Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Every once in awhile I come across an article or section of a book that seems like it’s written directly at me. The latest instance of this was in an article written by one of my favorite runners/writers, Team USA Minnesota’s Chris Lundstrom. In the article he says;

It’s that time of year…where health and fitness can fall a little further down on the priority list. Placing less emphasis on being in tip-top shape can be a healthy respite that allows your body some much needed time to regenerate.
As I read that I’m thinking, “Awesome, now I don’t feel so bad.” Then Chris closed out the paragraph with this sentence;

But there can be too much of a good thing.
Dang you, Chris. Way to spoil the fun. Now I’m back to feeling guilty for my recent ways, which include falling off my recent health-kick bandwagon, eating every cookie in site, exercising sporadically, and all but giving up completely on the strength training that I started in November.

So it looks like I’ll be joining millions of Americans this year as I make New Year resolutions designed around exercise and getting back into shape. I think just getting back to work and into a routine of getting up early to exercise will help a ton.

During my time off from work, I’ve really gotten addicted to the Food Network – especially shows like Iron Chef America, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, etc. And it doesn’t hurt that I think Giada De Laurentiis is the most stunning woman I’ve ever seen. And she’s Italian – just think of all the great carbo-loading dishes she could make.

Today’s quote of the day comes from my latest interview;

“Put the training in. There are no shortcuts or secrets. Shoes, gear, and gadgets all have their place, but in the end it all comes down to training.” - Joe Ziegenfuss

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I’m seriously considering signing up for The Birkie this year. At first I was thinking about doing the Korte again because it’d let me compare my time to last year and (hopefully) I’d be able to see some improvement – although I think ski times mean a little less than running times, due to the variability snow conditions. If you’re not familiar with these races, think of the Birkie as a marathon and the Korte as a half.

Anyway, I’m thinking about the Birkie because the conditions are already great for skiing, so the ability to train for a longer race is a lot better than most years – especially since I’ll have the next 12 days off. Also, I already have about 5 hours on my skis this year and last year I didn’t even start skiing until Christmas Day. My longest ski so far this year is 1:20, which is a month ahead of last year. And, of course, my technique has improved from last year – at least a little. So I think I’m going to go for it.

Every once in awhile I’ll come across an ad on TV that strikes me as odd. This usually happens when I’m on the treadmill and I’m held captive by the TV. Well the other day I was watching a commercial for the Air Force. They were hyping one of their high-tech drones and their ability to remotely control it with a joy stick. Then the commercial shows the drone on the ground and 2 airmen are pushing it. I’m thinking, if this thing is so high-tech, why do they have to push it? You’d think there’d be a better way.

Quote of the Day;

“In my opinion, any day you find yourself at the starting line for the Birkie, it’s going to be a great day indeed!” – Scott Smith

Saturday, December 20, 2008


All right, which would you choose? The sloppy roads for running or the freshly groomed corduroy for skiing? Not that I get my training advice from Outside magazine, but yesterday I read an article that said in-season you should do 90% of your training in your main sport and 10% cross-training. Out-of-season you should do 25% of your training in your main sport and 75% cross-training. If the snow continues to fall - 2-5 more inches expected today - I can definitely see myself skiing 75% of the time.

Or should it be 90% of the time if skiing is now my main winter sport?

My back is finally feeling normal again. I'm still not sure what I did, but I was miserable for a week and a half. I'm going to blame it on shoveling snow.

With the new year right around the corner, I was thinking about not keeping a training log for the first time ever. Right now I find myself going a week or so without writing anything down. Then when I get around to it, I've forgotten half the info, so it's left blank. I don't seem to refer to my log that often. It's as if I keep them just to have some sort of record of all the time I've spent on this "hobby" over the years. I'm sure I'll still track my daily mileage on a calendar - you know, so I don't break any 10% rule or anything like that. And I'll have to find a way to track the mileage on my shoes - I kind of like to know that info. We'll see... I have a week or so to decide.

Quote of the day;

"If I knew what I know now about skiing, I would have started much sooner." - Ryan Wright

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 RECAP

Here's a recap of the 2008 season in Minnesota that I wrote for the MDRA.

2008 Year in Review
by Chad Austin

It’s that time of year when every publication looks back on the year and reviews on the highlights. Why should we be any different? With running, sometimes we get so caught up in looking ahead to the next race that we forget to look back and appreciate all the hard work and great efforts that take place over the year. This article is a recap of the top performances that Minnesotans produced in 2008. This is a subjective list and, obviously, with all the great runners in the state I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. But looking back on 2008 these are the performances that stand out the most in my mind.

Andrew Carlson kicked off the New Year by winning the Emerald Nuts Midnight 4-mile run in New York City. The former Team USA Minnesota runner ran 18:12, which bettered the course record of 18:28. Next he claimed his first national title with a victory at the Gate River Run 15K. A week later he returned to New York City and finished second to Jorge Torres at the USA 8K Championship.

Carlson was not the only Team USA Minnesota runner having a breakthrough season. Emily Brown was busy setting PRs, stadium records, and leading the USA women in cross country. Some of Brown’s performances include a 4:37.58 mile, setting a stadium record of 9:45.38 in the Drake Relays steeplechase, placing 18th at the World Cross Country Championships, and running 15:19.57 for 5,000m.

Minnesota Golden Gopher junior Jamie Cheever broke the 24-year old U of M record in the mile run when she ran 4:39.54. Cheever continued her record-breaking ways when she lowered her own school record for the 3,000m to 9:20.23.

Alex Gits, the former Edina star who currently runs for Stanford University, finished second in the U.S. Junior Women's 6K to earn a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland for the World Cross Country Championships. At that race, Gits finished in 13th place to lead the USA squad to sixth place in the team standings. Gits also finished 3rd in the 10,000 meter at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, running 33:49.73.

During the Big Ten Indoor meet, the U of M’s Heather Dorniden tripped and fell during the 600-meter dash. Dorniden was able to quickly recover and still finish in 1:31.72 to win her heat and place second overall.

At the end of February, a team of Grand Masters dusted off their spikes and met at St. Olaf College in search of the four by 1,600 world record for over 50-year olds. The team of Brad Givot, Dan Morse, Bobby Paxton, and Dave Tappe, were successful when they stopped the clock in 20:14.

Continuing a strong tradition, Minnesota was well represented at the women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. In all, nine women with Minnesota ties were in Boston for the race; Michelle Lilienthal, Turena Johnson Lane, Nicole Cueno, Erin Ward, Marie Sample, Jenna Boren, Johanna Olson, Melissa Gacek, and Stephanie Herbst Lucke.

The day after the Olympic Marathon Trials, Ashley Anklam, the Holy Angels and Drake University alum, was the top American finisher and 15th overall in 2:48:43.

Perhaps the most notable performances of 2008 were run by a handful of high school runners, namely Zach Mellon, Jordan Carlson, and Rob Finnerty – all three were named to the USA Today All-USA track team. Mellon set a new All-Time State Meet Record by winning the 800 meters in 1:49.69. Then at the USA Junior Championships the junior from Buffalo established a new all-time best mark for Minnesota high school boys with his 1:48.64 clocking.

During the year, Carlson ran no less than four 1600 meter times between 4:07 and 4:11. His 4:07.12 places him #4 all-time in Minnesota. The Rosemount senior also ran 9:09.87 for 3200 meters to finish second at the State Meet.

Unfortunately, Carlson may go down in history as the fastest Minnesota prep never to win a state title. That’s because he always found himself lined up next to Burnsville’s Rob Finnerty. In 2008, Finnerty won both the 1600 and 3200 at State and then proceeded to break Garry Bjorklund’s 39-year-old State Record for the mile by running 4:01.09. He also moved into the #3 spot for Minnesota preps at 2 miles when he ran 8:50.96.

Minnetonka High School graduate Will Leer placed 4th in the U.S. Olympic Trails 1500 meter finals, clocking 3:41.54. Later in the summer the former NCAA Division III star for Pomona-Pitzer Colleges who now trains with the Oregon Track Club ran 1:48.06 for 800m and then set a 1500m PR with his 3:37.63.

Rasa Troup, the University of Minnesota alum who represents her native Lithuania, finished 8th in her steeplechase prelim. Her time of 9:30.21 was less than two seconds away from advancing to the Olympic finals. However, her time did establish a new national record – the 8th time Troup has broken the Lithuanian record in the steeplechase.

Although Kara Goucher now resides in Portland, OR, we still like to lay claim to the former Duluth resident. Goucher qualified for the Olympics in both the 5000m and 10,000m, finishing 9th and 10th, respectively. Her time of 30:55.16 for the 10,000m moved her into the #3 spot for Americans, behind only Shalane Flanagan and Deena Kastor. In October, Goucher returned to Minnesota and claimed her first U.S. title on the roads by winning the TC-10 mile in 53:19 – the fastest ever run by a Minnesotan. She then capped her season off by running 2:25:53 in her debut marathon at the ING New York City Marathon, good enough for 3rd place.

At the Run for Oromia Tadesse Tola of Ethiopia won the 10K title in 28:21 and Dennis Ndiso of Kenya won the 5K title in 13:57. Both times were the fastest ever recorded on the roads in Minnesota.

This year Kathy Peterson, 65 of Outing, MN set five state age records in distances ranging from 5K to half marathon. Perhaps her most impressive performance was 48:25 at the Crosslake Dam 10K.

Not to be outdone in the record setting department, Dan Morse set state age records at every distance from 1 mile to 25K for 55 year olds. Morse’s strengths are the shorter distances and it showed with his 4:52 mile record.

At the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 83-year-old Burt Carlson finish is 300th marathon (or further) event by running the course in 5:54:12.

In the four-month span covering July through October, Matt Gabrielson finished 8th at the Olympic Track and Field Trails 5,000m, ran the equivalent of a 4-minute mile, and ran a 2:17:38 marathon. His second place finish in the USA Marathon Championships at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon earned him a slot on the U.S. team that will travel to Berlin in August 2009.

Team USA Minnesota’s Kate McGregor’s year consisted of making her sixth consecutive U.S. World Cross Country team, where she placed 22nd. She was 4th in the U.S. indoor 3000m, 2nd in the U.S. 10K, 15K, and 10 Mile Championships, and 4th at the Olympic Trials in the 10,000m. She finished out her year at the ING New York City Marathon when she placed 10th among women in a PR 2:31:14.

Jason Lehmkuhle started his year off by finishing second at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston with a PR 1:02:32. That performance earned him a slot on the U.S. World team where he was the first American and 21st overall in 1:05:17. The 5th place finisher at the Men's Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007 then returned to New York City for the marathon and placed 8th in 2:14:30.

Lukas Gemar, a sophomore from Moorhead High School, was the surprise winner in the MSHSL Class AA Boys race. Germar, who was ranked #7 entering the race, topped the field with a 15:32 clocking over the 5K course. Gemar continued his successful season when he placed 3rd at the Nike Cross National (NXN) Heartland Region.

Grand Rapids senior Jakub Zivec spent most of his season running JV. That was due to a MSHSL rule, not Zivec’s ability. The Czech national was not allowed to compete in varsity competition because he was not part of a recognized international exchange program. While Zivec was not allowed to run in the State Meet, he made the best of the situation, by focusing on the NXN and the Footlocker Cross Country Championships. He won regional titles at both meets before finishing second and fifth at NXN and Footlocker, respectively.

On the team-side of NXN, Minnesota will be represented by both the boys and girls Class AA champs. At the Heartland Region the Wayzata boys avenged their only defeat of the year when they topped Bismarck, North Dakota 62-65. The Eden Prairie girls won their meet with a 45-96 victory over Sioux Falls Roosevelt.

As a sophomore Marie Borner of Bethel University started the year off by winning the NCAA Division III indoor mile in 4:58.36. Outdoors she finished 3rd in the nation in the 1500 in 4:27.52. Now in her junior year, Borner won the individual title at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.

In 2007, Brandon Gleason, a junior at Hamline University survived being run over by a truck while he was on a training run. In 2008 he returned to competition and nearly PR’d in his first race back, running 8:34.45 for 3,000m. He also ran 14:56.92 for 5,000m and then was the top Minnesota finisher in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. He earned all-American honors with his 13th place finish.

The University of Minnesota women's cross country team defended its Big Ten and Midwest Regional titles before tying for 11th place in the nation. All year, the Gopher women were led junior Megan Duwell. She placed 4th at both the conference and regional meets before earning all-American honors with her 32nd place at Nationals.

All year long, Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough have provided the U of M with an outstanding 1-2 punch. At the Big Ten meet, Mead won the individual title, while Rombough finished 3rd. The duo then led the Gophers to the Midwest Regional title by claiming the top two spots. At the NCAA Championship meet, Rombough finished 17th to become the Gopher's first-ever three-time All-American in cross country. Mead also claimed all-American honors with his 31st place finish.

There you have it. What started out as a “Top-25” list has spun out of control. When you consider all the great Minnesota runners competing in high school, college, professionally, and at road races, you can see that it’s very difficult to limit such a list. Finally, I’d be remiss if I did not thank Charlie Mahler and his “staff” at Down the Backstretch for their incredible coverage of our great sport in the state. Without their website, such a recap would have been exponentially more difficult to compile. If you’re not familiar with their site, please be sure to check them out.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I’m still alive – but barely kicking. The Austin’s have had a week or two to forget. Amy had strep throat and now “just” a cold. Kinsey has a sinus infection. Katie had eye surgery to repair a muscle. And my back has been bothering me for a week. It seems to be muscular and I have a hard time straightening up when I stand. I can’t think of a specific cause – maybe skiing, maybe shoveling. I thought my added strength training was supposed to help prevent these kinds of things. I haven’t run since Wednesday. Saturday I biked for an hour, but that was enough to leave my butt sore enough that I couldn’t bike yesterday. I guess that’s another reason to bike once a week – just in case I get hurt and need to cross-train, I’ll be ready to go more than 1 day in a row.

I guess the good news is that the down time has left me with enough time and energy to pump out some more interviews. Here’s my latest. I also took some time to post links, off to the right, of all of the articles I’ve written.

Just a note about spam. Over the weekend, I deleted some comments that I considered to be spam. If there’s something you think I’ll like to see, feel free to send me an email – my address can be found within my profile. However, if you stop by and post links, even running related, they’re probably going to get deleted. These particular links were to some new running races in town. The funny thing is that regular readers would know that I’m not a fan of their other races because I think their entry fees are way too high.

Instead of spending $75 for one of their half marathons, I’ll make this suggestion;

1st Lt. Emily Naslund, the daughter of John and Jeannine Naslund of Bloomington, is collecting funds to buy her Marine platoon some t-shirts in “an attempt to raise their spirits and keep their motivation up through the holiday season.” She has set up a "Gunsmoke 1" fund which is going to be organized by her mother. If you would like to donate to the fund to help pay for the t-shirts, it would be greatly appreciated. Whatever is left over will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Address to send checks:
Jeannine Naslund
4356 College Heights Cir
Bloomington, MN 55437

Make the checks payable to Jeannine Naslund - then at the bottom put "Gunsmoke 1 Fund"
Quote of the Day;

“Just try to be as fast as last year. I'm 38 years old now, and that is all I can hope for.” - Scott Chapin, on his goals for 2009

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Sometimes it takes a little while to get into the spirit of winter. When the temperature drops from 60 degrees in October to 20 degrees in November it can be a shock to the system. The other day I finally realized that I’m getting acclimated. I was all bundled up and shoveling snow when I thought, “I really love this.” I’m still not sure how people can live without all the seasons - then again, some people would say that we don’t really have a summer up here. To each their own, I guess.

I’ve been trying to add in one treadmill run a week where I progressively pick up the pace. Last night I ran 8 miles in just under an hour – dropping down to 6:49 pace for awhile. These runs will eventually turn into longer tempo runs as the winter progresses.

Yesterday’s snowfall made for a brutal commute home. I just had to keep reminding myself of how good the snow is for the x-c ski trails.

This morning I met Scott for one of our two weekly runs. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we both wanted to go skiing. We headed up to Hyland for Scott’s first-ever time on the skinny skis. For someone that didn’t grow up skiing – or at least, hockey skating – it’s not an easy sport. You have to maintain your balance as you move your arms and legs in unfamiliar ways over uneven terrain. He struggled, but I think he made improvements just within the 40 minutes or so that we skied. The good news is that he’s excited about it and eager to continue improving. Me too.

Quote of the Day;

“I'm super fired up for the new hobby!” - Scott

Monday, December 08, 2008


I don’t mean to rank-order my training partners, but I definitely have an affinity for running with older guys. Maybe it has something to do with being fatherly figures, but I always seem to really enjoy a run with guys like Jared, Bruce and Jim, just to name a few.

I spent most of Saturday’s group run talking to Jared about the “good ol’ days” and before I knew it we’d run for nearly 2 hours – my longest run since TCM. There’s just something about talking with someone who can remember listening to Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series on the radio and whose favorite baseball player was Stan Musial. Plus, he’s got a great self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, when he was talking about his college football days he said, “I was small – but I was slow.”

I ended the week with 52 miles on 6 days. Yesterday I was able to break out my x-c skis for the first time – so don’t be surprised if this becomes the “Simon Says…Ski” blog soon – like it did last winter.

Finally, you can check out Matt Gabrielson’s latest journal entry.

Quote of the Day;

“The key to longevity is not to ride the highs too long or dwell on the lows too deeply. The key is to take something out of each experience and apply it to the next and try to become a better runner. Sometimes better is not faster, sometimes it is.” - Matt Gabrielson

Thursday, December 04, 2008


It is times like these that make me wonder how I’ve been able to keep this blog “alive” for nearly 4 years. It seems like I have nothing to say – I guess that’s never stopped me before.

Luckily, my latest interviewee has stuff to say – that helps make for a more entertaining read.

I still haven’t figured out this Facebook thing. I like the ability to post a bunch of photos for my friends to see, but again, do I really need to be “friends” with people I haven’t seen in 20 years. I guess it’s kind of neat to be reacquainted - at least initially. It’s all the other on-going updates that I could do without. Oh well, it hasn’t become some incredible time-sink yet, so I guess I’ll just go with it.

Quote of the Day;

“Our coach was a big believer in the Lydiard system and he had team awards for running the most miles per week. By the third week of the season I ran 106 miles to edge out my buddy for the weekly award. We were tired all the time but logging those miles made me stronger and I went from being seventh man on the team to number one by the end of the year. I still have never run more miles in a week.” - Bill Atkins

Monday, December 01, 2008


I had 47 miles last week on 5 runs – another 8 last night gave me 195 for the month of December. That’s not a ton, but I think it’s about right for my experiment of not being in awesome shape in January. I’m at that nice point of being healthy and in decent shape – rather than on the verge of injury and in a continuous state of fatigue. I realized this on Saturday’s “group” run when Kim and I ran 11 miles in 81 minutes. 7:20 pace isn’t incredibly fast, but I felt controlled while doing it. On to December…

In the past I’ve talked about some of the product review emails that have made their way into my in box. Apparently sending free product to bloggers and asking them to write a review on their blog is the new word-of-mouth-marketing. So far I’ve reviewed a book, sports drink and headphones. The latest email to arrive is for a laundry detergent, I was up front and told them I’m a guy and I didn’t think I’d be able to tell the difference between their product and Tide (or whatever else we have at home). They're going to send me some anyway.

I have no problem with this method of marketing, in fact, it’s kind of cool – even if it turns out to be something that I don’t like. Well, the other day I got an email from a company with a new GPS product. No, they weren’t going to send me a free sample and have me review it. Instead, they sent me a link to their site and said;

I would be grateful if you could tell me your views: the great plus vs. competitors is its ultra-fast connection to satellites and great precision even in critical conditions (i.e. under trees, in town).

Let me get this straight; I’m supposed to go to their website and make a comparison to their competitor's products by reading their marketing materials and let them know what I think? I think they better come up with a more effective marketing campaign.

Finally, Jason Lehmkuhle took the time to write up a nice NYC Marathon recap. In his latest journal entry, he reflects on some of the questions that have been floating around in his head since the race.

Quote of the Day;

"I wasn’t out-of-shape in any sense of the phrase, but my log didn’t list a seamless array of 140- and 150-mile weeks like it had in the past. I hadn’t wandered through life in a haze of fatigue for weeks at a time. It just wasn’t optimal marathon training… Was it?” - Jason Lehmkuhle

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Not a lot going on lately. It seems like I always have a bunch of little stuff on my mind – maybe I can wedge them all together and make a single post.

54 miles last week on 6 runs. No, that does not include my “Good Run Spoiled” workout from last Wednesday. I’m still squeezing in 2-3 strength workouts a week, trying to do strides once a week, and still running with Scott twice a week. I’m thinking about a cutback week this week – mainly due to the holiday. Plus that way I’ll be able to go into the new month all gung-ho.

So a friend of mine created a Facebook page and invited me to view it. Of course, I have to have a Facebook page myself in order to do so. I did create one, but I’m not sure I understand the proper etiquette. I mean am I supposed to accept everyone as a friend? Or can I pick and choose? I know we went to the same college – 10 years apart – does that mean we’re friends. I’ve never met you. I can see how you’d just want to approve anyone and everyone that comes along, but then I can also see just approving the people you’d actually call friends, you know, in “real life.”

I mentioned that my new favorite show is My Own Worst Enemy. Apparently, my attempt at word-of-mouth marketing didn’t work too well as my wife told me the show is being cancelled. I guess the good news is that now I don’t have to stay up until 10 PM on Mondays.

I finally got around to posting another interview. You can also find updated journal entries for Carrie Tollefson and Josh Moen.

Quote of the day;

“If people think I’m not a real runner because I don’t (or didn’t) do marathons, that’s just fine. I’m ok with concentrating on shorter races. That’s what I’m better at and that’s what I like better.” - Dan Morse

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Mark Twain once said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Last night I found my running equivalent, “Hiking is a good run spoiled.”

I finally got around to going to one of these x-c ski classes that I’ve mentioned. The class is basically October – February. They roller ski until it gets too dark, then they switch to dry-land training like hiking and bounding drills until the snow finally arrives. During last night’s hike, I spent the whole time thinking about running. I mean, wouldn’t it be better for your fitness to run, rather than hike? Not to mention, I would have stayed a heck of a lot warmer by running.

After our hike we sprinted up about a 10-second hill, twice. I was thinking what someone else said, “Is that it?” From there they moved onto bounding drills, while I ran to my car. It was just one of those things that you realize right away isn’t what your looking for – especially when I factor in the drive time and time away from my family. Maybe once we got some snow and they’re able to provide some skiing pointers, it’d be worth it. But as far as getting the most bang for my buck (and time), this wasn’t the best option.

Quote of the day;

“One tiny area of pain had been added to another until a vast catalog of discomfort had been logged.” – Mike Plant, author of Iron Will

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


And so it begins…I find myself paying more attention to my weekly mileage lately – building it, along with my weekly long run. Last week I had 45 miles and my “long” run has reached 12 miles. The mileage is still low enough where I can still incorporate one day off per week.

I’m not sure why it was such a revelation, but yesterday it occurred to me that anything new is going to be a learning process. I can't expect that just because I say I’m on a health-kick that all the sudden I’m an expert on nutrition. It’s going to be a learning process and it’s going to take time. It’s probably at this Revelation Stage where people fall off the wagon of whatever it is that they’ve vowed to change. They realize that it’s hard work and decide they don’t want to put in the effort. Instead they revert back to their old ways.

Part of my revelation occurred when I realized that the cereals I eat aren’t as healthy as I thought they were – at least according to Nancy Clark. In her book, she lists 5-6 key things to look for in cereals. I figured my Raisin Bran and Cheerios were better than Captain Crunch and Fruity Peebles, so they must be what she was referring to. Once I looked at the numbers, they’re not as good as the guidelines that Nancy recommends. So it looks like I’ll have to do a little grocery shopping.

These are just little things I’m trying to change – along with switching from instant oatmeal to regular oatmeal – that I hope will add up over time.

I admit I don’t understand a lot of this nutritional stuff. Intuitively, it seems like a Chipotle burrito is good for you – assuming you pick ingredients like tortilla, beans, chicken, salsa, and lettuce. This cool nutrition calculator for their burritos lets you can see exactly what you’re getting with your order.

Quote of the day;

“The Ironman is about people who become heroes. It’s about an impossible task proven to be possible year after year. It’s about athletes, the fast ones and the slow ones alike, stripped of everything but the simple desire to take one step farther than they themselves believe is possible.” – Mike Plant, author of Iron Will

Friday, November 14, 2008


The stuff I’ve been reading lately – the 2 books I mentioned Monday, as well as some Dr. George Sheehan – has talked a lot about the pain management side of running. This has me thinking back to my TCM performance. Afterwards I said I was pleased with my race. However, when I think about it from the pain management aspect, I can’t help but feel like I took the easy way out. With any marathon things are bound to get tougher towards the end – that’s a given. And while that was the case at TCM, thinking back, it seemed like I was dealing with discomfort, not pain. Even though I was passing 60 people during the last 10K, I can’t remember thinking about digging deep, making things hurt a little more, pushing myself to my limits, etc.

Here’s what Sheehan had to say in Running & Being about a similar performance;

You may have seen my name in the Shore Marathon results; “69th, George Sheehan, 3:18:32.” Not bad, you might think. Not a bad place, with 235 starters. Not bad for time, about midway between my best (3:02) and my worst (3:33) serious efforts. You might think that. And you would be wrong.

Because it was a marathon without tears, without pain, without distinction. It was a marathon that I am ashamed of, a marathon I would like to forget. It was a marathon that proves there is a point where prudence becomes timidity, where caution becomes cowardice, where respect becomes fear.

The 26.2-mile distance tends to make all runners prudent, cautious and respectful. “Anyone,” said the great Percy Cerutty, “can run twenty miles, but only a few can run the marathon.” That extra six miles changes the game from penny ante to table stakes. Your entire physical bankroll can dissolve in a matter of minutes.

The runner knows that no matter how he feels at any particular stage of the race, disaster may be waiting for him at the twenty-mile mark. This makes the marathon a chancy and risky business, where the initial pace can be all-decisive. Too slow and you have a poor time; too fast and you may not finish. So those even more timid sometimes use the first seven miles to warm up, and thus change the marathon into an ordinary twenty-mile road run.
Now I’m not going to go so far as to say I’m “ashamed” of running 3:05. But looking back, I wonder if I was too timid and turned the marathon into “an ordinary twenty-mile road run.”

Here are a couple of updated Team USA Minnesota journals; Chris Lundstrom, Meghan Armstrong, and Katie McGregor.

Quote of the day;

“Members of the endurance subculture grow so close to the subject they lose sight of the vastness of their achievement. Without thought or even the barest of acknowledgement, they pass through mental and physical boundaries on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the public stands in awe.” – Mike Plant, author of Iron Will

Thursday, November 13, 2008


A few weeks ago I posted some pre-Halloween pictures that weren't very good. Here are a couple more that are better. I really like the first one of just Katie - notice the whole "hand on hip" pose.

It was a perfect night for trick or treating - we didn't even need to cover up the costumes with winter coats.

I'll be happy when all the candy is finally gone - probably just in time for Thanksgiving.


One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, I did not run a fall marathon in 2006, so that explains a little why my November and December miles were so high. Right now it feels like I’m not running that much, but I think I can still run about 200 miles this month. Heck, I remember being in college and thinking 185 miles a month was a lot.

While I may not be running a lot right now, I’ve gotten into the routine of running with Scott twice a week. Tuesday we run Hyland Park and Thursday we run one of the lakes or the parkway. We typically run 60-65 minutes which has been 8 – 8.5 miles. That means we’re running faster than I would be if I were by myself, which is probably good for me.

I received a renewal notice from the USATF yesterday. Any other members out there? Anyone else questioning what they get for their money? Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but the only reason I can see to renew is because it’s required to run the team circuit. Given that I’m no where near being a scoring member, I wonder if it even makes sense to renew.

In case you missed it, Leinie’s has a new super yummy seasonal beer; Fireside Nut Brown!!!

Quote of the day;

“The Ironman’s ability to crown heroes and humble fools is undiminished. Its disrespect for perfect bodies is as cruel and unrelenting as ever. If anything, the new technology, the superior conditioning of the athletes, and the increased intensity of the competition have merely whetted the race’s appetite for destruction.” – Mike Plant, author of Iron Will

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Rather than recreating the wheel, I thought I’d look back at 2007 and see what training I was doing leading up to my PR at Grandma’s. Here’s what I found;

284 miles
50-78 mpw (64 avg)
2 days off
4 doubles
4 hill workouts
3 tempo runs of 4-6 miles
1:24:06 half marathon
19 mile long run
11 mile med-long run

275 miles
49-81 mpw (69 avg)
2 days off
6 doubles
4 hill workouts
2 tempo runs of 6-9 miles
No races
20 mile long run
12 mile med-long run

293 miles
50-81 mpw (66 avg)
2 days off
3 doubles
2 hill workouts
2 tempo runs of 5-7 miles
29:33 8K
20 mile long run
15 mile med-long run

254 miles
55-70 mpw (59 avg)
5 days off
4 doubles
No hill workouts
2 tempo runs of 7-10 miles
37:47 10K, plus 2 25K “races” at 7:00-7:10 pace
22 mile long run
15 mile med-long run
2 workouts of 600m
3 strides

268 miles
59-62 mpw (60 avg)
5 days off
No doubles
No hill workouts
2 tempo runs of 6-7 miles
1:21:49 half marathon and 17:52 5K
2 20 mile long run
14 mile med-long run
2 workouts; Ks and 1200s
3 strides
It should be noted that I also ran 290 miles in November and then 350 in December – so I had a solid 7 months of training leading up to the race.

Looking back, it appears January – March were pretty similar. Then in April I made the decision to take one day off per week and cut hills, while adding in shorter speedwork.

I’m not sure how realistic it is to try and recreate this plan in 2009. For sure I won’t have 290 miles this month. Keep in mind, all of these numbers from 2007 were before I started skiing. In any case, it is interesting to lay out the high points along the way and see that there is in fact a reason for why I ran so well. Of course, it also means that I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to run that fast again.

Quote of the day;

“When you realize too late that you took all that aerodynamic crap a little too seriously and still have a marathon to run, it’s not what bike you’re riding, but who you are, deep down inside, that makes the difference.” – Mike Plant, author of Iron Will

Monday, November 10, 2008


I’m happy to report that my “master plan” for getting woefully out of shape is working very well. I especially notice it when I’m on a group run and we come to any sort of incline. I’m immediately left in the dust and sucking wind like it’s a 5K.

The health-kick is still in effect for the most part – although there are some things I can work on.

Eating-wise I think I’ve made some good improvements. For example, if I have a craving for sweets during the workday, I make sure I’ve eaten all the food I brought with me to work. That usually includes carrots, fig newtons, an apple, etc. And if I do succumb to the craving, I try to limit my intake by enjoying just one helping – rather than wolfing it down and grabbing two or three more. I’ve also been replacing evening snacks with ready-to-eat cereal, oatmeal or malt-o-meal.

As far as strength training goes, I’ve pretty my given up on the Core Performance plan as it’s written. I just don’t think my schedule is conducive to 6 times a week of their program. Instead, I’ve been mixing in a bunch of their stretching and strengthening exercises 3 times a week.

I dusted off my mountain bike a week ago and I rode for 1:20. That was when it was 60 degrees. It’s now 20 degrees and the snowmakers at Hyland were going full-force this morning.

I’m trying to get back into the routine of reading a little each night. I finished reading Iron Will. I especially like the early parts of the book that focused on how the Ironman came about and the early years. After that it basically turned into a recap of each year’s race. Still, it was a fun read with lots of quotable material that I’m sure I’ll be posting here.

I also read Breaking Stride. Written by a Minnesota, I’d love to give it rave reviews, but like the amazon.com reviews, I’m mixed. I love the topic and it’s short length, but I thought there were tons of metaphors – nearly all of which had to do with how incredibly hard racing is. Maybe I was just never good enough or pushed myself hard enough, so I can’t relate to was a state champion goes through during a race. But if it’s anything like this author describes, then I wonder why any of us run at all.

Quote of the day;

“If there’s a spot on the planet where a model for Victoria’s Secret would feel self-conscious in a bikini, this is it.” – Mike Plant talking about Kailua-Kona, HI, home of the Ironman world championships

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Not much is going on, plus I’m busy at work, so I’ll keep this short.

I managed 40 miles last week on 5 runs. I’ll probably stay in the 40-45 mile range this week too.

I was reading an article on Kara Goucher’s race at NYC and I came across this paragraph;

Goucher, 30, received some hometown treatment from the throngs of spectators lining the course, a result of her roots in Queens and the fact that her father was killed by a drunk driver in Manhattan in 1982.

She received some “hometown treatment” because of the fact her father was killed by a drunk driver in Manhattan?

Well, that's mighty nice of those spectators.

Speaking of stupid statements, Scott sent me an article yesterday regarding the hill on the NYC Marathon course that included this statement;

When [Jack] Daniels studied the effects of hill running as an exercise physiology researcher for Nike in the early ’80s, he found that: “If you’re going uphill, you’ll go a little slower with the same effort. If you’re going down, you’ll go a little faster with the same effort.”

I never would have figured that out by myself.

Quote of the day;

“If I see a hill, it brings joy to my soul,” he said. “The more hills on course, the better.” – Rod Dixon

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


On Monday I posted a link about my college coach. Here’s a LINK to some of his great photos from Berlin – including this one of him and the WR holder.

Friday I posted a bunch of races I was thinking about doing in 2009. Saturday I was doing some yard work and it occurred to me that while all those races would be fun, what I really want is a PR in the marathon. I guess I realized that that’s the only “real” distance that I can still PR at – and that window won’t be open much longer.

Speaking of the marathon, after TCM I wrote this article.

The Marathon
by Chad Austin 10/13/2008

Ah, the marathon…the one item that is probably on more “to do” lists than any other item. There’s no denying that runners and non-runners alike have a fascination with the concept of running 26.2 miles. But why?

As my latest marathon was fast approaching, my training was not exactly where I wanted it to be. I found myself blogging more and more about concerns I had regarding hitting a certain time goal. Luckily, a reader commented, “Running times are best thought of after the race, when they can help quantify past and present performances. It sounds like you value the result more than the experience.” That reader was right. Rather than taking in the entire journey for what it was worth, I boiled 18 weeks of training down to a five-minute window on either side of three hours.

Narrowing everything I trained for into that tiny window of time made me lose track of the real reasons I run marathons. Now that the marathon is over and still fresh in my mind – and legs – I thought I’d take a look back over this last training cycle, as well as the last 10 years of marathoning, and pull out the experiences that stand out the most to me. These are the things that, for the most part, are unique to the marathon and make me enjoy the journey and answer the question why.

As a year-round runner, there’s really no particular time when I start my training. However, about four months from the race I’ll start building my long runs and focusing workouts towards the marathon. Some of the things that stand out in my mind during this time are the longer and longer group runs, gradually seeing more and more other training groups along the most popular running routes, the days getting longer and the weather getting stickier.

In general, things go smoothly early in my training, but there comes a period about eight weeks out when the race still seems incredibly far away. It’s not! It’s actually right around the corner. When I get to race morning I know I’ll say, “Wasn’t this race just two months away?” If you’re like me and tend to run one or two marathons each year, it’s also during this period when thoughts about taking a break from marathoning enter your mind. My shorter races seem slower than I’d like and I tell myself if I can just get through this one, I’ll take break from marathons and focus on speed.

It doesn’t matter how long my training cycle lasts, there’s always a good chance that I’ll experience some type of setback along the way. It could be an injury, cold, work commitments, or family obligations. Something along the way is going to have me questioning my confidence and my fitness. I’m always amazed at how even a minor setback will affect my psyche. One week of dismal training and I’m ready to scrap 30 years of training. Luckily, experience tells me that fitness is not lost that quickly and often a minor setback is just the thing I need to recharge my batteries for that final push towards race day.

If I minor setback doesn’t recharge my batteries, the taper will. But first, I have to get through that overall sluggishness that comes at the beginning of each taper. Then there are the phantom injuries that pop up. These are the aches and pains that occur in places I’ve never had any problems ever before. If I survive all of this – while resting and stuffing my face with carbs – I’ll start to feel incredible about four days before the race. My mind will tell me to relax, but my body will be chomping at the bit – it’s a feeling that I think race horses must have when lining up in the starter’s gate. If I’m not careful controlling these feelings, I may find myself doing energy-sapping projects that could easily wait until after the marathon, like cutting the grass, raking the leaves, or painting the entire house. Even if I am able to contain myself, there’s a really good chance that I’ll feel terrible the day before the race, which allows more last-minute doubts to creep in. I figure this is my body’s way of keeping me honest.

The taper is also when talk of every marathoners favorite topic – the weather – begins. Long-range forecasts start ten days out and I start to check, even though I know; 1) it’s entirely meaningless at this point and 2) I can’t do anything about it. Of course, I always hold out hope for perfect race day conditions, which never seem to materialize. And although I dread those days when I find myself in the midst of record high temperatures, finishing in those conditions is a badge of honor. It turns out I remember those races more than most.

Finally, race weekend is here and senses and emotions are on high alert. Things as simple as picking out a shirt to wear to the Expo become the most critical decision I’ve ever made. Do I wear a shirt from another marathon? Is my Boston shirt too braggadocios? How about a just wearing a shirt from my favorite 5K or 10K? Or, heaven forbid, a non-running shirt? Decisions, decisions…

Once I find a shirt to wear and I’m at the Expo, I try to follow two pieces of advice I’ve received over the years; 1) stay off your feet and 2) don’t try anything new leading up to the race. These are great tips, but following them is harder than it sounds. The Expo is your one-stop shop for all-things running. All those cool things you see in magazines and catalogs, but can’t seem to find in running stores are at the Expo. And remember those new things I’m not supposed to try before a race – like pomegranate juice or pasticcio energy bars – they’re there too and they’re calling my name.

After picking up my race packet, it’s time to get my clothes laid out for race day. As an early morning runner, I do this every night and it’s an easy task. However, on the eve of the race, this task turns me into the most obsessive-compulsive person in the world. I grab three of everything before convincing myself that two of everything should be enough. Then I triple-check that I really do have two of everything. Once the clothes are in place, I lay out enough breakfast to feed my entire family – even though I know nerves will cut my normal consumption in half.

Normally I’m a regular Rip Van Winkle, but that all changes the night before a race. Instead of getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, my evening turns into a series of 2-3 hour naps surrounding an hour or two of tossing and turning. It’s a good thing the experts say that the sleep you get two nights before the race is more important than the night before.

On race morning, it’s easy to see how nervous everyone else is too, as they prance and fidget like never before. Skipping a warm-up in order to save every ounce of energy for the miles ahead only makes things worse. Finally, the gun goes off and the nerves have disappeared. I’m in my element doing what I love – only this time my “group run” includes 8,000 other runners. And we actually have people cheering for us along the way. In some places the crowds are so thick and loud that I wonder if this is what it’s like for professional athletes on game-day.

About an hour into the race I begin to notice an ebb and flow of runners around me. I realize that these are my cohorts in crime. For the most part, these are the people that I will be running with until around mile 20 – after that, anything can happen. While I want to beat everyone in front of me, some people stand out more than others – if for no other meaningless reason than their outfit or their running style. I figure it’s a long race with a lot of people and I need to find motivation any way I can. Sometimes that includes wanting to beat the pink fairy, Scooby Doo, the Mailman, or any variety of superheroes that I’ve seen racing over the years.

When I reach mile 16, it occurs to me that, at this point in the race, marathons can generally be broken into one of two categories; 1) Man, I only have 10 miles to go, or 2) $#@*, I still have 10 miles to go. In either case, the rest of the race is sure to provide experiences I just don’t get in a 5K or even a half marathon. It’s these experiences that make any thoughts of taking a break from marathons to focus on speed quickly disappear. As soon as I cross the finish line, I’m already thinking about my next marathon.

I think Emil Zatopek summed it up best when he said, “We are different, in essence, from other men and women. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” I think it’s these experiences that capture our fascination with 26.2 miles and keep us coming back for more.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Thought I'd dig through the archives and find some Halloween photos over the years. I should dig a little deeper, but that'd require a lot more effort on my part - and possibly even scanning some photos...maybe later.

In 2006 we had a couple of princesses, including Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Last year we had Dorthy and another princess (surprise).

This year we'll have a witch and a cowgirl. This isn't the best photo, but I like it because it shows Bailey in her normal position when we're outside - starring out the front door at us. Plus, if you look real closely, you can see my "masterful" pumpkin carving skills.


I know I’ve posted a bunch of cool stuff that my college coach has done over the year, whether it be interviewing Haile Gebrselassie after Berlin or Ryan Hall after London. Well the Leader Telegram published this great article on him recently. I’m a little biased, but I think it’s a must read.

About this time last year I was writing that I liked how, with running, you can wipe the slate clean at the end of the season and start fresh for the new year. So much of running is mental, therefore it’s no surprise that confidence plays a huge role in performance. I definitely wasn’t overconfident in 2008 and, of course, I hope to improve that in 2009. I think one of the ways that taking an end-of-season break helps this process is that getting out of shape and out of rhythm brings your confidence even lower too. Then when you get back into the routine you finally start to feel better and your confidence begins to improve – hopefully carrying over into the entire upcoming season.

I’m not there yet. I managed 35 miles last week plus an hour on the bike and a bunch of Core Performance stuff. Maybe my biggest improvement came in my eating habits. I normally do pretty well while I’m at work. It’s when I get home – and the weekends – where I need to watch my snacking. Over the weekend I was able to grab an apple, prunes, or some granola instead of chips and oreos.

I inadvertently scared my wife half to death last night. I got up around 1 AM to take a leak. I’ll admit it, when I get up in the middle of the night, I pee like a girl. That way I don’t have to turn on any lights and I can still hit the target. Well, during the 30 seconds it took me to get out of bed, walk to the toilet and go pee, my wife decided to do the same thing – not knowing I was in there. Not wanting her to sit on my lap, I had to get her attention – knowing full-well that anything would scare her. Sure enough, when I said “I’m in here.” she jumped backwards and let out a yelp. I guess next time I’ll have to make a little more noise in the process.

Quote of the day;

“Sometime the difficult thing is to hold back when things are going well, to remember that what you’re doing is, after all, preparation. That’s hard when you’re in a competitive group.” – Sebastian Coe

Friday, October 24, 2008


The question “What’s next?” came up yesterday. Nothing is set in stone yet, but here’s what’s crossed my mind.

February 21st – skiing the Birkie. I had a blast skiing the “half Birkie” last year. Of course, we had great snow all winter, which makes a big difference.

April 18th - Trail Mix 50K. I’ve done the 25K 2 or 3 times and would’ve probably run it more if Boston didn’t “get in the way”. This would be my first ultra – although I’m not sure “real” ultra runners consider the 50K an ultra.

May 3rd - Eau Claire Marathon. I believe this will be the first annual event. Having it in the town where I went to college makes this an intriguing option.

June 20th - Grandma’s Marathon. Like everyone else, I figure if I keep running it, we have to get nice weather one of these years. Besides, it’s the best event going – you can’t beat the weekend as a whole. It’s the only race I know where everyone hangs out afterwards and parties the night away.

July 26th - random half ironman. Depending on how this health-kick turns out, I’d be interesting in trying a half ironman sometime during the summer.

August 9th - Paavo Nurmi Marathon. Wisconsin’s oldest marathon and one I’ve always wanted to run – even just for fun. This would be just after my Master anointment.

October 10th - Whistlestop Marathon. My hometown marathon and the first course I ever broke 3 hours on. The only marathon I’ve run where the next day it didn’t feel like I ran a marathon – due to the crushed limestone surface. That would increase the likelihood of doing the next event.

November 1st - New York City Marathon. I’ve always wanted to run this race – but I don’t want to go through the lottery. Last year I met the half marathon qualifying standard – about 3 weeks after the window closed. I don’t see any qualifying standards on their website any more. Maybe they’re just trying to get the 2009 race completed first.

I doubt I’ll do all of these events. Heck, I might not do any of them – but that’s where my mind is at. Even though I’ve mentioned wanting to focus on shorter events and gain some speed, you’ll notice there’s not a single 5K or 10K on the list. For more on that, you’ll have to check back next week when I’ll post another article I wrote recently.

Quote of the day;

“I hated to lose. The people who sat in the seats paid my salary, and I felt I was obligated to do my best every night. And the guy I was fighting, he bleeds the same as I do.” – Hockey hall of famer Ted Lindsay, 83, when asked why he nearly always led the NHL in penalty minutes, even though he was only 5’9” and 168 pounds.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Yesterday I mentioned not wanting to pay to exercise, but I should have expanded on that a little more. It’s not just the costs, but it also includes the extra drive time and how it fits into my schedule/routine. And the return I think I’d get back from the investment. With that said, I’m considering joining a x-c ski group that meets once a week – mainly because; 1) it fits into my schedule, 2) I need all the help I can get when it comes to ski technique, and 3) I think it will help my running. Now I just have to get spousal approval to be gone one night a week.

Over the years, I’ve gotten on different “kicks”. When I was in the Navy I got on a basketball kick and then a weight lifting kick – I had lots of free time. Then in college I went on a studying kick. When I started blogging, you could consider that a kick, as I tried to read and comment on as many blogs as possible. Now I’m finding myself on a health kick. In the past, I’ve talked a lot about adding strength training to my program and eating better. Now I’m actually trying to make it happen.

Maybe with 40 just around the corner, it’s a mid-life crisis. My buddy bought a motorcycle, but I cut out junk food. It doesn’t seem “fair” but that’s all right. I told him I’d rather go for a bike ride than a motorcycle ride anyway.

So the new health-craze has me cooking more and experimenting. I tried eggplant for the first (and last time). Now I know why one of the cookbooks mentioned that it’s not very popular in the U.S. – because it has no taste and the texture is like eating a sponge. If it weren’t for the spaghetti sauce and cheese, it would have been inedible.

6 easy miles this morning.

Quote of the day;

“It has been described as my commando workout. In the fall, it’s the use of everything you can think of in the gym, lifting heavy weights twice a week, working every part of the body. We concentrate on every muscle from knees to sternum, using box jumping, speed drills, repeatedly mounting a beam, high knee lifts, bounding.

All this was associated two-and-a-half years ago with rapid improvements in my leg speed. It’s simple athleticism really, the coordinated transference of weight and force through the body.”
– Sebastian Coe

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


All right, I’m sure everyone is wondering what I left out of yesterday’s article. I mentioned the quick development of friendships, but I probably should have mentioned how these friendships cut across barriers, like age and gender, more easily than any other activity.

Other reasons that I love running, but left out, on purpose;

With what other group of friends can you drop-ass and not even have them bat an eye? Heck, they’ll probably even praise you.

I love how running – especially morning runs – keeps me regular.

And here are some reasons why running is better than sex;

I can do it twice a day.
I can have multiple partners.
I can do it with a group.
The faster I perform, the better.

I’m still contemplating what I want to do this off-season. I’m planning on adding some cross-training and taking one day off per week – at least throughout the winter. I had thoughts of adding CrossFit training and swimming to my routine. However, the idea of paying money in order to exercise doesn’t seem right – maybe being a runner and being able to just step out the door and train has engrained that in me. And swimming for the sake of swimming definitely doesn’t feel right. I figure if I do want to jump in a triathlon or two next year, it’d make more sense to swim closer to the season. So right now I’m leaning towards biking 1-2 times a week and then skiing if/when we get snow. I suppose I could roller-ski, but I’d have to buy or borrow a pair – and I could really only do it on the weekends since it’s too dark in the mornings now.

Yesterday was a day of complete rest. This morning I strapped on the headlamp and ventured back to the trails at Hyland for the first time in a while for an hour run.

Quote of the day;

“I wouldn’t know why some people can get away with less distance than others. I really haven’t a clue.” – Sebastian Coe, responding to Bill Bowerman’s question regarding how Coe stayed so fresh and strong with so little distance work

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I ran 6 miles on the treadmill last night while watching my new favorite show; My Own Worst Enemy. I also did some "movement prep" exercises from Core Performance. These are basically stretching/balance exercises.

Since not much is going on, I thought I'd post an article I wrote recently on the things I love about running. Since it's for the next MDRA issue, which is a family magazine, I decided to keep the article clean. If I remember in the next few days, I'll post the things I left out, like how running is better than sex.

I Love Running...

Running is the simplest of sports. For the most part, all you need is a shirt, shorts and a pair of shoes. Then just head out the door and put one foot in front of the other and repeat over and over. While the act of running is quite similar for all of us, the reasons we run can vary quite dramatically. I’ve been at this sport for nearly 30 years now and recently I was wondering why I’ve kept at it for so long. What keeps me motivated to lace up my shoes and step out the door? Quite simply, what do I love about running?

One of the easy answers is that running keeps me fit – fit enough to wear the same 30” x 30” sized pants I wore in high school. I had my 20-year reunion last year and let’s just say no one else could make that same claim. As I reminisced with my old classmates, I was reminded of why the local 35-year old and over basketball league was called the Potbelly League – because a potbelly is practically a prerequisite to join.

While running has always kept me fit, that wasn’t really on my mind as a 92-pound freshman in high school. When you’re that size, you don’t really think about staying in shape. Instead, I was more concerned with finding a sport that allowed me to get off the bench and actually participate. All these years later, racing still allows me to “get off the bench” and test my competitive juices practically any weekend of the year. I don’t think the same can be said for the more traditional jocks from high school who now find themselves forty-something. They have far fewer opportunities to compete. It’s not like there are a lot of full-pad football leagues for guys my age.

As I watched the Olympics this summer, two things stood out and reminded me why I love running. First, we don’t have any judges. Any sport with a judge always seems very frustrating for everyone involved. I’m so happy that I’m not a gymnast, diver, synchronized swimmer, figure skater or in any other sport with a judge. Our judge is the stopwatch and it doesn’t lie or cheat. Second, there aren’t any timeouts during a race. Our coach can’t stop the action in an effort to strategize or regroup. When things get tough near the end of a race, we have to think for ourselves and have the resolve to push ourselves to the finish.

Another great thing that I love about running is that it gives me my best opportunity to think during the day. Seriously, I can’t think of any other time during the day when I have an hour to myself – just me and my thoughts. While I’m not solving the world’s problems during these runs, I’m sure my mental health is much better because of them. And if I don’t feel like thinking, I’ll listen to my iPod instead. Normally a traditionalist when it comes to running, I do like to listen to music once in awhile because, with two young girls at home, it’s practically my only opportunity to listen to music other than Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers.

Finally, and most importantly, I love running because of all the great people I’ve met along the way. As Jared Mondry told me recently, “I have long known what the most meaningful things in life are and they have nothing to do with material acquisitions, status, etc. It is the friendships and relationships we develop along the road.” I can’t think of another sport, activity or situation where I’ve developed relationships more quickly than I have through running. After a summer of weekly long runs together, I know my running partners better than people I’ve worked with for four years. I think Bob Dylan touches on the answer why in Brownsville Girl, “[It’s] Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.” Suffering together along the river roads or around the lakes has a way of bringing us closer together.

Even the simplest of sports can have lots of reasons for loving it. Whether it’s to stay fit, fuel your competitive juices, get lost in thought, develop new friendships or something else all together, I encourage you to spend your next run thinking about why you love it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


First run back on Saturday and my knee is already sore. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone from 0 to 10 miles. Maybe it’s the extra 6-8 pounds I gained. I’ll blame the apple cobbler and ice cream.

I was hoping to go for a bike ride yesterday because it was so nice out, but I ended up doing a bunch of yard work during the day. Instead, I biked indoors for an hour and then did my first Core Performance workout. I thought I’d be sore today, but I’m not – I’m sure it will come tomorrow.

Since TCM I’ve been on a recipe/cookbook kick. I spent a few hours at the bookstore looking for cookbooks but got so overwhelmed at the selection that I left empty handed. I figured I have enough cookbooks at home that I don’t use – maybe I should just start using them.

A couple of years ago I had a great squash lasagna at a dinner party and I’ve been looking for a similar recipe ever since. I tried Deena’s Pumpkin Lasagna recipe from this cookbook, substituting squash for pumpkin. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out very well. Anyone else try this recipe?

The problem with my cooking is that no one else in the family is very adventurous, so we usually end up cooking two meals – mine and a backup. Saturday I went to the farmer’s market and bought some things I’ve never cooked before, like eggplant and spaghetti squash. We’ll see what happens.

Last week I missed Team USA Minnesota’s Mike Hanlon’s introductory journal entry.

Quote of the day;

“Rest on Sundays altogether. You will certainly feel strongly inclined for the lazyoff, and certainly will not suffer thereby.” – Alf Shrubb

Friday, October 17, 2008


I am alive.

I’ve just been relaxing and enjoying NOT running and NOT blogging. I’ve been feeling good and the weather and trees have been spectacular, so it has be a struggle to not lace up my shoes. I’d have to look back, but I probably haven’t gone 12 days without exercise since graduating from college.

I’ve mentioned that I usually take 6-7 days off after a marathon and them I’m back training. This is great, but after a fall marathon, it usually means I’m in great shape in February and March. This time I’m taking a different approach by taking more time off and then gradually working up to about 50 mpw. If I can maintain that through the hardest months of winter, then I think I’ll be ready to go in March and push towards a spring marathon.

Of course, I’ll be skiing this winter too – if we have some decent snow. Plus, I’d like to add in some type of strength building routine because I feel like my running is lacking an explosive element. I’ve been contemplating follow the program out of this book, which also has a website. I just need to get into a routine and make it happen.

Thanks to Kurt for the heads up regarding this Team USA Minnesota video. It covers the guys’ last workout prior to TCM.

You can check out Michelle Lilienthal's latest journal entry HERE.

Finally, huge congrats to training partner Kim for running sub-2:59 (2nd Master!) and Kirk for running sub-2:41 (nearly a 7-minute PR) at Chicago.

Quote of the day;

“The only science behind it is that they don’t follow a word I say.” – Dennis Barker, when asked about the science behind the workout in the video posted above

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Maybe in my last post, I should have said I wanted to beat everyone in front of me – just some people stood out more than others. Another one that comes to mind is a local guy I see out running near my house. He beat me at Boston by two minutes, so I thought it be nice to avenge that loss - even though we don't know one another. He ended up running 3:12.

I haven’t done anything since the race. If I weren’t so darn sensible, I’d have half a mind to go run the Whistlestop Marathon this weekend. But I am sensible, so it’s time for a break. Normally I take 6-7 days off after a marathon, but right now I’m leaning towards two full weeks.

Here’s a non-running question for you. Is there a musical artist or band that you’d buy anything they produced? You know, even if they were singing the Barney theme song, you’d buy it. For me it’s Nickleback and Wilco. It doesn’t matter what they put out, it all sounds good to me.

Since I don’t have much going on running-wise, here’s a bunch of links;

My latest interview.

Team USA Minnesota journal updates by Macharia, Antonio, Jason, and Kristen.

Finally, here’s a post-TCM video interview with Gabe and a series of post-Berlin video interviews with Geb. During one of the segments we learn that there’s been a 14 year gap from when Haile set his first world record in the 5K to his latest marathon world record. Freaking amazing.

Quote of the day;

“I’m hurting pretty bad…but I think I can hurt a lot more.”Jared Mondry, giving himself a pep talk at mile 21 of TCM. The 66-year old would go on to run 3:20:07 and win the 65-69 age group by 15 minutes - and, maybe more importantly, hold off some of his younger training partners.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


A few commentors asked if I was happy with my race. Yeah, I am. I probably could have run a little faster – especially during the last 10K – however, I highly doubt I had the 5:42 in me it would have taken to run sub-3. And I definitely didn’t have the 8:12 it would have taken to PR. The last few weeks of training, 7:00 pace has felt extremely difficult. So being able to run 7:01s for 20 miles and then 7:17s the last 10K is a little surprising. I’d say I ran a smart, controlled race, I didn’t let the weather affect me, and I finished strong while others were fading.

In my race report I mentioned being passed by a lot of people and trying to hold back. It’d be great if there was an easy was to track their bib numbers because, I definitely wanted to beat some of them more than others – 3 in particular stand out in my mind.

First, there was the guy running with a couple of friends. He was joking around early by “winning” the race to the 5K mat and weaving over to high-5 the spectators to get a big cheer. Surprisingly he was still near me at mile 13 – I wouldn’t have noticed him, but he was sprinting to catch his friend who gapped him at a water stop. I’m pretty sure I passed him soon after that and never saw him again.

Second, was the gal who was wearing what looked to be a very light pair of Nikes – like made for 5K distances or shorter.

Finally, there was the triathlete near Lake Harriet who wanted to give me his weather report. He pulled up alongside me, looked out over the lake and kind of groaned something like, “I can’t figure out what’s going to happen – probably thunderstorms.” The funny thing is he was wearing sunglasses at the time. That’s partially how I knew he was a triathlete – that and the spandex shorts and the race number belt he was wearing. Apparently, safety pins aren’t high-tech enough.

Given the number of people that I passed, I was surprised by how few I knew. During the second half of the race I only remember passing 3 people I know.

A big congrats goes out to Nathan. He put together a marathon - PRing by 6-minutes - to go along with all the bright, shiny shorter PRs he set this summer. For his efforts he’s earned the QOD.

Quote of the day;

“I had pretty much the best overall race of my life!” – Nathan Campeau

Monday, October 06, 2008


Yesterday marked lucky #13 for me in terms of marathons finished. Based on some comments here, as well as how I felt about my training, I was leaning towards going out controlled and picking it up at mile 20. Having Team USA Minnesota’s coach, Dennis Barker, basically reiterate the same thoughts at Friday’s press conference helped seal my race plan. I also took an anonymous poster up on his idea regarding not wearing a watch. I purposely avoided looking at any of the clocks along the course. And I positioned myself fairly far back in the first corral so I wouldn’t get sucked out. In fact, when I passed a few of my training partners a couple of minutes into the race one of them asked if I got held up at the start. Just on purpose.

Did I mention that the weather was perfect on Saturday? Unfortunately, TCM is run on Sunday. While temps were nice at the start – around 48 – the skies were threatening and would open up within the hour. Someone asked if it was as bad as it looked from the sidelines. Actually, I don’t think it was. I can understand how a spectator would think we were miserable, but honestly, I was more annoyed by the wind than the rain.

Thinking back on the race, it was really a blur for me. While I remember a few things early on about the race, it was more like, “Wow, I’m at mile 7 already.” Or “That first half went by quick.” My only real concern during the race was around mile 11. My right heel/arch was sore and my left groin was sore – not enough to slow me down, but enough to be of concern with 15 miles to go. This is also the point in the race where I planned on taking my second gel. I realized my hands were rather numb, which made unzipping a pocket, pulling out a gel and ripping it open an adventure.

As I approached the halfway point, I pulled my hat down over my eyes and avoided all temptation to look at the clock. I felt I was running well up until that point and I thought any sign of time/pace – whether good or bad – would throw everything off.

So far I had also been keeping Kirk’s mile-by-mile MDRA article in mind – at least the part about holding back and not worrying about people passing me. I’ll save the part about avoiding the sun for another year.

When I got to mile 15 I started to feel really good – maybe it had something to do with running two of my 22 mile runs from mile 26 to mile 15 and back. At this point in the race, I think marathons can generally be broken into two categories; 1) Man, I only have 11 miles to go or 2) Shit, I still have 11 miles to go. Yesterday definitely fell into category #1 for me.

While I heard some cheers during the first half of the race – including, “Go blogger Chad, sub-3!” – most of my friends and family were between miles 16 and 25, which was really great. Thanks to everyone that came out in the cold rain to cheer – it helped a lot!

About the only things that happened between mile 15 and mile 20 were taking a gel at mile 17 that had the consistency of caramel and hearing the loud speaker, from across the river, welcoming people to mile 20 when I was only at mile 18. Luckily I was still feeling good and was at mile 20 before I knew it.

With 10K to go I decided to occupy my mind by keeping track of the number of people that I passed. I even surprised myself by passing 63 runners, of which, only 2 passed me back in the last half mile. As I approached the finish line, I was really curious to see my time. But get this, the clock wasn’t working. I was able to glance at the time on my watch and figure out that was within a few minutes of 3:05, but I had to wait until later that afternoon to see I ran 3:05:41. I finished in 253rd place which means I was able to pass 20% of the 315 or so people in front of me at mile 20.

Looking at the complete results, which can be found HERE, my splits were;

5K 22:01
10K 43:39
Half 1:32:05
30K 2:10:59
20M 2:20:24
Full 3:05:41

Prior to the race I thought about emailing blogger Ryan because I knew he was shooting for 3:05. In the end I didn’t because I prefer just to run my own race and see what happens. However, if you compare his splits we were practically next to each other and didn’t know it.

5K 21:51
10K 43:50
Half 1:33:16
30K 2:13:14
20M 2:22:51
Full 3:06:50

I’m guessing he’ll have a similar race report as mine.

Did anyone else that ran yesterday think those were the worst plastic cups ever? At first I thought I was dropping each cup because of the gloves I was wearing. But even after ditching the gloves I was still dropping 1-2 cups per water stop.

Quote of the day;

“At 20 miles I just got real mad and said, 'You're tough, attack these hills, you've done all the work, you're running for a lot of people today. All the people who said I couldn't do it, that I'm a has-been.' I did it for a lot of things." - Fernando Cabada, after winning the US Marathon Championships on Sunday.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I picked up my race packet today and realized how few runners I know. Other than seeing some familiar faces working the expo, I did not see a single runner that I knew.

Driving home on the interstate, I came up with this analogy for coming off an injury to run a marathon; it's like driving on the interstate at 70 mpw with one of those tiny spares that have a warning label saying not to drive over 55 mph. You figure things will hold together, but the chance of disaster is always in the back of your mind.

If nothing else, the last 6 weeks have provided me enough material for another article. I haven't written it yet, but it's percolating.

Here's the latest hour-by-hour weather report;

8 A.M. 50 degres with partly cloudy skies and winds from the Southeast at 7 to 14 mph. Chance for rain is 20%.

9 A.M. 54 degrees with partly to mostly cloudy skies and breezy winds from the Southeast at 7 to 14 mph. Slight chance for some sprinkles or showers - chance for rain is 30%.

10 A.M. 56 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and breezy winds from the Southeast at 8 to 16 mph. Slight chance for some sprinkles or showers - chance for rain is 30%.

11 A.M. 58 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and breezy winds from the Southeast at 8 to 16 mph. Slight chance for some sprinkles or showers - chance for rain is 30%.
Today, Charlie has posted his men’s preview. Note: you may have to register to read Bruce Brothers’ previews of the women’s 10-mile and the marathon. And if you like to read about 83-year olds that kick ass, check out this article.

Finally, here are some photos of my girls, as well as the doll "house" - before it was finished - I mentioned awhile ago.

Quote of the day;

"About 10 years ago, I was doing 26 a year, 21 marathons and five ultras. The last several years, I've only been doing 11 or 12 a year." - Burt Carlson, 83-year-old stud

Friday, October 03, 2008


All right, I admit I’m probably in a little better shape than I’ve led on lately. Maybe that’s because sandbagging is easy. Let’s face it, it’s a heck of a lot easier to make yourself look good when you run a 3:05 after telling everyone you’re shooting for 3:10 – rather than running 3:05 and shooting for 3:00.

Whatever my fitness level is, it always amazes me how much a minor setback can mess with your psyche. While I wouldn’t say I’m busting at the seams with confidence, I will say that the taper seems to have left me in far better shape than I imagined. Just walking around the office the last two days I’ve had that chomping-at-the-bit feeling that races horses must have when they’re in the starter’s gate. And although yesterday’s run wasn’t super fast, I had an extra sense of joy you get from when everything seems to be clicking.

Maybe part of my newfound excitement is because I spent the morning at press conferences for the women’s 10-mile and the marathon. In addition to the usual Team USA Minnesota suspects, Olympian Kara Goucher and Dan Browne were there, along with American record holder at 25K, Fernando Cabada. While these guys don’t have anything on boxers or wrestlers when it comes to trash talking prior to an event, they were inspiring to listen to.

Charlie wrote up a great piece on Kara and Katie McGregor.

Long time readers may remember that I really suck when it comes to taking photos. Here’s proof;

This may be the worst photo ever, but I'm not responsible for Fernando's hair - even Dan can't bear to look.
This is where Katie says she's going for the win and Kara gets really upset - just look at that glare she's giving Katie.
As they say, in the end cooler heads prevailed and no punches were thrown.

This is where Kara becomes possessed by the devil and Jenna just laughs about it.

Here's an okay one of Chris Lundstrom and Matt Gabrielson. It was nice to finally meet Chris. I've heard lots of great things, plus I'm a huge fan of his writing.

Good luck to all these runners as well as anyone else that plans on lacing them up on Sunday.

Quote of the day;

“I’m in it to win it.” - Matt Gabrielson