Thursday, September 25, 2008


Yes, my last post was written with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I thought my use of italicize and words like “always” and “whole” would help make that obvious. If not, running my first half in 1:23 should have been another indication that I was being facetious – considering a month ago I ran an all-out half in 1:24:38.

Anyway, I was just playing off of some of the comments I have received lately.

Mark thinks I should go out in 1:27:30 – or 6:40 pace. If we consider the following facts, this just seems overly aggressive;

1) my PR is 6:47 pace
2) I’ve never run 1:27:30 for any half of any marathon
3) none of my training/racing points to anything below 6:50 pace

Maybe I'm just too logical when it comes to these things.

Here are some examples from the 2007 Grandma’s Marathon that I’d like to avoid;

1:22:03 1:41:50 3:03:53
1:26:51 1:37:17 3:04:08
1:26:49 1:37:29 3:04:18
1:27:13 1:37:45 3:04:58
1:23:03 1:41:58 3:05:01
1:27:13 1:37:37 3:04:50
1:27:47 1:37:49 3:05:36
1:28:18 1:37:24 3:05:42
1:26:11 1:39:30 3:05:41
1:23:04 1:42:45 3:05:49
1:24:40 1:41:18 3:05:58
1:27:48 1:37:59 3:05:47
1:25:52 1:40:19 3:06:11
1:24:53 1:41:39 3:06:32
1:27:06 1:39:27 3:06:33
1:28:54 1:38:11 3:07:05
1:18:44 1:48:30 3:07:14
1:23:50 1:43:37 3:07:27
1:28:59 1:38:03 3:07:02
1:26:30 1:41:00 3:07:30
1:27:33 1:39:55 3:07:28
1:24:10 1:43:37 3:07:47
1:29:16 1:38:27 3:07:43
1:18:17 1:49:37 3:07:54
1:24:01 1:44:37 3:08:38
1:24:26 1:44:20 3:08:46

Mark had another comment that basically said I either needed to run aggressive or just go for a Sunday stroll through a park. I didn’t realize those were the only two options. What about running conservative early on, strong through the middle and aggressive during the last 10K? I don’t remember ever mentioning not trying my best on October 5th. Sometimes you just have to adjust your goals and strategies based on how the entire training cycle plays itself out.

Okay, that’s enough idle chit-chat on goals and strategy. Time will tell soon enough.

Normally I don’t like to use the same QOD as, but I can’t help it today.

Quote of the day;

“You want my advice, for the athlete and the coach? Don’t care as much about your training as you care about your recovery. Why is that? Because if your recovery is good, then your training will be good. Always.” - Valeriu Tomescu, coach of Olympic marathon champ Constantina Tomescu-Dita

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Heck with it – let’s go for it. That sub-2:50 goal I wrote down in the dead of winter is still in-play. All I have to do is go out fast and not stop until I cross the finish line. You know, mind over matter and all that jazz.

So I think I’ll go out in 1:25 for the first half…no wait, 1:23 – that way I can bank some time. That strategy always works. That way, when I hit the hills at mile 20 I’ll have a whole 2 minutes from which to dip into during the last 6 miles. 20 seconds a mile should be enough of a cushion, right?

Quote of the day;

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired…You’ve always got to make the mind take over and keep going.” – George Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I’m sure 90% of my concerns lately have been half mental – or however that Yogi Berra quote goes.

I’m always amazed at how much an injury can set you back on the mental-side of things. I am probably in better shape than I’ve been letting on. Seriously, if you look at my training since Boston, I’ve had 18 weeks between 45 and 83 miles. It has to take longer than 2 weeks of reduced mileage to lose that kind of fitness. If not, then we would be a lot more vigilant when it came to even the most minor injury.

In any case, I need to work on doing whatever it takes to stay fit, physically and – more importantly – mentally, when I’m injured in the future. Again, these marathons are too few and far between to be squandering my chances by being lazy. Injuries happen, so it’s best to have a strategy for dealing with them – other than sitting around waiting for them to heal.

I was thinking about my race plan some more and I think some of the anxiety has to deal with always being within reach of a widely used benchmark. It seems like whether I’m in great shape or not so great shape, the 3-hour barrier is always staring me in the face. What if I had a marathon PR like 2:54 or 3:06, would there be as much anxiety?

Does everyone else have a marathon time that creates similar feelings? I suppose any time that gets you to the next 10-minute barrier is a pretty big one. Five-minute barriers probably aren’t as big. And I imagine 3:30 would be a tough one too. Not only is it the crossover into a significant 30-minute barrier, it’s also right around 8:00 pace. Run 8:00 pace and you’ve broken 3:30.

Last night I ran an 8 mile progression run, starting at 8:40 pace and dropping down to 7:03 pace. Right now, somewhere in that 7:10 – 7:20 range seems doable for 26.2. But then again, the treadmill always seems harder to me.

Finally, thanks to Eric for sending this article on Dara Torres.

Quote of the day;

“When you look at her passion and her preparation, I think all athletes could take something from that. After what she’s done, how can you not look in the mirror and say, ‘Are you doing enough?’” – Brian Bruney, NY Yankees pitcher referring to Dara Torres

Monday, September 22, 2008


After a 2 week stretch that included 8 days off and a whopping 34 miles, I was able to bust out 57 miles last week. The week ended with an 18 mile run. I wish I could say I handled that without any problems, but the last 3-4 miles were a struggle. Having run a 22 miler just 3 weeks ago, I didn’t think 18 would be so difficult.

It seems like I’m asking myself a lot of the same questions that I had before Boston in regards to a race plan and strategy. What kind of shape do I think I’m in? What kind of pace do I go out it in and still have enough left for the hills? Should I even set a goal time?

I must have been drunk prior to Boston because I thought putting myself in a position to run sub-3 was a smart idea. I ended up struggling the last 10 miles. I hope to avoid that this time around.

Three weeks ago I thought I was rounding into okay shape and that I’d have a crack a sub-3. Now I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t think I’d lose a ton of fitness in that amount of time, but based on Saturday’s run, it sure feels like I have.

I can almost guarantee that I won’t be in a position at halfway to break 3 hours. Honestly, 7:00 pace seems fast right now and that would put me at 1:31:30 for the half. I’d have to come back with a 1:28:30. That might be realistic if I felt fit and brimming with confidence – but I’m not even sure I’d know what those things are since it’s been so long since I felt that way.

On a more positive note, here’s my latest interview. Also, the Pioneer Press ran this nice article on a gal who’d make for a great interview, and her family.

Quote of the day;

“I think that I am quite determined and have a pretty good ability to handle discomfort, and that can compensate to some extent for lesser ability or talent.” – Jared Mondry

Friday, September 19, 2008


I guess at this stage of the season, it’s normal to 1) look back on the year and 2) think ahead to next year.

Looking back at my goals from the beginning of the year, it’s obvious that I’m either not goal-oriented or I’m just not very good at setting realistic goals. Here’s a look at what I wrote and where I’m at;

Mileage Goals:
3,500 miles for the year – I’ll be lucky to get 3,000 miles
1,000 miles during a 3-month stretch this winter – Kind of achieved if you count my skiing mileage
1,000 miles during a 3-month stretch this summer – Got up to about 850 miles

Time Goals:
Sub-17:30 5K – Ran one 3M and one 5K, best of 18:30
Sub-29:00 8K – Ran one 5M and one 8K, best of 30:02
Sub-36:30 10K – Started one 10K, DNF
6:00 pace for 15K – Ran one 15K at 6:25 pace
Sub-1:21 half – Ran one half in 1:24:38
Sub-2:50 marathon – Ran 3:12 at Boston

Other Goals:
Sub-3 at Boston and TCM would mean I’ve run sub-3 on every marathon course I’ve run - Not looking good.

It’s almost laughable to set time goals when I only run a certain distance once or twice a year.

During this morning’s 8 mile trail run I was thinking ahead and wondering how nice it’d be to just run without any worries of racing. If I want to run 80 mpw for the hell of it, so be it. If I want to run 30 mpw, that’s great too. I was ready to write racing off all together. Then I came to an intersection and there was a guy about 10 seconds ahead of me. Of course, I had to pick up the pace and not let him pull away from me. So much for ridding my competitive spirit in the course of one run. That didn’t last long.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on these topics once TCM has come and gone.

Speaking of TCM, they put out another fine press release today, highlighting their elite field.

Quote of the day;

“Olympian Dan Browne headlines a strong men’s field that will compete for the USA Men’s Marathon Championship. The field features over 20 runners that qualified for last November’s Olympic Trials Marathon, including 6 runners who finished in the top 25.” – TCM press release

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Is there a tougher time to blog than during the taper?

I don’t really have much to write about. My sore calf seems to have runs it’s course – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all pain-free days of running and I took this morning off. Yesterday I tried to run quicker for a few miles, but never dipped below 7:00 pace. Not sure if the was due to lack of desire, lack of focus, loss of fitness, or what.

Right now my plan for TCM is just to run by feel – try to remain controlled until mile 20 and then be able to pick up the pace on the hills – and not set a time goal.

I have discovered the source of all my problems. Runner’s World had an article on the plastic used in various drinking bottles. Apparently, bottles with a #1 on them are not supposed to be re-used. It turns out that’s the number on the bottle I’ve been refilling every night for like the past 3 months. I guess unscrewing the cap and putting in your own tap water suddenly causes the plastic to produce cancer-causing agents – or something to that affect.

In case you missed it, Team USA Minnesota has a few new runners. Meghan Armstrong introduces herself HERE and HERE. Last week Josh Moen introduced himself HERE. NOTE: Josh is not to be confused with Brandon Moen of message board fame.

Quote of the day;

“My goal for the marathon is to be competitive and race. The times will come if you are competitive.” – Josh Moen

Monday, September 15, 2008


Let me just start by saying that the Minnesota Vikings are a perfect example of why I enjoy individual sports better than team sports. To play your ass off and then lose because someone else (for example, your QB) can’t make a play has to be extremely frustrating. Their game against the Colts yesterday was a classic case of knowing all along that they were going to lose – it was just a matter of how. Luckily, I enjoy it more when they lose because it makes for more entertaining talk-radio. This town bleeds purple, so when the Vikes struggle everyone wants heads to roll. The drive home this evening should be very entertaining – I almost hope it’s a really long commute.

Who knows what’s going on with my calf? Saturday I managed to run 13 miles. It was tender the whole time, but didn’t get any worse - or better. Sunday I barely felt it and was able to run 12 miles on the treadmill during said football game. This morning I ran a very easy 5 (pain-free) miles.

I thought I was coming around a week ago and then relapsed, so I’m not going to make any predictions this week. If I still feel good this weekend, I’ll try to get in something near two and a half hours – given that I’ve been tapering for 2 weeks now, I figure I can handle a longer run than normal this close to the race.

I guess the most frustrating thing is that I know the PR window is closing quickly. Again, with only 1 or 2 of these a year, there’s not a lot of room for error in terms of running fast. All it takes is a little lack of motivation here or there, an injury, poor weather on race day, etc. and you’ll find yourself waiting 6 more months for another crack.

Chris Lundstrom has shared some of his marathon wisdom here. It’s nice to know that he has many of the same thoughts/concerns that I do.

Also, you can check out updated journals by Matt and Katie.

Quote of the day;

“I’ll be toeing the line at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon along with these rookies in less than three weeks, and I will probably be just as filled with uncertainty as they will. Maybe more, because I know how much it’s going to hurt, even on a good day.” – Chris Lundstrom

Friday, September 12, 2008


Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George discovers that if he does the opposite of what he planned on doing, everything seems to turn out great? For example, instead of just admiring some hot gal from across the diner, he walks up and tells her he’s unemployed and lives with his parents. The result: she invites him so sit next to her.

Anyway, I think I should apply that philosophy to my running very soon. Instead of running a bunch of easy base miles in the winter, I’ll do fewer miles but include some quicker stuff. If I don’t think I should run a race because it doesn’t fit perfectly into some arbitrary plan, then I should go ahead and run it anyway. Think cross-training is bad, then go ahead an include it. Screw running every day, add in some skiing, biking, swimming, snowshoeing, etc.

Let’s see where that gets me.

Don’t think running a marathon is the best option on a bum calf. Run it anyway – just change your goals, objectives and strategy accordingly.

I figure I could bag the marathon and save on some pain, suffering and a slower time than I’d like. However, I did that last year. And given that I only run, at most, two of these a year, skipping one a year seems like a huge waste.

Quote of the day;

“The only real failure is the failure to try.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson

Thursday, September 11, 2008


It looked like things were getting better. Tuesday I ran at lunch and felt fine – until the last mile or so when my calf tightened up on me. I saw Jenna again yesterday. It’s sore again today, but hopefully just from her cranking on it.

One step forward, two steps backwards.

I’m finding it hard to stay motivated. Like I said the other day, I’m used to taking a week off at the end of the season and then building back up gradually. Well, this injury makes it feel like my season is over and now I’m just in R&R mode.

I remember listening to a podcast interview with Marty Liquori and he mentioned you could tell the great runners from the good runners by how they handled injuries. The great runners would work just as hard, if not harder, while they were injured. The good runners would use the opportunity to do other things with their free time.

I’m definitely a good runner.

I’ve been spending my extra time, helping the TCM out with press releases and elite bio info. It’s kind of weird to write a press release and then get that info in an email from a different source. It’s like, hey, that looks familiar.

Quote of the day;

“He lived as he preached to you boys: If at the end of a race you know yourself that you have done your best, you’re a winner.” – Barbara Bowerman, talking about her husband, Bill

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Luckily, lack of blogging does not equal lack of running – just busy at work. Normally, I hate posts that just rattle off a bunch of runs, but I at least want to layout my training for the last 3 days and discuss my calf.

The calf is finally starting to come around. Saturday I was able to run for an hour on the trails. I could feel it and I was waiting for it to flare up like it did during the 10K - but it never got worse.

Sunday I decided to see if “warming up” on the bike would help, so I rode for 90 minutes and followed that up with a 4 mile run. The calf was almost a non-issue after that. Now I’m not sure if that’s because it’s getting better or because the bike loosened it up.

Last night on the treadmill answers that question. The calf is getting better as I managed 7 pain-free miles.

As much as I’d like to watch the USA Women’s 10 Mile Championship with Kara Goucher and Katie McGregor and then sit along the Parkway with a big cup of coffee in my hand and watch the marathon, I’m still planning on TCM. So that leaves me with just under 4 weeks until the race. At the end of the season, I usually take a week or so off before running again. From experience I’ve learned that after that week off it takes about 3 weeks until I start feeling really good. Maybe this injury will be a blessing and I’ll be ready to roll just in time for October 5th.

Quote of the day;

“We are pleased to welcome Kara to a highly competitive field on October 5.” - Virginia Brophy Achman, in a press release announcing that Kara Goucher will be running the USA Women’s 10 Mile Championship in the Twin Cities

Friday, September 05, 2008


Not much to report. I’ve been for a few bike rides lately – one on my mountain bike and two on my tri bike. It’s hard to ride the tri bike and not think about doing triathlons – especially with Ironman Wisconsin this weekend.

I tried running this morning, but my calf was really tight, so I stopped after about two minutes. I figure I can try again tonight, when I have a better opportunity to loosen it up prior to running. Jumping out of bed and going for a run just is not an option right now.

Looks like I won’t be running the City of Lakes 25K on Sunday.

With just over four weeks until TCM, I’m trying to stay positive. Part of me is thinking about doing Whistlestop, which is five weeks away, instead. It’s flat and on a soft surface, so that may be a better option. Part of me really enjoys not having to run and would rather have me just shut down my training. But since I did that last year, I should try to avoid it from happening again.

Quote of the day;

“You advise yourself and you get fourth. You advise me and I get fourth. I’m getting a new adviser.” – Don Kardong talking to Kenny Moore

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


So I went and saw the doctor yesterday. She ARTed the crap out of my right calf. It hurt like hell – I’m not sure how she gets such strong thumbs – but I needed it.

The possible cause of my problems ran through my mind at the end of Friday’s long run, but then I forgot about it until Jenna asked, “Did you get new shoes recently?” Well not only did I get new shoes, but they’re a new brand that I’ve never worn before – and they only had 17 miles on them before I used them for my 22-miler. So in my effort to be smart and play it safe by getting new shoes with the marathon so close, I was actually being dumb.

I over-thunk the whole situation.

But as I told a buddy, when is the lead up to a marathon not a challenge? I can't think of the last marathon where everything went according to plan prior to the race. I’ve been through this enough times not to get freaked out. I’ll lay low for a few days, hop on the bike instead and continue to ice and massage my calf.

I forgot to link to my latest interview. Speaking of which, I always get a kick out of how modest these guys are when I ask if they’d like to be interviewed. I get a lot of the I’m not worthy-type comments. Oh all right, I’ll just go interview all the other runners that have broken 3 hours while in their 60s.

Quote of the day;

“When your body talks, listen!” - Doug Keller

Monday, September 01, 2008


Where to begin?

I suppose I could rattle off all the runs I've done over the last week along with their splits. But that would be pretty dang boring. I'll just share the two "most interesting" runs I've had lately.

Friday I took the day off from work in order to get in my last long run prior to TCM. With a 10K scheuduled for Labor Day, I figured running long on Friday would give me 2 days to recover. Then I could pop a solid 10K and gain some confidence heading into the final 5 weeks.

Since I had Friday off, I decided to head back to the TCM course and run the same workout as a few weeks ago; start at the Cathedral, run 11 miles to The Falls and then turn around and head back for a total of 22 miles. The problem with out-and-back courses like these is that if things don't go well, you're screwed because there's no shortcut home.

Well about 17 miles into the run my right calf got really tight on me. If you're familiar with the TCM course, you know this is right where the hills are. I struggled up Summit and hoped things would be a little easier once I got passed Snelling and the road leveled out. Luckily it did get a little better, but I still had 3 more miles to run on it. I made it, but Friday afternoon I was limping all over the place.

Icing and rolling it out with The Stick and a foam roller have done wonders. I biked for 45 minutes on Saturday and then jogged an easy 5 miles on Sunday. It felt a lot better this morning. And in an effort to "play it smart" - or at least so I thought - I decided to run my 10K at marathon pace. Things seemed to be going okay through about 2.5 miles at 6:50 pace, but all the sudden my calf seized up and I stepped off the course. Let's just say, 2.5 miles is a long ways when you hobbling along.

So that's where I'm at - lots of thoughts running around in my head right now. I'll save those for later in the week. For now it looks like I'll be back on the bike for awhile.