Monday, April 30, 2007


30 seconds. 5 measly seconds per mile.

It’s the difference between being happy and being satisfied.

It’s the difference between a good race and re-thinking my entire training plan. The idea was to cut my mileage in order to make my hard days hard. You’d think if I could hold 5:57 pace for 8K 6 weeks ago, that I’d be able to hold 6:00 pace for 10K after cutting my mileage and adding in some harder workouts.

Even with the lower mileage, maybe fatigue played a part, given that I ran 22 on Saturday, ran a VO2 max workout on Tuesday and then ran 14 miles on Thursday. My legs felt okay, but they lacked that zip you hope for on race day.

I think I made 2 mistakes in this race. First, I didn’t take full advantage of the first 2 miles, which are mostly a gradual downhill. I wanted to save something for the hill that occurs just after the halfway point. That’s a sound strategy, however, once up the hill I never really engaged in the race and picked things up. That was mistake number two. Up till that point I hadn’t looked at my watch at all. When I passed mile 4 I heard 24:10 (6:02 pace). Instead of picking up the pace and going after 6:00 pace, I just sort of settled in and was content to run 6:10s and maintain my position.

Before the race I thought about trying a new tactic for goal setting. Instead of setting a specific time goal, like 37:17 or 6:00 pace, I’d pick a time I was pretty sure I could hit, like 38:00, and try to run as far under that as possible. My reasoning was that if I wasn’t on 6:00 pace during the race, I wouldn’t give up. I would continue to push to get as far below 38:00 as possible. The verdict is still out on this approach. It needs some reevaluation.

I ended up splitting 18:40/19:07 = 37:47 (6:05 pace), which put me 111th overall out of 4,025 runners and 13th in my age group. Here are the results.

This is one of those races where you’d like to hang out afterwards and talk with as many people as possible. Unfortunately, I had to leave right away in order to get to a dance recital. I was fortunate enough to meet Bill and Adam (I believe), both who’ve been following along with my blog. That’s always cool. Of course, unless they turn out to be psychotic.

Finally, how’s this for weird? At the Human Race 8K in March I was the 100th male. Saturday I was again the 100th male. If I do that at Grandma’s, based on the last 3 years, I’d finish between 2:53 and 2:58.

Quote of the day;

“Always be happy, but never satisfied.” – Lisa Stone, University of Wisconsin’s women’s basketball coach (when she was at UW-Eau Claire)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


About the time I figure I don’t have anything to write about, something comes along. A special thanks to Bill for forwarding me this link (scroll towards the bottom) to a couple of interviews of Ryan Hall after the London Marathon. Not only are they interesting to watch because of Ryan, but they're interesting (at least to me) because they’re conducted by my college coach. There’s something about his questions and his understanding of running that I always find, oh what’s the word; mesmerizing, fascinating, intriguing, etc. His writing (Track & Field News) is the same way.

I was up at 4:15 today for a mid-week, medium-long run. I managed to get in 14 miles over many of the same trails from last Saturday’s race. Last year at this time I was injured but didn’t want to admit it. I was in the process of taking a few days off/cross-training, then trying to run, then taking more time off, etc. This year I’m feeling really good and trying not to take it for granted.

After the run I was listening to the radio and they were pissing and moaning about how hard it is to exercise, eat right and stay fit. It made me think that I’m really lucky to have a hobby that helps me keep my weight down. I’m not sure what would happen if I actually had to “exercise” and watch what I eat. I don’t know about anyone else, but I never think of running as exercise. I know it is exercise, but I just don’t view it that way. And while I talk about eating better, I’m pretty sure I could eat as crappy as I wanted to and I’d still weigh less than 145 pounds. I guess running is a good habit in that sense.

Quote of the day;

“I learned that the extra work (diet, strength work, etc.) can make the difference between being average and being great”. - Ed Whetham

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Here’s a photo of me from the 25K that Don found at I was going to wear a hat, but then it was too warm – that helps explain my “great” hairdo.

Two more things about Trail Mix and then I’ll “let it go”. First, I love triathletes as much as the next person, but I can’t help but give them a hard time. I saw a couple of triathletes (and I’m sure this wasn’t limited to triathletes) during this race that were loaded down with enough drinks and gels to feed a small family. Apparently the 6 aid stations over the course of 25K weren’t enough to meet their needs.

Second, I almost hate to share this “secret” because I think it saved me a lot of time during the race. But, as a public service, I will share it; run the tangents. This secret applies to all races, but I think it’s even more important for trail running. On the trails it’s easy to get lulled into running in the middle of the path, where the single-track is beaten down. However, if you run the tangents, back-and-forth across the trail, and cut close to the tree-line, you can shave off a lot of distance – especially when you consider that trail races usually have more turns than road races.

Nothing exciting to report with my training today, just an easy 6 mile recovery run this morning.

I’ll close by inviting people to read my latest interview.

Quote of the day;

“The thing I have taken away from the Human Race [8K] is a reassurance that I can run at a level that is higher than I have in the past.” - Ed Whetham

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I’m still thinking about the 25K a little bit. Not exactly sure why, but it was a gumption builder – even though my overall time wasn’t great. Maybe it’s the rush of passing a bunch of people. Maybe it has to do with how good I felt, while still getting in a 22 mile long run.

Here’s an elevation (green line) map of Saturday's 25K that I stole from Brent.

I’m kind of kicking around the idea of running to 50K someday. Heck, I basically ran the equivalent of 3 laps, so I’d “only” have to run 1 more lap. I was thinking about running it next year, but if I go back to Boston, then there’d only be one week between races. That sounds crazy to me, but when I was talking with John a week ago, he said he set his marathon PR (2:28) the week (okay, it was 8 days) after running 2:33. And a couple of weeks later he ran a 50 miler.

Sunday I thought about trying to make up for missing Friday’s run. In the morning, I jogged a little with my dog and my legs were really tired. I decided to heed the advice I often give others; “Don’t try and make up missed training. It’s gone, just move on.” So I took the day off. Yesterday included two easy 5 mile runs.

This morning it was back to the prairie “track” for another round of 600m repeats. I’m not sure why Pfitz had me do 6 repeats the first time and only 5 this time, but I didn’t complain. I didn’t even bother to time them this time. I just ran “by feel” and thought about how I want to race this weekend’s 10K.

As I mentioned in a comment, trying to compare my two recent 25Ks is “fun”, however, since I didn’t race them all-out, it’s basically meaningless. Saturday’s 10K will be all-out and hopefully meaningful. My fastest post-college 10K is 37:32, which I set 2.5 years ago. Two years ago I ran 37:42 on this course. I’d like to break 6:00 pace, which is 37:18 and think sub-37 is even possible.

Quote of the day;

“I was drinking water a lot. [The weather] didn't feel too bad. Honestly, when you have a good day you don't really notice those things much.” – Ryan Hall, after his 2:08:24 debut marathon in London over the weekend.

Monday, April 23, 2007


A funny thing happened on my way to using the Trail Mix 25K as a long, hard run; I ended up running pretty well.

I drove to the park early on Saturday so I could get in a long (5 mile) warm-up. I wanted to run 20-22 miles for the day and I figured once the race was over I’d start visiting, so I’d better get in a long warm-up.

The race course is kind of like a “figure 8” with a north loop and a south loop. Each loop has a rather large hill (or two on it). To make matters worse, you have to run 2 laps. My objective was to run an easier first lap and then pick up the pace during the second lap. This type of race strategy definitely requires checking your ego at the door, especially when you’re standing at the starting line and you see a bunch of people you know – including triathletes that I trained with for the last two years.

I stuck with my strategy and was a little surprised by how many people were in front of me. By about a half mile I had worked up to some familiar faces; John (who’d go on to finish 76th), Terry (42nd) and Dylan (62nd). About 2.5-3 miles into the race is the first big hill. We run up the backside of a ski hill and then down the ski hill. At this point I came upon Matt (113th), Rob (46th) and Norm (63rd).

Nothing exciting happened until the big hill on the south loop, which is about 5 miles into the race. That’s when I saw Jim (55th). Once up this hill I began to roll pretty well. I was actually shocked when I came through the halfway point in 56:16 (7:15 pace). Two weeks ago I ran the Ron Daws 25K in 1:51:43 (7:12 pace). While that was a training run too, the effort felt a lot harder than what I was putting forth on the trails. A quick calculation and my goal for the day became to negative split by 2+ minutes and to break 1:50.

During the second loop I entertained myself by counting the number of runners that I passed. Given that there was a 50K race going on at the same time, it was a little difficult. I ended up counting 17 runners, but looking at the results, I think I may have missed a few. I know I passed about 6-7 guys before passing Kelly (37th).

I ended up running a 3-minute negative split; 53:15 (6:51 pace) and finished in 18th place (out of 450) with a 1:49:31 (7:04 pace). Of course, now that I’ve looked at the results, I’d have liked to have run a couple of minutes faster to catch a few more people that I know.

And looking at the results from both 25Ks, it looks like everyone that ran both races ran between 1 to 4 minutes slower on the trails, while I ran 2 minutes faster. Best of all, like I mentioned earlier, this race felt about 10 times easier.

Afterwards I even managed a 1.5 mile cool-down, which gave me 22 miles for the day and 55 miles for the week (I never got out for a run on Friday) on 5 runs.

Alright, that’s probably the worst written race report ever, so I’ll stop here.

Quote of the day;

“Chart your progress by your own standards, and don’t drive yourself too hard seeking to match somebody else’s.” – Alberto Salazar

Friday, April 20, 2007


I wish I had something to post, but even after not posting yesterday, I’ve really got nothing to say.

Yesterday I ran an easy 8 mile recovery run. This morning I was supposed to run 11 miles, but Katie was scared last night and kept waking up. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I turned off my alarm. Now I’ll have to run tonight, but doubt I’ll get in 11, mainly because I’m planning on 20-22 tomorrow morning. Running 31-33 miles in the span of 12 hours might not be the wisest thing to do. Tomorrow’s long run will include this race, which I plan on running about as hard as the 25K from two weeks ago. It’s part of the MDRA Grand Prix, so just by running it I’ll earn some points.

This morning I was lucky enough to post another interview, which was conducted by a ”celebrity contributor”.

Quote of the day;

“I think as I age I'm ever more cognizant of the fact that this love affair I have with distance running is drawing closer to a close...not so much never running again as getting to a point where the effort spent in pursuit of "doing my best" will produce times that in my mind aren't worthy of the work I must do to get them.” - Digger Carlson

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The guy who finished 24 seconds ahead of me at the Winter Carnival Half Marathon just ran 2:55:27 (or 6:42 pace) at Boston. Since I’m shooting for 6:40 pace in June, that sounds good. However, the guy 3 seconds behind me in the same race ran 2:59:03 at Boston. I know there’s more to “it” than that, but it’s still fun to compare.

Speaking of comparisons, a guy that beat me by 1 second at the Human Race 8K ran last weekend’s 20K in 1:17:49. That’s eerily similar to my 1:17:57 from last year. So I doubt I could have run 1:17, which is the 35-39 time-standard for the Minnesota Runner of the Year rankings.

Looks like I haven’t mentioned my training in awhile. Sunday was a day off. After work on Monday, I met some of the Saturday morning group that I run with for a tour of Hyland Park (in the daylight). While I enjoyed the run and the company, it’s not an ideal time for me to run, as I got home just as the girls were going to bed. Yesterday was an easy 5 miles.

It seems like I’m always coming on here and typing “easy run” here, “easy run” there. Obviously, that wasn’t the case last Saturday and it wasn’t the case this morning. Pfitz’s plan called for 6 x 600m repeats with a 90 second recovery. Rather than beat myself up over hitting splits on the track, I decided to do these repeats on the trails. Hyland Park has a nice prairie field that includes about a 900-1000m loop. During my warm-up I calculated where I thought 600m would be. Based on my recent 8K time, McMillan says I should be doing 600m repeats between 1:55 and 2:00. Usually I’m on the slow end of the spectrum, plus I was on grass, so I figured if I ran 2:05-2:10, I’d be in the ball park. I timed the first two repeats at 2:20 and 2:22 with a recovery jog around 2:05-2:10. Good enough. I didn’t want to worry about my splits, so I stopped taking the next four. Overall, a nice VO2 max workout – especially considering it was my first one in awhile.

My latest interview is now posted. It has a little different spin than my last couple, but no less interesting.

Today’s quote of the day occurred as the group I ran with on Monday began to exit the park. It was about 75 and sunny so we all had our shirts off. A gal (who probably had no idea the average age of our group was 50-51) was entering on her bike and in a thick Russian (?) accent said;

“Fitness never looked so good.”

Monday, April 16, 2007


Spent part of my lunch break at the running store watching the end of the Boston Marathon coverage. I got there about 2 minutes before Robert Cheruiyot crossed the line. With the weather they had, it’ll be interesting to read some race reports.

We’ve had incredible weather here, 3 days in a row, no less. And it occurred during the weekend. It’s hard to beat that. I came “this close” to running that 20K I mentioned last week. The weather would have been perfect for racing; 40-45 sunny, calm.

However, my training partners assured me that they were up for the workout I had penciled in; 15 miles with 12 miles at 6:40 (marathon) pace. Somehow the workout morphed into 19 miles with 10 miles at MP. After a 2 mile warm-up, we ran a 6:56 mile and then from there the next 9 miles were between 6:32 and 6:45. A HUGE thanks to Kim (and her GPS) for helping push the pace during this workout.

During our cool-down we looped back to the group behind us. Somehow we got talked into running around Lake Calhoun. The talker-into’ers promised to run easy. Then once we got to Lake Calhoun, they proceeded to pull away from our 7:15 pace. Halfway around the lake, Kim and I realized our decision to follow probably wasn’t our wisest. Of course, by that time it was just as “easy” to continue on around the lake, rather than turn back.

To make matters worse, Kim and I got “lost” on the way back to our cars. We thought we were running around Lake of the Isles, but it turns out we were going around Cedar Lake. Damn, Land of 10,000 Lakes!!! So we were basically a mile less than where we thought we were. That’s not a big deal during most runs. However, when you’re only planning to run 15 miles and you’re already passed 17, it sucks.

I decided to wear my HRM in case I had to run this type of workout by myself in the future – even without mile markers, I’ll be able to have a little feedback regarding the effort I need to maintain. My HR was around 177 for most of the MP-effort. While that’s probably a little (less than 5 bpm) quick, I felt pretty comfortable.

Overall, it was a confidence boosting workout in the sense that I feel I could go out and run 6:40 pace very early in the marathon. So even though I would have loved to race 20K, I think I did the right thing.

Friday night I ended up running 6 miles. That means I had 70 miles for the week on 6 days (8 runs).

Quote of the day;

“Everyone is an athlete. The only difference is that some of us are training, and some are not.” – Dr. George Sheehan

Friday, April 13, 2007


Interesting timing last night; I jumped on the treadmill for 10 miles while watching the Twins game. I finished the run around the 8th inning, which left just enough time to get in some strength work. I finished that just as league MVP Justin Moreau was hitting a walk-off home run. Nice.

I’m still debating whether or not I’ll run that 20K tomorrow. I imagine it’ll be a “game day” decision – probably based on the weather (i.e. wind). The race isn’t till 9, so I could wake up at 6, check the weather and still have time to drive the hour to Rochester.

Not much else is going on. I came across a Jason Lehmkuhle interview yesterday. I also noticed that Andrew Carlson updated his journal a few days ago, along with a bunch of the Team Running USA athletes.

Quote of the day;

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” – James A. Froude

Thursday, April 12, 2007


A week ago I asked;

If you drank a cup of coffee in the morning, a coke at lunch and a beer in the evening, how much more water would you have to drink to replenish the water you lost?
Richard responded with;

It's an even swap; fluid ounces of water for fluid ounces of diuretic in addition to your daily recommended amount of water.
It sounded good to me, but then I thought, “How can that be if different drinks have different amounts of caffeine?” If green tea has 25 mg of caffeine and black tea has 75 mg of caffeine, [note: I’m guessing on those amounts and measurements] how can it be an “even swap”?

Then last night I was reading an article in Men’s Fitness. It stated;

Another common misconception: the idea that caffeinated beverages don’t count towards hydration. While experts agree that caffeine does act as a mild diuretic, the degree to which it does so has been exaggerated… Under normal circumstances, the average guy consumes more than enough liquid each day to stay adequately hydrated... The one big exception: It’s not entirely true for someone who trains frequently for several hours at a time.
Not sure if any of that is exciting or relevant, but I thought I’d share.

I had a 15 miler planned for today, but I did not sleep well at all. Can just reading an article on caffeine keep you awake? Anyway, sometime during the night I set my alarm ahead an hour. I ran an easy 5 this morning and will get in another 10 tonight. I know it’s not exactly the same, but sometimes you have to heed the signs around you and be flexible. Besides, I do have a 13 miler under my belt already this week.

Quote of the day;

“Us runners–we live in denial. We are presently never in the shape that we imagine we once were.


It’s bullshit. It’s a fallacy. The shape we imagine we were in–those grand old days, back when 20-milers came and went: they never existed. Everything’s always had a cost; everything hurt. Back when we were running those easy 20-milers, we were wishing we were in the shape of some other time, when 25-milers came and went.

We never are in the shape that we want to be in.”
- Duncan Larkin

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Interesting couple of responses to yesterday’s post. Evan says “you gotta follow the man, right?” and Mark says, “stick to the schedule”. Whatever happened to not just blindly following a schedule? Any schedule, even one written directly for you needs to just be a guideline, right?

Heck, I’m jumping into Pfitz’s 18 week plan with 10 weeks to go. I’ve moved stuff around within the weeks to fit into my life better. And I’ve moved stuff from week to week in order to fit my racing schedule a little better. So I guess I’m not really sticking to the schedule to begin with. But I’ll still claim to be following Pfitz’s plan.

No matter what plan I follow, one thing is for certain, there aren’t enough hours in the day. I can run the miles, go to work and spend time with my family. After that, strength training, stretching, writing, reading, interviewing, etc. it’s all a crapshoot. Seriously, by the time the girls get to bed it’s 7:30 - 8:00. That gives me about an hour of free time – at a time when I’m my most exhausted during the day, especially if I’ve been up since 4:20. “Luckily” the Twins have been playing so poorly that I don’t have to stay up watching them.

And it’s pretty tough to eat healthier when my wife makes a caramel/cinnamon roll to go with dinner. Of course, these recipes are twice what you need, so now that will be sitting on the counter for the few days. Willpower, don’t fail me now.

Just an easy 7 miles this morning, amongst the snow flurries.

Quote of the day;

“Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.” – Bob Dylan

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


One of the weird things about Pfitz is that after starting the week off with a recovery/cross-training day, he follows it with a double day of 6 and 4 miles. I assume he’s a big believer in recovery and that’s why he just doesn’t schedule two 5 mile days. But I thought he’d lean towards one 10 mile run instead of splitting that mileage into two runs.

It’s not really a big deal to me as each has their own pros and cons. The pros of splitting my mileage up yesterday are; 1) I get to sleep in longer, 2) it feels like another recovery day, 3) with a PM run, I’m more likely to do some strength training and 4) I don’t feel so guilty for watching TV if I’m on the treadmill.

So yesterday ended up being 6 miles in the morning with 6 x 30 second strides added in and 4 miles in the evening. This week’s schedule has two medium-long runs during the week, instead of just one. That means I was up at 4:20 today so I could get in a 13 miler.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. My right knee still aches a little, but not enough to bother me while I’m running. I was thinking about doing a 20K race this weekend, but I think I’m going to pass on that. The main reason is because I’m meeting some friends for dinner and I don’t want to be gone all morning and all evening. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. Besides, Pfitz has a 12 mile marathon-paced workout on the schedule. 12 miles at MP is a different animal than 12.4 miles all-out. Maybe I’ll change my mind. We’ll see.

Quote of the day;

“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you are going to go to bed with satisfaction.” – George Horace Lorimer

Monday, April 09, 2007


Friday was an easy 5 miler. Saturday I participated in a Ron Daws 25K. I wish more races were like this; $4 entry fee, no shirts, water and cookies at the finish, two awards (first male and first female) – very low-key. Going into this event, it was just going to be a training run. Instead of meeting for a group run, my training group decided just to meet at this event. Given the conditions (15-20 degrees and very windy) and the hilly course, not racing was a very good idea. Kim and I ended up running together. I don’t remember our finish time (something like 1:51), but I think our pace was right around 7:10. Warm-up and cool-down gave me 19 for the day and 61 for the week on 6 runs.

Yesterday I continued with my new trend of taking a day off each week. I thought about riding my bike, but never got around to it.

I’m still working on the “diet thing.” I controlled myself at Easter lunch – for the most part. And I started to re-read Nancy Clark’s book.

That’s all for today. Go check out my latest interview.

Quote of the day;

"I think you could take the guys running the [Olympic] Marathon Trials in November, throw them in a 100k and half of them would run as well or better than I have."Patrick Russell

Friday, April 06, 2007


Nothing new to report today, so I thought I'd share another article I wrote for the MDRA magazine. Last time I introduced 7 runners I'll be tracking throughout the year. Below is the first installment of that series.

Reality Runners by Chad Austin

This is part one in a new ongoing series we’re publishing this year. In the last issue of RunMinnesota we introduced you to seven runners we’ll be tracking throughout the year. In each issue we will feature one or two of the runners and give brief updates on the others. In this issue we’re featuring Karen Spandl who is Boston-bound after 33 years of running and Amanda Bowman who missed all of the 2006 racing season due to injuries.

In this day and age when it seems like every new runner wants to run a marathon four months after their very first run, Karen Spandl took a different approach. She waited 31 years before making her marathon debut. At the age of 12, Karen decided to go out for the track team. Not knowing what events she would like, she figured just logging some miles would put her ahead of the game. She was hooked from the start and said “I found that I really enjoyed taking off, by myself for a run. That is when I was in my true element. Every summer, my miles increased more and more. I found myself running in rain, sleet, snow or 30 mph winds.”

Karen’s early training paid off as she began setting school records and eventually won a state title as part of a mile relay team. After high school she was recruited to run cross-country and track at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Even though Karen got married after one year of college and had a beautiful baby girl two years later, she always came back to the track to run and compete.

In the 20 years following college, Karen continued to run a lot of miles, but she never had the urge to race; “I loved the carefree attitude of running for my health. It was stress-free, as no one’s training schedule dictated my route, distance or speed. Self-satisfaction and the “high” I got from running was all I needed to keep me feeling content. Running was the one time during the day that I couldn’t get interrupted by any demands.”

Like for many people, the 20 years after college proved to be very busy for Karen as she gave birth to two more boys, started a career and went to graduate school. Then the children’s activities were becoming more and more time consuming. Karen had to squeeze in runs between practices, meets, and games.

Then in 2004, it happened. Karen met another hockey mom who ran half and full marathons. As they say, “Misery loves company.” Her new friend tried to convince Karen to run a marathon with her. She said, “I was not sold on the idea of running a marathon. But, I realized deep down in my heart, it was always a dream of mine.” In addition to being a dream, Karen found another reason to train for her first marathon; she needed an emotional outlet, stating, “I suddenly found myself single, after being married for 25 years. Running became cheap therapy!”

Karen decided on the inaugural Fargo Marathon in 2005. Like all sane runners, she promised herself that it would be a one-time thing; she would run one marathon, accomplish her dream and retire from marathons. Of course, her new running friends knew different, telling her that she’d be hooked. They were right and they were part of the reason Karen was hooked. “I had so much fun during that marathon and the training leading up to it. I was in awe with the support and friendships that developed from this kind of competition. It was completely different from my previous years of competition,” she said.

Karen ran just under 4:07 in her first attempt at the distance. In 2006, she set her sights on qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the Twin Cities Marathon. Needing a 3:50 marathon to meet her age-group standard, Karen improved by exactly 20 minutes, running just under 3:47. As a result, her third attempt at the distance will be in Beantown this year.

As many Minnesota runners have discovered, training through the winter for an April marathon can prove to be quite challenging; falling temperatures/rising mileage, shorter days/longer long runs, more and more snow/fewer and fewer runners on the roads. It can be a daunting task. Karen feels confident that even though she didn’t get in as much speedwork as she would have liked, she did put in the miles necessary to run as fast as her qualifying time. She’d like to average 8:30/mile pace to finish in 3:43 and set a PR along the way, something she’s done in every race she’s entered since her return to competitive running.

Whether or not Karen keeps her PR string alive at Boston won’t affect her view of life and running, she said, “I have come to realize that running is just a metaphor for life. Some days it is easy and the sun is shining with the wind on your back. Other days, it can be a hard run, up hill, with lots of aches and pains and the rain is hitting you in the face. But, whatever the day brings, I will always run to continue to find out who I am. I just keep enjoying and appreciating my physical health and thank God for the ability to run and still enjoy it. If Boston turns out to be my day for a disappointment, so be it. There will always be another race and another challenge!”

In our next issue, we will let you know how Karen did at Boston.

Amanda Bowman, 27, of Circle Pines started running in 2004. As with many new runners, she was hooked from the start and couldn’t get enough. That first year, she entered several 10K and half marathon races and even a 20 miler. After placing in her age group at some of the smaller races, she was eager to see what was in store for 2005. Little did she know that a series of injuries awaited her just around the corner.

When Spring 2005 rolled around, Amanda’s eagerness got the best of her and she over-trained. First, it was her IT band. After getting that in-check with the help of a chiropractor and some stretching exercises, she thought she was on the mend. But then she started feeling soreness in her right quad and hamstring. This time she said, “Since I was out of money, I kept up my stretches, used my foam roller and ran twice a week. This strategy worked and with the support of MDRA’s Fall Marathon Training group, I successfully completed the Twin Cities Marathon in 3:49.”

After the marathon, things got even worse as 2006 turned out to be a yearlong roller coaster ride of emotions. The pain in Amanda’s right leg continued and she searched desperately for a cure or, at the very least, a cause. After several chiropractor, physical therapist, and orthopedist appointments, she walked away hopeful, but ended up broken hearted. Even a trip to the Mayo Clinic, as part of their Runner’s Program, didn’t provide the answers Amanda was looking for. After being observed on a treadmill, the physical therapist said the position of her hips was very restrictive and caused her right knee to tilt inward and her right foot to point outward. Fixing that would make the problem worse, since it wasn’t her natural movement. Again, she left feeling very disappointed, since she wasn’t told my pain could be fixed.

By now, Amanda was becoming emotionally and physically tired from all her attempts and failures to run. She made the difficult decision to skip Grandma’s Marathon. Given the pain she was in, she just wanted to get back to pain-free running and experiencing a “runner’s high” again. She said, “I remember feeling so powerful and confident. I could go as fast as I wanted and run for miles and miles. I got in my groove and nothing could stop me. What will it take for me to experience that happiness again?”

Well, with a new year, there’s new hope. Recently, a friend insisted that Amanda see one last chiropractor, Dr. Steven Moe. This time she arrived at her appointment with absolutely no expectations, but left with a heart full of hope. After an hour of balancing on a Bosu ball and standing on one foot while tilting her head, the doctor came to the conclusion that the entire right side of Amanda’s body was weak. With the help of some strength exercises and balance drills, along with some soft tissue work by Dr. William Carter, Amanda is on the road to recover. She said, “I have a long way to go before I’m 100%, but I think I’m getting closer. When I run, I take it slow, as speed is not a priority. I only wish I could go further than 5 miles without having something in my right leg hurt.”

To prove that Amanda is determined to accomplish her goals, she has signed up for Grandma’s Marathon again. In our next issue, we’ll see how well she’s progressing.

Braden Beam, 40, of St. Louis Park is currently training for his first Ironman. Most of his training throughout the winter was of the aerobic variety, which he describes as the easy, boring, uninteresting base training stage. For a Minnesota Ironman-in-training, that means hitting the pool 2-3 times per week, including swims up to two miles, biking on the indoor trainer a couple of times a week, including an intense class, and running 20 miles per week. Then, throw in lifting once a week and yoga twice a week, just for good measure.

Braden started to ramp up his training in April, especially his bike. Given that half of his race will consist of time on his bike, Braden will spend the next few months focusing on improving that leg of his triathlon. Coincidentally, April is also when his life began consisting almost exclusively of work and exercise, with a small smattering of social activities. Such is life for someone planning to complete an 11-13 hour event, four months away.

Last August, Kerry Rosane, 26 of Oronoco gave birth to her first child. Now she feels in better shape than ever and is eager for the spring racing season, so she can prove it. She has two marathons and two half Ironmans on her schedule for the year.

If the time crunch of a baby and training weren’t hard enough, Kerry has to deal with the fact that her husband is training for an Ironman. As Braden pointed out, it’s not really a big deal in the middle of winter. However, with spring in the air, triathletes are usually eager to get out on their bikes, for long periods of time.

While Kerry is confident about her fitness, it hasn’t come without complications throughout the winter. She dealt with lower back problems, as well as a sick child, which made getting in her training more difficult. She said, “Some days I wish I were not training but rather just working out to work out. I think I would get less frustrated when I don't get in quality workouts.”

Marc Windahl, 41, of Fargo, ND is in the middle of two large goals; 1) running his first marathon in May and 2) continuing a weight loss plan that has seen him lose 50 pounds in the last ten months.

Training for the Fargo Marathon has been up and down, including a health scare and the passing of a kidney stone. After getting a clean bill of health, Marc was back on track with his weekly mileage and long runs. Like most first-time marathoners, he admits to having fears and doubts about his ability to run 26.2 miles. He said, "I keep telling myself that a little pain now with long training runs will let me accomplish it
with less pain in May."

With the help of his training, his weight is still slowly coming off. "It seems to plateau and then drop. The main thing is to keep focused on the long-term and keep plugging away," he said. He plans to be below 220 pounds for the first time in 15 years when he steps to the line on May 19th.

Keenan Robbins, 23, of Mankato was hoping to return to a "decent level" of running this spring. Unfortunately, his indoor track season at Minnesota State-Mankato was non-existent. He said, "I just didn't get in the proper work that would leave me feeling confident and ready to race. I don't like to hit the track without a solid foundation of rhythm runs and hills, because I feel I need a solid muscular and aerobic foundation to prepare myself for the harder work on the track."

Keenan, who left a job with Nike in order to return to MSU has recently decided to return to Nike and move back to the Portland area. He stated, “John Truax at Nike is the driving force behind a lot of great things in Grassroots Running right now – things that are real, authentic, and full of passion for the sport. I felt it essential to be involved.”

The good news is Angie Voight, 30, of Minneapolis is fresh off a 2:58:13 PR at the Chevron Houston Marathon in January. The bad news is she's still 11 minutes away from her goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon. On the bright side, Houston was run on less than ideal training. After about a month of solid mileage, Angie's knee began giving her problems. To hold it in-check, she began running every few days and then taking a few days off. Eventually she wasn't running at all. After taking two weeks completely off, Angie found herself only four weeks away from the race. "I had decided that I would cancel my trip to Houston because I didn't think I could finish the marathon or worse yet, that I would embarrass myself with my finishing time," she said. At the last minute, Angie changed her mind. For the race, she went out slowly, tried to stay relaxed and did not worry about her time. In the process, she learned this lesson, "I guess you don't always need ideal training to run a PR."

There you have it, part one of our yearlong series. Check out our next issue where we’ll feature two more runners, in addition to updates on the others.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I didn’t have to drop anyone off at the airport like last week, so I got to “sleep in” till 4:15 today. It was “much” nicer than yesterday; 19 degrees, but the windchill was 8. I guess that’s better than 2. Actually with all the snow having melted, it didn’t seem that cold. I just bundled up and hit the trails for a nice 15 miler. After follow Pfitz for the first time, I said I knew I was fit when I could bust out a 15 miler in the middle of the week without even thinking about it. I’m getting there.

I’ve been giving a lot more thought to my diet lately. In the past I thought it’d be nice to eat better to help my running. But then I’d think, “I am a 37 year old nobody, how much faster will I really run by cutting chocolate from my diet?” And, of course, my diet never changed. Now I’m thinking, “I’m 37 years old, I should eat better for me, not for running.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not stopping at McDonald’s everyday or eating a sleeve of Doublestuff Oreos in one sitting. But I think there are some things I can improve on, like taking 1-2 chocolates instead of 3-4, drinking more water, adding in some green tea, instead of coffee. I think one of the keys is to go about changing gradually. Also, I give myself a little pat on the back when I pass up those Girl Scout cookies before dinner.

Speaking of diet, I know caffeine and alcohol are diuretics. But I’m wonder if you drank a cup of coffee in the morning, a coke at lunch and a beer in the evening, how much more water would you have to drink to replenish the water you lost?

I found this article on some of the top Minnesota women from the ‘80s awhile ago, but never got around to posting it

Finally, here’s the real reason we went to Chicago in the fall. Luckily, there happened to be a marathon taking place on the same day.

Quote of the day;

“Right now I feel like I could run through a brick wall and just keep on going. It will be imperative that I rein in this energy, allowing it to accrue until I turn it loose little by little on race day. Easier said than done.”Patrick Russell

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Thomas had a good comment when I mentioned that I was switching to Pfitz’s plan, which advocates a day off per week;

I can't believe I'm reading this on the blog of the same guy who once argued that a rest day per week equals nearly 2 missed months of training a year.
First off, you CAN’T argue that a rest day per week DOESN’T equal nearly 2 missing months of training a year. It’s simple math; 1 day per week times 52 weeks equals 52 days of missed training. That’s nearly 2 missed months of training a year.

I know, I know, that’s not what Thomas was getting at. Here are my thoughts; 1) I’ve had success with Pfitz in the past, 2) in the first 3 months of the year I’ve averaged 2 days off a month, so going to 4 days off a month isn’t that much different, 3) running tired and not taking rest days in the middle of winter’s base-building phase is different than not taking rest days when you’re in the heart of your marathon prep, and 4) I’m going to take the approach of one of the people I interview recently who said when he cut his mileage he found that he attacked his workouts harder.

Besides, I can read all I want about running more versus incorporating rest days, but there’s really only one way to find out what works for me. I figure if incorporating a rest day a week, at this point, increases my chances of getting to the start line healthy, fresh and full of gumption, then it’s worth it, especially given my track record for getting a little beat up heading into key races.

Last night I jumped on the treadmill for 11 miles, including 7 at 6:25 pace. That’s probably a tad slow for half marathon pace, but since I’d been running similar workouts at 6:45 pace, I wanted to error on the side of a little too slow. After the workout I realized I was only supposed to run 6 miles hard. Oh well, extra credit.

This morning I woke up to a windchill of 2 degrees! The strong winds literally took my breath away. Luckily I only had to run an easy 5 miles.

This is how a windchill of 2 degrees causes kids to bundle up (actually it was taken earlier this winter).

Quote of the day;

“Not the race, but the runner. The enemy, as always, is within.” – George Sheehan

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Yesterday I mentioned the World X-C Champions in Kenya. I forgot to ask if anyone else thinks it’s weird that this meet was run on a golf course – in Kenya? That juxtaposition just seems very odd to me.

I ran 6 miles yesterday morning and threw in some strides. I was supposed to run another 4 in the evening, but my wife wanted me to help with a resume and cover letter for a gal that’s interning for her. I wish I could just take a quick peek and say it looks okay, but I can’t. I ended up spending 45 minutes revising a 2-page resume down to 1-page.

Then I was going to get up this morning to make up for those “lost” miles, before running hard tonight. Well, staying up to 10:30, watching a mediocre championship game, didn’t help matters. I slept in. So 2.5 days into April and I’ve run 6 miles. No worries though. I’ll run hard tonight, medium-long on Thursday and long Saturday.

Just when I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever post another interview (not really), this interview arrived in my in-box. Thanks to Patrick for helping me get in touch with this runner. I’ll keep this post short, so you can spend your time reading it instead.

Quote of the day;

“I’ve told myself in the past that if I ever broke four, I was going to stop running. I guess I’ll probably reconsider now, but it has definitely been one of my biggest goals up to this point.” - Garrett Heath

Monday, April 02, 2007


My daughter had a kindergarten concert Friday afternoon, so I just took the whole day off from work. I met up with Jim and Eric for a wet 11-mile run along the river roads. Along the way we passed Team USA Minnesota. Unfortunately, it was “just” the guys. And when I say “passed” I mean we were going in opposite directions – not to be confused with us running faster than them. Speaking of the team, here’s a nice article regarding my favorite male runner’s trip to Kenya for the World X-C Championships.

Saturday was another miserable run in the rain, or I should say, another run in the miserable rain. The run was nice, the rain was miserable. I managed my second 2+ hour run in three days, another 15 miler. That run gave me 74 for the week and it means I closed the books on March with 293 miles.

How can you not like Pfitz’s plan? Any plan that starts off with a rest day is okay with me. I decided to take Mark’s advice and “just” follow the 70 mpw plan. Lately, my training has included a longer (15+ miles) run on Saturday, followed by a 10-12 miler on Sunday. Well, Pfitz starts the week off with a rest or cross-train day. Having run 41 miles in the last 3 days, I wasn’t going to argue with him. I took yesterday off and didn’t worry about it at all. In the evening, I did some core work, stretching and foam rolling.

The NCAA hoops championship is tonight and the Twins kick off their regular season. Sweet!

Quote of the day;

“If there is no wind, row.” – Latin Proverb