Monday, May 27, 2013


As I mentioned last time, the little ‘5K’ at work got me excited to see what I could do on a certified course. In the Twin Cities, Memorial Day means the Brian Kraft Memorial 5K. I’ve written about this race numerous times. It’s just over one lap around Lake Nokomis and the lagoon, making it flat and fast. It’s also small (this year’s race only had 474 finishers), but nearly every fast runner in the state is there. I had a solid race this year, but I was still 158th place overall, 136th man out of 292, and in the 40-49 age group I was right in the middle, placing 32nd out of 65 runners.

More importantly, I was about 15 seconds faster than my work 5K. My splits still need a little work, as I ran 6:03, 6:12, 6:20, and :39 for a final time of 19:14. But while I slowed a little during each of the miles, I was moving up in the field throughout the entire race. Again, this is about 15 seconds per mile faster than I was racing 18 months ago, so things are looking up.

Now I have to decide what to do. The marathon is constantly tugging at me, but I honestly don’t know if I want to go down that route again. On the other hand, if I just run short stuff, there aren’t a whole lot of races that I’d run that wouldn’t fit in with marathon training. So I guess that means I’m leaning towards TCM.

Here are the complete results for the men and women.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


You can probably tell that I like books, especially when I’m trying to learn something new. I have a ton of books on running and I love following the Minnesota running scene. So it’s safe to assume I’ve read Minnesota-native, Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run. But actually I hadn’t read his book until just recently. I guess I figured, I don’t run ultras and I’m not a vegan, so his book isn’t for me.

With my recent dietary changes, I finally got around to reading it – and I’m glad I did. I guess I was expecting more of a diet book or an ultra training manual, but really, it was neither. Scott simply tells a bunch of great stories about his running career, while weaving in his experiences with food and how he gradually transitioned towards a plant-based diet.

While reading the book, it helped a little that I “know of” his buddy Dusty that he mentions throughout the book. Back in 2003 I crewed for Dave Dehart at the Ed Fitz 100K. Dave had a great race, if I remember correctly he was 4th in about 6:45. One of the guys ahead of him was Dusty. I seem to remember him dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts and a bandanna. Plus, he always seemed to have a smile on his face, which I thought was odd for a 62-mile race. Anyway, he left a lasting impression on his way to 2nd place.

As I was reading the book, I came across Jess Koski’s name too. He lives in the Duluth area, has written some great Minnesota-related running articles in the past, and Jurek mentioned that Jess is also a vegan/vegetarian. Jess and I happen to be Facebook friends – we’ve probably communicated more through Facebook messaging than face-to-face conversations. So I sent him a note telling him I was reading the book and asked for some advice. He gave me a couple of good tips, but what stands out most was his last sentence, “Even as a runner you’ll lose five pounds in the first month or so.”

I touched on this at the end of my last post, but Jess was so right. Last year I was typically around 150 pounds. During my brief marathon training stint, before getting hurt, I was around 145 pounds. Keep in mind I was running 50+ MPW. Now I’m around 141-142 pounds and I’m only running 30-40 MPW. I can only reason that it has to do with cutting out meat and cow’s milk, and reducing processed foods.

“That’s great,” you say, “but what about race results? Will this help my running?” That's really what runners want to know, right? Well, yesterday we held a 5K at work. It wasn’t certified so I wore my GPS. It ended up being 3.14 miles and I ran 19:38 with splits of 5:52, 6:22, and 6:24. Not very good pacing, but I haven’t raced in a long time.

Anyway, these numbers mean nothing without a baseline for comparison. Well two winters ago I did a few indoor track races, including a mile and two 5Ks. I ran 5:53, 19:50-something and 20-flat. If you’re familiar with age-graded calculations, recently my age-performance percentages have been slipping under 70%. Yesterday’s time calculates to just under 72%. That may not sound like a lot, but the difference between 70% and 72% equates to 10 seconds per mile. That’ll save you over 30 seconds for a 5K or 5 minutes for a marathon.

As with anything else, when you start to see improvement, things start to feed upon themselves.  Needless to say I'm excited to see these numbers and to keep them going.  Now I just need to figure out where I want to take them.  I've been kicking around the idea of running TCM in the fall, but I'm not really sure if I want to run a marathon or not.  I have to think about that some more.  In the meantime, I think I'll jump in the (certified) Brian Kraft 5K and throw in a couple more tempo runs leading up to the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

Here’s a trailer for Jurek’s book;

Sunday, May 12, 2013


TC1 Mile - USATF wave.
TC1 Mile - Elite women's wave.

Two of my favorites, Jamie Cheever and Carrie Tollefson.
Garrett Heath after placing 2nd.
Will Leer, bundled up (for good reason) before the start.  He went on to place 4th.

Proof that all Kiwis know one another.  Olympic silver medalist, and TC1 Mile champ, Nick Willis, along with Evan Roberts.

This year I was recruited by Twin Cities in Motion to help tweet about the elites during the TC1 Mile.  I was able to hang out at the start and watch them warmup.  Little known fact, defending champ, Heather Kampf barely made it to the start line.  She had trouble getting her tights off and ended up taking her shoes off, but then she had problems getting her shoes back on.  Since the start times are pre-set, the starter has to begin the race at the set time.  Heather literally made it to the line with about 8 seconds to spare.

After the women started, I hopped in a van than led the men down the course.  During their race I was on the phone, giving play by play, with a guy that the finish.  This sounds easy, but when you consider that the race is less than 4 minutes, it's over before you know what was going on.

Anyway, it was still a pretty fun experience.  Other highlights from the night; 1) a brief chat with Jamie Cheever, congratulating her on her 22-second PR in the steeplechase recently.  Pretty crazy for a sub-10 minute race.  I didn't realize that she also has a blog.  2) Meeting longtime blogger, Eric Sondag of North Dakota. 3) Talking with Charlie Peterson (aka Mr. Carrie Tollefson) about their soon to be second child.  4) Hanging out at the finish line only to look up and see my friend, Evan Roberts, chatting with Nick Willis.  It turns out their parents are friends back in the motherland.

Quick update on my own running.  I'm only running 5-6 days per week, typically between 25-40 miles.  Plus, I'll throw in some cross training that usually gets me to 7-8 hours of exercise per week.  Solid, but not over-the-top.  I'm not following any type of training plan.  I was trying to mix in tempo and speed work on the treadmill, but now that it's nice out I haven't really been doing that.  I have done a couple of hill workouts instead, along with some strides.  My long run is up to 15 miles. 

Last weekend I had a great 3 hour bike ride.  I made the mistake of riding the first 25 miles with a tailwind.  Then I turn around, bonked, ate a Picky Bar, and barely made it home.  Today I had an awesome 2 hour trail run with just 20 ounces of water.  After both of those long workouts, I weighed in at 141 pounds.  I don't remember what I weighed in college, but I doubt it was less than that.  I think I was around 135 as a senior in high school.  More importantly, I've been feeling good lately and I'm enjoying "training". 

Thursday, May 09, 2013


My last post was mostly about The China Study.  I great book with a bad title.  I think the publisher would have been better off with a different name - at least in terms of getting people to randomly pick the book from the shelf at the store or library.  Anyway, it's written by a scientist and he talks a lot about his studies and presents a lot of charts and graphs.  If you're looking for something in an easy-to-read format that just says what's good and bad and why, then check out Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet.

Some of the reviews say she's a little too preachy and that her recipes contain too many hard-to-find ingredients.  I can understand that she can come off as too preachy, but I think she does a good job of explaining why certain foods are good and why some are bad.  They're short, quick explanations, rather than having to read through some scientific study.  Honestly, I haven't read through her recipes yet, so I can't comment on that.

I mentioned this book to my co-workers and they immediately told me about Alicia making news recently for basically regurgitating the food for her toddler.  Okay, that's a little over the top, but it doesn't keep me from recommending her book.

I'm finding out that people definitely need to make their own decision when it comes to eating habits.  These same co-workers and I have been talking about diet a lot more recently.  No only because of my changes, but because they've been doing Weight Watchers and they've also watched Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.  One gal even bought a juicer after watching that.  Even though I've mentioned the books I've read, shows I've watched, and improvements I've experienced, I don't think they're buying it.  

Saturday, May 04, 2013


In a recent post, I mentioned the food documentary Forks Over Knives. Much of that movie talks about Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his book, The China Study. I was able to pick this up at my local library and just finished the other day. Dr. Campbell points out a lot of interesting things that really got me thinking. He talks about his study on animal proteins, including cows’ milk and the cancer rates he saw in mice. He talks about how strong the meat and dairy industries are and how they are able to control everything from the USDA’s food pyramid to what gets served in our schools’ lunches. He talks about how the pharmaceutical companies basically control the hospitals and doctors. Then, of course, there’s the influence each of these industries has over our government.

I admit I found this book fascinating, but I also wanted to keep an open mind. After reading, I starting searching the internet for what others were saying about this book. Of course, there was a lot of praise out there. And, of course, there was a lot criticism as well.

I just pulled one example of each in order to present both sides of the “argument”. I don’t want to come here and say “Eat this, not that. Or Else.” I mean, what credibility do I have? It hasn’t even been 3 weeks since I gave up meat. Instead, I want to encourage you to at least think about what you put in your mouth and how it relates to your health. And to do some research on your own.

Granted, this request probably sounds weird coming from someone without any health issues, who exercises a lot, and, at 5’10” and 145 pounds, is well within the normal range of BMI. Unfortunately, while I may be “normal”, we all know that the vast majority of Americans are overweight or even obese. We hear about this all the time! You can’t turn on the news without hearing about America’s poor health – even though we’re spending more on health care than any other country in the world!

How can that be? How can we spend more and more on health care, but get sicker and sicker?  As Dr. Campbell says, it should be called a disease care system instead.

I find it interesting that people all (now) seem to agree that smoking leads to higher rates of cancer. Yet, people don’t seem to think that the foods they eat and drink have any bearing on their health. Sure, we agree that eating like crap can lead to obesity. But, isn’t it at least feasible to think that the foods we eat and drink (namely the animal-based proteins that Dr. Campbell writes about) can also lead to diabetes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, etc.?

Again, I encourage you to at least think about it. Watch some food documentaries, pick up some books at the local library, visit some websites and read the comments. Learn about the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries and the health care system and how (I believe) they’re all connected in some way to many of the major problems facing the U.S. and the world.

Quote of the day;
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Just a short post because I said I'd try to post at least once a week.  It's been just over 2 weeks without meat and things are going well.  The real challenge came last weekend during back-to-back guys' nights out.  Burgers and beers have always sounded good, but I opted for the Portabella Mushroom burger one night and the Veggie burger the other night.  And last night we grilled out at home and I replaced the Johnsonville brats that I normally eat with spicy black bean burgers that were yummy. 

Tonight I have another happy hour.  Luckily the place we go has a nice salad bar, so I'll choose that over the sliders, pulled pork and nachoes. 

April turned out to be my biggest running month since last June.  I ran 164 miles and biked an additional 136 miles.  I also did 6 core workout and lifted 4 times.  The number of core and lifting workouts has been slowly dropping since I was all gung-ho in January.  The good news is that I'm still doing something a couple of times a week - because typically these types of workouts would be all but forgotten by this time of the new year.