Friday, February 29, 2008


If you’re into stretching you may be interested in joining this study.

I’m glad I clarified my “I might put my skis away” statement with “unless we get more snow”. We received 2-3” of fresh snow last night and the skiing this morning was great. Being able to ski on fresh snow makes sitting through a long, sloppy rush hour a lot more tolerable. The new snow makes it slower, but for some reason it’s really peaceful. And there’s something about being the first or second skier on new freshly groomed corduroy. I ended up skiing for 65 minutes. Yesterday I ran an easy 6 miles with strides.

Those workouts closed out the month of February for me and I ran a “whopping” 168 miles, plus another 88 skiing “miles”.

I saw a funny bumper sticker over lunch;

Monica Lewinski’s ex-boyfriend’s wife for President.

Finally, Happy Birthday tomorrow to my daughter Kinsey. Hard to believe she’ll be 7 years old. Seems like just yesterday when she was born on a beautiful spring morning - not that March 1st is spring around here, but it was about 50 and sunny.

Quote of the day;

“Every human mind is a great slumbering power until awakened by a keen desire and by definite resolution to do.” – Edgar F. Roberts

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Not much is new. It turns out my legs recover A LOT faster from a ski race than a running race. My legs felt great on Monday. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when the snow melts during the day, covers the paths, and then freezes at night. As a result, my 10 mile run on Monday wasn’t much more than a shuffle.

Yesterday I skied for an hour. Of course, the ski trails are affected much like the running paths this time of year – melt during the day, freeze at night. The icy conditions made it really difficult to get an edge with my ski. I may have to wait for some fresh snow before heading out again.

This morning I wanted to get back into the habit of a mid-week medium-long run. Luckily the paths were clear and I was able to get in 14 miles before work.

Treadmill update; the deck has been replaced, but the service guy said the motor is almost shot. Maybe that explains why the treadmill has been extremely loud lately. I’ve even been wearing earplugs when I use it. We’re still waiting to hear back from them regarding whether or not they have another motor in stock.

In case you missed it, it appears runners now become Masters at age 35. The link said it’s been 35 for women for awhile, but I never knew that. I’m still not sure if this applies everywhere and to all events. Seems like kind of a bummer for someone like me who’s 38.

Quote of the day;

“We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” – Georg Hegel

Monday, February 25, 2008



That pretty much sums up my first-ever x-c ski race.

It was a total blast - I didn't expect it to be so fun.

Seriously, I can’t remember having that much fun in a race in a long time.

When you add in the terrain and having to dodge people, on top of the speed, pounding heart, and oxygen debt, it’s just a different kind of fun than a running race.

I started in the last of 10 waves of the day, which meant I had to pass a lot of skiers that started before me. It definitely made things more interesting and frustrating; interesting in the sense of someone falling right in front of me as we’re heading down a hill and frustrating in the sense of someone stopping right in the middle of the trail at the top of a hill.

The course was MUCH hillier than I would have guessed. It seemed like the first and last thirds of the race were uphill. What little downhill we had went by so fast that it was barely noticed.

I really had no idea what to expect for a time. Being a runner, of course I was trying to figure out how fast I could run the course. Prior to seeing the number of hills, as well as the number of skiers clogging the hills, I was thinking I could finish around 4:00/K or around 92 minutes. I ended up finishing in just over 97 minutes. That put me 309th out of around 1,100 skate skiers in the Korte.

One of the cool things about the race was just going out and competing. Too often in running races I have a preconceived notion of what kind of time I should be able to run based on history and my current training (and all the competitors that I recognize in the race). Saturday I had no idea about any of that stuff – I just went out and listened to my body, adjusted for the course and the skiers around me. Maybe I'll remember this experience when I lace up my flats for my next running race.

About 5 minutes after finishing the race, the announcer mentioned the name of a guy from my Saturday morning training group. I didn’t know he was even in the race. He said it was his first ski race too and that he’d only been practicing for about 5 weeks. The interesting thing is that I’ve never beaten him in a race. So, beating him by 5 minutes shows that my practice must be paying off.

Adam asked if this race brought any closure to me regarding my ski season. With Boson only 8 weeks away, I should say, "Yes". However, with as much fun as I had Saturday and with thoughts of doing the full Birkie in 2009 already in my head, I have to say, “I don’t know.” Ideally, I’d like to bump my running mileage and add in more marathon-specific workouts. But I’m sure I’ll be strapping on my skis for some recovery days.

Quote of the day;

“Life is for most of us a continuous process of getting used to things we hadn’t expected.” – Martha Lupton

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Awhile ago I mentioned how I wished I could turn “it” off. “It” being the constant thinking about running; mileage, fitness, pace, goals, the upcoming season, etc. It’s great to think about all these from time to time - but not all the time.

Then along came skiing and I have actually been able to tone down the constant chatter in my mind regarding running. I guess it’s been replaced with thoughts of technique, equipment, waxing, etc.

When I originally mentioned wanting to turn it off. I think it was Andrew who said to be careful because you might not be able to turn it back on. That’s where I’m at now. The ski season is almost over. Boston is right around the corner. After that the local racing season will be in full-force. It’s time to get my mind back into running.

With that said, there’s something strange about being 2 months for a marathon. One minute I think “Man, I STILL have 2 months left.” Then in the next breath I think, “Man, I ONLY have 2 months left.”

Right now I kind of feel like I’m coming back after taking some down time at the end of the year – like I just ran a fall marathon, took 10 days off and now I’m building back up. I still feel relatively fit, but something is not quite right. The good thing about that feeling is that usually within 3 weeks of building back up, I feel normal. We’ll see if that trend holds steady this time around.

If last night is any indication, I’m on the right track. I ran 9 miles on the treadmill including 5 at 6:33 pace and felt really comfortable.

It looks like I may have to put treadmill running on hold. The last few times I’ve run on our treadmill, it felt like I was running in a hole – kind of like if you’ve run on a rubberized track that’s really worn in the center of the lane. At first I thought it was my shoes, but last night I put my hand under the belt and the deck is all cracked. I’m going to put a call in today and see what my options are. One of the features on our treadmill is the ability to track the total miles and hours you put on the treadmill. In just over two years my wife and I have put nearly 3,100 miles on it in like 740 hours.

Quote of the day;

“Woe to anyone who sickens me with the sight of showing off so much for the backstretch goons that you tie up and get run down at the finish.” – Bill Bowerman

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I had a pretty solid weekend of training. Saturday I did a group run of 12 miles. I definitely can’t hang with the pace like I could 6 weeks ago, but I can still get the miles in. In the afternoon, I was able to squeeze in 45 minutes of skiing while the girls were at a birthday party. That gave me 40 miles of running, plus another 22 “miles” of skiing.

Sunday I followed it up with a 20 mile run along my Boston-simulator course. Being a math-guy, my mind tends to wonder to things like being 50% done or two-thirds of the way done – especially if I’m on the treadmill. It’s usually not a bad thing – kind of helps pass the time. However, when you’re a quarter mile into a long run and you think “I’m 1/80th of the way done” it’s going to be a long day. It probably didn’t help that I spent the first 70 minutes running into the wind – the one major flaw with my Boston-simulator course. And it probably didn’t help that I ran hills Friday and pretty hard on Saturday. Kind of feels like I’m trying to whip myself back into running shape.

Given the three fairly hard days in a row, I took yesterday completely off. I was going to ski, but when the temperature dropped from 35 to 0 (and -20 with the windchill) in the span of 8 hours, I decided to rest.

This morning I realized why we have these really cold stretches of weather. It’s to keep more people from moving here. Can you imagine how packed this area would be if the temps were milder?

I don’t think I ever made it official, but I did register for this Saturday’s Kortelopet, which is part of the Birkie weekend. For those you not familiar with it, the Birkie is the largest x-c ski race in North America. I grew up an hour from the event, but have never participated as an athlete, spectator or volunteer. I’m looking forward to the 23K “race”. I’d like to do well, but really have no idea what to expect. I’ll be in last of 10 waves, which means I’ll be about the six-thousandth person along the trail. It’ll be an adventure if nothing else.

Quote of the day;

“Stress, recovery, improve, that’s all training is. You’d think any damn fool could do it.” – Bill Bowerman

Friday, February 15, 2008


As I mentioned the other day, skiing on cold snow sucks. The wax on the ski is supposed to melt the snow and cause a hydroplaning effect that leads to a nice glide. That’s obviously harder to do with cold snow. Anyway, since it was -10 degrees this morning, I ended up getting in a nice hill workout rather than fight the snow. I ran 10 miles with 6 hill repeats. That basically brings to an end my hill phase leading up to Boston. While it wasn’t as robust as I would have liked – had I been focusing just on a marathon – I still got in some solid hills, including some at the end of my long runs. I’ll probably try and continue running hilly routes once or twice a week.

As Nathan pointed out in a comment, maybe I haven’t lost as much fitness as I think I have. But I sure feel slow. Maybe I’m just setting myself up so I won’t be disappointed if I run 3:01 at Boston.

There was also an interesting Anonymous comment yesterday that I think is worth exploring;

Running is such a specialized sport; biking, swimming and skiing can keep you fit, but there is really no replacement for running.

If you cut back (even if you cross-train) you will always show it in your results.

You can be a good runner or good skiier, but rarely can you be both.
Again, being new to this I haven’t figured much out yet. But I can remember looking through some x-c skiing race results and basically not recognizing any runner’s names. Everything I read talks about how x-c skiing is the best cross-training you can do as a runner. However, do any runners actually do it? Or maybe the question is why aren’t more runners doing it?

I suppose if you look at the results of any endurance event you’ll see that the best runners run, the best skiers ski, the best bikers bike, and the best triathletes…

Maybe that's why. To be competitive, you have to specialize.

As I was thinking about this topic this morning, it occurred to me that, if nothing else, skiing will open a wide opportunity to compete during a time of year when I rarely race. If the whole idea of training is to be able to race, then I basically doubled my opportunities just by taking up skiing. Even as a runner in Minnesota, there are still plenty of opportunities to race throughout the year. However, if we’re talking about those BIG events that I end up focusing the majority of my training around, then I’m usually only good for about 2 such running events. With skiing, I can easily double that with events like the City of Lakes Loppet, Mora Vasaloppet, American Birkebiener, etc.

Maybe I’ve already touched upon this recently, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed with skiing so far is that I can see vast improvements in a short amount of time. When I first started, I couldn’t ski up any size hill. Now, after reading some books, watching some videos, and practicing, I can manage pretty well on the inclines. Plus, as a washed up runner who was just waiting for his times to get slower, it’s nice to be getting faster – at something.

I’m curious where this is heading.

Quote of the day;

“Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Don’t you just love kids? Our oldest was so excited to give us a Valentine’s Day present that she woke our youngest up at 2:30 AM and then they came into our bedroom and woke us up. I think they were a little concerned that I wouldn’t be there in the morning when they woke up. I probably wouldn’t have minded if it were something like Christmas morning. But Valentine’s Day?

In my last post, I touched upon my decreased fitness a little bit. While skiing has been a blast, I really think it’s negatively affected my aerobic base. Here’s my theory; given that I’m still learning all the techniques, I don’t think an hour spent skiing equals an hour spent running. So while I’m still exercising about 10 hours a week, I’m not getting the same results as I would from just running.

Another thing skiing has affected, is my desire to write about running. I don’t have any articles or interviews planned. I’m even thinking about putting up a “Gone Fishing” sign on my other blog. Maybe I’ll get more excited about it once it gets above freezing and local races are actually on the horizon.

Tuesday I skied for an hour before attending a wax clinic at Gear West where I picked up a few pointers. Last night I ran 8 miles on the treadmill. This morning I skied in 3-4” of fresh snow for 70 minutes.

Quote of the day;

“The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.” – Bill Bowerman describing the early settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail, including his ancestors

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Training update: Friday I skied for 75 minutes. Saturday I ran 16 miles with my normal group. That gave me 51 miles for the week on 3 runs, plus another 27 skiing “miles”.

Sunday proved that every time on skis isn’t always a blast. I don’t know enough about this sport yet to know why, but my skis were not gliding at all. It was about -7 out with a wind chill of -25. I was using a Teal Fast Wax, which is supposed to be good down to -5. I can’t believe 2 degrees made that much more difference. I’ve read a little bit about how the texture of your skis can be different for different conditions – maybe that was my problem. The sad thing is, even though I was dressed perfectly for the cold conditions and skiing on trails that were out of the wind, I was only able to ski for 25 minutes before getting so frustrated.

In the past, I’ve basically written about being a slave to the log book and trying to increase my mileage each winter. Well, there’s a reason – because I swear I loss aerobic fitness faster than anyone of the face of the earth. Just 6 weeks ago I was doing 12 miles with 8 at 6:36 pace. Now I can barely do 10 miles with 6 at 7:00 pace.

10 weeks until Boston.

Quote of the day;

“It finally began to penetrate my thick skull that I had to rise above the world’s fixation with sheer work. I had to attend to my own eccentric physiology. I accepted easy days into my life. I stopped counting miles.” – Kenny Moore in Bowerman and the Men of Oregon

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I had to rely on Evan to help motivate me to go for a run. He was willing to get up early and drive halfway across town to meet me in Bloomington for a run before work. Since our 6 AM meeting time would only allow me to run for an hour before work, I decided to get there early and attempt a make-shift hill workout. I managed four hill repeats and 45 minutes of running before returning to meet Evan. From there we had a pleasant 8+ mile run in crisp single-digit temperatures. All together I had 1:48 of running and called it 14 miles. So far, that makes 35 miles for the week on two runs - not a lot of mileage, but a nice average.

Unfortunately, Evan is heading back to New Zealand this weekend, so I’ll have to find another source of motivation. We both agreed that if I start adding in some tempo and MP workouts, I should be able to run fairly well at Boston. Heck, I’ve probably already run more 20+ mile runs prior to a marathon than ever before with five such runs ranging from 20-24 miles. If the snow melted quickly, it’d definitely help out my run training. But with another cold snap coming this weekend, it may be awhile before the white stuff is gone.

Quote of the day;

“To run a [mile] world record you have to have the absolute arrogance to think you can run a mile faster than anyone who’s ever lived; and then you have to have the absolute humility to actually do it.” – Herb Elliott

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


As I’ve often warned, anything I receive is fair game for posting on my blog – unless otherwise state. With that said, I got this photo the other day. I think it’s a classic and can’t help but post it. If you’re local and want to take a stab at who the Tom Selleck look alike is – be my guest. Hint: The photo is from 1976 and he would have been younger than I am now. He’s heading off for his Birkie debut. While I’m not quite ready for the 51K distance, I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing the 23K Kortelopet on February 23rd. I was surprised to see that you can register right up to the night before the race.

I emailed some of my readers and told them that I almost hate to keep writing about my skiing. It seems kind of odd for a “running” blog. Sometimes I even find myself struggling with whether to run - almost for the sake of my readers and for the sake of “having” to run because I’m a runner - even though I really want to ski. Then I remind myself that this is my blog and who really cares what I do. So I go skiing. Plus, as Eric mentioned, skiing has introduced a freshness to my writing, which is a good thing.

Running-wise, I really should have done a hill workout today. Then I read Adam’s comment about only having about 4 weeks of skiing left – so I ended up skiing for an hour at Hyland Park. It’s funny, I remember commenting about a month ago on how I couldn’t wait for winter to be over. Now I feel just the opposite – I want the snow to stick around through March.

Anyway, just as I was finishing this morning I thought “Damn, that was fun.” I can’t remember the last time I said that after a workout. Then on the drive to work all I could do was look at the icy sidewalks and think that I could have been dealing with that instead of the snowy white solitude of the trails.

Quote of the day;

“I still bother with runners I call hamburgers. They’re never going to run any record times. But they can fulfill their own potential.” – Bill Bowerman

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Matt had a good comment yesterday;

It seems like you're backing off on your expectations for Boston somewhat yet still running the race. Is this a change in philosophy from what you were feeling back in September/October when you decided to forgo the TCM.

About the only real goal I’ve stated for Boston so far is sub–3. While I did mention sub-2:50 this year, it was never directly tied to Boston.

Anyway, I probably have backed off on my expectations for Boston, since I’ve added skiing, mainly because I have no idea how the decrease in running mileage will affect my race times. However, I still think I can run a sub-3, given my current base, long runs, hill workouts, and cross training.

As for what I was feeling in September/October when I decided to forgo TCM, that’s what I’m trying to avoid by adding in skiing. I have a history of being in really good shape early in the season and then never really improving. Maybe if I back off on my running mileage, while mixing in something that’s new and exciting, I’ll be pleasantly surprised come the fall – even if it means coming into the running season a little behind what I’m used to.

And I don’t think the “new and exciting” aspect of skiing can be overlooked. There’s an enthusiasm there that’s been missing for a long time. It reminds me of some of the new running bloggers that are out there – the people that are new to the sport and are improving by leaps and bounds. That’s how I feel about skiing right now – plus I’m learning a ton. I built a wax bench last week and waxed my skis for the first time. And I figured out the difference between V1 and Open Field skiing. I always thought I was using the V1 technique, but it turns out I was Open Field skiing.

Who knew? Not me.

In a way it reminds me of learning to swim when I did triathlons. The only difference is that when I was swimming I thought “this sucks” and when I’m skiing I think “I could do this every day.”

Today I had a hill workout on the schedule, however, we received about 2-3” of fresh snow yesterday. The decision between skiing on fresh snow and trying to run repeats on a slippery hill was easy – I skied for 75 minutes. In the process I learned that for ever runner cursing how poor footing can be with just 3 inches of snow, there’s a skiing rejoicing the same snowfall.

Quote of the day;

“If you end up really loving skiing, you make a ton of time for it. And there are a lot of runners who’ve done that. But you do end up not running because it’s hard to do both unless you have a lot of free time.” - Jan Guenther

Monday, February 04, 2008


Saturday the girls went to see the Hannah Montana movie. Given that it already cost like $50 for just my wife and girls to go – I opted for 90 minutes of free skiing. I’m definitely using different muscles because although I have no problem running for 3 hours, 90 minutes on skis is about all I can handle.

After starting the week with a 20 miler, I finished the week with a whopping 37 miles in 3 runs, plus 20 more ski “miles”. I guess the good news is those 3 runs consisted of a long run and 2 hill workouts.

Sunday the girls went to a baby shower, so I had lots of “me time.” I drove to the lakes so I could get in a long run while watching the City of Lakes Loppet. I wasn’t really sure where or when the skiers would be coming or how well I’d be able to see them from the paths. I was able to figure things out pretty easily and even did an okay job of spectating while getting in 21 miles.

I guess if nothing else, between the long runs and the hill workouts, I’ll at least be able to run halfway decent at Boston. I probably won’t be in 2:50 shape – maybe not even 3:00 shape – but I’m okay with that right now.

A look at the ski race results show a former college teammate in 19th place, frequent commenter, Adam, in 128th place, and my latest interview in 134th place. Another thing I noticed is that out of 709 finishers, only 131 where women. That’s less than 20%, which seems low.

In other racing news, it looks like a lot of Minnesotans made there way down to Naples. results show a couple of age group winners from the state, including another former college teammate and the wife of a frequent commentor. Congrats.

Quote of the day;

“I wish I learned to ski really early, so I could have taken it further than I was able to take it.” - Jan Guenther

Friday, February 01, 2008


Not much going on lately. Windchills were -30 to -40 on Wednesday morning, so I stayed in bed and enjoyed a complete day off – no running, no skiing, no worries. Thursday morning I skied for 45 minutes.

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s easy days left me feeling great for this morning’s hill workout. After a 4 mile warm-up, I completed 8 reps of the Bush Lake Road Hill. A mile cooldown gave me 10 miles for the day.

I ended January with 258 miles on 22 days of running. In addition, I skied 10 times for another 63 “miles” – using my 9-10 minutes/mile calculation.

As Adam pointed out in a comment the other day, as long as I continue doing my key running workouts, skiing on my recovery days should be a great addition to my training. While there are probably a couple of more days that I could have run during the last two weeks, I feel like I’m still getting in solid hill workouts and long runs. Plus I feel a lot fresher – physically and mentally.

I’ll end the week by mentioning that Carrie Tollefson and Emily Brown have updated their journals. Also, I just came across this interview of Kristen Nicolini-Lehmkuhle.

Quote of the day;

“The last thing you should do to be healthy is run a marathon.” – Dr. Marvin Adner, medical director for the Boston Marathon