Thursday, May 31, 2007


Yesterday I mentioned doing more marathon paced runs during my taper. However, when I got home from work, I broke out Daniels’ Running Formula and reviewed his taper plans. His programs go from an interval phase (which is where I’ve been lately) to a tempo phase during the last 4 or 5 weeks (don’t quote me on the length, as I didn't review further back than the taper). His workout today called for 4 x 10-12 minutes at tempo pace with 2-minute rest. Given my tempo pace is around 6:10-6:15, I figured I’d just do 2 mile repeats. I don’t know if it was the hilly terrain or what, but I was a little slow (12:38, 12:34, 12:42). I started a fourth repeat, but my legs were not responding, so I shut it down and jog in – finishing with 13 miles on the day.

Next time I do this workout I’ll have to find a flatter path. I found myself cruising down hills at 6:00 pace and then being in oxygen debt going up a hill at 6:40 pace. Daniels mentioned that running the correct pace for these workouts is very important. You don’t want to be too fast or too slow. Even if, overall, my splits were right on, the yo-yo pace during each rep is probably not what Daniels is referring to.

I also used this run to work on figuring out how I want to carry my gels during Grandma’s. I kept my race number from Monday’s race and pinned it onto my shorts. Then I pinned 2 gels between my shorts and race number. It worked out just fine, even at the faster pace. I’m hoping to carry 3 gels during the race, but could only find 2 at home. It should still work on race day.

And, of course, I’m trying to hone in on a race goal/strategy. Again, everything I’ve looked at, Daniels’ VDOT, McMillan, other on-line calculators, spreadsheet macros, etc., all point to sub-2:55. Some are even as low as sub-2:51. Heck, even my own, very conservative, “double your half time and add 12 minutes” formula (calculated from my 1:23 in June of 2002 and 2:58 in Oct of 2002) calculates to a 2:55:34.

With all that information in-hand, I want be able to break 2:55, but also be in a position to run 2:51 - 2:52. I don’t want to just settle on 2:55 and then look back and regret that I was content with a PR. Besides, I may never get this opportunity again. So right now I’m thinking about going through the half in 1:27 (+/- 30 seconds). From there I can either 1) even-split and run 2:55, 2) speed up and still run 2:51, 3) slow down and still PR or 4) blow up – which I just can’t see happening. I mean if I just ran a sub-1:22 half and I go through Grandma’s 5-minutes slower, how can that be too aggressive? I just don’t see that pace being a problem.*

*As always, this analysis does not take weather into account.

I finished May with 268 miles on 26 runs. Since I didn't double up at all, I averaged over 10 miles per run. I don't think I've ever done this for a month before.

Quote of the day;

“- No doubles. Who needs ‘em? What person with any semblance of a day job and/or personal life can continue them year-after-year? Doubles are nothing but extra clothing changes and gazings at sanatorium-white walls on creaky treadmills.

- Taking weekend zeros if I can’t fit runs between the bookends of a crazy day and not caring, crying, or obsessing over a missed run.”
- Dunkin Larkin

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007


    Hmm, I guess yesterday’s ethical question was so hard hitting that no one wanted to touch it. Either that or no one cares. Or no one is reading any more.

    Here’s something I forgot to mention 10 days ago. After my long run I weighed 135 pounds. I think I was 133 pounds when I graduated from HIGH SCHOOL. Maybe with my 20 year reunion coming up this summer, my body is trying get back to my graduation weight. Last Saturday I weighed in at 137 pounds after my long run. That’s probably more reasonable and probably even too light. I think I ran Chicago last year around 140-142 pounds.

    Not much else is going on lately. I ran a very easy 5 miles yesterday and even left my watch at home! This morning was an easy 8 mile run. I’m trying to decide what I want to do during my taper – workout-wise. Pfitz’s schedule has an 8-10K ran this weekend, but I’m going to pass on that. I feel like my racing is still on the upswing and I want to take that into Grandma’s, rather than “go for one more.” He also has 3 x 1 mile on the schedule for next week that I’m thinking about skipping. I haven’t really done any marathon specific work in nearly 2 months, so I’m thinking about doing one of those in each of the last 3 weeks.

    Normally, I complain about people when they say they’re following XYZ’s plan and then they proceed to change the mileage, the workouts, the length, etc. I always wonder when it switches from XYZ’s plan to said runner’s plan. Anyway, since I’ve basically butchered Pfitz’s plan this time around, I should at least stop claiming that’s what I’m following.

    Quote of the day;

    “I believe that there are no short cuts or secrets to being a great runner. Running is hard and you have to be willing to put in the high miles to compete at a high level. I follow an Arthur Lydiard plan, which consists of a huge base phase and I believe that is the most important part of my training program. I believe that whatever your training plan is you need to stick to it. I think that too many people trade what they want tomorrow for what they can have today. I think that you can do a lot off of a huge aerobic base. I am not huge on intervals either. Anyone can crank out 200 meter repeats all day long but I believe that tempo runs and marathon pace runs are the key to distance racing.” - Jeremy

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007


    Yesterday’s race brings about an ethical question. The race did not have chip timing, so I just started my watch when I crossed the start line. Did I run 17:52, as my watch said, or 17:54, as the official results say? Personally, I think it’s okay to create your own chip time in this situation.

    I’m always amazed at how different runners perform at different distances. Two weeks ago, I beat one of the guys I train with by 2:33 in a half marathon. Yesterday he was 8 seconds behind me. 8 seconds! Good for him. Not so good for me. Maybe that’s why I’ve stay away from 5Ks as much as possible.

    Actually this race had me thinking it’d be fun to focus on some shorter stuff. Heck, I was only 62 (or 64) seconds from my all-time PR. While that’s still 20 seconds per mile, it’s nice to be so close. Even if I could shave 10 more seconds per mile off my time and get into the 17:20-range, I’d be happy. That was kind of my standard time in college with a couple of sub-17s mixed in.

    But with Grandma’s right around the corner I can’t be worrying about 5Ks. To be honest, I have a totally different mindset than prior to any other marathon. At Chicago, last year, I thought I was in PR shape, but I still had those doubts in the back of my mind. As a result, I never really went after it and was content to run slower than I needed to in order to set a PR.

    Right now I’m thinking there’s no way I can mess this up. I know those can be famous last words, but seriously, given decent conditions, I just can’t see not breaking 2:55. My training has been consistent since recovering from Chicago, I have decent mileage, solid tempo runs, half a dozen 19-22 mile runs, along with my fastest races since college from 5K through the half. As of right now, I have no excuses.

    I've posted a couple of new interviews on my other blog, including one with the winner of yesterday’s 5K.

    Quote of the day;

    “Coming off the last turn, my thoughts changed from ‘One more try, one more try, one more try…’ to ‘I can win! I can win! I can win!’” – Billy Mills

    Monday, May 28, 2007


    That's interesting. Friday I figured no one would be around, so I just threw a topic out there and ended up getting a bunch of comments. Sounds like there's no right or wrong answer. I talked with Heidi today and she had a good point; running at 5:30 AM the 8:10 pace is probably similar to 7:40s if I ran later in the day when I was more awake. Anyway...

    I had 3 goals for the holiday weekend;

    1) Get in my last long run. Check.

    Saturday I ran solo for 30 minutes before meeting Evan at Lebanon Hills. He's just coming back from a broken toe and 7 weeks in the pool, but was still able to manage 90 minutes with me. After finishing those 90 minutes we stood around for a couple of minutes. I wasn't sure how I'd feel as I headed back out for another 5 miles. My knee was a little sore, but it went away quickly and I ended up feeling really good. I ran a total of 2:42 and called it 20 miles. I "only" had 62 miles for the week, but I was able to do that on 5 runs.

    2) Run a decent 5K. Check.

    The Brian Kraft 5K is flat, fast and very competitive. Given the way I've been running lately, I thought it'd be possible for me to break 18-minutes for the first time since college. However, I've learned over the years that I can think I'm in great shape and still not turn out a decent 5K. So, sub-18 or not, I wasn't going to let this race distract from Grandma's.

    Now normally when I'm running a 5K all I can think about is "this sucks" and "I never want to run one of these again." Today was different. I actually felt good, was pretty confident and got into a nice rhythm early. I will admit I still get a little confused at the start when I’m going out hard and there are people ahead of me that end up running a minute slower than me. If you’re finishing at 6:00 – 6:05 pace, should you really be going out at 5:30 – 5:40 pace?

    Anyway, I never saw the first mile marker and there wasn’t anyone reading splits, which is okay with me – less to think about. Halfway through the race I’m feeling pretty strong. It seems like I’m pulling away from people and gaining on others. About that time, Erin and Dan came by me and were moving very quickly. I can’t go with them, but just seeing these two really strong runners at this point in the race is a confidence booster. Two miles in I start seeing people I recognize, but never finish near – another confidence booster. About a half mile later Chip pulls alongside of me. Now this really surprises me because I’ve never beaten him. And while I didn’t beat him today, he was just 4 seconds in front of me.

    So to make a long story longer, I crossed the line in 17:52 by my watch, officially it was 17:54. Either way, it’s another post-30 PR. To see how competitive this race is, check out the results here.

    3) The third and most important goal was to survive the weekend with my knee and foot still intact. Right now I feel good, so unless things go south overnight, I should be able to check off this goal tomorrow too.

    Taper time…

    Friday, May 25, 2007


    I was thinking during this morning’s 10 mile run that I must be the slowest sub-3 marathoner around. I took one split on the way out and saw 8:10. This wasn’t an easy split during a warm-up or the day after a hard effort. This was a pretty typical “putting in the miles” pace.

    8:10s? Goal pace is 90 seconds faster per mile.

    Now I realize I put more stock in long runs, tempos, speed workouts and races, than I do “putting in the miles” pace. But I can’t help but think about how slow these are, especially when I constantly read about other (slower) runners training well below 8:00 pace.

    Would I be faster if I ran 7:30s for these runs instead? Would the other runners be faster if they slowed down? I don’t know the answers – just something to ponder.

    Heck, the last 3 miles I dropped to 7:40s. The effort wasn’t that much greater, but there was a mental effort that’s required to get there.

    This is my final big week before tapering and I was planning on getting 65-70 miles in. However, I ended up taking yesterday off to rest my knee, along with a new ache under my big toe. Normally, I’d run through those aches, but at “23 days out” I don’t want to take the chance of doing something stupid. The difference between a zero and a six in the log book, at this point, is probably not measurable.

    If you have time, be sure to check out Chris Lundstrom’s latest journal entry.

    Quote of the day;

    “Training well requires so many things to be working in unison. Mastering the physical side alone is tricky enough. Add to that the mental and emotional side, to say nothing of the logistics of actually getting things done, and you start to see how tenuous optimal training actually is.” – Chris Lundstrom

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007


    I was doing a little research for a future article and came across an older interview with Team USA Minnesota’s coach, Dennis Barker. The interviewer asked if made any mistakes trying to bring an athlete to a peak. Coach Barker’s response;

    The times when the peaking isn’t right tend to be when you get away from what the athlete’s used to. You change things up too much and get out of the regular rhythm.

    With just over 3 weeks to go, the timing of that advice couldn’t be better, especially since Tracy just sent me a great workout that I’d like to try. However, it’s a lot different that what I’ve been doing lately, so throwing it into the mix now is not a good idea.

    Yesterday I just ran an easy recovery run. This morning was another mid-week, medium-long run, which ended up being 14 miles. It seems my right knee has become my indicator for when I’m nearing “the edge”. It’s been flaring up off-and-on all winter and is more annoying than anything. With a couple of easy days in a row scheduled, it shouldn’t be a problem – just something to keep an eye on.

    I just wanted to take a minute to congratulate some folks who raced well last weekend, in Green Bay and Fargo. In Green Bay Jason was 7th in the half in 1:08:51. Ed PRd by 5 minutes, which is a lot by anyone’s standards, let alone someone running 1:09:28. And Kim ran 1:25:00 for 5th woman and 2nd master. Meanwhile, in Fargo, Eric placed 2nd overall in a 2:33:46 debut and Marc may be one of the year’s most inspirational stories. Great job everyone.

    A new manager started in my department a couple of weeks ago. She’s a triathlete, so I have to watch what I say now. No more bad-mouthing triathletes. Instead, I’ll provide a couple of links. I’ve mentioned Curt’s blog before, but since he’s one of the best triathletes in Minnesota, I thought I’d mention him again. Also, I don’t follow the sport much anymore, but this gal is spraying champagne on the podium at a World Cup event, so she must be tough.

    Finally, if all those links aren’t enough, check out my latest interview.

    Quote of the day;

    “I went to hear Dick speak at the expo and then I got to talk with him a bit. They had announced that I had a faster half marathon time than his - my time is 1:02:44 and Dick's is 1:02:50 - but later Dick pulled me aside and said that his half marathon time came as a split during a marathon. That was a humbling thought.”Andrew Carlson, who won the Fargo Half in 1:05:02, talking about meeting Dick Beardsley

    Monday, May 21, 2007


    I forgot to mention this as I posted from home yesterday. The first thing I saw when I got home from work after my “30 Day” post was homemade chocolate chip cookies. About 99% of the time, my wife makes the pre-made-batter cookies – the kind where all you have to do is turn the oven on and take the cookies out on time. They’re okay, but I can live without them – especially during the final 30 days. Homemade cookies on the other hand are a different story. I can’t even tell you the last time she made homemade cookies.

    I think the gods are really trying to challenge my willpower.

    Well, they won. I won’t lie. I had a cookie. Or three.

    To make matters worse, Thursday night there was a picnic for my daughter’s school. They served a hotdog, chips, cookie and lemonade. That’s it! I guess what I was lacking in nutrition was made up for by lack of quantity.

    The good news is that I was able to recover a little that evening by doing some core work.

    After Saturday’s 20 miler, I took Sunday off. We went to the zoo with the kids, so it was nice to get out and do some walking.

    This week I knew I wanted to do a speed workout either today or tomorrow. While taking the dog for her mile run this morning I felt really good, so I decided to get the workout out of the way. It called for 1200m repeats which I simulated by running 4:20 repeats around the prairie path. This turned out to be just over one complete lap. Then I took a 1:40 jog, so I was starting a new repeat every 6:00. I ended up with 5 reps and then took a long cool-down to finish with 12 miles.

    Finally, if you’re interested, check out new journal entries for Carrie Tollefson and Matt Gabrielson.

    Quote of the day;

    “I don’t think they give any rewards for workouts.” – Craig Virgin

    Sunday, May 20, 2007


    I've always said I know I'm fit when I can drop a 15 miler in the middle of the week without even thinking about it. My friend Double who comments here has been known to say, "Get to the point where you can run 20 miles at the drop of a hat." I've been running 14-15 milers pretty regularly in my training for some time and I've run a few 20-22 milers. However, when Saturday's 18 miler turning into 20 without even realizing it, I finally understood what Double was talking about.

    The group I run with on Saturdays rotates meeting spots throughout the metro area. Lucky for me, one of those spots is a mile from my house. Since the group is usually good for about 15 miles, I decided to add on a little before the run. I took my dog for a mile and then took the long way around the lake. By the time I met the group, I'd already run 4 miles.

    The first hour with the group is fairly hilly and I never felt very good. Towards the end of the hour I even started to fall back. We took a short break and I was able to take a gel. I don't know if it was the gel, the flatter trails or the fact that I got to set the pace because I knew the trails the best. Whatever the case, I finally started feeling a little better.

    While feeling a little better, I was still feeling tired from the half marathon, so I never really pushed the tempo. I never felt great and I never felt terrible. I just sort of kept plugging along. When I dropped the group off right at 2 hours of running, I realized I'd already been out nearly 2:35 and still had another mile to go. So while I only had 18 miles penciled in for the day, I managed to run 20 - at the drop of a hat.

    I also managed to get my 50+ miles for the week (kind of hard not to with a 20 miler in there), with 59 miles. All of them were easy, except for a few strides. This week I'll add some quality back into the program.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    30 DAYS

    Two weeks ago I came across a blogger who’d just watched Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me. She then went out and rented the first season of Spurlock’s 30 Days. As a result, she’s trying to spend the next 30 days being a vegetarian. Her post went on to ask people what that’d like to do for 30 days. I said I’d eat as healthy as possible and focus on core strength.

    Well, can you guess how far away Grandma’s Marathon is?

    Yep, 30 days.

    So I’m going to spend the next 30 days eating only McDonald’s. Oops, wait a second, that doesn’t sound right. I mean I will vow to eat as healthy as possible (whatever that vague statement means) and focus on 2-3 core workouts per week.

    I broke down and signed up for TCM this morning. NYC and Chicago are out. I thought about Whistlestop, which is a smaller race in my hometown and home to my PR, but I figure if I'm still running well in the fall, I'd rather run TCM. I really hate signing up for a fall marathon before completing a spring marathon, but that’s how things work if you want to run a larger race.

    Just an easy 6 miles this morning with some strides.

    Quote of the day;

    “I’ve always taken the philosophy that you have to dream a little in this sport, if you stay in your comfort zone, you’re not going to do anything special.” – Deena Drossin

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007


    Not much to say today – not even sure where this post is going. I’m feeling a little better. Yesterday I had this tickle in my throat that wouldn’t go away. I did a quick cough every 30 seconds throughout the day. I think my cube-neighbors wanted to jump off a bridge. Again, luckily this cold has remained in my head.

    I actually felt pretty good during this morning’s 10 mile run. I still kept the pace easy, but my legs and lungs felt fine. Weather was perfect; 45-50, mostly calm, sunny. I like it. I think I’ll order some of that for Duluth on June 16th.

    I’m trying to think if there’s anything in running that’s more fickle than confidence. It’s really an amazing “animal”. We all want it, but we don’t really know how to get it. We can’t fake it or force it. It just sort of shows up one day. For me, that day was today. Even though I ran well on Saturday, I wasn’t confident throughout the entire race. The days following I was really wiped out and trying to recover. Today was the day when it occured on me, “I’m feeling really fit.” I had an extra spring in my step – even though I was just running an easy pace. Now I just have to maintain it for 4.5 more weeks.

    I’m also pondering my marathon goal. It seems only logical that if my half marathon converts to a 2:52:33, that maybe I need to adjust my goal time. If I do run a 2:55 will I be happy or will I be pissed because I didn’t “go for it”. Obviously, a lot of that depends on the circumstances on race day. However, given optimal conditions, what should I shoot for? Right now I’m leaning towards keeping 2:55 as my goal; 1) It’d be a 3-minute PR. 2) In the past I’ve had converted times that were below what I actually ended up running. 3) I think I can still go out in 1:27:00 – 1:27:30 and end up in the 2:52 – 2:53 range. Again, 4.5 more weeks to think about it. I may convice myself that this is my chance to take a shot at the low 2:50s. These things don't come along every day.

    Quote of the day;

    “I’ve seen them training nowadays. If you’d seen me training with Cerutty you’d have been frightened.” – Herb Elliot, comment to Steve Ovett’s coach

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007


    Now my main concern is recovering from this race and this cold. I was completely wiped on Saturday. I took a nap late in the afternoon, which is usually a really bad idea if I have any hope of sleeping that evening. Well, it didn’t bother me Saturday since I was so tired. Sunday wasn’t much better, but I was able to survive without a nap. I’m finally feeling a little better. What’s a step above dog shit? That’s where I’m at now.

    Basically, I’ve thrown Pfitz’s plan for the week out the window and am focusing on recovery and listening to my body.

    I took Sunday off from running. Usually after a long race I’ll double up with a bunch of easy runs to help speed recover, while still getting in my miles. Typically, Monday would’ve been a couple of 5 mile runs. I managed one 5-miler in the morning. Since 9:00 pace hurt as much as 6:00 pace, I figured rest was more important than another 5 miles in the evening. This morning I made it 8 miles.

    Anyway, rather than basking in the glow of my race, I’m trying to make sure I haven’t blown my wad 5 weeks too early. While I’ve entered a lot of races lately, I have raced all of them. So I’m guessing I’m still on the uphill portion of improving fitness. I’m just a little cautious because I remember running an awesome 10K early in my freshman season and then getting sick a week later. I never ran as well during the rest of that season.

    I was trying to figure out some key components to (finally) racing so well. I mentioned the longer tempo runs in my race report. I think sprinkling one of those in per week during the winter really helped. In addition, Eric hit the nail on the head with his comment on consistency. Since building back up after Chicago, I haven’t missed any training due to injury. KNOCK, KNOCK. That’s 28 weeks, during which I’ve had 2 weeks below 50 miles (40 and 49). This week may be below 50 too, but that’s okay. Then I’ll have 4 weeks to focus on not screwing things up.

    Quote of the day;

    “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” – Frank Shorter

    Sunday, May 13, 2007


    Normally, I don’t like to post from home, but…wow! I can’t wait another day to get my thoughts down on “paper.” Simply put, Saturday’s half marathon was my best race since college – and I graduated 11 years ago.

    I had another rough night of sleep before the race. It seemed like I woke up every hour to blow my nose. I was kind of pissed when I woke up because it was REALLY nice out; low 50s clear with just a slight breeze. Normally this race weekend is cold, rainy and windy. All I could think was, “Great, we finally get decent weather and I’m going to run like shit because of this cold.” Luckily, it’s just a head cold, so I tried to convince myself that my legs and lungs would be fine.

    The week leading up to the race I emailed a couple of people to see what they were planning on running. Bill has finished near me at an 8K and a 10K this spring. He said he wanted to go out at 6:15 or 1:22 pace. I told him I was thinking 6:20 or 1:23 pace, but could probably be talked into 6:15 pace. Then, my latest interview Angie said she wanted to run 1:22. I bring this up because during the early stages of the race it’s nice to see who’s around to help judge my pacing.

    During the first mile, I settle in pretty well. Bill is a few seconds ahead of me and a group of women is behind me. I know it’s a group of women because they’re chatting like we’re out for a stroll. We roll through the mile in 6:08 and the whole group thinks it’s short. Although this is a new course since the last time I ran this race, it does have a history of inaccurate mile markers, so I think nothing of it.

    Just after a mile we turn east into a wind. Now I’m not a good judge of wind speed, but I’d guess it was 5-10 mph – just enough that you felt it. The bad news is that given the course’s rectangular layout, we’re going to be bucking the wind for at least the next 5 miles. The good news is that I’m at the back of a nice little pack of 6 runners, lead by Erin. Although she’s a 2:48 marathoner, I never let that psyche me out. We pass mile 2 in 12:30 (6:15 pace) and figure that made up for the short first mile.

    We continue to roll for another couple of miles, passing mile 4 in 25:00 (6:15 pace). I’m feeling pretty good, but still not sure of the pace. I dare not ease up because we have a nice pack. Nothing too exciting is really happening, then the guy to my right just steps off the course. I assume he stopped to take a leak, but I never saw him again. A little while later we hit a pretty big hill and Melissa falls off the back. Before we reach the top, I’m gapped by Erin and another guy. Our strong pack of 5 is suddenly down to 2, 1, 1 and 1. That means I’ll have to battle the wind by myself for the next 2 miles.

    I make it to mile 6 in 37:39, meaning I’ve run 6:20 for my last two solo miles. I start thinking stuff like, “I’m still 21 seconds ahead of pace. I can run 6:23s the rest of the way and still break 1:23.” A half-mile later we finally turn out of the wind and the feeling is absolutely amazing. It’s kind of like the perfect wind; strong enough that you feel it, but not so strong that you can’t control yourself.

    I try to use the wind as much as possible and am really pleased when I reach 8 miles in exactly 50-minutes – back on 6:15 pace. Now it’s finally starting to sink in, I’m having a really good race. I can handle this pace. My legs still feel good. I’m going to make it. Instead of 1:23 I start wondering if I can get under 1:22.

    Right at mile 9 Nicole and Bobby catch up to me. Bobby takes his split and says, “Oh that was a little quick.” I hang with them for awhile, but they are really rolling. Somewhere along here I forget what mile I’m at. I’m almost convinced that mile 9 is approaching. Of course, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was mile 10. I reached there in 1:02:40 (6:16 pace). Just 5K left!

    Around mile 11, Dan, whom I just met during last Saturday’s group run and another guy catch me. Dan is very encouraging and gets us all to work together. That lasts for another mile before they start to pull away. I'm kind of surprised by how well people are rolling late in the race. Usually, I pride myself on smart pacing and picking off people at the end. I’m running a great race, not slowing down, yet people are just blowing by me.

    Just before mile 12, I do a quick calculation in my head and figure I need to see 1:15 on my watch in order to break 1:22. When mile 12 approaches, I see 1:15:10. Normally, this would bum me out, but I kept as much pressure on as I could. My form is all over the pace, but I keep thinking about the repeats I’ve been doing in training, "Just one more 1K. Okay, now just one more 600m repeat." As I turn the last corner, I see the finish line and it appears to be a minute away. A quick peek at my watch and I realize I have a sub-1:22 in the bag. It doesn’t even bother me that Angie clips me at the line. I stop the watch and see 1:21:49, my post-30-years old PR by 1:15 and only 1:28 from my all-time PR.

    I know my training this winter, which focused on longer tempo runs, was geared towards this type of performance – more so than a fast 5K – 10K race. However, after a couple of so-so shorter races, I started to question my fitness and my ability to run a 2:55 marathon. Well, I think it’s safe to put those doubts to rest. Even if I fail to run 2:55 in 5 weeks, this race validates what I’ve been doing so far this year.

    After the race, my friend Deb, whom I rode down with, saw that she placed third in her age-group. Since the awards ceremony was only 15 minutes away, we decided to stay. Given that this race is fairly popular and part of the Minnesota team circuit, I didn’t even bother to check my results; I figured I’d just look online. So imagine my surprise as they were reading the results and my name was called out for 2nd place in the 35-39 age-group. I was stunned. Complete results can be found here.

    In case you’re curious, like me, my time converts to a 2:52:33 using McMillan.

    I’ll close by congratulating Bill on his awesome 1:20:39, that's 6:10 pace. I think it's time for him to update that sub-3 goal for Grandma’s. I can’t let him get away with that kind of sandbagging.

    Friday, May 11, 2007


    I should have known. I should have seen it coming. With both girls having the sniffles lately and with me having a couple of rough nights sleeping, I shouldn’t be surprised to wake up with a sore throat this morning. I think I’ve gone through a box and a half of tissues this morning too.

    Oh well…I’ll live.

    I didn’t make it out for a run last night. My oldest daughter had a soccer game and by the time the girls got to bed, I just felt like relaxing. I figure being rested for Saturday’s half marathon is a little more important than getting in 5 more miles this week. This morning I managed an easy 6 miles with some strides.

    It was pretty easy to come up with at goal for tomorrow’s race; 1:23. That’s the time I need to run to guarantee my entry into the New York City Marathon. I’m not sure if I’m going to run that or not, but some training partners have been talking about going out there for the race and then watching the men’s trials the next day. I’d at least like to have that as an option.

    I think I can run 1:23, but it isn’t a “gimme”. My over-30 PR is 1:23:04, however, the 20K I ran last year converts to a 1:22-and change. Heck, I should be able to shave 66 seconds off the 1:24:06 that I ran in January – just by running in shorts and a singlet, rather than full winter garb. Weather looks good; 52-68 with a chance of showers. Hopefully the wind won’t be a factor.

    Quote of the day;

    “Mainly I just want to improve from year to year. This year, I just want to run faster than I ever have before. That’s all I ask. Please.” – Matt Gabrielson

    Thursday, May 10, 2007


    Busy, busy, but I’d hate to go two days in-a-row without getting some thoughts “out there”.

    I had a pretty decent workout yesterday. The plan called for 11 miles, including 6 x 1K @ 5K pace. Again, I headed to the prairie loop in Hyland Park where I’ve been running my 600m repeats. I decided to mimic a workout we used to do in college called “recover on the run”. The idea is you start your repeats at the bottom of a hill and run hard, but controlled, up the hill. At the top, you spend the next 100-150m or so just sucking in as much air as possible. After that you focus on regaining your form – which usually goes to hell on the hill.

    Anyway, after only doing 600m repeats I tried to be a little more conservative in my approach to these – partially because I didn’t feel that great during my warmup. Luckily, as I progressed in the workout, I started to feel better. With each rep, I just ran for 3:40 and the distance of each repeat gradually got longer and longer.

    After two rough nights of sleep, I decided to sleep in this morning. That was actually tough to do because I knew it was perfect running weather this morning; 55-60 degrees, clear, calm. Minnesota is a great place this time of year. Maybe I'll get out for an easy shake-out run tonight.

    I’ll end with my latest interview of one of Minnesota’s most accomplished and recognizable runners.

    Quote of the day;

    “For older runners and physically active people, I can’t help but think that we are more fit than inactive 30 or 40 year olds. I know I don’t feel old; I just can’t run as fast as I used to.” - Gloria Jansen

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007


    I really prefer to run in the mornings, but once in awhile I’ll postpone my run until the evening – mainly so I can run with someone. Two weeks ago I met up with a group of guys after work for a nice 11 mile trail run. Last night I decided to join them again – only this time, two of the guys bailed. That left me and John alone for over an hour and a half. I admit, normally, the thought of running 90+ minutes with someone leaves me a little anxious – especially if I don’t know them very well. With John, it’s just the opposite. He’s the type of person that if you were running an ultra marathon, you’d want him along with you because the miles would fly by.

    I’ve met John in March of 2006, but didn't start to get to know him until later that summer. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably heard me mention many of his accomplishments; only person to run all Twin Cities Marathons AND all Grandma’s Marathons, 80 marathons or ultras in the ‘80s, a string of like 19 out of 20 years sub-2:50, 2:28 PR the week after a 2:33, one of the first running store owners in the area, etc.

    You can imagine that he has a lot of interesting stories to share. Last night we talked about how he got started running and his first marathon. Here’s the condensed version; after college he was getting fat so he started to run; ¾ mile out, stop, rest, ¾ mile back. Next a couple of buddies said he should do the Boston Marathon. He says okay and starts to train. He’s up to a long run of 17 miles with about 6 weeks to go. Then he finds out that the BAA has decided to implement a qualifying standard of 3:30. The local runners quickly organize a March marathon for people wanting to qualify for Boston. John runs 2:59, like 9 months after he started running. 4-5 weeks later he ran 2:53 at his first Boston.

    He would definitely make for a great interview, however, he’s not much for email. I think during one of these runs I need to bring along my recorder and conduct an interview while on the run.

    Anyway, I ran a couple of miles beforehand and finished with 13 for the day. This morning I managed 8 miles. For some reason Katie was up around 3:30. I put her back to bed, but she kept getting up. Needless to say, my 7.5 hours of sleep turned into 6 hours. That bites.

    Speaking of Katie’s, I see the other Katie so often now, that it’s not even a big deal. I was trying to decide on some shoes for Grandma’s and ended up just taking her advice; “Stick with what you know.” Good luck to Katie (and Jason) at the USA 25K Championships this weekend.

    Quote of the day;

    “It’s really a simple sport. You have to put in the miles and race hard. We had a whole lot more guys running fast in 1981, and none of them were ever worried about staying in their heart rate zone or only increasing their mileage by 7.9% a week.” – Jason Lehmkuhle

    Monday, May 07, 2007


    Since the last four Saturdays have included 19, 19 and 22 (all moderately-hard to hard) miles, along with a 10K, I decided to back off on the mileage (and the intensity) on Saturday. So, even though the schedule called for 18 miles, I cut it off at 14 miles. That gave me 62 miles for the week.

    And after taking five Sundays off in-a-row, I decided to run an easy 5 miles last night. It probably looks like I was trying to “make up” for Saturday’s “missed” miles. However, since I’m running a half marathon on Saturday, I wanted to make sure I get my miles in earlier in the week. That way if I cutback later in the week, I’ll still have in some solid mileage.

    I don’t think I mentioned this, but a month or so ago I started getting Runner’s World. It turns out it was a complimentary trial subscription from the Chicago Marathon. Sidenote: I’m not sure why it took 6 months for a trial subscription to kick-in. Anyway, I was reading it and came across a name I recognized from when I was 14 years old. Apparently one of the gals that used to dominate our local races went on to earn her PhD in Kinesiology. Her name followed a brief response she wrote to a question. I did a quick google search and came up with her email address and shot her a quick note. She responded right away, saying she remembered me and my family. Pretty cool, since it’s been over 20 years since I’ve seen her.

    Speaking of the latest Runner’s World; How about Cece St. Geme!?! 6 kids. And those abs. 17-minute 5Ks. Age 44. You have to be kidding me. All women must hate her.

    Quote of the day;

    “I have a great admiration for the men and women who ran competitively in the early stages of the running boom. Minnesotans like Dick Beardsley, Garry Bjorklund and Steve Hoag trained their butts off before there was really any money in the sport, before we were supposedly “more educated” about sports physiology and training, before there was technical microfiber shorts and shoes laced with shock absorbing gel. They just put their heads down and ran hard everyday. As American distance runners today, these are the guys that we’re still chasing. I have no problem with my pillow-y shoes, but I’ve been trying to embrace their outlook.” – Jason Lehmkuhle

    Friday, May 04, 2007


    Being a runner, I have to admit I was a little bummed when the last issue of this fine publication featured mostly bikers. Well, they’ve more than made up for it with their May/June issue which features brief interviews with many of the Team USA Minnesota runners, as well as Coach Barker. Good stuff. I’m sure there will be some quotes of the day coming from this issue. If you’re in the area, be sure and swing by one of the local running establishments to pick up a copy.

    I tend to get lots of questions from friends/co-workers about running – usually from someone who’s just starting out. I enjoy helping out because it helps me remember what it was like to be a beginner. I can’t help by share a question for a former co-worker. He’s a relative beginner, but does have one marathon under his belt. He’s planning on running TCM and he asked me if he should plan on walking up the hill at mile 21. Keep in mind, the marathon is still 5 months away.

    I know he’s one of these guys that’ll run 2-3 days a week, but won’t start to train until whatever program he’s following starts. I suggested he may want to start training more frequently now. That way, 5 months from now he’ll be prepared for the hill – rather than taking the defeatist approach in May. Besides, if he has to walk the hill, he can decide that on October 7th. He assured me that he does run 6 miles every Saturday.

    Thanks for making my point for me.

    Training; I think I forgot to mention that Wednesday’s training was 6 miles with some strides. This morning was a very easy 5 miles.

    Quote of the day;

    “It’s always nice to have what I call fantasy goals because these allow you to dream big and when you dream big sometimes extraordinary things happen.”Matt Gabrielson

    Thursday, May 03, 2007


    This morning’s workout called for 11 miles with 7 at 15k to half marathon pace. I was excited about the workout, yet kind of dreading it at the same time because I knew it would hurt. I did a similar workout a month ago, but was on the treadmill, which makes the pacing a lot easier. This morning’s run was through the rolling terrain of Hyland Park. I was on the bike path, so it wasn’t has hilly as Trail Mix, but still, it wasn’t flat.

    I thought 6:20 pace would be a good goal, but also wanted to give myself a little buffer. So I decided to try and run between 6:20 and 6:30 pace. Rather than ease into the pace and make excuses later, I figured I’d better go out hard if I really wanted to hit the lower end of that range. I came through the first mile in 6:19 – perfect. I was a little discouraged to see 6:28 after mile two, however, with the rolling terrain, all miles are not created equal. A 6:10 third mile bolstered my spirits and put me back on-pace. The last half mile before turning around was uphill in 3:18, followed by a downhill 3:05 – good enough for a 6:23 fourth mile. What came down at 6:10 pace on the way out went back up at 6:37 pace. I figured that’d be the case, so mentally I was prepared for what I saw. The last two miles were 6:22 and 6:29, which means I ran 6:24 pace for the 7-mile stretch. Not bad.

    I'm actually pretty sure I can run a half marathon faster than 6:24 pace, (I ran 6:25 pace in January) but I'll take it since race paces are always hard for me to hit in training. My new "rule" is that whatever distance I can run in a race, I can only run half that distance in training - at the same pace.

    As usual, thoughts of my last race continue to linger. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more disappointed in my effort than in my time. I can’t remember how I came across this gal’s blog, but she raced a 10K over the weekend too and did an awesome job describing what was missing from my race;

    Moments later just before the 6km marker, another set of steps came from behind and I could see in the shadow on the ground that this runner had two small pig-tails…crap! I thought, here we go. KR breezed by me quite easily and momentarily, I gave in and was about to shut down when I remembered what Fatty was drilling into my head all week 'if someone passes you, don't let them go. Focus on their back and think of nothing else, see nothing else and don’t let the gap get bigger no matter what'. So, I surged ahead and got right in behind her and did just that. Good gawd I wanted to stop about a dozen times. I think we both did! At the 8km the real fun began. KR and I played a stubborn game of cat and mouse, each taking turns leading, pushing each other, surging back and forth, hoping the other would crack. With about 800 meters to go, I made my move and opened up my stride, dug deeper still and managed to pull away. Today’s race wasn’t my best time-wise but mentally it was a great race experience. I learned that at the point (s) I feel like I have to stop that there is actually more in the tank to give.

    That paragraph, along with today’s quote of the day, sums up exactly what I need to work on.

    Quote of the day;

    “ be a winner, the athlete must accept pain – not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it.” – Dr. George Sheehan

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007


    One of my latest interviewees, Laurie, is the editor of this fine publication. Recently she turned the tables on me and asked if I’d be up for an interview to talk about my other blog. It was harder than I thought it'd be - but it was fun. As usual, I like to give my readers a chance to read this kind of stuff - Minnesota readers get a sneak peek, before the article is in print.

    In his first six months blogging about the Twin Cities running scene, Minnesota runner Chad Austin interviewed over 25 local athletes about their passion for the sport. Those interviews are posted on Austin's blog, Running Minnesota, along with links to articles for additional reading on our favorite hometown athletes. In early May, his site had accumulated over 15,000 hits—advertised only by word of mouth. Here’s what Austin had to say about his site.

    What is main goal of your blog? What do you cover?
    The main goal is to get the best runners around to tell me their secrets. I’m interested in covering how they got involved with the sport, their achievements, setbacks, training, goals, philosophy and any other interesting nuggets that I can dig up.

    When and why did you start it?
    I actually started blogging 2 years ago in an effort to write about my training, as well as all the thoughts that flow through my head while running. One of the bloggers I was following started a website called She features links to nearly every running-related article that’s written and sprinkles in interviews with runners throughout the country. It’s a great site, but it’s also overwhelming. That led to the idea of creating a similar site that just focuses on the Minnesota running scene. However, since there aren't a lot of articles written on Minnesota running, I focus mainly on interviews.

    How do you pick the people you interview?
    I started out by just making a list of about 100 runners that I know, or at least know of, who I thought would be interesting to interview. To get the ball rolling, I started by interviewing a guy I train with and two of his friends. Then I moved on to a guy I went to college with. From there, those people, along with some of the readers started recommending other people to interview.

    When I first started the site I really thought I’d be limited to just local age-group runners. However, after about six interviews, things just started to snowball. I started interviewing Olympic Trials qualifiers, a Team USA Minnesota runner, a running pioneer from the ‘70s, a couple of college All-Americans, the husband of an elite runner, and so on. I’ve been amazed by how receptive the interviewees have been. They seem more excited to be interviewed than I am to interview them.

    The only real criteria when picking who I'm going to interview is “Do they have something interesting going on that I'm aware of?” It makes for better interview questions if I have some idea about their history, recent race results, goals, dreams, etc.

    Who were the most interesting people to interview?
    Not to sound politically correct, but they’ve all been great. Right now I’m looking at the list of people I’ve interviewed and I’m really flabbergasted. I’ve only been doing this for 6 or 7 months, but there are already over 25 incredible people that I’ve interviewed.

    With that said, I’ll mention three interviews that come to mind; 1) Michael Reneau because he had just qualified for his first Olympic Trials Marathon (something his father did 40 years ago) and he also announced he was moving to Michigan to train with the Brooks-Hansons Distance Project, 2) Matt Gabrielson because he’s humble, knows he’s blessed to be able to run for a living and doesn’t take it for granted, and 3) Steve Hoag because I’m intrigued with the history of running in Minnesota and he was one of the pioneers.

    What have you learned from interviewing so many local runners?
    We're all different and there are many different approaches to training that lead to success, however, they all include hard work. But while that hard work is designed to lead to PRs and victories, that's not what running is all about. It's about competing against yourself, pushing your physical and mental limits, while developing incredible friendships along the way.

    What is your history, present and future with running?
    I followed my dad out the door when I was 10 years old and I’ve been at it (for the most part) for the last 27 years. After high school, I spent 4 years in the navy and didn’t do a lot of running. Being a non-traditional student, I decided to go out for the cross-country team at UW-Eau Claire, more as a way of meeting people, than anything else. That’s where I rediscovered my love of running.

    Currently, I like to tease myself with the thought that I can still chase down my college PRs. More reasonably, finding new race distances is about the only way I’m going to set PRs. Right now I’m more intrigued by the marathon than anything else. In addition to running, I'm presently writing a variety of articles for the Minnesota Distance Runners Association's newsletter.

    I'm not sure what the future holds, but I can all but guarantee that running will be a part of it. It's consumed nearly three quarters of my life and I don't see it going away anytime soon.

    What is your favorite race?
    My favorite local race is the Human Race 8K. After hibernating all winter, people come out of the woodwork for this race. It’s really the first time of the year when you get to see runners you haven’t seen since October or November. That alone creates a real buzz of excitement around this race. In addition, it's really the first race of the year that lets me see how my fitness has survived the winter.

    I also enjoy the whole Grandma’s Marathon atmosphere. I grew up about an hour east of Duluth and my dad would run Grandma’s every year. Going there now and running the race myself brings back lots of fond childhood memories, like seeing Dick Beardsley's sub-2:10 and seeing my dad break 3-hours and qualify for the Boston Marathon.

    What are your PRs?
    During my college years, I ran 9:40 (3K), 16:50 (5K), 28:10 (8K), 34:57(10K) and 1:20:21 (half marathon). After college, running took a back seat to finding a job, starting a career, going to graduate school, etc. Running suffered and I got frustrated trying to compare all my races to what I ran in college. So when I turned 30-years old, I started a new list of post-30 PRs; 18:14 (5K), 29:05 (8K), 37:32 (10K), 1:17:57 (20K), 1:22:16 (half marathon), 2:58:10 (marathon), and 14:30 (Ironman).

    What are your running goals for this year and long term?
    This year I’d like to set all new post-30 PRs, but I’m mainly focused on the marathon. I think I've been in sub-2:55 shape in recent years, but I've never put it together on race day. I plan on changing that this year. In addition to time goals, I'd like to meet at least one new person at every race this year.

    I don't know if it's realistic or not, but long term, I'd like to break 2:50 in the marathon someday. That was the open standard to qualify for Boston in the '80s and I'd like to think I can compare to that. More realistically, now that I'm getting older, I'm more concerned with running as a lifestyle, staying fit, and the camaraderie associated with the sport.

    Do you have any future plans for the blog?
    I’d like to add some advertising and start collecting subscription fees, so I can quit my day job. Seriously, I’m happy with what I’m doing and how the blog has been received within the running community. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback, which makes me want to keep the momentum going and continue to shed light on the people that help make the Twin Cities (and Minnesota) one of the best running communities in the country. While I'm happy with the number of people I've interviewed so far, it's not even a drop in the bucket when you consider all the talented runners in our great state.

    Quote of the day;

    “The perfect marathon is like the perfect wave, and every marathoner keeps looking for it.” – Dr. George Sheehan

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007


    Ryan had a good comment/question yesterday asking if I settled in to 6:10s because I was fatigued or because it was more of a conscious choice. Looking back, I really think it was a conscious choice. I didn’t feel that fatigued, but I never really made an effort to push the pace either. I don’t know if it has to deal with not wanting to hurt, lack of motivation for shorter races or what. I think if I spent a year doing 5K – 10K races it’d either lead to my “retirement” or a breakthrough.

    One thing I really need to figure out is if 6:00 pace is a physical or mental barrier. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think there’s some type of wall surrounding that pace for me. I guess if it is a mental barrier, the good thing is that at some point, as I age, my mental barrier has to match my physical limits. If I’m still running 6:00 pace 20 years from now, I won’t be so upset.

    Bill sent me an email outlining a bunch of runners that had slowed down significantly from last year. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that does this kind of stuff. I’d already compared a bunch of people’s pace as Human Race compared to Get in Gear. Of course, some were faster over 10K and some were slower, so it’s hard to get a real feel. I guess it’s safe to say that my 7-8 seconds per mile increase is “in the ballpark”.

    Anyway, here’s a training update; Saturday's mileage gave me 57 miles for the week. I kept my string of taking Sundays off alive. Monday I doubled up with 6 in the morning and 5 in the evening. Those runs gave me 254 for the month on 24 days of running and 28 runs. That’s lower than where I had been because I dropped down to Pfitz’s 70 mpw plan. This morning I was up at 4:10 for a 15 miler. That’s a nice way to start off the month of May.

    Quote of the day;

    “I have been gearing all my training this year for the 10,000. I didn't have a very good 5000 meter race at Mt. SAC on April 13 to open my outdoor season but now I have the reassurance that I am doing the right stuff for what I am focusing on. It goes to show that when you have a bad race, you just need to stay confident in your training. I'm really excited about achieving my qualifying time because now I can start racing.”Katie McGregor, after obtaining the Olympic qualifying standard for the 10,000m.