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