Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 events review...........

Time to put the year behind me and get going onto next year. So as not to forget the events of this year along with my race report posts, this is my quick year in review.
My first 50k, ran in snow, and I am still thrilled that it was my first foray beyond marathon distance, who could ask for a more memorable and beautiful event. A very well organized first time event, looking forward to 2009. My report.
Not a great day for me but I liked the course and I got through the day. My report.
A wonderful small town event. My report.
My 2nd 50k and it was a delight mostly because I got through it without injury or sickness. My report.
Another fun year and the only tri event that I ever plan to do. My report.
Fun to provide support versus running for myself. My report.
A tough uphill climb of 14 miles, most of it in the last 3 miles and a nice single track downhill finish. Just needed more fuel and some training on the mountain. My report.
A hot day but I was happy with the effort just 6 days after Haulin Aspen. Another hot weather event with no sickness. My report.
What a great event to finish up the year, I wanted a PR day but I kind of re-injured my left foot so I just muddled my way through. My report.

So to sum up this year, it was fun. I struggled through a series of minor injuries (knees and foot) and continue to work my way through them. I set a PR in a 50k (ok it was my first and second) and I completed 3 for the year, I am still on track to set an all time high for mileage and I got through all of the events without throwing up once. Sweet, on to 2009................

Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter blues...........

I have decided that I am just not a winter guy, I have a major issue in getting out the door. I think it has something to do with fear of frostbite, slipping, freezing, darkness and the fact that I really don't like snow and cold weather. I know that committing to a race schedule will help with my winter issues, so I need to figure out 2009, ASAP.

I also reached the conclusion that the colder temps are my biggest problem, I don't like to cover my face. I like to spit when needed or do the infamous nose clear and if the face is covered it's a problem. So I know now that I prefer 20+ and above and don't like going sub 0. I will need to work on a solution to this as me thinks we have a few more sub 0's ahead. Of course, the darkness is also an issue, I know that's true as I have run the last three days and one of those days was fairly cold ~5, the other ones were almost balmy (15 and 35), it's always easier in the daylight and when you don't have to work there seems to be more time in the day :-). So I think I need to work in at least one run (preferably two) over lunch as I do plan to continue to work and that's the only time I will find daylight for running.

I know that for me this has been a tough December for running which is do in part to the weather. It hasn't been helped that work has been in a bit of turmoil. I am very thankful to have a good job, let's hope things continue to go well at work. The turmoil should be getting taken care of, except I will have more responsibilities so I will need to work on keeping things balanced (I think my wife might say I need to work on the balance without the upcoming changes) and I need to remember that running helps dissolve my stress. If I do miss out on the daylight runs I could always run on our treadmill but that is even more intimidating, it just takes too much concentration for me and usually between the cold and the treadmill, procrastination wins out.

So while on today's run, I was mulling over my training program and my race schedule. I concluded that I should get the first half of the year mapped out and committed. I know I will be doing Chippewa but I am still thinking about McNaughton versus Clinton Lake. Common sense would say do Clinton Lake, it is a month ahead of Chippewa and month after Run Toto Run. So it fits the training sequence quite well. I am intrigued by doing a 50 and I can think of no better one to do than McNaughton for my first one. But then again, I am thinking about balance, am I ready to commit to a 50, or do I just work on getting into better shape for the shorter distance events. I am also not sure about Run Toto Run, I am tired of running in snow, I would love to do it if the ground isn't covered in the white stuff but if the ground in KC is snow covered, I am not so sure and we have something going on the day after. So I may need to just punt on this one for awhile.

I do need to decide and commit to something otherwise I will just keep putting things off until Chippewa. So on that note, I think I will wait until New Years Day...................

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There is hope for me yet.................

I was reading Matt's post concerning Scott Dunlap's post which was on David Groggins. What's that go to do with me having hope, well, when I went to the site that was created to promote David Groggins, I saw a comment on the blog link and read the following comment to David Groggins, from:

dmartell said... Thanks man - you inspired me to run my first marathon in March 09'. Have you heard of this story - thought I would share.

Here is the video - The Cliff Young Story by Jack Canfield

Here is another one

You can read the story here - Cliff Young, a farmer who inspired a nation or check out Wikipedia on Cliff Young

So although I think Groggins is an exceptional athlete running for a great cause and is a great story himself, you just gotta love the Cliff Young story and it's a great reminder to me that I have plenty of running years ahead and it's as much about attitude as anything else................

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Running plans update??????

Well, I am nearing my time to reach an initial decision for which races to do.

My problem is what event if any do I want to train for? I should clarify when I say train, I mean like to focus on an event usually with a time goal in mind or do I just do races and enjoy them with nothing but a finish in mind. This past year was all about getting back into a running program and clicking off a few states on my journey through 50 states with no time specific goals. Oddly enough I was disappointed with my times, maybe there is something to training for an event.

Steve L. had emailed me last week to let me know that he is doing the McNaughton 50 miler, we had talked at Surf the Murph about it. (Steve - my email came back, so I am kind of posting my reply here). I would really like to do McNaughton as it would be great to get in a 50 without time pressure, a finish there would make me happy. I have never gone 50 miles so I think I would use it to work out some fueling and mental demons. Like what will happen to my body after 35 miles? My plan would be real simple, go out slow and finish, no throwing up, no giving up.

I was pretty well starting to lock into a schedule when today my MDRA log book showed up. Now I am all confused as I did notice a few new events that look interesting.

A good start to the year could like this:
Jan 24 - Winter Carnival 1/2
Feb 14 - Run Toto Run 50k - Kansas - 1 more state
Mar ? - ?
April 11 - McNaughton 50 - Illinois - another state + my first 50
April 25 - Chippewa 50k - keeping the streak alive, 2 in a row

A Marathon May?
May 2 - Wisconsin Marathon - an inaugaral event
May 3 - Eau Claire Marathon - an inaugaral event, it would be on the way home :-)
May 24 - Stillwater Marathon - an inaugaral event
May 31 - Team Ortho Minneapolis Marathon - an inaugaral event

Why not go for 4 marathons in a month? Ok, I am pretty sure this might be a stretch but it is an interesting thought.

What about June?
June 6 - Deadwood Marathon - gotta do something in South Dakota
June ? - something else?

Close out the 2nd half
July 4 - Afton 50k - 2 in a row
July 21 - Turtle Trot Triathlon
July 31 - Grand Island Marathon - Michigan - another state, just a thought
August ? - ?
Sept 11 - Superior 50 - It sounds like fun
Oct 17 - Big Woods 1/2
Oct 24 - Wild Duluth 50k or 100k
Nov 7 - Surf the Murph - 2 in a row, another streak

Ok, I still have some gaps to work on and I will need to narrow down my list to something reasonable (you know something that balances family, work, training, health). I am sure when I look closer I will see a few more states that might be doable but then again I may also need to step back and say is it a good idea to go for the 50's and still try to get extra states? Maybe I do 50's this year, a 100 next year and put off pickin off states for a while.

Decisions, decision, gotta have something to do over Christmas break.................

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What to do on a bad day?

Some days you have it and some days you don't. This morning I didn't have it but it was an interesting run.

I ran back in Lebanon Hills and expected the light rain to have made the snow wet and slushy and I was not disappointed. I feared going into it that it wasn't going to be a good day as I woke up not feeling great and to add to my misery my left foot started hurting within the first 100 yards. I thought about just aborting but instead I just tightened up the laces and to use Londell's phrase chose to "Carry On". I seem to be getting a lot of practice at running when things go bad, it would be nice to have a good day sometime soon.

Anyway, my plan was to run about 4 and 1/2 hours. Good plan except that I struggled to maintain my pace right from the start. I thought it was either from what I ate at dinner the night before or it might have been from the heavy snow so after about an hour of struggle, I decided to run out of Lebanon Hills and try the pavement along Cliff Road. That helped but I still didn't feel very good. So that meant it wasn't just the snow, oh well, so I went back into the park. I figured I would try and go at least a 1/2 hour longer and then probably call it a day.

One thing I had tried when I headed out to the road was switching to music versus my normal podcasts, I figured it would be different and since it took no mental energy to listen it was worth a chance to get me going but it wasn't really helping until a weird sequence of songs.

A number of songs had played and I was kind of zoning them out and simply struggling on with the run and then a song came on "No More No More - Aerosmith" which got me thinking that I had had enough but I decided to go one more song before I headed back to the car. The next song is an odd one in a way, it's called "I'm not running anymore - John Mellencamp". Today, I was thinking that this song's title was probably right and quite predictive of how I felt but sure enough I picked up the pace and felt a bit more energy. I decided to take a left and head out on a favorite loop thinking I could make it through 40 more minutes which is what the loop normally takes. The next song was "Fire on the Mountain - The Marshall Tucker Band" which helped to pass the time but the footing was starting to bug me and my energy burst was over and then the next song came on, "Long Way Back - Kim Richey" which of course got me to thinking that I was getting pretty far out again and that maybe I should turn around or shorten up the loop as I wasn't sure I had enough left to continue on, what a disappointing day. I thought to myself that I was just being stupid to even continue at all.

When the next song came on and it caught my attention, "Have a little Faith - Jewel" so I had no choice but to continue on. The next song was "Don't look Back - Boston" and the one that followed "Past the Point of Rescue - the original Dixie Chicks". A number of songs followed some that seemed appropriate for the day and some that didn't but they all helped me to continue on, when "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad - The Marshall Tucker Band" came on, so I took it as the time to head on back to the car. I should add that I think their version of this song is one of the best but then again I am a bit partial to the MTB, who in my opinion, is the best of all the southern rock bands.

Sometimes music helps pass the time and sometimes it seems to send another message. I can say that today I was ready to pack it in at 2 hours and then through a series of songs I went for another 1 1/2 hours. So a bad day still had me on the trails for 3 and 1/2 hours, sloshing my way through the snow, playing mental games, trying many things to distract myself, what a delightful day all things considered. Sometimes, you just got to take it all in stride.........

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Running stats reviewed........

I came across the chart below when I was looking through my running info. It kind of looked to me like a tough ultra course with all of the ups and downs, then I remembered what it really was.Turns out it is a plot of my weekly mileage for the year, it just happens to be week 50 of our calendar year.

Notice that week to week consistency has not been my strong point. It's probably my biggest issue in weight reduction, getting faster and basic improvement. Of course it could be the fact that I follow no specific training program that leads me to this inconsistency. I use the fear based training program, fear being the pain I might need to endure if I don't get runs in ahead of a longer event. One thing I can't forget is that this past year was all about getting back into a consistent pattern of running and that the goal was to avoid major injury. I have had a few nicks to work through during this past year but the pain of my knees and foot are manageable just mentally tiring. So overall I am pleased with what I accomplished so do I now set my goal for 2009 to push harder for time improvements? Maybe, but not at the cost of additional injury or losing the joy of running.

As I continued to glance through my data, I noticed a few trends (this data goes through this Sunday so I am including this weekends runs).

Total days of running
(that means 203 days that I didn't run)

Which day during the week do I run?
Monday - 10
Tuesday - 16
Wednesday - 17
Thursday - 14
Friday - 10
Saturday - 40
Sunday - 38

78 runs on weekends 67 during the week

Stats wise - this means that I have run on 78% of the available weekend days and only 27% of the available work week days. Pretty much confirms my comments above, I know what I need to get better at, will I be willing to do it?

Of the 10 Sundays I did not run 3 were after marathons or longer, 3 were due to sickness or not feeling good, 4 are for a variety of other reasons. Are running on Mondays and Fridays my least favorite days to run? Maybe but part of this is intentional, taking a day off after long runs explains Mondays and resting the day before races explains a few Fridays. I do think it's safe to say that I need to get in more weekday runs.

So in analyzing my approach to running, I have yet again concluded I need to improve on consistency and to start focusing on training with a purpose.

So in looking at next years calendar, Run Toto Run is 10 weeks away, McNaughton is 18 weeks and Chippewa 20 weeks. To do the first two events with manageable pain would require me to get going now, where as Chippewa, I could wait until late January. As 10 weeks to a 50k seems about right and 18 weeks to a 50 miler should work out fine.

So where does this lead me, well, this weekend I need to make my decision to add some additional early season races or rule them out and then to commit to a training program that gets me there..................

Monday, December 8, 2008

Back Home Again in Indiana?

In a post a few days back, I got a comment about the Indiana events that I am considering for next year and that I should look into a 50k called "the Huff" in Huntington, IN on December 29th.

The interesting thing about the Huff is that Huntington is only 1 1/2 hours from Carmel, IN where we will be over the holidays. I am sure my family would be thrilled if I said how about a quick trip up to Huntington. It would be a pretty easy way to click off a state even though I am not in great 50k shape, then again I have never been in"great 50k shape" so that hardly matters. The problem with it is (if I don't ponder the family holiday issue), is that I would prefer to do the Gnaw Bone 50 or the Tecumseh Trail marathon as they basically take place in the area of Indiana where I grew up in. The only problem is that the Gnaw Bone (May 9th) is out next year as we have conflicts and the Tecumseh is in early December and it's always a bit harder to think about driving down to Indiana twice in one month especially in the winter. I could always do the Huff 50k and then when the schedule works out do the other two.

What am I thinking, I have to do Gnaw Bone. I will just wait until 2010, 2011, 2012 or whenever it works out.

The course runs through Brown County State Park, I used to go there as a kid, it's right near Nashville, the one in Indiana, a neat little small town and it may even get me fairly close to the cabin we had on Lutheran Lake, yes that's it real name and yes, you do have to be Lutheran to have a place on the lake. It would also give me a chance to go to my hometown, Columbus, yes the one in Indiana.

If you ever get a chance swing through this area around Brown County, the trees and hills are gorgeous in the fall. Columbus is worth a visit as well, it is known as an architectural mecca, if you want to know about the architecture take a look at the link above but to give you an idea, the city golf course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and the clubhouse by Frank Lloyd Wright, it's even the hometown of Tony Stewart. Another thing about my hometown that some folks find interesting is that my high school basketball gym seated 7000+, basketball used to be pretty important in Indiana.

And if I ever get to feeling down about living in Minnesota (winter does bring that on, even though, yes, I have lived here longer than I lived in Indiana but it doesn't matter, I am a Hoosier) all I got to do is think about being Back Home Again to Indiana.

If you want to know about being a Hoosier, you will need to understand this video.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter running isn't as bad as I thought..........

Ok, I have to admit it, once I got outside in the daylight I kind of enjoyed myself and I even had happy thoughts about winter running.

Yes it was cold, about 4 degrees when I started and when I got home it was about 10 but it wasn't windy (always gotta remember the good :-). I ran back in Lebanon Hills and with the snow on the ground, I actually thought to myself that there is an advantage to winter running, the rocks and roots are covered up, so I didn't trip once. I even thought about how I can run snow covered trails easily in the dark since the trippers are getting covered up.

For today's run, I debated wearing my snowshoes but figured I would be ok in shoes and I debated wearing my yak trax but I didn't think it would be icy and for the most part the trail shoes worked fine. The last few miles, I seemed to slip more often, that may have been just the fact that I was tired or it may have been the fresh snow that had fallen during the run. I did run in my gore tex running suit and that worked ok along with my gaiters the snow stayed on the outside. I like to wear the gore tex suit when the temp is around 0 as it blocks the wind but it doesn't seem to breathe as well as my other jacket and pants do so I do sweat a bit more in it. I did work up a nice sweat but I never really got chilled during the run so I think I was dressed about right.

Another totally random thought that popped into my head during the run was that I didn't have to worry about stepping on snakes. That had me almost laughing as I hate when I see snakes and I have to jump out of the way. I tried to take a couple of pictures (see them below) to capture the beauty of the falling snow but the cell phone camera didn't pick it up. Maybe next weekend I will take a camera and leave the cell phone in the car.

I do love how pretty it is back in the woods........................

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Next years states?

Since I'm sitting here thinking about winter again, I figured it's time to change my outlook and what better way than to ponder which states I will try to knock off in 2009.

The main limiters to picking off states are trying to figure out when soccer events, school events, other family events, work stuff and everything else that might pop up to cause misalignment along with the need for finances, time and training and then honoring the commitments already made. So for today, I am going to put it all aside except for things I know for sure about like my youngest daughter has a soccer tournament the 2nd weekend of May which turns out to be the same weekend that my eldest graduates from college so that weekend is out for sure. I also have to rule out the last week of April as that is Chippewa, the July 4th weekend as that is Afton and the first week of November for Surf the Murph. The other thing I want to do this year besides add states is to complete my first 50 miler so right now I am about 97% sure that the McNaughton Park trail 50 looks like I will just have to try to do it and if I do it then I have to do the Superior 50 in September.

So with all of those considerations, which states will I think about?

Looking Good -
Kansas - Run Toto Run 50k in February
Illinois - McNaughton 50 miler in April

Might Happen -
South Dakota - Deadwood in June?
Michigan - Grand Island Trail in July?
Nebraska - what event?

There's always a chance -
Indiana - Has to be Tecumseh Trail in December as the Gnaw Bone 50 is the 2nd week of May
Kentucky - Lovin the hills in February or Land between the lakes in March?
Arkansas or Oklahoma- Which events?

So I think if I could get 3 states for sure that would get me further but to get any more than that I would have to not do Superior unless everything (time and money) are perfect, so the final decision may not happen until I get through McNaughton and we see how the finances and dates work themselves out.

The other thing that I am giving thought to is which marathon or beyond will I do in each state like I know when it comes to Florida, I will be doing the Disney marathon along with the 1/2 marathon so that I can complete the Goofy Challenge. I don't like big events but I just have to do the Goofy, the question is which year? For Wyoming, I am thinking the Grand Teton 50, so as the Minnesota winter descends I will be distracting myself by planning next years events along with determining which marathon or beyond for which state so that I can plan for 2010 and beyond as well.

The real question I may need to come to grips with is do I want the 50 states more than a 50 miler and then a 100 miler. My current thinking is I know I can do the 50 states, I think I can do a 50 miler but I don't know if I can do a 100 miler. So guess what I am focusing on in 2009?

I think when I lock in my schedule here in the next few weeks it will be apparent where I want to be, so stay tuned..........................................

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A December commitment ends........

Since I am not much in the mood today to get a workout in out it's time I have a reality check. Yesterday I did not work out and it added stress to today, and then today I had not yet worked out and I was stressing until I decided that I was just plain wrong and misguided. So, I am about to end a commitment that I made to myself that I can only define as a nice thought but actually it was a really stupid idea. I had wanted to convince myself to work harder and become more consistent in the frequency of my workouts so the goal was to workout every day. The intent was to get in better shape so I could get my speed back and my weight lower but if I follow through on my 7 day a week commitment, I might succeed at getting in better shape but at what cost? I fear the cost would be that all the joy I normally find in my running will be gone.

My motivation for this was logical, force myself to work harder through the month that I hate the most. Why do I hate December, I don't for most things but I do for my running, it's cold, it's dark it's the transition to winter which I hate (ok, hate may be too strong, I definitely don't like it). Each day in December is darker, each day seems colder, so between Thanksgiving and Christmas I always struggle to get my runs in. It's a very tough mental period, you add normal work stress (including the added stress in the commute because of driving through snow) and the holidays to the darkness and cold and running can pretty much lose out as a priority.

Yes it could be simply procrastination or maybe it's laziness or maybe I'm just copping out.

The bottom line is that in December we should celebrate our families, the birth of Christ and make sure that we take the time to reflect on the victories of the year. To add a stressful commitment on top of this just wasn't smart.

The good news is that once the winter solstice comes, I know each day will get lighter even though it continues to get colder. This helps me immensely and then usually I think about my runs for the new year and debate the winter carnival which helps me get out and work on my mileage in January. Then you add in the need to train for Chippewa and possibly McNaughton or other options and things will take care of themselves. I will get the training in that I need, no it won't be enough for me to be competitive in any category that exists but it will be enough to get me to the finish line.

So tomorrow I will run and if I don't I will still be ok..............


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