Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weeks 2 & 3 of Training

Let me try to recap week 2 of my training schedule. I was able to get all three weekday 4 mile runs in. I didn't feel very strong on a couple of them, but still ended up with decent runs. Saturday's 8 mile long run with my friend Jon was a bit challenging due to the weather. It rained on Thursday night and into Friday which later froze into an impressive layer of perfectly smooth ice. I knew that we would want to stick to roads that offered some snow cover along the edge. We decided to meet near the YMCA on 42nd street so we would have some place warm to duck into if we needed a break from the elements. The wind was whipping at twenty plus miles an hour and the single digit temperatures made for a wind chill of about -20.

We planned on running a loop of about 1 1/2 miles to see just how prepared we were to face the elements. We hadn't gone very far and I began to wonder if I was dressed warm enough. I could feel the cold air across my lower legs and became concerned that it might lead to frostbite before our run ended. It didn't take long and my legs started to warm up a bit. Jon was fighting his own issues with the cold. He had an ice cream headache soon after we started. Soon we had to run on the sidewalks because we were on some fairly busy streets. Unfortunately these sidewalks were either filled with snow or covered by a sheet of glare ice. We finished the loop walking along the boulevard.

This run seemed like it just wasn't going to happen today. Jon and I got in our cars and went back to our respective houses. When I got home I wanted to try running through the neighborhoods around my house. I figured the homes would protect me from the wind a bit. I was able to run an additional 6 1/2 miles to get the full 8 miles in for the day. On Sunday Jon and I tried it again. This run went a little better and we got 4 1/2 miles in even though we did come across some blocks where the streets and sidewalks were so icy they looked like they were covered in glass.

This last week (week 3) was another really good week. My three weekday runs went quite well. For now they are still 4 miles each. It won't be long and I will be starting to increase the distances on these runs. I'm using the widely accepted principle of increasing weekly mileage by only 10% in order to avoid an increased risk of injury. My 10 mile long run this last Saturday finally got me back into double digits. I made two 5 mile loops not far from my house and felt good the whole way.

Today's run was great. I know that if I'm going to have a chance at making it at Trail Mix I need to get my legs used to running up and down hills even when they are fatigued. I figured that doing hill (overpass) repeats the day after my long run would do this quite nicely. I ran 6 miles back and forth over the 52nd avenue overpass. My legs felt strong the whole time. On the last repeat I took a bit of a detour. As I got to the highest spot just before crossing the "bridge" portion I turned and ran down the embankment. Once I reached the bottom I turned back uphill and churned my way through the grass and snow back to the overpass. Rachel, one of my running friends, does these a lot. Thanks for the great idea Rachel!

This last Saturday Lynette and I celebrated the 29th anniversary of our first date. No, we haven't kept track of this over all these years. A few years back we tried to figure out when our first date was. We remembered that it was in late January and it was a stormy night. I looked at a weather almanac and found that January 19, 1984 was the only day that fit the criteria. How did we celebrate this wonderful event? With Subway sandwiches and Gopher vs Sioux hockey, of course. We did get a gift for us both -- a juicer! Yay! We are both excited to start making a variety of healthy juices. It's a way for us both to improve our health so we can continue to celebrate for many more years.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Time to Get Serious

Well, I've started the new year by officially jumping into the deep end of the pool. I have entered the Trail Mix 50k race held next April at Hyland Park in the Twin Cities. So far I've only had one moment of "what did I do?" Otherwise I'm pretty excited about it.

I've just started a new training schedule, and this last week has been pretty good for getting some miles in. I'm including hills in some of my runs because there are plenty of them at Trail Mix. Okay, since hills don't exist in North Dakota I've been running across overpasses. I'll also be doing plenty of long runs through the rolling hills out near Rollag Minnesota.

I have also started (once again) to be much more mindful of what and how much I eat. Something that will help with this is our company's Biggest Loser competition that starts tomorrow. The employee who loses the largest percentage of weight wins $200.00. This is certainly going to help keep me motivated. I am also using the Lose It app on my phone. I can easily track my eating and exercising on this.

Sometimes I chuckle at myself and my seemingly unrealistic goals. I started out running three 5k races and then decided it was time to run a marathon. That certainly was a big leap, but I figured "go big or go home." I am surrounded by friends and family who have always encouraged me and have lived their lives understanding that anything is possible.

Now I've run one marathon and a few half marathons and I figure it's time to enter an ultra marathon. I have no doubt that I can accomplish this. I'm really looking forward to the challenges ahead as I enter the world of ultra marathons.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I'm Baaaack

It has certainly been a long time since I posted anything. I guess it's because I haven't done much running this summer. My work schedule has been unbelievably crazy since last March. We were working 60 to 70 hours a week. It didn't seem to matter if our work week was five or six days long, the hours stayed pretty much the same. We also spent about half of the summer working out of Fargo Glass & Paint's Minot office. The oil boom out in western North Dakota has created a building boom as well. While I liked the paychecks I was getting, I didn't have much time for anything but work. That has now changed. My work schedule is back to normal, and I'm getting back into running. Yay!!!

Summer is also a difficult time of year for me to run in. Most days I work outside in the heat. I just don't have the fortitude to go running much when the weather is so hot. I am much happier running in subzero weather. I guess I should look at late fall as the start of my training season.

I'm struggling a bit with the whole getting out of bed at four o'clock to get my weekday runs in. It feels soooo good to finally be able to sleep in until five thirty or even six some days. I know that soon I'll have to become more disciplined about this, but for right now I'll settle for running some evenings.

Today is long run day. I drove over to some bike paths that run along the river and was able to get in my scheduled five miles. My tired legs caused me to struggle a bit the last half mile. I know that building stamina takes time. I'm happy for the way things are going, but I really am looking forward to the LONG long runs. You know, the fifteen to twenty milers. Ohhh someday soon I'll be there again.

Since I didn't accomplish any of the goals I had set for myself this last spring/summer I will carry these goals forward to next year. I was able to defer my registration for the Fargo Marathon and am planning on running this in May. I am also planning on running the Trail Mix 50K race in April.

Lynette was gone today visiting a vineyard with some co-workers. This gave me the opportunity to have lunch somewhere we normally wouldn't go together -- like Passage to India. Man, I was really craving the Indian food and made a pig of myself. Their Paneer Tikka Masala is wonderful! I'm going to be running at least part of that off tomorrow.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Run Through The Rollag Hills

My knee was still giving me some trouble week before last. The good news was that running really didn't seem to aggrevate it. I missed the group run and did my long run on Sunday. The temperature was nice, but there was a very strong SSE wind. I started my run heading south into the wind. It became quite challenging after only a couple of miles. I was finally able to turn west and enjoy sort of a quartering tailwind for a while. The wind became an issue again when I made the turn for home. I was able to finish 10 miles and was happy with that. I didn't want to push my knee too far too soon.

This first half of this last week was incredibly busy at work. I actually got off work very early on Thusday since I alread had more than forty hours in. It seems that all of the physically demanding work fixed the stiffness and pain in my knee. It's feeling good as new. Since I had Friday off I went for a short 3 mile run in the middle of the morning. It turned out to be my fastest 3 miles yet.

Saturday morning was the "birthday run" to celebrate Jon's and Rachel's birthday. It was a fantastic morning for this run. The temperature started a little on the cool side and there was some fog. By late morning it had become rather warm and sunny. Originally I had hoped to try for a 31 mile run, but since I haven't been putting a lot of miles in I figured I'd just go as far as I could.

Jon, Erin, Rachel, Penny, Lou, and I enjoyed a wonderful run along some very scenic back roads. We all ran at the same relaxed long run pace. After about 3.5 miles Jon turned around and went to get his "birthday present" bike. His knee has been giving him some problems lately, so he chose to do more cycling today. His new ride is a white Pugsley bike with some monster tires. It is really cool!
Since Maggie is five months along in her pregnancy she drove Rachel's truck and was the crew for us. It was reassuring to have water and other supplies readily available. She also took some great pictures and cheered us on. She would get her run with Rachel in after the rest of us had completed ours.

Some day soon I will run an ultra marathon, so going on long runs with experieced ultra runners is alway a great learning opportunity. Rachel gave us some very helpful tips along the way. Both she and Jon reminded us to take the time to enjoy our surroundings. This is one of the main attractions of running a longer race. It seems that many of the runners in these longer races don't hesitate to stop and snap some photos of the scenery.

Maggie Took This of the Group
The training schedule called for a run of 17 miles. Penny and Lou finished 16 miles. Lou had never run more than 13.1 before. It was really great that she was able to set a new longest distance for herself. Rachel, Erin, and I added a short out and back section and finished with 18 miles! We all enjoyed some of Rachel's birthday cake. Jon and Erin had brought some candied bacon (yumm), and I had made some coconut sugar cookie bars. It was a crazy kind of sugar filled feeding frenzy.

Rachel and Maggie still had to run another 13 or 14 miles so we said our goodbye's and left for home. I saw on the Daily Mile website that Maggie (and the future runner growing inside her) ran just over 13 miles. Rachel finished the day having run a little more than 31 miles! They also face a drastic shift in the weather. What started out to be a warm sunny day suddenly became very cold and brutally windy. They are two of the toughest people I know.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Little Setback

This week I missed the Saturday morning group run due to a meeting for work, so I went for a solo run in the afternoon. The group was running 15 miles, and I planned on running that far or maybe a little farther. The weather was gorgeous -- 50+ degrees and sunny with only a light wind. I started out feeling good and certainly thought the 15 miles was doable. Then after about 5 miles my right knee started hurting. I had tweaked it a little at work last week. I was at a job site and I didn't notice that a guy from another trade had parked his ladder right behind mine. As I stepped down I tripped over the legs of his ladder and must have turned my leg a little funny. 

I finished my 9 mile loop and decided to cut my run short. I figured if nothing else I could run another 9 miles today (Sunday). I kept an ice pack on it last evening and it seems to be somewhat better this morning. I'll see how it feels once I start moving around, but I think I may give it another day of rest and the do more short runs this week. Hopefully I get it healed up for next weekend's long run.

I'm beginning to think that my goal of running an ultra marathon in April might have to be changed to running the 25K race instead. I haven't been running enough miles recently to make me confident in my ability to finish 31 miles without hurting myself. The good news is I still have some time to get my weekly mileage built back up. I guess I'll do what Chief Dan George said in The Outlaw Josey Wales, "Endeavor to persevere."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Couple of Easier Weeks

Week before last was a really light week. The only running I did was on Saturday with the group. It was a step back week with a scheduled 9 mile run, but Jon and I wanted to go a little further. He and I met at Sandy's Donuts about an hour early and got a good 4 miles in before everyone else got there. The group run was a 4 mile loop followed by a 5 mile loop. Things were going quite well until about halfway through the last loop. Even though we were keeping a nice easy pace my legs became really tired and sore. Jon was also dealing with pain in his legs. He and I basically hobbled through the last 2 miles.

The donuts after the run were good and the company was great as always. Jon, Rick, and I had talked about going to the Sheyenne National Grasslands near Kindred, ND for a 10 mile run on Sunday. We decided against going because of bad weather and the fact that Jon and I would need to take it a little easy on our legs.

Last week I went for a 6 mile run on Tuesday right after work. It was one of those off days; I felt as though I was clomping along for most of the run. I found it difficult to get into a rhythm. I actually had a couple of strangers start up conversations with me as I passed their homes. I appreciated their friendliness, but these interruptions made it even more difficult to get in the groove. There was also a lot of slush at the intersections and plenty of snow filled sidewalks which didn't help. I was glad when the run was over.

Saturday's group run was completely different than Tuesday's run. It was fantastic! Eight of us: Jon, Erin, Rachel, Maggie, Penny, Heather D., Heather S., and I drove out to the rolling countryside near Hawley and Rollag. Half of our group comes out here often to run the hilly gravel roads as part of their ultra marathon training. I was really looking forward to experiencing this for myself. We were scheduled to run 14 miles. We dropped off some water next to a rural church and drove 7 miles south to start our run. The temperature was in the teens, but a strong north wind brought sub zero wind chills.

One of the keys to running a successful ultra marathon is conditioning yourself to walk up the hills and run the downhill portions and the flat areas. It's actually quite hard at first. Most people who run are resistant to taking walk breaks. This attitude is fine for shorter distances, but for most people walking is a must as the runs get longer and the terrain becomes more challenging. Walking up the hills was the only way I was able to complete this distance.

We ran the first 7 miles into the wind. The snow flurries and overcast sky made the quiet countryside seem very remote. The only other people we saw were some guys ice fishing on one of the small lakes we passed. I'm sure they thought we were nuts! We reached the church and refueled. The strong wind at our backs made the trip back much more pleasant. Everyone made it the whole way. Heather S. had never run 14 miles before and Penny hadn't run that far in a couple of years. It was great to see everyone succeed.

The Hardcore Award has to go to Rachel who pulled "Thor" the entire 14 miles. "Thor" is a tire hooked to a harness (see pictures/videos below). She is training for the Arrowhead 135 mile race which requires each runner to pull a sled filled with all of their necessary equipment and clothes. Her strength and determination are just incredible.

I can't wait to get back out to run these roads again.

Jon, Me, Heather D., Penny, Erin, Rachel, Maggie, Heather S.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gettin' Closer to 20 Miles

I had another good week of running. Although I missed one run early in the week due to work, I was able to get some really good miles in the rest of the week. I was able to get 3 extra miles on Thursday morning's group run from the store and 6 extra on Saturday.

I got to the store early and had planned on meeting up with Jon before the group run. His vehicle wasn't in the parking lot which meant he was running from home. I forgot to check my email and didn't know which route he was taking. I set off running the direction I thought he might be coming from but still didn't see him by the time I hit the turn around point. When I got back to the store I saw Jon was already there. He had taken a different route. Oh well, next week we can get our miles in together.

We left the store and soon Jon had to turn around because he just couldn't warm up. Erin, Heather, and I went 5 miles at a pace that was pretty fast for me. They finished very strong, and I struggled to keep up. My legs were definitely tired after this run.

Saturday morning our group ran from the store. Lamont was nice enough to open it up for us. The group was scheduled to run 12 miles, but Jon, Heather, and I wanted to go 18 miles. The three of us got to the store very early and took off for the first 6 miles of the day. Jon's legs were giving him some problems and he really struggled for the first 5 miles or so. The pace was relaxed and Heather and I had a nice conversation. It was the first time I had run that far with her; she usually runs quite a bit faster. I'm glad she was willing to slow down to my long run pace for this part of the run.

The three of us made it back to the store in time to grab a quick snack and then we were off again. It was a rather small turnout for the run, but there was at least one new face in the crowd. The 12 miles were divided between a 4 mile loop followed by an 8 mile loop in a different direction. Erin, Rick and I ran together for the first 4 mile loop. It went by very quickly.

My legs felt stiff and sore as we started the 8 mile loop. Erin and I ran together and the conversation really helped keep my mind off of my discomfort. I soon got into the groove and things went well until we got to the last few miles. Erin has been fighting through some ankle tendinitis and has gone through some very painful treatments. I was struggling to keep my feet moving. We were both looking forward to the end of this run. The last few miles felt slow, awkward, and painful but we made it.

One thing that kept me going was the meal I knew waited for me that evening -- potato dumplings! One of my favorite foods! My sister-in-law was making the dumplings and Lynette was making bacon and side pork. There was a huge roaster filled with dumplings. I actually restrained myself and only ate a dozen of these delicious lumps of starchy goodness. I figured my 18 mile run in the morning justified my gluttony. I guess I truly do "run to eat."

Mmmmm! That's right, potato dumplings covered in butter and dark Karo syrup with bacon and side pork.
This morning Jon and I went out for a recovery run. We actually stuck to our plan of a rather slow 4 miles. My legs felt good for the whole run. I'm glad Jon urged me to get out there and get moving. I need to keep racking up the miles. Jon and Rachel are celebrating their birthdays next month. Rachel came up with the idea of a 25 mile run on the hilly gravel roads around Hawley/Rollag to commemorate the event. It has now become a 31 mile training run. I really want to try for all 31 miles, but I don't want to jeopardize my Trail Mix training. It looks like I'll be doing longer and longer runs for a while. I LOVE the long runs!