Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adjusting my long term goals, just a bit, maybe???

I got to thinking last weekend, which usually gets me into trouble, about my goals but hey isn't that what long runs are for?

About two years back I set a goal of completing a marathon in every state by age 60. So my phrase has been 50 by 60, well it's still my goal so that hasn't changed. I started this goal at age 50 with 3 states complete and some 20 marathons run so I was pretty sure I could do it. I was just bored with running Grandmas (and paying way too much for hotels) and Twin Cities. My original plan was to click off 3, 4 or 5 states a year and just kind of meander my way there. It was and still is, just a matter of coordination and trying to keep the number between 3 and 5 as a way to manage the cash outlay and vacation days required. So now almost 2 years later with 10 states completed, I am thinking about adding a few more goals in addition to this goal which shouldn't matter except...

Before I get to that, let me back up a bit, as this started a couple weeks back when we had our annual company picnic (this time it was a cruise up the Mississippi on a steam boat). I was talking to a couple of co-workers and they got off on the topic of bucket lists. One guy wanted to do something with piranha in the Amazon and then he wanted to climb Mt. Everest. As he talked about other things on his list, I gave it some thought as I have never had a list and probably never will but as they continued to talk I thought about the things that I still want to do and surprise they relate to running.

I thought about it a lot more last Sunday and I came up with the following; first, finish my first 50 at Surf the Murph this fall. For Surf the Murph, I simply want to finish and I hope to do it in around 12 hours. I have plenty of training yet to do and weight to lose to get there but I think it is doable, heck I still have almost 9 weeks to get there. The problem is even if I complete Surf the Murph in 12 hours, that is the cutoff for most 50's so I will need more training and additional weight loss if I am ever going to move out from the back of the pack to where cutoffs aren't my main concern and focus.

Anyway, back to my list. I decided I am interested in running the Superior 100 or at least the 50 and then I am kind of intrigued by Western States. Why Superior, well it sounds like a course that I will hate and yet love and it is in Minnesota so I am just going to have to do it, yes I can probably just do the 50 and figure out the love/hate thing but the 100 would be the ultimate test and adventure. As to Western states, I remember reading about it years ago and thinking how nuts they were and yet I was intrigued and wondered what would motivate anyone to do such a thing. Run on trails all day, through snow, water, all night, why? Now that was before I had ever run a trail race, now I no longer think they are quite as nutty, maybe a little but not as much as I once thought.

Now back to my problem, if I try to squeeze in 50's and even consider doing the 100's over the next few years then I will have to suspend the 50 state thing as doing both just won't work. I have struggled this year with some minor injuries which I think are a by product of doing too many things at once and not having a real focus to my training. Also with the 50 state goal as my main focus, I can't take the time to run many of the regional races in Wisconsin or Minnesota such as Ice Age, Kettle, Glacial, FANS, etc....

This is the basis of my current conflict everything I want to do takes time and money and I have a limit of both. So I either need to give up on the longer trail races or do out of state ones to qualify as additional states and then I can't do too many local ones or give up on out of state marathons and focus on the regional trail races. Trying to do both would just cause stress and over training and injuries and stress and who knows what other bad things. My concern with out of state trail runs is since I am always teetering near cutoffs, the last thing I want to do is go and run the Grand Teton 50k or 50 and have an issue with the cutoffs. I know I can do marathons on roads with no issues concerning cutoffs but trail races, well to be honest they worry me. That said, I don't like running on roads very much anymore and large marathons have absolutely no appeal whereas trail events have appeal and they normally don't have too many runners.

So what I am thinking of doing is focusing on these local races for the next couple of years and seeing where it gets me. I can always run a marathon if an opportunity presents, they just won't be my focus. An advantage of training for the local trail races is they are closer to home so the expenses will be lower and easier to work into the budget and I could even throw in some of the shorter distance ones without feeling guilty as my goal would be to become a better trail runner.

Now, if I do make this detour, then, I will need to finish up my remaining 40 states as time allows, say wait until after age 54 or 55 and then get back to working on them in full force. I might just have to run 8 to 10 a year but that shouldn't be too hard if the money and time is there. So my thinking is after I complete Surf the Murph, I will continue to work on the weight and continue to train during the winter, take stock of where I am in the spring and then make the final call. If I go towards the regional ultra scene then I will have to try something like a 50 at Ice Age or Kettle and see if I can get my time down and I would probably try FANS to get a taste of running longer. After that well, there would be Superior and if my times got down I could qualify for Western States.

So as of this moment in time, I am thinking of not worrying about out of state marathons for a couple of years unless things just work out and we happen to be in a state where I need one and instead focusing all my attention on becoming a better trail runner and a true ultra runner.

So no decisions until after Surf the Murph as I may have a day that says maybe I wasn't cut out to run that far or maybe it will actually turn out well and I will think this is what I love to do or maybe somewhere in-between, regardless I kind of like the thought of taking a break from the states and instead focusing on all the races in the greater Minnesota area.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lebanon Hills training run

Figured it might be worth publishing today's run with Wayne and Karen G in Lebanon Hills from Bim Active. I was able to show them a bit of the the center section, now we just need to add another 3 or 4 miles and we can run the western section which I think they might like or finish exploring the center section. We walked the hills and ran the flats and downhills. I was happier with today's run as I was able to run without issues and had an easier time with their pace. It was probably because Wayne is still working his way back after Pikes Peak and Ragnar and Karen just ran 50 miles on Tuesday and they probably slowed down for me :-).

Route:--Elev. Avg:953 ft
Location:Rosemount, MNElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:08/27/09Up/Downhill: [+856/-856]
Time:03:49 PMDifficulty:4.0 / 5.0


76 F temp; 44% humidity

77 F heat index; winds E 6
Distance: 7.91 miles
Speed:4.5 mph
Pace:13' 23 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
112' 54-0' 294.7+0.2+46 ft
212' 14-1' 094.9+0.4+20 ft
312' 52-0' 314.7+0.2+19 ft
413' 43+0' 204.4-0.1+3 ft
512' 44-0' 394.7+0.2+9 ft
615' 39+2' 163.8-0.7-59 ft
713' 36+0' 134.4-0.1+20 ft
end13' 20-0' 034.5+0.0-59 ft
Versus average of 13' 23 min/mile

Posted from

Monday, August 24, 2009

Small world.......

Tonight after running an errand I was heading home coming down 42 and decided to stop at the new Burnsville Run N Fun store. It's just after the 35W/35E junction on 42 heading towards Apple Valley.

I walked in and noticed immediately that it is a really nice store, open, bright, new, plenty of space and a lot of inventory on display. I have posted before about Run N Fun so I won't regurgitate that. Anyway, Perry was working and we talked for a bit and he commented that I probably knew the other sales clerk, I didn't recognize him but he did look familiar and I did recognize the Afton shirt from this year.

Turns out it was Ben Kampf, who won the Afton 25k this year setting a course record (Perry told me it was his first trail race and they had discussed whether he would finish). Turns out he ran in the Rosemount Alumni race, finishing 2nd behind Jordan Carlson. Turns out his girlfriend is Heather Dorniden. I find those three things an interesting coincidence of events based on my last two posts.

We talked for a while including his race at Afton and the race from the previous post, he said he couldn't believe it when he heard that she had fallen and yet came back and won her heat, he also said he was planning on running longer events so I told him he should run Surf the Murph and he said he just might do it, he likes running in Murphy. Then a few more customers came in so I bought what I needed and took off (Steve he did give me the 30% discount, too bad I didn't need shoes).

So if you live south of the river, check out the new Run N Fun store, I plan to frequent it as it sure beats driving to St. Paul.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Correction to previous post + a little more.......

I updated my previous post as I had spelled Heather Dorniden's last name wrong, which explains why when I googled it I didn't find out too much so when I googled it spelled correctly, I came across a lot more information including this video, it is an interesting video if you have never seen it.

Rosemount Alumni Race

Yesterday, we ran in the Rosemount Alumni race with all the High School runners including our daughter who is entering her second season of cross country. It is Rosemount's kickoff to their cross country season, Coach Harder and his staff put on a nice event for their runners and they welcome back alumni and anyone from the community to run with them.

I pretty much was last, I think one person was behind me. My excuses would be, I don't run 2 miles very often and I had no clue how to pace myself which is true and so I went out hard, probably too hard as it turns out as I struggled in the second mile, going over a minute slower than the first. My other excuses are I am 30+ years older than most of the runners and I was probably the largest runner, I joked before hand if they handicapped for weight and age, I would be given about a mile head start and then I would look competitive. Excuses aside, I have to admit I did enjoy it and it gave me a taste of what my daughter is experiencing as I have never run a cross country race and until last year I had never even attended a meet to know what cross country is even like.

Actually her decision to run cross country provided another insight to the running community. As she entered high school last fall, she was considering playing soccer which she has played since age 5 but her parents through her a curve and insisted on the western family vacation which would have caused her to miss the first week. If I remember it right, she also mentioned she was thinking about cross country. My wife emailed the RHS soccer coach who responded that at best she would be placed on the 9th grade b team and she might just be cut as the number might warrant it, the email seemed to have a "be here or don't bother coming attitude". After receiving that email, my wife emailed Coach Harder who came back and said no problem, he would love to have her come out and she would be welcome whenever she could get there. Oddly enough, she choose cross country for which she provided me a wonderful opportunity to witness her growth as a runner and to observe cross country as a competitive sport. Last year it was a delight to witness the positive coaching and the positive conduct of parents at the meets, a welcome change over soccer and probably most other youth sports. A quick side note on the race, as we were driving over we discussed did we have to pay to run in this event, none of us knew so since we didn't bring any cash and we knew they had a t-shirt after we dropped our daughter off, we drove back home and grabbed some money. Turns out it was free, who says there are no bargains out there.

Back to the alumni meet, the men and women were in separate events with the women going first but before they started they took a group picture with all of the ladies (high school runners, alumni and community members) who were running and they were off. Rosemount grad, Heather Dorniden (a nine time all american runner with the U of M) ran in the woman's event. Heather easily outpaced the high school girls and cruised to victory. I was amazed at how effortlessly she ran. Then the men were up, we took a picture as well and then off we went. The course had you run across a practice field (150+ yards) through the baseball stadium, around the pond and then back to the field and around again, it was essentially a two loop course. The course had grass, dirt and a bit of asphalt. I am not sure who ended up winning the men's event, I think Karyn said it was an alumni as well.

After everyone was done, Coach Harder passed out the t-shirts to all who participated, I have to say that this was a lot of fun to participate in and how many races can you enter that cost nothing and yet you get a t-shirt. It makes me appreciate running in yet another light. Our thanks to Coach Harder and his staff and good luck with your upcoming season.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Searching For A Rainbow

Got to visit with some old friends up north this weekend, didn't get in any runs but did get to relax and reminisce a bit. The weather wasn't great a bit too much rain but it was a nice time, nothing quite like tent camping in the rain. I used to work with these guys at Sperry Defense (who became Unisys/Paramax/Unisys/Loral/Lockheed) a long, long time ago. Two of the families and mine have been getting together for around 20+ years for thanksgiving and 10 or so years back we started doing this annual weekend camping trip together. We have known each other for coming up soon on 30 years so we have watched our kids happen and then grow up, our bodies age, our eyes go, scares with cancer, job changes and many other ups and downs of life.

One thing, I got to do this weekend was something I used to love to do, water ski. I used to be ok at it, but time and lack of practice have taken their toll. I was still able to get up and do a couple of cuts on the slalom ski but it sure seemed a lot harder than I remember. Which got me doing some relections back to the times when I used to go with my buddies to Lutheran Lake and ski for hours on end. I have lost touch with those guys and I am sure that they would be bewildered along with some of my current friends about my leisure activity, that of running long distance events. I have often pondered why I run, I once had a running buddy who later confessed he ran to run away from his problems. I don't think I do that, I think I run because I actually do enjoy it, I also know that I run long distances because I am never sure I can.

You see, I have always been ok at sports but I was never a runner. So for me to run, it is still a somewhat surprising thing for me to do, even after 18+ years of running. From my 20's until my 30's I used to mock anyone who ran. It wasn't until that cold December day in Chicago in 1991 that I discovered I could run and I have done so ever since.

I remember someone asking me if I was running for my health, I said that I hadn't thought about that as a reason. They knew that my father died at age 54 (heart attack) and my mother at 58 (cancer) so maybe in the back of my mind that was part of it, to be honest I still don't really know if it's a factor. I think though the main reason I am running goes back to when I first worked with my old Sperry buddies, I used to get ask to run the corporate series of races. I always said no, made fun of them and moved on. I think though that was a defensive mechanism as I didn't think I could run and I didn't want to deal with my failure if I tried.

So since the weekend I have been a bit off and have yet to run as work has been stressful (oh on a different note but it does help explain why work can be stressful for me, we are now doing the myers-briggs thing at work (funny that I posted about it a few months back, in response to a Steve Q post), and I am now a confirmed "INTP". I love one of the things the psycho babble says about me, "INTPs do not like to lead or control people", so why do I end up having to do this at all of my jobs when all I want is autonomy? Back to my "not running" comment, my body did need a day or two to recover from the water skiing so I gave myself a couple of days off but today I should have run but I think I had to work my way through all of this reflective stuff first. I think I am now ok as I have ended my retrospective with this post and I am ready to realize that I run because I really do enjoy it and that I run long distances to test myself in a way where I might just fail. It's my way of overcoming my past where I failed to try. I also run long distances as I know they give me the time to recharge and solve the problems that are always moving through my mind (usually can't remember the solution afterward though). Last, I do have to admit that I also like the fact that it is a bit different and I like that as well. I like taking the path less traveled.

Another thing I got to reflecting on was the music of my past. The bands I grew up with were from the seventies and I was big into southern rock (Allman Brothers, Ozark Mt. Daredevils, Pure Prairie League, Outlaws, Marshall Tucker Band and Charlie Daniels Band and a whole bunch more). My favorite of this genre has always been the Marshall Tucker Band, and this song in particular has always been one that I have enjoyed ever since I first heard it back in 75 (yup getting pretty old) and now that I am a runner, it really reflects why I will always continue running as I am always "Searching for a Rainbow" and what will be waiting for me at the end of the trail. Enjoy.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lebanon Hills center and Irun Podcast

I decided to get in a quick 4 miler tonight and it felt "ok". Yes, "ok" is an improvement. No achilles pain :-)

I have been running lately in the center section of Lebanon Hills (link to an old post on the park), an often overlooked area of the park since it has the fewest miles of trails and most are horse trails not hiking trails. Total runnable trails in this section with the least amount of overlap is around 8 miles and that includes a couple of spurs that either leave the park, go to the campground or take you into Camp Sacajawea. If you ever run in Lebanon Hills give yourself a treat and check it out.

Here are the elevation and grade maps from tonight's run exported from SportTracks.

On this run, I was listening to a very enjoyable podcast called iRun - The Running Show. It is a Canadian podcast sponsored by the Running Room. The show is hosted by noted Ottawa Citizen running columnist, radio host and marathoner Mark Sutcliffe. He normally has on with him Ray Zahab. Ray is a very accomplished adventure racer and ultramarathoner, check out his website. You can get the podcast on Itunes, they have a link on the Team 1200 website.

On this episode (#44) they interviewed three ultrarunners: Dave McMahon, Ferg Hawke and Marshall Ulrich. Dave is a local Ottawa trail runner who provides a lot of good trail running tips and who video tapes (HD quality) his runs for the Canadian Space Agency. I even followed some of his advice and paid attention to my stride and foot pickup and no surprise my pace picked up and it didn't seem to take anymore effort.

Ferg Hawke and Marshall Ulrich are both accomplished ultra runners both having completed Badwater multiple times. Ferg Hawke is another Canadian and is one of the runners featured in the documentary on Badwater called "the Distance of Truth", it looks like an interesting movie. He has finished 2nd at Badwater a couple of times. Marshall has completed Badwater many times, once solo and he has done a quad Badwater, yes that means he ran it 4 times over 535 miles in 10 days. I believe he is alone in both of these categories. My only complaint is I think each of the interviews could have covered the entire show instead each is no more than 10-15 minutes. Still real interesting.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shoes, yet again

I have posted before on my shoes and decided it was worth posting yet again. Ok, yes, I admit it, I am a bit more fixated on shoes than most.

I am currently running in 3 pairs of trail shoes and 1 pair of road shoes. The trail shoes are Salomon XA Comp 3, Vasque Velocity VST and North Face Rucky Chucks, did I mention I just bought a fourth pair, more on that later. My road shoes are New Balance 767's which I wear maybe once a month when I know I am running on roads. I do agree with most that road shoes do have better cushioning than trail shoes and when I run in my trails shoes on the road, I do notice the difference after 4 or 5 miles.

I bought the XA's in July after my dnf at Afton, I was struggling with a sore left ankle and a right achilles problem and I commented that maybe my shoes were aggravating my injuries and that maybe new shoes would be the fix. My thinking was that since I had never run in the XA's they couldn't be related to or be the cause of the injures. Yes the injuries were caused by specific events at Chippewa but maybe my shoes were preventing me from healing as I firmly believe that shoes can aggravate injuries and that running in the same model of shoes can cause issues as well.

In the same period of time my wife and I were talking about shoes as she was having forefoot issues and she thought that maybe she should go back to wearing Nimbus's. She used to wear them and her forefoot issue was less of an issue. I commented on how I never run in the same model of shoes and she said maybe that was my problem.

So I put the two together and decided to try something, so for the last few weeks I have run exclusively in the XA's. The experiment has had success, with a caveat, my achilles seems to be getting better and my left ankle is no worse. Now I have generally walked hills or run up them very carefully in order to not re-injure the achilles so maybe that is part of it or maybe it is the shoes. I even went out and bought another pair of XA's from Sierra Trading as I am sucker for a deal. They sent me a coupon for 20% off along with a 25% off special they were offering on the XA's. So their normal $49.95 dropped to $37.46 and then with the 20% off they dropped to $29.97. Since the XA's seemed to be working how could I turn down such a deal. My thinking was that I could try to run in the same exact model of shoe for the first time ever. The closest I had ever gotten to this was Jazz 4000 to 5000 or Grid Omni 3 to 4 to 5 or NB 766 to 767 or Mizuno Alchemy 2 to 3, Asics 2110 to 2120 to 2130, etc... I had always ended up buying the next model as the one I was running had been replaced by the time I went back into the running store along with they probably weren't perfect so I was willing to try the newer model but if I did buy the next model, it meant they weren't too bad either.

Back to the shoe experiments, the caveat I mentioned above is that although my achilles is improving and the ankle is holding up, I did have the groin pull ( seems ok - probably not related to shoes at all) and now over the last few days I have had a soreness in my left IT Band, at least I think it's the IT band (never have had issues with it before, the pain is next to and above the outside of my knee) so yesterday I ran 8 miles in my Rucky Chucks and I had no IT pain and the soreness seems reduced. Did the shoes matter, honestly, I don't know, it will be something I will just keep an eye on.

So my conclusion is that running in the same model of shoe is probably a good idea but having at least one pair that are different is a good thing as well. I kind of a view it as the control in my experiment, something that allows different data if I am having issues. Maybe this is all rationalization to buy different shoes, maybe it's just a defensive mechanism because they change shoes so often that it is very difficult to get the same model and my rationalization makes it a don't care, maybe I just have a problem with an addiction to trying out new shoes, if so, I can think of a lot issues that are probably worse.

So I will continue with the current experiment and will rotate my newer XA's in when the older ones move over 100 miles, sprinkle in either the VST's or Rucky Chucks as needed and see how my body holds up as I ramp the mileage for Surf the Murph.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wayne's Run

Wayne sent me a TCX file and asked me to import it to SportTracks and Bim Active. It is from his recent run near Whitewater State Park, up to the Elba Fire Tower.

Turns out we are camping in Whitewater in September so we may have to check it out as it looks like a good hill repeat to add to the schedule.

Screen Capture from SportTracks:

Info from Bim Active:

Route:--Elev. Avg:929 ft
Location:Altura, MNElev. Gain:+20 ft
Date:08/04/09Up/Downhill: [+2214/-2194]
Time:07:10 PMDifficulty:3.3 / 5.0


70 F temp; 52% humidity

70 F heat index; winds NW 5

Distance: 2.43 miles

Speed:1.7 mph

Pace:35' 18 /miHeart Rate:131 bpm (Avg)
159 bpm (Peak)
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
Heart Rate (bpm)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Heart
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
132' 25-2' 531.9+0.2132+121 ft
242' 51+7' 331.4-0.3133+200 ft
end33' 53-1' 251.8+0.1123-301 ft
Versus average of 35' 18 min/mile

Posted from

Sunday, August 2, 2009

50 mile training plans

I was thinking about my training for my first 50. You know the basic questions, what the heck am I doing? What was I thinking when I signed up for this? How am I going to train? Will I train? Am I crazy? Why?

As to training, am I just going to run 4 or 5 days and work my mileage up like I would for a marathon? Or am I going to get disciplined and commit to a 50 mile training plan? Great questions, should I just think about them or should I do something about it? I went for a run tonight and for the first time in awhile, it went ok, no groin pain, limited right achilles and left ankle pain. The pace was slow which I couldn't explain other than I just spent a weekend eating really good tasting food (but maybe not all of it was good for me :-) at my wife's family celebration at the Northern Bay Resort in Wisconsin (it was like a family reunion except we were celebrating birthdays, graduations, life and more with her parents and siblings, some who live in MN, IL and CT). With regards to my run, heck, I procrastinated most of the day so I was just happy to get out and enjoy the day.

Back to training, I decided I needed another option to look at for training other than the Santa Clarita plan I posted a few weeks back. In that plan, I would work my way up to just 31 miles and add a few mid week longer runs? What about speed, what about diet, what about?????? So I found another plan on UltraMarathonPlanet, no speed, no long mid week runs, just back to back long runs on the weekend with the longest being 22 miles, seems a bit light to me.

So I will continue to look for the perfect plan, but for right now, I will probably merge the two together, which means work on back to back long runs, some midweek longer runs, an occasional speed test and continue to work on getting healthy and avoiding any more injuries. I see by my race countdown clock, I have 89 days to work it all out, plenty of time, right, my guess is I won't freak out until I get to 60 days and then I am not sure what I will do except freak out even more at 30 days. Regardless of my training, I think what I will need to focus on is just enjoying the day in Murphy and let things take care of themselves.


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