Friday, October 16, 2015

Running Race Acronyms

Runner Lingo  50+ Definitions of Common Running Terms & AcronymsWhen I first started running I had to learn running terms, things like the following:

DNF - Did Not Finish
DNS - Did Not Start
DFL - Dead F*cking Last
PR - Personal Record
PB - Personal Best
PW - Personal Worst

There are many more but while I was on a run recently, I came up with one of my own:


Which stands for "Should Not Start", this reflects what I ponder at most of my races :-). So what is the criteria folks use for should I start or not? For me, it's pretty simple. Here are the questions I go through:
  • Can I finish within the time limit?
  • Will I cause more damage?
  • Will it cost me more to go than what I have invested in race fees?
  • Do I have a race streak going?
  • Would I feel better to finish last or to not start?
  • What's the worse thing that will happen?
  • Am I ok with a DNF if things go bad?
  • My last question always is, what do I have to lose?
You might be thinking that a SNS leads to a DNS which could be true but in my case it usually leads to a finish, I guess it also has lead to a DNF, DFL, PR, PB and PW. So all things considered if I look all of my marathons over the last 2 years all were SNS but apparently I seldom heed to logic and common sense.

Now about Mankato, should I go? Of course I will probably give it a go :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Twin Cities Marathon - Ultra Loony Challege Weekend

I went into this year's Ultra Loony Weekend about like last years. Somewhat injured which made me think, why I am doing this. That's easy, because I enjoy it. Yes I would enjoy it a whole lot more if I had no injuries but I still enjoy myself.

Turned out, I took a bit longer to recover from Walker then I had planned, my legs felt great but my PTT had my foot/ankle hurting. My post Walker runs were not good but I was able to get through them and I figured I should still go for it as I made it last year and I was no worse than then.

I met Karyn at the expo again this year, she had decided to run the 10k which meant we could drive up together and run the 10k together. At the expo, I ran into quite a few people I know. I talked with Dane L. who was running backwards from the finish to the start and then back to the finish as training for Javelina, oh to be an ultrarunner again. I then ran into John Storkamp and to my surprise he knew my name, pretty much made my day. I suffer what many back of the packers probably do, I know about all of the runners by name but figure that they don't know who I am as why should they. I had a similar experience a few years back when Helen L. (now S.) knew my name when I weighed in at FANs. Anyway, it was nice, I also ran into a neighbor who was running the 10 miler and a former co-worker who was also doing the 10 miler. My other highlight of the expo was when I stopped by the Twin Cities in Motion booth and when they heard I was doing the Ultra Loony Challenge again, one of them said so that makes you a charter member which means I will be doing it again next year and the year after and so on, well you get the idea. I picked up my numbers and shirts  and Karyn got hers and we were out of there. When we got home though I noticed that Karyn had a 5k chip and shirt, oops back to the expo to get the right chip and shirt.

We got to the 10k in plenty of time, parking again at the same garage as last year which was free and close to the festivities, sure beats paying the $20 for the Sears lot. We ran the 10k together with no issues, I did my run-walk after the first mile and it went pretty well. A little slower (about a minute and a 1/2) than last year but the foot didn't bother me too much. For the 5k, it was chaos, as some walkers got too close to the start so runners were going around, add in all the young kids and I saw 4 or 5 runners get tripped up and hit the pavement. Once we got up the hill, things spaced out a bit and I was able to get into my run-walk routine, for the 5k my time was about a minute faster than the year before but the pace seemed fine and although the foot was sore I was still optimistic about the marathon.

For the marathon, like the year before I asked Karyn to drop me at the light rail station in Bloomington which worked great the year before. Of course this year, I screwed up and forgot my Garmin which led to us turning around when we were only about 5 minutes away but it had me muttering some words that shouldn't be said. Ok muttering might not be that accurate. Well it worked out ok as Karyn got me to the light rail and I made the train with 15 seconds to spare. Even if I had missed that one I would have been fine but I would have stressed a lot more.

The race started and my plan was to use the run-walk approach and if it went well, to finish in 5 1/2 hrs if the foot worked ok, maybe faster. It's funny for me to say that I use the run-walk approach as I can't run longer than a few minutes at a time.

Things got off a bit rocky when I looked at my Garmin after a few minutes of running and it showed a 15 minute/mile pace which caused instant stress. I was running and expected to see 10 min/mile pace. It turned out ok as I hit the 1 mile marker at just under 12 minutes with my Garmin showing the distance at .85 miles which explained the slower early pace. After that it was  accurate and I stayed focused and relaxed. I saw a co-worker at mile 4, ran into Scott Huston around mile 8 or so, we chatted briefly and then I continued.

It was shortly after that when my foot/ankle started causing me more issues. I tried to focus on my form which can help me ignore the pain but by mile 12 I knew the day might go longer than I hoped. I held things together until around mile 15 when I almost had to sit down as the pain was so intense. I hopped on it a bit and walked through it and then walked a bit more and it calmed down but the problem with the foot/ankle is that when it gets intense I walk slower and run slower as I can't push off and I lose time which causes stress. I accepted that my time goal might be lost and hobbled my way forward.

I just wanted to get to the Franklin bridge, and then the Medtronic water stop, Alarc wall, St. Thomas hill, have a beer somewhere on Summit and eventually get to the cathedral one more time. One thing that kept going through my head when I debated dropping before the bridge was that I can't as I am a charter member of the Ultra Loony so I had to keep going. I had my beer around mile 23 (thank you Growler) and then just kept going and although it seemed like forever it was over with before I knew it. My slowest Twin Cities ever (5:49:06) but it was a marathon and an Ultra Loony finish so I was happy to have it over.

This year everything worked out, the volunteers were fabulous, the weather was the best ever and the course is gorgeous. My thanks to the organization, sponsors and volunteers, great event. Can't wait until next year to do it all again.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Walker North Country 2015

Well it happened, I have finally run a marathon and finished DFL but I finished. I debated long and hard running the Walker North Country this year but I couldn't resist doing it again. After all it was my Birthday weekend, what better way to celebrate a birthday.

Here's the story, I am still plagued by Posterior Tibial Tendon pain and when I run any trails it tends to get pretty painful. Well the Walker North Country has trails and I had pain.

I signed up for the early start as I figured I might need the extra time. Saw Karen G. at the start, turned out she too had signed up for the early start. We decided to start running together, I warned her I would be doing my Galloway run-walk and she was welcome to join me. We did it maintaining a sub 12 minute pace until we hit the trails after mile 7,  I told her I would be fast walking the trails as I feared the trails would cause my foot to get a bit unhappy and by the time we left the trails around mile 12, the foot was hurting. Anyway, back on smooth trails we got back into the run-walk rhythm. I was hoping the foot would calm down but it was throbbing as we hit the second trail section which did me in. Karen took off during this section, I had felt bad that she was staying with me and kept telling her she could take off so was happy to see her go as she was running well. I switched shoes at mile 19 1/2 (Hwy 34 crossing where Karyn was waiting, she had again run the 10k and it sounded like she enjoyed herself) with the hope it would help. I had started the race wearing my New Balance 980's which I had hoped would protect the foot as they are about my stiffest pair of shoes.

Switching shoes (to Altra Repetitions) helped but stopping would have been the best option. I basically hobbled the rest of the way and may have been better to not have switched, regardless I continued to hope that I could get the foot calm which never happened. I eventually walked the final hill, ran through the finish and thought to myself that I bet I just finished in last place. Turns out I did,

All things considered an enjoyable day even with the foot, it does confirm that I need to stay away from trails although one thing that did work that I tried was wearing a compression knee wrap and I was thrilled as I had no knee pain on the trails, granted it was more hiking than running but that is still the first time since my knee surgery that I was able to be on trails without knee pain :-).

Oh well no permanent damage was done and I think it still counts as a marathon finish, now it's on to the Ultra Loony Challenge at TCM.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Update time

It's been a busy summer, actually it's been a great summer although not so much from a running perspective. After Grandma's I hemmed and hawed about what to do with the foot and finally scheduled the MRI, I knew it would either end my running for awhile or force me to make some changes.

Image result for posterior tibial tendon attachmentThe good news is the MRI was negative, no fracture, he bad news is that means that I have tendinitis. Specifically the Posterior Tibial Tendon at the attachment point to the navicular. I have pretty much figured out all of things that aggravate it and am working to deal with those issues. I may need some PT before I get it all resolved but my concern is that Doctors/PT folks focus on the pain points not the cause so I so I am being my normal stubborn self and working my way through it. I am sure the cause is the calf tear and am foam rolling that and taping the tendon.

As I work through it, I am ramping my long runs with plans to run Walker, then the Ultra Looney followed by Mankato and who knows maybe a few more yet this year.

One other thing, I have pretty much given up on trail running. I have tried a couple times over the last few weeks but my knee just can't do it, funny thing is it is ok on roads. So I am going to take what I can do and be content. The only thing I can figure out is that there is something about the uneven surfaces must be causing my lack of meniscus to cause what feels like bone hitting bone. My plan is to work to get the tendinitis resolved and then maybe try it out again next year. I do miss my trails.

Oh yeah before anyone comments, yes I know Walker has trails but my plan will be to walk the trails so as not to cause me issues. It will slow down my time but I can deal with that.

Happy trails to all...................

Monday, August 24, 2015


Last weekend I got up on Saturday morning and decided to try to run in Lebanon Hills. The last time I tried Lebanon I was hobbled for a couple of days but this time I was hoping for a different outcome.

Anyway when I went out to my car, I noticed the gas door was open and the driver side door wasn't completely closed, no big deal I figured I must have just been a hurry when I got home on Friday. I drove over to Lebanon and had decided to wear my Altra Repetitions figuring that they would be nice and stable and hopefully protect the knee and foot. Turns out I was wrong, I had significant knee pain and then foot pain too. Oh well, when I got back to my car I started to reach for my flip flops that Karyn had gotten me (they work great for the PTT) when I noticed that they were gone. Then I checked the center consoles where I had a few singles in one and a $5 dollar bill in the other one. At least I thought I did, then I noticed that there were only my work shoes in the front seat,

Then it clicked, someone had taken stuff out of my car while it sat in our driveway on Friday.

My net loss was $7 in cash, 2 pairs of running shoes and the flip flops.

So be on the lookout for my Brooks Pure Cadence 3, Blue with ~125 miles on them. I loved these shoes, I ran Minneapolis, Med City and 16 miles at Grandmas and was planning on running my fall marathons in them.
Brooks PureCadence 3 Minimalist Running Shoes (For Men) in Caribbean Sea/Black/High Risk Red
My second pair only had ~50 miles but they had caused knee pain previously and I had just added them back into the rotation with the thought that their stability might help he foot.
What a bummer, so I called the Rosemount police to be on the lookout for my shoes.

I replaced my shoes with some low cost options from clearance but they didn't have my Pure Cadence 3's. So I will be looking to get a pair before TCM, as I want them as an option in case the other ones don't work.

So I guess the lesson should be, leave my old shoes in the front seat and make sure I lock my car :-).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon
I went into the 2015 Grandmas with no concerns about finishing just a big question on what my pace would be and what time I might get.

We did our new tradition for Grandmas, camped at Pattison State Park just south of Superior. It's quite cost effective and low key. Again this year, the forecast was for rain. That's getting to be a tradition. Anyway, we originally were coming up on Thursday but with a lot going on at work for both Karyn and me, we decided to just come up Friday morning. We arrived at Pattison, quickly got our camp up and then went to the DECC for packet pickup and spaghetti.

As always the DECC was packed with folks for the expo and packet pick-up but I endured the crowds and we enjoyed the spaghetti one more year. Karyn and I discussed multiple options for the race, she originally was going to sign-up for the Irvin, realized she was too late, thought about taking the train to the start, again too late. So she said she would drive me to the start line. It worked out great as we were able to go into Two Harbors, use the rest room and get some coffee and do the last few things before the start. It had started to rain and it looked like the thunderstorms were going to cause delays. The person at the coffee shop said the lake would push the storms south so we would be good for the race. I went ahead and had Karyn drop me off, thankfully we had a cheap poncho in our camping supplies, it kept me somewhat dry as the rain became more intense. All I did was wait in the pouring rain in the restroom line right up to the start. That's the nice part of being a back of the pack runner, no reason to push up through the crowd.

The race started and I was enjoying how much better I felt than the year before, I had some foot pain but no knee pain and with the marathons in May, I had confidence in my fueling strategy. So I just kind of cruised through the miles and the rain. I saw Karyn a couple of times and asked her to bring my other shoes so that I could try switching to reduce or change the pain in my foot. I have come to really like the Brooks Pure Cadence's which were the shoes I wore in my previous 3 marathons. I had recently bought a pair of Kinvara's as I thought they might make a decent alternative and I picked them up for $37.99, who could pass up that deal :-). In a training run right before Grandmas I discovered that the Kinvaras change my foot pain so I was hoping that switching to dry shoes and different pain would get me to the finish a bit quicker.

Image result for navicular bone and posterior tendonTurned out that they helped by changing the pain, but pain is pain so they didn't help me out too much. I made my way onto London Road had my traditional beers and then worked my way to the finish. Along London Road, I decided getting the MRI for the foot was going to happen as I needed to find out what was going on. I can't remember what if anything I have posted about the foot but the pain is in the arch, right where the Posterior Tibial tendon attaches to the Navicular bone in the foot. My Doctor., said it was either a nasty case of tendinitis or a navicular stress fracture and getting the MRI to let him diagnose it was my best option. I told him I would deal with it after Grandmas. Anyway, I slowed down quite a bit along London road right before Lemon Drop and then the pain equalized so I was able to pick up my running with the same amount of pain as walking so I decided to run again and I meandered my way to the finish.

Afterward, we went to Sammy's for pizza, our long time tradition, run the marathon and then swing in for some pizza at the downtown Sammy's. Never a wait and nothing tastes as good after a marathon then a slice of Sammy's and a cold beer.

Overall, I was happy with my day, and although my time was slow, it was my fastest Grandmas since 2004.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Minneapolis Marathon

My third marathon in May is complete and it went well.

Turned out to be the fastest of the three (albeit still a very slow time for most runners) and was probably the hardest of the 3 courses. I was again using the Galloway run-walk approach of 60-60 and it again worked well. I lost a few minutes in the last 2 miles but that was more due to the foot as I couldn't run down hills on it. My splits were pretty consistent so this method is working and my recovering is quick as evidence of running Med City last week and running consistently today.

Although I did say I wasn't going to discuss injuries this year, this is not the same issue I had last year with my plantar, I believe it's a return of posterior tibial tendinitis or it could be the tibialis anterior tendon. The good news is I taped it with KT tape this week after Med City and it seemed to help. It is quite tender at the attachment point to the foot near the medial cuneiform (I think). I may go in and get it looked at to see if there is anything I can do to get pain free ahead of Grandmas

Back to Minneapolis, what an enjoyable marathon. The volunteers were great but the course is what I enjoyed (see map and elevation profile below). Considering the cancellation of last years event, this year was a nice recovery by Team Ortho and did I mention how perfect the weather was this year, blue sky, mid 40's at the start, low 60's at the finish. I also think it's a decent value, you pay ~$80, you get a jacket (picture from the website) which is pretty nice and are running through a major city which adds a bit of cost. Although I still don't like that they hand out a finisher's jacket ahead of the race and I believe sell them at the expo. Can't blame them for wanting to make some money but then I would prefer it to not say finisher, anyway it's a nice participant jacket.

The marathon starts in Theodore Wirth, heads north through Victory Memorial parkway, meanders over 94 and the river,snakes through North Minneapolis, through St. Anthony, through the U of M and then down east River road, over the Franklin bridge to west river road and down to Minnehaha Park where we turn around, staying on West River road, cross over the Franklin avenue bridge to East River road, back towards the U of M then cross over the Northern Pacific bridge (nice view from there of the river) and end up finishing in Gold Medal Park.

MM15 Technical Course Map

MM15 M Elevation

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Data doesn't lie

I was lamenting my recent marathon times trying to figure out how I can get back to running sub 5 hrs or even a little over 5 hrs when I chose to do a little data analysis, here goes.

Key data points:
Image result for cartoon images of data analysis1st marathon - 1993 at age 35, weight ~185
1st knee surgery - 1999 at age 41, weight ~194
2nd knee surgery -2003 at age 45, weight ~205

23 Marathons run from 1993 through 2003
Average time - 4:38
Fastest time - 4:02 (1st and 3rd marathon)
Slowest time - 5:22 (after knee surgery)
Lowest weight - 180
Max weight - 205 (after 2nd surgery)

20 Marathons run from 2004 through 2015
Average time - 5:43
Fastest time - 5:03 (lowest weight)
Slowest time - 6:27 (after plantar rupture)
Lowest weight - 208
Max weight - 230

Image result for running images with quotesSo the knee surgeries did ultimately hurt as did running through injuries and I was 10 years older but the bottom line is weight may be the key issue. It may not come as a surprise but during my first 10 years of running marathons I more often got to the start line injured, many of which should have kept me from running the event. So all things considered, if I want to get faster, the best option would appear to be to drop 30+ lbs and then see what happens.

My plan for this year has been to work on weight and I have dropped a few pounds but my main focus has been on running marathons without causing new injuries. I have had some success but have a few nagging issues that I am working through. My current weight is around 227 down from probably a peak of 235 and I am planning to be at 222 for Grandmas and 212 by TCM.

My actual plan is to drop 35 lbs by 4/1/2016. I set that goal this past April when I realized that my losing weight by running wasn't working and my metabolism probably needed a boost to get things working well. I tend to accomplish things I write down and now by posting it in my blog I am pretty sure I will follow through.

Stay tuned for future updates in the coming weeks.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Med City Marathon

Another marathon finished.

Med City MarathonThe foot was sore throughout so I didn't push it but instead focused on my fueling. I do enjoy running this event. I have viewed these initial marathons as training runs, that said I am not sure I could have gone a whole lot faster. The test will come at Grandmas where I will have 3 weeks to taper after Mpls. Back to Med City, I drove down the morning of and parked in the 1st street lot which is within 100 ft of the buses to the start line and free on the weekends. Picked up my packet in Byron, got ready and before I knew it, I was underway.

For this event, I chose to not wear my Nathan, instead relying on carrying a couple of water bottles loaded with Nuun, clif shot blocks and jelly bellys in my pockets. I wanted to make sure that I ate a bit more and stayed on top of my nutrition.

The weather for today was drizzle but the temp was perfect, not too cold nor hot. Probably not the best day for volunteers.

The course for this year was altered as they are working on the Convention Center. I didn't know that until I went by it around mile 20 or so. The course is really pretty interesting, your run in from Byron, head out to Quarry Park, move over to the jail, then the Technical college, down to Bear Creek and then back towards downtown, then along the Zumbro, around Soldiers golf course and then on to the finish. You can see from the Garmin data that it loops around a bit. Very Enjoyable.

Anyway, I finished and the nutrition plan worked, I was not very fast, but the pace seemed to work and I wasn't in last place so I guess it was a good day.

Oh one last thing, when you finish Med City, MN RED serves you a beer. This year they had Summit IPA and Grain Belt, nothing like a cold beer after a marathon.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lake Wobegon Marathon

As predicted my training was close but not good enough.

The race went overall pretty well but around 20 miles the foot got pretty sore and I messed up on fueling so the wheels sputtered. I finished but lost 12 to 15 minutes over the final 6 or 7 miles, hopefully I can stay on track at Med City.

It was a beautiful day and the volunteers were great. The Lake Wobegon course is nicer than I would have expected from a bike trail. I thought it would be boring but between the towns, some creeks, some roads, some trees and bridges it was enjoyable. The one part that wasn't enjoyable was when around mile 5 the sweeper came up along side of me as I was in last place. He was on a bike and we talked off and on for the next 13 miles. Around mile 18 I passed a runner and the sweeper stayed with him. It was nice to be alone again and not in last place. After that I continued on until the gas meter went low. It was funny as some bikers passed and then about a 1/2 hour later they came back by and one of them offered me a gel. I must've looked like I needed it, I thanked him but said I had my own except I hadn't taken in anything for 2 hours. So my nutrition for the day consisted of a packet of jelly bellys about an hour in, followed by 2 or 3 Clif  shot blocks at 2 hours and then the gel around 4 hrs which explains the loss of energy. I drank Nuun throughout which works well for me for fluids and electrolytes.

The foot has continued to be sore,not really sure what the issue is as I have some real sensitivity above the arch on the navicular. Tomorrow will be a test, my thinking is to give it a go and if things aren't right to think about a DNF. Hopefully it works out.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Marathon Season begins

Lake Wobegon Trail MarathonSo my first race of the year is Saturday, the Lake Wobegon Marathon.

Am I ready, yes and no, Yes as I have gotten in some training but it wasn't as much as I was hoping for and no as I still have some issues with the foot and I have not lost the weight I figured I would lose. Oh well, I will be in no hurry and my plan is to simply take what my body is capable of doing and seeing what happens. Worst case I DNF all other cases say I finish. As a reminder to myself, my goal is to finish.

I will again be using the Galloway method, I am not sure what time intervals yet, that will be a Saturday morning decision. Over the last few weeks I have tried a variety of time intervals, ranging from 4 minutes running - 1 minute walking to 60 seconds running - 40 seconds walking to 45 seconds running - 30 seconds walking to 30 seconds running - 20 seconds walking. The good news is that they all work and I should be able to run between 12 and 13 minute miles. Here is Galloway's recommendation from a recent podcast, you can also check out his website.

Pace/Mile Ratio Ratio Ratio
13 to 14 30-30 20-20 15-15
12 to 13 45-30 30-20 15-10
11 to 12 60-30 40-20 30-15
10 to 11 90-30 60-20 30-10
Sub 9 120-30 80-20 40-10

On my final longish run (17 miles) I did find the short duration bursts (30-20) to possibly work the best as my HR never got higher than 125 although I did have a low sugar or something moment where things fell apart for a few miles around mile 12 or so. One negative of the short bursts is that it did take some mental energy to stay on task. I hadn't thought about the effect of using Galloway on HR, but in reviewing the data over the last 3 long runs it does keep the HR lower by 5 to 15 beats per mile over the distance which makes sense. Does that help extend the distance, I don't know but I will be experimenting all summer so maybe I will figure it out.

Time to focus on resting this week so I hit the line feeling good.


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