Sunday, February 28, 2010

Odds and Ends

Today Karyn and I ran long around the lakes again (it was a really nice day, sunshine and I thought I saw a high of 37, yea, spring is on the way), she ran 18 miles and I added one more mile for 19. When we got done with 18 miles, I felt ok and I knew she would stretch out a bit and well, I don't. So I told her I was going to do a cool down mile. One day, I will get into stretching but thus far, I wait until injuries force me to do it and since I am healthy, I don't need to stretch, no comments are necessary on this :-). I did end up un-retiring my VST's as I had them on and they seemed comfortable and I knew I was wearing different socks so I didn't want to change two things at once. Granted I did have other shoes but they felt like they had another run (or maybe 2) left in them.

On Tuesday, I will be hosting the Runners Round Table again. This is a continuation of the last time I was on the show when we interviewed Jan and Joe from Marathon & Beyond. We decided we should have Joe back and he agreed, so join Albert, Lesley and myself at the round table as we interview Joe Henderson at 7:00 PM CST.

For the week, I hope to start getting balance in my running routine. I only ran 3 days last week and need to get to 5 if I am going to have any chance to improve this year. I posted weeks back about getting my act together in this domain and I have not succeeded thus far. It is a new week, so now is the time to begin.

I did set an all time high for mileage in February with 114 miles, outside of December (91) and January (113) this is one of my lowest mileage months. Do you see a trend for my lower mileage months? I think it is still safe to say that after 29 years in Minnesota, I am still adapting to winter. I can add a bit to that and say that no matter how long I live here, I doubt I will ever adapt as I still very strongly dislike cold, snow and the darkness of winter.

I have decided that FANS, Afton 50k, Turtle Trot Triathlon, Superior 50, TCM and Surf the Murph are givens. The only one that concerns me is Superior as I might not be able to complete 50 miles on that trail within their time limit, guess which one I am looking the most forward to. FANs will also be extremely hard on me mentally, I am doing it so that if I am struggling at Superior, I will think back to myself and say at least you aren't circling Nokomis. The only question about FANs is how many miles can I do, the 12 hours shouldn't be a problem. So I will be signing up for those, now I just need to finalize Chippewa, please start melting snow. I also asked my wife about Journey's as although I would enjoy it, we could also run Lincoln or Rockford which would get me a state. She is planning on running the marathon so it will be her choice for which one to do.

Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 events - final decisions

I just saw that two races I am planning on doing have opened their registration so if you want to run Afton or Superior (fall events) sign up now.

So it is decision time, Wayne and Karen have been telling me I should join them in Illinois for McNaughton, I would love to do it but I am leaning towards doing Chippewa. Here is my current thinking for both,

Reasons to run Chippewa
1. Streak - I have done Chippewa the first two years, this will make 3 in a row.
2. Cost - Chippewa $55 and no hotel required. McNaughton - $80, could pitch a tent
3. Last year - I made a wrong turn, injured a foot and basically got my butt kicked, I want revenge or at least another crack at the course.
4. Surely the snow will be gone and my wife can run the 10k

Reasons to run McNaughton
1. It would click off Illinois as a state
2. Would be my 2nd 50 miler and I would have 30 some hours to complete it
3. It would mean I wouldn't hear about it from Wayne or Karen any longer
4. There shouldn't be snow at McNaughton, there might be at Chippewa

Other than the debate about Chippewa and McNaughton, the rest of the schedule is pretty locked in so I may as well get moving on it.
  • Chippewa 50k or McNaughton 50
  • Journeys Marathon
  • FANS 12 hour
  • Afton 50k
  • Turtle Trot Triathlon
  • Superior 50
  • Twin Cities Marathon
  • Surf the Murph 50
The only race I can't sign up for yet is Surf the Murph.

So time to finalize the decisions and start sending out the cash.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Minneapolis, the city of lakes

On Sunday Karyn and I went for a long run together and we decided to run the lakes of Minneapolis as our local bike trails are still fairly icy and snow packed and my beloved trails are snow packed and not conducive to a long run at least together. I should mention that we both plan to run the Journey's marathon together so we are working to ramp up the mileage. It will be her first marathon in 10 years. Now if I could just completely convert her to trail races then all would be perfect that said, an occasional road marathon can still be fun (she is thinking she will run the 10k at Chippewa (assuming no snow), then I just need to get her to sign up for Afton and Surf the Murph and maybe a few more and possibly run just a little bit longer :-) .

For those not familiar with the lakes, the map below gives you a feel for the area we were running in. It is about 3 miles around Lake Harriet, 3 miles around Calhoun and another 3 miles around Lake of the Isles (at least on the bike path, the pedestrian paths are a little bit less).

Our plan was to start at Harriet, run around it then over to Calhoun and up to Lake of the Isles and then back around Calhoun and once more around Harriet. This is pretty much what we did except we went up to the cut over to Lake of the Isles and instead looped back around Calhoun and then back to Lake of the Isles, back around Calhoun and then Harriet. It was a pleasant sunny day and with hydration packs for fluids we had no issues on the run. The one problem we did have was my Garmin, I turned it on and it didn't turn on. Somehow my battery was dead, I thought I had just charged it, wrong again. That was an irritation that I didn't need but we were there so I got over it after an hour or so.

Along the way, I decided to try and take a few pictures but I had issues unlocking the phone to get to the camera so I only took a couple of pictures (the problem was I couldn't see the screen, I guess I need to keep reading glasses available at all times, ouch). Here is a picture from Lake Calhoun looking toward Minneapolis, I should've zoomed in a bit but you can still see the city off in the distance (again, I couldn't see the screen, for this one I blame the sun) .

What did we encounter, the best the city can offer - a lot of people, a few clueless people, dogs, walkers/runners. We saw hundreds of folks out for a run or a walk, we saw cross country skiers who were skiiing across the frozen lakes. We saw a kite snowboarder propelling himself across the lake, we saw ice rinks with free skating, hockey and broomball. Broomball looks like an interesting game if you aren't familiar with it think hockey except no skates, sticks or a puck, instead shoes, brooms and a ball. Yet another Minnesota thing I have yet to experience (you can add Lutefisk and Curling and probably a few more to that list) .

I mentioned a few clueless folks, what constitutes clueless you might ask? The first instance was a man and a women walking along the path and then stopping in the middle of the path and looking off to the side of the road except they were blocking almost the entire path forcing people to veer around them. Then there were 3 folks walking side by side taking up the path, throw in a few dogs that weren't under complete control and some more folks who seemed like they own the entire path and it all adds up to a dozen or so clueless folks among hundreds. The best clueless event we saw was when a runner was coming towards us as we came up behind two people and their dog. They were taking most of the path and as the runner got closer to them they even moved towards him, forcing him off the path into the snow. The look on his face was priceless, it was like did you see that? We did and suffice to say those folks constitute clueless.

Heading back from Lake of the Isles to Lake Calhoun.

I do need to say that if you are ever in the twin cities these trails are great and the Grand Rounds set of trails are phenomenal (think 50+ miles of paved trails in the city of Minneapolis) especially compared to what many other cities offer. In the summer there are separate trails for runners/walkers and bikers and in the winter they plow one for all to share. For those that like running around people with easy access to water, restrooms and not too many hills (none around the chain of lakes) this is a nice place to come for a run.

Here is a map of the Grand Rounds to give you a feel for the extent of this system. Check it out when you have a free day to go for a run.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Running trails, winter

It appears that I have a camera that works for taking pictures so I decided to take a couple while on a run in Lebanon Hills yesterday. I think they turned out ok, so I will plan on carrying my phone when I run and if something interesting pops up, I will have no excuse not to stop and take a picture.

Not sure if the pictures give you a feel or not of what it's like to run the trails in Minnesota this time of year but hopefully they do at least a little bit. These are great running trails in the summer and tolerable for winter running after the snowshoers/runners/hikers get it nice and packed down, otherwise they require a bit of work in the wintertime. Of course when the snow is fresh the trails are great for snowshoeing even though I enjoy running a whole lot more.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Running shoe update

Since I bought a couple of new pairs of running shoes to get me through my spring marathons and ultras, I figured I should do a quick post on the ones I have retired and the ones I am still running in.

One of the reasons, I bought new shoes was the fact that I am doing a road marathon and I haven't convinced myself that trail shoes will work for a road marathon. Truth is I haven't tried before and since I seldom run on paved surfaces I wasn't sure how much experimenting I should do as I didn't want to risk some strange type of injury. I do know that since I switched to only trail shoes on the trails, I haven't had a severe ankle sprain. Severe meaning one where I couldn't run the next day. It seems to me that all of my trail shoes are lower to the ground and when I detect the ankle roll, I am able to react before damage is done. This may be because of the shoes or it may be just because I have run enough trails and have adapted or it may be neither and I have just been lucky.

The other reason I bought the ones I did is that they were shoes I think will work and the price was great. More on that in a future post, first I should deal with the past and present.

If you are curious at all about my running style and size, I am a larger older runner 6'1" ~210 lbs (yes I plan to lose weight this year, more on that later too) who wears a size 13 (US), with relatively flat feet and I tend to overpronote some but not a lot. I have run in everything from neutral to motion control shoes but tend to buy cushioned support shoes unless I have an injury which I am trying to protect and then I might go for a stiff motion control shoe. I haven't really figured out how much support I need on trails and I actually blame wearing my Montrail Continental Divides for some injuries I experienced last year at Chippewa. I have never blamed them before but here is my theory. They are real stiff shoes which I chose to wear as I was nursing a foot injury and I figured that would help me avoid any major flexing of my left foot. At Chippewa I stepped in a few holes and really torqued both of my feet and ankles. Now my new thinking is that since these were so stiff, I didn't detect the flex as it was starting to happen and therefore that caused the over flexing which caused a bit of a problem and almost ended my day and definitely caused me some issues for most of the summer, basically it's the same theory as I mentioned above.

Retired Shoes:
Vasque Velocity VST - I do like this model of shoe but I decided to not buy another pair for a couple of reasons, the first one being my VST's did have the heel separation issue that I and others have complained about. I did use silicone to reattach the heel and I was able to get another 100+ miles out of them and I might be able to go further (and I may yet do that as I still like them) but I have noticed that I was having a higher amount of post run issues than with other shoes. I do like the way Vasques fit my feet so I am hopeful that the heel issue is an anomaly and not the start of a trend. So If I do give them a few more runs it's because I do like them and I have been known to un-retire a pair of shoes occasionally.

Salomon XA Comp 3 - These have the speed laces and I have put ~350 miles on them and I retired them for two reasons. The first reason was the same as the VST's, my post run pain was higher and since I have a 2nd pair which I had started wearing and had no pain, I figured it was time. The laces also broke which would have been a bit of a nuisance if I was still running in them. I did like these shoes and I think I like the speed laces but I noticed that when I ran over 10 miles, they didn't accommodate my toes probably as my feet swell with distance and became a bit tight and caused some damage.

New Balance 767 - Retired for mileage and age. These were over 2 years old (might be 3, I would have to check) as I only ran in these on paved surfaces which meant no more than 150 miles or so a year since my almost complete conversion to trails and to trail shoes and these shoes were only picking up half of that mileage. They have more than 300+ miles and and I was having some post run soreness so they too are now retired. I used these as screw shoes on pavement this winter and they mostly worked but I am thinking that spring is coming and I won't need them anymore for this year (yes, it might be wishful thinking)

I should mention that the post run soreness thing is my way of noticing a loss of cushioning/support/something that always shows up somewhere north of 300 miles. I also do have a few more shoes in my rotation than normal, normal for me would be 2 to 4 pairs. I always like to have two valid options for any race and I freaked out over my shoes right before my first 50 at Surf the Murph. I felt like I had no options for that distance as that was when my VST's fell apart and I had discovered the issue with XA3's so I bought a couple of pairs to give me a few extra options. Since I completed the race with no issues, I think the shoes worked just fine.

Still running in:
North Face Rucky Chuckys - these are an odd fit for me and I kind of have a love/hate relationship with them. I have had them for not quite a year and I wore them for the last 18 miles of Surf the Murph (not by choice exactly but poor planning on my part which actually worked). They are a tiny bit wider than some of my shoes and have plenty of room for my toes which is good as the feet swell but the heel is also a bit wider which is not good. So I end up messing around with the laces to accommodate the heel which I never like doing even if it works. I am not sure if the wider heel is a North Face trait as these were my first pair of NF. I also have some occasional achilles pain when I wear these but it usually goes away as I run. So my plan is to continue to run in these on an occasional basis, they hopefully will go another 150 miles.

Teva Romero - I like these shoes and had been holding them out until spring but having retired a few pair, I had to pull them back into the rotation. One issue they do have is that they are coming apart in the toe area on both shoes. Right at the front flex point the fabric has torn on both sides of the shoes and it seems to keep growing. I am going to try and duct tape them on the inside to see if that slows it down. I have only 175 miles on these shoes and the tearing started during the 50 at Surf the Murph (I only had 70 miles on the shoes) which is why I switched shoes as I wasn't sure they were going to hold together. I think that may have been a bit of ultra brain but the decision to switch to my Rucky Chucky's worked out fine.

One thing I mentioned above was running on roads in my trail shoes, I decided to try these shoes on roads and although they seem kind of hard and don't have a lot of cushioning they seem to work well. Thus far the longest run in them has been 14 miles on the road.

Vasque Aether Trails - these have been held back as I decided they were similar in fit to my VST's and that I would run in those and save these for spring. The VST's are retired now so I may start running in these, they only have a little over 100 miles and may be the shoes I use at Chippewa. I know Vasques have worked well for me, so I will always want to have a pair in my rotation available for races. I would say these are not as bulky nor as cushioned as the VST's but they seem to work fine. They might be a pinch narrower too but all of my Vasques start out a bit stiff and seem to loosen up past 100 miles.

Salomon XA Comp 3 - These were my 2nd pair that I bought last fall for <$30 and they are working fine. For under 30, my expectations aren't high and it's amazing when I don't pay a whole lot for shoes how much happier I am. They are one of the pairs I put screws into this winter and I plan to run in them for shorter runs. I have just gone over 100 miles with them and expect to get to 300 with no issue.

So my analysis tells me that Vasques work for me. North Face not so well but might be worth trying a different pair, Salomon's mostly work and I like but might tend to run small and Teva's work but haven't held together. My old New Balance shoes, well they are my old New Balance road shoes and worked ok except they are made for roads which I am not.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best of two worlds?

Yesterday I was able to get a run in, ok nothing too abnormal about that except I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts, no jacket, no gloves, no hat and the best part was I wasn't cold. Quite the opposite as I actually struggled with the heat. No, I wasn't inside I was out of town.

I ran along the Guadalupe river in San Jose on a nice flat kind of boring little trail that is a mixture of gravel and asphalt called the Lower Guadalupe River trail. The trail was less than a quarter mile from my hotel. I had asked at the hotel how long the trail was and they weren't sure. So as I got to it, I had to make a decision go left or go right. I went left but I saw another runner going that way so I veered right, I figured better to take the road less traveled and went under the highway and headed towards the airport, I figured that this section which turns out is called the Lower Guadalupe River North Trail would connect to the section I previously had run which is called the Lower Guadalupe River South Trail except they don't connect. As after 1.75 miles the trail ended. So I turned around and I continued on from where I veered off and after another 1.75 miles I decided I had probably gone far enough. Did I mention the temp was in the upper 60's, it was killing me. I haven't run in that kind of heat since probably October. I do have to admit though I really do miss seeing grass, bare ground, moving water, people in shorts and yes I loved the warm sun on my face. It felt great to get out.

Then today I returned from San Jose and I was able to run with Wayne and Karen. We ran from Highland Park (Ford Bridge) over to Lake Nokomis, just a bit short of 8 miles. It was a nice day in Minnesota terms, around 30 degrees with the sun shining. The snow and ice covered trails are starting to melt. As we trudged through it, I delighted in running through puddles versus snow or ice.

So from my perspective, I got to see the best of two worlds in less than 24 hours, warm and sunny California and cold and sunny Minnesota. Not a bad couple of runs and truth be told, if I could take away the snow and ice, I do like Minnesota more.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


When my wife and I went for a run today a couple of things came up. We planned on running 7 miles together along the Big Rivers Regional trail taking off from Lilydale and then I was debating running another 8 or 9. That way I could continue to add miles for Chippewa, which is now less than 8 weeks away.

When we got to Lilydale, I mentioned I didn't really have a plan for fueling if I did add the extra miles, my wife then said "there you go sabotaging yourself again". I don't think that I sabotage myself, yes it's true that sometimes I don't have a plan, I have been known to run when injured or in worn out shoes, I often don't take rest days and then sometimes I miss running for 3 or 4 days and then head out on a long run, I don't stretch, at least very often, I don't always watch what I eat, I sometimes zone out on pace and I kind of do things a bit ad hoc but I never thought of this as sabotaging myself. I may have to give that a bit of thought.

With all of the snow we have had, it's basically been a lousy winter for running, worse than usual, we are always running in snow. In past years, the bike paths have usually been ok as many of them are plowed but not this year, yes, they have plowed them but there is usually still snow and ice, suffice to say I am getting a bit tired of it. I ran yesterday in Lebanon Hills, the footing was tolerable but not good, thankfully the snowshoer's had done a decent job of flattening things out. It still made for a lot of funny steps which seemed to cause some painful tweaks. So today when we ran the Lilydale trail, I was a bit dismayed to see a long section of trail that was completely ice covered. It almost appeared as if a water main had broken or a firetruck had dumped water on the trail. Up to that point, I had felt fine and the trail was ok, it had had a thin layer of snow, after that point, I really had a hard time finding my rhythm, although the trail did clear up again. Shortly after we crossed over 13, right near Lucky's, I noticed that my hamstring had tightened up. I tried to ignore it and figured it would go away sometimes that works, instead it kind of got worse, it actually just felt like someone had torqued my leg. I hate that feeling. As we continued up to Pilot Knob, I came to the realization that I would not be going longer today and I had some thoughts of whether I would make it back to Lilydale. I love those cascade failure events, tight left painful hamstring, then right achilles pain, then left knee pain, then lower back pain, then repeat the cascade, so I walked, I stretched, I hobbled, not fun but I am sure I will be ok tomorrow. I blame the run the day before, my shoes, the snow, the ice, the wind, Winter!!!!!!

Which leads me to Chippewa, I got to thinking again that I really don't want to do it if there is still snow on the ground, trudging my way through a 50k in snow, well, I think I can say this, been there, done that, don't want to do it again. Of course it would be my third year in a row and it would keep my Chippewa streak going, so I am not sure what to do other than hope for an early spring. A bit of mud, that would be ok, some rain, that works for me, snow, no. I know Wayne would say, skip it and join him at McNaughton, odds are they won't have snow in central Illinois, right?. So I think, I will think about it a bit more and hold off sending in that entry for a few more weeks. Oh what am I thinking, it's my streak, I have got to do it even in the snow. Then again, maybe I don't.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting older

It's tough getting old but it's even tougher to admit it to yourself. Well I've been able to deny it for awhile even though anyone I have hired at work would be of son or daughter age and many of my recent bosses have been younger than me but somehow I was able to rationalize those things away, although I am not sure quite how.

Well, a couple of things have changed to cause me to think a bit more about this.

The first one has been going on for awhile, you see I wear contact lenses versus glasses as it makes my life a bit more normal. I can wear sunglasses bought at Target and then head out for a run. I can play softball, soccer, run in the rain or snow and not worry about my glasses. I still remember heading out wearing glasses in the wintertime, my glasses would always fog up. Have you ever tried to run on snow and ice when you can't see, it's not fun. Since I got my contacts, they have never fogged up.

Now just wearing glasses doesn't make one old but wearing reading glasses just might. For a year or so, I have noticed that my eyes are needing the magnification provided by reading glasses. So why not wear them, well I can see fine with my contacts most, no make that some of the time and when I put on my normal glasses, I see fine. It's just was when my contacts get a bit dry that I have issues. Well, truth be told, last summer I did have an issue while running in Whitewater state park. I was just kind of wandering when I came to a crossroad so I pulled out my map and took a look. I couldn't read it, I held it as far away as I could but as it started to get clearer I ran out of arms. So I just went left, as it was the road less traveled. Turns out it led me to an edge where the drop would have hurt, so I headed back and went right and eventually found my way back. I thought to myself, so what would I do if I was in a race and I needed to read a map? I think the answer I came up with was that I would be in trouble.

So did I go back to wearing glasses or head to the Eye Doctor to see what options I might have, nope I denied it and moved on. Oh, I did decide if I run a race where I don't know the course I would throw some reading glasses into my Nathan, just in case.

My denial phase continued, yes I did get the large print bible, which worked for a bit, then I put reading glasses into my bag because there was still some fine print that I couldn't read but so what if I looked old in church, there I had peers. But at work no way, I knew my co-workers would be amused if I put on reading glasses so I would just print things out on B size paper or avoid that 6 pt font. That has worked ok, with just an occasional meeting where someone would print that A size paper with that dreaded 6 pt font as a handout. It was getting harder though to read an 8 pt font and I was thinking I would eventually need to admit time had caught up to me. Turns out, that time has happened as I had to get a phone for work, it's an ok phone, a Samsung Jack. Kind of nice actually, I can now get my email 24 x 7 (and that's good how?), except I can't see the display. So now my dilemma is what to do?

The second thing, is that I have now retired from softball. I thought I did that a couple times in the past. The first time was after I hurt my shoulder and couldn't throw without pain, I did play with it for 10 or so years until I got so fed up with playing in pain that when our team dissolved I said I was done. During that winter, I got talked back into playing with a different team as they knew I could hit and said I could play a position that didn't require a lot of throwing. I decided to, as I was still relatively young, probably real close to 30, even though I knew it was a young persons game and I was getting pretty old (my how wisdom comes with age). I then thought I was done once again when I quit working at Unisys, I was now in my early 30's but another Unisys team convinced myself and a couple of my old teammates to play with them. We had known these guys for years and we agreed to play until one of their players retired, his name's Paul and I think he was 62 at that time, I figured he would play for a year or two more. Each year that went by, we got worse but it was still fun as we were occasionally competitive and I could still hit and the shoulder only hurt when I threw. Well last year at the end of the season I decided that I should retire from softball, I have thought about it all winter and came to the conclusion that I wasn't having fun anymore and frankly playing 2 softball games and then going on a long run a day or so later really didn't work that well together. So after 35 years of playing softball (current age of 52), it's over, I told them I was done and since I am a Bears fan, don't worry there's no chance that this will be a Farve, oh by the way, Paul is still playing, I think he is now 78.

So that's it, I am officially getting old, I can't see and I am no longer playing softball.

Now I am pretty sure I will eventually break down and keep those reading glasses close by, but by chance if I ever stop you on the trails and ask you to read my map, please just help me out as it's hell getting old..................

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2010 Race Dollars?

I was analyzing my 2010 race plans and costs to see if I should add in a few more races when I got a call. It was from the Comfort Suites in Duluth saying that they had a room available. We had our choice of a whirlpool room $289, fireplace room $309, or a room in their new building for $329. Now that is per night and it does not include taxes.

But first let me give just a few more details, it all started years ago when I ran my first marathon at Grandmas back in 1993. I ran it 10 years in a row and then missed a year and added in a couple more, so my Grandmas completion total sits at 12. Needless to say it is one of my favorite races. For many of the years that I had run Grandmas we usually stayed at the Edgewater along London Road. After my last Grandmas where we spent close to $700 for the Edgewater (that was in 2006, when they added their new waterpark), we figured if I ever did the race again, we should stay in Canal Park as the cost was not that more expensive and it would be a delight to just drive into Canal Park and park. We could then walk to the expo, watch or run the 5k, take in the boardwalk and the beauty of Lake Superior and the best reason of all, I could run the marathon and then hang a left and walk about 100 feet back to the hotel. I have to admit I love Grandmas, I love Duluth, so should we go back? So it was with that in mind that this past summer when we were in Duluth, I added our name to the Grandmas weekend wait lists at many of the hotels in Canal Park. For those that don't know, all of the hotels in Duluth (and most within 75 miles) sell out for the race so if you ever want to run Grandmas it can take some planning.

Since 2006, I have been boycotting Grandmas Marathon because of the costs. It is because of the cost for Grandmas that I started running marathons in other states, we figured instead of spending $1000 in Duluth why not go to 2 or 3 other states and run. So with the thought of spending the money to go up to Duluth, I went back and added it to my 2010 race cost projections and here is what I came up with (for the sake of simplicity, I have not included gas, food or any other extra costs, just the cost of the race (+processing fees) and hotels if needed or required).

Current 2010 projected race cost:
So based on costs, it is hard to justify adding Grandmas. The two night minimum hotel fee and the inflation for the rooms is still a hard one to digest. To think that I can run 3 50 milers, 2 50k's, 2 marathons and a triathlon for the same cost as Grandmas Marathon that too is hard to digest. Now to be fair, for Grandmas you can stay in a UMD dorm pretty inexpensively, you can try to camp at a state park or many other places in the area or you could drive up the morning of the race, oh you can't do that as there is no packet pick available on race morning. I have debated before driving to Duluth (~2 1/2 hours), picking up my packet on Friday, driving back home and then driving back Saturday morning for the race but that just seemed like a bit too much hassle for me.

So much as I would like to add one more Grandmas as it would get me to my magic number of 13 Grandmas completed, I think instead I will just wait a few more years and run it in 2013. Somehow that seems to make sense.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Life lesson - Minnesota driving

I figure that another thing I should collect beyond my songs is the little lessons of life that occasionally present themselves. Take this morning........

I knew it was snowing when I went to sleep, I also knew we were only getting an inch or two. No problem for Minnesotans, except lately I have become convinced Minnesotans really don't drive very well in the snow anymore, actually they don't drive that well when the conditions are good. Sorry I don't mean to whine, anyway, sure enough I listened to the morning traffic reports and the roads were backed up, rollovers, delays, great my normal 40 minute commute could be 1 or 2 hours.

So I got ready and headed out the door, I looked at our driveway and I decided to go ahead and shovel. I figured it would only take 10 minutes or so and it would be easier for my family. The snow was light so it went quickly, all I had left was the pile at the end of the driveway left by the plow. So I grabbed the grain shovel and was almost done when I heard something hit the shovel just as I launched it into the snow pile. I thought, oh xxxx, that was my Ipod. I always carry it in my shirt pocket. I felt into my pockets, nope not there, I looked at the pile and since it was still dark and my Ipod is silver I knew it was lost and since they aren't waterproof, probably gone forever. How could I survive without my Nano, I only listen to podcasts. I decided to search the snow pile, the top layer was loose snow, underneath you could feel the layer of hard packed snow and ice. I searched for another 5 minutes and declared it a loss, went inside, complained to my wife and daughter and left for work. I was not a happy camper, I muttered things like I hate winter, this was going to be a lousy day and few more things not suitable for my blog.

On the way to work I turned on KTLK, nope don't like the morning show, K102, nope too much talking, no country music, KQRS - talking, no classic rock, KKMS, christian, at least it was a song but no it was too mellow and I wasn't in a christian mood, I wanted my Ipod, checked out KNOW, NPR, sorry we call it MPR, Minnesota Public Radio, boring discussion, KTCZ, the Cities 97, talking, does anyone play music in the morning? I zipped through a few more stations and finally tuned in PraiseFM which was playing a song which I decided to listen to, I still was not very happy. I of course was also just a wee bit irritated with the traffic, my mind kept thinking bad thoughts, like drive you idiot, left lane fast, right lane slow, middle lane in-between, turn signals show intent, not results and all kinds of other not so nice things concerning my fellow drivers. As I got onto 494 at Pilot Knob and headed into Bloomington, the pathetically slow 494 strip, the idiot board said "Hwy 35W - over 20 minutes", "Hwy 100, over 25 minutes". Do I get off and take the side streets? I hate traffic, I hate winter............

I then had a couple of other thoughts pop into my head, they were things my mom used to say to me.

Stop and smell the roses. Smile, it's hard to be mad when you are smiling. Make the best out of a bad situation, you know lemonade from lemons when one last thing popped into my head.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

After thinking it through, I took a deep breath, said the prayer and almost immediately I relaxed and just let things flow by. I made it to work faster than I thought and my stress level kept getting lower. As I got out of my car I checked my pocket for my cell phone when what else did I find but my Ipod.

So if you are having a bad day, take a breath, say the prayer and then see if you, like me this morning don't find a little more peace in your life.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Running songs 1

I like to listen to music to get me going as I head out to run but I have to admit, music for more than an hour while running bugs me. Since I am sure the music I listen to will never be heard by the current generation of youngsters (like my daughters), I have decided to occasionally post the songs I like to listen to while running or while heading to a race to get my energy going. Since I have a lot of songs I will post 2 or 3 every so often.

Before I get to the songs, I need to insert the following disclaimer:
When I post a song I usually check the lyrics but I may not always do so, so be aware that like many folks it's the main chorus I focus on or maybe just a line or two in the song, not all of the lyrics, so please do not hold me accountable for any lyrics that offend or seem inappropriate in any way but you may hold me accountable if you happen to like any of the songs.

The first song is from a band my wife and I have enjoyed through the years and this song in particular seems appropriate for today's times when folks want to take the easy way out. The bottom line is that it pretty much captures my beliefs. The band is Sawyer Brown and the song is "Dirt Road"

The second song is from John Mellencamp (a fellow Hoosier from the town of Seymour, just south of my hometown) and it's a song that if I am struggling on a run, I love to hear it as it always gets me moving again. The song is called "I'm not running anymore", take a listen. The majority of the lyrics don't apply but if you are hitting a wall, you might get a smile over the chorus at least I do.

The third song, is a song I have always found helps get me energized and it reflects what I like to think we all do when we run marathons and beyond. It came out when I was in college and the name of the band is Molly Hatchet and the song is called "Flirtin with Disaster". I should add that this version is from 1979 so the audio is not the best but the more current version is from a later incarnation of the band and unless you want to feel old, you may not want to look at it, just in case here is a link.

Hope you enjoy but don't worry if you don't I will.


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