Thursday, April 30, 2009


Get in Gear was probably my first real deviation from Pfitz’s plan. It’s another month before he starts including races in the plan. He likes to plan a long run the day after a race, but I just couldn’t bring myself to run 17 miles the day after Get in Gear. The fact that it was 45 degrees and rainy didn’t help either.

I ended up taking Sunday off and then running an easy 5 miles on Monday. That meant I was well rested for Tuesday’s 15 miles through Hyland Park. Yesterday was an easy 8 miles with some strides. Not sure what was going on, but my stomach was spinning all day long. I nearly took the afternoon off, but didn’t – although I was in bed by 8:30 last night.

This morning I had another LT run planned. I thought for sure it was going to be miserable. My stomach still felt weird and I try to think of every possible way I could adjust my schedule and still get in all my runs this week. Being Thursday already, my options were really poor, so I forged on.

As a reminder, 3 weeks ago I ran 4 miles at 6:50 pace and last week I ran 5 miles at 6:47 pace. Last week my first couple of miles were like 6:55 pace, so I was prepared to see 7:00 on my watch today. I was pleasantly surprised to see 6:39 for the first mile. From there it was 6:42, 6:41, 6:31, 6:41 and 6:50 – for a total of 6 miles at 6:41 pace. That’s still not quite as fast as McMillan says to run (6:30 pace) based on my 10K time. But as long as I’m getting faster AND adding a mile each time, I’m happy.

Speaking of McMillan, he predicts a 3:04 marathon for me based on that same 10K time. Since I’ve just been trying to get back into running shape, I really haven’t been thinking about a goal for Grandma’s. However, as the saying goes, “A goal unwritten is a wish.” And since “A written goal is a dream with a deadline.” I’d better put some thought into a goal.

Of course, what comes to mind immediately is sub-3. Last year I ran 3:12 at Boston and 3:05 at TCM. I don’t want to fall into a routine of always being close, but never dipping under again. And while I initially thought sub-3 would have to wait until the fall, I think I’m seeing enough improvement week over week to take a crack at it on June 20th.

Quote of the Day;

“I know only two things. One, I will be dead someday; two, I am not dead now. The only question is what I shall do between those points.” - unknown

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I made it.


No I'm not talking about meeting my goal for the race, I'm talking about the race itself.

The start time for this race changed this year, but I couldn't remember if it changed from 9:30 to 9:00 or 9:00 to 9:30. Their website said 9:00 in one spot but also had a countdown clock that calculated to 9:30. For some reason I thought 9:30 was correct - I was wrong.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem because I typically arrive about an hour before the start of a race. Even if I was wrong, I'd still have a half an hour. However, since I picked up my race packet last night, there really wasn't any reason to get to the start so early.

The race is about 20 minutes from my house and at about 8:20 the logical side of my brain kicked in. I thought, "Why would they add a half marathon and make the race later?"

Hmm, I bet the race starts at 9:00.

I jumped in the car and arrived at the far south end of Minnehaha Park, near the off-leash dog park around 8:45. I changed into my race outfit and ran the 10 minutes to the start. As I approached the park I could hear the National Anthem.

Time for stride or two.

With probably 4,500 runners starting the half marathon and 10K at the same time, I was a little worried. Luckily I was able to jump a fence just as the Elites were starting - two minutes before the masses.

"Perfect" timing.

Race conditions were pretty good, especially for Get in Gear; 40-45 degrees, cloudy with a sight north wind, which meant a head wind for the first 2.5 miles or so.

My plan was to run the first mile in 6:20 +/- 10 seconds. I figure 6:10 would be a little too hot and 6:30 would be a tad slow. I ended up running a fairly comfortable 6:17. We started to get strung out a little during the second mile, so I tried to tuck in and relax. That was another fairly comfortable 6:17.

Given that I wanted to run faster than my Human Race pace of 6:23, I was starting to feel pretty confident. I know the 3rd mile has some uphill as we cross the Lake Street Bridge. I'm prepared for a slower split, so the 6:27 I see on my watch doesn't bother me.

A few seconds later I pass the halfway point in 19:37. Barring a complete and total meltdown, the sub-40 I wrote in my logbook is in the bag. I thought about writting sub-39:30, but didn't want to go "crazy".

Right after the 5K point we take a hard left and head up the hill towards St. Thomas University. If you've run TCM, you know the hill I'm talking about - it's around mile 22. The good news with GiG is that at the top of the hill we turn right and are rewarded with a downhill. Mile 4 passes in 6:20 and I'm happy that it's faster than the 3rd mile.

Did anyone read McMillan article in the last Running Times? He talked about race pace strategy. His advice is to break the race into sections and then mentally prepare yourself to "go for it" during some point in the race. He suggested working really hard during the third quarter of the race. At mile 4, this was what I was thinking about - along with my recent discovery that I need to focus on a quicker turnover.

It must have worked because the 5th mile ended up being my fastest of the day; 6:14. That means I ran 8K in about 31:20 or 23 seconds faster than Human Race. Not much happened during the last mile. I was able to maintain my pace with a 6:21 mile and 1:19 last two tenths.

39:15 with splits of 19:37 and 19:38. That's 6:18 pace or 5 seconds per mile faster than my pace for 8K five weeks ago. It also calculates to a 3:04 marathon.

So after all these years of trying to run faster at GiG than HR, I finally figured out how to do it. I just needed to let myself get really out of (running) shape during the winter.

Seriously, it's really great for the psyche to see the times going in the right direction.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Just a few odds and ends before the weekend.

I ran a solid 8 in Hyland with Scott on Thursday. Today I ran an ass-dragging-slow 5 miler this morning around Jensen Lake in Lebanon Hills. Tomorrow is the Get in Gear 10K.

Surprisingly – given that it’s Minnesota’s largest 10K - I’ve only run this race 3 times; 2001, 2005 and 2007. Each of those years I ran the Human Race 8K in March. Each of those years I always think I’ll run a faster pace for 10K than I did for 8K – because it’s 5-6 weeks later in the season. Each of those years I’ve been wrong. I’ve been 16, 2 and 8 seconds slower per mile, respectively. Based on my 31:43 (6:22 pace) from this year’s Human Race, McMillan says I should run 39:58 (6:25 pace) for 10K. I guess I’d take that, but really I’d like this to be the year where I do actually run faster at GiG than HR. Given my training between the two races, I think I can make it happen.

If you haven’t seen Nike’s running camp video, be sure to stop by Kurt’s blog to see it. Be sure to watch all the way to the end or you’ll miss the Gouchers.

I think I’ve used this QOD before, but it’s all I have handy – and it’s worth repeating.

Quote of the Day;

“I had reached a juncture at this point in the run: either I could get discouraged with the reality that I am not able to think myself into sprinting up the hill or I could accept, and even relish, in the pain and discomfort running throughout my body embracing the pain as part of my mission. Then something happened that I have never experienced during any painful running session: a smile slowly crept across my face. It was kind of a weird reaction to have, but for some reason I felt very alive and there was a new joy that I found in simply going all out. It was a great feeling to know that I was pushing myself to the max, that at this moment I had looked deep into myself for strength and used whatever I could muster.” – Ryan Hall

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Frequent commentor, Double, always says he knows he’s rounding into shape when he can run a 20 miler at the drop of a hat. I’ve always countered that I know I’m getting fit when I can get through Pfitz’s medium-long runs in the middle of the week without even thinking about them. On the whole, there's probably not much difference in those two statements. While I’m not quite to the point of either of them, I’m getting there.

A week or two ago I mentioned that every hill during a medium-long run felt like a struggle. Today I spent 1:55 in Hyland Park and only half of the hills felt like a struggle. Maybe even less than half because it felt like I was cruising pretty good today. I often feel guilty for running my recovery days at 9:00 pace – I can’t think of any other runners that run 2:00 per mile slower than their marathon pace on their recovery days – but if it makes me run better during my tempos and medium-long runs, I’ll take it.

Looking at Pfitz’s plan as a whole – it seems amazingly simple. I’ve only done 2 tempo runs so far, but there are only 2 more on the plan. Then I’ll throw in 4-5 interval workouts, along with a couple of races and 1-2 MP workouts. It continues with the medium-long and long runs and that’s it – it’ll be June 20th before I know it.

I spent most of last Saturday’s long run with Jared. He’s the guy with quotes like, “I’m hurting pretty good, but I think I can hurt a lot more.” Well Saturday’s run provided a glimpse into where Jared gets this philosophy. Jared shared his father’s advice the first time he went out for organized football. It’s today’s QOD.

Quote of the Day;

“Never let them see that you’re injured and never let them know that you’re tired.” – Jared’s dad

Monday, April 20, 2009


Well, I seem to be heading in the right direction. Two weeks ago I ran my first tempo run and averaged 6:50 pace for 4 miles. This morning I made it 5 miles at 6:47 pace. It definitely helped having that first one under my belt. I’ve been running these on my old stomping grounds, the LTR in Hopkins. I like it because it’s flat and I can get into a rhythm, as opposed to running these around Braemar Golf Course, like I did last year.

After opening the tempo run with splits of 6:55 and 6:50, I noticed that my leg turnover didn’t seem very quick. I’m thinking it’s because of skiing where I focused on getting longer glides. Anyway, after that, I focused on a quicker stride rate and rattled off 6:40, 6:38 and 6:45 for the last 3 miles.

It looks like more strides will be in my future to help with my turnover.

I was also a lot more calm and focused for this tempo run. Again, I think just having one under my belt helped a lot. Whenever my mind started to race in a hundred different directions, I was able to calm down and focus on my stride and breathing. Thinking about this weekend’s 10K helped too.

Overall, it was a pretty good workout – especially being two days after a 20 miler.

Quote of the Day;

“I don’t train as much as the men do. But I train to the best of my ability and do not feel inferior to men in ability. I sometimes train with the men and this gives [me] confidence.” – Dire Tune

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Wow, has it really been 10 days since my last post? I've been super busy at work, but am happy to report that running is still right on track. With 6 weeks of 45 -63 miles, I'm actually starting to feel like a runner again.

9 weeks to go!

I finished last week with 54 miles, including a nice 15 mile solo run in Lebanon Hills. This week was my biggest week in a long time - probably since last summer. I ended up with 63 miles on 6 runs. Yesterday I ran my first 20 miler of this cycle. Then I proceeded to rake the yard and help my neighbor haul some landscaping rocks from his yard to mine. I probably over did it, but it was just too nice, not to be outside. Today is a scheduled day off and it looks like rain - so hopefully I'll be able to recover nicely.

I think in this day and age of well-established marathons, it's easy to forget (or not care about) where they came from our how they got their start. The TCM recently sent out an email with notes from the first-year race director. I thought it was kind of interesting to read, you can check it out HERE.

Maybe this will be a good read for the race directors of all the new marathons that seem to be popping up in the area. Today's QOD might strike a cord with this year's inaugural Minneapolis and Stillwater marathons which happen to be a week apart.

Finally, good luck to those running Boston on Monday, including, Reneau, Rocco, Bill, Carly, Ryan, etc. If you guys figure out how to run that course, please let me know.

Quote of the day;

"The upshot was the Twin Cities hosted two marathons in 1982, one in Minneapolis and the other in St. Paul, and on consecutive weekends. As president of the MDRA, I found this embarrassing at best, and also threatening. The number of races these days makes it impossible to avoid some scheduling conflicts, but back-to-back marathons in one area looked like war. And I seemed to be one of the combatants." - Jack Moran

Thursday, April 09, 2009


There is one thing I forgot to blog about last week. As I was running on the trails of Hyland Park for the first time this year it occurred to me that runners – or at least me – probably don’t realize when they are fit. However, they definitely realize when they aren’t fit. This thought came to me as I was struggling up some of the hills in the park. When I’m fit, I don’t even think about those hills. I took for granted my ability to run those trails for 2 hours in the middle of the week last year. Now 90 minutes is a struggle.

I was flipping through a book the other day – I can’t remember which one now – and I came across a line that made me feel a little better. It basically said that running a certain time in a race, year over year, is no indication of how the rest of your year will turn out. I took it to mean that just because I ran 1:40 slower than last year at the Human Race 8K, it doesn’t mean that I can’t get better results than last year as the season progresses. Granted, I have a long ways to go – but I guess that’s part of the whole ski/run experiment. Of course there’s an initial trade-off in running specific fitness, but at some point does being fresh and motivated to run counter act the effects of skiing?

Another indication that I have a long ways to go was seen with Tuesday’s workout; 9 miles with 4 at Lactate Threshold. Being my first such workout in this training cycle, I wasn’t too concerned about hitting exact paces, but I still wanted to have a ballpark idea of where I should be. I punched my 8K time into the McMillan Calculator and it spit out 6:31 to 6:48 pace for tempo runs. I was a tad slow, averaging 6:50 pace for the 4 mile stretch, but I’ll take it. It’s just a little frustrating that my marathon PR is faster than that pace. I just have to remind myself that it’s a long season and that I don’t have to be in PR shape for Grandma’s.

Yesterday I followed up my tempo run with a 12 miler and then this morning was a very easy 5 mile recovery run.

Finally, here’s my latest interview. Thanks to Adam for the suggestion.

Quote of the Day;

“Not sure I have any one fondest memory. There is a common feeling though. On the good days I feel like I have super powers – like I always have another gear I can tap into if I need it. I love those days!” - John Munger

Monday, April 06, 2009


If you’re interested, here’s a nice set of photos from Saturday’s race by Wayne Kryduba. I’m in 11, 33 (along with Nate and Jared) and 77 (with Nate).

On Sundays, Pfitz says to cross-train or rest. Yesterday – after waiting for the snow to melt (no, I'm not kidding) – I jumped on my mountain bike for a nice easy 45 minute spin to help loosen up the legs. Today I made a deviation from Pfitz. He said to run 9 miles with 4 at LT. Of course, he didn’t have a hilly 18 miler written in 2 days before that. So, I’m flipping that workout with Wednesday’s easy 5 mile run. I’ll still get in the same workouts, just mixed up a little. I figure recovering from Saturday, before my first LT workout, makes the most sense.

Quote of the Day;

“Now I wish I had crawled the rest of the way on my hands and knees. It is difficult to live with the fact you’ve quit. It’s like having a prison record.” – Hal Higdon

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I finished week #1 of Pfitz's 12-week program with a nice 18 mile day (and 58 miles for the week) that included the Daws 25K "race" - or as the race director called it "a glorified training run." Being the 30th annual event, the organizers used our $4 entry fee to bring in Lorraine Moller, the 1992 Bronze Medalist in the Olympic Marathon, who was married to Ron Daws for awhile. She and Steve Hoag spent a few minutes before the race talking about Daws and his impact on their lives. Good stuff!

I ended up running the whole race with Nate, who I met for the first time at last Saturday's group run. He's training for the Green Bay Marathon, which is 6 weeks away. We started easy - I think our first mile was 7:50 - and then gradually picked up the pace. We were chatting away and before I knew it we were already 8 miles into the race - rattling off 7:00-7:30 miles, depending on the terrain. This is basically a 2 loop course and around mile 10 we hit the hills for a second time and things got quiet as our focus increased and the effort picked up. We brought it home pretty good with a couple of (barely) sub-7 miles and were able to catch half a dozen people in the last 2 miles.

I think if I didn't meet Nate last weekend, we surely would have met today because our pacing and strategy for the day was exactly the same.

We finished in 1:52 which is 7:13 pace - or about 4 minutes slower than last year. Of course, last year Boston was only 2 weeks away. With Grandma's still 11 weeks away, I think I'm on the right track. Tonight I was looking back at my Boston build-up and it's really no surprise that I ran so poorly (3:12). In the last 12 weeks leading up to the race I only had six weeks over 50 miles. It's no wonder everything ached by mile 16.

Obviously, I don't know what June 20th will bring, but I feel pretty good about where I'm at and the road ahead.

Quote of the day;

"Chad, you made me a better runner today." - Nate

Friday, April 03, 2009


Probably not that big of a deal, but I’m still on track with Pfitz – after 6 days. The last four days have been alternating 11 miles at a moderate pace with 5 miles as a super easy recovery run. Being spring in Minnesota means I’ve experienced rain, snow and even a beautiful morning or two during that stretch. Even when it’s beautiful it’s still only about 30-32 degrees at 6 AM, so I’m still wearing long pants. I’m definitely looking forward to donning some shorts soon.

Yesterday was my first trail run since last fall and the trails at Hyland were in spectacular condition. It was still a little too dark at the start of my run, so I wore a headlamp. The first few times I wear a headlamp always remind me of what the Blair Witch Project must have been like. It’s a little scary, but I get used to it. Besides, within a half hour the sun is coming up.

40 is fast approaching. I have no problem with becoming a Masters runner. However, I still feel like I’m only 25-years-old. I was wondering if other people felt that way too. Then I was reading the April issue of Outside and there was an article by a 60-something guy talking about how he still felt 25. He then went on to explain why 60 was better than 25.

Anyone else out there feel a lot younger than they actually are? Maybe it has something to do with 25 kind of being that age where you’re finally out of school and on your own – so our minds kind of get “stuck” there.

I'll close with a little April Fool's trick my daughter played on my wife. Actually it wasn't so much the trick that I like, as much as how my daughter told me about it. Anyway, she simply took 2 cereal boxes, Raisin Bran (which my wife eats) and Frosted Flakes, and then switched the bags between the 2 boxes. I just happened to come into the kitchen as she was getting off of a chair next to the cabinet and I asked what she was doing. She looks at me very seriously and says, "If you want Raisin Bran in the morning, grab the Frosted Flakes box."

It was one of those priceless moments.

Quote of the Day;
“We’re not the 13:10 [5K] guys. We’re the 13:30 guys trying to run 13:20. It’s just as sweet.” – Matt Gabrielson