Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ultra Madness

It's official, I have caught the bug. 50K training started this week. Registration opens next week. The allure of running on challenging trails for 5 or more hours has proved to be irresistible. Care to join me?

How could you not want to run in a place that looks like this?
Photo Credit to dirtrunner100.blogspot

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Natural Running Store

Please hear me out on this, I have a lot to say about this company, and I think that it's important to tell this story.

I have been on the search for better shoes. I have worn the same style Asics Gel Cumulus for several years now and they have served me well. But, I am a believer in natural running. I have personally seen my pace improve when I practice good form and can increase my cadence. I have dabbled with Newton Sir Isaacs with some success but find them a little hard on my feet for longer runs. Anyway, I have been a pretty loyal Road Runner Sports customer for at least a couple of years. I even pay to be a VIP member to save money on my purchases. I bought a pair of Saucony Kinvara's from RRS a little while back and after one very short run in them I knew that they were definitely not the shoe for me. Much too narrow for my wide duck-like feet.

Coach Jeff had been talking about the Altra Instinct zero drop shoes available from the Natural Running Store. I read up on them a little and I like that they spoke of a larger toe box so that your feet can spread out in them rather than having your toes crammed together. So...I pulled the trigger. I went online and was even able to get a little bit of a discount at the time. The Instincts retail for $99, really not out of the ball park for a good pair of shoes. As soon as I registered on their site and placed my order I received a video email from Patton Gleason, the President of Natural Running store, thanking me for my order. You may view the actual video here. You can learn more about Patton here.
You can click on image to see the actual video.

Later that same day, I received another video email from Patton telling me that my shoes were on their way.
It's pretty humorous, I suggest you listen to it here.

My shoes arrived in just a few days and here is what I found....

Inside the box of shoes was an additional pair of inserts, one is labeled support, the other strengthen, there was a tasty sample size LARABAR, and on the lid of the box are some brief notes about the Altra's describing The Technique, The Transition, and The Fit.

The box states that they should feel like you are wearing slippers, I will vouch for that!

Ok, so what, they have a couple of cheesy videos and they shipped my shoes pretty quickly. 

Let me tell you. 

Here, in my opinion is what sets them apart from the competition. There was one more item in my box, it was a hand written thank you note.
Really, a thank you note for buying a pair of shoes!
I was stunned and impressed that John at the Natural Running Store actually took the time to write me a personal thank you note for buying a pair of shoes. Very cool!

But wait...that's not it. The day after my shoes arrived I received a personal email from John asking about my training and goals. 

I have to tell you that because of John and the service that I received from the Natural Running Store, I now know what it truly feels like to be a VIP. The best part, it didn't cost me any extra!

As a side note, I really don't have anything against RRS. They have always been pleasant on the phone, they have a huge selection of running shoes, clothing, and other accessories. But the personal service that I received from the Natural Running Store was second to none and if they start carrying clothing along with their shoes, I will be hard pressed to go anywhere else.

You can learn more about the Altra Instinct here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Santa Returns!

Friday night was the Jingle Bell Run in Sioux Falls. I was just lucky enough to be in town and find a Santa suit so we could pull off an even better version of our 2009 event.

Thanks to Joseph, we had a great team of reindeer this year! There really is not much to say about this event other than it was great fun running with friends, seeing the excitement in the kids' faces, and hearing their shouts of "Santa!". I got a couple of hugs and verbal Christmas lists from the kids, and we even made the Sioux Falls newspaper again this year.

With my grandson Elliot before the run.

Hangin' out before the run, check out the kids behind me

Santa with the coolest reindeer!

Santa fueling up the sleigh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vets Day Trail Race

I had the opportunity to participate in the 4 mile Veterans Day Trail Race in Kansas City this weekend. I LOVE the challenge and variety that trail running and racing offers. Most of my training this year has been with longer more aerobic runs so a 4 mile trail race was quite the challenge for me. I was pretty much redlining most of the run, and after the first 2 miles I did walk some of the hills just to get my heart rate back under control.

It was a new course through the Wyandotte Lake area in Kansas, there were several areas of the trail that were cambered and leaf covered. I was one of the lucky few towards the front that did not take a wrong turn off of the path. As you can see, just by looking at the course here, it would not be difficult to do so.

The course is almost all single track which made it difficult to pass. But, being a fairly low key race, everyone moved when asked. There were no huge hills like Run Toto Run, but there were plenty of little ups and downs to keep a person challenged. Here is a snapshot of the elevation.

I started fairly close to the front because I knew it was going to be difficult to pass once we got into the trees. I let a few people jump out ahead of me knowing that some of them would fall back as we got into the race.

 I was able to pass quite a few people but after mile 3, I was passed back by two of them. I kept right on the tail of one of the guys but just didn't have the strength to pass him back again. He didn't walk any of the hills but I was able to make up my ground on him on the flat and downhill sections. I was hoping that he was going to wear himself out running up the hills. He was pretty tough and was able to stay in front of me. I finished the race in 31:04 and 10th place overall. As you can see by the times here, it looks like pretty much everyone behind me took a wrong turn on the trail.

This was a fun race and also very difficult. I had the pleasure of introducing trail running to a friend from Bethany and also had the opportunity to meet fellow Dailymile badass Sherrie who recently ran 54 miles on 9/11.

It's Tuesday and I am still a little sore from the rocky and uneven terrain but I can't wait to get back out there again!
Attempting to smile for the camera.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I thought about writing a lot of long winded excuse about how busy I have been at work and haven't had time to run or exercise much. This may be true...but, we are all busy, I am not the only one that works long hours. I just didn't have a plan or a goal in mind.

I changed that. I have a training plan and even a race or two up my sleeve.

It's times like this that remember just how much I need running. I am a much calmer and nicer person when I run. It helps take the edge off. I hit the road at 5am Monday morning. It was just a little 40 minute run, but it made the entire day oh so much better.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Racing Reminiscing

Do you remember your first time?

I hadn't really thought about it recently, until today. A Daily Mile friend posted a picture of her and her daughter from the Halloween Trick or Treat Trail Run in Sioux Falls and the memories all came flooding in.

I remember how new I was to running. Back in 1999 I was running in cotton shorts and t-shirts. No Garmin or Timex watch, just me looking at the clock on the wall as I headed out the door. I remember that a long run back then was 5 miles. Running has been quite the journey for me. I have saved most of my racing bibs and I generally write the race results, date, my age, finish time, average pace, and placing on the back of most of them. Here are what I would today consider my top ten for various reasons.

1. The Trick or Treat Trail Run in Sioux Falls. Of course number one has to be my first race, it was back in 1999. I remember several runners wearing costumes, in particular a group of guys taking turns pushing each other in a wheel chair. This was a 4 mile race, I still have the newspaper results, I finished in 31:03, not too shabby for my first! My most memorable moment of this race is coming around the last turn before the finish, I was giving it all I had just to make it to the finish line when all of the sudden....a speed walker passed me. Pretty damn funny if you ask me!
1999 Trick or Treat Trail Run - Sioux Falls, SD 
2. I moved to Illinois shortly after my first race. I found a strong running group in Illinois, the Illinois Valley Striders (IVS). The great thing about IVS is that there were 5K or 10K races within about an hours drive almost every weekend. I really "cut me teeth" for running with 5K's. My first 5K was on July 1, 2000, I finished in 24:16. It was ok, the most memorable part was finishing up at the Peoria Chiefs Ballpark by running across home plate.
2000 Peoria Chiefs 5K - Peoria, IL

3. Race number three is my 5K personal best.This took place on June 15, 2002 in the Prostate 5K. I finished in 19:11 and was also first in my age group at that race! I don't remember a whole lot about that race other than seeing 18 minutes slip away on the clock. Still a great race and a PR to this day.
June 2002/ 5K personal best of 19:11 - Peoria, IL

4. Race number 4 is my first half marathon. This took place in Delavan, Illinois. We had a bus take us out into the middle of the country. We ran two 6 mile loops and finished up by running into town and finishing at a school. This was in March, I remember it was cold and there was really nothing to see but miles of blacktop roads and empty corn fields. I finished in 1:50:29 and was 3rd in my age group. They did a great job of using up old leftover racing bibs as this one was 3 years old when it got to me!
May 2001 Delavan Half Marathon - Delavan, IL

5.First Marathon. Throughout most of my running and racing history I had no desire to run a marathon. A good friend of mine in Sioux Falls talked me into it. We decided that we would train together and run it together. About halfway through the training he became injured, so I had to go solo. I made a lot of rookie mistakes, went out too fast, bloody nipples, didn't drink enough fluids. It was a tough go but very emotional at the finish. There is nothing like finishing your first marathon. Finishing time was 4:10:12, I haven't improved a whole lot from the first.
October 2009 First Marathon - Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

6. Frisco High Line Run for Scouting Half Marathon, Springfield, MO. This is my half marathon personal best and I got it this year! I must say that I was in pretty damn good shape coming out of the winter. I did this race in preparation for a Fargo Marathon BQ (that never happened). It was a nice little race. I remember it that it was extremely flat and we ran it in the middle of a thunderstorm. I was surprised that they didn't call it because there was lightening and thunder going off all around us. I finished in 1:33:45, I was 10th overall and 3rd in my age group. I was also lucky enough to meet Jon and David of  Daily Mile fame!
March 2011 Frisco Half Marathon - Springfield, MO
7. Hy-Vee Triathlon. This was my first Olympic distance triathlon. I did run two sprint triathlons prior to this but I am not quite sure what I did with the bib numbers.The triathlon is a whole other beast. The training takes a lot of time and dedication while the actual race itself requires patience and discipline in order to make it through all three events. I am probably more proud of this than any of my other accomplishments because of the training and logistics involved. If you are a triathlete or considering becoming one, I highly recommend the Hy-Vee Triathlon. It is well organized and a first class event all the way! (I may be a little biased because I work for Hy-Vee so do your homework first)
September 2011 First OD Triathlon - Des Moines, IA
8. Dam to Dam. I ran this race back in June of 2002, that was a really strong year of running for me. If you recall from # 3, this was my year of the 5K PR. The Dam to Dam was the first time that I had met up with people from a running social networking site. I can't remember the name of the site but I believe that Josh Cox  ran it before it was turned over to Cool Running. I remember running near a barefoot guy for awhile, I thought he was crazy. It was a great race, I finished in 1:28:01 (7:05 pace) and was 135th overall out of 2,500. I was pretty proud of myself!
June 2002 Dam to Dam - Des Moines, IA
9. Lake Run - Best Darn Race By a Dam Site. This also was in my 2002 breakout year. Interesting note about this race is that it is a 12K and a 4.37 mile run. The 12K runs around the lake and the 4.37 mile is an out and back course. They start at the same time in opposite directions but finish at the same place. I do remember that there were some ladies walking 3 abreast for the 4.37 mile run taking up half of the road. I was pretty mad that I had to run around them because they were inconsiderate and didn't even think to move. would have thought I was trying out for the Olympics or something. Still a great race, my 12K PR with a finishing time of 49:12 (6:37 pace).
2002 Lake Run - Normal, IL 
10. Polka Pace Race. Really nothing special about this 5K, I just thought you might find the name amusing like I did. I ran this back in 2000, two moths after I had run my first 5K. I lowered my time to 21:55 by the time I ran this race in September. I was a 5K machine back then! My fan club (my daughter) decided to write a little note on this one. :-)
2000 Polka Pace Race - Havana, IL

As I finish writing this there are a lot of other races I could have included. Running and racing has allowed me to have a healthy hobby and meet a ton of awesome like-minded people. It has been an awesome journey and I look forward to the future!

Do you remember your first time? Any interesting racing stories from the past? 
I have completed race distances of 2.5 mile, 5k, 4 mile, 4.37 mile, 10K, 12K, 10 miles, 15K, 20K, Half Marathon, and Marathon. I am working on a possible 50K for 2012. What unusual race distances have you run?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Running Safety

We are in the middle of bow hunting season for deer here in Missouri, rifle season is just around the corner. Things get a little crazy out here in the country. I can remember one Sunday morning last fall being able to hear gunshots going off around me and a hunter with a blaze orange vest and a rifle slung over his shoulder walking down the road. For those of us that do a lot of running on the rural roads, I would like to send out a friendly reminder of the proper way to dress for this time of year.

First of all, you never want anyone to mistake you for a deer. Although it may seem funny at the time, you certainly don't want to run through the countryside dressed like this!


If you must insist on running outdoors during the prime deer hunting season, I recommend incorporating bright colors such as blaze orange into your running wardrobe. A good headlamp is a great investment too. I wear the Tikka X2 headlamp that has modes including a flashing white or red light. This may help keep the rednecks from using you for target practice. Here is an example of what a person might wear.


Thanks for stopping by, have fun and be safe out there!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bucolic and Heterogeneous

Somebody left me a comment on Daily Mile about my run being bucolic. I learned a new word that day. If you are like me and didn't know the meaning, Merriam-Webster states that it is an adjective "relating to or typical of rural life". I noted in my Daily Mile post that I had seen pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, and cows. With that being was quite the bucolic run.

Today's post will be a bit heterogeneous. It's always important to learn new things!

You can be anything you want to be, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith; for whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.

Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.

Look for the opportunity in everything.

When you choose to keep moving toward a glimmer of hope, focusing on any minute possibility of success-rather than focusing on the obstacles in the way-you succeed simply in the trying.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I have had a tough time with the life balance lately. Training for the Hy-Vee Tri took a lot of planning and commitment, but it also caused me to put off a few things at work. Since the tri I have been working quite a bit more; it's a good thing I love my job and the people that I work with. The thing that I have found out about myself though, is that I have to have a fitness goal, or at least a plan of some type. I parted with my coach after the triathlon and have been taking it pretty easy for the last couple of weeks. In fact, I didn't run a single mile this last week. I have become very good friends with the snooze button on my alarm. I still think about running and enjoy running, but actually doing it hasn't really been happening.

Corrin and I went to the Chiefs vs. Vikings game today to cheer on the beloved purple!
Beautiful day at the game!

Unfortunately our cheering didn't help and the Vikings are now 0-4. We had a great time though! On the drive home, I made up my mind that I would write up a running schedule for myself. I have my eye on a couple of different runs, but nothing concrete. My goal is to simply get some time on the road, build some mileage and have fun with it. The real test will be Monday morning when the alarm goes off. I know right now that it's going to be a real battle to see who wins. I will have all of my clothes laid out and ready to go tonight. With a little luck and a lotta will power I will be back on the road tomorrow morning. This really is some of the best running weather and it would be a shame to miss out on any more of it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wandering Sunday

Beautiful Day

Cows in the mist.
Starting the morning run. (Notice the freshly mowed lawn!)

Miniature horses

The traffic is light today...and every other day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Run

Took a nice Sunday drive in the Asics today. I had a new route in mind that I figured would take close to 2 hours to complete. I cruised through some nice rolling hills this morning, none of them real massive but as you can see, they just never stop around here.

Surprisingly, I realized after I was done that this was the longest distance that I have run since April. Now that I am falling back in love with running, it's time to see if I can spend some more quality time with her. :-)

Being able to check out the elevation profile after a run is pretty cool if you ask me!

Sights on today's run included:
  • Miniature horses (they ran with me)
  • Cows (they ran from me)
  • Amish family walking down the road to church
  • goat
  • flock of sheep
  • field of mums
  • pig
  • Chickens
  • 8 vehicles in 13.1 miles
Running out here can be an adventure, I will try to take the camera with me next time.

I do have my next race in mind. I am looking at the Fall Fell Trail Race in Olathe Kansas on October 16th, or maybe, (probably not though) the Lake Perry 50K on October 22. This would be my first attempt on the 50K distance. We'll see how it all pans out with the short training window, it may be biting off a little more than I can chew, but that wouldn't be anything new for me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hy-Vee Triathlon Recap

My Hy-Vee Triathlon Adventure.
Exciting coming into town!

Cool back pack received at check in. Part of the race swag!

When I arrived in Des Moines, I immediately hit up the expo and got registered. We had to sit through a 15 minute briefing that really didn't tell me much. Then we completed registration and picked up some cool stuff!

Upon registering we received a backpack, choice of hat or visor, and a nice bike jersey.

I dropped my bike of at the transition area. It was huge! This picture was taken from the entrance, see the little white tent in the back? That's where my bike went. Row 32 of 35! It made for a long way out to the bike course, but the run went out the back side, so I was in a good spot for it.

This is a good shot of the starting area. I won't lie, it was intimidating looking out at the swim buoys and seeing how far we would be swimming. All I can say is thank God for cooling the water down enough for it to be wet suit legal!

The swim went ok. I made it. I was happy to be out of the water!

It really startles you when you touch someone else in the water. It was difficult for me to site the buoys, especially when we headed into the sun and my goggles were fogging.

 I was 944 / 991 in the swim. That's ok because I finished!

Getting ready to roll out on the bike! I was VERY thankful to be out of the water and into my comfort zone.

I was having fun and feeling good on the ride. I probably could have pushed it a little harder in retrospect, but I averaged 18.8 mph after swimming a mile. I can accept that.

Off of the bike and into the run! I maintained a solid pace on the run. I felt like I was consistent and was able to pass several people. I had some cramping issues a couple of times but I made sure that I drank plenty of Gatorade and water at the stops. Luckily it didn't get too bad. I was able to maintain a 7:23 average pace on the run. A little faster than I expected!

Finally finished!

So to wrap things up, my finishing results are as follows:
1500 meter swim 40:14  944 / 991
T1 4:17
40 K bike 1:19:16 565/991
T2 3:23
10K run 45:56 206/991
Overall finish time was 2:53:14   429 / 991
Age group (40-44) 60/96

I am happy with the results. I had predicted that it would take me about 3 hours to finish. The swim was actually 5 minutes faster that I had guessed. 

I don't plan on doing any more triathlons this year. It is way too difficult to get any swimming in around here and that's where I need the most work. The last few weeks of my training I was driving an hour each way to get to a pool. It's really not feasible to continue to do that.

It was a great experience and I am happy to have completed it.

One of best parts of this entire experience was that I had a great support crew of family there to watch and cheer me on. It was a pretty awesome day!