Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Rewind

I don't care if it's cliche to do an end-of-the-year post. I like setting goals for the year, and I like seeing how I did with my goals from the year before. So, if you don't like reading these types of things, I apologize for exposing you to another ego-centric, westernized, tired blog post.

After hitting all my goals for 2011, I thought I'd set some tougher goals for 2012 to keep me from getting too full of myself. Mission accomplished (at least on the setting harder goals front--I might still be too full of myself).

I made 12 goals for 2012, and here's how they came out:

1. Write some different kinds of blog posts.
Though this goal was vague, it was just specific enough for me to meet. While most of my blog entries were pretty similar to those of the past (race reports, medical issues, etc.), I did manage to throw a recipe in there, a prayer, and a week long log of my first 100 mile week.

2. Pace Laura during her next PR-setting marathon.
Done and done. It was fun running with Laura for 26.2 miles--even with her swearing at me for most of the last three miles.

3. Get some misguided company to give me free stuff to review on my blog.
Mizuno won the misguided company award. I really need to review the pair of Wave Ronins they sent me.

4. Break 4:50 in the mile.

Here's my first failure. I missed 4:50 on three different tries. My best mile came in January at the Meet of the Miles where I ran a 4:51.

5. Break 16:45 in the 5k.

This one I got. The Med City 5k was one of those rare races when everything clicked. I came in at 16:17.

6. Break 1:20 in the 1/2 marathon.
I made this one too, clocking a 1:16 at Gopher to Badger.

7. Run over 2500 miles.
Ugh. I ran even less than 2011. Even with a 100 mile week, I only made it to 2,264 miles. Breaking my leg on November 7th didn't help--I haven't run since.

8. Finish a triathlon without drowning or falling off the bike.
Success! Though I was pretty worried about drowning, I managed to finish the Rochesterfest Triathlon without having to be resuscitated.

9. Learn more about running.
Another vague goal that I believe I met. While I was a clinic instructor at The Running Room, I learned a lot about running just from the questions the runners asked. I didn't read as much this year, but I got to listen to a lot of other runners, including a physical therapist at the Running Room Clinic, and another physical therapist after breaking my leg.

10. Make it a whole year without kidney stone removal surgery.
Thankfully I made it for this one--after the kidney stone of 2011, this may have been the goal I'm happiest about reaching.

11. Break 34:45 in the 10k.

Nope. It's hard to PR in the 10k without running a 10k.

12. Turn 30 and run 30k.
Yes. Another successful birthday run.

That does it for 2012. By my count, I was 9 for 12 in the goal department--a solid 75%. If you're looking to suffer through 2013 goals post, stay tuned.

Happy Running!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm Published!

I'm pretty sure they publish anything, but I've got an article in the current issue of "Run Minnesota."


You can read my article here:

I especially like the graphics they picked to go with it. For the record, the fitness model pictured next to my article is completely unfamiliar to me.

In other news, I am no longer teaching at Quest Academy, so the next time I have an article in "Run Minnesota" it's going to say I work at Paideia Academy. The school is closer to my house, and the job should offer me a little more time to focus on grad school and write more blog posts. I'm also pretty pumped to be able to ride my bike to work (when the weather is better).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Basketball Jones

After my last marathon, I decided it was time to get a little more balance in my life. Play some basketball, focus on my career a little bit, and not obsess so much about logging miles on the road and treadmill. Life has a funny way of giving us what we ask for--I think God has a sense of humor.

Image Credit
Two days after I turned 30, I went to the YMCA for my morning workout. I was sick of swimming, so I decided to embarrass myself at a pickup game of basketball. I walked up the stairs to the gym of the Edina YMCA and asked the cake-eaters if I could join their game. They said I could, but after I told them I hadn't played basketball in two years, one of the resident gym rats told me, "then don't shoot."

Great, I thought to myself, day one of basketball, and I'm back in 11th grade ,where the point guard puts up 40 shots and hits 13 of them, but if I go in and miss one shot, I'm back on the bench.

So did what I did in high school: I kept my mouth shut and started playing. My ball handling skills were gone, my shot was iffy, but I still had decent court vision, and I still knew how to get rebounds and pass. By the third game, I was finding my stride. I stole a pass and took off down the floor for a layup. I went up to the hoop, rolled the ball off my finger tips and onto the glass.

Before I could brace myself for a soft landing, I felt a body impact me. My vestibule sense was thrown off-kilter, and I headed down to the ground. My left leg straightened in front of me, and when I hit the ground I felt a jolt in my knee. I rolled to the ground, holding my knee.

"Sorry, sorry," the player who fouled me said. He was in his late 30s or early 40s, and was quick enough to have caught me from behind to challenge my layup. The layup had fallen through--the first shot I'd made of the morning.

"It's fine," I said. "Good hustle, you're just playing hard." So hard you knocked me over and hurt my knee to stop a layup in a pickup basketball game.

I stood up and walked around. My knee hurt, but I could walk on it. I wasn't tired enough to be done with my workout, so I jogged back and forth on the sideline to see how I felt. I felt OK, so I picked it up again. It didn't hurt too bad, so I tried making some cuts.

"OUCH!" my knee screamed. OK, I thought. It looks like cutting is out of the question.

I played a couple more games, running up and down the floor, but not playing much defense. My team let me guard someone a little slower. By the end of the second game, my knee was throbbing. I asked for ice at the front desk, and the nice lady gave me one of those instant cold packs.

The ice pack wasn't so instant, however, because no matter how many times I shook it, smacked it, or twisted it, it wouldn't get cold. I had to settle for turning on the cold shower directly onto my knee.

This blog post is getting a little to long-winded, so I'll cut to the chase. I broke my leg. Not a bone-snapping kind of break. Rather, an impaction fracture of the femur and tibia. Apparently those to bones can smack into each other if you land just right. I'm not radiologist, and I'm also terrible at MS Paint (I haven't practiced since junior high), but I did spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to label my MRI for the blog. If you cant's read it, it says, "lots of fluid," and, "Ouch! My bone!"

An MRI of my knee
On my follow-up appointment, Dr. Voigt showed me where there were itty-bitty cracks in my femur and my tibia, and a little 4mm piece of blood (or bone) hanging out in there. There was also a crap-ton of fluid in the picture, which made sense as I woke up the day after with a knee the size of a grapefruit.

Oh, and the really fun part in all of this was that Laura was out of town doing a presentation at a National Association of Early Childhood Educators Convention in Atlanta, so I stayed with our friends Brit and Jared. They were sports. Brittany was pregnant with twins, so Jared got to help us both out. It was almost as good as having Laura wait on me hand-and-foot, though Jared didn't hug me quite as much.

It's been over a month since the injury, and next week I start physical therapy. My right quadriceps muscles have atrophied 4 cm, and the doc says the bone still needs time to heal, so no running for now. It's been really cold and snowy, so I haven't gone completely crazy without running yet.

I'm guessing I might not be playing basketball when I come back. I don't seem to have good luck with ball sports.

Happy Running!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Running

Although Tom Petty said, "The Wa--AI-ting in the hardest part," I actually enjoy the waiting of Advent. Although Jesus was most likely born in March or April (since the shepherds were keeping watch o'er their flocks by night), Christians decided to steal a pagan holiday and turn it into a Christian one, and just like that, BAM! Jesus gets born in the middle of winter.

 Sure, he was born in Bethlehem, so it was probably chilly that night, but it almost certainly wasn't snowing. The daytime temperature was likely in the 70s. But that's neither here nor there. The point is that Advent is a time when waiting isn't the hardest part, though I'm certain that it was hard for the world as it waited for a Savior.

Much like today, people in the Middle East were killing each other constantly. Different empires came in and took over the region of Israel, enslaved or exiled its people, suppressed their parts or all of their religion.

Over two thousand years ago, the people of Israel were waiting for a Savior. A Messiah. Someone to rescue them from Roman oppression and occupation. They had a temple, they had synagogues, but they didn't have self-governance.

So they waited for some to save them. What they thought that person looked like, I don't know. Maybe someone coming in with chariots of fire, swinging God's blazing sword, with an army of angels en tow, ready to kick out the repressive Romans rulers.

But that's not what happened. Instead, the Savior was born in a barn. The first person to visit him were the poor field hands whom no one would believe when they came to town saying they'd seen the angels and the Savior of the World, laying in a feed trough, born to a young, poor couple. People would say they were crazy, or at least drunk, and couldn't have possibly seen what they claimed.

Image Credit
That little Savior grew up. He walked the earth for around 33 years -- and he walked a lot of it. I don't know if he ran, but I do know he covered a lot of miles. He walked throughout Jerusalem, through Samaria, in Judea, through dangerous territory where many governmental and religious leaders who rather see him kill than preach and teach.

He also liked to go off by himself to pray. The Gospels often mention him going to a "quiet, solitary place" to pray. In fact, some translations say, "a lonely place.

I know he can relate to me, because he's walked these dusty, dirty, earthly roads. He sought out time to be lonely, by himself where he could pray. Part of why I run is to escape from the noise that bombards American life. So many things are calling for my attention: work,

And he did it perfectly. He knew when he needed to rest. He knew when he needed to help others. He knew how to teach while he walked, when he sat down, and in how he lived His life. People hated him because he did everything right. They tried to trap him in his words, they tried to trap him in his actions, but he didn't fall for any of it. He was always loving, always caring, and always desiring to bring people closer to God.

So they killed him. It's what we humans do. When we don't understand something, it makes us uncomfortable. And who wouldn't be uncomfortable by a guy claiming to be God?

The funny thing is, he didn't stay dead. You can disagree with me here, as this is somewhat of a leap of faith, though not as much in our modern times with all of our scientific "miracles."

So really, while the wait might be the hardest part, the wait is actually over. God sent his son, to be born on earth, to humiliate himself to our tiny little human level, to pay the price for all our mistakes. I don't understand the entire cosmic justice, but I think it's pretty neat.

Right now, I'm waiting for my leg to heal. I'll be waiting to run for at least three more weeks, but that's another story for another blog post.

Happy Advent!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

30k for 30

On Monday I celebrated another year of life by eating trout, roasted potatoes, and sharing a giant mixed drink with Laura at The Red Lobster. Then, we came home to watch "Modern Family" before going to bed. Instead of doing my 30k run on my 30th birthday, I opted to do it on Sunday. It's getting dark around 6 PM, so running 18+ miles after work, in the dark, didn't seem overly appealing.

I'm the same height as last fall.
It's been a great year of running. I ran over 2400 miles between my 29th and 30th birthdays. I set PRs in the 5k, 1/2 marathon, and marathon. I've been blessed with some natural ability, and am thankful I've had the time and support to train hard enough to make those PRs happen. Now, however, it's time to slow down a little. After averaging 75 miles-a-week this summer, I'm cutting back the mileage and balancing my life a little more.

 I know running is good for me--it's a huge stress relief, good exercise, and it gives me an excuse to get outdoors. Racing helps feed my competitiveness, and pacing gives me the satisfaction of helping other runners. But after three years of almost non-stop competitive running, I'm calming it down a little. I'm going to do more swimming, more walks with my wife, and more writing (not necessarily on this blog). Plus, with graduate school and a very demanding job, it's getting harder to make as much time to run.

A few weeks ago I had a nice little jaunt through the streets of Mendota Heights--I left from the preschool Laura teaches at for a change of scenery. The rain on my face, the pounding of my neon-green Brooks PureFlows on the pavement, and the hum of traffic let me decompress, de-stress, and relax. That's what I want my running to feel like.

Sunday, I ran 30 kilometers for my 30th birthday. Last year Laura was out of town. This year we walked around the track at the YMCA before I headed out into the cool November morning. Last year the weather was sunny and windy. This year it was cloudy and calm.  Last year I stopped to pet two golden retrievers. This year I stopped to pet a yellow lab.

The last year has been challenging, but satisfying. It's been a year of being blessed with family, friends, and more things than I need or deserve. I've hit a lot of my running goals, but I won't get them all.

I like where my running's at now. A twenty to thirty minute run most afternoons, some informal speed workouts on the soccer field across the street, some longer runs on the weekends--they'll be enough.

Happy Running!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Runner's Prayer

What do you pray for when you run? Or, for my non-believing friends, what do you wish for? Sometimes, I wish for trivial things--like the next stoplight being green, the next hill being shorter, or the next mile being faster. Sometimes I pray for friends, or family, or things going on at work.

I know this is a blog about running (and urological problems), so I won't dwell too much on the details and theology of prayer. When I run, however, sometimes the run becomes a prayer itself. In the movie, "Chariots of Fire," the character portraying Eric Liddell says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

Sometimes, not always, and not even often, I feel that way.  God's pleasure isn't a "voice inside my head" feeling. I don't get divine instructions telling me how to structure my training plan, which race I should run, or how I should vote, but I feel it nonetheless. It's in the silence of my otherwise restless, overactive brain. My thoughts are still, and I'm simply being, experiencing, and observing.

When I am blessed with those runs, I feel a peace that passes understanding when I run. No matter how hard things seem--how sad, angry, or stressed I've been feeling, it all melts away. My run becomes a prayer of motion, of exertion, of inertia. For a little bit, nothing else matters. There's only the movement, the breath, the sun on my face. The oaks, the cottonwoods, the flocks of geese. The songs of birds and the hum of traffic--I observe them, but my mind is clear.

Words can't do it justice. Call it a runner's high--a rush of endorphins. Call it whatever you want, but it's real to me. And if it's all in my head, what does it matter? If it's just an illusion brought on by endorphins, by some pleasure center in my brain, who cares? If you don't believe that God is real, I won't tell you you're wrong. But I will tell you that I believe in a God that's real, a God that's alive, and a God that cares about humans. A God that feels our pain and our pleasure. I believe in a God that fills us with grace, grants forgiveness freely, and forgets all our mistakes.

Those runs don't happen often, but when they do, I know their grace. God listens to all his children's prayers--Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Jews, Atheists and agnostics, Mormons and Jehoveh's Witnesses. He even listens to those ready to kill in the what they think to be his name. He listens to those ready to be lined up and shot before denying God's name. He listens to the cries of children inside the womb and out. The tears of the old and the young.

Life is precious. Life is a gift. Today I'm going to go out and enjoy it on a run--I'll think about you while I'm there. God is love, and if you're using your god to hurt, kill, or hate, I'd like you to stop. I'll try to do the same.

Happy running!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breakfast Cookies

It's time to share one of my training secrets--breakfast cookies. This recipe was passed down from a childhood babysitter, to my mother, to me. I've tweaked the recipe here and there to make them a little "healthier," so feel free to tinker in whatever way you'd like. Here's how I do them:

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 bag of your favorite chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or you can just use 1/2 cup butter)
  • 1 cup sugar (I've used Truvia before, and it works OK)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 medium over-ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

  • Cream butter/applesauce, sugar, and egg
  • Add over-ripe bananas and vanilla
  • Mix well

  • Mix in separate bowl
  • Add slowly to wet ingredients until mixed consistantly
  • Scoop onto un-greased cookie sheet (I use foil over mine) in 1" lumps
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes
  • Lick the spoon

Makes about 20 cookies.

Happy Running!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Whistlestop Recap

The course
The blazing orange and yellow fall colors of the Ashland area were barely visible through the windows of the school bus as I rode to the start line of "The Whistlestop Marathon" in Ashland, Wisconsin. I was sitting next to a class act and fellow member of the Minnesota Running Wild (MNRW), Don Sullivan. We chatted about the race, about our families, and about Lewis and Clark as we rode from Ashland to the "Tri-Timbers Resort."

After what seemed like hours, we climbed out of the bus and into the brisk, damp Lake Superior air. Runners mingled around the bag drop outside, and lines loosely formed near the two rows of port-a-potties. On the way to the lodge I met Sheila, a runner I'd paced at the 2011 Brainerd marathon. She said I was a great pacer, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  A little later, I met another runner, Kyle, who I knew I'd seen before, and he showed me and Dan LaPlante, another MNRW member, a back door to the lodge, where runners had packed themselves to stay warm.

Inside the lodge I borrowed a dollar from Dan to get a cup of "Hawaiian" coffee--that's what the friendly bartender at the lodge called it. I assumed she meant a Kona blend, since the pure Kona blend costs around $60 a pound. I hadn't had caffeine for over a month, so between the caffeinated gel Don gave me and the cup of coffee, I knew I would be wired. After some time relaxing, focusing, and a little chatting with Dan, I headed to the start.

When the gun went off, I settled into a comfortable pace alongside Don--he said he was shooting for a 2:45, so I thought I'd stay right with him and hope for the best. The course was scenic, but the rain had left the trail soft, and it was challenging to find a firm place to run. We often had to sacrifice running tangents in favor of firm footing.

A couple miles in, Don and I began running next to a tall woman in a red singlet. Eventually we introduced ourselves, and I found out she was from St. Louis Park and running her second marathon. She was also aiming for the 2:45ish range. It was awesome having three of us running together--for much of the race Don and Jenelle were the only runners I could see.

Don, Jenelle, Nate
Laura had graciously come along on this trip as wife support. The first time I saw her she was cheering and taking photographs. "Do you want to throw your things?" she asked. The dampness and cool weather made me shake my head, "no." It was too cold to get rid of my hat and gloves.

The miles ticked by as we ran through the fall foliage of yellow birch and various northern hardwoods. We chatted here and there about running--Jenelle had also run in college, though much better than me, I'm sure. It was only her second marathon, and she'd had a kid in between. Don offered a little advice on the course (slippery bridges, elevation profile, and surface), while I gave my water stop tip (dump some liquid out if it's too full, then pinch for an easier pour).

I don't really remember a ton of details after that. I know I saw Laura again around mile 7. Jenelle and I picked it up a little, while Don kept the same pace. Around mile 16, Jenelle had to stop at an aid station when her shoe came untied. Luckily a volunteer was able to tie it for her--the weather made for cold hands. I couldn't open my gels with my fingers either--my teeth had to take care of that. At the same aid station, I choked on my water and Don caught back up to me for a bit.

After pulling away from Don, I could hear steps clicking behind me on the soft crushed limestone. For about a quarter-of-a-mile I thought it was Don, but it turned out to be Jenelle. She was feeling good and looking strong. "You think you're going to pick it up at mile 20?" she asked.

"No," I said. "But if you do, do you mind if I try to stay with you and draft?" I asked. "And same goes for you if I pick it up."

"No problem," she said.

She picked it up at 20, and I after trying to stay with her for a mile, she was gone. From that point on I mostly remember pain. I got a weird tunnel vision, where when I closed my eyes it looked like I was playing "The Last Starfigher." Why did I close my eyes during a marathon with an uneven surface? According to the exercise physiologists, my brain was not getting enough glycogen to properly function. If, however, you ask my family, that happens to my brain often.

 As bad as it hurt, I tried to stay on pace. I knew a 2:45 was out of reach, but I was hoping to at least break 2:50. I tried pumping my arms harder to make my legs follow suit. I tried to embrace the pain, to breath into my hamstrings as lightning bolts of pain shot through them.

Somewhere around mile 23 or 24 I went past Gerad Mead--a runner I normally wouldn't see until after the race. He was grabbing his hamstring and walking. I gave him a low five and kept moving. Then, I passed Kyle. "C'mon Kyle," I said.


"The top of my foot is killing me," he said. "Good luck."

I crossed a road where a volunteer shouted, "Looking good!"

"Liar," I replied. I was trying to be funny, but I probably sounded angry, so if that volunteer's out there, I apologize.

With about 1.5 miles left, we hit the pavement. A switch flipped in my hamstrings, and the pain was gone. I picked up the pace as we rounded the corner towards downtown Ashland. With less than a mile left, Kyle caught back up to me and passed me.

As we moved through a series of turns, I tried to position myself on his outside shoulder. Our pace increased. We came around the last turn, a volunteer called out, "the finish is just past the train depot."

Kyle & Nate
We were sprinting. I came alongside him. I could hear spectators getting louder as we approached the finish. The announcer was saying something, but I couldn't hear what. We went across the line at the same time. Kyle later said he went across ahead of me, but I don't know how he could tell--our gun times were identical: 2:50:28.2. I'm not sure of the nuances of USATF rules, but since my chip time was over two seconds faster than his, the final results have me in front of him--6th overall, 5th male, and 2nd in my age group.

Thanks to everyone who made this race possible. All my running friends, including members of MNRW who've helped push me in training. Junal for letting us stay in her "cabin" near Ashland. My family for being proud of me. My high school track coach, Coach Rathke. My mother for birthing me. And the students, parents, and staff at Quest Academy, for giving my training an extra little kick once school started.

And most of all, thanks to Laura. She put up with my sweaty, stinky self all summer, helped me pack all my crap for the race, lets me eat like a starving grizzly, and is incredibly supportive and kind.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whistlestop Marathon - It's Goal Time

The brisk breeze and bright sun of this past weekend's Twin Cities Marathon got me all jazzed-up for my upcoming marathon--Whistlestop Marathon in Ashland, Wisconsin. With less than four days to go, it's time to set some goals.
Image Credit
I haven't raced a marathon since Boston in 2011, so I'm a little nervous. One thing that helps my nerves is crunching some training numbers. If you don't share my affinity for numbers,skip the next paragraph. Especially if the idea of statistics makes you queasy and brings back unpleasant memories of an Algebra class where the teacher's spittle splattered on the overhead as he explained the quadratic formula.
Being the number nerd that I am, I created a spreadsheet that broke down my training with average weekly miles, peak week miles, and an adjusted 10k time. I got the idea from a late Runner's World forum post author who wrote about using his 10k time to predict his marathon. I believe his ratio was about 4.5 or 4.6. My ratios of 10k times to 1/2 marathon times (marathon time/10k time) have been 4.83 (Twin Cities '09), 4.76 (Lake Wobegon '10), and 4.87 (Boston '11). Even though Boston was my PR at 2:59, a lingering cold combined with a tough course made it the "slowest" marathon I've run compared to my 10k time.

After plugging in the numbers and hearing that my original goal of breaking 2:50 was "sandbagging" it, I've decided to set a more ambitious "A" goal. I've yet to hit my "A" goal in a marathon, so if I don't get it this time, oh well.  Here's the goals:

"A" Goal:
Break 2:45

"B" Goal:
Break 2:50

"C" Goal:
Set a PR 

"D" Goal:
Finish the race upright and healthy

Last weekend Laura and I had a little marathon get together where we had the pleasure of hosting Michelle, her husband, and her sister. Later in the day I was a course marshal at the Twin Cities Marathon. Seeing other runners is a huge inspiration for me, and seeing Michelle, the athlete I coached at the Running Room Clinic this summer, and all the other runners working hard to meet their goals was a huge inspiration. Now, I'm going to try to bring some of that inspiration with me to Ashland, Wisconsin.

There you have it. Thanks to everyone who's donated to Quest Academy or Feed My Starving Children. Between family, friends, and school students and parents, we've raised over $500 at Quest. No one has let me know about Feed My Starving Children, but I'm sure there will be a few donations before week's end.

Happy running!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Running for Something

I like training for marathons. I like writing the plan, checking out the paces on the various pace calculators, reading the books, and logging the miles. I like race day strategy--do I go for it right away and risk crashing? Do I go out at a conservative pace and risk limiting myself and missing out on an even faster time?

I've only raced three marathons, and in all that time I've yet to raise money for anything or anyone. I've been divided on the issue in that past. It's strange to hear people saying, "I'm doing a run for charity." In my mind I picture a runner carrying a satchel of vials on her back through the remote foothills of the Andes (the mountains, not the mints), trying to deliver an anti-venom to an orphanage struck by an attack of rare venomous anacondas. To me, that's running for charity.

I understand, however, that many people raise money for worthy causes, and so when my school board was looking for ideas to raise so money, I offered to solicit donations via this blog. I teach at a public charter school, so if you pay taxes you're already giving it some money (roughly three-and-a-half cents). Unfortunately, the money we receive through the state and federal government does not give us the same kind of resources as a larger school district or a prestigious private school. We could use a little extra funding for curriculum (I would really like some literature textbooks), art supplies, and possibly even a field trip or two.

I wouldn't ask for donations if I didn't really believe in what we're doing. I see students who haven't made it in the bigger schools because of bullying, getting lost in the shuffle of huge classes, and missing out on the unique, individual attention we can give at a small charter school.

If, however, you would like to make a donation to a nonprofit entity not receiving taxpayer dollars, I would suggest donating to Feed My Starving Children--an organization that provides food to the hungry in places throughout the world.

Here are links to both organizations. Quest Academy does not have an online donation system in place, but if you mail a check and write marathon in the memo, they'll get the idea.

There is no need to contact me if you donate, but feel free if you do, so I can thank you personally.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cutback Week

For runners out there who are teachers or former teachers (Michelle, Razz, I'm talking to you), how have you dealt with the first weeks of school? After averaging 80 miles a week the past two months, it's looking like I'm headed for less than 50 miles for two weeks in a row.

So, I'm taking a little sabbatical from the blog. Keep me in your thoughts as I get the wheels turning again.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pace Report: The Woodbury Country Mile

This is a little late and there are no pictures, but I've been busy and apparently I'm not photogenic enough to have multiple shots of my pace group on the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce page.

Anyway, I paced this race last Saturday with the Minnesota Pacers in what I believe will be my last pacing gig of the season. In fact, I think I'm done with races until October when I go after a new PR at the Whistlestop Marathon in Wisconsin. This race was pretty low-key, there was a nice speech by the mayor of Woodbury and then we were off.

It was cloudy and 70s and also very muggy. I had a co-pacer (or maybe he had a co-pacer, I'm not sure who was in charge) for the first time. Mike was very nice and it was nice taking turns with the signs and being able to chat with someone for the whole race. Usually people in pace groups in paces between 7 and 8 minutes per mile aren't real chatty.

Mike and I had a nice race. We had a small group off and on and our last guy left us around 10 or 11 miles because he was feeling good. We did catch a girl a little later but she couldn't quite stay with us. There was one exciting moment when a guy ahead of us missed a turn and I ran ahead to catch him and get him back on the course. Turns out he saw the runners and cut through a side street to rejoin the race, and I had chased after him for nothing. Oh well.

Our final time was pretty close--1:34:29. Once we were by ourselves I think we inadvertently sped up a little, but at least we were just a little over 30 seconds too fast. A couple people thanked us for pacing and asked us about our training while we feasted on cookies, milk, and bagels. Overall it was a nice race and I had a good time doing one last event before I race a marathon.

Life's been pretty busy lately--meetings for school started this week and the kids come on Tuesday. I'm excited to start the new school year. I just hope I can keep the running going at a pretty good clip with the extra time and stress teaching brings.

I've been training pretty hard this summer. Today's my first day off in almost two months. My body's tired and my foot's been a little sore so I thought today would be a good day to take a break. I was planning for the first week of school to be a cutback week anyway. I've been averaging 80 miles a week the past two months so we'll see what I can manage once school starts.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gopher to Badger: Race Report

The day didn't start off the greatest. There was a detour on the way to the start and after trying to find the way for a while, we stopped and asked for directions. Then, tragedy struck. It struck as in I struck my wife with the car. Don't worry, she's OK. We went to switch drivers and as she was walking around the front of the car I took my foot off the brake and rolled into her. I swear I thought it was in park (in my defense I'm used to driving my car, which is a stick).

Anyhow, Laura was fine and the race had to go on. After a warmup and saying "hi" to some MN Running Wild friends, I lined up at the start. I chatted with one guy who said he wasn't sure what kind of shape he was in, but he was going to try to run between 1:12 and 1:15. I knew I wasn't running a 1:12 and there was a very slim chance of me running a 1:15, but I thought I might still have an outside shot if this guy didn't have a great day.

I hit the jackpot for weather in this one: mid-50s at the start, no breeze, and sunny enough to keep it interesting. It warmed up as the race went on, but I never felt like weather was a factor.

About 1/2 a mile into the race another guy caught up to me. At this point the first guy I talked to was about 20 seconds ahead. This next guy was very chatty and said we'd work together to catch up to this guy. After about a mile I told him the pace was a little fast for me and good luck. He had on a bright green singlet and I watched him from then until the end of the race. After about mile four I never saw the first place guy again.

The miles between 3 and 6 were tough--lots of hills and I was getting a little down on myself for not being able to hold the pace I wanted--the guy in neon green was pulling farther away. Finally, however, I was starting to pick it up after a long, gradual hill. At the 10 mile mark I was feeling pretty good and was hoping to run the last 5k fast.

Around mile 11.5 I could tell I was gaining on the neon green singlet. Right before mile 12 we crossed I-94 into Wisconsin and I was about 20 seconds behind him. I had a good pace going and I was sure I could catch him.

pushing to the finish
 Unfortunately I could not catch him. He picked it up just enough to hold me off, and though I finished well I didn't have enough left in the tank to get him. He finished 12 seconds ahead of me, but I did set a new PR of 1:16:37 (they don't have chip time up yet. I had 1:16:35).

My 3rd place award: a runner frozen in carbonite.
It was a good race and I was happy with my effort. My Garmin measured the course as substantially longer than 13.1 miles, so I'll be interested to see what I can do on a different course next year.

You can't even tell that just hours earlier Laura was struck by a small sedan.
Several friends were out cheering including our good friends Brit and Jared. It was great seeing them and we all enjoyed a delicious brunch at Key's Cafe afterward.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Minnesota 1/2 Marathon: Pace Report

I figured I'd better get a pace report up here because on Saturday I'm racing a 1/2 marathon, and I wouldn't want a race report and a pace report too close together.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of pacing the 1:30 group at the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon. For most of pace groups this year my groups have been small. Also, I've dropped just about all of them before the end of the race. So, at a 6:52 / mile I planned on having a small group. I also figured that most people who could run that pace wouldn't really need a pacer.

I was wrong. I had a pretty decent group at the beginning of the race and most of them stayed with me until the end of the race. A couple of them introduced themselves to me and a few of them even chatted a little bit while we were running. Most of the 1:35 groups I've paced are pretty quiet. Most people who are racing a 1/2 marathon don't have a ton to say, but this group actually talked a little bit.

I paced this course last year so if you're at all interested in the course layout because you're thinking of running the race, you can read last year's report. Suffice to say it's actually a fairly hilly course with a lot of gradual ups and downs and not a lot of flats. This makes keeping an even pace more difficult, though I always tell my group that I pace more by effort--a little faster going downhill and a little slower going up.

The course was marked pretty decently until mile 13--just as I was telling my group we had a little less than a quarter mile left, I looked up and saw the mile 13 marker. "Oh," I said. "I guess quite a bit less than a quarter mile." Unfortunately that last "tenth" was actually 0.23 miles. I noticed it was going to be more than a tenth, but by the time I did I would have had to sprint to break 1:30, so I had to settle for 1:30:12. Not too bad.

Laura came along and was watching two kids whose parents were both running the race. The night before she was packing up some things for them to do--markers and poster board (to make signs), books, cowbells, chalk, snacks and all sorts of stuff. I told her, "man, if I was watching someone's kids, I'd just show up. I might have some rusty nails for them to play with and tell them, 'now kids, don't cut each other.'"

So of course she did a nice job and got to cheer on the race. She even waited for me to run five miles afterwards to finish my workout.

It was a fun race with nice weather and a perfect way to cap off a 100 mile week. This week I'm cutting back the mileage a little and racing the Gopher to Badger 1/2 Marathon--the same race I set my PR at last year.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

100 Miles: Fin

I made it! This morning was a perfect morning for a long run--overcast, a little breezy, and not too hot. I began by pacing the 1:30 1/2 marathon group at the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon. That part went fine--I actually had a group for once, and about five or six guys and one gal stayed with me almost the whole time.

Anyhow, after grabbing some water, Gatorade, and a banana, I took off to run five miles at around my marathon goal pace. I ran back next to the race and said hi to a few other pacers. I went pretty hard and I was surprised that I didn't feel more tired or sore. I was afraid my legs would be too heavy to get close to marathon pace, but they felt fine.

So I'm done blogging every day for awhile. I don't know how much I wrote was worth reading, but it was a little motivating to know I was going to share how my training was going during my longest week. I'm sure a lot of what I wrote was boring, but if you've read any portion of this, I thank you.

Also, thanks to everyone for the encouraging words along the way this week. I really appreciated it.

Totals from SportTracks data:
104.95 miles
7:21 / mile average pace
longest day: 21.74 miles
shortest day: 10.22 miles
longest run: 18.05 miles
shortest run: 6.41 miles
calories burned: 12,876

Friday, August 3, 2012

100 Miles: Day 6

I made it 7 this morning and then 6 more this afternoon to finish just in time to watch the women's 10,000m Olympic final. This afternoon was hot--90 degrees and sunny. There was a little bit of a breeze and even though my legs were a little tired, I was able to get a little bit of pacing practice (6:52/mile) squeezed into the middle of the recovery run. The quicker pace didn't feel too bad--I'm a little nervous to be pacing the 1:30 group for the first time, but I know I've run farther and faster by myself, so I know I should be fine.

After this afternoon's run I'm just a little under 87 miles for the week. That means I should be at 100 miles right as I finish pacing the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon tomorrow. My training plan calls for 18 miles with the last 5 at marathon goal pace, so after I finish pacing I get to run 5 more miles. Hurray!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

100 miles: Day 5

This morning I went on a little jaunt down to Lebanon Hills to get in another longish run. It started out as a pretty nice morning--not too warm and a little cloudy--and though it warmed up, running five miles through the shaded trails of the park kept it comfortable.
The one downside was the large amount of horse manure on the Voyageur Southern Trek. Every time I run through Lebanon Hills I think back to the lady on horseback who gave me a tongue lashing for accidentally ending up on a horse trail. She ranted on about how I could've spooked her horse, or she couldn't been running the horse and trampled me, or how people on horseback shouldn't have to be exposed to sweaty, common trail runners. Her husband and daughter sat there on their horses, both looking a little uncomfortable. No matter how many times I said sorry she couldn't let it go and lectured me for almost 5 minutes.

Of course all I did was say, "I'm sorry, I'm trying to get back to a hiking trail right now," and stuff like that. There's several places where the hiking trail shares the horse trail before splitting, and I obviously got off track. Now, over two years later, I should let it go, but I can't help thinking of all the clever things I could've said instead of apologizing. "I'm so sorry, there was a horse underneath me just a second ago." Or, "I'm so envious of people who can afford horses, horse trailers, and a place to keep a horse (in the city) that I just like to run on the horse trails, pretending I'm riding a horse." Or, "The jerk store called and they're out of you."

But no, I didn't say any of those things. And this morning, to add insult to injury, there was horse poop on the hiking trails. Horses are not allowed on the hiking trails.

Maybe getting this out there on the blog will help purge this anger I've been holding onto too long. I feel like I've written about this before, but since I can't find it in the archives it doesn't count. It's time to get past this so I can forgive, forget, and run in Lebanon Hills in peace.

Anyway, I made it 15.5 miles this morning--most of them at easy pace then the last 30 minutes at 6:50ish pace to practice for the Minnesota Half Marathon on Saturday. Tonight it's off to the Running Room for my marathon clinic and a few more miles!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

100 miles: Day 4

My plan called for 12 miles this morning, but I only managed 10.5. I was running a little late for class this morning--I work after class (which just ended), so I had to pack lunch and dinner and by the time I got running I was a little bit behind.

I had a nice run though. I practiced my pace for the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon where I'll be leading the 1:30 group on Saturday morning. Then I picked it up and ran the last few miles at a moderate pace. The soreness from the hills yesterday hadn't kicked in yet, so I suppose I have that to look forward to tomorrow.

Tomorrow calls for a run in the morning and then another in the evening. Runs like this morning--where everything feels smooth, the weather is nice, and I hit all the lights green--make this running thing a lot of fun.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

100 miles: Day 3

Just one run for today. I lied yesterday when I said I was going to do a tempo run. I came home from house sitting this morning and checked my little training plan. It said I had to do a 3 mile warmup, 5 X 3 minutes uphill at 5k effort, and then a cool down.

As I was doing the easy portion of my run, heading toward a hill I believed would get me my 3 minutes, a thought occurred to me: this is what I do for fun. Yes, I watch a little TV here and there--a little more in the summer with my lighter schedule. I read. I do a few other things, but I really spend a lot of free time just running around.

So my fun for today meant I was going to run easy until I got to this long, steep hill, then run up it for three minutes, jog back down, and then do that four more times. When did I decide this was fun? By my third time up the hill my legs were screaming, my lungs were fire, and it was hot enough that as I pumped my arms I could see drops of sweat being flung twelve feet over my head. On my fourth repeat I felt bad when a lady turned in front of me from another trail. As I went by her I knew it would be a miracle if she managed to avoid the droplets of sweat flying off my arms and legs.

I hope she wasn't too disgusted. When I turned back around and headed back down the hill I smiled and said, "hi." She sort of smiled back but I think there may have been a hint of disgust under that smile. Oh course, that might have been because I wasn't wearing a shirt.

Three days in the book and after today's run I'm at 41.5 miles.

Monday, July 30, 2012

100 miles: Day 2

I made it 12 miles this morning and 6 this afternoon. That makes 30 miles for the week, which, if my math is correct, means I'm right on track to make it to 100 miles this week.

That wonderful "Habitat" song was still going through my head, but it also had to fight with "I Would Walk 500 miles." Nothing like a strange medley going on while crusing through Mendota Heights and St. Paul. Da da Da (Da da Da)! Try this version:

I'll be back at it tomorrow--I'm going to do a little tempo run in the morning and then I'll see how I feel for the afternoon. So far I'm feeling great.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

100 miles: Day 1

So far I'm one for one. My plan called for 12 miles today, and I tried not to think about how this was going to be one of my shorter days this week. Fortunately I don't have many individual runs longer than this--most days I'll be running twice. I know 100 miles in a week is not a huge deal--I know several runners who have pulled them off (and a couple that do them pretty much every week), but I'm a little bit excited about going for it the first time.

We're house and dog sitting this weekend, so I got to start the week with some fresh running scenery. I had a nice run through Crosby Farm and Hidden Falls parks after crossing from Mendota Heights over into St. Paul.

As I ran along the river and through the trees, I got this song Laura learned for teaching preschool stuck in my head. There's nothing like spending almost an hour-and-a-half silently singing "the forest is a habitat, a very special habitat..." to myself.

The whole song can be found here:

I especially like the 5 year-old who's got a beard. I'm sure he had a good reason for it.

100 Miles

Back in May when I wrote my training plan, I decided I was going to do everything I could to get closer to my marathon potential. If you're familiar with any of the running calculator's out there like Runner's World age grading calculator and the McMillan calculator, those tools can help evalate your performance and help you set goals for other distances. An age graded calculator gives you a percent grade based on the world record performance at the distance.

In my case, the marathon is by far my worst time. For comparison's sake, my 5k age graded time is 79%, my 10 mile 76%, and my marathon 69.5%. I know I've got some natural speed, but I've got to think that I can improve my endurance enough to get at least a little closer to my predicted marathon time.

You'd think my endurance would get better as I run more marathons, but unfortunately that has not been the case for the three marathons I've raced. For my first marathon I used a 10k to predict my marathon time and missed the prediction by about 6 minutes. For my next marathon I used a 7 mile race to predict my marathon and missed it by around 5 minutes. Getting better right? The next marathon I raced I used the same 7 mile race to predict and missed my predicted time by almost 7 minutes.

So, I decided that with my somewhat lighter schedule this summer I was going to do my best to improve my endurance. I'm pretty happy with my current 5k PR, and now I'd like to improve my marathon time (and perhaps my 1/2 marathon along the way). So, I'm running more miles than ever. Starting today I'm shooting for my first 100 mile week ever. I've been over 80 miles three out of the last four weeks, so while this will be a little bit of a jump it should be doable.

I'll try to keep my readers updated of my progress--I'll try to think of clever things to write (I'm hoping they can be a little funny, unlike this post) as I run for around 12 hours this week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekend Reading: 14 Minutes

At the end of the school year I was fortunate enough to get a Barnes and Noble gift card from a student with which I purchased Alberto Salazar's new memoir, "14 Minutes: A Running Legend's Life and Death."

If you're a running history buff (or an "experienced" runner), you probably know of Alberto Salazar as the former US and world record holder in the marathon. This was back in the early 80s, before East Africans started running in the marathon as much as they do in the modern era. You might also know Salazar from "Duel in the Sun," the story of his 26.2 mile battle with Dick Beardsley. If you follow US distance running currently, you know Salazar is now coaching the Nike Oregon Project's athletes, including US 10k record holder Galen Rupp.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book. Hearing about Salazar's childhood and how he developed as a runner was engaging, and reading about his relentless pursuit of being a great distance runner was intriguing. I think most seriously competitive runners will be able to relate to Salazar in some degree, and although most will never be as single-minded and focused as Salazar, his obsessiveness is something a runner can relate to.

"14 Minutes" begins with Salazar's 14 minute "death." He describes heart attack at the Nike campus in Oregon, and re-vists this "death" several times. The death serves as the thematic glue that holds "14 Minutes" and Alberto Salazar's obsessive competitiveness together.

After describing his family history (mainly that of his father), he describes his running career, his time at Nike, his family, and his coaching at the Nike Oregon Project.

While most of it was entertaining, there were some spots I wish he'd described in more detail. The 1982 "Duel in the Sun" Boston Marathon was brushed over, and his win at the Comrades Marathon later in his career didn't take up as many pages as I would have liked.

Besides the lack of detail in those scenes, there are a couple of areas that might be off-putting to some readers. I enjoyed Salazar's description of his catholic faith, but runners who would rather read about training and racing may not enjoy those sections of the book.

What I didn't enjoy reading was when Salazar showed off his arrogance through his tone and his evaluation of his own talent. Salazar claims (several times), that he, "wasn't really talented." He writes, "I was just stubborn and worked hard like my father and that's why I was so good."

Sorry--you don't run sub-2:10 marathons without being extremely talented. I don't understand how anyone can fool themselves into thinking that their success is a result of pure hard work, but maybe that attitude helps elite runners train harder. Talented athletes such as Steve Prefontaine and Michael Jordan demonstrated a similar mindset in their athletic careers.

Whether or not you're interest in running or in sports in general, "14 Minutes" may be a good read. If you can't get past the arrogant tone and the running community's suspicion of Salazar's training methods, you might want to skip this one.

Happy Running!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear Saucony

I've got something to get off my chest. First of all, I love your line of Kinvaras. I've worn out three pairs and am working on two more pairs. The update from the orginal Kinvaras to the Kinvara 2s was outstanding. I really liked my original Kinvaras--they were comfortable, stylish, and durable enough to last about 500 miles.

The Kinvara 2s were even better. I rotated between two pairs and one was pretty comfortable right up to 700 miles. I was thinking about pushing them to 1000 miles, but I was getting too much grief at The Running Room and I had pretty much worn out the outsole. The other pair, for some reason, felt worn out a little over 600 miles, but still a really solid, durable shoe.

Take a look at the upper of a brand new Kinvara 2 next to one with 700 miles on it:

Amazing right? The 700 mile shoe, on the right, is obviously dirtier, but no tears, ripped seems, or any structural problems--after 700 miles!

The outsole tells a little different story. From left to right is a new Kinvara 2, a 600 mile Kinvara 2, and a 700 mile Kinvara 2. You can definitely tell where I push off.

Interestingly enough, it appears that the 600 mile shoe is worn more than the 700 mile one. Maybe I ran faster in it.

Anyway Saucony, I really like your shoes. I've run four marathons in Kinvara 2s, I've raced several 5ks and one miles in Hattoris, and my review of the Kinvara 2s and Hattoris are the most viewed pages on this blog.

So Saucony, I see you've got a new version of the Kinvara out, a Kinvara trail shoe, and there's some new Hattoris on the way. I'd really appreciate it if you sent me a pair to review. Just think how many people would see that review, click on the link, and go get themselves some Sauconys.

It's a win for everyone--I get shoes, you get publicity, and the running viewers of my blog learn about your great shoes. Do the right thing Saucony--send me some shoes to review.

Friday, July 6, 2012

5 Mile Time Trial

Wednesday morning I celebrated our nation's birthday with a little five mile time trial in the streets of Minneapolis. I decided I didn't want to race all out--one, because I was running with Laura's number, and two, the heat index was like 150° at 6:30 AM. So, I decided I'd run at a solid effort, but not all out.

After a little warmup with Nate W., I made my way to the line. I was already really hot and sweaty and I was really glad it was going to be 5 and not 13.1 miles.

At the first water stop I was up with Nate and there was a couple of people behind us. Another pack was out ahead of us and I thought about trying to keep up with them, but decided to stick with my plan of running a hard effort but not going all out. As we got to the cups I had a little trouble getting water. The first two I went for I knocked out of the volunteers hands before finally getting one. One of the guys behind me yells, "Take one, man!"

"I'm trying," I said. Some people really don't think. Did he think I was trying to knock water cups down to sabotage his race?

"I'm not mad at you man," he said. "Just take one."

Later, Nate W. says, "He was mad."

Oh well. He hung with us for a little while and then fell off the pace so he was free to get water without me knocking down cups to keep it away from him.

Besides running a slow third mile, I ran pretty even splits. At the end there was one guy about 10 seconds ahead of me with about a quarter mile to go so I decided it was OK to push the pace and run it in hard. I was able to catch him and went across the line in 29:18, a second in front. I didn't have an official result as I wasn't wearing a chip.

It was a pretty good effort for a hot day. After a cool down, I enjoyed the rest of my day with some swimming, parade watching, and firework viewing with Laura and some friends.

I'm really looking forward to the weather cooling down and having some morning runs that are a little more pleasant. I'm feeling pretty good with the higher mileage, but would enjoy a little break from the heat.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stuff that happens when I run

The heat index yesterday when I was running was 99° F. Today it was a much cooler 96° F. The heat has me going at a slightly slower pace, so I have a little more time to notice my surroundings and think about them with my heat-addled brain.

Yesterday, toward the end of my run, I went past one of Eagan's fire stations. I noticed its sign board read, "Fireworks safety is YOUR responsibility." Hmm, I thought. The fire department must be off for the fourth.

The day before that I was cruising down one of my regular routes on an out-and-back run when right before my turnaround I was passed by a car where a kid, who couldn't have been older than 10, stuck his head out the window and yelled something at me. I'm not sure what he yelled, but it didn't sound nice (and it wasn't, "run Forest!"). I turned around about 10 seconds after that and could still see the car. In fact, I saw it turn into a driveway across the street. I thought about crossing the street and asking the driver if he regularly let his kids (or his kids' friends) hang their heads out the window and yell things at people.

I decided not to ask him about his poor parenting (or poor taking care of other people's kids-ing) though, because who knows what this guy was capable of? He might have been snorting bath salts and come running after me, ready to eat my face off.

It's supposed to be hot for the rest of this week, and I'm keeping my mileage up, so I should have plenty of time to keep observing and pondering.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Mile and Other Stuff

Last week I tried to break one of the goals I set for the year by breaking 4:50 for the mile. I failed--miserably.

There was a summer league track meet up at St. Louis Park High School, so I thought I might have a chance to run a fast mile on the track. You know, get behind some speedy runners, let them pull me around 800m in around 2:21, and cruise to a 4:48 or something like that. It. Didn't. Happen.

When I showed up to the track meet, I noticed a general lack of distance/middle distance-type athletes. There were about 138 people running in the 29 heats of the 100m dash, but as far as the mile went, it looked like I was on my own.

The meet was running pretty late (around a 1/2 hour) and it was also hot and humid. These factors also did not contribute to ideal conditions for a fast mile. By the time I got to the start I was already somewhat doubtful of my ability to run this thing very well, and apparently it was for good reason. I passed what I assume to by a 10-year-old girl in the first 20m, and from then on I was running solo.

Short story even shorter, I ran the first lap right about where I wanted to (~70s) and was all over the place (slower than I wanted to by various degrees) the next three. I did win the race by over a minute, but with the second place time being around 6 minutes flat, it was nothing to get too excited about and not very close to breaking 4:50.

I might try again to hit this mile goal time--maybe in July.

In other news, Last week I got to hang out with Michelle from The Runner's Plate. She just crushed her marathon PR and is headed to the Boston Marathon in the spring.

Laura's on the shelf right now with a knee injury. She's doing some physical therapy and she should be back in time to run the Twin Cities Marathon in October. She was signed up to run a race on the 4th of July. I won't say which one since I'm going to be running with her Bib number.

I just finished my first official month of marathon training for the Whistlestop Marathon. It was a pretty good month considering I fit a triathlon in there, started grad school, and got a little part-time job for the summer. I ran 290 miles in June, capping it off with an 80 mile week.

Last weekend I had to run from an angry dog off a gravel road outside Lake Bemidji State Park. Besides that adrenaline rush and running at my 800 pace for close to a minute, Lake Bemidji was lovely and offered some nice scenery for running and spending time with my lovely wife.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rochesterfest Triathlon: Race Report

getting my game face on before the race
I accomplished my most important goal in this race--I didn't drown. Without achieving that goal, the rest would have been impossible.

giving Laura final instructions for what to do in the event that I drowned
 It was a nice day for my first triathlon: sunny and warm, but not too hot. The water was cool, but not cold. After a nice warmup, I headed down to the water to wait my turn for the swim. All the long course athletes were going first, so I got to stand on the beach and wait to face the dangers of Foster Arend Lake. There were some noodles and lifeguards on kayaks to save us if we needed a rest, but I said, "death before facing the humiliation of taking a rest on a quarter-mile swim."

Laura was watching me from the safety of a lawn chair. She was going to do this race to, but a knee injury has knocked her out of commission for the time being. When it was our turn to swim, I hung towards the back of the group, knowing I was going to be in the "trying not to sink to the bottom of the lake and have my carcass feasted upon by the stocked rainbow trout" division.

My swim was hard. I was next to this same guy the whole time, in between him and the buoys. It was nice because when I started swimming off course I would either run into him or the buoys. I'm proud to say I made it the whole way without taking a rest and exited the water safely (albeit slowly).

Then it was time for the bike. I'd biked about as much as I'd swam (hardly at all) and so I didn't have too high of aspirations for my bike time. I'd told Laura I was hoping for about 40 minutes. I felt like I was going at a pretty good clip, and though I got passed a fair amount (especially at the end), I also managed to pass a couple riders myself, and managed to finish the 10 mile bike in less than 35 minutes.

After the bike the fun began. I think I was a little woozy because on my way out of the transition area, Laura yelled at me that my helmet was still on. Oops. Good thing she was there, otherwise I may have ended up being the first and only runner in the 5k helmet division. After I threw my helmet in Laura's general direction, I headed out on the 5k course. At first my legs felt really goofy from biking and I was afraid I was going to run much slower than I was planning. My legs, however, loosened up and I was able to run at a pretty good clip. I think I passed about 70 runners over the 5k, and didn't get passed at all, so that made me feel kind of good.

My final time was 1:04:13. I was 32nd out of 238 athletes and 3 out of 8 in my age group. My swim time wasn't quite as bad as I thought, or, it was a slow group of swimmers in general. My 8:38 placed me 92nd. My bike time, 34:45, which I actually thought wasn't too bad, ranked me at a whopping 109. It was only my run time that made my first triathlon fairly respectable. My time of 17:26 was the fastest time, unless the girl who's listed as having run a 5k in 58 seconds actually did run that fast.

Laura was awesome for coming out, cheering, taking pictures, and stopping me from wearing a helmet while running a 5k.

Tomorrow I'm running a track meet in St. Louis Park. I'm going to try and hit my yearly goal of breaking 4:50 in the mile. Then I might run the 800m just for the heck of it. My legs actually felt decent this morning, so I think I might actually have a chance of hitting my goal.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tri-ing it out

I'm racing my first triathlon tomorrow, the Rochesterfest Triathlon--it should be interesting. I was pretty committed to swimming earlier this year and worked myself up to a mile, but since then I've swam probably less than once-a-week. Biking hasn't been a heck-of-a-lot better. I've got one thing going though. I have been running quite a bit.

As I said earlier, I started my marathon training, and the running has been going pretty well. Last week was my last few days of teaching for the school year, and next week it's time to start summer. I got a few things going on in addition to running--I'm starting some graduate classes, leading a marathon clinic at the Eagan Running Room, and trying to find some sort of part-time job that fits in with my strange class schedule.

But before I dive into all that, tomorrow I get my feet wet in my first triathlon. I don't really know what to expect as far as the race goes. At least I know I can cover the distance in the water and on the bike. It'll be interesting to see how fast I can run a 5k after avoiding drowning and trying not to humiliate myself too much on the bike.

After the triathlon, I'll be completely focused on running. I'm hoping to be able to put in some serious mileage this summer--we'll see how that goes. In the meantime, I'll keep looking for some part-time work. Unfortunately, this blog doesn't seem to be bringing in any lucrative sponsorships or product review opportunities.

So, if anyone wants to throw some lucrative, preferably easy and entertaining money-making opportunities at me, that'd be great. In the meantime, send anyone anywhere near Eagan to sign up for the Marathon Clinic next week.

Happy running!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Med City Marathon Pace Report

The forecast was calling for hot weather and it was hot. The day started out pretty decent--it was overcast and breezy. I was actually a little chilly in my pacer singlet while I stood around before the race chatting with other pacers. Laura was also there to run the 1/2 marathon and she got to run with our pals Adam and Nate. As we stood around and talked I wished it could stay in the low 60s, cloudy, and windy the whole time.

But alas, it was not to be. The clouds left and the temperatures rose. Thankfully the wind kept blowing and that was pretty much the only respite. For the first 10ish miles I was running with a pretty good pace group. Around that time it started to get really warm. By mile 17 I'd say it was low to mid 80s and it was getting really miserable. At that point I lost the last person in my pace group--a nice lady who'd completed several ironmans and was racing her first marathon in 10 years (not counting the ironmans). From then on I had one guy who would occasionally catch up to me and then lose me at the water stops.

The Med City Marathon was a nice little race. With the heat they had added extra water stops and people were also passing out ice. It was nice to have water and Gatorade handy every mile or so. If nothing else I could at least dump water on my head to cool off for a moment.

I finished the race all by my lonesome--my pace group totally disappeared after mile 17. My final time was 3:24:48--pretty good for the 3:25 pace leader.

This past week I wrote my training plan for the Whistlestop Marathon. It's a pretty ambitious plan, so we'll see if I can actually make the time to put in the kind of miles I'm planning--and if my body can handle a volume and quality I've never reached before. Only 20 weeks to go!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Med City 5k Race Report

We were blessed with the weather today at the Med City 5k run the afternoon before the Med City Marathon. The temperature was in the low 60s and there was a nice breeze blowing through downtown Rochester. Though a large thunderstorm had rolled through Rochester earlier, the rain had cleared out and all that remained were some clouds and a little humidity.

I met up with some friends, Gerad and Nate W., before the race. We did a little warmup and then lined up for the start. The start was a little surreal--Ronald McDonald led some stretching exercises and then sang the national anthem. Then, Jeff Galloway said a few words and started us off.

I stayed right with Gerad the first 3/4 of a mile and then stayed pretty close to him after that. I came through the first mile at around 5:05--a little faster than I was planning, but I was feeling good so I decided to try and keep up with Gerad.
trying to catch Gerad

after the race

 The course wound its way around Silver Lake and finished back where it started in downtown. Coming down the finish I was making my way closer to Gerad. He'd raced a marathon two weeks before, so I thought there might be a chance that I could catch up to him. I went as hard as I could but I couldn't do it--he still got me by two seconds.

Still, I ran a huge PR and I was thrilled. I was glad I tried to stay with Gerad--it was ambitious but it paid off. I haven't seen the official times yet, but at the awards they said I was at 16:18 (EDIT: Official chip time was 16:17 with a gun time of 16:18), tying the course record, and Gerad was at 16:16. Gerad won the overall and I came in second. I also got a medal for winning the 20 - 29 age group.

Laura's parents were kind enough to come out and cheer and Laura was nice enough to act as official Twin Cities Runner blog photographer. Tomorrow she'll be running the 1/2 marathon while I pace the full.

Jeff Galloway and Race Time

It's race day here in Rochester, Minn. Last night Laura and I met Olympian Jeff Galloway. Talk about an affable, engaging man! I've never talked to such a popular, high profile runner who was so passionate about what he does. He talked to us for around twenty minutes and would have talked longer had we not had to meet some friends for dinner. We mentioned that we'd met Frank Shorter, and he asked how Mr. Shorter was doing. He also seemed truly interested in our running and gave Laura training advice.

Today we're headed to the Med City Marathon expo, and then I'm racing a 5k at 3 PM. The cold that knocked me out of work for a day has pretty much subsided. I still have some lingering congestion, but otherwise I feel pretty good. I don't know if I feel good enough to finally break 17:00, but here's hoping.

Tomorrow I'm pacing the 3:25 group for the full marathon. It's looking like it's going to be pretty hot and humid, so it could get interesting. I may have some people with me trying to push through the heat to hit their goal times, or, some people who have dropped back to run a little more conservative. There's also the possibility that the marathon gets cancelled due to the heat. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Steeplechase

While I enjoyed running for my high school back in the day, running in college was a little more of an--adventure. First of all, I was a mediocre runner in a lower division small college. Secondly, I was hurt a lot.

College running did, however, have its moments of entertainment. My freshman season I was trying to run the steeplechase. I wasn't terrible at it, but one rainy meet at this little school called Doane, I had an especially bad race.

After the first 3/4 lap, I was at the back of the pack and we were headed toward the first water jump. I hopped up on top of the hurdle, but when I went to jump off it, my foot slipped. Oops--I tried to make it look good and sort of rolled up back into a run. Not too bad. The next time around I slipped again. This time it was not pretty at all. I slid, face first, out onto the track. All forward momentum was halted.

From then on there was a pretty good crowd at the water jump, cheering on the last place runner (me) and (I'm sure) hoping I would crash again. Somehow I finished the race without falling again, though the next year I fell again, this time during one of my failed attempts at the 400m hurdles.

At least I didn't fall quite as bad as this girl (you really should watch the video).

This weekend I'm racing another 5k and then pacing a marathon. I've had a little bit of a cold, so I'm hoping I'll be feeling well enough to run a good 5k.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eagan 5k Your Way Race Report

It was the most fun-filled, action-packed Saturday in the twin cities for the Leckbands this Saturday, and that's saying something. After running the TC 1 Mile on Thursday, hanging out with the Minnesota Running Wild crew at Brit's that night, we finally spent a Friday evening at home in Eagan (the first Friday at home in over a month).
Photo op before the race.

We ate some delicious salmon and bow-tie pasta (recipe courtesy of my sister-in-law) and hit the hay early to get some rest for the Eagan 5k Your Way on Saturday morning. Saturday morning I woke up at 5 AM (without an alarm) with a sore throat and a little congested. Things didn't look great for the race, but after I was up for a while the congestion pretty much left and my throat felt better.

After putsin' around for a couple hours, Laura and I rode our bikes over to Central Park for the 5k. It was already over 70 degrees, but the breeze was making the humidity and temperature bearable--especially for a 5k.

We ran into our friends Nate and Juli Johnson. Juli is the Eagan Parks and Rec director and she and Nate had already gotten our race bags out for us. Last year Nate won the 5k, but this year he wasn't running because of his high school track and field. Juli told me she expected me to win the race, so the pressure was really on.

During my warmup I could feel that my legs were still sore from the mile on Thursday (and probably the marathon last Saturday), but I thought I might still be able to pull off a respectable 5k. At the start of the race I kissed Laura for good luck and Juli blew the air horn to get us going.

A couple of boys sprinted off into the lead. Before the race, one of them had asked Juli what to do if he passed the lead vehicle. Juli said, "I don't think that will happen." Anyway, I passed the first little guy in about 50m. He yelled to his friend, "look out!" but it was too late, I passed the next little guy too.

Right after the first mile the course turned to the left and I peeked back to see how close the next guy was. He looked like he was about 20-30 seconds behind me. I saw him again at the next turn but after that I was all by my lonesome.

The lead gator did a nice job of moving the runners over to my left when we met back up with the rest of the runners with about a 2/3 of a mile left. I was running against the wind, but I also had a nice downhill grade. The runners on my left gave me some encouraging words and claps and I tried to pick it up as best I could.

I did end up winning so I was glad I didn't disappoint Juli. I got a nice medal, a gift card, a bag, and a water bottle. I also got to get interviewed by Paul, Laura's grade school friend, for the city of Eagan. My final time was 17:30, tying Nate Johnson's previous course record.

Look! I'm a celebrity.

Laura also ran the race and recorded a pretty good time after running a marathon on Saturday. I think she was the fourth or fifth female overall.

pure speed

It was a fun run--the volunteers were friendly and did a great job controlling traffic. The post race food was solid--bagels, apples, and bananas. Plus there was a couple places for a free post-race massage.

The rest of our Saturday was also awesome. A long (for us) bike ride, swimming (brrrr) at Lake Nokomis, dinner at Sea Salt, and watching a movie at home. Good times.

25 mile bike ride