Friday, December 31, 2010

2010-Masters Years Begin

Little did I know, I could have written this review back in early November and it would have said much the same, with the exception of the long break from running. I wanted to take a break after a long season but I wasn't expecting a near two month break!

The year was definitely one of ups and downs. I came into the year fresh off a new marathon PR late in 2009 and was ready take off from there and do some serious running in the new year. I was using the coaching services of Greg McMillan and my training was going to new levels. I didn't run big mileage during the spring, maybe 70 miles per week, but the workouts were great and I was feeling fresh each day. My focus for the spring was Grandma's Marathon. Along the way I put myself out of my comfort zone and entered a Thursday night MILE race in Minneapolis and managed to run decent and take home top masters title. Grandma's Marathon just didn't work out as planned but I ran a respectable 2:41 and saw $1000.00 slip past me with less than 3 miles to go. I would finish 4th master and 3rd in my age-group.

It took me a good month to recover from Grandma's and I was fresh into Greg's fall marathon plan feeling very motivated again. The second week of the plan was under way and I did my Tuesday 11 miler with 6 sets of hills. The workout went great and I was excited for the week. Then at work, just after lunch I developed some upper abdominal cramping along with a little queeze. Later that night I would find myself in the ER and soon reporting to the OR to have my appendix removed. When I woke up on the post-surgical floor I knew that the summer and fall had just been swept from under my feet. I would push the line of pain for a few weeks and found myself racing on the winning team for the Ragnar Relay some 5 weeks post-operatively. (This decision would ultimately ruin the rest of my fall but the memories made were great!)

As I said, the Ragnar race may have been a bit early in my rehab phase but I did it and I will have to live with that decision. I never recovered after that day and would spend the rest of my summer and fall running in pain. My low back was the main culprit on day by day runs, but my right hip flexors and bilateral hamstrings were a mess anytime I would do uptempo running. The plan for the fall was to run in my first Masters Marathon Championships held at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. I was going to opt out but after getting some steady weeks of running, 0nly ~50 mile weeks at best, I decided to give it a shot. Many people told me that I could have a good race. "All the time off might help you..." "You never know, things could just go your way, give it a try..." Well, I sure was happy a lot of people had confidence in me because I sure didn't. I ran the marathon and had one of those days we all want in a marathon. The weather was near perfect! I had a bad patch near 18 miles but regrouped and ran solid the last 10K, good enough for me to run my second best marathon EVER! (2:40:18) I got a good ol' fashion ass-kicking as far as the Masters placement, but the good folks at Marathon Sports support the "local" masters and I placed second MN master, good for $150.00!

I had just enough left in the tank to race one more time on Halloween and place 1st Master at the Monster Dash 1/2 marathon. (That race would also give me an edge on the ROY points and put me in a solid lead for the year) The race felt just horrible, my second slowest half-marathon ever,(1:15:20) and that would be the last serious effort for 2010.

Looking at my blog it looks like I haven't been doing much. I haven't! But, I have been doing more that what's posted. I lost all motivation to run, as well as blog. Most of the weeks in December have included two or three days of 30 minute running but mostly I have been doing 4-5 days a week of core/strength workouts, 30 minutes in duration and much of it on the fitness ball. As soon as I got this into my weeks routine my low back improved. I still have some discomfort in my back, but the main issue remains to be my hamstring attachments. The plan going into the new year is to run when I can, but ski and snowshoe as much as possible. (I got new Rossi nordic skating-skis for Christmas and used them once) During this time of the year I also enjoy adding one day a week on the treadmill so I can do some sub-6 min/mile pace running just to keep things fresh.

Totals for 2010:
~2175 miles

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moonlight and Headlamps

I managed to piss another week away with minimal running but did manage to have a spectacular weekend of training.
On Saturday I connected with Tony and we hit the trails of Boulder Lake for a nice skate-ski on one of the easier loops just to get accustomed to the gear I purchased last weekend. I felt pretty decent for not skate-skiing for the last three years. The morning was good for just under 12K.

This morning I woke up feeling a bit under the weather and my wife and I decided to take the morning off of running and hit the stores for some last minute (her last minute, my first minute) shopping. When the late afternoon/early evening approached we dropped our son off at my mother-in-laws and we hit the moonlit trails of Hartley. Kari and I don't get many chances to run together so I was hoping to have a good night on the trails. What a wonderful time we had and she was running so strong and smooth. One complete loop of the trails and we found ourselves back at the car in 56:00. I hope to use this weekends energy as a spring board and start some consistent training going into the new year.

Happy Holiday's everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inching My Way Back

Since my last post things have improved greatly. My low back is mostly pain-free as is my hamstrings and glutes. The major difference is the addition of 4-5 days a week of lower and upper body strength sessions. I am really focusing on my abdominals and glute muscles.

I have been running three or four days a week at 30 minutes a shot. I did manage to get in an hour snowshoe run one day and just last Friday night Dave Schude and I ran the snowmobile trails and single track of Lester for just shy of an hour. The last run I did was on Saturday for 32 minutes on the treadmill. Once or twice a week on the treadmill will be a good idea for sometime as it will allow me to spice up some of the runs with a little faster pace running and keeping safe from the ice.

I hope everyone is keeping warm and safe on the roads. Happy running.

Years Total: 2163 miles

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not Quite Right

My last post was after the Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon. I was feeling very beat up. My legs, hip flexors, back, hamstrings and mostly my desire was beat down to a pulp. I took two weeks off of all activity and planned for a return to slow, easy running along with some new strength work to get myself back into the running routine. That didn't happen because I caught a virus that settled in my sinus and gave me an infection that would call for a 10 day run of antibiotics. So, in total, I took three weeks off of all running. Along the way I had one or two massages and several chiropractic adjustments. My back was slowly getting to where I thought I would see some vast improvements in regards to my running. Not so fast...

Starting on Saturday the 20th I ran 30-40 minutes a day and hurt every step of the way. On the 23rd I was beginning to feel better and then I had some disturbing news at the chiro's office. The x-rays they took showed I have a L5-S1 spondylolisthesis. What does that mean? My last lumbar spine is slipping forward (away from) over my sacrum. Not a good thing. I thought I had heard that term before and I went to work and signed a release to have my xray records sent to me and sure enough, back in 1999 I had the same diagnosis. Now what?

Here is what I take from all of this. Back in '99 I had gone through a really rough patch and I did a lot of rehab work to strengthen the abdominals and such and sure enough, along with regular chiropractic adjustments I managed to get myself back to running pain-free. I believe back in July, when I had my surprise appendectomy, I returned to running too soon and was trying to get back at regular mileage and my abdominal muscles were not ready and I fatigued the rest of my stabilizers and now I am paying the price. So, to get my self back on track I think I may need another month of easy activity and mostly core, strength training to get things ready to ramp up the mileage once again. I sure hope I am right.

For now I will be running very minimally, just enough to keep my foot in the door, and really try to get strong and do other activities as my back and hamstrings allow. I hope to see you on the road!

On the flip side, all this pain and agony gave me a little something to celebrate. For those who follow I have a stronghold on the 2010 USATF Runner of the Year for 40-44 age group.
The results of the races can be found HERE.

Years Total Miles: 2132.6 miles

Monday, November 1, 2010

2010 Season Officially Over

This last week was one long week. I was just counting down the days to the Team Ortho Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon so I could get it over with. Not the attitude one wants when they are lining up for a half-marathon. As I told my wife once I got home, "I will never take a half-marathon so lightly ever again." More on that later. The week was long because we had some difficult weather and more importantly I have been feeling like shit. My back and upper hamstrings/glutes are a mess and I need to get them fixed soon.

My week was something like this:

Monday I had no intention of repeating my Sunday run in high winds and rain so I skipped the run. Plain and simple. I was being a big wuss!

Tuesday I made my way out and had a little precipitation to deal with. The winds were still blowing but it seemed like they let up some. My loop out on Kenwood and surrounding neighborhoods kept me protected as much as I could and the miles clicked fairly well.
Total: 44:00 6+ miles

Wednesday we woke up to three inches of wet snow. School was cancelled and the scramble was on to find someone to watch Lucas for the day. Thank you Grandpa Dick. Once again I hit the wuss button and stayed indoors.

Thursday the snow was gone at our house but remnants remained in the 'upper elevations' of Woodland and such. The loop felt great and I know I was running some quick miles but I kept the Garmin at home to avoid monitoring the pace and pounding myself into the pavement just two days before a race.
Total: 49:00 6.6 miles

Friday I made the short loop out near Kenwood and felt good once again. Maybe, just maybe the race will go well....
Total: 31:30 4+ miles

Saturday was the race. I chose to run the Monster Dash 1/2 marathon because I have not run one in 2010 and needed the distance to gather some points in the USATF ROY points series. It worked for that purpose but nothing more than that. It was my second slowest half marathon to date. I once ran a half a bit slower when I did a pace run after just 4 weeks of ultra-low (HADD) hear rate running just to see the progress, or lack of progress.
The race was blessed with exceptional weather and the course was stellar, with the exception of the third mile as the half-mar runners caught the ten mile runners and it was mass chaos trying to pass all the runners until our paths split some ways up the course. I doubt it cost me any time, in fact that mile was my fastest mile of the morning, but annoying when you are trying to concentrate on pace, rhythm, breathing and all.
I read afterwards there was a lot of "issues" at the race but I'm not going to badmouth them as all races have their low points. It seemed to me they did more good than bad so it was an acceptable race. I'm not too sure I will run it again anytime soon, just because of the time of the year but I will monitor this event and see if they iron out some issues and if they do, I may be back. They won't miss me as there was close to 9000 participants in the three races that morning. That's kinda cool that all those people were out there exercising on such a wonderful morning and I got to participate in a very successful morning of exercise! Don't loose focus of why we are out there people. We love to run and sharing that with one another at a common place is called a race and nothing more. The problem is when you have to pay a fee to exercise, aka "race", one starts to feel like they owe you something. They do. The provide, hopefully, you a safe, secure racecourse. They provide drink at aid stations. They provide mile markers so you can gauge your effort, and hopefully, they provide a refreshing finish line. Monster dash failed at that point but maybe they will work on it. It's easy to get all worked up about a race and what they "didn't" provide, but usually they provide enough. If not, don't go back. Choose another race. That's reasonable. All I can say is Monster Dash had over 500 volunteers! A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU!

Here is how my race unfolded:
miles: 5:39,5:37,5:27,5:35,5:41,5:42,5:48,5:44,5:44,5:49,5:49,5:49,5:51,:56

Time: 1:15:15 1st 40-44 age group
4th overall
total: 14+ miles

Sunday was a nice walk in the park with Lucas and trick or treating later that evening.

Weeks Total: 30 miles
Years Total: 2112.6

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hangin' On By Threads

The plan to line up at the Team Ortho Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon is still on. My last week of running was nothing spectacular. I managed to get out and run most days and some were very easy. The main issue continues to be some extensive lower abdomen discomfort that wax and wanes. Some days it feels like I am ready to get going and do some serious training and others it makes me feel like I should hang it up now. Thankfully the last week had more good than bad days. I had two great days of Chiropractor visits and that relieved a lot of tightness. I have one more visit this week and hopefully that will get me ready.

The last time I ran a sub six minute mile was during the TCM and on Saturday I will be asking myself to run thirteen of them much faster than six-minute pace. A bit aggressive? Maybe, but I have to at least try. If I manage to hang on to the pace I should be in the mix. We'll see come Saturday.

Here is a breakdown of the last week. The weather has been stellar until this past Saturday and Sunday where the days were filled with mostly rain and fog. Sunday was very wet and if the temps would have been ten degrees cooler there would have been a foot of snow on the ground!

One of those "get out the door" kind of runs.
31:00 4+ miles

Feeling better I ran a bit of Kenwood and Arrowhead areas and managed to rip a good mile in there, and felt strong doing it.
45:00 6+ miles

Back to the easy loop where I almost got sprayed by the cemetery skunk again. Damn, I've had some close calls.
30:00 4+ miles

Thursday and Friday
0 miles

Trails in Hartley. I felt really good. One of those runs where I had to concentrate to keep slow.
45:00 6+ miles

Torrential rains and winds kept things close to the house. I ran down to Hawks on the SHT and ran roads back home. I had a period of time on Jean Duluth where I looked down at the Garmin and it read 6:25/mile pace and I was just cruisin'. That's a good feeling. Just maybe I can pull off this half in a week...
58:00 8 miles

Total: 28 miles
Years Total: 2082.6 miles

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back On The Road...Barely

It has been a bit of a struggle to get my body to allow me to train a bit longer into an already LONG season. Since the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon I have had some serious muscle aches in my low back and right hip area. This is nothing new, but this time it is really taking a toll on my psyche. I just want to make it one more race. The plan, which is always a bit of a dream, was to recover off of TCM and go run Mankato Half-Marathon. Well, anybody who was planning on that event and didn't sign up, like me, was thrown a curve ball last week when an email went out that the race had filled it's capacity. What? The web site stated that they would be accepting day-of race registration and no where did it mention a field cap! (I would later get an email stating that they screwed up but couldn't change their mind now.) OK, I guess I have to respect that.

On Saturday my wife was spending a little time on FB and one of the side advertisements was from Team Ortho trying to get people run their race at the end of the month. A ten mile race was filled but there was a handful of slots left in the Half-Marathon. Count me in!! I quickly signed up and that is where I will focus my energy for the next two weeks. Then some serious down-time!!

As long as I can get my back to and low abdomen to loosen up I will be able to make a good race out of it. The weather should be great and the course looks like a lot of what I just ran on the TCM course. I'm looking forward to it.

Here is a very short recap of the running I have been doing since my marathon.

I took a week off then resumed running on Friday the 8th.

Friday 8th: Easy, slow run out on Woodland and side streets.
31:30 4 miles

I was planning on continuing my training and all of a sudden on Saturday morning I was out taking pictures of my son and when I went to stand up my back went out and locked me tight! It took most of the day to loosen and on Sunday night my wife figured out I had an extremely tight PSOAS muscles pulling my lumbar off to the right. I did a few stretches and things were a bit better. I took off Monday and Tuesday and had a massage Tuesday night. Things improved a bit but still a lot of stiffness and discomfort. For the rest of the week I focused on stretching and sleep. I am once again fatigued beyond myself and sleeping 9-10 hours a night. That's 2 plus hours extra per night than i am used to.

Friday: I was feeling better and ran a nice road loop to loosen up. Not too bad.
31:27 4 miles

Saturday: I hit the trails on a beautiful, sunny afternoon and completed the Hartley loops before making my way home via Rock Hill. I felt great and had a super run.
1:02:26 7.1 miles

Sunday: Waking up this morning didn't feel so good. I was feeling a lot of soreness that I had been feeling all last week and blame it on the terrain. Since I am planning a road half-marathon I should stick to the roads. My out and back this morning was a bit stiff and sore but I managed to feel a bit better at the runs end. That is a good sign I think. My plan is to run easy most of this week and do some pick-ups as my body will let me.
40:11 5.8 miles

Years Total: 2054.6 miles

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recovery and More Recovery

Since the marathon I have been resting and taking care of a virus that got the best of me. I could feel it coming on Saturday night in the hotel but that was the least of my worries and on Monday and Tuesday it kicked my ass.

On the upside, my legs are feeling much better and I am eager to get back out there and run a bit. I will wait until Friday or Saturday the resume some training. I am kicking around the idea of making the drive to Mankato on the 23rd to take part of their inaugural events and run the half-marathon. We'll see once I start running again.

Photo credits to Evan Roberts

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Marathon. A Crap Shoot?

First I have to review the week leading into the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

I don't have a lot to report. I don't have any " I feel amazing, I can't wait" postings. For the most part, race week was much of the same that I have experienced all summer and fall. On Monday I ran an easy loop after a pathetic 90 minute run that left me in total doubt. Tuesday I woke up with the intentions of running a nice warm up and turning in a four mile "steady state" run at 5:55 pace just to get a feeling for the pace one last time. That failed miserably and I couldn't get myself to run under 6:30's and feel comfortable so I scrapped the workout and just ran easy. Wednesday came and I felt it was necessary just to get up and run and I started feeling better but still nothing too speedy. Thursday I took a rest day and did my back stretches and workout video. Friday I ran an easy 5 miler and actually felt very fluid and relaxed. A first in many days! Saturday I traveled to the Cities for the race but opted for a day of rest once I got down there, no running.

So, as you can see, I put together yet another week of "less than ideal training" heading into a marathon. No threshold, no speed, nothing. Just plain ol' running. Not exactly what I was looking for during race-week but then again, I have been going against the regular training plan all summer.

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Just to shed a little light on how my pre-race plans went, I have to mention that I continued to "go against the grain" in terms of marathon preparation. I drove to the host Hotel to get the final race instructions, check in, and get my race number. After a quick trip to the race expo and visit with some friends, I had to find my way back to the vehicle that I was sure would be sporting a parking ticket since the meter was malfunctioning when I had left it. I got lucky and found my windshield clear of any paper citations. It was now 1430 and I had last ate at 0830 before I left for my trip. I was getting hungry and I needed food. Thankfully I had left a Powerbar in the truck and I made it disappear quicker than I could imagine. I did manage to keep up on my fluids very well, just lacking in the solids. Once I made my way to the Hotel I checked in and soon was making the jaunt to Leann Chins for a healthy plate of vegetable fried rice with cashew chicken and two pot stickers. (I had done the Asian food thing once before a long run and swore it was the reason for a stellar run, so I figured if there was a time to test it before a race now was the time.) A bit later that night I made my way to an Irish Pub for a Summit Extra Pale Ale and a bread and cheese tray before settling in my room for the final checklist and preparation.

That night I drank a lot of water and finished a 32 oz. Gatorade I had started earlier in the evening. I was peeing clear upon awakening and I knew the hydration was well taken care of. I forgot one major detail. I had NOTHING to eat race morning!! I had a lot of gels but I needed solid food. What was I going to do? As I was leaving for the bus shuttle I saw a Rainbow food store only to find it closed until 0600. So I took off for the bus and downed a gel as I was driving east on I-94. I kept thinking to myself, "you have plenty of time, hit an exit and find a gas station for a breakfast bar or something." As I approached Snelling I hit the blinker and blasted up the exit before quickly eyeing up the golden arches. Yes, the McDonald's golden arches. I flew into the parking lot and ran in to order an egg and cheese biscuit. As I was driving out of the parking lot I discovered that the guy gave me a sausage and egg biscuit instead. The sausage ended up on the street and I ate the egg-biscuit. Another test in my not-so-ordinary race preparation plan. I made my bus and the rest of the morning was relatively routine.

If you are still reading I am sorry to yak about all the crazy shit I did but I just find it funny that a lot of the pre-race plan was so different that I am amazed to write about how the race unfolded.

The morning was made for marathoning. Clear skies. Cool, 40F just as the race was starting, and NO wind. Simply amazing and I was part of the 8000+ participants that got to take advantage of such a glorious morn. I got a decent warm up and stretches in and was ready as the gun sounded. What the hell? One last glitch in my race plan. My Garmin had not found all the satellites and was still searching as we left the dome. The gps would not work until 2 miles of the race, it was at that point I was able to start my watch. Not a big deal, but in past races it would have freaked me out big time!

Once past the 5K I was working pretty easy and I had the pleasure of running with Pete Miller whom I had competed against many a times over the last 18 years. He and I were looking to run very similar races and it was best to find someone to run with as it keeps a persons mind occupied. We had a difficult time settling on the 6:10 pace we wanted for the first 7-10 miles. Many of which were well under 6:00 minute pace. The good thing was they felt very easy. That was very promising and yet I was concerned. For some reason, at 8-9 miles my right, lower calf was starting to tighten and soon the upper hamstrings and glutes were joining in on the tightness. As we passed 10 miles Pete asked me, "how are you doing?" I told him I had a bad patch back there but things were improving. We ran very consistent through half-way and I mentioned to Pete as we passed the 13.1 mark, "I'm not too sure what the hell I'm doing going through half way at my current PR pace, but I guess it's too late to worry now." We progressed up the course and I progressed to feel worse. Miles 15-17 started to get really tough and I was then planning where my drop-out spot would be. For some reason 19 sounded good to me in my mind. Something told me to keep pressing though. As I monitored the splits for a mile or so it made sense for me to keep moving, despite the way I felt, the splits were staying pretty close and I wasn't walking yet. The gel I had taken at mile 17 must have started to work and soon I was talking myself into 'counting down the miles'. "Just eight miles to go, just seven to go", and I kept doing that as I moved up the course. As I moved up the hills coming off the river bottom something magical happened. I started to feel strong. I couldn't believe it but I was passing runner after runner and I was moving feeling very good. I had heard of this happening to runners before but was it really happening to me? How? I hadn't run over 18 miles since Grandma's Marathon back in June. I kept my eyes up ahead and just kept pressing the pace. From 20 miles to the finish I didn't look at my watch for pacing. I knew I felt good and I wasn't going to let some number ruin my feeling. If I felt that good I must have been moving decent for the last stage of a marathon. I took my last gel at 21 miles and at every aide station I took two cups of Poweraide and two cups of water and drank them all! I'm not too sure if that's what did it but I finally got to feel what it's like to crush the Summit Avenue curse!! I felt amazing but scared. I didn't want to have the feeling of moving so well come to an end at mile 22,23, or 24. I wanted to run strong to the finish. I put those worries to rest and told myself, "you will never find out if you can run strong to the finish if you don't try. Don't be afraid, just keep the same strong, relaxed effort and you may just make it. Don't stop!" I saw and heard many people out there cheering on myself and many runners but there is something about complete strangers looking at you and saying something like, "hey, number 118 you are really moving well, keep up the good work." Thank You All!!!
As I passed mile 25 I knew I had put the worst behind me and all I had to do was press one more minor hill and then the reward was waiting. Most times the last half mile, mostly downhill from the Cathedral, feels horrible. A downhill that steep after running 25.5 miles hurts the quads. As I crested the hill and saw the huge crowds, I focused on the gigantic American flag at the bottom of the hill, all I wanted to do was let out a huge scream of relief. I made it!! I never did let out the scream but I wanted to and I kept pressing to the end. I focused on the finish tape and was very surprised to see the clock tick past 2:39:59. I was bummed out and excited at the same time. To run 2:40:17 was very rewarding with the challenges I had this summer and to get the opportunity to finally, after 15 marathon starts, feel that it is possible to hammer the last 10K of a marathon still brings tears to my eyes. I now have a little feeling of what it's like to nail a marathon. I didn't get a personal best, but it sure felt like it. I wanted to run much faster back in July when I started preparation for this race but some circumstances are out of a persons control. I finished this race happy! I've mentioned this in the past but it's races like this that keeps us crazy marathoners chasing the carrot. I feel like the marathon is what many call A Crap Shoot. I've trained much harder with all kinds of workouts before and raced much worse than I did on Sunday. What gives? I'm not willing to test this training again, but it sure will be on my mind come next build up.

Here are the splits the Garmin spit out starting at mile 2.
miles one and two were: 5:53, and 6:00

Here are the details:
Time: 2:40:17
87th overall, 6th in age group 40-44
*feeling strong at the end, PRICELESS!!

Miles for day: ~28 miles with warm up
Weeks Mileage: 56 miles
Years Total: 2033.7 miles

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Roller Coaster Training

Last Sunday I ran the Grandma's Minnesota Mile that resulted in a decent time. I then woke up the next morning and did my long run that I had missed because of the race. On Monday I woke up and hit the roads by 0405 and did an out and back on West Skyline. The miles clicked off without any problems and I was feeling like things were on the rise.

For the remainder of the week I battled getting out of bed and running decent mileage. I wanted to run medium long on Thursday and long one more time on Sunday to have a solid week. Neither happened and I managed to take two days off of running. On one of the days off I followed a "egoscue" strength video to loosen up my back and that worked very well.

On Saturday I hooked up with my buddy Rod and we did a near 10 mile pace run for his preparation for a Half-Ironman in three weeks. The run felt very good and I managed to roll out 6:20-6:30 miles without any hesitation or issues. Then on Sunday I woke up with intentions of running for a bit over 2 hours and I was so stiff and sore just the thought of running was far-fetched. After some stretches and self-motivational thoughts I meandered out the door for a pathetic 90 minute run that felt just horrible.

All these feelings and thoughts leave in a very uncomfortable position heading into a 26er. I want to remain as optimistic as possible but I also want to be realistic and be ready for finding a way out of that race come damage time. Really, I guess there is no planning that kind of thing and I will just deal when and if the time arises.

Here is the lame week of training that was:

2:05:16 17.5 miles

0 miles
egoscue video for back and core

57:23 8.6 miles
(4) steady state: 6:35 warm up

0 miles, sore

38:04 5.2 miles
recovery that felt really good

1:05:51 9.8 miles
6:20-6:30 pace

1:32:00 13.2 miles
felt horrible, lot's of abdominal soreness

Weeks Total: 54 miles (5 runs)
Years Total: 1977.7 miles

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Turning The Corner

It seems like my back has taken a turn for the better. I woke up yesterday morning feeling a bit more flexible and had a decent trail run with Dave S. To have my legs feel light and snappy has been a rarity but I had to keep things under control on the trails as I really wanted to rip a couple of loops in Hartley but held back and did an abbreviated version and made the trip home just under an hour. A gorgeous day for a trail run.

This morning was the Grandma's Minnesota Mile. Four years strong, the race is growing and the field was as competitive as ever. For some reason the race organizers felt it was necessary to have the Masters that were chasing the $500.00 top prize run in the open elite wave. Wow, what an eye opening. I didn't want to take it out too hard but being close to 10+ seconds behind at the 400 meter mark made that difficult. I passed the 1/4 in 64 seconds! Just about 6 seconds too fast from what I was going to do. Once I rounded the corners past Fitgers I had the downhill segment to cruise and allow my breathing to catch up with me. I may have slowed too much, and ultimately cost me the top prize, but I managed to hit the half mark in 2:14. I missed the clock at 3/4 mile but I'm sure it was much the same and as I made my move to run strong up the final stretch I saw the clock tick past 4:29.... then I had to sprint with all I had left. I saw the clock last at 4:34, probably turning to 4:35 but my recorded time was 4:36.8 seconds. A new PR!
I came away from the race happy as I figured it would be very difficult to hit sub-4:40 as I had near zero confidence going into this race. The way I felt during the race was weird. I was running all I could and it felt a bit harder than tempo pace but the unfortunate thing was I had no other gear. I couldn't find that deep, low end fast turnover I needed to catch the next guy. I'm sure it's from the lack of long runs and workouts. The next two weeks will hopefully get me some more strength going into TCM. I plan no true taper, just a few easy days prior to the race. I need all the training runs I can get in.

52:30 6.6 miles

4 miles warm up. 1 mile race
5 miles total

Weeks Total: 38 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1923.4 miles

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week In Stride

I've managed to make it through the workweek fairly well but remain to have a fair amount of lower back discomfort in the morning. It's feeling very stiff and after some stretching and exercises it allows me to go out and train but once I'm done it gets stiff again and remains like that all day at work. Once I get rid of the low back problems I believe I can step up the training and will find myself in a really good position to get in some quality workouts and possibly have a good race yet this fall. (I have a few on my radar I may go chase if all my cards fall in place.)

It's amazing what a couple of emails and comments from friends can do to a persons perspective. Sunday I was willing to throw in the towel and scrap the whole racing season. Then I heard from a few pals that truly understand what I am going through. I just needed to hear it! I will pick myself up from this funk and soon be on my way to excellent fitness! I'm just not sure when that will be...

In about 36 hours I will be getting ready to march downtown Duluth and ready myself for the Duluth Minnesota Mile. Back in July it sounded like a good idea. I would have the entire summer and fall to train and come September I would find myself in kick ass shape and set a new PR. Well, throw in an abdominal incision or three and the whole summer was screwed! I will not back out of my commitment as I wanted to but it may not be pretty. There will hopefully be a true "masters" field to compete with or else I will look like that kid that was picked last in gym class to play on the team as I chase true paid "elites" down superior street. In any case it will be interesting.

So far this week the mileage has been cut down and I remained to take one day off. On Wednesday I woke to my alarm and just couldn't fathom the thought of getting out of bed, let alone run down the road. I managed to get in some quality runs and the rest was just plain ol' jogging in the morning. I will update after the mile on Sunday and hopefully I will have good things to report. I will be keeping my fingers crossed the entire time.

Despite the crash on Sunday I found myself feeling well and not too sore. I did manage to eat like a horse on Sunday at my sister-in-laws at a birthday party so I imagine that helped a lot. I kept the run short and sweet and had a good one.
38:45 5 miles (Morley)

Two day lag. I didn't have it in me to go to the track and throw down some 200's and 400's. Instead I ran a road loop out in Woodland and did a series of 1 minute on 30 seconds rest. I did 6 X 1 min at 5:40-5:30 pace just to blow out the rust. They felt decent, but as soon as I slowed down the back got tight.
101:03 8.6 miles

morning of death. no running. very tired.

To UMD track and did a series of 200's at 34-35 seconds. They felt very good and for a few I felt like I had some power being generated in my stride. That always feels good.
8X200 meters with 200 rest.
56:25 8 miles

Easy road loop in Morley. I had everything I could do not to be sprayed by a skunk in the cemetery. Had I forgot my headlamp, I would be one stinky guy right now. LUCKY!
38:08 5.2 miles (7:20's mostly)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Borderline Misery

I like to think of myself as an optimist. In most circumstances I can find the "good" that can be overlooked. This past week has been a test to see just how optimistic I can remain. My back continued to give me grief all week and despite another Chiropractic visit on Friday little has changed. I know my glutes and hips are tight and that may be the source of my discomfort.

The other problem I continue to battle is a continuous feeling of "no pep". No matter what run I do, fast or slow, I feel mostly shitty. They say a lot of surgeries need a minimum of 6-8 weeks before one can expect to join their overall activities before the procedure. This week will be 8 weeks since my appendectomy. Who knows??

Because of the above issues I continue to take at least one day off a week and this weekend I scrapped my racing plans to race/run the City of The Lakes 25K. I just didn't have it in my heart, or legs for that matter, to drive down to the metro area and race a LONG run. That race can take a lot out of you when you are ON your game, let alone zapped like I feel. Instead I ran a longer effort at home and nearly had to walk home. I believe I started the run a bit depleted and I continued to crash from there. With two miles to return to the house I had everything I could do not to walk. Much like the last few miles of a marathon, I felt zapped and ready to be done. A good Ol' fashion BONK. All I can say is Hammer Gel and Co. could go out of business tomorrow and I could care less. They make useless products! (I'm just pissed because one of their gels couldn't get me out of my bonk because they don't put anything worthwhile in their gels)

With all that said, a lot of racing is in question. I am not too sure I will continue this season. I'm tired, sore and quite frankly pissed off I can't get in a decent week of training and trying to cram any worthwhile training before a 26'er just isn't working. I haven't given up YET, but I will give myself another week or so and honestly if things are not any better I will probably pull the plug on the entire season.

Here is the rest of the week:

Tuesday: up Woodland, Arnold, Martin, Riley, and home via Vermilion.
1:11:00 9.3 miles easy

Wednesday: Lakeside loop with 3 minute pick-ups.
8 X 3 minute at 5:20 pace
1:00:20 8.6 miles

Thursday: 0 miles, too damn tired and cold to get out of bed.

Friday: I made up a quick decision to hit the UMD track.
8 X 400 meters at 70-73 second pace with 200 jog rest.
49:07 7 miles

Saturday: out and back on west skyline.
49:22 7 miles

Sunday: Bonkfest! Roads and Trails of Chester, Lakewalk, Lester, and SHT.
2:00:20 16 miles

Weeks Total: 60 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1885 miles

Monday, September 6, 2010

Victory 10K

Well, the race wasn't victorious for me, but close. I managed to get second in the "masters" as a tuned-up Pat Billig showed up and took top honors. I did manage to nab 1st in the 40-44 age group. Not too sure what that's worth but I did get knocked out of $150.00 by 20 seconds or so. Oh so close... (you know what they say...)

My back is better but it remained to take a little coercion to get moving this morning. I did a slow, longer warm up and followed it up with a series of stretches that allowed a little release and the ability to stride out some. I am finding out that the root of a lot of my problems are, at least what I believe, the piriformis muscles in my glutes. They are very tight and the next four weeks I must spend some time attending to them if I have any prayers of finishing 26.2 miles. Next weeks 25K will really put things in perspective. I'm not too sure I want to know...

The race unfolded about as well as I could have hoped. I didn't want to go out too hard and dive into oxygen debt. I did that all too often in my younger years and paid the piper big time during the last two miles. Today I went out with a group that rolled through the first mile in 5:24. Right where I wanted to be, maybe a few ticks fast but I managed to think of it as "time in the bank". It's been a few years since I last ran Victory and that time allowed me to forget about the upgrade second and third miles. The third split was slow at 5:41 and I was shocked because I made a conscious effort to break out of a group of four that I had been running with and chase the next few guys ahead of me. At the turn-around I kept a positive state of mind and when I made the subtle turn to the straight the third mile made sense. From that perspective you could see the now downhill and the grade that caused the slow third mile split. I managed to crank out the fourth fairly well and hit the marker at 5:19. The fifth mile I was still chasing three guys and split in 5:23, still moving pretty decent. I had some mental let-down the sixth mile even though I had caught one of the three runners on my radar and he kept me going as well as I could. Mile six was 5:31. We both traded positions over the last mile and 0.2 tenths with he getting to the tape first. I crossed the finish line in 34:06 and was quite pleased with the effort. I wanted to run 33:45 or faster but it just wasn't in the cards today.

Totals: 10K race: 34:08 (i had 34:06)
warm up and warm down of 24:00+ each
~11.5 miles total running

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Right now my spine is the only thing limiting me to crank up the miles and pace. Sitting in the van at Ragnar was the start of trouble and then having my dog pull me in an awkward direction on Monday, fresh off a successful Chiropractor visit, put my right lower back into hell for the remainder of the week. Each morning I feel the will to quit the sport and pick up my banjo. Each morning I take a little time, drink a cup of joe, go through a series of stretches and next thing you know I am heading out the door for a run of unknown duration. Thankfully I have been able to resume some decent training and I hope I can nail a few more workouts, long runs and an occasional race or three.

Saturday I made a connection with Dave S. and Dave H out at Lester trails. I wasn't too sure how things were going to feel after Friday's 2:20:00 but the trails are the best place to test things. We made our way up on the ski trails and managed to find mostly dry single track to make our way to the top of the park. My legs were quite fresh much to my surprise and the hour chipped away very quickly.
Total: 1:06:37 7 miles trails

Sunday I woke up feeling just as many days this week. I followed my morning routine and sure enough I was making tracks down the road once again. The main difference was that I knew I was going to have a good run after half a mile. My legs were fresh and minimal back stiffness with running. The course for the day was down the SHT and Hawks and back via same route plus a short segment in Hartley. Today was one of the very few where I actually had to hold myself back from running too hard. As long as I can drag my carcass out of bed tomorrow I think I can give the 10K a decent effort.
Total: 1:08:34 8.7 miles trails

Weeks Total: 52 miles
Years Total: 1825.6 miles

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meat and Potatoes

Vacation weeks are always difficult to maintain training volume so often I resort to the "meat and potatoes" of training. I'm way behind in training volume and workouts heading into the last four weeks of preparation for Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. This may very well be the least prepared I have been for a marathon. I keep having people tell me that things will be alright and I will have to rely on training "muscle memory" and experience. I guess the main thing will be for me to mentally be ready and gut out another 26 miler come October 3rd. Maybe the last four weeks will be magical.

Tuesday I woke up in the camper feeling mighty rested after near 10 hours of sleep. I may have mentioned but I have been sleeping 9-10 hours a night after my little all-nighter relay last weekend. This week I definitely caught up! As I made my way outside all I could do was soak up the 80F sun and drink coffee. After Kari and I polished off a french press of coffee we all showered and made our way to the nearest park and ride to make a day at at the Great Minnesota Get Together. We had a super day, drank a few beers and took in some unwanted calories of various forms. The last item I ate was a deep fried Reces Peanut Butter Cup. OK at best.
Total: 0 miles running
"a few" of walking at state fair

Wednesday I made my way out after yet another stellar nights sleep. I got out on the nearby asphalt trails and managed to do a impromptu workout. After 2 miles of warm up I slowly worked into 6 X 20 seconds hard (4:45 pace) with same rest. I then bumped up the interval time and did 8 X 60 seconds at 5:00 pace with 30 seconds of rest between. It felt good to get in some speed to the legs. With the warm up and warm down I ran a bit over an hour.
We made it to our first ever Twins game. Target field was amazing and what a good time! I can't believe people pay $7.00 per beer 12 oz's. Crazy....
Total: 1:02:00 9 miles

Thursday I woke up and my back was a bit tight and with the recent rain all I could do was drink coffee and start to dismantle the campsite. We had a window of sunshine and I wanted all the tents and matts to dry if possible. Once we arrived in Duluth and unpacked I made my way out to do a little "shake-out" run and call it at 4 miles. My legs felt very good and my back was holding it's own.
Total: 28:40 4 miles

This morning, Friday, I made a quick decision to make the day a long run effort and have the weekend to rest before making my way down to the Victory 10K on Labor Day Monday.
The weather was horrible. Mid 50's F along with on/off drizzle. (what happened to the 90'sF we had on Monday and Tuesday!) My buddy Erik and I did the first hour on trails and a few road miles. Once I dropped him off at an hour I added some more loops of trails in Rock Hill before doing an out and back on Skyline and finishing my last two miles with one more loop of Rock Hill. My back did well but I fatigued fairly well in the abdomen, hips and upper hamstrings. A few more long runs and this should minimize. The distance was fair but time on my legs was key for the day. Overall a very good run.
Total: 2:20:21 18 miles
*mostly trails, terrible winds!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vacation Week

I am on vacation! What a way to start a post. It feels great to have some time off and I hope to make the best of the week.

We are going camping, the State Fair, and a Twins game this week. I'll do some running in between all that as well.

This morning was a nice "shake-out" run in the sticky heat. It was 73F at 5:30 this morning so running easy was just a bonus. Toward the end of the run I made my way to the UMD track and did 6 striders on the 100 meter straights before heading home. For the most part my legs felt good and now I just have to get my back in better shape. Hopefully the people at CHC can get me in this morning.

Total: 39:32 5 miles easy

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trail Weekend

After Thursday's rest I got out Friday and hit the roads for a hour of general aerobic training. Nothing too fast nor was it a recovery pace run. I was going to try for 90 minutes but I knew I wanted to get in some good back to back medium distance this weekend so I opted for a hour run. For the most part things were feeling good except my lower right back. ( a result of sitting in a mini van for 20 hours last weekend)

Total: 1:06:22 9 miles

I got in touch with Dave H on Friday night and we agreed to get in a nice 90 minute loop in the late morning hours on Saturday. When we left my house the temps were 82F and the sun was beaming on us. It was a good thing we hit the trails by the second mile and the trees provided a much needed canopy for much of the distance. We made our way down the SHT to Hawks Ridge and over to Amity creek before I made my way to the creek bottom for a splash of refreshing water. Our return trip up SHT was very comfortable but my right leg and lower back were beginning to take a toll on me. It felt good to stop but the back was about as tight as I could handle. I need the CHC people.
It was nice catching up with Dave and it seemed he had a decent run as well.
Total: 1:29:32 11.2 miles

When I woke up things were ugly. Yeah, I was too, but my back was telling me "no running today". I couldn't stand the thought of missing another longer effort. My wife told me to try a DVD she had the really focused on the core and back stretches/strength. I followed it which lasted near 30 minutes and what a difference it made. My back was stretched out and I was ready to hit the road. I fully expected it to spasm up mid run and cause me to bail out but it didn't.
I ran the same course Dave and I did on Saturday then I added a loop in Hartley to make up some additional time. I got out a little earlier and the heat didn't hit me as hard. To get in two quality runs back to back was very satisfying and I hope things are ready to progress to the next level this next week.
Total: 1:46:00 14+miles

Weeks Total: 59 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1773.9 miles

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back In The Groove

Just when I thought I had run some slow, horrible, stiff, recovery runs I then got the luxury of feeling Monday's run. I took Sunday off for recovery and sleep and I had to go to the well on Monday. My quads and lower back were not letting me stride out so I kept things well under control. After I made it past the first half mile things slowly improved to the point where I knew I could make it through the miles. I've also mentioned in the past that these types of runs are very important in the recovery process and as much as they suck you can't avoid them. They must be done. Here are the feeble mile splits:
Total: 7 miles 57:28

Tuesday I had it in my mind that I was going to get out there and hit some miles and get my legs to do what I wanted. Crazy thought. The did do much better but I was not able to do my half-marathon pace segment in the run so I just kept it at an honest pace. I was surprised how good I felt. Towards the end things started to get a little stiff again but for the most part I was very happy with the weeks progress so far.
Total: 1:26:17 12 miles

Wednesday was back to a little recovery time and just getting out the door was a success. I was still feeling very tired from the weekends all-nighter and getting up each day has been a chore despite the extra sleep I have been getting. The morning was another gorgeous one and getting up is much easier when you know you have decent weather to run out into. I took it easy and was looking forward to Thurs longer run again.
Total: 41:05 5.3 miles

I never made it out this morning. The overall feeling of fatigue while in bed got the best of me and that is breaking rule number one. I am not supposed to make decisions of working out while in bed. I make myself get downstairs to make that decision and usually once I am down there it is really easy to get out the door. I didn't give myself that chance and just readjusted my alarm clock and gained an extra 90 minutes of sleep. I'm not beating myself up too bad about it and I realize I can still get in some good mileage this weekend so I guess it's a good thing. (i'm not really sure, just rationalizing)
Total: 0 miles :(

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ragnar Relay- A Story of Masters

I turned 40 in April. It couldn't have been too long after that I received an email from an old buddy I met years back during my internship in Marshfield WI. He was inquiring to see if I would be interested in joining himself, along with several others I had met the summer of 1992, in a multi-stage relay from Winona to Minneapolis. I wasn't done reading the email and I already knew my answer. YES!

The Great River Relay, organized by Ragnar Relay events, was an epic event the would cover 193 miles of demanding roadways from Winona to Minneapolis. There are several "classes" a person could participate in and our team would be considered a mens "Masters" aka 0ver 40 years age, class. For anybody who has participated in an event like this you know the excitement I am about to describe. EPIC is one word.

Part of my decision in running this event was the fellow runners. If a person is going to spend the better part of a weekend with 11 other runners he or she better be able to get along. I knew this wouldn't be a problem. Steve, Mike, Mark, Eddie, Scott and Jay have been runners and friends I have known since the early 90's. I've kept in touch with Steve and Mike the most but catching up with the rest was just like jumping back in time and taking off just where we left conversation. The rest of the team consisted of Tom, Perry, Zup, Ole and Greg. All of whom I just met on Friday. Great guys!! Thank you for letting me be part of such a great experience.

I can't stay up and type enough to replay all the excitement and energy that I was exposed to. Here were some highlights:
The race times were staggered and we shared the last starting time with a half-dozen teams or so. We left Winona at 4 PM on Friday and had a mission to be in Minneapolis by noon on Friday. If we did that, we knew we would place well. Keeping skepticism to the side I got ready to lace my shoes, ties my shorts and run like hell! I ran the 2nd, 14th, and 26th leg of the event and my first leg was in the late afternoon heat of 86F! It's been some time since I felt heat like that and running 5:30 miles just wasn't in the cards. I managed to complete the first leg in 5:45's. I was happy. After our van finished up all six legs we jumped ahead to where we would be starting late in the night and tried to get some rest. Try is the key word. I got ten minutes of "rest" and then I had to prepare to run another 8.4 miles with one killer hill. A hill that would last near 2.5 miles was awarding the runners with 2.5 miles of downhill to follow. I would cover that section with an average of 6:01 per mile. Getting a shower after our van completed it's second rotation was key and we were off to Stillwater to rest for the third round. This was where I was hating life. Damn! I was thinking of quitting, sleeping, crying, anything but running. These are times where great team members come through. Tom, the guy who had been running his legs of the race right before me and I would tag off with, kept at me to eat, drink, eat drink. Try something. You need to eat. So I ate some chocolate chip cookies. Four to be exact, and then had half of a banana. As I started to become more alert, Tom kept circling back to the van while giving me the "thumbs up". Then I heard another comment that hit home. Mark, who was lying on the ground with his legs and feet up on the van floor, was doing his own version of self-pitty. He was mumbling something about not being able to get up and do it. "How can I get myself to run another leg?" "I'm so sore!" Then the message was heard. As he slowly, and I mean slowly, got his carcass up from the ground I saw him shake out his shoulders and say, "Ok, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Quit being a pussy. Everyone is tired. You can do this. Get up and get moving." He wasn't talking to me but I heard him loud and clear. He was absolutely right. I can guarantee you that nobody out there after running two legs were not ready or willing to head out for their third round. But you have to do it. That was your commitment to the team. That's what teams do. They win and fail together. Hell yeah Mark! You got me going. I had been saving it for a time like this. I crawled out of the backseat, reached into the cooler and pulled out my one and guessed it. RED BULL! This stuff is magic in times of need. I slammed it and along with the teams support I was ready to take the tag from Tom and push up yet one more hill and pass of the tape to my partner, Mike, for the last time.

We found ourselves in a true race. Three teams kept sharing the lead and we ultimately won with a cushion of about 5 minutes. It sure is unreal to be up all night, running, sweating, laughing, yelling, and finding yourself and two other teams just 7 minutes from each other after 193 miles and just over 20 hours of running.

Our time was unofficially 20 hours 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Good for an average of 6:19 per mile pace. I am so proud to be part of a team that consisted of such a great group of guys. Thank You so much for the experience.

Friday: 6.2 miles
Saturday: 12.3 miles
Sunday: 0 miles

Weeks Total: 52 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1715.4 miles

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ending The Week With A BANG!

Going into mid-week I knew things were beginning to click once again. My legs were more fluid and I was recovering much faster. Each day felt good and the pick ups on Tuesday went about as well as they could have. Feeling that I was way behind on preparation for TCM I kept the mileage up even heading into a rather interesting weekend of running. (more on that later)

On Wednesday I took it easy and hit the Morley neighborhood for some easy miles. I was going to add on some but it made sense to keep it easy. A great day of running and legs felt just fine.
Total: 45:43 6 miles

Thursday was an upper Woodland run that included some short pick ups as I felt. Nothing too technical but a little pacing to prepare for my legs in the upcoming relay during the weekend. God it felt great to hammer out some good miles and with the stellar mornings we have been having it made the run even more enjoyable.
Total: 1:04:24 9.1 miles

Friday and Saturday running deserve a their own post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jump Week

I planned on this week being a week in jumping mileage. I need to get in some miles in the next 6 weeks and now is the time to start. Overall I am feeling pretty good. Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since my surgery and I am happy with my progress. The high point of this week will be the Ragnar Relay I am participating in with a group of great guys that I met in Marshfield, WI years ago. A great time for sure!

Monday I ran my easy loop out in Woodland and felt very good. The hills from Sunday's run didn't hinder me too bad and I ran feeling pretty comfortable. It sure is nice seeing some 6:30 miles show up on the Garmin these days.
Total: 57:35 8 miles

This morning I decided to get in a little uptempo work without busting my balls. This is easily accomplished by doing 1 minute repeats at 5K pace with equal rest. With temperatures at 50F and clear skies I couldn't have asked for a better morning of running on west Skyline. I managed to do 8 X 1 minute at 5:00-5:15 pace with adequate warm up and warm down. I felt great on the speed segments, thank god. As an added bonus the sunrise was one for the record books!
Total: 1:13:27 10.6 miles

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lester River Singletrack

I had all the intentions of getting out early Saturday morning but arose to a fine cup of coffee and excellent conversation with the wife and the time just passed. It's amazing how much I value some alone time with my wife as our conversations during the week often revolve around preschool chatter and plans that include Lucas. I didn't mind missing the run as I knew I would be burning some calories in a different fashion later in the day.

Saturday, members of our team at work got together for some much needed social time without "work lingo" involved. What a great time had by all. At the end of the day, we spent close to 4 hours paddling the Brule River, had sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 80'sF, and high water levels. We may never have conditions like this for some time so we had a blast!! My forearms are killing me today, good thing running takes little arm involvement because if I had to paddle today I would get nowhere.

This morning I met Dave Schude out at his place and we hit the Lester Park ski trails until the first sign of new single track made it's appearance. These trails have been around for a year or so and I had never made the trip out there to run on them. WOW. That is one word to describe them. I told Dave, with the exception of SHT, those trails are by far the best single track we have in the area hands down. Close to two loops and some extra on the west side of the rive made our morning complete and near 90 minutes of running was had. Thanks Dave, what a great way to start a day.

My legs are feeling very good and I should be able to get in a "normal" week of training this week. The weekend is looking good and I will be joining a team from Marshfield, WI for the Great River Ragnar Relay starting this Friday. This too shall be an Epic event filled with many laughs and pleasures...

Totals: Saturday: no running, 4 hours of paddling

Sunday: 90 minutes of trails with Dave in Lester Park
1:27:03 9 miles HR: 134

Weeks Total: 39 miles (5 runs, 1 paddle day)
Years Total: 1663.2 miles

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vast Improvements

This has been a great week. Each day I have been feeling better and the last two runs couldn't have gone better for being three weeks post-op. The main improvement has been my legs, hips and overall ability to stride out more smoothly. The paces for my runs have become more "normal" along with a lower heart rate. That's all good!

Things may just come together as long as I can keep progressing over the next 6-7 weeks. I still want to run the marathon in October and will plan for it unless I become derailed somehow.

Here are the last two days of running. This morning was a last minute day off for rest. I think the extra day off really is more beneficial at this point then running for a half hour. Next week will be a scheduled 7 or more runs so I should enjoy the rest day.

Wednesday: Out and back on Skyline at an easy clip. The paces are improving at a much lower heart rate. As I was running home I hit the UMD track and did three laps with the straights excelled at 5K pace. (whatever that is right now?) I was amazed how good it felt to stride out at 5:10-5:15 pace. 6 total striders then jogged home.

Total: 45:10 6.3 miles

Thursday: I ran up Woodland to Arnold, Martin and home via Vermilion before making my way through UMD campus and seeing a couple friends running very fast on the track. I had to investigate what was up. The finding was a mile time trial. You two sure looked strong out there. Good job!! For me, I made a few more laps before getting home and discovering I had run the longest run since my surgery. A good morning and very pleased with the progress.

Total: 1:14:30 9.8 miles

decided on a rest day. I will enjoy it.
0 miles

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dwindling Light

I hate to say it. The summer months are limited and fall is slowly approaching. This simple fact comes to reality for me as I wake up each morning for my runs. I woke up and made my way down the street this morning no later than 0500 and it was near complete darkness. I've gotten used to this cycle and I really don't mind running in the dark. By mid run the daylight was present and I could turn off my red LED I had clipped to my shorts.

The runs this week are going well. Monday was a typical morning. I always seem to be a little more fatigued on Monday's with the busy weekend behind me so this week was no different. Today was a good day and I added just a bit to the distance to make the long Martin road loop that brings me back home just under an hour. With the temperatures approaching 90F I sure am glad I have the opportunity to run first thing in the am. It's going to be a great day!

Easy out and back on Skyline. My legs are feeling better and I am having a lot less overall soreness.
Total: 40:52 5.5 miles

I did the Martin road loop returning via Vermilion and UMD. Felt great and things are really starting to improve. This was what I was hoping for!
Total: 1:00:00 8 miles
HR: 137

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's Hard To Be Patient

Having this be my first week back after a layoff sure was tough. I knew it would be difficult for a few days, and maybe I underestimated the set-back, but the entire week was a challenge. For the most part I don't have any discomfort from the surgical sites. My lower abdomen feels good. My legs, hips, calve are tight and sore. I believe it's the Piriformis Syndrome coming out again as I had this a few years ago and had some difficulty getting rid of it. I know my exercises I have to do and when I can I will perform them in hopes to rid the discomforts ASAP.

On a high note I managed to get in a couple of great local trail runs both on Saturday and Sunday. The trails of Rock Hill and Hartley were calling my name yesterday and for this morning I ran a spur trail segment of SHT. Both just wonderful runs and I hope to use the momentum of these runs to springboard my fitness this upcoming week. It's going to be an added challenge to keep things under control and push the red-line just a bit over the next 7-8 weeks.

Here are the totals of the end of the week and weekend runs:

Once again the pace early on was super slow until I got my legs to loosen. I made my way up Woodland and did the short version of the Pigs loop. By the end of the loop I was feeling the added time and took some additional time to stretch really good after.
Time: 53:00 6.6 miles

I woke up really sore and knew I needed a day off. I took that day off and my muscles thanked me.
0 miles

I did all the trails of Rock Hill and Hartley. The trails in Hartley were wonderful and I saw a half-dozen local runners enjoying the morning. A good day, and a step in the right direction.
Total: 1:03:05 7.2 miles (trails)

Not ready for a full-on distance run yet so I decided to repeat a similar day like yesterday. I hit the SHT spur trail for an out and back with a little added time on Hawks Ridge. Once again, after my initial warm up I really started to work into the run and I am beginning to feel more fluid. As soon as those Piriformis loosen I will be rockin' the steady state runs again. I can't wait!!
Total: 1:04:46 8.1 miles (trials)

Weeks Total: 39 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1624.6 miles

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mild Progression

I knew this week was going to be a bunch of crappy runs filled with self-doubt. That is the norm when taking off several (12 to be exact) days of running and having abdominal surgery. That part was new. I underestimated the power of abdominal muscles and their involvement in every movement we do. When I started running yesterday most of my muscles felt "stunned". Not really dead tired. Not really sore. But, "less-than-ideal" would be putting it in perspective.

This morning was near brutal. The muscles I woke up yesterday were screaming at me during the first mile and, once again I found myself thinking positive thoughts just to get through. By the end of the second mile things were loosening up and I remained pretty steady for the out and back on Skyline. The temperatures were already 70F at 5:30 am and the humidity was climbing. The main issue this morning was inability to stride-out. My left groin muscles are tight and I feel really choppy when I run. Tomorrow has got to be better.

Total: 46:04 6 miles HR:130

When the alarm sounded I was just ready to throw the clock across the room. Then I realized what was making that sound and I needed a quick "snooze" before another alarm to roust me out of bed. The hobble down to the basement was slow but soon I was feeling like things may be improving from a flexibility point.

I decided to wear a pair of racing flats for the run in hopes to force myself to run on my forefoot more. This also allowed me to get some quicker turnover and run a short segment of the SHT down to Jean Duluth road. Once on Jean Duluth my stride started to open up and I found myself running a pair of 7:05's back to back. (that's a huge improvement compared to the 8:00's of yesterday and Monday.) My quads, and calves remain a bit sore but I can handle that as long as I keep progressing. Tomorrow I may add ten minutes to the run if all feels well. I have to press just a bit if I am going to get back into form for October 3rd.

Total: 43:44 5.5 miles (some trail)

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Step In The Right Direction

Whew! Almost two weeks off of running, and though I know I didn't loose too much fitness, I feel like I am starting from scratch. Ground zero if you will. I made it out the door this morning and really had no prescribed distance or time and was just running by feel and was allowing myself the decision to turn around and return home at any given minute. I have done this enough though to allow myself at least two miles before making a decision. Sure enough, after a mile and a half things improved but the pace remained pedestrian. That's ok. I may remain at this pace for the entire week. As long as I can get out the door and begin to loosen up this week I will consider it a success.

The loop consisted of an abbreviated version of my usual Monday morning loop that took me through the cemetery, Vermilion road and UMD before making a couple laps on the track and returning home. My lungs felt great. My legs didn't. My sites from the surgery felt good. My glutes didn't. What does all this mean? I guess it means I am on the road to a good recovery and I have legs, and glutes that haven't run in a couple of weeks. Pretty normal I guess. That's it for now. Just wanted to update the fact that I am on the road to recovery and this time next week I hope to be getting back in the groove.

Totals: 41:21 5.3 miles (7:52 average)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Turn Of Events

Tuesday morning I woke up feeling quite good considering my overall fatigue on Monday. I've done this enough to know that once you wobble through a recovery run like I had, the next day usually feels good. Thank goodness I was right. The schedule called for a warm up, hill workout, warm down. The chosen hill was on UMD campus on Niagra. After a near 4 mile warm up I started the repeats and totaled 5 along with 5 striders on top of the hill. (Niagra street is the main street running through the topside of campus) My legs were performing well and I was starting to feel some nice turnover in the legs. After the warm down things were looking good heading into the mid-week.

The details are: 1:12: 36 9.6 miles
5 times hill, rest 30 seconds, 30 second striders,
jog back down, repeat.

I went to work like I usually do and had my lunch about 1230. What would happen over the next twelve hours would be a huge surprise and one that has left me pondering the rest of the summer racing season.

About 2 PM I started feeling some mid-abdominal cramping that seemed to be what I considered "gas pains". The discomfort didn't let up and after two Tum's I didn't feel any better I was wondering if I had a case of mild food poisoning. (I had a major bout of food poisoning when I was about 14 years old and will never forget that feeling!!) Once I got home the pain was a bit worse and caused me to hit the bed in the fetal position. As I waited for the "gas" to pass I just lied there wondering how long would I have to wait. The Tums were given another try with no help, as was the small sip of juice and graham cracker I tried to ingest. It wasn't too long after this that I started thinking like a marathoner. (you never stop comparing life's experiences to your marathon experiences, as the marathon can develop some true character) My thoughts would go on something like, "this is the last 4 miles and you hurt. Just put up with it for a little longer and it will pass." Four hours later I was still trying to talk myself into "waiting it out". The last thing my wife offered before heading to bed was a trip to ER. I looked at her and told her I was just going to lie on the couch and wait a bit more. About an hour later, I wrote a simple note and left it on the kitchen counter. "I went to ER."

Abdominal pain is probably one, if not the most common complaint for ER admissions. Driving down there I kept thinking, "what a goober, I am going to go in there, pass a big fart and have the ER staff wonder why I wasted their valuable time." I was roomed quite timely and soon I had, blood work, urine sample, and a abdominal x-ray. Before heading off to the tests I did get an unbelievable shot of Dilauded. Take this if you can! What a rush, and much help!!

(Oh, first I have to mention a funny side note. When the ER doc came into my suite he looked at me puzzled and said, "I see when you last saw your primary doctor your heart rate was 38. Today it was 37, 38. Can you explain that to me. I politely said, "yes." "Well, why is it?" "Because I run about 75 miles a week training for marathons." "Oh, I see" he said. That was all it took for explanation, as I know he too runs often, and also why I found it odd for me to explain. I guess he was just doing his job. For the rest of the night that was the traveling joke among staff. "Here comes the guy with the heart rate of 38", or "Hey I hear you run a lot". Isn't it funny and sad that in america today I'm the odd guy out there? It's too bad more people aren't active to where something like a healthy, low heart rate goes unnoticed.)

So, after I returned from the X-ray, a good ten minutes passed and the ER doc returned to my room. As he was thinking he said, "all of your labs and Xray's came back perfectly normal." Abdominal pain is very broad and it can be hard to figure things out and often you find a problem by ruling out others. It was at this point where I was thinking to myself there is no way I am going home without feeling ALOT better. It was like he could sense this and asked to palpate (feel) my abdomen once again. He was able to make the discomfort worse when pushing on one area and he quickly told me he was sending me to CT to get a scan of my abdomen. Flash back to a Seinfeld episode where George was hospitalized to get his tonsils out. I'm thinking of him lying there, "what is it doc? Cancer, lupus, am I going to die?" Crazy things started going through my mind and I actually thought I was going to have my gall bladder out. The CT was quick and back to the ER. Less than five minutes passed and a new ER doc shows his face unannounced and says "the CT shows you need your appendix out and it hasn't ruptured yet". "there is good news and better news. the good news is it's a simple procedure that a monkey can do. the better news is, the monkey is on vacation and you get a general surgeon to do it." Hah, funny shit doc, I'm not in the mood to laugh. (no I didn't say that but was really close) Soon I was talking to the surgeon and he said I would be in the operating room in less than an hour. Wow! What a change in events.

After a couple phone calls to wake up Kari I told her what was up and I would see her in the am. (just a side note here, don't leave a note to your wife you are going to the ER, then wake her up and tell her you are heading to surgery. To me that made perfect sense, not waking up our 5 year old son at 2 am, but Kari just wanted to be with me to support, I fully understand, but sometimes I think way to practical.) I was in the OR by 3 am and on the post surgical floor by 4:30 am. (my times may be off a bit, lot's of drugs you know?) I had my appendix out via laproscopic device which is much better than the "open" technique.

I made my way home yesterday (WED) afternoon and I am impressed with the amount of discomfort I had. The bad news for me is I am off of running for 2 WEEKS. Wow, do I feel sorry for Kari...

My summer running plans are altered a bit but I remain hopeful that I can still toe the line at TCM in October fairly fit.

Lastly, I have included a link to a sweet, short video of what they did to me.

video link above.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Death March

Wow. I'm not too sure I could have felt much worse for a recovery run. There are times where I wonder if I should just have stayed in bed but I know come Tuesday and Wednesday I will be thanking myself for getting out and crawling through the loop. My legs and low abdomen were so tired I found myself running 8:15's for the first couple of miles just to warm up. I managed to keep the pace near 8:00's and that was just fine with me. I hope I can eat and drink enough for good recovery and be able to hit some hills tomorrow.

Total: 1:02:30 8 miles

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Take It To The Hills

This weekends long run, and many more in the future, took me to the hills of east Duluth and rural city limits. Awakening was a bit of a chore as I was more tired than usual so I took advantage of a sleeping son and slept in until 0800! Once up I made a few texts and got ahold of Dave H. and he joined my for the loop on his mountain bike as he was in recovery mode fresh off a 21 mile run on Saturday. A big thanks to Dave for joining me as it made the time go bye so much better than a solo effort.

The heat and hills kept the HR a bit higher than I wanted but for the majority of the loop felt good and only had a few rough miles in the closing thirty minutes. In the end, I was very pleased with this run. A few good steps in the right direction.

Total: 1:56:00 15.8 miles

Weeks Total: 60 miles
Years Total: 1568 miles

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Out Of The Comfort Zone

Last evening was the Park Point 5 Miler. The race has a long history in Duluth. I've lived here for 14 years and have ran the event only in the last two years. There is a reason for that. One, I don't run well in the afternoon/evening. I am an early riser and usually am done running by 6:30 am. Second, the weather in Duluth during July is our best and that means hot and humid. Here in Duluth we don't have many days that scorch us past 85F. Although I don't have the official readings, yesterday may have been one of those days.

The temperatures at race time were 80 F and windy. I managed to cruise a slow warm up and I was just dripping in sweat. Once I got all the race gear ready and after a few striders I actually thought I may be OK and race a decent run. With the headwind on the way out I wanted to run 5:25-5:30 for the first two miles and then use the tailwind to cruise to the tape. Mile one= 5:14. Too fast!! I slowed the second to where I wanted and pushed the third as half was now with the tailwind. The fourth mile was beginning to feel real hard and slow and I covered it in 5:25. It was at this point I was starting to feel a stomach stitch working it's way on and I was hurting bad. All I wanted was a bucket of water to pour over my head. There were a few sprinklers on the course, thank you Park Point residents, but I could have used a dozen more! With the push to the tape I managed to salvage a 5:30 mile and stopped feeling like death. For a little 5 miler I couldn't believe how difficult it felt. The marathon legs were not ready to fly on Park Point Friday night but I will press on. The next week will focus on getting in the mileage and start working on some light workouts. The 5K next weekend will be a last minute decision.

Total: 11 miles
5 mile race 27:11 / 7th overall
1st 40-44 age group

This morning I hit the trails of Rock Hill and Hartley/SHT and felt really good in the climbs. The steep climbs made my glute muscles work and stretch a bit and that is what I needed. Kept the pace slow and man did it feel good in the heat.
Total: 6 miles

Thursday, July 15, 2010

12 Hours

Amazing how one can feel so different in twelve hours. Last night, less than twelve hours ago, I was referring to the constant fatigue I have been feeling during my runs. Fast forward to this morning and I'm a new man. The legs felt fresh, my breathing was at ease and I was running a decent pace for a recovery type run. Whatever the reason is, I'll take it! It's always nice to have a run where you don't really have to think, just go forward and cruise....

Total: 1:01:30 8.5 miles

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Issues

I have been feeling a bit of tightness in my back lately and Sunday night it really let me have it. I woke up Monday morning and was so stiff I couldn't look down at my feet. The right scapula region was spasmed so bad I had to tip toe around for an hour or so until it started to loosen. A super hot shower helped but I soon spasmed after the shower. I needed ice and it was time to head to work so icing wasn't an option until after work. A quick call to the Chiropractor and I had an appointment in the afternoon. Work wasn't terribly busy so after my visit I went home and called it a day. No running. I had 4 thoracic vertebrae out, two ribs, both hips, and one side of my neck needed adjustment. By the sounds of it you would have thought I had a car accident or something. That is what happens when I go too long without a visit.

Tuesday I was feeling much better and made my out for a nice warm up before making my way to the track to do 8 laps with the 100 meter straights at 5K or faster pace. After 16 repeats I was starting to really feel good. My legs appreciated the effort and things may be ready to get moving again. The only other issue that I am in the process of addressing is my lower abdomen muscles being constantly fatigued to the point of some serious tightness. Hopefully as I do more strength work this will iron itself out as well.

This morning I did my Kenwood loop and was a bit confused by the data I was receiving from my GPS device. I had a nice ultra low heart rate but the pace was quicker than I am used to seeing, but I felt like shit. Slow down? I tried that and it didn't work, I still felt poor. Nearing 45 minutes into the run I started to feel a bit better and the HR actually went up where I thought it should be. Not too sure what was going on there?
The right foot is tender but I can run. I continue to ice and that seems to keep it at bay.

Here is the last two days:

Tuesday: 1:07:48 9.7 miles
8 laps, straights at 5K pace

Wednesday: 1:00:00 8.4 miles HR: 128

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finishing Weak

I made my way out to Jer's house and met with him and Chris for an undetermined "long run". I wanted to hit at least 90 minutes and possibly two hours. The day started off really slow and really never materialized into anything special. The pace was uncomfortable for some reason, I usually don't mind any of the paces we run and today I was just plain ol' uncomfortable. When we circled back towards Jeremy's house I called it a day and hit the watch at 95 minutes. No energy, and fatigued legs were the conversation between Chris and I.

I guess the week was fair at best. My foot pain is minimal and I can run, but I am not pain-free yet. I can't wait for that. I also believe things are not fully recovered from Grandma's and it may take another week or so. The bad thing is I have a 5 mile race on Friday night and I may be running yet another sub-par race if things don't improve quickly.

today's total: 1:35:18 12 miles

Totals for the Week: 43 miles (5 runs)
Year: 1508.4 miles

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Not Quite Right

The foot is feeling better and I am able to run. The last three days I have run an hour and while running I experience little to no pain unless I step on a pointed object like a rock or root.
Yesterday I finished the run at 5:50 pace for a half mile or so to get a little leg turnover and I was surprised to be going that fast considering how terrible I felt. That's a good sign for when I do begin to feel better. For some reason, besides the foot thingy, I continue to feel a lot of overall leg fatigue and stiffness. I have a feeling that once I get the foot injury out of the way I can do some more structured work and my legs will come around.

Here are the last two days of running:

Friday: Ran the loop out to Martin road and home via Vermilion.
58:46 8 miles HR: 127 bpm

Saturday: Ran the trails of Rock Hill and Chester Bowl. I kept the HR as low as I could even with the climbs. Felt super, even with the increased temperatures. Dipped the visor in Chester creek a couple of times to keep cool.
1:02:04 7.2 miles HR: 139 bpm

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Ever hear of it? I haven't. I contacted one of my sports med doctor friends and explained the symptoms to him. He thought the probability of a stress fracture was low and was leaning more towards metatarsalgia.

I like the sounds of that much better than a stress fracture. It seemed to calm down quite a bit yesterday at work so I gave running a try this morning. A quick loop in upper Kenwood and returning from Skyline was the route. I even gave an increased effort and ran 6-7 repeats of 100 meters on at 5k pace just to stretch out the legs a bit. Afterwards a good ice for the foot and I seem to be feeling quite a bit better. I hope I can progress from here, as I have a week until the Park Point 5 Miler and man is it going to hurt since I haven't been able to do any speed work since the marathon.

Tuesday and Wednesday were off days with as much icing as I could do.

Totals: 54:00 7.7 miles
6-7 x 100 meters at 5K pace