Friday, September 28, 2007


This morning, for the first time in 3 weeks, I ran on back-to-back days; 5 miles yesterday, 6 miles today. I may even run “long” tomorrow. Back-to-back long runs on the weekend won’t even be enough to put me over 100 miles for the month. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t been in triple digits for a month.

Lack of running also equals lack of blogging ideas. Luckily there have been lots of interesting articles and interviews regarding the upcoming marathon Trials. I mentioned that has been doing a nice job with pieces on guys like Ryan Hall, James Carney, Ed Eyestone, etc. Their latest article is on Jason Lehmkuhle. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the first 3-4 paragraphs seem a little out of place – like the author is just trying to let everyone know that he knows a bunch of elite runners are having babies.

The New York Road Runners have also set up a page on their website to promote the Trials.

Speaking of New York, if you know of any great deals on places to stay or if you plan on being out there for the Trials, be sure to let me know.

Quote of the day;

“I thought I was ready for Boston but what I learned is that course-specific preparation is crucial, and I hadn't done enough downhills to handle the Boston course.” - Jason Lehmkuhle

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I had my first physical in about 5 years on Tuesday. It turns out I’m fit as a fiddle. I mentioned last week that my good cholesterol was low, but the doctor said since my overall cholesterol level was low, the ratio of good to bad cholesterol is fine. The iron levels are fine. And since I’ve been feeling better lately, he didn’t seem too concerned. I guess dropping from 65 mpw to 15 mpw is the answer. Now if I can just figure out how to run 2:55 on 15 mpw, I’ll be all set.

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been trying to do a better job with my eating. Whenever I get into that mode, I turn to It’s simple to use, mainly because you can easily customize your own foods if it’s not in their database. I just cut the nutritional info from the food I eat and then enter it into the website. After one day of data, I think my suspicions are going to be confirmed; I eat well for breakfast and lunch, but things can easily fall apart once I get home. Weekends should be interesting.

Quote of the day;

“When racing, they give you the bullets for the gun. You can kill stuff. Time trials are like going to the carnival and you get to throw darts at water ballons.” - Dave Dehart

Monday, September 24, 2007


The running juices are starting to flow again. After basically taking a week off and then running 4 miles every day last week, I’m starting to get the itch again. Yesterday I was going to go 6 miles, but I felt really good so I bumped it to 8, then I got lost and ended up running 9. Thoughts of TCM actually entered my mind and then I thought, “Shit I’d almost have to do that run TWO more times.” Yikes. I’m not even sure I could do it for fun any more.

Given my crappy summer, I’ve also decided to pay a little closer attention to my diet. I know, I know, I write that same thing about 3-4 times a year. Of course, this time I’m serious. We went out to lunch yesterday and I ordered a black bean burger – so you know I’m serious. Now I just need to drink more water, cut down on all the crap at work and then not make a beeline for the snacks when I walk in the door. Just doing those things would be a step in the right direction.

I’m sure next you’ll be hearing about more core work, more stretching, getting plenty of sleep, etc.

We’ll see…I have to start building up some miles before I worry about anything else.

Quote of the day;

“I’d run thousands of miles for just one magic day.” - Dave Dehart

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I believe Evan has mentioned this before too; is a pretty good site. I’ve been visiting it more and more lately – looking for nuggets for my Olympic Trials article. I came across this article on the history of the Trials. The other day I came across an interview with Andrew Carlson, which includes a link to this entertaining track “race”. Actually, Carlson’s commentary, along with Ryan Hall’s “straight man” quips, are the best part of the video.

I’ll spare you the boring details of my running. I’ll just say that the juices are starting to flow and I’m targeting Oct 1st for the beginning of my “real” training.

Finally, every once in awhile I get an email for someone saying something like “your blog provides a great service you provide to runners…please mention us.” Sometimes I mention the emails, sometimes I don’t. Since things are slow and since it sounds like an interesting project, I thought I’d mention that this fall NOVA will be premiering "Marathon Challenge," an inside look at what it takes to run the Boston Marathon. Rather than explain it, I’ll just copy/paste the email;

In cooperation with the Boston Athletic Association and Tufts University, NOVA was granted unprecedented access to the Boston Marathon course. In the summer of 2006, we began following 13 hopeful novices as they took the first step toward completing the 26.2-mile race in April 2007. The participants come from diverse backgrounds - a young woman running in memory of her mother, who died in a tragic car accident; a working single mom; even a former NFL linebacker. The one unifying element is that none of them is currently a runner. Over the nine-month training period, exercise and nutrition scientists and doctors at Tufts University use sophisticated technology to monitor the physical transformations that the participants have undergone. The experience demands a transformation of mind and body, and NOVA cameras are there, following every step of the way. Who was able to finish the race and what type of changes did the runners experience?

You’ll have to tune in to find out.

"Marathon Challenge" will premiere Tuesday, October 30 at 8:00 pm on most PBS stations. You can view a short promo of the show here.

Hmm, I wonder how many people will be pissed that they’re training these “novices” for the Boston Marathon. I’m sure the waiving of qualifying standards will spark some forum debates soon.

Now let’s see how many people will remember this promotion 40 days from now.

Quote of the day;

“Runners who dress like super heroes always have more to say than I am willing to listen to.” - Dave Dehart

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


As an athlete, it’s really great to be in-synch with my body. If something is not right, I know it immediately. A quick trip to the doctor’s office, a few blood tests and my suspicions were confirmed...I am indeed a head-case.

I got my blood work back and the only thing that was flagged was my HDL cholesterol level. It’s supposed to be above 40 mg/dL and it’s currently 39. Everything else was smack-dab in the middle of where it’s supposed to be. My “dreaded” Ferritin is at 161 ng/mL, iron binding capacity (that sounds important) 308 ug/dL, iron saturation 33%, and so on. So I basically don’t know what to tell you – or myself. I still have a physical scheduled for next week, where the doctor can tell me how normal I am in person.

I’m sure there are people out there thinking, “Great, now you can run TCM.” However, I’m so far passed that point mentally, I don’t see that happening. And physically, my last 3 weeks have been 34, 17 and 18 miles. Therefore, I’ll be a spectator at this year’s race in what is now guaranteed to have perfect weather.

In interview news; now that Brad Lowery has run Ryan Kleimenhagen out of town, he’s busy fielding interviews. And thanks to Kirk for forwarding me this interview with one of Team USA Minnesota’s newest members. Finally, here’s my latest interview of frequent commenter, Double.

Quote of the day;

“I’m just a running bum. Just out trying to rub a few sticks together in hopes of getting a little fire going. As long as I still desire to beat people I can’t see myself getting away from boot camp mentality yet.” - Dave Dehart

Friday, September 14, 2007


In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m aware of the irony regarding writing about “My Best Day Ever” and then having my current running go in the tank. It’s times like these when I just remind myself I’ve been doing this for 28 years and no single race or single season makes a “career.”

The tables were turned yesterday as I stopped by the running store over lunch. My favorite (male) runner was working. Actually, he was looking through the magazine and came across my article and he “forced” me to autograph a copy.

Since – based on my question the other day – no one seems to care about the Olympic Marathon Trials, I talked with Matt and Adam about the upcoming race. Although Matt has qualified, he’s not going to run the race – instead he’ll focus on the track trials. So take that “inside information” into account when you place your bets. Based on our conversation, as well as my “research,” it’s pretty clear that this could be the deepest trials race since 1980. Meb, Abdi, Culpepper, Hall, Khalid, Sell, Browne, Gilmore, Ritz, Torres, Shay, Lehm, etc. Wow!!! I’m fired up just writing down their names.

Meb, Abdi and Hall seem to be the top-3 picks. Who are yours? Feel free to email me or leave a comment.

And speaking of local elite runners, one of Team Minnesota’s newest members, Emily Brown has written an introductory journal entry.

Quote of the day;

“In all honesty I chose the steeplechase because nobody else on the team really did it and I figured it was my best shot at traveling!” – Emily Brown

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Usually I like to share the articles I’ve written with my blog readers before they come out in print. However, I kept my latest article a "secret," because it’s pretty cool – at least to me. In each issue of USATF Minnesota’s magazine, they include an article titled; My Best Day Ever. It’s written by local runners in the community and usually talks about the time the represented the U.S. at some race or their Olympic Trials qualifying performance or some life-threatening obstacle they overcame, etc. It’s always interesting to read how everyone interprets their “best day.”

Anyway, the fine folks the put the magazine together were hard-up, so they asked if I’d write the article for the latest magazine. Of course, I couldn’t pass up the chance to spew on-and-on about myself. I encourage everyone to try and write a similar article, even if it’s just for yourself or your blog. It's an interesting topic that will force you to think about your great running experiences. Anyway, here’s my article;

My Best Day Ever
By Chad Austin

With nearly 28 years of running under my belt, there’s almost no way I can pick a single “best day ever”. Along the way there haven’t been any major accomplishments. I’ve never won a race, let alone a national title. I’ve never met the women’s Olympic Trials qualifying standards, let alone the men’s. I’ve never encountered some unforeseen obstacle that required all my strength and determination to overcome. However, what I have acquired along the way is a lot of great experiences. Below is a recap of some of my most memorable experiences, all of which lead back to one “best day ever”.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to running at an early age. I ran my first race when I was 10 years old. It was a 4-mile race and I finished 2nd overall (out of 3 runners). Looking at photos from that day is still amusing. I’m wearing basketball shoes, red cotton sweatpants and faux letter jacket – in October. I had a lot to learn and apparently “dressing for the conditions” was at the top of the list.

At the time I had no idea how much the sport of running would impact my life, I was just happy to finish without walking. “Training” at this age was difficult. Luckily my parents were caught in the middle of the running boom and they had no problems letting me tag along with them whenever I wanted to.

A couple of years later I would be exposed to Grandma’s Marathon for the first time, as my dad began to make the yearly trek to Duluth every June. In 1984 he ran 2:59:52 – his only sub-3 hour marathon. The following spring I took my first airplane flight ever to Boston to watch him run the marathon. Even as a kid, I knew these were special events that I wanted to be a part of in the future. And although I’d have to wait a dozen years before I actually participated in Grandma’s Marathon, there were enough great experiences along the way to keep me enthused about the sport.

While my high school cross country team made it to State my sophomore year, it’s our Sectional Meet that stands out the most in my mind. Heading into the meet, we were seeded third behind two teams that we hadn’t beaten all year. During our warm-up I had a really strong sensation that we were going to qualify for State. I can’t explain it and being the sixth runner on the team, I didn’t really affect the outcome. However, our entire team ran great and we won the meet by seven points, while the two teams seeded ahead of us tied for second place.

Although I didn’t run much during my four years in the Navy, I can say I had the unique experience of running on the flight deck on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Indian Ocean. During those four years I also experienced my only multi-day team relay event. It was the first-ever Black Sea to Ankara, Turkey Orphans’ Run. The roads along the 284-mile trek were described as “treacherous as the scenery was beautiful.” Now I’m not much of a run-for-charity guy, but in the end I was happy to be part of this 37-hour event that raised over $7,000 for a local orphanage.

It’s probably no surprise that my time in college provided many great experiences. As a fan of this sport, many of these experiences involved me being a spectator. During my first year at UW-Eau Claire, a teammate came out of nowhere to place third at our, always tough, conference meet. The following year a gal on our team nearly won the conference title, placing second. Then there was the road trip from Eau Claire to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996 to watch alumnus Dan Held run in the Olympic Trials Marathon. We had two carloads of college kids, brought our bikes along and were able to follow the race up close and personal. I think the rental company is still trying to figure out how we put 2,000 miles on their cars in three days.

College also proved to be my best running years, at least in terms of race times. My first ever 10K on the track is still my most vivid race to this day. It was one of those days where everything clicked. The more I tried to hold back, the faster I ran. And even though I ran progressively faster throughout the race, I never seemed to get tired. I ended up running 35:08 that day, beating my best road 10K by over two and a half minutes. Having not broken 6:00 pace for 8K during the previous cross-country season, running 5:39 pace for 10K was truly a breakthrough. Even though I would eventually break that PR, no race, before or since, has had the sensations I felt on that day. Of course, running the Nude Mile in college had its own set of sensations, but I’ll save that experience for another article.

After college I finally got around to running a marathon. As any marathoner will tell you, each marathon is unique and memorable in its own special way. As with most other milestones, you’ll always remember your first marathon. The 1996 Twin Cities Marathon had perfect weather. Unfortunately, this was easily offset when I combined woeful training with poor tactics. There were many reasons for me being under-trained; I was no longer part of a team environment and I was stressed out about finding my first job after college. Plus, I had no idea what I was doing, as my longest run leading up to the race was 17 miles. To make matters worse, I went out way too fast for my training – or lack thereof. At mile 19 I saw a buddy of mine and I wondered why he was walking. A mile later I knew why, because I was doing the same thing. I struggled the final 10K and didn’t even care that I missed sub-3:20 by four seconds. I was just happy to be done.

After a couple more lackluster attempts at the marathon, I finally started to figure things out a little. For my fourth marathon I actually followed a program, which resulted in a 14-minute, Boston-qualifying, breakthrough performance. Little did I know when I took my first flight to Boston to watch my dad, that nearly 20 years later my daughter would take her first flight to Boston to watch me run. For me, the Boston Marathon lived up the they hype; the hallowed ground in Hopkinton, the women of Wellesley College, the mystique surrounding Heartbreak Hill, etc. All these things made for another great experience.

Finally, there was my first sub-3 hour marathon. I’m sure it would have been special no matter where it was run. However, having grown up in Ashland, Wisconsin made breaking three hours at the Whistlestop Marathon all that more special. With two miles to go I knew sub-3 was in the bag and I was able to enjoy finishing along some of the roads that I trained on as a kid.

When I think of all these great experiences over the years, I keep coming back to the one thing they all have in common; October 2, 1979. That’s the day it all started. The day I became a runner.

My best day ever.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I was able to make a blood test appointment for this Friday. I could have gotten in sooner if I wanted to go all day without eating. I already have to fast for 12-14 hours, so it’ll be hard enough to make a 10:45 appointment.

I’ve been feeling a little better lately. I seem to have more energy at the end of the day – I can stay up past 8:30. And I’m able to get out of bed before 5:30. However, I’m not spending that time running. Instead, I have been more eager to do some writing. So I just head to the coffee shop and write for an hour, instead of going for a run.

I think I’m also feeling better because I’m okay with the way the year has played out. Sure I would have loved to PR at Grandma’s and then lower that time at TCM. However, as long as I had some success along the way and learned some other things, then that’s pretty good.

Things I think I learned, include; 1) Paying more attention to my diet. I need to add a multi-vitamin to my diet and it’s okay to substitute a steak for those brats once in awhile. 2) Spring success does not guarantee Summer or Fall success. 3) If I plan on running a Fall marathon I need to have a better plan – especially if it follows a late Spring marathon. 4) Fall marathon training needs to include mid-week, medium-long runs. Being hot, humid and buggy is not a good excuse.

As for writing, my latest article is a preview of the men’s Olympic Trials Marathon; the favorites, contenders, dark horses and the locals. This topic had me wondering this morning, “How many runners really care? Do the vast majority of runners follow the elites or are they only concerned with their own running?” Of course, there’s a thread on this topic. I’ve been checking it out some to make sure I’m not way off base with my thoughts.

More enthusiasm for writing includes interviews. Here’s my latest.

Quote of the day;

“My fondest triathlon memories recall being one of the Minnesota pioneers of a new sport, as I started multi-sport racing in 1983. It was an era of trial and error, as there was no literature that provided guidance for triathlon training. I remember sharing training and racing days with people who were passionate about the new sport of triathlon. And I want to say that in the early days of the sport, the focus was on novel and extending challenges, not on equipment and gadgets and nutritional supplements.” - Matt Haugen

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Well, it’s been awhile and not much has changed. I started running again, ran a race on Sunday – as opposed to racing a race. It was a 25K that I was planning on running at MP. Given my recent condition, I just adjusted my goal pace – thinking that 7:00 pace would be obtainable. I was able to make it through 20K at that pace, with 5K splits of 22:02, 21:29, 21:46 and 21:55. The last 5K was an absolute drag – taking 22:37 to run.

It didn’t help my attitude when the guy next to me at the half marathon mark said something like, “Great that’s just what I need, a half marathon PR during a 25K.” Then he mumbled something about the top-100 times at the half were being recorded and that “I’ll just beat you by a step or two.” Subconsciously, I probably slowed down because of him. He pulled away, but luckily he stopped at the next water stop and I caught back up in time to hear him say, “You know you’re thirsty when water tastes like [fill in some fancy French-sounding word here].” I guess now I have more incentive to get back to “normal”.

As for my iron, here’s where I’m at. I made an appointment with my doctor for a physical where I’ll get my ferritin checked. Unfortunately, I can’t get in until 9/25. So my dilemma is do I take the iron supplements (something you’re not supposed to do unless you know you have a deficiency) for the next 2 weeks in an attempt to start feeling better? Or do I wait 2 weeks so that I’m not skewing the results? I’d rather not skew the results because I want to have a baseline for future reference. Plus I’d like to know if low iron is truly the cause of the way I’ve been feeling. I’m trying to see if I can have a nurse work up my blood before 9/25 but I haven’t heard back yet.

Right now, I’m back to leaning towards not running TCM. Had I comfortably held 7:00 pace for 25K I might have a different response. However, that last 5K felt like the last 10K of a marathon, so I can’t imagine how things would feel at TCM, but I know they wouldn’t be enjoyable – no matter what pace I was running.

It looks like some of the Team USA Minnesota and Team Running USA runners have updated their journals recently. Maybe my hounding paid off.

Quote of the day;

“I have a bitter taste in my mouth after a disappointing summer of racing.” - Katie McGregor

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Awwwww…I didn’t know you guys cared so much. Seriously, thanks for all the comments and suggestions. The “only” problem with option #2 from yesterday (cutting back and trying to run TCM on fresh legs) is that if it doesn’t work, I’ll have postponed my recovery by five weeks. So instead of recovering now and being able to start rebuilding in October, which is my favorite running month, I’d basically miss all of October for recovery.

Anyway, "today's plan" is to just lay low. I’ll try running in a day or two. Sunday I’ll do the 25K that I’m signed up for, but just treat it as a long run. Then I’ll re-evaluate.

After getting about 8 suggestions to check my iron levels, I took everyone’s advice and stopped by Urgent Care. The doctor seem skeptical right from the start saying; “People with anemia don’t run 9-10 miles a day.” Later he came back with my blood results which showed a hemoglobin level of 13.3 g/dL. His chart said 12.0 – 18.0 is normal. However, Pftizinger says 14.0 – 18.0 is normal for most adults and that the lower range can be extended to 13.0 for runners due to their higher blood volume. Pfitz basically says 13.0 – 13.9 can be considered on the low end of the normal range. So I guess it wouldn’t hurt to add a multi-vitamin and maybe some iron supplements to my diet.

Jim seems to think I’m wrong and that I’m just reading too much into the results of my last two races. I just can’t help logically compare the races leading up to Grandma’s versus those leading up to TCM and come to the conclusion that “I’m ready.”

Of course, I’m taking into account other things than just two races. Mike’s Mystery Coach had a comment last week regarding Lydiard's schedule having a wide variety of workouts (i.e. pace, distance, terrain, etc). That has made me think that dropping my mid-week 14-15 mile runs over hilly terrain in Hyland Park this time around was the wrong thing to do. Plus, most of my tempo/MP runs were on the treadmill at 0% incline. I did a couple of hill workouts, but looking back, I only did 2. While I originally thought my legs were just tired, this leads me to believe that I actually lost leg strength.

I’ll close with a couple of links. First, here’s my lastest interview. And second, thanks to Bill for sending me this Onion article on the TdF. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was true.

Quote of the day;

“Another strength is probably mental toughness and the ability to focus. When the gun goes off, the “mom” hat is replaced with the “runner” hat. I don’t hear or see much when I race.” - Bonnie Sons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I’m starting the new week and new month with more questions than answers. Saturday I ran my alumni 5 mile race in 31:07 – that was after cutting my mileage to 34 miles for the week. For some perspective, I ran 29:50 last year. Oddly enough, according to McMillan, this time is directly in-line with the crappy 15K I ran 3 weeks ago.

After that crappy 15K I told Evan I didn’t have any other “symptoms of malaise”. Well now they’re staring me in the face and they’re pretty hard to ignore. I was looking at a book over the weekend and it was describing symptoms of over-training;

Loss of appetite: check
Poor nights’ sleep: check
Sore muscles: check
Irritable: check, check and double-check

The question now becomes; What do I do about it?

1) Shut things down now and skip TCM
2) Cutback for another week or two and try to run TCM on fresh legs
3) Forge on with my current training and see what October 7th brings

Whatever I decide, I can guarantee that TCM will not bring about a PR. You don’t head into a marathon with a general disdain at the very thought of running and end up with a great time.

With that attitude, it makes me wonder why I’d bother running TCM at all at this point. I guess part of it has to do with following through on a commitment. And some has to do with having paid 85 bucks. Then there’s me at least wanting to be part of the race day festivities.

Would running a 3:10 be as rewarding as a sub-2:57?

I highly doubt it.

Quote of the day;

“With two laps to go, I was thinking that fifth or sixth would be good, but then I thought about running in the sauna suit, and the 90-mile weeks, and the aqua jogging, and I said to myself, 'sprint.'” – Kara Goucher after placing 3rd in the World Championships 10,000m