Friday, October 29, 2010


After this post two weeks ago, I decided to break out a calendar to see when the 2011 Winter Carnival Half Marathon occurs. It falls on January 29th, which, at the time, was 15 weeks away. Then I cracked open my copy of Road Racing for Serious Runners to look at their half marathon training plan. It turns out that it’s a 15 week schedule.

Ding, ding, ding!

They have two programs; one is between 30-50 MPW while the other is between 50-72 MPW. I laid them both out and for the first two weeks, I’ve been right in the middle. I’m not sure what will happen once the snow flies and skis start calling my name, but at least having this running race on the horizon should help keep me motivated.

The other day, my neighbor posted some thoughts that I can easily relate to. Although he’s a biker, we’re the same age, have the same number of kids that are in the same age range, both work full-time, etc. So I often find that we ponder the same issues. Anyway, he wrote that he’s always envied those folks that can race and compete in those epic events that are out. And he knows that he can do it too. The real question is does he want to?

That’s where I find myself a lot of the time. I’m envious. I know I could do those things. But do I want to?

One such case came up during this morning’s group run. One of the things on my bucket list came up. It turns out some of the guys are heading to Arizona in May and running rim-2-rim-2-rim, which is roughly 42 miles. Perfect, since I’ll be 42-years-old next year.

Now I just have to decide if I really want to do it.

Quote of the Day;

“Roger Bannister studied the four-minute mile the way Jonas Salk studied polio – with a view to eradicating.” – Jim Murray

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I get the whole concept that we’re really only competing against ourselves in this sport. However, I can’t help but look through the results to see how well other people are running. Then, immediately after that, I remind myself that so and so isn’t married, that person doesn’t have any kids, his wife is also a runner, that guy is only 28-years-old, and so on.

Of course, if I try hard enough, I can pretty much pigeonhole everyone that’s faster than me into a finite group of categories – even if I have to use the all-encompassing “genetically gifted” category the majority of the time. It’s kind of like coming up with an alibi, there’s always one there, you just have to dig a little.

That’s where I’m going to lump my college teammate, Jim, who I eluded to here. He’s married with 3 kids, his wife doesn’t run, he works full-time, and he’s 39-years old. So I can’t really use any of the standard categories - although 39 IS different than 41. : -)

Why do I lump him in the “genetically gifted” category? Well, he hasn’t been competitive in the last 15 years, yet last weekend he proceeded to run a sub-37 minute trail 10K off of minimal training. That’s faster than anything I’ve run in peak condition during the last 15 years. Given that he ran roughly 30 seconds per mile faster than me while in college, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, you’d think 15 years of little-to-no exercise would help close that gap.

I guess it would have if he’d been racing 40 pounds ago.

Quote of the Day;

“The first 75 guys are professionals, so you have to throw them out. The next 75 guys are 19-year-olds living in their parent’s basement, so you have to throw them out. That means you were in the top-100, which is pretty impressive.” – Scott’s friend after he was a little bummed with “only” finishing in the top-250 at TCM

Friday, October 15, 2010


I’m not sure it’s a conscious or subconscious decision, but during the last few years I’ve seemed to be searching for ways to give back to the sport that’s given me so much over the last 30+ years. I’ve been writing for the MDRA newsletter for probably 4-5 years now. Then I started my interview blog back in October of 2006. There was the year of writing press releases for TCM in 2008 before working on the Yearbook last year.

This year the opportunity arose to become the program director/coach of the Eastview Athletic Association cross country program which is geared towards 3rd – 6th graders. The previous program director emailed a very long list of duties, and to be honest, I was a little reluctant to take over the program. However, cross-country is one of those programs with a high likely-hood that no one will take over and the program just fades away.

I agreed to do it as long as I could find another person to help with the coaching duties. Luckily, Val was eager to jump in and give coaching a shot even though she’s never run cross-country. Given that we had no idea what we were getting into, it’s safe to say that we were pretty darn scared before the season started. Then we had our first practice and 30+ kids showed up. Now we were really scared!!! Somehow we were able to muddle through everything.

Before we knew it, the season was over. We had our final practice last night, a time trial, followed by an ice cream social while going over each kid’s improvement during the season. In the end, it was an absolute blast. And it’s actually sad that we’ll have to wait 10 months before we get to do it again.

I wish I could go through each kid’s season here and talk about the highs and lows, but I won’t. I will say that we had one girl in tears after the first couple of meets. She was super fast when it came to sprinting, but she had no concept of pacing. As a result, she spent a lot of time walking and ended up with mile times around 11-minutes. Once she figured out pacing (with the awesome help of her coaches, of course), she dropped her PR to 7:59. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone more excited.

That’s what it’s all about and that’s just one example that I think made the season a huge success. We sent out a survey recently, and luckily, the parents seem to think the same way as Val and I have received some high marks.

Quote of the Day;

“Positive, friendly atmosphere was wonderful--it seems good running stems from kids being willing to both succeed AND fail in front of their teammate and coaches, so they can take the risks to do their best. Starting out too fast is a lesson, leaving too much energy at the end is a lesson, and the kids seemed to trust in this learning environment.” – Survey response

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I’m starting to think that this “recreational” running is not for me. I just can’t find any motivation when there’s not a race on the horizon – even a distant horizon is better than nothing. After a solid start to October for the first 8 days, I “decided” to take the next 4 days off. I wish I had a good excuse, but the best I can come up with is that I travelled over the weekend and then I stayed up late Monday watching football.

In any case, I may have to consider putting a race on my calendar just to “force” me to train, er, I mean run. Heck with “training” I need to start by “running”.

However, I have been thinking about the whole “training” vs. “running” issue lately. Steve had a great post the other day where he compares being UN-coached to being SELF-coached. If you’re not familiar with Steve, he spent the end of the season focusing on breaking 60-minutes for the TC-10. He hired a coach, followed her workouts religiously, and proceeded to crack off a 59:05.

That’s great, but like me, he finds himself not willing to pay a coach on a long-term basis. Now he’s trying to apply what he learned from his coach in hopes of moving from un-coached to self-coached.

If nothing else, his post has me thinking about my own training. My extent of being coached is copying a marathon training program out of a book and following that. I can’t think of the last time I did a speed workout or the last time I really focused on anything other than a marathon. Maybe 2011 should be the year of speed for me. It’d be interesting to train for races between 5K and half marathon, instead of just throwing them into the mix during a marathon build up.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’ll hire a coach, but if I want to make those races worthwhile, I should probably put a little more focus on speed work – and possible locate the nearest track.

In either case, step one is to get consistent. Normally it takes me 3 weeks of training before I can feel myself getting into a groove. So I'm challenging myself to build up my consistency through the end of the month. After that I'll think about putting a race on the horizon - however distant it may be.

Quote of the Day;

“Don’t run hard till you can run easy.” – Ron Daws

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


As the years have gone by, it seems like fewer and fewer of my college teammates are still running. That’s understandable as work and family commitments take up more time over the years. I’ve always felt that once these guys turned 40 that’d experience some mid-life crisis that would either lead them to buy a motorcycle or start running again. If they did the latter, I “feared” they’d whip themselves into shape faster than I could say “once a runner” and they’d begin to tear up the local racing scene.

We’ll it appears that process has begun. Within the last two weeks I’ve talked with two former teammates who’ve both started training again. Each has lost 40 pounds recently and they both have races on the horizon. One looks a smooth as he did 15 years ago and is already kicking my ass during our Friday morning group runs. At least the other one is in Madison, so I won’t have to experience an ass kicking from him very often.

It’s great to hear these guys are back at it and I’m sure it’s not the last I’ll hear from old college teammates.

Here a team photo from my freshmen year of college.

I had a great weekend. Saturday morning the family ventured to Elm Creek Park for the Autumn Woods Classic. They had a 1K event that the girls signed up for, as well as some of my cross-country kids. It was super-fun to see the girls in their first running race. I doubt this will be their sport of choice, but it’s still nice to see them give it a try.

Afterwards I made a solo trip to Ashland to partake in the post-Whistlestop Marathon festivities. Since I grew up there, I still have some friends in town as well as friends that ran the race, so I didn’t have to party solo. While this is probably not a race that everyone wants to run every year, I think it’s one that everyone should try once. It’s just a great time of year to drive up north and check out the fall colors. The course is on crushed limestone, so it’s different than most races. I think the town does a great job supporting the event. The post race activities are fun. And there’s a great brew pub/restaurant and a great coffee shop in town. What more do you want?

Quote of the Day;

“I can't complain about third place when I'm beat by a three-time Olympian and an American record-holder." – Katie McGregor after placing third at yesterday’s U.S. 10K championship

Friday, October 08, 2010


If you’ve ever read my bio it basically reiterates what I wrote yesterday; "I'm a runner at heart. I followed my dad out the door when I was 10 and have been at it ever since."

As I was digging through all my old stuff, I found a bunch of photos of my dad running that I thought would be fun to share.

1981 - age 41

1986 - age 46

1991 - age 51

1997 - age 57

1968 - age 28

Just kidding, of course that last photo is Steve in a Speedo wearing his famous “bowl full of sunshine” shorts. Little did he know that my dad actually started the trend of wearing yellow short-shorts. And if you look close enough, you’ll see that my dad was wearing black socks before it was ever cool – long before any NBA player ever started wearing them.

While I don’t think my dad is wearing the same pair of yellow shorts in all of those photos, I wouldn’t doubt that it’s the same pair in 1991 and 1997. Those 2 photos crack me up because he has on the same shorts, same socks, same shoes and he even has a tissue on the right side of his shorts in both photos.

I don’t know if he’s raced since 1997, but at 70, he still gets out every other day whether he needs to or not.

I definitely have him to “blame” for getting me wrapped up in this crazy sport. I still have the card my parents gave me after my Ironman and his note is today’s QOD.

Quote of the Day;

“You have truly raised the bar with your recent Ironman efforts. It must be inspiring to you and help you better deal with all of life’s endeavors. I think of you starting out on your marathon after the swim and bike and find it difficult to imagine going that distance. I see that in a much different way now after seeing the efforts of you and your fellow participants. It is inspiring.” – Ed Austin

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


As I was watching TCM on Sunday it really hit me that I am a runner. Of course, I’ve known this all along, but for some reason it really occurred to me during this race. While I may jump in a mtn. bike race once in awhile, ski in the winter, think of doing another triathlon – deep down I’m a runner. When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, there’s really no denying it. And while there may be days when I wish I could change it, I think doing so would be nearly impossible.

And it’s not just about the running itself. I just relate best to other runners. It didn’t matter who I was talking with or cheering for on Sunday; old friends, new friends, Olympic Trials qualifiers, quiet friends taking photos, loud friends shouting into a microphone, multi-time state record holders, people hoping to qualify for Boston, etc. They were all cool – and I can’t imagine my life without running or my running friends.

Of course, I didn’t know all this 30 years ago. At that time I was probably thinking more about being the next Johnny Bench than I was about being the next Bill Rodgers.

10-year-old Johnny Bench wanna-be.

Running a half marathon at 12 - finished in 1:53:20.

Quote of the Day;

“The marathon can humble you.” – Bill Rodgers


I love running during this time of year for a lot of reasons; the cooler weather, the changing colors, it’s cross country season, and there are a ton of great marathons in the fall. I also like the fall because it’s when I started running 31 years ago. I’ve lost track a little over the years, but I think the actual anniversary is like October 3rd or 4th.

What’s a 10 year old supposed to do a week-and-a-half after starting to run? Jump in a race, of course.

If you flip open the jogger’s diary that I posted yesterday, you’ll see that the first entry is from a 4 mile race I ran on October 13, 1979. I’d like to believe I ran 34:36 for 4 miles, as a 10-year-old. However, I realize they probably clocked this course by driving in their car.

I was actually able to find a photo that my mom took too. For some reason it’s a photo of our back. In case you can’t tell, I’m the short one. While it’s not a very good photo, believe it or not, she got everyone entered in the race in one shot. Yep, there were a total of 4 people in this race. If I remember correctly, I ended up losing a sprint and finishing 2nd. I sure hope I beat that guy that’s blatantly cutting the course.

Speaking of photos, be sure to check out Evan’s photos from TCM.

Quote of the Day;

“I was really ready and didn’t get the breaks. That’s life… you work hard for just a few chances.” – Steve Prefontaine

Monday, October 04, 2010


The good news is that the juices are flowing again. The bad news is that the 2010 season is over.

But that’s alright. I always love wiping the slate clean at the end of a season and starting fresh the following year. It doesn’t matter whether I have a great year or a crappy year – wiping that slate clean is always part of the process.

The spectacular conditions at TCM probably helped get those juices flowing. If I had to pencil in perfect marathon weather, it’d have been what the runners experienced yesterday; 40 degrees at the start, calm and sunny with temps rising to probably 50-55 degrees during the race. Maybe I’d choose “overcast” instead of “sunny” but that’s about my only change.

Congrats to everyone who ran – whether you met your goal or not. And congrats to Katie McGregor on winning her third U.S. title in 2010. Maybe she’s so successful because she posts videos like this on her facebook page.

After watching the marathon yesterday, I ended up going through a bunch of running stuff I’ve collected over the years; medals, news paper articles, log books, bib numbers, etc. I thought it’d be fun to start sharing some of that stuff on here. With that said, here’s a picture of my first-ever “jogging diary”. I guess back in 1979, “jogging” wasn’t a four-letter word.

If you look very closely above the “ing” you’ll see a little stick figure that’s running. Fortunately, my running and writing has gotten better over the years. However, my artistic abilities have not evolved in over 30 years.

Now that the juices are flowing, maybe I’ll even post here more than once a week.

Quote of the Day;

“Thank you everyone for all the support! It was so great to win at home and have so many spectators cheering for me. Congrats to all the weekend's finishers. A beautiful day for running in the Twin Cities!” – Katie McGregor