Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Hmm, that article didn’t generate any comments. That can’t be good, can it?

I’ve actually been feeling more motivated to train lately than I was leading up to Whistlestop. I even put in 49 miles during a 7 day stretch. Maybe it has something to do with removing all the pressure to put up a good time. Now I’m just “exercising” rather than “training”.

Here are last week’s workouts;

Sunday – 90 minutes of biking
Monday – 60 minutes of easy trail running
Tuesday – 60 minutes of easy trail running
Wednesday – 40-minute run and 60 minutes of biking
Thursday – 60-minute run with 5 miles @ 7:13 pace on treadmill
Friday – Day off
Saturday – 100-minute group run

Right now I’m looking to gradually bump up a mid-week medium-long run to 10-12 miles, continue to build on that 5 miles @ 7:13 pace – either longer and/or faster, and bump up my long runs. After that it’s just easy runs and cross-training.

Hopefully Sunday I’ll be able to fit this in; NBC Sports will televise the 40th running of the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. (Eastern). Good luck to all those that are racing, especially Lehm, Moen - who now blogs - and Reneau.

Quote of the Day;

“The goal for me in a marathon this top-heavy is to run a smart race, finish well over the last four miles and, in the process, maybe run down a few guys who should beat me on paper." – Jason Lehmkuhle

Friday, October 23, 2009


Nearly all of my MDRA articles come from my ramblings on this blog. The latest ramblings have led to this article;

Confessions of an Aging Runner
By Chad Austin 10/2/09

Time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was a snot-nose kid idolizing professional athletes that were much older than me. Today they’re all younger than me, even Brett Favre. I recently read an article in the paper that questioned whether or not a particular player was past his prime. He’s 33 years old. Poor guy.

Each of the last 15 years I’ve entered the season convinced that I could still break PRs that I set in college. It didn’t seem to matter that I had not come within 20 seconds per mile of my best times. I kept holding out hope that “everything would come together” – whatever that means – and I’d run like never before. As I entered the Master ranks this summer, it finally occurred to me that I will never run those kinds of times ever again.

Still, I secretly hoped that the sheer act of turning 40 would be magical enough, in and of itself, that it’d lead to a summer of fast times. While some people can find motivation in joining a new age group, I could not. The realization that my physical skills were deteriorating lead to a lack of motivation. While I was still able to get out and run, I wasn’t motivated enough to actually train. Training plans that looked great on paper went out the window as I avoided hard workout after hard workout. Of course, this led to even worse race results. I figured I’d better look for ways out of this vicious cycle before thoughts of turning into a couch potato became any more attractive.

Ever notice when you’re at a crossroads in life that it seems like everyone else is in the same boat too? Getting married? Good luck finding a reception hall. Having a baby? All the sudden baby strollers are everywhere. You get the picture. Well, apparently it’s the same for getting old and slow. Suddenly, I came across magazine articles, websites, and message board threads with information and advice on this topic. If you’re getting old(er) and slow(er) like me, or if you just find yourself lacking motivation at times, here are some ideas to help you break the cycle and increase your motivation.

You may be able to break out of your slump by simply mixing up one aspect of your day-to-day training. Do you find yourself running the same two or three routes all the time? Then it’s time to find a new course. If you live in the suburbs, venture into the Twin Cities and see why they are constantly ranked at the top of the best cities for running. If you constantly find yourself running the lakes, check out the Greenway, the Parkway, Pike Island, the River Roads, or any number of trails in the area. If you don’t live in the metro area, you might not have as many options, but I’m sure you can find a new route if you look hard enough.

Do you run by yourself all the time? Try finding a group to run with or a new training partner. With the popularity of running and the help of the Internet, I’m betting that you won’t have any problems finding someone to join you. Of course, if you always run with a group, it wouldn’t hurt to get out and run by yourself.

Are you a gear junkie? Do you find that you can’t run without your iPod, GPS, heart-rate monitor, etc.? Try leaving those things at home for a change. Even something as simply as leaving your watch at home is enough to break up the monotony. The same can be true if you fashion yourself “Old School”. Strapping on a GPS and getting instant feedback on something like your pace could help spur you on.

The fact that the stopwatch does not lie can be a double-edged sword in our sport. It’s great that it spells out our performance in black and white, rather than leaving it up to some judge’s interpretation. On the other hand, it’s very easy to get so caught up in our race times that our sheer enjoyment of the sport depends on those numbers. As those times start to deteriorate, it may be helpful to look at new ways to compare your results.

One way is to look at how you’re doing compared to other runners in your age-group. Granted, we can’t control our competition, but we’re still able to use them as motivation. Scanning the results after a handful of races should give you a pretty good idea of some of the runners near you in your age group. While you may not know what you’ll look like, seeing their name just ahead of yours in the results may be enough get you to train harder.

Another way to compare your results is using an age-grading calculator, like the one created by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA). To find a calculator online, simply Google age-grading calculator. Once you find a site, key in your age, sex, race time and distance, and hit calculate. The calculator attempts to account for slowing with age by giving a correction factor for our race times, dependent upon age, sex, and distance. You’ll also see a percentage that you can use to calculate how a particular performance would correspond across ages and distances.

There are so many different challenges within the running world and there’s a good chance you haven’t tried them all. If you find yourself running on the roads all the time, it may be time to hit the trails.

Constantly running a couple of marathons every year? Maybe rekindling your speed with a bunch of short races is just what you need. If you’re looking for a new PR, try finding a new distance to race. You may have to look hard, but you can find less common distances like 12K, 20K, 30K on our race calendars. If you don’t want to race that far, seek out a 2, 3 or 4-mile race. Perhaps jumping up to an ultra marathon is something that’s crossed your mind. Even something as simple as doing a 5K or 10K that you’ve never done before is enough to get your running juices flowing again.

Another option would be to take a break from racing. Not having to worry about an upcoming race can relieve the pressures that can lead to staleness. Get out and run for the pure enjoyment of the sport and how it makes you feel.

One of the great things about running is that it’s terrific at building an aerobic base that can be carried over to other aerobic-based sports like; biking, swimming, triathlons, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, rollerblading, kayaking, etc. Sure there can be a lot of technique involved with some of these, but your aerobic conditioning from running will give you a head start. Besides, learning a new sport, especially after running for many years, can be very exciting. The chances are that after cross-training, you’ll be more eager when you do lace up your running shoes.

Maybe you’re not slowing down at all, but you simply find your running lacking motivation from time to time. Try incorporating some of these tips to help keep your running enjoyable - and hopefully fast.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Every once in awhile I get asked how I’m able to handle everything. Besides work and family, there’s running, blogging, writing articles, interviewing runners, etc. It never seemed to be that big of a deal. But now I find myself wanting to venture into other areas and I just don’t know how I’ll make it fit.

Something has to give.

Somethings are relatively easy to fit in, like finally getting around to reading the Harry Potter series. I figure it’s time and I’m currently on book four, out of seven.

Another thing I’d like to do is take better photos. We seem to spend lots of money on cameras with all kinds of features and then all we do is turn them on, point and click. After seeing my neighbor’s photos, it’s apparent I can learn a thing or two. Be sure to check out his photography page and his photo gallery too.

From a fitness standpoint, I think I need to make a serious effort to add some strength/explosiveness training. The thing I struggle with is what exercises to do and how to go about incorporating them. I’m from the school of bench press, curls, military press, squats, etc. And I’m not sure those return the biggest bang for their buck for an endurance athlete.

Time and resources are limited. I need to get the most benefit out of the least amount of time. I’ve thought about everything from joining a gym, giving Crossfit a try, going to a personal trainer, gathering a bunch of books, magazine articles, online videos, etc. and just creating my own program at home. I’ll probably just try the latter route to save some money. I’ve been hearing about this P90X lately, but I really don’t have any idea what it is.

Of course, I’m trying to fit in rollerskiing – the Birkie is less than 18 weeks away – and eventually x-c skiing. And I’ve been biking a little more lately. I love not having to pound the pavement all the time, but I have yet figured out how to do it without losing running fitness. Running Times had a nice article on Lydiard’s principles - #1 being building a huge aerobic engine through base training. I totally agree. However, I wonder if my aerobic engine cares whether I do it by running, biking, skiing, swimming, etc. Or does it have more to do with my running-specific muscles?

So those are all the thoughts in my head right now. I’m working on plotting my weekly schedule just to show me what times I have available to workout. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to doing what I love – hitting the trails every morning for an hour-long run.

Quote of the Day;

“When I went up to Oxford, I wanted to take part in sport. I was too light for rowing, and I wasn’t skilled enough for rugby. But I knew I could run.” – Sir Roger Bannister

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I've written numerous times about the different product review opportunties that have come my way since starting this blog. There's been Accelerade, some headphones, a book review, some yummy POM Wonderful (which I never got around to writing about), and probably another one or two that I can't remember right now.

Well, the other day I was asked to write a review of SnapIt Screen Capture. I'd never heard of this product, but I was intrigued as soon as I read;

"Capture anything you see on your PC screen! Don't waste time cropping your captures. Take a "snapshot" of anything exactly what you need, with just a click."
There are a lot of cool blogs out there with lots of images and photo to help spice them up. This is not one of them. The few photos I posted the other day is an aberration. Not that I wouldn't like to include more than just words - it just seems so tedious; find an image or photo, save it - assuming you're even allowed to do that, perhaps crop the photo, re-save it, etc.

SnapIt makes it a lot easier. I literally downloaded the 14-day trial software at the bottom of this page and was able to download the following image in 3 easy steps.

I simply went to Steve's blog, started SnapIt, pressed the Print Screen key and then dragged my mouse over what I wanted to copy. Then I right clicked on the SnapIt icon and clicked save as. It's that simple.

And you know those sites that won't let you download their images - it's like they want you to pay for them or something? Well, SnapIt lets you take a snapshot of them too.

One thing I've noticed is that the software is a little sensitive when you are dragging your mouse to select the image you want to capture. Once you stop moving your mouse, that's the image you'll get. You can't restart the dragging process. It's a little annoying but not a big deal, as nothing has been saved at that point (if you don't have the autosave feature on) - simply start the dragging process over again and try to do it in one smooth motion.

If you're looking for ways to easily spice up your blog, website, facebook account, etc. with photos, images, or anything else you see on your computer screen, be sure to give SnapIt a try.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Prior to the marathon I wrote;

In 2008 the 40-44 age-group was won in 3:00:15 – poor guy just missed sub-3. And then there were another 9 guys in that age-group between 3:11 and 3:20. A 3:10 would put you about 25th place overall. I’m guessing that’s the kind of shape I’m in right about now. I’ll probably finish 4th in my age-group and then be pissed that I didn’t train harder.
Either I’m so in-tune with my body that it’s scary or I just run as fast as I need to in order to meet a certain time.

While I finished 6th in my age-group, I was only 10 seconds/mile out of 3rd place and a spot on the podium. I wouldn’t say I’m pissed, but a 3:06 should be attainable for me.

Beth wanted to know what I thought about my performance. I guess the easy answer is that you get what you ask for. Or as my friend Eric puts it; the harder he trains, the faster he runs. I didn’t train hard, therefore I didn’t run fast. While I’d like to be upset at running an average marathon, I only have myself to blame given that my training during/after our trip to Disney World consisted of the following weekly mileage; 15, 80, 26, 53, 43, 8, 21. Sure there was some rollerskiing and biking thrown in there too, but not really enough to make up for that kind of training.

My last 4 marathons have been 3:12, 3:05, 3:09 and 3:10. The good news is that none of them had kick-ass training leading up to them. So I guess I’m just basically a 3:10 marathoner on normal training. If I happen to put in a very solid training block, then perhaps I still have a shot at sub-3. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess.

Overall, the weekend was a blast. Road tripping, hanging out in my hometown, beautiful fall colors, great food, beer, music, and friends.

If you’re a stats geek and desperate for some numbers, here were my splits;

1 – missed
2 – 14:29
3 – 7:20
4 – 7:05
5 – 7:06
6 – 7:00
7 – 7:24
8 – 7:16
9 – 7:11
10 – 7:16
11 – 7:37 (including ~ :30 pee break)
12 – 6:40
13 – 7:19
14 – 7:06
15 – 7:13
16 – 7:09
17 – 7:13
18 – 7:20
19 – 7:40 (including :36 pee break)
20 – 7:11
21 – 7:11
22 – 7:14
23 – 7:33 (the switch is thrown)
24 – 7:38
25 – 7:30
26.2 – 8:54

Quote of the Day;

“Running is essentially private and, if you like, selfish, and all the more valuable for being so.” – Roger Robinson

Monday, October 12, 2009


Riding in style in the TC/RC RV!

Kevin in shock as he scrapes his window prior to driving to the start.

Pre-race porta-potty line. Notice all the warm clothes - and snow.

Post-race 'rehydration' efforts (me, Kevin, Adam, Kelly, Kim, and Rick).

Okay, a little better attempt at rehydration by Rick and Adam.

Ugliest shirt ever? You be the judge.


If you’re interested in the short version of my Whistlestop race report it’s this; I basically ran 7:10 pace for the first 22 miles. Then a switch was thrown and I immediately slowed to 7:40 pace the rest of the way to finish in 3:10:36. That placed me 51st out of 887 overall and 6th out of 87 in my age group. Complete results can be found HERE.

As for the long version…

It turns out I knew at least a dozen people running the marathon. As with my last couple of marathons, the weather the day before and the day after were perfect. The day off? Not so much. We woke to temps below 30 with probably half an inch of snow on the ground and a 20+ mph west wind that made the “feels like” temp 18 degrees. The good news is that we got all our precipitation over night and race day was dry. Perhaps the worst part was standing around outside for about half an hour waiting for the start. Once we got going, I thought the conditions were nice.

Before the race I bumped into Tad and Ryan – two other Ashland natives – who were shooting for sub-3:15 Boston Qualifiers and were looking to go out at 7:15 pace. In addition, Nate was hoping to run sub-3:10 or faster. We talked about starting out together, but once the gun went off, Nate and I eased into it more than Tad and Ryan. We stayed together for 3 miles before Nate dropped back.

I continued running 7:05 – 7:15 miles and was soon joined by Darren. He’s one of those guys that I "know" but have never met. He was running very strong and the next thing I knew we were at mile 10. We had a nice pack of 4 or 5 working together at that point but I had to stop and pee. Since this race is pretty small, I thought I’d try to work back up to Darren and the pack, rather than spend the next 15 miles alone. I proceeded to run a 6:40 mile and just hoped it wasn’t too much too soon.

We went through the half in 1:34:26. A couple of the guys were looking for a 3:10 BQ, so we were right on pace. Just after the half we caught up to Ryan. He still had an extra 5-6 minutes to play with for his BQ and I thought he was in good shape. Unfortunately, he ended up running 3:20.

Around mile 16 things seemed to get a little harder. Our pack was falling apart, but Darren and I were still together. At mile 18 I stopped for another pee and Darren was gone for good – going on to run 3:08. I thought I was in for a long last 8 miles, but I got into a groove of 7:10s and decided to hold it as long as possible. After mile 22 my splits slowed 30 seconds per mile. I thought I was slowing, I still passed Tad around 24. He was able to hold on and run just under 3:12. Not bad for a 400m stud in college.

I ended up crossing the line in 3:10:36 (1:34:26/1:36:10). I turned around just in time to see Nate finish 10 seconds behind me with a new PR. Another quarter mile and he’d have caught me.

As for others, congrats to Katie who was the first woman overall in 2:54. My awesome training partner, Kim, continues to break sub-3. She finished in 2:58 – first Masters woman - lowering the Masters course record by 6 minutes. Nate’s sister missed a BQ at TCM last weekend, jumped in Whistlestop and earned her BQ. Brian needed a 3:20:59 for a BQ and he ran 3:21:06. He’s going to email the BAA and try to get in. If not, he’ll get it next time out – along with John and Tomme, who are seeking that illusive qualifier. And speaking of running both TCM and Whistlestop, Allison just did that. Oh yeah, and she’s running Des Moines this Sunday.

Alright, that’s pretty much it for a race recap. I have a bunch of pictures I’ll try to post in the very near future, along with some non-race details, a new fueling strategy, and other various random thoughts.

Quote of the Day;

“Racing is where I have to face the truth about myself.” – Joe Henderson

Thursday, October 08, 2009


One day closer to Whistlestop and the forecast went from 30% chance of precipitation to 60%. And the low has gone from 30 to 28.

I guess I don’t have to worry about over-heating.

I saw a facebook post that said we might have a 15-20 mph tailwind. It’s a silver lining, but I’m not holding out hope. I remember when I ran this race in 2002 it seemed like we’d have a tailwind. Then about 15 minutes before the start, one of the race announcers said something to the affect that the wind usually somehow swings around and ends up being a headwind. He was correct. Luckily, the course is sheltered by trees, so we should be okay.

The question regarding the size of this race has surfaced a lot lately. Last year’s results show 755 finishers in the marathon. The 40-44 age-group was won in 3:00:15 – poor guy just missed sub-3. And then there were another 9 guys in that age-group between 3:11 and 3:20. A 3:10 would put you about 25th place overall. I’m guessing that’s the kind of shape I’m in right about now. I’ll probably finish 4th in my age-group and then be pissed that I didn’t train harder.

Oh well, I’ve been working on my list of alibis already – so I should be ready to go in that department.

Adam recently purchased an RV for his store. He’s invited me to ride up with a few other runners. Sweet! The road trip starts around noon tomorrow.

Quote of the Day;

“Three hours? Three hours? I don’t even like to do things that feel GOOD for three hours!” – Gwyneth Paltrow, responding to a reporter who said it’d take him about 3 hours to run the NYCM.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I finally got around to registering for Whistlestop last week. The next day I woke up with a cold. Luckily, it only lasted about 3 days.

Last week’s taper was a little extreme – at least on the running side of things;

Sunday – mountain bike 75 minutes with Rick
Monday – tri bike 50 minutes
Tuesday – run 62 minutes with Scott
Wednesday – roller-ski for 60 minutes (30 min. w/o poles, 30 min. double-pole)
Thursday – day off due to cold
Friday – tri bike 90 minutes
Saturday – day off – drove to WI Dells
While the folks at TCM seemed to have ideal conditions, things for Whistlestop look a little chilly. Right now they’re calling for a low of 30 and a high of 42 with rain/snow showers. I’d take those temps, but adding precipitation on top of that would not be my first choice.

Friday I took the day off of work to attend the TCM press conferences. While I was there I got to see Olympians Abdi Abdirahman, Colleen De Reuck, and Carrie Tollefson up close, along with a bunch of Team USA Minnesota runners.

Unfortunately, I missed race day, but congrats to all those that ran. Special congrats to Josh for battling Abdi down to the wire. 46:38 – damn! And to Lehm. Although he “only” finished 4th, his 47:16 was 32 seconds faster than in 2007 when he went on to run 2:12:54 and place 5th at the marathon trials. Hopefully these results bode well for both of them in NYC. Nice debuts by Luke (2:15) and Kristen (2:35). Of course, 67-year-old Jared never ceases to amaze – running 3:01:52 and winning his age group by nearly 28 minutes. Nas kept his Grandma’s/TCM streak alive with a stellar 3:21. And after not racing seriously for years due to back problems, training partner, Scott, kicked out a 2:57 – less than a minute from his PR which is probably nearly 10 years old.

In non-TCM news, congrats to Ryan for winning the Lakefront Marathon in 2:24:53 and to Finchy for winning the Portland Marathon in 2:24:13. If you don’t know the story, these two were high school teammates, along with 2:16 marathoner, Mike.

I found today’s Quote of the Day uttered by both the men’s and women’s runner-up at TCM;

“I got tired.” - Colleen De Reuck and Augustus Kavutu Mbusya