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.