Friday, October 13, 2017

Ultra Loony Completed

Another Ultra Loony completed, this one was the most interesting of them all although each one has been a great adventure. I went into the event with 3 weeks of not quite normal training after 6 weeks of not being able to run.  Up until the first race started I wasn't sure if I had should even attempt trying to do the races. I had run every Ultra Loony and although I finished the slowest or all Ultra Loony finishers last year I still finished (last year was another race running through an injury). Part of my mindset for this years race was although the pain was far more difficult to absorb than the previous year, I had manage it during the 3 weeks I worked to get to marathon pace and I hadn't tore it again so maybe it would hold or I could deal with it. Plus, I had tapered a week, so my injury might even have healed and then you add in the normal marathon magic and I just had to go for it.

The weather forecast was great for Saturday and ok for Sunday for temp but rain was in the forecast. They ended up right.
 The first event was the 10k which I again was running with my wife (Karyn) and besides the hip adductor pretty much wouldn't allow me to run hard at all but I wasn't sure if I could hold her pace or not. The good news was that Karyn didn't push it hard (thank you) and had decided to do a 10-1 run-walk method which I went along with. It kept it mentally easy for me and the only complication was when I talked to an old friend at the water station at mile 5 and then I had to push it to catch back up to her. That was not easy but I made it and did no damage. So in some ways although I did have moderate pain, I was able to endure it and get to the finish line. Although, coming down the hill to the finish line was a problem as every step radiated in the hip but I manage it.

The next event was the 5k and this year my daughter (Katie) and her husband (Andrew) decided to run so I decided to just go my own pace and let them go at their own pace. I knew with my run-walk method especially in a 5k, it might not be easy to stay with them. As it turned out, I got a bit swept up in race excitement and really was enjoying the new course, they took us down Selby and then looped over to Summit versus the normal up Summit, turnaround and back down Summit. A nice change. I was able to actually run a bit faster than I had planned and other than the downhill to the finish I was quite pleased. That radiated a little more than it did in the 10k. I finished with no damage and then my daughter and her husband finished shortly after me.

The highlight of the Saturday events though was watching my granddaughter (Maddie - age 2 1/2) run the 1/2 mile. She had a smile on her face the whole time and watching her zigzag the course with her parents was a delight. She even fell down and popped right up and kept on going. When she came over to high five my wife and myself, we were thrilled.

The marathon, the big and final test as during my 3 week ramp I had not been able to go over 10 miles without experiencing serious pain. Originally my youngest daughter (Kristin) had signed up but her work schedule had kept her from getting in the runs she needed to be able to do the race and as it turned out was out of town for the weekend.
I had rested the week leading up to the marathon and had not had any change in pain on Saturday so I was hoping I would hold up. I have run so many events injured that whether I like it or not, I have to face the fact that for whatever reason, I am comfortable to embrace and manage running in pain. I am sure the psycho babble folks could explain it and probably tell me of my character flaws, I just know I can do it so I do and I don't think I am the worse for doing so, in many ways I think it has helped me to have greater confidence and belief in myself as continuing to push through pain has given me satisfaction. Don't misunderstand, being injury free and trained so I can run hard and finish strong is even more satisfying.

For the marathon, my only goal was to finish ahead of the cutoff and with that in mind my plan was to try and run around 13 min/mile pace through the first 10, then 15, then 20 and then get to the finish. Oh with this in mind I did have one other goal, run mile 21 to 22 faster than the previous 20 miles average pace. If I did this then I would win a free pair of Brook Leviates. The concept of winning those shoes kept me thinking about going slow and to take it a mile at a time.

The day ended up having more than a few twists. The plan was again for Karyn to drive me to the light rail station in Bloomington and then pick me up at the finish line. The first twist, Karyn woke up with the flu, so I drove myself to Bloomington thinking she might recover enough and still make it or my daughter was coming so maybe I would get a ride from her.

At the start line, I met some friends for a work picture as my company had formed a TCM marathon corporate team. We met at the Viking ship, as a Bears fan, it was awkward and what's up with "skol". I also looked for my Marathon Maniacs group as we too talked about meeting up at the boat for a picture but with the rain disrupting the morning, I did not see any maniacs. The race started without any issues and the first 5 miles went great, my pace was around 12:50, not 13 but not 12:00 or 12:30's so I was doing good and the pace had felt easy and the hip pain was mostly negligible. I was basically doing 30-30 galloway but would add extra walking time to keep the mile from getting too quick.

As I cross the road to go around Calhoun, my left knee flipped out and I had excruciating pain (this is my knee with almost no medial meniscus left and the one that I had a cyst in it a while back right on the joint line). I tried to hop/skip/run/walk through it which didn't work and then I had to go to a very slow awkward walk as it was still hurting. As I started to freak out, I just kept walking and telling myself, it's ok, give it time, you are doing fine, you are still moving forward. I just needed to chill and relax and see if it goes away. Thankfully after a little more than a quarter mile it did and I was able to resume my pace. The knee was a bit tender going around Calhoun and Harriet but it was manageable and it took the focus off the hip.

I  ran into a buddy from work around mile 9, he provided me a great pick me up as provided some very positive comments and after chatting with him I started believing I would be able to do it and the positive energy was just awesome and it lee me to thinking, enjoy this, you will give it your all, it's one step at a time, just stay focused in the moment. I started to process the race by just looking at the next milestone in front of me, like get to Nokomis, get to Minnehaha Falls, get to the river, get to the beer stop (normally the Hash House Harriers provide it before the Franklin bridge), cross the river, get through Alarc wall, get to St. Thomas hill, get to the real beer stop, get to Summit, get to the hill, Finish. But for now, just keep moving forward and focus on where you are not how far you have to go and enjoy every minute as you are doing what you love.

As I neared the 1/2 way point, I saw my Katie, Andrew and Maddie, what a great pick me up. They said to keep going and they would see me for sure at St. Thomas. I have had unbelievable support from my family for my running and I so appreciate what they have allowed me to be able to do. Thank you!!

After Nokomis on the way to Minnehaha Falls, I saw a legendary ultra runner named John Taylor (he is a 100 miler finishing machine and always is so positive) who was watching the race. I yelled his name expecting him to just wave or something (probably thinking who was that guy as we have chatted in the past but it has now been years since I have been able to run trails or we have talked), yet he recognized me which again gave me a huge mental boost. I do so miss the trail running community and the trails.

As I got through the Falls, the rain started picking up, we had some off and on rain earlier but nothing sustained. Now I do love running in the rain, I don't like to have to go out the door into the rain but rain during a run, I enjoy. As I went down West River Road, I was hurting but I knew I was on pace to finish and I kept telling myself, you are doing this, you hip has held up through 15, just get to 18, enjoy the rain, you know you will not stop so keep the pace so later if everything blows up, you can walk to the finish. I was hobbling during this section but so were a lot of other runners. As I neared the Franklin bridge, I was almost freaking out again but this time with an overwhelming amount of positive energy that I was going to make it. I crossed over the river and my focus turned to maintain the pace so that you can win the shoes. I had decided before the start that if I could run the pace I should that I would go for the shoes and run mile 21 up the hill as hard as I could, if my hip blew, I would walk it in. This strategy worked great during the race as it kept me moving at my planned pace with no urgency to go faster as that might take away my chance for shoes (and blow out the hip).

Mile 21 came and I went for it and I did it! Here is a copy of what I received from Brooks after the race:

Dear Runner,

Congratulations! You successfully conquered the Brooks Infinite Energy Mile during the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. You have won a free pair of BrooksLevitates as a result of your tremendous accomplishment. 

As a reminder, the Brooks Infinite Energy Mile was between mile markers 21 and 22 on the course, and you won by having a faster split time for that mile than your average pace from the start of the race to the beginning of 21. That is not easy, and we commend you!

As I got up the hill I saw Katie, Andrew and Maddie again, what a great pick me up as the weather was not good for spectators. I asked her if she had talked to her Mom and she said she was not feeling any better. After I went by them, I thought that they must have brought 2 cars, wow what dedication to supporting me as I knew her husband had to go in to work around 2. I was hurting a bit as I continued past St. Thomas, part of the pain was normal based on my limited running coming into the event, part of it was the hip was still not happy with me for running up the hill (or probably at all) to go for the shoes. The pain was manageable as I knew I could still make the cutoff by walking it in but I wanted to finish this up as quickly as I could as the rain was starting to affect many runners around me and I thought it might get me as well. So I just tried to stay in the moment and worked to keep the run-walk thing happening. I again have to give credit to Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk program, as it again was working for me so unbelievably well that I was almost in shock that I was able to do this race thus far so consistently. Thank you Jeff!.

Before too long, I was on John Ireland and headed to the hill. As expected it hurt but it was still a good hurt as I was about to finish my 12th Twin Cities Marathon and complete my 4th Ultra Loony Challenge (and maintain the charter streak :-)

I saw Katie and Maddie as I came into the finish and stopped and chatted, she said she would be getting a ride home as her husband did have to go to work. I thought to myself, that might be a problem. After the finish, I picked up my clothes (a dry shirt and jacket were so needed and felt so good) and medals and I told Katie that no problem getting a ride except my car was at 28th street station. We checked with Karyn (not doing well enough to drive) and discussed options (Uber, etc...) but decided to take the light rail from St. Paul to US West to pick up the light rail to where my car was (Green Line to Blue Line - approximately an 1 hr and a half but free for those that were running today). This was working great and Maddie was enjoying the train ride  except our timing wasn't good as we arrived at US Bank Stadium coincided with the Viking game ending so it was a packed train to our stop (it was the most purple I have ever seen). It all worked out just fine, Maddie was a hit with the Viking fans and they were interested in hearing about the marathon. And I would be remiss to not say the Fans were very nice, almost made me think good things of the Vikings and yes I had told them I was a Bears fan.

We had one more issue in getting home, I don't have a car seat in my car so the last complication was driving home to get Karyn's car and then heading to the MOA to pick up Katie and Maddie.

The good news is it all worked out just fine.

To sum up this event, I ran a conservative (slow pace) and was able to maintain it most of the way. I am pretty sure it allowed me to win the Brooks shoes as mile 21-22 was my fastest mile of the first 22. The hip did better than I thought and although we had 10 miles of rain, it was mostly light. The temp was good and I am quite happy to have made it through the events.

I love being able to enjoy the events of Twin Cities Marathon weekend with the family and this year watching Maddie finish her first race was a blast, with her huge smile and determination to finish, she epitomized the fun of running, what a great event and what great memories from it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ultra Loony update - "ok to go"?

On this morning's run, for whatever reason I kept thinking about should I run the Ultra Loony, can I do it, can I endure it, and then I started thinking differently, I kept saying to myself,  I am ok to go, ok to go, ok to go and then this movie popped into my head and I simply laughed to myself:

I am becoming optimistic that I will be able to make it through the weekend, the Saturday events are for sure good now, the question will be what happens during the marathon. As a reference, I ran 4 miles today on the Greenway and was able to maintain what I had hoped would have been my marathon pace, now it's probably my 10k pace. When I did try to push the pace further, the hip twinged and I throttled back as it started to throb. I have run this route quite a few times so I decided to check my times in Strava, you can see that today's run was the slowest, oddly enough the fastest was from the week before the injury, oh well.

Image result for running through pain images
I will be going on a few more runs between now and the marathon as part of my taper, a longish run over the weekend (10 to 13 miles) and then a handful of 3 to 5 mile runs. I hope to see continued improvement in the hip and I still need to decide which shoes will give me the best chance of finishing or do my shoes matter? Will I be able to do it? Can I manage the pain? What else can go wrong?

Regardless of all of this, the bottom line is that I am just happy to be where I am..............

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ultra Loony update

Well, the training so to speak is in the bag and it's taper time for TCM weekend, I got through 17 miles yesterday and I have a chance. Here are my weekly totals for the last 7 weeks:


I have made progress especially considering just 2 weeks ago I could only walk and that was a slow walk (to put it in perspective, 9 miles of the 32 miles from last week were a walk on labor day, a few days later I was able to do a run-walk and so it began). I still have no speed or turnover and if I do try to stretch it out, the pain is increased. The good news is I am able to do the run-walk and I know it can work and I am hoping that the 2 week taper will get me to the starting line just a little bit healthier and increase my odds further. Regardless, I intend to give it a go. What do I have to lose? I have had a DNF, I can live with another one if I have to but I don't want a DNS.

Back to my long run for this marathon journey, I felt good for about 12 or 13 miles but then I slowed down as the pain increased and I ended up having to walk the last 2 miles and could not have run through it. That said, I am close to being able to get to a marathon pace and if I can have a little marathon majic it will happen. It has before.

When I am faced with these go/no go decisions, I think why do I do this? The answer is fairly simple, because I can and it's what I signed up for. Yes, this adductor tear is not fun but I have healed enough to get through the 10k and 5k and possibly the marathon. Would I rather abort the Loony and just do the marathon, no. I want it all and if I can heal a bit more and manage the pain, I can do it. Last year I had the knee issue which made for a very, very long day but I got through it, was it fun, yes at times and at other times, it was not, as matter of fact, I do remember pausing and taking a deep breath and was close to dropping but then I leaned in and I embraced it and savored it all the way to the finish.

Image result for images about running in pain
It's about putting your mind to it and then shutting out the negatives. I will be slow and it will be an extremely long day again but I want to try, no I have to try, it is who I am. In so many ways, knowing I feel every step means I am alive, to run without pain would be and is a great experience, I so look forward to having those kind of runs again. For this Ultra Loony though,  I do know that managing the pain will be the journey and I will embrace it and do what I can, which what I have on the day. I will ask myself to start and command, plead my way to the finish (I do love the internal debate I will have) and if it's meant to be, I will do it. If it is not then I will welcome the journey and go as long as I can.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ultra Loony update - training is overrated

I tried to run today as I was hoping to get things back on track, it was my first attempt since I tore the adductor muscle a month ago, well it didn't go well, had pain on each step which I kind of expected as it is still sore. I did figure out that I might be able to do a fast walk though so some progress and possibly what I will need to do to get to the start line. I didn't push to walk as I still felt some discomfort, so instead I went into the pool and found out I can now swim with no pain and pool run, so the cross training can expand.

So it's time to focus on cross training and then hope that I can run by next week or next weekend, I am thinking that my experience and running base can get me through the weekend events it if I can get to the start line of each race pain free or relatively so.

The question I will need to ponder though is will I pull the plug if I can't run soon, great question, not sure how I will answer.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ultra Loony in jeopardy?

Ugh, it seems like every August I end up with an injury not usually caused by running, well the cycle repeats.

Back on the 5th of August, I chose to relive my youth and paid a price. The price a strain of my right hip. How did it happen, well I was doing something that I have done for about 50 years and apparently it wasn't a good idea. We were at a friends cabin in Northern Minnesota and decided to go water skiing, I have slalom skied most of my life but couldn't get up, besides my age and apparently lack of strength, the boat seemed to pause then accelerate and the rope just seemed to jerk out of my hands so I decided to go for 2 skis, something I haven't done as much but the last time at their cabin it's what I did. So I donned the second ski,was headed up, the boat jerked again but with 2 skis no problem, right? Very wrong! I felt a tearing in my right hip, let go of the rope and knew I had done something bad.

After the injury I refused ice and ibuprofen as I wanted to deny it. The denial didn't go so well as although I could walk certain movements (bending, standing, sitting, turning, you get the point) caused significant pain. I had some bruising appear but then a week after I had a lot more bruising, see picture below, the interesting part to me is the point of initial pain was about 12 to 16 inches further up towards my hip.

I had to go to Atlanta for work this past week and since I had convinced myself that it was getting better, I tried to run, Suffice to say that was stupid, way too painful. So after my failed run I debated going to the Dr, just to make sure I knew what I had done and could do to get back to running ASAP. Well, last Friday I went and got it diagnosed, his prognosis was an adductor strain, grade 2 and I might not be running by Twin Cities Marathon, meaning it could derail me for another 6 weeks, double ugh!!.

So I am facing my current reality, no running, this week, if it seems better I might try this weekend, if not try over labor day. Mentally this is a tough one, the only thing I can do is walk carefully and potentially bike. I tried elliptical, no go, swimming, no go, I did do the exercise bike and that kind of worked, no significant pain but I noticed I was doing some compensation so not sure what I will do.

Right now, I am hoping to use the training plan below as my ramp to get to the start line of the Ultra Loony. It might not be a great idea but as a charter member, I have to right? I should add that I have done three marathons this year, the last being Grandma's so I had some base but will probably continue to lose it while not running.

- 3 3 - 3 5 7 21
Sun, Sep 3, 17
5 2 3 2 2 6 13 33
Sun, Sep 10, 17
- 2 3 2 2 5 18 32 September Sun, Sep 17, 17
- 2 3 2 2 5 13 27
Sun, Sep 24, 17
- 2 3 2 - 9.3 26.2 43
Sun, Oct 1, 17
Stay tuned, as I have been meaning to post more often and who knows maybe I will as it's good for my mind to capture my thoughts as I work through this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trails and my knee

I have been focused this year on just running healthy, losing some weight and enjoying my runs. It has gone well, the knee has held up with manageable pain but I have not ventured onto the trails.

In my desire to get back to the trails, I had a recent email exchange with a Dr Ben Shatto (check out his blog - The Physical Therapy Advisor) who has been on the Marathon Training Academy (thanks Trevor and Angie) podcast where he has provided insight on running injuries.
So I decided to ask for advice and I was pleasantly surprised that he got back to me almost immediately and when I asked a follow-up question, he again got back to me. I also think his advice is worth pursuing as I have tried the traditional methods without any success. Check out his site and take a listen to the Marathon Training Academy podcast, I especially enjoyed their recent show where Trevor provided his recap of the Flying Pig Marathon which was my first marathon of the year and things went well. My next race was MedCity and things went ok from as it related to the knee but it was a bit warm and my back acted up so I just slowed it down and got to finish line in one piece.
Marathon Training Academy
Next up for me is Grandma's and then my intent is give Dr. Ben's advice a try to see if I can work myself back on the trails

Here are the emails:

Hi Dr. Shatto,

I have a question for you and it may be too specific to me to be worth answering on your page so I will understand if you don't answer, as well as if there is no answer.

I am a 59 year old marathon and ultra runner (50+ marathons, ~10 ultras up to 50 miles) and have had medial meniscus surgery on both knees, the injuries happened while playing indoor soccer and basketball in the 90's. After my surgeries I was able to resume running on all surfaces with no limitations or issues. Unfortunately I injured my left knee again in 2014 and had a second meniscus surgery. After the surgery, I was told I had no functional medial meniscus left but was told that I have no arthritis of note and I again was able to resume running a few weeks after the surgery. Prior to the surgery, I had adopted the Galloway run-walk method (90 seconds of running, 30 seconds of walking) to help manage the pain and as an attempt to continue with the races I had signed up for. 

The one thing though after the 2014 surgery I have not been able to run trails as the knee stability isn't good and after a few downhills or uneven surfaces the knee hurts to where running is problematic. I tried braces and they didn't help enough to be able to run trails. As a final note, last year I had an issue around mile 20 of a long run, eventually had a MRI, they noted another medial tear and a cyst on the joint towards the lateral side. He thought the cyst might have been related to the tear but didn't think that there was enough left to cause the pain so figured it was the cyst. We discussed that I might have some loose material or something else but decided to take some time off along with PT which focused on core stability and that seemed to help resolve the issue plus avoiding the trails.

I would love to get back to running trails and I know I need to always work on my core and proprioception but is there anything else I can do that might help my knee to get me back on trails? 

I very much enjoyed your podcast on MTA and appreciate the info on Facebook and your website.

Thank you,


Hi Mike,

Thanks for the email and kind words.  Sounds like your knees have been through a lot.  It is hard to say if you can get back to trail running but it is always worth the try if that is what your goal is.  So I know you have don't a lot of core stability work which is good and I would encourage you to keep up with it, along with the proprioceptive training.  I would also hope that you have been doing a lot hip strengthening work.  Particularly for the hip external rotators and glut medius.  In addition I would put a "strong" emphasis on weight training of the legs in general.  The stronger the legs are the more they can help absorb shock and support the joint.  

Thinking a little outside of the box I would also make sure you have adequate hip and especially foot/ankle mobility.  As you know the uneven surface of the trail can be an issue so if your foot/ankle and hip can accommodate for the unevenness even a little bit more then the knee would need to do less.  So foot/ankle mobility is huge.  Also, there is newer evidence that in the cases of medial knee pain having a flatter shoe without much medial support (basically without a lot of arch support or built up too much) is helpful.  It goes against what may appear logical or traditional thinking as often times one would build up the shoe with a medial post to help support the medial knee but that added support is like a beacon and the body tends to move towards the perceived extra stability.  What we want is you to move away from it.  The only way to know is to try.  Also a less support shoe allows the foot/ankle complex to do more.  Though this does expose you increased risk of ankle sprains.  

Lastly you may consider a knee off loading brace.  This would be a custom fit brace.  They can be pricey and would need a bracing expert to measure and fit for you.  But they can work well.

Hope that helps.  Good luck!



It actually does help out a lot, if I could ask a follow-up question to make sure I interpreted your response correctly. I have run generally in mild support shoes but have migrated to low drop shoes like Brooks Pure Cadence, Altra Provision and Intuition and more recently Hoka Infinite and Claytons. 

So my question is do you mean minimal drop and no support like the Kinvara or Merrell Vapor Gloves or is what I am running in ok? I have found the Hoka's to be generally too narrow or too cushioning but the Infinites I like as they are wider and somewhat firm, of course they are discontinued :-) so I will need to find an alternative. I do like my Altra's and have found that they work well.

If so, if I notice some knee tweaking as move away from stability do I keep the mileage low and let the knee and more importantly the foot adapt?

Thank you once again,


Hi Mike,
Yes I would suggest moving to more of a minimal drop shoe and particularly something without a lot of medial posting.  Meaning a shoe that offers some support for a more flat foot.  The theory has always been to support the arch and foot to help keep the knee from wanting to roll inwards. (the Infinites or something similar may work fine).  But some research now shows that it actually encourages the knee to roll in more as it feels there is external stability there.  This of course is not what you would want.  You want your body to naturally try to stay clear of the medial side.  So try to find a shoe that is wider and if possibly not overly rigid to allow the foot an increased ability to adapt to the trail surface.  
Though as you eluded....the progression onto the trails needs to be very slow as the foot and entire leg need to adapt to the surface.  This may be the hardest part of all as you are used to long distances but for a while you need to keep them short.  The rest of our body will be capable but the leg may not be.  And of course during this process keep working hard on all the other strength and stability drills.
Best of luck.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Another update (yes long overdue)

The UltraLoony was completed and I thoroughly enjoyed running each event with my family. What a thrill for me to run the 10k with my wife, the 5k with my eldest daughter and then to run (ok start) the marathon with my youngest daughter and watching the granddaughter run in the toddler trot.

It was a great weekend and the joy of seeing the smiles from each member as they enjoyed their experience, I will never forget.

They all did great and I got through them all. It was not my wisest choice and I have held off on posting as I wanted to understand if I had done any longer term damage and what the solution for me knee is. Long story short, each race hurt and TCM was not pleasant after the 1/2 way point especially but I hobbled through.

Back to the knee, well since I started this after TCM and it's now April, I guess I gave it time, right?

Anyway, the knee is kind of ok, I did some PT as I debated surgery, injections and other things that didn't thrill me. Well the PT helped along with throttling back and I am hopeful to avoid anything. I am now ramping up my mileage for the Flying Pig, then Med City, then Grandma's. So all is well, I have pain but as long as I stay on roads it's manageable. I still hope to get back to trails later this year but am happy to just be able to run.

I have a lot of posts, I need to write to catch up the blog and will see if I can, one thing I will give an update on is shoes. I finally found some Hoka's that seem to work for me. I bought them from Running Warehouse at pretty extreme discounts. The first pair are the Infinite and the second pair are Clayton's. I also picked up a pair of Brooks PureCadence 5's and another pair of Altra Provisions.

More posts will follow,................


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