Monday, March 31, 2008


Well, I figure at least 3 people will read my blog today, since I ran with Nathan, Mike, and Kirk for the first time ever on Saturday. These are 3 of the fastest blogging runners, who don’t blog about running, that I know. They each kicked my ass at the Human Race 8K two weeks ago, so I knew I was asking for it by joining them for my last long run before Boston.

We met a mile from my house and decided on 2-loop course that contained a lot of hills. Kirk even sent a spreadsheet last week that showed the elevation changes – at least that’s what I think it showed. I wasn’t positive on how to read the spreadsheet, but I did see LOTS of positive and negative numbers. Too bad he wasn’t able to factor in the wind too, that really would have shown how difficult this run was.

I ended up with 2:45 of running and called it 22 miles. That gave me 62 miles for the week on 6 runs. And since it’s not the kind of run you bounce back from quickly, I followed it up with easy 5 milers on Sunday and this morning. That means I closed out March with 250 miles (along with 16 skiing miles).

In my early days as a marathoner, I trained with a local health club’s marathon program. The one piece of advice I still remember from that group is not too run too hard 3 weeks out from your race, because it can be difficult to recover from. Well, we’ll see whether or not I left my race out there on Saturday instead of saving it for April 21st. If I did leave my race out there, I may have to find some 3:20 marathoners to train with.

I will say that the run went by incredibly quickly. So thanks to Nathan for the invite, Kirk for laying out the course and providing water and Gatorade, and to Mike for, umm…umm, showing up only 5 minutes late. That’s pretty good for him, I hear.

All right, enough about my weekend of running. This morning on The Track & Field Superblog I found a link to an article that Bill Bowerman wrote in 1971 regarding running form. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going out on a limb and saying it’ll be worth reading. And if it’s not, you can always follow the “galleries” link at the bottom to something called “Cheerleader of the Week”. I’m sure that’s worth “reading.”

Quote of the day;

“The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.” – George Bernard Shaw

Friday, March 28, 2008


I did manage 12 miles at 7:30 pace last night. I tried to throw is some MP work but didn’t fare too well. Maybe because I jumped on the treadmill only about 90 minutes after eating. I didn’t cramp, but just felt blah.

I watched a couple of good NCAA games (West Virginia/Xavier and Louisville/Tennessee). I found some of the commercials interesting;

Miller Lite has one that mentions all the beer awards they’ve won, like 1998, 2000, 2004, etc. I’m wondering what happened in the years they didn’t win. It’s not like they changed the formula of their beer. Did some new beer come along in 1999 and win? Why did Miller Lite “regain” the title in 2000? My only conclusion is that there were different judges – or the same judges but their pallets changed from year to year.

Then there was a car commercial (Mercedes maybe) where the announcer says, “300 horse power is fast. 400 horse power will take your breath away. That’s why we use 451 horse power.”

What? That’s why you use 451 hp – because 400 will take my breath away?

And 451? Where did that number come from? When I count 300, 400, the next number in sequence is not 451. Heck, it’s not even 450.

That reminds me, I always wanted to comment on the Lexus (December to Remember) ads, but always forget. These are the ads where the husband or wife leads the other outside where they find a Lexus with a big red bow around it. Of course the receiver of the gift is ecstatic. I’m not sure about you, but if I purchase a $40,000 vehicle without consulting my wife, ecstatic will not be the reaction.

Not really a commercial, but how about the HUGE NCAA logo in the middle of these basketball courts. I think the one on the North Carolina State court is the biggest. The “funny” thing is that all the players keep slipping on them. Nothing like injuring the product you’re trying to promote.

And I know I mentioned this last year, but can you find a more boring logo; a blue circle with white N-C-A-A in it? Maybe the college administrators should swing by the vocational schools and hire a graphic design student to spice things up a little.

Since the majority of my Saturday morning training group is made of older guys that were total studs in their day (and still are), I particularly like today’s quote of the day;

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought.” – Matsuo Basho

Thursday, March 27, 2008


It’s amazing how on-the-ball, quick-thinking one can be at 4:40 in the morning. Today’s plan was to get up at 4:40 for a medium-long run before work. After getting up, feeding the dog, and going to the bathroom, I looked out the window and didn’t see any of the 6” of snow that they were predicting. Then I quickly grabbed the TV guide and realized that the NCAA hoops tourney is on tonight. So rather than go out and slog through 14 miles or so, I decided to run on the treadmill tonight and get in some quality.

Sure it makes me sound wishy-washy, but really, 12 miles with some at MP is probably more beneficial for me at this point than 14 miles at 8:15 pace.

No takers from yesterday’s post, however, Adam sent me an email voting for Daniels. If you’re not familiar with Adam’s training, the URL of his blog says it all; “analytical training”. He’s very much into the numbers behind the training – even talking about having a VDOT down to a half of a point.

I think it’s funny that while I’m analytical by nature, I tend to keep a lot of analysis out of my running. For me, it takes away a lot of the pleasure when I’m constantly monitoring my HR and worrying about hitting exact paces. I could probably improve my running with more focus on the numbers, but I’m not sure it’s worth the decreased enjoyment.

Speaking of other blogs; every once in awhile I try to find some new and exciting stuff to read. Here’s what I’ve found recently;

US Distance Running - I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it wasn’t being updated consistently so I kind of forgot about it for awhile.

The Lead Pack - I just found this about an hour ago and haven’t dug too deeply into it yet. However, any site with an interview of Jack Daniels and Joe Rubio can’t be all bad.

Runnerville - Not really a blog, but definitely a new and exciting running site. I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the podcasts lately.

Less Than Our Best - This site is more of a satirical look at running. Be sure not to take anything they say too seriously. I’m still trying to figure out if they really don’t know how to spell Shalane – preferring to go with Shalene. Sure it's not a common name, but she's one of the top-3 women runners in the US. Anyway, their sub-heading - sacrificing the gift since 2007 - is a great play on the famous Pre quote; “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

Quote of the day;

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” — Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I’m still just trying to plug along here. I think I have yet to get used to Daylight Savings Time, as it’s still really difficult for me to get up at 5AM on a regular basis. I was able to get out this morning for an easy 9 miles. I’m hoping to get in a medium-long run tomorrow morning, but the forecast is calling for six more inches of slushy stuff. I’ll see what I can do.

I mentioned before that I haven’t really been following a plan for Boston. That kind of makes it too easy to just meander and not really get in any quality workouts. I was thinking that I’m really just getting by on 28 years of aerobic development. Sure there have been some recent hill workouts, but next to nothing when it comes to marathon paced runs or faster.

That got me thinking about my training for TCM this fall. I can’t just “wing it” and hope to break 2:50. I really need to figure out a plan of attack. While I agree with Lydiard and Daws, I’m too lazy to try and decipher their plans. So I was thinking about going back to Daniels or Pfitzinger. I know they say not to just copy a plan out of a book, but both plans have worked in the past for me.

The thought of getting a coach crossed my mind, but I’m too cheap to pay for one. If anyone out there is willing to crack the whip on my ass in an attempt to get me to run a fast fall marathon, shoot me an email, which can be found on my profile page. It worked for Mike with his Mystery Coach, maybe it’ll work here too.

In other news, I’ve posted links to the Team USA Minnesota runners' journals so much that I’m sure everyone has them bookmarked by now. But just in case you don’t, there have been lots of updates in the last two weeks or so. You can check them all out here. Now we just need someone to tell the guy who’s running the best on the team, Andrew Carlson, to update his journal too. We want a first-hand account of Jacksonville and New York City, where Andrew won the 15K and was 2nd in the 8K, respectively.

I stole today’s quote of the day from Derek’s post today. While agree with him, it’s a lot easier to not complain about the weather when you’ve just spent a week in Daytona Beach

“A March morning is as dull as he who walks in to it.” - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Well, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about over-training as I head into the last month before Boston. I can’t seem to run more than 6 days a week. Yesterday I woke up to a brisk 15 degrees. That’s nice weather for January and February mornings. However, when it’s March 24th it sucks. My plan was to get in one last ski before all the snow melts. Unfortunately, the trails weren’t groom, so I couldn’t ski. Instead of running in the cold I decided to go into work and send out some interview questions. I figured I’d run in the evening, but then I didn’t get home from work till 8 PM. That left just enough time to eat and veg-out for an hour before going to bed. Instead of worrying about the zero, I just got up this morning and ran 8 miles, including 8 hill repeats.

Since I was not busy running through the snow last Friday, I used my free time to write another article for MDRA. As readers of my blog, you’re treated or subjected – depending upon your viewpoint – to a first look.

Running Alibis by Chad Austin 3/21/08

While I was driving home from work one day last year, the local sports talk radio station was running down a list of the top-50 Minnesota sports alibis of all-time. The list included a wide-variety of excuses that Minnesota sports fans have heard over the years like; Dante Culpepper’s small hands or Brad Radke pitching great – except for the three-run homer in the first inning. Of course, there weren’t any running-related alibis on the list. That’s where I come in. I thought I’d come up with my own list of excuses that I’ve either used myself or heard uttered by other runners over the years.

Let’s start with the easiest one, weather. Often, when it comes to the weather, it’s hard to distinguish between using it as an alibi and just plain complaining about it. However, there’s no denying that this excuse is almost too convenient, especially when you take into account that we live in Minnesota. During the spring it’s too windy or too rainy. Then during the summer it’s too hot, too humid, or as our local running meteorologists like to say when the dew point reaches the 70s, “it’s tropical.” Autumn used to be perfect for running around here, but even that weather can’t be counted on lately. I probably don’t have enough space to mention all the winter alibis here. We all know about the cold, the snow, and the lack of sunlight. Worst of all may be the poor footing. While there aren’t a lot of races in Minnesota during the winter, I’ve used this alibi after posting slow times at Frigid 5 and Leg it in Luck.

Many elements of the course can also be used as an alibi, too hilly, too many turns, and too boring comes to mind. And let’s not forget the accuracy of the course. Runners always seem to know when a course was long. But when was the last time you heard a runner mention that a course was short?

The problem with using the weather and the course as alibis is that all the other runners in that race ran the same course in the same conditions. Therefore, we need some alibis that can be personalized, like; “I went out too fast” and “I’m undertrained.” Of course, to paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, for every excuse, there’s an equal but opposite excuse; “I went out too slow” and “I’m overtrained.” And as race officials crackdown, we’re starting to hear; “I wasn’t allowed to run with my ipod, baby jogger, dog, etc.” Of course, the reason for the crackdown is so the following alibi doesn’t become more and more popular; “Someone with an ipod, baby jogger, dog, etc. tripped me.”

When we’re out there pounding the pavement and pushing our limits, it’s no surprise that our body can go haywire. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this clean and leave it up to you to discuss the most graphic bodily functions during your next group run. In the meantime, it’s no surprise that injuries are probably the most common ailment for runners. Therefore, something as simple as inserting any body part before “has been injured” makes for a perfectly acceptable alibi. Although a little less common, we can also state that any particular body part cramped up during the race. And since breathing is kind of important, especially during a race, it’s not uncommon to hear excuses regarding asthma, exercised induced, of course, allergies, and even pollution. The latter even forced arguably the greatest distance runner of all time, Haile Gabreselassie, to withdraw from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Other alibis relating to bodily functions include, dehydration and low sodium, potassium, or iron levels. Of these, low iron levels are the all-time classic alibi amongst distance runners. I even mixed it into my repertoire of excuses last year – although it turned out not to be true. Perhaps my new favorite alibi in this category is, “My electrolytes were out of whack.” I heard this one last year and instantly thought it was destined to be a classic too.

It’s always entertaining to hear when alibis are used. Normally they’re reserved for after the race, when trying to justify a poor time. Occasionally, you’ll hear an alibi during a race. Chances are good that the race is a marathon. The distance of the event gives lots of opportunities for things to go wrong, along with lots of time to think about those things. And the slower pace makes it easier to share your alibis with those around you. I can remember using the all-encompassing alibi, ‘this sucks,’ during a particularly rough Grandma’s Marathon a few years ago.

One trend that seems to be gaining in popularity with endurance athletes lately is getting your excuses out of the way before the race even starts. An example of this would be, “I’m ‘training through’ this race.” It’s their way of saying; “I’m not really going to race all-out today.” However, it implies that if you beat them today, it doesn’t really count. This particular phrase has become more widespread as talk of “training for their ‘A’ race of the season” has crept into athlete’s lexicon.

I’m sure this list barely scratches the surface, so as the 2008 race season gains momentum I’ll be keeping my ears open for more alibis to add to the list. I’ll also be training through all the races leading up to my ‘A’ race and then hoping the conditions for that race aren’t tropical, which could result in my electrolytes being thrown out of whack, leading to severe cramping along with countless other bodily function meltdowns. At least if that happens, I’ve have fodder for my long Saturday morning group runs.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Thursday after work I ran 8 easy miles with some strides. During the run I was planning what I wanted to do on Friday, since I was taking the day off from work. I figured I could get in a 20 miler and then 9 days later get in my last 20 miler before Boston. Well, when I woke to about 6” of fresh snow of Friday, that plan went out the window. Instead, I ended up with a stronger paced 10 miler on our newly fixed treadmill. The motor was replaced and the difference is night and day. I no longer have to wear ear plugs when I run on it.

Saturday morning there was another 2” of fresh snow for our group run. I felt blah and am tired of running on the crappy footing – even with my Yaktrax – so I cut the run short at 11 miles. That gave me 53 miles for the week on 6 runs. I can’t seem to get myself above 60 mpw since I stopped skiing. Now with only four weeks till Boston, I don’t even know if it’s worth it to try and get in two weeks over 60 miles.

Easter Sunday we woke up to – guess what? – 2” more of fresh snow. It’s like the winter that will never end. Seeing the girls in their springy Easter dresses with white sandals in the snow was rather odd. Later in the day I jumped on the treadmill for an easy 6 miles.

During the weekend I finally managed to finish Again to Carthage. Note: if you plan on reading it, you may want to skip the rest of this post.

I have to say I was disappointed. I waded through what seemed like 200 pages of fishing because I thought the final running sequence would be worth it. While there were some very good passages along the way, overall I was disappointed. I thought the whole chapter about trying to get him banned from the race the day before – and what happened regarding that during the race – was out of place. I’m not sure why it was even included. But what bothered me the most was that I didn’t think the description of Cassidy’s marathon jived with his splits. He was a basket-case around mile 17, which I can see that happening to someone. However, he basically ran a 1-minute positive split – that doesn’t happen to someone in his condition. And the whole thing about seeing a former teammate during the race was way too transparent.

Oh well…Friday I was at the library and I came across Kathrine Switzer’s Marathon Woman. There wasn’t much else to choose from so I grabbed it. Well I’m happy to say that it’s been entertaining. After just two days, I’m already near page 200. I think it took me two months to get that far in ATC.

Quote of the day;

“The distance doesn’t matter; it is only the first step that is difficult.” – Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The last two mornings have been perfect for running; 25-30 degrees and calm. Unfortunately, I haven’t run either morning. After avoiding my family’s barrage of coughing, sneezing, and just plain feeling like crap all winter, I finally came down with a cold. Usually when I have a cold, running is the only time during the day when I feel normal. However, I haven’t been sleeping well, so I’ve opted for the extra hour of sleep rather than getting up at 5 AM to run.

Yesterday I took the day completely off. In the evening I spent some time working on an exciting new assignment for Down the Backstretch. Stay tuned for more on that in the near future. I also have two new interviews lined up and another fun article due at the end of the month. So I guess you can say my general lack of motivation has lifted.

The other day I included a long passage from Again to Carthage. It continues here, with Denton thinking about what it takes to win a gold medal;

You don’t even get to play unless you have already won the genetic lottery. Then you have to win the nurture lottery, then the happenstance lottery, and then just in general be incredibly lucky in every conceivable way, and then you will have earned the right to work your ass off like most civilians could never possibly imagine. Then you might – might – get to stand up there like a dodo all teary-eyed pretending you knew the works to your anthem.

Well by God I did that. I stood up there. That is all that anyone could ever ask of a runner. You should be able to walk in grace all your days after that. Nothing else you ever do will be as difficult or frightening or as wonderful. Your life will be an

I would trade places with [Cassidy] in a hummingbird’s heartbeat. It’s the fever you live in that’s the thing. The hot pulse of it all. The rest is just knickknacks and souvenirs. What you miss is the dizzy crazy lactic-acid storm of training, racing. The ten-milers laughing the whole way with guys who are your brothers in ways beyond genetics. The thousand quarter-mile intervals in the hot sun, grabbing your knees for balance afterward and rasping for air. Consuming huge amounts of fried anything-at-all and laughing at each other because you know not a molecule of it can stick to your slippery bones. And knowing nothing in your life will ever be that wild and alive again. No quest ever again as honorable or noble.

But it’s the fever. That’s the thing. The fever that connects you to lovers and poets and rare-air mountain climbers and madmen and lost tribes.

At the time it’s happening you think you could never lose such a thing. But you can.

There’re probably a million copy-write laws that I’ve broken lately. I prefer to think of it as free advertising.

Quote of the day;

“What I mean is that someone sees a race, and they think that’s what you do. They sort of know you had to train, but they weren’t watching then, so they don’t understand how incredibly much of it there is. But to us, it’s almost the whole thing. Racing is just this little tiny ritual we go through after everything else has been done. It’s a hood ornament.” – Bruce Denton

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


No time to write today, so I’ll just post an article I wrote recently for MDRA’s latest newsletter.

This could be the year
by Chad Austin 1/6/08

As my racing season was winding down in 2007, I started to spend many of my training runs thinking about what drives us runners – and more particularly, what drives me. Why do I – an average running, 38-year-old, father of two, white-collar working stiff – wake up as early as 4:30am to run? Health-wise, I’d probably be better off running half as many miles – and adding some strength training and better eating habits to my routine. I guess the answer must have more to do with the competitive side of the sport, seeking better racing performances, and having a successful – defined as getting the most out of my abilities – running career.

Personally, I enjoy the challenge of putting in the hard work of training and seeing the outcome expressed in race results. My desire to improve and succeed in this sport is definitely still there. I think part of what keeps me lacing up my shoes each morning throughout the winter is the thought that this could be the year. No, I haven’t come within two minutes of my 12-year old 10K PR, but maybe, just maybe, if I work a little harder and put in more miles, this could be the year. So as I enter 2008, I’m excited about the prospects of building my mileage during the winter months in order to lay the foundation for this year’s Boston Marathon, the rest of 2008, and the future.

For me, the first half of 2007 was a very good year. The second half was not so good. One of the things I love about running is that no matter how well or how poorly your previous season went, you can always wipe your slate clean and start all over the following season. With the weather conditions during many of the fall marathons this year, namely Twin Cities and Chicago, I imagine a lot of runners were looking forward to wiping their slate clean too.

Luckily for us living in Minnesota, winter is the perfect time to forget about the previous season and plan for the upcoming season. As my mind turned towards 2008, I remembered back to a conversation I had with John Naslund the day before the City of Lakes 25K. We were talking about race results over the years. John mentioned how the same runners beat him year after year. It didn’t matter if he was in his 30s, 40s or 50s, for the most part the same guys beat him. I imagine this is true for most runners, especially if they’ve been running for a long time. I know it’s true for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I realize this is a sport best served by comparing yourself against your own performances, not someone else’s. However, a little competition amongst other runners can be used to help motivate us along the way.

After talking with John, my next thought was, can I change this trend, and if so, how? Whenever I think about changing the outcome of something, I’m always reminded of a quote I heard a few years back; “If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do the things you’ve never done before.” When I apply this to my running it means not doing the same training year after year and expecting different results. Therefore, each winter I try to get stronger by experimenting with higher mileage in preparation for the upcoming road racing season.

I mentioned this on my blog, along with the conversation I had with John, and someone commented that just by sticking around year after year, he was able to move up in his age-group. He touted longevity and said my love of high mileage might not help with a long career. Somehow moving up the age-group ranks because other runners stop racing isn’t what I had in mind. And while I agree that there’s something to be said about longevity, I’ve already been at this sport for 28 years, I think I have that part covered. Besides, when I think about longevity, I’m reminded of a Jack London passage that appears on the back of Pre, the biography of Steve Prefontaine written by Tom Jordan;

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stilled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.

I shall use my time. – Jack London

Of course, I’m not hoping to die at a young age like Prefontaine did, but I am advocating “using my time” to become a better runner. I don’t know if long and successful are mutually exclusive when talking about running careers. Ideally, when it’s all said and done, I’d like to look back and say I achieved both – I got the most out of my abilities for a long time.

If you’re like me, most of your New Year’s resolutions have already faded. However, the vast majority of the 2008 racing season is still in front of us. There’s still time to wipe your slate clean, set some challenging goals for the year, and push yourself towards obtaining them. Maybe, just maybe, this could be the year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I think my fever has broken. We received 3” of new snow last night and I didn’t even think about going skiing. Instead, I went for an 8 mile run. Two miles into the run I decided to take advantage of the new snow by throwing in a hill workout. The new snow was really wet and sticky, so it made going up the hills easy – albeit slow. The snow also provided a nice amount of cushion on my way down.

It’s probably not surprising that Sunday’s performance has me wondering what Boston will bring. I couldn’t help but plug my 30:02 into the McMillan calculator. It spit out 2:57:38, which is only 9 seconds from my PR. Of course, I’m keeping in mind that the Human Race is a fast course. However, I also have to remind myself that my PR was run in less than ideal conditions. So maybe ideal conditions can offset being a little less fit and lead to a PR. Anyway, my main concerns are honing in on marathon pace and getting up the hills on the course, hence the hill workout today.

A touched on this yesterday, but the one thing that struck me today during my run was that feeling of running a decent race. As I get older, there’s a concern of slowing down and never running another PR. However, this morning I realized that there’s always “that feeling” that I can try to achieve. It doesn’t matter if I’m running 29-minutes or 31-minutes (or any other time); as long as I achieve that sense I had on Sunday, I’ll be happy. I know that’s vague, but how do you describe it? How do you tell another runner, “This is what it should feel like when you’re running a great race.” You can’t do it – you just sort of know after awhile.

So as my race times creep up, along with my age, I’ll take some solace in the fact that no matter if I’m running 30-minutes, 40-minutes, 50-minutes, etc. for 8K, I’ll still be able to feel the same sensations as when I was in college. They’ll just last a little longer for the same distance.

Maybe I’m just burnt out on big-time athletes and all the money they make, their run-ins with the law, etc., or maybe it’s just having more access to runners being interviewed through sites like flotrack. In any case, it’s refreshing to hear what runners have to say, including today’s quote of the day;

“If I’m racing for money I’m going to get 39th and like walk it in – so I have to find other reasons [to motivate myself to race].” – Andrew Carlson, when asked about the money he’s won in the last two weekends after finishing 1st and 2nd in national championship events

Monday, March 17, 2008


Has it really been 9 months since I’ve run a decent race? I PR’d at Grandma’s in June, didn’t race in July, ran a bad 15K in August and a crappy 25K in September before shutting it down for the year. And then the 2008 racing season got off to a less than stellar start with a 40:40 10K in January. Sure it was during an 18 mile run on a blustery day, but still, the 6:32 pace for a “workout” felt incredibly difficult.

And then came the skiing and the super fun experience during my first race. I was practically ready to take up skiing full-time. As little as two weeks ago I was thinking about skipping my favorite race of the year – the Human Race 8K, which was yesterday. Being my favorite race, you can imagine that much as been written about it over the years, including these race reports; 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Given the difficult end to 2007, my recent 10K, my reduced mileage, and my lack of workouts, I really had no idea what to expect heading into this race. Part of me was thinking sub-32 might be all I could handle. However, realistically I thought sub-31 would be possible.

With that in mind, I lined up about 10 rows deep and went out really easy. This can be a difficult strategy if you’re not prepared for having a bunch of people in front of you. It’s very easy to get in over your head if you see someone you know you should be in front of. However, if you’re patient, within a mile and a half you should be steadily moving up in the field.

That’s exactly what happened in this race. I went out easy and passed the first mile in 6:12. The pretty easy math of multiplying by 5 puts me at 31-flat. Minus about 10 seconds for being an 8K versus 5 miles and I’m already pretty happy with how things are progressing.

The second mile is a gradual downhill and I just relax and keep things under control. I’m a little surprised when I hear 12:10 for the split – meaning I ran a 5:58. I still feel well within myself, so the sub-6 split doesn’t freak me out.

During the third mile I start catching a bunch of the top local women, including Kelly, Angie, and Jan. The third mile split is 18:16 (6:06) and I’m pretty pumped that I’m still running 6:05 pace - and pretty pumped because I still feel great and I’m steadily moving up in the field. Somewhere around here I catch up with Kurt and Sonya and I see Bonnie about 10 seconds in front of me.

Although I slowed to 6:10 to during the fourth mile, I’m still moving up and passing people. Plus, it means that I’m at the high point of the course and there’s a nice gradual downhill during the last .96 of a mile. Even with this downhill, I’ve never really blasted a great last “mile” in this race. Heck, the year I ran 29:15, I only managed 5:47 for this stretch. Therefore, when I saw 24:26 for the four-mile split, I was thinking that I’d probably end up somewhere between 30:15 and 30:25. Since that was well below sub-31, I was already pleased with my run. However, when I crossed the line in 30:02, I think my jaw nearly hit the ground; 5:36 for the last “mile”. Where did that come from?

Full results can be found here. The website makes it very easy to compare year-over-year results. For me, I see; 29:56, 29:15 and 29:33 from 2005 - 2007. The funny thing is I finished 116th, 110th, 104th and 108th in the last four years. Kind of makes me wonder why I even need to race. Next year I’m just going to pencil myself in at 109th place and write that time in my logbook.

Anyway, normally I bust my ass all winter, have a great Human Race, and then slowly get worse throughout the year. This morning I was looking through my old logbooks and came across one instance where that didn’t happen. In 2003 I did triathlons. In 2004 I switched back to running and really struggled early on. I ran 30:44 at Human Race then ran 3:50 in the heat at Boston. While that was my worst marathon ever, I ended up having a great summer of road racing. Hopefully more of the same is in store for 2008.

Quote of the day;

“I hope you win, daddy.” – Katie, my 4-year-old on my way out the door yesterday

Friday, March 14, 2008


I missed my anniversary. It was two weeks ago. My blogging anniversary, that is. It’s been 3 years. Where does the time go?

Lots has happened to me just from starting this (and my other) blog. Opportunities I never thought about presented themselves. Now another opportunity has emerged. I’m “officially” going to help the Twin Cities Marathon with some of their press releases, runner bios, and whatever else they need.

I suppose that means I need to put aside my disdain for the use of corporate naming conventions and start referring to it as the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. It just occurred to me that Grandma’s Marathon has been corporate right from the beginning. Maybe it’s because I grew up with that name or maybe because it’s just so unique and has a double meaning, but it doesn’t bother me in that case.

Anyway, I’ve been building my consistency by running 6 out of 7 days for the last two weeks. That’s a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t feel like I’m in a routine because I haven’t been doing my “normal” morning runs. After Tuesday’s evening run, I ran an easy 5 on Wednesday morning and then went back to nights with 11 last night. It’s probably no surprise that I haven’t really been following a routine for Boston, but I did throw in some MP miles last night. Since I basically have no idea what MP means any more, I stayed right around 7:00 pace.

Thanks to Eric for sending this article which keeps the stretching debate alive. Personally, I’m now in the “Runners don’t need to stretch” camp now.

Regular readers are probably aware that I tend to share the passages that I like from the books I’m reading. Lately that’s included Bowerman and the Men of Oregon and Again to Carthage, the sequal to Once a Runner. If you’re not familiar with the OAR and ATC storylines, here’s a quick summary of the books;

OAR follows miler Quenton Cassidy during a year in college. His buddy, Bruce Denton, is a gold medalist. As ATC begins, we briefly learn of Cassidy’s post collegiate running career before getting in-depth knowledge of his life outside of running. Finally, he realizes he wants to take one more crack with his running career – this time in the marathon – and he calls Denton up to be his coach. Hopefully that helps make sense of some of the passages, like this one;

Denton knew that Cassidy was still within that special physical trajectory, the place where you can still call up the powers of youth, can still aspire to impossible physical tasks. He knew, as he suspected Cassidy knew, that it wouldn’t last very much longer, but that for now it was still there.

For Denton, it was years in the past now. Even so, he was far more of a physical specimen that all but a handful of the twenty-year-olds on the campus…Cassidy was physically now in a place that for Denton existed only in memory.

It would always be the best of times, he thought. That’s what we are condemned to know. And it’s not just the youth. Everybody gets that. It’s youth blazing along on some kind of spectacularly high octane. It’s like having a benign fever all the time. It’s like being in love.

No one around us could possibly have understood, but we did. We must have known. We must have drunk it up as best we could. But could we really understand how fleeting it all would be? Could we be sure we were squeezing every drop out of it? Could we understand that it would not, could not last? That nothing burning that hot ever does?

There’s something about that passage that fires me up. It reminds me of my college days where everyone on the team is really fit and ripped. And we all took it for granted.

Quote of the day;

“I can't remember a mile race in my life that was even mildy amusing.” - Quenton Cassidy in OAR

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Yesterday I did what I probably should have been doing all along, skiing in the morning and running in the evening.

I skied for an hour and the trails were in great shape – especially for this time of year. Then during the day it got up to 50 degrees (leave it to Minnesota to entirely skip the 40s, going from 30 to 50 in a day), so the ski season is definitely winding down.

Last night it was still 43 degrees at 7:45 so I decided to venture outside for my run. While it was nice to run in those temps, the footing was absolutely treacherous. In the dark, I couldn’t tell what was wet pavement, icy pavement, or just a big old puddle. Please note, my wife mocked my use of the word treacherous when describing my run.

Considering it was right around freezing this morning, I opted for 5 miles on the treadmill rather than face the slippery paths.

I mentioned picking up Again to Carthage, the sequel to Once a Runner, back in December. I also mentioned how the first 170 pages or so were pretty boring. As a result it took me awhile to get back into it. Now that I’m passed page 200, things are picking up, at least as far as the running part of the storyline.

This passage would have been a nice quote for yesterday’s post where I was talking about taking 80 mile weeks for granted;

It was an easy week leading up to the race, but Cassidy was surprised to see that even with travel and the race on the weekend he would still end up with well over a hundred miles. That’s the way it seems to go when you get to a plateau, he thought, it’s a lot easier to stay than it was to get there.
Speaking of racing, it's hard to believe that my favorite race, the Human Race 8K is this Sunday. I'm not expecting any earth-shattering results, but I am looking forward to kicking off the racing season and all of the enthusiasm that surrounds this event. I'm slowly getting the urge to write articles and conduct interviews again and I think that will continue to grow after this race.

Quote of the day;

“It's a shock to walk out of the active world where pretty much everyone is in shape into the sedentary world where there's a distain for physical fitness.” – Jim Graupner

Monday, March 10, 2008


After 6 days in a row of running, I think I’m starting to come around a little.

Friday I skied for 38 minutes, but the snow was really cold and slow. That evening I ran 5.5 miles on the treadmill. I ran that extra half mile to even out my log book from earlier in the week. Saturday I joined the group for a nice crisp 13 mile run. Everyone kept saying it’d be the last cold run of the season. However, I’ve been saying that for 3 weeks now, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

I ended the week with 53 miles on 6 runs, plus another 10 “miles” on skis. Hard to believe, but that’s my largest running week in 6 weeks. The interesting part is that I now realize that I shouldn’t take 80 mpw for granted. There’s a point after working up to that kind of mileage and holding it there for awhile where I don’t think anything of it. Now I realize that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Yesterday I had my best 20 miler since adding skiing into the mix. Ironically, it was my first long run in awhile without wearing my iPod. Anyway, I ended up running my favorite 10 mile loop twice; 1:22:30 and 1:19:20. The times aren’t spectacular, but I felt strong towards the end and the run went by quickly – rather than being a drag.

Although I felt good during my long run, my quads were beat up by the end of the run. So, I’m still a little concerned about getting my body prepared for the pounding of the marathon – especially given Boston’s course profile. I guess I have 6 weeks to work on that.

My friend Jenna always seems to have a good dog/runner story, so this one is for her. About 17 miles into yesterday’s run, I’m coming up on a gal with two dogs. She has a dog leash in each hand, the poop bag is flopping all around, and she is really struggling to reel these dogs in before I get there. About 50 feet before I get to them I decide not to chance it and jump the snow bank in order to run in the busy road. As I pass her she says in her high-pitched nasally voice, “Awww, you didn’t have to go into the road.” I’m thinking, “I know I didn’t have to. I choose to.” To her credit, she did thank me.

Quote of the day;

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t run for time. I run to win. That mile was a credit to two men, and I’m not one of them. It was a credit to Bill for preparing me so well and a credit to Ernie for setting such a tough pace.” – Dyrol Burleson responding to questions regarding how much faster he could go after running a seemingly effortless 3:58.6 at a time when the world record was 3:54.5

Friday, March 07, 2008


While my posts don’t often generate a lot of comments, they do often generate some email banter between friends. Yesterday I emailed something to the affect of;

Realistically, I don’t have a lot of PR attempts left in my legs and I want to make the most of them – that’s part of the reason for wanting to run well at Boston.
Then I got this response back.

According to WAVA, a 3:00:00 marathon for a 38-year-old is 3:01:16 for a 39-year-old and 3:02:32 for a 40-year-old. You're losing 1-2 minutes a year without changing a thing. Or another way of looking at it, you have to get 1-2 minutes better each year just to get the same time.
It’s probably best not to look at things that way.

I’ve been leery of running on my broken treadmill lately, but last night I ran 8 miles on it. The deck is fixed, so that’s nice, but we’re still waiting on a replacement motor. I hope it arrives soon.

Quote of the day;

“What it comes down to for me is that you have to do what excites you.”Chris Lundstrom

Thursday, March 06, 2008


So what do you do when you need a little motivation? I find that hanging out with other runners tends to help. Tuesday I swung by TCRC to pick up some new shoes. In the process, I got to visit a little with Adam, Matt, and Kurt.

Last night I stopped by the store again for about a 5.5 mile group run, rather than use my treadmill. After the run we met some of our Saturday morning group for their monthly happy hour. It was good to sit around and talk a lot about running. It helps get the juices flowing.

Regarding the upcoming season, I guess no news is bad news. I didn’t get an email from the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon staff, so I’m assuming I’m out. Ironically, I could still register for Grandma’s Marathon if I wanted to, as they still have spots available.

Quote of the day;

“In Bowerman’s mind, a runner was always at some point in an annual unfolding. He was training, for example, at 4:12 pace in March in order to run at 4:00 pace in June. ‘The only way to get to point B is to start at point A,’ Bowerman would say.” – Kenny Moore in Bowerman and the Men of Oregon

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Ryan hit the nail on the head with his comment regarding lots of anxiety when it comes to setting a PR at Boston. And he asked why I put so much pressure on myself. I guess it just comes down to “wanting to run well” versus “wanting to run for fun”.

There are two things I know; 1) I don’t run well if I don’t train specifically for running and 2) I don’t race well with the attitude of just doing it for fun - I tried that at Boston in 2004 and ended up running my worst marathon – by far.

Heck, even prior to my ski race I thought I’d just go do it for fun, take in the sights and not worry about getting stuck behind people on the hills. However, once the race started that all went out the window and I focused on finishing as quickly as possible.

Maybe stating that I need to regain my love of the sport was a little strong. However, I need to regain something. I’ve heard about runners having to be careful after skiing all winter because they’re fit in a cardiovascular sense, but their legs aren’t ready for the pounding of the roads. That’s where I’m at now. My two runs over the weekend left my legs feeling as if I had run a marathon. That makes “just slipping back into the mileage I’m used to” a little difficult.

So that leads to anxiety, along with the fact that I haven’t done a decent workout in awhile. Hopefully my treadmill’s motor will be fixed soon to help with that since it doesn’t appear that the weather is going to warm up any time soon.

Anyway, we got some fresh snow this morning, so I skied for an hour. I’ll try to hop on my treadmill tonight in order to build up my running consistency.

Quote of the day;

“It’s nice to see that excitement of someone who just got out of college, because I think sometimes we get jaded as we get older. Everything is just a certain way. We still have fun, but everything’s not such a new experience anymore.” – Katie McGregor referring to Emily Brown in a recent interview

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


My skiing “experiment” seems to be working out as planned; it’s allowed me to take my mind off of running for awhile and helped me maintain some level of fitness. I’ve said all along that I expect to be in worse running shape than “normal” early in the season, but more fired up throughout the summer, which will result in better race times over the entire year.

Well, I have the “worse running shape” part down. Now I just need to make sure I follow through with the rest of my "master plan".

In order to do that I think I need to adjust my focus. I’ve been trying to tell myself that I can jump right back in with 70-80 mile weeks, throw in a couple of MP workouts, and run a PR at Boston.

It’s like I want the best of both worlds – time away from running and PRs.

I’m realizing that’s probably not going to happen. Instead of worrying about PRing at Boston, I just need to get back into the routine of running every day, building mileage, and rediscovering my love of the sport. If I do that, the times will take care of themselves. I may even surprise myself at Boston.

Somewhere along the line my 10 hour workout weeks dropped to 6-8 hours. Given that I haven’t really added any intensity, I need to build back up to working out 90 minutes a day.

Saturday I ran a fairly strong 11 miler. That gave me 41 miles for the week, plus another 15 on skis. Sunday I ran 16 miles in my least favorite conditions, 35-40 degrees and rain. For some reason those two runs left my legs incredible beat up. Monday I tried to ski, but the rain made the trails way too icy for my skill level. Today my legs were still sore as I slogged my way through 5 miles.

Looks like some of the Team USA Minnesota runners have been updating their journals lately. Check out recent entries by Brad, Katie, Chris, and Carrie.

Quote of the day;

“I think we surprised a few people as to how fast some of us old farts can run.” – Dave Tappe