Sunday, August 31, 2008

50 state quest map.....

I have been looking for a way to display and track my 50 state quest, you know which states are completed, needed or I am considering.

Now, I haven't looked too hard for a US map that I could color in as it wasn't that big of a deal but in reading a blog my problem was solved. The blog is called "Marathon Me" by a guy name Frank who has completed 43 states in his quest for 50. My thanks to him and feel free to take a look at his blog.

If you want to skip his blog and go to the website to create your own map here is the link.

Here is the current state of my quest, yes, I know I have a lot of states to go but I am making progress and the planning and thinking is a lot of fun.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Injury blahs and recovery plans?????

I am sitting here bummed that I am not doing the Superior 50 next weekend, instead I am trying to figure out what I injured in my foot, along with when did I actually hurt it.

I think I am like most runners in that I hate taking time off. I tend to not be very patient and usually come back too quick and then re-injury something else or slow down the healing process. But if I don't get out running, I know I will get cranky, irritable and then frustrated. I have goals to meet and not running doesn't work. If I can walk then I think I should be able to run. This time, I have run only 2 or 3 days in the last two weeks and the odd thing is it doesn't seem that much better but it isn't intensely painful.

The injury is in my left arch area, a bit behind the first metatarsal, it is sensitive when I walk and gets to hurting when I run and occasionally aches when I am sitting. I can get pain when I push in that area, the only problem is when I push on my other foot it hurts in that area too, just not quite as bad. Makes no sense to me, so I am assuming that I strained it on one of the western marathons or I guess I could have done it when I rolled the ankle hiking in Glacier National. Since I don't know for sure, the only prudent thing to do is to ignore it and run on it this weekend, if it's of any consequence I will find out over time. So with that decision behind me and Superior out, what race should I do next?

While I was in church the other evening I mapped out how I could ramp my training up for Glacial Trail 50 (probably not the best place to be planning races). I thought to myself, I should do it it's a perfect ramp, run 3o miles this weekend on either Saturday or Sunday, then 35 a couple weeks later, followed by a 40 miler 2-3 weeks out. Then I stood up and the foot reminded me maybe another week off would be a wiser choice. So Glacial is out, for sure.

Today, I decided that maybe what I should do is just focus on some races in October, I am leaning towards doing Farmdale down in Peoria, it is a 33 mile trail race and there aren't that many other marathon or beyond races in Illinois that I have seen that excite me much. Chicago Marathon - never, me and 30,000+ runners, no, never, Quad Cities - looks ok, but it's always around my daughters birthday and she doesn't think that me running a marathon and her watching is a great way to spend her birthday. There is a new road marathon in Rockford that was held in mid-May that might work except that's the weekend my daughter always has a soccer tournament . I have looked at some of the Illinois trail runs and Farmdale looks as good as McNaughton or Clinton Lake, might not be but it looks ok.

This is the fun part of going for 50 states, you get to look at every state and try to figure out the logistics and I love to do the what if'ing and then the planning. When we were out west Karyn and I talked about all of the other states that I have left and how it will be logistically difficult (meaning expensive) unless I do the alternate weekend thing like I did out west or do back to back runs in a weekend.

You know when I think about what if I did Farmdale on Saturday and then did Grand Rapids on Sunday? I have never tried two races on consecutive days, an interesting thought. Farmdale is on trails, Grand Rapids on pavement, two totally different races both have appeal and if I did it then I would have 10 states completed and I could join the 50 states clubs. Mmm, I may need to give this one a bit more thought.

Ok, what to do then this weekend? I have taken a enough days off so I think I will try and run 10-15 miles tomorrow, if the foot feels no worse then maybe do another 10-15 on Sunday. If I can get those in then the plan for the rest of the week will be to get back into a normal training routine. Then maybe my plan will work...........

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Decision made for Superior........

Sometimes you see what you want to see and then sometimes reality intervenes and forces you to see the truth.

Which leads into confessing that one thing I failed to mention in my Grizzly report was that the next day I did have trouble walking pain free. I somehow torqued my left foot and had moderate pain in my arch. What is moderate pain, well in my case on the 1-10 scale probably a 4 or 5. It hurt enough that I noticed it on every step but not enough that I couldn't deal with it. And since I am confessing I did have moderate foot, knee and hip pain in the Aspen which resulted in me just kind of dragging my left leg for the last 6-8 miles. So for the Grizzly I was happy to only have knee and foot pain and the pain didn't seem too bad as I was too busy dealing with the heat to notice leg pains until the next day when I took my first steps and my foot said good morning and continued to inform me of it's presence all day. I figured I would take a couple of days off and all would be well, you know, normal post marathon aches.

So, yesterday I ran the river bottoms with Karyn (our normal 12.5 mile loop) and the foot hurt again not enough to keep me from getting through it but enough that it took more mental energy than I would want to expend over 50 miles.

So today, I went out with the hope that it was a post marathon first run ache that would last for only the first run and then be gone. The plan was simple, run in Lebanon Hills and if there was no pain or manageable pain then go for Superior.

I convinced myself for the first few miles that I was pain free (yes, there was something not right in my foot but I was using the "it just feels a little torqued" diversion). I then went up a hill and on the way up I stepped on a small root (probably a 1/2" root) and as the foot rolled over it I experienced something that I had to admit to myself was not just a torqued feeling. I of course did the sensible thing and blocked it out. I continued for another mile or so and then hit a section that was a bit rooty and rocky followed by an uphill and then a grassy (think uneven surface) downhill and I had to admit yet again that I had an issue. No problem, it was manageable. I continued for a few more miles and it seemed to not be improving in fact it was getting to be the opposite of improving.

So I had to admit to myself that there was an issue and as I contemplated Superior I had to face my reality which was that the pain seemed to get worse over the length of the run and comes out when the foot is flexed, like going up a hill, stepping on a rock, root, etc.. all the conditions that I would need to deal with at Superior and even worse it hurt as much walking as running. So I had to finally admit the truth, I should not do Superior this year.

I will admit if I had committed to Superior I would go for it in spite of the pain that's how much I want to do it and/or that's how stupid I am when I commit to a race but since my goal when I started the year was working on the 50 states it makes more sense to add another state or two this fall and to wait for Superior until next year. For this year, I will need to live vicariously through the reports of those doing Superior, best of luck to all attempting it.

So after looking through my options, I am thinking that Farmdale (33 miles in Illinois) will be my next long event or if doesn't work out then maybe Rock Creek (50k in Kansas). I don't think it would be wise to push it for Glacier and Grand Rapids doesn't appeal at the moment. It also allows me a bit of time to train (and heal) since both events are in mid/late October. I will have time to work on increasing my speed and reducing my weight further which might even lead to me having a good day. All of my marathons this year have been struggles, actually my 50k's have been easier on me both physically and mentally.

So I will relax for this week, let my foot heal up and then work on a training program for whatever my next race will be......................

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A few vacation pictures........

Our vacation this year was a special one for me, my family allowed me to run two marathons (thank you) and we got to see three national parks that I have wanted to visit for a long time, so here are a few photo glimpses into our 5000 mile adventure.

North Dakota - not as boring as expected.

Yellowstone National Park - a diverse beautiful park

Grand Teton National Park - more impressive than expected

Glacier National Park - awesome
Finishing the Haulin' Aspen

Finished after the Grizzly

Friday, August 22, 2008

Superior decision time???????

Ok, this is the weekend I decide am I going for my first 50 at Superior and if I don't do Superior what am I doing?

So here are my quick thoughts to ponder for the weekend:

Pros of doing Superior
  1. Finished two marathons as final training runs at greater elevation and in heat
  2. Finishing time appears generous with a light
  3. I think I can do it and I want to do it
My pros all make sense to me especially if it's cooler which I gotta believe it will be.

Cons of doing Superior
  1. Didn't have great times in my marathons
  2. Logistic issues for the weekend
  3. Haven't run in the dark and will need to
  4. Not enough real base, no focused hill training, no speed training
  5. No speed
  6. Shoes may be worn out
  7. It is a long way
  8. I haven't run any sections of the trail
  9. Can I still get in?
As to my cons, here are my counter points:
  • Marathon training runs - it's not about time, they were six days apart and it was hot
  • Logistics - Definite potential issue but make up your mind and then see if these are resolvable, they are room, ride and ?
  • Darkness - you have time to work this out
  • Base mileage - True but what is enough - my goal would be to finish
  • Speed - I won't be going fast so it won't matter
  • Shoes - It's on trail you will be ok otherwise get a new pair and work them in fast
  • Long way - yes it is and that's why I want to do it because I don't know if I can
  • Trail familiarity - I did Chippewa with no familiarity and I loved it
  • Entry - Make your decision and try
Ok so between the pros and cons it appears to be a toss up as you can see I am pretty good at rationalizing when I may want to do something even if it's probably not real smart but what are my other options?

Alternates if not doing Superior
  • Glacial Trail 50
October 12 - in Wisconsin - 12 hour cutoff would work but requires 14:24 pace, I would have more time to train but it might not be enough time to get enough training in to meet the time goal. It is the first weekend of MEA so it might work out timing wise.
  • Farmdale 33
October 18 - in Illinois - would add to my 50 state quest, it's a 3 loop course that looks fairly easy but is this the Illinois event I want to do? It is the second weekend of MEA so it might work out timing wise.
  • Grand Rapids Marathon
October 19 in Michigan - would add to my 50 state quest but it's a road marathon, Karyn could run the 1/2 depending on logistics but is this the Michigan event I want to do? Again, it is the second weekend of MEA so it might work out timing wise except it is on a Sunday.
  • Rock Creek 50k
October 25 - in Kansas - would add to my 50 state quest, no real negatives except are there other Kansas events I would rather do? Not MEA weekend but it might work?

  • Wait until next year
Probably not a bad concept, I have run 2 50k's and 4 marathons so my body has tolerated a bit. I could step back and figure out next years goals, commit to a training program and then resume building a base, add in hills and speed workouts but then what would I do this winter?

I think it's time to sit back and make a decision....................

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grizzly Race Report.........

Final comment on the Haulin' Aspen
After the race Karyn convinced me to go ahead and walk into a creek that was within a few yards of the finish and to soak my legs to assist in the recovery. Great idea, but it was the coldest water I have ever felt including Lake Superior. I could only stay in the water for about 30 seconds or so, I tried twice and had to get out both times because it hurt worse then my legs did. Karyn said other runners had done it so she tried it, she agreed with me that the water was so cold it hurt. Who would've thought that water in Oregon would be so cold.

Grizzly Marathon - Choteau, Montana - August 16th, 2008
I had originally thought the Grizzly marathon would be boring compared to the HA but as we drove over from Glacier I noticed that the scenery wasn't as dull as I feared it might be. I had envisioned wide open terrain with nothing to look at. There were some fairly big hills to look at along with many bluffs and buttes as Choteau is located on the backside of the Rocky's or is it the frontside? As a matter of fact it looked real interesting so maybe I would enjoy it more. I had tired of the 14 mile uphill at HA and this course had more ups and downs and none were of the length of that final incline. Actually, my legs had seem to recover fairly quickly, Karyn and I went for a run a couple of days after HA in Spokane on the Centennial bike trail (a 37+ mile trail along side of the Spokane river, a nice path except for the fact that it is all asphalt) and everything seemed good, so who knows maybe I would have a better day after all I had had 6 days to recover.

As we drove into Choteau we proceeded to packet pick-up at the Trading Post. Karyn had signed up for the half-marathon so we would both have a Montana experience. We headed over to the hotel to meet Karyn's brother (Chuck) who had also signed up for the half. He is training for his first marathon in October (Columbus) and has all of the newbie enthusiasm, he is completely following his plan even while on vacation. I used to be that way, maybe I should be a bit more that way, when I think about it. Commit to a plan, follow it, believe in it and make it happen.

After we met up with him we all proceeded to the Baptist church for the spaghetti dinner. A very good dinner considering the small size of the event - around 100 marathoners and 130 half marathoners. It was interesting, as most of the runners we met up with were 50 state'rs or locals which kind of makes sense. After we got back to the hotel, I checked the weather and the course description - maybe that wasn't a good idea, the forecast was for upper 50's at the 6:30 am start working it's way to 93 by mid afternoon. I checked for the 12:00 temp and it said 88, not good as I knew the course had no trees and the forecast also said no clouds, hopefully there would be a breeze, but hey at least I looked for where there would be aid stations this time. At least on lesson learned corrected.

With the 6:30 start we had been told to head out to the start line at 5:15 as it would be crowded getting to the starting area (about 20 miles west of Choteau). As we got out of the car at the start the temp was mild and there wasn't a need for a coat, not good. So the plan for the day was to run an even paced race and shoot for a 12 minute/mile pace with the same HR goal as at the HA - around a 130-135 average. If the heat or hills got to me then I would back off and just focus on finishing as after the race we were driving down to Yellowstone so I needed to be smart.

The first seven miles are on pavement and the remaining miles are run in gravel but what kind of gravel? The course is basically a square loop course with one section that overlaps itself from miles 17-20 with an elevation between 4000 and 4900 and a series of uphills and a few downhill stretches, so not too bad in contrast to HA. The race started and I felt amazingly good, plus great news, the course was marked so I could track my pace, it's amazing how much you take for granted for some courses and what you really appreciate after you don't have it. Through the first 7 miles I was running 11 minute pace, maybe a bit fast but the temp was ok and I felt strong. I again used the 15/1 strategy but knowing the heat was coming, I decided on a S-cap every 45 minutes and I planned to go to one every half hour if needed it and this time I followed the strategy from the start. After seven miles we made a turn onto the gravel and my pace slowed by about 30 seconds or so, oh did I mention that the first 7 miles were downhill, anyway over the next 6 miles we had a series of uphills, some short, some longer most fairly runnable, we even got a bit of shade and a light breeze that felt nice but with the hills I throttled back to the 12 minute pace. As we made the turn at mile 13, I immediately noted that the breeze disappeared, it was at my back and I instantly started overheating. Oh, oh this was not good it was around 9 in the morning and getting hot. I continued to try and hold pace and went through the 15 mile mark at 3 hours, not too bad but I was really starting to struggle with the heat more and more. I said to myself relax, keep picking off runners, slow down as needed, increase the S-caps, don't let the heat get to me mentally. In past hot weather races, I have had some pretty big disasters, one year at TCM, I was severely dehydrated, cramping and stumbled my way to the finish where I started throwing up, I should have gone to the med tent that year but didn't know to ask for help and refused it when it was suggested or offered, I get surly when I am throwing up or feeling like I am going to because I get attention at a time when I have no control and I just don't deal with that well. In all other hot weather events, same result, sick, cramping, throwing up. Not good and definitely something I live in fear over re-experiencing this but since I switched to my Clif shot electrolyte drink and S-caps I hadn't had a major disaster (meaning no throwing up or stomach cramps) and I have completed at least 3 or 4 hot weather events but I haven't really pushed it in any of them. What if I do push it?

So now I viewed that the Grizzly had become a battle of mind versus body. I continued through 17, 18 and struggled through mile 19 which happens to be at the end of the steepest uphill, and marks the end of the out and back stretch. It was during the out and back where I could see the effect of the heat on the other runners. It was getting to them and to me (some of them looked really bad, probably good I couldn't see myself)

I made it to the turn around and I got handed a Grizzly pin by one of the cheerleaders that cheered us up the hill and I thought that maybe If I could get it back together that I would be able to hang onto a decent time considering. After the turn, I felt it, yes it was a breeze, it felt great, my legs started working again on the downhill, good, now get through the next 7 miles. I thought I was going to continue to pick it up all the way to the finish and then I started to tighten up and I was having calf and hip pain. I heard footsteps, no way, I was still moving past everyone (ok so it was just 2 or 3 people). Sure enough I turned at the aid station and a 50 state guy was moving quickly so we stopped together at the aid station, we actually had a small amount of beer (bud light) and then ran together for short period. He said that this would be his 47th state. He continued to push the pace and since the breeze had disappeared and I was heating up again way too fast, I let him go and said ok keep it going it's only 5 1/2 miles or so. About then, my calf started cramping, not a "fall to the ground" cramp but a "if you maintain this pace for 2 more steps you will be falling" down kind of pain. So I made the decision to walk it off, take in more fluid, relax and no I don't think it was the beer.

I tried to run and it tightened, I was thinking I was getting dehydrated but although it was hot there was almost no humidity and I wasn't sweating that much, was that good or bad? Do I take another S-cap, sure it couldn't hurt, I tried to eat something, nope not a good idea, ok walk a bit more. I tried to run, nope not working, too hot, I needed a breeze. I continued to walk my way in thinking that if I pushed it I could still get a time of a 5:40 or so but at what cost so I pretty much made the call that I had done enough and that to try and hobble through it was probably not a great idea. For a PR or to make a cutoff, yes but to save 10 minutes on my time, nope, during this timeframe my HR stayed around 135, earlier in the race my HR had fallen to around 115 during any 1 minute walking break so my body was working to walk, let alone to run.

At mile 25 they had a woman dressed in a Grizzly bear outfit giving you a high 5, mile 25 is the end of a a long gradual uphill climb from mile 20 to 25. Can you imagine standing in the sun for 4 to 5 hours in a Grizzly bear suit to greet runners, man she had to be hot.

I finally picked it up to a hobble run during the last 1/2 to 3/4 mile, mainly because my body was hurting walking, my feet were burning and I wanted to end it. I knew that I had enough fluids to make it. I made it in a time of 5:50:16, not great but I had also completed my second marathon 6 days apart and I really think if the temp would have been 20+ degrees cooler I would have maintained the 5 hour pace so I walked away happy. My HR average was 138 with a peak of 158, not sure what this means exactly for me but I think given time I will make sense of it and it will become useful.

My wife, daughters, Chuck and his family were waiting for me at the finish. As it turned out they had had their own adventures. Chuck and many of the half-marathoners got to see a Grizzly on the course. He said he thought it was a car until it moved and then they all realized what it was. I am not sure what I would have thought if that had been me. Karyn took a fall about a 1/2 mile into the half and scraped up her leg and hand fairly significantly. She said she got a lot of attention going through the aid stations because of the blood but she continued and finished out the race. Great job by both Chuck and Karyn. Afterward, after they cleaned up her scrapes in the ambulance she said she didn't want to run on gravel ever again and I think she may just mean it.

Final thoughts on the Grizzly, it was a great small town race with great support and a fabulous view. It would be nice if the course had trees and single track but they make the best of it and I wouldn't want to see the course change. They had plenty of aid stations which were staffed by the local ranchers, plenty of food and drinks on the course. If you are ever in Montana stop by Choteau for the Grizzly and I guarantee you will be treated with kindness and experience a first class small town event.

Am I ready for Superior, I don't think so but I am still mulling it over. I have done dumber things. I feel fine after the marathons and actually my knees and legs feel good and I think I did what I wanted with the two marathons. I managed the elevation ok, finished them and came away uninjured. Did I gain confidence, not really. I wanted them to go easier and yes, I wanted faster times. So the question may become if I don't do Superior, what am I going to do? I think I will just table any decisions until the weekend and then I will try and figure out what to do next.................

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Haulin' Aspen Race Report................

Vacation is over, bummer, marathons are over, well, I got through them and here is the first of my two reports.

But to understand the marathons you should know a little about our trip so here is a link to our vacation destinations, we went through 7 states, 3 national parks and all in all we drove 5000 miles and spent a lot of time looking at some amazing sites (I will post pictures in the near future but wanted to get my reports out).

Haulin' Aspen Marathon - Bend, Oregon - August 10, 2008
The Haulin' Aspen Marathon was on day 5 of our vacation and we had spent the days up to the marathon, horseback riding, hiking, eating, driving (~2000 miles), probably not my typical taper but I think I can say it probably didn't hurt me too bad.

The race starts in Shevlin Park, it is a delightful park that is located right in the city of Bend. Bend is a mid size city in central Oregon with a population of around 77,000+. It is rated as one of the top towns in the US for bikers (non motorized type) and a pretty good place for trail runners. Shevlin Park provides the gateway to miles and miles of trails some singletrack, some fireroads.

The morning of the race was beautiful, the temp was in the low 50's with a forecast of a high into the lower 80's. Karyn dropped me in Shevlin Park and I walked over to see where I could drop my bag when to my surprise I saw a runner wearing a sweatshirt from St. Cloud State, I couldn't help but stop and ask and sure enough it was our St Cloud State (where my daughter goes to school) and he was a transplanted Minnesotan (small world after all). Karyn found a place to park and made it back to watch the start of the race. My plan for the race was to run it moderately hard as I knew the Grizzly was six days later and these two races would be my final training runs before the Superior 50 (that is if I run Superior :-). My main goal was to gain some confidence on a harder course and to not injure myself. For those that don't remember the race, here is a link to my previous post on it.

The one thing I wanted to try for this race was using a Heart Rate Monitor to track my pace. I had felt that I needed this to keep me working hard but not too hard. I want my speed back and I know I need to push myself harder in my training runs and had hope it would help. I had only gotten the HRM a few days before vacation so I had only been able to try it on a couple of runs. It is a low tech $30 - Timex that tracks time, pace and then gives you your average and peak when you are done. With this and my Ipod Nano/Nike+ kit, I had my poor man's Garmin for $60 (ok, I am ignoring the cost of the Nano). I ran a moderately hard 5 miler in Lebanon Hills and my average HR was 138 with a peak of 154. So I decided to keep my pace around 130-135 for the race.

The race loops within Shevlin park for the first couple of miles partly on pavement and then it turns into dirt, proceeds to fire roads and then back onto singletrack and then back into the park.
My plan for hydration was to carry two 1/2 liter bottles with my Clif Shot Apple Crisp electrolyte with a third bottle in my waste pack. I would drop a bottle at the second aid station and then refill the bottles at the later aid stations switching the one bottle in my hands to break up the monotony of carrying bottles. I had debated using my Camelbak but I thought this would work as it was the way I trained and they had aid stations every few miles .

The race had hit their capacity of 500 runners but it didn't seem too crowded as the start approached, I moved to the back of the pack since I was figuring on a 5:15 to 5:30 marathon, not too fast but doable depending on how I handled the initial elevation of 3600 feet and the climb to 6000 feet over the first 14 miles, I figured the 12 miles back down would be a piece of cake.

The gun went off and all felt really good, my only issue was holding back my pace since I was instantly, pretty much in last place, for many that is a location you can't fathom, for me it is a depressing reality of where I am as a runner. Oh well, the day is gorgeous and I am running in Oregon, a thank you to my family for indulging my marathon aspiration of 50 states. Remember, the goal is to finish and to do no damage. We proceeded through an aid station at around 2.5 miles (I think) and I went on through it since I had what I needed. My time didn't seem right but then I thought maybe I misread the sign.

My plan was to walk 1 minute, every 15 minutes to take in fluids/nutrition. Of course I skipped the first stop as I felt ok, so I stopped a few minutes after the first aid station and took a drink, I timed it to a quick 40-50 foot uphill that left the park. It was about then that I was trying to remember the course information (climbs, aid stations, etc....) probably should have checked the race info packet. Was the first aid station at 2.5, if so how could my time be 35 minutes, where was the second aid station? The course proceeded gradually uphill and I decided I needed to get back to plan, a S-cap on the hour, electrolyte every 15 minutes. We continued uphill and headed from the dirt path onto fire roads, where was the next aid station? Finally it came into sight, I looked at my watch, it said 65 minutes, the sign said 5.1, damn I was way off my goal pace (of around 12 minute miles) except my HR was at 142, what was going on, was it the elevation, was it the taper? Oh well, keep it going and maybe it will get better.

We continued uphill, I was starting to appreciate courses that went up and down versus this course that just went up. Ok, where is the next aid station, there it is. I was still off pace, we continued uphill, on to the next aid station, uphill. I hit what turned out to be the last aid station going uphill but missed the mileage, was it 11 and we climbed to 14. I couldn't remember oh well continue onward, I turned the corner and saw the hill that laid before me. Wow, it was like the main downhill at Buck hill but kept going up. I started out running until the HR hit the upper 150's and then I proceeded to walk, my HR fell into the mid 140's. Another corner, more hill, man this thing keeps going. I did pass a few other runners who were walking, I think I may walk hills fairly well, I just don't run them well. Upward I went, by this time it was getting warmer. Head down, another corner, more up. Man this was getting old. I then looked up and had a fabulous view, I wish I had a camera to catch it. I will admit after seeing Yellowstone and the Grand Teton's it wasn't as scenic but it was pretty cool nonetheless. Finally it seemed to start to level out, my HR fell under 140 so I started running. Where was the aid station, did I take a wrong turn? I went around another bend and I saw people, yes the 14 mile aid station. I remembered to look at the sign, I did need to ask where the course went. They pointed me in the right direction and told me it was all downhill and I smiled and said good.

I started out strong on the downhills and I thought I was doing good until I heard a runner behind me, I couldn't believe the people I passed on the uphill had recovered and caught me, turns out they hadn't it was a volunteer from the aid station. The aid stations were staffed with runners from the Bend cross country team. At mile 5 it was a group of girls dressed in prom dresses, at mile 11 they were dressed as rabbits, I can't remember the other aid stations but none of them seemed that memorable.

I kept going down and I thought to myself were was the next aid station, I was starting to lose it, my legs were drained, my left knee, hip and calf were hurting. Where was I on the course, the only mileage markers were at the aid stations and I had failed to pay attention to where aid stations were.

Finally, I came into the aid station, it said 17 but it had taken way longer than it should've the young men at the aid station said their mileage wasn't right but weren't sure what it was, oh well continue downward, it was starting to get hot, not too bad but noticeable. I was drained, my left leg was not right, I fell into a depressing run/walk routine and made it to the next aid station, the sign said 20 and I thought to myself wow this is a humbling day. I continued downward, the course was ok, nice singletrack, a few rocks to climb over, a few roots, a few mountain bikes. Another advantage of being slow, the course gets opened to non-runners.

Ok it was going to take 6+ hours, deal with it and move on. I kept thinking where was that last aid station, my last bottle was empty, surely I was at mile 23 by now ( I was pretty sure that's where the last aid station was). I kept going, I knew we had to cross back over the creek, when I looked around I thought that this looks like Shevlin park, but I must be losing it as we didn't come into the park from the right direction. A walker up ahead, she said good job, you only have a mile to go. Ok, I had to be back in Shevlin park but not where we had left the park, it seemed like the dirt section of the first 2.5 mile loop. Well, I could woggle my way in a mile no problem (woggle is my term for myself when I am in my death march walk/jog/wobble/run) and I could make it a mile without anymore water. I looked at my watch and it said I was 10 minutes into the final mile, just a few minutes longer and I would be done but if I was in Shevlin, where was the covered bridge that we went through in the first few miles?

Onward, a couple more walkers up ahead, good, they said just a 1/2 mile to go, I looked at my watch 12 minutes, from the first walker, keep going, 10 more minutes passed, I saw the bridge, where was that finish line? Keep going, finally there it is, woggle into the finish, race over, official time 6:00:52. Disappointing but completed. HR average 141, peak 161. Not quite too plan.

I look backwards now and easily see what went wrong the aid stations were supposed to be at miles:

3.3, 6.0, 7.8, 9.6, 11.9, 14.1, 17.0, 20.0, 24 and then the finish.

I thought they were 2.5, 5.1, 7.8, 9.6, 11.2, 14.1, 17 and 20.

I am not even sure now that they were all there as posted. I will look and read what others say to see if I was hallucinating or what, I know for sure that the last aid station wasn't there but regardless of that the bottom line is I went out too fast on the hills/elevation gains and paid a price for it.

Lessons learned, if you don't know the course, read the brochure, write it down and carry it with you so when marathon memory hits you can check. Over plan your hydration and fuel and stick to your plan (meaning HR and Hydration).

Oh well, course completed, no major damage, no confidence gained, onto the Grizzly..............

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Haulin' Aspen quick report and Grizzly note

I made it through the Haulin' Aspen but it took me about a 1/2 hour longer than I expected. I ran with my HRM and kept my rate around 140 which I thought was an aggressive pace which is what I wanted.

The course was comprised of singletrack and fire roads. The first 14 miles were mostly fire roads and were uphill, the hill from mile 12 to 14 was steep, I walked most of it with a HR between 140 and 150. My guess was it was around 10%+ grade, the previous 12 miles were on a grade of 1-4% so they were runnable. The final 12 miles were single track and downhill, I was a bit disappointed as I just didn't quite have it to run hard the last 5 or so miles and kind of went into the normal marathon shuffle. I think the first 14 took more out of me than I had planned.

Support was good although the last aide station was around mile 19-20 so I ran out of water as I thought there was one more stop. When I got done I told my wife that no way was I ready for Superior, of course a day later, I thought maybe I still could do it.

Two days away from the Grizzly and the body seems to have recovered well, we hiked 4 miles in Glacier National and outside of rolling an ankle all seemed well. The weather forecast is low 90's so hopefully the 6 am start will help, I am pretty sure there is no shade on the course.

On a different note, I have to comment on the beauty of the national parks we have visited, Yellowstone was gorgeous (we plan to swing back through it on way home), Grand Teton was awesome and Glacier is awe inspiring. When we get back I will post some pictures.

On to the Grizzly, my goal for the day is to finish and to avoid heat related issues..................

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August Marathons are upon me.........

I wanted to do a quick preview of my upcoming August marathons, the first one is the Haulin' Aspen Marathon, in Bend Oregon and is next Sunday, I can't believe our vacation and this event is almost here. The second marathon is the Grizzly Marathon, in Choteau, MT and it is 6 days later.

I have held off on any decision with regards to Superior until I get through these two marathons but right now I don't think I am physically ready to take on Superior. Mentally maybe, I love challenges and I am quite tempted to take on Superior for my first 50, it will kick me that I am sure but what a great way to go for your first 50 on one of the toughest courses in the midwest.

Anyway back to the Haulin' Aspen, it starts out at around 3500 ft and migrates up to 6000 ft and then back down. The course is a mixture of forest roads, single track, pine needle covered paths and a small section of asphalt path. Here is the elevation chart I got off of

I think this will be a fairly tough day but again I like the thought of the challenge, the neat part outside of the first 14 miles being uphill is the fact that the second half is downhill on single track. So I am thinking negative split, of course my quads could be dead by the second half and it may hurt to go downhill and the altitude may cause me some issues but the reviews are good and they limit the event to 500 runners so I am sure I will enjoy myself. I plan on trying to get through the first 14 as best as I can and if they go well then hammer the final 12, if they go poorly then plan B is to take it all in and save something for the Grizzly but get to the finish for an ice cold Cascade Lake special brew.

The Grizzly excites me less as it sounds like it is mostly on gravel roads around ranches but hey, I have never been to Montana so I expect I will soak in the scenery regardless of pace. The course should be easier than HA but I think I will be in sun for the entire event which could take it's toll if we get a hot day. Here is the course description along with the course map and elevation from the Grizzly website:

Character of the Course:
Elevation at the start/finish of the Marathon is 4830' and gradually drops to a low of 4110' at mile 8. From there, the course proceeds up and down several hills between miles 8 and 12 before resuming a mostly flat climb to the course's highest elevation of
4930' at mile 19. After that, there are a few small hills before the course finish. The first 7 miles of the course are asphalt and the remaining 19 miles gravel (ranging from relatively rocky in miles 8-10 to hard-packed and pebbles in miles 11-26).

The course is set in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone along the Rocky Mountain Front of Northern Montana about 1 hour south of Glacier National Park. Wildlife abounds here and the prospects of being able to safely view grizzlies along the course are good. Elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black bears and moose are common to this pristine area as well. The course will be well-monitored for runners’ safety.

Then again, maybe it will be more interesting than I think.

The long and the short of it is that these marathons will determine Superior, if all goes well I will probably be more tempted, if they are disasters than they will tell me I am not ready.

Regardless of that decision these marathons represent states 7 & 8 in my 50 state quest and marathons 30 & 31 so needless to say I am looking forward to completing them along with a few weeks off of work............

Saturday, August 2, 2008

River City Ramble...........

It was a very nice morning for the River City Ramble 1/2 marathon in beautiful Red Wing.

We arrived at Bay Point Park about 45 minutes or so ahead of the start, it was very easy to find and parking was even easier. They had said we would be within 100 yards of the registration tent and they were right. Packet pick-up was quick so we had plenty of time to get ready for the start. The temp was in the low 60's as we drove into Red Wing but it was pretty obvious that it was going to be heating up so shade would be very much appreciated and they said we would have it.

The plan was to just run with Karyn as this was my final longish run before Haulin' Aspen next weekend. I was hoping to help her with a PR for the year and other than that to just enjoy the day, she has helped me many times by providing some great support so today was my day to recipricate. On to the race, first there were some nice words from the race director, then some from a local long time runner, a young lady sang the Star Spangle banner, a few comments from the River City Princesses and we were off.

We started out dead last and I had that thought that we would be last, Karyn said the same thing happened to her at M2M but she caught a few and we figured we would as well. The first mile was mostly in the shade which was nice and we caught a couple of race walkers so we were pretty sure last place was no longer a concern. The course is an out and back with the majority of the course on a paved bike trail. Turned out most of the trail was shade covered and there was a nice occaisional breeze. The first water stop was at mile 1 (then 12), the next was at mile 3 (then 10) and the last water stop was at the turnaround point at 6 1/2. We proceeded to run an even pace and got to the turnaround in a decent time. The sun was getting hotter and I was a bit concerned if it would take it's toll. As it turns out the heat didn't get us but at around mile 9, Karyn hit a fuel wall, she has been working during her long runs to figure out a system that would keep her blood sugar in control but today she had issues. She avoided a complete crash but we had to slow down from mile 9 - 12 by walking a bit more. Even with that, we passed a few more runners along the way and for the last mile she was able to run it in. Not a PR for her but she held together through a tough period and can take solace in finishing strong and for me it's a great reminder of how quickly things go can awry when the fuel/energy get out of sync. Think about and plan for your upcoming events.

A couple more random notes from the ramble, the t-shirt was nicer than I expected, it is a technical shirt so it will be useful. This was a small well supported event with friendly volunteers with a relatively flat tree lined course that is worth doing again. You can also stick around Bay Point Park for a fun filled day celebrating River City Days with the folks of Red Wing.

Now, if the trail was only dirt instead of asphalt it would have been perfect........


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