Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to one and all! I have reached my first Christmas break as a teacher and the break really feels like one! It feels weird that I don't have work or schoolwork of any kind to have to do and I can truly relax. It has given me plenty of time to go running but of course this cold weather and snow has provided its own challenges. I've had many of my students and fellow teachers look at me out running and just call me crazy.

Winter running provides a unique challenge. The weather is the greatest foe and with snow covering everything, many of my favorite grass and dirt trails have disappeared. Running through the snow is a great workout though and at the rate this snow has been coming I can tell I'll be having plenty of runs in the snow over the next few months. This will be my first winter of preparing for a marathon throughout the winter season so it'll be a big test to see if I can do it.

I begin my marathon training shortly after the new year to get ready for the Fargo Marathon in May. Everyone enjoy the Christmas season. In Minnesota it'll be another white Christmas. Enjoy your time with family and friends.

- Brandon

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Update...It's Been A While

Well, I haven't posted since mid-October so I decided it was about time. I certainly have been running since then, but it's always a challenge to keep running when there isn't anything specific to be training for. I just decide at the time of the run how far to go and how fast to do it. However, it has been nice to just enjoy running.

On Thanksgiving, I did get into a race, the Turkey Day 5K in downtown Minneapolis. I didn't run any spectacular time but I certainly don't have much for 5K speed anymore but I had a lot of fun and still averaged under 6:00 per mile. My girlfriend and her mom both ran as well as my buddy Justin and his girlfriend Kristen. I gained a little motivation from it as I will be running another fun event this Saturday, the Reindeer Run out at Lake Harriet. This will be my 4th Reindeer Run in 5 years and I'm hoping for good weather. My first year (2004) was in the mid-40s and beautiful, the second year (2005) was blizzard conditions and I ran my slowest road 5K ever! My most recent Reindeer Run was 2006 when it was about 5 degrees above zero. Any kind of weather is possible and I'll certainly be ready for whatever comes.

Also on Saturday, my friend Justin will be running a 50 miler out in River Falls, WI. I will be joining him for part of his run after I am done at Lake Harriet.

The other major update for me is that I have registered for what will be my 7th marathon. I will be running the 5th annual Fargo Marathon on Saturday, May 9th, 2009. It's a flat course and they are roads I know well. A fellow teacher I work and run with will most likely be attempting his first marathon that same day (he hasn't decided between doing 13.1 or 26.2 yet) and a high school teammate of mine will be running as well as my girlfriend's mom will be running the half-marathon there. I'm excited for it and it will be interesting to see how my body reacts to some serious and hopefully consistent training throughout the upcoming Minnesota winter.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One Week After

The 2008 Twin Cities Marathon is a race that will remain etched in my memory for years to come. Completing career marathon #6 was a bit of a survival run because of the conditions but certainly another unforgettable one. I felt like I prepared myself very well in the final weeks leading up to the race and was full of energy when I arrived at the Dome Sunday morning. After running my warm-up with my good friend Justin Youngblom, we made our way to the starting line. I was in Corral 1 and was running a bit behind in getting to the line so once I reached my starting spot, I had only about 30 seconds before the horn blew and the race was underway. I was near the back of Corral 1 at the start so I spent about a mile just passing people and finding others that were near my ideal pace.

I quickly found a good group to run with and then the rains came. Despite getting totally soaked it was actually a lot of fun running in the pouring rain. I found myself in a good pack that stayed tight together running at a good pace, partly so we could all stay warm. Near mile 11 I saw my parents for the first time (they were at mile 7 but I didn't see them) cheering and going nuts in the pouring rain. That gave me a little shot of adrenaline and got me going. Not long after that the rains began to let up but the wind increased my legs started to get very cold. I ran with a guy from New Zealand for a couple miles around Lake Nokomis and talked with him for a while which made those miles go by much faster. I encountered him again at mile 18 and we ran stride for stride until the hill at St. Thomas when I was really struggling. He kept me going for about as long as I possibly could which I really appreciated.

I ran into my parents at miles 17 and 21 and they were now joined by my girlfriend and her mom, who had run the 10 mile earlier in the morning. I also saw my college cross country coach and his wife while I was struggling up the St. Thomas hill and my coach, Don Glover, was going absolutely nuts for me! He has always been an amazing encouraging man and a great motivator so he put a smile on my face again. From there it was a battle with Summit Avenue. I would call the battle a draw because I survived the final miles but I was nowhere near where I had hoped to be.

I ended up running 3:10:52, good enough to qualify me for Boston again, which is always awesome. I had hoped for a sub-2:59 but today just wasn't the day. A week later now, my body has recovered well and I'm getting back into running starting tomorrow. I won't be going to Boston this next spring because of the cost, so my plan right now is to most likely run the Green Bay or Fargo Marathon in May 2009. My serious training won't start for that until January so the next couple months are just going to be some good time to just enjoy running, get into good overall shape, and have some fun running a couple 5Ks that I always like doing: the Turkey Day 5K and the Reindeer Run.

I've also added some pictures on here from last Sunday's marathon.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

One Week and counting...

At this time a week from now I should be somewhere between the 9 and 10 mile markers on Minnehaha Parkway in the 2008 Twin Cities Marathon. It's been a year and 3 months since my last marathon (which was a disaster) and I've been itching to get this one underway ever since. A marathon is almost like an addiction; once you complete that first one you gotta do another and then another.

I've never been more excited for a marathon though than this one. My entire family is getting in on the fun of the weekend this year. My sister and her boyfriend are going to be running in the 5K at the State Capitol on Saturday morning and the entire family is going to the expo afterwards. On Sunday, my girlfriend's (Jen) mom, Jill, will be running in the TC 10 Mile and then the marathon will begin. I am shooting for a new P.R. this year and if the weather cooperates I think it will be well within my reach. My current P.R. is 2:59:01 set at Grandma's 2006 and it's my only sub 3:00 to date. I also want to re-qualify for Boston so I can get myself back out to Boston for a little redemption on that course in either 2009 or 2010.

Good luck to those running next weekend as well. Enjoy the final week of is probably the most exciting frustrating week of the year!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Countdown is Underway

I have now officially begun the countdown to this year's Twin Cities Marathon. With less than 3 weeks to go, my tapering has gradually begun. I completed my final long run last Saturday, a 22 miler on the marathon course on a rainy cool morning. It felt good despite how tired my body was. I was certainly sore from it but recovered rather quickly and am feeling very good now about getting ready to run 4.2 miles longer than that in a couple weeks.

My body has been physically and mentally taxed over the last 2 weeks more than ever before in my life. Being a teacher and training seriously for a marathon at the beginning of a school year has been a great challenge. My runs have often been a great stress reliever at the end of a busy day of working with high school kids. Teaching 3 different science classes has required a lot of time in and out of school for preparation of labs and activities as well as grading students' work plus doing what I can to be getting my body ready for the marathon. With each day though, it is becoming better and better, and easier to get everything done I need to get done.

And with each day, I'm loving the profession of teaching more and more. I am getting to know my students better each day and am building some good student-teacher relationships with many of them. I am also keeping my students posted on my preparation for the marathon. I keep a countdown on my board in my classroom and they all think I'm nuts for doing it, but many of them are going to be coming out to the race to cheer me on, which I think is very cool considering I've only been in this school for 3 weeks.

It's an exciting and busy time for me, one that I am loving and I certainly each day continues to get better like it has been.

God Bless,
- Brandon

Sunday, September 7, 2008

City of Lakes 25K

You couldn't have asked for much better weather this morning for running. It was cool, cloudy and not too humid, which translated to the great chance of having a great day of racing. At the City of Lakes 25K at Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet I had my final race leading up to next month's Twin Cities Marathon. I wasn't sure how to approach this race other than I really wanted to know where my body was at and if it could handle the kind of pace I was hoping to run next month. The first 13 miles went really well and I was running a pace that would translate to around 2:50 - 2:53 for the marathon. The last 2.5 miles were a little hilly and my legs did not like it one bit. My quads are still burning as I type this hours later but I still managed to finish in a time of 1:44:53, which would be equivalent to a 2:58 marathon. That would be a P.R. for me and considering I had a couple hard workouts earlier this week I'm feeling extremely good about it.

I'm planning for one more good long training run next week before the tapering begins. I can only hope that this amazing fall weather continues to cooperate for the next few weeks and on October 5th, we can get a day similar to today. If so, expect to see a lot of amazing times at TCM! I plan on being one of them!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tough Day

With today being a fairly cloudy and cooler day, I decided to get out onto the track at my new place of employment: Watertown-Mayer High School. As the workout of mile repeats went along, the humidity in the air increased greatly and I was ridiculously soaked after only 3 repeats. I hit the times I was aiming for each time but by the time the third one was done, I was on the edging of passing out and puking at the same time (not a good feeling). I called it a day at that point.

Fortunately, this has been one of the few workouts over the last week and a half that has not gone well. On Saturday morning (an amazing morning for a run), I got up early and ran the Twin Cities Marathon course from mile 16.5 to the finish line and back. It went extremely well and was my longest training run so far. My legs recovered really quickly and I really felt great afterwards. I'm planning to run the City of Lakes 25K on Sunday, September 7th as a final prep race for the marathon and then will hopefully get a 20-22 mile run in sometime the following weekend before the tapering begins!!

Only 38.5 days until Twin Cities Marathon 2008!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Run in My New Town

I had my first run in my new town of Mound, Minnesota this morning. Right behind my apartment complex runs a brand new paved trail that used to be a rail line. I followed it west of town away from Lake Minnetonka and ended up at, for me, an infamous place: Gale Woods. For those who don't know, Gale Woods is an educational farm and park with a 5K cross country running course. I ran in the first ever cross country race held there during my senior year of high school and placed 10th in the conference meet. When I spotted the sign and realized where I was, I just had to run a little bit of the course. It's still just as challenging as it was back then with a few really tough hills but it was good to find a familiar place in an otherwise unfamiliar location.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Fever & Marathon Prep

The Olympics have been going strong for a few days and I've been glued to my TV and to my computer, watching events every free chance I get. Fortunately, I don't have to work during the duration of the Olympics so I can get away with it. I'm absolutely loving what Phelps has been doing in the pool (just got gold #4, going for #5 in minutes!) but I'm really looking forward to the track and field events starting on Friday, especially for the men's marathon on the final day of competition. I'm really pulling for Ryan Hall. He is a humble but confident runner, and he runs for all the right reasons, not for his own glory but for God's.

After about a week and a half of taking some days of rest to let my shin splints subside, I've been getting back into my training. Yesterday I got in a quality 2 hour run with the Coon Rapids High School cross country team on their first day of official practice for the fall season. I hadn't planned to run the full two hours but I ended up doing it. It counted as my long run for the week and it definitely showed to me that I was back and ready to get back into full training again. I did not run the Gopher to Badger Half Marathon as I had originally planned because of my shins, so I am planning to get a final preparation run in sometime in early September, possibly the City of Lakes 25K or a 20 miler in White Bear Lake or River Falls, WI.

I'll be moving into my new apartment in Mound, MN at the end of the week so most likely my next post will come from my new residence, certainly searching for new places to run.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tough Run

Yesterday was one of those days where you just try to survive the race distance. I had high hopes for the Lumberjack Days 10 mile yesterday morning. The race came at the end of one of my toughest weeks of running I've had in a very long time and I found myself with almost no energy halfway through the race. Multiple times the thought of dropping out crossed my mind but I knew the answer to that would always be no.

I was able to finish fairly strong, getting my final mile down to about the time I had been shooting for the entire race. I still finished 63rd overall in a race of 1,100 finishers so that I was certainly not disappointed about. I spent the rest of the day drained so I'm going to back off a little bit this week and give myself a little bit of recovery. I may change my race plans for the coming weeks. I really want to have a good half-marathon prep race so I really know what my body is capable of when the marathon comes up in 10 weeks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Short Race

Yesterday, my last day as a 23 year old, I ran a 5K in my soon-to-be new town, Watertown, MN. It was a decent day to race but the race seemed so short. I ran very even mile splits but felt I easily could've kept that pace for many more miles. At the start I felt really slow because all of these high school and college aged runners went sprinting out in the first mile. However, I caught a few of them about 2 miles in, even though my final time was nothing to brag about.

I recovered really quickly and ran 13.5 miles this morning to celebrate my birthday! Next week will be a real test to see what kind of endurance shape I am in and how good I really am getting at my pacing as I plan to run the Lumberjack Days 10 Mile in Stillwater. I'm looking forward to it because I haven't run a long race like that in quite some time.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Update: TCM Training

It's been quite a while since I posted. My life has been a whirlwind these last couple of months. As the summer continues on, my life will be encountering a lot of big changes. I will be moving out on my own to take on my first teaching job at Watertown-Mayer High School in Watertown, MN. I will be teaching chemistry and physical science. I am really looking forward to it and I'm excited to be moving out on my own.

In the mean time this summer, I'm enjoying my last bit of time living with my family and running around the city of Coon Rapids and the north metro. However, I'm beginning to see some indications that maybe it's time to get out of CR and move on to somewhere else. A few days ago I saw a giant banana run across the street as I approached them along my run! An odd sight to see for sure but I know I wasn't hallucinating because I was only 2 miles into my run.

I am into my full training for the Twin Cities Marathon now and have been increasing my mileage over the last couple weeks. The training has been going well but because of my summer job I have been forced to run at 4:30 in the afternoon three days out of the week and each of those days I am on my feet for 10 hours during the day before the run. It's been a big challenge but my body is finally getting used to running in the heat of the day. I would still much rather run early in the morning though.

Over the next few weeks I'll plan to post more regularly and keep posting on my training and my races coming up over the next few weeks. I will be racing three times over the next four weeks: Watertown Rails to Trails 5K next Saturday, Lumberjack Days 10 Mile on July 26th in Stillwater, and the Gopher to Badger Half Marathon on August 9th from Stillwater to Hudson, WI.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sick of Snow

So living and running in Minnesota has long provided some interesting challenges, primarily in the weather department. Our winters are long, cold and snowy, our spring almost doesn't exist, our summers are humid, and our autumns go by in the blink of an eye back to winter. However, the last couple winters have had much less snow (but still cold) so trails have been much more accessible. This winter seems like it will never end. More snow came over the last two days and some of my favorite trails are covered in a few inches of snow. Normally, I don't care but with my recovery from my most recent injury I have to be careful on uneven and unpredictable surfaces. The weathermen are saying 60s sometime this week but I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I am continuing to pound the pavement dreaming of the days when I can finally run on some beautiful wooded grass and dirt trails again.

Only 6 days until Twin Cities Marathon registration begins and only 7 days until my first race in 10 months!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Running in the Rain

From the moment I left church this morning the rain has been coming down. With so many things to get done for what will certainly be a busy week I had to make time for my first run in the rain of the year. I love to run in the rain, as long as it's not too cold along with the rain, because it can be extremely refreshing. I don't mind getting wet and muddy on a run and with this rain, the good news is most of the snow around here is melting away. I decided to run on some of the trails through Bunker Hills Park to go through the woods. The sound of the rain hitting the trees and falling to the ground is so relaxing, plus I had the trails to myself which allowed me to talk to myself and not appear crazy to anyone else!

I just got hired as the middle school track coach at Northdale this week and practice starts in a week, so training these young kids should be an exciting experience. I'm really looking forward to it and I can't wait to see if my training methods will be beneficial to them.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who I Am

My name is Brandon and I am a runner from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. I have been running now for 10 years, since I was in middle school and am about to finish college this spring with a teaching degree in physics and chemistry. I will be using this blog to talk about why I run, what I'm doing with my running, racing, basically anything that has to do with running in my life.

A little history of my life as a runner: I began running on my middle school track team as a way to stay in shape for basketball season but quickly fell in love with running, so much so that within two years of high school I no longer played basketball but ran year round! I ran for Coon Rapids High School in cross country and track and absolutely loved it. I began college at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND preparing to run for the college but a major injury came quickly and that plan ended abruptly. I transferred to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls the next year and began training for my first marathon (once I was healthy) and ran the 2004 Twin Cities Marathon that fall.

That race got me hooked on the distance and I had to do another one! I barely qualified for Boston but I did qualify so I had to go out and run it, so I did. I ran Boston 2005 and since I have run Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN in 2006 and 2007 and also ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 2005. My P.R. (personal record) is 2:59:01 (Grandma's 2006) but my running has been sporadic over the last 8 months.

After running Grandma's 2007, I began training for my final season of college cross country at UW-River Falls but quickly developed a rather severe injury to my left hip. I went through a number of doctors before getting physical therapy which finally solved the problem. Over the last month, while student teaching, I have finally gotten back into running consistently and it's such an amazing feeling to just be able to be running regularly again. When I can't run consistently, it feels like there is something missing in my life.

I believe that my ability and love of running is a gift that God has blessed me with and I want to be sure that my gift does not go to waste, not to mention running is easily my greatest stress reliever and my best way to relax.

I'm planning to register for the 2008 Twin Cities Marathon and train for it this summer. Up until then, I'm planning to take each run one workout at a time and just enjoy the coming of spring and perhaps run a road race here or there!