Sunday, December 20, 2009

Trail Running

There is certainly comfort in running the same path or route. When running intervals or wanting to lose myself thought on a long run it's nice to be able to zone out and not worry much about my surroundings. But there are also times when I need some variety. Running has enabled me to explore places that I would most likely never visit. The challenge of a new hill, the wonder of what is around the next corner, and the beauty of the landscapes keeps running fresh and exciting.

I have taken my camera on a couple of my runs recently. Here is my first attempt at a video slide show from one of my recent runs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter and why...

When I first started running I was purely a fair weather strider. This was mostly because the cold air really bothered my lungs. It took me a couple of years to discover however that the body is an amazing machine. When I continue to run through the temperature changes I become acclimated to the weather. It is also the same with running in the heat.

Now don't get me wrong, there is a point where it is too cold, and I am not sure where that will be this year, but it's getting close. So far this year I have had a couple of runs finish up at 12 degrees F. That can be a little chilly but if the wind is not howling, I am fine.

Of course winter running is not all just acclimating your body to the temperature. Proper clothing is essential. When it is that cold, I wear two pairs of gloves, a stocking hat, and a gator, not to mention running pants, 2 base layers and a wind and waterproof jacket. It may sound like a lot of layers, but they are all pretty thin and do a great job of not only insulating me but wicking away sweat. The downside of all of this is that good winter running gear is not cheap. It would not be unreasonable to say that the above running clothes, including my shoes, would total over $300. It is expensive, but if you are serious about running and don't want to log all of your miles indoors on a boring treadmill, it's worth it. I personally have also proven that if you spend money on quality running clothes you will get a good return on them. One of the Under Armour base layers that I wear is approaching the ten year mark and still works great. I am careful not to dry any of my running clothes and although it may not sound attractive and is certainly a personal option, I do at times hang them to dry after a run and wear them again before washing them.

So what's the big deal? Why spend good money to go out in freezing cold temperatures to do something that many people will avoid at all costs? There are many reasons. I run because it is meditation, it makes me feel good and generally lifts my spirits for the day. I run challenging courses, speeds, and environments because I can. Running takes me places and shows me things that many people never see as they speed by in their vehicle. Running has created new friendships many times for me. Not only with my "running buddies" but I share a secret kinship with others that know why we run, how others view us, and how lucky we are to have this opportunity.
Below are some pictures from one of my runs through Falls Park this week. It was a perfect time to run because it started snowing on my way out there and continued while I took these pictures.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Running as Santa

Last night was the "Jingle Bell Run" in downtown Sioux Falls. One my running pals, Joseph, had mentioned a couple of times that we were to wear our Santa hats for the run. I had no interest in "racing" this 5K and had access to a Santa suit. I thought, why not surprise everyone and run as Kris Kringle?
I picked up my race packet at the Y in my regular running clothes, that way if I ran into one of my friends they would not know what was in store.
After packet pick up I had parked my car at the back of the bank lot so that I would have some secrecy while changing. At this time it was all for fun, I had no idea what level of impact this stunt would have on me and others. When I was finally dressed, nobody was going to recognize me, except as Santa!

After helping me put on the suit, my wife and I made our way to the starting area. My disguise worked well, even my running buddy, Jenn, did not recognize me at first!

Soon it was time for the race to begin and we made our way to the start. I went out with a nice easy pace as planned and what a blast! The crowd LOVED to see Santa running. Kids and parents were shouting out "Santa, hey Santa!" and cheering me on almost the entire way. What an awesome feeling to see the smiles on peoples faces as I ran by waving and shouting "Merry Christmas!".
I was a little worried about a wardrobe malfunction because they really don't make Santa suits for skinny runners. I think I used about a dozen safety pins to keep the belt on, the pants up, and my beard attached. Lucky for me, it all mostly stayed in place.

After the race, a local newspaper reporter stopped me and asked a few questions. Argus Leader article.

I had a lot of fun at this race and even finished with a respectable time. What an awesome feeling to have an impact on so many people with such a small gesture!

Thank you to my awesome wife for putting up with and even aiding me in my antics!

And thank you to my running buddies for not being too embarrassed to run with Santa!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

53 Miles

My first marathon has taught me many lessons, most importantly, patience. In training for the first, I selected a fairly challenging training plan and ran almost every run at a strong pace. Never really thinking much about recovery. If you run fast in training, you are bound to run fast in a race right? Right….to a point. Being a master’s runner (40+ yrs of age) changes the game a bit. I have to be a little gentler on the body whether I like it or not. I am still learning about running and researching what will be my next marathon training plan. If Fargo is my race, then I have until February to select the right plan for me. Until then I have been experimenting with aerobic base training and heart rate training.

It’s not glamorous, trust me, I used to check my resting heart rate and what it was right after a run, but never gave it much thought beyond that. My opinion was that it really did’t matter and that if you run harder your heart will get stronger. I was wrong. Using a heart rate monitor helps you gauge your effort and keep that effort within the optimal zone for what you are trying to accomplish on each particular run. This type of training is supposed to build up your aerobic capacity and improve your overall running abilities for all distance running. This training encourages you to listen closely to your body and not push yourself to the limit for each run but allow for recovery after every run. It is actually much more detailed than what I touch on here but I can tell you that it has made my runs definitely more enjoyable. I now closely monitor my heart rate during my runs and do not worry about how long it will take me to finish. In fact I enjoy my runs much more at this slower pace because instead of running at the top end of my abilities, I am running in a comfortable heart rate zone.

It has been a relief, training myself not to run by pace on the watch, but by effort. Forcing myself to slow down when the heart rate gets too high and making myself speed up if I take it too easy going downhill. Since my marathon I have been working to safely increase my mileage. In fact I just finished October with 173 miles, my highest month ever, and the week ending November 1st, I logged over 53 miles. If you want to learn more, below are some links with some explanation. I am also open to any thoughts or recommendations from anyone with experience with this type of training.

H.I.T – the book that started it all for me (this is an advanced running book but still has some good tips for an amateur like me)
Aerobic Base Training
Heart Rate Training

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So What Now...?

My first marathon has been completed, what a great feeling....almost surreal. The painful memories have faded, leaving me with mostly good memories and more importantly, a little more knowledgeable about running. The marathon experience certainly was humbling to me. (I need to be humbled occasionally)

So, now that I have reached my goal, the question is, what's next? It would be easy to give up or back off of running for any number of reasons. But running feels good, it energizes me, keeps me healthy, and occupies my time in a positive way. While you are likely sleeping or watching TV, I am running.

The real question is, will I run another marathon? I am certainly leaning towards doing so at this point. I feel like I have learned many things from this first experience and can significantly improve my finish time while reducing the pain level by changing race and training strategies.

For now the plan is to build up my mileage nice and easy over the next month or so until I can get a true training plan put together. I will be logging some miles at an easy pace to build stamina, leg strength and aerobic endurance. I am also planning on joining the YMCA so that I can take advantage of some of their classes on my non-running days to build core strength. I have started reading a new book titled Healthy Intelligent Training by Keith Livingstone. It is so far a good book, very technical and based on the principals of Arthur Lydiard. Hopefully it will help me become a stronger runner while remaining mostly injury free.

Those of you reading this that do not run or exercise (especially family members) I urge you to find something that you can do to burn some calories and get your blood pumping. Turn off that TV and go for a walk while you can, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you are doing it. It's not easy, but then anything worthwhile rarely is easy. Sure, it's easy for me to say this now, there are many days I dream of flopping my ass on the couch and watching TV, but it feels so good to overcome this urge and actually do something. Do it for yourself and your family.

End of speech. When I figure out my training plan and confirm any future marathon plans you will be the first to know!

"If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marathon Pictures

Trying to finish strong!

After the marathon at the capitol.

After finishing.
St. Paul Cathedral

Lexy and Chelsea getting ready to cheer on the runners before the start.
Just before the start

Chelsea and me before heading to the Metrodome.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Marathon Completed

First, I would like to thank you for following my updates. It has certainly been a great journey!

What an amazing event, all weekend I had waves of excitement wash over me. I was thrilled to be running my first marathon. I couldn’t help but talk to people in the elevator or on the street that were running, telling them how excited I was and wishing them good luck. It was and is an great feeling, knowing that you are about to attempt what many including myself consider an amazing accomplishment.

Sunday morning, outside the Metrodome, there was a sea of people in front of me. I was a little disappointed in myself because I made it to the starting area a little later than I had planned. I could not see the front of the line, in fact I was quite a distance behind the 5:30 pacing area. It’s a good thing there is chip timing because once the race started it took me 8 minutes to reach the starting line. I had no choice but to start off easy as we ran through the narrow streets of downtown Minneapolis. I passed people whenever I could but I am sure that I wasted a lot of energy bobbing and weaving through the crowd for at least the first five miles. Within the first mile I spied a runner in my age group that looked like she would be running near my goal pace, so I latched on to her. We had a great conversation during the run, talking about our spouses, families and running history; it made the first 12 miles melt away like nothing. Unfortunately she started drifting back after that and was unable to keep the pace. I still felt good so I forged ahead without her. Even though I was running with a crowd, I felt like I was out there on my own for the remainder of the race.
The next few miles went fairly well, I did not feel low on fuel at all but I forced myself to take a gel at about mile 3 because the only thing I had managed for breakfast was a Powerbar. I took my second gel somewhere around mile 10 or 11 and stuck with just water and PowerAde after that. Maybe it was because I did not fuel enough but I hit "the wall" at about mile 18. My will to keep running was sapped. I tried every trick I could think of to convince myself to keep running. I thought of my family and friends, I tried running with other people and high-fived the crowd to get fired up…nothing kept me going for very long. I really struggled with my pace, it may sound weird, but I had a difficult time slowing down. I had some 11 and almost 12 minute miles because I walked part of the way. When I would start running again, I would try to run along with a person or two but always ended up passing them, I just could not get comfortable at a slower pace. Sure, the last 6 – 8 miles of the race was physically difficult, but the mental block was like trying to move an elephant. Miles 18 – 24 are a bit cloudy, I was mentally and physically struggling and could not seem to overcome it. Finally at mile 24 I forced myself to run all the way to the finish. I was going to finish the last two miles running or they would be picking my body up off of the street. I blazed through my last mile at 9:31. It was a great feeling to be done and to know that I had made it, 26.2 miles.
Race Analysis:
Saturday for dinner, we ate at the hotel. They were short staffed and we waited an hour without our meals being delivered. We finally told them to deliver it to our room because we were tired of waiting. We ate at 8pm. Although I had pasta and ate somewhat light, it was probably a little late to be eating.
I did not follow my usual long run ritual for breakfast of an english muffin w/ peanut butter and some sports drink to wash it down. I will bring my toaster next time if I have to.
I did not feel like I needed gel at any point in the race. I took one at mile 3 because I knew I probably had not eaten enough that morning. I took the next one somewhere around 10 and then never another. Maybe I should have taken another at 17, I may not have crashed so much. I will plan this better next time for sure.
Carb-loading. I used RunnerDudes carb loading advice, fueling with complex carbs on Thursday and simple carbs on Friday and Saturday. I have used this method before long runs in the past and I do think it makes a difference. You can view the plan in more detail >HERE
For one, I did not get to the start area as soon as I should have. This cost my lots of time and energy going around people for the first part of the race. Dumb beginner mistake.
Going into the race I did not know what I would be capable of for pace. I really struggled with where I thought my race pace would be. Most of the way through my training I ran fairly fast and I did not train myself to slow down. My training was probably more geared for a half marathon than a full. I am still trying to figure this one out.
I started out a little quicker than I probably should have but I felt good. I did not feel like I was pushing things too much. Maybe I should have been running at a 9 or 9:15 pace at the beginning, would my pace have been more consistent? Hard to say right now.
Pain :
Overall, it really was not too painful. I had some discomfort in my right knee. The biggest mistake I made was to not keep walking around after the race to let my legs loosen up a bit. As I waited in line for a massage both of my calves seized up like the worst charley horse in each leg that you can imagine. It took me to the ground. Luckily I was almost inside the tent and they took me in to work out the cramps. Not enough potassium or sodium perhaps? Will have to research this one, I definitely never want to repeat it.
You can view my mile splits from the Garmin >HERE
Chip times from the race:
5K - 28:08
10K - 56:36
Half - 1:56:38
30K - 2:49:17
20 mile - 3:04:07

I was disappointed with myself that I hit the wall during the race and had such a tough time overcoming it. I was definitely a little overconfident in my abilities. When your training goes well and you run strong, you sometimes feel like Superman afterwards. Part of that runners high I suppose.
I did not finish the race in less than 4 hours like I had hoped but I really am ok with that. I believe that running my first marathon at 40 years old in 4 hours and 10minutes is more than respectable. I feel great about my accomplishment and will definitely run another marathon in the near future. I will feel even better when I can walk down the stairs again without the aid of the handrail.

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is it, packed and ready to go.

A little bit of paranoia has set in these last couple of days.

I worry slightly about every little ache, pain or twitch that I feel.

I was trotting across a parking lot in the rain and the thought of slipping on one of the yellow stripes and pulling a muscle entered my mind.

What a shame it would be if there were some freak injury just hours before the marathon.

There is certainly a little self-doubt.

More so about finishing under four hours, yet a small sliver of doubt about finishing the race without walking.

I will finish.

There is a little aching pain in my right knee....I hope works itself out.

Really, I am not so much worried about my race preparations because, I am ready.

It's the unexpected, the stuff that you cannot control.

I just are not supposed to worry about those things.

I'm not fretting, not biting my nails or anything like that.

Just a little concerned.

Now that I have that off of my's time to suck it up and have fun.

If you have nothing better to do, you can watch my progress Sunday morning.

The race begins at 8am central time I am bib # 4954.

Thank you again for all of your support, this continues to be a great Journey to My First Marathon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


This is it, after logging over 700 miles since April there are no excuses.

I am ready.

My instestines are probably died blue from Powerade.

I have consumed an entire box of orange GU.

I am on my 3rd pair of shoes this year.

I can describe to you where just about every mile marker on the bike path is located

I ran on ice, in the dark, through the rain, and the heat.

I put my time in, I am ready. One week from today, on October 4th, I will run 26.2 miles....nonstop.

It doesn't really matter at this point when I finish, just that, I know I can and will finish.

There is a ton of excitement and anticipation building toward this run. It will be a life changing doubt.

Because of this training I have lost over 30 lbs. this year, I feel great.

The marathon will be great, I will do more of them, I already know this.

The support from family, the friendships I have made, and the people I have met that have kept me motivated are priceless.

Thank you, it has been a fantastic journey.

Stay tuned for race report and pictures.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

23 Miles

Today was my last 20+ mile long run. I ran 23 miles without having to stop and walk like I had on my previous 20+ milers.
I was a little intimidated thinking about it and preparing for it leading up to this day. I had practiced carb. loading for this run which involves eating a high carbohydrate diet the three days prior to the run. I believe that fueling properly before the run, making sure that I had plenty of sleep, and probably most importantly having friends to run with really helped me finish strong. Here are the splits / stats for the run. My goal pace for this marathon is going to be 8:45 - 9:00 minutes per mile. This will allow me to finish in under 4 hours.

Just 4 weeks left until the Twin Cities marathon. I am really looking forward to the family support that will be there. I have realized, especially today, that having friends and family to run with and support your running is a huge mental boost. It would have been mentally and physically a much greater challenge to finish today without that support.

Thank you to my wife and family for supporting my running habits; and thank you to my running friends, especially Jeff (@jpickett1968) and Jenn (@purpleshoe), for the training support.
After today I feel that I am really ready to rock this marathon with confidence! But first - Corrin and I will be rocking Vegas!

Friday, August 14, 2009

21 Miles - The breakdown.

Today's run was a monster, like a few weeks ago when I ran 20. This time, I chose not to fear the monster. I have been training for 17 weeks and I finally figured out that slow and steady finishes the run. When comparing to my 20 mile run I changed some things up a bit for this run.

First - I did not create a bunch of anticipatory build up as I had before. Mentally breaking the run down, I told myself it was just going to be a nice easy pace, no 8 or 8:30 miles. Slowing myself down to 9-9:30 was a little difficult to get used to because a lot of my training is at about an 8 min. pace.

Second - I slept well.
The Run
I changed up my refueling plan a little this time. Instead of carrying all Powerade with me I carried half Powerade and half water. The water was a great change, I found it very refreshing and even refilled a couple of times. I also did not have such a strict schedule for taking gels. I took gels at miles 6, 10, 14, and 18, basically when I felt I needed them, which seemed to work out much better; I think I may have overloaded on carbs for my 20 miler.
The first 8 miles went great, as they typically do. The temperature in the first few miles read 75 degrees and there was a nice cooling breeze, running through the shade with the breeze was heaven! I had a little stomach cramping at mile 6 but a gel took care of that, then at mile 8 my legs started feeling fatigued, but that went away before I hit mile 9. My average pace for the first 9 was pretty close to 9:10. At mile 9 I started heading into the wind and had about a 9:35 pace for 3 miles. 11 - 12 is down hill heading towards Falls Park, I took it very easy with a 9:26 mile. After this leisurely down hill run, you get a nice 3/4 mile run up hill, this is where the 20 miler kicked my butt before. I had already decided ahead of time that I was not going to let it happen again and that I was going to kick mile 12's ass ....and so I did and I powered on through it! I stopped at mile 14 to fill up on water and get rid of some too. Stopping was tough, because at that point I realized how fatigued I was becoming. I could have easily thrown the towel in right there, but I didn't. I lumbered on another couple miles, and at mile 16 I decided that I had better do some walking. I walked one mile, from 16 - 17. At 17 I thought I could finish up the run fairly easily, I was wrong. At mile 19 - 20 I walked again, I am not ashamed to tell you so either. I did run the last mile. 21 miles completed in 3 hours 30 minutes, a 10 minute pace even after walking 2 of the miles, I'm ok with that!
Evaluating this training run, I have a new found respect for the 26.2 mile distance. Common thinking is that if you can train at 20 miles, you can run the last 6.2 of the marathon. 20 -21 miles is no piece of cake so to just tack on another 6 is not going to be a walk in the park.

Boston Qualifying is definitely out for this race, I had my head in the clouds when I first thought I had a chance. In fact, my goal will be to finish the marathon in under 4 hours. This requires a 9 minute pace which will be a challenge, but you also have to factor in the crowd and excitement which should help push the pace.

What an exciting challenge. @runnergrl, you were right on when you talked about having a love and respect for the run. Just when you think you have her tamed, she will stomp you down and show you who is in charge. I completed my 21 miles, I am tired and sore, but life is good! I kicked some ass today by running farther than I have ever run before. Mark another notch on the belt, 26.2 I am coming for you soon!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July Summary

It's been a great day, I really rocked my last two runs of the month yesterday and today. I had a beautiful run yesterday, I called it my "Caddyshack run" because it reminded me of the scene where Bill Murry is the unwilling caddy for the older gentleman when it is storming out. The old man can't miss a shot and is having the game of his life; that was my run through the rain yesterday. (minus the "rat farts" lighting strike of course)

Today's run was a scheduled 6 miles. I ran a one mile warm up then ran hard for 4 (7:41,7:39,7:31,7:20) and finished with a one mile cool down. Even though I had a very tough run on Sunday my speed has really kicked up a notch. So, we'll see what happens with Sunday's 14 miler.

Monthly Summary: This was a record month of mileage for me finishing with a total of 163.8 miles. Training is proceeding well, I just need to continue to season the legs for the long runs. As of this writing I believe that there are about 65 days until the marathon. That's two months!

I would like to say that my running has become much less off a chore than it was in the beginning. I don't think much at all of going out for a quick 5 or 6 mile run and I look forward to the Sunday long run challenges. The excitement of the marathon is beginning to build as it grows closer.

I found a good article yesterday with some nice tips for first time marathon runners.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

20 Mile Run Day

Today, I reached a new milestone in my training. I ran farther than I have ever run before, that's right, I ran (sort of) 20 miles. I tried to make sure that I was well hydrated the day before and loaded up on some spaghetti last night to make sure that I had some carbs in my system. Saturday evening after work I ran an easy 5 miles, my schedule said to run 4 but I didn't realize that until I had already finished my 5. Watched a the TDF that I had DVR'd earlier in the day and headed to bed at a fairly early time. My goal was to get up at 6am and be running by 7 while it was nice and cool. Unfortunately, due some circumstances beyond my control I was awakened at 2:30am and did not get back to sleep until probably 4. I reset the alarm clock for 7am.

I woke up before the alarm and felt a little groggy but pretty decent and hit the trail at about7:30am. Within the first half mile, I realized that I had forgotten to take care of things with body glide, too late now, I would have to suffer later.

My first 12 miles were a piece of cake actually. I had a nice pace going and was feeling pretty good. But during mile 13 I really started to struggle. My legs were not holding up very well, I am guessing because of the 5 miles that I had run about 14 hours prior (dumb mistake). So, I walked for awhile during mile 13. Then, with just 7 miles to go, I figured I could probably finish out my run, what's 7 miles? I was wrong, it was a long 7 miles of running and walking. I couldn't even force myself to run the entire last mile without doing some walking. :-(

I completed the run in 3hours and 8 minutes, a pace of 9:24. Not bad but disappointing because I was on pace to finish at about an 8:40 pace. Oh yeah, luckily the chaffing was very minimal, that's a good thing!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When Motivation Kicks You in the Ass

Today I have only myself to blame for my misery. I went out for "a couple" beers with some friends and before you know it, they were taking turns buying the group shots. Of course it would be rude of me to turn these down when they came to the table. Needless to say, the evening was fun, the morning.....not so much.
I was scheduled to run 8 miles today. Luckily I had the day off and was finally able to roll my tired ass out of bed and onto the bike path by shortly after ten a.m. I started off nice and easy with a pace of 8:38 for the first mile, pretty normal for my first "warm up" mile. The next three miles I actually felt good. I was light on my feet and ran a decent 8:15, 8:14, and 8:12. After 4 miles I was starting to wear down a bit, I slowed my pace in order to suck down a gel for some fuel and finished mile 5 in 8:27, then picked it up just a bit, running 8:19 for mile 6. By this time I was really starting to drag and feel the effects of last night. I didn't care what my pace was going to be. I zoned out and decided I would just hang on the best I could for the last two miles, but then it happened. I was jolted out of my running stupor when a young lady in a 2009Twin Cities Marathon training shirt blazed past me. I guessed that she was probably running a little better than 8 minute miles at the time so I figured, what the hell, I'm going to quit feeling sorry for my hung over ass and let her set my pace for the last mile and a half to finish strong.
Somebody had obviously sent her to motivate me! She was moving a little faster than I had originally thought, but I kept up with her fairly well. We crossed over the bridge by the 4 mile marker and rounded the corner. Just up ahead of her we spooked a little white tailed doe next to the bike path and it started bounding ahead of us. It then ran onto the trail and stopped right in the middle, then when it saw us still heading its way, it turned and ran off again, finally disappearing into the trees. Motivator #2, how cool is it to run with a doe?!
Feeling pretty decent and forgetting my hangover pain, I finished mile 7 in 8:10. Motivator #1 turned around and headed back the other way with about half a mile remaining in my run. I was a little disappointed but grateful and somewhat relieved, like I said, she wasn't slacking like I was. I did not push it quite as much the last half mile, but still finished strong with a 7:35 pace on my last mile!
I am glad to be done with my run, but also grateful for the two motivators that were sent my way to help me finish strong.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yasso 800's

Today was the toughest workout I have done all year. I had decided ahead of time that I was going to run intervals on the track today. There are several training philosophies on intervals, I am sure they all have a positive effect on a persons overall speed, but the one I chose to use is the Yasso 800's.
If you are not familiar with this term, this workout was named after Bart Yasso, the Race Services Manager at Runner's World. The Yasso 800's involve an easy warmup before the intervals, and then you run 800 meters on the track at your target marathon time. For instance, my target time is 3 hours 20 minutes, so I needed to run my 800's at 3 minutes and 20 seconds, then jog the track for the same amount of time in between each interval. You should be able to start with 4 of these and add one per week until you can do ten. Sounds simple right?
The first couple of 800's weren't too bad, and because I did not read directions very well, I just jogged for 400 meters before the next interval instead of by time, thereby shorting myself a good minute of recovery time. The third interval was pretty tough, but I knew I could gut it out and finish. I jogged my 400, stopped my watch and took a break, I wasn't sure I would be able to finish another one. After some procrastination, I got back out onto the track and took off for my last interval. I really didn't try to push it too hard on this one, I just didn't care at this point. All the way around the first lap, I kept thinking that I should just stop after one lap and call it good, my body was trying to convince me that it would be ok because I had ran pretty hard the last three intervals. The body can be very convincing in these situations when your legs feel like lead, your heart is pounding and you are gasping for air. But I refused to give up and mindlessly pushed myself through the second lap finishing the interval in 3:23. I was ok with that time, I was done! I jogged a couple of easy laps around the track and sat down for a couple of minutes before I had an easy cool down run home of about 3/4 mile. But, after running intervals, nothing seemed "easy" about the run home, I was beat!
The funny thing is that I ran by some apartments on my way home and a little boy was standing out front of the building, he had his shorts down to his knees and was trying to see how far and how high he could pee on the sidewalk! It was hilarious and made me forget about my pain and suffering the rest of the way home.
So, to make a long story short, I finished my 4 intervals with times of 3:13, 3:23, 3:20, and 3:23. Pretty darn accurate for the first time out on the track this year. It's amazing how your body just seems to know how fast to run!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June Recap

Today was my last training day for June. I completed the month with 127.4 miles including a long run of 14 miles and a long week of 36.9 miles. Comparing my month with May, I ran about 6 miles more and my overall average pace for the month was 8:22 vs. 8:26. So my average pace was 6 seconds faster for the month.

I do feel like I am getting faster and stronger in my runs. Today's 6 mile run was completed with a 7:48 pace which my second fastest run that I have had at this distance. The great thing about that is that I didn't feel like I almost killed myself completing the run. Don't get me wrong, I ran hard, but I didn't use up everything I had and leave my guts out on the road.

I am scheduled for 8 miles on Wednesday and 6 on Thursday. I am planning on taking it easy tomorrow and getting my first speed workout in on Thursday's run.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Training Update

Sunday marked the start of a fairly intense three weeks of training for me. I ran my scheduled 14 miles which went off very well. I took it easy on the pace and finished with about an 8:45 average pace which is not bad but I am a little concerned about qualifying for the Boston Marathon. As I had stated earlier, I need to finish my very first marathon, The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, in 3 hours and 20 minutes, which is a 7:38 pace in order to qualify. This will be no easy task to run 26.2 miles at this pace, I may very well have bitten off more than I can chew. BUT, I have by no means thrown in the towel. There are 14 weeks of training remaining with a weekly mileage ranging from 20-46 miles.
It is going to take a multi-faceted approach to reach my goal. I have started to go back to the gym and do core workouts at least twice a week. This should help me with my form and endurance on the long runs. My next step will be to incorporate some speed workouts into my training miles. This will come in the form of either intervals on or off the track, fartlek runs, and possibly even a 5K or 10K in there somewhere. Finally, on my next long run, I will set my "virtual partner" up on my watch to pace me at 8:30 / mile. This may not seem like much, but 15 seconds per mile over the course of 14 - 16 miles is fairly significant but I believe it is also obtainable.
I have also been doing a better job of watching what I eat. I've been working on eating more protein and cutting back the carbs a bit. I believe that this has helped with my strength, I noticed towards the end of yesterdays run that I was not nearly as tired or worn down as I had been on my 12 mile run a couple of weeks ago.
Finally, I will need to really listen to my body. A good friend pointed out on his blog the dangers of over-training. ( This can be a problem, therefore I will need to make sure that I get plenty of rest and take my time stretching, especially after my runs.
Tuesday is the last day of the month, and it looks like I will end up with about 127 miles for the month of June. That's not bad, but look out July, some quick math tells me that I am headed for about 160 miles for the month!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Running "Tool"

Happy Father's Day to all of the other father's out there! I have been saving a little money here and there the last couple of months for something that I have wanted for quite some time now. It is an extremely technical running tool that has the potential to enhance my training and bring my running to a whole new level.
Ok, truth be told, this may be the coolest gadget since the Furby!

I bought the Garmin Forerunner 405.

This is not just a running watch, this is a GPS enabled sports watch that wirelessly links to my computer and uploads my workouts. The features are amazing. During a run, the 405 will tell me my current speed and distance; it also records my coordinates and altitude. This gizmo records my predetermined splits and alerts me at each one to what my time is for that split. When I am running through town and have to stop for traffic, the 405 will automatically pause until I begin running again. There are also several training features on the 405 including a Virtual Partner in which I can pace myself against a predetermined or previous pace. When my workout is completed I just get within 3 meters of my computer and the information is wirelessly uploaded!
That's not all folks! Once my information is uploaded to my computer, it transfers to the Garmin website. This amazing website filters, crunches, stretches, blends, chops, purees, bakes, fries, and toasts all of this valuable information, then regurgitates it back out into this amazing log!
Although this is my first day with the Garmin 405, it looks like we will be building a beautiful relationship together, yes, I think I am in love. At least until the next techo-gadget comes out!

Have fun and run hard!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


At many points during my training I have to take a step back and reevaluate why I am running. I don't pretend to enjoy it every time I hit the pavement. In fact there are many times that I have to really fight the urge to give up a run and start walking, especially when I am pushing the pace.
I run for several reasons. I run for the obvious health benefits, I run for the competition against my previous run paces and the competition vs. others during a race. I run for the feeling I get after completion (the so called runners high). Finally, I run because it can be a great form of meditation; losing yourself in thought while you whittle away the miles.
Tuesday I was in Marshall, MN for work, and had the opportunity to run a route that I had planned ahead of time. Initially I thought it was going to be just over 6 miles, but GOOGLE WAS WRONG. The Google map had my hotel starting point about a quarter mile closer than it should have. I had to use the aerial view on Mapquest to find my hotel and the actual starting point for my run. So instead of 6.17 miles, I actually ran 6.72 miles. I really wanted to push my pace because I had a couple of non-runners waiting on me to go to dinner. I went out way to fast and had to really take it easy the last couple of miles. I still finished with about a 7:30 pace for the run, which is very strong for me.
Today's run was a hot and humid 84 degrees for 8 miles. I took it easy and logged an 8:30 pace for the run. It's amazing what you can will your body to do. My goal for today's run was an 8:30 pace, I was right on the money at the 4 mile mark and did not look at my watch again until I finished. My finishing time was 1:08:04, 4 seconds over exactly running an 8:30 pace!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

12 Miles

Good solid 12 mile run today. Took it pretty easy out, thought I had picked up the pace on the way back but actually ran a pretty even split for the second half. Finished in 1:43:46 / 8:39 pace. Pretty happy with the pace although I need to be a minute per mile faster for 26.2 miles in order to qualify for Boston.
I discovered during this run that I need to do some serious core workouts and probably throw in a speed workout during the week also.
No blisters and no chaffing this time out - that's a good thing!

Twin Cities Marathon is 16 weeks from today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planning Ahead

I am usually not a very good planner, but I am serious about completing this marathon and giving it my best shot at qualifying for Boston. In order to stick with my runs I really have to look ahead at my schedule and decide when and where I will run. Today's run was only going to happen if I woke up at 3:45 am and hit the pavement by 4. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. I was sore and slow, and it was sprinkling when I started out, so I had plenty of excuses not to run. Somehow I managed to stick it out, and pounded out an easy six this morning. I often wonder what people think when they see a guy running down the street at 4:30 in the morning, hell sometimes I wonder what I am doing running down the street at 4:30 in the morning!
I was planning a run in Iowa on Wednesday, had it all mapped out, but when I drove the course ahead of time I found out that one of the streets was closed. Not many options to change course in Estherville Iowa, so I put my run off until later that day when I returned home.
Next week I will have the opportunity to run in Marshall Minnesota. It makes for a fun challenge, to map out courses ahead of time. By the time the marathon rolls around I will have runs in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Las Vegas!
Happy Running!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Busting Through

On many occasions of running I have had the overwhelming feeling of just wanting to stop and walk. These feelings can happen at just about any time throughout a run, even within the last mile of a planned route. I have tried mantras, cursing,and many forms of self-bribery, usually with fair to poor results. One particular motivational technique I have been using lately that seems to be working well is to throw in some fartleks. That's right, when I feel myself getting bogged down and wanting to stop, I will start to run harder. It may sound strange, but it works!
My advice is to pick a point up ahead such as a sign or the end of the block and run hard to that point. Treat it almost like it is the finish line of a race, you don't have to sprint the distance all out, but give yourself a good hard push. Not only does this clear the "cobwebs" out of my legs and get the blood pumping, but it helps with the mental battle too. Remember, the faster you run, the sooner you can stop running. When you reach the point you were aiming for, back off to a nice easy recovery pace. Remember, the point is to shake things up a bit, not to cause yourself a heart attack. Use the same technique for the recovery portion of your run, pick a point ahead of you, when you reach it, dig in and run hard to the next selected spot and repeat. You can use this technique as many times as you like throughout your run.

So with this technique, not only am I making a physical change during the run, but I have mental justification to back up what I am doing, therefore "busting through" a tough spot during a run. An side benefit of doing this is that it should eventually make you a faster runner because of your increase in pace.

Good Luck and Happy Running!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Official Start of Training Program

After a nice easy week of about 18 miles, I have now officially started on my marathon training program. I was scheduled for ten miles but kicked things off with a 12 mile run this morning. The weather was a little chilly, cloudy, and windy, more like March or April than June, but perfect running weather. My Twitter friend @jpickett1968 planned a great route, following most of the Sioux Falls half marathon course. We did a nice job of pushing each other's pace throughout the run and finished with a negative split and about a 9:20 pace. I'll take that for a long run!

I am scheduled for 34 miles this week, and 36 the next, I quite a bit going on the next two weeks so it will take some serious planning and juggling to get my runs in as scheduled.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Running with Issues

I was scheduled for a 4 mile run this morning but it just didn't seem right. I felt like I was cheated out of some miles on Sunday's run, and I still had a little residual frustration from in too, so I tacked on a couple of extra miles today.
Nice cool overcast morning on the bike path. Ran a pretty consistent pace on an out and back course. 23:45 for first three miles and 23:16 for last three giving me a pace of 7:53. I am very pleased with my pace on this run. It brings me that much closer to the possibility of running a 3:20 marathon and qualifying for Boston.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

10K fiasco

Today I was scheduled to run a 10k race from the Canaries stadium. I was a little worried the day before because it was an 11am start and the temperature was supposed to reach 90 degrees today. When I got up this morning we had a light rain and it was cloudy and cool, perfect running weather!
Upon arriving at the stadium the person signing up runners did not seem very well informed. We were handed a google map of the course with no mileage marked on it and there were no bib numbers, instead they wrote the number on our hand with a Sharpie. I thought it was all a little hokie, but I went along with it. It was a pretty small turnout, I would guess there were 30 people.
The course was a 5K loop through the neighborhood running into the stadium and finishing at home plate, while the 10K runners made the loop a second time.
Finally, it is race time! I start out pretty strong, almost too strong I am afraid. There are no mile splits or signs along the route, so I have to try and guess where I am. The course is fairly flat at first, but there are a couple long gently sloping hills that are somewhat challenging. All is going well when we finally run back into the parking lot of the stadium. As we approach the front of the stadium there is one person asking everyone if they are running the 5K or 10K. When he asks me I flash him both hands, as in "10" for 10K,keep in mind I am in no shape for any type of conversation, it is a little confusing but he points the way for me. I see a couple of runners ahead of me, one of which told me pre-race that he was running the 10K too, so it seems that all is well and I am headed in the right direction. We continue through the parking lot and head south around the back of the ball field. When I reach end of the the field, thinking we are getting ready to start the second half of the 10K, the two runners ahead of me have disappeard! I cannot see another runner anywhere in front of me or behind me! I stop and look all around me to see some sort of person, course marker, anything...I see nothing. Finally someone else comes from behind and goes into a small door leading to the ball field, so I follow him. It's too late, this is the finish for the 5K, I was directed the WRONG WAY! I went ahead, finished as a 5K runner and left. I was mad and frustrated. It really stinks because I was really geared up for this 10K and due to poor organization I didn't get to complete my race as planned. Even after running the wrong way, stopping and circling back I managed to finish my 5K in 22:40 / 7:18 pace.
My thanks to Jeff (@1968jpickett) to stopping out with the kids to watch!

Saturday Run

Very easy paced 4 miles Saturday afternoon. I have decided to run a 10K today. It worries me a little because there is very little information available online about this run. It is at the Canaries ballpark and I won't find out anything about the course until I get there. The good thing is that because there had been little to no advertising about this race there likely will not be many people running, I might even place in my age group.
I have a very aggressive goal which is to finish with a 7:30 pace.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crazy Weather

This spring has been amazing. We had two days in the 90's last week, then dropped down into the 50's and 60's. The last two days it has barely reached 60 and now today it is almost 80. It makes it difficult to adjust to the weather for running.
The last half of today's run was a real struggle. My knee had a little pain, it was hot, I was tired and apparently a whiner now too.
7 miles / 57:24 / 8:12 pace.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday / Wednesday Runs

Nice run this morning, took it pretty easy. Was a cool and misty 51 degrees this morning. 8 miles in 68 minutes (8:30 pace). Great week and a great month going. Running has been pretty enjoyable the last few days!

Chelsea's birthday today so I was short on time. I pushed my run pretty hard all the way and finished strong. Completed my 6 mile run with sub-atomic pace of just under 8 minute miles!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

End of Week / New Week

Ended my week yesterday with a total of 33.9 miles. Average pace for the week was 8:32. Very happy with that.
35 miles scheduled this week. Ran 10 miles on the bike path this morning, 67 degrees, partly cloudy, beautiful morning. I had someone to run with today which made the run much more enjoyable and it seemed to go by more quickly too. I ran at a little slower pace than normal but it was fun having someone to talk to rather than just focusing on how many miles are remaining. Finished in 1:39:49 /9:59 mile.
May is going to be a great month, I have calculated that I will log about 120 miles for the month. It's been a long time since I have ran that many miles within a month.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Logging the miles...

I don't always enjoy the act of running while I am doing it. I think though, that most of the enjoyment from running does not actually come from the actual foot pounding that is done.
My enjoyment of running comes from many other areas. One item on my list would be the noticeable increase in energy that I have throughout most days. Other benefits are the act of burning extra calories and the overall reduction of my heart rate due to the cardiovascular effect of the exercise.
There is also a mental benefit to running, which for me is the sense of accomplishment due to overcoming things like extreme weather and fatigue, not to mention just the thought of running nonstop for more miles than I drive back and forth to work every day.
Yes, there are some days that I really struggle to hit the pavement, but it will all be worth it when I join the ranks of those that have run 26.2 miles nonstop.
Today's run: 6.03 miles/ 50:49/ 8:26 pace. Had a good nights rest and felt much better on my run today than I did yesterday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday / Wednesday Runs

Miserable run, was not feeling well due to 90 degree temps and improper eating and sleeping in the last couple of days. Struggled for the first 5 miles, then walked for 1/2 mile. I then finished out the last 2.5 miles running under protest. I am glad I completed the 8 miles but it was miserable throughout. 8 miles / 1:12:41 (9:06 pace)

Ran my scheduled 6 miles in Des Moines. Followed a path that I found on the USATF web site. Thanks to a posting by Heather Brunk for creating and sharing this route.
Beautiful morning 5.99 miles in 51:12 (8:33 pace).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

10 miles of snot

Beautiful morning starting out at 49 degrees and a slight wind. Great run this morning, last mile was a little more difficult but bearable. 10 miles completed in 1:23:19 / 8:20 pace. Just have to be 1 minute per mile faster in the marathon - that will be a challenge.
I will need to start practicing my refueling during my long runs, so far I have not had to take any water or food with me but I could have used it today.
This was my first 10 mile run in several years, I have another one in a week. Nice easy pace this morning and no pain (so far).

Boston Marathon?

Looking beyond my current goal of running and finishing the Twin Cities Marathon, I would like to finish with a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Qualifying time for my age group is 3 hours and 20 minutes which translates to 7:38 per mile pace. I have a lot of work to do to be able to maintain this type of pace for 26.2 miles.
Here is my training schedule that I have planned out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Evening

Cool South Dakota Spring day, but still beautiful. Finished my week today with a 4.1 mile run in 31:59 (7:50 pace). Felt good because it was just a basic run, was not pushing myself because of my scheduled 10 mile run tomorrow.

Results for this week: 17.2 miles / 2:15:14 / avg. pace 7:51

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Run

It's been strange backing off of my running this week. My schedule only calls for a total of 17 miles with my longest run being 5 miles. I almost feel guilty about it but I think it has been a good thing. It's been good to give my body a bit of an off week to rest up - prepare for the punishment that's coming. In fact, Sunday, the start of the new week for me, my long run will be 10 miles and I am scheduled for a total of 34 miles and 35 the next. It will be a good challenge!
Today's run was a quick 4.1 mile fartlek run. I finished in 30:38 giving me a 7:30 pace. What is a fartlek run? It is simply a run where you vary your pace throughout the run. After about a mile warm up, I will pick a point ahead like a tree, sign, road, etc. and run hard to that point, then back down to my original pace. I continue to do this off and on throughout the run. This increases my overall pace and helps my body adjust to recovering after the hard run periods.
Note: No gas was released during the fartlek run.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday Run

Overcast, cool, and windy this morning. Good day for sleeping late. Nothing exciting to report, the grass is awesomely green ,a long cold winter sure makes you appreciate the spring.
Monday was my day off from running. Scheduled for 4 miles today. Very leisurely run for the first half (8:30 pace), then turned it on a little on the way back, especially the last mile. Finished in 32:37 (8:10 pace).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Run

Scheduled for a 5 mile run this week rather than a long run.

5 miles / 40 min

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Grind

Today was a real motivational struggle. It is amazing how at times a 9 mile run can seem like a breeze while a 5 mile run can be hard fought with every step.
Today was the end of my training week, I finished with 32 miles for the week, a total of 4 hours and 28 minutes running, to give me an average pace of about 8 minutes and 20 seconds per mile. This concludes week 3 of my pre-marathon training, I have 4 weeks to go before I dig into the more difficult weeks and 21 weeks until the marathon.
Beautiful evening, 62 degrees. 5 miles, 35:54 / 7:44 pace.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." (Thomas Edison)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Hills

The party is over, back to work today. Knowing that it will be a long day of catching up I decided to get my run in before work. I hit the pavement just after 4am this morning. Beautiful 54 degree morning, 6.03 miles of hills. I ran it much slower than expected today, finishing in 54:20 / 9:01 pace. It's a good thing I have a day off from running know, my body is feeling a little beat up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday - autopilot

Some days I am tired, sore, and just don't quite feel like running. Today was one of them. It's my last day of vacation and I am determined to stick to my training program so I went out and ran anyway. When I have these days it's like my legs are on autopilot, I don't have to think about speed, pace, etc., they just go while my mind drifts off to other places. That does not necessarily mean it was an easy run, but I did not have to struggle all of the way through it all either. I think the first and last miles were the most difficult but it's done and I feel good.

Despite my whining about running again, it is a beautiful 60 degrees, I finished my 7 miles in 57:53 (8:17) pace. A surprising number of people on the trail this morning, a couple of them enhanced the scenery making the run a little more bearable.

Funny post marathon video...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday Run

Beautiful morning, 58 degrees, 15 mph wind (not bad for here). Everything is bursting with the green of spring. The grass is growing well and the weeds are growing better, what an awesome time of year! My run this morning was supposed to be an easy 5 miler. It seemed to be a little harder than it should have been and when I finished I found out why. My pace was quite a bit faster than usual. I finished 5.04 miles in 39:30 / 7:51 pace. This is the fastest training run I have had all year. My 5 mile St. Pats race I averaged 7:48 but that was a race. If things continue during my training I should have a very good shot at qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
2 days of vacation remaining, time to plant some grass seed and kill some weeds!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Marathon FAQ's

Ok - I get a couple of similar questions about how far, what, why, etc., so here are some marathon tidbits for your to chew on.

How far is your marathon?
Any and all marathons are 26.2 miles. According to "The event is named after the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens."

Why are you running a marathon, are you crazy?
Depends on who you ask, it will be a great challenge. I enjoy running, the way it makes me feel both mentally and physically. It requires little skill, only determination, along with physical and mental toughness. Continuously fighting the natural urge to sit on the couch eating junk food and watching TV vs. sweating through more or less an hour of torture for that feeling of accomplishment and the satisfaction of knowing that you did something good for yourself.

Famous celebrity marathon finishers : Meridith Baxter, William Baldwin, Anthony Edwards, Will Ferrell, Katie Holmes, Chef Gordon Ramsey, David Lee Roth, P.Diddy, Scott Bakula, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Al Gore, John Edwards, Ryan Reynolds, Mario Lopez, Oprah, and more!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Long Run

Pressed for time today, but after a great weekend with family in Wisconsin and an 8 hour drive home, I was able to muster up my long run today. 9 miles / 1:17:23 = 8:36 pace which is 12 seconds per mile faster than last week. After not eating or sleeping well all weekend I have to say I am very happy with those results.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Today's run was a little more mentally and physically challenging than yesterday. I ran a different course that has several elevation changes and is more challenging than the bike path. It is basically 3 miles downhill and then 3 back up with some smaller hills thrown in along the way, just for fun. I finished the 6.03 mile course in 50:35 / 8:24 pace. Weather is still damp, overcast and 51 degrees. (Good running weather) My pace was little slower than yesterday, but that's ok because I am merely logging miles today.
My cough and congestion is much better today, not 100% but definitely better.

Time to shower, finish packing and head to Wisconsin.

End of April results = 65.2 miles / 9hours 18 minutes

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Run

We finally had a break in the rain today. 53 degrees, 6 mile run on the bike path, 49:12 / 8:12 pace. It is nice running on the bike path because it is premeasured in half mile incriments and you don't have to worry about traffic. You can just zone out and run.
Started on antibiotics yesterday to help kick this respritory thing I have going. It seems to be helping because I did not hack and cough nearly as much as I had been after my run.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Run

Scheduled 5 mile run today. Pretty happy with my pace. Finished in 40:57 (8:12 pace). Still have a nagging, hacking cough / cold. I am seriously considering breaking down and going to the doctor today to get some antibiotics. I feel good running but hack up a storm when I am finished.

This week will be a good test of my diligence when I go to Wisconsin. I will need to get in a 4 mile run on Saturday and 9 miles on Sunday. I am looking forward to somewhere new.

Feeling good in general, I noticed that my weight has gone back up from 188 to 191 yesterday. I have not been watching my diet very closely, but I don't think I have been eating too badly either. It will be difficult not to eat a lot of junk over vacation. Good thing I am putting in the miles!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In the beginning...

I will attempt to record my adventures as I prepare for my first marathon. I will be running the Twin Cities Marathon on October 5th. I have just begun my second week of seven of my pre-marathon training. I ran 28 miles last week and have 30 on the schedule for this week.

My training will consist of the before mentioned 7 weeks of pre-training, then I will begin my training plan of 17 weeks. My long runs will range from 6 to 23 miles and my weekly miles will range from 18 - 46 miles. I selected a training plan that gives me two to three days off per week and seems very manageable for my work schedule.

Today was my long run for the week, 9 miles. I try to run a very relaxed easy pace on my long runs and have so far been successful. It was a beautiful spring morning, the bike trail is bursting with green. 45 degree damp morning. I completed the 9 miles in 1:19:09 / 8:48 pace. This is very similar to my current goal pace for the marathon. I may adjust that as my training goes on, but for now I just want to complete the marathon in under 4 hours and I would love for my family to be there to see me and celebrate with me at the finish.