Friday, December 31, 2010

Cheers to 2010

It seems like everyone's been thinking about 2011 plans as of late (myself included).  But before we get the cart before the horse here, I think we must pay all due respect to 2010 before tomorrow when it will be long gone and forgotten about.

It seems like it all went by fast, but thinking back to all the great stories along the way, it’s hard to believe it was all crammed into one year. There are many more, but here are 10 of the greatest memories from races and training runs that stand out:
  • Psycho Wyco TCRV Road Trip – Seven of us made the first trip in the TCRC RV to trudge through 31 miles of mud in Kansas. Here I may have become the slowest guy ever to win money at a race I didn't even win - $75 for a 50K in 4:58…yeah I know it doesn’t make any sense. 
Yeah that's a good looking RV...definitely turned some heads.
  • 'Groundhog Day' Run – This was actually in April…had to be there. It was a rainy 24 miles of the lakes, river roads, trails, greenway, etc., complete with the Seaton stair climb and Nick ending up in Cedar Lake. 
  • MDRA 7 Mile – This one started with 7 miles and a photo shoot for Joe before the race, then the 7 mile race during which I only got lost once, and a 7 mile cool-down. Great spring race! 
  • Olathe Marathon – This trip already has a couple top 10 lists of its own…several months of trash-talking, Erik eating about 4 pounds of pasta before the race, Nick’s practical jokes, Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, a great race, and a big group of Minnesotans taking most of the top spots! 
  • Afton 40 Miler – Great training run with Tony, Jeff, and Chris…until Tony and I were stopped dead in our tracks at about mile 37 by a HUGE snake. Luckily we made it out alive. 
  • Kettle Trip – Positive part is I ran a great 50K! Downside is the race was a 100K and by about mile 47 I was a complete disaster and falling asleep on a chair at an aid station…and don’t really remember much of the last 15 miles.  All in all, many lessons learned a great road trip with Paul.
  • Western States Trip – Incredible five days in CA with Tony, Laurie and Chris (and Dylan on race day) to crew/pace for Tony. Luckily, we weren't replaced as pacers after Lundo and I spent the two days before the race in a constant state of getting lost.  I’ll never forget all of us running through Auburn with Tony for the last mile and a half…so great to see someone train like crazy for a race , and then have it all come together when it counts. 
  • Superior Sawtooth – Will always have a soft spot for the Superior Trail Races.  It was a great experience and I will always be thankful for Joe, Arley, and Dylan for getting me through it all. 
  • Fall Trail Series: Friday Night Edition – For probably 99% of people, this doesn't sound like fun. But for about a dozen or so runners, 15 miles of night trail running followed by good food and beer is about as close to a real party as some of us get. 
  • Snowpocalypse Run – 22 miles through the middle of the snowstorm that brought down the dome…epic MN winter run.
And I’m sort of addicted to keeping track of numbers…this is the wrap for the year:
  • 4,597 miles 
  • 634 hours, 41 minutes 
  • 449 runs
  • 9 races 
  • 373 miles of racing 
  • 9 days off (all between Sep 12 and Oct 7) 
  • 11 pairs of shoes 
  • About 67 loops of Hyland 
I wonder how many fewer miles I will have to run next year to just maybe have a shot at getting a girlfriend...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

That One Was Memorable

It seems like about 97 runs out of a hundred are more or less just another run.  Don't get me wrong, it's all a good time...but how many training runs really stand out above the rest as unique?  

Today was a little different though.  Today was memorable.  This winter it seems like it snows all the time in Minneapolis...but this is a whole other level.  So far I think we're at like 13 inches and counting, and the winds are howling...quite the winter wonderland to say the least.  

Six of us were crazy enough for the epic adventure this morning.  It actually started out not too bad, but kept snowing harder and getting windier as we went.  I think this one can be summed up with a list of firsts:
  • First time trudging through 8 inches of snow on the Greenway.
  • First time making a snow angel on a run...I'm more of a snow man guy but it was too fluffy.
  • First time running down Hiawatha Avenue...not sure if that was legal.
  • Possibly the first time ever six guys ran down the middle of Lake Street for 4 miles...we only got honked at a couple times.
  • First time anyone in our group helped a car get unstuck on a run...good work Dylan!
  • First time trying to do any sort of pick-up in a blizzard.  Yeah that one failed miserably.
  • First time I ran the vast majority of the last two miles of a run with my eyes closed.
  • First time I ever got my car stuck.  I was just three blocks from my house and some real nice people who were helping someone else get unstuck gave me a little push.
All in all ended up with 22 miles and some good memories.  Now I am snowed in at my house...time to start shoveling, then maybe another movie and some pancakes!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The results are in...

So after all the statistical analysis of our chances of getting into the Western States 100...we finally found out the only stat that matters yesterday.  Just as expected, I unfortunately won't be running Western States next year.  But hey, there's always next year and whatever I end of doing will be just as fun..  The good news is that my good buddy Arley got in and will be representing us Minnesotans at Western States!  I'm excited for him...he will do well.

I guess now its time to figure out what races I am going to do next year. I'm leaning towards doing a 100 miler in late August or early September...thinking for now that maybe Cascade Crest might be the best option.  I love Washington, have heard good things about the race, looks like a beautiful mountain course, and elevation isn't really an issue with the highest point under 6,000 ft.  There are so many other really intriguing options though too.  It's like going to a restaurant that has a really big menu...I never know what to get.

Training and Winter in MN
In the meantime, I am pretty dialed in these days on the Mardi Gras Marathon. Training has been good so far and I'm mostly optimistic, but all this Minnesota winter stuff makes me a little nervous.  I've never really tried to run many fast miles on bad footing like this before, so not sure how the times will translate to good conditions and fewer layers of clothing.  Yesterday was a good test on a 20 miler around the snowy Minneapolis lakes with 10 as close to marathon pace as possible.  It was tough going and kept wanting to cut it short, but made it through the 10 miles averaging 6:02 per mile...not quite my goal pace, but I am thinking just as good all things considered.  I guess I'll find out in 10 weeks now.

And as for the Minnesota winter, it is too soon to be complaining quite will still get a whole lot colder over the next couple months.  Besides, it only makes us tougher, right?

A Parting Fun Fact:
Did you know there are approximately 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe?  That is crazy!  I highly recommend you go see Hubble 3D.  I have been completely mind-boggled now for three days and counting.  I wonder if its too late to become an astronaut?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Western States 100 Odds!


  • The good news is I heard from my old man that all this math is indeed correct.
  • Bad news is I heard from the email the WS 100 folks sent out this afternoon that my assumption of 280 available spots was way overestimated.  Sounds more like 230 instead.  The numbers below are updated with this latest info.
_ _ _ _
So I just took a little break to do some math. Sounds really exciting I know…hang with me though, there’s a chance a small number of you might be very interested in this!

Before I get to what I know you all are waiting for, I am dedicating this post to my Dad – he’s been a math professor at U of M – Crookston for over 40 years…taught me everything I know.

Hold on to your boot straps…here we go: 
Before we get to the real exciting part, we first need to lay out some of the facts. Most of these important details are on the site provides quite a bit of these important details for us:
  • One-time lottery entrants: 1,115 
  • Two-time lottery entrants: 498 (Note: two-time entrants get two names in the hat) 
  • Total lottery entrants: 1,613
  • Total names in the lottery hat: 2,111 (1,115 + 498*2 = 2,111) 
  • Number of people selected in lottery: 230 spots (approximately) 
Now we get to do some math! 
Let’s start with the easy one – the chances of a one-time lottery entrant getting selected. Pretty basic, it’s just 230/2,111, which is 10.8953%. Good luck to you guys…you’ll need it.

Now for all you people with two names in the hat, pay attention! We start by figuring the odds that you are not selected with your first chance. With 2,111 names in the hat and 230 pulls, that equals 1,881/2,111 – or 89.1047%. Now the odds of not being selected with your second name are a very tiny bit more favorable at 1,880/2,111 – or 89.0995%. Now to find the odds that one of your two names is selected, we multiply both and subtract from 1. So, since .891047 * .890995 = .793919, after you subtract that from 1, that means all of us two-time entrants have a whopping 20.6081% chance of getting selected! Better than you thought, huh?
Now this guy's good at math!
Let’s take it to the next level… 
I know you all are wondering to yourself by now, “Since there are 21 Minnesotans in the lottery (including honorary Minnesotan Joe Z), what are the odds that at least one can get in?” Now that one’s a piece of cake. So of these 21 Minnesotans, 14 are two-time lottery entrants, and 7 are one-time entrants. This gives us a total of 35 Minnesotan chances to get drawn. Now we can use the same concept as for the two-time entrants, but since the odds of not get drawn are almost the same each time, let’s just take a little shortcut and do 1,881/2,111 to the 35th power and subtract from 1. That gives us a 98.2359% of having at least one Minnesotan selected! 

How about Joe’s Crew? 
There are seven of us in a little group of TCRC runners who train together in the lottery…so for the handful of you guys out there, here are the odds that at least one will get selected. Same concept as for the Minnesotans, but here we have 5 two-time entrants and 2 one-time entrants, which gives us 12 chances total. So we just take 1,881/2,111 to the 12th power and subtract from 1, and we’ve got a 74.9501% chance of at least one getting in! 

And for the odds that all seven of us get in? That would be .0004412%...I think. So I’m telling you there’s a chance.  Good luck to all in the lottery on Saturday!

Oh, and thanks Dad! Sorry if it’s all completely wrong.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Marathon Training, Ping Pong, and Turkeys

So I signed up for a marathon last week!  I actually started training for it a few weeks ago, so figured it was high time I actually pick which race.  I’m going to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras Marathon on February 13!  So when I decided to do another road marathon, I quickly realized that I don’t have a clue how…so I have called upon Coach Lundo to teach me a thing or two!  I’ve never had a coach before, and it’s already been to have a new schedule and learn some new workouts.

Training has been going pretty good the last few weeks.  I think the highlights may have been bushwhacking through the river bottoms and trudging through a snow much fun.  The marathon training has also been coming along well.  The latest key workout was this morning – 20 miler with 6 at marathon pace down the Greenway.  I fully attribute the success of this workout to proper hydration and fueling, in particular a brand new line of Gatorade drink that just came out today!  It’s called Gatorade Slush™ and I think it’s only available in Minnesota.  I highly recommend it to all.

In my latest attempt to incorporate some cross-training in the schedule, I am exploring a new sport.  Just a couple days ago, I purchased a ping pong table from the nicest people off Craigslist!  So I used to think running was a simple sport…but now ping pong, there’s a real simple sport.  All you have to do is hit the ball back to the other side – that’s it…so simple.  No Gu, S Caps, or special shoes to worry about…you can’t get lost or trip and fall down.  I’m a little worried about all the side-to-side movement, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Even look at Forest Gump.  He was really good at both ping pong and running.   I mean, I guess he was really good at a bunch of other things too, but was unmatched in ping pong and running.  Can’t believe that’s based off a true story.

Further evidence that many of the best ultra runners have very impressive beards.
In other exciting news, it’s two weeks until the Western States 100 Lottery!  For some reason I have a good feeling this year.

And tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  Well, it’s not actually Thanksgiving, but my roommate Ben and I are hosting the 2nd Annual Sunday-before-Thanksgiving Party!  Now we just have to figure out how to cook two turkeys and a bunch of other food for 30+ people in my little house in Northeast.  It will be a memorable day.

This turkey looks nervous.
Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My New Second Favorite Holiday!

This has been a great weekend.  I have never really been a big fan of Halloween ever since I was a little tyke...until now!  I'm still not sure how this whole trick-or-treating thing works here in the big city, but when I was growing up in small-town Crookston, 99% of houses had their lights on and gave out candy.  the 1% of houses that didn't were definitely the "mean" houses.  And they weren't just mean on lasted all year long.  So needless to say, I have been determined this year not to be "that guy".  Too many little kids are in need of candy tonight.

So this afternoon I made a trip to the Home Depot and bought a new doorbell, since my old one never worked.  I stopped by Target and bought WAY too much candy...good thing since I've eaten as much as I've given out.  Then got two pumpkins to put on the steps.  And after a lot of anxious waiting with a really huge foam Texas hat on, these cute little kids in costumes have finally arrived!  Loving it. 

In other news, it's been fun getting back into some pretty good weeks of running the last few weeks.  Spent the day out at Surf the Murph yesterday watching a bunch of friends run the 50 miler.  It was great hanging around the race, and ended up with 22 or so miles of wandering around out there with the guys.  I was real excited for Jorge, Joe, and Dylan since I get to train with those guys a lot...was awesome seeing a bunch of other friends and familiar faces out there too.

Tomorrow is Day 1 of marathon training.  Still not sure which one, but will be something in February down south.  It'll be good to break up the Minnesota winter and change up the old routine a bit.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Volunteering and Cheering at TCM

Four years ago this past weekend was my first ever marathon.  Ever since then, Twin Cities Marathon weekend has never failed to bring some awesome memories and fun times.  Part of me was really jealous of all the runners on a perfect day, but I think a bigger part of me had a whole lot of fun watching and cheering them all on this year.

Volunteering on Saturday:
For the third year in a row now for me, the TCM excitement started the day before the Marathon at the TC Saturday Events.  My good friend and co-worker Irene and I are co-volunteer coordinators for the TC 5K, TC 10K, and TC Saturday Events at the Capitol.  If you've never been out to the Saturday Events, next year you definitely have to come over to St. Paul to experience the fun.  There is literally something for everyone here.  The day starts with the TC 10K and then the 5K.  After that comes the kids and family 1 mile, then the half mile.  Then everything finishes with the Mascot race, Toddler Trot, and Diaper Dash.  If none of that works for you, I will recruit you to volunteer!  It's a fun day and glad it could be so nice with the sun warming things up for the kids events.
Kids lining up on John Ireland Blvd for the 1 mile and 1/2 mile!
We had more volunteers than ever this year - about 200!  That's in large part thanks to about 100 college students from all across the Midwest from Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) - the organization Irene and I both work for.  It's funny how our STLF Fall Conference this year just happened to be the same weekend that Irene and I needed to recruit a ton of helps to have a say in the scheduling.  We had a great group of high school students from our friends at Genesys Works out there again this year as well!  Overall things went really well...we seem to get a little better organized each year but always have ideas for the future.

Cheering on Sunday:
I met up with Joe and his mom at mile 2.5 at about 8:00, and we didn't have long to wait before the first wheelers and lead runners came by...and since it was so early on everyone else followed real quickly.  We had about a dozen friends running who we were looking out for, but was hard to see them all in the crowds of runners early on.  The next stop was the Team Ortho party at mile 19.5 where they were much more spread out.  It was so awesome seeing friends looking good going through here en route to great races - PRs for Nick, Dylan, and Jeff, a great first Boston Qualifier for Matt, and everyone else running steady and having fun.  There's something special about being with someone on so many training runs and knowing what the race means to them, then seeing them go out and get their goal.  Whether you're a runner or not, I couldn't imagine watching a marathon and not being many great stories.

And the Recovery Continues...Still:
As for life after Sawtooth, it has been a very good lesson in patience.  All year I've been used to bouncing back from ultras and being able to run 80-100 miles the next week, but I have now learned 102.6 miles of the Superior Trail can really take a toll on a guy.  I think I've run about 75 or 80 miles in the three and a half weeks since the race and taken about 10 days off total.  I've been mostly working on getting the right knee to come around and the IT Band loosened up before running too much again.  It is gradually getting better so hope to get some good fall trail running in the next several weeks if all goes well.  In the meantime I will be cheering on the Twins!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Superior Sawtooth 100 - Race Report

Distance running is such a perfectly simple sport - we just put one foot in front of the other for miles and hours on end, day after day…  It’s a sport that rewards patience, hard work, and one in which you get out what you put in. On the surface, most people out there would probably think from this description that running is about as individual of a sport as there is. I realized more than ever last weekend that at least for me this belief couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You see, the story of finishing my first 100 mile race is not one that began at Gooseberry State Park on Friday morning; the race is just the culmination of much more. Throughout all of the training, ups and downs, and the race itself, I have been lucky to have great friends who have inspired and motivated me every step of the way. I couldn’t have imagined the race last weekend without three of them – Joe, Arley, and Dylan – who were there to keep me taken care of, encouraged, and moving forward. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world out there to have such great support from my crew and all the absolutely incredible volunteers and race directors who are truly unsung heroes of the race.

I realize that there is a whole lot that can go wrong in 100 miles no matter how hard you work, plan, and prepare. I am very fortunate that most things went right and couldn’t have been happier to have it culminate in a great race. I was the first across the line in 22:35.

The Play by Play - The Race is On:
The night before the race was a good time all around. After the pre-race meeting, Joe and Arley argued about Brad Childress during the miserable Vikings game while I did some final prep getting some food ready for the race. I was really optimistic about these PB & J mini bagels and my mom’s banana bread…turned out they just didn’t quite hit the spot the next day though. I got stuff organized, went over the gear and game plan one more time with the guys, and even managed to get a bit of sleep. 
The first few steps at the Gooseberry.  Sheryl on the left edged out
Val at the end as the first woman! Both had a great race!
After anxiously waiting for the start at Gooseberry State Park the next morning, Larry the race director finally said go and we were off. From the very beginning, it was always about getting to the next aid station. In the early sections this wasn’t so bad at all on fresh legs, but proved to be mentally much more overwhelming as the race went on. I couldn’t possibly wrap my mind around the whole distance at once, so just focused on one section at a time and putting miles behind me in the daylight. In hindsight maybe I went out a touch too fast, getting out of Beaver Bay at mile 19.4 in around 2:57 or so, but that was right according to the plan to the minute and the legs still felt pretty good. 
Running into Beaver Bay on schedule at 19.4.
Stocking up the Nathan I think at Tettegouche.
The next three sections through Silver Bay, Tettegouche, and into County Road 6 came with much more challenging trail and ended with a really low spot in the race for me there at mile 42 or so. I was a bit slow but felt real steady into Tettegouche, and then the dreaded 8 miles to County 6 once again took its toll on me. This section beat me up pretty bad on a training run back in August, and it was out to get me again in the race. Between a little accidental HEED debacle and much more so just letting that section get to my head again, I was in pretty rough shape coming into County 6. 
I'm happier than I look to be done with that section.
I got some fruit there, reloaded on water and Gatorade, and left that station frustrated with myself and still over 60 miles to go. It didn’t help that about a minute later I threw up, and about 30 seconds after that I tripped and fell down pretty hard. I laid there for maybe 20 seconds, calmed down a bit, picked myself up, and right then decided that would be a turning point of sorts. I knew I had Joe waiting to pace me at the next aid station at Finland (mile 50.5).  All I thought about the whole first half is that once I got to Finland I would be in the clear with the guys pacing the rest of the way.
Eating at the Finland Aid Station halfway.
No Longer Alone on the Trail:
The run into Finland and the next 12 miles with Joe was really great and I think the most encouraging point of the race for me. The trail was very runnable here and Joe was incredible at being positive and encouraging the whole time. I was feeling great, making good time, my head was in a good spot, and I was having fun. We cruised through Sonju and got into Crosby Manitou at mile 62 just in the final minutes before the darkness completely took over and the lights went on. 

I picked up Dylan as my new pacer for the next 22 miles here at Crosby Manitou. I knew all along this section was going to be really hard with one heck of a steep descent and even steeper climb out of the gorge there, so was mentally prepared. I’d have to ask Dylan again, but I recall the most challenging part of this 10 mile stretch going pretty well…it was actually the last few easier miles that took a toll on my mind and just seemed to never end. 

The Skies Open Up:
And then the rain began, and continued, and never did stop until after the race. And the fog! I thought for a while it was just me not seeing clear but the guys insisted that it was indeed unbelievably foggy to the point where the trail was a blur. We got through Sugarloaf at mile 72 and into Cramer Road at 77 without it all really bothering me too much. I still just had a t-shirt on and for some reason insisted I was ok when I left Cramer Road when I could have put on a dry shirt and rain jacket. I obviously wasn’t thinking straight, because within about a minute the real downpoor began and I was freezing cold and shivering. Maybe it was a good thing since keeping on running to the next aid station at Temperence was the only way I would stay warm enough. I was a bit of a mess coming into Temperence at 84, but that dry shirt and rain jacket made a world of difference and I felt like a new man heading out of there. 

Arley and I took off from there for the last 18 miles and soon I was feeling pretty good…it’s crazy how quickly things turned around once I got my core warmed up. On that section up and over Carlton Peak, we ran steady the whole gradual part of the climb until hitting the boulders on top where we hiked. The rain was still pouring down the whole time and the fog was getting so dense that we could hardly see the ground at our feet, but we kept it moving steady enough to the extent that they weren’t even ready for us at the Sawbill aid station when we got there! Most of that next section we spent trudging through ankle deep water on trails that became streams…but we kept on moving.

The Home Stretch...Kind of:
I had thought about what it would be like to run that last 7 mile section before and during the race…and it was nothing like I anticipated. I thought by then the adrenaline of nearing the finish would kick in and would be able to power through it. In reality, it seemed to never end. I remember telling Arley that one of the few things I could do to screw this up would be to fall down and injure myself…then I proceeded to repeatedly fall down probably 5 or 6 times in the next couple miles. It was so frustrating, and each mile seemed so daunting. I knew I had to get over Moose and Mystery Mountains, but those climbs just took forever to get there. For some reason I wasn’t taking anything for granted until I got off that trail. I was convinced that Adam Casseday who was putting together a great race behind me was right on my heals, and I knew that as long as you’re out there, the Superior Trail will chew you up and throw everything it has at you. I was looking forward so much to reaching the road and cruising in those last final steps. Tony told me before the race to cherish those last steps because they go by fast and before you know it they are gone. He was so right. In a flash it was over. 

Post Race with Friends:
I had a great day on Saturday. After a long shower, a delirious breakfast with the guys, and a few hours of sleep, I spent most of the rest of the day hanging around the finish line. It was a blast to see old friends and new friends cross the finish line after persevering through the tough course in all events – 100 mile, 50 mile, and marathon. There are too many great stories to cover them all here, but a good reason to go run or volunteer next year and see it all for yourself! 
The 100 Mile Awards were on Saturday Night at the Finish Line.
Thank you Volunteers:
One of my goals going into the race was to try and thank all the volunteers no matter how bad it got. Well, I think some of them maybe got overthanked (Joe said I told some of them I loved them), but I am sure some probably got shortchanged when I was in a rush.  You all were incredible and whether it seemed like it or not at the time, I truly appreciated all your endless hours of work to make it all possible. 
Race Director Larry Pederson watches over one of 13 amazing aid stations
set up and staffed by volunteers!
Strengths, Weaknesses, and Lessons Learned on the Trail:
I’ve decided that running in a 100 mile race is a really good way to learn a lot about yourself, running, and life. My strengths were mostly physical and definitely the result of the training volume, long runs, and hill repeats. To my surprise, another strength was also my biggest concern going into the race – Nutrition. I had enough bad experiences with nutrition this year to be paranoid about it and to have learned what works and doesn’t. I kept a good variety of sources of calories going and did a really good job of staying hydrated and getting at least very close to the goal of 300 calories per hour.

My biggest downfall out there was by far my weak mind. I am a bit disappointed in how negative I was getting for much of the last 30 or so miles. My good friend Tony has taught me a whole lot about running 100 miles when I crewed for him at Western States and Leadville, but I mistakenly failed to learn the valuable lesson from him of positivity and emotional steadiness…he is so good at that and I will be very focused on being much better next time. I’m thankful Dylan and Arley put up with all my illogical and I’m sure slightly annoying complaining out there for hours on end.

Overall, I realized that life should be filled up with great adventures with friends. I am lucky to have something I absolutely love in running, and luckier to be able to share it with great people. This is just one adventure of many more to come…some of the most amazing and challenging trails in the country await, and I can’t wait to get out there and explore.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August in Review

The State Fair has arrived, the Twins are making their playoff run again (this time I like our chances!), Labor Day is just around the corner, and I just got a little less Younger on Saturday when I turned 26.  All this means that my favorite time of year to run is finally here…definitely looking forward to nice cool fall running!

Training - Hitting some Milestones
Ever since Voyageur it’s been a great stretch of training and all in all the last push for miles and fitness that I was hoping for.  Sure there are always some runs that are better than others and I was getting real tired there a couple weeks ago, but kept it rolling and pretty steady.  Here’s a quick summary for August:
  • Total Miles in August:  480
  • Run Time: 70 hours, 29 minutes
  • Highest Mileage Week:  131
  • Lowest Mileage Week:  85
    - - - - - -
  • Total Miles in 2010:  3,185
I was happy to have the month end with the legs feeling good after some hard training.  It’s been my highest mileage month, highest mileage week, highest mileage 7-day period of 151, and a couple days ago passed by my total mileage from 2009 of 3,144.  Been a lot of really slow running the last couple months, but hoping the hills, trails, and volume strategy pays off in my first 100 miler in a little over a week.

Testing – VO2 Max, Heart rate, Threshold Pace

So I hadn’t set foot on a treadmill since about mid-January, but a couple weeks ago found myself at OptumHealth Performance with Chris and Dan who runs the show over there.  Lundo and I talked about having me do some testing back in the spring, so was glad to hear from him that they just got some new equipment in there and we lined up a time.  It’s incredible what they can tell just based on what you are breathing and your heart rate. 

They had me running 2 minute increments at 6 mph, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11, and 11.5.  I hit my lactate threshold around 11 – 11.5, then they increased the incline a bit and that was the end of all that.  It was a lot of fun and got some great info.  I learned I have a VO2 Max of 74.4, threshold pace of I think around 5:20 – 5:30 or so, threshold heart rate of about 190, and max heart rate of 203.  I’m still not sure exactly what it all means, but will help a whole lot when I train for a marathon next.  Definitely recommend doing it if you are interested in learning more, and I’m sure Dan would love to hear from you.

In Other News...
Last week I was driving along the highway minding my own business…then traffic slowed down and the guy behind me didn’t.  No injuries thankfully, but I did end up with one totaled car and one new one.  I was kind of hoping to drive the old one into the ground and save money, but I’m having fun driving around in a new car with a manual transmission!

Oh, and in perhaps my most notable non-running ‘athletic’ accomplishment in my young life, we had an STLF staff outing to the bowling alley last Friday and I bowled a 175!  I was totally on pace for over 200 until I blew it in the 9th.  Left me wondering if just maybe I should switch sports…

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Superior Weekend!

After this past weekend, I am now regretting not having found a way to go up north more often this summer. It was definitely a great couple days of camping and trail running with great people…who could ask for anything more?

I drove up Friday afternoon through the storms and rain, and met up with Helen, Val, and Dee in Two Harbors. Chris Scotch and his dog Cooper were just a few minutes farther behind. I followed them another half hour or so to Chris’s TOP SECRET and incredibly beautiful campsite right on the shore of Lake Superior. Just as we were walking out with our stuff onto the beach, the rain gradually stopped and it actually turned out to be an awesome night, campfire and all!

View of the sunrise on Superior from my tent...don't get that in Minneapolis.
On Saturday morning, Helen and Val gave me a ride to where the Sawtooth course begins at Gooseberry State Park.  I set out to head north from there to make Finland the destination – just over 50 miles up the trail. After I started running, Helen, Val, Dee, and Chris went to drop some water and food at a few spots on the trail, and a car at County Road 6 (mile 42) and Finland. I’m just real thankful they all set everything up so I could do this training run point to point…definitely would have been logistically impossible without them.

The first couple sections through Split Rock State Park and into Beaver Bay were a ton of fun and real runnable…will make for a fun start to the race for sure. The crew met me at Beaver Bay around mile 20 with some water and food, and then five miles later they joined in running at Silver Bay.

Overlook from the trail between Split Rock and Beaver Bay.
The sections before and after Tettegouche were beautiful, but I think the hardest of the first half of the course.  It had been warm, humid, and sunny all day, and by the time we were about halfway to County Road 6 around mile 38 or 40, I was totally drained on water in both my handheld and Nathan pack.  I was getting real dehydrated and definitely challenged my positivity to say the least.  The legs felt fine but the body was just shutting it was rough out there.

After finally stumbling into County Road 6 and after a good break to re-hydrate and get some calories, Val and I headed off for the next and final stop at Finland. Chris and Helen are both running Where’s Waldo 100K in Oregon next weekend, so they along with Dee called it a day here. The last eight miles thankfully felt about a million times better and we kept a pretty steady pace into Finland to at least finish strong.

The run was overall slow going and definitely came with some major ups and downs, but I guess good training and experience nonetheless.  It helps to be reminded that things can get pretty bad and still turn around quickly.  Most importantly though, the weekend and camping was a blast!

Baptism River in Tettegouche State Park.
As for training over the last several months, I've now pretty much done what I can do, thankfully stayed healthy throughout, and learned a ton.  Just another week or so before really dialing it down and resting up for a bit before the race.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Change of Scenery

As much as I really do love to run at Hyland, I think it’s gotten to the point here late in the summer where that 7.5 mile loop is starting to wear on me a bit. It’s all the more reason to be excited about some change of scenery and a couple good adventures here in August!

First up was some quality time at Afton this past Saturday, which I think I enjoy more every time I'm there. That park is just far enough away that I always feel like its a little field trip going out there...waking up early, packing up my bag, and hitting the road while the rest of the world is still asleep. John Storkamp and I met up around 4:30 or so and he had 4 hours to run before heading out of town for a road trip to Milwaukee. I'm sure anyone who has ever run with John would agree that he sure helps the time go by fast. We both got in a real steady 27 miles in 4:00 with some good hills and good conversation along the way, and I tacked on a handful more to get to 35. He definitely left me with some really good advice to ponder in those last eight miles...just learning more every time out. 

I’m super excited for heading up north tomorrow for the Superior Trail with Helen, Val, Dee, Kami, Chris Scotch who I have yet to meet, and maybe a couple others. It'll be just the first and sadly I think the only camping trip of the summer, but it’ll come with some adventure and good stories for sure! Planning on running the first half of the Sawtooth course on Saturday and some more on Sunday. After Saturday I will have run on the whole course which will be encouraging, although I have a funny feeling the second half might seem just a bit different at night on tired legs than it has in the 50 miler the past couple years. 

Overall it’s been a good stretch of training since Voyageur. I'm definitely not getting any faster, but putting in a lot of steady miles which should hopefully serve me well in four weeks. I guess I'll find out soon enough...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Month at a Time…

It’s crazy how fast the summer seems to be going.  I think I realized yesterday when I had to get the light out for the early Hyland loop that fall will be sneaking up on us before we know it.  While I’ll for sure miss the long days, I don’t think I’ll miss the humidity much.

I’ve been sort of taking this whole year on a month-to-month basis when it comes to running and training.  After each month that goes by, I’ve been thankful mostly to have stayed healthy, learned a lot, gradually gotten better, and enjoyed it all.

As for July, it’s been a steady stretch of training and happy to have the legs feeling pretty good.  It helped that I came into the month all fired up and inspired from being out at Western States to crew and pace for Tony Kocanda.   The two races I ran this month – Afton and Voyageur – were definitely the highlights of July.  For both I found myself pretty relaxed and having a whole lot of fun…which is the whole point, right?  Just keeping it rolling and enjoying the trail.

Here’s a summary of training for the month and year to date:
  • Total Miles in July:  416
  • Highest Mileage Week:  110
  • Lowest Mileage Week:  82
    - - - - - -
  • Total Miles in 2010:  2,705
I’m already looking forward to a good month of August, which should include some quality time at Afton and Hyland, and a trip up north to train on the SHT!

Enough about me…
In other exciting news, it’s always fun to see good things happening for some running friends.  First of all, it was great seeing Joe Z making progress and out at Hyland yesterday walking on that recovering broken leg during our 6 am loop…I’m pretty sure he’ll be beating us all on the trails again before we know it.  I was also excited to hear that Chris Lundstrom will be competing as a member of the USA Mountain Running Team in the World Mountain Running Championships in Kamnik, Slovenia in September!  Good things happen to good people…especially when they work really hard.

See you on the trails!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Voyageur 50 Mile - Race Report

The Minnesota Voyageur has got to be up there with the best 50 mile trail races in the country.  Now I know some of you are probably thinking, "There goes Brian believing everything in Minnesota is the best again.", but this time I don't think it's just my excessive love of the state.  It's 29 year history certainly makes it among the oldest, the trail is beautiful, the people are incredible, and there's something about that course that leaves me wanting another shot at it as soon as I'm done.  

It was a great weekend and a really fun time on the trails on Saturday.  It's always fun to see and spend time with fellow trail runners, meet new people, and I even got to spend a couple days with my parents who made the trip over from Crookston to watch and crew (thanks Mom and Dad!).  I made a weekend of it and headed north to Carlton around mid-day on Friday to meet up with my parents that afternoon who were hiking at Jay Cooke State Park.  We hung out by the visitor's center and swinging bridge (around mile 3 and 47) which I knew would be a welcome sight a little under 24 hours later.

And the Race is On:
Saturday's race was all in all what I set out to do, finishing in 4th place with a time of 7:52 and change.  I knew quite well that there were faster runners than I am in the race, so I set out with a pretty good frame of mind and the focus on a steady race and enjoying the trail.  For a guy who loves the competition of the race, its hard not to worry about what place I'm in.  However, I also have just barely enough experience now to know what pace isn't sustainable, and what a second half blow-up feels like if I try to run that pace.  So in this my last race before Superior Sawtooth 100, the goal was a steady race, strong second half, and a good time.  While I was about 15-20 minutes off what I was hoping for a time, I do feel like I ran a steady race and finished strong.  And I definitely had a blast out there on the course which is what makes it all worthwhile.

The race started at Carlton High School right at 7 am.  The first half mile or so is on pavement where everyone sort of falls into the position they want to start before hitting the trail.  It was Dusty Olson and Chris Gardner who went out in front, and John Storkamp, Chris Rubesh, Chris Lundstrom and I who settled in relatively close to each other but quickly out of sight.  The first few miles of trail are quite rocky and rooty, much like most of Superior.  I'm wondering now since I tripped and fell in both the first two miles and last two miles, if that means I will fall down about 50 times during Sawtooth...sounds about right but hope not.  

After the first aid station in Jay Cooke though the trail really flattened out for a while and was really runnable.  For the next five or so miles it was Storkamp, Lundo and I running pretty close in 3-5 place.  It's always nice to have some company out there at least in the beginning.  Although after Storkamp asked me somewhere in here whether or not this was suicide pace, I thought maybe I would be best just letting those two guys keep each other company for a while.  I think we separated out a bit around mile 8 or 9, before the first trip though the powerlines.  

I really forgot how steep those powerlines hills those are some tough ups and downs.  I was already starting to not feel quite right before I even got there, which worried me a bit since I usually start off races feeling great.  Between the powerlines at around mile 10 until probably a few miles before the turnaround, I had lost a lot of time off my planned pace.  The legs felt good, but the body just wasn't moving as fast as I wanted.  I told myself if I kept it steady things would come around...always does, right?

Coming to one of the aid stations between the Powerlines and the Zoo.
Picture: Gregg Robertson
I saw Gardner, Dusty, Lundstrom and Storkamp all real close together on their way back.  They were flying through the course and had a tough second half ahead of them, but it was looking like there would be some crazy fast times posted.  I started feeling pretty good by the time I got into the turnaround at the zoo at about 3:40 or so.  I was not too excited to be 10 minutes off the plan, but was feeling good and shifted the mindset away from the race and just focused on a steady run.  By now I was already 20+ minutes back and had a solid lock on 5th, so didn't have much to worry about in terms of place anyway.  

Other than crossing paths with the other runners and friends on the trail, I was pretty locked in from around 25 to 37 or so when it was back to the powerlines.  It had been cool all day probably in the 60s and rained for a while so knew it would make for some muddy climbs back up through powerlines.  It was slick and slow going, but the vegetation on the side was good traction and trees and bushes came in handy to pull myself up those hills.  

By around mile 42 or so, I was told at the aid station I was 8 minutes back from 4th place, which was some progress and encouraging since the legs still felt pretty good.  It wasn't too long after that I caught up with John, who sort of had the wheels come off a bit with some leg cramps.  He was still positive as always and told me to just keep running and I gradually moved on ahead.  

From here on to the finish, I knew the top three were way ahead, so I was just running for time.  I thought I had a chance at sub-7:50, but just couldn't move my feet quick enough over that rocky last few miles.  I hadn't been so excited to see a paved bike path since last year at Voyageur, which means the finish is about 5 minutes away.  I cruised into the finish line in 7:52:51.

Chris and I talking just after crossing the line. 
Picture: Gregg Robertson
Hanging Out at the Finish:
After showering up at the school, the few hours after the race were a blast, visiting with the runners and volunteers and seeing people finish.  Duluth got the best of us once again, with Gardner absolutely rocking it and tearing up the course with a 6:55 - I think the fourth fastest time ever and just 14 minutes off Jurek's record...incredible run and real happy to see things all come together for him.  My fellow TC Running teammate and friend Chris Lundstrom had a great race as well and came in 2nd at 7:13.  It was also great seeing Val come in 40 minutes faster than last year as 4th woman.  And perhaps one of the best highlights of the day was seeing my friend and training partner Jeff Denney finish his first 50 miler...and he even went a couple extra miles with three wrong turns!  Pretty impressive for a guy who signed up two days before the race.

Many thanks to Race Director Andy Holak for all the work in putting on a perfect event, and to the many volunteers who made it possible.  We missed Andy in the race, but I've got a feeling he will someday find a way to both direct and win that race at the same time.

Already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time for Something New...

I can't ever recall really enjoying the few days before a race.  I usually seem to find myself with a little extra time on my hands, anxious to just hit the trail, always a part of me a bit nervous, and the mind somewhat distracted.  So now two days before the Voyageur 50, after five or six days of forcing myself not to run much, maybe a few too many episodes of Lost, and a bit too much pent up energy, I have decided it is time for something new.  I am joining the growing and always-interesting group of running bloggers!

Now for a guy who's stuck in a routine and doesn't usually stay up much past 10, this is already maybe too much excitement!  Seriously though, I'm not sure how well I will be able to keep up with it all, but I'm hoping this will be a place to capture some memories and share some stories of road trips, races and running adventures with friends, training, goals, or maybe the occasional random stories about life.  Hopefully I will be interesting enough to keep the handful of you entertained...

Other than starting blogs, another thing a few days before a long race does is put me into sort of a reflective state.  It's coming up on two years now since I ran my first ultra in the Superior 50 mile.  In a little over 10 hours of stumbling up and down that trail, I got hooked.  In thinking back on the time since then, I've found it absolutely amazing how tight-knit a community trail runners are.  It's a sport where if you run a few races and keep showing up, you can't help but become part of that community - and more often than not it will hook you into just running more.  It's also a sport where if you hang around, and especially if you are young enough to be nicknamed by your running friends "The Younger", you will most likely receive an abundance of really good advice.  

While I know advice only goes so far, the two things I have found myself hanging onto the most during races as of late is "enjoy it" and "keep it steady".  Sounds simple I know, but on Saturday when 50 miles is feeling like a really really long ways, those five words will come in pretty handy.  

So there's my no-longer-top-secret race strategy for Voyageur.  I'm going to enjoy it, keep it steady, have fun out there, hopefully run my own race, and learn a lot.  It should be a good time for sure and hope to come out of it feeling ready for the last month of training before my first 100 miler at Superior Sawtooth!