Sunday, June 26, 2011

Go Long or Go Home

I finally feel like I'm back at full speed. My calf strain set back my training a little more than I thought, although for a couple days I thought it was a little more serious than it was.

Thinking back, my calf was bothering me a little even before the Boston Marathon. I remember using "The Stick" at the marathon expo and by the time I paced the Brainerd Marathon the calf was pretty sore. I took four days in a row off after pacing the Minneapolis Marathon, then did one short, easy run and took two more days off. Since then I've been back for two weeks and I'm just now feeling back to normal. I thought after the calf was better I wouldn't have lost a step since I only missed a few days. Instead it turned out that I really had to shake the rust off.

Today was probably the best run I had in the last two weeks. After going about five miles with Laura I went eight more at a pretty good clip and felt great the whole way. This week I got in about 58 miles, which was right around what I wanted to be the week before Afton.

Speaking of the Afton Trail Run, besides the calf problem, training went pretty decent. With six days to go I'm a little nervous but confident enough in my training that I feel if I run smart enough I'm not going to completely blow up.

There's not a whole lot of training plans out there on training for a 50k so I came up with my own plan; I just ran a lot of miles (for me). I peaked at 87 miles and between Boston and the week before Afton I averaged around 54 miles a week. I also got in lots of runs over 10 miles and after shaking the rust off after the calf injury I'm feeling pretty good.

I'm not going to taper much at all for this race--I'm not looking to run fast, I just want to finish. The hills at Afton are tough and I'm hoping that after running sections of the course a few times and being prepared to walk some hills that I'll be able to finish with a respectable time.

A few more runs this week and I'll be running through the hills of Afton State Park on my way to becoming an ultramarathoner.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This past weekend I headed down to Norfolk, Nebraska for my little sister's wedding. Way to go Rachel; you found someone who will watch Golden Girls with you and put up with three closets filled with your clothes. Seriously, Rachel is a catch and she managed to find a nice young man.

In the meantime I got to do a workout with my cousins, wife, and uncle. My cousin Chris is a personal trainer and he specialized in these evil workouts known as Crossfit. My calf had been hurting me pretty bad after the Minneapolis Marathon so I hadn't run for four days. I was planning on trying just an easy three to get back into the swing of things. Chris suggested that we do a Crossfit workout together that would include some running so I took the bait.

Ho-ly ouch. The workout itself wasn't that terrible--sit ups, push ups, lunges, step ups--things like that. There were parts that were tough but overall I felt like it was fine. Then came the next day. I had to drive six hours back to Minnesota and my legs felt like they'd been attacked with a meat tenderizer. My groin, hamstrings, and glutes felt terrible. It didn't help that I then spent the next six hours keeping them immobilized in the car.

My calf is feeling much better now. I iced the heck out of it along with giving it "The Stick" treatment. I ran an easy four yesterday and definitely had to shake some rust out. Now I'm working on keeping my calf loose and starting to do some strengthening exercises to prevent a recurrence.

I'm starting to have trouble keeping track of all the exercises I should be doing to prevent previous injuries from recurring. Knees, IT band, PTT--pretty soon I'm not going to have time to run because I be so busy do core and rehab work to hold myself together.

Seriously, I try to do core and calisthenic exercises three times a week but it often times ends up being twice a week. I suppose that's better than not at all. It's funny but once I get up to running 60-80 miles I week taking 20 - 30 minutes three days a week for other exercises seems like a big hassle.

Last week I was hoping to do 85-90 miles as a peak week for the Afton Trail 50k but with the stupid calf injury it ended up being 33 miles. Oh well, I was only around 50 miles short. This week isn't going to be much better seeing's how I'm only at four miles and it's already Wednesday. Afton could ended up being even tougher than I was planning.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Minneapolis Marathon Pace Report

This pace report is best summed up with the following sentence: It was hot and I was tired.

Yeah, there's more to it but that's the short version. The slightly longer version started at 4:30 AM when I awoke to make some coffee and oatmeal. Unfortunately the coffee filter got folded over and got grounds in my coffee. It all went downhill from there (I guess besides all the uphills I had to run).

I got the catch a ride with some fellow MN Running Wild Eaganites at the fresh hour of 5:30 AM. The beginning of the race was pretty uneventful besides pep talks from the race director and from Don, the almighty organizer of Team Ortho pace groups.

After chatting with some other pacers and with several people who planned on running in my pace group it was off to the races... er.... race. There was about 15 people in my group and they all hung with me for around 10 miles. Most of them dropped back at that point, although a couple were running the 1/2 so they just turned around and finished. It was a pretty fun group--a couple guys were pretty entertaining. One guy was 61 and looking to run a 3:15. He didn't quite make it but he looked strong for 17 miles and checking the results it looks like he won his age group.

At 17 miles I had about 5 people with me. Then, we went up a ridiculous hill out of Fort Snelling. One guy, Lance, actually went up the hill ahead of me and looked pretty good after we finished it. He was pretty entertaining the first 15 miles--he had a shirt on that said, "running sucks."

He stayed with me until 22 and after that I was flying solo. I looked back to see how he was doing and he yelled, "just go on!" I went by one guy who said he'd try to stay with me for awhile but after about 10 steps he said, "guess not."

After 22 I was feeling it pretty good, and by that I mean I was feeling pretty bad. I definitely wouldn't say 7:27 / mile was easy for me with the sun shining, the heat index around 80, and absolutely zero breeze. I pulled it together, though, with the encouragement of a couple friends and I stayed on pace. Another MN Running Wild member offered me a beer which was really nice. If it had been 65 degrees and cloudy I'd have been all over it. Instead I still wasn't certain I was going to make it in 3:15 so I had to decline.

The race overall wasn't too bad. It had some nice sections through Fort Snelling state park, downtown Minneapolis, and along the Mississippi. The last few miles though were very hilly and hot. I don't think I've ever been so relieved to see a finish line. I came through all by my lonesome in 3:14:59.

Interestingly enough I managed to finish 20th overall and 6th in my age group while pacing. My wife asked me if I could've gone any faster if I wasn't pacing. At the time I told her maybe I could have gone 2 or 3 minutes faster. I wonder though, because had I gone out faster it could've gotten ugly at the end. Oh well, good thing I was pacing.

Here's some shots my lovely wife took:

Before everything started to suck:

Now it sucked:


Don't know what was funny here but glad to be done:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Build Up

Last week I hit the magic number 80 for miles. I'm still feeling pretty good--no injuries, not too sore or tired. This week I cut back a little bit as I'm pacing the 3:15 group at the Minneapolis Marathon and I didn't want to go in too tired to be enthusiastic and helpful during the race. The pace, 7:27 / mile, is probably at the faster end of my pacing spectrum but should still be doable, especially during a cutback week.

After the marathon I'm going full throttle for the Afton Trail Run on July 2. Not counting cross country in college it'll be my first trail race and it will definitely be my first 50k. I got out on Thursday to Afton and did 11 miles up and down the hills--although the hills are killer I still love running out there. Again I saw a couple of deer and wild turkeys. One of the deer was laying down right on the trail as I came flying down a hill in the woods--I think we both scared the crud out of each other.

I'm really digging the trail running thing. There are two decent running trails close to me in Eagan but one is flooded and the other's about 5 miles away and the best loop I can figure out is only about 6 1/2 miles long--a little to short to make me feel like it's worth driving too.

Laura and I did some camping over the long weekend and I got a decent trail run in at Banning State Park. I had to go through lots of mud and tall grass since they don't maintain all the trails there. I also forgot running shorts so I did my run in sweet hiking shorts that used to be pants with legs you could zip off (the legs now reside at a portage in the BWCA unless some kindhearted canoeist properly disposed of them). The trails I ran on went through pine and mixed deciduous forests and climbed up the bluffs along the Kettle River. The great views made the muddy shoes and legs, stupid looking shorts, and pulling ticks off my legs all worth it.

Tomorrow the Minneapolis Marathon starts my highest mileage week of the year. I'm hoping I can get through the week with no injuries and cruise on into Afton with a great mileage base and healthy legs.