Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Not much going on, so I thought I’d catch up on my recent training. Last week I managed 52 miles of running, plus 26K of skiing. That included an MP workout (8 miles at 7:00 pace), hills and the half marathon. I also was able to squeeze in two core workouts.

The half marathon left my calves trashed. It probably didn’t help that I didn’t run a single step for a cool down. I ran 8 miles on Monday and then took my first day off in 10 days. Yesterday I skied for an hour and this morning I ran 10 miles, 8 of which were with Scott. We hadn’t run together probably since November, so it was good to catch up. Plus, Scott has taken up skiing recently, so he’s my only running partner that I can talk to about skiing without having their eyes glaze over.

Speaking of skiing, I haven’t been out as much as I was last year, but you may remember that was part of my plan; run more, including hills and MP workouts, while using skiing for recovery days. And get in a long ski every week or two. If I just look at year-over-year duration of exercise for December and January, it appears I’ll have skied 10 less hours this season. However, I’ve run 30 more hours. Keeping in mind that I added some roller skiing in October and November, I think I’m much better off this year. At least I’ll keep telling myself that until results prove otherwise.

Quote of the day;

“A V-8 engine on a VW frame. He’ll destroy so many hearts, they’ll wish they weren’t born in his era. What a tough bastard.” – John Walker, referring to Noureddine Morceli

Monday, January 25, 2010


If you've been following along, you probably remember me mentioning something about a Runner of the Year project and the development of a 2009 Yearbook that basically summarizes the highlights from the roads of Minnesota during the year. We'll it's here...

Check out the great new layout and design by Pete Miller.

Here's a sample page where you can read about Jared's terrific season.

If you're familiar with past Yearbooks, you can see that we tried to make the data a little easier to read and the entire project a little more appealing with the front cover image and action photos throughout. We gave a little back on the data side, but hopefully not too much.

If you had a Yearbook in your hands right now, you could read about how Sonya (left) and Bonnie (right) battled it out in the women's 40-44 age group.

To get your copy by mail, send $10.00 (plus $2.00 shipping and handling) to:

USATF Minnesota
960 Douglas Road,
Mendota Heights, MN 55118

For more information, contact Craig Yotter at

Again, thanks to everyone who help support this project.


One of the best reasons to run the Winter Carnival Half Marathon every year is to collect the cool coffee mugs. I think I'm missing a couple, but still have a pretty good collection.

2000, 2002 and 2003

2006, 2007 and 2010

Notice the "brrrrrr" in "bring" on this year's mug. I do find it ironic that a race that touts such slogans as "the coolest race on earth" and "the few, the proud, the fozen" that in 2004 they shortened the race because it was "too cold".


Ahh, the Winter Carnival Half Marathon – one of my favorite races around. Prior to incorporating skiing over the last two winters, I used to run it nearly every winter. I would put in a lot of miles over the winter and then use this race as a benchmark leading into the spring racing season. When I looked back over the years I was actually surprised by how many times I’d run 1:24 on this course.

1/27/07 1:24:06
2/4/06 1:24:45
2/5/05 1:24:27
1/31/04 41:40 – shortened due to weather
2/1/03 1:27:59 – different (tougher) course due to construction
2/2/02 1:24:55
2/5/00 1:32:03
One of the hardest things with this race for me is that I never know exactly where I’m at fitness-wise. In most years, I probably haven’t raced for at least 3 months. And most of my mileage is long and slow. This usually means that for the entire race I’m constantly asking myself “how does this pace feel?”

On the other hand, one of the best things about this race is that I never know exactly where I’m at fitness-wise. As a result, I’m probably more in-tune with my body than during any other race during the year. By the time spring rolls around, I usually have a pretty good idea of what kind of shape I’m in and what pace I should be running.

Given that my long MP workouts on the treadmill have been at 7:00 pace, I thought that’d be a good goal (sub-1:32) for this race. But I secretly thought I might be able to break 1:30.

Obviously, when you race in Minnesota in January, you never know what the weather will bring. In 2004 the race was shortened when it was -10 degrees. Then in 2006 I can remember running in shorts and a t-shirt because it was 50 degrees. This year it was 25-35 and pretty windy. Right when the gun went off it started to rain. Luckily that only lasted about 5 minutes. Overall, I thought the conditions were better than they would be. This is an out-and-back course, trending uphill going out and downhill coming back. I thought the wind during the second half would be brutal – especially since the pack is usually strung out by then. But I wasn’t really bothered by it until the last mile.

A few things about this race lead me to not even check my splits; 1) the first mile has a huge downhill, so the splits are usually 20 seconds fast, 2) one year the mile markers were all over the place (short and long) and it was really frustrating, and 3) since I don’t know what shape I’m in, why worry about each individual split. I usually just take my halfway split and then try to run negative. This year I hit the turnaround in 45:25. I felt pretty good and thought I had a shot at sub-1:30.

I was able to pick up the pace and catch about 10 people during the second half, while only two passed me. With 1.1 miles to go, my calculations said I needed to run about 7:30 to break 1:30. I thought I could do it, but failed to factor in the wind and the steep uphill near the finish. I ended up hitting the line in 1:30:20, so I ran the second half in 44:55. Somehow I managed to finish 3rd in the 40-44 age group. HERE are the results.

Overall, I’m pleased with where I’m at. Of course, I’d love to bust out more 1:24s, but I think those days are gone, at least in the middle of January. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m looking forward to it.

Prior to the race I finally got to meet Steve in a Speedo. If you don’t read his blog, I recommend you checking it out. We bumped into each other again after the race too. I was secretly hoping he’d take a self-picture of us shirtless with fogged-up glasses. But he had to run to a birthday party and I had to run to the annual MDRA party.

At the party, my name was drawn for a free entry into Grandma’s Marathon. Although I wasn’t planning on running Grandma’s this year, I think I may have to revisit Highway 61, come June.

Last night I had a really hard time sleeping because I was planning my training schedule. Oh wait, no, it was because of the Vikings. Having been happily married for nearly 12 years, I forgot what it’s like to have a rollercoaster ride-like relationship. Luckily, the Vikings never let me forget.

Quote of the day;

“Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"
God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin' you better run"
Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done?"
God says, "Out on Highway 61."
– Bob Dylan

Thursday, January 21, 2010


If you live in Minnesota and are a member of MDRA you may have seen this 2009 Recap already. If you live in Minnesota and you are not a MDRA member, why not? If you live outside of Minnesota, you might not be interested in the least in this post.

2009 Year in Review
It’s that time of year again. It’s the end of another year, which means it’s time to look back and appreciate all the hard work and great efforts that took place during the last 12 months. This article is a recap of the top performances, either in Minnesota or by Minnesotans in 2009. These are the ones that stand out most in my mind. Of course, this is a subjective list and with all the great runners in the state I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch.

Team USA Minnesota’s Emily Brown spent the latter half of 2008 bothered by a sacrum injury. She bounced back in early 2009 as she finished 7th at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country race in Scotland, finished runner-up at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run 4 Mile in New York City, and finished 4th at the Antrim International Cross Country in Northern Ireland. Then Brown went on to win her first USA title at the USA Cross Country Championships.

Former Golden Gopher and former Team USA Minnesota athlete, Andrew Carlson, started the year off quickly too. He finished 4th at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston when he sped to a 1:02:21 PR. He followed that up with another PR at the Stanford Invitational, running 28:25:86 for 10,000 meters.

Current Golden Gophers where also busy tearing up the track. The teams were exceptionally strong in the middle- and long-distance events. In particular, the following athletes set school records, Championship records, won Drake relay titles, and, most importantly, lead the team to Big Ten titles in both the Indoor and Outdoor seasons; Heather Dorniden, Amy Laskowske, Megan Duwell, Ladia Albertson-Junkans, Elizabeth Yetzer, Nikki Swenson, Hassan Mead, Chris Rombough, Ben Blankenship, and Andy Richardson.

Elsewhere on the track, Burnsville alum Laura Hermanson (now Januszewski) of North Dakota State University won the Drake Relays 800 meter title, finish 2nd at the NCAA Championships, and then placed fifth at the U.S. Championships in 2:01.28. Winona alum and brothers, Garrett and Elliott Heath, were busy running fast times for Stanford. Indoors, the brothers both broke eight minutes for 3,000 meters. Elliott ran 7:53.64 to Garrett’s 7:55.50. Outdoors, they each lowered their 5,000 meter PRs with Garrett running 13:42.27 and Elliott running 13:42.59. Garrett added a 3:37.57 1500 to his resume too, while Elliott earned his first all-American title.

The St. Thomas men's track and field team won their 25th consecutive MIAC indoor track and field title.

Thom Weddle had a busy weekend at the USA Masters Indoor Championships in Landover, Maryland. During the three-day meet he won the 3,000 meter title for 70-74 year-olds and placed second in the mile and 800 meters. At the Outdoor Championships, Weddle was runner-up in the 800 meters in 2:58.73 and in the 1500 in 5:55.40.

Carleton College alum Matt Hooley won the Eugene Marathon in Oregon in 2:18:38. In the process, Hooley, who now resides in Madison, Wisconsin, qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

Another Carleton College graduate, Katie Visco, also makes the list. Visco spent the year attempting to become the youngest female to run across the United States. She hoped to inspire people to follow their passion, to empower individuals to connect to what gives them life, and to raise funds for and promote Girls on the Run, a charity that empowers young girls through running. She planned on finishing up by the year’s end. See if she made it by logging on to

At the inaugural USA Road Mile Championship, held in conjunction with the Medtronic TC 1 Mile, David Torrence ran 3:59.3 for the win. The sub-4:00 finish earned him a $10,000 bonus. On the women’s side, Olympian Shannon Rowbury clocked 4:33.4.

At the state track and field meet, Harun Abda of Fridley topped the fastest prep runner in Minnesota history, Zach Mellon. Abda defeated the two-time Class AA champ from Buffalo in the 800 meters, 1:52:23 to 1:52:63. Mellon would go on to place second at the USA Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. As a result he was the lone Minnesotan named to USA Today's All-USA high school track and field team.

Warroad's Moses Heppner, the 2008 Class A Cross Country champ won the 800/1600 double on the track, posting times of 1:55:77 and 4:16:17. His 1600 time put him more than 10 seconds up on second place and was better than this year’s Class AA marks.

Sauk Rapids native Christopher Raabe pulled away from the pack at mile 14 and went on to win Grandma's Marathon in 2:15:13. He became the first Minnesota man to win the race since Dick Beardsley in 1982. In the women’s race, Mary Akor joined Olympic bronze-medallist Lorraine Moller as a three-time Grandma's Marathon champion.

You may remember Jacub Zivec from last year’s cross country season. The Czech exchange student who attended Grand Rapids High School last fall, won the silver medal in the 5,000 meters at the European Junior Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia, running a PR 14:10.58. He also ran 3:46.36 and 8:10.82 for 1,500 and 3,000 meters, respectively in 2009.

Normally, I try to focus this list on distance running. However, when you’re the fastest 8-year-old in the country, I make an exception. That is the case with Jianna Cager who swept the 100, 200, and 400-meter races at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa.

Three Minnesotans represented the USA at the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin. Team USA Minnesota’s Katie McGregor clocked 32:18.49 to finish 17th at 10,000 meters. In the marathon, her teammate, Matt Gabrielson, finished 36th, while Duluth-native Kara Goucher ran 2:27:48 to finish 10th.

On the roads this year, Duluth residents Jeremy Polson and Jennifer Houck earn Runner of the Year titles. And Jared Mondry was busy setting state age records in 10 of the 14 races he ran. Perhaps the 67-year-olds best performance of the year was his 3:01:56 at TCM. On the women’s side, Janet Rosen managed to set 6 state records.

Heading into this year’s Leadville Trail ultra-marathon, no Minnesotans had run faster than 23 hours. In his first-ever 100-mile event, Tony Kocanda changed that when he ran 21:05:27 to place 16th. He was able to barely hold off his training partner, Joe Ziegenfuss, who was one place back in 21:08:12.

Bruce Mortenson, the St. Louis Park alum who won the 1965 NCAA Steeplechase title, entered the University of Oregon Hall of Fame as a member of 1965 Duck track team that tied USC for the NCAA title.

Perhaps the best performance of 2009 belongs to Team USA Minnesota's Josh Moen. At the USA 10 Mile Championship, held in conjunction with the TC10, Moen gave three-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman all he could handle before ultimately finishing second, 46:38 to 46:35. On an age-graded basis, Moen’s performance places him squarely among all-time Minnesota greats Alex Ratelle, Dick Beardsley, and Garry Bjorklund.

20-year-old Ilsa Paulson became the youngest winner ever of the Twin Cities Marathon. She ran to victory and the USA title in 2:31:49. Team USA Minnesota’s Kristen Nicolini Lehmkuhle made her marathon debut in the same race and finished third in 2:35:06. Meanwhile her husband, Jason Lehmkuhle, finished 10th at the New York City Marathon running 2:14:39. That time was good enough for 5th place in the USA Men's Marathon Championship held in conjunction with the race.

University of Minnesota junior Hassan Mead won his second straight Big Ten cross country title. In the process he joins Gopher legends Fred Watson and Garry Bjorklund as the only University of Minnesota harriers to have won multiple Big Ten titles. Watson (1913-15) and Bjorklund (1969-71) won three-straight titles.

Eden Prairie junior Aaron Bartnik (Eden Prairie), Marie Hauger (Shakopee), Mubarik Musa (Worthington), and Maddie McClellan won the MSHSL cross country titles.

Alyssa Sybilrud, a Burnsville alum, finished 21st at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships and led UW-Eau Claire to their first national title.

There you have it – the top performances and performers from Minnesota in 2009 that immediately come to mind. When you consider all the great Minnesota runners competing in high school, college, professionally, and at road races, you can see that it’s very difficult to limit such a list. Finally, I’d be remiss if I did not thank Charlie Mahler and his “staff” at Down the Backstretch for their incredible coverage of our great sport in Minnesota. Without this website, such a recap would have been exponentially more difficult to compile. If you’re not familiar with the site, please be sure to check it out HERE.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Bringing my last two posts full-circle, anyone want to guess what the Birkie’s newsletter is called? Keep in mind it’s a skiing race.

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Carpe skiem!

See how everything ties together nicely?

Yesterday I continued my consistency… two days in a row of getting up at 5 AM. Once out on the roads I headed to the Bush Lake Road hill for 6 repeats.

I haven’t mentioned anything on my training for awhile. Here are some highlights. On the 10th I ran 15 miles on the treadmill. Ideally that’s not how I like to do my longer runs, however, I wanted to run for 2 hours and watch a 3-hour football game. Since I’m not in college any more – and can’t take 5 hours for myself – I had to multi-task. Last Friday I had my longer (and hilliest) ski of the season, 2:20 at Murphy-Hanrehan. Prior to that ski I hadn’t been very fired up about skiing this winter. However, now I am. Then on Sunday I ran 12 miles (again, on the treadmill during the Viking’s game) and included 8 miles at 7:00 pace.

There you have it, some medium-long runs, hills, an MP workout and a long ski.

For today’s Carpe Diem moment I want to direct you to Johanna Olson’s website; Save Johanna’s Brain. Johanna is a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier from Minnesota who’s currently battling her second brain tumor. If you’re interested, you can help by donating to her mounting medical bills. Or you can just stop by her blog and wish her well.

Carpe Diem!

Quote of the day;

“Remind yourself in your training that you are out there to make yourself happy. Challenging yourself will be part of the process.” – Gordon Bakoulis

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


As I think about my 6-week cycle of seizing the day a few more things come to mind. The biggest thing is getting consistent with my training. Consistency may be the number one thing our college coach used to harp on us about. It doesn’t necessarily mean starting a 30-year running streak all the sudden. It’s more about making the time to train and then sticking with it. If there’s day off planned, that counts too. It’s not about letting things interfere with your training, which causes you to move things around all willie-nillie - and leads to being inconsistent.

The best way for me to get consistent is to set my alarm for 5 AM and get out the door before work. Putting my workouts off until the evening often proves to be a disaster. On the front-end of getting up at 5, is getting to sleep by 9 or 9:30. If I get less than 7 ½ hours of sleep, I get cranky.

Also to keep me on-track, I’d thought I’d post my previous day’s successes and/or failures of staying on track.

Yesterday, literally seconds after submitting my blog post, I got this email;

Subject: Gingersnaps with Hershey's kisses

I have a dessert calendar this year, and I’m going to try to make the dessert each month. This month’s dessert is gingersnaps with Hershey’s kisses on top. Stop by my desk for a cookie!
It’s like someone above is testing me!

Five minutes later, this email came across my computer from a different co-worker;

In addition to those gingersnaps, I brought some more of those Death-by-Chocolate-Cookies from Friday. I don’t have many, but there is at least one here for each of you. Come get one if you want it.
Death-by-Chocolate? Come on, you’re killing me here!!!

So was it a success or a failure?

It was day 1. Of course it was a success as I avoided both temptations.

I’m also going to share other reasons to Carpe Diem as I come across them. For example, Sunday I was finishing up a Marathon Pace workout on the treadmill. I was near the end and as I was getting tired I was thinking about what I wanted to write in yesterday’s post. Right about that time the news of Gaines Adam’s death came across the TV. I can’t say I knew who he was, but he was in the NFL and only 26-years-old.

Carpe diem!

Quote of the day;

“My parents had a certain idea of what they wanted their ‘little girl’ to be and it did not include a budding track star.” – Grete Waitz

Monday, January 18, 2010


All right, it’s been way too long between posts and I have too much stored up in my brain, not to post today.

A little over two weeks into the new year and I’m guessing most New Year’s Resolutions have already been abandoned. With turning 40 last August, flipping the calendar to a new year (and decade), and, especially, Cindy Brochman’s passing, all I can think about is Carpe Diem. As Wikipedia states;

The phrase is part of the longer Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future", and the ode says that the future is unknowable, and that instead one should scale back one's hopes to a brief future, and drink one's wine. Compare with the Biblical "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die", a conflation, with emphasis on making the most of current opportunities because life is short and time is fleeting – an existential caution.
It all sounds very romantic, but how do we make that happen? I think one of the reasons resolutions fail is because a year is too long to commit to change – and it’s easier just to go back to the status quo. So, I’m going to focus on the next 6 weeks. Why 6 weeks? Well, first off, the Birkie is 6 weeks away. Second, I think it’s a short enough program that I’ll be able to stick with it, yet long enough to actually see some improvements. Third, I have a nice little 4 race season (3 skiing and 1 running) planned during that timeframe.

What do I hope to do during this timeframe? The easiest answer is to become a better skier without sacrificing my running (too much). The little things include; core strengthening, cutting out pop, limiting the crap I eat at work, getting the nutrition I need after my workouts into my body sooner, limiting my time playing Tiger Woods on Wii. Yes, I know I’ve written most of that stuff before without really sticking to a plan. But this time I’m going in with a 6 week timeframe. Hopefully that’ll help me maintain my focus.

Speaking of seizing the day, congrats to all the Minnesotans that ran great at Houston. Antonio Vega, Patrick Smyth, Josh Moen, Matt Gabrielson, and Meghan Armstrong all PR’d in the half marathon, with Vega taking the win. Meanwhile, in the marathon, Jenna Boren finished 7th in a near-PR 2:42:55 – despite a “huge positive split” of about two-and-a-half minutes. In the process she qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon, again.

For a little inspiration when it comes to core workouts, here’s a cool video of Lindsey Vonn. For anyone that’s ever touched a stability ball, you know it’s not as easy as she’s making it look.

Finally, today’s quote of the day comes from my oldest daughter, Kinsey. Saturday she went downhill skiing for the first time ever at Buck Hill. Ironically, that is the same ski hill that Lindsey Vonn learned to ski on. Then that afternoon, I took her ice skating and she told me;

“This time of year I just feel like this is where I belong – outside skiing and skating.” - Kinsey Austin

Monday, January 11, 2010


Lots on my mind today, but no time to post. Instead I want to encourage everyone - especially Minnesotans - to partake in the MDRA survey.

Friday, January 08, 2010


I was working on updating some of the links to the right and a noticed a trend. The number in parenthesis equals the number of posts I had each year. Man, I was really gung-ho in 2005 and 2006.

► 2009 (119)
► 2008 (176)
► 2007 (194)
► 2006 (270)
► 2005 (281)
2010 started off a little slow for me as I missed 2 of the first 3 days with family in town. But I’ve run 5 days in a row, including a hill workout and a tempo run. I haven’t been on my skis in a week. That’s mainly due to the cold weather. But it also has to do with a new strategy. Rather than trying to ski as much as possible and mix in a couple of runs each week, I’m trying to flip-flop that equation. I may be wrong, but I think I can ski a decent Birkie and be in better running shape in March if I keep up my running mileage while mixing in 2-3 skis a week. For this to work I think I have to continue running hills, tempos, MP workouts, and 2+ hour runs and one of those skis each week has to be 2+ hours.

It’s as simple as that. Or at least I hope so.

I’ve now scratched tomorrow’s Pre City of Lakes Loppet from my 2010 race plan. One reason is that a 16K ski race doesn’t excite me. Plus, it’s supposed to be 13 below. So my next race will be the Winter Carnival Half Marathon. I used to run this race every winter and it always provided a good base line of my fitness heading into spring.

Quote of the Day;

“Remember, the watch is just a tool. Control it; don’t let it control you.” – Chris Lundstorm, in an article on Hi-Tech Watches for Midwest Events

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Hmm, I updated the template of my blog to get more features and this is the result. I “lost” the photo at the top, but what the heck, it’s a new year – time for a fresh outlook. I did the same to my other blog and it messed up links along the side. I’ll have to try to find time to get those fixed.

With the new year it looks like everyone is busy recapping 2009 and setting goals for 2010. I guess I should do the same. Overall, I’d say 2009 was a disappointment, at least running-wise. While I finished my first Birkie, I can’t think of a single running race that I was pleased with in 2009. Mileage-wise, I finished the year at 2,294 or about 44 MPW, which is lowest since 2003 when I was doing tris. That probably has a lot to do with my 2009 season.

In addition to maintaining a log book, I used to have a spreadsheet that tracked my monthly and yearly mileage. Somewhere along the way I lost that file and decided not to rebuild it. Last year I tried using a new log book which included keeping a lot fewer details. I won’t blame these changes entirely for my lackluster year, but everything kind of goes together. Sometimes people think analyzing all the numbers is overkill, but I find that it can also be motivating. I think when that went away, I started to care less about tracking my training and, as a result, my actual training and fitness suffered.

So one of my goals for 2010 is to switch back to my old log book and pay attention to the numbers again. Hopefully that’ll lead to actually putting forth some effort with my running again. With that said, I need to listen to my body a lot more too. I can’t go gung-ho and train hard for 3 weeks, only to find myself in a funk afterwards. It’s a balancing act.

I’ve already mentioned in some previous posts a few other time related goals that I hope to achieve in 2010, so I won’t repeat those here. I’d also like to get back to conducting more interviews. I still think that website is one of my best ideas every. And there are just too many great runners around to let the thing die.

I’m not going to get into setting a bunch of goals like lifting more, stretching more, eating better, etc. Those things require more of a lifestyle change than just wishful thinking. And I’ve proven over the years that I’m not willing to make those changes. As I get more motivated and more fit, those things tend to creep into my life more and more anyway. So I don’t see a reason to force them in because it usually just leads to me stewing over not doing them.

Some other non-running goals for the new year; finish the Harry Potter series (I’m on book 6 of 7), learn to use our dSLR camera to take better photos, and cook at least one new recipe a week.

Bring it on, 2010!

Today’s Quote of the Day is for one of my training partners – you know who you are;

“If the 10 mile loop turns out to be – God forbid, only 9.79 miles – you are not compelled by law to add on the couple of blocks necessary to make it 10.00. The training benefit of plus or minus a few tenths or hundredths of a mile is negligible.” – Chris Lundstorm, in an article on Hi-Tech Watches for Midwest Events