Wednesday, December 28, 2011


After my last post, I came up with one more unbelievable thing. The Timberwolves are actually fun to watch. At least they were in their first game. Last night was brutal. I was about to get on the Ricky Rubio bandwagon, but I’m going to wait a little bit. While he’s fun to watch in the open court, he’s pretty unspectacular in the half court game.  And his defense needs some work.  But with him, Love, Williams,etc., they could be fun to watch.  I didn't include Beasley in that list because he pouts too much and doesn't pass the ball.

Readers might not know this, but basketball was my true love growing up. I used to love taking my “boom box” to the nearest court and shoot hoops for an hour or two. Even with all that shooting, I was just an average shot. But that’s okay because I enjoyed passing more than scoring. Isiah Thomas was my boyhood idol, so I’d try to mimic my game after him. That may be why I had more turnovers than assist.

I mentioned winning an iPad at the holiday Christmas party. I’m still trying to figure out all the bells and whistles that go with Apple products. It’s truly amazing, but part of me can’t help think of that Seinfeld episode where George is offered Superbowl tickets. While most people would be excited, all George can think about is how much it’s going to cost to fly to the game and get a hotel. He says something like, “This is really a bill for $2,000.” That’s how I feel. In order to tap into this amazing gadget, it’s going to cost some money.

As for running, I forgot to mention that I ran 54 miles last week. That seems about right for this new program at this point in the season. This morning I had another great 10 mile trail run at Hyland Park.

Like a billion other Americans, I’m thinking about trying to lose some weight after the New Year. Typically, when I was racing fit, I had been weighing in around 148 pounds or less. With my recent lack of running, I ended up getting up to 158. I’m now around 156, so I still have 8 pounds to go. Perhaps steady weeks of 50+ MPW will be enough, however, it wouldn’t hurt to watch what I eat and drink a little bit more.

Quote of the Day;

“It’s easy, once you get rolling, to keep doing more and more. The momentum just builds. But before long you get compulsive about it and start thinking that if you miss a workout, you’re going to turn into a pumpkin; or worse – your racing edge is going to disappear. I think that’s a lot of garbage.” – Herm Atkins, 2:11 marathoner

Monday, December 26, 2011


I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable;

1) It’s December 26th and I ran in shorts today.

2) It’s 50 degrees and sunny.

3) I ran 400 meter repeats.

4) I’m ready to throw in the towel on the x-c ski season – or lack thereof.
I’d have to look back in my logbook, but I’d guess number one has been done before since any nice little warming trend in the 40s would be enough to make that happen.

I’m pretty sure temps in the 40s in December is not that amazing. However, temps in the 50s seem unheard of. Who would have thought you could take down your Christmas lights the day after Christmas and it’d be warmer than when you put them up in November? Note: I said, “Could”. Ours are still up.

The third one is probably the most amazing just by itself. Throw in the fact that I did it outside, in shorts, on a dirt track and I think we have a winner.

Considering how much I was roller skiing in October and November, it’s hard to believe where the x-c ski season has gone. January is right around the corner and I haven’t even been on my skis yet. That puts the Birkie 9 weeks away. I don’t see any snow in the forecast for the upcoming week. Two weekend after that, I’ll be in Houston for the Trials. That leaves 6 weeks to get up to 50K. I’m thinking I may be better off by just continuing to focus on running this winter. That doesn’t mean I won’t ski if we get snow. It just means I won’t be trying to cram in a ski marathon.

Quote of the day;

“My only dream and ambition was to compete against the best in the world.” – Mark Plaatjes, gold medallists at the 1993 World Championships marathon

Friday, December 23, 2011


If I had been running all year, I’m sure I’d be looking forward to skiing. However, given that I wasn’t able to run much the second half of the year, this lack of snow hasn’t really bothered me. Now I’m to the point where I’m enjoying the fact that we’re going to have a short winter.

The only thing really different with this week’s training from last week’s is that Tuesday was long intervals, instead of last week’s short intervals. I did 5 x ½ mile between 6:44 and 6:49 pace with ¼ mile jog in between. It’s probably no surprise, but the longer intervals felt easier than last week’s ¼ mile intervals. I followed that up with a 10-mile trail run on Wednesday and a super easy 4-mile run on Thursday.

Today I hit the treadmill again for 8 miles, including 4 miles at 7:03 pace. It’s hard to compare last week’s 4 miles at 7:08 pace to today’s run because last week I was outside. Given my relative lack of fitness, I’m hoping I see some pretty significant gains pretty quickly.

Okay, there are lots of cool videos popping up lately, mostly related to the Olympic Trials Marathon. Below are some of my favorites. Speaking of the Trials, did you see that Galen Rupp threw his name in the mix? And now Jen Rhines has decided to run the marathon too. Things just got more interesting!

Here’s Minnesota’s Runner of the Year, Chris Erichsen.

Brooks-Hansons Distance Project – Desi Davila and Mike Morgan.

Scott McPherson going all “Quenton Cassidy”.

Jen Rhines talking about NYC and her decision to run the Trials.

New Run Junkie episode.

Finally, “The Chase”.

Monday, December 19, 2011


In the intro of my last post I mentioned that I didn’t believe Hall’s and Davila’s comments about the kinds of times it was going to take to get on the podium at the trials. Scott Douglas didn’t believe them either and he put together this article explaining why.

Quick updated on my training. I finished my first week of the Endless Season program. Thursday’s run was what Rubio calls “True Recovery”. He calls for 0-30 minutes at an easy pace. I strolled around for 37 minutes and called it 4 miles. Friday I took advantage of having the day off and ran my tempo run outside. I ran 9 miles total, including 4 miles at 7:08 pace. Saturday was my second day off for the week. Given the time of year, with family being in town, I don’t worry about missing an extra day or two during the holidays. So I “only” had 37 miles last week. Yesterday everyone went home and I took advantage of the 43 degree weather to run 12 miles on the trails. There’s nothing like running in shorts on December 18th. Finally, this morning I ran an easy 6 miles.

I love winter more than the next guy, but since I basically had a 5 month stretch with limited running, I’m not missing winter too much. While I like to ski, I have no problem focusing on running until skiing presents itself. Of course, after trying to ski 50K on 2/25 I might be singing a different tune.

Quote of the Day;

“There is a great advantage in training under unfavorable conditions. It is better to train under bad conditions, for the difference is then a tremendous relief in a race.” – Emil Zatopek

Friday, December 16, 2011


As of tomorrow, the Olympic Trials Marathon will only be 4 weeks away. Yesterday Flotrack posted an article with quotes from the 2 favorites, Ryan Hall and Desiree Davila. Both runners think the races will be fast. Hall predicts the top-3 will have to run sub-2:10, while Davila thinks 2:24 will win it, with 2:28 getting you on the team. Given that the trials records are 2:09:02 (Hall in 2007) and 2:28:25 (Colleen De Reuck in 2004), I’m not sure I agree with those predictions. If I had to pick, I’d say the women are more likely to run those kinds of times.

Below is a preview I wrote for MDRA. If you’d rather read it online – with photos – you can check it out HERE. If you’re an MDRA member, this issue will be in the mail on Monday.

2012 Marathon Trials Preview
By: Chad Austin

With apologizes to The Clash, “London’s Calling,” as in the 2012 Olympic Games. But first, athletes must qualify. For the top marathoners in the U.S., this means finishing in the top three at the marathon trials in Houston, Texas, on January 14, 2012. For the first time ever, the men and women will run their trials in the same city on the same day.

Below is a break down the top runners, the favorites, the contender, the dark horses and the locals. Speaking of local runners, Minnesota will be very well represented in Houston, as we have 15 qualifiers for each of the races. That’s nearly 10 percent of the entire field.

Four years ago, I wrote that the women’s field was wide open, mainly due to the fact that two of the top five qualifiers chose to focus on the track instead. Not only is that not the case this time around, but many of the top track athletes, namely Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Katie McGregor, have moved up to the marathon since the last trials and they all have top 10 qualifying times. They’ll have to contend with the “old guard”, which includes Olympians, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, Deena Kastor, Blake Russell and even 47-year-old Colleen De Reuck.

The favorites

Desiree Davila. Age: 28, PR: 2:22:38, Qualifier: 2:22:38, Boston (’11)

Davila’s marathon progression looks like this: 2:44, 2:37, 2:31, 2:26, 2:22. Like Ryan Hall on the men’s side, her leading qualifying time was run at this year’s Boston Marathon, with a 20 m.p.h. tailwind, as was Kara Goucher’s second leading time. Throw those times out and Davila’s 2:26:20 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon is the top seeded time. Plus, this year, she PR’d at the 5,000 meters (15:08), 10,000 meters (31:37) and half marathon (1:10:34).

Kara Goucher. Age: 33, PR: 2:24:52, Qualifier: 2:24:52, Boston (’11)

Primarily a track runner throughout her career, Goucher made the jump to the marathon in New York City in 2008. She ended up placing third in 2:25:53, becoming the first American on the podium in 14 years. Since then she’s had two top five finishes at Boston, as well as a tenth place showing at the 2009 World Championships. Recently, she lit up the running messages boards when she split with her longtime coach, Alberto Salazar, only 14 weeks before the marathon trials.

Shalane Flanagan. Age: 30, PR: 2:28:40, Qualifier: 2:28:40, New York City (’10)

Flanagan is no stranger to the world stage. At the 2008 Olympics, she won the bronze medal in the 10,000 meters when she ran an American record of 30:22.22. Then, earlier this year, she placed third in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. She moved up to the marathon in 2010 and finished second at New York City in 2:28:40.

Katie McGregor. Age: 34, PR: 2:31:01, Qualifier: 2:31:01, New York City (’10)

Team USA Minnesota’s Katie McGregor has had an outstanding career, including titles at the State, NCAA and National level. About the only thing missing is the title “Olympian,” which she barely missed out on when she finished fourth in the 10,000 meters at the last two trials. McGregor made her marathon debut in 2006 when she placed ninth in the New York City Marathon in 2:32:36. She returned to New York in 2008 and lowered her PR to 2:31:01. The flatter course in Houston may suit her track background.

The contenders

Magdalena Lewy Boulet. Age: 38, PR: 2:26:22, Qualifier: 2:26:22, Rotterdam (’10)

In 2004, Lewy Boulet placed fifth at the Olympic Trials. Four years later, she did everything in her power to make the Olympic Team, including taking the lead early and running her own race. Although Deena Kastor eventually caught her, Lewy Boulet was rewarded with a 2:30:19 PR and, more importantly, a second place finish. She could easily still be considered a favorite, however, at 38, age is not on her side.

Tera Moody. Age: 31, PR: 2:30:53, Qualifier: 2:30:53, Chicago (’10)

Four years ago, Moody’s qualifying time of 2:46:40 seeded her 152 out of 160 runners. At the trials, she proceeded to place fifth in 2:33:54. She’s proved that performance wasn’t a fluke by running three more sub 2:33 marathons since then. It’ll be interesting to see how she responds to being one of the top 10 seeds this time around.

Blake Russell. Age: 36, PR: 2:29:10, Qualifier: 1:11:55 (half marathon)

Eight years ago, Russell finished a disappointing fourth at the trials when she was passed in the final 400 meters. She redeemed herself in 2008 by placing third at the trials before going on to finish twenty-seventh in Beijing. Heading into the 2008 trials, she hadn’t run a marathon in over three years. She’ll have to rely on that experience again, because she dropped out of this year’s Boston Marathon and had to rely on her half marathon time for a qualifier.

Amy Hastings. Age: 25, PR: 2:27:03, Qualifier: 2:27:03, Los Angeles (’11)

In her marathon debut at this year’s Los Angeles Marathon, Hastings ran 2:27:03, the third fastest debut by an American ever. This makes the 10 time All-American at Arizona State University the fourth fastest qualifier and an immediate contender.

The dark horses

Denna Kastor. Age: 38, PR: 2:19:36, Qualifier: 2:36:20, London (’10)

Honestly, I have no idea where to place Kastor. On one hand, she’s the 2004 bronze medalist and the reigning American record holder at this distance. On the other hand, she’s nearly 39 years old and her 2:36 qualifier barely puts her in the top 25. With all that said, I think Kastor will be a factor in Houston.

Dot McMahan. Age: 35, PR: 2:31:48, Qualifier: 2:31:48, Grandma’s (’11)

Perhaps no one was more excited about their performance at this year’s Grandma’s Marathon than McMahan. The former 800 meter and mile specialist from Wisconsin ran 2:31:48 to PR by more than three minutes. In Houston, she’ll need to improve upon her eighth place finish in 2008.

Ilsa Paulson. Age: 23, PR: 2:31:49, Qualifier: 2:31:49, Twin Cities (’09)

You may remember Paulson from when she won the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon at the ripe old age of 20. She also won the Country Music Marathon six months later in 2:33:41. However, since then, things have been pretty quiet from her.

Colleen De Reuck. Age: 47, PR: 2:26:35, Qualifier: 2:30:51, Copenhagen (’10)

Four years ago, even at age 43, I had De Reuck as a contender, because she was the defending trials champion and a four time Olympian (three times for South Africa). Despite the fact that she did not finish in 2008, and she’s four years older, I’m still picking her as a dark horse, mainly because she’s proved she can still run in the low 2:30s. Plus, it’d make for a very interesting story.

Jen Houck. Age: 27, PR: 2:33:00, Qualifier: 2:33:00, Grandma’s (’11)

When Houck toes the line for a marathon, all she does is PR. In 2010, she ran Boston in 2:39:02 and Chicago in 2:37:16. This year, she returned to Boston with a 2:34:28 and then two months later ran 2:33:00 at Grandma’s. If she continues this trend, the former College of St. Scholastica star could turn some heads.

Janet Cherobon-Bowcom. Age: 33, PR: 2:37:27, Qualifier: 1:11:21 (half marathon)

Although she’s only run 2:37, I’m including the Kenyan born Cherobon-Bowcom as a dark horse because she’s consistently run sub 1:12s for the half marathon. Plus, she’s running well, having recently won the U.S. 20K and 10M champions in 1:08:31 and 54:15, respectively.

The locals

Meghan (Armstrong) Peyton. Age: 26, PR: N/A, Qualifier: 1:13:56 (half marathon)

Team USA Minnesota’s Peyton has had a solid year finishing in the top seven at four different U.S. championships ranging from 5K to 20K. Most recently, she placed sixth at the TC 10 Mile in 55:09. She’s using her half marathon time for a qualifier, so Houston will be her marathon debut.

Kristen Nicolini. Age: 34, PR: 2:35:06, Qualifier: 2:35:06, Twin Cities (’09)

Nicolini made her marathon debut at the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon. There she placed third in the U.S. Championships in 2:35:06. The trials will be this former Team USA Minnesota runner’s second marathon.

Leah Thorvilson. Age: 33, PR: 2:37:54, Qualifier: 2:39:43, Grandma’s (’11)

Thorvilson was a sprinter, hurdler and triple jumper at Armstrong High School before becoming a distance runner at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. She’s a three time winner of the Little Rock Marathon and at this year’s Grandma’s Marathon she placed seventeenth in 2:39:43.

Jenna Boren. Age: 33, PR: 2:40:45, Qualifier: 2:40:45, Grandma’s (’11)

Boren is a three time Minnesota Runner of the Year. The St. Olaf College graduate will be making her second trials appearance, having finished ninety-fourth in 2008. She’s had great success at Grandma’s Marathon over the years, including a 2:40:45 PR this year.

Michelle (Lilienthal) Frey. Age: 29, PR: 2:35:51, Qualifier: 2:42:31, Grand Int’l (’10)

Leading up to the 2008 trials, Frey dropped her times from 2:49 to 2:40 to 2:35. The latter time gave her the eighth fastest qualifying time. However, injuries slowed her down and she finished a disappointing eighty-fifth at the trials. The former Team USA Minnesota runner will look to rebound from that performance.

Katie Koski. Age: 38, PR: 2:42:33, Qualifier: 2:42:53, Twin Cities (’11)

This will be Koski’s third Olympic Trials marathon. What makes that even more impressive is that she failed to qualify for the 2008 trials. In her two previous appearances, the Duluth resident placed sixty-fifth (2000) and fifty-fourth (2004).

Nichole Porath. Age: 28, PR: 2:44:46, Qualifier: 2:44:46, Grandma’s (’11)

Porath’s improvement may be the most remarkable of anyone in the field. Three years ago, she sported a 3:03 PR. This quickly dropped like a rock to 2:58, 2:55 and 2:51 before running her 2:44:46 qualifier at Grandma’s this year.

Megan Grindall. Age: 30, PR: 2:45:16, Qualifier: 2:45:16, Boston (’11)

Grindall is originally from Minot, North Dakota, and she now lives in Moorehead. I’ll admit that she officially has me stumped. Between 2006 and 2009, she ran anywhere from 3:04 to 3:49, including a win at the 2006 Fargo Marathon. Those are not your typical times for Olympic Trials qualifiers. This year she went to Boston and ran 2:45:16, and she followed that up at TCM with a 2:52:58.

Nichole Cueno. Age: 32, PR: 2:42:03, Qualifier: 2:45:31, Chicago (’11)

Cueno made great strides leading up to the 2004 trials when she dropped her PR from 2:52 to 2:42. She ended up finishing fifty-fifth at the trials in 2:44:54. The former standout at Grinnell College won the 2009 Fargo Marathon in 2:53:15. She earned her qualifier at this year’s Chicago Marathon.

Stephanie Herbst-Lucke. Age: 46, PR: 2:42, Qualifier: 1:12:16 (half marathon)

Although she now lives in Atlanta, Herbst Lucke grew up in Chaska, Minnesota. She first qualified for the Olympic Track and Field Trials in 1988. She then proceeded to take a 20 year break from competition before returning as a Masters runner. In 2008, she placed fifty-ninth at the trials in 2:45:14.

It should be noted that former and current Team USA Minnesotans, Anne Bersagel and Meg Hogan have qualified for the marathon trials by way of their 10,000 meter times. However, I don’t believe they will be running in Houston.

Four years ago the trials field was considered to be the deepest since 1984. It featured former a world record holder, the reigning silver medalist and multiple Olympians at 10,000 meters. While the 2012 trials may not be as deep, it’s certainly close.

After placing first and second in 2008, Ryan Hall and Dathan Ritzenhein are back, and at 29 years old, they’re in their prime. Wiley veterans now include the 2004 silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, three time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, and Minnesota’s Jason Lehmkuhle. Throw in a guy like Brett Gotcher, who debuted with the fourth fastest qualifier, and the field is very exciting.

The favorites

Ryan Hall. Age: 29, PR: 2:04:58, Qualifier: 2:04:58, Boston (’11)

Let’s be honest, even in the uncertain world of marathoning, this is a no-brainer. Four years ago, Hall simply pulled away from arguably the best field in trials history to win by more than two minutes. His time of 2:09:02 is a trials record. Sure, his sub 2:05 at Boston was run with a 20 m.p.h. tailwind. Take that away and his 2:08:04 still makes him the fastest qualifier. In fact, of the top nine qualifying times, Hall owns five of them.

Dathan Ritzenhein. Age: 29, PR: 2:10:00, Qualifier: 2:10:00, London (’09)

Ritzenhein is arguably America’s most versatile runner. He’s a three time U.S. cross country champion. In 2009, he set the then American Record for 5,000 meters in 12:56.27. And he’s already qualified for two Olympic Games, running the 10,000 meters (2004) and marathon (2008). It was Ritzenhein who finished second to Hall at the last trials. He comes into these trials as the third fastest qualifier. Unfortunately, he spent most of 2011 not running due to surgery on his Achilles, followed by complications caused by an allergic reaction to the stitches.

Meb Keflezighi. Age: 36, PR: 2:09:15, Qualifier: 2:09:15, New York City (’09)

To be honest, I’m kind of surprised to be including Meb as a favorite. It’s not that he doesn’t have the credentials. Heck, he won the silver medal in the marathon at the 2004 Games. However, he’s 36-years-old now, which is getting up there for elite runners. But the numbers don’t lie and after Hall’s top two performances, Keflezighi has the next three: all between 2:09:15 and 2:09:26. And he proved he can win big races when he won the New York City Marathon in 2009. This was the first American to do so since Alberto Salazar in 1982.

Jason Lehmkuhle. Age: 34, PR: 2:12:34, Qualifier: 2:12:34, Boston (’10)

Prior to the last trials, I wrote that Lehmkuhle was the best 2:16 marathoner in the U.S. The Team USA Minnesota runner proved me right by running 2:12:54 to finish fifth. He’s since lowered his PR and run sub 2:15 a couple of other times, as well as a 1:02:49 half marathon. He won’t catch anyone by surprise this time around, but if he’s healthy, he’ll be in the mix.

The contenders

Abdi Abdirahman. Age: 35, PR: 2:08:56, Qualifier: 2:14:00, New York City (’09)

Sure, Abdi “only” sports a 2:14:00 qualifier this time around, but can you ever really count out a three time Olympian? Yes, he ran the 10,000 meter in those three Olympics, but he’s also the only other sub 2:09 marathoner in the field besides Hall. Earlier this year he won the U.S. 20K title in 1:00:12 and then followed that up with a sixth place showing at the TC 10 Mile, running 47:00.

Brett Gotcher. Age: 28, PR: 2:10:36, Qualifier: 2:10:36, Houston (’10)

All Gotcher did a year ago in Houston was run the fourth fastest debut by an American. His 2:10:36 also makes him the fourth fastest qualifier and plants him firmly as a contender. On the down side, a sore hip forced him to miss this year’s Boston Marathon. However, he seems to have recovered having finished third in the TC 10 Mile in 46:51.

Jason Hartmann. Age: 30, PR: 2:11:06, Qualifier: 2:11:06, Chicago (’10)

You may recognize Hartmann’s name, because he won the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon in 2:12:09. He proved that performance was no fluke the following year when he ran 2:11:06 at Chicago, making him the fifth fastest qualifier. The six time All-American, while at Oregon, will look to improve upon his tenth place finish four years ago.

Nick Arciniaga. Age: 28, PR: 2:11:30, Qualifier: 2:11:30, Houston (’11)

As a 24-year-old, Arciniaga placed seventeenth at the last trials. The former Hansons-Brooks Distance Project runner consistently knocked out 2:16 and 2:17 marathons. Now with McMillan Elite, he’s run 2:13:46, 2:11:48 and 2:11:30. If he can run another sub 2:12 in Houston, he will be in contention.

The dark horses

Matt Gabrielson. Age: 33, PR: 2:13:28, Qualifier: 2:13:28, Grandma’s (’11)

An original member of Team USA Minnesota, Gabrielson has tremendous range. He’s run as fast as 4:02 for the mile and 13:30 for 5,000 meters. His breakthrough performance at the marathon came in June this year at Grandma’s where he finished sixth in 2:13:28. At the last trials, Gabrielson was focusing on the track, where he wound up eighth in the 5,000 meters. This will be his first marathon trials.

Antonio Vega. Age: 28, PR: 2:13:47, Qualifier: 2:13:47, Boston (’10)

2010 was a very good year for Vega. He was named the USATF Men’s Long Distance Runner of the Year, in part, because he won the USA Running Circuit. Along the way, he also claimed his first U.S. title when he won the half marathon championships in 1:01:54. His qualifying time of 2:13:47 gives Team USA Minnesota three runners in the top 11.

Mike Morgan. Age: 31, PR: 2:14:55, Qualifier: 2:14:55, Chicago (’10)

There are over a dozen runners in the 2:14 to 2:15 range. I’m picking Morgan for one of my dark horses, because Hansons-Brooks Distance Project runners tend to do well at the marathon trials. In 2007, they placed five runners in the top 20, including Morgan who finished twelfth.

Tim Nelson. Age: 27, PR: 2:15:06, Qualifier: 2:15:06, New York City (’10)

No, Nelson’s 2:15 marathon debut is not nearly as fast as Gotcher’s 2:10 debut. However, Nelson has wheels, having run 27:31 for 10,000 meters. Of course, there’s more to the marathon than having wheels. If Nelson can figure that out, he could be dangerous.

Andrew Carlson. Age: 29, PR: N/A, Qualifier: 1:02:21 (half marathon)

Honestly, I could have placed Carlson anywhere on this list: favorite, contender or dark horse. He’s a two time U.S. Champion in the15K and 25K, and his half marathon time converts to a sub 2:12. However, the Team USA Minnesotan didn’t start this year’s Twin Cities Marathon due to injury, so Houston will be his marathon debut.

The locals

Josh Moen. Age: 29, PR: 2:23:16, Qualifier: 1:02:53 (half marathon)

The former Division III star while at Wartburg College is probably best remembered for his dual with Abdirahman at the 2009 TC 10 Mile. Moen pushed the three time Olympian all the way to the line, finishing in 46:38, just three seconds behind Abdi. Unfortunately, the Team USA Minnesota member has yet to figure out the marathon. If he’s able to do it at Houston, things could get exciting.

Chris Raabe. Age: 32, PR: 2:15:13, Qualifier: 2:15:13, Grandma’s (’09)

Having grown up near St. Cloud, Raabe was the second runner with Minnesota ties at the last trials, placing sixteenth in 2:17:01. In 2009, he won Grandma’s Marathon, becoming the first native Minnesotan to do so since Dick Beardsley. His 2:15:13 makes him the twentieth fastest qualifier.

Luke Watson. Age: 31, PR: 2:15:29, Qualifier: 2:15:29, Twin Cities (’09)

Watson, who grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota, made his marathon debut at the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon. He also won the 2010 Steamtown Marathon in a course record time of 2:16:41. He’s a three time Olympic Trials qualifier, having run the Steeplechase and 5,000 meters at previous trials. His 3:57 mile PR shows he also possesses great speed.

Michael Reneau. Age: 33, PR: 2:16:45, Qualifier: 2:16:45, New York (’09)

Reneau will be making his second trials appearance. At the last trials, he finished thirty-second in 2:18:51. Forty years earlier, his father, Jeff, placed tenth at the 1968 trials. Reneau, who is originally from Hudson, Wisconsin, trained with Hansons-Brooks Distance Project for a while, but is now in the Twin Cities.

Chad Johnson. Age: 35, PR: 2:15:03, Qualifier: 2:17:41, Boston (’10)

Johnson began his college career at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point before transferring to the University of Minnesota. He is currently with Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, and he’ll also be making his second marathon trials appearance, having finished twentieth in 2:17:58 last trials.

Donovan Fellows. Age: 32, PR: 2:18:05, Qualifier: 2:18:05, Twin Cities (’10)

Four years ago, Fellow ran a very solid race at the trials to finish thirtieth in 2:18:45. He’s a former Big Ten champion at 10,000 meters while at Purdue. The Woodbury resident finished fourth at the City of Lakes 25K in a time of 1:26:18.

Chris Erichsen. Age: 25, PR: 2:18:24, Qualifier: 2:18:24, Virginia Beach (‘11)

The former MIAC athlete of the year while at St. Johns University made his marathon debut at the 2010 Fargo Marathon. Although he won, he missed the qualifying standard of 2:19 by less than a minute. He earned his qualifier at this year’s Virginia Beach Marathon and recently won the City of Lakes 25K in 1:20:38 and placed twelfth at the TC 10 Mile in 48:59.

Matt Hooley. Age: 29, PR: 2:18:42, Qualifier: 2:18:42, Eugene (’09)

Hooley is a former Division III All-American while at Carleton College. He won the 2009 Eugene Marathon in 2:18:42 and placed ninth at this year’s TCM. He’ll be looking to bounce back after dropping out of the 2008 trials.

Chris Lundstrom. Age: 35, PR: 2:17:34, Qualifier: 2:18:58, Twin Cities (’09)

Originally from Northfield, Minnesota, Lundstrom ran at Stanford University. He finished the last trials in thirty-seventh place in 2:19:21. He qualified for his second trials at the 2009 TCM by a mere two seconds. In addition to the roads, Lundstrom is one of the best trail runners around, having run several ultras. He even helped the U.S. to a silver medal at the 2010 World Mountain Running championships.

Mike Torchia. Age: 23, PR: N/A, Qualifier: 1:04:47 (half marathon)

Torchia is a Rochester, Minnesota, native who ran for the University of Minnesota. He’s currently in his first year of medical school there and will be making his marathon debut at the trials.

Justin Grunewald. Age: 25, PR: N/A, Qualifier: 1:04:50 (half marathon)

Like Torchia, Grunewald is another former Gopher that will be making his marathon debut at the trials. The third year medical student’s half marathon time of 1:04:50 was just 10 seconds under the qualifying standard.

There you have it, my preview of the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials in Houston. With both men’s and women’s races on the same day, January 14, 2012, is sure to be historic when it comes to U.S. marathon history.

After writing this article, someone asked me what are the things to watch for. Given that I wrote this just after the Chicago Marathon, in October, there are a few more names that have “popped up”. On the women’s side Molly Pritz and Stephanie Rothstein come to mind. Pritz ran well at New York. That was only 10 weeks before the trials, so it’ll be interesting to see how she recovers. I’m curious to see how Deena Kastor and Blake Russell bounce back after giving birth. How will Goucher respond to her new coach?  And, of course, will 47-year-old Colleen De Reuck, who comes in with the 8th fastest qualifying time, be able to make her FIFTH Olympic team? On the men’s side Ed Moran ran a top-10 qualifying time at NYC and Meb set a PR there too. Like with Pritz, I’ll be interested to see if they can bounce back in a short timeframe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The new issue of Running Times magazine arrived yesterday. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was written with me in mind.

First, the main message on the front cover say; “Get Serious in 2012”. And one of the sub-headings is; “How To Train, Not Just Run”.

Greg McMillan’s article is titled “Hodgepodge isn’t a Training Program.” In it, he mentions, “I’m a firm believer that every workout you do should have a purpose.” Obviously, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, however, the timing echoes nicely with the Rubio comments I’ve been posting lately.

Steve Magness has a nice piece on the benefits of two-a-days and “why non-elites should consider running twice a day.” Not only does he explain the benefits, but he also talks about when to incorporate them, based on the effect you’re trying to achieve.

Rachel Toor takes on the challenge of letting someone coach her and finds; 1) she cares about getting faster and 2) she’s willing to change (somewhat) to get there. I can relate to both of those things. She talks about finding out that her “endurance far exceeded her speed” and that all the sudden she was “running with a purpose.” Also relatable. Finally, today’s QOD probably applies to a lot of runners.

Of course, I have to mention the piece on Minnesota’s Lehmkuhles by local writer, Mackenzie Lobby.

These articles just represent the tip of the iceberg. There looks to be a lot of other interesting articles. Glancing through the magazine again, I just noticed that from page 30 to 66 there are only 2 advertisements. Otherwise, it’s article after article. Great stuff, RT!

Tomorrow I’m going to share my 2012 U.S. Olympic trials marathon preview, so be sure to check back.

Quote of the Day;

“Some puritanical part of me believed I shouldn’t have to ask for help, especially since, after two decades of running, I thought I knew this stuff.” – Rachel Toor


It seems like everyone has published some sort of Gift Ideas list this Christmas season. I thought I should write my own for MDRA’s magazine. However, given the lag time with print media, it’s way too late for that. So I’ll just share my list here.

I’ll start with things every runner should have but may not want to buy for themselves;
Foam Roller – cheaper than a massage

Headlamp – great if your runner ventures out in the dark – or would like to

Reflective Vest – safety first

Road ID – no brainer

Arm warmers – come in handy for spring and fall races

Swiss ball – core, core core

The Strassburg Sock - if your runner has any sort of Achilles problems

Treadmill – if you really love the runner in your life

Homemade gift certificates for cross-training opportunities;
Spin class – places like Cycle Quest offer pay-as-you-go classes for around $13. They also have boot camp classes available.

Yoga/Pilates – there are also stand-alone yoga places, so you don’t have to be a member of a health club if all you want to do is yoga.

If you’re lucky enough to live where there’s snow, great cross training opportunities exist in the form of snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Don’t feel like buying equipment, there are plenty of rental opportunities around. And if your runner already has equipment, you can always get them a trail pass to their favorite park. Three Rivers Park passes cost $50. That’s good for such awesome parks as Hyland, Elm Creek, Baker, Murphy-Hanrehan, etc.

Some other more unique gifts I’ve received in the past;
A memory box of my first Boston – includes medal, bib # and race certificate

A quilt made out of my old race shirts

Some type of display case for medals would be really cool too

Coaching services or online training program

MDRA membership

Entry fee into a race

A nice set of headphone that won’t slip out

There are lots of running books to choose from – here are the last 3 I’ve read;

Hot (Sweaty) Mamas - not just for women

Running the Edge - not your typical running book – this is more of a self-help book with running as a backdrop

Kara Goucher’s Running for Women

Like books, there are lots of running DVD on the market;

There’s the Hood to Coast documentary that I reviewed recently.

Even better is The Long Green Line documentary that follows Illinois high school coach, Joe Newton. This is great for any runner, but even better if you coach kids.

Last year I received McMillan’s core training DVDs

Of course, I’m a big Lauren Fleshman fan, so I’m all for supporting her side projects. She has Picky Bars and women’s apparel and a training journal geared towards women at Believe I Am. NOTE: while the training journal may have lots of flowers on it, it’s all about believing in yourself, so it’s not just for women. offers online training videos for everything from home computing to photography to web design. Gift subscriptions are available for as little as $25 per month.

Finally, I had a friend mentioned getting a new phone, but struggling with having to figure it out.

There’s my wish list for this year. Hopefully, there are some helpful ideas on there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


If you believe that there’s a correct pace for each workout, I’m pretty sure I’ve never trained correctly. Even when I was at my peak in college, I’m confident I was training too hard much of the time. Workouts would be run all-out – trying to impress the coach. Easy runs would be like a hard tempo effort – trying to hang with my teammates. Sure I got faster, but I also took many days off, either because I didn’t feel like running on the weekend after hammering all week, or because I would eventually get injured.

All of this has me excited to actually try and train properly while focusing just on the short stuff. Of course, I have no illusions of running the times I ran in college. However, it’ll be interesting to see if I can get down to some of my times from perhaps my mid-30s.

Yesterday I did my first interval session in probably a couple years. Typically, I just get by with mileage, tempos and hills. So it was kind of fun to be running “fast”. Given that it’s winter, even though it doesn’t feel like it, I did this workout on the treadmill; 8 x 400 meters at 2 mile race pace (I used 9.3 mph or 6:27 pace), with a 200 meter jog. It was a little difficult to do on the treadmill because of the time needed to get the belt up to speed and slow down, but I did the best I could.

Ideally, that should be like my half marathon pace, so I have a ways to go. But you gotta start somewhere.

This morning’s run reminded me of a spooky mid-October run more than a mid-December run. It was 35 degrees, misty, foggy and really dark. I managed 10 miles on the Hyland trails (sorry skiers, there’s no snow left).

Finally, I’ll close with a personal story. After 13 years, we finally upgraded to a 46” flat screen HDTV for our main level. Two weeks later, at my company Christmas party, my name was picked for the grand prize – a 46” flat screen HDTV. Luckily, since it was the grand prize, they allowed me to exchange it for something else on the list. I went with the iPad2 instead. Sweet! We wrapped it up, so it’ll be a surprise for the kids. The TV ended up going to another runner/skier. He’s just out of college, so he “needed” it more than me.

Quote of the Day;
“I wanted to be a hurdler or something. But when we had tryouts, I was so afraid to try out that I refused, kind of hung in the back of the crowd hoping I wouldn’t get noticed. The last event was the mile. And the coaches said: ‘Porter hasn’t done anything yet.’ So there I was committed; enter Pat Porter, distance runner.” – Pat Porter, who went on to become one of the most dominate U.S. runners of the 1980s

Monday, December 12, 2011


Now that I have a new approach in place, I started looking at the 2012 racing calendar. I’m thinking about signing up for the MDRA Grand Prix. I won’t run every race on there, but I have my eyes on 9 or 10 of them. There are a few other races I like a lot (Human Race, Get in Gear, Victory), so I’ll try to run them too. Plus I want to enter a few of the classics that I’ve never run, like Raspberry Days, Firecracker, and maybe even some of the road miles.

Joe Rubio says that most runners tend to over-think their training. Basically, his plan for the Endless Season just alternates between the following 2 weeks;

Week #1

Sun: easy run - 50-60 minutes

Mon: maintenance run (slightly faster than easy) 50-60 minutes

Tues: short intervals like 8 x 400m @ 3K pace with 200m jog

Wed: progression run – 75-90 minutes

Thur: true recovery day – 0-30 minutes

Fri: tempo run – 2 mile w/up and cooldown with 4 miles at tempo

Sat: long run 90-100 minutes

Week #2

Everything is the same except for Tuesday

Tues: long intervals like 5 x 1 mile @ 10K pace with 800m jog

That’s it – pretty simple. He also mixes in strides and accelerations before the intervals and tempos. And if you’re racing on Saturday, you simply replace the tempo run with a maintenance run.

I mentioned that one of the key elements for this to work is running everything at the correct intensity. Rubio suggestions using something like Daniels’ book or McMillan’s site to determine your correct paces based on recent performances. Given that I haven’t raced lately, I (hope) am being conservative and going with a VDOT of 48. Based on Daniels’ charts that means I’m in about 20:30 5K shape and 42 minute 10K shape. That means my 3K pace is around 6:25, 10K pace is around 6:50 and tempo pace is around 7:00. The last two weeks I’ve run 3 mile tempos around 7-7:15 pace, so I think I’m in the ballpark.

The nice thing about being so slow is that I can even run my short intervals on a treadmill that only goes 10 MPH.

I’m “officially” starting this program today. Right now my plan is to focus on shorter races through July and then switch to a 10-11 week marathon cycle leading up to TCM. Of course, it’s only December, so this will likely change – especially once we get snow. But it’s where I’m at now.

Last week I ended up with 49 miles on the week.

Quote of the Day;
“Overall, I cannot believe I actually won and it shows how well I have progressed in a very short time under Coach [Dennis] Barker. I am very honored to be able to get my first USA win as a Team USA Minnesota athlete." – Jon Grey after winning the USATF club cross country championships

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I've been thinking about 2012 a lot lately and my plans are to take a new approach to running and racing.  I typically don't race a lot throughout the year, but 2011 was probably an all-time low.  In the winter, I only skied the Birkie and then this summer, I only ran Grandma's Marathon.  That's it, 2 whole races - both "marathons".

I saved an article from the May Running Times magazine by Joe Rubio called "Always Ready To Race".  A lot of what Rubio had to say struck a cord with me.  He claims that Americans don't race nearly enough.  When he gets questions from runners that are training for a marathon, he'll review their training and see 4 to 6 months of workouts planned, but no racing. 


He says "racing is a skill and to become proficient at any skill, you need to practice it repeatedly to show improvement.

And when we do race, we start the season by hammering everything, which makes us plateau very early in the season and fade from there.


I've often joked about how some of my best races of the year have been in March and April.  Well, that's all going to change in 2012.

Rubio thinks weekend warriors that like to race would be better off if they DON'T build a huge base and then try to reach a peak (something else he thinks few runner know how to do).  Instead, he suggests running your workouts more controlled and really monitoring your intensities.  Even when racing, you shouldn't be hammering every single time you lace up your flats.

Recently, I posted something about not remembering the last time I did a speed workout.  Combine that with my lack of racing and is it any wonder I'm slowing down?  Normally, I believed I had to have some big base in place before toeing the line.  However, Rubio suggest that "running fitness that leads to faster times is generally based on a continuum.  All running speeds from fast to slow speeds and every major speed in between should be addressed consistently to see any significant progress in race times for the vast majority of athletes."  His key components of this "Endless Season" are;
Midweek intervals
Weekend race or anerobic threshold run
Midweek longer aerobic thereshold run
Weekend easy long run when not racing
True recovery day
Strides and accelerations
And to tie this back to the Jack Daniels DVD I watched recently, he said most runners wait until they're in shape before running a race - like they're afraid to be embarassed by a slow time.  He suggests that that's exactly when you should race because you'll be able to see the most progress in your running.

I'm not sure where this will get me, but it can't be any worse than where I've been recently.

Quote of the Day;
"Once an athlete has a solid background of training and racing in the endless season phase, they're only a few short weeks away from a peak level of performance if they choose to go that route.  If the runner doesn't have a key race they're shooting for, they can train and race in an endless season manner and develop nicely over a long period of time without much of a break." - Joe Rubio

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


There’s nothing too exciting to report with my running. After two easy days of 5 miles, I’m planning on 7-8 tonight on the treadmill with 3-4 at a tempo pace. Since I don’t have anything else to report, I’ll just share some more links.

Here’s the latest edition of Run Junkie;

And Ryan Setter’s episode #10 is now available. In this episode he gets to run with Shalane Flanagan as he prepares for the NYC Marathon.  I think these are interesting.  Has anyone else been watching this?

Here’s a video about gals trying to qualify for the 2012 marathon trials. As someone mentions in the video, it’s hard to believe women weren’t allowed to run marathons, what 40-some years ago. Heck, they weren’t even allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics until 1984. Unbelievable.

And speaking of qualifying for the trials, HERE is a nice write up about trying to qualify at Cal International Marathon last weekend.

Quote of the Day;

“We cruised on, mile after mile. The energy among the group of women was electrifying. Unlike half-marathons I had run we were not there to win. We were not there to beat each other. We were there to qualify, and because of the one unified goal we helped each other.” – Kristen Carter

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


I’ve always said it takes about 3 weeks of running, after a layoff, for things to start feeling somewhat normal. As I was walking around the office this morning I was thinking “I feel somewhat normal.” So I looked at my recent training and it’s been 20 days since I ran my “test mile” to see how my foot would respond. During those 20 days I’ve run 18 times for a total of 114 miles – that nearly matches the 167 miles I ran in the previous 5 months.

I have to remind myself not to watch the local weather reports. Last night I watched the weather report and they led me to believe we’re in store for a cold blast. Sure things have been mild lately and what’s in store will be about 10 degrees below average, but there’s no need to start hibernating yet.

Another thing I’ve always said is that if you dress correctly, 15-20 degree days are perfect. That’s what it was for this morning’s run and I really enjoyed it. I was chilled for the first 5-10 minutes, but after that it was very pleasant.

I finally got around to conducting another interview. Hopefully I can keep them rolling throughout the winter.

And finally, the other day I posted a bunch of links to other top Minnesota bloggers. Well, here’s one more for you to check out.

Quote of the Day;

“My goal always has been since turning 50 to every year to try to run as close as possible to my last year’s times. If I accomplish that I feel like I am racing well and had a good year.” - Denny Jordan.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Over the last year or so I’ve mentioned wanting to branch out from the routine of just running 5K and 10K road races, along with one or two marathons a year. I came up with a list of events I eventually wanted to do – call it a bucket list if you’d like. Last year I crossed the Fat Tire 40 off the list and this spring I (kind of) crossed running the Grand Canyon off the list.

Another event I wrote down at the time was the Hood to Coast relay, the 197-mile relay that runs from Mt. Hood to the coast in Seaside, Oregon. I have some friends that have run this relay and their stories are always intriguing.

So far, my only relay experience came when I was stationed in Turkey as a 19 or 20-year-old. A couple guys organized a bunch of military personnel to run from the Black Sea to the capital city of Ankara to raise money for a Turkish orphanage. We only had one team, so it wasn’t a race like H2C, but it was still an incredible experience. Even though it was 20-some years ago, I still remember riding in the van, lack of sleep, and trying to get out of the van and prepare myself to run those second and third legs. And of course, there’s the camaraderie that can only be generated during such a unique experience.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I bring this up is because I was contacted by the group that put together a Hood to Coast documentary. They sent me a copy of the film and asked me to review it here.

Throughout the event, the film follows four widely different teams; 1) one team’s focus is on their 67-year-old friend who had a heart attack on the course the previous year, 2) a team of family and friends run to honor their husband/son/brother/friend that died within the year, 3) another team is basically made up of a bunch of non-runners who are in it entirely for the experience, and 4) a group of aging serious runners who combine being competitive with having a good time.

Overall, the film (110 minutes) is entertaining. They do a nice job of flipping between each of the teams, as well as filling us in on each of their back-stories. They also do a good job of letting the images of the runners speak for themselves. The one thing I think they could have done a better job with is asking some questions of the runners just after they finished their leg. A couple of times they try to rely on the runners to share their thoughts without much prompting and it seems awkward.

It doesn’t look like they have the single DVD available for sale, however, you can purchase the 2-disc collection for $21.95 from their store if you’re interested. In addition to the film I saw, the second DVD includes;

· 24 Additional Scenes
· “Where are They Now” Update with our main characters
· Making of Hood To Coast
· Director’s Commentary
· Shout-Outs from 2008 and 2010
· Training Tips
· Panel Discussion with Bart Yasso, Alberto Salazar and Mary Decker Slaney
· Tons of extra footage from the race

It could make a nice gift for that runner on your Christmas list.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Given my knee and foot issues recently, I knew I hadn’t been running much. Yesterday I took a look at my log book and was surprised to see how little it's actually been. In the last 20 weeks I’ve run a whopping 167 miles. Granted I did P90X for 2 months and roller skied for 2 more months, so I’m not brutally out of shape. However, those activities don’t necessarily lead to running fitness. I already knew this but yesterday’s run was a reminder. I strapped on my Garmin and headed out for a comfortably hard run. The first half was controlled at just under 8-minute pace, when I turned around I “put the hammer down” – all the way down to 7:28 pace. It felt good to be running hard again, even if it wasn’t as fast as I’d like.

My main concern is that my right knee still feels wonky. You’d think with what little running I’ve been doing, that it’d heal. Instead, there’s basically a dull ache pretty much all the time. I do wonder if it’s structural. I guess I’ll continue running until it gets worse.

Finally, here’s the latest episode of Run Junkie;

Watch more video of Run Junkie on

And don’t forget to check out Espisode #9 of the Ryan Sutter series. In that episode he works with Dathan Ritzenhein on some drills to ensure that he’s properly warmed up for key workouts and races.

Quote of the Day;

“I’ve come to believe that the majority of your satisfaction should come from your present circumstances, and a lesser amount should be reserved for what you hope to be.” - Joey Keillor