Thursday, May 27, 2010


Laura and I are homeless no more. We signed all the papers last night and this afternoon we're moving in to our new home. Woot woot!

Our friends who are subleasing our apartment have been great pretending they don't mind weaving through rows of boxes. I'm sure they'll be glad when we move all our stuff out of there.

The post-marathon week three running is going well, despite the heat. I've gotten in some nice, easy runs and today was my first real "workout." I ran 4.5 miles with some 4 minute surges at tempo pace. It felt good to run a little faster again. I got my sights set on a 5k in June so we'll see if I can get any speed in my legs between now and then.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm Homeless

Before I begin the amazing story of how my wife and I became homeless this weekend, let me give a couple of shouts out:
Julie, at Julie's Running Blog recently hosted a give-away of which I was a winner and has also been running some great races. Thanks Julie! Nitmos, over at Feet Meet Street is successfully tapering for a marathon, and Ian at Half Fast won his age group in a local 5k (his local not my local). Finally, Don of Minnesota Running Wild fame won his age group at the Fargo Marathon 5k on Friday night and followed it up with a sub-3 hour marathon on Saturday. Color me impressed.

Now, for how I became homeless:

My wife and I have been in the process of purchasing a townhouse and we were supposed to close on said townhouse this past Tuesday. Our Wells Fargo mortgage consultant told us that these things usually go down to the wire but since we scheduled the closing 45 days from the signed purchase agreement she was pretty confident we could get it done. Taking her word we scheduled ourselves to move today so that if the closing had to move to, say, Friday, we'd still be OK.

A week before closing the consultant told us things we taking longer than expected because so many people are trying to take advantage of the tax credit. She said we might have to push the closing until Friday. No problem, we said.

A week before that Friday she said we could probably close on the original Tuesday we we supposed to close. Great, we said.

This past Monday, the day before our original closing date, she said, no, now some form that wasn't signed about lead based paint that shouldn't have needed to be signed since the house was built after 1978 actually probably should have been signed and it's holding things up (how's that for a run-on). We're going to have to close Friday. No problem, we said.

Friday shows up. Early Friday morning we both get e-mails that said she's doing her best to make sure everything's ready for closing on Tuesday at 2 PM. Errr....OK, isn't that what everyone's planning?

Friday at 12:30 PM our Realtor calls us and says things are getting held up still so we might as well wait to do the final walk-through until later. We plan to do the walk-through at 1:45 PM and hope Wells Fargo gets their crap together so we can close after that.

Friday at 2:15 PM our Realtor, who's walking through the house with us, gets a call from the mortgage consultant. We're on standby, she says, because this lead-based paint thing hasn't been signed so they're trying to figure that out. Sure, we knew the seller wouldn't sign it a month ago but now, an hour before closing, it's a problem. Apparently no one has the authority to say, OK, it hasn't been signed but who gives a crap? These people probably want to move into their house. Nope, they have to ask their boss's boss's boss who's out at Edina Country Club and he's 1 under par through 10 holes and he'll be damned if he's going to cut his round of golf short so a couple of poor school teachers can close on their house. The lady from the title company tells our Realtor if Wells Fargo doesn't have their crap together by 3 PM we won't be able to close today. We go back to our apartment and wait to hear from someone.

Friday at 2:54 PM our Realtor calls us. We're not going to close today. It's too bad he has to deliver the news because he's awesome and has done everything, including finding us this townhouse. I wish one of the people who actually held this process up had to call and say why they couldn't get this done rather than him. Actually, our Wells Fargo lady is super-nice too and she seems like she's good at her job. I'm guessing it's her higher-ups who are responsible. Nothing like cleaning up banks' images after the worthless bailouts than by being incompetent at your jobs.

So, we now have to cancel our moving truck, call our friends who were going help us move and my wife's parents to let them know that no, we do not need their help after all. Oh, and we're subleasing our apartment to our friends and they are moving in on Sunday so... that's right, we're going to be homeless.

Our friends were cool about it and said they could stay somewhere else for a few days but we didn't what to inconvenience them too much. Fortunately a family my wife babysits for said we can stay at their house. They're on vacation somewhere in the Caribbean. So actually it's not bad--we're staying at a super-nice house and I'm not having to paint or put together bookshelves or fix shower heads or unpack. Instead I get to put that off for a couple of days and relax and watch cable. I feel bad for our friends who have to wait a few days before we can get all our stuff out of our apartment so they have the whole place to themselves. It also sucks that I missed half a day of work and now I'll have to miss more. Oh well.

I did a nice run in today and did some barefoot striders in the grass. It felt great. I also went on a bike ride with the wife so really it's been a pretty good day despite being homeless.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Boston Booked!

Last night I got a little anxious and the beautiful wife and I decided it was OK to go ahead and book a hotel for the Boston Marathon. I ended up booking a place in Lexington--it's about 12 miles from the expo and such so I hope I'm not going to regret staying that far away come race weekend. The price was right and there were only a few rooms left so I went ahead and pulled the trigger.

Now I just have to wait 5 months to actually register for the marathon. And then there's the little matter of booking a flight. I'm hoping to do this thing for not a ton of money so a decent price on a flight would be great.

If anyone with Boston experience has any great tips feel free to let me know--especially how I'm going to get from Lexington to the buses at Boston Common on race day morning.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Easy does it...

After a cold, rainy early part of May, the middle of May is starting to heat up. I can tell I'm from the midwest when 75 degrees feels really hot. I suppose it make sense--I've run a ton in temperatures between 20 and 50 in the last few months so to jump up to 75 is a pretty big difference.

It's week two of the post-marathon reverse taper. It's nice doing some easy running but I'm starting to itch to do something a little faster. Next week I'll get my wish by including a couple surges at HMP or so. Maybe I'll do some strides on Sunday to start things out. I guess I should be happy it's all easy running right now because I imagine if I tried to run a hard workout before I got used to these "hot" temperatures I probably melt onto the track.

I really need to start dragging myself out of bed and running in the morning again. Without having to put big mileage in it's too easy to wait until after work to get a run in. It's too bad I've been such a bum in the mornings because when I head to work it's been gorgeous out--sunny, great temperatures. I'm going to do my best to drag my lazy butt out of bed and get an early run in tomorrow morning.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marathon Reflections

It's been a few days since the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon and since I haven't been doing a lot of running I've had time to reflect on how my training went, how the race went, and what I want to do next. 

I thought my training went pretty well. The Hudson philosophy seemed like a good fit for me and I certainly structured my workouts in a more coherent manner than I did for the Twin Cities Marathon. The multi-paced long runs in the early part of training and the amount of threshold training I think were really helpful. 

The main thing I would do different is try to get in more runs over 18 miles. I missed one 20 mile run with a little injury and then cut an 18 mile run to 17 because of the same injury. That sent my total of 18 mile runs from 7 to 5. Training for my next marathon I'd like to put in 10 or so runs over 18 miles.

As far as the marathon itself I was generally happy with how it went. I slowed down a fair amount in the last 4 miles, and if I had been able to keep my pace I would have broke three hours. Afterwards I felt like if I had been a little more mentally tough I could've kept a better pace the last few miles. However, that's easy to think now when I'm not in the midst of running a marathon. I maybe had a shot at breaking 3 hours but like I said on my race report, I was likely within a minute or so of what I was capable of--I suppose I should be pretty happy with a 14 minute PR at 3:02.

For this summer and early fall I'm going to focus on speed at shorter races. I think it'll help me overall if I work on my speed. My marathon fitness should carry on to this summer and I should be able to put up some decent times between 5k and 10k.

Today was my first run after the marathon although I also played basketball yesterday. I'm feeling pretty good. In fact, I'm feeling 100 times better than I felt after the Twin Cities Marathon. No walking down stairs backwards after this race.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lake Wobegon RR

It's all in the books. Yesterday Laura and I drove up to St Cloud, ate at a nice pizza place (I had the Chicken Parmesan), slept in a cheap hotel, and got up early this morning to drive another half hour to make the 7 AM start of the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon.

The LWTM was a great event. Though it was small and fairly low-key it was well-organized with the perfect amount of water stops. While I waited in line for my bib I talked with a nice gentleman who happened to live only a few miles away. He was running the race for the third time, which means he's ran it every year of its existence so far. He told me about the course (it's flat and fast) and let me know you could see the end from a long way off (and you definitely could).

We started off the race after an excellent rendition of the National Anthem and got to go through a sweet puddle (though I pretty much avoided getting wet). The course started in Holdingford High School Parking lot (Holdingford's mascot is the Husker, a good omen) and turned onto the Lake Wobegon Trail. From there on out it was all on the trail.

The LWT was scenic, bucolic, and provided excellent tree cover for the slight amount of crosswind. The trail went by several lakes and the scenery was aesthetically pleasing the whole way. The route was so flat that I noticed every little hill. According to SportTracks it gained 156 feet of elevation and lost 146--almost a 500 foot difference from my first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon.

The first few miles of the marathon were great--I felt nice and relaxed--right on pace (6:50). I cruised right on through the half at 1:29:15. I ran with someone for a while who was also shooting to break three hours but he dropped off around mile 11.

Right after he dropped off another guy caught up to me and he was also shooting to break three. We chatted for a while and then around mile 19 I was starting to feel it in my legs and the bottom of my right foot (time to retire the Adidas racing flats for marathons) and he left me behind.

At mile 21 I knew I was going to have a tough time breaking three hours and then by 22, knowing I had to run under 7 minutes per mile to break three, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it. I'd already ticked off 2 miles around 7:05 and they felt pretty tough.

I think I lost a little bit of mental energy at 23 when I was pretty sure sub-3 was out of reach and I really dropped off pace running a 7:23 and then a 7:45. Looking back at SportTracks my heart rate dropped off a little there too so I think it was a mental lapse combined with running low on energy. After seeing the 7:45 split I told myself I was going to finish respectable-like and was able to pick it up a little for the last 1.2 running a 7:20 and then at a 6:30 pace for the last 0.2.

Seeing the finish and knowing I had qualified for Boston I was ecstatic. I wasn't really disappointed about not breaking three hours and I think I was within a minute or so of what I was capable of that day. I got second in my age group and I got a beautiful LWTM print that the artist then signed for me. I came in at 3:02:23--a PR by almost 14 minutes. I can try to break 3 another time.

The food spread after the race was great--pizza, cookies, fruit, soda, yogurt--all sorts of great stuff. They also had complimentary massages--also awesome. If anyone's looking for a spring marathon next year I'd highly recommend this one.

I have to give a million thank-yous to my beautiful wife, Laura. She was a rock star driving along the trail and stopping and various points to cheer. I showed her three spots on the map I thought would be good to stop at and marked all the water stops. I told her it was fine if she just went to the three trail access points and the finish. Instead, she was everywhere--I bet I saw here 10 or more times. Here are some pictures taken by my lovely wife:

puddle jumping start:
smiling at Laura:
running across a bridge:
smiling for the finish

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekend Reading

If you haven't read it yet you should pick up Neil Bascomb's "The Perfect Mile." It's about three men and their quest to break 4 minutes and run "the perfect mile." 

I already knew who had run the first sub-4 minute mile but it was still interesting reading the account of Wes Santee, John Landy, and Roger Bannister all trying to break the four minute barrier at the same time. I didn't know many of the details of the first 4-minute mile and reading about the various training and coaching of those three runners was very enjoyable.

Bascomb does a pretty nice job moving between the three narrative threads and as the story unfolds I got to know each of the runners and what made them tick. Part of the draw in this book was the personalities of the three runners and Bascomb does a nice job of drawing them out. 

I thought "The Perfect Mile" was very well-written book. I knew the "perfect mile" was coming, but since I didn't really know the history surrounding it, there was enough suspense to keep me turning the pages. Even if you know what happens and know some of the history of the first sub-4 minute mile I think you'll enjoy this compelling book.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taper Gladness and Race Goals

I've heard a lot about this thing they call "taper madness." People cut down their running and they start to get antsy, go stir-crazy, get phantom pains--stuff like that. I'll admit, for my first marathon I maybe had a touch of that nonsense. For this marathon--nope. Instead of taper-madness I've got taper gladness. This training cycle has been so busy that cutting back has been a relief. This week I'm not looking at my schedule and figuring out where in the heck all my runs are going to fit in. It's nice.

I did feel a little off last week on days 4 and 5 of my two week taper. I don't know how much of that was my hips truly being sore and how much of that was just a little phantom taper pain. Now though, I'm loving it. This week, six miles will be my longest run before the marathon on Saturday. SportTracks told me I've ran between 6 1/2 and 8 hours a week for the past two months. That's almost an entire day of my week spent running. I love running, but after 20+ weeks of fairly focused training, it's nice to have a little extra time to do other things.

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon Goals
I've decided I'm going to go for broke on this marathon and shoot for a sub-3 hour marathon. I've put in hard training, I'm fairly healthy, and my 20k time suggests I can do it, so I might as well go for it.

My race plan is to run the first 3-5 miles at a conservative pace or around 6:55-7 min/mile. Around the 10k mark I'll try to pick it up to 6:50 miles and at the halfway point see how I feel. At that point I'll stick with the pace, pick it up a hair, or back off a little bit.

The weather's supposed to be pretty cool--the weatherman's saying 40ish degrees at the start and it doesn't look like it's supposed to get much warmer than 40 the whole race. That's maybe a little cool, but not so cool as it should have a big effect on the race. I'd rather it be a hair cooler than ideal than too warm.

I'm excited and I'm hoping it's going to be a good one.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lake Wobegon--What'll it be?

Ever since I ran the Fetzer 20k at 6:26 a mile I've been having a hard time deciding what kind of time I should shoot for in the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon. Runner's World's calculator says I can run a 2:55 and change. McMillan's training calculator says 2:57 and change. Fortunately, I realize I've only run one marathon before and I'm not going to try for either one of those times because that pace seems too quick for a marathon at this point.

I've instead come up with three goals. One I'd be thrilled with, one I can live with, and one that's realistic. As to my race plan, I'll finalize that tomorrow or Wednesday after I run 4 miles @ MP and see how that feels. Some days MP feels easy, some days it feels way too hard. If it feels great tomorrow, I might have a more aggressive plan. If it feels too tough I might try for something more conservative.

My bare minimum goal of being happy--but not really--would be to break 3:10. Unless I get hurt or completely fall apart, 3:10 should come pretty easily. I've done 18 miles @ 7:04 per mile without of ton of effort so if I can't hold onto 7:15 for a marathon I'd be shocked. Running 3:10 gets me into Boston, so if I do that I suppose I'll be happy enough.

My realistic goal is to run 3:03 or better. That's right around 7 minutes a mile and I feel like with the shape I'm in it's pretty doable. 

My aggressive, I'll be thrilled it it happens goal is to break 3 hours. If I ran 2:59:59 that would just be awesome.

After tomorrow's 1 mile easy, 4 @ MP, and 1 easy I should be ready to come up with a more detailed plan.