Monday, June 29, 2009

Hartley Singletrack

First day back and I needed to hit the trails. Right now the local trails are in excellent shape and I have many miles just out my door. I made my way to the Rock Hill trails en route to SHT to the Hartley trail cluster. Nice loop and a return home left me feeling very satisfied and happy with my week off. No residual fatigue to speak of and hopefully my legs will come around this week. Just keeping the intensity ultra low.
It's good to be back!

Totals: 1:01:10 7 miles -trails (HR 134)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rest the Body and Mind

The marathon took a hit on my mind more than my physical being. I recovered better than any other marathon I have run. By Wednesday all soreness was gone and I could have returned to normal training. I didn't, and took the much needed rest through the week. I've replayed Grandma's over in my and like many others felt ripped-off, and will now use the fitness I gained over the spring to jump to the next level in training and hopefully have a good fall season of races. I'm am not too sure what the next marathon will be but I am throwing around the idea of a few.
This week will be getting out the door and just covering some good mileage and next will transition into increasing the mileage along with some striders and easy hills. Hopefully this will "wake up" the legs and allow for the volume to bump up back to pre marathon weeks.

Years Totals:1287 miles

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grandma's Marathon Recap

The Final Result: 53rd place 2:50:44 (goal: 2:33:30)

splits since I kept them: 5:39,5:53,5:52,6:04,6:01,6:10*,12:06 (2),6:01,5:53,6:10,6:03,6:06,6:02,6:07,6:14,6:22,6:25,6:25,7:00(20miles)
8:04,8:16,14:36 (2),15:37 (2),1:26 finish


First of all I have to thank my wonderful wife Kari, and our son Lucas for putting up with all the weekend runs and schedule for the last 6 months. I also want to thank all friends and family for coming out and cheering and family that cheered from miles away.
I want to make it perfectly clear that all of you who helped me get my gatorade even though I didn't drink it, I am so thankful for you. Had things gone differently those bottles would have been crucial. Thank You!

I'm sure I can echo the stories being told today by many runners of the 33rd Grandma's Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon. But I need to write this down to put the final nail in the coffin.

Like others I put in many hours of training, most at 5:00 am, into this marathon build-up. As I get older my days of personal records are limited. I had a good feeling about this year, as I had THE best training block for a marathon as I ever had. I recovered from workouts and some of the races I had ran this past spring went better than expected leading me to think, "this might be my year". As I mentioned in my last post, training for a marathon only "prepares" you for the day and guarantee's you nothing. That was the case for 2009.

The spring in Duluth was a very cool season. More cool than usual. Two weeks ago I was still wearing running pants and long sleeves with gloves on during my morning runs. Two day's prior to the marathon the winds started to shift and on Friday things were looking pretty good. Then we woke up! Saturday was 63 F at 5:30 am and humidity in the upper 80%. As we were driving up to the start we noticed a runner on the sidewalk in Lakeside and she was drenched in sweat. I told my buddy Erik, "look at that, that's not a good sign." Trying to keep a positive attitude, we made our way to the start and I couldn't help wonder how this heat would affect me. I am 1-1 for heat marathons and I was looking to better my 500 score. Could this be the year for me to have a little success in the heat. I was willing to bet yes.

The gun went off and I settled just behind the lead women's pack and had a bit of a time to calm my breathing down only to see a 5:39. I was so happy it was that fast, as I knew that I could slow down ten seconds a mile and feel very comfortable. (i was just glad it wasn't a 6:20 feeling the way I did) It was between the first and second mile where I slowed and tried to settle into the 5:50-5:55 pace I was planning to run, and then I noticed it. A cramp building in my stomach, right in the middle, and it wasn't letting go. I tried to do some belly breathing and it helped very little. As I approached the first water station I took two cups of water just to see if I could get my stomach to settle. (This was the exact cramp I got during the Fargo Half-Marathon in May and I had that the entire race.) It really didn't help but it didn't get worse either. I just tried to relax and get into the groove hoping that this cramp would go away.

My next gatorade bottle was waiting for me at 5 miles. I took it and forced myself to drink the entire bottle over the next three miles, during which I stopped for a pee break at 10k and managed to run a 6:10 mile. That bottle made the cramp return with authority and it was then I decided to take no more gatorade and chance it with water and energy gels. The times I could get the cramp to settle a bit I would knock off 15 seconds per mile having my legs feel just awesome. The half approached and I crossed in 1:18:40 ish. Knowing that it was going to be a rough day I was thinking of slowing to a 1:20 second half and still setting a pretty decent PR. At that point my legs felt good, it was the continuous stomach cramp that would hammer me all the way to the line in Canal Park.

As most know by now the second half was the most brutal running I have ever done. I was clicking off 6:07-6:20 miles before I hit my final mental break, which occurred just after the 20th mile marker. I crossed the mat at 2:02 and I had to walk. I was looking for someone I knew to call my wife and weigh the out the costs of finishing. The funny thing was I didn't ask anybody to use their cell phone I was just walking in a daze looking at people like they knew what I was thinking. I didn't walk very long and I started to stroll down the course again wondering how the next five miles would lay out.

Many thoughts went through my mind those last five miles, and the most common thought was, "don't quite. just make it to the finish and deal with the results. as long as there is no true pain, continue to run and you'll thank yourself for finishing. you don't want to show Lucas that quitting is an option." Hey, I was right, I am happy I continued to the finish line but it still doesn't soften the blow of the brutal running conditions. I walked and jogged, and even busted out some dance moves on London Road for one of the girl dance squads that were handing out water. You should have seen the looks on those girls faces... priceless!! It's hard, but you have to laugh during times like that. It helps with the pain for a short time anyway. Superior street was it's usual kick ass screaming section. As I made my way past Pizza Luce' the hair on the back of my neck was standing up and I almost lost it emotionally. I choked back some tears and also choked back some puke that was on it's way up. (talk about a bad place to puke!)

The finish line couldn't come soon enough and once I hit the mat I was so relieved. There was this little kid with a fire hose and I walked right into it, spun a couple of 360's and proceeded down to the goodies. It's interesting because I finished many marathons feeling much worse, but the actual running hurt the most of any because of my stomach, not my legs. In all honesty, had the stomach not been the issue, my legs wold have let me run 2:38. BUT, woulda, coulda, shouda.... no such luck, that is how the marathon makes us all feel like a little toy. It can destroy you at anytime. Better luck next time.

Weeks Total: 58.5 miles
Years Total: 1287 miles

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cool the Engines

Last day of preparation until I hear the starting horn. The one thing that keeps entering my brain is the time preparation for one morning of running. When I really think about it, my 2009 Grandma's Marathon prep started in May of 2008. It was then I decided to take 6-8 weeks off of running to allow my achilles proper healing. I did that. My running resumed in July and it was very slow, aerobic training, or what I like to call "brainless running". That style of running was all I did until December, with the exception of Whistle Stop half Marathon. The build-up for tomorrow's race began to form back in early January and really started to take shape the first week of February. With the help of Greg McMillan, who designed my marathon plan, I have had a wonderful training period and even a few decent races. I know that I am better prepared for this race than any other marathon to date, and hope for great luck. I've learned over the years, and ten marathon attempts, that training for a marathon only improves ones odds of doing well, and it guarantee's you nothing. I am a "glass half-full" kind of guy, and I'm looking at tomorrow as "VERY half-full".

This mornings run was just easy miles on Skyline and two 100 meter striders on the UMD track.

Totals: 23:52 3.5 miles

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time Stands Still

This morning was uneventful, thankfully. No deer, bear, skunks, dogs or wolves to chase me...
Just a quick run out on Skyline and back. I stopped at UMD and did two 100 meter striders just to loosen up the legs.
Good Morning!! Boy, the next two days are going to be LONG!

Totals: 39:05 5.6 miles (6:57 pace)

Today would serve as the last day of any "up tempo" work until the race. I made my way to the UMD track and got a good warm up in before breaking into the workout. I was to do 4 X 1000 meters at "cruise interval" pace (~3:16 pace), followed by 3 X 200 meters. I must say, I felt a ton better after the workout than I did before. The legs responded very well to this type of stress and I should be ready for the next two easy days.

1000's: 3:21, 3:17, 3:17, 3:15 and 200's: 33, 34, 34

Totals: 1:01:28 9 miles

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Protective Instincts

This morning I woke up a bit sore and took the extra time to stretch a bit then head out the door. After some easy warm up miles I did 8 X 20 seconds stiders followed by warm down miles. My legs are feeling much better and are "waking up" as I call it. Overall, a good run. 

Just to keep things interesting and eventful I had to avoid a deer/human interaction. I was just entering the city limits on Snivley Road and I had a beautiful reddish-brown deer cross my path. Just as she hit the brush on the opposite side of the street I could hear the "moo" of a fawn. (yes it sounds like a little cow) Once she heard that she did a quick loop around a patch of trees and was bounding looking for her young. I saw the fawn leap out of the bush and run deeper in the woods. At this moment, I was directly across from them, the mother deer leaped up and out of the woods only to call war against me. She was in full stride looking for a fight at 6 am!  I stopped in my tracks and put up my arms and yelled, "Oh no you don't, Stop!!". She hit the yellow line of the road and decided against the fight and when she decided to change direction her hind legs went out from her and she slid on her butt across my lane and rolled on her back before getting up and jumping the guardrail into the brush just to my side. She stopped and snorted several times before I decided to get the hell out of there. Two passing cars saw the whole incident and we all had a good chuckle as I made my way home to clean out my shorts. Whew! Nothing like a little excitement on Taper Week.

Totals: 1:02:02   9 miles  (6:53 pace)
           8 X 20 second strides 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Working Out the Kinks

After last weeks unintentional crash taper my legs have left playing catch up. This morning they were still feeling like lead and a little tight in the hamstrings. I added five or six striders at or near 5:00 pace in attempt to loosen up and it worked for some time. When I got to work I was jamming on energy and the legs felt race ready. By noon they were ready for the couch and no running. During every marathon taper it seems like my hamstrings take the brunt of the storm. Not sure why as I think I do a pretty good job stretching and strides???
Tomorrow I will attempt a little more striders during an easy nine or ten miles.

My back shouldn't be an issue come race day and with each day I am gaining confidence to be ready to rock to a new PR!

Totals: 37:03  5.2 miles   (7:10 pace)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


On Wednesday I had no idea what I was in for. It was a tough day on the back but it got much worse from there. No running on Wednesday. Chiro was little help, as the spasm was just too damn tough!

Thursday I doubled back to the Chiropractor in the morning and received another adjustment and treatment (E stim).  A little better luck with the treatments as my back lasted a little longer into the morning until it raged into full on spasm! With the wonderful help of a buddy in the Occ Med department I used a little Tens unit and got the spasm a full three or four additional treatments. Ice, Ice, and more Ice. I had an existing massage for Thursday night and used it to its full opportunity. I had all my back worked on as well as my legs and glutes and then she dug into that lumbar spasm and killed it! Just what I needed. A little light at the end of this nightmare tunnel. Friday morning I woke up a little sore, and stiff but once on my feet for some time and following an icing I was feeling pretty damn peppy. Many more ice treatments and off to bed for the weekend.
Saturday I was feeling pretty good but decided on another day off of running just to be safe and allow another day of healing before testing the waters to see if my back would hold up to the jarring.

This morning I felt better and made my way out for a run of unknown time and distance. My legs felt like absolute lead and my breathing wasn't much better. The good news was I didn't feel any pain in my back, just a little tightness. I didn't want to venture too far from the homestead as I felt as though I could lock up in spasm on any step. After a short loop on Vermilion I made my way to UMD and called it a morning at our house. Ice and stretches followed.
In the afternoon I was going to find my wife and son in Hartley as they rode their bike to the pond to look for minnows. I got all ready and found my bike tire still flat. Wow, it didn't fix itself? I put on the running shoes and made a second loop out to Hartley pond and looped home for another short loop. Two short loops and no back pain. I ended the second run with a short block of 5:45 pace. As long as things feel better tomorrow morning, it will be a little wake up for my legs as I will add some striders to the run to see if I can get the heaviness out.

Sundays Totals: AM:  36:39  5.2 miles  (7:04)
                              PM:  28:28   3.8 miles  (7:34)
                                       9 miles for the day

Weeks Totals: 23.8 miles (3 days )
Years Totals: 1228.5 miles

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big Oops!

Yesterday while I was dropping off my son at preschool he was giving me our good bye hug while I was holding him and when I went to put him down I bent over forward, straight legged, like a moron and had something pull/burn in my lower  back. It was in full spasm all day. Once I got home from work I did a series of easy stretches and got the spasm to settle down. I have a Chiropractor appointment this morning in hopes of a quick recovery. Ice, Ice, Ice....

Legs were feeling better and I was to add some minute fartleks into the hour. I ran out and back on Skyline and added six repeats at 5k pace. The first few didn't feel very comfortable but by the end of the hour I was feeling pretty good. No major issues.
Totals: 58:06   8.3 miles

The usual recovery run that was uneventful and slow. I ran the Vermilion loop with SHT and gravel pit trail loops added. Winds still gusting like crazy. Getting sick of this shitty weather.
Total: 50:30   6.5 miles

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Better Two Weeks Out

Having an "off" day can happen on any given day. The goal of any race, but marathon races in my case, is not to have that bad day come race day. I'm still hoping to avoid that. I am also hoping today counted as my bad day. Like the title says, Better Two Weeks Out than to have it happen on the 20th.

The workout would serve as my last long run and it would be a negative split run with the second half at or near marathon goal pace. (the verdict is still out as to what that will be) When I woke up I could hear the howl of the winds and it was my wife who said, "I sure hope those winds are out of the northeast." They were close, an easterly wind would be smacking me in the face the entire warm up. (reports had the wind at 21 mph, with gust up to 30 mph!) In hind site this may have taken more out of me than I thought at the time. I did manage to run 7:10's into the wind until I reached McQuade Harbor after starting at the top of Lemon Drop. (22 mi. mark at bottom) 

I was mentally shot. When I reached McQuade I really wanted to jump into the van and call it a day. My legs felt decent but my stomach and back were a bit sore. (maybe the 2.5 yrds of gravel we spread out yesterday had something to do with that) Kari told me to just forget about the warm up and to start moving back towards town and things might get better, and not to focus on the splits so much, just go by effort. She was right, if the workout was going bad, maybe I should just run on effort back to the start and be happy today wasn't June 20th

So back towards Lemon drop I started after a quick bathroom break in the parking lot. It's amazing how the mind changed literally from one second to the next. I was no more than two minutes into the faster stuff and all I could think was to hammer the miles back just to make up for the terrible trip up the shore. First mile: 5:56. Not too bad, but I did have a crazy tail wind. I did manage to run pretty decent given the hand I was delt and ended the day with a solid 16.5 miles.

I felt like I never did "hammer" on the return trip and had some solid miles to show for the conditions. Here were my last eight: 5:56,5:46,5:51,5:57,5:51,6:03,5:52,5:41

*for those of you who are running grandma's, don't panic when you see your twenty mile split, that mile is a harder one with a constant uphill grade. (my 6:03)

Totals: 1:49:39   16.5 miles

Weeks Totals: 68.8 miles
Years Totals: 1204.7 miles

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Another Reroute

Easy run in Hartley trails today as this may be the last day in some time where the trails are dry. (we are expecting rain for a few days now)
The trails were in super shape and I found a crew working on the upper loops with yet another reroute as they are attempting to keep erosion to a minimum. I finished the run by working my way to Rock Hill via the SHT and completing one loop.
My legs felt great and looking forward to tomorrows longer run.

Totals:  1:12:30   8.3 miles

Friday, June 5, 2009

Modified Plan

It was planned to run a good warm up and progress into a "marathon pace" segment for 8-10 miles before warming down. Family matters conflicted with the day a bit and I had to report to work earlier than normal, thus taking a full hour away from my morning. One hour is a lot of time when you are talking workouts. Since I wasn't going to get up at 4 am just to complete the workout on paper, I modified it and I'm sure it served its purpose just fine.

Instead of my normal thirty minutes I cut that time in half, as well as the warm down. My 'marathon pace' segment was cut to six miles and another fifteen or so warm down. Same workout, less mileage. I managed to average 5:50's for the faster segment and for the most part I was feeling pretty decent with that pace. I will do another workout of this type on Sunday and that will provide me better feedback if this pace will work for me on June 20th or not.

End analysis: a good workout, legs felt super, breathing was 8/10, and stomach was 4/10. Bad supper last night or what???

Totals: 1:07:15 10 miles (marathon pace segment)

A quick tour of the Hartley, SHT, and gravel-pit trails served as my recovery run this morning. I decided I needed the change in scenery and that provided the best option without getting too hilly and or much roots. Legs are feeling pretty good and not much residual fatigue any longer.

Totals: 55:43 7.1 miles (trails)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dreaded Lap Count

Yesterday I mentioned how I was going to be thanking myself for the extra day off and waiting to do the intervals this morning. It didn't help. The initial portion of the run this morning was quite worrisome and I was beginning to wonder what had gone wrong.

I warmed up with four miles along west Skyline and didn't want to hit the "lap count" on my watch because my legs just didn't want to run fast. Or was it my mind? For easy math I took off for the first interval at thirty minutes and my worries would prove right. My legs felt like shit and to run worthwhile intervals was going to be a task. At the minute mark I hit my lap again and rested for the the next minute only to dread the second interval more than the first. Not too bad, things were improving ever so slightly. The third was better and after the fifth things were pretty much spot on. Why is it sometimes that your legs do that? This isn't the first time and if I had listened to my mind, I would have quit after the second repeat. Something told me to keep pushing on and things would get better. I'm glad they did, and once I got home I did a complete set of lower leg exercises and stretches. I ended the morning with turned out to be a pretty good run and hope things stay intact for the weekend runs.

The run today consisted of thirty minute warm up and warm down with 12 X 1 min fartlek intervals at or faster than 5K pace with equal rest.

Totals: 1:26:30   12.3 miles

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Recover the Quads

Just to be sure I took another easy day this morning and I believe I will be thanking myself tomorrow morning during my intervals. This morning might have been doable but why rush it? The one thing I have learned as time passes (ie: me getting older) is to take a little extra recovery from longer or harder workouts and you will bounce back quicker. Ignore the fatigue and try to force the issue and you will be beaten down.
My legs felt pretty fluid and I am looking forward to the rest of the week.

Totals: 58:48 8 miles (7:15 pace)

After yesterday's long run I really wanted to dedicate one or two days for optimal recovery before going into another workout. Monday's always serve this purpose and I usually take the opportunity to run SLOW. No change for today as I ran an easy loop past Pig's and home via Vermilion Road.

Total: 52:00 6.6 miles