage the knees on the hills, the expected heat and to finish under the cutoff.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2 days out for M2M

Sometimes you hit the last few days before a marathon and everything feels great and sometimes you feel lousy. When I have felt great leading up to the race, they usually turn out ok but not always. On the other hand when I have felt lousy leading up to a race they usually turn out to be a struggle.

So 2 days ahead of Marathon 2 Marathon, how do I feel, well, lousy describes it well. I feel completely worn out, so either I am getting sick or I am just worn down and a good nights sleep will give me the renewal I need. The forecast is still for sun and mid 80's so it's not going to be a perfect weather day.

What will I do if I still don't feel well tomorrow, good question. Common sense would say abort, do a long run for Afton if I feel better by Sunday. That said, common sense and I seldom get along, so my guess is unless I feel real bad tomorrow, it will be Iowa here we come.

I have a lot of running goals to accomplish over the next 10 years of my life including run 50 states, run a 50 miler, a 100 miler, break 4 hours in a marathon, run Chippewa every year and avoid running injuries. Ok, the last one is probably going to be the hardest to accomplish but the rest are doable. After I get Iowa complete, I will be at 6 states with 2 more marathons (and states) getting done in August. If I can click off two more in the fall, I will make it to 10 states this year. That will leave 40 states over 9 years, so I will need to maintain 4-5 a year. I think the goal is going to be hard not because of the races but the cost. With gas at $4 and after this year most of the close states (within 6-8 hours) all complete, it will take a lot of planning and budgeting to get the rest. Along with the fact that I want to try a 50 miler either this fall or next spring. I think I will need to fine tune my plan. So what to do, well, for the moment I think I will simply focus on the summer events and the fall will take care of itself as will next spring.

So do I think I can get through Iowa, yes, after all it's only 26 miles and I am only about 25-30 pounds over my once normal running weight (ok, 10 years and a couple of knee surgeries back). The way I see it, 5 hours in the Iowa sun will help me lose a pound or two, set me up for the Afton 50k and get the state of Iowa done. If I do need to abort, it won't be the end of the world, it could give my knees a break, my body a break, but I don't think I will. Stay tuned...........

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marathon 2 Marathon in 4 days

Time to get in that last run or two before Marathon 2 Marathon and to think about how to approach the event.

As to strategy, I have none, the goal will be to finish. I am not at the weight or fitness level I would like to be and the weather is trending hot. So the plan will be to start slow and to finish. If the body seems to work I will push it after 15, if it doesn't I will endure the day and enjoy the solitude of a small marathon. So I hope to have a better day than Fargo, that wasn't fun. A run especially a marathon is something that I like to enjoy. It should be savored like a good cup of coffee or an ice cold beer. Sure the last x miles are always an adventure but on a good day you should breeze through the first 15 or so.

The marathon starts at 6:00 am and we will run from Storm Lake, Iowa to Marathon, Iowa. The course looks to have some undulation but nothing too serious. The main problem that I anticipate is the boredom of running long straight roads. The good side, is I have never been there and so I will be able to soak it all in. They have a 1/2 marathon that starts midway at 7 am, a marathon relay that starts at 6 and a 5k that starts at 8 and begins and ends at the finish.

The weather forecast is for sun and highs of 85, low of 62 with 50% humidity so it will probably be in the 70's for most of the race. If nothing else, it should be a test of my electrolyte strategy. So if all goes well I will avoid stomach distress and have no fuel issues. I hope the forecast changes but if not, it will help me for Afton.

So the plan for the week is to run 5-6 at Hyland before work tomorrow, possible run an easy 3-4 on Thursday and then Saturday to cruise through 26.2 and to work on the tan.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Retrospective: Marathons of 1998


10 years ago, I ran three marathons and a handful of 1/2's for the year, one of which is still one of my favorites and I got to enjoy a great moment in college basketball.

My first race of the year was the Winter Carnival, I had an ok day a 1:49:04 1/2 marathon which was a couple minutes slower than the year before but it was a beautiful day with a temp of around 20-25F, not bad for February 7th in Minnesota.

The great moment in basketball was Valpo's upset of Ole Miss on a last second shot by Bryce Drew in the NCAA tourney and making the sweet 16. Why did I enjoy it so much, I went to college at Valpo (Valparaiso University) and I met my wife of now 29 years at Valpo. Valpo is a small university (around 3500 students) located in northwestern Indiana about an hour from Chicago.

To digress for a moment, I need to explain how I ended up at Valpo because without a doubt, my decision to go there probably was one of the most significant decisions of my life. When I decided to go to college (senior year - start of 2nd semester - so much for having a good plan), I knew that I wanted to be an Electrical Engineer and growing up in southern Indiana and being a loyal Indiana University fan I had an issue with going to Purdue University. The issue being, I hated Purdue but even I knew that Purdue had a pretty good engineering school (IU does not have engineering). I had thought about Notre Dame (not Catholic, thought you had to be), Rose Hulman (all male at the time, no appeal and known as a hard school) so I had reluctantly decided on Purdue. I applied, got accepted and was planning on attending when my great Uncle Pat asked if I had looked at Valpo.

First of all, I wasn't sure I had ever heard of Valpo and I thought he meant Vincennes University. When I told him that I wanted to be an engineer, he said Valpo had a program and that I should look at. My dad and I drove up to visit both Purdue and Valpo, on the drive up, my dad tried to get me to keep an open mind on both but was more excited about Valpo. I probably wasn't too excited about either. We drove through Purdue and I didn't even want to stop and to talk to anyone, to my surprise my dad was ok with that, so on to Valpo.

When we got to Valpo we stopped by admissions and they said we should go over and visit the Engineering building as the dean would be there and could explain the program and that after we got done to come back and they would answer any questions. I thought it was pretty cool to get to meet the dean and he made me feel welcome. Valpo 1 - Purdue 0, when we drove around the campus, I liked the look and feel of the campus as it felt more like what I could handle, Purdue was big and spread out and seemed intimidating, Valpo 2 - Purdue 0. So back to the admissions person who asked if we had any questions, I didn't but she went through the admissions process and mentioned the student demographic information. That caught my attention, she said the male/female ratio was Female 61%, Male 39%, for those that don't know, Purdue's ratio is more like Male 65%, Female 35%. That made the decision, Valpo wins.....

Ok one more piece of trivia on the miracle finish for Valpo basketball, how did they get a player like Bryce Drew, a Mr basketball of Indiana?. The answer was the coach, his name was Homer Drew, yes, Bryce's father. Anyway back to running in 1998.

My second race of the year was the New Prague 1/2 marathon and all was going well until around mile 7 when I decided to charge up a hill and pass a few folks, I always love to charge up hills and I usually end up regretting it. As I climbed the hill, I felt a relatively sharp pain across the left hip/pelvis. I remember thinking what muscle do I even have there, I also thought that if this pain doesn't go away I will need to throttle it back. Well, I had been running 8 minute miles and I checked my pace at mile 9 and it was a 9 1/2 minute mile. The problem was I hadn't slowed down yet, yes I had pain but I thought I was still going at my 8 minute pace. I struggled through the remaining 4 miles with the pain and a complete disbelief at my pace. I finished with a disappointing 1:53:59 but I was more shocked when I got to my car. I slid into the seat and when I tried to lift my left leg in, it didn't work. I couldn't lift it, I had to use my hands and pick up my leg. Not good.

Med City
I had signed up for the Rochester's Med City Marathon as a tune up (last long run) before Grandmas. The hip/pelvis thing needed to heal quick as Med City was just two weeks after New Prague. I took a few days off and then tried to give it a go on a 5 miler, it hurt but seemed to work. The next day however, I had some pain walking and decided to wait a few more days. So I kind of decided to take it easy until the marathon. No hard workouts.

I loved the start at Med City as we could see the starting line from where we lined up and it took like 5 seconds to get to the line. The Med City course at the time started and finished at Soldiers park, the course was kind of a looping cloverleaf, very flat and relatively fast course with a lot of turns. My plan was go out easy and not hurt the hip, just a nice easy long run. For the first few miles, all went ok and then it started to rain. Not a light misty kind of rain but a full downpour. I remember thinking this is going to make for a long day and then I thought back to the hot marathons of 97 and I decided that this was better. The rain continued to get harder, I remember at one point I could barely see anyone in front of me. I kept going and I was enjoying it more and more. I changed shoes and my shirt at mile 17, it felt great for a mile or so as my shoes felt like they weighed 5 pounds each. Anyway, the miles continued to click by and I ended up finishing a very wet day with a satisfying 4:30:04. Some hip pain at the end but I was able to walk so I thought I had done a very good last run and could challenge a sub4 at Grandma's if the hip held up.

We got to Duluth and my plan was real simple run a conservative pace for the first 1/2 of the race, get to 15 and then crank it up to the finish. A perfect plan, now I just needed to execute. It was a cool day with a light fog at the start. I went out easy and settled into my pace, the miles floated by, the hip was holding around mile 12 a light rain started and I thought oh no, here we go again. Then I remembered I like running in rain, just relax, hold pace and git it done. I started picking up the pace around mile 15, yes work the plan. I was going to do it. Then as I went through 18 and headed off of Highway 61, I had to go up a relatively short hill. I charged up (yes, I know not a good idea). I got through it and continued until I got to 19 and then the hip basically gave out. I wasn't able to get any push off so I was basically running with 1 leg, the left just got dragged along. I decided to just do my best and not worry about the time. I had held my plan and given myself a shot, what more could I ask. My time ended up at 4:17:40 a little disappointing but all in all a good day.

After Grandma's I took a few weeks off to let the hip recover. My next race was the Rosemount Run for the Gold 4 miler at the end of July. I ran it pushing my youngest daughter in a jogging stroller in 30:13, a respectable time and the good news was that the hip seemed ok.

A couple weeks later, I ran the Gopher to Badger 1/2 to work on some mid distance speed and to test the hip. The race started west of Stillwater at a restaurant called the Gausthaus (good german food) and then skirted Stillwater before we crossed over the river into Wisconsin, finishing on the riverfront in downtown Hudson. The plan was to run a conservative early pace and then pick it up. Around 3 miles into the race, the rain and lightning started, it was raining fairly hard and the lightning was pretty intense. I kept thinking, what should we do? Stop or continue, then I thought about the race officials and what could they do? How could they stop a race with runners probably spread out over 3 or 4 miles, what a nightmare for them. I continued but the rain and the wind that developed slowed me a bit and unfortunately I had hip pain throughout. Not good.

My next race was the Woodbury 1/2, it is a somewhat hilly course and it was a warm day. You guessed it I couldn't hold back and went charging up the hills. Hip re-injured, scheduled the Physical Therapy session. I had four weeks to get it working before TCM.

The PT seemed to help but I still had pain when I ran, so what did I do, I signed up for the Ready to Rock 20 miler, I figured I could use it as my last long run for TCM. The day didn't go well, hip pain, hot and humid for MN, I ended up walking the last 3 miles as I was in pain and dehydrated. Again, not good. A few days off and more PT.

Twin Cities
The day was cool and windy and the plan was to go out easy and just get through the day. The hip hurt throughout and I wore the wrong shoes. I wore my comfortable shoes that had 300+ miles on them versus my newer shoes which had around 100 miles. Why, I am not sure but the worn out shoes seemed to amplify the jolt of each step to my hip. I changed shoes at mile 22 and the pain was slightly less the last 4 miles. My time was a 4:45:04, considering everything it wasn't even that disappointing.

1998 is an interesting year to look back on, I ran a lot of races and probably did too many with the hip injury. I ran 2 races in heavy rain and loved both of them. I learned that you need to take what you get for weather and make the best of it. A positive attitude is everything. I would like to say that I learned that you should take time off when injured but I haven't to this day.

I continued PT on the hip throughout Nov/Dec and it ended up causing issues into 99 but not what you might expect.

So look for the 99 retro and you will see where the hip ultimately took me.............

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shortest run of the year thanks to weather

The fun part of running in Minnesota is the weather we get to experience, today's weather offered another opportunity.

I tried to sneak in a 4 or 5 mile run after work which I ended up cutting off after 2 miles. The reason for cutting it short was the weather, specifically lightning. I had gotten to Lebanon Hills and could see that it might start raining so I decided to loop around Jensen Lake, it's a bit more than two miles so I figured I would shoot for 2 1/2 loops.

Well, I got about as far away from my car as I could on that loop when I saw the first lightning flash (don't you just hate things like that). I love running in the rain but am not overly fond of lightning. I was hoping that I would make it back to the car before the storm hit so I immediately picked up the pace. I also noticed that it was getting kind of dark.

Another flash of lightning, then about 5 seconds later I heard the thunder. Of course I thought about how to tell how close lightning is that 1 mile/sec thing from the the time you see the flash and hear the thunder. I surveyed my situation, surrounded by trees, on a trail next to water with lightning closing in. I went a little faster, another flash, about 3 seconds, speed it up more, still 3/4 of a mile to get to my car. Faster, watch out for the rocks, as they were getting hard to see in the darkening sky, another flash, 2 seconds, rain is starting, 1/2 mile to go.

Faster, watch out for that root, torrential rain, cool, lightning, bad if you are near a lake, around trees and on a water soaked trail. Faster, a very bright flash, 1 second later thunder, ok, if it's my day to get hit then there isn't much I can do about it. Still a 1/4 mile to go, ok say a quick prayer, Lord, if you are taking me today, I am ok with that as dying on a trail would sure beat many other locations but I would really like to make it another day. Another lightning flash, thunder 1 second later but good news it's on the other side of the lake. At least I thought it was good. Another flash, pretty much right next to me, thunder pretty much as I saw the flash. Faster, faster, faster.................

Well, since you are reading this, you know I made it and I had no damage except for getting very wet. I do love running in rain but I now know for sure that I don't like lightning..............

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Afton - the outcome

Well, the plan was good, the day was beautiful, Afton was gorgeous but if it was a contest between me and Afton, Afton won easily.

It was a delight to run around in Afton, the trails weren't too crowded, no bug issues, some shade, some sun, some animal life (deer), no stomach issues, all in all an enjoyable day besides what else I might say in this report

The one thing I did do that I haven't done all year was trip and take the nose dive. It was funny as it was on the bluffs which are fairly flat about 2 miles into the run. I looked ahead at a puddle and then next thing I knew my bottles were flying and I was going down. I had tripped on a root, all of an 1 inch or so high. At the time, I thought I hope this isn't a precursor for the day and the good news was I didn't wipe out again.

When I say the day was beautiful it was except it got up to the mid 70's which I haven't run in for about a year. So it was warm, although I did sweat a bit I have walked away with no heat related issues. I went through 5 bottles (1/2 liter - 16.9 oz) of my electrolyte in 4 hours, two sport beans and 4 endurolyte tablets. I did get a few strange looks as I hobbled by some folks I think because of how wet I looked (was).

Did I say hobble, well in yesterday's post I mentioned two things I planned on doing, the first was take it easy in Afton, the second was don't pound the knees. The two went together and initially I tried to go easy on the downhills and to walk or take my time on the uphills. It all went well until I got to Nigel's hill, I just couldn't help myself and I ran down fairly quickly which a mile or so later, I concluded must've been hard. As that was when my knee pain got to be a bit more than bothersome. My left knee followed it's normal pattern, ok for the first 3 or 4 miles, then some pain then more, put on a strap and it did help. After Nigel hill, I ended up switching my straps as the pain wasn't going away. That helped but I could tell my body was trying to tell me to back off. I decided to listen and aborted the run a 1/2 hour or so early. I had wanted to get a 4-5 hour run in and I ended up stopping just short of 4 hours.

As to mileage, I was trying to run the 25k course plus 5 to 10 but I wandered off course a few times early and a lot later on but I think I probably got in around 17.

So did I learn what I kind of pace/time goal I would shoot for at the 50k in Afton? No, I did not. I walked away thinking of how out of shape I am and am now concerned can I even do Afton in under 8? I think it depends on the knees and the heat. If I get through Marathon 2 Marathon without anything worse happening and use ice a bit more, I should be able to take a crack at Afton. So the plan is run M2M and then see, which pretty much was the plan before Afton.

I walk away with a renewed respect for the hills in Afton and will need to get healthy to make the race in July more enjoyable. The thing I need to remember is that my goal for the year is to get back in running shape and to lose weight. I can't get ahead of myself and worry about time until the weight is reduced.

So today Afton won, on July 5th I expect Afton will probably get me again but I will give it my best shot after all I only need to beat my Chippewa time to get a PR for 50k which means if I make the cut-off I will PR for the distance.


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