Thursday, November 29, 2007


Running is just a series of tests, right? Obstacles present themselves along the way and we have to react to them. These obstacles include things like injuries, weather, family/work/school obligation (i.e. time constraints), motivational issues, etc. How we react to these obstacles usually relates to how well we race.

Of course, (hopefully) we learn from these obstacles so that we’re better able to avoid them in the future or at least deal with them better.

But then the obstacles get “smarter” too. They start to adapt in an effort to teach you more lessons. For example, once you figure out the common injuries, like tendonitis or shin splits, and how to deal with them, all the sudden you’re Googling Priformis Syndrome or Sciatic Nerve. Or, you finally figure out a post-collegiate routine that lets you get your runs in and the next thing you know you have a kid and have to readjust your schedule again.

Then the obstacles throw another curve at you – they start occurring near milestones (i.e. at the end of your largest week or month ever, prior to a big race, etc). I guess this is to ensure that we truly listen to our bodies rather than trying to make our logbook look good.

That’s where I’m at. I’m sitting here with two days left in the month, I’m 3 miles away from 300 for the month - my biggest November ever, I’m 3 days away from a cutback week, and now I have a sore hip.

I’m on to you – you can’t trick me!!!

It’s time to take my own advice, heed my own words, and nip this thing in the bud. I’ve said all along that while my life may work well in 7 day segments called “weeks,” it doesn’t mean that my body and/or training follows that same pattern. So rather than struggle until Saturday just to finish out the week, I’ll start my cutback week today. Today will be a zero in the log book. Tomorrow morning I’ll see Jenna and possibly run later in the day.

Looking back on the last 3 weeks, actually the last 22 days, I’ve had some solid mileage; 259 miles on 22 days (23 runs) or 82.4 MPW. I’ll take it – time to let my body absorb the workload. Here’s a graph of my rolling 7-day mileage since September 22nd. The big dip that starts around day 41 is from my last planned cutback week.

Quote of the day;

“You have to go at your own pace. Egos can’t be involved. That’s exactly how it is in life, too.” – Bonnie Brown

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Yesterday I was caught off-guard by the sudden drop-off in wind chill. This morning I was caught off-guard by the sudden warm up. Temps rebounded to the mid-20s today and the wind died down. So, while I was prepared for 2 hours of misery, I ended up with a pleasant 2:02 run – good enough for 15 miles.

If it doesn’t come across in my writing, I’m a pretty analytical/logical thinker. I work in marketing and we’re currently working on our sale forecast for next year. Everything we put into our analysis is based on previous years’ results and trends. I was thinking that some of these similar thought processes carry over to my running.

As I near the end of November, I looked back at my mileage and workouts from 2005 and 2006 and evaluated how they compare to this year. Given that I didn’t run a fall marathon, it’s no surprise that I’m basically a month ahead of where I was during the last two years – that was the plan when I decided to skip TCM.

Then, of course, I peeked at December, January, and February to get a sense for what lies ahead. 2005 was my “mileage experiment” year – with only a handful of 80-mile weeks ever, up to that point, I went on to post eight weeks between 80 and 100 mpw between December and March. 2006 was more about getting in some longer tempo runs than just piling on mileage. I was content to keep nearly all of my weeks below 80, but included lots of 6-10 mile runs at marathon pace.

Finally, I started to look at race results from early spring. 2005’s winter training led to a 1:24:45 half, 29:15 8K, and 1:17:57 20K, which, for those of us can relate to half marathon times better, equates to roughly a 1:22:16. 2006’s winter training led to 1:24:06 half, 29:33 8K, 37:47 10K, 1:21:49 half, 17:52 5K, and a 2:57:29 marathon.

What do those results mean?

I don’t know. I guess they mean I tend to run well in the spring as long as I’m putting in solid training over the winter.


But it did get me thinking, “What do I have to do differently to see some different (i.e. better) results?” I mean if I continue with the path I’m on, am I going to run a 1:24 half, 29:20 8K and a 2:57 marathon in 2008?

Granted, I have a long way to go between now the racing season. Hopefully the subtle changes (hillier runs, more mileage in singles, moderately hard runs followed by long runs), along with the month “head start” will bode well for the Boston Marathon, which I just registered for – to answer Wynn’s question from yesterday.

Quote of the day;

“A trap runners fall into during the conditioning phase is running too much of their mileage at too high of an effort... ‘Never take away from tomorrow’s workout’ is a very important mantra to be thinking about during the base phase.” - Mystery Coach

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I just got done writing a product review but I also wanted to touch upon today’s run.

The tone of yesterday’s post left the question, “Am I ready for a cutback week or am I just tired from a hard weekend of training?”

Well, I’m happy to report that it appears to just be the effects of a hard weekend and yesterday’s easy 8 mile slog was enough to make my legs bounce back nicely for today’s 11 mile run.

It’s a good thing they felt good too, because given the weather (10 degrees with a wind chill of -8), it could have been a miserable run. Instead, Bob Dylan, the guys from Zed Zeppelin and I had a mostly enjoyable run. I say “mostly” because even though I knew it was going to cool off, I didn’t expect the wind chill to be that cold. As a result, I wore the wrong gloves and my hands got cold. Other then freezing my “you know what,” freezing my hands is the worst.

Sometimes these quotes of the day seem to pop up at just the right time;

“There is a difference between needing an easy week and having an easy week built in. The Finns who used the Lydiard system before the Munich Olympics had a 70% week every 4th week and used it to stay ahead of the recovery curve, not to catch up on recovery.” - Mystery Coach


Yesterday I mentioned some of the offers that have come my way since I started blogging. I figure if people want to send me their stuff for free, I’ll take it. My expectations are usually quite low, that way I won’t be disappointed. I mentioned that I was waiting to receive some headphones. I wasn’t expecting to get them last night and I definitely wasn’t expecting to write a review today. But with the holidays right around the corner, what the heck. It’s either write a review or write about base training, which I’ve already beaten into the ground – and we’re not even into December yet.

Keep in mind, this review is written by a guy who if he wears his iPod twice a week it’s a lot. With that said, and given that my current pair of headphones were the cheapest I could find, I wasn’t too concerned with whether or not I liked the new pair of Air Drives.

Well I’m happy to report that I liked them a lot. The basically have two features the I’ve seen before (but have never owned), along with a key selling point that I’ve never seen.

The first feature is a loop that actually sits over your ear. The last time I listened to my iPod I was frustrated because the cable ran directly from my ear piece into my iPod. Due to the tension there was an annoying crackling that I “only” heard on every stride. I’m no engineer, but it seemed like the loop on the Air Drive helped dissipate the tension, so all I heard was the music.

The second feature is a volume control right on the cord. Since my runs usually start out on the roads before hitting the trails, I like to have my music a little louder to begin with. Rather than fumbling around in my pocket to adjust the volume, which usually results in changing songs instead of volume, I was able to simply adjust the volume on the cord once I got on the trails.

Finally, the main selling point of these headphones is that the speaker sits outside your ear canal, rather than inside it. This means you’re able to hear what’s going on around you better. Since most of my run was on the trails this morning, which are relatively quiet, I probably need more data points regarding the ability to hear what’s going on around me. However, it sure seemed like I could hear things like my footstrike, branches cracking and birds a lot more clearly. Also, I’m curious to see how these would work when I'm not wearing a winter hat.

I will say these headphones are super comfortable. For me, the true test for running gear is not noticing it. I don’t want to spend the entire run fumbling with controls, adjusting the fit or even thinking about the product. I prefer to put it on and forget about it. That’s exactly how these headphones performed. They definitely beat having an ear bud wedged in your ear canal for 90 minutes.

Does that mean they’re worth their suggested $100 retail price? That’s something you’ll have to decide based on your disposable income and how much you enjoy listening to music while you workout. But with the holidays right around the corner, they could be a great gift idea. If you’re interested, you can purchase them here and they’re supposed to be available at soon.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I must have had turkey on the brain last week as I forgot to congratulate the Gopher harriers. The men placed 8th at nationals, which was their third best showing ever. The women, although disappointed with their 12th place at nationals, still had a great season.

Blogging continues to lead to some interesting offers. Mostly they’re of the review-our-stuff-for-free type of offers. First there was a book and then the sports drink. Right now I’m waiting on some headphones. Anyway, the other day I received a more local offer in a mass email. Now it doesn’t really bother me that my email address was right there for everyone else to see – maybe it should bother me more than it does. What I thought was interesting is that it included the email address of a well-known local Olympian. I think the company should figure out how to use the blind carbon copy feature of their email.

I suppose I should end with an update of my training during the holiday weekend. Thursday I got up early and ran 12 miles on the Valleywood Golf Course before hitting the road for the day. Since I took the day off from work on Friday, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I ran two easy 5 mile runs instead of a single 8 mile run. I wanted to see if I’d feel any noticeable difference on Saturday or Sunday.

I didn’t. I probably go back to the single workout for the time-being.

Saturday morning I joined my normal group for a 13-mile trek around Fort Snelling and Pike Island. Again, one of the things I’m trying to change this time around is a quicker run on Saturday, followed by a long run on Sunday. I wouldn’t call Saturday’s run super quick, but it was a lot faster than I run by myself; probably close to 7:15 pace. That run gave me 81 miles for the week on 8 runs.

Sunday morning I was able to bump my long run up another notch as I got in 18 miles. I probably drank about 12 ounces of water before the run and ate a banana. However, although I had a couple of gels with me, I didn’t eat or drink anything during the run. I felt good, but I think I was on fumes at the end of 2.5 hours of running. And while last week’s mileage was “only” 81 miles, this run gave me 87 miles over the last 7 days. I’ll try to get near that total this week before cutting back next week.

This morning was a very easy 8 miles. The Saturday/Sunday routine must be working because my legs were shot. I’ll try to hang in there for one more week, but that cutback week was on my brain today.

I really like today’s quote of the day. It’s definitely something I’m trying to keep in mind lately;

“Any idiot can train himself into the ground; the trick is working in training to get gradually stronger.” – Thomas Szasz

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


After feeling tired on Monday, I just ran an easy 8 miles yesterday with some strides. My legs bounced back nicely for this morning’s 15 mile trail run.

No time to sleep in tomorrow as I’ll have to get up early before heading to Iowa for the day.

No turkey trot for me. I can’t even remember the last turkey trot I ran. I do remember running one when I was 10 or 11. I drank a glass of orange juice for breakfast and it came back up after the race. I haven’t been a big OJ drinker since then.

Even though the Olympic Trials Marathon was nearly 3 weeks ago, I still find myself thinking about the race. If there was some way to bottle the images in my head and sell them, I’d be all set. Just thinking about the ease in how Ryan Hall looked has definitely helped get me through some of my runs lately.

Finally, here are some updated journals by Kristen Nicolini-Lehmkuhle and Andrew Carlson.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quote of the day;

“Physically part of my problem last year was that I ramped up my training so fast to get ready for winter racing that by the time March came around I was pretty much just fried. So now, we are taking it slow and preparing everyday for the Olympic Trials this summer.” - Andrew Carlson

Monday, November 19, 2007


How cool is this? I’m sitting here at lunch, blogging and watching the women’s NCAA cross country championship race at the same time. Unfortunately, I missed the men’s race, although I did see the replay of McDougal and Rupp battling during the last 100 meters. Pretty sweet.

I’ve been giving Friday’s post about continuing to increase my mileage some more thought. This morning it occurred to me that I wrote that post coming off a cutback week, so of course I was feeling good about my mileage. I’m still feeling good, but I’m thinking after 3-4 consecutive weeks at 80 mpw, I may have a different view of how “easy” this mileage is. I’m probably better off making sure my body adjusts to this increased workload before worrying about moving up another level.

And as Bill also suggested, if I just focus on bumping my long run (currently at 17 miles), increasing my weekly mileage will take care of itself.

With a lot of my running partners heading just down the road for the D3 cross country championships, I ended up flip-flopping my “normal” Saturday/Sunday routine. Saturday I ended up running a 16 miler by myself. I kept the pace comfortable and was a little surprised to be running 7:45-8:00 pace. That’s probably 15-20 seconds quicker than I normally run. Being on the bike path instead of rolling dirt paths probably helped. That run gave me 83 miles for the week on 7 runs.

Yesterday was a small 12 mile group run around Fort Snelling and Pike Island. Since the pace was easier than our normal group runs, I decided to go a little longer today; 11 miles on the trails.

Alright the women’s race just finished and let me just say these women need to work on running 6,010 meters instead of 6,000 meters. They are literally stopping on the timing mat and standing there – or they’re collapsing. With the percent that collapse, it’s no wonder that it took so long to allow women to run longer than 1500 meters. Officials probably thought about half of them were going to die at the end of a race. I know I’m not the only one to notice this because we’ve talked about it on numerous runs.

Finally, with technology, I'm not sure why it takes me so long to get around to posting photos. Here's Kinsey as Dorthy and Katie as a princess. It was actually somewhat warm this year and we didn't have to wear our winter coats while trick or treating.

Quote of the day;

“I don’t think total mileage is very important. To me, it was the way in which I ran those miles which was important.” – Derek Clayton

Friday, November 16, 2007


Quick correction from yesterday’s book list. I wrote that Cold Clear Day was written by Buddy Edelen. It’s actually Buddy’s story written by Frank Murphy – just in case someone was searching by author.

I’ve been doing some thinking about my training lately. I’m trying to decide if 80 mpw is “good enough” or if I should continue to venture upward. If I stay in the 80 mpw-range, I’m pretty confident that I could add in a tempo-type run once a week. If I venture upward, I think I’d have to keep the pace pretty easy until I get used to the mileage. Given that Boston is still 5 months away and given that I’m more interested in long-term development than just that one race, it seems to make sense to keep building.

Obviously, in order to build mileage, I have to figure out where to add the miles. At 80 mpw in singles, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are pretty much maxed out. This week I ran 11, 14 and 11. I could probably go 12, 15 and 12. Monday and Friday, I’ve been cutting back to 8 miles in order to recover. I don’t know if I could bump these to 10 miles and still call them recovery runs or not – even if I kept the pace easy, they’d still be roughly 85 minutes of running. That leaves the weekend. Right now my long run is only 17 miles, so I’m sure I could bump that and Saturdays could probably stay in the 14-15 mile-range.

Then there’s the whole idea of adding in a second run. I’ve done it in the past and I’m sure I could do it again. However, I really like this ‘one run a day’ thing. I get up early, run, and I’m done for the day. No worries about squeezing in a second run or about getting enough sleep.

I guess I’ll just play it by ear.

Today was a nice easy 8 miles with some strides along the way.

Quote of the day;

“As time has gone on I have learned to appreciate all the experiences I have had as a result of my running and am honored to have been in the sport as it began to blossom.” - Janis Klecker

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This morning I ran 11 miles. I felt pretty good considering I ran 14 miles yesterday. I decided to get off the dirt trails and run on the paved trails of Hyland instead. They’re still rolling, but not nearly as much as the dirt trails. I spent about 70 minutes in the park and didn’t see anyone else.

The other day I posted a quote by Ryan Hall saying that he started training for Beijing when he was 15 years old. Scott replied that he’d like the whole world to understand what Hall meant. Half joking, I replied that I’d be happy if just the running community understood. Well it took less than one week for a real-world example. One of my co-workers signed up for Flying Pig and said her Hal Higdon program doesn’t start until January. Then she asked me when I was going to start training for Boston. I just told her we’re looking to get different things out of the sport.

Yesterday a commenter asked for some running book suggestions. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. Off the top of my head, here’s what comes to mind - note: some of these may be hard to find;

Once a Runner – John L. Parker Jr.

Did I Win? – George Sheehan

Running Your Best – Ron Daws
Anything by Arthur Lydiard
Guide for Elite Runners – Marty Liquori
Daniels Running Formula – Jack Daniels
Advanced Marathoning – Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas
Road Racing for Serious Runners – Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas

Self-Made Oympian – Ron Daws
Cold Clear Day – Buddy Edelen
Running with the Buffaloes – Chris Lear

Competitive Edge: Mental Preparation for Distance Running – Richard Elliott
Running Within – Jerry Lynch

As I said, there are a lot more than this, but it’s a good start. If you’re going for something to inspire you, I’d probably pick Running with the Buffaloes from the list above. Feel free to add your favorites via a comment or email.

Lately I’ve just been briefly mentioning my latest interviews – I figure if people aren’t interested there’s no need to hit them over the head. Well, I posted two new interviews last night that I think are worth being hit over the head. Jason Lehmkuhle just placed 5th at the Olympic Trials Marathon and he shared his thoughts on the race. And how often do you get to mention that you interviewed an Olympian? Janis Klecker was a true trailblazer for runners in Minnesota. She jumped into the marathon at an early age and by the time she was 21, she was running 2:36. She was kind enough to reflect on her career for me.

Quote of the day;

“Not 'blowing up' was really the only thought in my mind for a lot of the middle of the race. With one lap to go (21 miles) though, I really felt like I was going to hold together... Of course, 20 miles into TCM last year I "really thought" I would hold together too.” - Jason Lehmkuhle

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I guess the good thing about being a running fan is that it gives you another sport to fall back on when all your local sports teams suck. Seriously, with the Vikings, T’wolves, Gopher football and even the Twins, have Minnesota sports teams sucked any worse? The Wild were doing okay, but really, even though we’re the self-proclaimed “state of hockey,” no one really cares about that sport except the die-hards. Maybe there’s hope with the Gopher’s hoop squad now that Tubby is in charge. Granted Army is not a powerhouse, but they beat them by 32 (while former coach Monson was busy losing his first game at Long Beach State by 40 points). How was Gonzaga so good when he was there?

Has anyone else noticed that the Gophers are good at the fringe sports like cross-country, wrestling, golf, etc.? Anyway, congrats to their cross-country teams. The women finished first, while the men were second at their Regional meet last weekend. Let’s hope they can hold it together for one more meet.

Yesterday I managed 11 miles on the trails. I’m sure my cutback week has a little to do with it, but I feel stronger on the hills this week. Even on Monday when my legs were tired, I still felt like I had good form on the hills.

This morning was my mid-week, medium-long run. There’s just something about pumping out nearly 2 hours of running before work – it makes me think I’m actually doing some good training. Call it 14 miles for the day.

Finally, be sure to check out Jason Lehmkuhle’s latest journal entry which talks about his Trials experience and Ryan Shay's passing. Michelle Lilienthal has also posted her first entry. Note to Michelle, if you're waiting 3 hours for the weather to warm up in November, it's going to be a long winter. Hopefully you have a flexible schedule.

Quote of the day;

“The 5 S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” – Ken Doherty

Monday, November 12, 2007


Hmm, I don’t really have much to report today. Some of the guys from my Saturday morning group met at Lebanon Hills. So I was able to run right from my house, rather than drive halfway across the cities. I ended up with a nice 12 mile trail run – mostly by the mountain bike trails. That gave me 53 miles for my cutback week on 5 runs.

We had a little problem figuring out where the heck we were on the trails on Saturday, so yesterday I ventured back in an effort to get my bearings for future runs. It turns out one loop through the park takes about 20 minutes. I thought it was longer than that. I guess the lack of oxygen from all the hills was throwing me off. I’ll have to run the park a lot more in order to totally figure out all the off-shoot trails, but Sunday’s 15 mile run was a step in the right direction.

This morning I ran an easy 8 miles on tired legs.

Finally, here’s my latest interview.

That’s all I’ve got for today.

Quote of the day;

“Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better.” - Juha Vaatainen

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Lots of odds and ends today.

If you haven’t seen the Saucony homepage, they’ve made a pretty classy tribute to Ryan Shay. You can’t even get into their site. The only link takes you to the tribute forum which was started by Shay’s dad.

I just ran an easy 7 miles this morning with some strides. It’s been a brisk 20-25 degrees during each of the last 3-4 mornings. A little chilly at first, but really not bad running weather at all.

Here’s my latest interview

I didn’t mention it in my recap, but the Brooks-Hansons group had a massive presence at the trials. As soon as we entered Central Park we were greeted with oversized images of each of their 13 runners. In addition, they were handing out life-sized headshots on a stick, t-shirts with the image of their racing jersey on the front and back, playing cards, etc.

Afterwards they had a post-race party and I was able to weasel my way in for some free grub and free beer. And they showed some cool video clips of what their group is doing in Michigan. All the team members were there except for Sell who was at the press conference. While all this was going on, I got to bend Mike Reneau’s ear and get his first-hand account of the group and his perspective on his race. Here are some things that I remember;

Out of all the runners in the field, Sell was his lock to make the team. Sure they’re teammates, but it’s still interesting to hear him say that.

Regarding the much hyped 26.2K simulator workout that the team did prior to the trials, he said it was enough to give him confidence, but he thought it was almost a false sense of confidence – because in the race, they’d still have 2 more laps to go.

Speaking of the course, Mike and Ryan Meissen ran a four lap training run on it prior to the race. It was described as one of those runs where’d you start out chatting thinking it’s no big deal. By the third lap all stopping talked. On the last lap the only thing being uttered were curse words.

Maybe the best part of talking with Mike was hearing him speak so highly of Brian Sell. I think most people want to know that people they’re rooting for are genuinely good people. I totally got that impression from Mike, who’s also one of the good guys.

By this point in the conversation, the party had pretty much cleared out. They announced that Brian was on his way, so I hung out a little longer in order to see him. Here are some photos from the afternoon.

Finally, thanks to Erik for sending what is probably the best running quote ever.

Quote of the day;

“I already started. I started when I was 15.” – Ryan Hall, in response to the question regarding when we would start training for Beijing


Still wide awake before 5 AM this morning, so I hit the trails for 11 miles. My fresh legs from two days off in a row were gone. Back to normal.

Things are finally settling down for me. I posted my recap last night. If you read my preview, you’ll see some of the same info used in both stories. I kind of got the feeling that I cut my recap off at the end – I didn’t post any specific results. I’m thinking if the results of the top-10 runners as well as the locals are published with the article, that would solve the “problem”.

I have a ton of other thoughts floating around my head that relate to the weekend. Unfortunately, they are in no particular order, so they’ll probably just be spit out over the next few days (weeks? months?). For example, one thing I noticed was that the top-5 finishers all ran negative splits. Granted the first 10K was slow, but still, a lot of people did not run even or negative. And did you realize that Brian Sell’s second half was only a second slower than Ritz’s second half?

I entered the Trials contest where they asked you to pick the top-10. Here are my picks and their actual place.

1st Abdi – DNF
2nd Meb – 8th
3rd Sell – 3rd
4th Hall – 1st
5th Lehm – 5th
6th Gilmore – DNF
7th Ritz – 2nd
8th Carney – 14th
9th Reneau – 32nd
10th Verran – 18th

As soon as I submitted my picks, I kicked myself for not picking Shay. I even have his name written down on the piece of paper I put in my wallet to remember who my top-10 picks were.

I was able to do some surfing today and came across some good stuff on the race, including an article on the top-3, some surprises, post race quotes, as well as a pre-race interview with Clint Verran. And don’t even get me started on Flotrack, which has a ton of video interviews from the weekend.

Finally, here’s Emily Brown’s latest journal entry.

Quote of the day;

“It was a great race for me with almost a four minute PR. It was the kind of marathon I knew I could run. I just had not put it all together before. Both of my quads were a little tight but I stayed together much better than when I ran the Boston Marathon last spring. The marathon is a very difficult race because it has a sharp learning curve. I had to learn to be careful of reaching a redline point and not crossing it. You have to got to stay within yourself.” – Jason Lehmkuhle on his 5th place finish on Saturday

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Like a kid in a candy store, I could hardly contain myself the first weekend in November. I was fortunate enough to travel with some friends to this year’s men’s Olympic Trials Marathon in New York City. In a race that determines the three members of our Olympic Marathon team, it’s obvious that I was curious what the outcome would be. In addition to the race itself, I was also looking forward to seeing the course, the amount of crowd support, the race tactics employed by the favorites, as well as watching our local runners compete on their biggest stage. As the weekend drew closer, my biggest concern was that the race wouldn’t live up to the hype. Fortunately, unlike most Hollywood blockbusters, the race did not disappoint.

First, my hat goes off to the USATF for deciding to run the Trials the day before the New York City Marathon. With the U.S. experiencing another running boom, I think this was a great way to keep up the momentum. They set up a very spectator-friendly five-loop course in Central Park, which allowed spectators that were willing to run half a mile back and forth across the park the chance to see the runners every 2-3 miles. Someone mentioned that it was like being able to watch a two-hour cross-country race. For those that just wanted to remain in one place, they were able to see the runners five times. I doubt you can do that at any other marathon in the world. And even though the course layout definitely helped bring more people to the event to watch, I was still able to get right on the edge of the road and see the runners up close.

This year’s field had a little bit of everything; a two-time former world record holder, all three Olympic marathoners from 2004, including the reigning silver medalist, multiple 10,000 meter Olympians, veterans looking to take one last shot at their dream, a handful of up-and-coming stars and a whole bunch of guys whose long-term goal was just to qualify for this race. As a result, it was considered the deepest field since 1984.

As I read all the hype leading up to this year’s race, I really started to look forward to how the race would play itself out. There seemed to be a consensus that two strategies seemed the most likely; 1) keep the pace modest and sort out the top-3 over the final 3-4 miles of the race or 2) go for it early and watch the carnage fall off the back of the pack. The first strategy would favor the guys with faster track times like Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman and Dathan Ritzenhein, while the second strategy would favor the strength runners like Ryan Hall, Brian Sell and Khalid Khannouchi.

Apparently someone forgot to tell the runners this because they decided to come up with their own strategy. After a two mile jog – and by “jog” I mean my two mile “race pace” – the pace gradually began to pick up. Even with the drop in pace, the main pack went through 10K in a pedestrian 32:25. With such a slow pace early on, I wondered how five of the race’s favorites (Meb, Abdi, Hall, Ritz and Dan Browne) were able to break away from the pack. After the race Khannouchi explained what happened, saying the break was quick and sometimes you fall asleep.

As the pack of five continued to work together, it was really fun watching the chase pack, which was made up of contenders like former World Record holder Khannouchi, Olympian Alan Culpepper, crowd favorite Brian Sell, Pete Gilmore and Minnesota’s Jason Lehmkuhle. At mile 14 Khannouchi was 25 seconds behind the leaders. He seemed to be getting antsy and he decided to go after the leaders alone. Two miles later he was only 17 seconds behind the top-5, while Culpepper and Gilmore dropped out, leaving Sell and Lehmkuhle to work together 31 seconds behind the leaders. And while the rest of the race was beginning to string out, many of our local favorites (Michael Reneau, Chris Lundstrom, Ryan Meissen and Zachary Schendel) were working with a huge pack of about 20 runners between 50th and 70th place.

At the 2004 Trials, Sell took the lead early in the race only to be swallowed up at mile 22 and eventually fade to 12th place. Even though that move didn’t work, he gained a cult-like following and it was easy to tell he was a crowd favorite at this year’s race. It was also easy to sense that the crowd was getting restless with their hero sitting in eighth place with less than 10 miles remaining. Luckily the fans wouldn’t have much longer to wait for something to happen.

Thanks to the technology of the jumbotron, Hall was able to see Khannouchi slowly creeping up towards the leaders. While the 35-year old may have lost a step or two over time, he was still the leading qualifier coming into the race as well as the only person to ever run sub-2:06 three times. Hall’s response was to simply accelerate away from everyone else as his 5K splits dropped from 15:05 to 14:48 to 14:28 – that’s 4:51 pace down to 4:39 pace. As a result of this move, the pack of five that was together at mile 16 was demolished. Hall put 39, 52 and 70 seconds on Ritz, Browne and Meb, respectively, in the span of three miles. In addition, Abdi dropped out, Sell passed Khannouchi to move into fifth place and Lehmkuhle held tough in the seventh position.

With only the 47th best qualifying time, many people may have been surprised to see Lehmkuhle only 40 seconds out of third place 20 miles into the race. However, for those of us lucky enough to live in Minnesota and follow his training and racing more closely, there was a feeling that he was due for a breakthrough performance. Barring a major meltdown, which he’s all too familiar with, the best 2:16 marathoner in the U.S. was about to have the race of his life.

By now the race was getting so strung out that we were only able to watch the top 10-15 runners before having to run to the other side of the park in order to catch Hall, who was well on his way to victory in an Olympic Trials record, 2:09:02. That would be his third jaw-dropping performance of the year. In January he broke a 21-year-old record as he became the first American under an hour for a half marathon (59:43) and he followed that up at the London Marathon with the best debut ever by an American (2:08:24).

As the runners passed the 35K mark, they began their last lap around Central Park. With Hall and Ritz off the front, attention turned to the battle for the third and final spot on the Olympic team. Sell was still in fourth place, but licking his chops as he was only a mere seven seconds behind Browne. Somehow I got the feeling that this is exactly how Sell visualized the race playing out. And since the last sighting, Lehmkuhle and Khannouchi were both able to pass Meb. They were together, 25 seconds behind Sell.

I made one last dash across the park and see that Sell had indeed passed Browne and moved into third place. Khannouchi and Lehmkuhle also passed Browne and although they wouldn’t be able to catch Sell, who’s nearly a minute ahead of them with only 2K to go, only two seconds separated the two runners as they battle for the alternate spot on the team. Although Khannouchi would go on to beat Lehmkuhle by 20 seconds, he paid Lehmkuhle and Sell a compliment afterwards when he said he didn’t realize those two would be so strong later in the race and that he wished he would have worked with them a little longer, instead of running by himself.

As I was standing at 40K watching all the runners one last time, it was apparent that many of the runners with local connections were able to move up significantly during the second half of the race. A look at splits afterwards shows that Lehmkuhle, Chad Johnson, Donovan Fellows, Michael Reneau and Chris Lundstrom were all able to run negative splits.

I wish I were able to end my recap there. Unfortunately, the race was overshadowed by the untimely death of Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died about 5.5 miles into the race. As I watched the runners at about 15K I could see numerous emergency vehicles about 200 meters up the road. I had no idea what was going on, but soon learned that Shay had collapsed. I think Brian Sell summed up everyone’s feeling when he said they’d all give up their spots on the Olympic Team to have Shay back. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.


I’m back from my whirlwind vacation where I overdosed on running. I have lots to blog about but no time to do it. I hope to have my race recap article ready to post tomorrow and then I’ll be able to focus on some “behind the scenes” stuff.

Not much to report, training-wise. I ran 9 miles along the Central Park loop on Friday to see what the guys would have to deal with. One loop was tough enough with the rolling hills – five loops would be brutal. Saturday I just ran back and forth between the East and West sides of Central Park to watch the guys 10 times during the race. There was lots of stopping to cheer, but I still probably ran 5 miles. That gave me 75 for the week on 7 runs. I’m calling Sunday’s run about 10 miles as Kim and I ran all over cheering on Jenna (2:50) and Ed (2:36). Neither was particularly pleased with their results.

After nearly 5 weeks without a day off, I took Monday off as we traveled back to Minnesota. I followed that up with a zero yesterday as I worked on my recap article. Apparently, I’m still on East coast time since I was wide awake at 4:30 this morning. Rather than just lay there, I went for a 13 mile run.

Since I don’t have anything interesting to write (yet), go check out Evan’s collection of “interesting” comments uttered during the live web streaming.

And finally, I think I missed Matt Gabrielson’s late journal entry from last week.

Edited to add a link to Pete’s blog. He ran the trials on Saturday and although he’s been keeping a blog for awhile, I never mentioned it – figuring he wanted to keep it low-key as he headed towards the trails.

Quote of the day;

“This was a big breakthrough marathon for me. I was trying to be patient and not make any huge moves early on. I was very conscious of trying to pace myself because of the difficulties I've had in my last couple of marathons. I was worried the whole time but I was really comfortable and felt the best I have ever felt in the last six miles of a marathon.” – Jason Lehmkuhle on his 5th place finish on Saturday

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Alright, I wanted to get this article posted before this weekend's race. I actually wrote this article 5-6 weeks ago. Yesterday I tweaked it a little because one of my dark horses is not going to run the race now. Also, after watching the TC 10 Miler, I moved Jason Lehmkuhle from a Dark Horse to a Contender, while moving Dan Browne in the opposite direction.

Olympic Trials – Men’s Marathon Preview

By Chad Austin 10/31/07

I’m excited! Not only is the U.S. experiencing another running boom in terms of the number of people enjoying the sport, but also in terms of performance on the world stage. Americans Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor each brought home a medal from the marathon in the 2004 Olympics. More recently, at this year’s World Championships in Osaka, Japan, Bernard Legat won gold in both the 1500 and 5000 meters, while Duluth-native Kara (Wheeler) Goucher won the bronze in the 10,000 meters. What a great way to head into next year’s Olympic season.

For U.S. men looking to make the Olympic team in the marathon, their opportunity is closer than you think. The Trials takes place November 3 in New York City and the field is considered the deepest since 1984. That year featured runners, such as, the 1980 Trials champion Tony Sandoval, world recorder holder Alberto Salazar, 1983 Boston Marathon champion Greg Meyer, four-time Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon champion Bill Rodgers, Minnesotan Garry Bjorklund, along with nearly a dozen other runners who could threaten the 2:12 barrier.

This year’s race will have a little bit of everything; a two-time former world record holder, all three Olympic marathoners from 2004, including the reigning silver medalist, multiple 10,000 meter Olympians, veterans looking to take one last shot at their dream, a handful of up-and-coming stars and a whole bunch of guys whose long-term goal was just to qualify for this race.

This article will break the top runners down; the favorites, the contenders, the dark horses and the locals. And just for fun, we’ll also include the top-3 choices by our “expert” panel.

The Favorites:

Meb Keflezighi. Age: 32, PR: 2:09:53, Qualifier: 2:09:56, Boston (’06).
It’s hard not to single the 2004 silver medalist out as the favorite. In addition to two sub-2:10 performances, Keflezighi is also the American Record holder for 10,000 meters, 27:13.98. Speed and experience make him as much of a lock as anyone in the field. Plus, as 2000 Olympian Rod DeHaven said, “This pick satisfies the ‘Mark Coogan Rule’ that there’s always one carryover from the previous Olympic team.

Abdi Abdirahman. Age: 30, PR: 2:08:56, Qualifier: 2:08:56, Chicago (’06).
Abdirahman is already a two-time Olympian, qualifying for the 10,000m in both 2000 and 2004 where he finished 10th and 15th, respectively. Earlier this year, he placed second to Haile Gebrselassie at the New York City Half Marathon where he ran the second fastest time by an American, 1:00:29. At the World Championships in August, he placed 7th place in the 10,000m and more recently, he won the TC 10 Mile in 47:34.

Ryan Hall. Age: 25, PR: 2:08:24, Qualifier: 2:08:24, London (’07).

Typically, I wouldn’t include a 25-year-old along with the favorites. However, Hall’s recent jaw-dropping performances are too spectacular to leave him off the list. In 2006 he set an American Record for 20K (57:54), then earlier this year he broke a 21-year-old record as he became the first American under an hour for a half marathon (59:43). He simply followed that up at the London Marathon with the best debut ever by an American, 2:08:24. The fact that Hall trains with Keflezighi doesn’t hurt either. However, having only run one marathon, his lack of experience could be a drawback.

Brian Sell. Age: 29, PR: 2:10:47, Qualifier: 2:10:47, Chicago (’06).

At the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials, Sell gained a cult-like following by taking the lead at mile 7. His bold move lasted until mile 22 when he was swallowed up and eventually faded to 12th place. With two sub-2:11 performances under his belt since then, I’d like to think that Sell doesn’t need to be so aggressive this time around. However, given the number of runners with faster track backgrounds, he may need similar tactics to make the team. Of the four favorites mentioned here, the difficult New York City course is probably best suited for Sell, who’s considered more of a strength runner than the others.

The Contenders:

Khalid Khannouchi. Age: 36, PR: 2:05:38, Qualifier: 2:07:04, London (’06).
Leading qualifier; check. Former World Record holder; check. Only person to run sub-2:06 three times; check. Even with all those credentials, he’s is not amongst my list of favorites, mainly due to age and injuries – and the fact that no one is really sure if he’ll even start the race. And although there’s no denying Khannouchi’s ability to run fast times in the past, he has received criticism for his ability to run tactical races, such as the Trials tend to be.

Alan Culpepper. Age: 35, PR: 2:09:41, Qualifier: 2:11:02, Boston (’06).
After winning the 2004 Trials, Culpepper went on to finish 12th at Athens. Another Trials victory this year would make Culpepper only the second man to win the event back-to-back, the other being Frank Shorter. Like Khannouchi, age is not on Culpepper’s side. However, in February he showed that he’s still competitive when he won the USA Cross Country championship on a 12K course suited for marathoners.

Pete Gilmore. Age: 30, PR: 2:12:45, Qualifier: 2:12:45, Chicago (’06).
Since placing eighth at the 2004 Trials, Gilmore has been one of the most consistently fast American marathoners. Like Sell, he has a cult-like following, at least on websites like Gilmore’s following is partially due to being the first American at the 2006 New York City Marathon, where he beat the likes of Keflezighi, Culpepper and Dathan Ritzenhein. The fact that he didn’t have a shoe contract helped make Gilmore the “working class hero” of marathoners.

Dathan Ritzenhein. Age: 24, PR: 2:14:01, Qualifier: 2:14:01, New York (’06).
Besides Khannouchi, Ritzenhein is probably the biggest X-factor in the race. At 24-years old he’s already one of the best runners in the U.S., having qualified for the 2004 Olympics in the 10,000m. Unfortunately, a stress fracture kept him from finishing that race. At this year’s World Championships 10,000m Ritzenhein placed 9th. Like Hall, he only has one marathon under his belt. However, don’t be surprised if he’s still in the mix late in the race.

Jason Lehmkuhle. Age: 30, PR: 2:16:27, Qualifier: 2:19:03, TCM (’06).
Simply put, Team USA Minnesota’s Jason Lehmkuhle is the best 2:16 marathoner in the U.S. After a 2:18:24 debut in 2003, he set a PR at the 2004 Trials, placing 9th. He battled injuries soon after that race, but has been racing very well in 2006 and 2007. This year alone, Lehmkuhle has placed in the top-5 at five different U.S. Championship events. He’s coming off a 1:02:51 half marathon at Houston in January, a 59:42 20K at New Haven on Labor Day, and a 47:48 10 miler in his hometown of Minneapolis – all PRs. If he has a great day, he’ll be in the mix.

The Dark Horses:

Dan Browne. Age: 32, PR: 2:11:35 Qualifier: 28:10.73 (10,000m), Stanford (’07).
In 2004, Browne made the Olympic team in both the marathon and 10,000m, where he finished 65th and 12th, respectively, in Athens. He’s been pretty quiet since then, having battled injuries for most of 2005. As a result, he took advantage of a new rule that allows runners to qualify for the marathon trials by meeting 5,000m or 10,000m standards. Having not run a marathon in awhile, it’s hard to know what to expect with Browne. His recent racing seems to be inconsistent. He won the U.S. 20K title with his 59:17 on Labor Day at New Haven, as well as the U.S. 5K title. However, he followed that up with a 21st place 50:45 at the TC 10 Mile.

Clint Verran. Age: 32, PR: 2:14:12, Qualifier: 2:14:12, Boston (’06).
As a 24-year old in 2000, Verran placed 11th at the Trials. He followed that up four years later with a 5th place effort. With the trials only taking place once every four years; most marathoners have one solid chance of making an Olympic team. 2004 may have been Verran’s best chance.

Ryan Shay. Age: 28, PR: 2:14:08, Qualifier: 2:14:58, TCM (’06).
Shay is a guy that could easily be moved up to the list of contenders. He may be following a path similar to Verran’s. Four years ago, at age 24, he battled injuries leading up to the Trials before finishing a disappointing 22nd. However, since 2003 he’s run 2:14 four times and he recently set a 10,000m PR, 28:03. Having a training partner like Abdirahman may be enough to push Shay to a top-7 performance. He also ran the TC 10 miler as a tune-up, finishing in 51:05.

James Carney. Age: 29, PR: N/A Qualifier: 27:43.64 (10,000m), Stanford (’07).
If you’re like me, chances are you’ve never heard of James Carney. When Rod DeHaven mentioned him as his dark horse, I figured I’d better find out who he is. Carney graduated from Millersville University, a Division II school, before using his last year of eligibility at Penn State. His only marathon experience is a DNF at TCM in 2005. So why does DeHaven like him? He’s got speed, as in the 8th fastest 10,000 meter qualifying time, 27:43. He trains with Jorge and Ed Torres, and Dathan Ritzenhein. And he’s running well, placing second to Dan Browne at the New Haven 20K in 59:38 and following that up with a third place effort at the TC 10 Mile in 48:03.

Chad Johnson. Age: 31, PR: 2:15:03, Qualifier: 2:15:03, Chicago (’06).
Like Carney, Johnson started his college career at a smaller school (UW-Stevens Point) before transferring to a Big Ten school. The former University of Minnesota runner now trains with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Michigan, a team which includes guys like Sell and Verran. Johnson, who was the state record holder at 10 miles (48:44) until Abdirahman bettered his time this year, started 2007 off with a 1:04:01 half marathon at Houston and followed that up by winning the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in 1:05:18.

The Locals:

Chris Lundstrom. Age: 31, PR: 2:17:34, Qualifier: 2:17:34, TCM (’06).
A Northfield native, Lundstrom also trains with Team USA Minnesota. In July, he represented the U.S. at the Pan American Games where he placed 6th in the marathon in 2:18:04. Even with only a three month turn around between the two marathons, Lundstrom should be able to improve dramatically from his 53rd place at the 2004 Trials.

Donovan Fellows. Age: 28, PR: 2:19:23, Qualifier: 2:19:23, Chicago (’06).
While at Purdue, Fellows was the 2002 Big Ten champion at 10,000 meters. Lately the Woodbury resident has been racing well. At the Victory 10K he finished second to Lundstrom with a time of 31:08. Two weeks later he avenged that loss with a victory at the City of Lakes 25K, 1:19:58. More recently, he beat Lundstrom by 7 seconds at the TC 10 Mile, finishing in 50:26.

Zachary Schendel. Age: 29, PR: 2:20:36, Qualifier: 2:20:36, California International (’06).
The former Team USA Minnesota member placed fourth at the 2006 TC 10 Mile last year in 51:07. Then two months later he earned his qualifying time at the California International Marathon. Since that time I can only find two 5K results for the Red Wing resident, along with a 51:34 at this year’s TC 10 Mile.

Pete Gilman. Age: 32, PR: 2:20:57, Qualifier: 2:20:57, Chicago (’06).
All Gilman had to do to qualify for the Trials at last year’s Chicago Marathon was drop his 4-year old PR nearly 3 minutes. Not an easy task, considering his other attempts resulted in times of 2:25 and 2:36. He responded by dropping nearly 4 minutes from his previous best. Recently featured in Runner’s World, the Rochester resident also placed fourth at the City of Lakes 25K in 1:23:10.

Ryan Meissen. Age: 29, PR: 2:18:03, Qualifier: 2:18:03 Austin (’06).
Meissen may have started his marathoning career sooner than anyone else in the field, having run his first marathon at the age of 15. The Hudson, Wisconsin native now lives near Milwaukee. He’ll be making his second appearance at the Trials and looking to improve upon his 20th place showing in 2004.

Mike Reneau. Age: 29, PR: 2:17:46, Qualifier: 2:17:46, Houston (’07).
A high school teammate of Meissen’s, Reneau now trains with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. 40 years after his dad finished 10th at the 1968 Trails, he’ll be making his first Trials appearance. If he wasn’t listed under the locals, I’d definitely have him penciled in under my list of dark horses. His race results for the year include 1:20:01 for 25K and 47:12 for 15K.

Marty Rosendahl. Age: 29, PR: 2:17:05, Qualifier: 2:17:05, Chicago (’06).
Fridley native Rosendahl is another qualifier from the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. While at Minnesota State University-Mankato, he earned four NCAA Division II cross-country all-American awards. Earlier this year he represented the US at the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya where he finished 103rd.

Alright, that’s my breakdown of the Trials. But rather than simply taking my word for it, I thought I’d include the picks of local experts who know much more about elite running than me.

Dennis Barker – Team USA Minnesota coach.
Spoken like a true coach, Barker found it difficult to list his top-3 without knowing anything about their health or training. His favorites are basically a list of the favorites and contenders listed above. In addition, he listed a couple of names that weren’t on my list above, Fasil Bizuneh and Mbarak Hussein. And obviously, as their coach, he has to go with Jason Lehmkuhle and Chris Lundstrom too.

Rod DeHaven – 2000 Olympic marathoner and South Dakota State University coach.
He picked Keflezighi, Abdirahman and Hall, but also mentioned that Sell could easily bump Hall off the team. His dark horse is James Carney and his sentimental favorite is former SDSU runner, Pete Gilman.

Matt Gabrielson – Olympic Trials qualifier in the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon.
Gabrielson qualified for Trials by running 2:19:53 in his debut at New York City last year. He’s chosen to focus on the track, rather than run the Trials. He thinks Abdirahman and Hall will go first and second and the final spot will be a toss up between Keflezighi, Culpepper, Ritzenhein and Sell. His other contenders are Browne, Bizuneh, Gilmore and Lehmkuhle.

Steve Hoag – Second place finisher at the 1975 Boston Marathon in 2:11.
Hall, Keflezighi, and Sell with Lehmkuhle as his dark horse.

Kelly Mortenson – 12th place finisher at the 2000 Trials.
Abdirahman, Khannouchi and Hall. If Khannouchi doesn’t run, he likes Keflezighi in his place.

Charlie Mahler – Expert running and track & field journalist.
Abdirahman, Keflezighi and Culpepper with Lehmkuhle as his dark horse.

There you have it, the complete breakdown of the top runners who will be at the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon for men. As Coach Barker said, “I think this is going to be a very tight race for a very long time and there are a lot of guys who could make the team on any given day.”

Whose day will be November 3rd? There’s only one way to find out.


Just a brief training update;

Yesterday I ran 12 miles on the Hyland trails, which gave me 285 miles for the month - my most ever in October - on 29 runs and 2 days off. The idea behind skipping TCM was that I'd be able to build my base mileage up quicker - had I run TCM I'd just now be feeling recovered and it'd take me another 3-4 weeks to build my mileage.

Mission accomplished.

Also, having a solid October makes it easier to keep the momentum rolling - hopefully into November, December and January.

Today I ran 14 miles on the Lebanon Hills trails with Evan. Although he's back in New Zealand, I think I see him just as much now as when he was in Minneapolis.

Tomorrow morning I'm off the the Big Apple. I just hope it lives up to the hype.