Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So TCM is trying to become more like the NYRR. Instead of just having one weekend of events during the year, they’re creating new events (or buying someone else’s), so they have multiple events throughout the year. This weekend they have the Red, White and Boom half marathon. Scott is running it and he sent me this fine print from their website;

Also of special note: the course crosses over several sets of railroad tracks. Due to Homeland Security rules, we do not know the train schedule and it is highly likely that trains will be crossing the course. For your safety, PLEASE do not attempt to outrun a train!
That would be a pisser.

Back to soccer and the World Cup, I actually watched the U.S. vs. Ghana and was mildly entertained. I was more entertained by the first half the Germany vs. England match – although not entertained enough to watch the second half.

After watching the U.S. match I facebooked that it’d be really hard to be a passionate fan about U.S. distance running AND U.S. soccer. I think both groups think there sport doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

I had the idea of adding referees to running races, then whenever someone passed me during a race, I’d hit the ground. When I got back up I’d throw my hands in the air in disgust and glare at the referee. And if a train came along during the race and cut me off, you can bet I’d give the referee the evil eye while muttering under my breath.

Somehow I didn’t mind Bill Laimbeer flopping when he was on “my” team, but since then, I can’t stand watching these NBA players flopping all the time. And soccer seems even worse.

Yesterday Rocco had a great idea for a YouTube video; Show a soccer player flopping and rolling around like his leg fell off. Then show a baseball player getting beaned in the leg and refusing to show any sign of pain as he walks to first. Then show another soccer flop. Then another baseball beaning. Repeat over and over for five minutes.

Now that would be entertaining.

Finally, congrats to Tony for his 26th place finish at the Western States 100-mile in 19:28. Today’s QOD is for him.

Quote of the Day;

“Try the meditation of the trail, just walk along looking at the trail at your feet and don’t look about and just fall into a trance as the ground zips by. Trails are like that: you’re floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then suddenly you’re struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak… just like life.” Jack Keouac in The Dharma Bums

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


After 8 days off and 8 added pounds – that’s enough. It’s time to start lacing up my running shoes again. I have 2 weeks to get into the swing of things again before starting Pfitz’s 12-week program for TCM. After using Daniels for Gma’s, I decided to switch to Pfitz for a couple of reasons; 1) the program from his 2nd Edition has more MP work than the 1st Edition, 2) there seems to be a wider variety of workouts than Daniels, and 3) Scott is using the same program and since we train together a couple of times a week, it’d be nice to be on the same page.

Last night I laid out Pfitz’s 55-70 and 70-85 plans on the same sheet of paper. There’s a lot of overlap with the main difference in the mileage being a day off per week with the 55-70 mpw program. Right now I’m leaning towards incorporating 1 day off from running per week. Hopefully that’ll help keep me fresh and motivated. Plus, I’d like to use that day off to mountain bike in case I go through with the Fat Tire 40 in September.

I was a little surprised that Pfitz only has two 20+ milers in his program. I guess he makes up for it with lots of 17-19 milers. And of course there are lots of mid-week 15 milers that I’ll need to get used to doing again.

Note to self: after taking time off after a marathon, don’t include barefoot strides on your first run back. I did that Monday and after today’s run, my left foot is bothering me. Hopefully it’s just a mild strain.

I had one more observation from Gma’s that I forgot to include last time. There’s a local guy that always wears a heart rate monitor when he runs and I always seem to beat him – including last year when it was hot. I thought his HRM would keep him from crashing in the heat, but apparently not. Anyway, this year he didn’t have his HRM on during the race and he beat me by 3 or 4 minutes. What does all that mean?

Quote of the Day;

“Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude – they were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning had to be stored up before a race.” – Herb Elliott

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Okay, I have a few more random thoughts;

Anyone else think it’s kind of sad that to be in the Top 100 men at Grandma’s you only needed to run 2:59:12 or faster? To be in the Top 100 women, they needed to run 3:35 or faster.

My last 6 marathons, dating back to 2008, have been 3:12, 3:05, 3:12, 3:09, 3:10, 3:09. I really am just a 3:10 marathoner.

Not to go unnoticed, I did set a Masters PR by about one minute.

I didn’t qualify for Boston in my first 3 marathons. Since then, 12 of my 13 marathons have been under my BQ. The only one that wasn’t was Boston in 2004 when it was 90+ degrees at the start.

Yesterday I got a comment from Kevin suggesting that I scale back my racing and mileage a bit and give myself a longer taper. And I got an email from my friend Eric suggesting that I basically train through a marathon with no more than a 3 day taper.

I was actually thinking about racing more this summer – but I’d include more short races so that MP feels easy. Given my vacation 4 weeks out, I basically took a longer taper than normal this time around, so extending that even further doesn’t make sense to me.

Right now my plan is to take this entire week off and then spend the next 2 weeks running however I feel. That’ll leave 12 weeks for a yet to be determined plan that will lead up to my 3:10 at TCM.

Quote of the Day;

“Successful marathoners must lose their cool, and allow this irrational, animal consciousness to take over.” – Bill Rodgers

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Here are some more random thoughts about Grandma’s Marathon weekend;

It was nice to see that they finally switched from Ultima to Poweraid at the aid stations.

People like to complain about the cost of hotels, but you can still find cheap lodging. Our group of 4 stayed at the College of St. Scholastica in a 4 bedroom dorm room with a kitchenette. It cost $388 for the entire weekend – less than $100 each.

I was “surprised” to hear that Mary Akor ended up in the medical tent. Does she end up in the medical tent after every marathon or just after every Grandma’s?

Be sure to check out Wayne’s photo gallery from the half and full. It includes 205 photos of lots of people hugging, raising their arms in victory, dressing alike, etc. You can also find the customary photos of the race medal, the lift bridge, people in their space blanket, lying down or taking an ice bath in Lake Superior. You can also see yours truly (photo #138 and #141).

Now, it’s that time again – time to second-guess everything leading up to Grandma’s.

I was thinking that I wouldn’t have a problem with running all these 3:10s if that’s all I thought I was capable of. I mean, I’ve run marathons where everything feels great and I run a fast time. I know it’s possible. I just haven’t done it for awhile. So the questions become, how do I do it again? What changes do I need to make? What went wrong this time?

I think one easy answer has to do with going on vacation 4 weeks out and only running about 35 miles that week. I never felt good again after getting back home. I don’t think it was entirely from going on vacation, but probably had to do with trying to cram in two 2-week cycles with only two easy days in between before going on vacation. And each of those cycles ended with a rather long race; a half marathon and a 30K. That may be too close together for such long races. Maybe my weekly mileage was too high and I’d be better off with 70 MPW with one day off every week.

With 15 weeks until TCM, these are some things I’ll have to reflect upon as I recover from Grandma’s.

Quote of the Day;

“Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” – Mark Twain

Monday, June 21, 2010


I’ve come to the realization that the marathon is not my best event. That’s not to say that I still don’t enjoy the challenge. I’m just saying that if I had to pick the event that I’m best at, it’d probably have to be the 20K or half marathon. Anything over 13.1 miles and I start to freak out and get intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the distance. Heck, even my best 25K times don’t correspond with my best half marathon times.

This year’s Grandma’s Marathon provided another case in point on this topic. Having run a 1:26:08 half marathon last month, it seemed like something in the low 3-hour range wouldn’t be that difficult. What’s the rule of thumb, double your half marathon and add 10-minutes? That’d put me at 3:02. 7-minute pace is 3:03:15, so that seemed like a reasonable, conservative goal. Perhaps on a great day I could sneak under 3 hours.

As I drove into town on Friday evening, the temp was 87 and sunny with a strong south wind, which would be a headwind. Needless to say, that was a little concerning the night before the race. Luckily, race day conditions proved to be nicer than that. Temps started out in the low 60s and never got much higher than 65. The dew point was in the mid-50s and there was significant cloud coverage. While the winds did die down some from Friday, we still had a steady 8+ mph head/crosswind to deal with. For those of you not familiar with the course, it’s basically a straight line for 25 miles. So when you have a headwind, you have it the whole way.

Nothing too exciting happened before gun went off. I settled in quickly with my first 3 splits all between 6:54 and 6:56. However, by mile 3 I already felt like I was working too hard too early in the race and I made a conscious effort to slow down. The next four miles were between 7:02 and 7:11. By now, after bucking the wind for 7 miles, I pretty much realized that it wasn’t a day to run fast. I tried to tuck in behind other runners as much as possible, but there were some stretches where that wasn’t possible due to the wind direction or not having anyone around at the time.

By mile 12 I figured if I couldn’t run fast I might as well be comfortable and I stopped for about 45 seconds to take a leak. This never used to be a problem, but during the last 3 years or so, I’ve ended up stopping a couple of times during each marathon. I gotta figure that out sometime, otherwise I’ll have to subtract 90 seconds from each goal in the future.

The halfway point comes and goes in 1:34:12. Maybe if I don’t crash and burn I can break 3:10. Around the aid station at mile 16 I heard people cheering for the 3:10 pace group. Given my experience with the pace group last year, where I wrote “I was quickly losing patience with the inconsistent pacing, getting annoyed with all the rah-rah banter and tired of the congestion at each water stop” I decided to try and hold them off as long as possible – after I stop for one more pee break.

After a couple of 7:17s and a downhill 7:06, I run the 20th mile in 7:26 – my slowest of the day. I hold off the 3:10 pack until mile 22. They catch me at the base of Lemon Drop hill and I jump in with them. Luckily, by now, they’re all rah-rah’d out and are only focused on finishing. A few guys pick up the pace and even more fall off the back. We’re passing quite a few people and it’s kind of hard to get a sense for who’s in the group and who’s not. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as I stick with the guy with the balloons.

Speaking of that, I get a kick out of the spectators that don’t know what the balloons mean. You can see a lot of the spectators looking at the balloons, trying to read the writing on them. And then, of course, you hear the “Nice balloons!” comments along the way. It’s kind of funny.

Grandma’s is one of those courses that gets better the further you go, at least when it comes to spectators. Early in the race there are pockets of spectators here and there, with a few sections that are fairly crowded and loud. However, around mile 19 you start to make your way into town and the crowds get thicker and thicker and they keep building all the way to the finish. I love the beer drinkers around mile 21, the group at Lemon Drop just after 22, all the folks near Fitger’s, and, of course, everyone along Superior Street, especially at the corner of Lake – that has to be the loudest section of all. Just passed this section is the 25 mile marker. I glance at the clock and see 3:00:41. Given that there “should” be about 9 minutes of running left, it seems like sub-3:10 will be reached. No major catastrophes during the last 1.2 and I cross the line in 3:09:42.

I knew I ran 3:09 last year too, but didn’t realize it was 3:09:43. With that rate of improvement, I figure I’ll break 3 hours in 583 years. Here are my splits from the last 2 years;

Split – 2009 - 2010
6.2 miles – 45:34 – 43:33
13.1 miles – 49:45 – 50:39
20 miles – 49:32 – 50:22
26.2 miles – 45:02 – 45:07

I originally thought the consistency from 6.2 to13.1 and 13.1 to 20 was a little eerie. But I think it gets back to being intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the distance. There’s something about the races over 13.1 miles that make me scared to put my neck on the line. Maybe there’s some burning desire to avoid blowing up and walking it in. I don’t know for sure, but I should try to figure it out – or at least change my expectations and be content with being a 3:10 marathoner.

Looking at the results from 2009 and 2010, it appears people are less affected by the wind than the heat. Last year I placed 152nd out of 5998. This year I was 238th out of 5597. I guess I’ll pray for heat in the future.

Finally, I’m not sure I’ve seen this before, but this year, not only do the results show your time at each check point, but they also show your place (overall, age group and sex). It’s cool to see that I was in 309th place at the half, 288th at 20 miles and 238th at the finish. Pretty cool.

If you’re a stats geek, here are my mile splits;

7:55 – pee
7:44 – pee
7:16 – Lemon Drop

Thanks for reading. I should have more thoughts tomorrow – hopefully with a few photos.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Awhile ago I wrote an article about the marathon. In reference to the taper and all the pent-up energy surrounding it, I wrote “I may find myself doing energy-sapping projects that could easily wait until after the marathon, like cutting the grass, raking the leaves, or painting the entire house.” Well I didn’t paint the “entire” house yesterday, but I did tape and prime 2 rooms – before cutting the grass.

The problem is that there’s really no better time to do these types of home-improvement projects than the week or two leading up to the marathon. With training cutback, I have an abundance of time and energy on my hands.

Lately I’ve been wondering what it’d feel like if I went into a marathon feeling great with loads of confidence on my side. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened. Maybe I’d be worse off, since it’d be so out of the norm. It’s too late to change much now, so I’ll just lace them up on Saturday along with everyone else.

Of course, all the “I hope you guys get good weather” comments have already started. Nobody ever says “I hope it’s hot for you guys.” Although that’s usually what I’m thinking when I’m not signed up for a marathon. Heck if I want anyone else racing in ideal conditions when I’m not signed up.

One new development, I’m now the program director for the local youth (grades 3-6) x-c program. So if you’re local, be sure to get your kids signed up for the program.

Finally, count me in the group that just doesn’t get soccer. I heard at one point there were 9 goals in 7 games. That’s 9 goals in 10.5 hours of action. With my luck, I’d get up to take a leak and someone would score. Then I'd have to wait another game and a half to see the next goal.

There was a discussion on the radio the other day where one guy believed that some people are soccer “fans” just because it’s the cool thing to do. They really don’t like soccer, but they feel that they must like it because the rest of the world does. I bet that theory is right on the money.

Quote of the Day;

“I always start these events with lofty goals, like I’m going to do something special. And after a point of body deterioration, the goals get evaluated down to basically where I am now – where the best I can hope for is to avoid throwing up on my shoes.” – Ephraim Romesburg, ultra runner

Friday, June 11, 2010


You’d think with a marathon 8 days away that I’d have lots to blog about. I don’t.

None of my runs lately have been feeling particularly peppy. I’m not sure if that’s due to overtraining before going on vacation, vacation itself, just normal lethargy due to tapering, or something entirely different. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t really been in a routine lately. I’ve been staying up later than normal due to kid’s soccer or watching the Twins and NBA finals.

I haven’t watched the NBA in years, but the Celtics/Lakers matchup intrigues me. It reminds me of the Bird/Magic matchup from my youth. One thing I’ll say is that this may be the worst officiated series I’ve ever seen. The refs are blowing their whistles left and right.

I wish I had more, but I don’t.

Quote of the Day;

“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.” – William James

Friday, June 04, 2010


As "promised" here are some photos I took while in Alaska. The cruise left from Seattle, spent a day in the Tracy Arm Fjord before hitting the ports of Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. We were supposed to hit Victoria, BC, but it was too windy and they couldn't pull into port.

Here we are leaving Seatle. The brown deck below would eventually become my running track.

The next 4 photos were taking in the Tracy Arm Fjord. If you didn't know, Alaska is mountainous with lots of trees and waterfalls. At the end of the Fjord is an glacier, hence all the icebergs.

Here's a photo from my favorite part of the trip. In Skagway we took at train ride up the White Pass & Yukon Trail.

Now we're in Juneau where we took a bike excursion of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Me and my brother Deron.

Me in front of the Mendenhall Glacier. No, I'm not sponsored by Dr. Pepper. But it is a comfy shirt.
Here's the famous, or is it infamous, Creek Street in Ketchikan. During prohibition, they used to carry booze in boats and sneak it into the bars through the floor.

Here's the the Marina in Ketchikan. After running along a boring road for an hour, I finally found a trail that lead to the top of the mountain on the right side of photo. Unfortunately, it was too late in the run and I had to get back to the ship, so I only ran about 10 minutes on those trails.

Quote of the day;

"I'm Mayor of Bonkville today." - Tony Kocanda, who's training for Western States 100, after this morning's run

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Yes, I’m still alive. I survived an 8 day Alaskan cruise. Alaska was cool – great scenery. I should have some photo posted soon. The cruise itself was just okay. If you don’t gamble or sit at the bars all day long, there’s not a lot to do. I will say that 8 days without email, blogs or facebook was awesome.

I didn’t run on either of my travel days, but managed to run the 6 days in-between. My first 3 runs were on a treadmill, but then I switch to laps around the sun deck. And I ran one day while we were in port. All the runs were easy, so now I feel really rested. But I also feel flat. My first tempo run since the 30K was tough. I wasn’t moving very fast and I wasn’t into the run mentally at all. I’m guessing I just need to get back into my normal routine and I’ll start feeling back to normal very soon.

At the beginning of the month I mentioned that my all-time high mileage for May is 301 miles. I was well on my way to breaking that before going on vacation. Instead, I ended up with 297 miles. One more little 5 mile run is all I needed… oh well.

It’s sad, but that’s all I have today. If you’re local and want to take a survey about our trail system, head over to the MDRA blog and fill out their short survey.

Quote of the Day;

“Quit? Retire? Hell, no. Next year I’m really gonna train.” – Marty Liquori