Thursday, November 5, 2009

Surf the Murph 50K

Scott, Andy & Dick

The three of us finally had an opportunity to race together at Surf the Murph. We did a training run out there a few weeks before the race so we had a pretty good idea what the course looked like this year. With the flatter sections added in the overall ascent ended up at 2577ft, we were all looking to PR at this race.

The 50 milers took off at 6:00, we toed the line at 7:00 for the 50K. Thanks to daylight savings time not starting until that evening, the beginning of the race starts before sunrise. I had taken a little warm up run prior to the race and noticed the course was definitely going to me muddy. At the sound of the bottle rocket we started off. I saw Scott for about 2 minutes or so, never saw him again until the end of the race. Sure was a pleasure running with ya Scott. Seriously, he has had a great year and was obviously ready to nail this one, finished 8th male, 9th overall.

Count down

About 5 miles into the race a familiar sound crept up behind Dick and I. It turned out to be Buddy J. We all raced together this spring at the Superior 50K and finished within a few minutes of each other. We stuck together all the way to the halfway point. Buddy stopped a little longer than us at the half and about 20 miles into it Dick started to pick things up a little bit, either that or I started to suck air. Either way I ran by myself for 5 miles or so. Buddy caught up to me a while later and we ran about 4 miles together. I really started to fall apart, not sure why. I don't like to make excuses but I never hit a groove in this race. I usually have at least a part of every race where things just feel absolutely perfect - that never happened in this race.

Headed in to mile 28ish with Thing1 and Thing2

It was nice to have the family there, I got a quick back rub (more on that later) and a refill of my favorite drink and took off for the last 4 miles. Thanks sweety ;)

Two noteworthy items:

I wear a heal lift in my Rt shoe which NEVER gives me problems - until I am in a race. I train in my racing flats, run 20+ mile training runs and never have a problem. During this race I started to get a blister on the back of my heal, I could not figure out what was happening as I never get blisters. ( I know there are a lot of nevers in this paragraph - hence my surprise) It turns out my heal lift started to make its way out of my shoe - I had an issue with my lift in every race this year - yah I know - quick learner eh.

Other than having to take my shoe off the second to last mile I had a great finish, I felt strong and was even leaping over the obstacles near the end. I don't know where this comes from, I experienced this at Superior as well this year. It makes the end of the race so memorable as to want to return.

Gee, I hope they don't consider this an assisted finish!!!

Andy (13th), Buddy (12th), Dick (10th), Scott (8th)

After it was all said and done we all (not positive about Buddy) set a 50K PR. It was my fastest (5:33) and most probably the longest 50K I've ever run, close to 32 miles.

This race is twice blessed with the weather in its two years, unbelievable!

Click here to see the run on Garmin Connect

Post race: Flew to NYC at 10:30 the following morning, had a great time taking in the tail end of the marathon festivities and energy. I can't believe what a world wide event that is. I woke up Monday am and my low back was completely seized up. Here I am in NYC and I can barley walk upright - what a site. People asked me "did you run the race" I just nodded and answered, "and then some". Anyway, a week later and I still wouldn't even try to run yet, though I seem to be on the mend - finally.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Runs of late and plans for later

I have been increasing my mileage as of late, still only a paltry 640 or so for the year, oh well. It was hard passing up a few of the races this year, especially when so many people I know were able to reach some stellar landmarks this season. At least I had a decent spring.

Last weekend I went to Elm Creek Park reserve, here is a bit of video to prove it, along with the sunrise above. There are a few sections of single track out there that are really fun. I love watching the ground roll by.

I am pretty sure I will run the 50K at Surf the Murph on Oct 31. I have a couple friends who will be joining me. If all the planets align just right we could all finish within a few minutes of each other. Time will tell on that one! Who will be first?? Hope to catch up with a few people out there as well.

Hoping to get out there one of these weekends prior to the race so I can run a loop. I'll try to post if I know when I'm going.

It seems lately that everyone I know, and even those I just read about, are suffering some sort of running related injury. Hope everyone can overcome and finish the year strong.

Monday, August 17, 2009


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Took a trip to Colorado this summer to relax and enjoy things a bit. I discovered a running trail right outside our condo. I took this run the day after ariving in there. It starts at 9300' and rises to about 10500'.

Oddly enough I did not really feel that affected by the elevation during the climb, and the descent was not noteworthy either, regarding the elevation. I also took a hike along the continental divide which was from about 11,800 to 13,000 while I could sense the lack of O2 at the top it too was fairly easy. It was not until later in the week that when I took a run along a fairly flat river trail, at about 9200', that I felt like I was totally sucking air. I thought after a week at elevation and two fairly decent runs that I would be able to really kick it. NO WAY. I don't know that I will ever figure out the formula for running at elevation.

Anyway, I was out there with the family and we biked, climbed, hiked, shopped, worked on the condo and a bunch of other stuff. The kids got to take a Jeep ride up a gulch trail too, it was a highlight of their trip. We did a little road trip through Aspen, across Independance pass and ended up in Leadville (hence the title of the post).

We ended up there the day before the LT100 mountain bike race. We got to catch the Lance Armstrong craze.

Lance won the race this year after taking second in '08. What a stud. Leadville is a really fun place with a multitude of playgrounds for the outdoor enthusiast.

I was really taken by the atmosphere thoughout the mountain towns. Everyone is involved in some type of activity, you really had to look hard to see someone who was out of shape, if you did they seemed have either a Vikings or Packers jersey on, go figure.

Anyhow, I have been taking it really easy this summer, I have cut way back on mileage in an attempt to keep some of my nagging injuries (back) at bay and to baby a few new ones (knee). I am contemplating a late fall race, likely one of the Murphy races, Lord knows there are plenty to choose from. As I have noted before I really have never raced much in the heat of the summer, though you may see me at an aid station somewhere soon?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Running from the Devil - Review

I was asked, as were Steve and "Westy" if we would be willing to write a review on a new book. I took a quick look on Amazon and it looked like it would be something I would enjoy. I typically like the intrigue, action type of book so I have plenty to compare it to. The author, Jamie Freveletti did a great job, especially considering that this is her debut into writing. I'm not sure if there will be other books to follow which would continue the saga but she did leave it open for more. The author did a really good job in developing the main character, Emma Caldridge. While it took the entire book to do so it was done very thouroghly, often times unoticed as she wove it into the action, as a good book should.

SUGOi teamed up with the publisher to make a video:

It was interesting reading a novel where the main character is an Ultra runner. The author did a good job in using the sport, both for the action and character development.

The book seems short, granted I got into it which always makes them clip right along. I think she could have gone into a few parts a little deeper and there are a few believably issues but I don't want to nit pick. Overall if you are into spy/intrigue/thriller/conspiracy books, it's definitely worth the read. Click here for the authors story summary.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Subtitle "Why I Love Winter"

The Heat

For someone who works outside it still seems to take a long time to get used to the heat. I have never run a competitive event in North America in June-August. Not sure if this year will be any different or not. I was breed for neither extreme, my thermoneutral zone is centered around 58 degrees. I have had a much easier time of it the last two years, dropping some weight helped but also finding S-Caps, along with the proper dosage. I did thoroughly enjoy running through the night last summer, this seems like a good way to avoid the heat, though the feet get pretty wet.

The Humidity

While age undoubtedly has a greater effect on my perception than actual science - the fact is that the dew points in the Twin Cities have been trending slighly upward during the past years 100 years. Sweating does not cool the body when the humidity is high!

The Activities

Vacations, reunions, camping trips, camps camps camps. Seems like every day the kids are going somewhere. I remember my youthful summers spent carefree - biking, fishing and gallivanting around the town. Don't get me wrong, the kids definitely enjoy themselves, its just far more organized and requires greater parental involvement than in generations past. I'm taking my oldest daughter into the BWCA this year, it will be her first trip in.

What to do

I hope to maintain my mileage through mid July, then slowly increase it as the schedule allows. Looking forward to a fall event or two, I figure I have a couple months to decide on exactly which ones to do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Superior Trail Races, 50K, 2009

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For those who may not recognize it, that is the profile of the Superior Trail Races, 50K .
Some talk about the flatter areas, you know, right after the Oberg aid station - don't worry about it, I cant find it either. As I mentioned earlier, I ran this in 2007 as well and truly love this course - tough as it is.

Anyway, here is my before picture, looking better than a month ago.

The drive up Friday night was a bit hairy, the rain started about Hinckley and never let up. By the time we got to Two Harbors there was standing water in the ditches. I had a good idea what the weather was supposed to be but to see it coming down less than 12 hours before the race helped solidify the predictive science into fact. The weather was definitely going to make the day interesting. The wind blew from the WNW all night long and was still going strong in the morining. We ate a good breakfast and I headed up to check in as I got up too late to get it the night before. The odd thing about my quick trip up the hill is that even though there was a skim of snow on everything and the wind was blowing - for some reason it didn't seem that bad out.

We had a few minutes prior to the race to see some familiar faces, here is a pic of Steve Q., Dick B., and myself. We all went to North St. Paul High School, Steve being one year senior to Dick and I. We all ran for the same coach, John King. Obviously he had an impact. Our CC course was always a bit tougher than the competitions, guess it rubbed off.

Speaking of the start, I have another starting photo thanks to my wife:After the usual lack of fanfare the race began promptly at 7:01. We all had to wait for Andy Holak, the eventual 2nd place finisher, to tie his shoe.

I had planned on running even splits, to finish at 5:40. That would mean that I would have to run the first half of the race at a level that I have never done before. I would have to let a lot of people hit the trail before me. Not easy. I settled in behind Keith K., which was fun because I found myself much more careful with my footing as I was following behind someone wearing Vibram five fingers. I run in my occasionally but Keith is an expert barefooter and makes it look easy.

After a couple miles I couldn't control myself and took off, like an idiot. At about mile 4 I was by myself. I managed to cool it a bit and came into the first aid station about 4 minutes ahead of my projected time. I refilled with Heed and took a gel, 30 seconds.

This next section is where you are supposed to lower your average mile pace for the race. Slow down on the big climbs and make it up here. Well I looked at my data from the Garmin. I was totally sucking air here. Every time I turned a corner it seemed I was going up hill. My mile splits were horrible. I decided to walk for a minute, took an s-cap and a couple shot blocks and decided that this was a race and there are times it supposed to suck. So I took off.

Came into the Britton Peak aid station about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Again, refilled with Heed and one gel, kissed my wife, she asked, 45 seconds, total, not the kiss.
Hey look! My feet aren't touching the ground.

It's only a couple miles or so from here to the turn around on Carlton Pk. Its fun to see the people running ahead of you as they come back down the trail. I tried to count my place but lost track. I caught a glimpse of Dick as I was nearing the more technical portions of the climb.

As soon as you reach the "top" its time to blast back down. It was here that I took a major digger in 2007 so I was a bit apprehensive about bombing it. Also was really aware of the fact that I trashed my quads in the BelMonte 50K in March and paid dearly for it at the end of the race. I ran down as quick as I could while trying not to crash and burn. Saw a ton of people coming up. Nice

Reached the half way at 2:44:31, a 5:30 finish with even splits. I really didn't think it could happen so I planned for a mini bonk.

I passed through the Britton aid station again, had to take my Rt shoe off to adjust my insole, would have to do this 2 more time before the end. Got a fill of Amino and took a gel and s-cap.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have to deal with equipment malfunctions like that during a race. You are plodding along knowing full well you will have to stop but you just keep going anyway. As it turns out it would be best just to stop and tend to the issue but something just wont let you stop until you just can't keep going - anyway.

I did a fair bit of nothing during the next portion.

Ran through a bunch of mud
Got up

Felt really good coming into Oberg aid station, of course the last mile leading into it is down hill. There's the whole clan to meet me!
Fixed my shoe, got two packs of shot blocks, took an s-cap, more Amino and two cups of Pepsi. I had chewed up 5 minutes of my 10 minute cushion getting here. Spent probably 2 minutes a the aid station. Left mostly feeling good.

If you look at the elevation chart at the top of the pg you will see two distinct peaks at the beginning and end of the race. These are Mystery and Moose Mts. Though the data does not show it they are taller on the way back. I made it up Moose ok but the wind at the top was relentless. The peak is about a mile long and I got pretty chilled up there. At this point there were ice pellets falling as well, just for effect. I also was feeling like the race could go either way. One minute I felt great the next not so. I walked for about a minute and wolfed down about 4 shot blocks, another s-cap. and took off down the hill.

The climb up Mystery is a real bugger, it is a bunch of switch backs. Not steep enough to justify walking but bugger to run. I did it anyway - run that is. At this point I just switched to auto pilot. I wasn't driving, just trying to stand up. Near the top of the hill I met Dick. He fell in behind me for a while but we got separated somewhere on the down hill. I think that is where he got his shoe sucked off, not hard to believe if you were there. I took a major spill here that I would have loved to see on video. I hit the ground with my water bottle, the cap popped half way off and my drink sprayed right into my face - strawberry amino facial scrub, with organic humus to boot.

As I continued down hill I just kept picking up steam. I have no idea where it came from. Passed some dude like he was standing still. I knew when I hit the road that if I kicked it in I would meet my goal time.
5:40:54, I don' think the seconds count once you get over 5 hours, do they?

Three weeks off from Chippewa 50K and Dick still runs a solid race, way to go

Thanks for the water bottle fills, watching the kids, hanging out in the cold......

The parting shot.

BTW Steve Q is keeping track of all those who may mention that they beat him this race. If anyone beat Steve please let him know.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mental Prep

I've been thinking lately about the mental preparation one goes through as race day approaches. I was not able to go to the Chip this year but did read a number of blogs where people were discussing their race strategy. There are numerous ways to approach a race, I'll list a few that I can remember - it's a mix of strategies and race purposes, followed by my commentary:

"I'm going to run this race as a training run for..."
I tried this once, it can only work if you don't actually enjoy racing.

"I'm going to beat ......."
I tried this once, see below for issues.

"I'm not going to get beat by...."
Nuf said.

"I'm going for a course PR"
All in the training, remember though, you are a year older.

"I just want to finish"
I have never entered a race I didn't think I could. Shame on me I suppose.

"I am going to run negative splits"
If you can let the majority of the people of similar ability out of your sight within the first half mile or so you can probably do it, and beat them - good luck with that.

Then some of the more muted claims and performance pre excuses.

"I don't really care what place I get"
It's a race, come on, be serious now.

"I'm not going to push my ....... too hard, I don't want to cause any serious damage.
This is actually mine, it's really lame. You'll run and it will hurt.

"I ran an ultra last week"
I know someone who did and won!!

"I want to run the best race I can"
For better or worse, that's what you'll do.

"This is my first Ultra, I don't know what to expect"
It won't be your last, and you will never know.

"I ran Grandma's in 3:30, so I think 4:20-4:30 is reasonable.
Add an hour or so.

My next race is the Superior 50K , May 16. I struggled with this race in '07 ,though I had a wonderful experience, and was not able to compete for nearly all of '08. I really love the North Shore and love this race. I am in the process of figuring out my race strategy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Up Down Up Down

Well there's the proof, straight off the Garmin, (you can click on the graph to see the whole race, sorry I'm not an HTML expert) I knew this race contained a little more elevation than the Superior 50K but was really taken back by the steepness. Holy crap, this was up up up and down down down. I remember writing about the "Smurf the Murph" course and it being somewhat sly in the way you accumulate elevation. This was just the opposite - in your face up and down. Notice the naive look on my face, 5:45 in the morning, no problems at all.
The race started about 30 minutes before sunrise, a bit of a pet peeve of mine as I hate having to lug the headlamp along until an appropriate dumping point, the photo shows us climbing the steps up to the top of an earthen levy, the starting point . The 50M, 50K and 25K started in mass, 336 starters total, with the single track about 1/4 mile from the starting line I pushed to the front to avoid the funnel effect. I took my first spill about 1 mile in the race as my right foot smashed into a rock, damn this was going to be tough.
The weather was fairly nice for the race, about 42 degrees at the start and 49 at the end, there was fog and mist for the entire race. The effect was surreal, while you knew you were in for a long race you could never get a feel for the effort you put in, no views to be had for all the work, very similar to Superior spring of 07.

The first part of the race was awesome, the climb was doable and fueling was going great, I had 3 gels and 3 shotblok tubes throughout the race and would fill my bottles at each station and grab a 1/4 or 1/2 PBJ at about every other one. Actually blew off one and spent no more than 1 minute at any one stop.

Every race I seem to match up with someone for part of the race, I met Allen, a VA native and ended up running together for about 6 miles and leapfrogging each other for another 6. Prior to arriving at the 3.5 mile gravel road stretch we agreed we would both benefit from running that together. Its nuts just how tough a stretch like that can be in the middle of a trail race - cars, pavement like surface ... just seems to play with my mind. I definitely ran this better with someone to share the misery with. For some reason I seem to be tipping to the right?At about mile 16 starts the second climb, it ends at 24 miles, I can say that this makes this race. The ascent starts gradually, up Turkey Pen Road, none seen. You end up running up the bottom of a draw, the trail criss crosses a stream about eight times - nice. Now we get to add the slosh factor. I chose my footwear, NB 790's, because I know my feet would get wet, they really worked good for this purpose as they drained well. They did not, however, offer much protection from rocks, not sure what would have. Some of the rock is quite pointed and the sole was a little weak in that area. It does have a rock shield, just not a very good one. The toe box is very soft and offers no protection from direct impact, as you will see later.

The last mile of the ascent was brutal, I cant imagine anyone running it but I'm sure the front runners did. I felt ok at the top, just grabbed a refill and a PBJ and started to walk off the cumulative effect of a 6 mile ascent. I really stiffened up here. After 1/4 mile we dropped off the face of the earth. I had to stop to retie my shoes to attempt to keep my toes from jamming into the front of them. As it turns out, part of my heal lift shifted to the front of my shoe and started to curl up and hit my big toe. I thought it was my nail after being pealed off, feasible option.

Anyway I had a really tough go of it in the steep downhills, I tried to gut it out but occasionally had to walk some downhills to keep my sanity. My quads were also quite fried by this point. On a few super steep sections I walked down backwards. The following picture shows me with about 3 miles to go. I think I'm still listing a bit??

The race, as may trail races do, finishes with the last half mile or so on the pavement - why is this? You can see the results here and in the photo below. I knew it would be a tough one and was shooting for the 6 hour mark, cant say I'm disappointed as I really pushed hard. Actually got sick with a cold about 1 hour after finishing - that's never happened before. After leaving the last aid station I caught a bit of powder blue out of the corner of my eye. All I could think about was my kids seeing me being beat by a girl - I know that's chauvinistic of me but it did shave a minute or two off my time. She was the third female finisher, seven seconds behind me, minor victory. Doubt the kids noticed.

Race by the numbers:
Miles run in 2009 up to race day: a paltry 208, longest run 22.3

117 starter - 110 finishers
Finished 26th

9/39 in 40-49 age group

24/94 males

My wife was at two aid stations and caught a few glimpses of Sean Andrish as he was making a bid for the course record, 4:26:17 missed the record by about 7 minutes. How come in all the photos of the elite runners they never have their feet touching the ground?

The parting shot was supposed to be a before and after but I refused to take off my shoes at 5:00 in the morning for the before shot. I must have stubbed my Rt big toe 30 times. Only went down once but had many a "windmill" moments on the trail which would have looked hilarious on video. I have to say, this was an awesome race, well directed and in a beautiful area. I ran it as hard as I could and am grateful to my wife for allowing me, no encouraging me, to tag this on to the end of a great spring break vacation. Superior 50K is next on the agenda, possibly Trail Mix 25K just for fun.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BMER, Ready or Not

Well, there it is! First race of the season for me 3/28/09. I'm really looking forward to it, in a perfect world my training would be in a very different spot but I'll take what I can get. My back has been holding up OK and I won't push it too hard for this race. I'll tax everything else, feet, quads, lungs, shins, gut.... but not the back. I had a 20+ run last weekend and it went really well, the first 11 miles were in foot sucking mud, puddles and snow. No problems. I'm using the NB 790, its light but still has decent cushion, but best of all it drains fast. There are a couple stream crossings and I don't want to deal with the slosh factor.

I'm about 13 lbs lighter than my last Ultra and I think that will make a huge difference in how I fare. It's been very rewarding, as others have noted, to see the results of a healthier life style. Not just in performance on the trail but in my outlook of just about everything.

So here's to a great year on the trails - Cheers!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yes Virginia, spring will come

Still here trying to get in some "decent" miles and dodging the ice and snow. I use RunningAhead to log my mileage and noticed yesterday that you can now link directly to your Garmin GPS. I have a 305 and it works flawlessly. I downloaded about 200 runs. It allows easy access to all the info the watch collects plus pretty cool graphing options and about 6 different maps as well. It has worked really well so far. It will be nice to add all the data to the log automatically. Check it out.

I've had 4 weeks now averaging about 25 mpw. I had my fifth and likely final cortisone shot in my back the first week, or there about, in January and only did the elliptical for a couple weeks then a sorta slow ramp up. A while back I posted about the Bel Monte Endurance Run the races are March 28 I got in just under the wire and there is a waiting list now, there are about 100 in each of the races, 50M, 50K, and 25K. I'm the only runner from MN. I would probably be better off running the 25K but I'm not going all the way to Virginia to run 15 miles.

I've had a couple runs lately which make me confident I have the potential to finish well, for me. I did land flat on my back today while blowing snow off the driveway. The first thing that came to my mind was "shit, I hope I can still run" - I think it's kinda pathetic actually. After all I do have a wife and kids who rely on me to earn a living and all. Anyway - hope everyone has a little more umph to make it through the end of winter here. I'm going to find spring in a month one way or another.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Arrowhead 135

Check out the progress at the Arrowhead 135. -8 degrees at the start, about -1 right now. These are some tough dudes, and dudette.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Starting up . . . again

I remember starting up running in the late summer for High School CC and swearing I'll never get out of shape again, it's just too hard to get back to where you were. Bet I've done it 30 times since then.

Haven't logged much for mileage for quite a while. To add insult to "injury" I was also forced to take a couple weeks off after another cortisone injection. I have taken five, two week layoffs from running in the last 14 months. During these times I have tried everything from "total rest" to using the elliptical 9 times. Neither extreme nor anywhere in between has seemed to maintain cardio like running would have. I can't believe how hard the first few runs are. This logic seems to contradict the taper theory, though I didn't go into the periods totally ramped up for a race either.

I skied 5 days, about half of each quite aggressively, in Colorado over Christmas vacation. No back pain or sciatica at all. Makes me wonder what really is going on. View from Condo:

On my run today I played around with observing my pace and the running surface. I'm less inclined to pay much attention to it this time of year and was amazed at the differences. Compared to running on a flat, plowed, packed snow surface the following was observed, maintaining the same HR:

Run in tire track, pace increased 20 sec/mile, I think due just to the change in gait
Add 3-4 inches of snow, pace increased 45+ sec/mile
Add 12+ inches of snow, pace increased by a little over 3 minutes/ mile

Guess thats why everyone tests their progress on the treadmill eh?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I read this article, now a couple years old, and it gives some good insight into the American diet. There is no end to the nutritional information or to those hoping to benefit from it one way or another. The long and short of it (and it is a long article) is that America is eating itself to death despite the increase in understanding dietary needs. Regardless of where you stand on the issue there are some excellent points to be made here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Quite the list

ultraRUNNING online compiled a list of the top 100, 100 mile mens finishers. While there are other lists which attempt to even out the difficulty of the races this is just a pure time comparison. It's a pretty cool list to look over. It covers 20 different races, presumably on the easier end of the 100 spectrum as the more difficult ones would have winners with times greater than 100th place. Jorge Pacheco, 40, CA, 14:12:21, Rocky Raccoon, had the fastest 100 mile time this year. That's about 8:3X /mile for 100 miles. Damn. Some of the names I recognize which made the list:

Wynn Davis
John Storkamp
John Maas