Monday, November 7, 2011

A Few More Miles

Well I finally got a few more miles in this week. I made it to the running store on Thursday morning for the group run. Erin and I ran together and logged five miles that seemed to fly by. Saturday was quite windy so I started my run heading into it. The first couple of miles were difficult. Like many people I often find the first mile or so to be sort of miserable. After about two miles I got into the groove and started to enjoy myself. I made it around a six mile loop that I've run before. On Sunday morning I met Jon and Erin at their house and we went for a five miler. It has been a while since I've run with Jon and enjoyed catching up on things. Running with them is always enjoyable and again the miles went by quickly.

I want to start gradually increasing my weekly mileage in order to build a decent base before the marathon training group starts this winter. I had looked at starting a twenty-four week schedule for a 50K race in April. I have done some reconsidering and will keep working on building miles. Once our training group starts I will tweak the marathon training schedule to suit my needs to run an ultra marathon. It sounds like there might be several people training for the Trail Mix 50K which should really help motivate me.

On Saturday night Lynette and I met Jon and Erin at the Fargo Civic Center for a F-M Derby Girls roller derby bout. Jon and Erin's friend, Cassie, is assistant captain of the Monkey Wenches. We had a really good time and will probably go again. It seemed like the players were having a lot of fun even though they were knocking each other around. We were glad that Jon and Erin had been to a bout before so they could help explain the rules. It's always more fun to cheer at an event when someone you know is competing. Cassie's team played in the last bout and beat the heck out of their opponents, Battlescar Gallactica.

You may notice that I have a second page listing the songs that are on my Ipod. If you click on  the song, a link to a YouTube video will open up so you can give the song a listen. I should probably explain why some of these songs are on here. A few of them: "Gin & Juice", "The One Eye Love", and "Amos Moses" just make me laugh. I usually start my run listening to some slower songs: "Angel", "I'll Stand By You", "The House That Built Me", ... to help me keep my pace in check. If I want to really ramp it up I'll play some Megadeth or Iron Maiden.

The song I listen to most often is "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent. It's been called a "road song" for cruising along the highway in a car. I find a lot of these "road songs" are great for running. Another song I play quite often is "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash. I saw a video of Josh Cox on an incredible 31 mile training run that featured this song. Here's a link to that video . I think the rhythm of his feet on the gravel road mixed with the beat of the song is pretty neat. I guess I don't get the poetry at the end, but man can that guy run!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

FM Half-Marathon Results

The FM Mini (Half-marathon) Race was a couple of weeks ago. I went into it with no real goals or expectations other than to finish the race and have fun. The weather was great -- sort of cool and overcast. Thankfully the 50+ mile per hour winds from the previous two days had gone away. We were left with just a nice breeze to keep everyone cool while they ran.

I met Jon and Erin at the Civic Center at 8:00. Erin's friend Sabrina was there with her sister who was running as well. Since the 5K and 10K races started so much earlier than the half-marathon, we had plenty of time to kill. Lamont was running in the 10K and we wished him luck as he made his way to the starting line. While we waited to start we bumped into Chris from our marathon training group. Finally after a forty-five minute wait we were lined up and ready to go.

Erin, Chris, and I were planning on starting together and lined up near the back. Jon lined up dead last and planned on passing as many people as he could. The siren sounded and we were off. Erin, Chris, and I started at a pace that was a little faster than I had planned on running, but it felt comfortable. After a few miles Chris started falling back. Erin and I kept our pace as well as we could; we figured we could finish in under two and a half hours.

At about the four mile mark Erin and I were starting to slow down a little. Just when we needed a boost we saw Jerry (from the Thursday morning group) waiting to join us for a while. He helped us push through and kept us moving at a good pace. We worked at passing people and used that as motivation to keep moving -- the same strategy Jon was using from the start. Jerry ran with us for about three miles before heading back home. Erin and I thanked him for running with us. Having him encourage us and keep the conversation going was a huge help.

I was doing okay until about ten miles in. That's when my legs let me know that my training had not been consistent enough to run this far at this pace. The course was laid out to have us run past the finish line with about two miles left. There was a large crowd of spectators and runners who had already finished. It was really hard to run by it knowing we still had some more miles to go before we could join them.

Just after passing the finish area we headed for the Oak Grove park. The bike path we were on had a small incline leading us into the park. At the top of that little "hill" is where my legs finally went on strike. Both calves were trying to cramp with each step. I hadn't taken a second round of electrolyte capsules when I should have and was paying the price now. Erin pulled away. She still looked strong and was still on track to finish under 2:30. I had slowed to a stiff shuffle trying to minimize the cramping.

It was a long mile and a half to the finish line. One bright spot was seeing Kristy cheering from the edge of the road. I finally made it across the line. Jon, Erin, and Heather were there. After I got my medal and some water we waited for Chris to come through. Then we decided to go to Rhombus Guy's Pizza for some food.

At one point during the meal our server took our glasses for refills. Erin pulled an amazing slight-of-hand and slipped her debit card to the server along with her glass. All any of us saw was Erin handing a copy of the receipt and a pen back to the server the next time she stopped at our table. Heather and I exchanged looks of "What the heck just happened?" Thanks so much for the pizza Erin!

All-in-all it was a really fun morning spent with friends.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Upcoming Races and New Training Plan

Anyone who has been reading my blog has probably noticed that my running and blog posting have been quite sporadic this summer. We have been incredibly busy at work and that really made it difficult to follow any kind of running schedule. When I did have some time to run, I lacked the necessary motivation to go out in the heat and humidity especially when most of my days are spent working outside. Now that the days are cooler and work isn't quite as demanding, I seem to be much more excited about running.

This Saturday is the FM Mini (Half-marathon). I was a little worried that the amount I have been running would not be adequate preparation for thirteen miles. Lately I've been able to get in several runs of ten or more miles and numerous runs just short of ten miles. I am much more confident that I will finish this race. I am not concerned about finishing in a certain time. I look forward to just enjoying a run along the Red River and all of the fall colors.

My last two runs have been fantastic. Last week Erin e-mailed me and asked if I would like to join her at the running store at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday to get five miles in before everyone else showed up at 5:30 for the group run. Then we would run another five with the group. Her husband Jon was out of town and Connie was tapering for the Twin Cities marathon, so she would have been running the first five alone. I said yes because I always enjoy our runs. I was so tempted to just stay in bed when the alarm went off at 3:30. I knew Erin would be expecting me which was all the motivation I needed to get going. We had such a pleasant run. The sky was crystal clear, and it was a little cool and windy which was fine as long as we were moving. It was a great morning for a run. I'm so glad she asked me to join her.

Last Saturday I went out to Buffalo River State Park to run the trails. I didn't have any distance or pace goals; I just wanted to get out and enjoy the weather. I also wanted to shoot some video of the trails but discovered that I am horrible at trying to hold a camera steady when I run. Only one short clip is steady enough to watch. I guess I need more practice.

The weather was warm, clear, but very windy. I had the trails to myself except for the garter snakes sunning themselves on the trails. I saw at least a couple dozen of them. They skedaddled pretty fast when they saw me lumbering toward them. At the end of my run I saw that I went 8 miles at a decent pace for such a relaxed run. All-in-all it was a super day.

Later this month I will be starting a new 24 week training plan in preparation for my first ultra-marathon -- The Trail Mix 50k. Jon and Erin ran at Trail Mix last year. Jon ran the 50k (31 miles) and Erin ran the 25k (15.5 miles). The route is a 7.75 mile loop which means four laps for the 50k race. Last year the trails were wet and muddy which resulted in cold wet feet for the whole race. The elevation profile shows it to be really hilly and includes running up a ski slope. Jon and Erin have both said it was a grueling ordeal, but the confidence they gained by completing this helped them prepare for the Fargo Marathon just a month later. While my goal at this point is to shoot for the 50k, I realize that I may have to try the 25k first.

My next post should be a recap of the FM Mini.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Double Digits For Me & Ben's Big Run

Highlights For The Week

Wednesday morning came too soon, so I blew off my run until the evening. I should have forced myself out of bed when the temperature was much cooler. That evening I was able to get my three miles in with no real issues. I was up by 4:30 am on Thursday morning so I could run with the group from the store. My legs were pretty stiff. I think they were complaining about an evening run followed by a morning run. I joined the Jon, Erin, Connie, and Jerry for a five mile loop. John joined us about halfway through. I had not run with Jerry or John before, so it was nice meeting some new people. We ran at a pretty easy pace and made it back to the store in plenty of time for me to get back home, shower, and get ready for work. I knew I had a fourteen hour workday ahead, but this was a fantastic way to start the morning!

Today I finally got my long run back into double digits with an eleven mile run. WOO HOO! The weather was in the mid-fifties with only a slight breeze which was great. My legs were quite stiff again, and I ran the first three miles very slowly. It felt like I was moving faster than what my Garmin showed my pace to be. I soon got in the groove and was able to complete each following mile a little faster than the previous one. Now I'm starting to get excited about the FM Mini-marathon in October.

Ben's Big Run

Minot, ND has experienced catastrophic flooding this year. The company Lynette and I work for has a branch office out there, and we have heard firsthand accounts of the unbelievable damage done by the flooding. Large areas of the city are completely wiped out and look like something from a post-apocalyptic movie. The floodwater overflowed the banks of some sewage ponds so the whole town is blanketed by an unbearable odor.

There have been different kinds of fund raising events to help these people. Ben Clark, a straight A student at North Dakota State University, grew up in Minot and started running across North Dakota in an effort to raise money for the Minot Area Flood Recovery Fund. He decided to take on this challenge only two weeks ago while on a fishing trip. His journey started last Sunday in Beach, North Dakota and ended this morning in Fargo. I'm not sure of the exact distance, but I know it is just over 360 miles! He averaged around 50 miles/day and slept very little. Yesterday's three hour nap was the longest sleep he had all week.

He had some people "crewing" for him. His dad was with him at the start, and by Wednesday my friend Rick had driven "Eunice" (his RV) to New Salem and joined the quest. Rick kept posting updates on his blog that hinted at the enormity of this challenge. Apparently many roads all across the state were closed due to flooding. This resulted in detours and a stuck vehicle. I can't begin to imagine what Ben went through.

Ben at the finish of his 360+ mile run!

Ben is not new to extreme challenges. Just a few weeks ago he became the youngest person to finish the Badwater Ultra-marathon. This 135 mile race starts on the floor of Death Valley and ascends to the top of Mt. Whitney at an elevation of 8,360 feet. He said the conditions were "otherworldly." This race is justifiably called the toughest foot race on earth. Something that really put all of this into perspective for me was the realization that in these two events Ben had run nearly as many miles as I've run all year. WOW!!!

I had not met Ben before this morning. He is a soft spoken, unassuming young man. When asked by reporters what his next race would be, he listed several races ranging from 150 miles to 333 miles. But his first priority is to get ready for school which starts tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Here I Go Again!!!

Well, apparently I'm still riding high from the marathon back in May because I just registered for next year's race. It looks like I'll have another winter filled with running hundreds of miles. Right now I've been gradually putting in more miles each week and look forward to the long runs. There's something about running for several hours at a time that I really enjoy. Is that crazy or what!

It will be interesting to see the differences in my training and in the race itself now that I have experienced a marathon. I now know some of the difficulties that I will face along the way. Will this knowledge be helpful? Is it better to not know the highs and lows that are experienced during this? I guess I'll find out. Of course there's no turning back the clock. I will always remember my first marathon and all of the joy, misery, and sense of accomplishment.

I finally made it to a Thusday morning group run from the store. I had a very enjoyable run with Jon and Connie. When they got to the store they had already put in six miles by running from their homes, and we ran four miles together. I look forward to this weeks group run.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Celebration Runs

I certainly have cut back on my running since the marathon, but I have run in a couple of events. I entered the Fourth of July 5K put on by Minnesota State University Moorhead. The course ran along the road leading to Bluestem Center for the Arts which is just outside of Moorhead. It was a very hot and humid morning. With no trees along the course the sun beat down mercilessely. I'm really glad I chose to run the 5K instead of the 10K which was two loops of the 5K route. I really wanted to run this in less than thirty minutes, but I knew the heat could make this difficult.

After picking up my bib I ran into Jon and Erin who were both running the 10K. It was nice to see some familiar faces. Jon offered to help me keep running at a pace that would get me across the finish line in under a half hour. I really appreciated this. I knew I would need someone to push me along.

The race started and Jon and I kept a pace of roughly 9:15/mile. I would certainly reach my goal of I could keep this up. Unfortunately I had to slow down at the halfway point. I finished in 32:01. Although I've run faster than this in training, this was my fastest 5K so far. I'm happy with it.

Jon didn't quite make the 10K in under an hour like he had wanted, but he ran a really good race. A volunteer gave him some wrong directions along the course, and he ended up running a bit farther than he should have. Erin also received some confusing instructions, but toughed it out through the heat. It was not a good day to try for a fast time

I also ran in Jon and Erin's 1st Anniversary run. It was a blast! There were thirteen of us taking part in either a 10K or half-marathon from their house. It was a little muggy out, but with great company to keep the conversation going the miles really flew by. Most of us stopped after running 10K. Heather and Rachel continued running more and Jon switched to a bicycle and went with them. When they got back we all received our medals and enjoyed a potluck breakfast. The food was delicious. It was a really fun way to celebrate Jon and Erin's first anniversary. I am so glad I was invited and look forward to next year's celebration.

I've recently started to ramp up my weekly miles as part of a half-marathon training program. I have nine weeks to get ready for the FM Half-Marathon. I certainly do better when I have a schedule to follow and a goal to pursue. This last Saturday Jon, Erin, and I went to Buffalo River State Park and ran six miles on the trails. Running the trails is so much more enjoyable than running in town. We chased up a few deer and Jon had to do a quick sidestep to avoid stepping on a snake. On the way back home we ate some of Jon's Bacon Cookies. That's right I said "Bacon Cookies." He made white chocolate chip cookies and added just a little finely chopped maple cured bacon. They were AMAZING! I have got to try making these. It was a super start to the weekend.

Mmmmmm bacon cookies!!!!!

My heart rate on some runs seems to get really high. I was concerned that I could be in some danger if I continued to run with a rapid pulse. I have done some research and discovered that there really is no cause for concern. If I continue to push after reaching my maximum heart rate, my body will force me to slow down fairly quickly. If pushing through a really high heart rate was dangerous, we would have elite athletes dropping like flies. The good news is I no longer need to be concerned. The bad news is I no longer have this as an excuse to slow down. I have stopped paying very much attention to my heart rate during most runs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer So Far

Well, it seems like forever since I posted anything. Since the Buffalo River Trail Run I really haven't been able to get in many miles each week. Work has been crazy. I've been getting home late every night, and I'm just too tired to get up early. It seems that these long days are coming to an end so I should be able to get back to a regular running schedule. I plan on doing some runs with the Fargo Running Company's running groups. This will give me the additional motivation I need until I start training for the FM Mini Marathon in the fall. I'll be running a 5K in Moorhead on July 4th. I'd like to really push it and see how fast I can run it. It should be a good time.

I am finally posting the things I did right for the marathon and the things I would do differently.

Things I'll Do Differently Next Marathon
  •  I really need to do a better job of planning my race: when and what to eat, when to take Endurolytes (an electrolyte replacement capsule), etc. Thankfully I ran with Erin for most of the race. She did a great job of keeping to her schedule, and she would remind me when it was time to eat or take a couple of Endurolytes.
  •  I really got overheated during the race. I believe part of my problem was caused by wearing a compression shirt under my technical tee. I wore it to prevent chafing as I had done on many runs before. Next year I will practice running with only a tee shirt. I'll try band aids or Nip Guards if chafing becomes an issue.
  • Next race I'll make sure to try out all of the equipment I plan to use. I ran with a Nathan waist pack with a water bottle and gel flask. I had run with this before but had never used the flask. Just a half mile into the marathon I reached for my water bottle and accidentally turned off my GPS when I tried to put the bottle back in the holder. I had to use both hands behind my back in order to move the flask out of the way and hit the button on the GPS. I lost track of my time and distance which left me clueless about the eating/Endurolyte schedule.
Things I Did Well and Will Do Again
  • I don't believe I would have even completed the training let alone finish the race if it wasn't for the training group. Having a group of supportive people is an absolute must in my opinion.
  • I bought my shoes from the Fargo Running Company after having my stride, feet, etc. analyzed by the salesperson. Having the proper shoes and getting them fitted correctly is also at the top of the list of necessities. Running hundreds of miles in the wrong shoes can lead to unnecessary injuries.
  • I did a pretty good job of staying on top of my intake of fluids -- both water and Powerade. Our trainers Rick and Jon really stressed the need to carry your own liquids in order to accurately measure your consumption. It is impossible to measure how much you're drinking when relying solely on the aid stations. Most people spill so much trying to drink from the paper cups used at the aid stations they end up drinking too much or too little. I carry water with me even on short runs in order to reinforce the habit.
  • I enjoyed (at least for the first eighteen miles) interacting with the crowds and the bands that lined the route. I left the iPod at home which allowed me to enjoy being a part of this great community event.
Hopefully I can start racking up some miles and running some races before summer is over. I definitely will be running some more trails. Maybe I'll try running some of the trails in the Sheyenne National Grasslands which are about an hour out of Fargo. That will at least give me something to write about.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Buffalo River Trail Run

Yesterday was the my first trail race -- the first annual Buffalo River Trail Run, and it was great! They offered both a 5K and a 10K run. Our whole group had opted for the 10K. The weather was perfect -- low 60's, sunny with a light breeze. A group of us met at the Fargo K-mart parking lot at 5:30 a.m. so we could car pool to the race. It turned out that Rick and Kristy were taking us all in their motorhome "Eunice." That's what I call travelling in style! It was fun to be able to visit with everyone along the way. The group included the people I've been running with: Rick, Kristy, Jon, Erin, and Maria, and I was introduced to Penny and Rachel who also rode with us.

Jon had said that almost every runner he knew was going to be at this race. He seemed to be right! The last I heard there were about three hundred runners. Once we arrived I met more new people -- Heather and Doug. Doug wasn't going to be running because of an injury, so he agreed to take some photos of the group.

Kristy, Maria, Penny, Me, Rachel, Erin, Jon, Heather, Rick
The race started and ended at the Minnesota State University Moorhead science center which is right next to Buffalo River State Park. Most of the trails meandered through tall prairie grasses and wildflowers. The wooded sections were shorter, but even a little bit of shade felt wonderful.

Prairie trails

Heading back into the woods
 I ran the whole race with Kristy and Erin. Rick ran with us for the first mile before kicking it into a higher gear. We started at the back and enjoyed a comfortable pace. Less than a mile into the race we had a deer bolt across the trail just in front of Kristy. I don't know who was more startled, the deer or us! The trail wound around toward the state park and we could see the line of runners ahead of us. I thought it was a pretty cool sight.

The line of runners ahead of us

Planks across one of the muddy sections

While most of the trails were dry, there were a few muddy sections. There were planks across the worst of them, but I was a little concerned that the boards would be slippery. I stayed off of the planks at the first "mud hole" but used them at the remaining muddy sections (I know, I know. It's a trail race. You're supposed to get dirty! Next time I'll run the mud, I promise). This part of Minnesota has a little more roll to the terrain, but much of the course was pretty easy running. The race director had us running up a couple of hills right at the end. Of course you put the hills at the end. Now usually when you run up a hill you can look forward to the corresponding downhill. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't been there, but I swear to God that these hills were just uphill! There was no noticeble downhill on the other side!

Rick, Jon, Penny, Heather, and Rachel finished ahead of us and were cheering for us at the finish. Rachel placed second in the women's division while running the thing barefoot (notice she is sans shoes in the group photo). Kristy, Erin, and I crossed the finish line together in 1:11 and some change. Maria came in shortly afterward and kept saying how much fun she had. It really was a fantastic race and a great way to start a beautiful weekend.

The organizers did an amazing job of putting together their first race. The course was well marked. They had volunteers keeping us on course and handing out water at the aid stations. The Red River Radio Amateurs were spread out along the course and could radio for help in case of any emergencies. All-in-all it was a great race, and everyone plans on running it again next year.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Post Marathon Recovery

Although it has been only a week since the marathon, it seems like much more time has gone by. The bottoms of my feet were pretty sore for a couple of days, so I didn't do any running until last Thursday. I decided to run at whatever pace felt comfortable and ignore my Garmin. When I reached the turnaround point at 1.5 miles I checked the GPS and noticed that I had forgotten to reset it after the race. I cleared it and ran home at about the same pace speeding up the last quarter mile. It turned out that the Garmin had kept Thusday's run seperate from Saturday's race. When I checked my average pace I saw that it was my fastest 3 mile run. Wow! I really tried to keep my pace slowed down a bit on Friday's 4 mile run. I know that it can take a while for my legs to heal.

My First Trail Run
Jon and Erin invited me to run with them at Buffalo River State Park on Sunday in order to get the feel for next Saturday's 10K trail race. It would be my first time running on trails. The day started with Lynette and I joining Jon and Erin at Applebee's for a pancake feed raising funds for the local men's roller derby league Rock City Riot. I know. You're thinking roller derby? Is that still around? Oh yes my friends. In fact Fargo has four women's teams that have been quite active for several years. I guess last year the guys decided to join the fun and started their own league. I went to both the men's and women's websites, and now I really want to see a match.

We were the first ones at Applebee's, and soon we were munching down some tasty pancakes and sausages. The guys from the team were doing the serving. They wore their jerseys and the names on the back were classic roller derby. One red headed guy was named Angus Beef. There was a Biff Quick, and my favorite, Egor Toboneya. I love being around people who live outside "the box."

After breakfast Lynette left for her sister Loni's house to see the grand-nephews (and other family members). Jon, Erin, and I left for the park. We started running from the parking lot near the swimming hole and followed the 10K route. I'm glad Jon had a copy of the course. He kept us from taking any wrong turns. The course starts on some wooded trails, but most of the run is on trails winding through the prairie. There were some wildflowers just starting to bloom along the trails. We saw some Bluebirds flitting around and had a Bobolink follow us for a bit. It was much more enjoyable than running in town.

Running on trails sure seemed less punishing on the joints, but the softer surface seemed to make it harder to keep a good pace. Some of the energy used to push off is absorbed by the ground. The first couple of miles were hard, but after that I got in the groove and the miles went by really well. We got back to the parking area having run just under six miles. Erin's ankle was hurting, so she decided to stop there. Jon and I started another shorter loop. After about a mile I split off and went back to the parking area. My total distance ended up being 7 1/4 miles. Jon took the long way back and ran just under 7 3/4 miles. It was a really enjoyable day. Jon and Erin are so much fun to be with. Thanks again for asking me to go along.

I think this week is going to be another recovery week with a few shorter runs. I'll save myself for the race on Saturday. I'd like to run some shorter races (5K or 10K) this summer. There are tons of them to choose from. I figure I can try and work on improving my speed and check my progress at these races.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My First Marathon Finish

I once saw a comedian who was pretending to be a movie critic. He said of the movie, "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me." That pretty well sums up my first marathon experience. I knew it was going to be a difficult endeavor, and it certainly met my expectations and then some. In fact, I think anyone who finishes one of these things deserves a medal (ha, I crack myself up). All-in-all it was a very positive experience (notice I didn't use words like fun or pleasant?). Here is the breakdown. I'll apologize here for what might be a fairly long post.

Lynette customized my shirt with a "slow moving Norwegian" sign

While I slept very well on Friday night, Lynette didn't sleep a wink. She changed her plans of going to the start with me and instead went to get some sleep so that she would be ready to cheer for me along the course. I got to the Fargodome early and sat around visiting with Rick, Kristy. Jon, Erin, and some of their friends and family. Rick and Kristy had parked their motor home there as a place to hang out. Thanks for the hospitality!!! When I got there Rick was out running the half-marathon route as a warm up for the big race. He got back in time to change into dry running clothes and eat a bagel. Then we were all off to the starting line.

The theme for this year's race was Fargo Rocks so what better way to start than with the national anthem played on an electric guitar. Now the race was on. The weather forecast had called for rain and potential thunderstorms for the day, but it just stayed overcast with maybe a couple of very light sprinkles. The humidity climbed as the day progressed, and this would have a big impact later on.

I ran with Erin, Kristy, Chris, and Maria for the first several miles. Pretty soon Kristy pulled ahead of us. She has such a smooth running style I forget that this is also her first marathon. Erin and I began to pull away from Chris and Maria. It was a good sign that everyone was running their own pace. We cruised through the miles enjoying the crowds of cheering spectators. In keeping with the Rockin' theme, there were DJ"s or live bands all along the course. There was everything from high school marching bands to heavy metal bands to square dancers. It was a riot! They really helped keep the spirits up.

Kristy (in blue) and Erin (in yellow) meeting up along the course.

Erin and I kept plugging away at a nice pace. She saw some friends and family at various points along the way. Lynette, her sister Lisa, and Aunt Judy were waiting at about mile twelve. What a morale booster! I knew that I would see them again soon. The turn around for the course was just ahead. The next time I saw them I ran over and gave Lynette a quick kiss. As I stepped away she yelled "Happy Birthday!" A young woman running behind me asked who's birthday it was. I told her it was mine and before I knew it everyone around me was singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Of course only Lynette, Lisa, Judy, and Erin knew my name so when it came to that part of the song I think they just sang "marathon runner" in place of my name. It was really great!

When Erin and I got to about mile seventeen or eighteen I felt myself starting to overheat. I looked at my heart rate monitor and noticed that my pulse was pretty fast for as slow as we were running. I decided to walk for a bit to slow it down. Erin stayed at the pace we had been running and kept it up all the way to the finish line. She really ran smart and had a fantastic race. I continued to take some walk breaks and got a little second wind around mile twenty. By mile twenty two the wheels had pretty much fallen off. All I could think about was cooling off. Just as I rounded the corner of Broadway heading north I spotted a woman holding a garden hose and she was spraying people with cold water. I don't know who she was, but I couldn't thank her enough. I stood under the spray for about a minute. I was completely soaked and refreshed. Sadly, that didn't last long.

I finished the last four miles sort of hobbling along. At last the Fargodome was in sight. My pace quickened (from a snail's pace to that of a speedy turtle). I crossed the finish line! Lynette and Lisa cheered me on as I crossed the finish line, and Jon and Erin, with their medals worn proudly around their necks greeted me with hugs and congratulations. We grabbed some food and some more blue Powerade (uck! I don't care if I ever drink that stuff again!) while we waited for Chris and Maria to come in. They appeared on the Jumbotron and Jon, Erin, and I met them at the finish line. All of us Back-of-the-Packers had finished the race!

From left to right: Chris, Maria, Me, Erin, Jon, Kristy, Rick

We went back to the motor home for some group pictures. Lynette and I headed home. I had an ice bath and compression socks waiting for me. While my finishing time was about a half hour slower than what I would have liked, I'm so happy to have finished. Up until yesterday, my black belt test was the most mentally challenging and physically grueling thing I had done. This marathon forced me to push through so much physical discomfort and self doubt. It showed me the depths of my constitution. I will always be grateful for being able to experience this.

Finally, I want to again say thanks to everyone for all of the support and encouragement. It has meant a lot to have so many people rooting for me.

Next week I am thinking of comparing all of the things I did right and all of the mistakes I made as I trained for the marathon. Have a fantastic week everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Birthday Run

So. Last fall I tossed around the idea of running 26.2 miles on my 47th birthday which falls on May 21. By Thanksgiving I had decided to do it and started telling people my plan. I knew running that far would be a challenge, but I figured birthday runs are supposed to be challenging. Now, I don't know who started spreading the word, but apparently there are now over 20,000 people who want to join me on my birthday run. Say whaaaat? Look. I get embarrassed when we go out to eat and the server finds out it's my birthday. Before I know it I have a plastic pirate hat on my head and the wait staff sings "Happy Birthday" like a sea shanty with all kind of "matey's" and "arrrr's" thrown in for color. I don't need it!

Not only are all of these people running with me but the police are blocking off the roads along the route I am going to take. I've heard there will be bands playing all along my run with hundreds, if not thousands, of people cheering me on. Someone is even going to open the Fargodome to accommodate all of these people! What started out as a quiet run has gotten completely out of control!!!! Believe me, I'll find out who started this whole thing, and they will suffer a payback.

Okay. I know next weeks race is not all about me. It is a great coincidence that the marathon falls on my birthday. It promises to be a very memorable day. I am grateful for having the chance to run it with a great group of people. I know that we are all going to do very well. Our bodies have handled the miles of pounding week after week with no serious injuries. We are prepared to battle the 26.2 mile beast!

Best of luck to everyone running next weekend. I guess my next post will be a race recap. WOOO HOOO!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting

It's hard to believe the marathon is only two weeks away. Now we start tapering back the mileage in order to let our bodies heal a bit before the race. I know my legs will appreciate it. Yesterday's long run was only twelve miles, and next weeks will be eight miles. Only twelve miles! Did I just say that? What's happened to me that I would think of it as only twelve miles. Last year at this time I couldn't run a 5K without walk breaks. Wow! I have to be careful about becoming too complacent as we start our tapering. Approaching any runs with a cocky attitude could spell disaster. In the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Although I missed a weekday run last week, the ones I completed were great. I pushed up my pace a bit and ran two of the fastest six milers I've had -- thanks in part to Iron Maiden blasting out of the ipod. After the marathon I really want to work on some more speed. Being able to consistently run a 10K in under an hour would be pretty cool.

Our training group left from the Fargodome for this weeks training run. Kristy wasn't able to make it, but the rest of our bunch of back-of-the-packers (Rick, Jon, Erin, Chris, Maria, Shirley, and I) were all feeling great and ready to run. Eric from the running store joined us as well. The route followed a lot of the actual marathon course from north Fargo, through the downtown area, and a little bit into south Fargo. We could see where some roads had been covered by clay dikes during the flood. These had just recently been cleared so they were a little muddy in spots. I'm sure by race day they will be clean.

Our pace was a little faster than our normal long runs. Otherwise the run was pretty uneventful. A lot of chitting, chatting, and laughing as usual. Erin and Eric started ramping up the pace with about a mile left. I tried to keep up but just didn't have enough gas in the tank. About a half mile from the finish, Jon blew by me, passed Erin and Eric and finished at a great pace. Although the run was shorter, my legs were incredibly sore last night. I didn't have the stiffness that I usually have after a long run, but I had a very difficult time sleeping due to achy muscles. The good news is that they feel much better today.

No one in our bunch, except for the trainers, has run a marathon. I think it's amazing that all five of us first timers will finish the training, and it looks like we should all do well in the race. I know that having a fantastic group of people to run with has made it possible for me to come this far. A favorite quote of Rick's is, "A burden shared is a burden halved and a joy shared is a joy doubled." The meaning of this quote has certainly resonated with me during this experience, and I hope to approach all things in life with this sentiment.

I went to the Fargo Running Company yesterday and had Lamont and Eric help me get fitted with a new pair of shoes. I've had some doubts about a previous assessment done by someone else regarding my gait and thought I would get another opinion. My feet are quite flat which usually means I might  tend to overpronate. It turns out that the original assessment of no overpronation was correct. I can wear a neutral shoe but one with some support because of my weight. I like Asics shoes for their roomy toe box. I wanted to try on a couple of different styles, but they didn't have the cheaper one in my size. Eric and Lamont agreed that the Asics Gel Nimbus 12 (see picture below) would offer the support and cushion I needed. Eric sold them to me for a great price. Thanks guys!

New kicks! Sweeeeeeet!

After the marathon I have some home improvement projects to finish, so taking time for them is a top priority. Even with these projects looming I have started thinking about other races to enter this year.I know I want to run the Fargo Mini-marathon which is a half marathon held in October. I won't be running any more marathon distances this summer, but would maybe like to try a 25K or some more half marathons. Maybe a trail race or two? Hmmmm, so many choices. Time to start surfing the web for places to run.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last of the Really Long Runs

Today was our second and last twenty miler. Rick laid out a great course that offered some new scenery as well as a handy spot for an aid station. The course was an out and back with a five mile loop at the far end. We would pass the aid station where Rick was handing out water and Powerade every five miles. We all agreed that it was a well thought out course.

Our group started out running at a conservative pace. Jon pointed out that these long runs were all about spending time on your feet not about speed. We were all feeling great at our first aid station stop. As we approached Rick's van we caught up to a runner from the class walking along the road. She apparently had some severe pain in her IT band and naturally was quite upset about it. As one of our guest speakers put it, our training forces us to tread the fine line between peak performance and injury. We all could certainly empathize with her.

The loop part of the route circled the Prairiewood golf course so traffic was light. We ran the first loop clockwise, stopped at Rick's van for a water refill, and ran the same loop counterclockwise. Kristy and Shirley, who had started a bit faster than the rest of us, were waiting at the van for us. We would finish the last five miles as one good sized group.

At the start of our last five mile stretch, Jon was going to push us to maintain our pace. It is hard to force yourself to keep going after this many miles. Having someone to motivate you makes a huge difference. We gradually increased our speed over the last five miles, and the last mile was the fastest of the day. Erin really kicked in the afterburners with several blocks to go. I had all I could do to keep up. The whole group had a SUPER run! We all finished strong even after twenty miles.

The marathon is only three weeks away now. Everyone in our little back-of-the-pack group should do very well. We have inspired and encouraged each other as we strive to accomplish a pretty amazing test of endurance and will. I know that I could not have come this far without the group and our amazing coaches. In fact I think it's time to express my opinion about some of the "coaches" and brag about the coaches I have had the privilege to run with.

I have noticed that some of the "coaches" tend to treat these group runs as nothing more than a chance to get their long runs in. They can be seen running in pairs or singly. The only encouragement from them is a "good job" as they run past. In my opinion, as a "coach" they should be running with one of the groups, monitoring everyone's progress, and offering advice on any issues that come up. Or, if the entire class gets too spread out, they could adjust their speed to allow them to spend some time with the pairs or single runners. I know I would be quite frustrated if I signed up for the class and found myself running alone every week.

As it is, I do not run alone. None of us back-of-the-packers runs alone. Rick and Jon see to that. They have been incredible coaches. While one of them may spend time with another group or individual, one of them is always with us on our runs. They are there to answer any questions and pass along the lessons they have learned through their running experiences. Some days we have Lamont or Eric (both from the Fargo Running Company) there to share their experiences. That's is what I expect from someone working as a coach.

Wow! Sounds like a pretty serious rant. Maybe a little levity at the end of this post is in order. I saw a preview for the new version of the movie Arthur when we were in St. Cloud. I enjoyed the original version when it came out. The character that really made the movie was Hobson played by Sir John Gielgud. His character is still one of the funniest I've seen. Here's one of my favorite scenes. Hobson is meeting Arthur's latest lady friend/escort. Funny stuff.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What The Hell Have I Got Myself Into?

It's time for some introspection. Years ago when I started taking Tae Kwon Do my main goal was to improve my physical fitness. Soon I found myself surrounded by people who would casually discuss things like how many boards or bricks they could break. They would recount their exploits in past tournaments -- how many fights they had won or lost, etc. Before I knew it I found myself getting into a ring to try and kick my opponent in the head more times than he kicked me. I punched, kicked, and smashed boards and bricks with my hands, feet, and head (on purpose!). Most people would find these activities quite unusual, while for me and my friends it was normal. I had become (mad scientist music playing) one of THEM.

This morning I went to the downtown YMCA for the scheduled twelve mile group run (three times around a four mile loop). As we were getting ready to take off Jon and Erin asked me if I would like to run an additional 4 mile loop. While most people would probably find a way to gracefully decline such a proposition understanding that twelve miles is actually quite daunting, I found myself with a silly grin on my face and nodded yes.

We started the first loop and Jon and I went out pretty fast. After a mile I checked our pace on my GPS and hoped I could keep it up. What I hadn't realized was that Jon was letting me set the pace. While I was trying to keep up with him, he was trying to keep up with me. We were like a runaway train and finished the first loop very quickly. After a short stop to gulp some Powerade we were off for loop number two. Again our pace was fast. In fact it was even faster than the first loop. About halfway around we were joined by Jackie who is training for the half marathon. She was somewhat faster than Jon and I, but we sped up even more to keep up with her for the rest of the loop. Now there were three cars on our train.

Jon and I waited at the Y for the rest of our group (Rick, Erin, Kris, and Maria) to finish their second loop. After they had a chance to get a drink we all left together. This time Jon and I stayed with the group at our normal long run pace. The third loop went well. Back at the Y Erin and I said our goodbyes to the others and took off on loop number four. About halfway through Erin's foot started to hurt, and I could feel the effects of my speedy loops earlier. I glanced at my GPS when we had maybe a mile left and was startled to see that we had already run a little over sixteen miles. Apparently the loops were a little longer than four miles. We  toughed it out to the finish and slowly hobbled our way to our cars.

On my way home I realized that I am surrounding myself with people who casually say things like, "I'm running a 25K race on trails covered in mud so thick it sucks the shoes off your feet." Or "I'm running a 50K race on those same muddy trails, but I want to fight my way up the hills twice as many times." Or last but not least, "I ran a 135 mile race in northern Minnesota the first week of February (Hello? Have you heard of the Icebox of America?). I had to pull all of my gear and had to be concerned about hypothermia from the -40 degree temperatures and the hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation and physical exertion."

Agreeing to the extra miles today made me realize that I was becoming (mad scientist music playing) one of THEM.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Earth Day Half Marathon Weekend

We went to St. Cloud on Friday afternoon trying to outrun the nasty winter weather that was coming. The trip went well. We took Lynette's new ride -- a bright red Kia Soul-- that we bought last week. After checking in at the hotel we went to the college to pick up my race packet. There wasn't much schwag, just a cloth grocery bag and a shirt, but the shirt is a technical t-shirt which is great.

We left the campus and went for supper at Panera. Julie and Mary introduced us to this restaurant on a recent trip to the Twin Cities and we loved it. We both had a sandwich, but I also ordered the mac & cheese which was amazing! We went back to the hotel and waited for our friends Don and Shelly to arrive from Wisconsin. They spent the weekend with us and were there to cheer for me at the finish.

Looks like I'm in for a cool run.
When we woke up Saturday morning there was a layer of snow on the cars, but at least the streets were clear. The weather was cold (low thirties), cloudy, and windy. I got pretty chilled while waiting for the race to start. I warmed up quickly once I started running. I was just behind the 11:04 minute/mile pace group that would finish the race in two hours twenty-five minutes. I was hoping to stay with this group and finish under two and a half hours.

Starting line.
I saw Shirley, another runner from our training class, at the starting line. We ran together for a while, but she was running a little faster than I wanted. She slowly pulled away and I kept to my pace which started a bit slower than the pace group. I caught up to Shirley and the pace group at about the four mile aid staion. I was able to stay with the pacer for the rest of the race.

The course was a nice mix of residential streets, bike paths, and even some grass through the park. The crowds along the course were great. It's amazing to have people you don't know cheering for you. There were a lot of volunteers at the aid stations. It made it easy to get through them quickly.

Heading down into the park.

Old Man River -- The Mighty Mississippi
Shirley started to fall back a little after about eight miles. I forced myself to keep up to the pacer. She did a great job of keeping me motivated even though she was running the hell out of me. The end of the course was a big downhill run. I let gravity do its thing and just tried to keep my feet moving fast enough to keep from skidding down the hill on my face. There was still about a quarter mile to go after I reached the bottom of the hill. People along the road kept telling me that I was almost there. I've discovered that the finish line is deceptive. It seems to keep moving further away as I approach it much like the never-ending hallways in scary movies.

Keeping up to the pacer.
Shirley nearing the finish line!

I crossed the finish, heard them announce my name, and got my medal. It was over and I was thrilled to have done it in two hours twenty-two minutes! I saw Shirley nearing the finish line as we were walking to our car. It is great that she finished. Now it's back to the training grind. Only five weeks to go until the big race. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First Twenty Mile Run

Today's group run was a fifteen miler, but since I'll miss next week's twenty mile group run because I'm running the Earth Day Half Marathon I decided to go an extra five miles today. The course was made of three five mile loops (four loops for me) that started and ended at the Fargo Running Company. The weather was ideal -- cool and overcast. Everyone was in great spirits which made the fifteen miles I ran with the group fly by. I did the last five miles solo, and while they weren't nearly as enjoyable as the miles run with the group they went pretty well.

All-in-all I had a pretty decent week even with some long days at work. It felt good to get most of the runs in. I'm planning on taking it easy on the runs this week. Next weekend I'd like to push myself a bit and run a strong race at a faster pace. I'll have to see how I feel during the race.

Do a little off-roading?
My shoes took a little bit of a beating today. There were some large puddles to skirt around and of course the lawns are really swampy. I'll take the mud over the ice and snow any day.

My next post will be a race recap. How exciting!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Two Week Update


Lynette and I went down to the Twin Cities last weekend to vivit some of the family. We had a great time and enjoyed seeing everyone. I missed the Saturday morning group run, so I had to do it solo on Sunday after we got home. I had mapped out an eight mile loop starting and ending at our house that I would run twice. I figured I could refill my water bottle and use the bathroom halfway through the run.

The weather was sunny and cool -- perfect for running. Everything was going great until I got to about the six mile mark. The road I had planned on using to get back home was completely blocked with an earthen dike. Fargo is preparing for some serious flooding this spring. I had two choices. I could make my way to the next road that would get me home, but I would have to run along a very busy street with no shoulder. My other choice was to turn around retrace my steps. I chose to turn around which meant I would get back home with less than half of my run left.

As I made my way home I did some zigging and zagging through some neighborhoods to add on some more miles. This left me with only 3 1/2 miles left after a quick stop at the house. These last miles were BRUTAL. I ran rather aimlessly around my neighborhood just trying to get the miles in. I kept looking at my GPS to track my progress which was painfully slow. My legs felt heavy, and it seemed that parts of my feet were numb. I finally shuffled my way through the sixteen miles. I've never been so grateful to be done with a run.


I missed a couple of my weekday runs due to a week of very long days at work. I really need to start getting up at four in the morning again so that I am sure to get these runs in. Tuesday evening was the only night I ran, and it was great! The weather was gorgeous. I started at a nice easy pace and picked it up after a mile. The last six miles were the fastest I have ever run. It was a great morale booster.

Saturday morning was the eighteen mile group run (nine miles out and back) in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. We got to D.L. a little after six. It was really foggy and quite cold. I worried that I was underdressed for the weather. I was wearing just a base layer plus a light second layer both top and bottom. Unlike everyone else I didn't have a cap or gloves. I warmed up once we got running and found that my choice in clothing was perfect. I heard many of the others complaining about being too hot beacuse they were wearing too many layers.

Rick was kind enough to set up an aid station at the 4 1/2 mile mark, so we were able to get some water, Powerade and gels. There was an unattended aid staion at the turnaround point at nine miles. The coaches encourage all of us to carry some liquid and refuel often. These stations make it very easy to stay on top of hydration.

Erin started her run from the first aid station. She is recovering from an ankle injury and ran twelve miles. Her husband, Jon, started with the group but stopped at the aid station around thirteen miles. His foot has been hurting since last weekend when he ran thirty miles to celebrate his thirtieth birthday. They both have races coming up, so they were smart to scale back their traing a little in order to heal. The rest of our group made it all eighteen miles. The last two miles were fairly difficult, and I was glad when the run was over.

It is so much more enjoyable running with the group. There are seven of us that make up the back of the pack. We talk, joke, and laugh our way through the miles. I noticed that my legs would move on auto pilot while my brain was occupied by conversation making the miles really fly by.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of distances we will be running over the final six weeks. I was told the longest run will be twenty-two miles. I imagine this will happen the first part of May allowing for a couple weeks of tapering before the race. It's only two weeks until I run my first half-marathon and just six weeks until the Fargo marathon. I'm getting really excited!

Last but not least I want to say a huge "thank you" to Lynette. She has been so supportive through this whole ordeal. I hadn't realized just how time consuming the training was going to be when I started. Many mornings I roll out of bed at four which has to disturb her sleep. Other days I run in the evening which is time away from her. As the long runs are becoming more time consuming every week. I could not have come this far without her encouragement and support.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fifteen Miler & Miracle Cure For Achy Legs

This week was crazy at work so I missed one of the seven mile runs. Putting in a lot of hours left me pretty tired almost all week. I had to really force myself out the door for the four miler I did on Thursday evening. I was hoping the lower mileage week wasn't going to hurt me for the long run.

I shouldn't have been concerned. Today's group run was awesome! My legs felt great the whole way. Maybe missing the one run wasn't such a bad thing after all. I ran with the usual people plus Rick's wife Kristy. The course was a five mile loop starting and ending at the Fargo Running Company. Those of us training for the full marathon did this loop three times. They had some refreshments set up at the store. I liked being able to grab some water or Powerade and some GU after each loop.

Our pace started nice and easy averaging about 12:00/mile. I had enough gas in the tank to finish the last two miles or so at a pace of around 10:30/mile give or take a little. Even though I was definitely breathing hard by the end, it was a wonderful feeling to finish strong.

I tried something different when I got home from the run - an ice bath. Some of the other runners were saying how helpful it was to sit in a bathtub of cold water for ten minutes. Most recommended sitting in the tub first, then filling it. I am amazed at what a difference this made. After roughly ten minutes in the water I got out with no pain or stiffness. AMAZING! (Lynette was out of town for most of the day, and I had an image of her finding me all wrinkly and trapped in the tub this afternoon with legs too weak to get out).

This afternoon I went back to the running store and bought a couple pair of running shorts. I also bought some Body Glide (am I a pervert for feeling just a little dirty buying this stuff?) to prevent future chafing issues. I wish I would have had this before today's run. 

This morning I thought of a bit I have heard on the Bob & Tom radio show. I always chuckle when I hear it, so I thought I'd share the link below. Hope you enjoy it. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Solo Long Run

Is this winter ever going to end!?! Yesterday's group run was cancelled due to a blizzard that shut down pretty much everything in the area. Today the weather is cool but bright and sunny. I made it through all thirteen miles scheduled for today, but the last couple of miles were a struggle. I just ran out of gas. I need to tweak my refueling strategy a little. I guess it's all a learning process.

I bumped into some of the people from the training class who were also getting their miles in today. I'm always amazed at the number of runners out there. I guess it's like buying a new car and then seeing identical cars everywhere.

Last Wednesday's run was sort of strange. It started out really well. The miles flew by, and I felt great. I got down to where the bike path skirts around the golf course when I really noticed what a beautiful evening it was. I had the path to myself with the stars shining above. I rounded a curve and was blasted by the lights from some earth moving equipment. I suddenly became aware of the huge piles of clay being worked into dikes. Fargo is full on into flood preparation. It stopped me in my tracks, my good mood quickly changed to something more somber. It was one of the craziest mood swing I've ever experienced. Everyone in this area is definitely hoping for minimal flooding. It all depends on the weather now.

I found the following Venn diagram for those people who fly frequently. It should give you great comfort to know you are in capable hands at the airport.

People Who Are Paid To Touch Your Junk
 Have a great week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Half Marathon Distance

I ran with the training group yesterday. Those of us training for the full marathon ran a fourteen mile out and back course. Coaches Rick and John (both ultra marathoners) stayed with Erin, Chris, Maria, and I at the tail end of the group. It was the first time any of us, except Rick and John, had run this far. The weather was cold but calm and sunny. We kept a very easy pace at the start.

The time went by very quickly. We spent the time talking and joking as we ran through quiet residential neighborhoods. We were lucky enough to have an aid station set up at about five miles. United Blood Services let us set up a table in their entryway, and Rick's wife Kristy was there to hand out the Powerade and GU. We were able to stop and refuel here again after about nine miles because  of the out and back route. It was great to get in somewhere warm for just a couple of minutes.

Erin had to cut her run short again due to very cold fingers. The rest of us were able to stay warm enough even as we turned into the wind. As we approached the last few miles Rick started to run ahead of us forcing us to pick up our pace a bit. I know that many people recommend pushing yourself at the end of a run to improve your ability to get through the tough spots. I have a very hard time doing this on my own. Those last two miles were difficult for all of us. It was great having Rick pull us along at the end.

It's exciting to know that I can run this far. The Earth Day Half Marathon is only six weeks away and yesterday's run gives me the confidence to know I can finish it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Super Cold Group Run

So it turns out I'm not the only crazy person in Fargo. About two dozen people showed up at the downtown YMCA for our Saturday group run. The temperature when we started was -17 and what little wind there was drove the wind chills to nearly -25. Everyone looked the same all bundled up in layers of clothes, stocking caps, and face masks (some chose not to wear face masks--now that's crazy). After just a few miles everyone still looked the same but for a different reason. A thick layer of frost covered every person's face and head. It looked like we all were wearing snowman costumes. It made me chuckle.

The full marathon route was a twelve mile out and back course through mostly residential neighborhoods. I ran with Rick (who just finished the Arrowhead ultra), Jon (who is training for an ultra-marathon in April), and Erin (Jon's wife who is training for her first marathon). We ran at a very comfortable pace and brought up the back of the pack.

After a few miles my thighs started to get quite cold. I knew that we all had to be very careful to avoid frostbite in this weather. Another mile went by and they were warmed up again. Maybe we had been running into the wind for that short stretch. I'm just happy they got warm. My water bottle didn't fair so well in this cold. It froze up on me after about five miles, and I ended up pulling the spout completely off in order to get anything out of it. I also discovered that GU becomes quite chewy-- but still tasty-- at these temperatures.

Erin had difficulty keeping her hands warm. Rick carried her water bottle and gave her another pair of gloves to wear, but she and Jon cut their run a little short so she could get inside and warm up. I saw her at the Y after my run, and her fingers showed no signs of frostbite. We are all hoping the weather is a little warmer next week.

We received the schedule for the next six weeks. The mileages are going up for the weekday runs as well as the long runs. The weekly runs will be Monday = 7 miles, Wednesday = 7 miles, Thursday = 4 miles. The Saturday long runs will go from 13 miles to 18 miles. I'm really looking forward to these new challenges.

That's all for this week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Although this week started a little rocky it turned out pretty good. The weather warmed up a bit and started melting some of the snow during the day. By evening the temperatures dropped enough to freeze the water left behind. Monday night I ran through the streets in my neighborhood, but unfortunately they were filled with deeply rutted frozen slush. It was nearly impossible to run on this without the fear of twisting an ankle. The sidewalks were no better as they were coated with black ice. I ended up cutting my run short by about two miles.

By Wednesday the water on most of the streets and sidewalks had dried up. About two miles in my left knee started bothering me. It seemed to be a different problem than before, and I decided not to push it and headed for home. Almost immediately the pain went away, so I turned around and finished all six miles with no problems. I found that I have a tendency to tighten the muscles in my left leg at the first sign of discomfort. I think this reaction is left over from the ACL surgery I had years ago. I am trying to stay on top of this and focus on running with a relaxed stride. It seems to work.

I did the third weeknight run on Friday evening. The sky was clear and the full moon looked gorgeous. It was one of those times where I felt I could run forever. It reminded me of hitting a great shot in golf. It's what keeps me coming back for more. Knowing I had a long run to do on Sunday, I forced myself to stop at a little over four miles.

I had to do this week's long run on Sunday, so I missed the Saturday group run. It was cold (nothing new) and very windy. I knew when I started that I would be running into the wind at the end of my run. I know that "they" say I should start my runs into the wind when I'm strongest. My thinking is that on race day I have to follow the route no matter what the wind is doing. I could end up running a good part of the last thirteen miles into a headwind. I would like to have some experience at this before the race.

The first six miles were great. I took a short walk break after five miles and ate a gel. This really felt refreshing and the run continued to be quite enjoyable. Then the turn back toward home. I ran the last four miles into the wind, and man that was hard. My pace slowed to a very slow jog. My legs felt incredibly heavy, and I worried about tripping over any uneven spots in the pavement. I completed the ten miles, but it took a little longer than I would have liked. I haven't received the schedule for the next six weeks yet. I'm excited to see how many miles we will be doing next.

As they say on Monty Python, "and now for something completely different." I saw this and thought of my oldest brother who is a big Red Green fan. I hope you enjoy it Dave.

I'd like to thank everyone for the encouragement and support. I appreciate it very much.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Double Digit Miles -- Woo Hoo!

I was able to make it to the group run this morning at Fargo Running Company along with twenty-some others. The weather was gorgeous, in the low twenties with hardly any wind. I was finally able to keep my pace slow enough at the beginning that I didn't burn out before the end of the run. I hung out at the back of the pack. I know that's where I will be on most runs and races. What I lack in speed I make up for in bullheaded determination. Slowly but surely I got my eleven miles in. A new longest run!

The people helping us on today's run were great. Everyone offered encouragement and several ran with me for parts of the route which really helped pass the time. The only downside to having company was our different paces. They had to slow way down to a speed they weren't used to, and I had to try to not go faster than I normally run. Still, it was nice to meet some new people, and the conversations were enjoyable.

I didn't get all of my miles in this week due to a crazy work schedule. I missed Monday's six mile run, but I made sure to get the other runs in. I had to spend a night in Jamestown, North Dakota so I put in six miles just running around the downtown area. Let me tell you there's not much happening in Jamestown at four-thirty in the morning when it is seven below zero outside.

Wednesday mornings temp. after the run

A little frosty (and blurry).

Thursday night was pretty uneventful, just a regular weekday run. My biggest concern was finishing in time to watch The Big Bang Theory (my new favorite show). All-in-all it was a great week. I'm looking forward to the warmer temperatures that are coming. It gives us hope that spring will come.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Longest Run & Highest Mileage Week Yet

I finally figured out what was making my knee hurt. On Monday's run it started giving me problems after about two miles. It took a little while before I noticed that my left leg pushed off differently than my right. I concentrated on pushing off more toward the big toe side of my foot and Ta Da no more pain!

Today's nine mile run was my longest yet, and it went very well. About half of my route was on a bike path with mostly clear pavement. The other half was on snow covered side streets.

Clear Pavement -- How Great!!
About an hour into the run I tried my first GU to see if it caused any problems as I ran. Some people might wonder what GU is and why anyone would want to eat it. It's a convenient energy gel, and I thought it was quite tasty. It seemed like a thick vanilla pudding. I need to get used to eating during the longer runs so that there are no unpleasant surprises come race day.

Mmmmm GU

There was one casualty today. I finally blew through the toe of my Kevlar socks. I inherited my whacky flip-back toes from my mom. My toes naturally point upwards like I'm trying to pull them back. This was great when I was in Tae Kwon Do. I was able to pull them waaayyyy back when I kicked through boards or concrete blocks thus preventing me from breaking bones. The bad news is I can put a hole in a new sock in less than a day even with well trimmed toenails. I found socks with Kevlar toes and they have lasted a couple of years. I guess I better start thinking about ordering up some new ones.

I put in my highest mileage this week -- twenty-three miles (Monday - 5 miles, Wednesday - 5 miles, Thursday - 4 miles, Saturday - 9 miles). Next week's runs on Monday and Wednesday increase to 6 miles, Thursday's stays at 4 miles, and Saturday's run is 11 miles. I can hardly wait.

I want to take a moment to congatulate Rick Wagar for completing the Arrowhead 135 race in 54 hours 25 minutes. Not only did he have to run while pulling his gear in a sled, he had to do it in temperatures of -40 not counting wind chill. That is pretty hard core racing!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Low Mileage Week

This week started on a bit of a sour note. My morning run on Monday started well, but after only one mile the tendon behind my knee started hurting. I called it quites after two miles and iced it that evening after work. It was much better by Wednesday, so I set out for the scheduled five mile run. The pain started in after about four miles. I took some walk breaks and was able to finish all five miles. I figure I have been running differently because of the ice and snow everywhere. I think it changes my stride or causes me to run all tensed up.

I skipped this weeks group run because I wasn't confident I could last the seven miles. Instead I went to a local sports arena and ran around the track. I was able to complete four miles before deciding to stop. I hope to gradually bring my mileage back up without stressing my knee.   

Now for something positive. I have started using a foam roller regularly in order to speed recovery. During one of the training group's informational classes, the local trainer recommended using a roller both before and after workouts. He showed us the proper way to get the most out of it. While it can be a little painful whenever I roll over a knot in the muscles, it really has seemed to help.

This last weeks class was on nutrition and hydration before, during, and after the race. There was a lot of great information. My favorite part was when the nutritionist confirmed that chocolate milk is one of the best post-workout foods there is. So I've got that going for me. YEA Chocolate Milk!!!!!

I will try for three to five miles tomorrow morning. The weather is turning colder (somewhere around zero), but I still prefer to run outside. Hopefully this weeks mileage is a little higher.

Have a fantastic week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

First Group Run

Today was the first official group run for our training class. The temperature was -20 with a wind chill of -40 and I ran in just shorts and a t-shirt. Whaaaat? We got to run in the Fargodome!!! It was a real treat to be inside and not on a "dreadmill". We had a large turnout of about forty runners. My thanks go out to Mark Knutson for arranging this. Mark is the main man at Go Far Events (they organize the marathon) and also Go Far Sports (a running store).

I will need to work on pacing at the start of these runs. Each lap equalled 1/3 of a mile, so at my normal long run pace of 12:00/mile I should have been running a 4 minute lap. Well, the group took off at a pace way too fast for me, but I seemed to get pulled along by them. I checked my watch after the first lap and my time was 3:10. Unbelievably it took me six miles (run in 59:31) to get down to my normal pace. By then I was really having to work. Thankfully Rick Wagar pulled up beside me and we chatted about his upcoming 135 mile race in International Falls ( It really made the last mile and a half go by quite painlessly.

After thinking about this morning's run, I believe that all of the running I've been doing in the snow has increased my speed a bit. That would explain why I didn't crash and burn after only a couple of miles this morning. That would make me very happy, although I'd rather start a lot slower and gradually increase my speed during a run.

This weeks mileage was pretty much zero except for today's run. I woke up Monday with a little touch of vertigo. I got plenty of rest, and I'm back in business.

Here are a couple of articles from Runners World magazine that include the Fargo Marathon. It's kind of neat having an event from our little town show up in the magazine.,7120,s6-239-281--13777-3-1X2X3X4-5,00.html,7120,s6-239-281--13416-3-1X2X3X4X5-6,00.html

Have a great week!!