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.