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!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mmmmm Pancakes!

This week my running has gone very well. I was able to rack up a weekly total of 41 miles. That really boosts my confidence as I get ready for my first 50K ultra-marathon. My weekday runs were good and the weekend was even better. Our group run on Saturday started and ended at the Fargodome. Coincidentally, the local Kiwanis pancake feed was taking place at the dome. Nothing like capping off a long run with all you can eat pancakes.

Tuesday evening I went out for 6 miles and really pushed my pace. My legs didn't want to cooperate, so I had to force them to move quicker whenever they started to slow down. In the end it was a very solid run and I felt pleased with it.

Thursday morning was the group run from the store. Several of us wanted to get in some "bonus" miles, so we got up extra early (4:00 a.m. arghhh). Jon and Connie ran from their houses and met at the Dairy Queen. From there they made their way to the running store. At the same time Erin and I met at the running store and took off in the direction Jon and Connie were running from. We met them after 1.5 miles and together the four of us ran another 2 miles. We got to the running store just in time to run with the group. Connie had to cut her run short due to cramping in her legs, but Jon, Erin, and I went another 4.5 miles for a grand total of 8 miles that morning.

Saturday morning I got to the dome early. Jon had a route consisting of two out and back legs. The first leg was 5 miles and the second was 6 miles. I planned on running the first leg twice to get some extra miles in. I Strapped on my iPod and took off at an easy pace for the first 5 miles of the day. The temperature was something like -7 with a light breeze which puts the wind chill at somewhere around -20. My clothing choices worked out well and I was quite comfortable as I ran. I got back to the dome a little before the rest of the group arrived and ate some Gu and a Honey Stinger waffle ( a tasty new snack I'm trying out).
Honey Stinger Waffle
The group was rather small with only about eight of us. I think the small turnout was due to the cold. We took off and quickly settled into our smaller groups according to our pace. I ran with Erin, Penny, and Jerry for the first loop. When we got back to the dome we all grabbed some Gu or Shotblocks (kind of like gummy bears but with electrolytes). We snapped a couple of photos because we were all very frosted up.
John, Maggie (with headlamp), Penny, Jerry, & Erin
Maggie, Erin, and Me
We didn't stand around long afraid we would freeze in place. After about a mile Jerry split and went back to the dome. He hadn't planned on running the full 11 miles. Penny thought about going with him but talked herself into trying for the full distance. She overcame the bitter cold and some nagging doubts to finish all 11 miles! It was great! John and Maggie are a lot faster than our group so they would run a ways ahead then circle back to us and keep us company for awhile. It was very enjoyable to spend some time running with them. The last 3 miles were hard. My legs were screaming like crazy, but I had no choice but to keep on trucking.

We finally made it back to the dome. Everyone in the group who planned on running the full route got their 11 miles in and I got my 16 miles. Jon, Erin, Rick, and I had brought some clean clothes along so we could go have some pancakes without smelling up the joint. Lynette met us there and we all had a nice breakfast of all you can eat pancakes (buttermilk or buckwheat), sausage and juice. Erin's uncle was there and sat with us. It sounded like he was also a runner from bits of the conversation I heard. It was a fantastic way to start the weekend.

Today Jon and I ran from my house and put in a solid 10 miles. It again was a cold frosty morning. After about 3 miles my legs were definitely letting me know that they would rather be tucked into a warm bed than out running again. They realized that I wasn't about to stop running anytime soon, so they got into the groove and hung in there quite well. Jon and I were both glad when the run was over. He had run 11 miles at a very speedy pace on Saturday. A couple of weeks ago I had set a goal for this weekend of running a marathon over the two days. I reached my goal with 16 miles on Saturday and my 10.5 today! Soon I'll be running that far in just one long run. I can't wait!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Will Run For Bacon

This weeks training went quite well. Although I still couldn't force myself out of bed on Wednesday, Thursday morning's group run was really nice. I originally wanted to get to the store a little early and get an extra three miles in before the others got there. I hit the snooze one too many times so only got five miles in. On my way to the store I saw Jon and Erin out running already. It seems they had the same idea but actually got the extra miles.

Saturday our group met at Sandy's Donuts for a nine mile long run. Man, talk about motivation for getting the run over with -- fresh donuts. There were about twenty of us running. I knew most of the people, but there were some new faces as well. It's always great to meet new people with the same crazy interests. I ran the whole way with Erin, and Connie joined us for several miles. The air was thick with fog and everything was covered in a beatiful layer of frost. The scenery looked liked something from a painting. I was struggling a bit at the end of the run and was glad I hadn't tried to get more miles before the group started.

When Erin and I finished we went into Sandy's where most everyone else was already enjoying some donuts and coffee. I had been planning on eating one of their cream filled "long johns" with dark chocolate frosting -- pretty much my favorite donut. When I got to the display case, however, I saw a maple glazed long john with crumbled bacon on it. It may have been just me or maybe the lighting in the place, but I could swear a saw an ethereal nimbus radiating from this amazing pastry. The phrase "bacon donut" rushed out of my mouth. I took this fantastic combination of sweet and salty goodnes back to the table and enjoyed every bacony bite.

To illustrate how wonderful bacon is, I've attached a couple of videos. In the first one Homer Simpson proclaims the pig to be a "magical animal." The animation is something different, but the voices are from the show. In the second one Jim Gaffigan, a stand up comic, points out the ways in which bacon improves our food. We must ask ourselves if we can't learn from animated characters and stand up comedians, who can we learn from.


Today Jon and I went out for a six mile run. He wasn't at yesterday's group run because he was sick. He said he felt up to a run today, but it might be slow. Slow was fine by me. It turned out we were both wrong. We made it just over six miles at a strong pace. In fact the last mile was brutal! We pushed really hard and it felt great to be finished. I know that pushig myself through the misery will help prepare me for the difficulties I'm sure to face if I attempt an ultra marathon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Slow Week but a Great Weekend

This last week I didn't run at all on the weekdays. I'd like to blame it on work, but the truth is I just didn't have the energy or motivation to get out of bed extra early. I know that everyone faces down times. I just have to accept that it happened and move forward from here with no guilt or shame. The good news is that the weekend was much different.

Saturday's group run was scheduled to be six miles, but I really wanted to get back into double digits. The group was meeting at the Fargodome at 6:30 a.m. I decided to run the six miles from my house to the dome and continue the rest of my run with the group. I wanted to take my time during the first leg of my run and planned on getting up to the dome just shortly before everyone else started showing up.

The first several miles went really well. I stopped after about four miles to eat a couple Gu packets. I love them when they are cold and the Gu is thick and chewy -- yummm. I was wearing my Nathan hydration pack in an effort to get used to running with this thing on my back. I stuffed the end of the hose down through the collar of my jacket to keep it from freezing. Taking frequent sips from it also helped. I met an oncoming runner while rounding a corner at NDSU and thought it might be Heather from the group. When I got to the dome parking lot I saw Heather's car and wasn't surprised that she would be putting in some extra miles.

I got to the dome a little earlier than planned and had to find a spot out of the wind in order to stay as warm as possible. I wanted some more fuel in me so I ate about half of a Powerbar as I waited. I was becoming quite chilled by the time everyone showed up. I'm not sure how many of us there were, but it seemed to be about fifteen. It felt good to get moving. Erin and I ran together for the entire distance. Jon joined us for a while before dropping back to run with Chris (from last years group) and her friend. Rick ran with us for the last several miles.

It was cold enough that we really didn't stick around to talk for long. Jon, Heather, and Maggie went out for an additional four miles. I was glad I had a chance to see Rick and wish him well before his big race this week. He is once again running the Arrowhead 135 Ultra Marathon. This race follows a trail from International Falls, MN to Tower, MN. He will be posting his progress on his blog Good Luck Rick!!! I can't wait to hear about this terrific adventure.

I thoroughly enjoyed my run Saturday morning. Erin was kind enough to give me a ride home and gave me some ideas about insulating the hose on my hydration pack. 
My hydration pack

This morning I went for a seven mile run. The weather was a crisp 4 below zero, but with no wind it actually felt quite comfortable. The sky was was the incredible shade of blue seen only on these cold winter days. There was just a dusting of snow on the roads and sidewalks which made for cushioned footing. My legs actually held up well even after yesterday's long run. It was another great morning.

I plan on cutting back next weekend to recover a little. I'm thinking about doing a marathon weekend in two weeks; maybe run thirteen miles on Saturday morning and thirteen on Sunday. Or maybe I'll run thirteen on Saturday morning, go out again that evening for five or six, and finish up on Sunday with the last seven or eight. I just want to put in twenty six miles over those two days. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter's Finally Here!

It seems that old man winter has finally come to our area. Thursday morning's run from the Fargo Running Company was quite cold, -18 degrees with a -30 below wind chill. I opted to run with Lamont who was only going three miles. This worked out well because I had to get home to pack for the several days I would be working in western North Dakota. The run went well even with the extreme temperatures.

I got back to Fargo about noon on Saturday. I missed this weeks group run and had to get an eight mile run in o my own. I started my run late in the afternoon. It was cold and very windy with some snow flurries. I got in the groove quickly and had one of the best solo runs I've had in a while. I started with a particular loop route in mind, but soon changed it a bit in an effort to add some miles. My route started into the wind for several miles, and after I made the turn I enjoyed a sidewind/tailwind. The snow that had fallen dampened all sounds of traffic. It was one of those runs that feels effortless; I didn't want it to end. My goal for the day was eight miles. I ended up with nine.

This morning's weather was a lot like yesterday's. I wanted to go five easy miles today in order to loosen up my legs and get them used to moving when they are tired and sore. The first couple miles felt akward; my legs were very stiff which gave me a shuffling gait. They finally loosened up for a couple miles. but soon became very heavy. I really had to push to get through the last miles. While my pace was a little slower than yesterday's run, I am happy that I was able to get six miles in today.

I am starting to feel the drive to get the miles in. It's getting a little easier to get up early for the daily run. I'm excited about the long runs. I find running for hours really enjoyable and rewarding. I'm definitely more suited to running long slow distances. I know that my stocky build and short legs should make me a natural sprinter or hurdler.

I can't do any worse than this guy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Year & New Goals

This year is starting out really well. The training group that Jon started had the first run a couple weeks ago. It felt so good to run with a group again. Everyone in the group is fun to be with and the conversation always makes the miles go by very quickly. We met at Jon and Erin's house at 6:30 a.m. and set off for an easy five mile run. The weather was a bit cool and threatened to start with the freezing rain, but it held off until we were nearly done.

I missed last weeks run, so I was really looking forward to running with the group this Saturday. We met at the Fargo Running Company (Lamont offered to open up the store before and after the run. Thanks Lamont!). I got there a little before 6:30 and was pleasantly surprised by the number of people. Penny did a head count as we ran and I believe she counted seventeen people. The route was a seven mile out and back that took us across a couple of overpasses (a.k.a. North Dakota hills). I was not feeling very energetic, but running with Erin and Jerry kept me moving along.

I'm changing my running schedule a little this year. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be the same as last year -- 4 to 5 miles each day. Saturday will still be the long run, and I plan on putting in some extra miles in order to increase my weekly total. I'm adding a run on Sunday to get used to running on tired legs. Jon suggested this as a way of training for an ultra marathon.

I guess that leads right into some of my goals for the year. I plan on running the Trail Mix 50K in April (here is a link to their website ). I know it is going to be a big step, but I look forward to the challenge. I'm already registered to run the Fargo Marathon again this year. I'll probably do the FM Half Marathon again. If Trail Mix goes well I may try Surf the Murph 50K ( ). I know there will also be some 5K and 10K races in the mix as well.

I've added some more songs to my iPod. "My girl Dances" by Hot Fiction is one of my new favorites.

"Give You Hell" by The All American Rejects
"So Cold" by Breaking Benjamin
"Clean My Wounds" by Corrosion of Conformity
"13 Angels" by Corrosion of Conformity
"Senior Limpio" by Corrosion of Conformity
"London Bridge" by Fergie
"Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani
"My Girl Dances" by Hot Fiction
"Hot in Herre" by Nelly