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

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


My legs are feeling good – I have that nice springy feel when I walk around the office. Busy at work and busy carbo-loading. I haven’t run anything harder than a progression run in 6 weeks. Who knows where it will all add up on Sunday?

I’m not really concerning myself with the weather at this point – and definitely not to this extent - but when it’s a local race, it’s hard to avoid the forecast. Last weekend I did spend some time putting my summer clothes away and breaking out my fall/winter stuff – so that’s a good sign.

I was wondering this morning; Is it better to have a hot day and be really fit (like Gma’s 2007) or have a cool day but not be as fit (like this year’s TCM seems to be turning out)? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

In Team USA Minnesota news, Carrie has updated her journal and Josh has written an introductory piece. Also, Matt Gabrielson has received some nice press recently with THIS Down the Backstretch interview and THIS Star Tribune article.

Quote of the day;

“The stars will not align perfectly very often if ever, and you have to be prepared for a number of different scenarios. This is especially so in the marathon. If I lay everything on the line that day I will be satisfied.” – Matt Gabrielson